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The Roundup for July 18, 2013

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International Developments

? “Syria’s devastating civil war will force a generation of children to grow up illiterate and filled with hate, a U.N. envoy warned . . . as fighting raged on around the country”.

? “Gunmen assassinated a well-known media defender of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Lebanon today, as Syria’s civil war steadily infects its smaller neighbour.”  Police headquarters in Ceylanpinar, Turkey, were also hit.

? Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey “says US considering use of force in Syria.”  He also reminded that whether the US will use it is up to the politicians.  Shudder.

? “A Syrian Kurdish party with links to Kurdish militants in Turkey has seized control of a Syrian border town after days of clashes with islamist fighters”.

? US Secretary of State John Kerry says he’s “won Arab League backing . . . to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks”.

? The UN is checking out the North Korean ship carrying Cuban missile equipment.

? “Ex-CIA Milan chief held in Panama over cleric abduction.  That would be Robert Seldon Lady.  Sentenced to 9 years by a Sicilian court, after being convicted in absentia.

International Finance

? “The parliament in Greece has narrowly approved a public sector reform bill that will see thousands of people lose their jobs.”  4,000+ government employees axed this year, with another 25,000 “put into a ‘mobility pool'”.

Money Matters USA

? “Detroit files for bankruptcy.”

? The Teamsters are declaring that “Corporations want to hide dangers of TPP.”  Article exploring some of those dangers. 

? “The American union of railway workers representing most of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway workers continues to fight one-man train crews.

? Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA):  It’s “obscene” that the  “federal government will make $51 billion in profits off student loans.”  Update:  “A bipartisan group of senators reached a deal” on student loan rates.  Whadda deal.

? Executive compensation gets deducted from corporations’ income taxes, “causing the rest of us to pay more in taxes to make up the difference.”  One estimate is $121.5 bn worth.

? “JPMorgan in Talks to Settle Energy Manipulation [in CA and MI] Case for $500 Million.”

? “Arizona Public Service Co. is proposing charging customers who install rooftop solar panels $50 to $100 or more a month to cover the cost of maintaining the power grid.”  More on APS.  More on utility profits and solar power.

? Southern CA home prices up 28.3% in June.

Surveillance Planet

? “European Parliament Wants Snowden, NSA Chief [Keith Alexander] to Testify on Spying.” Hearings scheduled for September.

? US  pressure on Venezuela re the Snowden matter:  US entry visas “of Venezuelan government officials and businessmen associated with Chavez” have been revoked.  US Secretary John Kerry warns of “the suspension of sale of gasoline and oil . . . vital to maintain daily activity in Venezuela.”  [Google translation]

? “An Open Letter to the Media” concerning the US and its treatment of certain Latin American countries and of whistleblowers, and the treatment of such events by the US media.  (Lively “Comments”  discussion over at

? NSA representatives before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday revealed they were planning to hoover up everyone’s “Internet searches, hotel records and credit card transactions.” They disclosed the “three-hop analysis” which enables them to “mine the records of 2.5 million Americans when investigating one suspected terrorist.”

? “The Obama administration is refusing to say whether” they intend to renew the court order, expiring this week, that allowed hoovering up all the Verizon telephone data.

? “Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the government has the authority to seize records only if they are ‘relevant’ to a terrorism investigation.”  Seems  there’s a legal opinion shrouded in secrecy saying wide-scale hoovering of those records is ok, contrary to Section 215.

? Former President Jimmy Carter:  “America has no functioning democracy. . . . The invasion of privacy has gone too far”.

Politics USA

? J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General responsible for investigating the IRS’ targeting of groups for special scrutiny, himself “Blocked IRS From Releasing Documents That Show Agency Targeted Progressive Groups.”

? Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD, Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee blasted Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for suggesting the White House ordered Tea Party nonprofits to be targeted by the IRS.

? Tom Perez (D) confirmed as Secretary of Labor.

? Liz Cheney (R) moving WY left?  Maybe,  compared to current WY Sen. Mike Enzi (R).  BTW, she’s now saying Enzi was “‘just confused’ in his comments on her entering the race.”  More:  “10 Fun Facts About Wyoming Senate Candidate Liz Cheney”.

? Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) has sprung up like a rose through the manure of GOP-dominated NC politics.  She “has double digit leads over all 8 of her potential Republican opponents”.

? VA Attorney General wanna-be Mark Obenshain (R) has raised $480,000,   $111,000 of it from “Oil/Coal/Natural Gas/Uranium.”

? Solidarity Sing Alongs being held in the rotunda of WI’s capitol.  Capitol Police are responding in less-than-friendly ways.

? “An Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent who encouraged troopers to pull over a speeding vehicle that contained the Iowa governor” has been fired.

? A federal review “uncovered as many as 27 death penalty convictions in which FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked defendants to crimes”.

Drones ‘n Guns

? Hypocrisy reigns! House Republicans rejected a bill banning  “the sale of firearms to individuals on the FBI’s terrorist watch list”.

The War on Women

? TX Gov. Rick Perry (R) “signed a sweeping set of abortion restrictions into law [this morning], drawing a wave of revulsion, shock and horror from women’s health and civil liberties advocates across the nation.”

? A federal judge has extended “his hold . . . on a new WI law “requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges.”

Planet Earth News

? Environmental groups and “more than 300 residents are intervening in proceedings over a 122-mile natural gas pipeline proposed to run through portions of New York and Pennsylvania.”

The Keystone XL Pipeline could  raise gas prices by as much as 40 cents/gallon.

Break Time

? Niagara

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