Howdy!

International Developments

❖ “Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey . . . said the Obama administration should be given the chance to exhaust all diplomatic options to end the Syrian civil war, urging caution over calls for the U.S. to establish a no-fly zone in the country.”

❖ WTF?  “Iraq official says Baghdad open to US military aid.”  Gen. Dempsey says no combat troops.

❖ “Turkey protests: hundreds set up barricades in Ankara: Main road is blocked in working-class district of Dikmen as small core of protesters continue daily demonstrations.”

“Tunisia frees three Europeans jailed for topless feminist protest”.

❖ “China resettles two million Tibetans” into “socialist villages” where government plants “have been instructed to eat, live and work with the villagers . . . and [identify those] whose loyalty to the Party or the government is questionable.”

International Finance

❖ Austerity is not the road to prosperity. Case in point: “Ireland falls back into recession despite multibillion-euro austerity drive . . . Ireland has endured three successive quarters of recession.”

European Union Finance ministers have a “draft deal” for future bank rescues:   “[B]anks’ creditors and shareholders will take the first hits, followed by savers with deposits of more than . . . £85,000″, next governments will have to help and, lastly, taxpayers.  Update: The plan has been approved, now goes to the European Parliament and if approved will be implemented in . . . wait for it . . .  2018.

There’s an EU summit going on in Brussels where they’re supposed to be addressing the dire unemployment situation “blighting much of Europe”.

US-based Goodyear tire company is ready to close its factory in Amiens, France, but unions are fighting closure tooth and nail, and in the courts.

Money Matters USA

Brooksley Born ran afoul of the bankers and O-team because she was interested in–gasp!–regulating derivatives.  New head of the Commodifies Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler, experienced similar difficulties, and has effectively been fired.  If he stands firm, new regulations could be in place before his scheduled departure, though the big guns are after him.  His telephone number is at the link.

❖ “Buy America” bills are growing in state capitols, causing “a dilemma for the Obama administration in the trade talks” negotiations.  Meanwhile, “US business are mounting their own powerful campaign against Buy America”.

Surveillance Planet

❖ “Ex-Pentagon general target of leak investigation“.  He’s Marine General James Cartwright.

Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman: “The Obama Administration for more than two years permitted the National Security Agency to continue collecting vast amounts of records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans”.  Remember Stellar Wind?  Kenneth Wainstein, Michael Mukasey?

❖ On-line now:  2007 “Justice Department [Mukasey] and NSA memos proposing broader powers for NSA to collect data.”

US officials claim some terrorists are changing their communications methods after learning of Edward Snowden’s leaks.  Not many details, of course, since it’s all secret.

4 CIA officers embedded with the NYPD “in the decade after Sept. 11, 2001″.  The CIA and NYPD “concluded [that the arrangement] had not violated a law and an executive order” prohibiting the CIA “from domestic spying or performing of law-enforcement powers.”

❖ “Ecuador has ramped up its defiance of the US over Edward Snowden by waiving preferential trade rights with Washington even as the whistleblower’s prospect of reaching Quito dimmed.”

❖  A fellow in San Leandro, CA, became curious and “asked the city for a record of every time [police car] scanners had photographed” his vehicles.  Result: 112 photos.

Politics USA

68-32, the vote by which the Senate passed its comprehensive immigration reform bill.” On to the House!

Sen. Harry “Leader” Reid (D-NV) has decided there’s no agreeable Senate solution to student loan rates doubling July 1, so the Democrats will try in July to freeze the rate at the current level for one year.

Bill and Hillary Clinton hailed “the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act”, which then-President Bill Clinton signed “into law on Sept. 21, 1996.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and congressional Democrats “are planning new legislation to render ineffective Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act”.  The bill could be named “after civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis (D).”

❖ “House Conservatives Threaten to Depose [House Speaker John] Boehner [R-OH] If He Breaks Hastert Rule on Immigration”.  (The Hastert Rule = no bill can be brought up for a vote in the House unless a majority of the majority party supports it.)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chair of the House Oversight Committee, asked investigators to “narrowly focus on tea party organizations” in conducting their IRS audit.

The Inspector General for Tax Administration maintains the term ‘progressive’ “was not used by the agency to identify ‘potential political cases for extra scrutiny.’”  Democrats are “pressing” the IRS Inspector General over the way the IRS audit was conducted.

USSC

Charles P. Pierce on “The Supreme Dick Of The Supreme Court“:  “Alito is the king of the dicks, the last and lasting vengeance of George W. Bush.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has noted a 4-hour gap in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services emails on March 22, “one of the days of high activity in health insurance stock trading.”  He’s concerned that “operatives in the political intelligence industry might have tipped off investors about CMS plan . . . to reverse proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage”.  Stay tuned.

The War on Women

❖  Panties in a bunch much?  TX Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) says pro-choicers in the state Senate gallery were using “Obama-style, mob-rule politics” and  “Occupy Wall Street tactics”; TX Gov. Rick Perry (R) says state Sen. Wendy Davis (D)’s filibuster was “nothing more than the hijacking of the democratic process”. Perry steps on the low road.

John Oliver’s take.

How TX Republicans will get their abortion bill passed.

Heads Up!

❖ “Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev indicted . . . on [30] charges of killing four people and using a weapon of mass destruction.”

❖ “10 things about extradition“, back to Ramses II.

Break Time

❖ So, how’re things in Ecuador anyway?