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The Roundup for May 8, 2013

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International Developments

? Professor Stephen Hawking will not attend a conference in Israel as part of a boycott to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.”  Update: Israel Maimon, former Cabinet Secretary, “is furious” over Hawkin’s decision.  Update:  Cambridge University has retracted its denialthat  Hawking was going to boycott the conference.  Update:  Is Hawking a hypocrite?

? “Syrian rebels react cooly to Russian-US proposal for peace conference”.

? “Kurdish rebels have started their gradual retreat from Turkey to bases in northern Iraq”.

International Finance

? The heart-wrenching death toll at the Bangladeshi garment factory collapse site is now 803, with more expected.  It’s been two weeks since the building collapsed.

? “Japanese Movement Against TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] Growing”.  They understand the threat to Japan–including their health care system–but some believe it will collapse under its own weight, including in the US because of state’s rights.

?  “There’s no such thing as ethical oil.  There’s only dirty oil and dirtier oil.” That’s Al Gore talking about the notion that it’s better to import oil from Canada, which is an ally, than from other, less friendly nations like, oh, say, Venezuela.

? Four people connected to Direct Access Partners brokerage firm have been charged by the US Security and Exchange Commission “in a scheme involving millions of dollars in illicit bribes paid to a high-ranking Venezuelan finance official”.

? Oh, noooos.  “Italy court upholds Berlusconi tax fraud conviction”.  Reinstated “a four-year prison sentence and five-year ban from public office”, too.

Money Matters USA

? As only he can, Jon Stewart explains the wrongful foreclosure crisis in a manner we can all understand.

? Great interview walking us through the USA austerity policies from its academic foundation through to the impact on employment, education, medical care–the lives of the rest of us.

? Study results: “Extended unemployment benefits . . . didn’t discourage people from taking jobs”.

? Ta-daaaaaah. Teva Pharmaceutical Industry comes to the aid of other industries with a pill for shift workers: Nuvigil for “Wakefulness, and Shift Work Disorder”.  And wait’ll you see the side-effects.

? House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) complained about the US deficit and compared it to how business is (much better) run.  Chart here shows how Walmart’s deficits have soared (orange lines) contrasted with declining earnings (white lines).

? Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced her first bill, making student loan rates the same as loan rates for the big banks.  This on the day we learn that Boston University (among many others) uses “financial aid to lure rich students while shortchanging the poor, forcing those most in need to take on heavy debt.”

? Treasury Secretary “Jack Lew’s Nose is Getting So Long He Needs a Hacksaw”.

? The District of Columbia Court of Appeals “struck down . . . a rule [requiring] more than 6 million private employers to post notices telling workers of their right to join a union.”

? “Gen. Odierno: Budget Crunch Will Render Army Unready For Syria & Hybrid War”.

? “The Navy is 90 percent sure its current estimated cost to operate and maintain the controversial Littoral Combat Ship is off target”.

Politics USA

Major disturbance in the Air Force:  17 officers at Minot Air Force Base, ND have been “stripped . . . of their authority to control–and, if necessary, launch–nuclear missiles”.

? Ex-Vice President Dick “Dick” Cheney says, “We were always ready on 9/11”.

? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is trashing Labor Secretary nominee, Tom Perez.

? “Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN) is ‘fairly satisfied’ with the Obama administration’s accounts of the Benghazi tragedy.

? Oh nooooos.  64% of PA residents want a new governor.

? Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN) is trying to negotiate “a settlement in a lawsuit that alleges the tea party champion’s 2012 president campaign stole an email list of home school families in Iowa.”

Gun Corner

? By 56-43 the Senate rejected an amendment to repeal a ban on carrying guns on land controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

? D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier on the announced, unpermitted march of people with loaded guns through the nation’s capitol:  “If you’re coming here to break the law, we’ll take action.”

? James Holmes, accused in the Aurora, CO theater shooting, is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released charges data for the top 100 diagnostic groups at 3,000+ hospitals in 2011. Medicare reimbursed 27% of charges in the database (or $1,582,949,878 of $5,892,183,932 charged).

The War on Women

? “Judge rips Obama’s right-wing Plan B Stance”, saying “You’re disadvantaging young people, African-Americans, the poor . . . that’s the policy of the Obama administration?” That’s District Court Judge Edward Korman, and that’s not all he said!

Education Directions

? The LA Supreme Court has ruled “that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s hallmark school voucher plan violates the state’s constitution because of how it is funded.”

? Hoover, AL:  A high school student “who has diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea” fell asleep while reading, a police officer was called who “slapped her backpack” and then shoved her “face first into a file cabinet”, and handcuffed her.

Heads Up!

? Sister Megan Rice, 82-year-old nun, and two other members of Transform Now Plowshares, Michael Wallie, 64, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, went on trial yesterday in Knoxville, TN having admitted to trespassing and vandalism at the y-12 nuclear weapons complex. The government “claimed the trio posed a threat to national security”, then rested its case by 6:00 pm.  Update:  Jury’s deliberating.

? What the ACLU got after it requested info on surveillance of text messages.

Planet Earth News

? Things banned in food in the UK but not in the US.

? What could possibly go wrong?  Royal Dutch Shell is going to build “the world’s deepest production facility in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Latin America

? Argentina’s economy is in deep trouble and so is President Cristina Fernandez (29% approval).

Mixed Bag

? ‘Spectacular“.

? “Los Alamos reveals it’s been running quantum network for two and a half years”.

Break Time

? Get Lucky

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