❖ “US and UK to wait on fresh evidence over Syria chemical weapons claims”, as the “soil samples have degraded over time.”
❖ April in Iraq: 712 people, mostly civilians, killed due to terrorism, violence.
❖ Sufian bin Qumu fought with the Libyan Islamic Fighting group and the Taliban, was in Guantanamo, participated in the Benghazi uprising and now is a suspect in the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi. His case raises “the broader question of . . . political Islam in post-Gaddafi Libya”.
❖ Kenneth Bae has been sentenced by North Korea to 15 years of hard labor for anti-government crimes. The US State Department wants Bae released “immediately on humanitarian grounds.”
❖ “Why are Buddhist monks attacking Muslims?”
❖ Oh, noooos. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats party has “slipped in the polls” to below 40%. General Election coming up in September, too.
❖ May Day protests in the eurozone.
Money Matters USA
❖ 32 mentally disabled men worked at an IA turkey processing plant where they were treated “with ‘malice or reckless indifference’”. A jury has awarded $240m to them, though not much can be collected since the company is long gone.
❖ Foreclosure settlement checks–typically for much smaller amounts than anticipated–have been mailed, with no explanation of how the amount “awarded” was determined.
❖ US manufacturing slowed last month; “construction spending fell in March.”
❖ Speed-up occurring as employers try “to control expenses by making do with their existing staff”–rather than hiring new workers.
❖ “Jobless claims fall sharply to five-year low”.
❖ TX Department of Public Safety Officials: not our responsibility to educate ”residents in West–and in other Texas towns–about possible dangers of chemicals stored in nearby facilities”. (Check out their shoes.)
❖ Updates on the West, TX fertilizer plant explosion investigation.
❖ May Day! Begun in the USA and celebrated everywhere but not so much here, has now been proclaimed “Loyalty Day”.
❖ Juan Cole thinks President Obama “doesn’t want to intervene in Syria.”
❖ President Obama is reportedly considering “naming officials to work on moving Guantanamo detainees”.
❖ President Obama has nominated Michael Froman, International Economic Affairs advisor to the White House, as the new US Trade Representative. This signals that “trade will receive much higher priority” in Obama’s second term. More here. Click around.
❖ Super-wealthy Penny Pritzker, President Obama’s nominee for Commerce Secretary, is on the board of Hyatt Hotels which the AFL-CIO is boycotting world-wide. There’s also a small matter of off-shore tax shelters. Click around.
❖ Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR): “Please join me and Democracy for America–and put yourself on record at FixTheFilibuster.com: We can’t wait any longer to make the Senate work.”
❖ WI Gov. Scott Walker (R)’s public-private job creating agency has lost $56m, didn’t enforce wage requirements, and doesn’t have data available to assess its accomplishments. Tragically, Walker’s “empire is beginning to crumble from within . . . as Republican legislators [begin to] stand up for their constituents”.
❖ The FBI investigated the NASA computer used by a Chinese research scientist–and found porn.
❖ More on that story out of KY about the 5-year-old who shot and killed his 2-year-old sister: The rifle the little boy used is one of the Crickett and Chipmunk rifles for children produced by Keystone Sporting Arms in Milton, PA.
❖ HI’s legislature approved “a bill expanding background checks to individuals seeking to bring firearms” into the state.
❖ “US drone strikes being used as alternative to Guantanamo”, says John Bellinger, who drafted “the legal framework for targeted drone killings . . . after 9/11″. Drone death count is now approximately 4,700 people by 300 drones.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) says his state will expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.
❖ SC’s state house has “passed a nullification bill to block enforcement of ObamaCare”.
❖ “An antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea“ has some analysts alarmed that its “effects could match those of AIDS.”
❖ Huge for-profit chain, HCA, has bought two more hospitals in the Kansas City, MO area. It now owns 10 hospitals in the region.
❖ $1 out of every $5 spend on pharmaceuticals for the CA prison system is for anti-psychotic drugs–down from $1.70 three years ago.
The War on Women
❖ How the Peace Corps treated a volunteer who was raped.
❖ “Antibiotic ‘Protects’ Men from Sneaky Hot Women.”
❖ Teachers at Pine Eagle Charter School in Union County, OR were having a staff meeting when “two masked men” burst in and opened fire. They were firing blanks, part of an “‘active shooter’ drill”. Jeebus.
❖ Roxbury’s Orchard Gardens public school was ranked in the bottom five of MA’s public schools until a new principal came along, fired the security guards and hired arts teachers. Today it has “one of the fastest student improvement rates statewide”. Great story.
❖ Firefox owner, Mozilla, has fired off a cease-and-desist letter to Finfisher owner, Gamma International, claiming its surveillance software is “disguised as the Firefox browser”. 36 countries, US included, use the software.
Planet Earth News
❖ Non-profit group Ceres: fracking will strain water resources “from the suburbs of Fort Worth to western Colorado”.
❖ An ALEC anti-clean energy bill was rammed through the NC state senate by hotly-contested voice vote.
❖ “Venezuela Celebrates May Day with New Minimum Wage”–20% higher than the old one.
❖ Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) on the US wanting a recount in the Venezuela presidential election: ”Venezuela didn’t ask for a recount in Florida”.
❖ Deep inside the Temple of the Feathered Serpent.