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International Developments

? “South Korea has raised its alert level to ‘vital threat’ amid indications the North is preparing for a missile test.”

? Al-Nusra is one of several rebel groups fighting against the Syrian government.  It has now officially aligned itself with al-Qaeda, pledging allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri.

? According to a leaked document, the Egyptian army disappeared, tortured and killed people during the 2011 uprising.

? Qatar has offered to buy $3bn in Egyptian bonds as “an economic lifeline”.

? Saudi Arabia is building a 1,000 mile fence on the border with Yemen.

International Finance

? French President Francois Hollande intends to “‘eradicate’ tax havens, increase checks on officials’ finances and crack down on tax cheats.”

? Austerity maven Christina Legarde is now warning about the world “dividing into three groups–some countries doing well, some on the mend and some still in trouble.”  Sounds a lot like the old First (Developed), Second (Developing) and Third (not going anywhere) World categories of yesteryear. So, are we now officially going backwards?

? The European Commission is upset that Spain and Slovenia have “imbalances”, fear this will spread, and note that the European people are “paying the price for the unchecked development of imbalances in the past”.  Gee, and how did that happen?

Money Matters USA

? Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)’s proposed “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act” is right here–all 20 lines of it!

? JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, HSBC.  “Their corruption is complete; their crimes are documented.  Yet, . . .  none of these Robbing Bankers have even been prosecuted, much less jailed.”  Why?  Jim Hightower explains, including the “secret cosmic door” detail.

? Lloyd Blankfein has been spared the embarrassment of being kicked out as the Chairman of the Board of Goldman Sachs through a little maneuver.  He’s still CEO, though.

? New movie’s out called “We’re Not Broke”.  If you happen to see it, do let us know what you think.   Preview (at the link) looks good.

? “13 lenders this week are starting to pay out $3.6 billion to more than 4 million troubled borrowers whose homes were in foreclosure proceedings in 2009 and 2010.”  Most will get $300, termed “grossly inadequate”, the result of a “botched” process which rewards some but not others.

Politics, USA

? Senate Republicans are rejoicing that President Obama, has included the chained-CPI in his budget.  Bill Black explains how the chained-CPI and other elements of Obama’s “Grand Bargain” “opens the door to Wall St.’s dream–the privatization of Social Security.”  Paul Krugman views the Obama budget as an attempt “to gain the approval of the grownups”, a major miscalculation since “there are no grownups“.

? Oh, nooos.  Michele Bachmann (R-MN) “was rushed out of [a press conference] by aides and shielded from reporters as soon as she was questioned about potential ethics violations committed during her 2012 presidential campaign”.

? Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s appearance at Howard University didn’t turn out so well.

? NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has three anti-government corruption measures for the state legislature to consider. 20 NY state legislators “have been ousted because of criminal or ethical issues” since 1999.  Two new criminal cases were begun last week.

? TX Gov. Rick Perry (R) wants the White House to make Mexico abide by a 1944 water treaty since his state is suffering from drought.

Gun Corner

? Senate Leader Harry “Leader” Reid (D-NV) is scheduling debate and possible vote on Thursday on the federal gun bill package.  Background checks for gun purchase is a sticky issue for some senators.

? Over in the House, Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) are introducing a bill for background checks, reflecting the Senate bill.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said the House will “review” the Senate’s bill.

Droning On

? Dramatic interactive graphic showing drone deaths in Pakistan, by day – month – year, numbers of children and other civilian victims, etc.; continual updates of developments relative to drones.

? A leaked document shows that “the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified ‘other’ militants in scores of strikes”, while telling the world that only senior al-Qaida operatives are targeted.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? “The number of Americans living in poverty today has not been seen since Lyndon Johnson occupied the White House, and nowhere is it more visible than in urban environments like Baltimore.”

? Marilyn Tavenner is President Obama’s nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (she’s been acting director since December, 2011).  From 1981 to 2005, she worked for Hospital Corporation of America, including as CEO of HCA’s Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond, VA.  HCA?  Think ‘Bill Frist‘.

? Last year the Obama administration estimated it would spend $2 bn on health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.  That’s now doubled to $4.4 bn–which”doesn’t include the extra money needed to set up a ‘Federally Facilitated Exchange’ in 34 states” refusing to build the exchanges themselves.

The War on Women

? The AR Senate went off the deep end, voting to defund Planned Parenthood “and all other entities” providing abortion or referrals for same.  They’re also defunding  “Planned Parenthood-administered comprehensive sex education program in the state’s public high schools”. Final touch: they’re prohibiting any organization (such as a utility company) contracting “with abortion providers or referrers . . . [from] receiving any state money.”

Planet Earth News

? “The Antarctic Half of the Global Thermohaline Circulation Is Faltering”.  Immense implications.

? Oil from Exxon Mobil’s Mayflower, AR pipeline eruption is now estimated to be 300,000 gallons.  Strange nocturnal goings-on reported.

? “How Popular Tourist Destinations Will Look Submerged In 25 Feet Of Water”.

? “Four charts that show the U.S. spends too little on energy research”.

Latin America

? “Tens of thousands of people in Colombia have taken part in marches to support the ongoing peace talks between the left-wing Farc rebels and government negotiators.  The march was led by soldiers who lost legs to land mines.

Mixed Bag

? Behold, Roman London!

Break Time

? From the Great Depression (an updated version, if you prefer)