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The Roundup for January 18, 2013

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Have a great weekend, all!  See you back here Sunday evening.

International Developments

? “Mali army ‘regains Konna and Diabaly’ from rebels”

? There’s now a schism between ‘jihadist groups’ and ‘Syrian rebels’ with the latter accusing the former of “trying to hijack [the] revolution”.

? 20+ “foreigners” are still being held hostage or are missing at that Algerian gas plant.  10 Japanese and 8 Norwegians are among the missing.  Update: Now it’s “‘around 30‘ hostages”.

 ? “Nato stops sending prisoners to Afghan jails after reports of torture: UN report expected to confirm problems persist in jails a few months after Britain dropped plans to transfer prisoners.”
International Finance

? President Obama has told the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron that the US “values a strong UK in a strong European Union”.

Money Matters USA

? We saw this one coming quite a while back, and now it’s here:  “Private equity groups and hedge funds as well as local investors have poured billions of dollars into distressed US housing in the past year, aiming to renovate and rent family homes”.  They are encouraged by “the US government and Federal Reserve”. [For  much more, use the search box on this FDL News Desk page, typing in “dayen investor rentals” (without the quotes, of course).]

Politics, USA

? Krugman on “Extortionists Versus Con Men” or differing tactics used by the GOP for wrecking the country.  Krugman also said, albeit parenthetically, “a combination of stealth and extortion came alarmingly close to getting Obama to raise the Medicare age in 2011 and reduce Social Security benefits just a few weeks ago”.  En garde!

? Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has decided to not advance the “talking filibuster” since he’s is trying “to avert a partisan showdown”.

? The phrase ‘tone deaf’ comes to mind:  Republicans are ‘strategizing’ on improving communications with minorities and women–while meeting on the grounds of an olde VA plantation.

? Former New Orleans, LA mayor, Ray Nagin (D) has been hit with “21 counts of corruption . . . following a years-long investigation into contract manipulations at city hall.”

Gun Corner

? Seattle clergy have written a letter “decrying as ‘shockingly insensitive’ a pro-gun rally scheduled at ‘high noon’ in Olympia [WA], during the weekend of the national holiday honoring assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.”

? Republicans in the MI Senate produced a bill which would “prohibit federal regulations of Michigan-made firearms that stay within the state.”

? David Keene of the American Conservative Union is now President of the National Rifle Association.  Keene’s son, David Michael,  was in a road-rage incident in 2002, firing “a handgun from his moving vehicle at another car on the George Washington Memorial Parkway” in VA.  He was “convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison”.

? See “Women & Children” for link to gun deaths of children data.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? “The number of flu-related deaths in children increased 45 percent last week as the influenza outbreak remains above epidemic levels, U.S. health officials said today.”  Dramatic charts showing overall US flu trends.

Women & Children

? Collection of stats on children and teen deaths due to homicide, suicide and “other” (e.g., accidental) by use of guns.  Raw and standardized numbers, by state, 2000-2010.  “Top” five states: AK, LA, NM, MS, MT.

? Former University of North Carolina Dean of Students, Melinda Manning, has filed a complaint with the US Dept of Education, alleging she was “pressured . . . to underreport sexual assault cases”.

? As one woman was entering the clinic for removal of the baby who had died en utero, the children’s choir assembled on the sidewalk sang “Happy Birthday Dead Baby”.  Many other scenes from the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives” in Huntsville.

? US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has “arrested 12 people charged with bringing women from Mexico and Nicaragua into the United States and forcing them to work as prostitutes . . . in several southeastern US states.”

Working for A Living

?  A Utah businessman has fired two workers, specifically selected because they voted for Obama, since he doesn’t want “to cover new Obongocare [sic] costs and increased taxes”.

? How backward will they go?  IA’s had a ‘right-to-work’ law “on the books for more than 60 years.” Now a Republican state House member wants it put in the state’s constitution.

? Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers sued over IN’s ‘right-to-work’ law, but a federal judge just ruled against them saying none of their arguments “could succeed in federal court”, though they might in state courts.

Heads Up!

? In response to  Freedom of Information Act request to the Dept. of Justice regarding legal interpretations of a Supreme Court decision, the ACLU received 111 attorney memos–almost all of which were blacked out.  They’re shown at the link.

? Rapiscan, maker of  those full-body scanners at airports, hasn’t developed software to obscure people’s naked images as required, so its contract with the Dept of Homeland Security is now cancelled.  173 of their machines will be removed from airports, at Rapiscan’s expense, and new machines installed from L-3 Communications Holdings.  Connections of interest:  former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Rapiscan;  Linda Daschle, wife of former Sen. Tom Daschle, and L-3 Communications which reportedly “used a highly sensitive government computer network to collect competitive business information for its own use.”  Others.

? “Harper Watch: Compiling the Harper Government’s Crimes Against Democracy”

Planet Earth News

? “What Would a Down-to-Earth Economy Look Like?  How did we end up with Wall Street when models for a healthy economy are all around us?”  Compelling essay for adhering to the “original instructions”.

? Noting their previous support of arctic drilling, Carol Browner (former Energy Czar under Obama) and John Podesta (former Bill Clinton chief of staff) now assert, “it has become clear that there is no safe and responsible way to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean.”

? “Study Shows Impact of Keystone XL Pipeline More Disastrous Than Previously Thought: Unaccounted for byproduct of tar sands: dirtier, cheaper version of black gold.”

? The Environmental Protection Agency thought two homes near Ft. Worth, TX  “were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane.”  Then, abruptly changed their mind and clammed up.  Turns out, “the EPA had scientific evidence against the driller . . . but changed course after the company threatened not to cooperate with a national study”.  Similar thing happened in WY, too.

? After analyzing “more than a decade of satellite microwave radar data collected between 2000 and 2009 over Amazonia”, scientists have concluded that “Severe Climate Jeopardizing Amazon Forest”.

?  “Donald Trump bunkered by Mother Nature: Billionaire’s  £100m golf club gets an extra hole after large chunk of path falls away”.  Pix.

Mixed Bag

? Ooops.  New Canadian $20 bill  sports a Norway maple, and not a Canadian one.  Here’s how the Bank of Canada “dismissed criticisms”!

? Mona Lisa on the moon.

? RIP, James Hood, who, together with Vivian Malone, integrated the University of Alabama one hot and humid day in June, 1963.  How this major historic moment unfolded in the White House and in Tuscaloosa–caught live on film–here and here.  James Hood last year.

Break Time

? Can’t find my way home.

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