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The Roundup for December 20th, 2013

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Hello everyone, hope you are well

International Developments


Nine important things in the news this year barely talked about

Lessons from the Christmas Truce of 1914

– “Spain’s prime minister says his government will host a meeting with representatives of Syria’s moderate opposition next year in preparation for a peace conference to be held in Switzerland.

– U.N.: A million Palestinians will need food aid in Gaza next year

– Washington has blocked Iran from joining peace conference at Geneva over Syria

– “President Barack Obama says the delegation he’s sending to Russia for the Winter Olympics shows the United States doesn’t make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation.

Middle East

– Regarding the error over “Iran’s nuclear fatwa

– Both bombings and shootings have left 14 dead in Iraq and at least 27 people wounded

– “Peter Beinart’s colonial logic: Opponents of Israel boycott make anti-democratic arguments” | Suuuuuuurrrrrrreeeeeeeeee

– “Swell of Boycotts Driving Israel Into International Isolation

– How Obama is pursuing “Occupation-Lite” in Afghanistan

– Ministry of Planning: Iraq is growing by nearly 1 million every year and, by 2014, will have 36 million 

– “U.S. and Yemeni officials said Friday that the target of a Dec. 12th drone strike in Yemen was the ringleader behind the summer plot that shuttered 19 diplomatic posts across Africa and the Mideast. But he was only wounded, and escaped, while up to a dozen others were killed.

– France: Syrian government’s bombings are equal to “war crimes

– “The UK will help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile by incinerating over 150 tonnes of chemicals used in the production of deadly nerve agents such as sarin and VX gas over the next three months.“‘

– Rania Khalek: “Does The Nation have a problem with Palestinians?” Don’t miss her interview with Kevin Gosztola.

Asia and Oceania

Protests grow in India over diplomat handling by the U.S. as attempts to cool the situation fail

– “The U.S. government lab behind Beijing’s nuclear power push


– Victory! “South Africa’s biggest trade union has announced that it is withdrawing its support for the ANC ahead of next year’s election – a big blow to the governing party.

– “With hopes that the election of a new president will end international sanctions, residents of the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar went to the polls Friday for a second round of presidential and legislative elections.

– On Madagascar, specifically its collapse as the bubonic plague kills 32 

– “The [Canadian] Hypocrite Goes to South Africa

– “African mediators trying to avert civil war in South Sudan say they have held “productive” talks with President Salva Kiir.”

– “Gay rights activists have reacted angrily to the Ugandan parliament’s abrupt decision to pass anti-homosexuality laws that would condemn same-sex couples to life in jail for mere touching, urging president Yoweri Museveni to veto them.”

– Obama: South Sudan “stands at the precipice

– “After days of relative calm, sectarian violence once more exploded Friday in Central African Republic claiming at least 30 lives.


– “The European Union on Friday promised Russia a bruising summit meeting next month centering on their geopolitical confrontation over the allegiance of Ukraine.

– “What Really Happened in Ukraine

– “Google has been fined 900,000 euros (£751,000) for breaking Spanish data protection laws.

– Stephen Cohen: We are promoting “anti-democratic action” within Ukraine

–  “Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s purge of the police command spread to other state institutions on Friday, widening a crackdown on what he described as a foreign-backed conspiracy to undermine him and create a “state within a state”.

– “Apollo theatre collapse: investigation begins into why roof caved in

– “Farmers from the Greek island of Crete clashed with police Friday outside Greece’s parliament in Athens as lawmakers debated a bill that will expand an unpopular property tax to farms and previously untaxed properties.

– Pope Francis: Recycling is good for both the environment and workers

– “Portugal’s prime minister says his government is looking for new savings to meet its budget targets next year after a court disallowed planned cuts in state pensions.”

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada 

– The Supreme Court (in Canada) has struck down all anti-prostitution laws since they found it “unconstitutional.

– “Cuba to eliminate currency pegged to dollar

Surveillance Planet

– Latest Snowden document: NSA had a secret contract with a “security industry pioneer

– Latest Snowden document: Israel Prime Minister, a senior European Union official and some German government buildings were victims of spying by both the U.S. and the U.K.

– Obama: We need checks over the NSA’s programs, but we can’t disarm

– “The Obama administration has dropped its objection to the publication of a secret court opinion on the law that authorizes the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ telephone records.

– Michael Ratner: “NSA Surveillance Program Needs to be Torn Apart from Branch to Branch

– “AT&T says it will publish reports on data requests

– Ensuring the “right call on the NSA

– “Why Is The New Republic Taking Money from an NSA Contractor to Run Defenses of the NSA?

– Taiwanese animators give a quite colorful (emphasis mine) video of NSA spying

– “Spy panel wants duplicate oversight board replaced

– How Boeing lost a contract due to NSA spying

– Emptywheel: “The NSA Review Group Ganders at Metadata

Financial Matters

– The EU has lost its AAA rating

– U.S. economy growth has been revised to be higher

– ” Unemployment rates fell or were unchanged in all 50 U.S. states in November, evidence that hiring is improving across the country.

– Obama: 2014 will be a “breakthrough year” for the economy

– Gallup: Barely a third of U.S. investors support the stock market as a way for Americans to grow their wealth

– On the highest paid road worker

– “Gordon Brown and Economic Inequality

– Target believes hackers were from overseas as probe continues

Labor’s a-Brewing

– Gallup: 63 percent of “Engaged” workers, if they won the lottery, would stick with their job

– On “organizing community unions

– “Setback for Scalia in Attempt to Curtail Labor Rights

– How colleges and universities use unpaid interns

Politics USA

Washington USA

– Obama: It’s been “ups and down” with my Presidency; Oh like those war crimes?

– “President Barack Obama is urging Congress to resist new sanctions against Iran because current agreements have a good chance to rein in that country’s nuclear ambitions.

– Obama: We “screwed it up” when it Obamacare

– The Obama Administration has cut the fine for those who do not have insurance

– “The Incredible, Shrinking Presidency of Barack Obama

– “ The Obama administration’s plans for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including modernization of bombs, delivery systems and laboratories, will cost the country about $355 billion over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said on Friday.

– Rep. Peter King (R-NY): Rand Paul should be ashamed of himself for doubting James Clapper

– “His health care plan facing a dicey transition, President Barack Obama said Friday that insurance sign-ups are surging now that the government’s website is working better for consumers.”

– Regarding Obama and increasing pay for federal workers

– “Janet Yellen, an unwavering advocate of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive steps to boost the U.S. economy, on Friday took a big step toward becoming the first woman to chair the central bank as her nomination cleared a Republican procedural hurdle in the Senate.

– Juan Cole: “Congress cuts Food Stamps, maintains Estate Tax Loophole worth $100 bn to the Rich

– “A cross Congress ended its business for the year Friday as the Senate approved a new boss for the troubled Internal Revenue Service but remained slowed and bitterly riven over majority Democrats’ weakening of Republicans’ power to filibuster.”

– Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) will lead Financial Committee

– “The Obama administration says nearly 3.9 million people have qualified for coverage through the health care law’s Medicaid expansion.

– AP/GfK poll: Majority of Americans feel Afghanistan was a mistake and wish to pull out. Analysis can be found here.

– “U.S. prosecutors on Friday added two charges to an indictment accusing Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who once served as a spokesman for al Qaeda, of conspiring to kill Americans.

– The Senate has approved the defense bill with sexual assault reforms 84-15. Here’s a look at the bill.

– “A two-star general who oversaw the US arsenal of intercontinental missiles was fired for allegedly drinking and carousing with women while leading a government delegation to Russia for talks on nuclear security, an inspector general report showed. ”

Everything Else USA 

Part 3 of interview with Ralph Nader on 2000 election and beyond

– Thom Hartmann: “Why High Unemployment Actually Destroys the Fabric of American Life

– A person gives their reflection when they taught “The Odyssey” to prisons at San Quentin

– “Bloomberg Warns de Blasio About ‘Labor-Electoral’ Complex

– A federal judge has struck down Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriage

– “Stuck in Limbo With Breast Cancer as the Obamacare Deadline Looms

– Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has made it more difficult for offensive names of teams to be changed

– “Fifteen Things That We Relearned About the Prison Industrial Complex in 2013

– Tom Engelhardt: “The media’s deplorable record on drones

– “How Fraud Flourishes in Medicare’s Drug Plan

– Great to hear! “High School Students Stage Sit-In to Support Gay Vice Principal

– “Three more men face charges for their alleged roles in the online black market website known as the Silk Road, federal prosecutors in New York City revealed Friday.

We Don’t Need No Education

– “Native American and black students face blatant racial and sexual harassment on a daily basis from students and staff at Eureka City Schools District, the ACLU claims in a federal lawsuit on behalf of students and parents.

– Countering “reformists” on education and beating the corporate establishment

Top Gun! (Stories)

– On the NRA and their attempts to help Republican candidates

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

– Cattle get fed chicken poop and the FDA is well-aware of this. What’s the solution? No one knows.

– “My 19 Days in a Psychiatric Hospital

– “Cancer, Nuclear Weapons and Dirty Tricks

– The world’s healthiest cities

The Second Sex

– Gallup: Link between parental leave and wide gender gap

– Systemic inequality is behind the racial gap in survival rates for cancer

– “The War on Women” — The new invisible poor in the U.S.

– Even former “Men’s Rights Activists” call other MRAs embarrassing

– “Injunction granted in Okla. birth control lawsuit

– Obama to military: Review sexual assaults in the military 

Planet Earth

– U.N.: The oil industry is “devastating” the Amazon forest”

– Study: Climate change denial groups spend up to $1 billion a year on countering efforts to stop climate change

– Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is poised to take over the Energy Committee, despite having numerous ties to oil and natural gas companies

– “Feds begin killing barred owls to help spotted owl

– Harvard Medical School fined for animal abuse after four monkeys died

– A Canadian review panel has approved plans to ship oil sands outside to exports, with or without the Keystone XL pipeline built

– The significance of Belding’s ground squirrel related to climate change

– “Wildlife groups have accused the government of caving in to big farmers over planned changes to farm subsidies in England.

– Climate change has added to East Africa’s “food plight

– “Indigenous Groups Win Right to Try to Seize Chevron’s Canadian Assets

– On ALEC and making it tougher to get solar energy for individuals

– “A prominent Russian environmental activist who has reported on the environmental fallout from construction for the $51 billion 2014 Sochi Winter Games has been sentenced to three years in prison.

– Juan Cole: “Scotland is going 100% Green by 2020; shame on Dirty America

– “US bracing for tornadoes and freezing rain as storm moves across country

A real time map of the wind on Earth

– Hooray for Eco-imperialism! “Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has signed a controversial law that allows foreign companies to drill for oil for the first time since the sector was nationalised in 1938.

Mixed Bag

A map on the consumption of tea versus coffee in the world.

– Study: Sex does not sell

– “BuzzFeed Writer Resigns In Disgrace After Plagiarizing ‘10 Llamas Who Wish They Were Models’

– Study: Cinnamon may not be good for you after all

– John Oliver’s tearful goodbye on The Daily Show

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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.