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The Roundup for June 25, 2013

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International Developments

? Danger x 2?  “Saudi Arabia regards the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria’s civil war war as dangerous”, and  thinks other countries should get involved by offering the rebels military aid, too.

? “The U.S. military is quietly deploying more than 400 U.S. soldiers trained in riot control to Egypt”, part of a “peace keeping” effort concerning Israel.  Last Friday we learned 700 US troops remain in Jordan.

? The Taliban has “attacked security forces near the presidential palace in the centre of the Afghan capital, Kabul.” Update:  They attacked CIA headquarters.

? The Council of Europe has accused Russian authorities of a cover-up in the death of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky who “died in a Moscow prison after he was arrested while trying to expose tax fraud”.

International Finance

? Citibank is banking on making a gazillion bucks in oil-rich Iraq by 2050.

Money Matters USA

? OUR Walmart activists appeared at Yahoo! headquarters yesterday to protest the firing of 11 Walmart workers who were on strike.  Yahoo! CEO, Marissa Mayer, is on Walmart’s board.  Five protesters were arrested.

? “The national UPS Freight Contract has been overwhelmingly rejected by rank and file Teamsters” since it sets up a two-tier arrangement resulting in some drivers having “nonunion wages and conditions”.

? Consumer confidence jumped from 74.3 in May to 81.4 in June, indicating more optimism “about the economy than . . . since the Great Recession”.

? Penny Pritzker to Commerce.

Surveillance Planet

? “Germany blasts Britain over GCHQ’s secret cable trawl.”

? “Putin says Snowden at Russian airport, signals no extradition”, though he did say Snowden “was free to leave and should do so as soon as possible.”

? “Anger at U.S. complicates efforts to capture Snowden.”  “China, Russia and Ecuador all have extended him assistance in what analysts say is a rare chance for payback over unwelcome U.S. policies.”

? What pay-back might Ecuador expect?  The US “could decrease the size of the embassy staff, maybe cancel educational and cultural stuff,” and that’s about it.

? “It’s pretty astonishing that our government can figure out a way to vacuum up our every phone call, email and text message, but can’t get its hands on Snowden”.  John Oliver underscores that point.

? John Kerry, US Secretary of State, on the dangers that Edward Snowden may have caused.

? “The NSA Has No Idea How Much Secret Data Edward Snowden Took, And That Has Them Very Worried.”

? Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) wrote the National Security Agency, accusing it “of publicly presenting ‘inaccurate’ information about the privacy protections on its surveillance on millions of internet communications.”  They can’t “publicly identify the allegedly misleading” info, though, since that’s officially  secret.  Emptywheel has more.

Politics USA

? IRS documents show that “Tea Party“, “Patriots”, “Progressive”, “Occupy”, etc., were among search terms used in identifying 501(c)(4) applicants.

? Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) “came across a blatant lie” while reading former Vice-President Dick “Dick” Cheney’s new book.  Apparently, Cheney erroneously, but specifically,  credited  Frank with blocking the Bush administration’s efforts “to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003”.

? “Right-wing website has offered a comprehensive plan for its followers to infiltrate left-wing sites”,  so expect more trolls, moles, conspiracists, thread hi-jackers, etc.

? Several anti-war activists who‘re on a domestic terrorist list have sued the US military for “unlawful spying”.

? “The United States Conference of Mayors unanimously [called] on the Obama administration to stop interfering with state and local efforts to deal with the problems caused by marijuana prohibition.”


? Do not tell me we’ve got to go back through all this.  “The Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act [today], ruling that the United States had sufficiently moved beyond its Jim Crow past and has rendered the law’s formulas unconstitutional.”  Justice Ginsberg wrote a scathing dissent (begins p. 32 here).

? Reactions to the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act bombshell: “NAACP On VRA Decision:  An ‘Act Of Extraordinary Judicial Overreach'”;  Rep. John Lewis: A “Dagger in Heart of Voting Rights Act”; “Obama Vows To Keep Up Fight Against Voting Discrimination”;  “Holder:  . . .A ‘Serious Setback For Voting Rights'”;  “Schumer: . . .  A ‘Back Door Way To Gut The VRA'”; “Sen. Sanders: ‘. . . [VRA] As Necessary Today’ As During Jim Crow Era”;  NYTimes Editorial Board: “An Assault on the Voting Rights Act; TX Attorney General “immediately implement controversial voter ID law”.

? Yesterday, “the Supreme Court handed three big victories to big corporations seeking immunity from the law, and equally substantial defeats to American workers and consumers.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Over 75% (or 1.5 million) of Medicaid-covered children in FL “do not get regular dental–the worst rate of any state”, according to the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign.

The War on Women

? TX state Sen. Wendy Davis is conducting a filibuster in the TX senate against the Republicans’ tough anti-abortion bill.

Planet Earth News

? In his speech today, President Obama said the “Keystone Pipeline Will Only Be Built If It Does Not ‘Significantly’ Increase Carbon Pollution”. The LA Times calls this a “Strict Test” while others might wonder about the devilish details (see below).  Former Vice-President Al Gore called the speech “The Best Address On Climate By Any President Ever”.

? How is a “‘net increase’ in overall greenhouse gas emissions” due to the Keystone pipeline to be determined?  The State Department’s March draft report on the Keystone pipeline concluded “that the pipeline would not accelerate global greenhouse gas emissions.” The report is here; see page ES-14ff in particular.

? Canada: No net increase in Keystone pipeline emissions here.

Latin America

? Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, is proposing a “referendum on political reform” and “will also introduce a new £17bn public transport programme”.

Mixed Bag

? Remember the 60-something school bus monitor in Greece, NY who was  so cruelly verbally abused by four adolescent boys about a year ago?  Here’s an update.

? “Hacking a car is way too easy.”

Break Time

? Ladakh, Himalayan Journey

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