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Good evening!

International Developments

? “Niger has confirmed that French special forces are protecting one of the country’s biggest uranium mines.”

? The UK is furnishing its troops in Afghanistan “with surveillance drones so small they can fit in the palm of a man’s hand.”  They’re called Reapers. The government has bought at least 10 of them.

? A Lebanese judge issued arrest warrants “for a top Syrian official and his aide” suspected of being involved “in a bombing plot”.

? Is Venezuela secret service, “spying on the country’s Jewish community”?

? Drones, assassinations–now cyber-attacks?  “A secret legal review . . . has concluded that President Obama has the broad power to order a preemptive strike” if there’s “credible evidence of a major digital attack . . . from abroad.”

International Finance

? “The United States is sitting on massive natural gas and oil reserves that have the potential to shift the geopolitical balance in its favor.  Worries are increasing in Russia and the Arab states of waning influence and falling market prices.”

? “Greece’s banks have begun a frantic lobbying of the bodies behind the country’s bailout, in an effort to ease the conditions imposed on their recapitalisation and avoid full nationalisation.”

?  Look what Austerity has accomplished:  “30,000 Golden Dawn Supporters March in Athens Under Neo-Nazi Banners”.

Money Matters USA

? “Who Decided U.S. Megabanks Are Too Big to Jail?”  Who does make up that list, using what criteria, what evidence from what source(s), etc.?  “Financial shenanigans damaged the economy, and now a handful of powerful executives and their companies have received get-out-of-jail-free cards.”

? Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) just “sent a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry seeking documents relating to their recent settlement with mortgage servicers”.  Seems Warren and Cummings are concerned about “public confidence in the settlement.”  Yep.

? “Sophisticated investors describe big banks as ‘black boxes’ that may still be concealing enormous risks–the sort that could again take down the economy.”  Follow the descent into Wells Fargo’s annual report which “ought to bear a warning . . . ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.'”

? “Federal and state prosecutors intend to bring civil charges against Standard & Poor’s for wrongdoing in its rating of mortgage bonds prior to the 2008 financial crisis.”

? The Federal Communications Commission has proposed “super WiFi networks across the nation . . . without a cellphone bill every month”.  Mobile phone operators are mobilizing against this one.

? How cool:  A corruption risk report card by state!

? Among all age groups suffering from Austerity-USA,  the “Boomers” may have the worst time of all.

Politics USA

? From NY University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice:   “How to Fix Long Lines” in our voting systems, by ” providing more early voting opportunities and setting minimum national standards for polling place access”.

? A MN judge has upheld the state law “prohibiting lying in political campaigns”.

John Kerry, on his first day at the State Department:  “I have big high heels to fill.”

? KKKKarl’s plan to defeat Tea-Party candidates is an “outrage” per conservatives.

? PA Republicans have a new plan to “give away a large chunk of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes to the Republican presidential candidate, regardless of who wins the state as a whole.”

?  “Republican Gerrymandering Cost Democrats 1.7 Million Votes In Just 7 States”.

? How to save the GOP?  Tom Tomorrow counts the ways.

? WI Gov. Scott Walker (R) has spent $10,000 on a public relations agency, APCO, which has quite the reputation.

Gun Corner

? A gun bill is in the making in the Senate–but it will not include a ban on assault weapons.

? In 2010,  MO had the highest rate of black homicide victims (33.86/100,000), followed by PA (26.87/100,000), MI (26.61/100,000), and so on.  “[T]his is a long-ignored public health crisis that is devastating black teens and adults, their families, and the communities where they live.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

?  250,000 of the 700,000 Gulf War veterans suffer from a “mysterious condition that puzzles researchers and has now been reported by veterans of the more current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”  Is low-level sarin the culprit?  Depleted uranium?

? Canadian view:  “Getting sick in the States: Be insured, be very insured: Health care for a visitor to the United States is cash on the barrelhead, even  if you have insurance.”

? OH Gov. John Kasich said his state will participate in the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

 Anthem Blue Cross premiums in CA just rose 17.5%, on average.

Working for A Living

? Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is pushing his federal “right to work” law which would allow non-union workers to receive union benefits.

? Laborers’ Local 265 Pension Fund of Cincinnati and Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 572 Pension Fund of Nashville have sued Blackrock and iShares, accusing them of “looting”.

? The US Navy will impose a “civilian hiring freeze and termination of temporary workers” at the Kittery, ME shipyard, due to uncertainty about the US military budget.

? According to bankrate.com, the worst states for retirement are:  LA, GA, NM, TX, AR, TN, SC, MS, AL, KY.

Heads Up!

? Could this be?  “[L]awmakers from both parties have been quietly working on several bills . . . that would let states legalize pot and require growers to obtain a federal permit . . . [and] create a federal marijuana excise tax”, among other measures.

? Six people are suing MN, the State Patrol and “other law enforcement agencies” for using Occupy  Minneapolis members, the homeless and other “minority and/or disadvantage” young people as “human guinea pigs for the benefit of law enforcement”.  Specifically, by giving the plaintiffs drugs and observing their behavior.

Planet Earth News

? An estimated 450,000 miles of pipeline will have to be built to transport energy across the US over the next 25 years.  This raises the specter of accelerated use of eminent domain, which varies from place to place, in the absence of federal laws and regulations.

? Breakthrough:  El Paso Electric Company will be buying electricity from First Solar, which uses thin-film panels, at 5.8-cents/kWh–while coal power fetches 8-cents/kWh.

? NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) wants to use $400 million in federal funds “to buy beachfront homes as he seeks to reshape the New York coastline so the state is better prepared for storms like Hurricane Sandy.”

? AZ has gone to federal court to avoid spending $1billion “to install pollution control equipment at three coal plants to reduce haze in the region’s national parks”.

Big fight in MI over hunting of the fewer-than-700 gray wolves who live there.

? China’s toxic smog has now drifted over to Japan.

? “Japan’s whaling industry is ‘dead in the water’ . . .  without huge taxpayer subsidies” according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

? The USS Guardian minesweeper, stuck in the Philippines’ Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, has caused damage   “far worse than initially estimated.”

Latin America

? Argentine has imposed a two-month freeze on supermarket prices due to “spiraling inflation”.

? Some male prisoners in Venezuela’s hideous prisons are sewing their mouths shut to avoid being killed.

Mixed Bag

? Solved:  why  homing pigeons get lost when released from one particular spot in NY.

Break Time

Shootin’ Straight