Hello, all.

International Developments

❖ “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood condemns Boston blasts”.  “Saudi king condemns Boston Marathon bombings”.

❖ With elections five days away, bombing is underway in Iraq.  42 people killed, 257+ wounded, so far.  “Most of the attacks in Baghdad targeted Shiite areas”.  Other provinces bombed include “Anbar, Babel, Kirkuk, Salaheddin Diyala, and Nasriya”.

❖ “Foreign agricultural experts have been trying to persuade” farmers in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, to grow crops like cotton, but nothing seems to grow there quite like the opium poppy–and they’re headed toward a big crop this year.

The number of deaths from that major (7.5 or 7.8!) earthquake along the Iran-Pakistan border is expected to be in the 100s.  Early this am, at least 40 were reported dead in Iran and 7 in Pakistan.

❖ He’ll  appeal to the Pakistani Supreme Court, but right now Pervez Musharraf is “barred from standing in general elections in May.”  Update:  9+ killed, dozens injured after a suicide bombing in Peshawa during a rally of the Awami National Party.  The Taliban has taken credit; it opposes the Awami National Party.

Chad is pulling its 2,000 soldiers out of Mali.  They’d been there fighting “against armed Islamic extremists”, alongside the French.  Pressure is now on the UN to supply troops.

While North Korea was celebrating the 101st birthday of founder Kim Il-sung, people in South Korea were protesting against North Korea.  Consequently, North Korea “has issued new threats against South Korea, vowing ‘sledgehammer blows’ of retaliation if South Korea does not apologise”.

❖ Red pins = “conflict zones that most threaten American security and tax its resources”.  Green pins = “where economic growth is fastest and the promise of wealth greatest”.  Put them on a map and–voila!–red pins in the Middle East, green pins in Asia.  Is this why “President Obama made ‘pivoting’ away from the Middle East and toward Asia the cornerstone of his foreign policy”?  Intriguing analysis of this very complex, evolving scenario.

International Finance

❖ They actually noticed:  “IMF cuts global economic outlook” partly due to “doubts about the eurozone’s ability to claw its way out of its crisis”.  They also doubt “the ability of the US and Japan to cut public sector deficits and debt.”  Surely the O-Team and Congress can prove ‘em wrong.

Money Matters USA

❖ “Get Rich or Deny Trying: How to make millions off Obama . . . Welcome to the buckraking phase of the Obama era.”  Close look at that slimey intersection of politics and big bucks where opportunities abound for the well-connected.

Politics USA

❖ As we continue to grieve with Boston, The Atlantic Wire is providing updates on yesterday’s horrific event.

We the people aren’t allowed to see the “6,000-page Senate report on the CIA’s use of extraordinary rendition and” torture.   But we now have the 577-page Constitution Project’s report, which concludes:  “[T]here never before had been ‘the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, proprietary and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.’”  New details presented.

That eleventy-seven dimensional chess game is working out just great:  “Republicans embrace Obama’s offer to trim Social Security benefits”.

DDay on how “The Fed messed with the wrong senator:  If foreclosure victims get justice, trace it back to a bad decision to stonewall Elizabeth Warren last week.”  A little refresher: watch ‘em try to stonewall Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

KS’ tax plan has been scrutinized by analysts of the left and the right and judged “the worst in U.S.”

PA Gov. Tom Corbett (R)’s great idea: privatize liquor stores and use the money from liquor licenses to fund schools.  Corbett’s now in South America so the state House GOP introduced a bill to shift liquor license funding from the schools to transportation.

TX Gov. Rick Perry (R) wants to give “$1.6 billion in tax relief for 109,000 Texas businesses.”  Who’s gonna fill in the $1.6bn budget gap?  Oh, never mind, ’cause right now,  Perry’s in hot pursuit of business.  He’s already tried to entice CA businesses to TX, and is now flirting with those in Chicago.

❖ Oh, noooos.  NY state Assemblyman Steve Katz (R), who opposes medical marijuana, was busted last month for . . .  possession of marijuana.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ Mirror, mirror on the wall: who’s the fattest amongst us all?  Actually, it’s not those living in the Deep South; it’s those living in ND, SD, MN, NE, IA, KS and MO.

The War on Women

MS’s only abortion clinic got a bit of a reprieve yesterday when a federal judge “temporarily blocked” the state from revoking the clinic’s license.

❖ What’s law got to do with it?   “[D]riving is not actually legally prohibited for Saudi women, but traffic officials refuse to grant them licenses because clerics in the country forbid it.”

Following two violent rapes on a bus in Rio de Janeiro, authorities reacted by banning buses “in the most-visited areas of the city, hurting the city’s poor while doing nothing to impact attitudes about rape.”

Working for A Living

❖ “Workers at the Port of Vancouver, Washington, USA have been locked out by their employer, Japanese conglomerate Mitsui-United Grain, since February 27, 2013.”

Planet Earth News

❖ “The Fossil Fuel Resistance:  Meet the New Green Heroes“, including the indomitable Maria Gunnoe of Appalachia, former hedge-fund manager and “Daddy Greenbucks” Tom Steyer, the Tar Sands Blockade, and others.

❖ First Solar of Tempe, AZ continues to flourish while others fold. Their solar panels are “cheaper to make”, and they moved early into “designing and installing complete solar power plants.”

Latin America

❖ Nicolas Madura won the Venezuelan election but his opponent, Henrique Capriles, has demanded a recount of all votes.  What happened and what lies ahead?  Update:  The US is refusing to accept Venezuela’s election results without a full recount.

Mixed Bag

❖ “A Short Recent History of Pressure Cooker Bombs”.

Bob Perry,  Swift Boat funder, has died.

Break Time

❖ The Pyrenees