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The Roundup for April 11, 2013

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Evenin’, all.

International Developments

? “Human Rights Watch . . . visited 52 sites in north-western Syria, documenting 59 . . . deliberate air strikes against civilians and indiscriminate attacks” carried out by the Syrian Air Force.

? “Syria calls on UN to recognise  rebels [al-Nusra Front]’s al-Qaeda links”.

? Live ammunition was used against protesters in  Suez in early 2011, as approved by “high-level” officials.

? “Egyptian doctors ‘ordered to operate on protesters without anaesthetic'” during the May, 2012 protests.

? “North Korean bellicosity has helped reinforce an American strategy of rebalancing its security policies toward the Asia-Pacific region” with the result that China’s “extensive array of anti-access military capabilities” is being countered by US moves.

? “Should the U.S. Take North Korea’s Nuclear Threats Seriously?”

? China, Tibet and the CIA.

? BBC Newsnight is reporting evidence “that soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were ordered to rape women by their superior officers.”

International Finance

? “The time has come,”  US Ambassador Michael Punke said at the World Trade Organization meeting, “to speak bluntly.”  And he did, blasting WTO members and India in particular “for failing to do more to cut global barriers to trade”.

? “A senior official with the International Monetary Fund . . . [admitted] a  belated recognition of the fact that the constraint imposed by . . . austerity was untenable”.

? “Cost of Cyprus bailout ‘rises to 23bn euros'”, up from 17.5bn.

A CA jeweller “profited substantially from stock trades” thanks to confidential info given to him by KPMG partner Scott London.

Money Matters USA

? Do not miss:  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) takes on federal regulators shielding the banksters.

? Goldman Sachs’ chief economist:  “The federal budget deficit is shrinking rapidly”.  It was 5.7% of GDP between March 2012-13, but was only 4.5% of GDP between Jan – March 2013  He explains why, too.

? Wall Street has taken notice of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA)’s bank break-up bill, but note “the banking industry’s biggest ally might be President Obama”.

? How secure is Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan?

? Oopsy.  WalMart executive, Jerry Murray, sent an e-mail  saying “the chain’s early February sales [were] a ‘a total disaster'” which was made public.  He’s resigned.

? “The Federal Housing Finance Agency . . . said it would extend the HARP program” through 2015.  HARP, Home Affordable Refinance Program, helps borrowers refinance their home loans “at record low interest rates even if their homes have lost value.”

Politics USA

? President Obama invited some chums over for dinner last night–Republican senators. They ate and chatted for 2-1/2 hours, discussing “deficit reduction and immigration reform, as well as a gun control measure”.  They ate steak.

? Another blow from the Obama budget.  LIHEAP (the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) helps millions of poor people keep the lights and heat on in their homes. LIHEAP was budgeted at $5.1 bn in 2010, reduced to $3.4 bn in 2012 and 2013, and reduced to $2.97 bn in 2013 if the President’s budget is adopted.

? The WH Press Secretary has said the chained-CPI “came from Republican leaders”.  Horse has left the barn, train has left the station, and the WH is standing there looking pretty lost.

? Now CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has “filed complaints with the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics” to see whether “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) violated federal law by using Senate staff and/or resources to conduct opposition research against actress Ashley Judd”.  Pssst:  Somebody’s saying they know who taped the meeting.

Gun Corner

? “New Research Confirms Gun Rampages Are Rising–and Armed Civilians Don’t Stop Them.”

? A remarkable moment has arrived in our country:  The Senate voted 68-31 to debate legislation.  On gun control.

Droning On

?  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and ranking member John Conyers (D-MI) say they’ll issue a subpoena for documents justifying using drones to kill suspected terrorists who are US citizens if the White House doesn’t cooperate.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Scientists have developed an antibiotic that kills “a wide range of bacteria, including drug-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA)”.   If government won’t step in to halt such situations as this, scientists are needed more than ever.

? “A dietitian working on a panel [of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics] charged with setting policy on genetically modified foods . . . contends she was removed for pointing out that two of its members had ties to Monsanto”.

? “Analysis of commercially available rice imported into the US has revealed it contains levels of lead far higher than regulations suggest are safe.”

? Kansas City, MO police evicted homeless people living in a “network of caves and tunnels”.  Officials in Houston,TX dropped charges against a homeless man “for rummaging through a trash bin” for food.

Heads Up!

? It just got worse:  “Guantanamo pretrial hearing delayed as legal files vanish”.  Those were defense files and they were on Pentagon computers which, so it’s claimed, have “been monitored by third parties.”

? Interview with Ethan McCord, “the Army soldier who rescued the two children in the Collateral Murder video.”

? 66% of New Yorkers want an “inspector general to independently monitor the Police Department.

? Occupy Wall Street launched a lawsuit against the City of New York for the destruction and removal of private property during the eviction from Zucotti Park.  The City has agreed to pay OWS $350,000+.

? CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) passed the House Intelligence Committee, 18-2.  Amendments were made to make it palatable to the American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates, but it remains controversial.

? “The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) [says its agents] do not need warrants to read people’s emails, text messages and other private electronic communications” per official documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Planet Earth News

? By a vote of 87-11, the Senate approved the appointment of Sally Jewell to Secretary of the Interior.

? “Monsanto and its products are keeping farmers stranded on what ecologists call a ‘pesticide treadmill’–never-ending chemical warfare against fast-adapting ecosystems.”

Break Time

? Down in Mississippi.

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