CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for August 1, 2013

Greetings.

International Developments

? 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”.

? “US, Pak Ease Ties; Kerry Hints Drones Could End.”  Kerry also hints US forces might “stay in Afghanistan after 2014.”

CIA role in Benghazi is back in the news.

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.”

? The Fed “to keep interest rates at zero”.

? Congress passed a student loan bill, tying rates to financial markets.

? The Pentagon will “bear brunt of upcoming budget cuts” as sequestration deepens.

Surveillance Planet

? “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.”

? Senate bills (and here) are now in the hopper to rein in the FISA court. Are they adequate, will they be effective?

? ACLU takes on the “only metadata” fable:  “Why Metadata Is Incredibly Intimate.”

? “Yes, The FBI Is Tracking American Google Searches.”  Update: FBI, police denials.

? 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.”

Politics USA

? 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.

?  Colbert:  Bradley Manning Verdict

?  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.”

? The homeless in Fresno, CA are under attack. The Fresno Irrigation District has been taking people’s property while “cleaning-up” encampments–and multiple lawsuits are in the works.

? 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?”

Education Directions

? 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”.

Latin America

? “Uruguary’s House of Representatives [has voted] to legalise marijuana.”  Update:  UN’s International Narcotics Control Board is “concerned”.

Break Time

? Ah, yes. 

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