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The Roundup for November 12, 2012

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Good evening!

International Developments

? Israel is claiming “‘direct hits‘ on Syrian artillery units” in Golan following that one Syrian mortar shell that “fell near an Israeli army post” yesterday. Also, the new National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces has been recognized by “Western nations, Qatar and Turkey” as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council.

? Membership in Golden Dawn, the far-right party in Greece, has dramatically increased over the past year. So, too, has violence: “What started as simple fist beatings has now escalated to assaults with metal bars, bats and knives. Another new element: ferocious dogs used to terrorize the victims.”

? “Thousands of Kurds [grandparents, women and children] have fled Syrian army attacks on the strategic town of Ras al-Ain on the Turkish border, running for their lives after their homes were shelled and the corpses of fighters left strewn in the streets.”

? “West African regional leaders have agreed to deploy 3,300 soldiers to Mali to retake the north from Islamist extremists.” Soldiers will come mainly from Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso. Ecowas, the West Africa bloc, is awaiting UN approval of the plan.

? The skeleton crew that remains on the Argentine ship in Tema, Ghana pulled guns on Ghanian officials trying to board the ship last week and now the ship’s electricity and water have been shut off. The ship was seized by NML Capital (a subsidiary of Elliott Capital–Romney-related) since Argentina owes it money. Argentina will ask the International Sea Tribunal to intervene.

International Finance

? Greece’s Parliament approved their 2013 budget, thus enabling them to get funds but also imposing deeper, more painful austerity on the Greek people. Outside, people chanted “Out, out, out with the IMF” and “Hands off workers’ rights”.

? Greece Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced the government is “taking a hard look at the foreign assets of . . . 2,000 suspected tax dodgers” and about 15,000 Greeks who have sent $5 billion abroad over the past three years.

? There’s a draft document being circulated at the meeting of eurozone finance ministers which “suggests that Greece should be given two more years to meet budget goals, but that this will add [$41.4 bn] to its bailout.”

? “EU freezes foreign airline carbon charge“. They cite “progress in negotiation towards a global regime to tackle pollution by the aviation industry”, through the united opposition of the US, China, Russia, Brazil, India and several others probably had a lot to do with it.

? “Japan’s economy contracted in the July to September quarter, as a global economic slowdown and anti-Japan protests in China hurt its exports, while domestic consumption remained subdued.” GDP contracted 3.5% from last year.

Money Matters USA

? Over the past 10 years, the Defense Dept’s budget has doubled to “half a trillion dollars”–and that doesn’t include money spent in the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Even ex-Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) is eyeing the military budget for cuts while Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) is open to an additional $10 billion a year in cuts. And some old war-hawks are growing weary of war.

? Paul Volcker on the next four years: “We don’t simply have a financial problem, a problem of economic balance and structure: we have a more fundamental problem of effective governance.”

? Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) was misquoted by the NYTimes which said “Schumer had indicated a willingness to consider a tax plan that keeps the top tax rate of 35 percent”. What Schumer said was that his and the president’s view “is let the rate go to 39.6 for the highest-end people.”

? Expect used-car prices to escalate nationally as a result of Superstorm Sandy, from $700 to $1000 “in the short term.”

Politics USA

? Jane Mayer has a good run-down of the Petraeus affair. “Senior lawmakers” are demanding inquiries and investigations. Spencer Ackerman discusses “How I Was Drawn Into the Cult of David Petraeus”. Seems Paula Broadwell “discussed sensitive and previously unknown details about the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya” at a University of Denver symposium on Oct 26. And for a little perspective: military veterans have “considerably higher rates of marital infidelity and divorce than the population at large”.

? Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) is in plea discussions with the feds for “allegedly using campaign funds to decorate his family home [and] to buy a $40,000 Rolex watch as a gift for a female friend.”

? Garry Wills compares the likelihood of Romney’s impact on society post-election to the contributions made by others who didn’t win the presidency, either.

? Cabinet shuffle speculation: Former UT Republican Gov Jon Huntsman for Secretary of State? Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) for Secretary of State–Demand Progress doesn’t think so. Erskine Bowles as Treasury Secretary(!)? And here’s an entire array: John Reed, ex-CEO of Citigroup and Wall Street critic, as Treasury Secretary; or ex-NJ Senator Bill Bradley; or Sheila Bair, formerly of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp; etc.

? FL Republican Gov Rick Scott has asked Secretary of State Ken Detzner “to review this general election and report on ways we can improve the process after all the races are certified.” Should be interesting since Detzner seems to think “people liked the voting hours”.

? Almost 400,000 people signed a petition telling Macy’s to dump Trump.

? A TX megachurch minister said an Obama victory in the election “would lead to the reign of the Antichrist.” Turns out, he didn’t really mean Obama is the Antichrist and he now knows for sure he’s not since “the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes.” The world is mighty relieved.

? Seems residents of 19 states have filed petitions to secede from the US (see here and here). So far, the LA one has 12,585 signatures, the one from TX has 15,928 signatures.

Women & Children

? Six countries have failed to ratify the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, originally adopted in 1979. The US is one of the six. Getting the CEDAW ratified in the US “requires two-thirds of the Senate (67 of 100 Senators)”. Last time around, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) stood in the way. Others failing to ratify: Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Palau and Tonga.

? “Planned Parenthood is suing the head of the Oklahoma Department of Health over the agency’s decision to withdraw federal funding for three clinics in the Tulsa area that provide food and nutritional counseling to low-income mothers.”

Planet Earth News

? According to the International Energy Agency, “renewables will become the world’s second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035″–If subsidies of renewables continue and increase by $4.8 trillion between now and 2035.

Latin America

? A top aide of former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula a Silva has been jailed for 10 years, 10 months after being “found guilty of setting up an illegal scheme that used public funds to pay coalition parties for political support.”

Mixed Bag

? Oliver Stone’s 10-part series “The Untold History of the United States” begins airing tonight on cable teevee.

Break Time

? Magical world: Gaudi’s Barcelona

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