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The Roundup for August 29, 2013

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Evenin’ all.

Breaking News

? UK Parliament votes against air strikes on Syria.  Vote was 272-285.  “US isolated”.

International Developments

? “UN weapons inspectors to leave Syria a day earlier: Ban Ki-moon’s announcement that [they’ll] depart on Saturday fuels speculation of armed intervention.”

Two Russian warships are on their way to the eastern Mediterranean.  Update:  “China warns U.S. against attack on Syria.”

? “Syrian rebel commanders said in interviews Tuesday along the Turkish border that while the U.S. is moving toward possible air strikes on Syrian targets, Washington hasn’t delivered any weapons it has pledged to the Free Syrian Army. [Nor has the US] coordinated any attack plans with the Supreme Military Council”.

? “The days since the deadly chemical weapons attack last week in Syria carry an eerie echo of the tense days leading up to the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.”

US says “Assad responsible even if [he] didn’t order gas attack.”  Update: Next week, the White House will be sharing “secret intelligence”  supporting “firm conviction that Bashar Assad’s forces attacked rebels with chemical weapons”.  Update:  “Israeli intelligence ‘intercepted Syrian regime talk about chemical attack’.  Information passed to US by Israeli Defence Forces’ 8200 unit”, according to a “former official”.  Update:  “The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people is no ‘slum dunk'”.

? UK Prime Minister David Cameron faces strong opposition from Labour for his motion “paving the way for military action in Syria”.

? Bennis:  There is No Military Solution to Syria”.

? “Syria: Which Way to Kurdistan?”  40,000 Syrian Kurds have sought refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan “in less than two weeks”, in addition to the 200,000 already there.  Antagonism between the Iraqi Kurdish and Syrian Kurdish leadership and between the Kurds and Iraqi government.  And meantime there are the Turks.

? The physician who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden, and who was convicted last year of “‘conspiring against the state’,” has been granted a retrial in Pakistan.

? “Leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohammed al-Beltagi has been arrested” for inciting violence.

Two Guantanamo prisoners have been sent to their “Algerian homeland.” Kevin has more.

Money Matters USA

“US Banks Earn Record $42.2B in 2nd Quarter.”

? “Cash-strapped Detroit can continue to access an estimated $11 million a month in casino tax revenue, . . . while the court takes up a deal with creditors related to the revenue.”

A federal judge ruled that San Bernardino, CA is “eligible for bankruptcy protection”.

? Why Costco does so well, compared to Wal-Mart.

? DDay: “Fast Food, Retail Worker Strikes Actually Honor King Legacy”, or do so much more than the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington.

Surveillance Planet

? “Fidel Castro denies Russian claim that Cuba snubbed Edward Snowden”.

? “Britain’s GCHQ is reported to have wider access to Europe’s electronic communications than previously thought. . . . [It’s] capable of gathering and analyzing data from almost all of the traffic that passes through Europe’s internet network.”

? The FY 2013 “top secret U.S. intelligence ‘black budget'”:  $52.6bn. Also includes the “spy network’s successes, failures and objectives [as] detailed in ‘black budget’ summary.”

? “Most of us are good citizens.  And yet.  What if the government is listening in, or watching, or scanning, and some algorithm triggers an investigation and some quota-happy g-man decides to make one of us a pet project?”

Politics USA

? Oh, noooos. GOP House members wouldn’t let the Heritage Foundation attend their meeting “after the Farm Bill went down in flames”.

? Public Policy Polling will be “contacting cell phones” beginning next week.

Gun Corner

? “New [Obama administration] executive orders aim to curb import of military surplus and close loophole that lets felons circumvent background checks.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? “Poverty saps mental capacity to deal with complex tasks, say scientists.  Study suggests being preoccupied with money  problems is equivalent to loss of 13 IQ points or losing a night’s sleep.”

? Ralph Hudgens (R), GA’s Insurance Commissioner, bragged  “that his office is creating bureaucratic hurdles to slow down and derail the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. . .. Let me tell you, we’re doing . . . Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

? “DOJ Won’t Sue Colorado, Washington Over Marijuana Legalization Laws”–so long as they don’t “run afoul of the new federal priorities.”  Letter with priorities included.

The War on Women

? The judge in MT who gave the teacher who raped a 14-year-old female student 30 days in jail explains flaps his lips.

Planet Earth News

? Sounds too good to be true:  “A groundbreaking new Irish technology . . . – radio wave energised water – massively increases the output of vegetables and fruits”.  Claim is that this new technology “makes GM obsolete . . . [and converts] excess CO2 into edible plant mass.”

? Nature“Government ‘must step in’ to halt Fukushima leaks.”

? US Geological Survey:  Hydraulic fracturing fluids are believed to be the cause of the widespread death or distress of aquatic species in Kentucky’s Acorn Fork, after spilling from nearby gas well sites.”

? “Two monastic orders in rural Kentucky . . .  have made news recently for refusing to permit a gas company to install a pipeline across their property.”  Eminent domain looms.

? “North Carolina landowners would be forced to sell the natural gas under their homes and farms . . .  under a fracking recommendation approved Wednesday that’s expected to be enacted by the state legislature this fall.”

? “More than 100 environmental and political activist groups denounce oil fracking legislation as too weak and call on [CA] Gov. Brown to order a halt to the practice.”

? “East Antarctic ice sheet ‘vulnerable’ to temperature changes.”  At greater risk than “previously believed”.

Latin America

? “The Colombian government has offered concessions to small-scale farmers on strike for more than a week.”  Update:  “Colombia farmers’ strikes spread to cities.”

? Chile’s former president and center-leftist candidate for upcoming presidential elections, Michelle Bachelet, “has an overwhelming lead”.

? “Return to the rainforest: A son’s search for his Amazonian mother.”

Break Time

? Return of the Sun (Inuit)

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