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The Roundup for April 25, 2013

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International Developments

? “White House sends nuanced letter to Congress saying it has ‘various amounts of confidence’ in reliability of evidence” for sarin gas use by Syria; Update:  “Obama will be able to say that Congress was the entity making the most out of carefully caveated intelligence claims”. Update: Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) say it’s time for US involvement since Syria has used chemical weapons. Update: US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel echoed a “degree of varying confidence” that Syria used chemical weapons on a “small scale”.  US Army studies on sarin persistence in soil.

? “Rising Violence in Iraq Spurs Fears of New Sectarian War”.   “[C]lashes throughout the country between forces of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government and Sunni gunmen”.

? Glenzilla explores what motivated “attacks on US soil by Muslims”.

International Finance

? “There are increasing signs that advocates for easing the austerity drive [in Europe] are gaining the upper hand”.  Moreover, “public acquiescence to the crisis’ policy response is evaporating.”

6m+ are unemployed in  Spain  and 4.7m in France, the highest numbers ever.

? Walmart, H&M, Sears, Gap, etc. outsource to Bangladesh because of its low wages and labor standards.  It also lacks safety regulations, resulting in the recent factory collapse which left  at least 250 dead and more than 1,000 injured, though 40 survivors have now been found in the debris.  A few months ago, 112 Bangladeshi workers perished in a huge  factory fire.

Money Matters USA

The US Chemical Safety Board, responsible for investigating the horrific fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX, reports on their website that “Investigators will arrive onsite Thursday.”

? Amy Goodman: “The West, Texas, explosion shows the deadly effect of profit before safety: Poor regulation of the West Fertilizer plant likely contributed to 15 deaths–just as 13 US workers die at their jobs every single day”.

? The Reinhart-Rogoff Flaw has been noticed by John Makin of the American Enterprise Institute, who cautions “Congress has enacted enough deficit reduction”.

? One “single tax break, for executive stock options” allowed Fortune 500 corporations to avoid paying $11.2 billion in income taxes in 2012. The top 25 benefiting during 2010-12:  Apple $3.2bn, Facebook $1.6bn, JP Morgan $1.1 bn, etc.

Politics USA

? “Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has introduced legislation to try to save the US Postal Service from its incipient bankruptcy, and he is asking the public to help”.

? “For a while now, I’ve called the Republican Party a cult more often than I have a political party or ideology. The emergence of the Tea Party only solidified this belief.”

? “George W. Bush Says Painting Hobby Has ‘Changed My Life'”.  You changed ours, too, George. Thanks a bunch.

? Jeb, Jeb, Jeb.  The “Bush family furiously selling itself to Americans once again: George W. Bush’s mess of a presidency is whitewashed as Jeb airs out some unpleasant past business of his own”.  Jeb’s mother, Barbara Bush, though, has reportedly said, “We’ve had enough Bushes.”

? Another of those secretly recorded items: “Top GOP Consultant Luntz Calls Limbaugh ‘Problematic’.”

? Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has called for the repeal of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.  She was the lone “No” vote on the AUMF in 2001.

? House progressives want to talk to President Obama about his chained-CPI Social Security strategy.  Will he oblige?

?  Some House Republicans’ attempt to tinker with Obamacare to make themselves look good has run into strong opposition –from other Republicans.

? Before he CO legislature is “a major piece of legislation to improve the state’s voting laws”.  Right-wing opponents have sprung into action,  erasing faces of not-white persons, even substituting a white face,  in a photo they’re using in a mailer.

? WV lawmaker Ray Canterbury (R) wants to make poor “kids work for their [school] lunches by doing janitorial and housekeeping duties.”

? OH’s Gov. John Kasich (R) has a challenger, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D), in the 2014 gubernatorial elections.

? Clint Eastwood had a chair.  Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford (R-SC) debated a full-size picture of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), although he’s running against Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D-SC) for a US House seat.

The War on Women

? A male student reacted to a “sexual assault awareness event” on the University of Arizona campus by designing signs saying “You Deserve Rape”.

? Students at Dartmouth College participating “in a protest against racism, homophobia and rape on campus” were threatened with “violence and death” online.

? Bernalillo County, NM’s Republican Party Director issued a series of sexist tweets after a Working America volunteer testified about raising the minimum wage.  Even called her a “radical bitch”.

? The Magdalene Laundry in Ireland, site of so much misery for poor women, is being converted into “a refuge for sufferers of domestic violence” called Waterside House.

Heads Up!

? “The Justice Department has been granting immunity to service providers through special ‘2511’ letters that absolve carriers in the event that the surveillance is found to run afoul of federal law.”  Such letters won’t be necessary if the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act passes with all its goodies for snoops.  It’s currently in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

? “Senate committee advances bill to prevent warrantless email searches: Bipartisan group seeks update to Electronic Communications Privacy Act over concerns of misuse by law enforcement”.

Planet Earth News

? Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have “introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act [requiring] the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clearly label genetically engineered (GE) foods” as such.

?  Anonymous “safety engineer”: Too dangerous to restart San Onofre nuke plant.

Latin America

? Education “reform” movement is underway in Mexico, too,  and protests against it have become violent.  Some say reforms are needed “to end corrupt practices in the education system” but “unions say the reforms could lead to big lay-offs, and critics also suggest they may be paving the way for . . . privatisation”.

Break Time

? Tall Ships

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