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December 14, 2012

The Roundup for December 14, 2012

Posted in: Uncategorized

Your Friday news:

International Developments

❖ The European Court of Human Rights issued an “historic judgment” in the Khaled el-Masri case.  “CIA agents tortured a German citizen [el-Masri], sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on.”  Emptywheel has more on the impact on the US/CIA.

400 US troops and 2 Patriot missile batteries are being sent to Turkey “as part of the NATO effort to protect Turkey from potential Syrian attack”.  Germany and the Netherlands will provide 400 troops and 2 Patriot missile batteries each, also.

“Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has resigned after prosecutors decided to charge him with breach of trust.”  He also resigned as Deputy Prime Minister.

International Finance

❖ “The EU needs fresh powers to wind up failing banks in a speedy push to the next phase of banking union,” says  Emperor European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, “after a landmark agreement on centralised supervision.”  Video, which ends with his saying austerity must continue, else the suffering so far will have been in vain.

New tax rates for Greece.  Those making more than $55,000 pay 42% in taxes.   Since incomes above $130,770 were previously taxed at a 45% rate, some get a break.  Greeks earning less than $32,700 will supposedly benefit, too.  No details on enforcement measures.  Also,  eurozone finance ministers have released  €34.4 billion to Greece.

❖ “Existing and former employees of UBS have been put on notice that they are being investigated by the UK financial watchdog in a new phase of the accelerating probe into alleged rigging of the Libor benchmark rate.”  The US Dept of Justice is “negotiating” with UBS, possibly to achieve a non-prosecution or deferred prosecution agreement.

House prices in Spain fell 15.2% between the third quarter of last and this year.

Money Matters, USA

Robert Reich asks:  “Why is Washington Obsessing About the Deficit and Not Jobs and Wages?”

Charles Evans of the Chicago Fed argued a year ago that the Fed wasn’t “taking the unemployment half of its dual mandate seriously enough . . .  Now, just a year later, the Fed has fully embraced the so-called Evans rule by linking interest rates to the unemployment rate.”

Politics USA

WI Republican Gov Scott Walker’s back in the news with the revelation that a fellow  who contributed $25,000 cash to Walker’s campaign ended up with $1 million of state funds awarded to his firm.  The donor also funded “voter suppression billboards” in Milwaukee inner-city areas.

❖ Having waged Wars on Workers, Women and Wolves these past few days, the MI legislature has turned to awards.   Detroit Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Illitch will be able “to bring a new $650 million development project to downtown Detroit” under a recently-passed bill.  Some Democrats are objecting that the bill “would rob the school aid fund”.  Update:  The Legislature has also sent the Governor legislation  allowing concealed weapons in “schools, churches, day care centers and sports stadiums.”

KKKKarl’s Crossroads GPS  filed  with the IRS to obtain tax-exempt status–in September, 2010–but the IRS hasn’t acted on it, according to a copy of the paperwork that ProPublica has obtained.  If denied, Crossroads GPS would have to “reveal the identities of [all its Dark Money] donors.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

IA Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has notified the US Dept. of Health & Human Services that his state “will create a state-federal partnership exchange to help Iowans buy health insurance”.

CA’s Public Utilities Commission has approved a federal program that will “provide potentially millions of Californians with free cellphones and service”.  Homeless advocates in the state have been working for two years to get the program approved.

Women & Children

A public admonishment is being imposed by the CA Commission on Judicial Performance on an Orange County judge who said “a rape victim ‘didn’t put up a fight’ during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body ‘will not permit that to happen’.” (The rapist made horrific threats.)

❖ Just this past August, the US Prison Rape Elimination Act was implemented.  This article discusses activities thus far, including the Just Detention International (JDI) training being done with staff at five Miami-Dade (FL) detention sites.

Education Directions

Testimony from a juvenile court judge before the Senate Judiciary Committee:  Increased police presence in middle and high schools was followed by a 1000% increase in court referrals, a decrease in graduation rates, an increase in the juvenile crime rate, and so on.  The judge sought cooperation with the school superintendent and chief of police, resulting in an 83% decrease in referrals to his court.

Why are Republicans using the euphemism ‘opportunity scholarships’ for ‘vouchers’?  Surely they aren’t trying to fool the public.  A majority of Texans don’t want them–they “want more money for public schools”–but the TX legislature intends to take up vouchers, too.

Working for A Living

Non-medical employees of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center are unionizing and, in the process, trying to educate the public.  One employee told the press she had to use a local food bank, wages were so low.  In response, UPMC told the employee that a food bank had just been set-up and they wanted her to be the first to know.  How really, really special.

❖ Brief interview with MI Republican Gov. Rick Snyder about ”right-to-work” laws. Snyder praised IN’s experience of attracting large employers as a result of IN’s”right-to-work” laws–contrary to the fact that fewer jobs were created in IN after “right-to-work” legislation than before.

Heads Up!

❖ The son of Hidalgo, TX’s Chief of Police and Department of Homeland Security advisor, has been charged, along with three others, of “accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to guard cartel cocaine shipments.”  One of the others is son of a Hidalgo County Sheriff, and the remaining two were on the Sheriff’s Narcotics task Force.

❖ A 12-year old who has brittle bone disease and uses a wheelchair was separated from her mother for over an hour while the Transportation Security Administration did whatever they do after saying she “tested positive for explosives” on her palms and fingers.  Both mother and daughter in tears.  Video.

Planet Earth News

❖ Nearly 40% of people in the US think Superstorm Sandy and other natural disasters mean we’re in  Biblical End Times.  The good news is that almost all of the remaining 60% think the catastrophes are due to climate change.

France has banned use of bisphenol A, or BPA, from all food and beverage containers.

Latin America

❖ Gripping photos of Brazil’s Guarani-Kaiowa people, on the edge of existence.

❖ A US federal court “has sentenced Gen Mauricio Santoyo, who was [Colombian] President Alvaro Uribe’s security chief, to 13 years in jail for links with paramilitaries.”

Break Time

Big Country



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