Hello.

International Developments

❖ Yesterday, four rockets from Lebanon hit Israel.  Today, “Israeli jets bombed” south of Beirut. Update:  Two bombs exploded at two mosques in Tripoli, leaving 29 dead, 500+ wounded.  Update: 42 killed.

❖ “Syrian victims of alleged gas attack smuggled to Jordan for blood tests: . . . UN inspectors denied access to affected areas of Damascus.”  UK Foreign Minister William Hague says the “Chance of Damascus killings being opposition conspiracy [are] ‘vanishingly small’.”

25 people killed in north Baghdad, Iraq.  Suicide bomber.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, convicted on 16 premeditated murders of Afghan villagers, sentenced to life in prison.  Afghan villagers are “far from satisfied” with the sentence.

Steel tanks purchased and installed at the Fukushima power plant were a “quick fix to store radiated water that was pooling in the disaster zone.”  One of those tanks, supposed to last until 2016, is now leaking highly radioactive water.

Money Matter USA

DDay interviewed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) about her accomplishments in Washington thus far, her influence on others, and prospects for 2016. Here’s the Q&A from the interview.

The FHA is relaxing “its guidelines for borrowers who ‘experienced periods of financial difficulty due to extenuating circumstances’, by waiving “Foreclosure, Short-Sale, and Bankruptcy Waiting Periods.”

Paul Krugman considers the Age of Bubbles, and what brought it on.

❖ The O-team wants fast-tracking of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, by allowing “Obama to sign the agreement prior to congressional approval”.  Think this Congress won’t agree?

AK’s new oil tax law and regulations are “both bewildering and too demanding” says the oil industry.

Police are cracking down at the Burning Man festival this year.  “The pigs are here, . . . uncommonly heavy.”

Surveillance Planet

By tapping into an underwater fiber-optic cable, the UK “runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies”.  Revelations courtesy of Edward Snowden?  Not so, says Snowden; the UK government may be “intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent”.  Glenzilla elaborates; plot thickens.

❖ “UK government given Tuesday deadline over David Miranda data: Judges ask government to provide detailed evidence about why it wants right to trawl data seized using terror laws.”  Even the Secretary General of the Council of Europe has become involved.

❖ “Orders To Destroy Guardian Hard Drives Came Directly From PM Cameron”.

❖ “Guardian partners with New York Times over Snowden GCHQ files; Some of Edward Snowden cache shared with US paper after ‘climate of intense pressure’ from UK government.”  So, who transported the files?

The NSA “paid millions of dollars [of taxpayers' money] to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a [FISA] court ruled [in 2011] that some of the agency’s activities were unconstitutional”.  Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook.  Did they collect “upstream” as well as “downstream” data?

Was the recent UK detaining of David Miranda part of a “deny and disrupt” campaign that is used “against terror networks”–and now against reporters, too?

New report from the NSA’s Inspector General reveals “very rare instances of willful violations” of privacy rules by the NSA.  In addition, The Privacy & Civil Liberties Board sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and DNI James Clapper “urging . . . stronger rules on domestic surveillance”.  Any connection to drones?

What would you do if you had ate dinner date NSA Director Keith Alexander?   Here’s what Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties at Stanford Center for Internet and Society, did.

❖ “13 things the government is trying to hide from you.

The NSA has “a new Tumblr blog . . . promising more transparency on ‘lawful foreign surveillance activities’ carried out by US agencies.” [emphasis added]  The website will be “a hub for further transparency”, etc.

Is this “the Secret to Protecting Your Data From the NSA”?

Politics USA

❖ Good grief:  “Two members of the anti-government Sovereign Citizens movement [in NV] have been arrested and charged after undercover officers unraveled their plan to kidnap and execute police.”

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’s job performance is ok with 20% of his constituents.

TN sheriff Jimmy J.J. Jones is so upset the federal government “won’t authorize his police force to enforce federal immigration laws” that he’s going to “stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County Jail”.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ Obamacare:  How many people will actually know that’s what they’re signing up for when they begin working with the state exchanges?

A deaf, blind and homeless man was given “a one-way ride from a Reno mental hospital onto the streets of San Francisco” last April.

❖ “Word spreads fast about Occupy Madison’s tiny houses for the homeless”.

The War on Women

“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a U.S. District Court ruling that will prevent Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s administration from effectively defunding Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood is suing Indiana in federal court over a new law “requiring clinics that administer the so-called abortion pill to have full surgical facilities”.  The ACLU is also suing.

❖ “Native Canadian women sold on U.S. ships: . . .  First Nations women from Thunder Bay, Ont., trafficked in sex trade in Minnesota.”

❖ “Ireland Has Performed Its First-Ever Legal Abortion, And It Saved A Dying Woman’s Life.”

Planet Earth News

Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair, Jon Wellinghoff, “Solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything”.

Hungary has destroyed 1000+ acres of GMO corn– for the second time.  So far, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Austria and Peru have bans on GMO crops.

Oil companies have now built roads through indigenous lands in Ecuador’s Amazon region and drilling is set to begin.

❖ “[L]iquid ‘jetting out of a [Royal Dutch Shell] pipeline” in Niger. “Massive oil theft, sabotage of infrastructure and leaks from ageing pipelines” leading to “serious environmental damage, destroying fishing communities and poisoning water”.

Break Time

Feeling Good