Good evening.

International Developments

❖ “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned the crisis on the Korean peninsula may become ‘uncontrollable’.”   Pew Poll: 56% of “Americans Think U.S. Should Take North Korea’s Nuclear Threat ‘Very Seriously’”.  “North Korea v South Korea in figures–interactive” (population, GDP, infant mortality, life expectancy, etc).

On the ground in the Syrian war zone:  A photographer-witness.

Helicopter down in eastern Afghanistan.  Two US troops killed.  Witness reported hearing an explosion; official reports say no hostile activity in the area.

6.3 magnitude earthquake 60 miles south of the Bushehr nuclear facility in Iran.  More than 30 people are dead,  850 injured.

Indian troops, part of the UN peace-keeping force in South Sudan, were escorting a convoy when attacked by rebels.  Five Indian troops and 7 civilians killed, and 4 Indian soldiers wounded.

Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay prisoners are now being notified if one of their clients is “being force-fed to prevent them from starving to death”.

An ex-Army private voluntarily fought with the the Nusra Front (which the US considers an al-Qaeda branch) against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime  (which the US opposes) in Syria.  He’s charged with fighting with a terrorist group.  Minimum 30 years – maximum death.  There are many questions surrounding this.

International Finance

George Soros to Angela Merkel:  Quit the euro.

❖ Between March 1st and 15th some 6,000 “individuals and legal entities withdrew tens of millions of euros in cash from Cypriot banks and sent it abroad”.  A parliamentary investigation has halted, citing lack of cooperation by the central bank.

KPMG, “accountancy giant” is “rocked by damaging allegations that one of its senior US partners had leaked confidential information.”

Money Matters USA

24 banks “that received $501 million in small-business funding [TARP] have not boosted their lending at all, while the others increased lending by $1.13 for each $1 in funding they received.”  Why? They used the money to repay their bailouts.

J. C. Penney’s former CEO is back on an interim basis as they look for somebody to replace out-going CEO Ron Johnson who didn’t fare too well.

Walmart cut back so severely on its employee hours that there just aren’t enough personnel around to move stuff from the delivery trucks at the stores’ back doors to store shelves.  Hello?

Politics USA

Meet Art Pope, tea party funder extraordinaire in NC.  Voter Suppression – check.  Reverse Robin Hood – check.  “Right-to-work” legislation – check.  Home school subsidies – check.  And on and on.

The FBI has been called in to “investigate how Mother Jones, a liberal magazine, obtained a recording of political aides meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell discussing opposition research on Ashley Judd”.

Gun Corner

❖ “Right Not To Get Shot Faces Uphill Fight In Senate”.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

“Scrap the Cap” was the rallying cry of seniors in downtown Chicago yesterday, urging legislators to lift the wage cap imposed by FICA and to oppose raising the retirement age and imposing the chained-CPI.

Veterans Administration disability applications back-log has doubled since President Obama came into office.

Who leaked the info about Medicare Advantage payment rates to Height Securities that led to soaring “share prices and traded volumes of insurers Humana Inc, UnitedHealth Group Inc and Aetna Inc”?  Congress wants to know.

AR’s Republican-majority Senate passed a bill requiring “random drug testing of Arkansas residents who receive state unemployment benefits”.  It’s now on its way to the state House.  A GA Republican who supported drug testing for welfare recipients in his state has now gotten his second DUI.

The War on Women

AL Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signed into law regulations requiring hospital admitting privileges for physicians performing abortions and tightening facility standards for abortion clinics.

Civil suits are being considered in Steubenville, OH against adult owners of houses where the drunk/drugged rape victim was taken while being dragged around the community.

Planet Earth News

❖  Big “self-cleaning” in the Gulf of Mexico following BP’s prolonged gusher.  Oil-degrading microbes went to work, resulting in the Gulf being “cleaner than you would expect”.  A newly-identified tiny critter, btw, even eats methane.

❖ “ExxonMobil faces lawsuit after Arkansas oil spill”.  Class action lawsuit filed by residents of Mayflower, AR.  $5m+ in damages.

❖ A US Magistrate Judge has ruled environmental law was violated by the US Bureau of Land Management which  failed “to take the necessary ‘hard look’ at the impact of hydraulic fracturing when it sold oil and gas leases in California”.

Financing has dried up for building a  terminal in Coos Bay, OR for exporting “U.S. taxpayer-owned coal to Asia”. The coal comes from Powder River Basin, MT–owned by US taxpayers but managed by the government.  Two senators and two governors have called for an investigation of management of the coal.

What the Bush team couldn’t accomplish, the O-team will (albeit with some exceptions):  “dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following ‘radiological incidents’”.

❖ There’s a bill in the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee “which would impose strict new requirements on utility companies by demanding that they obtain a license to build a plant before they can continue to charge customers.”  Large utility companies hate this bill.

Ontario, Canada will be quitting coal-burning power plants for good by the end of the year.

Former PA Gov. Ed Rendell (D) failed to mention his ties to the natural gas industry in his pro-fracking op-ed for the New York Daily News.  He’s “a paid consultant to a private equity firm with natural gas investments”.  That fact was added in an updated version, following inquiries.

Latin America

Miguel Diaz-Canel, successor to Fidel and Raul Castro?

❖ Back in May, 2012, four Hondurans were killed during an anti- drug action in which the US Drug Enforcement Agency was present.  Whether the DEA was responsible for the deaths is in question and has been investigated.  The Honduran Public Ministry’s report of the incident “has ‘serious flaws’”.

Break Time

Pacific Northwest Coast