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The Roundup for May 31, 2013

{!hitembed ID=”hitembed_1″ width=”350″ height=”197″ align=”right” !}Howdy!

International Developments

? Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warns “Israel that it will respond in kind to any future air strikes.”  Update:  The UK is ready to ship arms to Syrian rebel factions if the Geneva talks aren’t promising. Update: Geneva talks “likelyto be postponed”.  Update: US, Germany “urge Russia not to arm Syria military.”

? Syrian government forces claim they’ve killed an American and a British citizen fighting with the rebels.  The American is a female.

? The Syrian Electronic Army is no longer on the internets, apparently axed by the government.

? “Israel to build 300 units in Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem, complicating Kerry efforts.”

? UK police have arrested 5 Rwandans “on suspicion of involvement in the 1994 genocide in their home country.”

? “Istanbul Riot Police Raid Peaceful Park Sit-In With Tear Gas, Pressurized Water.”  Seems the headline should say:  “Istanbul Police Riot, Raid Peaceful Park Sit-In With Tear Gas, Pressurized Water”.

International Finance

? South Korea joins Japan in suspending US wheat imports.

? “Eurozone jobless rate hits record high as Blockupy [Occupy] hold anti-austerity protests”.  Great photos, videos, charts.

? “Catalonia firefighters were starting fires rather than putting them out this week during a demonstration in Barcelona.”  They’re demonstrating against all the austerity cuts.

? Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland:  the latest Potemkin village.

? CNBC:  “Top 1% Control 39% of World’s Wealth“–currently they control $135 trillion “and their share is likely to grow in the coming years”.

? “China’s moves in Western Hemisphere have U.S. stepping up its game”.  The US has stepped up its invites, anyway, with Peru and Chile officials to the White House next month, and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in October.

Money Matters USA

? The “check the box” loophole, and the “look-through” rule allow US corporations to not pay gazillions in taxes each year.  It’s been going on since 1996–and who’s going to stop it?

? Works for me:  “Financially Engineered Democracy”.

? Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced extension of the “Making Home Affordable program, which includes . . . HAMP, and related consumer protections, . . . through 2015”.

? President Obama dipped into the Former-Bush-Administration-Pool, found Seth Wheeler and put him on the National Economic Council.  BTW, Wheeler “helped design [Obama’s] response to the foreclosure crisis”.

? What’s not to love?  President Obama intends to appoint Jason Furman to head up “his Council of Economic Advisers”.  Furman’s gung-ho “‘Free Trade’ Deals”, thinks Wal-Mart’s “a progressive success story”, wants lower “corporate tax rates”, supports “chained CPI” for all federal programs, etc.

? President Obama is trying to get Congress to limit federal contractors’ executive pay to $400,000.  They make “up to $763,000 a year and soon to be as much as $950,000 a year”.

Politics USA

? A man in Spokane, WA has been arrested by the FBI in connection with the ricin-laden letter sent to President Obama.

? From the ACLU: “publicly available evidence indicates [James B. Comey, nominated to head the FBI] signed off on enhanced interrogation techniques that constitute torture, including waterboarding”.  More.

? Attorney General Eric Holder’s having “internal discussions over tightening rules on when prosecutors may seek phone logs and other information that could identify reporters’ sources”.  Update: Emptywheel’s take on Holder‘s journalists meeting.

? He’s sued on behalf of abortion protesters and the Tea Party; his nonprofit bestowed $2.3 million on John Ashcroft; he’s an Israel advocate; and he “helped John Ashcroft write the USA Patriot Act”.  He’s Jay Sekulow.

? Citizen-journalist Curtis Morrison, who secretly recorded Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’s campaign meeting where they discussed going after Ashley Judd, talks about the painful aftermath and the future.

? What?  42% of voters don’t “know enough about” Jeb Bush “to form an opinion of him”?

? A WI Appeals Court has upheld the state’s Voter ID Law. ACLU and the League of United Latin American Citizens challenges continue in federal courts, however.

? The thrill is gone:  Jim Graves (D) who was going to run against Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has called it quits.

? Atheists will add “a 1,500-pound granite bench” to the Bradford County, FL courthouse grounds next month, in contrast to the existing “6-ton granite . . . Ten Commandments” monument.  All that’s missing is a 10-ton monument to the left-handed monkey wrench.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? New Harvard University study: “Immigrants Contributed An Estimated $115.2 Billion More To The Medicare Trust Fund Than They Took Out In 2002-09.”

? More than 120 health insurance plans have applied to participate in the federal health care exchange mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

? Despite Republican efforts to destroy it, Medicare sails on, boosted a bit, it seems, by the Affordable Care Act.

Children & Youth

? MN’s new law removing the statute of limitations in child sex-abuse cases has resulted in a suit by a 51-year man “alleging sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in the 1970s”

Heads Up!

? Emptywheel:  “APB:  At Least Two Missing ‘Law Enforcement Personnel,’ Last Seen at Ibragim Todashev Homicide Scene.”

? In Los Angeles, CA, “Dancing Aztecs step up for leftist causes”.  That’s Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc!

Planet Earth News

?  “Analysis–Oil executives tune out the call of the wild Arctic”.  Too expensive and risky, perhaps?

? As toucans and other large birds in the Amazon disappear, trees are producing “smaller, weaker seeds that are less likely to regenerate”, thus adding to deforestation.

? The US Agriculture Department is “scrambling” following the appearance of Monsanto-modified wheat in a field in OR.

? “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has directed electrical grid regulators to address the impact of solar flares on electrical grid operation” in order to prevent “failure in case of a major ‘geomagnetic disturbance’.”

Latin America

? Cuba is condemning its 51st year of being on the US’s “state sponsors of terrorism” list, and the economic embargo, too.

? Latest among the shortages being reported in Venezuela is sacramental wine and wafers.

Mixed Bag

? Our latest celestial visitor has a moon!

Water on mars.

Break Time

? Born Under A Bad Sign.

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