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The Roundup for July 22, 2012

There’s a special treat for all of you this evening. I’ve had to take half the day off (longstanding engagement) and so DDay will be completing the Roundup for you. While items he sends for the Roundup are always included, I know many of you have missed his inimitable touch, so enjoy! See you tomorrow.

International Developments

? “The Pentagon is seeking to send hand-launched drones to Kenya as part of a $40 million-plus military aid package designed to help four African countries fight al Qaeda and al Shabaab militants, notably in Somalia . . ..”

International Economics

Two more Syrian generals fled to Turkey and defected overnight, as President Bashar al-Assad attempts to control the rapidly deteriorating situation in that country.

? Following up on a previous FDL News item, the defense authorization bill that passed the House this week included a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Barney Frank that froze the base Pentagon budget at its 2012 level.

? He’s paying attention: “European Parliament president Martin Schulz warned on Saturday that Spain’s economic crisis could spark a ‘social explosion’ across the continent. Noting the huge unemployment rates among the young, he “called for the rapid implementation of ‘new European programs to finally create more jobs for this generation’.”

? Now they figure it out! A new European Commission initiative would make interest-rate rigging a criminal activity, in the wake of the Libor scandal. This is a prospective regulation, so it means little for those who rigged the rate prior to this time.

Money Matters USA

? Two companies Mitt Romney invested in while with Bain Capital “specialized in outsourcing high-tech manufacturing and . . . developed offshore production facilities in Mexico, China and elsewhere to build electronics for US firms.” The two firms were “Singapore-based Flextronics International ($13 million) and Florida-headquartered Jabil Circuit Inc. ($41 million).” This is on top of what we’re learning about Romney’s time at Bain Capital on his “leave of absence” from 1999-2002.

? An investigator in charge of Fraud Risk Management at Countrywide Financial discovered fraud that “shocked” her. She ended up being fired for all the work she did to uncover the extent of the fraud–and she was fired after Bank of America bought Countrywide. The US Department of Labor ruled her firing was illegal and she went public.

? Our fave, Jamie Dimon, taking advantage of the lowered JPMorgan stock prices following the Fail Whale episode, purchased $17 million in common shares of JPMorgan Chase ($12 million for himself and $2.5 million for his wife, and the rest for “a limited liability company”). He also sold $13.5 million in preferred JP Morgan stock. Result: Jamie should make “a cool $4 million as a bonus just for doing his job.”

? Corning, Inc paid no federal income taxes between 2008-2011, and even received a $4 million refund. Nonetheless, a senior executive with Corning told the House Ways & Means Committee this past week that “America’s high corporate tax rate was putting her company at a disadvantage.” Why? Well, let’s just say the senior executive makes a pretty disingenuous argument.

? “A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary [$21 trillion] of wealth offshore–as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together.” This is done with the help of private banks “legal, accounting and investment industries . . . ” and include UBS, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

? Half of all Chapter 9 bankruptcy filings are in NE, CA, TX, AL and OK--with NE accounting for one-fifth of the filings.

? “According to economists and other experts surveyed by the Associated Press, the U.S. poverty rate is on track to hit its highest level since the 1960s.”

Politics USA

? The House will vote on Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve on Tuesday. This is a stronger version of the audit that passed as part of the Dodd-Frank Act. Paul already has 274 co-sponsors, so this is a good bet to pass.

? PA’s Republican Gov Tom Corbett has announced that “the state will offer a new photo identification card that will spare voters from having to obtain birth certificates and Social Security cards in order to vote next November”. Instead, voters must provide “date of birth, a Social Security number and two proofs of residency” at PennDot driver licensing centers–which they will be able to do the last week in August.

? IA Republican Gov Terry Branstad is defying the US Supreme Court order that “mandatory life without parole sentences for murders” committed by 13 – 17 year olds are prohibited. He’s commuting their sentences, as he is required to do, but he’s also “imposing an alternative 60-year sentence” on all 38 prisoners involved.

? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie joined a growing collection of smart-on-crime Republicans by signing a bill that will eliminate jail time for nonviolent drug offenders and expand their treatment options.

? President Obama wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in support of it on Thursday, but “cybersecurity experts agree that . . . in its current form, [Joe Liberman’s] bill won’t do much to protect the U.S. from the doomsday scenarios described as potential risks by the president . . . top defense and intelligence officials.” Wanna bet they pass it?

Working for A Living

? About 15,000 Communications Workers of America in District 4 (OH, IN, IL, MI and WI) “have reached tentative agreements in separate negotiations with AT&T Midwest and AT&T Legacy”. Sad to say, Seth Rosen, CWA’s vice president for District 4 died in a drowning accident on Friday in NC.

? For the first time ever, the average Canadian’s net worth is greater than the average American’s–by about $40,000. How’d that happen? Not only the mortgage scandal and plummeting values of housing in the US, but because “Canadians also own about twice as much teal estate as Americans, and have fewer mortgages.”

The War on Women

? Finally, Justice! An instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio was found guilty by a military jury on 28 counts–“including adultery, violating regulations and committing sexual crimes against female trainees . . ..” Eleven other instructors “are under investigation in the widening case . . . At least 31 female recruits have been identified as possible victims.”

? She got drunk at a party and passed out. She was sexually assaulted by two males who took pictures of their crimes and shared them with others. The boys pled guilty “to first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism.” But there was a hitch: They did a little plea bargaining and the judge imposed a gag order–including on the victim. She was so upset, she tweeted the boys’ names. Their attorneys have asked she be held in contempt.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? “Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older are more satisfied with their health insurance, have better access to care, and are less likely to have problems paying medical bills than working-age adults who get insurance through employers or purchase coverage on their own.” Data for this study were taken from the Commonwealth Fund 2010 Health Insurance Survey and document the folly of tinkering around with Medicare and the short-sightedness of having people purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

? Police have arrested a man in connection with the stabbings of three homeless people in Los Angeles in the last few weeks. He’s also suspected in two stabbings of homeless people in Santa Barbara.

Planet Earth News

? Wildlife bridges–what a concept! Beautiful, too.

? Shell Oil managed “to bully EPA into granting permits for offshore drilling in the Arctic [even though the only equipment tests made in Arctic waters was in] were ‘a failure’.” Not satisfied, however, Shell now wants the EPA “to loosen air pollution requirements for its Discoverer drill rig”, requirements it agreed to when the permits were issued.

? DuPont is being bombarded with compensation claims by some “30,000 homeowners, golf courses, municipalities and landscapers” who used their lawn herbicide, Imprelis, which ended up killing and damaging many thousands of trees across the country.

Latin America

? “Mexican President Felipe Calderon condemned U.S. gun laws as ‘mistaken’ and urged Washington to review them after the Aurora, CO horror. Calderon expressed his condolences to the people of the US but said, “the American Congress must review its mistaken legislation on guns. It’s doing damage to us all.”

? A video surfaced showing six Argentine policeman torturing two prisoners, using suffocation and water techniques. Arrests were quickly made, the officers were identified as belonging to a drugs squad and were described by Argentina’s security minister as “They are not policemen, they are criminals.”

Mixed Bag

? RIP Alexander Cockburn, journalist and co-editor of Counter Punch.

? Your email inbox could get a lot lighter, as the server carrying the botnet responsible for half of the world’s Spam was recently shut down.

? Rupert Murdoch has “resigned from a string of directorships controlling his News Corporation’s UK newspapers.”

Break Time

? Life beneath the microscope.

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