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Greetings.

International Developments

? “U.S. Aid To Syrian Rebels Delayed by Congress” due to “fears that such arms deliveries will not be decisive and might end up in the hands of Islamist militants”.

? “At least 17 people including women and children have been killed by a roadside bomb in . . . western Afghanistan.”

? “U.S. Considers Faster Pullout In Afghanistan”.

? “Car bomb rocks south Beirut suburbs”.

? “Egypt Interim President Sets Parliamentary Elections By February.”  Update: “Egypt’s army warns over disruption after Morsi deposed.”

? “Death toll hits 13 amid revelations Quebec firemen may have cut power to runaway train’s brakes.”  Update:  “Fire chief angrily denies suggestion his crew played role in deadly Lac-Megantic train disaster.”  Reuters: “How a train ran away and devastated a Canadian town.”  BBC: “Blame game: A rail firm and fire departmentappear to be pointing the finger at one another”.  Update:  “Criminal probe” underway.  Update:  Knut’s fine article about this tragedy.

? “Police investigate Rupert Murdoch over secretly recorded meeting”,  “[C]onspiracy to commit misconduct in public office”.  Murdoch “‘welcomes’ chance to face MPs again.”

International Finance

? “Secret TPP Deal Would Void Democracy” because of all the power given by the treaty to corporations.

Money Matters USA

? Matt Yglesias explains Standard & Poor’s defense of US Justice Department charges that S&P “understated the credit risks of mortgage backed securities.”  The defense?  “No Reasonable Investor Would Take Us Seriously.”

? Twinkies may be back, but the wages aren’t.  A forklift operator, making $16.53/hour before the plant closed, will now be making about $11/hour.

In Hot Pursuit

? “Uruguay’s first lady, Senator Lucia Topolansky, said . . . that her country would consider giving asylum to . . . Edward Snowden.”

? Some might call it Pie in the Sky:  “Operation Exodus: The Snowden Accompaniment Flytilla to Political Asylum in Venezuela.”

Surveillance Planet

? “Snowden affair clouds U.S. attempts to press China to curb cyber theft” which allegedly runs into “hundreds of billions of dollars each year.”

? The Europeans are not taking the NSA spying revelations lightly.  At all.  “Experts Warn of Trans-Atlantic Ice Age” as a result.

? How the US government (and similarly, the UK’s GCHQ) taps into intercontinental internet traffic, and how the US government got foreign entities to agree to the tapping.

? Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff “has asked the federal police and telecom regulator to probe whether firms [such as Google] were involved in spying.”

? Second Greenwald article in O Globo (Google translation follows): the US is interested not just “in military affairs but also in trade secrets–‘oil’ in Venezuela and ‘energy’ in Mexico”;   NSA most interested in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia; tools used include Prism and Boundless Informant, ‘Silverzephyr’, Fairview’, etc.

? “Judge rejects state secrets defense in [2008 Electronic Frontier Foundation] wiretapping lawsuit”.  He  narrowed “the plaintiffs’ claims and raised several issues”, however  Don’t miss Emptywheel on this.

? Colleen Rowley, former FBI special agent, has questions for James Comey’s Senate Judiciary Committee appearance as part of his confirmation process to head the FBI.  Comey signed off on “‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques, for starters.

? James Comey, before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, actually said the FISA court is “anything but a rubber stamp.”  He dodged when asked if he’d declassify FISA court opinions.  He did say waterboarding “is ‘torture and is illegal’“.  Comey thinks “collection and analysis of metadata is avaluable tool in counter-terrorism” and “it’s very important for the next director to continue the transformation of the FBI into an intelligence agency”.

? Former FISA Court Judge James Robertson “said the system is flawed because of its failure to allow legal adversaries to question the government’s actions” and he questions the court’s role as “administrative agency.”

? Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)’s bill “touted as increasing oversight of the [NSA] could instead derail legal challenges to the U.S. government’s warrantless demands for confidential customer data”, and could  prevent direct challenges to the “legality of” National Security Letters.

? The US Justice Department “has now hit back with a new filing that says, flat out, the public has no right to know what the secret [FISA] court is ruling on and how it’s codifying secret laws.”

? “Justice Breyer’s Roundabout Reflection on Edward Snowden.”

Politics USA

? “Shocker: Only 1% of So Called Terrorists Nabbed by the FBI Were Real.”  Follow-up on those arrested 10 years after 9/11.  Of 500 defendants, “only about five . . . charged with international terrorism . . . were [actually] involved” in it.

? “Republicans Trying to Be as Unpopular as Humanly Possible: Privatizing Medicare and taking Paul Ryan’s cues are recipe for being hated.”

? WI state Sen. Bob Jauch (D) and a colleague are asking that “heavily armed guards securing the premises” of mining company Gogebic Taconic’s site in the northern part of the state” be removed.

? “[SC Gov.] Nikki Haley Takes Heat After Report [by the State Law Enforcement Division] Blows Up ‘Bogus’ Voter Fraud Claims in South Carolina.”

? Judge Michael McConnell, “a leading conservative law professor”, says the “reasoning” the five conservative Supreme Court justices used to gut the Voting Rights Act was “made up.”

? “The secret weapon that could save the Voting Rights Act”:  Section 3, which allows the federal government to focus on “jurisdictions with recent records of deliberate discrimination”.  Such as TX.

The War on Women

? A US District Court Judge has “issued a temporary restraining order . . . block[ing] enforcement of a new Wisconsin law that bans doctors who lack admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing abortions.”

? Video and photos from “Huge March Against Anti-Choice Republican Bill in Texas.” One strong young woman’s determined testimony before the TX legislature.

? NC’s House Health Care Committee is considering a bill that “would require abortion centers to comply to the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers.”

Planet Earth News

? Does the US State Department know “the exact route of the Keystone XL export pipeline”?

? Monsanto now wants to save the day by decimating the varroa mite which is a main suspect in bee die-offs.

Mixed Bag

? Happy birthday, sliced bread.

Break Time

Summer in the City

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fatster

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