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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

US Institutions and Corporations: Still Behaving Badly

An Air Force unit that operates one-third of the nation’s land-based nuclear missiles (150 Minutemen 3s) recently failed a safety and security inspection.  The commander of Air Force Global Strike Command said the unit had failed a “small team exercise” and the results did not call into question the unit’s safe operation of nuclear missiles. This was the unit’s second failure of a safety and security inspection in a little over three years.

Meanwhile, police forces across the nation have been abusing America’s civil forfeiture laws. As infrastructure and domestic spending have been slashed, many precincts rely on the goods they have confiscated – supposedly, say, from drug dealers – to make up the shortfall. Unfortunately, this means Americans who haven’t been charged with any wrongdoing whatsoever can still be stripped of their cash, cars and even homes. And if something can happen, it usually does.

One-third of the mortgages on those homes, however, may be based on fake documents. When the banks couldn’t legally establish ownership of the loans at the time of foreclose, many simply fabricated the necessary documentation. This means that tens of millions of mortgages in America still lack a legitimate train of ownership.

Finally, while North Carolina passed the most restrictive voting law in the US, New Orleans has officially refused to detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

Israel-Palestine Peace Talks

On the eve of renewed Mideast peace negotiations, which begin tomorrow, Israel began releasing 26 ‘low-level’ Palestinian prisoners as the first step in a deal brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry. The releases were met with fear and anger in Israel, especially those whose loved ones had been hurt or killed by the prisoners. They were, of course, met with celebrations in Palestine.

Israel also announced approval for another batch of 900 apartments in a contested part of Jerusalem. Since the last round of talks in Jerusalem in 2008, at least 40,000 Israelis have settled in areas the Palestinians want for their own state. Otherwise, the same negotiators will be present and debating the same issue – one the two sides have met to resolve three times in the last 13 years – where to draw a border between them. Right now, the odds of that happening are looking even longer than before.

Children Face Measles and Rape in the Central African Republic

In early July, Doctors without Borders warned that the Central African Republic (CAR) was on the brink of a public-health catastrophe, as rebels had systematically plundered what little health infrastructure the country had in the first place (in addition, of course, to food and private possessions). A spokesman for Save the Children described it as ”…an almost complete destruction of the existing health system.”

 A measles epidemic is now gripping the entirety of the country as a result. Children are at greater risk than adults, and 1.5 million children have not been vaccinated at all.  Over 100,000 children have been forced to flee their homes and many now suffer from malnutrition and malaria. They also face the specter of sexual abuse and recruitment into roaming armed groups. Many families are running out of food, many are still hiding in the bush. The villages themselves lie empty.

Mugabe To Return To Policies That Caused Zimbabwe To Collapse

Mugabe claimed that he had been given a “resounding mandate” after emerging from Zimbabwe’s heatedly contested election with the most votes, even though opponents have been crying foul. He has decided to complete his massive black empowerment program to take over foreign- and white-owned assets, and said this policy would be “pursued to its successful conclusion.”

His policy of seizing most of the country’s white-owned farms and businesses from 2001-2013 is widely credited for Zimbabwe’s economic collapse and subsequent decade of disasters.

Egypt’s Appointment of New Governors Spur More Protests

The Egyptian government appointed many new local governors today, sparking protests because at least 15 of them are retired generals from the previous regime. Supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi marched on a government headquarters and an army compound in protest.

Local residents who support the coup threw stones and bottles at them, tauntingly calling them “terrorists”.  Finally, security forces moved in, firing tear gas into the crowd. Women and children fled and a man carrying a machete was seen chasing marchers. The Muslim Brotherhood has claimed that plainclothes cops had fired live rounds into the crowd.

 

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