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The Roundup for January 4, 2013

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Here’s your Friday news, folks.  See you back here Sunday evening.

News flash:  “Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed [to] meet a delegation of First Nation leaders, following a 25-day hunger strike by” Attawapiskat Chief Teresa Spence.

International Developments

? “Saudi Arabia has provided fighter jets to assist the United States with its drone strikes against Al-Qaeda targets in Yemen”.

? “Increasing concerns about the long-term aims of certain Syrian opposition forces may now be leading the international community to ‘turn off the tap for the rebels.'”

? NATO is deploying “Patriot missiles to Turkey to help Turkish troops repel attacks by missiles or aircraft from neighbouring Syria.”  Six battery units are involved, courtesy of the US, Germany and the Netherlands.

? Former head of the Shin Bet (Israeli domestic security force), Yuval Diskin has called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a Poor Leader” in a “harsh interview” published recently.

International Finance

? Seems the IMF “intentionally” underestimated the impacts of “austerity in Greece”, thinking “that even the most radical cuts to the government sector would always deliver a net economic positive”.   We “should see adjustments to their existing programs” now, but will anyone be held accountable for the pain and suffering already caused?

? Yesterday the Swiss Bank Wegelin & Co. pled guilty to helping some US taxpayers hide $1.2 billion from the US IRS.  Today  Wegelin & Co. announced it is closing.  Will it turn over the names of its clients to US authorities?

Money Matters USA

? First-hand report from deep inside the foreclosure review process.  Authorized by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and controlled by the bankthe reviews were  “systematically gutted”.  Conclusion:  “The joke is on the American people.  Actually, the American people are being made the punch line.”  More from DDay.

? Is housing bouncing back?  If you qualify that by “rental” you’d be getting warmer, but the big prediction is that the banks will, once again, “start issuing mortgages to anyone who’s strong enough to sit upright and put an ‘X’ on the dotted line, which is how we got into this mess to begin with.”

? “Eunuchs of the Universe: Tom Wolfe on Wall Street Today: As America teeters on a cliff, Tom Wolfe draws up a sterling indictment of our unscrupulous financial culture”.

Politics USA

? The US House of Representatives approved $9.7 billion of the $60.4 billion for post-Superstorm Sandy relief–with the promise to vote on the additional amount by January 15th–but 67 House members managed to bestir themselves sufficiently to vote “Nay” on the $9.7 billion (list at link).  The “Club for Growth” adamantly opposes relief, saying the federal government should not be involved in flood insurance, and they will “punish members voting for Sandy flood aid”.   (Click on the little boxes in the upper right-hand corners of the larger boxes for more).

? Here they come with that old “destroy-the-village-in-order-to-save-it” routine:  Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) “suggested that a partial shutdown of the federal government may be necessary in the coming months” so we don’t end up like Greece, Italy and Spain.

? The US Congress hamstrung the US Postal Service; they now want to “fix” it–through “privatization” efforts.  The National Academy of Public Administration, will study the matter.  It’s a nonprofit, with most funding coming from Congress.  It’s headed by Peter C. Hutchinson.  Colin Powell is among the “notable Fellows” as are Donna Shalala, Dick Thornburgh, David Walker, etc.  Yep.

? Surprise! Surprise!  Barney Frank (former Democratic House Member from MA) “has asked to be appointed as an interim senator to replace Sen. John Kerry” (D-MA) who is set to be the next US Secretary of State.

? Mike Crapo, “squeaky clean Mormon teetotaler” and Republican Senator from Idaho, has pled guilty to drunk driving in VA.  His license will be suspended for one year, he’ll pay a $250 fine, “complete an alcohol safety course” and is excused from a 180-day jail sentence so long “as he remains on good behavior.”

? Crime stoppers:  Get the lead out!  Numerous studies at all levels (international on down to the individual) show “Gasoline lead is responsible for a good share of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.”

Gun Corner

? “Out of respect and honor for those 26 folks that lost their life in Newtown, I made the decision then and there to send the [gun show] promoter a message that I would not be signing any permit for any gun show until further notice” —Waterbury, CT Chief of Police Michael Gugliotti.

? Petition on the White House site requesting US House members attend funerals of  gun violence victims in their districts.

? 10 bills related to gun violence have already been introduced in the 113th Congress.  “Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), whose husband was shot to death in 1993, introduced four of the bills.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? The US Food & Drug Administration has just “proposed the most sweeping food safety rules in decades”.  Goal: preventing the current 3,000 deaths/year, with an estimated 2 million more suffering food-borne illnesses.  Rules with comment opportunity.

? Eight hospital employees, “including at least three veteran nurses”, were fired from Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital for refusing flu shots deemed mandatory by their employer.

Women & Children

? Notre Dame’s suit against the Obama administration over birth-control coverage under the American Care Act.  has been rejected because “claims of injury are not ripe and . . . the school does not have standing to bring them.”

? US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials led an international investigation into child pornography and sexual abuse which resulted in 245 arrests (all but 23 in the US).  123 children were identified.  Five children were under the age of 3, and nine were 4 to 6 years old.

? The New York Times on the Steubenville, OH gang-rape case.

? US Congress Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called for “quick passage” of the Violence Against Women Act which Congress refused to pass–primarily because of Erik Cantor (R-VA)’s objections.

? “More than 600 guitarists in Darjeeling performed a singalong of John Lennon’s Imagine in tribute to the gang rape victim whose death has stirred the nation”.   Meanwhile, protests against rape are spreading throughout south Asia–India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

? Malala Yousufzai, the 15-year old who was shot in the head by Taliban for her efforts promoting education for girls in Pakistan, has been discharged from hospital but will be returning for reconstructive cranial surgery.

Planet Earth News

? A US Coast Guard investigation team is headed to the Shell oil rig stranded near Kodiak, AK.

? The US Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard have made “‘fantastic’  progress” in keeping barge traffic going on the Mississippi River.  National Weather Service hydrologists, however, are still forecasting a river drop to 3 feet by next Thursday, threatening barge traffic.

Mixed Bag

? Dolphins are “among the most intelligent creatures on the planet” and may be the “most magnanimous”, too.

? Oh, boy!  They’ve now “created an atomic gas with a sub-absolute-zero temperature“.

? Seems boys will be boys.  “Mass. cops caught egging superior officer’s home”.

Break Time

? Looks like great fun, but what’s that creature in the tree?

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