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The Roundup for August 22, 2013

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International Developments

France wants to use “force” if chemical weapons use in Syria is confirmed.  Meanwhile, Syria continues to bomb the rebel-held suburbs where chemical weapons were allegedly used.  Spiegel reports “experts agree that the sheer number of photos, videos and eyewitness accounts leave little reasonable doubt that a chemical weapons attack took place.”   “[P]robably sarin,” say experts.”  The US is holding a flurry “of Syria talks . . . but . . . has not seen conclusive proof of chemical weapons use.”

? Four Lebanese rockets hit Israel.

? “‘Defense’ contractor CACI International has taken the shocking step of suing four former Abu Ghraib detainees who are seeking redress in U.S. courts for the company’s role in [allegedly] torturing, humiliating and dehumanizing them”.

? Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak is out of prison but under house arrest in Egypt. Update: He’s in hospital.

? “Hamas to Persist with Public Executions Despite Objections.”  Sharia, blood and law.

? At Fukushima there are “new spots of high radiation . . . near storage tanks holding highly contaminated water”.

International Finance

? Well, okey dokey.  “JPMorgan Chase Not Akin to Nazis, Report Finds.”

? “China has severely damaged its land and water resources, compromising its ability to increase food production”.

Money Matter USA

? He kidnapped an Indian businessman in South Sudan, but got off. Now he’s been found guilty of demanding $60,000 in kickbacks for approving a $3.2m award to an American company for construction in Afghanistan.  His sentence?  10 months in the federal slammer.

? Well, well.  “The U.S. government has slashed its estimate for the long-term operating costs of Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jets” to under $1 trillion.  But wait:  “Two Japanese contractors will supply 24 components for the next-generation F-35 stealth fighters . . . which will push up the price by 50 percent”.

? “Fed minutes show cautious move towards end of economic stimulus: Released record of Federal Open Market Committee meeting shows mixed optimism and caution on recovery of US economy.”

Surveillance Planet

? “Glimmerglass, a northern California company that sells optical fiber technology” has developed software which intercepts “signals on underseas cables” and can “analyze Gmail and Yahoo! Mail as well as social media like Facebook and Twitter”.  Is this the type technology being used by the NSA and GCHQ?

? “Material seized from [David Miranda at Heathrow] can only be examined for national security purposes, judges say.”  Police are “launching a criminal investigation after examining some of the material.”  Authorities may search, but “are not allowed to copy, disclose or distribute any of the material”.

? “Advocate of Secret Infiltration, Cass Sunstein, on Obama’s ‘Committee To Make Us Trust the Dragnet.”  He joins “former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell, former Homeland Security Czar Richard Clarke, and former Obama special assistant for economic policy Peter Swire”.  The Guardian:  “List of apparent panel members prompts criticism among privacy advocates after Obama promised ‘independent’ review.”

? James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, has “declassified and made public a number of documents concerning” NSA surveillance under Section 702 of FISA.

? Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) says the FISA Court’s ruling on Section 702 is “long overdue” and “demonstrates even more clearly the need to close the back-door searches loophole” that the NSA exploits to spy on US citizens.

? Lavabit founder, Ladar Levison, who shut down his business rather than become “complicit in crimes against the American people,” “has been stuck in a Kafkaesque legal battle–and that’s about all he can say.”

? “Amazon Received $600 Million CIA Computer Cloud Contract:  Surveillance Shopping?

The USPS has awarded a contract to SecureKey in Toronto “to provide a cloud-based authentication infrastructure”, or an exchange “to enable individuals to securely access online service . . . at multiple federal agencies” using only one password.

? “[C]elebrated writer William Vollman has revealed that the FBI once thought he might be the Unabomber, the anthrax mailer and a terrorist training with the Afghan mujahideen.” His FBI file is 785 pages; they let him have 294 of them.

His office has been investigating VA Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)’s financial ties to a donor, and “would be responsible for the case against  . . . Edward Snowden and . . . Julian Assange, should either of them end up back on U.S. soil.”  He’s the US Attorney for VA’s Eastern District and he’s just resigned.

? The New York Times:  “Bradley Manning’s Excessive Sentence“.

Politics USA

? Can this be true?  “Republicans wave white flag, admit shutdown tactic is hopeless.”  After all, polls show 71% of voters oppose a shutdown.

? Colin Powell addressed a CEO Forum in Raleigh, with NC Gov. Pat McCrory (R) present, during which he criticized NC’s new voting law which will “drive” minority voters “from the polls.”

? “Justice Department to File New Lawsuit Against State of Texas Over Voter I.D. Law.”

? Who knew?  “Justice Scalia: My Decisions Are Sometimes ‘Stupid And Even Cruel’.”

? Beleaguered Bob Filner, Democrat and Mayor of San Diego, now has 18 women who’ve accused him of improper conduct.  Update: A deal has been reached in the sexual harassment suit.  Update: He’s scheduled to resign tomorrow.

? Oh, noooos.  Liz Cheney lied to get her WY fishing license, got caught and was fined $220.  She has an excuse, of course.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? A 90-minute teleconference was held between Obama, other officials and the states’ insurance exchange managers regarding progress.

? Some states with Republican governors, such as TX, are taking Obamacare dollars but try to keep that fact hush-hush.

? “Wisconsin Cuts Most People Off Of Medicaid . . . as part of a plan advanced by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.”

? Poor people living in the Fresno Inn (CA) are being illegally evicted and thrown out into the streets.  Tenants Together is fighting the evictions.

? “A hundred+ . . . marched . . . on Minneapolis City Hall and Chase Bank to demand fair negotiation for . . . two south Minneapolis neighbors fighting their JPMorgan Chase foreclosures with the help of Occupy Homes MN.”

Mixed Bag

? 603,954 Tweets from New Yorkers reveal where people are happiest and not-so-much.

Break Time

Fleck – Bach 

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