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The Roundup for July 16, 2012

Good evening, all! We’ve got some news for you and hope you’ll share other news items that interested you today, too.

International Developments

? “America’s Overseas Base Empire and a Dangerous New Way of War”. “Military planners see a future of endless small-scale interventions in which a large, geographically dispersed collection of bases will always be primed for instant operational access.”

? While they’ve spent gazillions on military hardware and stuff to “protect’ the UK Olympics, very little has been spent on decent accommodations for the Olympic cleaners. “Ten to a room and one shower for 75 people”, leaky “portable cabins”, rent of 18pounds/day for a cabin, though there’s ‘no work for two weeks” and more miseries and indignities.

International Economics

? It thickens. “Libor sandal: Del Missier ‘instructed’ by Diamond: A former Barclays executive has told MPs he was instructed by his then boss, Bob Diamond, to cut the bank’s Libor interest rate submissions.”

? The Drugs and Crime Office at the UN “launched a new media awareness campaign on Monday to highlight the threat posed by the multi-billion dollar operations run by organized crime groups worldwide.” $870 billion annually, or 1.5% of global GDP–and how much of it laundered through banks?

? You’ll be shocked to learn that “A report commissioned by the G20 group of the world’s biggest economies has warned oil prices could be vulnerable to a Libor-style rigging scandal.”

? Oh, really? “The International Monetary Fund cut its 2013 global growth forecast as Europe’s debt crisis prolongs Spain’s recession and slows expansions in emerging markets from China to India.” The IMF’s action has been followed by several downward revisions, which are interesting.

? One UK Guardian journalist has figured it out, too: “Yes, banking’s a mess, but be part of the solution. Move your money! There is a better way for banking–but it relies on us voting with our financial feet.”

? “Lord Turner, head of the Financial Services Authority, is today expected to be criticized by MPs for being slow to react to Libor abuses which American regulators picked up nearly five years ago.” (Picked up, though nobody seems to have run very far with it.)

Politics USA

? Yay! Wisconsin “Democrats plan to officially take control of the Wisconsin Senate this week after a recall victory handed them a slim one-seat majority.”

? The US Dept of Health & Human Services will be granting waivers for states “to experiment in order to improve ‘welfare to work’ programs . . ..” Waivers will continue only if states meet their specified, approved goals over time and, more importantly, “whether recipients actually find and keep jobs”. Mitt Romney and the usual Republican crowd immediately jumped on this, “despite the fact that Republican-led states sought the policy change.”

? “Backlash builds as for-profit schools rake in GI Bill funds: Critics warn that some for-profit schools mislead veterans, who use their taxpayer-funded GI Bill money on hugely expensive educations with bleak job prospects.” Those for-profit schools “earned 86% of their revenue from taxpayer dollars in 2009.” The for-profits cost twice as much and “have far higher drop-out rates and loan interest and default rates.”

? “Cyber charter is a magnet for money: {PA}’s largest online public school pays millions to companies run by its former executives.” And those spin-off companies are making millions, too. The “FBI, the criminal investigations division of the IRS, and the U.S. Department of Education” are now involved.

? Newark Mayor Cory Booker “Lashes Out Against Drug War In Online Forum”. It’s more than that, as this quote indicates: “Blacks make up less than 15% of our New Jerseys population but make up more than 60% of our prison population. I can’t accept that facts like this one do anything but demonstrate the historic and current biases in our criminal justice system.”

? While most air-traveling Americans have been scanned and probed to a fare-thee-well, “U.S. fails to meet deadline for scanning of cargo containers.” Sheesh. Emptywheel has more.

? MN’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board has “released a damning report . . . that fined MN Republican Party and its former chair nearly $30,000 for intentionally circumventing campaign finance law in 2010.” Also, “sloppy bookkeeping and ‘out of control’ spending.”

? “In 2011, prosecutors in Florida went as far as to prepare a ‘draft’ complaint against Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) which included 52 counts of theft, money laundering, and racketeering . . ..” Now, a “close-out memo” has been issued since “ambiguities in Florida’s campaign finance laws and the statute of limitations prevented any prosecution.”

? Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has penned an “Opinion” for the NYTimes on “Norquist’s Phantom Army”, arguing that Republicans’ views and actions have left Grover “increasingly isolated politically.” He argues that “everything” must be put on the table and “hard choices” made–in order to reduce the deficit.

? Nobody’s asked her to the prom: “Palin Hasn’t Received Invitation To 2012 RNC”.

? A majority wrote in his name: Stubbs the cat is now the duly-elected mayor of Talkeetna, AK.

Money Matters USA

? For the first time ever in this country, the credit bureaus are “about to get some new scrutiny.” The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “will monitor the country’s big credit bureaus and conduct on-site examinations to see if these companies are complying with the law.”

? The rise and blunder at Netflix. It’s almost as though two business models are presented here: “how to be a success” and “how to blow a success”–using the same company as the case study. Very interesting.

? Drought in the Midwest “will lead to higher supermarket prices for everything from milk to meat” as corn and soybean plants burn to a crisp in the fields.

Working for A Living

? Big article on Labor Ready, a huge temp agency that has “600 offices and a workforce of 400,000” and specializes in “tough-to-fill, high-turnover positions” that pay very low wages. Yet, the parent company (TrueBlue) had a profit increase of “55% last year, to $31 million, on $1.3 billion in sales.” Definitely a “growth industry”, on the backs of the workers.

? “AT&T. . . has agreed to a one-year extension for a labor contract covering nearly 7,000 workers even as it continues negotiations indefinitely for thousands more workers.”

Heads Up!

? “New York Activists Blockade Foreclosure Auctions to Stop Banks Selling Homes: In each of the five boroughs of New York City, each week there’s a foreclosure auction. And this week, community activists turned up to try and stop it.” Organizing for Occupation, precursor of Occupy.

? “HSBC has asked a court in Hong Kong to let it evict protestors at its Asian headquarters who have been there for nine months.” There are about 20 tents there, but the bank wants the space for “community events”, which apparently do not include Occupy.

Latin America

? “Brazil targets Amazon gold miners in Yanomami reserve: Brazilian police have carried out a big operation against illegal gold miners in the Amazon, arresting at least 26 people”.

? Adonis Felipe Buesso Gutierrez, 24, Honduran journalist and a cousin were gunned down in Venezuela. He’s the 21st journalist to be killed there in the past three years.

Mixed Bag

? RIP, Jon Lord. (keyboard, @ abt 3:00)

? “Medicare payments for penis pumps have skyrocketed by 500% over the last decade, going from $7.2 million in 2000 to over $36 million in 2011 . . ..” Where’s the uproar from the crowd that was screaming about women using oral contraception while having sex “just for fun”?

Break Time

? Republican Ju-Jitsu

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