CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for November 18, 2012

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Good evening!

International Developments

? At least 10 people, including “a number of children“, were killed in an “Israeli strike on a home in Gaza.” 23 killed on Sunday, “at least” 14 women and children. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quoted as saying “Israel is ready to expand its operation.”

? President Obama is scheduled to speak at Rangoon University, which has a very rich tradition of protest and now suffers from official neglect.

International Finance

? In its relentless pursuit of privatization, the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission demanded Greece raise 19 billion euros by 2015. Judging that infeasible, they have lowered the amount to $10 billion euros–but without much assurance of success. Hence the article’s title “Privatizing Greece, Slowly but Not Surely”.

? 56% in Britain say they would vote to leave the European Union if a referendum were held.

Money Matters USA

? TAG, The Transaction Account Guarantee program, created in 2008, “provides government guarantees to non-interest bearing bank accounts used by small businesses and municipalities . . . for accounts worth more than $1.4 trillion.” The banksters are now warning “that the expiration of the program [on Dec 31] could destabilize financial markets . . ..”

? And then there’s the action by the Treasury Dept late Friday which exempts “foreign exchange swaps and forwards [thus creating] a large unjustified loophole in derivatives regulation.” This action puts US tax-payers at risk for having “to fund yet more bailouts in the next crisis”.

? Ah, the life of a 4-star general: “executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments . . . . food . . . prepared by gourmet chefs . . . a string quartet or a choir [for their dinner parties].”

? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has extended gas rationing through Friday.

? Wanting to invade specific CA markets, WalMart used a petition process that was very expensive for local jurisdictions to contest–and also helped WalMart avoid California Environmental Quality Act lawsuits, or so WalMart claimed. Not so, said a 3-judge appellate panel: the California Environmental Quality Act applies regardless.

? Dire warnings that millionaires and billionaires would leave CA in droves if Democrat Gov Jerry Brown’s Prop 30 (which increased the state income tax rate on them by 3%) passed are very unlikely to come true, given the state’s past experience. They seem to be here to stay.

? The US House’s Republican Study Committee “released a shockingly sensible memo calling for sweeping reforms of the nation’s copyright laws”, but it was quickly pulled. In the memo: expanding “fair use and penalties for false copyright claims”; reducing “the maximum term of copyright to 46 years”; and “reducing statutory damages”.

Politics USA

? Democrat House Leader Nancy Pelosi said today “she could not accept a deal on the ‘fiscal cliff’ that does not include higher tax rates on the wealthy.”

? Right-wing hell-bent determination to destroy the US Postal Service continues.

? The contest in AZ’s 2nd Congressional District is over, with Democrat Ron Barber the winner.

? Democrat Patrick Murphy is the “presumed winner” in his race for FL’s District 18 House seat currently held by Republican Allen West. Nonetheless, West apparently will “seek a hearing to block certification.” So, this one ain’t over until it’s over, as a Wise One once said.

? Pennsylvania State University declined to accept the papers of Republican ex-Sen Rick Santorum.

? “Lieberman: No Talks Of Working In The Administration After I Retire.” Let us hope there are no thoughts of that, either.

? Now that the election is over, and FL voted for Obama and against amending the state Constitution to prohibit requiring people to buy health insurance, FL Republican Gov Rick Scott has had a change of . . . tone.

? Testing of Rapiscan machines used at airports just doesn’t seem to go as you’d expect. Earlier a “calculation error” supposedly resulted in alarming radiation measurements. Now there’s concern the privacy software being used doesn’t work despite testing. Rapiscan is in the Security division of OSI Systems, which denies any suspicion about the privacy software tests.

Women & Children

? Why is this happening? “[Education] Secretary Arne Duncan is giving the keynote to Jeb Bush’s Excellent Education summit in Washington, D.C. on November 28. Another keynote will be delivered to the same gathering of the leaders of the privatization movement by John Podesta . . . who headed the Obama transition team in 2008. This is sickening.”

Working for A Living

? Four men were burned in Friday’s oil platform explosion in the Gulf. One is in fair condition, two in critical and the fourth in serious condition. One man is still missing, and another found dead. Apparently, all are from the Philippines.

? WalMart workers start out near minimum wage. “Flawless performance” leads to a 60-cent raise/year, so “flawless performance” workers could expect to make $10.60/hour after six years. Hard to achieve “flawless performance” when schedules change unexpectedly, there’s little opportunity for advancement, etc.

? “A group [The Jobs Project] devoted to creating alternative energy jobs in Central Appalachia is building a first for West Virginia’s southern coalfields region this week–a set of rooftop solar panels, assembled by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors.”

Heads Up!

? In its pursuit of the Broadwell-Petreaus affair, the FBI collected “a mountain of data”, even though there was no evidence of crime. FBI warrants to internet service providers result in the FBI receiving “discs that contain a sender’s entire collection of accounts”–and not just the entire inbox, but also “draft messages and even deleted correspondence not yet fully erased.”

? Yves Smith has three concerns with OWS’s Rolling Jubilee: “It enriches the participants in a seedy backwater and may wind up leading banks to try to foist clearly unenforceable debt onto the new chump buyer, OWS; it diverts “energy and attention from broader scale remedies”; and “tax risks in the plan mean it could wind up doing far more harm than good.”

Planet Earth News

? Add two more items to that list: “there is the impending shortage of two fertilizers: phosphorus . . . and potassium . . .. These two elements cannot be made, cannot be substituted, are necessary to grow all life forms, and are mined and depleted.”

? The drought and law are combining to have a major impact on barge traffic in the Mississippi River. Barges are already carrying lighter loads, and traffic around St. Louis may be halted altogether next month if the Army Corps of Engineers halts the flow of the Missouri River near Yankton, SD.

Latin America

? “About two dozen [Mexican] mayors have been murdered since President Felipe Calderon declared war on drug traffickers six years ago.” The latest was Tiquicheo Mayor Maria Santos Gorrostieta. She was targeted in a 2009 attack in which she was injured and her husband was killed. She sustained injuries in a second attack a few months later, but survived.

? The Zetas, Mexico’s notorious drug cartel, has now gone into the coal business, making between $22 – $25 million a year.

Mixed Bag

? Celebrities have joined in the fund-raising effort of the Great Sioux Nation to raise $9 million to buy 2,000 acres in SD’s Black Hills by the end of this month. So far, they have $7 million. Their land for many centuries, later “granted” to them by US treaty, then taken away altogether.

Break Time

? Sanctuary for the Monarchs of Winter

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