The Roundup for September 3, 2013

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International Developments

? “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said . . . the use of force is only legal when it is in self-defense or with Security Council authorization”.  He warned  “any ‘punitive’ action taken against Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack last week could unleash more turmoil and bloodshed in that nation’s civil war.”

? “‘The fire is approaching': Assad says West has no proof regime carried out chem attack.”

? “America’s new poodle: a memo to Francois Hollande.”  Update:  “French intelligence: ‘Massive use of chemical agents’ in Syria”.

? “Eleven supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi have been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of attacking the army.”

? “Egyptian judges call for Muslim Brotherhood to be dissolved.”

? “Egyptian helicopters strike militants in Sinai.”  8 killed, 15 injured.

? Al-Jazeera claims “it has pinpointed four different sources of jamming [of its broadcasts by Egypt] after commissioning an interference detection company.

? “Afghan forces suffering ‘unsustainable’ casualties, says Nato commander; Afghan police and army may need west’s support for years . . . weekly death toll tops 100.”

? Former Mexican President Vicente Fox “has become an unlikely leading advocate of marijuana legalization . . . [due to] Mexico’s mounting drug violence.”  Since 2006, around “70,000 Mexicans have died, and thousands more disappeared” due to drug-related violence.

International Finance

? “President Obama reiterated on Tuesday his desire to complete an Asia-Pacific trade deal this year, arguing that it will not only boost economic growth but shore up global security.”  Wonder how ‘global security’ translates.

Money Matters USA

? Labor Secretary Thomas Perez:  “The living-wage strikes that we’ve seen recently and the March on Washington really stand for the proposition that nobody who works a 40-hour week should have to live in poverty.”

? “Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil”.

? There are 2.7 million temp workers in the USA, and they’re increasing at a rate “10 times faster than private-sector employment”.  “Several temp agencies . . . are now among the largest employers in the United States”.

? AFL-CIO video: “Don’t Let Corporations Hijack Another Trade Deal”.

? Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak to the Carlyle Group on September 9th.

Surveillance Planet

? Mexico has “asked the United States to investigate the allegations [that the NSA collected “emails, phone calls and text messages” of now President Enrique Pena Nieto], saying they would be a serious violation of its sovereignty if proven true.”

? Hackers battle hackers, as Anonymous hacks into the Syrian Electronic Army.  Servers compromised and “members’ names along with user IDs and passwords” lifted.

? So, now what’ll we do?  “No password is safe from new breed of cracking software.”

? Wonder how many have made it through the vetting process:  “One fifth of CIA job applicants with suspect backgrounds have ‘significant terrorist’ connections.”

Politics USA

? Pew Research Center:  29% favor Syrian airstrikes, 48% opposed (both total and Dem %s); 74% see a backlash, 61% see “long-term military commitment, and 51% don’t think it’s likely to curtail use of chemical weapons anyway.

? Code Pink interrupted the Senate’s Syria hearing.

? House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) supports President Obama’s action against Syria.  Update:  House Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is lined up and ready to go, too. Jane’s whip count is here.

? A NY Times article last night referred to “the influential pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC” and its influence on decisions regarding Syria.  The two paragraphs mentioning AIPAC were not in this morning’s editionAIPAC contributions to Congresscritters, 2007 – 2012.

? John Yoo on Syria.

? “Barack Obama has confirmed that he plans to go beyond punitive strikes against the Assad regime . . . [and employ] a broader strategy to step up help to the Syrian opposition.” (10:21pm ET entry)

? Congress is split on Syria in five ways:  1) “Do it now”, 2) “Do it bigger”, 3) “Let’s debate”, 4) “I’m skeptical”, and 5) “Anti-military action”.

? “US Government Urges Citizens to Avoid Peaceful Political Protest”.  Warning from the US Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland to US citizens, anticipating reaction to the Manning trial outcome last month.

? “White Supremacist Felon [in OH] Caught with 18 Guns, 45,000 Bullets And A List Of Black & Jewish Leaders.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? WA’s Health Benefit Exchange “learned this week that nine health insurance issuers have filed . . . to provide 57 Qualified Health Plans . . . totaling 229 plan options for individuals and families through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s new online health insurance marketplace.”

? Not only is GA’s Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens a self-proclaimed obstructionist to Obamacare, but both he and GA Gov. Nathan Deal (R) have received generous donations from “a secret Political Action Committee called RealPAC” which gets contributions from Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross, United Health Care, etc.  Real PAC also hasn’t filed taxes or financial disclosures for two years.

The War on Women

? IA’s Medical Board voted “to ban a video-conferencing system that Iowa doctors have used to provide abortion pills to more than 3,000 women across the state since 2008.”  They’re really really concerned with patient safety.

Education Directions

? The US Department of Education is beginning to “get some real data, using a method [called] randomized clinical trial, in which groups of subjects are randomly assigned to get either an experimental therapy, the standard therapy, a placebo or nothing.” Translate ‘therapy’ into “textbooks, curriculum guides, homework, quizzes”, etc., and you get the general idea.

Planet Earth News

? “Japan to fund [$470 million] ice wall to stop reactor leaks.”  Update: apparently, the “No. 4 fuel pool is perhaps the greatest threat humanity has ever faced”.

? Near the Black Hills:  America’s Chernobyl, where “radiation levels . . . were higher than those in the evacuated zones around the Fukushima nuclear disaster. . ..”

? Here’s one way to deal with inspection of your nuclear reactor–just shut it down.

? Spare us: “Plymouth warship torpedoed whales mistaken for Falklands submarines.”

Mixed Bag

? Cool.  “Chesapeake Bay Bridge: Saving drivers too scared to cross.”

? Oldest known creature to live on land–“350-million-year-old fossilized scorpion . . . on Gondwana”.

? Eeeeeeek!  London’s so-called walkie-talkie skyscraper, can reflect light so hot it’s already melted panels on a Jaguar XJ.

Break Time

? Psycho Killer

The Roundup for September 2, 2013

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Which side are you on?

International Developments

? UN estimates:  “five million Syrians have been displaced inside the country [and] 2 million . . . have fled to neighboring countries.”  International funding to relieve the suffering is “a ‘drop in the sea'” compared to need.  Phil Williams of ABC tweet: “Another huge camp being prepared in Jordanian desert to hold 120,000 more Syrian refugees”.

? “Two-thirds of Britons [polled] do not care if refusing to intervene militarily in Syria damages the US-UK ‘special relationshp’.”

? “[Syrian] Canadian protesters oppose U.S. intervention in Syria”

? “Syria Asks U.N. To Block U.S. Strike”.

? Brief interview with Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Faysal al-Mikdad, on the impact of the potential US-French action against Syria.

? “A French intelligence report [on the chemical attacks in Syria] suggests the ‘massive and coordinated’ attack was launched from government-held areas”.

? “Cyprus cannot be used as a launching pad for attacks on Syria” according to Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides”.

? “Navy Carrier Strike Group [including  the USS Nimitz] Rerouted for Possible Help in Syria”.

? “U.S. Marines Website Hacked By Syrian Electronic Army”.

? “Taliban attacks Nato base in Afghanistan.”  3 ‘insurgents’ killed.

Money Matters USA

? “How Labor Day was hijacked:  5 reminders of the day’s real purpose:  Yes, plenty of holidays amount to just days off and barbecues.  But this one has become particularly corrupted.”

? “It is not surprising that religious leaders have been conspicuously present on many of the fast food workers’ picket lines. . . . priests and ministers, rabbi and imams . . . The nation’s largest labor-religious coalition, Interfaith Worker Justice, . . . is sponsoring Labor Day prayer services in cities across the country honoring the dignity of labor”.

? “Wall Street Eager to See Larry Summers Nominated Fed Chair: Summers likely to be next Fed chair not despite failures but because of them.”  Not only that, but the “end-game memo”  written by Timmeh Geithner involved “Larry Summers in deal that helped setup the global economic crisis”.

? Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts: selling items from the art collection “will not only ‘threaten the millage proceeds . . . but . . . would also be equivalent to shutting the museum’s doors.”  Doesn’t appear that Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr or staff has had much contact with the DIA’s office, either.

Surveillance Planet

? The UK’s GCHQ has a “listening post on Mount Troodos in Cyprus”, a “most valued asset” . . ., monitoring “all radio, satellite and microwave traffic across the Middle East [and] almost all landline telephone communications”.  John Kerry claims to have info regarding “Syrian military and officials organising chemical weapons attacks”, intelligence furnished by Mossad.  Since “Mossad have nothing comparable to the Troodos operation”, how’d that happen?  Emptywheel explores this issue in depth.

? The NSA also spied on the French Foreign Ministry.

? Brazil has summoned the US Ambassador “over new allegations that the US National Security Agency spied on President Dilma Rousseff”.  A nugget:  “The United States has rejected a Brazilian offer to negotiate a bilateral agreement on surveillance.”

Politics USA

? “Syria resolution will be ‘a very tough sell‘ in Congress, lawmakers say.”

President Obama “is asking a jury of safe spectators [Congress] to press the yes or no buttons on missile strikes . . . challenging world leaders to get off the fence and approve his plans.”  “It is a case of breathtaking arrogance . . . that the US is not only the world’s policeman, but the world’s enforcer.”  Update:  Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) “got into a ‘heated exchange’ with John Kerry during the conference call.  Nolan says he “will vote and work against President Obama’s request for open-ended authority”.

Senators Tweedledum (John McCain (R-AZ)) and Tweedledee (Lindsey Graham (R-SC)) strongly support President Obama’s planned strike on Syria.  They think a ‘No’ vote would be “‘catastrophic’ for the United States and its credibility in the world.”

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has scheduled a hearing tomorrow to debate “the use of military force in Syria.”

? Two dozen+ protesters in Little Rock, AR against US intervention in Syria.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Stunning:  “Only 6 out of 53 landmark cancer studies could be replicated, a dismal success rate of 11%! . . . The reasons for the lack of reproducibility include intentional fraud and misconduct . . . but more often it’s negligence, inadvertent errors, imperfectly designed experiments and the subliminal biases of the researchers or other uncontrollable variables.”  What happened?  It’s a secret. There is a journal for precisely such results.

? “An outbreak of measles among unimmunized members of a Texas megachurch is fueling new health worries about pockets of vaccine-wary parents”.

? $67m was set aside for training and subsequent hiring of 105 “Navigators” to help people understand what’s available to them under the Affordable Care Act and to help them negotiate the system, including state exchanges.  Republicans have jumped on this, fancying all kinds of secret, nefarious purposes.

? India’s new law establishes “an ambitious program to provide nearly free food to some 800 million”.  As you’ll recall, last July the US House of Representatives “passed a farm bill that lacked the entire nutrition portion” or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps for the poor.

The War on Women

? “A bill to allow first-trimester abortions by nurse practitioners and some others” (under physician supervision) is headed to CA Gov Jerry Brown’s desk for signature.

? If you’re a teenager in India and you participate in the savage gang-rape and murder of a female on a public bus in Delhi, get caught and go on trial, you end up sentenced to three years in prison.  Update: There’s “outrage” over the verdict in India.

Planet Earth News

? They’re serious about “discharging into the ocean water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant”.  New water leaks  discovered, too.  Update:  Tepco issues apology “for the great anxiety and inconvenience caused by the recent contaminated water issues.

? Quebec’s going to use natural gas to force crude to the surface?

Mixed Bag

? But do they walk among us?

Break Time

? Harry Bridges and the ILWU

The Roundup for September 1, 2013

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International Developments

? “Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said the Syrian government . . . had carried out chemical weapons attacks against its own people”.

? “Assad is a war criminal, but an attack will do nothing for the people of Syria: The west needs to concentrate on formally criminalising the Assad regime and turning its members into international pariahs.”

? President Obama may strike Syria whether or not Congress approves.  The debate thus far.  Update:  Several lawmakers in on the White House’s “classified briefing” say the resolution as written is “too open ended”.

? French “President Francois Hollande reaffirmed to Obama [yesterday] his will to punish Syria but has come under increasing pressure to put the intervention to parliament.”

? “Latin American diplomats:  Wait for [UN] report before striking Syria.”

? To no one’s surprise, according to al-Jazeera, “Saudi Arabia backs US strike against Syria.”

? “Britain sold nerve gas chemicals to Syria 10 months after war began: Furious politicians have demanded [UK] Prime Minister David Cameron explain . . ..”  The chemicals were potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride.

? UK’s Royal Air Force claims to have intercepted “Senior Syrian military chiefs [telling Syrian] captain: fire chemicals or be shot.”

? Pope Francis has announced “Day of Fasting for Peace for Syria.”  He’s advocating a “negotiated settlement to the civil war in Syria”.

? “Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern: Massacres of civilians are being exploited for narrow geopolitical competition to control Mideast oil, gas pipelines.”

? “Syria: threat of US air strikes prompts global protests–in pictures.”

? Medecine sans Frontieres [Doctor’s Without Borders] has “warned that its medical information could not be used as evidence to certify the precise origin of the exposure to a neurotoxic agent or to attribute responsibility.”

? “At least 47 people were reported killed at an Iranian dissident camp in Iraq” today.

? Suicide attack in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.  Six dead.

? “Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa has survived an assassination attempt unharmed, officials in the capital Sanaa say.”

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi “is to stand trial on charges of committing and inciting violence, a state prosecutor decided”.  Also, the “army-backed governent unveiled a constituent assembly . . .almost devoid of Islamists, and gave it 60 days to review amendments that would erase Islamic articles brought in by the Muslim Brotherhood”.

“Three militants dead in suspected US drone strike in Pakistan:  Two also wounded in Mussaki village in North Waziristan as Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemns strikes as ‘unilateral’.”

International Finance

? “Eurozone unemployment steady at 12.1% in July . . . Eurozone figures show youth unemployment edging higher.”

? Malaysia to the rescue! It’s pushing countries’ abilities “to impose stiff rules on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products within their own borders” under the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  The US was to have supported a similar stand, but “offered a weaker proposal” instead.

Money Matters USA

? What will be Congress’ reaction when the Obama administration requests funds to conduct military action in Syria? Many House Republicans are refusing to return early to Washington so they can discuss proposed military action in Syria.  Ten members of Congress (three Dems) own Raytheon stock.

? Big news:  The International Longshore & Warehouse Union, 40,000-strong, has pulled out of the AFL-CIO.

? Bill Black on that “incredibly over-the-top Wall Street Journal op-ed that thundered away about the terrible prosecutions of JPMorgan and the other main banksters.  And, of course, there have been zero prosecutions of any of the banksters whose frauds caused the crisis.”

? “Amazon executive Larry Kirshbaum accused of sexual assault: Publisher accused of two alleged assaults on his former lover and colleague, according to papers filed in NY Supreme Court.”

? “Dunkin’ Donuts has apologized for the ‘insensitivity’ of an advertising campaign in Thailand featuring a woman in blackface makeup to promote a new chocolate flavored doughnut.”

Surveillance Planet

? “Microsoft and Google to sue over US surveillance requests; Technology firms want to be allowed to publish information about US government requests under the Fisa legislation.”

? “Federal Court Sides With ACLU in No Fly List Lawsuit: Court Recognizes Due Process Rights of Americans on List.”

Politics USA

? Charles Pierce on WI Gov. Scott Walker (R)’s Capitol Police’s treatment of sing-along protesters, or at least African-American ones:  “Pain compliance is polite torture.”

? “Pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA positions itself to support Hillary Clinton.”

? Federal appeals court 3-0:  The “White House visitor logs for the president and most of his staff are not public information subject to . . . the Freedom of Information Act.”

? No surprise here:  “An inane, money-eating sham: Drug tests for welfare a huge failure: . . . But if we’re testing those getting taxpayer money, how about politicians?”

? “A federal judge plans to appoint a monitor to watch over the operations of hardline Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio”.  Heh heh.

? Sheriff Mike Byrd of Jackson County, MS has been indicted for  “using his office to retaliate against people he considered political and personal foes [and for] fraud, extortion, embezzlement, witness tampering and perjury.”

? University of South FL researchers are excavating graves near the house of horrors at a former state school for boys in Marianna, FL.

? “Police Groups Furiously Protest Eric Holder’s Marijuana Policy Announcement.”  After all, “Local law enforcement agencies rely heavily on the drug war for funding [and] federal grants for drug war operations make up a sizable portion of local law enforcement funding.”

Planet Earth News

? According to MIT, “53,000 early deaths are attributed to exhaust from cars and trucks, annually.”

? “A fracking waste disposal well linked to 11 earthquakes that rocked the Youngstown [OH] area was the likely source of at least 98 additional temblors” so small that people didn’t notice.

? A FL citrus grower poisoned “millions of honeybees to death”.  Fine:  $1,500.

? Smithfield Farms’  production problems are expected to increase if Smithfield is acquired by China’s Shuanghui International, thus tightening “the grip of multinational agribusinesses and Wall Street on America’s kitchens”.

Break Time

? Talking About A Revolution

The Roundup for August 30, 2013

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Good evening.

International Developments

? “US Had Intel on Chemical Strike Before It Was Launched“.  “First and foremost, What, if anything, did it do to notify the Syrian opposition of the pending attack.”  More.

? “U.S. and France prepare to act on Syria despite UK no vote.”

? The US “assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013 [and] that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack.”  Thus begin efforts in support of military action against Syria.  The US government’s “classified assessments” have been shared with the Congress, but not US citizens.  Update:  Emptywheel on just “how uncertain US intelligence is about chain of control over Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons.”

? If the US strikes Syria based on their “assessments” of the situation, “the US will have launched two military operations . . . in a decade based largely on intelligence assessments, rather than confirmed fact, about illegal weapons in a Middle Eastern country.”

? “Obama strike would not weaken Assad’s military strength, experts warn:  White House says any strike would be ‘discreet and limited’ in statement intended to reflect reluctance to draw US into conflict.”

? “U.S. military officers have deep doubts about impact, wisdom of a U.S. strike on Syria.”

? While Iran is “solidly behind Assad”, their being gassed by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s has left an indelible memory.  Hence, their “seesaw strategy of denouncing chemical weapons but not directly implicating Assad”.

? Aleppo, “Syria’s largest city just dropped off the Internet.”

? Thousands of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi supporters rallied in Egyptian cities; 3 reportedly killed.

? “Rwanda has accused government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo of deliberately shelling its territory, killing a woman and wounding her baby.”

? Ghastly!  Korean leader Kin Jong-Un’s former girlfriend, singer Hyon Song-wol “and others”, were apparently publicly executed by machine gun “for violating laws against pornography”.

International Finance

? One thing Austerity hasn’t smashed:  “Portugal’s highest court has ruled that the government’s plan to make it easier to sack public servants is unconstitutional.”

? “With no national minimum wage and a fifth of workers in insecure mini-jobs, critics say German prosperity is being built on exploitation of the downtrodden.”

Money Matters USA

? The Koch brothers have been forced to remove “mounds of petroleum coke along the shores of the Detroit River”.

? The fast-food workers’ action yesterday spread through 50+ US cities, including “New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Milwaukee, Indianapolis.”

British Petroleum continues to resist having to clean up after their disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.  They’re now complaining that LA leaders are “making ‘patently false assertions'” and “grandstanding”.

Surveillance Planet

? “UK took three weeks to act over data at New York Times, says Guardian; Alan Rusbridger hits back at Downing Street’s claims in high court that it ‘urgently’ needed access to leaked GCHQ files.”  The government is claiming to have unencrypted some of the files David Miranda was carrying when detained at Healthrow; the files are “gravely injurious to UK interests”.

? “Hundreds of Millions Lubricate the Telecoms“.  The extent and intent of NSA’s budget items and amounts.

? NYC, home of 3,000 surveillance cameras, is resisting having police wear cameras on their shirt lapels.   The city objects to the estimated costs ($1,020,000) while shelling out $700,000,000 in settlements awarded to abused citizens last year.  NYC is very very concerned with “impingement on privacy rights of the public” while conducting massive stop-and-frisk operations.  “This is the nastiest, most self-serving hypocrisy the city’s dished out yet”.

Politics USA

? “Nearly 80% of Americans say President Obama should seek congressional approval before taking any military action in Syria”.  50% “say they oppose the United States taking military action against Assad”.

? Alex Pareene:  “No one wants it, but we’ll have a little war anyway; Britain won’t be joining a strike against Syria and huge majorities of Americans oppose it.  It doesn’t matter.”

? House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “Expresess Support for Military Action in Syria.”  But of course.

? NY Times-Siena College Poll: Bill de Blasio “has opened a large lead” in NYC’s Democratic mayoral primary  contest.

Gun Corner

? Is it easier to buy an assault weapon than to vote? Among the evidence: in 33 states, “you can buy an assault weapon without ID, versus zero states where you can vote without providing some kind of ID”, and so on.

The War on Women

? “Hundreds of demonstrators gathered [yesterday] outside the offices of a Montana judge to protest a one-month sentence he gave an ex-teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old student”.

? Planned Parenthood of TX will be receiving a $1m donation from the Margot Perot Center for Women and Infants.

Education Directions

? “School is a prison–and damaging our kids . . .. Compulsory schooling has been a fixture of our culture now for several generations”, though evidence shows “children learn [best] in conditions almost opposite to those of school.”  How’d we get to this situation?  How do we change it?

Planet Earth News

? US Centers for Disease Control don’t have the funds to analyze the Cyclospora outbreak in bagged salad greens which caused “600 people in 22 states” to become ill.

? “An employee of a Youngstown company that stored, treated and disposed of oil and gas drilling liquids admitting . . . to dumping tens of thousands of gallons of fracking water on at least 24 occasions into a tributary of the Mahoning River (OH).”

? “[N]early 30% of the natural gas extracted as a byproduct of fracking for oil in North Dakota is being burned off, or ‘flared’.”

? “One of the biggest canyons in the world has been found beneath the ice sheet that smothers most of Greenland.”

Mixed Bag

? RIP, Seamus Heaney, Irish poet.  “Digging”.  More.

? Amazing!  “An Iron Age tunic is among the discoveries found under melting snow on Norwegian mountains.”  The tunic  even has set-in sleeves.

Break Time

? As you motor away for a pleasant weekend:  Heavy Chevy

The Roundup for August 29, 2013

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Evenin’ all.

Breaking News

? UK Parliament votes against air strikes on Syria.  Vote was 272-285.  “US isolated”.

International Developments

? “UN weapons inspectors to leave Syria a day earlier: Ban Ki-moon’s announcement that [they’ll] depart on Saturday fuels speculation of armed intervention.”

Two Russian warships are on their way to the eastern Mediterranean.  Update:  “China warns U.S. against attack on Syria.”

? “Syrian rebel commanders said in interviews Tuesday along the Turkish border that while the U.S. is moving toward possible air strikes on Syrian targets, Washington hasn’t delivered any weapons it has pledged to the Free Syrian Army. [Nor has the US] coordinated any attack plans with the Supreme Military Council”.

? “The days since the deadly chemical weapons attack last week in Syria carry an eerie echo of the tense days leading up to the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.”

US says “Assad responsible even if [he] didn’t order gas attack.”  Update: Next week, the White House will be sharing “secret intelligence”  supporting “firm conviction that Bashar Assad’s forces attacked rebels with chemical weapons”.  Update:  “Israeli intelligence ‘intercepted Syrian regime talk about chemical attack’.  Information passed to US by Israeli Defence Forces’ 8200 unit”, according to a “former official”.  Update:  “The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people is no ‘slum dunk'”.

? UK Prime Minister David Cameron faces strong opposition from Labour for his motion “paving the way for military action in Syria”.

? Bennis:  There is No Military Solution to Syria”.

? “Syria: Which Way to Kurdistan?”  40,000 Syrian Kurds have sought refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan “in less than two weeks”, in addition to the 200,000 already there.  Antagonism between the Iraqi Kurdish and Syrian Kurdish leadership and between the Kurds and Iraqi government.  And meantime there are the Turks.

? The physician who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden, and who was convicted last year of “‘conspiring against the state’,” has been granted a retrial in Pakistan.

? “Leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohammed al-Beltagi has been arrested” for inciting violence.

Two Guantanamo prisoners have been sent to their “Algerian homeland.” Kevin has more.

Money Matters USA

“US Banks Earn Record $42.2B in 2nd Quarter.”

? “Cash-strapped Detroit can continue to access an estimated $11 million a month in casino tax revenue, . . . while the court takes up a deal with creditors related to the revenue.”

A federal judge ruled that San Bernardino, CA is “eligible for bankruptcy protection”.

? Why Costco does so well, compared to Wal-Mart.

? DDay: “Fast Food, Retail Worker Strikes Actually Honor King Legacy”, or do so much more than the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington.

Surveillance Planet

? “Fidel Castro denies Russian claim that Cuba snubbed Edward Snowden”.

? “Britain’s GCHQ is reported to have wider access to Europe’s electronic communications than previously thought. . . . [It’s] capable of gathering and analyzing data from almost all of the traffic that passes through Europe’s internet network.”

? The FY 2013 “top secret U.S. intelligence ‘black budget'”:  $52.6bn. Also includes the “spy network’s successes, failures and objectives [as] detailed in ‘black budget’ summary.”

? “Most of us are good citizens.  And yet.  What if the government is listening in, or watching, or scanning, and some algorithm triggers an investigation and some quota-happy g-man decides to make one of us a pet project?”

Politics USA

? Oh, noooos. GOP House members wouldn’t let the Heritage Foundation attend their meeting “after the Farm Bill went down in flames”.

? Public Policy Polling will be “contacting cell phones” beginning next week.

Gun Corner

? “New [Obama administration] executive orders aim to curb import of military surplus and close loophole that lets felons circumvent background checks.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? “Poverty saps mental capacity to deal with complex tasks, say scientists.  Study suggests being preoccupied with money  problems is equivalent to loss of 13 IQ points or losing a night’s sleep.”

? Ralph Hudgens (R), GA’s Insurance Commissioner, bragged  “that his office is creating bureaucratic hurdles to slow down and derail the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. . .. Let me tell you, we’re doing . . . Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

? “DOJ Won’t Sue Colorado, Washington Over Marijuana Legalization Laws”–so long as they don’t “run afoul of the new federal priorities.”  Letter with priorities included.

The War on Women

? The judge in MT who gave the teacher who raped a 14-year-old female student 30 days in jail explains flaps his lips.

Planet Earth News

? Sounds too good to be true:  “A groundbreaking new Irish technology . . . – radio wave energised water – massively increases the output of vegetables and fruits”.  Claim is that this new technology “makes GM obsolete . . . [and converts] excess CO2 into edible plant mass.”

? Nature“Government ‘must step in’ to halt Fukushima leaks.”

? US Geological Survey:  Hydraulic fracturing fluids are believed to be the cause of the widespread death or distress of aquatic species in Kentucky’s Acorn Fork, after spilling from nearby gas well sites.”

? “Two monastic orders in rural Kentucky . . .  have made news recently for refusing to permit a gas company to install a pipeline across their property.”  Eminent domain looms.

? “North Carolina landowners would be forced to sell the natural gas under their homes and farms . . .  under a fracking recommendation approved Wednesday that’s expected to be enacted by the state legislature this fall.”

? “More than 100 environmental and political activist groups denounce oil fracking legislation as too weak and call on [CA] Gov. Brown to order a halt to the practice.”

? “East Antarctic ice sheet ‘vulnerable’ to temperature changes.”  At greater risk than “previously believed”.

Latin America

? “The Colombian government has offered concessions to small-scale farmers on strike for more than a week.”  Update:  “Colombia farmers’ strikes spread to cities.”

? Chile’s former president and center-leftist candidate for upcoming presidential elections, Michelle Bachelet, “has an overwhelming lead”.

? “Return to the rainforest: A son’s search for his Amazonian mother.”

Break Time

? Return of the Sun (Inuit)

The Roundup for August 28, 2013

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International Developments

? “Scientists have discovered that sarin, a deadly nerve agent, can be detected long after its use on the battlefield.”  Even four years later.

? “Punitive strikes ineffective, even counterproductive, analysts say:  The type of limited military campaign being contemplated against Syria has failed to deter U.S. adversaries in the past”.

? How awful:  “Syrians in Damascus hoard food, seek shelter as foreign strike looms: Fears rife in Syria’s capital, where dozens of military sites are mixed in among the civilian population.”

? “White House Syria Deliberations: ‘Do Less’ Camp is Still Winning.”

? “After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration . . . reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.N. to call off its investigation.”

? “Syria envoy alleges rebel gas attack, demands U.N. investigate.”

? “UK secretary general says more time should be allowed for inspectors to investigate chemical weapons attack”.  Update: Russia says the UN Security Council “should not consider a draft resolution” condemning use by the Assad forces of chemical weapons “before U.N. inspectors report on their findings”.

? President Obama is said to be weighing “‘Limited’ StrikesAgainst Syrian Forces”, or “deter and degrade” moves, without actually forcing out Syrian President Assad. Update:  UK Prime Minister David Cameron says they’re “not considering regime change in Syria.” Update:  According to an “anonymous administration official” the US won’t undertake unilateral military action against Syria.  Major Update:  US says it won’t let diplomatic paralysis slow action against Syria.

? “US, Allies Going Around UN to Justify Syria Action.”  In order to do that, “they must build a cohesive rationale and win broad international backing for a strike.”  Update:  The Arab League is backing the US’ plans for a strike against Syria.

? “UK to put forward UN resolution.”

? Did Ed Miliband force David Cameron to abandon his timetable for military action against Syria? Update:  “Strike against Assad regime stalled by British political rows: Military response to alleged Syria chemical attack may be delayed until Tuesday”.  Update:  “William Hague plays down imminence of Syria attack as UN seeks more time.”

? “A series of co-ordinated bombings in the Iraqi capital Baghdad has killed more than 50 people and wounded dozens more”.

? Reaching back to the 1953 coup, “Iran’s parliament has approved fast tracking debate on a bill that seeks to sue the U.S. for its involvement” in that coup.

International Finance

? “First Nations loses bid to block Canada-China FIPA treaty.”

Money Matters USA

? “How Depraved Money Hungry Media Is Distorting What We See, and Messing with the Country.”

Surveillance Planet

? President Obama met yesterday with that five-member panel charged with reviewing “the privacy issues involved with U.S. government surveillance programs”.

? The NYC Police Department reportedly “has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorism organizations”.  Such designations opened the door for use of “informants to record sermons and spy on imams”.  The NYPD also persuaded “a federal judge to rewrite rules” pertaining to police and the First Amendment.  Update: The NY Police Commissioner says the story is “‘Fiction'”.

Politics USA

? Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Tea-Partier, put together “a list of problems he believes afflict African-Americans”, problems that, from his point of view, seem to be self-inflicted, including through lack of good parenting.  Walsh, BTW, reportedly owed $117,437 in overdue child support in 2011.

? NC’s war on voting rights continues, this time with Republicans’ escalating “Attack on Student Voting.”

? TX’s Republican Lieutenant Governor  says state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) doesn’t “stand a chance” of winning the governorship.

Gun Corner

? NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) has contributed $350,000 “to a group fighting recall campaign against two Colorado politicians who supported gun control legislation”.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? 57% of Americans do not “support the effort to defund Obamacare”: Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.

? Thanks to sequestration, around “3,400 military medical workers quit this year . . . when furloughs were threatened or being carried out”.

? “Why is [WI] Gov. Scott Walker hiding health care prices?”  Other states are posting health insurance prices of on their exchanges.  Why not WI?

? But for one vote, MI Medicaid might be expanded under Obamacare.  Update: They managed to round up that one vote and the measure passed the Senate.

? 8 cases of Dengue fever reported in south FL.

Education Directions

? Matt Taibbi on President Obama’s “suddenly-urgent new road show around America’s college campuses, where he’s stumping for his ‘bold’ new plan to reduce tuition costs.”  Obama’s “new education plan may or may not turn into something five years from now.  But right now, it’s all words.”

Planet Earth News

? The “severity rating of the latest radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant” has been officially raised to “Level 3″ or “serious incident”.

? “Report: Frackers cheating Pa. landowners and gov’t out of billions: Thousands are receiving far less money than they were promised by energy companies to drill their properties.  Some are being paid virtually nothing.”

? “Produced water” is contaminant-laden water “piped off industrial developments in the Alberta Oil Sands.”  It’s now responsible for “A toxic waste spill, the largest of its kind in North America”.

? Australian scientists are deeply concerned that “New GMO wheat may ‘silence’ vital human genes.”  Silly them. Don’t they know making profit off GMO anything is the whole point?

? “Three leaking mustard gas shells isolated at Pueblo Chemical Depot” in CO.  Is there no way to neutralize this hideous stuff?

? “Race to save Ecuador’s Yasuni national park from oil lobby: Green groups campaign for a petition to force a national referendum to block president’s unilateral sanction for drilling.”

Mixed Bag

? 1.5 miles down below the ocean floor are bacteria growing amongst rocks.  Those bacteria reproduce once every 10,000 years.  And what an occasion that must be.

Special Announcement

Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt, will receive the International Children’s Peace Prize.

Break Time

? For the children.

The Roundup for August 27, 2013

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International Developments

? Remember Hans Blix, UN Arms Inspector 2000-2003, who tried to get the truth out to counter the Bush administration’s lies about WMDs in Iraq?  He’s now urging caution and patience concerning chemical weapons use in Syria.

? “Ready” is the word:  “US ready to launch Syria strike, says Chuck Hagel”; France is “‘ready to punish’ whoever was behind the attack” says French President Francois Hollande.  Not ready: The UN inspection team postponed today’s scheduled site visit in Damascus until tomorrow, pending better “preparedness and safety”.

? Russia President Putin and UK Prime Minister Cameron had a phone conversation during which they disagreed about Syrian chemical weapons attack evidence.

? Never one to disappoint, Tony “Cheerleader” Blair is gung-ho on attacking Syria.

? Prime Minister David Cameron’s position on Syria is a result of “Immature advisers, moral indignation and the folly of wading into this bloody morass.”

? UK Prime Minister David Cameron is recalling the UK Parliament Thursday “to discuss possible responses to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.”

Secretary of State John Kerry’s case for US military action against Syria.

? “The Prince [Bandar Bush]:  Meet the Man Who Co-Opted Democracy in the Middle East.”  Or, how “the U.S. began a mad hunt to destroy those who had absolutely nothing to do with the assaults of 9/11.”

? The White House claims they aren’t seeking “regime change” in Syria.

? “M23 rebels attack Congo troops near Goma: Both sides reportedly suffer heavy casualties and three UN peacekeepers are wounded near Rwanda border.”  720 Congolese troops reportedly “at the military hospital”.  Susan Rice and M23.

International Finance

? Oh, noooos.  “JP Morgan told to pay [Russian billionaire] Blavatnik $50m in damages” for losses he “suffered” when the subprime mortgage market collapsed.

? More woes:  Javier Martin Artajo Rueda, former JPMorgan trader wanted on massive fraud charges in the US, was arrested in Spain.

Money Matters USA

? How Wall Street’s “biggest banks . . . essentially won a green light to rush into ‘mining, processing, transporting, storing, and trading a wide range of vitally important physical commodities.”  A new Gilded Age, at our expense.

? Public pensions are under attack, as seen “in the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings.  It is even more clearly on display in efforts by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to default on the city’s pension obligations.”

? Anonymous O-Team source:  “Larry Summers Is Likely To Be Named Chairman Of The Fed In A Few Weeks”.

? Facebook has been ordered to pay $20m for taking users’ “personal details” and putting them “in ads on the site without their permission”.  Individuals will receive $15 each.

? The Privatization of America, Part I: its impact on our health care, water, communications, and transportation systems.

? Former CEO of a MO bank “Admits To Using Bailout Money To Buy A Luxury Condo in Florida.”

Surveillance Planet

? Why did the NSA bug the UN and EU?  Update:  The UN “will approach the US government over a report . . . that US intelligence spied on video conferences by top UN officials”.

? “Despite its privacy laws, Germany is the most spied-on country in Europe.” During Angela Merkel’s chancellorship, more laws have been passed to weaken resistance to surveillance.

? Just as the author of the US Patriot Act, Sen. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), says the NSA has used the law in ways it was never intended, so the author of the UK’s Terrorism Act, Charles Falconer, says it was never intended to be used as it was against David Miranda.

? Ruth Marcus in the NY Times: “Footnote 14 [in the “just-declassified 2011 opinion by US District Judge John Bates of the FISA Court] should scare every American.”

? “The American Civil Liberties Union argued in court papers filed Monday that the sweeping data gathering violates the Constitution and should be halted.”

? “Eight Democratic senators and congressmen have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about” the NSA supplying intelligence info to the Drug Enforcement Administration in support of “non-terrorism cases against American citizens.”

? 19 bills already in Congress to rein in the NSA, reform and disclose FISA Court opinions, improve reporting.

? OH Attorney General Mike DeWine “informed Ohio citizens that a powerful facial recognition system with access to driver’s licenses photographs and mug shots went live on June 2.”

? James Risen’s 2006  book “reveals details of the CIA’s attempts to foil Iran’s nuclear programme.”  The DOJ wants Risen to tell who gave him the info, but Risen’s refused so far.  The case is now down to the wire.

The War on Women

? Update on those 11,304 rape kits found abandoned in a Detroit warehouse in 2009.

? A Yellowstone County, MT district judge sentenced a former high school teacher “convicted of raping a 14-year-old female student who later committed suicide” to 30 days in jail.

Education Directions

? A federal judge just let “Rahm Emanuel’s Minority-Bashing School Closing Go Forward”.

? The founder of a K-12 cyber-charter school in PA funneled $8m  of school funds “into his personal companies and holdings.”

? PA Gov Tom Corbett (R) has cut public higher education 22%, and budgeted $700m less for K-12 public education than the previous administration.

Heads Up!

? “NYC policeman charged after allegedly framing newspaper photographer”.

? “Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief David Erwin must resign due to blatant police brutality after 11.7% Walker pay raise.”

? “The Wisconsin State Capitol Police Should Be Abolished.” Escalation from arresting people singing without a permit to “violently attacking them.”

Planet Earth News

? The Japanese government is calling for “emergency measures” to be used at Fukushima, thereby “wresting control of the disaster recovery from the plant’s heavily criticized operator.”

? “Four new wind farms in [MN and ND] could power 750,000 homes.”

Latin America

? “Colombia Nationwide Strike Against ‘Free Trade, Privatization, Poverty: Ignored by English-language media, rural uprisings spread across industries as hundreds of thousands protest US-backed govt”.

Mixed Bag

? Pre-Christian temple found in Norway.

? Enter the wonderful world of Pi

Break Time

? On Top

The Roundup for August 26, 2013

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International Developments

? “Syria crisis: children speak from Zaatari refugee camp”.

? “Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate, today appealed to the Rt. Hon. William Hague, British Foreign Minister, and M. Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister, to stop calling for military action against Syria”.

? “Syrian crisis:  UN team poised to probe ‘chemical attack’.”  Washington has “‘very little doubt’ that President Assad’s forces used such weapons”.  Update:  “Man in hospital to inspectors: ‘This is the effect of chemicals’.”  Britain, France and Turkey ready to go with US military intervention.  Update:  “Iran army warns US of ‘harsh consequences‘ over Syria.”  Update:  “Iraq opposes use of airspace to strike Syria.”  Update:  “Russia, West on collision course over Syria”.  Update:  “U.N. Pushes Back at U.S. Calls to Abort Syria Inspection Mission.”  Update:  John Kerry’s “Statement on Chemical Weapons in Syria.”  Update: “Warplanes and military transporters . . . arriving at Britain’s Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus”.  Update:  “Syrian Kurdish leader says Assadnot to blame for attack.”   Update:  “Syrian Official: Israel ‘will come under fire’ if Syria attacked.”

? Gasp!  Some think President Obama needs Congressional authorization for war.

? Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai “stresses need for Pakistani help in Taliban peace process.”

? Egypt’s military “has enlisted Muslim scholars. . . to persuade soldiers and policemen that they have a religious duty to obey orders to use deadly force against [Morsi].”

? Conspiracy theory, Egyptian-style: The US is in cahoots with “the Muslim Brotherhood to destroy Egypt.”

? “Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians” in the West Bank; Palestinian officials cancelled “peace talks with the Israelis.”

? Australian elections (incl. Assange).

International Finance

? German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to “reassure voters . . . that Greece would not need a debt write-down” while leaving the door open for “more aid for Athens.”

? “Trans-Pacific Partnership talks roadblock over anti-smoking policies.”

? Venezuela and the Palestinian Authority have inked a deal for oil sales to the PA “at a ‘fair price'”.

Money Matters USA

? The NYTimes: “Huge, complex and opaque banks continue to take enormous risks that endanger the economy . . .. What’s shameful is how easily our leaders have caved”.

? “Giant bank holding companies now own airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts.  They are systematically buying up or gaining control of . . . essential [economic] lifelines”.

? Feeding at the trough:  “hundreds of lobbyists in at least 20 states . . . get public pensions because they represent associations of counties, cities and school boards”.

? “We pay . . . at the grocery store . . . at the gas pump.  We pay the taxes they write off.  Our low-wage workers pay with sweat and deprivation because this town–aloof, self-obsessed, bought off and doing very well, thank you–feels no pain.”

Surveillance Planet

? How Edward Snowden ended up in Moscow.

? “Q&A with Guardian editors” Alan Rusbridger (UK) and Janine Gibson (US).

? “Exclusive Glenn Greenwald Interview“, including the necessity of encryption, global elimination of privacy, Edward Snowden and journalists.

? “World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers tells the UK government its actions could threaten press freedom.”

? “NSA row: Merkel rival . . . Peer Steinbruck says he will delay negotiations until US comes clean on bugging of German government offices.”

? “The National Security Agency is facing its worst crisis since the domestic spying scandals four decades ago”.

? “Experts Say Release of Secret Surveillance Court Ruling Underscores Overclassification.”

? The “wealth of empirical evidence on the psychological effects of . . . indiscriminate intelligence-gathering presents a grave risk to our mental health, productivity, social cohesion, and ultimately our future.”

? “Parallel Earth”.

Politics USA

? US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is “fully engaged in her work . . . on what she called ‘one of the most activist courts in history.'”

? Hillary Clinton polls well in OH:  51-36 over Rand Paul, 52-36 over Paul Ryan, 45-36 over Chris Christie, and 53-35 over John Kasich.

? Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has scheduled a hearing on marijuana before the Judiciary Committee, saying “state laws legalizing the drug ‘should be respected.'”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? A local church group which “has been feeding the homeless in downtown Raleigh [NC] virtually every [weekend] for the past six years” was told by police that they could no longer do so.

The War on Women

? TX Republican Gov. “Rick Perry is the General in the War on Women”.  A bill was passed by the TX legislature “mirroring the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.”  Perry vetoed it.

? It began August 25, continues through the 31st:  The World March of Women in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Planet Earth News

? Fukushima August news roundup.  Update: the “world’s largest ice wall” around Fukushima?

? “Energy Department: World oil use hit new high in 2012.”

? “90 Million Tons of Carbon Dioxide are Dumped into the Atmosphere Every 24 Hours”.

? Not the preferred route, but at least we got there: “Under pressures from Congress and the honey industry, the EPA is ordering an immediate reduction in the uses of widely used pesticides.”

? “Every bluefin tuna tested in the waters off California has shown to be contaminated with radiation that originated in Fukushima.  Every single one.”

? No way:  The feds intend to euthanize “about half of the 1400 [desert] tortoises under their protection” in NV due to budget shortfalls.

? As the seas soak up more carbon dioxide, plankton will “release less cloud-forming compounds back into the atmosphere”, thus hastening global warming.

? “Proposed rules [in NM] could give copper mines free rein to pollute water.”

? If you really, really care what an oil billionaire finds offensive about wind turbines.

? GA’s Board of Natural Resources is considering loosening “rules meant to prevent hog manure from washing into streams and rivers”.

? Canada will “bury used nuclear rods” somewhere in-country once it identifies a site that’s just right.

? “India on verge of becoming lead poisoning capital”.

? “China will soon have 40% more coal than the combined weight of the human population.”

Break Time

? Last Resort

The Roundup for August 25, 2013

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International Developments

? “Syria will allow U.N. inspectors full access to any site of a purported chemical weapons attack”.

? Medecins Sans Frontieres has “sent 7,000 vials of atropine–an antidote against nerve agents” to Syrian hospitals, but “could not confirm the cause of symptoms or say who was responsible for the attack” since they have no staff in Damascus.

? “Syria’s Western-backed political opposition plans to create the nucleus of a national army to bring order to the disparate rebels forces . . . and counter the strength of al Qaeda-linked rebel brigades.”

? “A senior Turkish diplomat has strictly denied a news report that cited a Syrian rebel operative as saying that 400 tons of arms have been sent into Syria from Turkey.”

? “Al-Qaida branch blames Hezbollah for Lebanese bombing” and “threatens retribution against Shia group” it deems responsible.  Update:  “A powerful explosion . . . ripped through a bus carrying air force personnel . . . in Yemen’s capital, . . . at least 20 killed or wounded”.

? “Bombs across Iraq kill at least 42 people–police and medics.”

? “Air War in Kosovo Seen as Precedent in Possible Response to Syria Chemical Attack.”  Update:  “Obama gets ‘detailed review’ [from his ‘top advisers‘] of Syria options, speaks with UK’s Cameron.”

? “Having crushed the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian authorities have begun cracking down on other dissenters, sometimes labeling even liberal activists or labor organizers as dangerous Islamists.”

? Good grief:  “Czech Republic: Hundreds of rampaging neo-Nazis attempt pogrom against Romani people in Ostrava.” 600 – 800 people involved, 60 arrests.

International Finance

? Fingers crossed: “Congress, Public Waking Up to Trans-Pacific Partnership Threat.”

? “A federal appeals court ruled that Argentina must pay a group of bond investors more than $1.3 billion . . . if it wants to continue making discounted payments that other creditors have agreed to accept.”  Remember the Libertad!

Money Matters USA

? “Chairing the US Federal Reserve is one of the world’s most important policymaking roles, but Obama’s apparent favourite, Larry Summers, is reviled for his role in the financial crisis, prompting Democrats to campaign for rival Janet Yellen.” A Yellen vs Summers Scorecard (what’s up with Brad DeLong?).

? “Elizabeth Warren May Control Larry Summers’s Fate.”  Heh heh.

? “Obamacare’s architects reap windfall as Washington lobbyists” (GlaxoSmithKline, UnitedHealth Group and Blue Cross Blue Shield”, among others).

? “Cash Hoarders Devastate Economy“.  The richest are hanging onto 37% of the money they’re collecting.

? NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has accused The Donald’s “Trump University of defrauding more than 5,000 people with promises that they would get ‘hand-picked’ teachers to help them get rich in real estate.”  The Donald has responded with a website accusing Schneiderman of “‘gross incompetence'”. Peterr claims “Trump has an ironclad defense”.

? Boeing moved from Washington to South Carolina  to avoid all those (unionized) labor costs.  Result: “productivity has dropped immensely and Boeing is unable to meet their 787 Dreamliner production goals.”

? Oh, noooos.  An “embarrassing trading glitch” at Goldman Sachs may have cost the bank “tens of millions of dollars”.

Surveillance Planet

? “Thanks to Edward Snowden, the world now has a debate about the dramatic change in the contract between state and citizen.”

? UK’s former Metropolitan Police Commissioner thinks stronger anti-terror laws will prevent further leaks.

? Julian Assange on the relationships between Google and the US State Department, the impact on other countries, and on the collection and distribution of information.

? We have HUMINT, or human intelligence gathered from agents. . . . SIGINT or signals intelligence.  And now we have LOVEINT or NSA analysts occasionally reading the emails of ex-lovers.  It doesn’t happen a lot, . . . but often enough that there is a word for it.”

NSA commercial.

? “Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep Earl Blumenauer [both OR Democrats] told a Portland audience Friday that . . . The government over-classifies information” and has too many people with “top-security classifications”, leading to “too many weak points.”

? TPM’s “Guide To The Latest Flurry Of NSA Revelations”.   ZDNet’s guide.

? Marcy Wheeler reviews the Government Surveillance team put together by Obama, and its purposes (stated and not).

“Files have been lost, computer searches monitored and emails ‘disappeared into the ether’ at Guantanamo Bay since January, say lawyers for the five co-defendants in the 9/11 case.”

Politics USA

? Dick and Liz were at an annual Freedom Conference recently.  Dick defended the NSA and its director, Keith Alexander, as well as Dick’s own “view on waterboarding.”

? San Diego, CA announced a new interim mayor, Todd Gloria (D).

? Tea Party logic, unlike any other.  “Tea partier at Ted Cruz town hall: ‘Canada is not really foreign soil.”  And **presto** the quandary posed by Ted Cruz’s birth in Canada and his run for US president is resolved.

? Sovereign Citizens are filing liens against people, usually officials, “in a war of paper . . . as a way to retaliate against perceived injustices.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Shameful:  “Oregon Man Holds Up Bank For $1, Waits To Be Arrested To Get Health Care.”

The War on Women

? Between 2006 – 2010, almost 150 female prison inmates in CA were sterilized by contract physicians “without the required authorizations.”  Investigation is underway.

Education Directions

? “The U.S. Justice Department is suing Louisiana . . . to block 2014-15 vouchers for students in public school systems that are under federal desegregation orders.” LA Gov. Bobby Jindal “slams DOJ for court suit against voucher program.”

? Costs NYC corrections $168,000/year/inmate.  Yearly costs/student at Cornell Universityare $59,591.  At CUNY New York City College of Technology, yearly costs/student are $18,919.

? “Government profits to soar more than $700 million with new student loan rates.”

Planet Earth News

? 650,000 public comments delivered to the White House last week, “asking the federal government to ban hydraulic fracturing–fracking–on public lands.

? Starting to feel the pinch?  SC’s Public Service Commission cancelled a “solar energy forum” after rural power suppliers objected.

? “A proposed coal export terminal at the Port of Corpus Christi, TX, has been cancelled”.  The Sierra Club and partners have been very busy on this one, stalling 179 coal plant proposals.

? Ecuadorians rally to “save national park from oil lobby.”

Break Time

? Just for fun. 

The Roundup for August 23, 2013

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International Developments

? Yesterday, four rockets from Lebanon hit Israel.  Today, “Israeli jets bombed” south of Beirut. Update:  Two bombs exploded at two mosques in Tripoli, leaving 29 dead, 500+ wounded.  Update: 42 killed.

? “Syrian victims of alleged gas attack smuggled to Jordan for blood tests: . . . UN inspectors denied access to affected areas of Damascus.”  UK Foreign Minister William Hague says the “Chance of Damascus killings being opposition conspiracy [are] ‘vanishingly small’.”

? 25 people killed in north Baghdad, Iraq.  Suicide bomber.

? Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, convicted on 16 premeditated murders of Afghan villagers, sentenced to life in prison.  Afghan villagers are “far from satisfied” with the sentence.

? Steel tanks purchased and installed at the Fukushima power plant were a “quick fix to store radiated water that was pooling in the disaster zone.”  One of those tanks, supposed to last until 2016, is now leaking highly radioactive water.

Money Matter USA

? DDay interviewed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) about her accomplishments in Washington thus far, her influence on others, and prospects for 2016. Here’s the Q&A from the interview.

? The FHA is relaxing “its guidelines for borrowers who ‘experienced periods of financial difficulty due to extenuating circumstances’, by waiving “Foreclosure, Short-Sale, and Bankruptcy Waiting Periods.”

? Paul Krugman considers the Age of Bubbles, and what brought it on.

The O-team wants fast-tracking of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, by allowing “Obama to sign the agreement prior to congressional approval”.  Think this Congress won’t agree?

? AK’s new oil tax law and regulations are “both bewildering and too demanding” says the oil industry.

? Police are cracking down at the Burning Man festival this year.  “The pigs are here, . . . uncommonly heavy.”

Surveillance Planet

? By tapping into an underwater fiber-optic cable, the UK “runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies”.  Revelations courtesy of Edward Snowden?  Not so, says Snowden; the UK government may be “intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent”.  Glenzilla elaborates; plot thickens.

? “UK government given Tuesday deadline over David Miranda data: Judges ask government to provide detailed evidence about why it wants right to trawl data seized using terror laws.”  Even the Secretary General of the Council of Europe has become involved.

? “Orders To Destroy Guardian Hard Drives Came Directly From PM Cameron”.

? “Guardian partners with New York Times over Snowden GCHQ files; Some of Edward Snowden cache shared with US paper after ‘climate of intense pressure’ from UK government.”  So, who transported the files?

? The NSA “paid millions of dollars [of taxpayers’ money] to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a [FISA] court ruled [in 2011] that some of the agency’s activities were unconstitutional”.  Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook.  Did they collect “upstream” as well as “downstream” data?

? Was the recent UK detaining of David Miranda part of a “deny and disrupt” campaign that is used “against terror networks”–and now against reporters, too?

? New report from the NSA’s Inspector General reveals “very rare instances of willful violations” of privacy rules by the NSA.  In addition, The Privacy & Civil Liberties Board sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and DNI James Clapper “urging . . . stronger rules on domestic surveillance”.  Any connection to drones?

? What would you do if you had ate dinner date NSA Director Keith Alexander?   Here’s what Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties at Stanford Center for Internet and Society, did.

? “13 things the government is trying to hide from you.

? The NSA has “a new Tumblr blog . . . promising more transparency on ‘lawful foreign surveillance activities’ carried out by US agencies.” [emphasis added]  The website will be “a hub for further transparency”, etc.

? Is this “the Secret to Protecting Your Data From the NSA”?

Politics USA

? Good grief:  “Two members of the anti-government Sovereign Citizens movement [in NV] have been arrested and charged after undercover officers unraveled their plan to kidnap and execute police.”

? Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’s job performance is ok with 20% of his constituents.

? TN sheriff Jimmy J.J. Jones is so upset the federal government “won’t authorize his police force to enforce federal immigration laws” that he’s going to “stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County Jail”.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Obamacare:  How many people will actually know that’s what they’re signing up for when they begin working with the state exchanges?

? A deaf, blind and homeless man was given “a one-way ride from a Reno mental hospital onto the streets of San Francisco” last April.

? “Word spreads fast about Occupy Madison’s tiny houses for the homeless”.

The War on Women

? “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a U.S. District Court ruling that will prevent Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s administration from effectively defunding Planned Parenthood.”

? Planned Parenthood is suing Indiana in federal court over a new law “requiring clinics that administer the so-called abortion pill to have full surgical facilities”.  The ACLU is also suing.

? “Native Canadian women sold on U.S. ships: . . .  First Nations women from Thunder Bay, Ont., trafficked in sex trade in Minnesota.”

? “Ireland Has Performed Its First-Ever Legal Abortion, And It Saved A Dying Woman’s Life.”

Planet Earth News

? Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair, Jon Wellinghoff, “Solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything”.

? Hungary has destroyed 1000+ acres of GMO corn– for the second time.  So far, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Austria and Peru have bans on GMO crops.

? Oil companies have now built roads through indigenous lands in Ecuador’s Amazon region and drilling is set to begin.

? “[L]iquid ‘jetting out of a [Royal Dutch Shell] pipeline” in Niger. “Massive oil theft, sabotage of infrastructure and leaks from ageing pipelines” leading to “serious environmental damage, destroying fishing communities and poisoning water”.

Break Time

? Feeling Good