CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for July 5, 2012

Good evening! Here’s your news for the day; please feel free to share other news items of interest.

International Developments

? Wikileaks is releasing “more than two million emails from Syrian political figures . . . and associated companies.”

? “Facing diplomatic isolation, Syria’s Assad says he’s willing to step aside.”

? 15 Christians have been killed in Garissa, Kenya, which is near the Somalia border. A group of Kenyan Muslims “has agreed to help their Christian countrymen defend their churches . . . .”

? According to an expert panel’s report, “Japan’s Fukushima nuclear crisis was a preventable disaster resulting from ‘collusion’ among the government, regulators and the plant operator. . ..”

International Economics

? Is this a Putin move or what? “Russia offers Cyprus better bailout conditions” than the EU and International Monetary Fund have offered.

? Over 30 France Telecom employees suicided in 2008-09, and authorities are investigating the former head of the company “for harassment”. He took over the company in 2005 and “presided over an efficiency drive in which tens of thousands of jobs were cut”. Lives, too.

Politics USA

? Charlie Rangle (D-NY)’s win in the 13th Congressional District primary is being challenged by opponent (state Senator) Adrian Espaillat. Rangel’s initial lead has shrunk to 802 and there are still 2,000 paper ballots uncounted.

? Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) are going to become champions of Internet Freedom.

? Those “17 House Democrats who voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt last week” have rekindled interest in why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee allocates so much money to the so-called “Blue Dogs”.

? Ain’t that a shame? “GOP legislators in Louisiana have realized to their horror that their bill to provide vouchers for private religious schools can actually be used by Muslims.

? In Michigan “22 lame-duck state legislators . . . raised $568,000″ last year. MI politicians who decide to run for a different office within the state are allowed to shift funds, though “they are supposed to set up a new committee” if they do so. There are other concerns, including the understaffing of the state’s Bureau of Elections.

? IL Democratic House of Representatives member Jesse Jackson Jr. reportedly is receiving inpatient treatment for “‘physical and emotional ailments’ that are ‘more serious’ than previously believed . . ..”

? Thaddeus McCotter, erstwhile Republican presidential candidate thanks to the huge number of fraudulent signatures “collected” on his behalf, has written a tee-vee show which sounds about as gross as you could imagine.

? Candidate Romney vs Governor Romney. Latest round: Candidate Romney now wants Medicaid to become a block grant program, thus reducing the federal government’s contribution, while Gov Romney “personally negotiated more federal funding for [Medicaid] to finance his health care reform plan” which included expansion of Medicaid.

? “The Simplest Way to Understand the Bain Outsourcing Drama? Think of a Lemonade Stand . . . ”

Money Matters USA

? Interest rates on Special Issue Treasury Securities have been set by formula since 1960. Ben Bernanke, however, has set interest rates at 0 for four years. Since the Social Security Trust Fund invests a “significant portion” in the Special Issue Treasury Securities, it got “murdered” this year. Why does Ben Bernanke have such power over Social Security?

? Surprise, surprise. There was the huge mortgage mess which led to millions being thrown out of their homes. Then there was the quiet stampede by investors to buy up properties and rent them out. Now we learn that vacancy rates for housing are at a “new 10-year low and rents rose at a pace not seen since before the financial crisis.”

? The “government has spent $20 billion to $25 billion a year on counter narcotics efforts over the last decade. . . . more than 55,000 Mexicans and tens of thousands of Central Americans killed by drug-fueled violence . . .. ” Great article, rich with data, on the futility and major costs (including lives) of conducting the War on Drugs.

? In addition to its on-going challenges, the Postal Service is now taking grief for the slowness of its delivery.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Using data collected in 2008 among 12th-graders, researchers concluded “alcohol represented the “gateway” drug, leading to the use of tobacco, marijuana, and other illicit substances.” And a research study at the University of California, San Diego concludes: “Schedule I classification [for marijuana] is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

? It’s been offline for five months now and people living nearby want the San Onofre nuclear power plant shut down permanently.

Latin America

? Recount in Mexico: Due to “inconsistencies” in vote tallies, 54.5% of the votes will be re-counted. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party, the runner-up, has refused to concede.

? Paraguay, which very recently ousted its duly elected president, Fernando Lugo, in highly unusual circumstances, has now recalled its ambassador to Venezuela, “accusing President Hugo Chavez’s government of meddling in an attempt [to] avert the impeachment” of Lugo. Uh-huh.

? More police are being sent deep into the Amazon jungle due to an attack by indigenous people, the Munduruku, against the local police station. A judge earlier released 2 of 4 people suspected of murdering a Munduruku man in June. That triggered the attack on the police station, during which one officer was hit in the arm by an arrow.

? Ecuador’s foreign minister says the Swedish charges against Julian Assanger are “hilarious”–Assange “is charged because his condom broke.” Still no word on the asylum, though.

? “Clashes in northern Peru between police and demonstrators opposing a multi-million dollar gold mining project have left at least three people dead.” A US company, Newmont, has financed the gold mining project, or Conga, which local people fear will destroy their water supplies.

Mixed Bag

? Premature ejaculation in San Diego.

? “UFO Sightings Are More Common Than Voter Fraud”: From 2000-2010, there were: “47,000 UFO sightings [and] 13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation.”

? St. John’s Military School for Boys, the Domestic and foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church (US) and the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas are being sued by former students and parents. Bullying, torture and sexual assault.

? “Target shooting or other firearms have started at least 21 wildfires in Utah and nearly a dozen in Idaho [as well as] Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington. But as officials seek to limit outdoor shooting or ammunition, they are running up against a formidable force: the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

? George Zimmerman, accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, has had his bail set at $1million.

? Oh, joy. They’ve developed “cheap, tiny, hovering aerial” drones that can be dropped by the thousands from aircraft, fly around and spy on everybody.

? Yes! Muhammed Ali will receive the 2012 Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center.

Break Time

? Terrible Beauty: Afghan War Rugs

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