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The Roundup for August 30, 2013

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Good evening.

International Developments

? “US Had Intel on Chemical Strike Before It Was Launched“.  “First and foremost, What, if anything, did it do to notify the Syrian opposition of the pending attack.”  More.

? “U.S. and France prepare to act on Syria despite UK no vote.”

? The US “assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013 [and] that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack.”  Thus begin efforts in support of military action against Syria.  The US government’s “classified assessments” have been shared with the Congress, but not US citizens.  Update:  Emptywheel on just “how uncertain US intelligence is about chain of control over Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons.”

? If the US strikes Syria based on their “assessments” of the situation, “the US will have launched two military operations . . . in a decade based largely on intelligence assessments, rather than confirmed fact, about illegal weapons in a Middle Eastern country.”

? “Obama strike would not weaken Assad’s military strength, experts warn:  White House says any strike would be ‘discreet and limited’ in statement intended to reflect reluctance to draw US into conflict.”

? “U.S. military officers have deep doubts about impact, wisdom of a U.S. strike on Syria.”

? While Iran is “solidly behind Assad”, their being gassed by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s has left an indelible memory.  Hence, their “seesaw strategy of denouncing chemical weapons but not directly implicating Assad”.

? Aleppo, “Syria’s largest city just dropped off the Internet.”

? Thousands of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi supporters rallied in Egyptian cities; 3 reportedly killed.

? “Rwanda has accused government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo of deliberately shelling its territory, killing a woman and wounding her baby.”

? Ghastly!  Korean leader Kin Jong-Un’s former girlfriend, singer Hyon Song-wol “and others”, were apparently publicly executed by machine gun “for violating laws against pornography”.

International Finance

? One thing Austerity hasn’t smashed:  “Portugal’s highest court has ruled that the government’s plan to make it easier to sack public servants is unconstitutional.”

? “With no national minimum wage and a fifth of workers in insecure mini-jobs, critics say German prosperity is being built on exploitation of the downtrodden.”

Money Matters USA

? The Koch brothers have been forced to remove “mounds of petroleum coke along the shores of the Detroit River”.

? The fast-food workers’ action yesterday spread through 50+ US cities, including “New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Milwaukee, Indianapolis.”

British Petroleum continues to resist having to clean up after their disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.  They’re now complaining that LA leaders are “making ‘patently false assertions'” and “grandstanding”.

Surveillance Planet

? “UK took three weeks to act over data at New York Times, says Guardian; Alan Rusbridger hits back at Downing Street’s claims in high court that it ‘urgently’ needed access to leaked GCHQ files.”  The government is claiming to have unencrypted some of the files David Miranda was carrying when detained at Healthrow; the files are “gravely injurious to UK interests”.

? “Hundreds of Millions Lubricate the Telecoms“.  The extent and intent of NSA’s budget items and amounts.

? NYC, home of 3,000 surveillance cameras, is resisting having police wear cameras on their shirt lapels.   The city objects to the estimated costs ($1,020,000) while shelling out $700,000,000 in settlements awarded to abused citizens last year.  NYC is very very concerned with “impingement on privacy rights of the public” while conducting massive stop-and-frisk operations.  “This is the nastiest, most self-serving hypocrisy the city’s dished out yet”.

Politics USA

? “Nearly 80% of Americans say President Obama should seek congressional approval before taking any military action in Syria”.  50% “say they oppose the United States taking military action against Assad”.

? Alex Pareene:  “No one wants it, but we’ll have a little war anyway; Britain won’t be joining a strike against Syria and huge majorities of Americans oppose it.  It doesn’t matter.”

? House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “Expresess Support for Military Action in Syria.”  But of course.

? NY Times-Siena College Poll: Bill de Blasio “has opened a large lead” in NYC’s Democratic mayoral primary  contest.

Gun Corner

? Is it easier to buy an assault weapon than to vote? Among the evidence: in 33 states, “you can buy an assault weapon without ID, versus zero states where you can vote without providing some kind of ID”, and so on.

The War on Women

? “Hundreds of demonstrators gathered [yesterday] outside the offices of a Montana judge to protest a one-month sentence he gave an ex-teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old student”.

? Planned Parenthood of TX will be receiving a $1m donation from the Margot Perot Center for Women and Infants.

Education Directions

? “School is a prison–and damaging our kids . . .. Compulsory schooling has been a fixture of our culture now for several generations”, though evidence shows “children learn [best] in conditions almost opposite to those of school.”  How’d we get to this situation?  How do we change it?

Planet Earth News

? US Centers for Disease Control don’t have the funds to analyze the Cyclospora outbreak in bagged salad greens which caused “600 people in 22 states” to become ill.

? “An employee of a Youngstown company that stored, treated and disposed of oil and gas drilling liquids admitting . . . to dumping tens of thousands of gallons of fracking water on at least 24 occasions into a tributary of the Mahoning River (OH).”

? “[N]early 30% of the natural gas extracted as a byproduct of fracking for oil in North Dakota is being burned off, or ‘flared’.”

? “One of the biggest canyons in the world has been found beneath the ice sheet that smothers most of Greenland.”

Mixed Bag

? RIP, Seamus Heaney, Irish poet.  “Digging”.  More.

? Amazing!  “An Iron Age tunic is among the discoveries found under melting snow on Norwegian mountains.”  The tunic  even has set-in sleeves.

Break Time

? As you motor away for a pleasant weekend:  Heavy Chevy

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