CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for March 31, 2013

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Greetings, all.

International Developments

? “‘Master plan’ underway to help Syria rebels take Damascus with U.S.-approved airlifts of heavy weapons.”

? “From Dallas to Damascus: The Texas ‘straight shooter’ who could replace Syria’s Assad”. Huh?

? “How Egypt’s radical rulers crush the lives and hopes of women” in Egypt.  Women are “opposing a new constitution that sweeps away their rights and opens the way for girls of 13 to be married.  And in Cairo’s slums, life grows harder as the gulf between the sexes widens.”

? The White House condemns “reports that women at anti-government protests in Egypt had been sexually assaulted and urged the Egyptian government to provide protection for female protesters.

? Bassem Youssef, political satirist on Egyptian teevee, is now wanted for arrest for “insulting Islam and President Mohammed Morsi.”  Update:  He’s out on bail.

? “Kenya’s Supreme Court has upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential election victory”.

? “Maasai fury as plans  . . . threatens their ancestral land . . . to make way for Dubai-based luxury safari company.”  The government of Tanzania is pulling a fast one–or trying to.

? “Mali conflict: Desert fighting on ‘Mars‘”–temps from 40 degrees Celsius during the day to below freezing at night. Clashes continue in Timbuktu between the Malian army and Islamist rebels.

? 35% fewer female tourists in India “because of fears about the risk of sexual assault.”

International Finance

? Global Corporate Coup:  “Everyone but China: TPP Trade Deal Threatens Sovereignty and Public Ownership”. President Obama wants to fast-track it through Congress, thus avoiding Congressional debate.

? “Bank of Cyprus depositors with more than 100,000 euros . . . could lose up to 60% of their savings” as part of the great bail-in.   Update: Yves Smith  concludes, “This Eurozone fiasco is making Geithner look good.”  And that’s what happens when you ignore the Law of Holes.

? “Why the Euro Is Doomed in 4 Steps:  It’s the gold standard minus the shiny rocks”.  Take-away quote: “the euro has become an austerity suicide pact.”

Money Matters USA

? The Bank of North Dakota, state-owned, established 1919, is  “a socialist relic that exists nowhere else in America”–and it’s thriving.  State and local taxes are deposited in the BND, not sent to Wall Street banks, and the BND “in turn reinvests in the state’s small businesses and public infrastructure,”  creating jobs, boosting the economy, etc.  We need 49 more.

? Zombie properties, homes left vacant by homeowners in disclosure, number 301,874, according to national survey results.  FL has the most– 90,556.  The largest proportion, though, are in KY (54%– from a total of 1,000).

? David Stockman has a splashy New York Times article:  “State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America” (shouldn’t that be “Wrecked:  The Corruption of America by Corporatism”?)  His “Heroes and Villains” are here.   Anyway, Paul Krugman responded.

? $900m of Stryker (heavy-duty military vehicle) parts “found”, mostly outdated.

Politics USA

? The AFL-CIO and US Chamber of Commerce have agreed on a plan to “establish a new low-skilled worker program, . . .one of the last major hurdles to legislative efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.”  Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-NY) is credited with having “brokered” the deal.  Interesting take:  “Congratulations, America: Congress Has Finally Outsourced Itself”.

? In the spirit of outreach to minorities meanness, NC Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has eliminated the state office for Latino affairs and wanted to issue drivers licenses marked with a  pink stripe for undocumented immigrants.   He’s also appointed a particularly vociferous, anti-LGBT lawyer to the state Board of Education.

? WI now ranks 44th in private-sector job creation, down  from 37th last year.  According to Gov. Scott Walker (R) it’s the fault of those “mass-union protests” during his first two years in office.

Gun Corner

? Kaufman County, TX Assistant District Attorney, Mark Hasse, was looking into the Aryan Brotherhood when he was gunned down by two men in late January.  In mid-March, CO prisons chief, Tom Clements, was shot to death, allegedly by a member of the 211 Crew prison gang. Yesterday, Kaufman County, TX District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were shot dead. Authorities are investigating possible links between the three murders.

? Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) plans to “introduce an amendment to limit high-capacity magazines when background check legislation is brought to the Senate floor in April.”  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says the background check bill hasn’t a chance.

Droning On

? Newspaper delivery by drone?

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? 200,000 workers annually are incapacitated due to toxic workplace air, 40,000+ “die prematurely each year from exposure to toxic substances at work”.  Medical and lost productivity cost:  $250bn/year.  Why is this happening when we have an Occupational Safety and Health Administration?  As its director admits “this is broken”.

Education Directions

? MI’s Emergency Manager law keeps on giving.  Detroit Public Schools’ first emergency manager “actually left the school district in a bigger financial hole than when he arrived.”  The second one was on the teevee recently telling “bold lies” about what he’s done for the Detroit Public Schools.

? Major scandal in Atlanta:  the district school superintendent was indicted on “racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and making false statements charges.”  34 others involved, deliberately falsifying students’ scores on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.  The superintendent ruled by fear.

Planet Earth News

? Obama has nominated Ernest Moniz, an MIT physicist, to head up the Energy Dept.  Accomplishments: consultant for BP between 2005-2012; owns stock in ICF International, serves on its board of directors; serves on boards of General Electric’s “Ecomagination” branch, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Saudi Arabia, the Council of Foreign Relations “and other roles”.  He likes nuclear power, too.

? “Europe’s largest gas field” is in the northern Netherlands where local farmers “are angry at increasingly frequent earthquakes caused by extraction.”

? Neonicotinoid pesticides and bee colony collapse, cont’d:  the neonicotinoid “clothianidin is one of 11,000 pesticides currently allowed on the market that were originally approved by the EPA through a loophole”.

? The fungus among us (actually, in the boreal forests) is sequestering much carbon.

 Break Time

? Fool on the hill.

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