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The Roundup for July 8, 2012

Good evening to all. On July 8, 1775, the Olive Branch Petition was sent from the 13 Colonies to King George III. Thomas Jefferson composed the original petition, but one John Dickinson didn’t like it, so re-wrote it, toning it way down, including claiming the colonies didn’t want independence. Fortunately, John Adams had written to a friend “expressing his discontent with the Olive Branch Petition. He wrote war was inevitable and he thought the Colonies should have already raised a navy and captured British officials.” Somebody–now who in the world could it have been?–managed to get Adams’ letter to Great Britain at about the same time the Olive Branch Petition arrived, and, well, as they say, the rest is history–all because of a leak.

International Developments

? “Deadly cross-border shelling hits Lebanon” from Syria. The attacks occurred in the Wali Khaled region of Lebanon, the site for many Syrian refugees and armed rebels.

? “Special U.N. envoy Kofi Annan acknowledged . . . that the international community’s efforts to find a political solution to the escalating violence in Syria have failed.” He added “that more attention needed to be paid to the role of longtime Syrian ally, Iran, and that countries supporting military actors in the conflict were making the situation worse.”

? A video is now online, apparently of a “US helicopter crew singing ‘Bye-bye Miss American Pie’ before blasting a group of Afghan men with a Hellfire missile.” Think it’ll add to the “already deep resentment owing to civilian deaths and a perception among many Afghans that US troops lack respect for Afghan culture and people”?

? Newly-elected Egyptian President Morsi’s decision to recall parliament has taken the generals by surprise. They’re meeting on the matter.

? They have no shame. “China to create Tibetan culture theme park just outside Lhasa.”

International Economics

? “The Finns just dropped a bomb in the lap of the Euro zone leaders . . ..” Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen announced that Finland is prepared to leave the Euro “rather than take responsibility for other countries [sic] debts and risks. She also made clear she will seek collateral from Spain before committing to the bailout.”

Money Matters USA

? He went to work for one day, resigned, and received $44 million for his trouble. That would be Duke Energy CEO-for-a-day Bill Johnson. He was replaced in a fast-moving switcheroo; Digby has the scoop.

? “The economy is so good in North Dakota, it’s almost like being in another country.” This rosy situation–3% unemployment, population boom, “dramatic oil rush”–could also buoy the chances of Republican Rick Berg to win the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Kent Conrad, though Democrat candidate Heidi Heitkamp tied with Berg in the June Mason-Dixon poll.

Politics USA

? FL Republican Gov Rick Scott has finally come up with something that will impact the vote in FL: he reversed an order by former Gov. Charlie Crist which restored voting rights to people with felony convictions. So, “Over 1 million people in FL right now are disenfranchised.”

? Despite calls from civic organizations to delay PA’s new voter-ID law, Republican Gov. Corbett’s administration is proceeding full steam ahead.

? Thaddeus McCotter, MI Republican member of the House of Representatives, has announced he is retiring from Congress–immediately. Among the latest events that might have influenced his decision were the 1,563 fraudulent signatures (out of the total 1,830) he submitted to get his name on the ballot.

? A war for PA’s schools is on-going with the William Penn Foundation investing heavily, paying the Boston Consulting Group for a plan for “restructuring” the Philadelphia School District. William Penn Foundation is part of “an expanding network of pro-charter-school organizations . . . coordinating with the state-controlled School District”. In-depth article.

? Bill Gates, multi-billionaire with time on his hands, is also deeply involved in education, wanting to rank school teachers, reminiscent of his “stack ranking” at Microsoft which “effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate.” Just imagine what that will do for public schools.

? When cities and states are “buried under mountains of debt”, why not put your “pieces of public infrastructure in the hands of global investment firms . . .”? Just look at what Rahm’s doing to Chicago with the likes of JPMorgan , Citibank, Macquarie, and Union Labor Life Insurance.

Working for A Living

? “Truck companies scramble to find enough workers”. Currently, the trucking industry is about 200,000 qualified truckers short of what’s needed.

? “Firefighters, police and other public workers in [Scranton, PA] saw their wages slashed to minimum wage rates on Friday, in a move by the cash-strapped city to balance its budget, city officials said.” Scranton reportedly has a $16.8 million budget gap. Harrisburg, facing similar budget shortfalls, would have filed for bankruptcy had the state legislature not “extended a bankruptcy filing ban until November 30.”

Heads Up!

? “Major Rent Strike Against Millionaire Slumlord Catches Fire in Brooklyn”. The mortgage mess and high occupancy rates in rental units has been “sending landlords into a frenzy to evict old tenants . . . and jack up the prices for newcomers.” But, in Brooklyn, tenants are fighting back!

The War on Women

? A federal hearing officer has ruled against Indiana’s “decision to deny Planned Parenthood funds under Medicaid because it performs abortions denied women the freedom to choose their healthcare providers . . ..”

? Availability of contraceptives to women worldwide is a major aim of the Department of International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as announced at the summit being held in London–and opposed by religious groups.

? Friday, Egyptian women protesting sexual assault “arrived in Tahrir with water pistols, filled with red liquid (mercurochrome) and chill powder, to defend themselves against any attack and mark the attacker.” Public sexual assault against women began back in February, 2011 with the violent mob attack against a newswoman in Tahrir Square and continues to this day. The authorities have done nothing.

? While a crowd of men cheered, a Taliban commander shot and killed a woman, accused of adultery, but apparently the focus of rivalry between two men. “The public execution is the latest and among the most shocking of violence against women in Afghanistan, but it is far from an isolated case.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? San Francisco’s Department of Mental Health has launched a pilot project for adults with severe mental illness who refuse treatment–a challenging situation involving major patient rights and community safety issues. Under this program, counties can “compel outpatient treatment in extreme cases, but it does not require patients to take medications.”

? India has set aside $5billion to provide 348 essential drugs to the population in need free-of-charge. Their plan “will largely cut out branded drugs, opting instead for cheaper generic alternatives.” Why? Because the people of India are fed up with corruption in their government and demonstrated that by “crushing electoral losses in state polls.” Go people!

Planet Earth News

? “Greenpeace is launching its ‘Save the Arctic’ ship tour to head off this new Alaskan oil rush.” Greenpeace’s ship, Esperanza “will arrive at the drill sites with scientists and activists on board to deploy state-of-the-art submarines . . . [to] observe and expose Shell’s attempts to begin destructive drilling in the pristine Arctic Ocean.”

? This’ll get your blood pressure soaring: “In a ruling that could affect tens of thousands of contaminated sites in New Jersey, a state appeals court Friday said the Department of Environmental Protection does not have the authority to require owners or operators of industrial sites to certify the land is ‘clean’ before they are sold and redeveloped.”

? Scientist study the stomach contents of dead northern fulmars (seabirds) found on Washington, Oregon and British Columbia coasts. Their research reveals “‘a substantial increase in plastic pollution over the past four decades’. . ..”

? “Humpback whales breed around Las Perlas archipelago . . . 40 miles . . . from the [Panama Canal’s] southern entrance, and are disturbed and even killed by shipping. Panamanian officials and scientists have developed a plan that would corral vessels into narrow lanes” so the whales will be protected from harm.

Latin America

? “The Paraguayan Coup: How agribusiness, landowning and media elite, and the U.S. are paving a way for regional destabilization” And don’t forget this.

? “Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through Mexico City Saturday against the presidential election win of Enrique Pena Nieto, accusing him and his party of widespread vote-buying.”

Mixed Bag

? Karen Klein, 68 year-old bus monitor tormented on Greece, NY school bus by 12- and 13-year olds a few weeks ago is $670,000 richer thanks to donations from around the world. Her tormenters have been suspended for a year, during which time they will not be allowed on a district school bus, either.

? “U.S. Rep. Barney Frank has tied the knot with his longtime partner [Jim Ready] in a ceremony officiated by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.”

? George Zimmerman made bail, paying $100,000 (10% of the $1million bail set by the judge) to Magic Bail Bonds in Sanford, FL.

? From Wal-Mart to art and literature.

Break Time

? Pictures from the Navajo Nation, 1972.

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