Hello folks, how are you today?

International Politics

Overall

- A new report from the Army found less war for soldiers equals improved morale and fewer mental health problems

- Juan Cole: “Dear President Obama: Tar Sands and Keystone XL Are More Dangerous Than an Iranian Atomic Bomb

- The U.S. ambassador to Russia has said he will be stepping down after two years

- For Geneva II, Russia has said the Syrian government will be attending the hearings 

- A U.S. counterterrorism official has said there is a number of threats being reported ahead of Sochi Olympic Games

Middle East

- Despite all the patriotic commercials played during the Super Bowl, the reality is that 30 years of warfare in Afghanistan has produced nothing

- In Yemen, two soldiers have died and at least 10 were wounded due to a bus bomb 

- The first debate between presidential candidates in Afghanistan has begun with security as a major topic

- Syrian forces have hit a mosque with bombs and killed 11 as a result

Asia and Oceania

- A group dealing with Islamic rights is calling for the International Criminal Court to investigate Bangladesh and its alleged crimes against humanity with persecution of political opponents

Africa

- A new BBC documentary uncovered that former and deceased Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi would test teens for STDs before raping them in his sex dungeon

- Meanwhile, Libya has announced it has destroyed all of its chemical weapons

- Independent journalism in Egypt is considered “terrorism” by the military junta as one journalist accused by the junta of being involved in a terror plot has fled the country. The U.S. is urging Egypt to free three al-Jazeera journalists

Europe

- Pew: 44 percent state it was a bad idea to have the Winter Olympics in Sochi, with most of that 44 percent stating security as their main concern.

- A large majority in Scottish Parliament allowed same-sex marriage to be legal there

- Germany’s foreign minister has called for sanctions against the Ukraine until they solve their issues

Latin America, Carribean and Canada

- Millions of Brazilians were left without power due to power outages at three World Cup sites

- Standard & Poor’s has cut Puerto Rico’s status into “junk” due to its huge debts

Surveillance Planet

- Vermont is now the 12th state introducing legislation to restrict any support of NSA spying from occurring within their state

- Google is jumping into a pool of money after snooping on our privacy for profit-driven reasons

- Rep. Mike Rogers has called Glenn Greenwald a “thief” for having Snowden documents

- Meanwhile, the NSA spied on Angela Merkel’s predecessor in 2002 after opposition to the military war in Iraq

- Natasha Lennard expresses hesitance in supporting the tech giants and their recent decision to increase transparency over NSA requests

- An unnamed U.S. official has said the Pentagon has to make “costly” changes due to Snowden leaks. Good I say.

Financial Matters

- Gallup: The Economic Confidence Index for the U.S. has risen, in the month of Jan., to -16.

- Part three of three with Heiner Flassbeck on how global recession is possible after 30 years of neo-liberalism

- A federal judge has ruled FBI collection of metadata is legal after they caught a child pornographer with that method

- What is supply-side economics and where did it originate from? Good article for those unaware or interested in reviewing.

Labor’s a-Brewing

- Unionists in Turkey are part of the movement to challenge the legitimacy of the government after the graft scandal, but officials are taking an old tactic and fighting them

Politics US

Washington USA

- The Congressional Budget Office has reported, due to ACA, two million fewer Americans will be working. The White House has angrily responded to the report with damage control

- Gallup: 51 percent of Americans disapprove of the ACA, changing little since Nov.

- Democrats have introduced a bill in Congress to give back power to the FCC on restoring net neutrality of the internet

- With a new bill affecting and reducing mandatory minimum sentences on federal drug charges and other reforms, there is still worry that this may not be enough to produce radical change

- At a Senate hearing today on the West Virginia chemical spill, reforms were recommended but ignorance of chemicals was big talking point

- Democrats in the Senate are hoping for a showdown vote on extending unemployment benefits with votes for passing it

- In a 68-32 vote for the farm bill, the Senate has sent the bill to President Obama to sign

- After Henry Waxman leaves his Calfornia Representative seat, Sandra Fluke has announced to run for his position

- The Senate has overwhelming approved Max Baucus to be the ambassador to China

Anytown USA

- A new report has found that the number of falsely convicted prisoners exonerated has reached a record high last year

- A lawsuit has challenged a federal law that equates animal rights activism with “terrorism”

- The rights of prisoners are being jeopardized with solitary confinement as one area where punishment is causing severe consequences for prisoners and their health

We Don’t Need no Education

- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has cut $210 million from the charter school budget, giving victory to public school advocates

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

- In D.C., homelessness has gone out of control with one instance of children living in a shelter without any heat

- GM foods – The “multi-front attack” on our human life

- Heroin use is on the rise. In fact, an increase of 45 percent has been reported for deaths due to its use since 2006. Philip Seymour Hoffman is an unfortunate victim of that

The Second Sex

- More on how the abortion rate decreased due to women turning to birth control

- In Alaska, rape statistics are triple the national average. More here on this alarming statistics and state of Alaska

- A new law in Afghanistan would weaken protections for women against rape and domestic violence

Planet Earth

- The fracking battle now reaches Florida, a place where environmentalists now must formulate tactics on an issue they hoped would never come to the Sunshine State.

- Jefferey Sachs talks to The Real News on how approval of the Keystone XL will be “disastrous

- 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash was dumped in a river in North Carolina

- Here’s the first fish that actually got off the Endangered Species list

- A so-called independent study supporting Keystone XL was supported and funded, silently, by Alberta, Canada government

Mixed Bag

- “New Snack Chip Evades Digestive System, Burrows Straight Into Heart

Break Time

Scarlatti