Good evening!

International Developments

15+ people dead, following a suicide bomb attack in Damascus, Syria.

❖ “Syrian troop redeployments raise concerns over Golan Heights security: Israeli fears jihadists will use area as staging ground for attacks after thousands of Syrian soldiers withdrawn in recent weeks”.

Hamas cops now wigged out about hair.

Kaesong complex, the joint North Korea-South Korea operated industrial plant, might be closed by Pyongyang.

❖ It’s “not that North Korea’s actions are right or just, but simply that they are rational. It is a somewhat dark irony that our fervent belief that their actions are irrational and have no historical grounding impedes our ability to respond to them rationally.”

International Finance

❖ “About 1,000 electricity connections are cut every day in Greece as Public Power Corporation customers are increasingly unable to pay their  power bills on time”.  1.3bn euros owed on power bills by the end of 2012.

Greece “bank shares sank 30%” today, the maximum they’re allowed to fall in any day, “after plans to merge the country’s two biggest lenders were suddenly frozen.” Seems those talks between the Greek government, the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund continue to be “testy”

❖ The EU tried “normalising ties” between Serbia and Kosovo, but Serbia will not cooperate.

❖ Well, well.  Jack Lew, the new US Treasury Secretary “has demanded that Europe do more to grow its austerity-afflicted economy”.  Portugal’s latest crisis seems to be what stimulated his remarks.

Money Matters, USA

Mary Jo White has been approved unanimously by the Senate to head up the Securities and Exchange Commission.

❖ Gen. Amos, Adm. Greenert: F-35 Essential But Procurement Constipated‘.”

❖ “Stunning footage captures Boeing 787 Dreamliner performing terrifyingly steep take-off and landing as it passes final safety test”.

Blackstone, gobbling up homes here and there in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, owns “nearly 10 times as many rental homes in Sacramento as any other private landlord”.  But concern is growing.

Politics USA

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has a on-line petition:  “Tell President Obama: Don’t Cut Social Security!”

❖ Continuing his pursuit of Republican approval, President Obama is dropping the economic stimulus from his budget and “instead embraces cuts in an appeal to Republicans.

President Obama says Margaret Thatcher was “a great champion of freedom.”  A South Wales representative of the National Union of Mineworkers commemorated “the viciousness and ruthless way she attacked” the miners.  “Alternative Eulogy”.

Senate Leader Harry “Leader” Reid (D-NV) is once again threatening the “nuclear option” to stop Republican filibusters. No white flags seen waving from Republican senators’ desks yet.

Amy Goodman summed things up nicely at the National Conference for Media Reform over the weekend, such as:  ”This is no longer a mainstream media, it’s an extreme media beating the drums for war”, and much more.  Video.

❖ Cryin’ shame if this happens:  “News. Corp. Threatens To Pull Fox Off Air Over Aereo Dispute”.

❖ The Democratic Party of WI is heartened that state Senator Dale Schultz (R) will be challenged in the primary by another GOPer they think a Democrat can beat.  (Schultz is  considered too radical even by Gov. Scott Walker (R)’s standard.)

Former SD Gov. Mike Rounds (R) has got fellow GOPers’ panties in a bunch by refusing to sign Grover’s no taxes pledge.  Rounds is pursuing a US Senate seat next year.

Droning On

❖ The Navy’s now getting its own drones.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

El Cajon, in San Diego County, CA, is home to 446,000 people in poverty, including 230,000 school children, many of whom receive breakfast and lunch at school.  Sequestration is now threatening, throwing more children and their families into food insecurity.

Homelessness in Silicon Valley “rose 20 percent in the past two years, food stamp participation is at a 10-year high, and the average income for Hispanics . . . fell to a new low”.

❖ “Amiodarone Linked to Cancer Risk in Men“.  Amiodarone = Nexterone.

US women have the shortest life-expectancy among almost all industrialized countries.  And the number of premature deaths continues to rise in some states.  Disturbing map.

The War on Women

❖ Psychologist and military sexual trauma coordinator at the Tomah VA Medical Center:  While the military reported 3,000 rapes last year, “their own research shows an estimated 19,000 cases”.  Cases disappear due to mishandling “by command, or victims were told to forget, or cases were dropped”.

Working for A Living

Surveillance at the work place is becoming ever more intense:  “Employers count keystrokes, read emails and monitor personal social media accounts.  They time bathroom breaks.  The cost of efficiency may be worker satisfaction”–not that employers care about that.

❖ “As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers:  Many businesses no longer want long-term relationships with their employees, who must now work harder without getting financial and psychological rewards that were once routine.”

❖ The TX Supreme Court has ruled that TX government workers who are unionized don’t have the right to have a union representative with them when they are being “questioned during internal investigations”.

GA’s having to pay $8m+ to some 4,000 seasonal workers who were denied unemployment benefits in 2012.

Planet Earth News

Photos and videos from Exxon’s pipe rupture in Mayflower, AR.

❖ “Is Our Disconnect From Nature a Disorder?”

Exxon Mobil is having a snit-fit that NH is suing “over the use of the gasoline additive MTBE” in the state.  NH wants $240m from Exxon Mobile.  Important detail: Exxon Mobil is “the only defendant of the 26 the state sued 10 years ago that didn’t reach a settlement.”

Encouraging trend in KS–place land in conservation easements which “prohibit most development for perpetuity.”

❖ The “new generation of nuclear power plants in Britain” is off to a very rough start, as the French company EDF abandons the £14bn project.

Mixed Bag

❖ Completely unacceptable:  70 Hopi ceremonial masks and headdresses are scheduled to be auctioned off in Paris this week.

Break Time

❖ Blues from the Cook County Jail.