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The Roundup for December 18, 2012

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Good evening, all.

News Flash! “The soon to be former blogger, David Dayen, explains what would happen if we went over the ‘fiscal cliff’, why the new Obama offer is so bad, why he Dayen is leaving blogging.”  More.

International Developments

? Richard Engle, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, and two others “have escaped from heavily-armed captors during a fire-fight five days after being abducted in Syria.”  Their captors appear to have been Syrian loyalists.

? “Five female Pakistani polio vaccination workers have been fatally shot in a string of co-ordinated attacks–four within 20 minutes across Karachi” and the fifth in Peshawar

? “Russia Sends Two Squadrons Of Ships to Syria”.

? Another #2.  Salah Gasmi, second in command in the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was arrested in northern Algeria yesterday.

? Increasing jitters about China: “In a move that prompted a swift and angry response from China, the U.S. has reportedly agreed to substantially increase its military presence n the Philippines”.

? Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Congolese militia leader, has been ordered released immediately after the International Criminal Court in The Hague acquitted him of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

? Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni “has said gay people should not be killed or persecuted, as MPs continue to consider a controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill.”

International Finance

? Standard & Poor’s, powerful ratings agency, has upgraded Greece’s rating from “selective default” to “B-minus”.

? Seems UBS could be “slapped with a combined fine of $1.5 billion . . . to settle allegations that it manipulated Libor interest rates”.  Some “three dozen bankers and senior managers will be implicated”.

? From Mrs. N Turner to UK Prime Minister David Cameron: “Are the British public now being asked to accept that, despite incontrovertible evidence of multiple criminal acts by bankers, including money-laundering, drug-money-laundering, Libor rigging, multiple frauds and assorted Ponzi schemes, bankers are considered to be immune from prosecution?”

? “US banks are making a last-minute push to ease new global liquidity requirements” since they’d have to “come up with an additional $800bn in easy-to-sell assets”.

? Through a simple $52,000 bribe in Mexico, a new Wal-Mart sprang up where it should not have been.  The New York Times has uncovered much more about how “Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited.” Update:  Wal-Mart Stores may be facing sizable fines as a result of the NYTimes’ investigation.

Money Matters USA

? Excellent article by Robert Kuttner criticizing Obama’s proposed “deal” with Boehner, and the support of “supposed” liberals including Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Prorities.  “This promises to be an epic showdown.  We will soon learn what Obama, the progressive community, and congressional Democrats are made of.”

? Another view of the “$290 Billion Of [Obama’s] Proposed Spending ‘Cuts”.  “Bottom line: We are getting a mini ‘kick the can down the road’ worst case outcome, which will need a new Fiscal Cliff just to deal with the outcome of not resolving this Fiscal Cliff in as little as 12 months.”

? Nine data brokerage companies have been ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to reveals “how they harvest and use data on consumers.”  The FTC is also curious about whether the firms “let consumers review and correct their personal information or opt out from having their personal information sold.”

Politics USA

? Filibuster reform may have to be put on the back-burner if the “fiscal cliff” issue isn’t resolved before January.

? Rahmbo got called on the carpet today.  Norah O’Donnell of CBS News teevee asked Emanuel about telling Attorney General Erick Holder to “shut the f*ck up” after learning Holder had included banning assault weapons in a speech. Video.

? The right-wing “Club for Growth” has warned Senate Republicans to vote “‘NO’ on the Hurricane Sandy relief bill”.

? NJ Republican Gov. Chris Christie is likely to be endorsed for a second term by the Laborer’s International Union of North America.

? From the Appalachian Trail to the campaign trail: former SC Gov. Mark Sanford is eyeing the House seat Tim Scott (R-SC) vacated when current SC Republican Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him to fill the departing Senator Jim DeMint’s seat. Sanford ran on about ‘redemption’, ‘Second acts’, etc., while ruminating aloud.

? Sanford vs. Sanford?  There’s speculation that Jenny Sanford, once wife of Mark, just might be interested in running for the House seat vacated by newly-appointed Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), too!

? Shelby County [AL] v. Holder is scheduled to go before the US Supreme Court on February 27, 2013.  At issue is the provision in the Voting Rights Act that “requires states and counties with a history of racial discrimination to get permission from the federal government before changing their voter laws.”

? Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Michael Vickers, supposedly leaked “restricted information” to “the makers” of the film “Zero Dark Thirty”. He’s “top intelligence adviser to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and oversees the Pentagon’s vast intelligence operations.” There is concern that referring him to the Justice Dept, as they’re required to do, might hurt the guy’s career!

Gun Corner

? A brief history of Australia’s response to the worst massacre in its history–April 28, 1996 when 35 people were killed and 23 wounded. Ten years later, following implementation of controls, homicides by firearm had decreased 59% and suicides by firearm 65%, and there’s not “been a single [mass shooting] in Australia since.”

? Gun Owners of America’s executive director, “Larry Pratt tells Chris Matthews that government’s ‘gone overboard’ and gun owners should act”.

? OH Republican Gov. John Kasich has rejected all pleas to veto a new concealed carry law and will sign it.

? Former AR Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee has expanded his blame for the CT school shootings from not having Gawd in the schools  to having “tax-funded abortion pills”–as well as our calling “sinful” acts “normal”.

? A “Christian” radio talker, James Dobson, says the US is in “complete disarray” thanks to abortion and threats to the institution of marriage.

? OK is considering a law allowing teachers to carry guns in schools.  Principals, too.

?  The Discovery Channel has dumped the reptilian Ted Nugent, as well as “its popular ‘American Guns’ reality show”.

Women & Children

? Ireland seems to have finally come around to the minimal–“Ireland to legalise abortions where woman’s life is at risk”.  Outrage over the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died in a Galway hospital post-miscarriage because she could not obtain termination, has had its effect.

Heads Up!

? And they’re off!  Letters to “unsuspecting recipients of this first round of debt forgiveness” from Rolling Jubilee.  For $5,000, Strike Debt bought $100,000 “of distressed medical debt owed by 44 people in upstate New York.”

? Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is concerned about the health effects of those airport body scanners imposed upon the American people by the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).  According to her, the TSA “has agreed to contract  with the National Academy of Sciences to study the health effects of the radiation delivered by the backscatter machines.”  Finally!

Planet Earth News

? Tom Steyer, head of the huge hedge fund, Farallon Capital Mgt, for Secretary of Energy?

? “‘Peak Farmland’ Is Here, Crop Area to Diminish: The amount of land needed to grow crops worldwide is at a peak, and a geographical area more than twice the size of France will be able to return to its natural state by 2060 as a result of rising yields and slower population growth, a group of experts said on Monday.”

Latin America

? Mexico’s newly-elected president, Enrique Pena Nieto, “announced the creation of a new national police force as part of efforts to tackle crime and violence,” rather than “tackling the gangs”.

Mixed Bag

? “Curiosity Inspects ‘Shaler’ Outcrop on Descent to Yellowknife Bay Drill Target”.  Very cool photos–and more to look forward to!

Break Time

? No Whale Fail Here.

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