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The Roundup for April 29, 2012

And from around the globe, we have–ta-dah!–the following news items for today.

?The rubber is finally meeting the road as elections draw nigh.  A so-called “personhood bill”, defining life as beginning at conception (a favorite legislative tactic in the War on Women), has been halted in the OK legislature before going to the floor for a vote.  “One GOP lawmaker said the personhood bill was killed because the State Chamber of Commerce instructed the GOP leadership to do so because the chamber didn’t want any negative national publicity.”

?The good news:  The EPA is going to require fracking operators  to use “‘green completions’ that capture pollutants rather than releasing them into the air.”  The bad news: The new rule will not take effect unto 2015.  While some fracking operators are using “green completions”, at least at some of their wells, only two states, WY and CO, require that they do so.  Presumably, many people in communities in other states where fracking is on-going will continue to suffer exposure to noxious emissions for almost three years, until the EPA’s regulations come into effect.

?In Fort Worth, TX,  home of the Barnett Shale, a City Councilman said the city “might require green completions on new wells” given the EPA action.  At the same meeting, The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said the “‘Barnett Shale emissions do not have much of an impact on the DFW area’s ozone’ because of prevailing wind patterns.”  Hmmm.  Wonder where the wind is sending those emissions and if the people there are aware.  (This info is taken from the same article cited above.)

?”The To’Hajiilee Navajo Chapter plans to establish a solar array farm on its trust lands, a flat stretch of prairie in central New Mexico where land preparation for the project is minimal, reported the Associated Press.”  About nine months will be needed to construct the solar photovoltaic arrays, “the largest utility-scale photovoltaic arrays in the U.S. on tribal land.”  Funding comes through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Tribal Energy Program.

?A Minnesotan was highly surprised to find himself listed as CEO of Count Them All Properly, Inc., a GOP organization with almost $220,000 “in overdue legal fees from the 2010 gubernatorial recount.”  He is fighting to get his name removed from all dealings with the group while “state regulators and a watchdog group are probing whether the company was created chiefly to keep debt off the books of the state Republican Party, which owes creditors $2 million, including recount debt.”  The GOP also owes $111,000 in overdue rent for its St. Paul headquarters.  And there’s more.

?What to do when they’re trying to drive you down:  Rise up!  In response to GOP efforts, primarily through “Voter ID” laws, to disenfranchise groups of voters more likely to vote Democratic, volunteer organizations in WI, TN and CO are fighting back in very effective ways.  Their successful efforts that others can adapt and implement in their own communities and other states are featured in this report made available by Common Cause, Fair Elections Legal Network, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, and Demos.

?Apple’s headquarters are in Cupertino, CA, but it has a small office in Reno, NV, which allows it to avoid “millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states.”  NV’s corporate tax rate, you see, is 0.  Apple does the same thing internationally, with “subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands . . ..”  This practice is by no means confined to Apple, which was used to illustrate “how technology giants have taken advantage of tax codes written for an industrial age and ill suited to today’s digital economy.”  Much more here.

?”The U.S. Air Force is quietly assembling the world’s most powerful air-to-air fighting team at bases near Iran.  Stealthy F-22 Raptors [. . .] active duty and Air National Guard F-15 Eagles”  are being deployed. Apparently they have developed “special tactics for clearing the air of Iranian fighters in the event of war.”  Meanwhile, there is “a growing naval armada that includes Navy carriers, submarines, cruisers and destroyers plus patrol boats and minesweepers . . ..”

?”Unemployment [in Spain] is at a eurozone high of 24.4%, more than half of Spaniards under 25 years old are jobless, and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government has introduced stinging austerity measures in its first five months in office.”  What to do?  “Tens of thousands” of people turned out in Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia and other regional capitals to protest what is being done to them and their country.  In response, PM Rajoy said he was handed a mess by the Socialist government which preceded him and “the least they could do now is to shut up.”

?As we head into next week, there are some indications that such attempts to shift blame for a failed experiment, as Spanish PM Rajoy seems to have done, are replacing exhortations to buckle up under Austerity.  Stay tuned.

?Remember the $1.6b that went missing when Jon Corzine’s MF Global collapsed?  Investigators say they have traced it:  $1.05b was either withdrawn by clients or paid out to trading partners during the last week the firm existed, about $700m is in the firm’s UK subsidiary, $220m was “inadvertently” transferred from securities customers to commodities customers, and $680m went to other financial institutions, particularly JPMorgan.  That information was given to the Senate Banking Committee by James Giddens who is presiding over liquidation of MF Global.  Other investigations are being handled by Louis Freeh, the DOJ, SEC and CFTC. The upshot of all these investigations thus far?  Giddens might file civil claims against some executives.

?Nice synopsis, with appropriate quotes, of the entirely negative impact of the Reagan years on the economy.

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