Sunday, May 29, 2011

Headlines - Sunday May 29

Jarring Disconnect: If Joblessness and Hopelessness Undermine Democracy in the Middle East, What About Here at Home?

Governor Rick Scott of Florida attended a budget-signing ceremony at a retirement village on Wednesday where he signed into law a self-described "jobs budget" which may lead to the elimination of as many as 4,500 state employees by cutting $615 million dollars from the state budget while also lowering taxes on corporations.

That's not all though.

Governor Rick Scott and his henchmen were hoping to enjoy a protest-free environment during their ritualistic killing of jobs and livelihoods, so what did they do? — They escorted political-persons-of-interest from the event.

In his speech Thursday, Scott omitted many of the serious-sounding programs he cut: homeless veterans, meals for poor seniors, a council for deafness, a children's hospital, cancer research, public radio, whooping-cough vaccines for poor mothers, or aid for the paralyzed. [...]

Members of The Villages Democratic Club were barred from the budget signing by Scott staffers who said the outdoor event in The Villages town square was "private." Other staffers and Republican operatives scoured the crowd and had Sumter County sheriff's deputies remove those with anti-Scott signs or liberal-looking pins and buttons. They escorted more than a dozen people off the property.

Unfortunately for Rick Scott, the fascist-like removal of "liberal-looking" persons from the event was not enough to escape criticism, as several Republican members of the Florida State Senate expressed their own reservations concerning Rick Scott's motives and priorities.

In response to the ceremonious signing of Scott's "jobs budget," Democratic House Leader Ron Saunders said "If he means the 'jobs budget' is killing jobs, then it's an accurate title."


Matt Taibbi discusses McClatchy's Wikileak analysis on how the Saudis warned the US numerous times that speculators had a great deal to do with the high oil prices of 2008 and they worried that the speculators could devastate the oil market. The Saudis reported that although they increased production upon the request of the US, there weren't any takers on the market because the market was already saturated.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Naimi even told U.S. Ambassador Ford Fraker that the kingdom would have difficulty finding customers for the additional crude, according to an account laid out in a confidential State Department cable dated Sept. 28, 2008,

"Saudi Arabia can't just put crude out on the market," the cable quotes Naimi as saying. Instead, Naimi suggested, "speculators bore significant responsibility for the sharp increase in oil prices in the last few years," according to the cable.

One of the reasons that the spikes in oil are true problem for the Saudis is that it could render the US market a "dead-zone" according to this 2010 cable which delineates the concerns of how climate change and energy usage will change the US market.

Prince Abdulaziz said it is important for Saudi Arabia to think through whether the United States is becoming a mature market, like Europe ("which has been dead for years" as an energy market). It is also unclear what role the USG will create for biofuels; Prince Abdulaziz noted that in 2009, the U.S. for the first time consumed more ethanol domestically than Saudi oil....Prince Abdulaziz said that Saudi Arabia needs to know what role the U.S. will be willing to have Saudi Arabia play. He asked, in effect, if we will "green" Saudi Arabia out of the U.S. market.

The cable had some other fascinating points including the fact that Saudi Arabia would like to become the Saudi Arabia of solar energy, but needs a stable oil market until they have a chance to transform their economy.

The Saudis are right that the financial speculators are playing with fire when they game the world commodity markets, because they are creating significant uncertainty that can destroy economies and companies (think airlines) throughout the world. The US should be doing more to rein them.

The question about whether "greening" of the US market cuts out the Saudi oil market leads to an even more interesting question. Could the oil shocks of 2011 lead to such "greening" of the US market that it damages the domestic oil producers too? Perhaps that explains the Republican actions over the last few days as they not only double down on how to help big oil, but also why they are demanding cutting the clean car program to fund disaster relief in the Midwest. We might just be watching the final scenes where the unregulated financial market makes the knockout punch to big-oil because they really can't have it both ways. And they are both too greedy to stop their marauding.



The House Committee on Rules blocked an amendment from going to vote on Wednesday that would have allowed military rape victims to access abortion care through their government-provided health plans.

Earlier this week, Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and five other House Democrats submitted an amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would reverse the current policy of denying abortion coverage to military women who are raped and become pregnant during their service. As the bill currently stands, servicewomen have to pay out of pocket for an expensive abortion procedure unless they can prove that their lives are in danger.


But hey, at least the House managed to pass a bill banning federal funding of medical programs that teach doctors how to perform abortions.

So is this family values or culture of life? Maybe both? N.C. House budget eliminates program for teen moms
Hundreds of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip arrived here by the busload on Saturday to pass through the reopened border into Egypt, taking the first tangible steps out of a four-year Israeli blockade.

"I feel this is the start of freedom," said Hasna el-Ryes, 45, a Gaza resident waiting to cross into Egypt so she could travel to visit sons studying in Britain. "You can't imagine how much we have suffered."


If it actually comes to a vote, it'll be the most exciting one since the 1948 vote on partitioning Palestine - the vote that led directly to the birth of Israel. "The Arab League has said it backs seeking UN recognition for a Palestinian state, as Qatar proposed at a meeting that the Middle East peace process be suspended until Israel was "ready" for talks. At a meeting of an Arab monitoring committee chaired by Qatar, the Arab League said in a statement it "supports the appeal to the UN asking that Palestine, within the 1967 borders, becomes a full-fledged state" of the international organisation. The Arab League's statement on Saturday came soon after Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, reiterated his determination to seek the recognition at the world diplomatic body unless Israel begins negotiations on "substantial basis"."
Hackers launched a "significant and tenacious" cyber attack on Lockheed Martin, a major defense contractor holding highly sensitive information, but its secrets remained safe, the company said Saturday.
Check out the before and after shots of Joplin, MO.

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