Greetings.

International Developments

❖ Anonymous US military official:  “Marines and other American forces in Europe have been placed on a heightened state of alert” due to a “deteriorating security situation” in Tripoli, Libya.

❖ Turkey says Syria “employed chemical weapons against opposition forces.”

❖ Good grief:  “Two senior members of the Canadian mafia have been murdered in Sicily and their bodies incinerated, victims of what police suspect is a vicious turf war in Canada”.

International Finance

It’s “now ‘harder for a teenager or young adult to find a job in developed economies than in Sub-Saharan Africa.”  In Greece, the youth unemployment rate is 54.2%–and 62.1% among young Greek females.

One woman was found alive today in the rubble of the garment factory building that collapsed in Bangladesh.  1,000+ dead, 2,437 rescued, ”of whom about 1,000 had suffered serious injuries.”

Money Matters USA

Video survey by Chemical Services Board of West, TX, after the fertilizer plant explosion. The New York Times reviews the “patchwork of regulations” that “has led to almost exclusively local control over disaster preparation.’  Nonetheless, “Texas Remains Wary of Regulation“.  Update:  TX has opened a criminal investigation.  Update:The first paramedic on the scene after the explosion has been arrested “and charged with possession of a destructive device”.

Oil has dropped below $95/barrel, the dollar is rising, and “Layoffs have receded to pre-recession levels.”

Congratulations, Congress:  The Post Office had a $1.9bn loss in the second quarter (Jan – Mar, 2013).

The Chamber of Commerce and the US Supreme Court:  hand-in-glove?

MI, IL, IN, OH, WI, TN and KY “account for more than half of the more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs the US gained between March 2010 and March 2013″.

❖ According to the  AFL-CIO’s “Death on the Job” annual report, in 2011, 4,693 workers were killed on the job, an average of 13/day, while around “50,000 died from occupational diseases.”  Job injuries and illnesses cost an estimated $250bn – $300bn/year.

❖ Oh, noooos.  CA has filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase for “illegally abusing credit-card customers and misusing the court system to harass them with lawsuits.”  JPMorgan filed 100,000+ such lawsuits between Jan 2008 – Apr 2011.

❖ Looks like it’s gonna work!  CA’s Homeowner Bill of Rights stipulates that “if the bank loses on an injunction, [it] pays the borrower’s legal fees.”  Two recent cases will be putting it to the test.

Politics USA

❖ Republicans are thrashing about over Benghazi.  House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) demanded release of a State Department-White House email he said would show they knew the attack was done by ‘Islamic terrorists’.  The email was released; it contained the phrase ‘Islamic extremists’.  Update: More on the emails.  Update:  KKKarl’s group, American Crossroads, has a video out “that pillories former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”.  Update:  Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) says Obama could be impeached over Benghazi and accused Hillary Clinton of a “‘forceful attitude’ you usually ‘don’t hear from women’.”

❖ The IRS has apologized “for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election.”  Quite an uproar has ensued, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), calling for investigations.  GOP adjective-of-the-day: Thuggish.

❖ “Senate Republicans boycotted a committee vote on President Obama’s nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency”.  Senate Republicans also refused “to allow what is usually a routine waiver of an obscure Senate rule”, thereby thwarting a vote on the nomination of Thomas Perez to head the Labor Department.

Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) is the “leading candidate” to be CEO and president of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, “one of the biggest lobbying groups for Wall Street.”

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and others are legally challenging MI’s emergency manager law.

❖ More on WI Gov. Scott Walker (R)’s economic development outfit, WEDC:  one of its board members “also has a loan from WEDC.”

NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R) has vetoed a Democrat-backed early voting bill.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

10-year-old filmed his school’s cafeteria to show his parents what the school was actually serving.

KY Gov. Steve Beshear (D) will “accept federal money to expand his state’s Medicaid program under Obamacare.”

The War on Women

Three bills are underway to address the scandal of rape in the US military.  Of 26,000 estimated sexual assaults, 3,374 were  reported (13%), 2,610 completely investigated (10%), leading to 594 court martials (2.3%), 302 cases brought to trial (1.2%), and 238 convictions (0.9%).

The Obama administration wanted “to continue its controversial policy on Plan B” while the courts sort out its legality, but US District Court of New York Judge Edward Korman would have none of it.

❖ “A group of male [ultra-orthodox Jewish] protestors at Jerusalem’s Western Wall . . . spit, threw garbage and shouted abuse at a feminist group of female worshippers.”  Update: The women are being guarded by Israeli police.

Education Directions

Cincinnati, OH has demonstrated how school administrators, teachers’ unions and community groups can work together to  develop and implement an approach that makes for positive outcomes and student success.  “These are the best urban, high-poverty schools in the country.”

❖ Meanwhile, “Wisconsin is at the center of a national school-choice movement that seeks to unmake public education and exchange it for a system of private-school vouchers and unaccountable private charter schools.”

Heads Up!

 One federal whistle-blower’s fight to get his job back in “the sort of topsy-turvy situation which could only exist in the post-9/11 world of the American national security state.”

Planet Earth News

Earth’s carbon dioxide level has reached the record set three million years ago: “the inevitable march toward disaster.”

Two people from Mayflower, AR hand-delivered a letter to State Department Secretary John Kerry asking him “to reject the Keystone pipeline” and inviting him to Mayflower to see first-hand the results of the pipeline rupture there in March.

Two new reports warn of the threat to groundwater that fracking poses.

Mixed Bag

❖ Mars Craters

Break Time

Hello, World, here I am!