The Roundup for October 23, 2012

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Good evening, folks. Here’s your news.

International Developments

? Argentina is asking the UN to help get a ship freed from Ghana which seized it on October 2nd. Cayman Islands-based investment fund NML Capital Ltd claims Argentina owes it $300 million on defaulted bonds and won’t let the ship be released until Argentina makes a $20 million payment. The UN responded it cannot “intervene in . . . a legal dispute between two countries.”

? Gold Fields in South Africa has just fired 8,500 striking mine-workers, following an ultimatum by the company to the workers to return to work.

? An estimated 570,000 people in the Middle East have HIV/AIDS, 40% of them women. A conservative estimate is 10,000 in Egypt. Egyptian doctors are reluctant to treat HIV/AIDS patients, and many actually refuse to treat them. 57% of Egyptian doctors surveyed believe the virus can be transmitted by mosquito bites.

? Syrian refugees in Lebanon now total 101,283, and there are more than 100,000 in Turkey and another 100,000 in Jordan.

? “Iran said on Tuesday it would stop oil exports if pressure from Western sanctions got any tighter and that it had a ‘Plan B’ contingency strategy to survive without oil revenues.”

International Finance

? Britain’s Foreign Minister William Hague at a forum in Berlin: “People feel that in too many ways the EU is something that is done to them . . . a great machine that sucks up decision-making from national parliaments to the European level until everything is decided at that level.” For her part, “German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have compared British Prime Minister David Cameron and his cabinet members to the grumpy Muppets Statler and Waldorf“.

? According to new official stats, average income in Britain for Apr-Jun 2012, was 13.2% lower than four years ago. The rate of inflation has jumped from less than 1.5% in 2002 to 4.5% in 2011. Employment, however, is up–almost 29.6 million have jobs, “the highest . . . since records began in 1971.”

Money Matters USA

? “Requiem music soars, capitalism’s grand finale.” 7 signs they’re losing control: 1) The “Invisible Hand” is now controlled by the capitalists; 2) Conservatism which denies environmental and social issues; 3) Reliance on “disasters, wars, famine, pandemics”; 4) “Perpetual Growth myth”; 5) Short-term gratification; 6) John Galt-ism; 7) China, the “new State Capitalism”, giant-size.

? NC Democratic Representative Brad Miller describes the complex mess that is banks. Example, the “nine biggest bank holding companies have almost 20,000 subsidiaries”, and each subsidiary is “on the hook for the liability of the parent corporation” and all its subsidiaries–arrangements defying sound regulatory oversight.

? There’a quite a scramble for land in the mid-West. Prices are up 32% over 2010, bringing average price/acre from $3,900 to $6,700. Farmers have less debt these days, interest rates are incredibly low, and prices for corn and soybeans are unprecedented because of the drought. Still, there are concerns that this might prove to be another ill-fated bubble.

Politics USA

? Mitt Romney’s been wanting to indict Iran’s Ahmadinejad for violating the Genocide Convention since 2007 over a threat to wipe Israel off the map. How? There are many international legal issues involved, a question of how Romney alone could bring someone before the International Criminal Court, and objections by people such as John Bolton at involving the ICC anyway.

? Remember the “Mexico City Policy” or the “global gag rule” which prohibited USAID funding “for women’s health organizations abroad” if they dared even mention the word ‘abortion’? It was adopted during Reagan, overturned under Clinton, re-adopted under GWB and overturned again under Obama. “Romney has pledged to reinstate the global gag rule”.

? In Ottawa County, OH (a “Democrat-leaning” county), around 2,200 voters were sent postcards from the County Board of Elections giving November 8th–rather than the 6th–as the date of the presidential elections, and listing a “wrong polling place”.

? Two of former MI Republican Representative Thaddeus McCotter‘s staff members have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors for “copying and doctoring petitions in order to qualify McCotter for the ballot”.

? Duval County, FL Supervisor of Elections has issued a warning that a fraudulent letter is being sent around, purportedly from his office, telling people they must present proof of citizenship before they can vote. Curiously, the fake letters were post marked Seattle, WA.

? A judge ruled that people can vote in PA without showing any voter ID. Nonetheless, 10 billboards, in predominantly Hispanic communities, picture a woman showing her ID with a message (in Spanish): “This Election Day, if you have it, show it.” PA’s Department of State said the ads “are to educate people” since they will need to show ID in later elections.

? AZ Republicans are backing a ballot measure that would “declare Arizona’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over the ‘air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within the state’s boundaries'”–including the Grand Canyon.

? Anita Dunn, former Obama aide “and current campaign adviser”, is also conducting “extensive consulting work for firms lobbying the administration on policies and regulations”. Some maintain she is zealously adhering to rules, which her husband developed, while others detect a certain “smell”.

Women & Children

? The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has ruled that IN cannot stop funding Planned Parenthood “just because the organization provides abortions”.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Great news: A significant change in Medicare coverage rules will allow payment for home health, skilled nursing facility and therapy services needed to “maintain the patient’s current condition or prevent or slow further deterioration”. (Until now, reimbursement depended on “improvement” in the patients’ medical or functional condition.)

Working for A Living

? Cal-OSHA (CA’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board) has been sued by the United Farm Workers for failure to enforce measures such as the Heat Illness Prevention regulation.

? Inspiring record of a “Day in Labor History: October 23, 1976” at a meeting of the International Woodworkers of America, Local 3-101, Everett, WA.

Heads Up!

? “Copwatching“, or small patrols that record encounters between cops and civilians, is ongoing in New York City with the goal of reducing violence during such encounters. Video included.

? Under the NYPD’s “create-and-capture” program, one informant was used to “‘bait’ Muslims into saying inflammatory things”. This informant was part of the NYPD’s “wide-ranging programs to monitor life in Muslim neighborhoods”, programs “built with unprecedented help from the CIA.”

?, used by many progressives for on-line petitions and such, is changing. They will be allowing “corporate advertising, Republican Party solicitations, astroturf campaigns, anti-abortion or anti-union ads”, etc. They are doing this without alerting their “base of progressive users about the change.”

Planet Earth News

? 40 years ago, northeast trade winds occurred in HI 291 days/year. Today, they occur 210 days/year. Moreover, there is evidence they are becoming more easterly. This “indicates shifting of the large-scale pressure and wind patterns in the region”.

Latin America

? Interesting discussion and debate going on in Uruguay about its plans to “legalise the production and sale of marijuana under a state monopoly”.

? 12% of Colombians, 5 million people, suffer from malnutrition. “There was a significant reduction [in hunger] in the 90s, but that has stalled”. Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Peru are doing better in combatting malnutrition than neighboring Colombia.

Mixed Bag

? Following a ruling that six scientists and an ex-official were guilty of manslaughter for “giving a falsely reassuring statement” right before the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy, the head of the Serious Risks Commission has resigned his post, as have the Commission’s vice-president and emeritus president.

Break Time

? Take a joyful break.

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