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The Roundup for April 26, 2012

Oh, those wascally wascals!  Several members of the higher echelons in service to TPTB have stepped into some interesting piles of goo lately, so let’s start with them.

?Seems “the former Wal-Mart CEO who helped shut down an investigation of bribery by store officials in Mexico is an operating partner at a private equity fund started by Mitt Romney, his eldest son and his campaign finance director.”  H. Lee Scott Jr joined the fund several months after leaving Wal-Mart in 2009.  In 2010, Scott joined–wait for it–Goldman Sachs, replacing Rajat K. Gupta who ran afoul of the SEC.

?Speaking of Rajat K. Gupta, during his pre-trial hearing last week there was mention of a criminal investigation of another Goldman Sachs executive.  Turns out that’s Matthew E. Korenberg, GS investment banker.  The feds are trying to determine if Korenberg “leaked confidential information about health care deals to the Galleon Group, the defunct hedge fund run by now-convicted hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam.”

?Bribes, bribes and more bribes.  This one involved Garth Peterson, who worked for Morgan Stanley Bank in China, during which time he tried bribery, having “secretly arranged to have at last $1.8m paid to himself and the Chinese official”.  He also surreptitiously acquired Shanghai property worth $3.4m.  “He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 . . ..”

?Both the CIA and the Pentagon now have broader authority for drone use in Yemen.This newly-approved “policy shift” from the White House doesn’t just authorize drone strikes, but authorizes them even when the targets’ “identities might not be completely known . . ., ” which an anonymous official said  “broadens the aperture slightly.”  Marcy Wheeler has two excellent analyses of  this “policy shift”, including possible Saudi connections, which are here and here.

?Former Liberian leader Charles Taylor’s five-year trial at The Hague has ended.  The verdict:  Guilty!  “He is the first former head of state convicted by an international court since the Nuremburg military tribunal of Nazis after World War II.”

?The White House “shocked lawmakers and advocacy groups [when it announced] that President Obama would veto a proposed national cybersecurity bill known as CISPA . . ..”  The ACLU is also opposed to CISPA, claiming “it would allow companies and U.S. intelligence agencies to share unprecedented amounts of personally identifiable information about Web users without proper oversight and accountability.”  The House passed the bill today.

?Illegal loggers in the Amazon jungle of  Brazil are threatening  local communities,  according to Amnesty International.  Those communities, primarily in the remote northwestern Amazonas state, support themselves through legal timber extraction but are now under grave threat from the illegal loggers, including murders, beatings and houses set ablaze. The nearest police station is hundreds of kilometers away.

?And there’s more:  Lobbyists for Brazil’s powerful farmers group have succeeded in passage of legislation that loosens some restrictions and penalties in current law which have slowed deforestation of the Amazon.  President Rousseff “faces a political dilemma [. . . ] as she seeks to combine support for economic development, but also uphold environmental pledges made during her election campaign.” Apparently, she can sign the legislation, veto it altogether, or veto parts of it.

?Egypt’s Election Commission reversed itself and has given the go-ahead for ex-Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to be a candidate in the upcoming presidential election. Shafiq served as Prime Minister under Mubarak.

?Whether their number was 50,000 (per the protestors) or 25,000 (per the police) in Santiago, Chilean students there and in other cities yesterday continued their demand for free public education for all.

?”A Miami federal judge has declared that Gov. Rick Scott’s order requiring drug testing for state workers is unconstitutional.”  This was a victory for a state workers’ union, the ACLU and the 4th Amendment and follows on the heels of another federal judge’s rejection of mandatory drug testing of FL welfare applicants.  Maybe it’s  time to drug test the people who keep making up these unConstitutional laws.

?A huge solar farm will be built in India’s Rajasthan state by Areva Solar, the Silicon Valley company that’s part of the French Areva Group.  India is aggressively pursuing solar power, with the goal of 22 gigawatts by 2022.  “India’s ambitious national solar program has catalyzed rapid growth in the solar market, driving prices for solar energy to impressive lows and demonstrating how government policy can stimulate clean energy markets . . ..”

?Gotta love it. The Sikh Group has funded development of a smartphone app that will enable airline passengers to make real-time complaints directly to the TSA.  It does this by asking “a series of questions that mirror the complaint reporting document on the TSA’s website, then sends the agency an official report, which [TSA claims] are always followed-up on.”

?The state-wide petition to repeal Michigan’s Emergency Manager law was summarily halted at a stormy Board of State Canvassers meeting where the vote was 2 to 2, strictly along party lines, when a majority vote was required to approve it.  And what was wrong, you ask, with the petition?  Answer: The font used to produce it.

?”Although the recession technically ended in 2009, men’s wage growth had rebounded to half the average rate of the previous decade by last year.  Meanwhile, the growth in wages for women had almost fully recovered.”  Specifically, “men’s wages stayed constant while women’s wages grew about 1% a year” between 2008-2010.

?”Donald Trump on Wednesday swept into Scotland’s parliament to demand the country end plans for an offshore wind farm he fears will spoil the view at his exclusive new $750-million-pound ($1.2-billion) golf resort.”   It was quite the performance, though perhaps not as grand as hissy-fits  of another Donald in another era.

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