CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for June 10, 2012

I see from his tweets over there on the side-bar that DDay is apparently on his way back from Netroots Nation. So, aloha, David!

World Economics

?Now they’re going after Germany: “Moody’s warned Friday that a Greek pullout from the eurozone could lead to downgrades of the eurozone’s top-rated governments, including economic powerhouse Germany.” Not only that, but the ratings agency said “an EU rescue of Spain’s banking sector could force a cut to Spain’s sovereign rating . . ..”

?According to this take on things, public debt came into being with representative government. Public debt was safer for creditors to claim since the debts of kings died with them. “But the recent debt protests from Iceland to Greece and Spain suggest that creditors are shifting their support away from democracies. They are demanding fiscal austerity and even privatization sell-offs.” Thus, “international finance [has become] a new mode of warfare.”

International Developments

?”Syrian President Basha al-Assad’s forces have renewed efforts to impose control in Homs province, killing at least 35 people in one of the biggest bombardments since a failed U.N.-mandated ceasefire in April . . . [T]he Syrian army used artillery, mortars and rockets . . ..” Meanwhile, there’s argument in Washington about continued diplomacy vs shipment to rebels of US arms backed by US warplanes.

?”Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that the US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan had ‘promised’ air strikes on residential areas would stop after apologizing for recent . . . civilian deaths.”

?Uh-oh. There was a rumor of a gang rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by Muslims in western Burma (Myanmar), which led to rioting in Buddhist communities and the killing of at least 10 Muslims, and further fighting back and forth. Federal troops and naval vessels have been dispatched to the area.

Politics USA

?Rick Scott’s magic touch: The Broward County FL Police Benevolent Association is having a “Party to Leave the Party” in July so that “police officers and the general pubic can switch their voter registrations from Republican to Democratic or Independent.”

?Gov. Mitchel Daniels (R-IN) cautioned against interpreting WI Gov. Scott Walker’s recent success in the recall election as “a harbinger”, stating it’s “not even clear that Governor Romney will be that strong in Wisconsin” in the presidential election. Nonetheless, Daniels was emphatic that “government works better without them [public employee unions]”.

?During the House Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee meeting, Republicans voted down a “new FCC guideline that would have forced the nation’s top television stations to list the funders behind political advertisements online.” The Chair of the committee, one Hal Rogers (R-KY) “argued that fiscal matters are private and should remain that way . . ..”

?Gov Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has just about wrecked public education in his state, “already doing what Mitt Romney promises to do . . .” Jindal’s “school reform” efforts have led to situations such as this: “New Living Word [school] in Ruston, which has . . . no library [and where] Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such [as] chemistry or composition.” The Shreveport Times pointed out that Jindal’s education model “is akin to reading model bills drafted by [ALEC].”

?Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) has been doing his part, what “with his funding cuts and his staunch support for charter schools, vouchers . . .” but that’s not enough for the Tea Party. They, heavily funded by the Kochs, are pushing hard for a “school choice bill”–which was Corbett’s idea but which he hasn’t pushed as vigorously as the Tea Party crowd would like.

?Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT), referring to the unprecedented amount of money spent to fight WI Gov Scott Walker’s recall, says “There is an aggressiveness out there among the ruling class of this country, among the billionaires who are saying: ‘You now what? Ya, we got a whole lot now, but we want even more. And we don’t give a damn about the middle class. We don’t care about working families. We want it all. And now we can buy it.'”

Working for a Living

?”A Silicon Valley start-up called Blueseed wants to convert a cruise ship into a floating centre for foreign workers who cannot get visas to work in the US.” As envisioned, the ship would sit 12 miles off the CA coast with its residents conducted by ferry to land for day-time meetings and such. Anything for the farmworkers?

?US businesses are “taking on new debt at the fastest rate since the financial crisis of 2008″. In sharp contrast, consumers are “increasingly shedding debt.” The reluctance of banks to lend money to consumers–in contrast to the ease with which businesses can get loans–has an impact on the situation, too.

Heads Up!

?NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says that only one journalist was arrested during the Zucotti Park eviction last year. Kinda accurate, says Gothamist, kinda not. Demonstrations continued immediately after the eviction, and several reporters were then arrested “including AP writer Karen Matthews, photographer Seth Wenig, Daily News reporter Matthew Lysiak, and two reporters from DNAinfo: Patrick Hedlund and photographer Paul Lomax.”

?A counter-terrorism unit has been set up in Alberta by the federal government “to help protect the energy industry from attacks by extremists.” They’ll be gathering intelligence “to prevent attacks before they happen.” Too bad they can’t prevent oil spills, too. [See Plains Midstream Canada news item under “Mother Earth News”.]

The War On Women

?There’s some good news. “A major summit is being planned for July [in London] that aims to pour money into family planning in the developing world after almost two decades of neglect, particularly during the Bush years.” The goal is to provide “access to family planning to 120 million women at an estimated cost of $4bn.” The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development organized the event.

Mother Earth News

?Plains Midstream Canada “estimates up to 3,000 barrels of ‘sour crude’ oil has leaked into a large river system surrounded by ‘pristine wilderness'”, the second Plains Midstream Canada leak in 13 months. The ‘sour crude’ has entered Alberta’s Red Deer River which is “at very high flow volume”.

?Chile’s “killer smog” is due to “fine particulate matter from copper smelters, thermoelectric plants, and wood stoves” and “affects 10 of Chile’s 17 million people . . ..” Gross stuff.

Latin America

?”A sister-in-law and a niece of Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe will be extradited to the U.S. to face drug trafficking charges . . ..” The “suspects’ extradition may again be delayed as the two suspects have disappeared from court records and none of the competent authorities were willing or able to say where the two suspects are located.” Don’t you just hate when that happens?

?”Chavez foe [Henrique Capriles] leads massive march in Venezuela

Break Time

?And just in the nick of time, here’s your “Austerity Survival Guide”

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