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The Roundup for July 2, 2012

Good evening! Today is the 48th anniversary of the passage of the US Civil Rights Act. It was a time when we kept our eyes on the prize.

International Developments

? “A half year after the U.S. military left Iraq, dire predictions seem to be coming true: The country is mired in violence and the government is on the verge of collapse.” Failed state, al-Qaida attacks, June “second-deadliest month since U.S. troops withdrew”, and so on.

? “Turkey has scrambled six F-16 fighter jets near its border with Syria after Syrian helicopters came close to the border . . .” while the world waits anxiously.

International Economics

? Yes! “The European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma) is inspecting Standard & Poor’s (SYP), Fitch and Moody’s . . ..” Esma is to determine if “methods of evaluating banks are rigorous and transparent enough . . . . [M]ass downgrades, such as Moodys change of stance on 15 global banks last month, ‘raised concerns about whether there are sufficient analytical resources’ at the ratings agencies.”

? That Libor scandal in Britain, which has already claimed the President of Barclay’s and four of Royal Bank of Scotland’s traders, “could leave British banks exposed to multi-billion-pound civil actions, experts have warned.”  Already, “US broker Charles Schwab [has filed a lawsuit in the US] against a number of banks, including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS.”

Money Matters USA

? Didja know? “77% of JP Morgan’s Net Income Comes from Government Subsidies”. That’s $14 billion of taxpayers’ money, and there’s also direct support through the Home Affordable Refinancing Program. And those cufflinks I wonder if we paid for those cufflinks, too.

? Speaking of JPMorgan, remember the head of the London office where the Fail Whale occurred, one Ina Drew? She resigned, leaving behind a badly managed mess–but taking “$17.1 million in invested restricted shares and about $4.4 million in options” with her. Jamie Dimon “hinted that there might be clawbacks of bonuses within the CIO group” when he appeared before Congress. Not from Ina Drew, though, no sirree.

? Looking for a job? Just check out the Cayman Islands where, by law, all those hedge funds registered there must have a board of directors. There are dozens of agencies in the business of supplying board members with annual pay in the $5,000 – $30,000 range.

? Wall Street won in the Jefferson County AL dispute. A US Bankruptcy Judge “said the county cannot pay legal fees and set aside charges for depreciation and amortization from net operating revenues owed to creditors”, who are JPMorgan Chase and Bank of New York Mellon among others.

? LA’s Public Service Commission refused “to allow Entergy Corp to immediately charge its customers for about $63 million spent preparing to build another nuclear power plant at River Bend. . ..” Entergy had to drop its plans in January 2010 when natural gas prices dropped, making the nuclear plant “economically unviable”. BUT, they wanted to charge customers for the money already spent on “reports, studies, examinations and other activities”related to the nuclear plant.

? SC has passed a bill “that effectively makes it difficult, if not impossible, for municipalities to create their own publicly owned internet service provider that could compete with private corporations.” AT&T lobbied heavily for the bill which was allegedly “crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) . . ..”

? “Former IRS Official [Marcus Owens] Demands Investigation of ALEC”. There is a complaint that’s been filed which “notes that ALEC denied engaging in lobbying activity in its federal tax fillings . . . . At the same time, two of its lawyers were registered to lobby in at least one state, North Dakota.”

? While the overall economy grew for the 37th consecutive month, “activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in June for the first time since July 2009.”

? “GlaxoSmithKline to Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement”. They promoted “two popular drugs for unapproved uses and . . . failed to disclose important safety information on a third in the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history, the Justice Department said Monday.” They plead guilty, too. Drugs involved included Paxil (childhood depression), Wellbutrin (for an odd assortment of conditions such as weight loss, sexual dysfunction, substance abuse, and ADHD), and others.

Politics USA

? A Pandora’s Box has been opened, and what flies out? “Drone makers urge US to let them sell more overseas”

? While President Obama is making speeches about “making it easier for students to sign up for a program that lets borrowers tie loan payments to their incomes”, . . . student-loan borrowers who default are being pursued and punished more severely than just about any other kind of debtor.” $67 billion are owed by the more than five million borrowers in default. The Justice Department typically hires private lawyers to pursue and collect the loans.

? Since the chances are nil of getting Washington to agree on a huge stimulus for the country, why not “appeal directly to the nation’s 50 governors by proposing a direct grant to each state to spend as it sees fit”? According to the plan, “each governor [would] accept responsibility for the prudent administration of the fund” and agree to have independent auditors analyze use of the funds. Maybe, but imagine what some of them would do without a specific list of projects to choose from.

? In 2009 at the Conservative Political Action Conference, when he was just 13 years old, Jonathan Krohn of GA delivered a speech that had ’em swooning, so full it was of juvenile patriotic speech. Well, he’s almost 18 now, and he’s learned a lot more than many of the old guys like Gingrich in the audience at that meeting.

? Anderson Cooper has declared “The Fact Is, I’m Gay.”

Working for A Living

? Bad news. The National Education Association “has lost more than 100,000 teachers and education support personnel since 2010, and it projects that it will lose even more in the future . . ..” Said the union’s Secretary-Treasurer: “We’re living with a recession that just won’t end, political attacks that have turned brutal, and societal changes that are impacting us . . ..”

The War on Women

? At Lackland Air Force Base in TX, 31 female recruits (thus far) have been identified who “were undergoing or had recently completed basic training when they were purportedly preyed upon by male instructors.” As a result, six instructors in basic training and six others are under investigation and may face criminal charges.

Planet Earth News

? NC Democratic Governor Bev Perdue has vetoed “the fast-track fracking bill.”

? “US Navy’s ‘great green fleet’ sets sail for Pacific: Political storm rumbles on as first carrier strike group to be powered largely by biofuels heads for testing man oeuvres”

Latin America

? Well, the old/new PRI is back in charge in Mexico, with Pena Nieto receiving roughly 38% of the vote.

Mixed Bag

? Based on internal Pennsylvania State University emails, it “is becoming apparent that Joe Paterno not only knew that Jerry Sandusky was a child rapist, but that he was probably the person most responsible for covering up Sandusky’s previous crimes, and allowing Sandusky to commit many more.”

? Those back-scatter machines the US TSA introduced at the airports are now being sold to law enforcement agencies and governments on “all continents except Antarctica”–for use in street-roving vans! Apparently, those back-scatter-machine-equipped vans roll right over such niceties as the 4th Amendment, too.

Break Time

? How 69 of them looked then.

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