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Good evening all. Your news:

International Developments

?Uh-oh. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Algeria seeking “to coordinate spport for an emerging international effort to push Islamic militants out of northern Mali”, which “has emerged as a haven for terrorists.” “Nigeria and other West Africa countries” would do the fighting while “France, the United States and other countries would help with training, intelligence and logistics.” The Africa forces concept was part of a “UN Security Council . . . resolution” passed earlier this month.

? “Two car bombings in Damascus have killed at least 10 people, Syrian state media report, on the fourth day of a supposed ceasefire.”

? “An Iranian naval task force has docked in Sudan, carrying with it a ‘message of peace and security to neighbouring countries’, Iranian state media report.” Last week an arms factory in Khartoum exploded, with Sudan officials claiming the Israelis bombed it.

? Glenn Greenwald on “US detention of Imran Khan part of trend to harass anti-drone advocates: The vindictive humiliation of Pakistan’s most popular politician shows the US government’s intolerance for dissent”.

International Finance

? Emperor European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, formerly of Goldman Sachs, in an interview in Der Spiegel: eurozone states will have to swap “some sovereignty . . . to preserve the single currency”. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti took a bit of exception to Draghi’s statement.

? Spain’s retail sales fell 10.9% in September, which has “alarmed analysts” who fear there’s worse to come. And from zerohedge: “The Spanish Bad Bank Emerges, Confirms Spanish Real Estate Absolute Disaster”.

Money Matters USA

? Doesn’t matter that “Americans overwhelmingly approve of preserving Social Security and Medicare . . . and they favor cutting defense spending over other budget-paring options.” It seems the military will be safe from cuts while the opposite fate awaits Social Security and Medicare. (DDay is cited in the article, too.)

? 65% of households with $50,000-$200,000 incomes took itemized deductions in 2009; only 15% with incomes below $50,000 did. The $50,000-$200,000 group’s itemized deductions averaged $24,000, so they would be hit by Romney’s suggested cap of $25,000 on itemized deductions. Obama proposed cuts in itemized deductions but only for people with incomes above $250,000. Interesting state by state data, too.

? New York Federal Reserve President Bill Dudley on the mortgage market: “Credit availability to households with lower-rated credit scores remains limited and households with homes that have fallen sharply in value have lost most or all of their home equity [making it] difficult for them to refinance these mortgages.”

? With Sandy roaring in, both the “MTA and Port Authority Keep Tolls in Place During Frankenstorm”. A toll worker explained what she’d do at the end of her shift, “‘Well, I can’t get home tonight. The bridge will probably be closed. I guess I’ll probably sleep in the booth. . . or my car.'”

? Aw, imagine how painful this is for them. “Wall Street to remain closed Tuesday

Politics USA

? Viewers, particularly in swing states, may be sick and tired of them, but teevee stations are rolling in the dough airing those political ads. Obama and Romney campaigns alone have spent $610+ million, a 44.5% increase from 2008. From a money perspective, VA ($141 million), IN ($10.6 million), FL ($10.4 million), MA ($9.6 million) and OH ($9.5 million) are leaders; but MT exceeded all states in terms of the sheer number of ads (25,211–Arrrrgh!).

? Most voters in NC, VA, WV, MD, PA and NJ–in the direct path of Sandy–have no choice but to use electronic touch-screen systems. “In those locations, unless they have enough emergency paper ballots printed up to accommodate the entire electorate at precincts where power remains disrupted on Election Day, there could be very serious and unprecedented problems. . ..”

? Romney secret videos and audios just keep coming. Latest is an audio in which Mitt asserts “Obama considers businesspeople ‘a necessary evil'” while Ann suggests “the president was not a ‘grown-up’.”

? There was a tax shelter allowing rich people to take advantage of charity exemptions “without actually giving away much money.” In 1997 Congress “cracked down” on the exemptions, but allowed people who already had them to keep them, which included Mitt Romney. Romney’s tax-exempt charity is the Mormon Church. The arrangement functions much like an annuity and “helps with capital gains tax”.

? Fascinating study of why voters vote as they do, based on surveys and interviews. 60% of those surveyed knew Obama and the Democrats are more “pro-choice”–leaving an astonishing 40% who don’t. Responses to the abortion question seemed to predict other responses. E.g., 12% of pro-choice voters said Romney “cares about the poor” while almost 90% thought Obama did. Sad to say. politicians lead voters, not the other way around.

? Western Tradition Partnership, supposedly a non-profit welfare outfit, “successfully challenged Montana’s ban on corporate spending in elections”. Boxes of files from this organization were found in a meth house raid in CO. A “Karl Rove” type is said to be involved. The organization is now known as American Tradition Partnership. What revelations do those boxes contain?

? Palm Beach County, FL has done it again. 60,000 ballots sent to absentee voters cannot be used by the county’s tabulation machines due to a printing error. “Only” about 27,000 of the 60,000 ballots are being copied by hand so they are readable by the machines. 40 volunteers are on duty transcribing from 10 am to 10 pm daily–closely watched by Obama and Romney campaign reps.

? 30 in a sample of 350 Riverside County, CA voters reported “their party affiliation was switched to Republican without their consent.” What’s called a “per-registration bounty program, bankrolled by wealthy activists and large business interests” is involved.

? Flashback: In June, US House Democrats had an amendment to increase flood response funding by $31.6 million. Republicans defeated it–233-185.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Krugman: If Romney wins, “Medicaid–which now covers more than 50 million Americans, and which President Obama would expand further as part of his health reform–will face savage cuts.” About 45 million people would be without health insurance. Medicaid covers a whopping share of the nation’s nursing home bill, and “the great majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are in working families.”

Planet Earth News

? Frightening: “there are actually 26 nuclear plants in the path” of Hurricane Sandy, and “the spent fuel pools in the plants don’t have backup pumps”.

Latin America

? Maya Fernandez Allende, “a socialist and vet by trade,” has been elected Mayor of Santiago, Chile. She is the granddaughter of Salvador Allende.

Mixed Bag

? Don’t know how many will be up tomorrow, but here’s a list of webcams in Sandy’s path.

? Tall ship HMS Bounty lost power off North Carolina’s Coast and sank. 14 passengers were rescued; 2 missing. HMS Bounty from 2010 and 2012.

? Amazing collection of 18th-century French and Spanish documents in LA are slowly being digitized and preserved. They contain unique “historical accounts of slaves and free blacks in North America” since, in LA alone, slaves were allowed to testify in court (due to differences in English and Roman law regarding slaves).

Break Time

? Things to do with a stick.

fatster

fatster

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