Happy birthday to my sister. This stands in for a card or gift certificate.

• Mahmoud Abbas returns to Palestine to a hero’s welcome. This is a large reason why he has already rejected the Quartet offer of new talks in lieu of a statehood vote at the UN Security Council. The Palestinians may not even get to the nine votes on the council they would need to force an American veto. The US has been frantically lobbying member states to abstain or vote down the statehood petition. Daniel Levy has a good overview of the situation.

• The Department of Justice will not seek an en banc ruling of the 11th Circuit Court in one of the Affordable Care Act lawsuits. That means the next stop is the Supreme Court, perhaps in this session.

• As expected, American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were mistreated in Iranian prisons during their two-year ordeal. And also as expected, Iranian guards cited the conditions at Guantanamo Bay to justify the treatment.

• Joe Nocera had a good piece calling BS on the Solyndra nontroversy.

• The CEO of UBS, Oswald Grübel, resigned in the wake of the “rogue trader” that cost the bank $2 billion.

• More leaks about what they’re putting together in Europe to stave off the bank crisis (don’t call it a sovereign debt crisis).

• Kevin Drum understands what this budget standoff is really all about: a precedent, a principle. These uninformed he said/she said articles do the nation a real disservice.

• The fact that OCC is slow walking their consent orders with the big banks over foreclosure abuses shows how the regulators are not prepared to take the necessary steps for a serious foreclosure fraud resolution. “The policy over the past 30 years of giving the big banks pretty much what their executives want has proved to be an unmitigated disaster.” Hear hear, Simon Johnson.

• Bank of America wanted to use their $8.5 billion settlement with investors on MBS issues to kickstart foreclosures. The settlement has run aground, but the kickstarting still happened.

• Vladimir Putin will swap jobs with Dmitry Medvedev once again, as he extends his rule over Russia. The finance minister just quit over the prospect of autocracy.

• Women will get the right to vote in Saudi Arabia for the first time. Juan Cole has some good thoughts, including the point that Saudi domestic politics has a major impact on the price of oil.

• Speaking of Saudi influence on gas prices, it’s clear that price shocks will inevitably follow any favorable economic performance in the US. The solution out of that is to move rapidly away from dependence on oil, and stimulus measures could actually help that – like energy retrofits for efficiency, for example, or a variant of cash for clunkers.

• Labor is using the playing field set by Citizens United to maximize their political leverage. I don’t see why they wouldn’t; it would be political malpractice not to.

• I think Michael Tomasky gets right the fact that regardless of Rick Perry’s debate performance, Mitt Romney has a huge hurdle in his past record to overcome in the Republican primary. And the first post-debate poll bears that out, though an electability gap is emerging.

• The Senate will probably vote on the American Jobs Act sometime in October.

• I’m with Maxine Waters, the pitch of President Obama’s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, at times hectoring, was seriously off.

• Longform HuffPo on Google’s lobbying blitz.

• Many scenarios for Obama’s re-election require him to win Virginia. He’s starting to slip badly there, according to one poll.

• The French Left took control of the Senate, a show of the crackup of Nicolas Sarkozy’s coalition less than a year before national elections.

• Bloomberg’s third term hasn’t gone well. Clearly the solution is for him to run for President. More seriously, he could help himself by reining in the NYPD police brutality on the #occupywallstreet protests.

• Breaking: James Inhofe actually changed his mind about something! In this case, Robert Ford, the US Ambassador to Syria. For more on Syria, read this account from the ground by Lyse Doucet.

• I thought the Fast and Furious scandal would be a bigger deal on the right, but so far it’s been pretty quiet. Some GOP members want to change that.

• The Pentagon wants to cap executive pay reimbursement for government contractors at $694,000 a year.

• Healthy San Francisco is a great program that appears to be working well.

Church or jail – you choose.

• A Charlie Pierce blog. Awesomeness.

• RIP Kenyan Nobelist Wangari Maathai.