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The Roundup for November 23, 2012

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Here’s your Friday news. Enjoy your weekend!

International Developments

? Hamas says Israel “failed to reach its goals during the aerial bombardment of Gaza” while Israel “declared its military operation a success”.

? “Syrian rebels have captured two of the three major oilfields” in the country’s southeast, resulting in “a brisk business in pirated crude”.

? Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is making big moves. He’s “granted himself far-reaching powers and immunity from legal oversight” by ordering a retrial of Hosni Mubarak. Mohamed ElBaradei immediately accused Morsi of “usurping authority and become a ‘new pharoah’.” Update: Fighting between protesters and police reported in Tahrir Square, while Muslim Brotherhood Party offices were attacked in Alexandria, Suez, Sharm el-Sheikh, Port Said and Ismailia. Mohamed ElBaradei is urging “every Egyptian” to take part in peaceful protests.

? “The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo, the wife of Ivory Coast’s ex-President Laurent Gbagbo”. Charges: Crimes against humanity. Laurent Gbagbo is in The Hague, charged with four crimes against humanity.

? A group of Ugandan Members of Parliament support the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, but want the death penalty dropped.

? Following a military coup in April, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS has suspended all funding to Guinea Bissau. The health ministry is begging the Fund to reinstate the aid since “the drugs have dried up” and staff are not being paid. Guinea Bissau’s HIV rate is 3.3%, “one of the highest in western Africa.”

International Finance

? As the economic crisis in Austerity-riddled Greece deepens, the suicide rate rises. 25.1% unemployment, 68,000 stores closed, 20% of the population in poverty, reflected in 700 suicides this year, a 33% increase over 2011–particularly among the poor and elderly.

? Suicides continue in Spain, too, with two more last week by people being forcefully evicted from their homes. Unemployment in Spain is around 25%. “Spaniards cannot understand how their pain and taxes are bailing out the country’s banks, while citizens are being left without recourse or aid”.

? Eurozone leaders have left Brussels and returned home, having failed to reach a budget deal. British Prime Minister David Cameron was blamed for demanding even larger cuts. Herman Van Rompuy, European Council chief, is confident they can make a deal next year.

? Furor in Argentina as a US judge upheld his ruling last month that Argentina must repay, with interest, $1.3 billion to Elliot Capital Management and Aurelius Capital Management. In addition, the judge ruled that BNY Mellon, “which handles Argentina’s debt payments to US-based bondholders, would be . . . ‘in active concert'” with Argentina if it didn’t comply.

Money Matters USA

? Our beleaguered US Postal Service is hoping to successfully conduct a test this holiday season of same-day package delivery for items ordered on-line. It will be tested in San Francisco and, if successful, offered in other large cities next year. A flat rate will be charged. (Here’s the nitty gritty on the beleaguerment of the PO.)

? We’re now told that spending cuts for avoiding the “Fiscal Cliff” may not be too bad, such as: requiring wealthier seniors to pay more for Medicare; removing gimmicks states use to get more federal Medicaid funds; reducing farm subsidies and assistance; making companies pay more into the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp; having federal employees pay more into their pensions; and giving the Postal Service some leeway to make changes.

? The US Department of Homeland Security spent $430 million providing “radios tuned to a common, secure channel to 123,000 employees across the country.” One DHS employee knew how to use the radio, according to a survey. 25% knew there was a “common secure channel”, but couldn’t find it. Small wonder since “more than half of the radios” weren’t even programmed correctly. This has been going on for nine years, undetected and uncorrected.

? United Parcel Service (UPS) will no longer provide funding to Boy Scouts of America due to their ban on homosexuals as Scout leaders.

Politics USA

? JFK (1917 – 1963), our 35th President, on the dangers of secrecy and the necessity of a free and responsible press.

? 8 things Obama can do without Congress: “cut carbon emission” using a combined rule; “expand ‘stealth amnesty’ for undocumented workers”; “fire Ed DeMarco”; accelerate writing of regulations “overhauling credit-rating agencies”; hold universities accountable for non-educational expenditures; ‘bundle’ Medicare reimbursement based on standard treatment/condition; reintroduce the rule restricting farm work for children under 16; issue a final rule eliminating exemption of domestic workers from minimum wage which is used to grossly under-pay home health care workers.

? Joe Arpaio is still Sheriff of Maricopa County,AZ, re-elected by over 80,000 votes.

? Karen Handel, who came out of GA to work for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, advocated they defund Planned Parenthood which resulted in a huge backlash from an outraged public and the resignation and return to GA of Karen Handle, is deciding whether to challenge Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) for his senate seat.

? Speaking of whom, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) has decided to “no longer support [Grover Noquist’s] Pledge to never vote for any tax increases under any circumstances.

? Steady yourselves for this shocking news: JEB is considering running for president in 2016.

? KY’s had a law for about six years now which “requires the state’s citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God–or risk 12 months in prison.” KY’s Supreme Court won’t touch it. Heaven help us!

Women & Children

? Garry Trudeau, Anita Hill and Sandra Fluke–don’t miss! Scroll down.

? What’s next bar-coding or something more barbaric, such as chains? Saudi Arabian women “are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.” If one dares to cross a border, a text message is sent to their male “guardians” immediately.

Working for A Living

? “From California to Maine, unions used their political muscle in the recent elections to help install Democratic governors, build labor-friendly majorities in state legislatures and defeat ballot initiatives against them.” Talking Union is part of what made it all happen.

? They pay most workers less than $10/hour, frequently impose “long hours, unsafe or unpleasant working conditions, limited benefits and restricting access to full-time work.” These are reported to be the worst: Wal-Mart Stores, Yum! Brands, McDonald’s, Target, Sears Holdings.

? Boeing, which receives huge chunks of change from the US government, is refusing to provide pension benefits to married gay couples that it provides to other married couples. They’re in contract negotiations right now with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace–representing 23,000 engineers and technical workers at Boeing.

? PA’s Republican party and governor have now passed a law that lets employers collect “95% of a worker’s state income tax” and spend it as they wish. Only requirement is that the participating company “must create 100 of the required jobs . . . within two years of entering into the agreement”.

Planet Earth News

? As expected, the Army Corps of Engineers has decided to reduce the flow of the Missouri River which will make water levels on the Mississippi even lower and further impact barge traffic.

Latin America

? Colombia and the US both signed the Free Trade Agreement which was supposed to benefit both. Seems the growth in Colombian exports has slowed since then, however–from 34% before the FTA was signed in 2010, to 29.3% in the following year, to 6.7% in the first nine months of this year.

? FARC has released four Chinese oil company workers in Colombia. They had been held for 17 months.

? Paul Frampton, Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has been sentenced to 4 years, 8 mos of confinement in Argentina. He was transporting 4 pounds of cocaine hidden in a suitcase as part of a deal to meet a “famous bikini model”.

? If you’re a US citizen, stay out of Honduras. That’s the US State Department’s warning.

Mixed Bag

? Today is the anniversary of that fateful dumping of Alice & Ray’s garbage by Arlo and his friends. Here’s his sister, Nora, telling us all about it.

? These things are fascinating: They’re now producing cartilage with a 3D printer.

? At long last, an apology from Canada!

? Pussy Riot band member Maria Alekhina has been moved into a solitary cell, supposedly at her own request.

Break Time

? Non-traditional love song, by Gabriel the Irrepressible.

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