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The Roundup for July 2, 2013

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Hey there.

International Developments

? “Suicide attack in Afghan capital” aimed at a “logistics firm supplying NATO forces”.  At least seven killed.

? The Egyptian Army “to suspend [Islamist-backed] constitution, [Islamist-dominated] legislature”.  Update:  Obama Wades Into Egypt Turmoil, Fearing Political Implosion In Most Important Arab Ally.”  Update: Four dead in Giza protests.

? Unbelievable!  “A new wave of sexual assaults by groups of men targeting women during anti-government protests in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square”.  Update:  “UN Secretary General Expresses Concern Over ‘Sexual Assault Cases’ During Egyptian Protests”.

? Juan Cole:  “How Egypt’s Michele Bachmann Became President and Plunged the Country Into Chaos.”

? “Islamist rebels in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo issued an order [fatwa] on Monday banning women from dressing in what it considered provocative styles, angering some locals”.

? US Secretary of State John Kerry says “both the U.S. and Russia are serously committed to having an international conference on Syria and setting up a transitional government to end the bloodshed and ‘save the state of Syria.'”

? Guantanamo prisoners “are asking a federal court to halt the force-feeding . . . during a hunger strike . . . [since] it will prevent them from observing the traditional fast . . . during Ramadan”.

International Finance

? Ah-ha, here’s the reason:  “Obama’s ‘Power Africa’ Plan Greases Billions In Deals for General Electric.”

? The UK echoes Christine Lagarde, but there is a sane response:  “Only this government [UK] could regard the impact of global warming as a business opportunity, with ministers now advising companies on how to turn a profit from something most people regard as a profound threat to our collective well-being.”

? “EU Antitrust Authorities Sue 13 MegaBanks Over Credit Default Swaps Collusion to Stymie Exchanges”.  This also has implications for the [Commodity Futures Trading Commission], where Gary Gensler is being forced out by the O-team for trying to “implement Dodd Frank rules on derivatives”.

? “Portugal’s finance minister quits“, the country’s in recession, unemployment’s high and the budget deficit is “widening”.  Who can blame him?

? “Dutch pension group halts Wal-Mart investments over low wages and working conditions.”

? Who said it’s all rigged?  “The energy industry scored a big win Tuesday when a federal judge (in Washington, DC) tossed out a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that required oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.”

Money Matters USA

? “For U.S. corporations the top federal income tax rate is 35 percent, but large, profitable companies on average paid only about a third of that in 2010, [according to] a report by the investigative arm of Congress”.

? The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers just scored a victory when Comcast workers on MA’s south coast, who’d rejected the union in 2011, voted to join.

? “The economy seems to be finding some momentum”.  Uptick in motor vehicle sales and factory orders, as well as home prices.

Surveillance Planet

? At least he didn’t blame his dog. “Clapper:  I gave ‘erroneous’ answer because I forgot about Patriot Act.  Intelligence chief tries to explain false Senate testimony”.

? “Clapper under increased pressure despite apology for ‘erroneous’ statements to Congress: US director of national intelligence has apologised for denying in March that the NSA collected data on millions of Americans but senator remains ‘deeply troubled’. [emphasis added]” How many other Senators are “deeply troubled”?

? Edward Snowden’s 21 asylum-seeking letters have met with little success.

? Matt Taibbi on Glenn Greenwald, “advocacy journalism” and Andrew Ross Sorkin’s contributions thereto.

? Not feeling sufficiently outraged?  “Along with running a massive surveillance apparatus, the secretive [NSA] operates a program dedicated to getting its agents inside America’s elementary, middle and high school classrooms“.

Politics USA

? Prepare to be shocked:  “Senate-approved immigration legislation would give billions to federal contractors”, defense and tech companies in particular.

? Those inspiring folks in North Carolina held their 9th Moral Monday yesterday in Raleigh. Lots of pix.

? Since the NY legislature wouldn’t “pass any comprehensive public trust reform”, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said “his Moreland Commission [will] investigate public ethics in state government.”

? VA state Sen. Chapman Peterson (D) sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) telling him to “come clean”, “return [illegal gifts] immediately . . . or sell them and donate the money to the Literary Fund.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Local municipal governments are beginning to see the Affordable Care Act exchanges as a way to overhaul their employee medical and health insurance programs.

? House GOPers voted down the entire Farm Bill because some didn’t think the $20b cut to food stamps was enough.   By that very action, however, they might have saved food stamps.

? Elderly Chicago man picked some dandelions so he and his wife would have something to eat until their next Social Security check ($1500) arrived.  He was busted by a Cook County Forest Preserve cop and fined $75.

Planet Earth News

? “Keystone Academy: Where Legislators Learn the Etiquette of Serving Special Interests”.  It’s even called “ALEC Academy” and it wines, dines and entertains lawmakers while “educating” them about the wonders of the Alberta tar sands.

? “Fracking waste keeps rolling into Ohio from other states [PA and WV] and injected into OH disposal wells”.  Some residents are becoming very concerned about water contamination and earthquakes.

? The militarization of the oil pipelines, not just a third-world phenomenon any more.  Also criminalization of environmental protests, including making it illegal to criticize or photograph factory farms in some states.

? BP is still whining about that compensation fund which–gasp!–people are using since they were “harmed by the 2010 Gulf oil spill.”

? Interactive map showing “America’s 21 Most Vulnerable Rivers”.

SC may soon abolish the cap on “net metering for customer-sited solar power systems.”

Mixed Bag

? Things aren’t like they used to be when hoodoos were accorded their appropriate punishment for “gobbling up too many of the earth’s resources.”

? Almost lost in the recent news: a meteorite did all that damage near the Tunguska River in Siberia, 1908.

Break Time

? Ernestine & her Emmy

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