CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for February 17, 2013

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Good Evening!

International Developments

? A Sunni group, reportedly with al-Qaeda and Taliban links, claims responsibility for a bomb attack in Quetta, a Shia community in west Pakistan.  80 dead, at least 180 wounded.

? An al-Qaeda-linked Sunni group is suspected of multiple car bombs in Baghdad’s Shiite neighborhoods.   At least 26 are dead.

? “Seven foreign workers [Greek, Lebanese, Italian, British] have been seized and a security guard shot dead by gunmen who attacked a construction company site in northern Nigeria”.

? Elections in Mali,  July 7th.

? Buddhist statues for sale confiscated  in Tehran.

? Fighting around the international airport in Aleppo, Syria, at least 150 people killed.  Update: Rebels seized Syrian army “checkpoints near Nayrab military airport” in Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and in Hama province.

? “Yemen: UN warns ex leaders [Ali Abdullah Saleh and Ali Salim al-Beidh] of sanctions if they meddle . . . in the country’s democratic transition.

? “A top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps [Gen. Hassan Shateri], who was killed in Syria and buried in Iran on Friday, actually died in Israel’s attack on a Syrian military compound in late January, according to a faction of Syrian rebels.”  Strange.

? “Egypt will arm low ranking policemen with pistols . . . after . . .  protests demanding weapons and better work conditions amid a spike in violent crime.”

? “Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [has] indicated . . . she would back a ban on the country’s largest Islamist party, as tens of thousands of people joined in the funeral of an anti-Islamist blogger.”

International Finance

? “UK Chancellor George Osborne and his French and German counterparts are to call for global tax rules to clamp down on corporate tax avoidance.”

France’a national auditor is calling for “big cuts in public spending”.

? Krugman:   “On both sides of the Atlantic, the austerians seem to be freaking out.  And that has to be good news, an indication that they realize . . . that they’re losing the debate.”

? Around “5,000 . . . marched in Lisbon [Portugal] and . . . tens of thousands rallied in about 20 cities across the country” to protest Austerity.  “Thousands of people demonstrated in Spanish cities . . . pushing for a new law to end a wave of evictions of homeowners ruined by the economic crisis.”

? Germany’s Employment Minister is investigating those claims about the plight of workers employed by Amazon in Hesse–including their being constantly watched and their rooms searched by far-right thugs.

? “How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists.  And got away with it.”

Money Matters USA

? Social Security is becoming stingier.  401(k) plans help, but they’re skewed:  Get a $7,000 federal subsidy if you  contribute 15% of your $200,000/year salary to a retirement account.  Get nothing if you contribute 15% of your $20,000/year wage.  Austerity’s handmaidens, such as Simpson and Bowles, argue for changes that will hurt older Americans even more.

Social Security Chained CPI?  Consider CPI-E, based on expenditures for the Elderly.  What’s the overriding component in CPI-E?  Medical care costs, which are so onerous that using the CPI-E to adjust Social Security benefits would accelerate insolvency of the Social Security Fund.  (Also revealed:  How future benefits costs are overestimated.)

? Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) grilled Jack Lew, candidate for Secretary of the US Treasury, including: “what about your agreement with Citi that a monetary award would be yours “as a result of your acceptance of a full time high level position with the United States Government or a regulatory body”? Much more.

? Interesting “Federal Reserve Study:  Weak Demand--Not Taxes–Preventing Job Growth”.

? TX’s modest Office of Public Insurance Counsel, which blocked State Farm’s 2012 proposed 20% increase for homeowners’ insurance, would be abolished if a bill by state Sen. Kelly Hancock (R, with “big contributions from insurance industry”) passes.


? Oh, noooos.  “SC Gov. Nikki Haley Named As Other Woman In Divorce Case”.

Gun Corner

? Tracking the flow of guns to Chicago gangs.

? NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PAC launched a campaign against Toi Hutchinson who was running for the US Senate seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. Hutchinson was a National Rifle Association supporter.  She’s now out of the race.

? CO’s gun control bills passed in the state House!  More.

Droning On

? Proliferation of drones on the domestic scene aided by an “improtant provision [in] the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act that called on the agency to ‘facilitate and accelerate the adoption’ of drones by local police and other agencies by 2015.”

? The feds are “stepping up” efforts to get drones licensed in the US “for law enforcement and other uses, amid growing privacy concerns”.  Which will come out ahead,  ‘law enforcement’ or ‘privacy concerns’?

? The association between “battlefield without boundaries” and  drones.

? “Why A Secret Court Won’t Solve The Drone Strike Problem”.

?  Bill introduced in the US House requiring “the government to obtain a warrant before collecting private information from citizens via drones.  It would also ban the use of weaponized drones.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Fl, NJ and TN “will not partner with the federal government to create the online insurance marketplaces required under” the Affordable Care Act.

? From the NIH’s National Cancer Institute:  A summary of research on marijuana use for cancer.

Planet Earth News

? Forward On Climate!

Michael Brune, Sierra Club Director, says the Keystone XL pipeline is “so horrendous, it’s so wrong” that he’s breaking the organization’s “120-year policy against engaging in civil disobedience.”

?  “Tank leaking high-level radioactive waste at Hanford”,  WA state.

Latin America

? Guilty of “kidnapping, torture and homicide in the case of 69 people”, seven retired Argentine military officers are going to prison for life.  Four former officers and two civilian police received milder sentences. See  Argentina’s “dirty war“–1976-1983–including Henry Kissinger’s role.

? The Obama Administration isn’t investigating the May, 2012, deaths of four, and injuries of four others, during a drug raid by local police and US Drug Enforcement Agency agents on Honduras’ Patuca River?

Mixed Bag

? Mercury’s splendor.

Break Time

? Playmates


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