Hey folks, hope you are doing well.

International Developments

Overall

- According to WikiLeaks, when Haiti tried to raise its minimum wage, corporations were angered and the Obama Administration interfered to successfully stop it. Ugh, disgusting.

- An Italian port has been chosen as a place for Syrian chemical weapon transfer and the Mayor of Calabria is uneasy about it as he will seek to prevent it.

- Here’s a difficult concept to grasp. Even today, child sex trafficking reaches millions across the world and the worst part is that it’s increasing.

- John Kerry is urging the Syrian opposition to attend the Geneva talks as he said the U.S. wants a “positive vote,” but an internal opposition group has said it won’t attend.

Middle East

- Part 2 of yesterday’s interview on Saudi Arabia on how they might be fueling a Sunni-Shia war to further their interests in the region 

- Israel has intercepted and shot down rockets from the Gaza Strip and fired rockets into the Hamas-controlled territory.

- The Iraqi Parliament has backed an increase to a discount for oil and gas sales to Jordan

- The tragic story of how the Arab Spring had one flaw in not bringing the Palestinians with it.

- With yesterday having the worst deaths in Iraq this year (it’s only mid-Jan.), Iraqis are scared to even leave their house.

- Syrians are skeptical that the Geneva conference will produce any significant changes.

- The Afghan Taliban are “confident” they will beat NATO forces and return to power in the country.

- In Pakistan, seven people were killed and 70 were injured when a bomb blasted near an Islamic center

Asia and Oceania

- There’s a movement going on in India that deals with the “common man” and it’s necessary to pay attention to where this movement will go.

Africa

- Egyptians have heavily backed the constitution with 90 percent of them approving it meaning General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is poised to run for President.

Europe

- The creator of a satirical Facebook post on a religious figure has been sentenced to ten months in prison after a Golden Dawn MP brought it up as an insult to the Greek Orthodox religion.

- The Vatican were cross-examined for its role in child sex abuse in front of the U.N. and they denied all accusations in the courtroom.

- The EU is considering to suspend some of its sanctions over Iran if inspections go over well and the international treaty seems like a go.

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

- In order to curb or even stop the obesity rate from increasing further, Mexico will institute a tax on sugar beverages with the U.S. closely watching on its effects.

- Concerns have been raised over Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez who has not made a public appearance in more than a month.

Surveillance Planet

- Latest Snowden document: The NSA has been collecting millions of text messages with 200 million text messages a day…around the world. The Guardian has the powerpoint by the NSA on the program here.

- A latest poll has shown that six in 10 Americans want reforms to the NSA on data collection, while another question showed 57 percent of Americans were not confident the U.S. can prevent abuses of data collections.

- “Surveillance Valley” knows quite a lot about us, so much so that they’re willing to give up the information for money.

- A Washington state bill goes the extra mile and casts out a NSA facility by threatening to withhold any support, even electricity to it.

- One of the few things we can ensure about the NSA is that their metadata program is on trial against the Fourth Amendment

- Obama and UK”s David Cameron talked over the phone on surveillance issues, as well as Middle East problems, earlier today.

Financial Matters

- A map showing where the super-rich get their real estate property with continents having preferences for some places.

- A security firm has stated large cloud providers, Google and Amazon for instance, host a number of malware.

- Goldman Sachs pays its employees $383,000 on average after its profit was reported increasing by five percent.

- A judge has rejected Detroit’s $165 million deal with major banks by saying it’s “too costly.” This is the second time he has rejected the deal.

Labor’s a-Brewing

- Patterson, New Jersey is thinking of giving an annual minimum wage of $25,000 to its municipal workers.

- One man had a middle-class job, worked as the neo-liberal wizards told him to work and still ended up on food stamps at the age of 60. Here’s to the  American Dream.

- Robert Reich explains that fear is the cause on why workers vote against their economic interests.

- Amazon workers have voted not to unionize with one major reason being the “intense pressure” from the company to stop it.

Politics USA

Washington USA

- The Senate has passed the $1.1 trillion bill to fund the government by a vote of 72-26, which means it will now head to Barack Obama to sign.

- The House approves a bill for the Obama administration to disclose how many Americans sign up for Obamacare every week with a vote of 259-154. Interesting that a good number of Democrats running for re-election this year voted for it.

- With two proposals in the Senate defeated on unemployment benefits, the extension was stalled in the Senate as Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) believes he can get moderate Republicans to join

- Pew: In 41 states, unemployment benefits are capped at 26 weeks. Florida has the tightest rules in the nation at 19 weeks, while Massachusetts has the highest at 30 weeks.

- The U.S. believes “terrorism” is abound when Muslim donate money to charities or when charities use such money. It’s another pathetic excuse by a hyper-sensitive government.

- In response to last year when the Supreme Court took away a key part of the Voting Rights Act, a new bill in Congress seeks to strengthen the act.

- Transportation officials have called for companies to transfer oil on railways after meeting with oil and natural gas executives. That sounds like something that couldn’t have needed a meeting.

- The health care website has passed the security test and, thus, cybersecurity concerns are clearing up.

- There’s an effort in Congress to repeal the War Powers Resolution of 1973 with a new bill to make the relationship between Congress and the President on war powers more efficient.

Anytown USA

- Gallup: Americans rank the economy (89 percent), education (81 percent) and health care (77 percent) as the top issues the government should work on. Environment got 55 percent.

- In North Carolina, Republicans have instituted a flat tax to replace the progressive tax system and provided large tax breaks to corporations and the rich, perhaps expanding them even more if their revenue goals are met by 2017.

- Gallup: While Americans are satisfied with other issues compared to 2001, they are negative about the handling of the economy and the role of the U.S. in the world.

- Ohio has executed an inmate using an untested and untried method that led to 15 minutes of the prisoners suffering through the process.

- Natasha Lennard reports on how states are finding new ways to go around the shortage of lethal injection.

- The brutal sentencing of Travion Blount, who was charged with robbery without anyone dying at the age of 15. He’ll be eligible for release at age 55.

- Here’s an interesting story. It’s about transracial adoption and, often times, racism that can erupt in our society over it and fear of it.

We Don’t Need No Education

- Obama has invited university officials to the White House to discuss expanding higher education and improving it. I really doubt you want that.

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

- In the United States, the cost of birth, according to a new report, wildly differs with California having the highest at (median cost) $14,620.

The Second Sex

- One director has stated that Hollywood is not interested in hiring any female directors, despite a good number out there.

- Here’s a sorrowful case out of California. Three teens admitted to sexually assaulting and photographing a 15-year-old girl when she was unconscious. They will face 30-45 days in a juvenile detention center, while the girl hanged hanged herself eight days later after knowing the photos would spread across her high school.

Planet Earth

- This isn’t good. This isn’t good at all. Findings have indicated that Washington D.C. has nearly 6,000 gas leaks that are at risk to explode.

- Amy Goodman: “Fukushima is an ongoing warning to the world on nuclear energy

- Al Gore: “Use of Geo-Engineering to Head Off Climate Disaster Is Insane” as the U.N. says sucking greenhouse gas out of the air may be the only way

- A leaked IPCC report has found that efforts to stop climate change will cost more than dealing with its effects.

- Even Walden Pond, famous for its connection with writer Henry David Thoreau, is facing the massive force known as climate change.

- One U.N. official has said pension managers should divest from fossil fuels since they’re be no future once they retire if nothing is done.

- Canada to the U.S.: We need your decision right now on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Mixed Bag

- Pew: 28 percent of Americans have stated they’ve read an e-book last year (up from 2012′s 21 percent), while seven in 10 Americans state they have read a book

- A new study has found that texting doesn’t negatively affect writing skill.

- Scientists now know why birds go in a V shape. For energy and aerodynamic purposes.

- “American Dream Now An Out-Of-Court Settlement

- In Norway, most books published before 2001 will go online for free.

-Break Time

- Summertime