CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for December 10, 2012

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Good Evening!

International Developments

? Sheik Khalid bin Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan (Abu Said al-Kuwaiti) was killed by a US drone in Pakistan near the Afghan border. He was one of the #2s, having replaced Abu Yahya al-Libi who was killed by drone in June and who apparently was more prominent than al-Kuwaiti.

? “Islamist militants” in Syria have reportedly capture a large military base about 15 miles from Aleppo. UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said the US and Russia were having “‘constructive’ talks” moving toward a peaceful solution.

? Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has “ordered the military to maintain security and protect state institutions”, including giving the Army the power to arrest civilians. Protests against the referendum on the new constitution are scheduled for tomorrow and a boycott has been called .

? Devastated by Japanese forces during WWII, the Philippines nonetheless supports “a rearmed Japan” to provide a balance to the ascendency of China in the Asian Pacific region.

International Finance

? A group of Chinese investors is going to acquire 80.1% stake in American International Group (AIG)’s aircraft leasing business. Cost = $4.23 billion. “Regulators in the United States, including the Committee on Foreign Investment, are likely to closely scrutinize the deal.”

? US and UK banking regulators have proposed “a joint strategy to ensure that the bankruptcy of big banks won’t spark a chain reaction . . . throughout the markets” by having “shareholders and not taxpayers” bear the costs of failure, and have top management fired if such occurs. They are also “taking radical steps” by pressuring overseas financial institutions to route their business through London operations (in the case of the UK) or to force them to “hold more local capital and liquidity” (in the US).

? Google stashed $9.8 billion in Bermuda in 2011, thereby avoiding “about $2 billion in worldwide income taxes”.

? What will the world be like by 2030? 16 US intelligence agencies identify “seven ‘tectonic shifts'” that are driving world-wide “change at an accelerating rate”: “growth of the middle class, wider access to new technologies, shifting economic power, aging populations, growing demand for food and water, and U.S. energy independence.”

Money Matters USA

? States hand out $80 billion/year in “subsidies and tax breaks” to lure corporations in hopes of creating jobs. Corporations increased overseas jobs by 2.4 million in 2010 while abolishing 2.9 million jobs here, and “60% of new jobs [pay] under $13.83 . . . an hour.” Subsidizing corporations takes funds away from higher education, health and keeping taxes at levels favorable to working families.

? The Federal Housing Finance Agency Inspector General investigated the “take-home pay for some 2,000 senior but nonexecutive employees” and found some well-paid folks at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They’ve recommended stronger oversight of nonexecutive compensation at the agency.

Politics USA

? Stephen Colbert headed to the US Senate? Prolly not, but Public Policy Polling reports he scored the highest–20%–in a group of possible replacements for retiring Republican Sen. Jim DeMint. And contrary to last week’s speculation, SC Republican Gov Nikki Haley says she does not intend to appoint a placeholder to DeMint’s seat.

? Speak for yourself, bub. OK Republican Sen Tom Coburn said on the teevee that Medicare and Social Security “are things we don’t absolutely need.” Video.

? SC Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, considering the prospects of cutting Medicare and Social Security, says President Obama’s a “small ball guy” because he’s afraid of his party and that he needs to start “manning up”.

? The Obama administration is planning to “campaign for a comprehensive bill that could include a path to citizenship for 11 million people living illegally in the U.S.”

? With the US Supreme Court taking up same-sex marriage cases soon, new pressure is on the Obama administration to clarify whether it thinks “the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to marry for same-sex couples.”

Women & Children

? Last week we learned that VA GOP Representative Eric Cantor was holding up the Violence Against Women Act because he had problems with tribal courts trying non-Native Americans charged with rape of Native American women on tribal lands. Republicans, scrambling to come up with some kind of compromise, and are now arguing amongst themselves.

? International effort is underway to get children out of the hands of military commanders around the world, focusing for the moment on the Central African Republic.

? Hannifa Safi was assassinated in Afghanistan’s Laghman Province in July, by car bomb. She was Director for Women’s Affairs. Her successor, Najia Sediqqi has now been shot and killed. 3,500 reported cases of violence against women in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2012.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Homelessness among the chronically homeless and veterans won’t be ended by 2015, as originally hoped, but the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development reports that between 2011-12 the number of homeless individuals fell slightly while the number of homeless families rose slightly.

? A new report by the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram “has found that a disturbingly high percentage of individuals shot by police suffer from mental health problems.” Based on their findings, an estimated 375-500 people/year shot by police nationwide had mental health issues.

Working for A Living

? Revving up for a big demonstration tomorrow, late this afternoon opponents of MI’s recently enacted “right-to-work” laws will be protesting “just outside the gates of [Republican Gov. Rick Snyder]’s gated community. Snyder sees the controversy as “workers’ right to choose”. Video.

? In his speech at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant in Redford, MI today, President Obama said that “right-to-work” laws “are ‘giving you the right to work for less money'”. See here also. And, as Rich Yeselson writes, if “Michigan can become a right-to-work state within a few days, pretty much any state can with a change in government.”

? Employees at the Port of Oakland (CA) have ratified a four-year contract involving 200 workers. The contract includes $3,500 signing bonus for employees and 2.5 percent cost-of-living increases in 2013 and 2014.

Heads Up!

? Remember FISA? The government’s ability to intercept electronic communications without a warrant inside the US is set to expire this month. OR Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and about a dozen others are pushing for more information on use of the provision and for court-approved warrants.

? Glenn Greenwald on the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” which apparently glorifies torture using claims that are “demonstrably, factually false.”

Planet Earth News

? The US Food & Drug Administration has upped the radiation that can be used by industrial food producers to make meat and poultry on the market “safe” for human consumption.

? Animals consumed by humans have been so over-dosed with antibiotics that physicians are now seeing patients with highly resistant bacteria that they believe may be the direct result. After all, “80 percent of the total of all antibiotics we use in the states is used in meat animals.”

? China is wary of committing to climate agreements because their leaders “have a deep fear that instead of transitioning smoothly from lower-income to upper-income status, . . . [China could] fall into a period of economic stagnation” and hence need more room to maneuver. Much more.

Mixed Bag

? For anyone you know who’s concerned about the end of the world on December 21st.

? It may soon be over: “Strauss-Kahn reaches legal settlement with hotel maid”.

? Mother Jones has something you simply cannot do without.

Break Time

? Headin’ South.

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