Good evening, all.

International Developments

 South Sudan soldiers supposedly opened fire on a hospital, killing five health workers–in revenge for the killing by unnamed/unknown people of eight of the governor’s bodyguards who were tracking down cattle rustlers.

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s return from exile has now taken a new turn:  He’s under arrest.

❖ “Damascus is completely uncooperative in negotiations”, UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi reported to the UN Security Council.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai “is determined to curb CIA operations in Afghanistan after the death of a US agent and 10 Afghan children”.

❖ “Kabul: [A] new generation of educated young Afghans who have tasted new freedoms in post-Taliban times are determined to stay and rebuild their war-ravaged nation.”

❖ “Serbia and Kosovo reached an agreement [today] aimed at overcoming ethnic enmities in the former Serbian province”.

International Finance

❖ Vivid, first-hand account:  “Greek Banksters in Action--On the Latest Twist in the Story of Mafia-Style Terror Spreading Through the Greek Polity.”  Can it happen here? Is it happening here?   Jeffrey Sachs says yes:  “We have a corrupt politics to the core . . . and both parties are up to their necks in this . . ..  The corruption, as far as I can see, is everywhere.”

❖ “Europe has been in the grip of Germanophobia. . .. The harsh conditions imposed on Cyprus . . . were widely seen as representing a diktat from Berlin. . .. [I]f Berlin is not to be accused of building a German Europe, it has to develop a narrative about its willingness to carry the responsibilities of a European Germany.”

❖ “The world could be heading for a major economic crisis as stock markets inflate an investment bubble in fossil fuels to the tune of trillions of dollars”.

❖ “French prosecutors are investigating allegations that Libya helped fund Nicolas Sarkozy’s successful 2007 president election bid.”

Fitch Ratings, has downgraded the UK’s credit rating from AAA to AA+.

Money Matters USA

Krugman on fallout from the Reinhart-Rogoff affair.

Move over, Fiasco-35s, we now have the AH-64Es to consider.  “Congress has asked the Army to explain why it has officially taken delivery of at least seven AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters that don’t have transmissions installed yet”.

❖ While we’re in the wild blue yonder, “US set to approve [Boeing's 787] Dreamliner battery fix”.

Politics USA

Republicans are gunning for Thomas Perez, nominee for Labor Secretary.  Their ammo consists of two cases from St. Paul, MN in which Perez was involved, cases where the Civil Rights Act came into play.  Very complex situation.

❖ Thus far 14 bodies have been found at the West, TX fertilizer plant location.  Update:  60 people unaccounted for.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “voted against [Superstorm] Sandy aid three times”, accusing “cynical politicians” of “exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects”.   Now that the fertilizer plant has exploded in West, TX, however, Cruz wants “all available” federal resources to come pouring in.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) fell into a fountain.

The “Boy Scouts of America is proposing to lift the ban for youth members but continue to exclude gays as adult leaders.”

Gun Corner

Adolphus Busch IV has turned in his NRA card.  “I fail to see how the NRA can disregard the overwhelming will of its members who see background checks as reasonable,” he wrote, observing that the organization “clearly places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers” rather than its members.

❖ “253,000 weapons purchased in the United States head south of the border each year”.  Value = $127.2 million.

❖ Aloha!.  HI’s legislature is sending a bill requiring background checks to conference committee this week.

The War on Women

❖ Great news:  “North Dakota District Court [Judge Wickham Corwin] has permanently blocked a state ban on the use of medications for first trimester abortions.”  The Center for Reproductive Rights, acting on behalf of Red River Women’s Clinic, took the lead on this one.

❖ “On a recent sunny Sunday at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta, five men in miniskirts displayed posters condemning violence against women.”   They belong to  The New Men’s Alliance–may it spread far and wide, and rapidly.

Results of the medical inquest into the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died in an Irish hospital following a miscarriage and denial of a therapeutic abortion, resulting in sepsis: It was a “medical misadventure.”  In addition to eight other recommendations, the report calls for “new guidelines on when doctors can intervene to save the life of the mother”.

Education Directions

❖ “Massive Cheating Scandals Rock School Districts Nationwide“.  37 states and the District of Columbia aswirl with cheating cases–by staff.  Root cause: gross over-emphasis on high-stakes testing, thus setting schools up for failure which they tried to avoid by cheating.  Children are hurt the worst.

Philadelphia, PA’s proposed school budget has been labeled “catastrophic”.   3,000 layoffs, “including some teachers.”

Planet Earth News

❖ “Black carbon”–created during combustion–was long thought to be absorbed by the soil.  Not so: a “remarkable proportion” of black carbon works it way from the soil to rivers to the ocean.

❖ Amazing, the “intense seismic activity recorded when [Superstorm] Sandy turned toward Long Island, New York and New Jersey.”

❖ “Yellowstone’s underground volcanic plumbing . . . is at least 50 percent larger than previously imagined.”

❖ What with all the smog and congestion, there’s a trend in China to return to bikes.

Latin America

Nicolas Maduro is to be sworn in as President of Venezuela today.  Heads of state from Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Nicaragua will be attending, as will Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Henrique Capriles has accepted the new vote audit plan (covering 100% of electronic votes).

❖ “South America rushes to back Maduro as U.S. casts doubt on Venezuela vote”.

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, to US Secretary of State John Kerry: Latin America will “never again” be the US’ backyard.

Haiti has renamed its airport the “Hugo Chavez International Airport.”

Mixed Bag

❖ Remarkable, “what-are-the-odds?” story.

Break Time

❖ My Sisters and Brothers