CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for November 12th, 2013

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Hello everyone. Great day today, isn’t it? Starting snowing here.

International Developments


– “Iran’s foreign minister has blamed divisions between Western powers for the failure to agree a deal on its nuclear programme on Saturday.

– “Saudi Arabia officially told the United Nations on Tuesday that it would not be taking up a UN Security Council seat — opening the way for Jordan to take the place.

– Sounds like aliens are playing games on us. “Malware made its way aboard the International Space Station (ISS) causing “virus epidemics” in space, according to security expert Eugene Kaspersky.

– “ The State Department will formally designate the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram as a “foreign terrorist organization” on Wednesday, congressional sources and others briefed on the matter said.”

– “The U.N. Security Council approved a surge of African Union troops to fight al-Shabab militants in Somalia, where the world body fears that the war has “ground to a halt.”

“UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has been elected to a second four-year term as head of the U.N.’s cultural agency.

Middle East

– “Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered his housing minister to reconsider construction plans for more than 20,000 homes in the West Bank.

– Part 2 of Ann Jones interview can be found here

– “[Former IAEA inspector] Robert Kelley: Iran could be more transparent but it has already been quite upfront. IAEA should be more transparent about the sources of its information especially when they present it as fact” More here.

Increase of kidnappings in Lebanon as Syrian civil war continues

Asia & Oceania

– “China’s leaders have unveiled a series of reforms aimed at overhauling its economy over the next decade.

– China is “eyeing” bigger free market role


– “Two US sailors kidnapped in October from a ship off Nigeria’s coast have been freed, the state department says.

– “Egypt’s government says it is lifting the country’s three-month state of emergency and night-time curfew.

– “A Libyan government spokesman says that protesters have shut down an oil refinery in western Libya, adding to tensions in the country after militias seized vital export terminals in the east.”

– Relations turn sour between Morocco and Algeria


– “Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far, far right nationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party in Israel (which is currently merged with the equally right wing Likud Party), was acquitted of corruption charges and then quickly sworn in as Foreign Minister on Monday.

– The Greek government is considering a single pension fund

– “France’s justice minister has been publicly subjected to racist taunts for the third time in barely a month, triggering a wave of outrage Tuesday over the hounding of the country’s top black politician.

– Hunger strikers in Turkey enter 50th day 

– “Russia on Tuesday demanded an apology from Poland and slammed what it called a delayed police response after ultra-nationalist rioters went on the rampage outside the Russian embassy in Warsaw.

– Report: Since Francis has gotten appointed as Pope, more Catholics returning to Catholic Church

– “European youths still face rising joblessness at a rate far higher than their American counterparts — but European leaders insisted Tuesday that scenario is going to improve over the next two years.

– “Russia’s human rights ombudsman says imprisoned Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been transferred to a prison in Siberia.

Latin America & Canada

– “The Colombian government says it has unveiled a plot by the country’s largest rebel group, the Farc, to kill the former president, Alvaro Uribe.

– “World Cup local organising committee CEO Ricardo Trade says Brazilians have a perfect right to demonstrate during the tournament, as long as it doesn’t spill over to mistreatment of tourists.”

– “President Nicolas Maduro, who called for an emptying of shelves when he seized control of a slew of appliance retailers last week, urged calm Monday as Venezuelans massed outside stores nationwide for a fourth straight day.

Financial Matters

– Gallup: U.S. Economic Confidence slowly rising 

– “American Airlines and US Airways have settled an anti-trust suit with US regulators, paving the way for their proposed merger to be finalised.

– Awesome to hear! “A group of Occupy Wall Street activists has bought almost $15m of Americans’ personal debt over the last year as part of the Rolling Jubilee project to help people pay off their outstanding credit.

– “The Federal Reserve should keep monetary policy ultra-easy given the economy’s tepid growth and an uncertain outlook for jobs growth, two senior officials said on Tuesday, reinforcing views that the U.S. central bank will not taper bond buying before next year.

– Starbucks to pay Kraft $2.76 billion over deal ended early

– “An online exchange that trades the digital currency bitcoin in the Czech Republic says it has been attacked by hackers.”

– “Official figures say inflation in Britain fell to 2.2 percent in October, its lowest level in more than a year, thanks in part to a sharp drop in gas prices.

Black Friday Deals

– No, please no. Not again. “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Tuesday that it will start offering its holiday deals in its stores at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving — two hours earlier than last year.

– “The U.S. government sold another $1.2 billion worth of General Motors stock last month as it moves closer to selling its entire stake in the automaker. The government’s stake as of Oct. 31 could be as low as 4 percent.“”

– “European consumer groups are worried about the effects of a proposed trade deal with the U.S., fearing a flood of risky or unsafe foodstuffs, medicines and other imports from America.”

Surveillance Planet

– “PEN America, a nonprofit that works to advance freedom of expression and speech in literature, has released a disturbing survey that finds American writers are not just increasingly worried about government surveillance as a result of the NSA — but also engaging in self-censorship. Out of the 528 PEN members who responded to the survey, “Fully 85% are worried about government surveillance of Americans, and 73% of writers have never been as worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are today.” ”

– “The true Patriots in Congress are trying to end NSA tyranny in Congress

– Utterly ridiculous. “A specialist unit of Britain’s biggest police force is pursuing a criminal investigation following the leak of classified intelligence material to the Guardian newspaper, a senior officer said in a letter published Tuesday, a sign of the pressure being applied to the paper and its journalists.”

– Perry Fellwock, the original NSA whistleblower

– Edward Snowden is reportedly near broke

– “World leaders have been understanding about leaked revelations that the US spied on them as they know it was not all done under the orders of Barack Obama, the US secretary of state has said.

– Emptywheel: “The Phone Dragnet Did Not (and May Still Not) Meet the PATRIOT Act’s Minimization Requirements

– “A military drone has crashed into Lake Ontario during a New York Air National Guard training mission.

– “The Supreme Court looked back Tuesday at the collapse of energy giant Enron to determine who is protected from retaliation after blowing the whistle on a company’s misdeeds.

Labor’s a-Brewing

– “Most higher education instructors these days are not comfortably tenured professors—they’re contingent workers, struggling to make it on a patchwork of short-term contracts at discounted wages. That’s one reason for Campus Equity Week (October 28-November 2), established in 2001 to draw attention to the lack of equity for non-tenure-track faculty in the higher education workplace.

– “Wal-Mart is making some of its employees work on Thanksgiving, but the retailer is hoping to make up for intruding on the family holiday by feeding workers a traditional turkey dinner, giving them an extra day’s pay and offering them 25 percent off a future shipping trip.

– “Riot police fired tear gas to battle thousands of garment workers who rampaged through two Bangladesh towns during a protest over wages that closed at least 200 factories and left dozens of people injured.

Politics USA

Washington USA

– Gallup: Congress’ popularity at 9 percent

– “A record-breaking fundraising spree by Barack Obama has seen him make 30 separate visits to wealthy donors since April, according to a Guardian investigation into campaign finance trips that are running at more than twice the rate of the president’s two-term predecessors.

– “Former US President Bill Clinton says President Barack Obama should find a way to let Americans keep their health coverage under Obamacare.

Fewer than 50,000 have enrolled and gotten insurance through Obamacare

– Jason Jones on “Not-So-Angry Voters

– President Obama praises his Commodity Futures Trading Commission nominee Timothy Massad as someone delivering good results

– Stephen Colbert on Chris Christie’s not wanting to be President quasi-Presidential run

– “Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) recently repeated a debunked conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was deploying a “secret security force” as part of the health care reform law, but he wasn’t sure if they were being trained with weapons or syringes.” Expect large, muscular men with small syringes coming at you.

– Poll finds GOP swing districts support immigrant reform

– ” Vice President Joe Biden will head to Atlanta this week to promote the need for an immigration overhaul during a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens.

– Supreme Court again rebuffs Oklahoma over another abortion case

– Senator Elizabeth Warren challenges Obama over regulation of “too-big-to-fail” banks

– ” Medicaid has signed up 444,000 people in 10 states in the six weeks since open enrollment began, a rare early success story for President Barack Obama’s technologically challenged health overhaul.”

– John Kerry to Congress: Don’t make new sanctions on Iran

– “Senate Republicans blocked another of President Barack Obama’s picks for one of the nation’s top courts on Tuesday, the latest skirmish in a nominations battle that has intensified partisan tensions in the chamber.

Everything Else USA 

– “Mom as the New Face of Anarchy? Police Terrorize Americans Who Object to Right-Wing Lunacy by Using “Anarchist” Label” Bakes cookies in the morning, sells them at night for the revolutionary cause. I like it.

An excerpt from Thom Hartmann’s new book, The Crash of 2016

– “John Moffit, an American football player for the Denver Broncos, has walked away from a multi-million dollar contract after studying the works of Noam Chomsky and the Dalai Lama.

– Study: US BitTorrent traffic on decline 

– Hawaii will be 15th state to legalize gay marriage

– Stephen Colbert’s hilarious take on the 60 minutes scandal. Sam Waterston joins in too

– “A US army veteran who turned his life around after struggling with drug addiction is fighting his deportation, saying he should not have been expelled from the country last year for a minor criminal record after honorably serving his country and living here legally for more than 50 years.

– Richard Cohen’s “Convention” Racism at “The Washington Post”

– “The editor of Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, accused of racism on Tuesday, admitted he had made a mistake in not editing the article more carefully.

– “Prosecutors plan to make their recommendation this week on whether they believe Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should face the death penalty if convicted in the deadly attack.

– “What I learned from partying with Fox News

– “After a drunken driver on a California highway back in 1968 slammed into a bus carrying passengers to Las Vegas, killing 19, investigators said a lack of seat belts contributed to the high death toll. But 45 years later, safety advocates are still waiting for the government to act on seat belts and other measures to protect bus passengers.

– Thom Hartmann: Libertarians are pushing us over a cliff

– “The medical examiner’s report on 19-year-old Renisha McBride‘s corpse confirmed early reports that the young woman died with a blast of gunfire to her face. The Detroit woman was reportedly knocking on doors in the predominantly white neighborhood of Dearborn Heights, seeking help following a car crash.

We Don’t Need No Education

– “Poverty is America’s #1 Educational Problem

– Dianne Ravitch: “Five steps Bill de Blasio must take to save NYC’s public schools

81 percent of Universities say sequester has affected their research ability

– “Edging into a broader policy role, Michelle Obama is joining President Barack Obama’s efforts to get the United States on track to have the highest percentage of college graduates by 2020.

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

– Despite the public agreeing on obesity’s problems, they disagree on government solution

– “The nation’s first new guidelines in a decade for preventing heart attacks and strokes call for twice as many Americans — one-third of all adults — to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

– Depression speeds ageing process

– “Scientists say that if all smokers in the world switched from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, it could save millions of lives.

– Here is the raw McRib

– “New U.S. guidelines on heart health that were a decade in the making recommend stronger measures for patients at particularly high risk of heart attack or stroke, including more aggressive therapy with drugs that lower cholesterol or even weight loss surgery.”

The War on Women

– “The Most Sexist Show on TV

– “It is too soon to measure how many women will travel out of Texas to get a safe, legal abortion but abortion-rights advocates expect the number to rise.

– Artist Lily Allen returns to mock Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke and other who allow sexism

– “The feminist case for Catholic school

Planet Earth

Typhoon Haiyan

– “The children stand in clusters with wooden signs at the side of the highway, their palms outstretched. “Please help us,” reads one sign, scrawled in permanent ink on a broken board. “We need food & water,” reads another.

– Filipino government misused public funds as public suffers

– “Government officials are having difficulty communicating with people in the city of Tacloban, and ports and roads are blocked” This reminds me so much of Rebecca Solnit’s book, A Paradise Built in Hell.

– “The President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, says the death toll from Friday’s typhoon may be lower than first thought. In an interview with CNN, he said the number of 10,000 killed was “too high” and the figure was more likely up to 2,500.

“Over one million farmers in the Philippines have been impacted by Typhoon Haiyan according to the UN.

– “World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Tuesday that the deadly typhoon disaster in the Philippines should put an end to “silly” arguments denying climate change.”

– “The UN launched an appeal for a third of a billion dollars on Tuesday as US and British warships steamed towards the typhoon-ravaged Philippines where well over 10,000 people are feared dead.

The Rest

– The global poor bear the blunt of climate change

– “China and India are increasingly driving world energy demand as the United States’ production boom puts it on track to become independent of the global market, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

– “A leading environmental group on Monday called on authorities to keep tough fishing quotas on Atlantic tuna when governments meet next week to set industry rules.

Expect more violent typhoons say weather experts

– “The 30 people arrested following a Greenpeace protest at a Russian oil rig in the Arctic were transferred to St. Petersburg on Tuesday, Greenpeace International and Russian transport officials said.

– Report: The southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster

– “Obama’s push for ‘green’ energy turns out to have a massive environment cost”

“Japanese officials have admitted for the first time that thousands of people evacuated from areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant may never be able to return home.

– “ A new Associated Press investigation, which found that ethanol hasn’t lived up to some of the government’s clean-energy promises, is drawing a fierce response from the ethanol industry.

Mixed Bag

– “America’s long forgotten spaces

– One World Trade Center called tallest building in U.S.

“Good Morning America’s Amy Robach has revealed she will have a double mastectomy this week, a month after undergoing a mammogram on the show.

“Physics would have been “far more interesting” if scientists had been unable to find the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Cern, according to Stephen Hawking, who has admitted to losing a bet as a result of the discovery in July last year.

– Study: The Sound of Music boosts Alzheimer’s patients’ brains

– “The first test mission of a new deep space capsule that could one day take humans to Mars is on track for September 2014, the US space agency said Tuesday.

– “An international conservation group says one of the rarest and most threatened mammals on earth has been caught on camera in Vietnam for the first time in 15 years, renewing hope for the recovery of the species.

Break Time

The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

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Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan is a freelance journalist in Queens, NY and written for publications such as The Nation, In These Times, Truthout and more.