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International Developments

13 people killed and 70 wounded by bomb explosion in Damascus

62% of Americans say the US “does not have a responsibility to get involved in Syria.”

❖ Think Progress:  “Everything You Need To Know About The Syrian Civil War.”

The Taliban “Spring Offensive”:  3 members of NATO’s International Security Force killed “in a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan”, 3 Afghan civilians killed and 5 wounded in Kandahar by roadside bomb, and 2 Afghans in Kunduz.

❖ “An Israeli aircraft attacked a motorcycle in Gaza [today] killing” Haitham Mishal,  “top militant in a shadowy al-Qaida-influenced group who had been involved in a recent rocket attack on southern Israel.”  Two others were wounded.

Egypt has left the global nuclear talks in Geneva, “saying other nations are not acting quickly enough to establish the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear weapons.”

❖ “Pakistan Court Bans [former president Pervez] Musharraf From Office For Life”.

❖ Some 40 US Navy medical personnel are now at Guantanamo as the hunger strike continues.  Five inmates are  in hospital and “only a handful” receiving forced feedings.  Update: President Obama “pledged to renew efforts to close the prison”.

International Finance

Eurozone wrap-up:  “Cyprus parliament [narrowly] approves bailout”, which included a “hit on depositors’ savings”; “jobless rate hits record high as inflation falls and Spanish recession deepens”;  “nearly one in four young people out of work”.

It’s not just Big Ag any more;  it’s the Agro-Trader Nexus, with “dominant grain traders [forging] close linkages with major agribusinesses.”  Includes list of the “Dominant Corporations in the World Food System”.

Money Matters USA

CEO compensation to rank-and-file worker wage is estimated at 1,795 to 1, “up 20 percent since 2009″.  The actual number is unknown since the Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t “drawn up the rules” to implement mandatory disclosure after three years.

❖ “West Fertilizer Company stored large quantities of reactive products . . . with little state or federal oversight.  Citizens must be empowered to act when regulators don’t.” Update:  Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair, “plans to schedule a hearing [about] safety lapses” at the West, TX fertilizer plant.

❖ Dallas, TX military contractor, Crash Rescue Equipment Service, Inc. “has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle allegations” it charged taxpayers for work it never did for the US Air Force and Marine Corps.

Politics USA

PA judge “Mark Ciavarella Jr [63] has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for conspiring with private prisons to sentence [5,000] juvenile offenders to maximum sentences” for which he received millions of dollars in “bribes and kickbacks”.  He must pay $1.2 million restitution.  Others involved and their verdicts are here.

Politico says Obama says he won’t veto the sequester-relief FAA bill because “GOP would blame me for flight delays”.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie said President Obama “has kept every promise he’s made” in responding to the Superstorm Sandy disaster.

PA Gov. Tom Corbett (R), running for re-election with his popularity down,  goes on the radio and gets defensive about his job-creating abilities:  “there are many employers that say we’re looking for people but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test, a lot of them.”

The FBI is interviewing people about the donation by Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr to VA Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R)’s daughter’s wedding and other gifts to family members.

❖ CA’s 2011 $27bn deficit has become an $850m surplus, unemployment is down to 9.4% and S&P has upgraded its ratings–thanks to  Gov Moonbeam.

Gun Corner

❖ AZ cities and counties cannot destroy “guns turned over to police at community buyback events”.  They must be resold.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

NC NAACP’s president and 16 others arrested outside the state senate, protesting “denying Medicaid coverage to as many as 500,000 poor people, cutting unemployment benefits”, trying to “divert money from public education” and more.

59% of Americans know that Obamacare is “the law of the land” and is being implemented.  19% don’t.

People complained the application form for Obamacare was too complex and lengthy, so it’s been redesigned–to 3 pages (without resorting to tiny font).

❖ Federal panel:  Everybody 15-65 should be tested for HIV.

The War on Women

31 states “offer some form of visitation and custody rights for men who impregnate their rape victims.”  A bill in CO would stop that.

Grand jury investigation under way in the Steubenville, OH rape case.  Did “adults such as coaches or school administrators” know about the rape but did nothing?

❖ A 4-year-old girl in India who was horribly raped and dumped “unconscious near a farm” has died after 2 weeks in hospital.  The suspected rapist is under arrest.

❖ “Saudi Arabia launches first anti-domestic violence campaign.”

Education Directions

❖ “The Walton Family Foundation announced . . . an $8-million grant” to Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization.  Birds of a feather . . .

❖  FL’s “Parent Trigger” bill–a charter lobby bill–was defeated again, by tie vote, same as last year.  Public schools won.  Losers? “Jeb Bush. Michelle Rhee. The charter industry.”

Planet Earth News

❖ “Plastic bags, tape, broomsticks fix San Onofre [CA nuclear power plant] leak.”

❖ “[D]espite ban from Obama: Energy Fuels Resources [of Canada] has federal approval to reopen its mine six miles south of the [Grand Canyon's] South Rim entrance”.

❖ US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack:  New Mexico horse slaughter plant to open “soon”.

❖ “Millions of gallons of raw sewage are flowing into the French Broad River from a sewer plant in Buncombe County”, NC.

Major new crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant:  “a flood of highly radioactive wastewater”.

Latin America

❖ As prosperity grows in Latin America, so does cancer–and at such a rate it’s being called an epidemic with grave consequences for the future.

Colombia leads all nations in the number of people displaced internally, fleeing violence.

Mixed Bag

❖ If you’re into awesome, go here.

❖ From the “How Low Can They Go” Department.  Funders want to remain anonymous, too.

Break Time

Hostiles and Renegades