CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for August 12, 2012

Hello! Here’s some news for you while you’re winding down your weekend.

International Developments

? “Shooting of at least 10 police by colleague follows six American troops dying at hands of Afghan recruits a day earlier.” This brings the total to 6 US soldiers and 10 Afghan police killed over the past two days.

? According to the US government, Hezbollah is deeply involved “in the Syrian government’s violent campaign to crush the uprising there . . ..”

? Syrian rebels have carved “out large enclave in north Syria”. This allows them to “move and organize with unprecedented freedom, plus a long stretch of the border with Turkey key for moving out refugees and smuggling in weapons.”

? “Foreign ministers from the Arab League are due to meet in the Saudi city of Jeddah to debate the crisis in Syria.”

? “Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has ordered the retirement of the powerful head of the country’s armed forces, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, a presidential spokesman has said.” Whether Mursi has the power to do this is not clear.

? Iraq has ordered France’s energy giant Total to sever its ties with Kurdistan or “sell its stakes in a giant southern oilfield.”

International Finance

? Barclays’ new chairman, Sir David Walker said he wants to: reform pay at the bank; retain “both retail and investment banking arms”, but make sure the retail and investment arms are separate; and make “customers pay for current accounts”. And Libor type behavior, Sir David?

? Sir Mervyn King, the UK’s central banker, in an editorial: “the London Olympic showed it was wrong to argue that massive bonuses were needed to motivate people to do well.” Almost sounds as if he’s lecturing children.

? New uproar in Europe that “Swiss banks are helping German citizens dodge taxes . . ..” Switzerland President Eveline Widmer-Shlumpf pooh-poohed the charges.

? Isn’t it odd how economic realities can blow asunder sacrosanct religious beliefs? “Saudi Arabia developing all-woman cities“. “Economic realities and necessities will force the society to change its perception of working women, because the situation now is unsustainable”, according to a Saudi diplomat.

Money Matters USA

? How to set up your own off-shore bank account. Further thoughts on the subject.

? Morgan Stanley has prepared “Three great slides . . . on the fiscal cliff”. 1) What it is and its impact; 2) “Timeline for Action (or Inaction?)”; 3) Resolution–including political shifts in House, Senate and Presidency, and what action seems likely.

? Did failure to replace an 8-in steel pipe lead to the fire at the Chevron plant in Richmond, CA, last week–which will result in higher gas prices? Why didn’t the company shut down the crude unit while workers tried to fix the leak–and only “narrowly escaped the vapor cloud that ignited”? Stay tuned.

? The Democratic National Committee is moving its primary bank account from Bank of America to Amalgamated Bank which “was founded by clothing workers and remains union-backed.”

? As DDay has been reminding us, having post offices perform simple banking services could help the USPS–and the 9 million people “who don’t have a bank account plus the 21 million who use usurious check cashers . . ..” More background information is in the article, including models from other countries and from the old US Postal Savings System itself.

Politics USA

? Aloha! Progressive beats Blue Dog in Hawaii: “Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) scored a decisive victory over former Rep. Ed Case (D) in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate . . . .”

? Head-spinner: In Ohio, early voting stations this year will open at 8:00 am and close at 5:00 pm in heavily Democratic counties, while Republican counties will have expanded hours on nights and weekends.

? Another head-spinner: AZ Republican Gov Jan Brewer signed a waiver to the state’s medical marijuana law, thus allowing the AZ Attorney General to shut down those same marijuana dispensaries that the Health Department has issued permits to for operation.

? Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, was asked about the political ad “that implies a woman died of anger because Bain Capital fired her husband.” She pointed out that it wasn’t a Democratic ad, but a “Priorities USA super PAC ad.” She has no idea who Priorities USA is nor what party it represents.

? An investigative reporters project, News21, did an “exhaustive” search of public records and determined that, “of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases since 2000”, the rate of fraud is “infinitesimal”.

? If you like snark, you’ll love this: “Paul Ryan: Murderer of Opportunity, Political Coward, Candidate for Vice President of the United States”.

? A couple of Republicans in the OR state house seem to have zipper problems–both with their pants and their lips, relating stories and all.

? Oh, nooooos. “A [NJ] state appellate panel ruled Friday that the Department of Community Affairs doesn’t have the authority to take affordable housing funds away from towns, complicating the Christie administration’s budget, which is balanced in part using those local affordable housing dollars.”

? Montana’s Supreme Court has ruled that a non-binding ballot measure directing “the state’s congressional delegation to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to say that corporations aren’t people ” can be on the November ballot.

? Those wonderful nuns of the “Leadership Conference of Women Religious” (over 80% of all US Sisters) have decided to “continue discussions with church officials regarding a Vatican-ordered takeover, but ‘will reconsider’ if it ‘is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.'”

? Lauderdale County, MS has been accused by the US Dept of Justice’s Civil Rights Division of running a “‘school-to-prison’ pipeline that jails juveniles for even minor school disciplinary problems.” No surprise that African-American and disabled children are “most affected”.

? Tomorrow, “the Obama administration is slated to file an amicus brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the use of racial preferences in admission to the University of Texas at Austin.” This is a “political thicket”, particularly since Obama is the first black US president. One way out? Back “preferences in admission for economically disadvantage students of all races.”

? Ayn Rand’s early fascination with a psychopath.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Yes! “Public health experts, . . . in the wake of recent mass shootings are calling for a fresh look at gun violence as a social disease.”

? Petco is recalling certain stainless steel bowls since radioactive material is in them.

Heads Up!

? “Minneapolis cops captured data on 805,000 license plates in June alone, and 4.9 million so far this year.” Not only that, but anybody can call up and get a “list of dates, times and coordinates” of any car with a license plate. The American Civil Liberties Union is getting on it, needless to say.

Planet Earth News

? Sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a rate 50% higher than originally thought. The prognosis: “In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes.” Rather than halt what they’re doing to cause this, they’re chomping at the bit to make $$$s off yet more devastation.

Break Time

? This is truly awesome.

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