CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for September 14, 2012

Ta-dah, your news! Enjoy your weekend. We’ll see you again Sunday evening.

International Developments

? Anti-US demonstrators were fired upon by police in Jos, Nigeria; a Muslim cleric in India’s Kashmir has warned all Americans to leave; 3 people were killed in Tunisia after demonstrators broke through to the US embassy, 1 person was killed in Khartoum and 1 person in Lebanon; more clashes in Yemen and Egypt.

? A broader view: “The maelstrom of anti-western violence in the Arab world has little to do [with the film Innocence of Muslims and] more to do with decades of perceived western imperialism–and the organisational skills of the [extremist] Salafis.” But that’s not all: “Barack Obama’s Arab honeymoon was squandered by drone attacks on Pakistan and Yemen and his impotence over Israel.”

? Another view: “Yet the underlying fact of all of these historical threads has been the United States’ oil-driven foreign policy. Very simply, the United States has for over half a century pursued a foreign policy in the region geared toward maintaining the flow of oil out of the region at any cost . . . you do not stir the hornet’s nest and then expect not to get stung.”

? UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan could “quicken next year because military commanders have changed their views about how many troops need to remain to help local security forces fight the Taliban, the defence secretary has said.”

? “President Obama on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to spell out a specific ‘red line’ that Iran could not cross in its nuclear program. . . .”

International Finance

? Italy just “reopened a bond maturing in 2026” which analysts say it wouldn’t have done in “shakier market conditions”; thus the European Central Bank’s “new crisis-fighting plans” have passed “a major test of investor confidence”.

? Eurozone finance ministers meeting in Cyprus Friday “hinted that Greece may be given more time to pay its debts, though they ruled out a third bailout.”

Money Matters USA

? “US industrial output fell 1.2% last month, its fastest decline for three years, after Hurricane Isaac shut down oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico: At the same time, factory production fell 0.7% . . .:

? If you agree that Apple’s new iPhone5 will increase GDP growth because many people will buy it, “you are, whether you know it or not, a Keynesian,” according to Paul Krugman. More importantly, “you’ve already conceded both that the total amount of spending in the economy isn’t a fixed number and that more spending is what we need. And there’s no reason this spending has to be private.”

? “New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority today approved granting Honeywell International a $40 million tax credit to keep it from moving its headquarters out-of-state.” It’s the largest tax credit available.

Politics USA

? “Commission led by Kofi Annan says the rise of Super Pacs and voter ID laws has “shaken citizen confidence” in [US] elections.”

? Merck & Co, major pharmaceutical firm, is leaving ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).

? Shortly after Mitt Romney joined Bain, he began working very closely with Monsanto, a relationship that has continued to this day. Romney’s Agricultural Advisory Committee is “packed with Monsanto connections”. Seems “Monsanto connections” are what many of Romney’s political pals and supporters have in common.

? This guy has a resume like no other. Seems Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the guy associated with the film “Innocence of Muslims” was also a meth chef.

? A permit is required to shoot a movie in Los Angeles County, and “Innocence of Muslims” was supposedly filmed there, so the mystery of who was behind the movie could be cleared by looking at the permit. “On Thursday, after being contacted by both the FBI and the US State Department and on its legal counsel’s advice, the office of the CEO of L.A. County removed” the permit from public view.

? Cleverness afoot. US House Republicans have gotten their Workforce Investment and Improvement Act through the Education & Workforce Committee. It would put TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) into the new WIF (Workforce Investment Fund) program. Since there are no work requirements for welfare recipients under the Republicans’ WIF, they will have accomplished what they are accusing Obama of trying to do with TANF work requirements.

? CA Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein and IA Republican Chuck Grassley have joined forces to tell us about the Caribbean “security crisis”. Numerous “unpoliced islets and barely monitored coasts remain near-perfect conduits for drug shipments.” They want us to “be prepared” for the “balloon effect” that is inevitable.

The War on Women

? “Bill O’Reilly wished that the women’s health organization were privately financed ‘like Catholic charities’ are” since he doesn’t “want his tax money given to organizations with which he has differing views.” Turns out, in 2010, “Government Revenue” accounted for 62% of Catholic Charities total income.

Working for A Living

? A WI judge “has struck down the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers.” WI will appeal.

Health, Homelessness, & Hunger

? CA Democratic Representative Barbara Lee, speaking on the House floor: “It is shameful that over 45 million Americans, including 16 million children, are living in poverty in the wealthiest nation in the world.” Video.

? Beef Products, Inc. has filed a defamation suit against ABC and the journalists involved for “calling its ground beef products ‘pink slime’.” Whatever it’s called, it’s comprised of “leftover bits of slaughtered cattle mixed in a centrifuge, then treated with a cloud of ammonia . . ..”

? An anti-trust investigation by CA’s attorney general has resulted in subpoenas being sent to “San Francisco-based Dignity Health”, Scripps Health, Sharp HealthCare. Sutter Health Systems, Cottage Health System and several insurance companies. Hospitals’ “purchases of doctor groups, and mergers that combine physician practices” are being watched by the Federal Trade Commission, too.

? According to a new study from the Commonwealth Fund, Medicaid expansion and the insurance exchanges “would do more than high-risk pools to offer adults with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health benefits.” More to the point, high-risk pools “would be ‘extremely expensive and likely unsustainable.'”

Heads Up!

? Twitter handed over about 3 months of messages from Malcolm Harris, Occupy Wall Street protestor, rather than deal with “steep fines if it did not comply with the judge’s order to turn over the tweets to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.”

? University of California Regents behind closed doors approved a “proposed settlement payment to 21 UC Davis students and alumni who sued” because they were pepper sprayed by “campus police” (i.e., Officer John Pike) during a peaceful protest last November.

? Stop Mass Incarceration organized protests in about a dozen places in New York City yesterday to protest the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program. Whistles were distributed to people to use when observing officers engaging in stop-and-frisk.

Planet Earth News

? Arctic sea ice is now at the lowest level ever recorded, and “less than half the area tpically occupied four decades ago.”

? There will be a “massive sit in at the British Columbia legislature” in an attempt to block the Enbridge Northern Gateway tarsands pipeline going from Alberta to the BC coast. Environmental activists, community members, unions, “business and First Nation leaders” are involved with the mobilization.

? Japan intends to “phase out nuclear power over the next three decades . . ..”

Latin America

? Henrique Capriles, Venezuelan president wanna-be, had to fire a top campaign aide “after vague corruption accusations by government leaders.” Seems more like a “grainy video” did the job.

Break Time

? The theremin.

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