Hello.

International Developments

Interactive map showing where the drones are in the Middle East and Africa.  Drones under Operation Nomad Shadow in Turkey are for pursuing Kurdish  rebels.

❖ “Attacks in Iraq kill 13, as toll from previous day’s powerful wave of attacks passes 70.”

Alarm in the UK as Prime Minister David Cameron says “The Assad government may have got ‘stronger’ in recent months, but more can be done to help Syria’s opposition forces”.

❖ “Israel to free [a number of] Palestinian prisoners over Kerry talks”.  Update:  “The way in which Kerry is dealing with the conflict will almost certainly lead to yet another failure, and the resulting crash.”

Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of the UK’s MI6 “has threatened to expose the secrets of the ‘dodgy dossier’” put together by Tony Blair, et al., as lead-up to the Iraq War, if the Chilcot Inquiry doesn’t set the record straight.

During joint US-Australia training exercises, the US dropped two bombs on the Great Barrier Reef which “possibly caused minimal damage”, because they didn’t explode.

International Finance

“Amid Greek austerity, plunder of priceless treasures . . . some of the country’s ancient treasures become a target for thieves.”

❖ Did somebody slip them a reality pill or is this a ruse?  “G-20 Ministers Aim for More Job Growth.“  They “are fully committed to take decisive actions to return to a robust, job-rich growth path.” More:  “The debate between growth and austerity seems to have come to an end.”

❖ “For the first time in decades, the world’s biggest powers look ready to close loopholes that big companies exploit to pay little or not tax.”

❖ Apparently a big fan of Austerity, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew “urged Greece to persevere with tough economic reforms.”   Meanwhile, a main Austerity pusher, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble,  paid a visit to Greece, too. (Greeks weren’t fooled.)

❖ ["[Widespread fiscal austerity exerted a palpable drag, resulting in sluggish GDP growth for the global economy throughout the year."  Except the top 1% whose  "fortunes soared in 2012."

Money Matters USA

Who enlisted Christie's auction house to take a look at the Detroit Institute of Art's treasures?

Photos of Detroit in by-gone days.  (Do note what litter-bugs the "wealthy residents" were.)

❖ "Gov. Rick Snyder [(R)]: Government bailoutis the wrong answer for Detroit.”  Meanwhile, Detroit Mayor David Bing is talking to the White House.

A former CEO took a strong interest in unemployment in the 2000′s,  even publishing and distributing his own Real Unemployment Rate statistics. He’s been trying to get Washington to “get real” about the economy and labor.

❖ “The government can pursue ‘enhanced’ penalties from Houston-based defense contractor KBR Inc over allegations that employees took kickbacks involving military contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, a federal appeals court ruled”.  KBR, a Dick “Dick” Cheney special.

Generals and admirals and mansions, oh my.

❖ Banks running amok. Since 2003, banks have been able to trade in physical commodity markets. Goldman Sachs has been trading in aluminum–which has cost US consumers $5bn+ over the last three years.

Surveillance Planet

❖ Is she hiding something?  “Despite intense political pressure, German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered no new details on the extent of USA surveillance activities in Germany”.  Ah-hah:  Contrary to what “Angela Merkel and her ministers claim”,  German intelligence services themselves use one of the NSA’s most valuable tools.”

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ): “The executive branch now views every American as a potential suspect first, and as a citizen second . . .. When our government suspects its own citizens we have lost the founding principles of liberty and equality.”

❖ “Right and left [in the US] unite on surveillance issue.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is trying to “fast-track legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails and other private online messages.” Would it cover emails shared by the NSA with local police?

Politics USA

❖ The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals:  “A journalist who disclosed details of a secret CIA operation cannot shield his source when he testifies at the [criminal] trial of a former federal agent charged with leaking classified information”.

❖ “[A] faction of more moderate Republican senators are increasingly . . . partnering with Democrats on key issues.”

❖ We need more of this.  “Democratic mayoral candidates got a first-hand look at living conditions inside the New York City Housing Authority system . . . during a special sleepover event.”

Drones ‘n Guns

❖ “A federal judge . . . sharply and repeatedly challenged the Obama administration’s claim that courts have no power over targeted drone killings of American citizens overseas.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

61% . . . “would vote for a candidate who said that government must help the working poor and an overwhelming 84 percent said that addressing the problems of low-wage workers should be a top priority.”

About 75% of  “the 2.3 million to 3.5 million people in the United States who are homeless” smoke, according to a report in the NEJM.

❖ “South Carolina public health officials gravely mishandled a tuberculosis . . . outbreak at a rural elementary school”.  Hundreds exposed, “including some 465 children”.

❖ “New Federally Funded Study Proves Marijuana Safe & Effective As Medicine”.

Education Directions

In Minnesota, lack of funding has left “schools as a setting of last resort for students with problems ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder.”

On-line education funded by equity investors and tested at San Jose State (CA) has thus far been a “Flop”.

Planet Earth News

❖ Wonderful story:  “Brazil develops ‘superfoods’ to combat hidden hunger: Eight biofortified foods . . ..”

❖ “Message from the mud:  East Antarctic meltdown could cause massive sea rise”.

Monsanto “has dropped its bid to get more genetically modified crops onto the European market due to the wide-spread popular opposition.”

❖ “‘Nobody understands’ spills at Alberta oil sands operation“.  The spills “have been going on for weeks with no end in sight”.

Water in the Anthropocene.

Break Time

Losing Detroit.