Hey folks, it’s the start of a new week. Hope it goes well for you.

International Politics

Overall

- Russia demands the U.S. explain itself after reports came out that CIA director John Brennan visited Kiev over the weekend

- In the Black Sea, a Russian jet ran “multiple, close-range passes” near a U.S. warship over a 90 minute period

- It seems a regular Air Force unit is behind the CIA drone strike missions in Pakistan

- In a phone call with President Vladimir Putin, President Obama scolded Putin’s recent action in Crimea and said it was not helping in the tense situation in Ukraine

Middle East

- Here is an interesting argument. It seems the efforts by the Palestinian Authority to sign an international agreement may have revived the peace talks between Israel and Palesitne

- The U.S. says that neither side in the Syrian civil war has an advantage despite the Assad government claiming it has the upper hand

- Israel is attempting secret talks with unknown Arab countries to strengthen diplomatic ties over the threat of Iranian supremacy

- The Iraqi government is promising its citizenry it will provide 24/7 power supply through the summer, when electrical consumption is the highest

Asia and Oceania

- Gallup: 75 percent of Indians state there is corruption in government and 73 percent say the same about business.

Africa

- John Pilger: “South Africa Today: Apartheid by Another Name

- In clashes between Egyptian police and the Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt, one person—a student— was killed

- A bus station in Nigeria where hundreds go to commute for work was hit by a bomb blast and at least 71 people are thought to be dead. Islamic insurgents Boko Haram was behind the attack (More information about them can be found here).

Europe

- Ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Athens, Greece, the police have completely barred protests in most of central Athens

- German government: We see many “signs” Russia is backing the opposition in eastern Ukraine; The U.S. says the same thing, but Putin states there is no Russian intervention

- Rebels in eastern Ukraine say they will take over important buildings in Donetsk and use it for a “people’s republic.”; Ukrainian government, meanwhile, states they will be no choice but to use military force if nothing is done by the rebels to change

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

- A Venezuelan professor discusses with The Real News the history of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 that is filled with authoritarianism and attempts at democracy.

- Mark Weisbrot: “Human Rights Watch Should Stick to the Facts on Venezuela

- Tragedy still strikes in Mexico as the working class is now the victims of kidnappings as it demands a bigger market in an unstable country

Surveillance Planet

- Great news. the Guardian and the Washington Post with the work of reporters Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman have won the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on information revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who said it was “vindiction.

- Emptywheel: “DOJ Says You Can’t Know If They’ve Used the Dragnet Against You … But FISC Says They’re Wrong

Financial Matters

- Gallup: 52 percent of Americans say the federal taxes they have to pay is “too high.” For those interested, just 3 percent say it is “too low.” That means there is a good number of millionaires and billionaires who think either it is just right or too high.

- Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde has said the IMF will be addressing global income inequality with new policies. Don’t hold your breath.

- Despite efforts to increase capital in large banking institutions, it still does not resolve the problem of curbing the power of Wall Street

- Dean Baker: “The Hedge Fund Managers Tax Break: Because Wall Streeters Want Your Money

- Retail sales in the U.S. for March rose by 1.1 percent, the largest jump in the past 18 months

- The World Trade Organization says for the next two years global trade will increase

Labor’s a-Brewing

- Pew: The 10 largest occupations in the U.S. are mostly low-paid jobs and this has increased since 1999

- A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found large companies offering retiree health benefits dwindled with 66 percent offering them in 1988 compared to 28 percent last year.

- Minnesota workers will see their minimum wage increase from $6.15 to $9.50 in 2016, which will then be tied to inflation. This is not saying much as the next two years is still full of hardship the state government refuses to address

- Workers associated with the main stadium for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil have decided to keep going with their strike

- The NCAA said schools should discuss the negative consequences of unionization with less scholarships, less championships, little academic support and barely any career counseling. In other words, fear tactics to coerce schools not to accept that the NCAA engages in exploitation and robbery.

Politics US

Washington USA

- Rarely do I post the title of any article, but this is by far an important question to ask after McCutcheon: “If You Can ‘Speak’ with Your Money, Then Why Is It Illegal to Ask For It?

- 50 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed there still needs to be emphasis placed not only on overcoming racial discriminating, but also redistributing wealth to make it fair

- The revolving door continues as the U.S. ambassador to Kosovo who successfully lobbied for a $1 billion road project now joins the company which got the contract

- The Onondaga Indian Nation is seeking to charge the U.S. with human rights violations and wants its land in northern New York back

- The Social Security Administration will stop seizing overpaid tax refunds that happened more than a decade ago

Anytown USA

- It is scary to read how the private prison industry (I still cannot believe this is considered legitimate by the state) coerces politicians with bags of money at the ready

- Juan Cole: “US Press once again Declines to Call White Terrorism in Kansas, Nevada, White Terrorism

- 5 million gallons of “skunky gas” was found in Baton Louge, Louisiana, which could have harmed up to 250,000 vehicles. This is according to a class action lawsuit against ExxonMobil—the source of the bad fuel.

- Lawyer Stanley Cohen, known for defending the PayPal 12, lost his law license after pleading guilty to tax evasion

We Don’t Need No Education

- I agree with this article that attempts to force children to read before they are ready to can backfire with horrific consequences for their future

Top Gun (Stories)

- As the suspect of the shooting near Kansas City gets charged with murder, he will also be charged with a hate crime. It seems he has a history of antisemitism, racism and he admires Nazism

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

- A new study found that availability of marijuana can lead to a drop in violent crime rates

- After a reporter in Chicago FOIA’d what was in the chicken nuggets being fed to students in the city, she uncovered 28 ingredients

The Second Sex

- According to the European Commission, the employment rate for women in the EU rose from 58 percent in 2002 to 63 percent currently. However, the EC still states there are challenges for women in employment

- Patrick Henry College, known for its failure to investigative sexual assault on its campus, created a secret committee to investigate what it needs to do to investigate sexual assault.

Planet Earth

- It seems Greenland’s ice caps are melting at a pace faster than scientists had expected

- The Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously” may change the way reporting on climate change is framed, though there does seem to be a lot of work to be done since it is Showtime

- A new study found air pollution throughout Asia is having an impact across the Northern Hemisphere by strengthening storms

Mixed Bag

- Pew: This year 21 percent of Americans state their “online account [was] compromised,” while 18 percent had their personal information stolen.

- Fascinating to see seeds that were on the International Space Station bloomed years ahead of schedule here on Earth, specifically in Japan

- A new poll found two in three Americans don’t plan to follow the World Cup in Brazil this June

- A new survey reports weddings in America cost on average $30,000, which can place some couples into debt

Break Time

- Helena Beat