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International Developments

United Nations’ top human rights official warns of “‘much greater urgency’ in efforts to end the conflict in Syria, saying massacres carried out in recent days should spur international action.”  She disparaged “disgraceful disregard for the protection of civilians”.

❖ “Assad forces gaining ground in Syria“, with the “support of Iran and Russia and the assistance of fighters with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.”

❖ “[T]he leader of Hezbollah--the Shia movement in southern Lebanon–made it clear that he saw weapons transfers from Syria as a ‘strategic response’ to the Israeli air strikes” on the outskirts of Damascus last week.

❖ “Turkey says world must act against Syria after . . . car bombings that killed 46 people in a Turkish border town”.  Update:  Syria has denied responsibility in the car bombings.

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister claims there are around 800 Tunisians fighting in “Islamist rebel ranks in Syria”.

Imran Khan’s PTI party won an unprecedented 30 seats in the recent Pakistani elections.  Nonetheless, Khan’s PTI party will “complain about vote-rigging”.

Things are calmer in Libya, with gunmen lifting their siege of the justice and foreign ministries.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be meeting Russian President Valdimir Putin next week–in Russia.  Will he be using that $127,000 bed on his flight?

International Finance

G7 countries–the US, Germany, Japan, the UK, Italy, France and Canada--met and decided, by golly and by gum, that tax cheats must be dealt with.  No word on how or when, though.

Right on cue comes this report from ActionAid that “The UK’s 100 biggest public companies are running more than 8,000 subsidiaries or joint ventures in onshore and offshore tax havens”.

❖ “Tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said.”

While the US and transnational corporations are negotiating–in secret–the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, results for the first year of the Free Trade Agreement between the US and Korea have come in:  US exports to Korea are down 10% ($4.2bn), the US trade deficit with Korea is up 37%, beef-pork-poultry exports have declined and so on.

❖ “Large Corporations Seek U.S.-European ‘Free Trade Agreement’ to Further Global Dominance: The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the latest plan of conglomerates to strengthen their grip over the planet.”

Money Matters USA

❖ “Bloomberg terminals used by every Wall Street trader may have also been used by Bloomberg News reporters as a lens through which to monitor bankers’ activity.”  Update (and how!):  “Bloomberg Journalists Tracked Terminal Use Of Top Officials”–including Ben Bernanke (The Fed) and Timmie Geithner (US Treasury).  Update:  The Treasury and Federal Reserve are “looking into potential privacy breaches.”

Video about “Job Creators” that is making the rounds.  Here’s the speaker’s wiki including the history of the video.

❖ Oh, nooooos.  Calls by shareholders to split Jamie Dimon’s jobs of Chief Executive and Chairman got so loud that two Board heavvies had to actually pen a letter in his defense.

The US spends $18bn on “immigration enforcement agencies”–more than the combined total for all other “principal criminal federal law enforcement”, although the number of llegal immigrants through the Mexican-US border has been steady for several years.  Workers aren’t cycling in and out as in the past, though; now they stay.

Politics USA

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Chair, has pledged “to dig into IRS practices after the agency revealed that [Cincinnati, OH office employees] had inappropriately targeted conservative non-profits for additional review.”

Republicans are “pushing for yet another congressional hearing on Benghazi to force Hillary Clinton to testify.  Update:  Thomas Pickering, “who penned a highly critical report on security” at the embassy outpost in Benghazi, “absolved then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

❖ The airport sequestration carve-out is now complete, with “Control towers at 149 small airports to stay open”, too.

The governor, the cook, the governor’s wife, the attorney general, and the CEO.

The War on Women

Eleven graphs showing “How Motherhood Is Changing Dramatically”.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, is going to “boycott a visit by Irish premier Enda Kenny to Boston College because his government in Dublin is ‘aggressively promoting abortion legislation.’”

❖ Speechless.  “India Bihar rapes ’caused by lack of toilets’.”

Education Directions

Almost 60% of Chicago voters disapprove Rahmbo’s “attempt to downsize elementary schools” (75% of those with “children in public schools”).  Since the public schools Rahm wants to close are in largely black and Hispanic communities, 74% of black (64% of Hispanic) voters disapprove of him and 77% of black voters (69% of Hispanics) “disliked his closing plans”.

Heads Up!

“Omaha police officers are hitting the streets with a clear directive: Don’t interfere with citizens’ right to record police action.”

❖ Meanwhile, Baltimore cops allegedly beat up a woman for filming them beating up a man.

Oakland, CA has a new police chief, the third one in as many days.

Attorney General Eric Holder told Law School grads at UC Berkeley that “Civilian courts best to try terror cases”.

Planet Earth News

❖ Trying to have it both ways:  White House outlines new policy for protecting, drilling in Arctic”.

With carbon dioxide levels breaking the 3 million year record, “Scientists are calling on world leaders to take action on climate”.

❖ “A domestic gas boom . . . has lowered U.S. energy prices while stoking fears of environmental disaster.”  Energy companies are falling all over themselves to get permits “for proposed export projects that could set off a renewed frenzy of fracking.”

Cambridge scientists, using cross-pollination and seed embryo transfer (rather than genetic modification a la frankenfoods), have developed a wheat strain for feeding a hungry world.

Looks like Montana’s going to expand hunting of wolves.

Massacre in the Dzana-Ndoki Park (Central African Republic) with a reported 26 elephants killed by ivory poachers “using a scientist’s observation platform to shoot the animals.”

Break Time

Gadalaiki – Pavasaris