CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for October 5, 2012

Here’s your weekend edition. Hope to see you back here Sunday evening.

International Developments

? The US State Department has declared Turkey’s response to Syria’s shelling inside Turkey as “appropriate” and “proportional” action. Update: “Syria agrees to buffer zone along Turkish border, say reports: Turkish media says deal struck in wake of this week’s deaadly border shelling incident which killed five Turkish civilians”.

? Jordan’s King Abdullah “has dissolved parliament, paving the way for early polls ahead of protests seen as his biggest challenge since the start of the Arab Spring.” Already, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood has announced a boycott.

? Famous cricket player, now politician, “Imran Khan plans to lead a march to the tribal areas [of Pakistan] this weekend to protest against US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drone strikes. Under President Barack Obama there has been a six-fold increase in drone attacks. Almost 300 strikes have been carried out since he took office.”

? The Iranian government has devised a plan “to defuse the nuclear crisis with the West by gradually suspending the production of the uranium that would be easiest for them to convert into a nuclear weapon.” It’s been dismissed as “unworkable” by the US due to the many concessions it would require the West to make.

? “Anglo American Platinum fired 12,000 striking miners Friday for staging an unlawful strike that is one of several that are slowly paralyzing South Africa’s crucial mining sector.” Roughly 80,000 mineworkers are participating in a wave of wildcat strikes.

? Long time coming. “The British government is bracing itself for thousands of legal claims from people who were imprisoned and allegedly mistreated . . . after the high court in London ruled that three elderly Kenyans detained and tortured during the [1950s] Mau Mau rebellion have the right to sue for damages.”

International Finance

? Spain’s Bankia was partly nationalized 2 weeks ago, “yet Madrid still hasn’t explained how it plans to recapitalize” it, indicating that “Madrid was poorly prepared to take control of Bankia”. Goldman Sachs was finally called in to advise.

? Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has said Greece has no money and cannot survive past November. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to arrive in Greece on Tuesday.

Money Matters USA

? A “5,000-signature petition [is to be delivered] to the offices of ABC and NBC . . . It’s from “almost all of the mainline [US] Churches, more than 100 national organizations and 200 congregations”. Their aim? Increased and better news coverage of Libor since the “‘manipulation of these rates affects people across the income spectrum’ with ‘severe repercussions for the poor and most vulnerable.'”

? Gas prices at pumps in northern CA are nearing $5.00/gallon. A sign of things to come for the entire country?

? Big Oil wants to export gas from Alaska’s North Slope, thanks to all the fracking going on in the lower 48, and they want to export gas from the fracking, too. The Department of Energy “has to study the cumulative effect of multiple export terminals” and “won’t rule on any of the pending applications” until release of a report on natural-gas exports late this year.

? Matt Stoller: “Deficit hysteria is meant to hide what really happened, a private unregulated credit machine that loaded Americans with debt they couldn’t pay back. . . In Obama’s telling, it’s austerity, or crisis. The historical irony is that Greece is falling apart because [of] austerity.”

? “Let’s Ban the Term ‘Small Businesses’ From All Future Debates”. Why? The term is “basically meaningless”. Many are solo operations anyway while others employ more than 100 people. Some are start-ups. And they aren’t the job-creators they’re claimed to be.

? Eric Schneidermann, NY Attorney General, and the US Justice Department “are investigating Credit Suisse AG over mortgage-backed securities packaged and sold by the bank”. Apparently, Credit Suisse “securitized some $128.5 billion in residential mortgage loans starting in 2004”.

Politics USA

? Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave a little talk at the American Enterprise Institute recently during which he said: “The death penalty? Give me a break. it’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”

? Such class! “For the second time this week, Republicans blocked Democrats from engaging in a debate on the House floor about the need to return to work on issues such as taxes, healthcare and the budget deficit.”

? Mitt Romney has now backed off his 47% remarks: “I Said Something Completely Wrong”.

? Cool map showing student voter ID requirements for each state.

? That wild and crazy guy, also home crafts expert (who knew?), Steve Martin, wants you to vote for Bob Kerrey (D-NE).

? A new law in FL requires county election supervisors to use new software on ES&S machines, which are used in 33 of the 67 counties. The new software is supposed to provide “extensive details on the voting habits of everyone who votes in November”.

? Hart Intercivic vote-counting machines are used “in 234 counties of TX, the entire states of Hawaii and Oklahoma, half of Washington and Colorado, and certain counties in swing state Ohio”, with some errors reported. Hart Intercivic is owned by HIG Capital of Miami. Among HIG’s 49 partners and directors, including the HIG founder, are former Bain employees, and Romney bundlers.

? “Health insurance industry, which praised Obamacare, gives to kill it”. In a little over 5 years, the “11 largest health insurance companies and their primary trade group gave $10.2 million to federal politicians, with nearly two-thirds of the total going to Republicans who oppose the law or support its repeal . . ..”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Altogether, 91 arrests have been made in the Medicare fraud sweeps, including “$230 million in home care billing fraud over $100 million in mental health billing fraud”.

? Until a PA federal appeals court ruled that burden of proof must be satisfied that such deals are not anti-competitive, pharmaceutical companies would stall the sale of generic drugs using “pay for delay” tactics. Now, the US Solicitor General has “asked the Supreme Court . . . to restrict” that practice.

? Your brain on marijuana.

The War On Women

? Results from a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis , “focusing on low-income women in St. Louis . . . concludes that expanding access to free contraception . . . leads to significantly lower rates of unintended teen pregnancy and abortion.”

Planet Earth News

? Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders spoke before the UN General Assembly recently: “The islands of our planet are at war against climate change, warming temperatures and rising seas. This war is not a future event, it is a present-day and ongoing battle . . . the survival of our islands is at stake.”

Latin America

? Two judges are split “over the role played by a key adviser to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a major corruption scandal” in Brazil. The rapporteur said the advisor, Jose Dirceau, “had played a central role in the scandal” but a Justice ruled there was insufficient evidence against him.

Mixed Bag

? The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, guaranteed the Sioux ownership of the Black Hills, but then gold was discovered there, so the US took them back. In 1979, a federal court “called the government’s seizure of the Black Hills one of the most dishonorable acts in American history.” A key piece of Black Hills acreage is now for sale and many Sioux are anxious to buy. Others say they shouldn’t have to buy what’s already theirs. And the $9 million price tag is daunting for an impoverished people.

? “Rats and mold at Guantanamo prompt request to postpone hearing in Sept. 11 case.”

Break Time

? The thrill of hearing about it is never gone.

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