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The Roundup for April 8th, 2014

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Hello folks, today is National Equal Pay Day.

International Politics


– Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and others accuse of the White House of turning their back on a USAID worker imprisoned in Cuba and endangering him with “Cuban Twitter”

– International talks with Iran have now come under fire as Iran’s appointee to the UN was seen to be outrageous by some officials; The White House called it “not viable

– The U.S. warned Russia may invade eastern Ukraine because of pro-Russia demonstrators who took over buildings in Donetsk; NATO warns it would be a “historic mistake” if that happens

– John Kerry: If we had actually gone through with a missile attack on Syria, then I do not believe it would have been “devastating

Middle East

– Part five of five on analyzing the state of Saudi Arabia where it is not a unified country with a unified elite, but one with elites with their own agendas

– The Real News invited two guests to discuss the significance of the recent Afghan elections and what can be expected, if at all, in the future as a result

– An informative article on a dangerous drug used by troops in Afghanistan—mefloquine (Larium)—that has caused suicides and killings.  Jeff Kaye has been reporting on mefloquine here at FDL.

– In East Jerusalem, one Arab youth said Israeli police were physically and verbally harassing him and has shown video proof to back up claims

– In Falluja, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant militants have been filling the Euphrates River with mud and gravel to divert it

30,000 tons of food was delivered to Syria by Iran because of food shortages in the former; The UN reports an upcoming drought will lead to more problems with food for the country

Asia and Oceania

– The Pakistani Taliban accused the Pakistani government of breaking its ceasefire as some of its members have been targeted by security forces

– In Pakistan, a bomb tore through a train and killed 16 people. Moreover, 35 people were injured. A barely-known separatist group apparently claimed responsibility.

– Both defense secretaries of the U.S. and China clashed over disputed islands in South China Sea


– After a “wave of terror attacks” in Kenya, authorities have arrested more than 3,000 people who are suspected in those attacks


– Let us all stop to think about the situation in Greece. It has faced austerity for years. Such austerity takes it toll on a country, especially when the state apparatus is discriminatory and harassing the public. Citizens there have seen their government fail and they have no way to address it through government.

– In Ukrainian Parliament, a brawl erupted when one communist representative stated nationalists were doing what the Russians wanted based on their strategies

– The Spanish Parliament rejected a petition by the Catalonia region to be independent

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

– In Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis was voted in as President with 77.4 percent of votes in his favor. It is historic as the country has a two-party system and Solis was of neither party. Careful though, Solis is not a progressive leftist so Costa Rica cannot expect any improvement anytime soon. More on the election can be found here.

– Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks with The Guardian on how protests in the country having the backing of the U.S., who are interested in their oil

Surveillance Planet

– Edward Snowden tells the Council of Europe, over video, how the NSA was able to snoop on human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International

– A “Heartbleed” bug has put thousands of servers at risk of hacking

– The European Court of Justice ruled law enforcement cannot spy on either phone or internet records as it is “unacceptable

Financial Matters

– Henry Giroux: “Neoliberalism and the Machinery of Disposability

– The IMF cut their forecast growth for Japan and warned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he must go through with promised reforms

– The Federal Reserve demanded large banks in the U.S. raise capital to avoid any future crash

– The U.S. fined General Motors $7,000 a day and will continue if it does not comply with requests for more information on the faulty switches in their cars

Labor’s a-Brewing

– The state of Maryland may be the second state to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10

– Around 50 workers have gone on strike in Brazil to request better salaries and these workers are someconstructing the not-yet-finished World Cup stadium

Politics US

Washington USA

– Sen. Dianne Feldstein (D-CA) asked the White House, in a letter, to edit the torture report rather than the CIA

– A report from an investigator in the State Department found that more than $1 billion given to security contractor Blackwater could not be properly tracked and some spent on useless things

– In what seems to be unfortunate, a bill restoring unemployment insurance may face gridlock in the House as Speaker of the House John Boehner requests additional measures to “stimulate job growth

– Katrina vanden Heuvel: “It’s Time the CIA Gets Some Serious Oversight

– Companies that have gone against Obamacare and financially assisted candidates to go against it have turned around to accept its benefits

– Here is a helpful timeline from the folks at ProPublica on the history of the CIA torture report starting from Jan. 11, 2009 to April 3, 2014

– Juan Cole: “Is Rand Paul right that Cheney invaded Iraq for Halliburton Profits?

– Jon Stewart brilliantly takes down two war criminals from the Bush administration (Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) for being proud of torture

Anytown USA

– Siena Poll: 49 percent of New York City voters approve of the current performance by Bill de Blasio

– A new report found gentrification in both San Francisco and Oakland have displaced Hispanic and black populations with unfair economic policies as the culprit. The marginalized continue to get punished through violent means

– Some great analysis of how children in America are considered disposable thanks to neoliberals placing emphasis on deregulation, strict individualism and helping other elites profit off the marginalized

We Don’t Need No Education

– Gallup: 37 percent of Americans state online higher education provides quality education

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

– Gallup: Residents in Olympia, Wash. have the best access to both fruits and vegetables, while residents in Anchorage, Alaska have the least

– There still is a problem with our health care system as around four million Americans with severe mental illness are without insurance

– A loophole in FDA regulations allows companies to decide whether or not the chemical additives they place in their products are safe

– Meanwhile, the FDA announced it will define honey as “pure honey” only if no sugar or other sweeteners are added

– Comforting to hear how major corporations forced the USDA to change its definition of “organic” to allow non-organic products…and will continue and continue

– In Israel, the government is reporting nearly 900,000 of its citizen go without food as a result of poverty

– The price for pork have risen by 10 percent as a mysterious new virus is killing millions of piglets with scientists baffled on how it spreads or where it came from

Top Gun (Stories)

– Ivan Lopez, who committed suicide after killing three at Fort Hood recently, reportedly wanted to transfer out of his unit because he was being bullied

The Second Sex

– Pew: A latest report found a rise of stay-at-home mothers with 29 percent of mothers staying home. The cost of caring for a child may factor into it.

– A new study found diverse countries perform well when women are in charge of the country’s affairs

– Women in Egypt are worried that even though the new constitution in Egypt guarantees them better rights than before, it may not be strictly enforced. The old problem of de jure versus de facto

Planet Earth

A new study of reporting on climate change lists Fox News as the worst netwrk  covering it, getting it wrong 72 percent of the time

– As the planet changes due to climate change, it results in problems for some species as spring starts earlier for them

Mixed Bag

This article goes into detail on how even telling small “white” lies can lead us to continue telling more lies and being dishonest

– Scientists have found an over-the-counter herbal supplement may extend the life of mice

– Very fascinating study on how blind soloists preferred new violins over old ones. This study adds a lot to what instrument to choose for beginners or experts.

– Scientists have identified what seems to be dark matter in the middle of the Milky Way

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.