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The Roundup for September 25, 2012

Hello. On this day in 1789, the US Congress passed ten amendments, our Bill of Rights. And now, 223 years later, here’s your news.

International Developments

? In Nigeria, at least 35 people were reported killed in a sweep by the army against the Boko Haram Islamist group.

? “Children in Syria are being subjected to torture, imprisonment and abduction, and these atrocities should be better documented, according to a new report from British charity Save the Children.”

? A report from Stanford and New York Universities concludes, “Civilians are being ‘terrorised’ 24 hours a day by CIA drone attacks that target mainly low-level militants in north-west Pakistan”. The “report also details hundreds of civilian casualties . . . estimating that between 474 and 881 civilians” were killed between 2004-12.

? President Obama said there’s “no doubt” that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya was an act of terrorism.

? The annual UN General Assembly meeting is underway, with angry delegations from major Muslim nations demanding “international curbs on speech or media” in the wake of the “Innocence of Muslims” video.

? In his address to the UN General Assembly, President Obama spoke “forcefully against violence and extremism”, “stressed the US would not allow Iran nuclear weapons”, and called for those using “hatred of America, or the West, or Israel”, to be marginalized. French President Francois Hollande “called on the UN to protect liberated areas” of Syria. Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said “it would be better for Arab countries to intervene in Syria”.

? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “slammed the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as engaging in ‘an ugly behavior'” on CNN. Just this past May, Iran executed 4 men for sodomy.

? IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned that Western powers had to work to offset a growing global economic slowdown.

Politics USA

? NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman “rebuffed demands from Congressional Republicans to refrain from requesting tax returns and other information from tax-exempt groups that have spent heavily on campaign ads.”

? KKKKarl’s PAC American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS (the non-profit part) will be spending $5.5 million for ads to defeat these Democrats: Rep Joe Donnelly (IN), Tim Kaine (VA–running for the Senate seat), Rep Shelley Berkley (NV), Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) and Sen. Bill Nelson (FL).

? However, it should be noted that SuperPAC ads and ads paid for by political parties cost much more than ads run by the candidates themselves. An old campaign finance law mandates that candidates get the lowest unit cost for TV ads. SuperPACs and independent groups could be charged up to 6 times as much. So candidates get much more bang for their buck in ad spending.

? The Internet Votes wants to persuade thousands of voters to cast their ballot for candidates who support Internet freedom-related causes.

? Meanwhile, Jon “Bowzer” Bauman has just launched his political effort for Social Security and Medicare.

? AR Democratic Gov Mike Beebe, “with a quarter of the state’s working-age population uninsured”, has changed his mind and is now backing Medicaid expansion to cover “thousands of additional families”. Other AR Democrats agree with Beebe that supporting the expansion should resonate well with AR voters.

? Mitt Romney’s GWB-inspired comment about poor folk using emergency rooms for their medical care has drawn the attention of the American College of Emergency Physicians who’ve responded, “emergency care is not health insurance”.

? 15 issues not being discussed during this election.

? “Washington Post fact-checker calls torture-loving Washington Post columnist a liar”.

? The Union of Concerned Scientists has concluded that Fox News and The Wall Street Journal are “consistently misleading their audience on climate change”. Fox had “misleading statements [in] ’93 percent’ of its broadcasts on the subject from February to July 2012. 81% of the WSJ’s editorial page on “climate coverage from August 2011 to July 2012 was ‘misleading'”.

? MT Republican David Howard, serving in the state house, is “a leader of the Stillwater County Republicans, . . . Chair of the House Human Services Committee”, etc., and has just espoused another “Civil War to regain our freedoms” from the “Secular Socialist Democrats” if President Obama is re-elected.

? Pennsylvania has eased its hurdles for providing voter ID, seemingly in a desperate attempt to save the law amid renewed scrutiny by a Commonwealth judge.

Working for A Living

? Collective bargaining negotiations are straight ahead for the Madison School Board and the employee union since Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled “key parts of Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining law are unconstitutional.”

? This one’s now nearing resolution: Piggly Wiggly stores in WI “has agreed to solve all outstanding cases with the [National Labor Relations Board] by signing collective bargaining agreements with the union . . ., reinstating discharged workers . . ., providing about 500 employees a total of more than $570,000 in backpay, and keeping open a store that had been slated for closure.”

? Ford has announced it will cut “several hundred jobs in Europe” due to falling demand.

Heads Up!

? Fascinating overviews of: the history of Occupy Wall Street, its origins, successes and rapid fade; the evolution of the NYPD from the Red Squad days to the current Intel atmosphere where the “possibility of criminal activity” makes everyone “fair game” with no “mechanism of constraint” (such as an Inspector General) in place; and the crossing of the line into domestic spying by the CIA, recent emphasis on the “lone wolf” terrorist while focusing on Muslims. More to come in Part 2.

? The US warned hospitals today about the growing use of fraud in how they bill the government for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement using electronic records.

? SAT reading scores fell to a four-decade low, but this correlates with two factors: 1) more people are taking the test than ever, and 2) that means more students of modest means are taking the test, and nothing predicts your SAT score better than your family’s income.

Latin America

? Uruguay appears ready to legalize abortion during the first trimester, and “decriminalise later-term abortions when the mother’s life is at risk or when the foetus is so deformed that it would not survive.” Several “requirements” will be placed on women seeking abortions.

? Honduras plans to build a new city with its own special laws and tax system, based on the work of a Chicago School economist. That should be special.

Mixed Bag

? Fellow in VA notices the new calorie labels at McDonald’s and compliments the innovation, saying “It’s better than some kind of government health mandate in Obamacare.” When told that’s exactly why the new calorie labels are there, the fellow says, “Now I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.”

? Just one more wrong about to be committed.

? The great Atrios wonders in an editorial for USA Today why we don’t just drop money out of helicopters to solve our economic problems.

? Almost 300 damages claims have been filed in the UK against News International for phone hacking.

? The US Federal Trade Commission has reached an agreement with eight computer rental companies using software to spy on customers, including taking pictures, without consent.

? Didja know? “Castration Adds Years to Men’s Lives”.

Break Time

? Further Gaffes from Tomorrow

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The Economic Toll US Drones Have on Pakistani Communities