It’s Christmas Eve, how’s your day? I helped bake a three-layer cake (green, red and white – no flavor, just coloring) with chocolate frosting on top and dulce de leche in the middle of each layer.

International Developments

Overall

- U.N. have increased troops in South Sudan to 12,500

- U.N.: Thousands have been killed in South Sudan

- Amy Goodman: “Obama’s New Normal: The Drone Strikes Continue

- “US Hypocrisy Over Diplomatic Immunity”

- Arab entrepreneurs investing in UK to gain permanent residency

- Pakistan and Turkey promising to work together to fight against terrorism

Middle East

- “American begins one-year prison sentence in UAE for satirical video

- “The head of the Kurdish Intelligence service in northern Iraq wants to see more cooperation on security issues between the central government in Baghdad and the regional Kurdish government in Arbil.

- I’m curious as to what he considers “peace talks” “Netanyahu ‘to demand release of spy in return for peace talks concessions’

- “Officials say a roadside bombing has targeted Iraq’s acting defense minister who was unharmed in the explosion, which wounded two of his guards.

- “Chief of staff tours Anbar following death of senior army officers

- Two have died in an Israel-Gaza border skirmish, one was a young Palestinian girl and the other was an Israeli man

- “Damascus’s Other Battle: Regime Cyberwar on the Opposition

- “Yemeni political parties have signed a document pledging a “just solution” that would grant some autonomy to the south in the face of secessionist demands, state news agency Saba reported.”

Asia and Oceania

- Relaxation of one-child policy in China will begin next year

- As anniversary of Mao’s birth gets closer, consumerism on memorabilia of Mao is set to occur

- Regarding the military of China and challenges

Africa

- “Is South Sudan a Failed State?

- Three mass graves have been found in South Sudan

- South Sudan President: We have taken a key town

- Military junta of Egypt have arrested Morsi’s former Prime Minister

- Juan Cole: “The Iraqization of Egypt: Two Large Bombs Rock Security Bldg in Mansoura, kill 14, wound 130

- There are doubts the suicide bombings in Bersis, Libya was a suicide attack

- “Tebus in Murzuk counter protest at Ajdabiya, [Libya] attack

Europe

- Spanish King Juan Carlos: Millions need unemployment relief

- “ Romania’s prime minister says that Britain should not expect “millions of Romanians” to arrive in the country after it lifts work restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians on Jan. 1

- 150 Syrian refugees were forced out of Greece

- “Germany has seen a spike in far-right protests against refugees this year as the number of people seeking asylum in the country rose by two thirds.

- Pussy Riot members reunite and say amnesty just a publicity stunt before Sochi Olympics

- France: We will avoid a double-dip recession

- Even though graft investigators were purged, Turkey pledges there is no cover-up

- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Those involved in the scandal will be held “accountable”

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada 

- More on CIA aiding Columbia on FARC rebel assassination

- “Canada, Inc.

- “In a rare special session, Puerto Rico’s Senate met into the night Monday to debate possible changes to the U.S. island’s underfunded pension system for teachers.”

- “Honduras Under the Gun

- Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has signed cannabis law 

Surveillance Planet

- Snowden: My mission is accomplished, “I already won

- “Canada’s intelligence service asked foreign agencies to spy on Canadians

- Snowden will broadcast a Christmas message in the UK

Financial Matters

- “ Swiss banks should set aside funds to cover the legal costs and fines associated with a crackdown on Swiss lenders suspected of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes, the country’s financial regulator has recommended.

- “Our Profit-Centered Private Medical Industry Is Cutting Back on Hospital Care

- Target hackers additionally took PINs as well

- Where Tiny Tim dies due to lack of health insurance and extreme poverty and Scrooge reaps millions in a financial bubble before crashing the economy. “The Goldman Sachs 2013 Christmas Story

- “China’s central bank has pumped $5bn (£3.1bn) into the banking system to ease concerns over a credit squeeze that has caused rising interest rates.

- “U.S. regulators fined American Express on Tuesday over deceptive and misleading practices in selling credit card add-on products, and forced it to repay a total of $59.5 million to duped customers.

- Skepticism from Obama administration on the “merger mania

- Data on U.S. economy seems promising

- First-class stamps will cost 49 percent starting Jan. 26

Labor’s a-Brewing

- 13 states will raise its minimum wage starting on Jan. 1

- Questioning why children are working in tobacco fields

- Sarah Jaffe: “How Big Banks Shortchange Their Workers“; Few weeks old, though thought it should be placed

- Both Wal-Mart and Disney are refusing to compensate injured Bangladesh workers

- Great to hear. “Fired Walmart Warehouse Workers Win $50,000 in Back Pay

- Mike Elk: “Honeywell Workers Get Rare Good News for Christmas

- On the Salvation Army’s “lowest-paid, most-needed employees

Politics USA

Washington USA

- Can the military be stopped from using drones?

- On the ACA’s problems beyond 2016

- “Campaign Cash Rules Drown in the Bathtub

- “Centrist Dems are horrified by Elizabeth Warren’s plan to raise benefits. But populists aren’t backing down.

- I thought this was obvious. “Yes Virginia, Obama and the Democrats Are Mussolini-Style Corporatists, Just Like the Republicans

Everything Else USA 

- Gallup: Four in 10 Americans report attending church this week

- “Former Prosecutor Gets Arrested to See The Other Side of U.S. Criminal Justice System

- Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese: “The Incredible Activism of Younger Generations Will Make You A Lot Less Depressed About the Future

- On socio-economic conditions in the Bay Area

- “How’d Seattle do it

- Video of the “life-altering consequence” of possession of cannabis in NYC

- “Utah county faces lawsuit on gay marriage refusal

- 10 best segments from The Colbert Report and The Daily Show

- “Can mayors save the world?

We Don’t Need No Education

- “Kansas Board of Regents Undermine Academic Freedom at State Universities

- “Fixed rates are latest in college tuition plans

Top Gun (Stories)

- Chicago Christmas tree remembers those killed by gun violence

- Quick get the “War On Christmas” police! “Police say a man dressed as Santa delivering toys in southeast Washington, D.C., was popped in the back with a pellet gun as he walked down the street.

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

- An Oxford professor is creating a large study over psychopaths

- “Is the FDA Really Phasing Antibiotics Out of Meat?

- NYC mayoral-elect Bill de Blasio’s daughter remarks she has battled with depression and drugs 

- Demand for food stamps soar as cuts will set in

The Second Sex

- “Canadian Supreme Court Ruling Affirms Human Rights of Sex Workers

- Study: Millennial women face an “unconscious bias” or where they are thought of not being responsible enough for large tasks

- Study: Making raped teens relive trauma works

Planet Earth

- “Leading Palm Oil Company Agrees to Aim for Zero Deforestation

- As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) comes against the Keystone XL pipeline, allies of Hillary Clinton go for it all the way

- “Decorative Christmas villages: A model for sustainable living?

- Regarding weather conditions in Gaza

- “Mystery Oil Spill Turns Miles of Trinidad’s Beaches Black

- “A federal judge has rejected BP’s argument that a multibillion-dollar settlement over the company’s massive 2010 Gulf oil spill shouldn’t compensate businesses if they can’t directly trace their losses to the spill.

- Russia has dropped its first Arctic 30 case

- On the 10th International Environmental Festival in Tunisia

- “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was justified in immediately barring residents in North Texas from using water contaminated with explosive methane and cancer-causing benzene, but additional testing and work needs to be done to assess whether a risk still exists, according to an internal investigation released Tuesday.

Mixed Bag

- Pew: More than one in five adults are expecting Santa this year

- “Obama Not Sure How To Tell Nation This, But He Ran Over Jimmy Carter With Car Last Night

- NASA astronauts have completed the Christmas Eve spacewalk on ISS

- The story of Silent Night

Break Time

- Fairytale of New York