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The Roundup for August 19, 2012

Hope you had a happy, “good memories” weekend. Here’s some news to get you oriented toward the new week.

International Developments

? A roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan killed 3 NATO troops today.

? As the UN pulled observers from Syria on Saturday, 40 bodies were on the streets of a suburb near Damascus, and at least 60 others–bound and burned–were found Thursday in a landfill.

? A US drone struck “a suspected militant hideout” in northern Pakistan, killing 5 “supporters” of “a powerful warlord”.

? On the Assange-Ecuador matter from European newspapers: 1) “the British government has done Assange a favor . . . [to] continue working on his own myth”, 2) “. . . the (Ecuadorian) government is evicting an ex-government worker from Belarus who has enjoyed three years of asylum status in Ecuador [now that Ecuador has signed trade agreements with Belarus), etc.

? “South African President Jacob Zuma has declared a week of national mourning for striking miners killed in violence at a platinum mine on Thursday.” The number killed is said to be 44.

International Finance

? The UK Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee was not pleased with the appearance of Barclays Bob Diamond before its emergency hearings on Libor, claiming in a report that he presented “highly selective” evidence. They also criticized the Bank of England and chief City regulator.

Money Matters USA

? Here they are, count ’em: “Five ways privatization is ruining America“. 1) Giving public assets to corporations; 2) Refusing to learn from past mistakes; 3) Secretive deal-making; 4) Demonizing of public employees and unions; 5) Profit-motive vs. community priorities.

? Gas prices in CA zipped upward immediately after the Chevon fire in Richmond, CA–even though “the state’s refineries churned out more gasoline last week than they did the week before the fire”–12.4% as much. Analysts point to traders.

Politics USA

? ‘Entitlement’ is something Paul Ryan wants us to talk about. LBJ referred to Grandma as being “entitled” to Medicare. In the ’70s, psychologists began to associate a sense of entitlement with narcissism. Nowadays, “the implicit modifier ‘unearned’ [is] lurking in the background’.” Curious, though, that ‘entitlement’ “rarely stretches to include the hedge-fund manager who makes a life model of Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark, who is the most conspicuous monster of entitlement . . ..”

? “Dark Road to the White House”, including Paul Ryan’s quiet visit to Sheldon Adelson (who has pledged to donate $100 million to defeat Obama), all the flip-flopping by Romney and Ryan, etc.

? The UK Telegraph reports “Mitt Romney [while Governor of MA] may have breached ethics laws through company linked to Paul Ryan’s brother.” Seems Toby Ryan was an executive at marketing company Imagitas, which was given a contract with MA after receiving $5 million from Bain Capital.

? KS Secretary of State Kris Kobach ventured before the US Commission on Civil Rights in Birmingham, AL and got shouted down as he tried defending illegal immigrants laws he helped write for AL and AZ.

? OH’s Secretary of State has decided to “prohibit early voting on nights and weekends” which meets with the approval of Franklin County’s GOP chair Doug Preisse who, in a “fair and reasonable” mood, has written “we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban–read African-American–voter-turnout machine.”

? “FBI arrests former top fundraiser for Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm: Israeli citizen Ofer Biton’s arrest is the first bust of anyone targeted in a broader federal probe of allegations that Grimm accepted illegal campaign contributions.”

? Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) argues that, contrary to what we’re told, Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus currently, and that it operates at a very “modest” administrative cost.

? Craziness abounds these days, including Greene County VA, where “GOP Newsletter Calls for Armed Revolution if Obama Re-Elected.”

? Craziness abounds, including the University of Colorado campuses at Boulder and Colorado Springs: students 21+ years old with concealed carry permits will have to stay in separate dorm areas. This follows a CO Supreme Court ruling.

? A federal appeals court struck down part of MD’s gun carry permit law, but the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a delay so the state could appeal.

? NH has a new law requiring “state agencies to consider open source software . . . and [encouraging] state agencies to make public records available in an open data format.” CA state Senator Leland Yee (D-SF) has a bill going through the CA legislature now requiring “public agencies provide their records in searchable formats, such as Excel or Word.”

The War on Women

? Todd Akin, GOP Representative from MO who is now running against Sen. Claire McCaskill has out-done even himself now, claiming he’s opposed to abortion “even in case of rape [because] victims of ‘legitimate rape’ have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.”

? In 2007, KS Attorney General Phill Kline filed a 107-count criminal action against Planned Parenthood. Bit by bit, the charges have been dropped, leaving 32. Those last 32 have now been dropped as well. Kline, btw, who so “vigorously” pursued Planned Parenthood in KS and Dr. George Tiller (who ended up murdered), lost his right to practice law in KS and now resides in . . . VA.

? A new VA law requires an abdominal ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to undergoing an abortion–an additional office visit for each patient choosing abortion, which in turn requires additional staff, clinic time and paperwork. One small clinic reports on the results.

Working for A Living

? According to the White House, budget cuts have led to 300,000 education jobs cut by local and state governments, leading to an increase of 4.6% in student-teacher ratio between 2008-2010. These data were released in support of investing $25 billion in education programs in the states

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? I’ll need a new jar of exclamation points after this one. A South Pasadena, CA, physician is being sued by the CA Attorney General’s office for “refusing to accept lower insurance company reimbursements and instead billing patients for the full amount”! Not only that, but these are ER patients and when they don’t pay, she files lawsuits (50 in the past 2 years!) and liens against their homes.

Planet Earth News

? Glaciers in the Glacier National Park (MT) are melting “much faster than scientists predicted just a few yard ago, and could be gone entirely in just a decade.”

Latin America

? “A new, in-depth report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research . . . and Rights Action has found glaring inconsistencies in the accounts of what occurred on May 11, 2012, when four [local] people were shot and killed in a [Drug Enforcement Agency]-related counternarcotics operation in the Moskitia region of Honduras.” Eye-witnesses said DEA agents opened fire on them. The US denies this.

Mixed Bag

? What is that suspicious looking object in your hand? A piece of chalk? Eeeek–go to jail. Children and adults are being caught and punished across American for drawing with chalk on the nation’s sidewalks.

Break Time

? Model retirement facility in Burma

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