Hello.

International Developments

❖ “Syria’s exodus: a refugee crisis for the world: Western countries including the US and Britain may be asked to accept tens of thousands of Syrian refugees because the exodus from the civil war is overwhelming countries in the region”.

❖ “Syria death toll now above 100,000 says UN chief Ban.”

❖ “U.N. Chemical Weapons Team Arrives In Syria To Probe Alleged Attacks.”

❖ “The United States has drastically scaled back the number of drone attacks against militants in Pakistan and limited strikes to high-value targets in response to growing criticism of the program in this country.” [emphasis added]

Since the “Obama administration sees no coup in Egypt“, we can continue sending them military aid.

❖ “Spain train crash driver under investigation amid questions over speed.”  80 dead.

International Finance

❖ “Three former UBS . . . bankers were sentenced to prison [yesterday] for deceiving U.S. municipalities by rigging bids to invest municipal bond proceeds”.  Sentences range from 27 to 16 months, fines from $1m to $300,000.  One defense lawyer was “very pleased at the outcome”.

14 Caribbean nations are joining together to “seek reparations [from] Britain, France and the Netherlands” for “the legacy of slavery and the genocide of native people.”

Money Matters USA

Interesting little chart showing changes in the “Consumer Comfort Index” from 2000 – 2013, with 2008 most prominent.  Noticeable improvement in the Comfort Index over the past year (+11.2).

❖ “Memo to Eliot Spitzer: Private Equity Firms are Scamming New York City”, major marks being public pension funds.

MI Gov Rick Snyder (R) is enthusiastic about the $225m approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund to build an arena in Detroit.

Surveillance Planet

Bolivia President Evo Morales has accepted the apologies of France, Italy, Portugal and Spain “for blocking his plane” last month as he was flying home from Moscow, without Snowden.

Ireland’s Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has declined to investigate Apple and Facebook “for transferring personal data to a U.S. spy agency because they have signed up to EU privacy principles.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants to apply sanctions “against any country offering asylum to Edward Snowden”, i.e., Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua.  Russia?

❖  Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)’s proposal “would force the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to hear both sides of classified cases.”

❖ “Foes of surveillance program vow to fight on after close loss in House.”

❖ “Congress: Obama’s Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment“.  Willing Dems included Chris Van Hollen, Ami Bera, Joaquin Castro, Marcy Kaptur, Joe Kennedy, Louise Slaughter, and others.

Glenn Greenwald tears into the Amash Amendment “Nay” vote.

❖ “Which 17 Democrats Voted Against the PATRIOT Act in 2011 But Voted with the NSA Yesterday?”  List includes Sheila Jackson Lee, Marcy Kaptur, Nancy Pelosi, Jan Schakowsky and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

❖ “5 Reasons the Amash NSA Amendment Is Trouble for White House”, plus Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)’s attempts to rein in the NSA’s more egregious actions.

❖ “Blueprints Of NSA’s Ridiculously Expensive Data Center In Utah Suggest It Holds Less Info Than Thought”.  Nonetheless, it holds a prodigious amount.  Update:  “The NSA’s New Spy Facilities are 7 Times Bigger Than the Pentagon.”

Politics USA

❖ Speechless:  Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), “who head the Senate Finance Committee and are working on a complete rewrite of the U.S. tax code, have assured their colleagues that any of their requests to preserve a loophole will be kept secret by the National Archives for 50 years.”

❖ Attorney General Eric Holder agrees with “an effort by local civil rights advocates to place Texas back on the list of jurisdictions that have to receive federal approval to change their voting laws.”

FL has resumed its voter purges, the US Supreme Court having cleared the way.

What an endorsement!  Sen. Harry “Leader” Reid (D-NV) says Hillary Clinton will be “even better” as president than Obama.

Anthony Weiner (D-NY) “Drops From First After [the latest] Revelations”.  Just drop out, period!  Matt Taibbi: “Weiner simply isn’t a well man.”

Beleaguered Bob Filner (D), Mayor of San Diego, has been uninvited to speak on sexual assault before the National Women’s Veterans Association of America.

Rep. Louie “Lizard” Gohmert (R-TX) compares Democrats’ to “‘the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouse and so many other insects.’”

❖ “Rush Limbaugh Says Fox News Makes People Crazy, Tells Listeners Not To Watch It.”

❖ “Read the Memos of the New Right-Wing Strategy Group Planning a ’30 Front War.’”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ “Facing major budget and staff cuts, federal officials are scaling back several high-profile health-care fraud and abuse investigations”.

The War on Women

❖ “Squeezably Soft Fetus Toys Slipped Into Kids’ Candy Bags at North Dakota State Fair.”

54% of Americans oppose “state measures that make it difficult for abortion clinics to run”, and 56% think abortions should be restricted to 20 weeks.

Heads Up!

Congress, in its awesome wisdom, reduced the ratio of crack cocaine to powder cocaine to 18:1 which alleviated sentencing for the former and judges said those sentenced under the old laws were entitled to appeal their sentences under the new one.  The Justice Department is fighting to overturn that decision.

Occupy is suing MN, saying the state used them as “‘guinea pigs’ in a government drug research program”.

Planet Earth News

The Alberta tar sands leak at Cold Lake continues. Unabated.  9 weeks.  Shows “no signs of stopping.”

Scientists “have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives.”

❖ “A HazMat crew is at Opa-locka Airport [in FL] monitoring depleted uranium” found there today.

League of Conservation Voters:  75% of under-35 voters “oppose members of Congress who stood in the way of Obama’s climate action plan.”

The Savannah RIver Site’s Citizens Advisory Board is opposed to “SRS’ future as a storage site for spent nuclear fuel.”

❖ Such rascals:  “BP’s New Ad: Who’s the Real Victim of Deepwater Horizon?”

 Break Time

❖ Patagonia Calling