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The Roundup for December 16, 2012

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Here is your Sunday evening news:

International Developments

? Widespread claims of voting irregularities in Egypt; Muslim Brotherhood claims 56% voted to ok the new constitution; others demand a repeat of the vote; 120,000 troops sent to polling places.

? Egypt has reportedly evacuated 4,000 of its citizens from Syria.

? Some members of the Syrian opposition are claiming the US “and other Western nations” were backing training 100s of them in Jordan “as far back as October”.  The training expanded, according to the sources, from light weapons to anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft missiles.

?  “What It Looks Like When a Jet Drops a Bomb on Your Town”.

? In 2014, both Catalonians and Scots will be voting to express their preferences on independence.  And similar sentiment appears to be growing in the Basque country of Spain, too.

International Finance

? Greece is severely criticized for its social expenditures, yet it spends 23.1% of the GDP for social services compared to 24% in the entire eurozone (France spends 32%).  Since 21.4% of Greeks are in poverty, Greece should not be “prioritizing the payment of foreign debt at the expense of the well-being of the Greek people.”  Ultimate issue: “we know well who is paying for the crisis”, but “who gains?”  Unilever is the example used in answer.

?  “The Price of ‘Collective Trauma’: Greece At The Brink of Civil War“?

? Bankers’ bonuses in the eurozone may be capped “at two times fixed salary”, though  final agreement is not assured.

Money Matters USA

? IL Democratic Sen Dick Durbin:  “How can ‘certainty of hopelessness’ be the standard for [student loan] borrowers to obtain any relief in bankruptcy court.  This harkens back to the debtors prisons of Europe and England.”  Durbin’s bill for student loan bankruptcy, btw, “would once again permit private student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy as they were before 2005.”

Politics USA

? In addition to DiFi and Mayor Bloomberg, CO Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper was on the teevee, too, and he raised the possibility that violent video games depicting use of assault weapons might be part of the problem–but dodged the question of banning assault weapons and hid behind the Second Amendment.

? “All 31 U.S. senators who support gun rights reportedly declined to speak on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” in the wake of the Newtown shooting.”

? The “Geography of U.S. Gun Violence“.  Article with map (LA’s the worst).

? Roger Ebert tells of disappointing a reporter who wanted to know about the impact of violent films on behavior.  He goes on to explain the influence of the 24-hour news machine on behavior.

? Final count from the November presidential elections shows “The election really wasn’t close.”

? President Obama is claiming that 25 years ago he would have been viewed as a “moderate Republican.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

?  End homelessness by putting $30 billion/year for ten years in the  Affordable Housing Trust Fund?  Proposals for funding such an effort include lowering the cap on home mortgage interest deduction and changing the charity deduction to a universally-applied percentage,  etc.  Video (hope it stays up long enough for you to see it).

? Seems 32 states are ceding responsibility for all or part of the Affordable Care Act to the federal government, with  24 of those states giving up all responsibility and the others running some parts of the exchanges themselves.

? Medicaid, leading to months’-long waits for specialty care, is thus contributing to overuse of emergency rooms. Unmet need for speciality care is escalating, and,  by 2020, “the nation will be short more than 46,000 surgeons and specialists”, 10 times the number in 2010.

?  A “remarkable contradiction in modern American crime: although medical advances ensure that fewer lives are being lost to violence, incidences of such violence are actually increasing.”  Stats and charts illustrate this contradiction.

Working for A Living

? The Oregon legislature granted Nike, Inc’s wishes and passed legislation authorizing the governor to give Nike “the substantial tax benefits” they currently enjoy for  “up to the next 30 years”.  What’s not so certain is that the “500 or more jobs” and investment “of at least $150 million in an expansion” Nike promised will actually happen in OR.

Heads Up!

? It wasn’t easy, but the Senate Intelligence Committee did agree to release the 6000-page report on CIA interrogations, including torture, concluding that such “harsh interrogation measures used by the CIA did not produce significant intelligence breakthroughs”.

? Andrew Sullivan reviews the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”, including interviewing the actors (Video).  The truth?  “torture was not just at Abu Ghraib.  It was everywhere; and it was mandated from the very, very top.”

? Glenn Greenwald offers a strikingly different review of “Zero Dark Thirty”, stating “the standard viewer will get the [CIA proponents’ and administrators’] message loud and clear: we found and killed Bin Laden because we tortured The Terrorists.” Greenwald also offers, as an  update, his response to Sullivan’s review.

? Credo has planned an emergency march tomorrow on the National Rifle Association’s lobbying offices in Washington, DC.  You can link through to Facebook page with details, or just go here.

Planet Earth News

? 112,000-gallon oil spill off Staten Island is threatening a bird sanctuary in Newark Bay.

? “A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that 78% of Americans now think temperatures are rising and 80% say global warming will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it.”

Latin America

? Argentina’s economic standing declines further.  It “faces the prospect of eviction from the world economic community after [it failed to] respond to a three-month deadline set by the International Monetary Fund to produce accurate inflation and growth statistics.”

? A review of “daily coverage in 14 of 31 Mexican states” revealed that only two newspapers, El Norte (Monterrey) and El Informador (Guadalajara), tended to “provide context to the [drug] violence, identified the victims and did follow-ups”.  Lack of “reliable official statistics and police reports” is an obstacle, but so is fear of reprisals.

Mixed Bag

? “Subliminal advertising” used to be of considerable concern.  Now it’s algorithms–“‘step-by-step procedures for calculations'”.  They are at the core of computer programs and they are secret (proprietary, dontcha know), so they can be used in ways that we might not want–but that we don’t and can’t know about.

? Remember the British chap who found the dead carrier pigeon and a WWII encrypted note in his chimney not too long ago (been awhile since they cleaned the chimney)?  An amateur claims to have deciphered the note which had baffled officialdom.

? Here’s something you could (but probably really shouldn’t) try down at your local DMV.

Break Time

? 100 horses.

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