Hey folks, returned to class after six days of no class. Wish it were longer.

International Politics

Overall

- Gallup: Views of countries in the Middle East have changed very little for Americans with Israel gaining the most in approval and Iran gaining the least

- Dave Zirin of The Nation interviews someone from the “No Sochi” campaign to discuss more on the Olympics and significance of where they are being held

- A new G8 initiative to help Africa lift people out of poverty and “boost agriculture” has been deemed a new colonial attempt from the major neo-liberal powers

- Iran is concerned by the talk of sanctions in the United States as it indicates the latter country may not be serious about a deal

- The European Court of Human Rights found the country of Turkey guilty on three counts, all on violations of human rights

- Argentina has filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to force it to pay debts to avert default

Middle East

- A report on one Syrian refugee camp that has lost all hope for returning home and decided to become a township

- Government troops in Syria, meanwhile, have regained control of a town that is alleged to be a place where rebels massacred people

- A new report found that three in four Palestinian children has endured violent abuse by Israeli soldiers, plus more information

- Muqtada al-Sadr, an influential Iraqi cleric, criticized both the government and politicians before his retirement from politics

Asia and Oceania

- Deep within the culture of Dubai, a place where Indian immigrants are hated and rights are violated

- In clashes between Thai protesters and police, four people were killed 

Africa

- Pew: Kenya leads on banking by phone with 56 percent of the population using cell phones to make payments

- With the military junta solidifying its hold on the status quo, the U.S. is one actor to blame due to their involvement from the get-go

- As an al Qaeda-linked group took credit for the bus bombing leaving four dead, Egypt arrested four men for spying for Israel

- Rebels in Libya said that if lawmakers do not resign from government, then they risk being detained 

Europe

- Pussy Riot members were detained in Sochi ahead of a protest against Putin and the Olympic games, but were then released

- In Ukraine, the police stormed an opposition camp leading to a clash where at least 13 people were killed

- A scandal developed in Greece where an anti-landmine NGO that defrauded the government of millions which led to other instances under PASOK and New Democracy administration of NGOs defrauding even more

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

- Colombia, a country we last heard U.S. agencies were assassinating FARC rebels, is now facing a new crisis on who the real leader is in the country

- Meanwhile, the military chief of the country was fired in a graft scandal that led to the deaths of civilians to inflate the numbers of dead rebels

Surveillance Planet

- Internal strife exists in both parties in Washington over the NSA program ahead of the midterm elections and the Presidential elections

- Emptywheel: “AT&T’s “Transparency” Report: Polite Requests Versus Demands”

Financial Matters

- A new report out shows Wall Street has “speculative mania” when it comes to purchasing more and more farmland across the U.S.

- Natasha Lennard reports on how the typical Wall Street folk who are pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership for the Obama administration are getting bonuses

Labor’s a-Brewing

- The Congressional Budget Office reports that if we had $10.10 by 2016 for minimum wage, 15.6 million Americans would see their income rise, but 500,000 Americans (.3 percent) would lose their jobs. Interesting to note income equality would be closer with an increased wage. Here’s some more analysis on this report that merits discussion and doubts

Politics US

Washington USA

- After protesting a speech by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ex-CIA employee Ray McGovern is suing the State Department for following him and questioning him as a result of his anti-war beliefs

- There are some Democrats who are warning they can’t keep up with the spending by Republicans for this year’s elections

- Part three of four with Medea Benjamin discussing what Obama has done to the anti-war movement

-  It’s interesting that Democrats opposed to the big trade bills Obama ismaking have the issue of midterms (for some of them at least) so it creates a divide between both

Anytown USA

- While difficult to believe, there are prison phone companies that charge high rates per minute and actively seek to get their “customers” back. It’s truly sickening.

- As this article eloquently demonstrates, the failure of black officials in Philadelphia to criticize police brutality is a significant statement on their part

- It can be Jordan Davis or Trayvon Martin, but we have to continue the fight against the system that breeds such racism and fails those marginalized in society 

- An 84-year-old nun was sentenced to three years in prison for defacing a bunker holding bomb-grade uranium

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

- Gluten-free products sales are increasing significantly, it’s now a billion dollar industry 

The Second Sex

- Patrick Henry College is another example of colleges failing to aid students in their time of need, especially those victims of sexual assault.

Planet Earth

- High temperatures, heavy floods and droughts are predicted for next year due to return of El Niño

- Residents affected by a well explosion due to Chevron’s poor planning were treated to coupons for free pizza because nothing says sorry better than, I kid you not, a “one large pizza and one two liter drink.

- A report from a coalition of groups found that due to Texas’s refusal to institute any strict regulatory laws, people are getting sick as a result of hydrofracking

- NOAA’s Climate Protection Center, a sub-agency that predicts the climate, thought it was going to be a mild winter. They were wrong. Very wrong.

- After experiencing the damaging effects of tar sands pollution in their home which made them seriously ill, they were promised help by the company only if they kept quiet on what caused their illness

- President Obama rolled out new fuel efficiency standards for large trucks for 2016

- It appears there is a another leak at a second pipe at the North Carolina coal ash dump that is releasing toxins

Mixed Bag

- Based on new research, knowing mathematical formulas stimulates the brain in the same manner art and music does

- On Jeopardy! Yesterday, one of the categories was “African-American History.” It was the only category not to be answered until it was the only one left. The three competitors were all white.

- “Delighted Health Insurance Executives Gather In Outdoor Coliseum To Watch Patient Battle Cancer

Break Time

- Thieves in the Night