Nine Circles of Hell!: Friday, April 27, 2012 Nine Circles of Hell!

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It’s 4:20 PM (US central time) – time for the Nine Circles of Hell! Our new blog features all the news that gives you fits in print.

Click on any of the Nine Circles! in bold, or a bonus link in italics, to go directly to the original article.

Wanna get a good look at how unpleasant Beltway-to-Wall Street business-as-usual is? Paul Singer, the billionaire who investigative reporter Greg Palast, a guest on last Saturday’s show, has called, “Romney’s Billionaire Vulture,” is seeking help from the Obama administration for his troubled mortgage lender. That lender was not only previously bailed out, but it is owned by yet another big-time Republican donor. Speaking of tense relations, last time the Taliban were reported to be in secret peace talks with the US, some more militant members of the Afghan group were insulted as a result of not being asked for their approval. New secret Taliban peace talks with the US have begun in Qatar, and this time the Taliban made sure everybody was on board. Peace can’t happen soon enough. The death of a NATO service member in an insurgent attack today brings the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan so far this month to at least 36. This is one day after an Afghan soldier shot and killed a US service member and a local interpreter. Each of these killings took place in southern Afghanistan. Was it all worth it? Tobias Feakin, director of national security at the Royal United Services Institute, estimated that 80 per cent of all al Qaeda members have been killed or captured. Feakin says, Bin Laden’s death has made al-Qaeda “a lot more rudderless. It’s difficult to see how they’re going to recover from this. The old guard have been killed off or arrested and you don’t see anyone stepping into that space.” There’s the ‘terror war’ and then there’s the ‘austerity war.’ Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, says his country is in a crisis “of huge proportions.” Unemployment is almost 25%, an 18-year high. The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Spain’s credit status on Thursday, Critics say the right-wing Mariano Rajoy government’s austerity policies were partly to blame for making the situation worse. Foreign Minister García-Margallo described new economic numbers as “terrible for everyone and terrible for the government … What’s bad for us is bad for (the EU). It’s like the Titanic – if it sinks, the first-class passengers go down with it.” Romania’s austerity measures have led to the ouster of prime minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu. Romanian President Traian Basescu designated left-wing opposition leader Victor Ponta as new prime minister. According to the BBC, Mr. Ponta is quoted called the toppled administration, “an abusive system that uses any weapon possible. Today there was justice.” Parliamentary elections are due in November. Opposition to austerity is gaining momentum throughout Europe. From France’s presidential election returns, to upcoming votes in Greece, Italy and Ireland – which many believe will be solid referendums against cuts – to governments toppling in Netherlands and Romania, to a movement in Prague and another in Berlin known as the German Pirates, austerity is everyone in Europe’s “bete noire” this spring. There’s armed wars and austerity wars – but even non-wars can be frightening. Chinese aircraft approaching Japanese airspace caused Japan to scramble their fighters a record-high 156 times in fiscal 2011, a record high number. For the year, Japanese fighters flew 425 sorties as precautions against approaching foreign aircraft, surpassing 400 for the first time in 20 years. Russia actually had the most responses from Japanese fighter, at 247, and that’s down 17 from the previous fiscal year. Here’s something even more frightening than Japanese fighter jets scrambling to confront their Chinese counterparts: Texas put a new low-level radioactive dump above the huge and vital Ogallala aquifer. They’ll use all necessary safety precautions, of course, just like they did in Wyoming prior to this week. A natural gas leak following a blowout in Wyoming has been ‘curbed,’ according to Reuters. Reuters reports, “Boots and Coots, a pressure control company owned by Houston-based Halliburton and contracted by Chesapeake after the well blowout on Tuesday, was pumping drilling mud into the well a day after its efforts were hampered by wind and adverse weather … Chesapeake and its contractors are applying a process that resembles BP Plc’s “Top Kill” effort that failed to stem a deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.” We’re all hoping that their cure for the problem will hold. It doesn’t seem like it has when it comes to malaria. According to ScienceDaily, “Scientists have identified genetic mutations in the deadliest malaria parasite in Africa that are giving it resistance to one of the most powerful anti-malarial drugs. The researchers say their findings are a further warning that the best weapons against malaria could become obsolete.”

That’s the Nine Circles of Hell! for Friday, April 27, 2012.

Come back for the Nine Circles of Hell!: Sunday Morning Edition, this Sunday, April 29, 2012.

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Nine Circles of Hell!: Friday, April 27, 2012
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