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The Roundup for September 21, 2012

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Special Announcement

DDay will be hosting the FDL Book Salon tomorrow afternoon (5 pm Eastern/2 pm Pacific). The book: Neil Barofsky’s “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street.” Barofsky, as you may recall, was Special Inspector General for the TARP program from 2008 – 2011, and before that was with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Be sure to tune in. Should be most informative.

International Developments

? “Fifteen people have died as violent protests erupted on the streets of Pakistan’s main cities in anger at an anti-Islam film made in the US [“Innocence of Muslims”].” 10 dead in Karachi, 5 in Peshawar. The US embassy in Islamabad was breached.

? The Surge has ended, as the last of 33,000 extra US soldiers sent to Afghanistan three years ago are headed home to the US.

? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has decided to take MEK, Iranian exile group Mujahedin-e Khalq, off the terrorist list. “MEK supporters hired dozens of high-ranking former U.S. government officials and politicians to lobby the Obama administration on the group’s behalf, demanding that Washington back the MEK in its struggle with Iraq.”

? “More than 10,000 Libyans are marching through the eastern city of Benghazi, demanding the disbanding of powerful militias that run rampant in the city.” Meanwhile, Libya’s Interior Ministry spokesperson said the government “just doesn’t have the ‘power’ to find the attackers who killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.”

? “Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sacked the governor of volatile Helmand province as part of a series of sweeping political changes.”

? 14 people were killed as a result of 2 suicide bombers in a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia.

International Finance

? Spain is going to specifically target the elderly for further Austerity by moving more quickly toward raising the retirement age from 65 to 67.

? Achames in northern Athens will “suspend all of its operations after running out of money.” Achames’ mayor has asked the government for a reduction of the 11.5% interest rate on a loan to 5.5%.

? India is gradually opening its doors to outside retailers, with WalMart scheduled to have a store somewhere in India in 12-18 months. Carrefour of France has two “cash-and-carry” stores in India now, and IKEA of Sweden is awaiting permission.

? Those Trans-Pacific Partnership talks exclude China, but “the pact will unite large portions of Asia, North American and South America in a trading bloc of lowered tariffs and common rules–a tidal pull that the Chinese could find hard to resist.”

Money Matters USA

? “The fact is that nearly every state and local tax system takes a much greater share of income from middle- and low-income families than from the wealthy.” Worst offenders: FL, IL, NV, TX, SD, WA. Exception to the rule: Washington DC, which taxes the wealthiest 1% at a higher rate than the poorest 20%.

? Seems JPMorgan Chase & Co. may have been misleading authorities about power prices manipulation in the Midwest and CA, so the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is threatening to “suspend [their] right to sell electricity at market rates”–which means selling at lower rates, even at cost. FERC is also investigating Deutsche Bank and Barclays PLC.

? JPMorgan is also under scrutiny by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations which wants to know if JPMorgan’s “wrong-way bets on derivatives would have been permitted under regulators’ initial draft of the Volcker ban on proprietary trading”. We might yet get the Volcker Rule.

? As many as 15,000 child actors could be affected by Bank of America’s “allegedly withdrawing money . . . from their bank accounts”.

Politics USA

? Republican Vice-President wanna-be Paul Ryan got booed at AARP‘s National Annual Conference in New Orleans today. He criticized Obama proposals and presented his plan for turning Medicare into a voucher program. Video.

? Savvy businessmen pay for what they get. Mitt Romney’s campaign paid more than $200,000 in bonuses to several top campaign staff even though the candidate didn’t exactly score large points after the Republican National Convention.

? Oh, nooos. WI Republican Gov Scott Walker has “expressed ‘frustration’ with how Mitt Romney’s campaign has operated . . ..”

? $1 million was contributed to KKKKarl’s American Crossroads super PAC by Clayton Williams Energy, Inc. of Midland, TX. Clayton Jr. ran against Democrat Ann Richards in 1990 in the governor’s race. He’s famous for explaining that bad weather is like rape–“If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” Ann Richards won the election.

? Oh, nooos. “Nine Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Writers Who Weren’t Disclosed as Romney Advisers”. Those 9 wrote 20 articles published by the WSJ and not once were their roles as Romney advisors mentioned. They are: John Bolton, Max Boot, Lee A. Casey, Paula Dobrianky, Mary Ann Glendon, Glenn Hubbard, Paul E. Peterson, David B. Rivkin Jr. and Martin West.

? Man on a mission: CA Republican House member Darrell Issa is gonna continue his pursuit of Fast and Furious regardless.

? Good luck with that. Two House members–Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)–are “re-launching the Congressional Civility Caucus just 46 days before Election Day.”

? New book by Jeff Connaughton, former aide to Joe Biden and Ted Kaufman, pulls back the curtain on money, special interests and cynical politicians that “oppose attempts to rein in the financial services industry”. The book also includes unfavorable accounts of Joe Biden.

? Oral arguments were heard in the ACLU’s lawsuit seeking info on the drone program that the government talks about but officially denies exists. One judge compared the situation to the emperor and his clothes. Stay tuned.

? California’s High-Speed Rail Authority‘s plan for a bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles was approved so the state can begin acquiring the land necessary for the first 130 miles of rail between Merced and Bakersfield.

? President Obama on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: “A year ago . . . we upheld the fundamental American values of fairness and equality by finally and formally repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.” Entire statement is here.

? Remember the trip to Colombia last April that resulted in 11 Secret Service agents and some military types accused of engaging the services of prostitutes? A couple of White House staff may have been involved, too.

? It can only get worse. James Murdoch apparently is going to be dispatched to run Fox TV in the US.

? 2014 doesn’t look so great for Democrats in the Senate. 20 Democrats will be up for re-election, and 12 of those are either in red or swing states.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Why can’t we get these things right? People were living in rodent-, roach- and mold-infested apartments with leaking ceilings and faulty smoke alarms in Riviera Beach, FL until HUD finally took notice and ordered management to repair everything in 10 days. Residents haven’t much hope there will be a permanent turn-around in managing the apartments, and Riviera Beach’s mayor, Thomas Masters, has pledged to continue vigilant efforts until “the goals are met.”

Heads Up!

? Yay! Yesterday, the new Quebec government repealed the tuition fee hike imposed earlier this year which generated major demonstrations and protests.

Planet Earth News

? Whoa! That French study about rodents developing tumors while fed a diet of Monsanto corn has come under severe criticism. Do check it out.

? The headline says it all: “Virtually all Alabama tar balls from BP oil spill, new [Auburn University] study shows.”

Latin America

? Canada’s Barrick Gold has suspended mining operations in Peru after one person was killed “and at least four injured in clashes between police and protestors at a gold mine in the northern Ancash region of Peru.”

Mixed Bag

? Handy tip for living in these interesting times: “Psychopaths have a poor sense of smell”.

? Yoko Ono will award the Lennon-Ono Grant for Peace to Pussy Riot this year.

? Sarah Silverman on “Voter Fraud” fixes.

? Homer Simpson votes, 2012.

? Yesterday, 15 members of an Amish off-shoot group were convicted of hate crimes for invading people’s houses, physically attacking the targeted occupants and cutting off their beards and hair. The leader of the group, Samuel Mullet, has 16 children, is a multi-millionaire, “iron-fisted autocrat”, and had sex with young married women who “needed counseling”, etc.

Break Time

? Miles to Veracruz

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