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The Roundup for September 3, 2013

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International Developments

? “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said . . . the use of force is only legal when it is in self-defense or with Security Council authorization”.  He warned  “any ‘punitive’ action taken against Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack last week could unleash more turmoil and bloodshed in that nation’s civil war.”

? “‘The fire is approaching’: Assad says West has no proof regime carried out chem attack.”

? “America’s new poodle: a memo to Francois Hollande.”  Update:  “French intelligence: ‘Massive use of chemical agents’ in Syria”.

? “Eleven supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi have been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of attacking the army.”

? “Egyptian judges call for Muslim Brotherhood to be dissolved.”

? “Egyptian helicopters strike militants in Sinai.”  8 killed, 15 injured.

? Al-Jazeera claims “it has pinpointed four different sources of jamming [of its broadcasts by Egypt] after commissioning an interference detection company.

? “Afghan forces suffering ‘unsustainable’ casualties, says Nato commander; Afghan police and army may need west’s support for years . . . weekly death toll tops 100.”

? Former Mexican President Vicente Fox “has become an unlikely leading advocate of marijuana legalization . . . [due to] Mexico’s mounting drug violence.”  Since 2006, around “70,000 Mexicans have died, and thousands more disappeared” due to drug-related violence.

International Finance

? “President Obama reiterated on Tuesday his desire to complete an Asia-Pacific trade deal this year, arguing that it will not only boost economic growth but shore up global security.”  Wonder how ‘global security’ translates.

Money Matters USA

? Labor Secretary Thomas Perez:  “The living-wage strikes that we’ve seen recently and the March on Washington really stand for the proposition that nobody who works a 40-hour week should have to live in poverty.”

? “Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil”.

? There are 2.7 million temp workers in the USA, and they’re increasing at a rate “10 times faster than private-sector employment”.  “Several temp agencies . . . are now among the largest employers in the United States”.

? AFL-CIO video: “Don’t Let Corporations Hijack Another Trade Deal”.

? Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak to the Carlyle Group on September 9th.

Surveillance Planet

? Mexico has “asked the United States to investigate the allegations [that the NSA collected “emails, phone calls and text messages” of now President Enrique Pena Nieto], saying they would be a serious violation of its sovereignty if proven true.”

? Hackers battle hackers, as Anonymous hacks into the Syrian Electronic Army.  Servers compromised and “members’ names along with user IDs and passwords” lifted.

? So, now what’ll we do?  “No password is safe from new breed of cracking software.”

? Wonder how many have made it through the vetting process:  “One fifth of CIA job applicants with suspect backgrounds have ‘significant terrorist’ connections.”

Politics USA

? Pew Research Center:  29% favor Syrian airstrikes, 48% opposed (both total and Dem %s); 74% see a backlash, 61% see “long-term military commitment, and 51% don’t think it’s likely to curtail use of chemical weapons anyway.

? Code Pink interrupted the Senate’s Syria hearing.

? House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) supports President Obama’s action against Syria.  Update:  House Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is lined up and ready to go, too. Jane’s whip count is here.

? A NY Times article last night referred to “the influential pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC” and its influence on decisions regarding Syria.  The two paragraphs mentioning AIPAC were not in this morning’s editionAIPAC contributions to Congresscritters, 2007 – 2012.

? John Yoo on Syria.

? “Barack Obama has confirmed that he plans to go beyond punitive strikes against the Assad regime . . . [and employ] a broader strategy to step up help to the Syrian opposition.” (10:21pm ET entry)

? Congress is split on Syria in five ways:  1) “Do it now”, 2) “Do it bigger”, 3) “Let’s debate”, 4) “I’m skeptical”, and 5) “Anti-military action”.

? “US Government Urges Citizens to Avoid Peaceful Political Protest”.  Warning from the US Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland to US citizens, anticipating reaction to the Manning trial outcome last month.

? “White Supremacist Felon [in OH] Caught with 18 Guns, 45,000 Bullets And A List Of Black & Jewish Leaders.”

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? WA’s Health Benefit Exchange “learned this week that nine health insurance issuers have filed . . . to provide 57 Qualified Health Plans . . . totaling 229 plan options for individuals and families through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s new online health insurance marketplace.”

? Not only is GA’s Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens a self-proclaimed obstructionist to Obamacare, but both he and GA Gov. Nathan Deal (R) have received generous donations from “a secret Political Action Committee called RealPAC” which gets contributions from Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross, United Health Care, etc.  Real PAC also hasn’t filed taxes or financial disclosures for two years.

The War on Women

? IA’s Medical Board voted “to ban a video-conferencing system that Iowa doctors have used to provide abortion pills to more than 3,000 women across the state since 2008.”  They’re really really concerned with patient safety.

Education Directions

? The US Department of Education is beginning to “get some real data, using a method [called] randomized clinical trial, in which groups of subjects are randomly assigned to get either an experimental therapy, the standard therapy, a placebo or nothing.” Translate ‘therapy’ into “textbooks, curriculum guides, homework, quizzes”, etc., and you get the general idea.

Planet Earth News

? “Japan to fund [$470 million] ice wall to stop reactor leaks.”  Update: apparently, the “No. 4 fuel pool is perhaps the greatest threat humanity has ever faced”.

? Near the Black Hills:  America’s Chernobyl, where “radiation levels . . . were higher than those in the evacuated zones around the Fukushima nuclear disaster. . ..”

? Here’s one way to deal with inspection of your nuclear reactor–just shut it down.

? Spare us: “Plymouth warship torpedoed whales mistaken for Falklands submarines.”

Mixed Bag

? Cool.  “Chesapeake Bay Bridge: Saving drivers too scared to cross.”

? Oldest known creature to live on land–“350-million-year-old fossilized scorpion . . . on Gondwana”.

? Eeeeeeek!  London’s so-called walkie-talkie skyscraper, can reflect light so hot it’s already melted panels on a Jaguar XJ.

Break Time

? Psycho Killer

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