Howdy!

International Developments

❖ “US military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,114.”

❖ “Syrian Kurds made rapid advances in the north [today], expelling jihadists from a string of villages, as mistrust between Kurds and Arabs grows”.

❖ “US military intervention in Syria would create [quick escalation and result in] ‘unintended consequences’: General Martin Dempsey . . . warns senators that each option under consideration would be costly and uncertain.”

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee says the US can go ahead and arm the rebels, but “there are still strong reservations”.

❖ “Islamic militants from Russia’s Caucasus flock to join Syrian rebels, official says.”

❖ “Egypt crackdown on tunnels strangling Hamas.”  Update: Violent clashes near Cairo University; six dead.

International Finance

“France ‘returns to growth‘ and Spain sees slump easing”; meanwhile, the Greek government “is cracking on . . . cutting thousands of public sector jobs.”

❖ “UBS agrees to settle US mis-selling case . . . reaches multimillion dollar agreement . . .  over investments sold between 2004 and 2007 [and] “mortgage-backed securities during the pre-crisis housing bubble.”

Money Matters USA

❖ Excellent summary of “The Decline and Fall of Detroit.

❖ Detroit updates:  Emails show what was going on behind the scenes for weeks before “a state financial review team” issued its conclusions; cutting pensions not the way to go; decision tomorrow on allowing the bankruptcy case to proceed.

❖ “Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, loans, concession agreements and property leases go to private companies that pay low wages, provide few benefits, and offer employees little opportunity to work their way into the middle class.”  Bill Moyers takes it from there.

❖ “Not Just Goldman Sachs:  Koch Industries Hoards Commodities as a Trading Strategy.”

Job creation is occurring most in ND, UT, TX, CO, ID and CA, and least in WY, ME, AR, NM, RI and PA.

❖ “The front landing gear came off a Southwest Airlines [Boeing 737] at LaGuardia yesterday.

The wheels are still coming off  blimp Limbaugh, too, as AAMCO, Dish Networks, Capstone and Safelite pull out.  Clear Channel, Limbaugh’s parent company, is owned by Bain.

In Hot Pursuit

❖ “Edward Snowden’s fear of flying is justified: . . . America has history when it comes to forcing down planes in defiance of international law.”

Surveillance Planet

New Zealand’s Parliament is about to do it to their citizens, passing a law that “expands the legal power of the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders.”

While assuring us that “Snowden did not access ‘crown jewels‘ of NSA intel”, and did “cause serious damage”, officials don’t agree on the degree of impact on “terrorist organizations”.

❖ “Far from aiding our enemies, the NSA whistleblower has exposed our own government’s subversion of American’s rights.” Philip Giraldi continues, “it remains to be seen whether anyone actually cares enough to do something about the illegal activity”.

❖ “Edward Snowden Is Driving The US Security State Insane.”

“NSA’s Keith Alexander Calls Emergency Private Briefing To Lobby Against Justin Amash Amendment” which ends the  “authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act [and bars] the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records  . . . that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.”  Shades of the 4th Amendment!

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)’s still out there warning that “the post-9/11 surveillance state could not only become permanent, but extend far beyond even its current reach.”

Politics USA

❖ “NYPD’s Ray Kelly Defends Stop-And-Frisk In Op-Ed: ’7,383 Lives Saved’.”  An op-ed with an outlandish boast like that couldn’t have anything to do with a desired appointment at Dept of Homeland Security, could it?   Alex Pareene dissects the whole op-ed.

❖ “President Barack Obama’s choice to be the No. 2 official at the Homeland Security Department [currently U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director] is under investigation for his role in helping a company secure an international investor visa for a Chinese executive”.

House Republicans are in hog heaven, having devised huge cuts “to environmental programs and funding for the Smithsonian Institution and the arts”.

McClatchy reports President Obama’s approval rating is at 41%, “a sharp drop.”  22% approve of the job Congressional Republicans are doing.  54% think the economy is still in  a recession and 60% say the country’s “going in the wrong direction.”

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has designated $1 million “to expand video recording of police interrogations” in the interest of “Fairness and integrity”.

Beleaguered Bob McConnell (R), Governor of VA “issued a press release . . . declaring that all loans made to his family have been repaid in full.”

❖ “Ivanka Trump hosting fundraiser for Cory Booker”(D-NJ) who’s running for the US Senate seat vacant since the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

Michelle Nunn (D) daughter of former US Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), will runn for the senate seat being vacated by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).

Gun Corner

❖ Hee.  The National Rifle Association reportedly “spent $6 million on congressional races in 2012 and 76 percent went to candidates who ultimately lost.”

Planet Earth News

❖ “It is no exaggeration to say that Monsanto has now become the most hated corporation in the world.”  Its grip on the US is being increasingly contested, too.

Five years ago today, NY state first “put large-scale hydrofracking permit applications on hold”.

Portage County, OH, “the biggest dumping ground for fracking waste” in the state. And now there are problems with the wells.

❖ “Less than 1-percent of Tar Sands Environmental Infractions Penalized.”

Blow-out this am on a shallow-water natural gas platform south-west of Grand Isle, LA.  44 evacuated, all safely.  Update: 47 rescued.

The Western Bumblebee is back. No one knows why, nor if it will continue to repopulate, but right now it’s back.  Fingers crossed!

Horse slaughter on hold in NM.

Latin America

Presidents Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela met, discussed “security, energy and trade” and “have agreed to work to improve relations.”

Break Time

Jook