CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for June 18, 2013

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Good evening.

International Developments

? “Turkey arrests dozens as crackdown on protests against Erdogan continues”.

? “Taliban talks announced as Afghanistan assumes security”.  “US to begin talks with Taliban over Afghan future.”

? “Iran Is Ready to Suspend 20% Uranium Enrichment, Russia Says”.

? Names of all 166 inmates, and a list of 45 Guantanamo indefinite detainees, have been released by the Pentagon.

? Clifford Sloan, lawyer, is the new State Department special envoy “in charge of closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

? “Massive police security presence at Belfast G8 demo.”  Video.

? Ecuador’s President Ricardo Patino and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague weren’t able to “resolve the deadlock over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange” yesterday.

? New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft now says he did  give that Super Bowl ring to Russian President Putin.

International Finance

? “Progressive Democrats in Congress are ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to release the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership”.

? What Blockupy’s been up to.

? Switzerland’s lower house of parliament refuses “to debate a bill [allowing] Swiss banks to pass client information to the US tax authorities.”

? Israel wants the US “to guarantee $5 billion in bridge loans . . . to finance procurement of advanced weapons systems”.

Money Matters USA

? Affidavits have been filed by former employees of Bank of America and DDay’s got the lowdown on how BoA “systematically lied to homeowners, fraudulently denied loan modifications, paid their staff bonuses for deliberately pushing people into foreclosure.”

? What a racket: NY state Sen. John Sampson (D) allegedly “oversaw” foreclosure auction sales to the tune of $440,000 he embezzled from such sales.

President Obama thinks Federal Reserve Chairperson Ben Bernanke has “done an outstanding job” but has “stayed a lot longer than he wanted or was supposed to.”

? United Mine Workers of America are protesting in St. Louis, MO against proposed cuts by Patriot Coal to retired miners’ health benefits and reduced pay and benefits to current workers.

? Walmart workers crashed Walmart corporation’s annual party.

? New York Times takes on the corporations‘ fictional claim that there just aren’t any “qualified applicants” for jobs.  First of all, there are fewer job openings; secondly, workers lack on-the-job experience; and so on.

? “US home construction up 6.8 pct. in May”.

? “Chrysler relents, agrees to recall 2.7 million jeeps.”

Surveillance Planet

Der Spiegel:  “Obama’s Soft Totalitarianism: Europe Must Protect Itself from America”.

? Yves Smith summarizes efforts to discredit Edward Snowden, divert attention from major issues such as trust in government and “technology players like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo,” to dumbed-down controversy.

?  The Patriot Act and our snooping fears at the time.

? “Confirmed: Court ‘Oversight’ of NSA Surveillance Is a Total Joke”.

? Say what?  Ray Kelly of the NYPD thinks the NSA shouldn’t have operated in secrecy, that “the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone it’s going to be recorded and goes to the government.”

? President Obama says NSA spying is “transparent” and we aren’t going to “sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security”; we’re going to do “tradeoffs” instead. Update:  Obama thinks we “shouldn’t worry” about our government snooping on us and we should be proud of the “professionals” doing it to us.

? FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce told the House Intelligence Committee  NSA info “helped prevent potential terrorist attacks” 4 times:  ZaziKhalid Ouazzani (who wanted to attack the NYSE), David Coleman Headley, and a 4th case closed for lack of evidence.  Emptywheel’s initial reaction.

? DiFi’s Senate Select Committee is so touchy  that a former senior committee aide has been told she cannot even talk to the press about how the “committee functions–and how it should function.”

? Is it time to “Put the Spies Back Under One Roof”?  After all,  70% of the US’s intelligence budget [goes] to private contractors who employ half a million people to spy on us with “virtually no oversight”.

? Even NSA Director Keith Alexander said there are around 1,000 system administrators (Edward Snowden’s old job) in the spy system and a “majority of them are contractors.”

Politics USA

? President Obama’s approval rating is at its lowest in 1-1/2 years.  Half “don’t believe he is honest and trustworthy” and 60% don’t like the way he’s “handling government surveillance”.  Much more.

? President Obama has threatened to veto the massive Farm Bill if it includes the $2bn cut in food stamps approved by the House.

? Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) had income from “three  different government pensions in 2012 worth $65,383 in addition to his $174,000 salary as a U.S. senator.”  How he voted on various issues, including those affecting the poor.

? FL Gov. Rick Scott (R) “has signed a [ALEC-backed] bill that would prevent municipal governments in the state from implementing measures mandating paid sick leave policies for businesses.”

? VA Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) reportedly used “taxpayer money for personal expenses, including ‘body wash, sunscreen, dog vitamins and a digestive system ‘detox cleanse'”.  Puh-leeze.

? KS Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R)  threatened to use “lethal force” if immigration protesters don’t get away from his house and lawn.

? “[T]he only route to defeating [WI Republican Gov. Scott] Walker in 2014 is the high road–a path unknown to Walker”.

The War on Women

? “White House Threatens To Veto GOP’s Anti-Abortion Bill”.  Since the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), blew it by expounding on his fantasies about rape and conception, Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is having to manage his no-abortion-after-20-weeks bill on the house floor.

? In arguing for banning abortions earlier than 20 weeks of pregnancy, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) argues that even at 15 weeks a male baby might be masturbating right there in his mother’s uterus.

Latin America

? “Brazil protests” continue, “rallies sweep [8] major cities”. Video.  Protests “catch authorities onthe back foot.”

? “Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff ‘proud’ of protests”.

Break Time

? The High Cost of Low Living

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