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The Roundup for July 22, 2013

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International Developments

? “Thirteen members of the same family, mostly women and children, have been killed by pro-government forces in northwest Syria, activist groups say.”

? “A rebel group in Syria with links to Al Qaeda was reported . . . to have released hundreds of kidnapped Kurdish civilians after clashes with Kurdish militiamen”.  Meanwhile, “Kurdish forces [engaged] fighters from the Islamic state of Iraq and al-Sham, a powerful Syria rebel faction [with] ties to Al Qaeda.”

? “Turkey: No tolerance for Kurdish entity in Syria.”

? “Afghan parliament sacks interior minister over security issues.”

? “Hundreds escape from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison after fierce militant assault.  At least 500 inmates, including senior members of al Qaeda”.  Escapes from Taji prison, too,  following fierce attacks there.

? “Egypt Islamist Calls for U.S. Embassy Siege Amid Unrest.”

? 147 civilian deaths due to drone attacks, according to a secret Pakistan government document; much greater than US claims.

? Which countries have a more positive perception of the US  (Philippines, Israel, Ghana, etc.) and which don’t (Pakistan, Jordan, Palestinian territories, Egypt, etc.).

Money Matters USA

? “Cries of Betrayal as Detroit Plans to Cut Pensions“, even though under MI’s Constitution they are “a contractual obligation that ‘shall not be diminished or impaired.'”

? “Does anyone seriously doubt that, if Detroit were a ‘too big to fail’ bank, it wold have been bailed out long ago?”

? “Break up the big banks, or they will continue to take over and manipulate more and more of the economy . . . increasing their profits while making everyone else poorer.”

? Tomorrow, a Senate hearing entitled, “Should banks control power plants, warehouses, and oil refineries?”

? The Securities and Exchange Commission is zeroing in on SAC Capital Advisors’ Steven A. Cohen for “failing to supervise inside-trading employees.”

? “The Commodity Futures Trading Commission . . . has accused the high-speed trading firm Panther Energy LLC of gaming commodity markets”.

? Yves Smith notes who’s in the running for next Fed Chair and concludes:  “Why Larry Summers Should Not Be Permitted to Run Anything More Important than a Dog Pound.”

? MI “employers are increasingly relying on temporary employment agencies”.

? “UAW Southern Organizing Gathers Momentum; AL Autoworkers Petition for Union Recognition.”

? A “diminutive, middle-age white woman” is prowling blighted, vacant properties “owned by individual or commercial landlords in Baltimore.”  She takes photos, researches ownership and publishes it all on her blog.

In Hot Pursuit

? “Edward Snowden Hopes To Leave Moscow Airport by Wednesday: Lawyer”.

Surveillance Planet

? “NSA growth fueled by need to target terrorists“.  Nonetheless, there’s much we still don’t know about the extent of the NSA’s internet surveillance.

? German Chancellor Angela Merkel initially denied she knew anything about cooperation in surveillance activities between Germany and the USA.  In fact, the cooperation seems to have become rather intense during Merkel’s reign.

? “Crazy traitor leaker got Congress to notice vast surveillance state: Pols from both parties are all of a sudden demanding more transparency and pushing reforms.  Thanks, leaks!”

? “Court:  Chevron Can Seize Americans’ Email Data

? “Now Fliers Can Keep Their Shoes On–If They Let Big Brother Inspect Their Big Data.”

Politics USA

? Report released today  identifies those Republicans who voted against food stamps (Farm Bill) but have pocketed $7.2 million in US farm subsidies since 2004.

? “Ray Kelly’s record should rule him out of heading Homeland Security.  The NYPD chief who has presided over the ‘stop-and-frisk’ policy and spying on Muslims would be a dire pick for DHS secretary.”

? “Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press‘, particularly following the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the case of New York Times reporter James Risen.

? Matt Taibbi examines the controversy surrounding the Rolling Stone’s cover picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

? You will, of course, be shocked to learn that class mobility is hardest to achieve in the Deep South.  A few surprises, though.

? So, what San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) will do now:  “Gloria Allred To Represent Woman Accusing Filner Of Sexual Harassment.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Almost two-thirds of gun deaths in 2010 were suicides and about half of all suicides are by gun.  Gun suicides “are fatal 85 percent of the time” while only 3% of attempt suicide by pills are fatal.

? A lasting legacy.  “4 decades after war ended, Agent Orange still ravaging Vietnamese”.

The War on Women

? “A federal judge has temporarily blocked a new North Dakota law that bans abortion when a fatal [sic] heartbeat is detected”.

? The Norwegian woman who reported being raped in Dubai and was then put in jail for 16 months for “illicit sex” has been pardoned.

Education Directions

? No Child Left Behind (2002) greatly expanded high-stakes testing. A new study shows no change on several major measures except one:  a higher incarceration rate.  This “school-to-prison pipeline is a catastrophe . . . fueled by this high-stakes testing regime”, but  Garfield High in Seattle demonstrates that faculty, parents and students can fight back.

? “Most parents with children in public schools do not support recent changes in education policy, from closing low-performing schools to shifting public dollars to charter schools to private school vouchers”.

Planet Earth News

? “New EPA chief [Gina McCarthy] exhorts agency staff to ‘act now on climate change.'”  Update: “House Republicans on Monday unveiled plans to slash the [EPA] budget by 34 percent in 2014 and block federal rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants.”

? Fearing decline of boreal forests, researchers are planting thousands of red oaks in northern MI.

? The Veazie Dam is being demolished,  letting ME’s Penobscot River run a little freer, and “opening the river to sea-run fish for the first time in almost 200 years.”

? “Three Italian ministries have signed a decree banning the cultivation of a type of genetically modified maize, citing environmental concerns”

? “Deforestation in Africa’s Congo Basin rainforest slows, partially reflecting a shift of emphasis from agriculture to extraction.

? Saving Afghanistan’s snow leopard.

Break Time

? Summertime Blues.

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