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The Roundup for February 8, 2013

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Good evening.

International Developments

? “Malian soldiers and paratroopers clashed in the capital Bamako on Friday . . ..”  Paratroopers support ex-President Amadou Toumani Toure “who was overthrown last March”; soldiers are loyal to coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo.  Meanwhile the “Islamist alliance . . . have vowed to drag France into a guerrilla war.”

? According to the UN, 5,000 people are fleeing Syria daily, “a full-on crisis”.

? “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is strongly criticizing Syria’s President Bashar Assad for using terrorists as a justification to kill civilians and shell villages.”

? The “Pakistani parliament has made clear that drones are a ‘red line’, one Washington chooses for the moment to ignore”.  74% of Pakistanis regard the US as “the enemy”.

? 16 killed, 17 wounded in Pakistan’s Orakzai tribal region, very active Taliban area.

? Yemen seized a ship with “Iranian-made missiles, rockets and other weapons” on board and has asked the UN to investigate.  Last week, Yemen’s president told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stop sending arms to Yemen in support of “a southern separatist movement”.

? In Fallujah, Iraq there are now weekly demonstrations against the government.  Similar protests are springing up across Sunni-dominated provinces.

International Finance

? Growing recognition of the Law of Holes :  “U.K. Lesson: Austerity Leads to More Debt” or, from the perspective of us commoners,  Austerity begets Austerity.  After three years of practicing Austerity in the UK, “Even some commentators who have supported the austerity program appear dejected.”  Really?

? They’ve reached a deal on the EU budget–reducing it by 3.3%. BTW, their largest budget item is “Cohesion”.

Money Matters USA

? Krugman nails it:  Austerity “An Unethical Experimentation on Human Beings.” Video.

? Sham revealed.  “the so-called Big Three–S&P, Fitch and Moody’s–were all criminally incompetent”, enabling “the Wall Street guys . . . to pull off this colossal heist against the American people”.  Don’t just prosecute:  “go further and simply make them illegal”.  Update:  NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman “looks at ratings agencies.”

Politics USA

? Pew Charitable Trust’s new study documents that “The flaws in the American election system are deep and widespread, extending beyond isolated voting issues in a few locations and flaring up in states rich and poor.”

? Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will not only fight to save Saturday delivery of the mail by the US Postal Service, but will continue efforts to reverse the damage done to the USPS by the US Congress.

? Fierce fight for possession of the GOP’s heart and soul (who knew there was such a thing?)  between GOP conservatives and ultraconservatives.

? Hillary Clinton wins, with a 61% approval in the Quinnipac University political popularity poll, followed by VIce-President Joe Biden at 46%.  None of the Republicans included in the poll received  even 30% approval.  A whopping 68% of those polled are “somewhat” or “‘very dissatisfied’ with the state of the nation today.”

? Matisse he ain’t:  Ex-President George W. Bush’s paintings are now available for viewing.  He likes to paint himself nude (we were told earlier he paints dogs).  Other items revealed, including  the Bushies’ nickname for ex-President Bill Clinton (“bubba”–so clever!).

? NC’s state senate “has approved a bill to fire all the members of the states’ regulatory bodies”.

? The Ku Klux Klan will rally in Memphis, TN because the City Council “decided to remove Confederate names from three parks.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? To the surprise of probably just about no one, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has “rejected the Obama administration’s new proposed rules governing the contraception coverage mandate as insufficient to protect the religious liberty of faith organization and private businesses [sic] owners.”

? MI’s Supreme Court has ruled medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal.

Women & Children

? There was a vote on the Violence Against Women Act renewal this week, but not the big one we anticipated.  No, this week the Senate voted to reject Republican removal of LGBT protections and removal of “the word ‘women’ from a major grant program.”

? ND’s Senate passed a proposed state constitutional amendment which would “outlaw abortion by defining a fetus as a person.”

? Society has terrible places to dump the sick, the poor, the homeless, the mentally or physically disabled.  Ireland’s dumps  were called Irish laundries, “run by Catholic orders”.   Some 10,000  female “orphans and abused, neglected or unruly children”  were sent to one such “laundry” between 1922-1996.  Apologies?  Compensation?

Working for A Living

? Members of OUR Walmart, a labor group, struck in Laural, MD due to Walmart intimidation and alleged threats of disciplinary action against employees associated with OUR Walmart in FL, IL, KY and MD.

Heads Up!

? “More than 80 U.S. public entities requested drone authorization in 2012″ (map included).   Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn (D) has “ordered the police department to abandon its plans to use drones”.

? PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records)  is taxpayer-funded, yet the nation’s court system apparently makes a nice profit off it by charging the public for access to each page.  Aaron Swartz, and a couple of friends penetrated PACER and in the process exposed the profit-taking.  Will Congress do anything?

Planet Earth News

? In 2008 nine northeast states “joined together . . . to create the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI . . . [a] cap-and-trade program” for reducing carbon pollution.  It’s been so successful that their new goal is 45% “more ambitious” than the first.

? Power plants are tops in producing green house gases.  Second place goes to the oil and gas sector–for methane, “the main constituent of natural gas”.

? With “climate changing more rapidly than society has experienced in the past . . . It is essential that [the Environmental Protection Agency] adapt to, anticipate and plan for future changes in climate.”  Draft document for public comment.

Mixed Bag

? The embarrassment of quantum mechanics.  Scroll to video.

? How asteroid 2012 DA14 will probably not hit us next week.  Video.

? What must they think of us?  “World-renowned pianist Richard Clayderman [plays for two] endangered giant tortoises, in an effort to encourage them to mate.”  Video.

Break Time

? Handle with Care.

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