The only issues that really matter are the ones that nobody talks about.
Automatic Cash Machinations: Computer savvy crooks across 26 countries conned the computers at debit card companies to ignore the established cash withdrawal limits, then descended on the now-generous ATMs and withdrew $45 million “in a matter of hours.” Some have already been caught for taking advantage of what is described as “outmoded US card technology.”
Once More, Without Feeling: House Republicans have passed a debt prioritization bill – conservatively described as one of the worst ideas even they have ever had – that would require the US Treasury to pay bondholders first once the debt ceiling is reached. That would require the US to pay China before it pays US soldiers, to pay Wall Street before it pays for food stamps or Medicaid. It is reckless, irresponsible, stupid, and has no chance of becoming law; the epitome of today's Republican ideology. And it is a preview of what to expect when the circus (raising the debt limit) comes to town this fall.
Going, Going, Not Going: After 11 years of inconclusive foreplay, the US Military is demanding that – in return for his weekly bags of cash – Karsai let the Americans keep a “residual force” of 12,000 occupying troops nested in nine major bases scattered across the country, as they proclaim victory or something that might pass for it on a dark street on a moonless night. Karsai also wants electric power, roads, dams and even more bags of cash (which he has been guaranteed).
Your Results May Vary: Yesterday in separate courtrooms, an 83 year-old nun was convicted of trespass (or treason or terrorism, something like that) for protesting at the Oak Ridge nuclear lab. She'll spend 20 years in prison. Today, Jeff Skilling had his 24 year sentence (for his role in stealing $40 billion) reduced to 14 years in return for paying back $40 million of the stolen money. Jon Corzine, former this and that at Goldman Sachs and the federal government, still hasn't been tried for disappearing a couple of billion of his MF Global customers' money.
Honey Do List: If we are going to even pretend to try to keep global warming below 2°C this century, here are the things the IEA says we must do, and when we must do them. By 2020 we must have at least 38 major coal-fired power plants that capture and store CO2 emissions forever. So far we have none, none are being built, and we're not sure it's remotely possible anyway. Nuclear power must double by 2025 – yet today our nuclear generating capacity is declining. And, yes, there's Fukushima and all that, too. Renewable energy is getting better, but far too slowly. The internal combustion engine hasn't begun to vanish. We could be building far more energy efficient buildings, but are not. And we really need to put survival above profit, and that's pretty much a non-starter, too.
So? A Pakistani court has ruled that the ongoing US drone strikes are illegal, inhumane, a violation of Pakistani sovereignty, a violation of the UN charter of human rights, and beyond Pakistan's ability to do anything about.
Today's Word, 'Separation': Faced with the choice of starting graduation ceremonies with an unconstitutional Christian prayer or not having a graduation ceremony, the Riverside School District in Craighead County, Arkansas decided to cancel graduation. It was for the sixth grade and they hadn't studied the separation of church and state yet. In Texas, where that part of the constitution does not apply, a judge had ruled that high school cheerleaders can carry banners displaying Bible verses at school sporting events. The Judge said he was aware of no law that prevented religions banners at official school-sponsored events. Q remedial reading assignment seems in order.
Take A Break: Republicans in the House want to give employers the ability to force workers to take “comp time” rather than actually paying them for working overtime. That's not exactly the way they describe it, but that's the way it will actually work out.
Buzzy, Buzzy:About 30% of commercial honeybee colonies in the US did not survive the 2012 winter. Now the EPA, by approving the highly toxic new Dow pesticide sulfoxaflor for use, has made it likely that 30% of the remaining colonies won't make it through the summer. The EU has enacted a two-year ban on these pesticides which are known to “scramble the honeybees’ sense of navigation.”
Porn O'Graph: The trend is not your friend.
The Parting Shot:
On the trail. Really.