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The Roundup for July 23, 2012

Hello, all! Here’s your Monday evening news.

International Developments

? Bandar Bush got a promotion! He’s now the Intelligence Chief for Saudi Arabia. Emptywheel has more, including the deep Syrian implications in this. More here, too.

? Syria is now saying “it will not use chemical weapons against its own people, but would do so against an external attack.” Moreover, the Iraqi government has said it will allow Syrian refugees into Iraq “and provide them with support . . ..” And the Arab League “will offer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ‘a safe exit’ if he steps down quickly and leaves the country . . ..”

? The US government is now “training anti-drug specialists in Ghana and plans to do the same in Nigeria and Kenya to counter Latin American cartels smuggling drugs through Africa to Europe . . ..” The Chief of the Europe-Asia-Africa section of the Drug Enforcement Administration said, “we’re already behind the curve in some ways, and we need to catch up.” How far behind the curve they are is well-illustrated by an historical review of the War on Drugs.

International Economics

? “Talk of a possible Greek exit has already sapped investors’ confidence . . ., contributed to higher borrowing costs for Spain and Italy. . . [and is] making a planned return to market funding next year harder for Ireland and Portugal . . ..:” Although the Greeks elected a party that promised to stick with a eurozone “adjustment programme”, the person supposed to privatize things has resigned “and the European Central Bank stopped accepting Athens’ bond as collateral for lending to Greek banks.”

? “Six people were found guilty on Monday [in London] of running an insider dealing ring that netted over 700,000 pounds . . .. “The six used confidential and price-sensitive information from the London printers of Swiss bank UBS and UK brokerage JPMorgan Cazenove to place spread bets on proposed or forthcoming takeover bids . . ..”

? I’m sure Yang Yuanging, CEO of Lenovo, has begun a new trend and will soon be joined and emulated by Jamie Dimon and many other progressive CEOs. Mr. Yuanging received a bonus of $3 million, turned around and distributed it all to his firm’s 10,000 employees.

Money Matters USA

? “Four years after Wall Street wrecked the global economy, does anyone really believe we can regulate the big banks?” It “would probably take another financial meltdown to make banking nationalization politically tenable”, but it “seems inevitable, and sooner rather than later.”

? The NY Times has begun a new blog, Economix, focusing on our economy and asking for reader comments. In the first edition, they note the top 1% of households “bring home about 20 percent of total income, up from less than 10 percent 40 years ago.” while the top 1/10,000th of households “bring home almost 5 percent of income, up from 1 percent 40 years ago.”

? Up and away! “Airlines’ fuel surcharges far outpacing fuel prices. Since April 2011, fuel surcharges by U.S. airlines have risen 53%, while fuel prices have increased 24% . . ..” Not only that, but “A $10 priority-boarding fee here, a $25 checked-bag fee there” and pretty soon you’re talking “$22.6 billion . . .” in ancillary revenues 50 airlines reported in 2011, “a 66-percent jump from the $13.5 billion” that 47 airlines reported in 2009.

? Although the war industry CEOs are warning about “Apocalyptic Cuts”, other executives, and the Congressional Budget Office, say those warnings are “overblown” and “counterproductive”.

? Either we “allow Wall Street to carry on its merry way . . . All wealth will be redistributed to the top 1% who will become modern day feudal lords with the other 99% living at their pleasure on huge feudal estates.” Or, the “99% occupy, shut down and obliterate Wall Street.”

Politics USA

? The Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity became involved in a Senate race in NV. Under federal law, political nonprofits can avoid disclosure of donors and so forth if they don’t use “words such as ‘vote for’ or ‘defeat’ in political messaging”. NV doesn’t have such specific requirements, however, and the NV Democratic Party has asked for an investigation.

? Frank Rich checks the national pundits and the national pulse and concludes that the US is not declining more today than in past eras and that “American exceptionalism” gets no less due than in the past. Actually, “Lost in all our declinist panic is the fact that the election of an African-American president is in itself an instance of American exceptionalism . . ..”

? Heh heh. MN Republican Michelle Bachmann and four others have been citing a ten-part video that claims the “‘Muslim Brotherhood was helped in its efforts to achieve information dominance over the George W. Bush administration by [Grover] Norquist . . . [and that Grover] is also accused of using ‘various organizations to promote Islamist agendas.'”

? Former FL Republican Gov Charlie Crist, argues that “When one takes away another’s right to vote, he is taking dead aim at democracy and undermining the very virtue that makes us the envy of the world.” To the contrary, “Including as many American as possible in our electoral process is the spirit of our country.”

? The state of GA is set to execute a man for murder, who also has an IQ of 70, “which puts him below the threshold for mental disability.” GA disputes that, saying the man’s “intellectual disability” was not sufficient to make him exempt from GA’s requirements.

? Two more settlements are near in Chicago police torture lawsuits, totaling $7.17 million. One man was tortured for four days until he “confessed” to a murder and then spent 23 years in prison. The other man spent 25 years in prison for murder. The former Chicago Police Commander in charge during the time is serving a 4-1/2 year prison term for lying about the torture.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? A few news items on the HIV/AIDS front. 1) Drug resistance is increasing in parts of eastern and southern Africa; 2) “The United States is committed and will remain committed to achieve an AIDS-free generation“; 3) Last year, the world spent $16.8 billion against HIV, an 11% increase over 2010, “but still far short of the $22 -24 billion needed by 2015 . . ..”

Planet Earth News

? A 2009 study from the Pennsylvania State University predicted that imposition of new taxes would steer the fracking industry away, so voters rejected any tax increase. Seems the study was sponsored by the gas drillers, and was “led by an economist . . . with a history of producing industry-friendly research on economic and energy issues.”

? “Manmade climate change [ocean warming] is the main driver behind the unexpected emergency of a group of bacteria [Vibrio] in northern Europe [Baltic Sea] which can cause gastroenteritis . . ..”

Latin America

? Thousands marched through Mexico City yesterday continuing the protests of the official election results for president.

Mixed Bag

? RIP Sally Ride, first US female astronaut

? For the first time in 100 years, women’s IQ scores are better than those for men. Not only that, but women’s IQ scores have risen faster than men’s, too.

? A Sarah Palin-lookalike stripper will be performing at a–*cough* *cough*–“gentleman’s club”, Thee Doll House (what?), in Tampa next month for the Republican National Convention.

Break Time

? This might help cool you down.

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