CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for July 30, 2012

Hello, all. Let’s check in on some of what’s been going on during the last 24 hours, shall we?

International Developments

? The Syrian charge d’affaires in London has defected, saying “that he is ‘no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people’.”

? An estimated 200,000 Syrians fled Aleppo over the past couple of days; there is no estimate of the number of people still in the city.

? Refugees from Syria, which opened its doors to Iraqi refugees during the US invasion of that country, are finding a downright chilly reception in Iraq. Some compare it to being in prison.

? Although Lech Walesa met with Romney today, Poland’s Solidarity Union has formally stated that it is “‘in no way involved’ in the meeting . . . and has no ‘initiative’ to invite the American candidate to Poland.” They also stated they would “stand alongside the AFL-CIO” which has endorsed Obama. When Romney arrived at Gdansk City Hall, some “Obama! Obama!” chants were heard.

International Finance

? Hmmm. “Four sentenced to death over $2.6bn Iran bank fraud”. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “denied his government was involved in the scandal.”

Money Matters USA

? Special Inspector General for Afghan reconstruction has issued his report to Congress. “Hundreds of millions of US taxpayer dollars may have been wasted on poorly managed infrastructure projects in Afghanistan . . ..” Poor planning, poor vetting of contract applicants, etc., and “deficiencies include leaking fuel lines, unconnected drain pipes, poorly built guard towers, and improperly installed heating and ventilation systems. . ..”

? Another US government report concludes that “The United States wasted more than $200 million on an Iraqi police-training program that has little backing on the ground . . ..” Amazing stuff, such as “Only seven police advisors used the $98 million facility at the height of the training program.”

? To no one’s surprise, but just for the record: “Republican Jobs Bills Won’t Actually Create Jobs, Say Economists.”

? CA officials “believe a subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co. . . . pulled down an extra $73 million by exploiting a small wrinkle in California’s electricity market over several months in 2010 and 2011″. $20million has been recovered. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is involved, having sued JPMorgan for “stonewalling the investigation by refusing to release a cluster of emails.” FERC is also pursuing possible market manipulating by JPMorgan at the Midwest Transmission System Operator.

Politics USA

? Dick “Dick” Cheney was on the tee vee saying John McCain made a mistake putting Sarah Palin on his ticket. McCain has responded, in part, “Look, I respect the vice-president. He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not. I don’t think we should have.”

? What to do with those monstrous Bush “torture memos” produced 10 years ago this week? Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis argues that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on its investigation of the CIA’s torture memos be made public and “we should mark the 10th anniversary of the effort by the Bush administration to justify torture [by working] to ensure that U.S. government-sponsored torture never occurs again.”

? Mitt Romney has “received almost $322,000 in direct donations from the CEOs of the companies listed on the annual “Fortune 500″ list of the biggest U.S. companies.” Those donations were over four times the amount ($75,500) made to the Obama campaign by CEOs on the same list.

? Anaheim police trotted out their horses yesterday as 200+ demonstrators marched toward Disneyland. Police reportedly became aggressive and even “pointed rifles directly at the faces of photographers.”

? Plagiarism, even when you’re plagiarizing yourself, is a no-no. So is just making stuff up. Seems a staff writer for The New Yorker, Jonah Lehrer, has been doing both. He has now resigned .

? Oh noooo. “Is Romney Going to Repeat the Palin Strategy and Choose Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi?”

? In-depth piece helps explain the motivations and intentions of WI Republican House Member Paul Ryan. Ryan was captivated by Ayn Rand early on, and it definitely shows. Ryan took Peter Ferrara’s plan to turn Social Security “into a system for private investment accounts” and popularized it, he wants to end Medicare and Medicaid, he developed the Roadmap for America and so on.

The War on Women

? The US Senate passed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in April, but the House version omitted certain provisions. Now House Speaker John Boehner has “named eight House negotiators to serve on a nonexistent conference committee . . . charged with bridging the divide between House Republicans and the Senate.” Boehner even appointed WI Republican House member F. James “Tex” (as in Kotex fortune) Sensenbrenner Jr to the nonexistent conference committee.

Working for A Living

? Lettire construction company is well-known”for building affordable housing in Harlem and the Bronx, and for employing local workers at his construction sites.” However, the workers were not always paid as they should have been, according to the US Dept of Labor. So, Lettire will be paying about $960,000 “in back wages and fringe benefits for dozens of workers . . ..”

? Represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, workers at Southern CA’s Rite Aid stores are voting on whether to strike. Results announced Tuesday.

Planet Earth News

? Oh, the joys of fracking! In OH’s southern Portage County, Chesapeake Energy is forcing 24 land-owners “to take part in Utica-shale drilling under a seldom-used state law . . . which lets companies add properties to large ‘drilling units’ even if leases with landowners haven’t been obtained.” Predictions are this will be occurring more in the future “because one shale well’s horizontal shaft can stretch a mile or more.”

? The “country’s first commercial-scale tidal power generator is being launched in eastern Maine. ” It will be operational in August.

Latin America

? “Violent disputes over indigenous lands have been growing across Brazil, sparking heightened militancy by native tribes angered by broken promises of compensation and slower government registrations. . . . The indigenous peoples are fighting to protect their resource-rich lands from invasions or encroachment by huge cattle ranchers, industrial-scale farmers, illegal gold miners, and loggers.”

? There is support in Uruguay of its President Jose Mujica‘s statement back in June to “separate the market: users from traffickers, marijuana from other drugs like heroin.” Brazil and Argentina are inclined to agree while others–such as Colombia, Mexico and Belize–want a broader debate on the issue. (PS: President Mujica drives around in a 1981 VW Beetle.)

Mixed Bag

? RIP, Chris Marker, director of La jetee

? RIP, Tony Martin, legendary crooner.

? Welcome Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy of Goshen, CT

Break Time

? He can set up his table beside my lemonade stand any old time he wants.

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