Hello.

Breaking:  ”One of the worst tornadoes in history”.   Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, OK was worst hit.  Widespread destruction.  Live video here.

International Developments

❖ “Syrian army claims to have seized rebel stronghold [Qusair]” while Israel “threatens more air strikes”.

Attacks around Iraq have killed “at least 70 in Shia, Sunni areas: Baghdad car bomb kills 13 in latest attack as week-long death toll rises to at least 213.”  Update:  86 are reported dead.  10 car bombs in Baghdad alone, more in “Shia Basra and Sunni Samarra”.

Seven members of Egypt’s security forces “were seized last week in the Sinai peninsula.”  Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi says there’s “no room for dialogue with the criminals.”  Update:  “Egyptian tanks and armored personnel carriers are now in the Sinai.

International Finance

The European Commission’s “investigation into the possible manipulation of energy price benchmarks has widened, with Brussels seeking new information from trading houses”.  Last week they actually raided “BP, Royal Dutch Shell, . . . Statoil of Norway”, and Platts, “the price reporting agency”.

❖ “Another week, another fund manager arrested for alleged insider trading.”  That would be Mark Lyttleton, “former star manager at BlackRock, the world’s largest investment house.”

Seems all that Swiss bank secrecy is coming to an end.

Money Matters USA

The US Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee are “discussing” a bill that would “give Barack Obama authority to pass planned trade deals with the EU and 11 Pacific nations swiftly”.  Business groups are planning to “educate” Congress, and us, about how great this is.

❖ According to the Congressional Budget Office, President Obama’s budget “would trim projected federal deficits by $1.1 trillion over the coming decade.”

Sheila Bair, who should know, says Dodd-Frank actually did end TBTF and tax-payer bailouts are a thing of the past.

Politics US

❖ “Timothy Geithner Is Key to IRS Scandal“.  Apparently, the chain of command goes from Steve Miller > Doug Shulman > Timothy Geithner > White House.  And yet, “Geithner’s name just keeps not coming up”.  Will it in the future?

KKKKarl “says his super PAC [Crossroads GPS] is same as NAACP because it’s for ‘social welfare’”.

A Fox News reporter, James Rosen, was spied on “extensively” by the Department of Justice back in 2009.  DOJ “obtained a warrant to view his personal emails” and surveilled his “every interaction with the State Department”.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is saying there’s a memo showing the IRS was “targeting people who were opposed to the president.”  He hasn’t seen it, but he’s sure it exists.

❖ Oh, noooos.  The FBI is also probing Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN)’s campaign finances.

❖ ‘Winger radio host  Pete Santilli said that he wanted “to shoot former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the vagina” and to “see President Obama tried and shot for treason.”  He’s attracted the US Secret Service.

❖ “The Virginia GOP’s nominee for lieutenant governor [E. W. Jackson] said last fall that Planned Parenthood, the Democratic Party, and its black civil rights allies are guilty of ‘genocide’.” More on Jackson.

The FBI has arrested AR’s Treasurer, Martha Shoffner (D) “for extortion”.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

University of California – San Francisco Medical Center and Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, VT are switching to meat that is not raised using non-therapeutic antibiotics.  Over “440 hospitals across the country have signed a pledge to obtain “ecologically-sustainable, economically-viable and socially-just” food.

One couple pays “$34,934.88 for a year’s worth of ‘coverage’ that includes neither dental nor vision nor podiatry, carries a $10,000 deductible, and is regularly refused by many doctors because the company doles out payment with a costive eyedropper.”

12-year-old female science student in FL tested the ice at fast food restaurants and compared it to “the toilet water in the same restaurants.  She found the toilet water was cleaner.” More on her research.

The War on Women

Sexual assault in the military is a long- to life-time burden on those who bear the trauma and the institutions that are there to help.  “The VA says 1 in 5 women and 1 in 100 men screen positive for military sexual trauma.”  85,000 of them sought “health care or disability benefits related to the attacks.”

VA state Sen Mark Obenshain (R) “once introduced a bill that would charge women with a Class 1 misdemeanor if they failed to report a miscarriage to police.”  Obenshain is running for the state attorney general.

A lesbian couple in TX has been ordered to either live apart or give up custody of their children.

Education Directions

1200 Harvard students outraged “over a doctoral dissertation [by Jason Richwine] arguing that Hispanic immigrants lack ‘raw cognitive ability or intelligence’” signed a petition “urging an investigation of how the thesis came to be approved” and a ban on such research.

Heads Up!

Julian Assange claims he accessed “British agency [Government Communications Headquarters] chatter, which allegedly calls extradition ‘a fit-up’.”

New report that “details how state/regional ‘fusion center’ personnel monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement over the course of 2011 and 2012″ and “worked to benefit numerous corporations engaged in public-private intelligence sharing partnerships.”

Planet Earth News

March Against Monsanto: “On May 25, on 6 continents, in 36 countries, and in 250 cities and counting, tens of thousands of activists will March Against Monsanto.”

Professor James Hansen warns “Tar sands exploitation would mean game over for climate”.

There has been an unexpected slowdown in climate warming, but it’s “No comfort whatsoever” since the long-term predictions still stand.

Remarkable:  “massive underground waterway and water storage area built to protect Tokyo from flooding during monsoons.

Latin America

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has “the highest approval rating of Latin America and the Caribbean with 90 percent”.  (Google translation)

Venezuela is “taking steps to restore U.S. diplomatic ties”.

Venezuela is also restoring water service in certain parts of Caracas where it’s been out for three days.

Mixed Bag

RIP Ray Manzarek, keyboadist, The Doors.

Break Time

Ecuador Andes Pastor Solitario