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The Roundup for September 23, 2012

Good evening to you on this first full day of Autumn.

International Developments

? Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi “Spells Out Terms for U.S.-Arab Ties”.

? Following mass demonstrations against them, the militant Ansar Al-Sharia withdrew from Benghazi, Libya on Friday; and two more Islamist militias in Derna also withdrew.

? “The rebel Free Syrian Army . . . has announced that it has moved its command centre from Turkey to ‘liberated areas’ inside Syria.

? Pakistani Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour “offered $100,000 . . . to anyone who kills the maker of an online video [“Innocence of Muslims”] which insults Islam . . ..” He also invited Taliban and al Qaeda “brothers to join me in this blessed mission.” Meanwhile, at least 18 people were killed in Pakistan during furious riots in protest of the movie.

? UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, after spending touring Morocco’s prisons and detention centers, and talking with “activists and civil society representatives”, said “Torture is systematic in Morocco for cases involving anti-government demonstrators and those accused of terrorism.”

? “Israel will eventually go beyond threats and will attack Iran, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards” said Saturday, warning that Israel “would be destroyed if it took such a step.” He added that “it’s not clear when the war will occur.”

International Finance

? “There can be no doubt that the run on Spanish banks has been ongoing, massive, and most likely, devastating. Spanish real estate prices have been falling . . . Retail sales are collapsing . . . Total employment has been crashing . . . If you loved what was happening in Athens, just wait until this show moves full stream ahead into Madrid.”

Money Matters USA

? Several cool graphs showing that middle-income households get a proportionate share of entitlement benefits, wealthy households get a disproportionate share of tax expenditures, and those with low incomes will be hardest hit by the “fiscal cliff”.

Politics USA

? Obama recently said, “You can’t change Washington from the inside”, that it needed to be changed from the outside and sited the health care legislation as an example–when it was the product of insiders behind closed doors making deals, according to analysts. Seems outside pressure wasn’t called into play at the time because of fear it might “backfire.”

? The US Senate was working away Saturday unanimously passing a bill by SD Republican Senator John Thune that “would shield US airlines from paying for their carbon emissions on European flights”.

? Well, shut my mouth. Bill Kristol on the teevee saying that the Obama administration inherited the financial meltdown from Bush, and turned it around “pretty well”. He cited former President Bill Clinton’s powerful, fact-filled (and fact-checked) speech before the Democratic National Convention. Video.

? How to get around PA’s oppressive voter ID law? Democrats in “Montgomery and Alleghany Counties used a loophole in the law that allows Colleges and Nursing Homes to issue voter ID’s to anyone who resides in their counties.”

? SC Republican Senator Jim DeMint might throw “his weighty financial support behind Rep Todd [Legitimate Rape] Akin (R)”.

? Mitt Romney’s official 2011 tax return showed his tax bill lower than the preliminary report 8 months ago and his adjusted gross income “fell by $7.2 million”. Several possibilities as to why such things might have happened. A bit earlier, Romney’s tax accountant issued a letter stating Romney paid an average 20.2% over 20 years and Harry Reid ain’t buying it.

? It’s so bad, the Romney campaign has turned to Ralph Reed to help turn out the evangelical vote.

? In the VA race for Senate, Republican George Allen “has made opposition to the bipartisan deficit reduction law of 2011 the centerpiece of his campaign”. Former Democratic Gov Tom Kaine is Allen’s opponent.

? In Anaheim, CA the Gutierrez-Perez family was served with an eviction notice. Occupy LA, Occupy Whittier and Occupy Anaheim stayed in the home, “engaging with” US Bank and Ocwen financial services until a loan modification packet was sent to the family. Research revealed “716 other houses in default [in the same Zip code] and 200 in foreclosure”.

? The Bronx is turning a dump a working-class neighborhood “into a golf course for Donald Trump” at a cost of $97 million. Underneath the surface of the dump is lots and lots of volatile methane gas now percolating upwards. Residents are not happy.

? Makes my blood boil. Among “14 ‘wacky facts’ kids will learn under [Gov Bobby Jindal’s voucher program for privatizing public schools] is that ‘God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ.'” Oh, and the Ku Klux Klan was actually “a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality . . . bootleggers, wife-beaters and immoral movies.”

? Good on them! Detroit’s City Council unanimously voted to seek a “temporary restraining order to stop Mayor Dave Bing’s administration from proceeding with his reorganization of the . . . health department into a non-profit agency independent of the city.”

? Eliot Spitzer asks “where is the uniquely inept U.S. Department of Justice?” in regard to the announcement that James Murdoch–part of “one of the biggest criminal enterprises ever to be uncovered at a major corporation”–has been put in charge of News Corp’s US teevee operations.

Working for A Living

? Missouri State Employees Retirement System (MOSERS)‘s governing board has approved $55 million “to help cover the cost for state workers’ retirements.” Why? “The pension system lost $1.8 billion from the stock market’s downturn from 2008-2009 . . ..” Last fiscal year, MOSERS only made 2.24% from investments, but 8% is predicted for this year.

The War on Women

? An IL appeals court has said “the state cannot force pharmacies and pharmacists to sell emergency contraceptives . . . if they have religious objections.”

? CA Democratic Gov Jerry Brown sat down on Saturday to sign a bill that “will allow women to obtain birth control without having to see a doctor.” (RNs, following procedures developed by physicians, will be able to “dispense and administer” the birth control, and patients will be required to have a medical exam by a physician after 3 years. Here’s the bill with all the requirements specified.)

? “With the start of the new Iranian academic year, a raft of restrictions on courses open to female students has been introduced, raising questions about the rights of women to education in Iran–and the long-term impact such exclusions might have.

Planet Earth News

? Data rich discussion of “Arctic Sea Ice: What, Why and What Next”. Graphs showing how rapidly the arctic sea ice is disappearing, particularly the one from 600 AD to today, are jolting. Most disturbing trends: more extreme weather, accelerated warming, release of methane from permafrost.

? Climate change sets up loops that accelerate the process–caused and pushed along by human activity. Case in point: soot from partially burned fuel will be deposited on arctic ice as ships traverse the new northern routes, and that soot will become another “‘forcer’ of climate change.”

? It’s claimed that “industrial agriculture is responsible for 75 per cent biodiversity erosion, 75 per cent water destruction, 75 per cent land degradation and 40 per cent greenhouse gases. It is too heavy a burden on the planet [and is] creating a health burden for our society.”

Latin America

? Seems Colombian President Santos has given his approval to Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro to set up “physical spaces in the most violent zones of the city where the drug addicts, mostly youth, can get away from being illegal and dependent on the criminal gangs” and instead acquire illicit drugs though “part of a medical treatment and prescribed by a doctor.”

? Honduran human rights lawyer, Antonio Trejo Cabrera, was shot 5 times while atending a wedding Sunday in Tegucigalpa. “The lawyer had represented three lands rights groups in disputes between agrarian organizations and landowners. More than 60 people have been killed in such disputes . . ..”

Mixed Bag

? The NFL Players Association’s Executive Committee has written to team owners concerning “the Negative Impact on Football” of the lock-out of the NFL referees.

Break Time

? No wonder these were winners. Don’t miss Abeguwo.

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