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The Roundup for October 8, 2012

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International Developments

? Are weapons supposedly sent to Saudi Arabia being shipped instead to Syrian rebels?

? “Turkish President Abdullah Gul said . . . the ‘worst-case scenarios’ were now playing out in Syria and Turkey would . . . do everything necessary to protect itself . . ..” President Gul called on other states to help end the conflict. UN Chief Ban Ki-moon called the situation “extremely dangerous”.

? “Afghanistan ‘sliding towards collapse‘: Afghan forces are far from ready to secure a country riddled with violence and corruption, Red Cross and thinktank warn”. Some see a “full-blown civil war” as armed groups in the countryside have “proliferated” bringing “insecurity and misery” to many.

? Two Afghani women are on a six-day visit to the US capital, with the urgent message for the future of women and girls in the country, encouraging “US administration officials to work to ensure all international treaties are protected and in particular UN resolutions guaranteeing women’s rights under the constitution.”

? They’ve now figured out how to re-fuel drones in the air without humans aboard.

? Last week, Anglo American Platinum fired 12,000 mineworkers in South Africa. This week, those workers intend “to open a case against the SAPS (South African Police Service)” because a worker reportedly died after the police fired rubber bullets and teargas into a crowd of workers.

? “Jews in France fear wave of attacks“. Seems the attacks began with “a deadly assault on a Jewish school in the southwestern town of Toulouse this spring.” Since then there’ve been “gunshots outside a synagogue”, a “grenade that shattered the windows of a kosher grocery store”, etc. Muslim extremists are the suspects.

? 7 people have been arrested in Moldova for trafficking in uranium-235 and weapons, and this is not the first time, either. Why don’t they ever tell us where the stuff was headed?

International Finances

? The European Stability Mechanism (ESM), or permanent bailout fund, is now underway with a AAA rating from Fitch. The 17 eurozone countries have to provide some capital for the fund, originally to be made in 5 equal annual payments. That’s now been changed to “a 40%, 40%, 20% schedule” with the two first installments due “within 15 days of ESM inauguration” or by October 23rd. Much more.

? Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is “playing a tense game of chicken with the financial markets, betting that Spain can balance its books with homegrown austerity while putting off–maybe forever–a humiliating bailout from the European Union.”

? Iran is trying to calm their currency markets since the rial fell 40% last week. Strict procedures are being handed-down, enforced by police patrols, luxury imports are being banned, etc. Meanwhile, President Ahmadinejad may be called before Parliament for questioning.

Money Matters USA

? The mortgage meltdown has resulted in dramatic increases in bank lobbying activities. Just 5 years ago, Wells Fargo had “a limited state lobbying presence”. Then the “torrent of mortgage-related bills [began] flooding legislatures.” Wells Fargo now has “150 lobbyists in 31 state capitals” and spent $3.8 million in federal lobbying during the first half of 2012.

? “BP has agreed [to] a deal to sell a number of US assets, including its Texas City refinery, to Marathon Petroleum for $2.5bn”. Apparently, BP is trying to raise some cash to pay for its 2010 “spill” in the Gulf.

Politics USA

? 73 members of Congress “have sponsored or co-sponsored legislation in recent years that could benefit businesses or industries in which either they or their family members are involved or invested”. It’s ok to do so as long as they are the “lone beneficiaries”. Think reforms are needed? So do some congressional ethics experts.

? One of Mitt Romney’s consultants tells us that Mitt doesn’t tell us how he’d offset his proposed tax cuts since “he would be criticized for doing so.”

? “Longtime Republicans [voters] torn between party loyalty and Obamacare”, but the need some of them have for medical care could make the difference in how they vote this November.

? CT Republican Linda McMahon is challenging Democrat Chris Murphy for his house seat. Charges of plagiarism: “Entire paragraphs and entire sentences” on McMahon’s website were supposedly “lifted” from Republican sites. Amanda Terkel of The Huffington Post tried exploring the controversy which resulted in “an embarrassing, chair-throwing affair” for the McMahon campaign.

? Former Wi Gov Tommy Thompson (R) recently forgot how many houses he owns. He remembered two in WI and another in Kissimmee, FL, near Walt Disney World Resort. He forgot his a condo at Lake Wisconsin. Thompson once complained about his income as a public official. No more.

? Charter schools are now treated by the PA Secretary of Education as though they are districts [done without federal approval], thus reducing “the number of charters that failed to make adequate yearly progress.” According to the PA School Boards Association, “44 of the 77 charter schools that [PA Department of Education] has recently classified as having made [adequate yearly progress] for 2011-12 in fact fell short . . ..”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? LA Republican Gov Bobby Jindal strikes again: Louisiana State University Health System which traditionally has provided medical care to the poor is being cut dramatically with no guarantees that patients will be able to get care elsewhere. This happened suddenly, taking state legislators–to say nothing of the public–by surprise. Stay tuned.

? Petition: “Strengthen Social Security . . . Don’t Cut It.” Broad coalition: AFL/CIO, NOW, SEIU, NAACP,, etc.

? Only “10% of firms with fewer than 200 workers take advantage of self-insurance” and almost none with fewer than 50 workers do. Under Obamacare, however, “self-insured plans are exempt from the new excise tax on health insurance premiums”, and from some regulatory requirements. Will there be a rush toward self-insurance among small firms? Some Democrat-led states are introducing measures to “blunt this market move” while Republican-led states will probably encourage it.

Heads Up!

? “Movements need politicians” and politicians need movements. “This is why the diverse protests we call Occupy need a Democratic victory in 2012: not because Democrats on their own will magically implement the movement’s agenda, but because Democrats depend on some of the same constituencies that the movement represents . . ..”

? “The Problem of the New York Police” by Michael Greenberg focuses on a “kind of municipal CIA–an NYCIA, if you will.” Among the more vulnerable targets: Occupy Wall Street protesters, using tactics such as pre-protest arrests, surprise home visits, warrant squads, etc.

Planet Earth News

? Imagine a machine that could print out a small solar panel in 15 seconds. It’s almost here, the Solar Pocket Factory, similar to a 3D printer.

Latin America

? Despite the crash of one into an Indonesia mountainside last May, Russia’s Sukhoi Superjet will be producing 20 of its jets for Mexico’s Interjet company.

? “The White House on Monday congratulated the ‘Venezuela people’ for the peaceful, democratic election that gave President Hugo Chavez . . . his third six-year term . . . while noting the U.S. has its differences with Chavez.”

Mixed Bag

? Remember that radioactive rod that Halliburton lost somewhere in TX back on September 11th? Halliburton couldn’t find it, and neither could the TX National Guard. Last Friday, an oilfield worker happened to notice it lying there beside a road.

Break Time

?  History of the World

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