The Roundup for August 1, 2013
? 1,057 people in Iraq were killed due to violence in July.
? “Homs arms-depot blast ‘kills dozens‘.” Free Syrian Army takes credit.
? “Syria agrees to allow UN inspectors to search three sites for chemical weapons”.
Money Matters USA
? What Wall Street hath wrought: “An American era of eviction and destruction.”
? “Blackstone Group . . . has . . . spent $5 billion . . . on 30,000 homes”, while “American Homes 4 Rent . . . has spent $3.1 billion on . . . nearly 18,000 homes. It’s big business as “Wall Street firms become landlords in buy-to-rent industry”, thanks to the foreclosure crisis.
? One Goldman Sachs trader involved in “a toxic mortgage deal” was actually found liable “for civil securities fraud.” Jail? Pshaw: A “fine, or worse, a ban from the Wall Street.”
? Congress passed a student loan bill, tying rates to financial markets.
? The Pentagon will “bear brunt of upcoming budget cuts” as sequestration deepens.
? “An Israeli based internet surveillance company ‘Verint Systems’ is all set to win a contract from Department of Telecommunications of India to assist it with encrypted internet communications . . ..”
? NSA paid “at least £100m to [the UK’s GCHQ] . . . over the last three years”. To their credit, “Some GCHQ staff . . . expressed concern about ‘the morality and ethics of their . . . work, particularly given the level of deception involved.” Is the GCHQ spying on US citizens so the NSA doesn’t have to?
? “3 Shocking Revelations from NSA’s Most Terrifying Program Yet“: “Internet privacy is dead . . ., The security state has trumped the Constitution . . ., The security state’s defenders won’t stop lying.”
? The NY Times: “The Obama administration released narrowly selected and heavily censored documents and sent more officials to testify before Congress . . . in an effort to defend the legality and value of the surveillance of all Americans’ telephone calls. The effort was a failure.” The conclusion: “The program should be halted at least until the public gets a satisfactory accounting.”
? ACLU takes on the “only metadata” fable: “Why Metadata Is Incredibly Intimate.”
? Say what? “President Obama: NSA Surveillance Was Necessary To Make Sure Boston Bombings Weren’t Part Of Bigger Plot.”
? Yves Smith: “Obama Starting to Lose It Over Snowden“.
? “Schumer: ‘Russia Has Stabbed Us In The Back’ With Snowden Asylum.”
? “Edward Snowden Is Already Getting Job Offers and Calls from Russian Girls, Says His Lawyer.”
? Finally! Judge Mark A. Ciavarella of PA sentenced to 28 years in prison and ordered to pay $1m in restitution for his key (and lucrative) role in a school-to-(for-profit)prison pipeline.
? Oh, noooos. “Obama Tells Republicans To Shove It As He Implements His Agenda Without Them.”
? Oh, noooos. “Harry Reid tells senators ‘sit down and shut up’.”
? There’s been a 26% increase in TSA “employee misconduct violations over the past three years”.
? Beleaguered Bob Filner, mayor of San Diego, says he’ll be repaying the Organization of Iranian-American Communities $9,839 spent on a trip to Paris, France for a conference. Meanwhile, Filner’s lawyer claims the city failed to provide harassment training for Filner, which “violated the law.” And he’s made it to the big time!
? “Los Angeles Catholic church files show decades of sexual abuse . . . by priests, brothers and nuns.”
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
? State level workers responsible for helping the US population navigate health exchanges are recommended to be paid $20/hour for caseworkers, $29/hour for project leads by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
? Yes! “New antibiotic that attacks MRSA found in ocean microbe.”
? HI will soon be offering homeless people one-way plane tickets to leave the state.
The War on Women
? “The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services confirmed . . . [it] has suspended the license of a medical clinic in Ashville that specializes in abortions.” One clinic with abortion services left in the state. Update: the NC “State Health Director resigns“, and tells why.
? In 2010, “publicly-funded family planning services saved the government $10.5 billions dollars, . . . prevent[ed] 2.2 million unplanned pregnancies and close to 760,000 abortions.” So, “why did Texas defund these programs given the obvious consequences of increased unplanned pregnancies and abortions?”
? FL’s Education Commissioner has resigned “following two days of controversy over school grades in his home state of Indiana.” Seems Bennett “interceded on behalf of an Indiana charter school run by a prominent Republican Party donor”.
? AR’s Attorney General says schools may not employ teachers and staff as security guards and supply them with guns.
Planet Earth News
? New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to her staff, “I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior.”
? On-going nightmare: “TEPCO: 950 million becquerels of radioactive cesium per liter of water detected near No. 2 reactor building at Fukushima nuclear plant”.
? “Duke Energy to cancel proposed Levy County [FL] nuclear plant”.
? That Mayflower, AR oil spill was due to a pipe “manufacturing defect”.
? “Driller EQT sues 70 Allegheny [PA] property owners under pooling law.”
? “Transcanda To Build Pipeline to Atlantic . . . a $12 billion plan to ship 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta”.
? Switzerland has raised its carbon tax “by two thirds”.
? BP has decided not to sell its “US wind farm assets”. It’s “not the right time”.
? “Uruguary’s House of Representatives [has voted] to legalise marijuana.” Update: UN’s International Narcotics Control Board is “concerned”.
? Ah, yes.