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Enjoy your weekend. See you back here Sunday evening.

International Developments

? “A video appearing to show Syrian rebels murdering soldiers or pro-government militiamen could be evidence of a war crime, the UN has said.”

? “Syria’s rebels fear foreign jihadis in their midst: As Salafis arrive to seek final battle with Shias, one town elder claims: ‘They will demand that we return to the seventh century'”

? Crackdown on Islamist militants: “Dozens of young men have been shot dead in Nigeria by the military in Maiduguri, residents in the north-eastern city have told the BBC.” However, “A military spokesman in Maiduguri said he was not aware of the incident.”

? The shadowy kaleidoscope that is the Mid-East, ever-shifting as ties and deals are made and broken, enemies embraced and friends made enemies, rulers financed and then thrown aside–“The new system of alliances hinges on too many false assumptions and masks too many deep incongruities. . . . Something is wrong. Something is unnatural. It cannot end well.” Thoughtful article that tries to sort through all the contradictions and complications, intrigue and confusion: “Which is the detour, which is the natural path?”

International Finance

? Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase will be required by the FInancial Stability Board (“regulatory task force for the group of 20 top economies”) to hold “an extra 2.5 percent of common equity . . . on top of a 7 percent minimum” to be phased in next year. Why? So “large banks cannot threaten the financial system in future crises and require government bailouts.” Uh-huh.

Money Matters USA

? Former White House occupant, George W. Bush is appearing at an investment conference in the Cayman Islands although there is a “complete blackout on discussing . . . details.” Seems his fears of being seen by and/or seeing regular folk have not lessened over the years. Ah, the memories of “unprecedented security” required when he visited Buckingham Palace, Ireland, Germany, Brussels, etc.

? Interestingly enough, a huge proportion of those people getting jobs now in the US are in the 55-69 age group. Specifically, not quite 11% of new jobs in October went to the 16-19 age group, not quite 12% to the 20-24 year age, not quite 10% to the 25-54 group–but 67.8% to the 55+ group.

? US CEOs are arguing about which way to best protect themselves. One group of CEOs (Honeywell, JPMorgan, UPS and Aetna) want a tax increase/federal public spending cut approach while the other group (Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, National Association of Manufacturers) wants no tax increases. Absent any major voice representing the rest of us, . . .

? Hyundai and Kia will be lowering their fuel economy ratings for most of their 2012 – 13 model automobiles on the US market since the Environmental Protection Agency “found discrepancies between agency results and data submitted by the companies.”

Politics USA

? Fox News has been served a hefty platter of crow as a “slew of new reporting this morning debunks Fox News reports claiming that the Obama administration withheld assistance during the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya.”

? Mitt Romney has been criticizing Obama for being too soft on Russia while Mitt, of course, would be much tougher. Simultaneously, Mitt’s son, Matt, has been in Russia trying to raise funds for his Excel Trust company. In the process, he supposedly confided to a Russian who has Putin’s ear that his dad, as president, would pursue good relations with Russia.

? Mitt Romney has a 4% plan for the military–he’d throw our tax dollars at the military (more likely at defense contractors) until they reach 4% of the GDP. Romney’s plan “would massively outspend Cold War budgets” and “has nothing to do with the real world”. Use this link to see the neat graph accompanying the article showing Romney’s plan vs Obama’s and the “sequestration” thing. (Link in the article doesn’t work.)

? Romney-Ryan Emergency Private Sector Alert System.

? NJ’s secretary of state has announced that Department of Defense military trucks will be deployed on Election Day to “storm-battered communities”, the deadline for mailing in ballots has been extended and paper ballots will be used.

? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Dem>Rep>Ind, in historical order) supports President Obama’s re-election, citing “climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet” and his concern that “our president . . . place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”

? TX Republican House member Jeb Hensarling has $2.9 million raised for his re-election campaign, “reflecting the widespread expectation that he will chair the House committee that oversees banking and Wall Street next year.”

? “Anti-China sentiment can be politically persuasive in the Midwest, which is still stinging from years of manufacturing jobs being outsourced.” Case in point: OH Republican Jim Renacci has campaign mailers against his opponent, Democrat Representative Betty Sutton, featuring Chinese-style lettering with photos of Chinese take-out boxes.

Women & Children

? Interesting statistics on awareness of the War on Women. By voter types, 54% of Independents and 46% of swing state voters know about it. By ethnicity and gender, 67% of black men, 63% of Hispanic women, 62% of black women, 47% of White women, 39% of white men and 33% of Hispanic men “agree there is a war on women”. There’s more.

? Public pension fund, the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System, holds Hershey Co. shares and has filed a suit claiming “the giant confectionary brand [overlooks] the African child labor allegedly used to produce the cocoa in its candy.” The pension fund wants to see Hershey’s records relevant to which cocoa suppliers it uses.

Working for A Living

? Two new fertilizer plants are scheduled for IA. One, in Sioux City, will generate 100 jobs at an average of $20/hour. The other, in Lee County, will result in 165 jobs at $48,000/year. State development offices provided incentive packages for both projects.

Heads Up!

? Occupy Sandy is in New York City: “walking up and down stairs [many elderly, in particular, are stuck in upstairs apartments since elevators are not working], providing care packages of food and flashlights and bottled water”; helping at local non-profits providing clothing, food and hot meals; and mobilizing “hundreds of volunteers”. Occupy Sandy video!

Planet Earth News

? “Vanishing Arctic ice is the planet’s white flag of surrender: The planet’s last great global ice melt left a benign and balmy climate in which civilisation was cradled: the new great melting heralds a grave threat to civilisation.”

? Amazing stuff, folks: “Why Seas Are Rising Ahead of Predictions“–and those are predictions taking global warming into account! Seems there are “critical feedbacks”, warming interplays that accelerate ice melts in the oceans. Those phenomena are just beginning to be understood.

? China and Russia have stymied international efforts to establish “new marine sanctuaries and protect thousands of species across Antarctica.” Approximately 640,000 square miles of the “pristine” Ross Sea were hoped to be so designated. Next meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources will be in July.

Latin America

? Argentine legislators have passed “a law to lower the voting age to 16, in a move that will take effect for key mid-term elections next year.” President Cristina Fernandez “has courted the youth vote”, according to critics.

Mixed Bag

? RIP George Smith, Navajo Code Talker. Only a few left.

? What are the odds? All these decades later, and a chap in Surry finds a coded message sent by pigeon during WW II.

Break Time

? Barber Shop Back Room Blue Grass