The Roundup for November 5, 2012

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As we gear up for tomorrow, here’s your news for today:

International Developments

? “Iran denies suspending uranium enrichment: Move reported as gesture of goodwill before negotiations with US over nuclear programme next week was down to ‘misquote’.”

? “Syria opposition groups hold crucial Qatar meeting”. The Syrian National Council “is looking to broaden its ranks and agree on a common platform at the conference”.

? “Two foreign workers have been killed and a third seriously injured by bomb blasts in Bahrain”.

? The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR) reported that “Kabul won’t be able to maintain its network of military and police outposts after the American withdrawal”. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense said SIGAR’s conclusion was “baseless”.

International Finance

? Greece’s poverty rate has hit 21%, resulting from “sharply” falling incomes due to the terms of the bailout. 18.4 million Europeans are now out of work, 40 million suffer “severe material deprivation” and 116 million are “at risk of poverty”.

? Biotest stopped shipping its blood plasma products to Greece in June, Merck KGaA stopped shipping its anti-cancer Erbitux over the weekend, both citing unpaid bills. Now, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations is offering “to cap the total amount the Greek government has to pay for its medicines”, along with certain commitments by the government (such as paying its bills for meds).

? The UK’s HSBC bank has now doubled the amount it set aside in July in anticipation of fines the US will impose for money laundering, primarily by HSBC’s lender, Household.

? “China’s Communist party launches inquiry into Wen Jiabao family wealth: Communist Party will hold internal inquiry into New York Times claims that Chinese premier has ‘hidden riches’ of $2.7 billion”.

? Quelle surprise! The former head of the French SNCF Railways and EADS aerospace group sent a report to the government recommending a “‘shock’ reduction in labour costs” by $38 billion. Surely that will bring the economy roaring back. Surely.

Politics USA

? “The most brutal ad you’ll see this election”.

? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking on the National Rifle Association. He’s reportedly waded “into five House races in five different states, on behalf of candidates on both sides of the aisle”–depending on how supportive they are of gun control.

? So far, 4.5 million Floridians have voted, with Democrats casting more ballots than Republicans. This despite Republican Gov Rick Scott’s shortening the early voting days from 14 in 2008 to 8 this year. Absentee ballot voting is 2 million, up from 1.7 million last year.

? Brad Friedman gives a thorough run-down on those “Uncertified, ‘experimental’ software patches [that] have been installed on machines in 39 counties of the key swing state [OH].”

? Mitt Romney’s tax loopholes “also run through the Netherlands.” Apparently, to the tune of 80 million euros in dividends (Bain Capital).

? OR’s Secretary of State will be sending “another state elections official into Clackamas County after word broke Friday that a temporary elections worker may have tampered with ballots.”

? Police in Richmond Heights, MO have “arrested a man suspected of a hate crime for spray painting ‘Ku Klux Klan’ and ‘KKK’ on houses and vehicles.”

? AZ Republican Jeff Flake, running for the Senate, is making robocalls telling Democrats to vote–but in the wrong places.

? AL’s Republican Party is hosting an election-night party at a gun range where members can practice shooting as returns are coming in. Miss Alabama and a band will be present, though it’s said there’ll be no drinking on the firing range.

? Republican “Rep. Scott Garrett is the only member of Congress representing New Jersey who did not sign a letter urging . . . additional disaster aid for the region”. He didn’t support Hurricane Katrina aid, either. His rationale? “My goal is when we appropriate dollars out of Washington, let’s make sure those dollars actually get to the people who need them.”

? Some of those “dark money” files that were found in a meth house in CO were released by a MT judge, including bank records relative to Western Tradition Partnership’s donors. Some contributions were from “groups backing Libertarian Ron Paul”, including VA-based Conservative Action League, for example. The records demonstrate “how cash passes [back and forth] between the ‘dark money’ groups.”

? “Steve Schmidt, a former senior strategist to Sen. John McCan’s (R-AZ) 2008 presidential campaign, admitted that widespread voter fraud doesn’t exist in the United States and claimed that the GOP-backed voter ID laws are based on ‘mythology’.”

? Tomorrow’s Red State Spex.

Women & Children

? A SC anti-abortion protestor carrying signs with photos of aborted fetuses “is a civil rights advocate entitled to claim attorneys’ fees in his case against a local government”: US Supreme Court.

? Wonderful collection of postcards from the (anti-)Suffragette movement, first decade of the last century.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Uh-oh. The Congressional Budget Office has come under major criticism for its health cost modeling–by two Federal Reserve analysts, Glenn Follette and Louise Sheiner. Seems the CBO made straight-line projections for growth, rather than taking into account historical reasons for past growth and anticipated changes in the future that would affect growth. This led to “ludicrous” conclusions such as health care spending being 40% of the GDP by 2082. Several other major shortcomings in the CBO analysis are exposed. Will policy-makers pay attention?

Working for A Living

? Initial reports were that volunteer utility crews from AL were stopped cold when they tried to lend a hand in NJ. Now the utility company is saying it did not turn them away. Snopes: False.

? “FesslerUSA had survived war and depression, free trade and foreign imports, producing millions of knitted garments from its base in eastern Pennsylvania.” Now it’s closing, another victim of the Great Recession. 113-year old business, 130 employees.

Planet Earth News

? Seems the American Society of Civil Engineers back in 2009 recommended, based on “detailed warnings that a devastating storm surge in the region was all but inevitable”, installation of surge barriers for New York Harbor. Estimated to cost $10 billion and to take years to construct, the recommendation was quickly dismissed. Seems there’s renewed interest now, however.

Latin America

? Honduras is a huge staging area for the US’ War on Drugs in Latin America. The Miskitu communities are alarmed at the violence brought by the US’ War on Drugs to their communities–including the killing of local people. Powerful video.

Mixed Bag

? Documentary of New York in the 1940s. Fascinating, nostalgic.

Break Time

? Don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to take a break from all “this racket down here“.

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