Friday, June 17, 2011

The Short List - June 17, 2011

International
  • NATO forces are hitting Tripoli with daytime raids(NYT) even as Libya's prime minister says "preliminary meetings" are taking place in rebel-held Benghazi.

  • With the impending U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan, the U.S. and her allies are encouraging the UN to dis-aggregate Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  For the past twelve years UN sanctions were applied to both groups as if they were the same.  This request could open the window for negotiations with the Taliban.

  • A Syrian business tycoon, and confidant to Syrian president Assad, says he will sell all his shares in the multiple concerns he owns and donate the money to charity.  Rami Makhlouf is seen as a symbol of corruption and nepotism by the Syrian public and his announcement is seen as the first concession granted the protesters, however the Syrian army continues to move north even has fresh protests have begun in several Syrian cities.

  • The spat between China and the Philippines(NYT) over the Spratly Islands continues.  The increasing regional bullying by China, who lays claim to the entire South China Sea, is a worrisome development.
Domestic
  • The National Security Agency is partnering with internet companies to protect U.S. defense contractors.  The action has led to questions of how far the partnering goes and where the line exists between corporate assistance and individual surveillance.

  • Capital One will by ING Direct USA for $6.2 billion in cash and $2.8 billion in stock to create the fifth largest bank in the United States.

  • House Republicans voted to cut millions of dollars from the FDA and USDA intended to go toward food safety inspections.  Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) says the cuts are fine because our food supply is "99.99 percent safe," and "the food supply in America is very safe because the private sector self-policies."  Upton Sinclair wrote a book about "private sector self-policing" in the food industry called The Jungle, which makes me doubt Rep. Kingston's statement.

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