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The Roundup for June 15, 2012

Hey, it’s your weekend. And what would a weekend be without the news?

International Developments

? “Russia is sending armed troops to Syria amid escalating violence there, United States military officials told NBC News Friday”. Russia says the “small contingent” is for protecting “Russia’s deep-water port and military base” in Tartus.

Global Economics

? “Authorities in the world’s major economies are preparing for a possible market storm or public panic after cliffhanger Greek elections this weekend . . ..” Britain will “flood its banking system with cash” and Canada is “ready to act”. French President Francois Hollande went on Greek teevee, saying he “wanted the country to stay in the euro . . ..”

? Credit ratings agency Egan-Jones has downgraded France from A to BBB. Its assessment of France: “Disastrous trend and the worst has yet to come.”

? “Coca-Cola returns to Burma after a 60-year absence” . . . “following a US decision to suspend investment sanctions against the country.”

Politics USA

? The Republican Mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado, is complaining about Gov. Rick Scott’s persistent pursuit of purging voter rolls. Mayor Regalado said the upshot of the effort is making people afraid to vote.

? NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly tap-danced a la Fred Astaire when asked if he “was pursuing a plan to allow limited hydrofracking in five Southern Tier counties.”

? Gee, wonder why. “Acquiescing to CIA demands for secrecy, the National Archives announced Wednesday that it will not release 1,171 top-secret Agency documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy in time for the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death in November 2013.”

? Speaking of secrets, Emptywheel reveals that “The ‘Most Transparent Administration Ever’ Treats Recess Appointments with Greater Secrecy than Illegal Wiretapping”. You really don’t want to miss this one.

? Maybe we should all talk more. A “key reason why the CIA might not have sought a criminal investigation into the latest round of drone-related disclosures . . . may be that so much has been written and said publicly about the U.S. drone campaign in the past several months.”

? How did one vegetable–broccoli–ever get so intertwined in politics, particularly in the case of the Health Care Act? Fascinating history, captured here by the NYTimes.

? Excellent Rick Perlstein article focusing on the recent recall election in WI and culminating in the need for Democrats to stop going “into ‘battle’ retailing themselves as the nicer fellows in the contest, and earnestly hope the electorate goes along.”

? 1994 video of David Axelrod “suggesting you can’t talk about an improving economy when the middle class is still hurting.” Ooops.

? “Insurance giant Aetna inadvertently disclosed more than $7 million in donations to conservative political groups in a regular filing made earlier this year . . ..” Bet you want some names, right? American Action Network, and US Chamber of Commerce.

? TX’ version of “Stand Your Ground” didn’t hold up in the case of Raul Rodriguez who killed an unarmed neighbor “over a noisy birthday party” back in 2010. Rodriguez was found guilty of murder.

Money Matters USA

? Crisis in the eurozone has led European investors to invest in “corporate acquisitions and real estate” in the US, though not in Treasury bonds and such.

? Six corporations “own 90% of all American print, broadcast and digital media outlets”

? Case history of a Navy vet who got duped into taking a lump-sum payment from his pension, then depositing his pension checks into a company-owned fund, which turned around and paid investors from it. Congress has failed to act, but Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said his agency will. In the meantime, military veterans are suing the companies.

? Richard Cordray’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has also “launched an inquiry into financial abuse of the elderly“, certainly a way long-overdue effort. “Cordray cited a recent study that said Americans 60 years of age or older lost at least $2.9 billion to financial exploitation in 2010, up 12 percent from 2008.

? “U.S. Consumer Sentiment Gauge Declines To A Six-Month Low”

War on Women

? Darcy Burner‘s presentation about the war on women at the recent Netroots Nation was very well received, though a couple of reviewers objected to a 60-second part of her speech. Digby has more.

Latin America

? BP just announced that Venezuela has “the largest proven oil reserves in the world . . ..” Also, President Hugo Chavez has announced that Venezuela has made its first drone.

? “A Mexican crime reporter [Victor Baez] has been found dead in the centre of Xalapa, the state capital of Veracruz, hours after being abducted” Baez is the 9th journalist to be murdered in Veracruz in the last 18 months.

? One step forward: Shell Oil has a biofuels company (Raizen) in Brazil which “has signed a landmark agreement giving up plans to buy sugar cane grown on indigenous lands.” The company formerly had purchased cane from farmers growing it on Guarani tribal lands. Brazilian authorities used their influence in getting the agreement accomplished.

? A group of peasants occupied part of a huge farm in Paraguay, and have defended themselves against eviction, leaving at least 7 police officers and 9 peasants dead. Land disputes are fierce in Paraguay in the aftermath of the Stroessner regime which gave large parcels to his allies. Current President Lugo has promised to address the land issue, but is meeting strong resistance.

Mixed Bag

? Remember Allen Stanford who took many investors for quite a ride for over a 20-year period? He was so adept at conning people that he bilked “investors out of more than $7 billion . . ..” He’s been sent up for 110 years, though the prosecutor wanted 230.

? If you eat out a lot, you might check this guide to restaurants. “Special scorn” is due “Red Lobster, Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden.” The good ones? Five Guys and In-n-Out Burger.

Break Time

? Just can’t get enough of Jamie’s appearance before the Senate Banking Committee this week? Well, we have a double-feature for you today, at no extra charge: JS’ rendition (just scroll down to the video) and a chart showing how much JPMorgan donated to campaigns of each of the senators on the committee.

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