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The Roundup for February 17th, 2014

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Hey folks, hope you are well today!

International Politics


– U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is accusing Bashar al-Assad of impeding peace talks in Geneva II; Meanwhile, this article explores John Kerry, a man with contradictions. Also, government and rebels have agreed to new truces around the capital in Syria

– Both Latin American and sub-Saharan countries are experiencing a decline in inequality due to policy measures chosen and the demand for minerals by China increasing. Meanwhile, inequality is increasing in Asia and former Soviet countries.

– Here’s a great question: “Why is a the world turning a blind eye to U.S. drone strikes?”

– The U.N. has warned North Korea that its abuses closely resemble what the Nazis had done and Kim Jong-un could be tried before the Hague court. North Korea responds the evidence presented was “faked

– Both the U.S. and Iran have agreed the process to reach a final deal over nuclear ambitions will be a difficult process

Middle East

Part three of three with Professor Hamid Dabashi on how Saudi Arabia and Israel support crushing democratic movements throughout the Middle East.

– We continually hear Israel in the media for a multitude of issues: Iran, Palestine, regional hegemon, nuclear arsenal. What makes Israel do this and how does it affect our understanding of the country? This article gives a rundown on the modern state of Israel

– Peace talks in Afghanistan between the government and the Taliban seem likely as government officials head to Dubai to see if it can occur

At least 24 people are dead in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of bomb blasts near a mosque and bus stations

– Benjamin Netanyahu states those boycotting Israel are “anti-Semites.” Really now?

Asia and Oceania

– Uh-oh. It seems the U.S. is considering moving its drone base to Central Asia.

– In Thailand, rice farmers are protesting the government and have surrounded the temporary palace of the government 

– At a South Korean resort, ten people were killed when the roof collapsed. More than 100 people were injured.


– South Sudan has charged 20 soldiers with killing civilians. This is no isolated incident as there more allegations of soldiers committing genocide in the country

– Egyptian authorities have said a suicide bomber was behind the bus blast that killed three South Korean tourists and one Egyptian driver


An interview discussing Ireland and how neoliberal economics always has a plan for the elites in charge, forgetting those who really need help

– Russia will promise to deliver $2 billion to the Ukraine “this week” in part of its $15 billion deal

– Matteo Renzi, a so-called “center-left” politician (i.e. subservient to the elite interests), stated that once he takes over the new coalition government, he will enact reforms

Relations are turning sour between the European Union and Switzerland due to Switzerland’s recent referendum to curb immigration into the country

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

– Part two of four of an interview with Medea Benjamin on her support and criticism of the Cuban government

– Venezuela expels three U.S. consular officials as opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez calls for Venezuelans to join him in protesting the government

– A sociologist born in Venezuela breaks down the protests going down in Venezuela and what they mean for those interested

Surveillance Planet

– Chris Hedges: “Our Sinister Dual State“; Hedges discusses the surveillance state a bit more

– A new AP/GfK poll shows both Tea Party supporters and liberals in the U.S. can agree on stopping the powers of the NSA

– For Black History Month, let’s remember, as this article points out, the ways the U.S. government has used surveillance against the marginalized community

– Emptywheel: “SPCMA: The Other NSA Dragnet Sucking In Americans

Financial Matters

– On the fifth anniversary of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the White House has claimed it has benefited the economy; Doesn’t matter though since it wasn’t enough to stop massive income inequality or end this recession

– In what echoes the utterly dangerous power of ads in the U.S., this article criticizes the ability of Facebook to make teenagers into ads.

– Dean Baker: “Corporate Cronyism: The Secret to Overpaid CEOs“; Dean also co-authored a story with John Quinterno on how cutting unemployment benefits forces workers to exit the workforce

– “The sharing economy” is a term out of Silicon Valley that should immediately make you skeptical (for all the right reasons) of what these capitalists want to do.

Labor’s a-Brewing

– After the workers rejected the UAW at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, theories abound as to why that was. Mike Elk elaborates further on what occurred at the plant before and after the vote in this informative article.

– Wal-Mart remarks that if workers go out for one-day strikes, then they are not legal. …What?

– With Americans still feeling the effects of poverty either directly or indirectly, one thing that can be strengthened is the National Labor Relations Act

Politics US

Washington USA

– Gallup: A new poll found Americans treat the issues of undocumented immigrants and secure borders as important. However, if they were forced to choose, then the former would be the one to tackle.

– If you’re an older person who is in the low-income bracket, then don’t expect Obamacare to help you out, as Yves Smith explains here. Though, it seems overall older Americans are the “early winners” of the ACA

– Imagine a government agency using tactics from missions overseas. That’s what the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is doing in New Orleans, inspired by high-tech biometric devices used in Iraq and Afghanistan to racial profile.

– As requested, here is an interview on Truthout with Greg Palast discussing corporate money in politics after Citizens United 

Anytown USA

– Gallup: What do Americans cite as the top issue to deal with? According to this new poll, it’s unemployment with one in four mentioning it.

– Juan Cole: “Race Inequality in America by Graph, from Crime Sentencing to Income

– Tired of privatization with the delivery system? A few cities across the U.S. are also feeling that jadedness and have decided to convert private responsibility on deliveries to the public sector.

We Don’t Need No Education

– Here is an article discussing four examples on how privatization, a buzzword for neoliberalists, ruins the concept of education

– With the so-called “reforms” of the Obama administration, it might be time to admit the death of the public school system is occurring right before our eyes

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

– With a new discovery of polio found in Pakistan, it threatens the global campaign to eradicate it

The Second Sex

– It’s, what, February already? The second month of the year? So far there have been terrible policies instituted to restrict the ability of women to access abortion, but here are just five that have been called for.

– The Department of Justice reports of attorneys in Montana stating “terrible things” to rape victims

– Afghan President Hamid Karzai has decided to change the “anti-woman” law due to the recent (and justified) outcry over its provisions

Planet Earth

– New research finds that half of the plants on this planet will be moving as the globe becomes hotter.

– Native Americans pledged that they will do whatever it takes in order to stop the rest of the Keystone XL pipeline from being built

A new study has found that as the Arctic surface is getting darker, so does the Earth become warmer.

– The U.S. Oil Sands company, a Canadian company (yes a company told to be American is actually Canadian), will be extracting tar sands from Utah

Mixed Bag

– The U.S. is facing a severe shortage of clowns, begging the question of whether to import mimes from France in return for an abundance of small clown cars.

– “Report: Stating Current Year Still Leading Argument For Social Reform”

– An asteroid that will be passing Earth said to be “potentially hazardous” according to scientists

Break Time


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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.