Good evening.

International Developments

❖ The heavvies have flexed:  “Army Gives [Egyptian] Politicians 48 Hours”.  President Morsi won’t budge until the US says so.

❖ “Suicide bomber targets Iraq Shia mosque killing 22.”

❖ “Pakistan angers Afghans by suggesting Taliban share power”.

Monks in Rangoon, Burma demonstrate against Time Magazine.

❖ “More action is needed to stop militants acquiring plutonium or highly-enriched uranium that could be used for atomic bombs, nuclear experts and government officials said” at a meeting in Vienna.

International Finance

❖ But why?  “Croatia has become the 28th member of the European Union”.

Both the “director and deputy director of the Vatican bank have resigned”.

Money Matters USA

Krugman:  “War On the Unemployed”.  There’s “a nationwide movement under way to punish the unemployed, based on the proposition that we can cure unemployment by making the jobless even more miserable.”

❖ Another way to screw American workers: Issue pre-paid cards rather than pay checks.  Workers must pay a fee to use the cards–sometimes so large that “some employees end up making less than the minimum wage”.

VA is using prepaid cards, too–for individual tax refunds.  Thanks to Republicans.

Tribune Co of Chicago “emerged from bankruptcy protection Dec. 31″ and has  earnings problems.  So, it just announced the purchase of Local TV Holdings for  $2.73bn. Loan backers are “JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse”.

❖ “Nightmare” traffic in San Francisco as BART workers strike.

Surveillance Planet

Major expose of the NSA in Europe,  “the absolute surveillance of a country’s people and foreign citizens” without oversight and control; bugging inside countries and embassies, key access points such as Fort Meade, corporate partners, and Utah.

President Obama trying to calm  European allies about US spying.  “The EU has demanded that the United States explain”, “French President Francois Hollande [said] the alleged spying [is] intolerable” and must “stop fast”, and “French parties call for Snowden political asylum.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “The monitoring of friends–that is unacceptable, it can’t be tolerated.”   “[T]he fight on terror is no longer a valid excuse.”  Information Superiority or Information Sovereignty?

❖ You don’t say.  “Snowden Leaks Cloud U.S. Plan to Curb China Hacking”.

 FISA court members “are chafing at the suggestion that they were collaborating with the executive branch.” Nonetheless, Judge Kollar-Kotelly did ok the “gathering of information by the NSA” in July, 2004 and ”the bulk collection of phone metadata from U.S. phone companies” in 2006.

What gives with this man? Does Congress accept his lies?

❖ And from a strange space-time coordinate we learn “Bush says ‘civil liberties were guaranteed‘ under his NSA Internet surveillance”.  To the contrary.

❖ ”Snowden has asked for asylum in Russia”; 15 countries all total. Russia, US  collaborating to find a solution, more.  Snowden’s letter to Ecuador and his statement from Moscow.

❖ “For First Time, U.S. Government Admits Some Wiretaps were Foiled by Encryption”.

❖ “Pols, pundits weigh in on NSA report“.

Major opinion piece by David Rothkopf:  “U.S. Intelligence community is out of control.”

Politics USA

❖ San Diego man “Not Guilty” for washable chalk protest messages.

❖ Of course you wouldn’t go hunting with ex-Veep Dick “Dick” Cheney (R), but what about Antonin Scalia?

❖ “America is Under Siege As The Koch Brothers Look to Replace the Constitution.”

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes will take on KY Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) in 2014.

Jersey City has a new mayor, one “to Match Jersey City’s Ambitions”.

TX ‘winger group, A Better America Now, shelled out $65,000 for a–ahem–colorful  mailer against a Democrat running for congress, then told the IRS they didn’t “spend any money–direct or indirect–[on] political campaign activities.”

❖ Here they are, finally:  Archdiocese of Milwaukee Documents.

Gun Corner

❖ “A state judge blocked Mississippi’s open-carry gun law from taking effect”.

Children in LA are being shot at three times the US rate; communities are “shaken”.

The War on Women

TX capitol grounds were packed with supporters of legal, safe abortion as the special session of the legislature convened. Ordered by Gov. Rick Perry (R) after the last session didn’t produce what he wanted, the special session met for an hour, then recessed.  Live blog and photos.

❖ “American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World.”

❖ “Former President Jimmy Carter says religious leaders share the blame for mistreatment of women across the world” through “doctrines of male superiority” leading to “violence against women, a worldwide sex slave trade and inequality in the workplace and classroom”.

Education Directions

Senate committee report on for-profit higher-education outfits: “such institutions got $32 billion of student aid from the government in the 2009-10 academic year [yet] charge higher fees than state universities [and] spend less on teaching.  Their  drop-out rates are alarming”.

Planet Earth News

19 heroic firefighters have perished battling it, and now the blaze at Yarnell, AZ has quadrupled in size, leading officials to double  the number of firefighters on the fire-line.

Fracking in PA has yielded royalty checks described by affected land owners as “tiny”.  Adding injury to insult, some are even being charged “post production costs which has resulted in receiving a BILL in the thousands of dollars instead of a check”.  A PA senate committee hearing revealed that and more.  MA is watching.

❖ “Disequilibrium will become the norm in the plant communities of the future”.

❖ “With ‘Warm Storm’ at Its Heart and Heatwaves Rushing in From The Sides, Arctic Sea Ice Braces for Major Blow”.  Thank heavens our politicians and world leaders are working feverishly to combat these changes.

90-95% of Gaza’s water aquifer is “contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater”.  Currently, 80% of Gazans buy their drinking water, paying “as much as a third of their household income for water”.

Latin America

Center-Left candidate Michelle Bachelet has won Chile’s “first ever presidential primary”.  Presidential elections in November.  The right-wing primary is too close to call at the moment.

Break Time

Relax.