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The Roundup for July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July to all!

International Developments

? Turkey has “found the bodies of two pilots of an F-4 jet shot down by Syria last month and [is] working to retrieve them.”

? “Palestinian authorities have agreed to exhume the body of deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, reports claimed Wednesday, following an Al Jazeera investigative expose that claims scientists in Switzerland detected high levels of [polonium-210] radiation in his clothing and on his toothbrush.”

? “Israel says it could attack Iran” and “Iran said . . . it had successfully tested medium-range missiles capable of hitting Israel . . ..” Arrrrrrrgh.

International Economics

? “France’s new Socialist government announced tax rises worth 7.2 billions euros on Wednesday, including heavy one-off levies on wealthy households and big corporations, to plug a revenue shortfall this year caused by feeble economic growth.”

Politics USA

? IL Republican House member Joe Walsh was caught on video “telling supporters that Tammy Duckworth wasn’t a hero because “all she talks about’ is losing both her legs when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq in 2004.” This Joe Walsh has quite a history, none of it apparently including military service. I much prefer the other Joe Walsh.

? Tammy Duckworth has responded forcefully to IL Republican Joe Walsh’s shameful attack on her by saying his comments “offended all veterans across America and noted that her experiences in war do inform her policy views”–including the need to “preserve Medcare as we know it.” Vote Vets has responded, too, “Telling a veteran to shut up on the 4th of July is beyond the pale. . . [Walsh should] step aside and stop embarrassing his district and America.”

? “Despite efforts to portray Social Security and Medicare as giveaways to undeserving seniors that rip off the young, some young people believe they must work with older people to make the programs work.” The effort to pit the one generation against the other began in 1983 and continues today (recent efforts by Ezekiel Emanuel, Peter G. Peterson’s foundation and Sen. Alan Simpson). Refreshing to note there are also efforts aimed at setting the record straight, including the free book written by Kathryn Anne Edwards and published by Economic Policy Institute, “A Young Person’s Guide to Social Security.”

? What could he possibly be hiding? Mitt Romney’s Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. is one of several Romney holdings that have eluded full disclosure, “including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning . . ..” “The mystery surrounding Sankaty reinforces Romney’s history of keeping a tight rein on his public dealings, already documented by his use of private email and computer purges as Massachusetts governor and his refusal to disclose his top fundraisers.” There’s more.

? A “rising star” in GOP circles in southern CA, Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante, has been charged with sexual offenses–6 counts of false imprisonment, 3 counts of assault with intent to commit a sexual offense, stalking, attempted sexual battery and misdemeanor counts along the same lines.

? Prosecutors have “declined to charge [former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson] with any crimes, since “an admitting doctor and a neurologist [who] both examined Bryson . . . after the crash” said he had suffered a seizure. Ambien was in his system, but in a “small amount”.

? After decades, the Oglala Sioux have finally been successful in obtaining a re-examination of the 28 deaths at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation back in the ’70s. The US Attorney for SD announced yesterday that “a team of three assistant United States attorneys . . . would review a total of 50 Pine Ridge-related deaths that had occurred during the past 40 years” and prepare a report.

? Larry Klayman has become involved in the “birther” issue, advising a Ft. Lauderdale automobile sales who sued alleging President Obama “was not eligible to be President of the United States and could not legally appear on the state’s ballot this November. A Leon County Circuit judge dismissed the lawsuit.

? A cartoon showing President Obama as a dead chimpanzee appeared in the New York Post in 2009. An employee later filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Post and, during taking of a deposition, the Post’s top editor refused “to answer questions about what he and [Post owner Rupert] Murdoch . . . talked about when the cartoon was published.” A federal judge has ordered the editor to talk.

Money Matters USA

? Those for-profit colleges didn’t pan out so well when comparing salaries of graduates. There “are large, statistically significant benefits from obtaining certificates/degrees from public and not-for-profit but not from for-profit institutions.”

? NY’s chapter of the American Automobile Association is filing a motion against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for “detailed revenue and spending figures related to the agency’s $2.7 billion reserve fund.” They’re curious if the Port Authority is spending toll money on the World Trade Center.

The War on Women

? 41 IA Republican legislators filed a petition last month with the IA Dept of Human Services with the intent of denying “medical coverage from women who have been raped or whose pregnancy has taken a catastrophic turn”–which could undermine Medicaid in IA since states must provide abortions in cases of rape, incest, or danger to a mother’s life. IA”s Human Services Dept must either dismiss the petition or initiate rule making by August 10.

? Their dream was to change the OH constitution “to ban all abortions and hormonal birth control drugs” and so they began to collect signatures to place their initiative on the ballot. They needed 385,000 signatures; they got 30,000. They’ve called it quits.

? MI’s House “fast-tracked an anti-choice ‘super bill‘ in an attempt primarily to assist candidates in their re-election campaigns in the fall.” In at least one campaign, the issue has become a hot item, with the incumbent voting for it being challenged to justify her vote not just by her opponent but also by a local women’s round table.

? “An anti-gay New York GOP legislator has decided that women are not acting ‘feminine enough,‘ so. . . he will teach us how to be feminine.” He is Marty Golden and next month his “office is holding a career-development event for women in his southern Brooklyn district teaching them ‘Posture, Deportment and the Feminine Presence.” Sounds like an event begging to be crashed.

? Sisterhood is powerful! “Eighth grader Julia Bluhm was tired of hearing her friends in ballet class complain about being fat, and knew they were basing their self-conscious opinions on altered magazine images of themselves.” So, she circulated a petition asking Seventeen magazine to include “one unaltered image of a ‘regular girl’ in every issue.” Seventeen has responded they will “represent a range of women of all shapes and sizes in its magazine–every month . . ..”

Planet Earth News

? Wind energy tax credits are to expire at to expire at the end of the year, leading to slowdowns in the wind energy sector. “Unless Congress acts quickly, potentially 37,000 U.S. jobs will be lost next year . . ..”

? Carbon capture and storage is turning out to be an elusive, and expensive, undertaking. It costs 75% more to build new power plants capable of carbon capture and storage. The Congressional Budget Office recommends using tax dollars for carbon capture and storage research and development for “much-needed technological breakthroughs.” Lurking in the background, though, are the plans of oil and gas companies to pump CO2 underground “in order to flush out hard-to-reach hydrocarbons.”

Latin America

? “Thousands of people rushed to stores Tuesday to redeem pre-paid gift cards they said were given to them previously” by Mexico’s PRI, whose candidate, Enrique Pena Nieto won. Turns out, the cards were supposed to be worth 500 pesos ($37.50) but actually are worth 100 pesos {$7.50}. Turns out, also, that it’s not illegal in Mexico to give voters gifts. These revelation are highly unlikely to impact the election results, however.

Break Time

? With the Higgs Boson all the rage, perhaps it’s time we became a bit more up-to-date. So, here’s your opportunity to learn to draw Feynman diagrams. (I always figured the physicists who came up with the name “boson” were old Firesign Theater fans.)

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