Hello.

International Developments

At least 93,000  killed during the Syrian conflict, according to the UN.  “Over 80% of those killed were men. 1,700+ children under the age of 10 also killed.

❖ “Guantanamo prisoner [Abd al Rahim al Nashiri] seeks to attend pre-trial talks on secret evidence” . . .  in the death penalty case against him”.

❖ They’re still interested in going in:  “US considers Syria policy as John Kerry seeks ways to help civil war rebels.”  He’s talked to the British foreign secretary about “non-lethal interventions”.

❖ One step closer:  “US confirms for the first time it has evidence that Bashar Al-Assad’s government has used nerve gas against rebel groups.”

❖ Reinforced by taunts like these.  Bill Clinton to President Obama:  Get involved in Syria or you’re going to look like a “total fool” and a “wuss”.   Update:  President Obama “welcomes” this advice.

International Finance

❖ “A general strike has begun in Greece in protest at the . . . government’s surprise move to shut down state broadcaster ERT”–eliminating nearly 2,700 jobs.

Walmart’s listed “more than 200 factories it said it had barred from producing its merchandise because of serous or repeated safety problems, labor violations or unauthorized subcontracting.”  Two of the factories on the list continued to “send massive shipments” to Walmart anyway.

Israel’s poverty is the highest among the OECD members (even though 4 million Palestinians are not included in the calculations); its education system “is among the worst”; and its military expenditure as a percent of GDP is “higher than any OECD country.”

Money Matters USA

House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has put together a new US Postal Service plan.  It has some  objectionable features, but it “does get rid of the requirement that the service prepay for future retiree’s healthcare.”

❖ “[T]he sequestration policy is doing exactly what it was intended to do: it’s hurting the nation’s economy and taking benefits from American families that need them.”

1,300 IBM employees have received lay-off notices. “While [IBM is] firing in the US, they are hiring in India.”

FEMA has denied West, TX’s request for more funds to help rebuild the town, which would be  in addition to the “millions of dollars” it’s already provided.

❖ “Hackers allegedly targeted the computer networks of 15 financial institutions, including [JPMorgan, Citigroup and E-Trade while trying to get into] customer accounts to steal at least $15 million”. 8 males caught and charged.

Surveillance USA

❖ “How James Clapper will get away with perjury:  Yes, the national director of intelligence lied under oath, and his defense is implausible.  You think that matters?”

❖ “The lawyers who put together the statutes enabling the FISA court rulings surely knew they would be challenged . . . and they made it very difficult for such endeavors to succeed.”  What’s the remedy, then?

When Keith Alexander, head of NSA, hedged about whether they’re grabbing logs about our email and web-site visits was he alluding to a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act?

Edward Snowden used a thumb drive to get those documents out of the NSA.

Robert Mueller, “FBI director says U.S. will hold Snowden responsible on NSA leak”.

House Intelligence Committee Chair, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), senior member of the committee, claim Edward Snowden “simply wasn’t in the position to access the content of the communications . . . as he’s claimed.”  NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander told them so.

❖ Oh, this should be good: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is “preparing fact sheet on how Bush, Obama surveillance programs differ.

❖ Don’t miss John Oliver’s take on all this.

54% responding to a TIME poll said Edward Snowden “did a ‘good thing’ in releasing information about the government programs”, but 53% also said “he should be prosecuted for the leak.”  Responses by age are very telling.

A Guardian poll “finds two-thirds of Americans want NSA’s role reviewed, and 56% find current congressional oversight insufficient.”  60% “want their government to be more open about its data collection”.

❖ “No one understands what treason is:  Has anyone accusing Snowden of treason actually read the Constitution?”

U.S. Senate hopeful Ed Markey (D-MA) says he has ‘serious concerns’ about NSA surveillance programs.”

USSC

❖ Unanimous ruling, viewed as a states’ rights issue:  “thirsty Texas counties can’t run a pipeline into Oklahoma for more drops to drink.”

❖ Unanimous ruling:  human genes cannot be patented.  Immediate victory for women who have a “genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancers” and a longer-term victory for researchers.

❖ Not a ruling, but a regulation from the Supremes: Stay off our lawn!

Education Directions

❖ Hooray:  “The Kansas school board has approved new multistate science standards for public schools that treat evolution and climate change as key concepts to be taught from kindergarten through the 12th grade.”

Seven elementary schools in Sacramento, CA will not reopen this fall, or ever. A lawsuit was filed  alleging “that the district illegally targeted schools” in areas with low-income, minority students.

Planet Earth News

A suit brought by NE landowners against the Keystone XL pipeline was allowed to go ahead.

A group of Idaho farmers “have filed a potentially class action lawsuit against . . . Monsanto after genetically engineered wheat was found in an eastern Oregon field.”

❖ ”Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough last week to coordinate climate strategy”.

The Sierra Club “is suing the State Department for documents related to a draft environmental review of the Keystone XL” pipeline.

Permafrost soils contain “about half of all the estimated organic carbon stored in Earth’s soils” and they are warming “faster than Arctic air temperatures.”

❖ Oh, noooos.  “Alberta’s energy industry [and regulators have] found that cleaning up oilsands tailings is much harder than [initially] thought.”

Pigs “fed a diet of only genetically modified grain showed markedly higher stomach inflammation than pigs who dined on conventional feed”.

❖ “World’s largest Solar Power Plant with 258,000 mirrors opens in Abu Dhabi”.

Break Time

Yosemite