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The Roundup for April 4th, 2014

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Hey folks, how are you today? It’s Friday, so I hope your weekend looks great!

International Politics


Pew: The most religiously diverse countries can be found in Asia, specifically the Pacific region

– Secretary of State John Kerry states it is “reality check” time on Israel-Palestinian peace talks, admitting it is failing

– Leaked audio of Russian ambassadors found them joking about conquering other countries and regions after Crimea

– Joe Biden and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukrainian Prime Minister, spoke over the phone about both energy and giving loans

Middle East

– Tragic news as AP photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus was killed in Afghanistan by a policeman. I cannot comprehend having a job like this features such risks. These people work tirelessly to bring the news to us and some states just have a problem with that. Unreal.

– Iraq claims Saudi Arabia has abused and tortured Iraqi detainees in its prisons and demands Iraqi investigators be sent to learn more

– Airstrikes by the Syrian government killed at least seven people in the capital

Asia and Oceania

– Gallup: One in three Indians believe the economy in the country is getting worse, which makes it a major issue in the elections this month

– North Korea: The U.S. is “hell-bent on regime change” in our country and we will not stand idly by


– The ebola virus has now spread from Guinea to other countries like Mali. This is frightening health workers in West Africa.

– In Egypt, journalists went on strike to demand better protection and security when performing their jobs


– UNICEF reported that one in three children—or 35.4 percent—in Greece is at risk for either poverty or social exclusion

– A court in Turkey has ruled the blocking of Youtube is against human rights and restrictions must be lifted

– McDonalds announced it will close their shops in Crimea as a result of the tension in the area

– Since it is the “price of independence,” the government in Ukraine will commit to austerity measures. Because it’s worked so well in other places, right? You kick out one capitalist and you put in another. That’s all this is. It is just a coup of fascists supported by the West

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

– Mark Weisbrot discusses with The Real News the situation in Venezuela over the country’s new exchange rate and the issue of inflation

– Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader in Venezuela, has been officially charged in a court of law

– Officials at the UN said the current drought affecting Haiti has added more problems to the current food crisis in the country

Surveillance Planet

– Two British citizens demand in a U.S. court secret files that could affect how much they time spend in prison

– A new poll found 51 percent of Americans feel tech companies infringe on their privacy

– International groups concerned with human rights ask there be regulations to restrict the trade of surveillance programs affecting human rights of civilians

– Emptywheel: “Dragnet FOIA, Hiding the Dragnet Numbers and Providers from Congress

Financial Matters

– As this interview highlights, the European Central Bank’s decision to commit to austerity is jeopardizing the economy of Europe (and no one reports this)

– The March jobs report has found the economy added 192,000 jobs (most in private sector) and the unemployment rate is unchanged at 6.7 percent. Dean Baker has full analysis of the report.

Alternative seasonal measures, however, cite the number at 189,000 rather than the 192,000 figure

– A great and interesting review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century and its significance in contemporary times. Just a reminder the FDL Book Salon will feature Thomas Piketty on May 11, a Sunday

– Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was paid $19.9 million in 2013, which is a 50 percent increase from the previous year

Labor’s a-Brewing

– The Real News reports on workers striking at Johns Hopkins Hospital over “poverty wages” and raising the demand for $15/hour

Great post and point by David Sirota on how the owners and the CEOs work together on mischievous schemes are celebrated, but workers who work together for better pay and protections are villified

– Students at other colleges looked at the Northwestern University decision and are interested in creating their own unions

– In Brussels, Belgium, labor unions went on strike for better pay for workers and the police attempted to break up the protest after oranges were thrown at them

Politics US

Washington USA

– On April 10 NASA will release to the public more than 1,000 software projects that it has been doing, from climate simulators, to robotics

– Immigration and Customs Enforcement released detainees on hunger strike from solitary confinement after a lawsuit was filed against ICE

– An inspector who reviewed the nuclear forces in the U.S. a year ago said they were “thoroughly professional” and “disciplined.” Reminder the nuclear forces are facing a massive cheating scandal

– State Senator Leland Yee, a gun control advocate, was indicted on corruption and trafficking firearms

– A lawsuit against the Obama administration over the deaths of three U.S. civilians killed by drone strikes has been dismissed by a federal judge; Score one for state-sponsored murder! Kevin Gosztola has more.

– The IRS last year paid $53 million to whistleblowers who turned in companies cheating on their taxes

– Jon Stewart does a great job mocking the Supreme Court decision on allowing even more money into politics

Anytown USA

– Gallup: Just 28 percent of civilians in Illinois trust their state government, which is the lowest in the nation. North Dakota has the highest at 77 percent.

– Charles Koch references Thomas Jefferson in his defense as an American who should not be criticized. This is the same Thomas Jefferson who said, “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

– Texas executed a convicted killer with its unsourced drugs as the Supreme Court declined to take up the case

– Another Occupy activist has sued an NYPD officer allegedly hurting him on the same day the officer hurt another activist, a case already in court

– A federal judge said he will rule the state of Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages that are performed outside of the state

Great article connecting the large incarceration of prisoners in the U.S. with the current system of capitalism. It is an absolute critical connection

– There is a lot to Martin Luther King Jr, and it cannot be denied he was a victim of the anti-communist hysteria the ruling class used at the time

We Don’t Need No Education

– As parents have a tough time repaying loans for their children for higher education, it also affects the taxpayers in the long-run. The thought of an institution providing knowledge in exchange for inflated prices is absolutely pathetic. I cannot stand it.

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

– Gallup: Throughout the U.S., residents in Boulder, Colo. are the least likely to be obese, while those in Huntington-Ashland, W. Va—Ky.—Ohio are the most likely

– Pew: More veterans after 9/11 reported knowing a fellow soldier affected by PTSD compared to veterans before 9/11

– One Army official spoke that the Fort Hood shooter was not affected significantly by his mental illness, but an argument beforehand; Which is definitely caused by his mental illness, don’t try to play damage control

The Second Sex

– It is inane to read there are only six abortion clinics for the 13 million women in Texas. It is worse to read they are under attack by the right and may close down

– A group of conservative women spoke at the Heritage Foundation-sponsored event on Women’s History Month, which was primarily filled with an attack on feminism

– A court in India ruled three men who raped a photojournalist in Mumbai the previous year will be sentenced to death

Planet Earth

– Gallup: Just 35 percent of Americans worry a “great deal” about climate change

– Scientists have said the use of genetically modified trees can produce paper better for the environment

– Bad news. The water supply in Pennsylvania was contaminated due to hydrofracking. Worse news is that the state did not report the contamination in the first place.

– Two researchers said it is best to just commit to action on climate change as there is no real way of knowing the full costs of climate change

– There is a lot methane underneath the Arctic and global warming is causing it to be released into the atomsphere. Did I mention methane has disastrous consequences for the planet?

– The U.S. Coast Guard criticized Shell Oil for moving one of its drilling ships to avoid taxes despite safety warnings

Mixed Bag

– “Landmark Supreme Court Decision Lets Americans Cram Cash Directly Into Politicians’ Mouths

A new study found a correlation between the increased use of the internet and declining rates of religious people

Break Time

Foreclosure of a Dream

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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.