Nine Circles of Hell!: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 Nine Circles of Hell!


Your bitter blind broke gap-toothed radio show host Chuck Mertz‘s blog, ‘The Nine Circles of Hell!,’ is now posted every week day, Monday through Friday, at Noon (US central). It’s all the news that give you fits in print, today’s nine reminders that ‘This is Hell!’

Click on any of the Nine Circles! in bold to go directly to the original article.

US family wealth has been decimated by the economic crisis. Last year, the median US family had no more wealth than they did in the early 1990s. The New York Times reports, “A hypothetical family richer than half the nation’s families and poorer than the other half had a net worth of $77,300 in 2010, compared with $126,400 in 2007, the Fed said. The crash of housing prices directly accounted for three-quarters of the loss. Families’ income also continued to decline, a trend that predated the crisis but accelerated over the same period. Median family income fell to $45,800 in 2010 from $49,600 in 2007.” US families ain’t crazy about what’s happening with their kids’ education either. Reuters is reporting, “A backlash against high-stakes standardized testing is sweeping through US school districts as parents, teachers, and administrators protest that the exams are unfair, unreliable and unnecessarily punitive – and even some longtime advocates of testing call for changes.” Reuters quotes Leonie Haimson, a mother who runs Class Size Matters, an advocacy group in New York City, saying, “I see frustration and bitterness among parents growing by leaps and bounds. What parents are saying is, ‘Enough is enough.’” School test protesters’ chants include, “More teaching, less testing” and “One, two, three, four … Kids are not a test score.” In Russia, protesters are chanting “Russia will be free,” “Russia without Putin!,”Putin to jail!” and “All power to the people!” Despite new anti-protest laws and a day after police raids on opposition leaders’ homes, tens of thousands took to Moscow’s streets. Reuters quotes Valery Zagovny, a 50-year-old veteran of the Soviet army who saw action in Afghanistan and was wearing his medals to prove it, said, “Those who fought are beyond being scared. Let those behind the red-toothed walls of the Kremlin be scared.” Protests are also surging in Mexico. The New York Times reports, “Tens of thousands of students, angry at Mexico’s entrenched political powers, have taken to the streets in the last month, spreading their message with viral videos and organizing themselves using a Twitter hashtag: #yosoy132. On Sunday, more protests popped up around the country.” Violence following last year’s protests, which led to the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi, still simmers in Libya. Reuters reports, “Rival militias fought each other with heavy weapons southwest of the Libyan capital on Tuesday and two people were killed, in fresh evidence of the divisions in Libya’s society 10 months after an uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi’s rule. The clashes were between fighters from the town of Zintan, who played a big role in ousting Gaddafi, and members of the El-Mashasha tribe, which chose not to join the rebellion, security officials said. Resentment between the two groups spilled over into fighting in December last year in which at least four people were killed, and erupted again this week when a Zintan fighter was shot dead. Zintan’s militias blamed El-Mashasha tribe and retaliated, leading to clashes that started on Monday and continued into Tuesday.” Meanwhile, Russia has growing concern over the violence in Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says, “The situation in Syria is becoming more alarming. An impression is being created that Syria is on the verge of a full-scale civil conflict.” Lavrov clarified that Russia “will not sanction the use of force” and explained that Russia’s resistance to intervention is “not because we are protecting (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad and his regime, but because we know that Syria is a complicated multi-confessional state and because we know that some of those calling for military intervention want to ruin this and turn Syria into a battleground for domination in the Islamic world.” When it comes to who should negotiate Syria’s future, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov says, “Iran has the full right to be represented at this conference because on account of Iran’s regional role and the specific character of its relations with Syria we consider that the participation of Iran could play a constructive role.” While Syria’s future is debated, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon demanded access to the city of Al-Heffa as helicopters fired on rebel strongholds. Agence France Presse reports the attacks left “more than 100 people dead.” Ban says, ”intensive military operations” by Assad’s forces targeting Homs and firing from helicopters on other towns has led to heavy civilian casualties. That wasn’t the only condemnation of Syria coming out of the UN. A new UN report says Syrian troops have tortured and executed kids, even using them as “human shields.” Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN special representative for children in armed conflict, says, “Rarely have I seen such brutality against children as in Syria, where girls and boys are detained, tortured, executed, and used as human shields.” Not that this is limited to Assad’s side. The report also mentioned “credible allegations” that the rebel Free Syrian Army was recruiting children as soldiers. The UN has added Syria to their “list of shame” of conflict countries. Agence France Presse notes that, “The list includes 52 parties in 11 countries, ranging from the Afghan national police and the anti-US Haqqani network to the Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa, Sudanese soldiers and Darfur rebel groups.” In the end, there’s no need to worry. The Global Peace Index is going up for the first time in two years. This is the first time the Australia and US-based Institute for Economics and Peace’s index did not have sub-Saharan Africa as the world’s least peaceful region. That honor now goes to the Middle East and North Africa. The Middle East that did not show any improvement when it comes to peace. Survey founder and Australian entrepreneur Steve Killelea says, “The improvement in relation with the states and a greater reluctance to resort to war is very profound, particularly in Africa. You’ve seen a very significant reduction in conflict … When I first went to Uganda 15 years or so ago, for example, they were fighting four wars. Now they are fighting none.” Sadly, like all indexed commodities, when peace is up, the biggest brokers are tempted to sell.

That’s the Nine Circles of Hell! for Tuesday, June 12, 2012.

Come back tomorrow at Noon! for The Nine Circles of Hell!