CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for June 24, 2012

Good evening!

International Developments

? Turkey conducted nine air strikes in Iraq against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) which had attacked a Turkish outpost near the border leaving “eight Turkish soldiers dead and 16 wounded.”

? “Turkey has called a meeting of Nato member states to discuss its response to the shooting down of one of its warplanes by Syrian forces on Friday.”

? Tunisia has extradited the former Libyan Prime Minister under Ghadafi back to Tripoli where he is being held in prison.

Global Economics

? Iceland shines! “Booming Iceland makes second early loan repayment to IMF.”

? “Bernanke bails out Europe“. Despite its charter to “promote full employment” (presumably in the USA), the fed has been taking steps “to prop up the staggering banks in Europe.”

? “Greece’s new coalition government has proposed an extension to the deadline for it to reduce its budget deficit by at least two years, to 2016″. The government’s aim is to meet the budget reduction, but “without further cuts to salaries and pensions.”

? “Chinese Economic Data Is Looking Horrible, And The Government Is Lying About It”.

Money Matters USA

? Jamie Dimon wore presidential seal cufflinks to the House hearing last week. Where did he get them? Nobody’s saying’, yet.

? “Members of Congress trade in companies while making laws that affect those same firms”. Specifically, 133 Congress members or families “have traded stocks collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars in companies lobbying on bills that came before their committees.” And this is all A-OK, given current ethics rules.

Politics USA

? The MI Board of State Canvassers had a very heated meeting about a petition to be placed on the ballot repealing MI’s Emergency Manager Law. Petition opponents were from the Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility “which shares an address with the Sterling Corporation consulting” firm among whose partners is the Republican member of the State Canvassers who just resigned.

? Santa Clara County CA’s Board of Supervisors took back $30 million in funds supposed to be used to build and furnish a new 49ers stadium. They want to use the money for education instead.

? Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL), who is on the House Ways & Means Committee and chief of fundraising for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, is also under federal investigations (four to them) for his “business practices, his campaign finances and his alleged attempt to try to stop a witness from talking.”

? “The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s execution law Friday, calling it unconstitutional.”  10 death row inmates brought suit that “only the Legislature can set execution policy.  Legislators in 2009 voted to give that authority to the Department of Correction.”  The Court agreed with the inmates.

? Must’ve been a coincidence. “A Democratic operative snapped photos of a jet registered to [Bain Capital] that was parked at an airport near Romney’s fundraising retreat in Park City, Utah.”

? LA Gov. Bobby Jindal’s huge shift of education from public schools to voucher programs is generating a lawsuit “being put together by the Louisiana School Boards Association . . . that could be filed as early as the end of next week.”  This lawsuit joins ones already filed by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators.  

? CA Democratic leaders are “still filling out major details of cuts to welfare-to-work and health care for low-income children that will determine exactly how the budget will impact programs.” Taking on the Healthy Families program is turning out to have many pitfalls.

Working for a Living

? “. . . what if the logic behind viewing retail labor as an expense to be cut, rather than as an asset to be invested in, is unsound?” Research by Zeynep Ton, Professor of Operations Management at MIT, shows “that by underinvesting in their employees, retailers are actually making their operations much more inefficient, and therefore much less profitable.”

? “Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low” Three charts emphasize that headline.

? A few phrases from the New York Times editorial about that US Supreme Court decision last week about use of non-members’ union dues for other than collective bargaining purposes: “how defiantly the five justices act in advancing. . . aggressive conservatism”, “majority’s willingness to breach court rules in pursuit of its agenda”, and “to insert itself into that political controversy when there was no reason to do so.”

Heads Up!

? From Occupy Sacramento: Big Statewide Moratorium on Home Foreclosures Rally & March: Monday, June 25th, State Capitol, Sacramento

? “Quebec students renew protests after two weeks of calm”

War on Women

? The last abortion clinic in MS may be gone July 1st. Becoming too clever by half, the MS legislature passed a law that any abortion clinic physicians must have hospital admitting privileges. None of the three physicians at the MS clinic have such privileges.

? Surprise, surprise, the Violence Against Women Act is going nowhere. The Senate and House just can’t agree and since there is “no hard deadline” [no pun intended, of course] they’ve turned to other matters.

Latin America

? “Ousted Paraguayan President Lugo addressed thousands of citizens . . . and assured there had been a ‘coup against democracy’ . . .” Lugo was given 2 hours to prepare his defense, rather than the customary 18 days. His situation will be presented to the Organization of American States Inter American Human Rights Commission and Paraguay’s Supreme Court. Mafia-drug traffickers-right-wing politicians are suspected. Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela objected to Lugo’s ouster. Update: Also Ecuador, Brazil and Uruguay. Update 2: Thousands of Lugo supporters took to the streets, met by police in riot gear, and using water cannons. Cuba, Chile and Colombia have also criticized the “coup”.

? President Evo Morales cut short his Rio+20 visit and returned to Bolivia due to violent protests by police officers around the country. The police are demanding pay parity with soldiers of the same rank. Update: Bolivian military has been ordered “into the streets of major cities Saturday following a police mutiny that the government said appeared to be setting the stage for a coup attempt.”

? At the World Trade Organization in Geneva on Friday the US “demanded that Argentina ‘immediately’ end an import licensing regime and other curbs that have frustrated foreign suppliers, and expressed concerns about a ‘sweeping new import restriction’ Indonesia has imposed.”

? “The Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office of Human Rights issued an arrest warrant Friday . . . against an army captain accused by former paramilitaries of participating in a 2001 massacre against civilians . . ..” Somewhere between 24 and 200 residents of the town of El Naya were killed and more than 3,000 displaced.

? Despite their having “failed to impress veteran military, Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Agency officers”, drones are being introduced by the US Department of Homeland Security “to fight drug smuggling” in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

? “A US Drug Enforcement Administration agent has shot and killed a suspected drug trafficker during a raid near a tiny Honduran town . . ..” The DEA is claiming this “is the first time a DEA agent has killed someone during an operation . . . ” but there is suspicion it is not (the Patuca River incident of a few weeks ago).

Break Time

? New Yorker covers we were never supposed to see.

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