Notes from all over


Arms and the man

“The revolution in Syria seems to have been abandoned by the world. So over a year ago we decided to help and send weapons,” a 43-year-old former rebel commander in Benghazi tells Foreign Policy, which traces how Libyans are ferrying arms across the Mediterranean via Turkey.

FP calls post-Gadhafi Libya “the world’s largest open-air arms market.” Among the items aboard the ships: 120 SAM-7 missiles — surface-to-air systems which have downed Bashar Assad’s aircraft this year.

The Libyans aren’t the only ones headed to Syria. On July 28, according to FP’s The Cable, former President Carter — acting independently — will send members of his foundation to Damascus to talk to Assad’s regime officials and opposition members.

Syrian rebels and the Obama administration were surprised by Carter’s plans; State Department officials tell The Cable they “were unaware” of his initiative.

Money trail

McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform has gone down in history, a report in the National Journal finds.

In 2012, the average member of Congress spent $1.59 million to win the seat, the data show, doubling what it cost in 1986.

Next year’s federal elections are predicted to cost a combined total of $3.5 billion.

Big fundraisers for President Obama’s campaign are being rewarded with plum ambassadorial posts, The Washington Times points out. Matthew Barzun is nominated to the Court of St. James; campaign bundler and former New York Times reporter Crystal Nix-Hines is named to a U.N. post in Paris, and Washington bundler John Phillips has nod for ambassador to Rome.

Resources, naturally

Lift the ban on exporting domestic crude oil, a Council on Foreign Relations memo tells Congress. Blake Clayton maintains it would increase U.S. economic growth.

Oil schmoil, Pacific Standard magazine reports, copper is what keeps the world spinning. “Modern industries run on electricity. So do middle-class lifestyles. Copper wires carry almost all of it,” Tim Hefferman says. As China’s economy has expanded, the demand for copper has boomed.

The so-called green economy hasn’t hurt the copper industry either.

“If you think about electric cars and wind turbines,” says Rohan McGowan-Jackson, a vice president with the Rio Tinto mining corporation, “they’re all part of this demand for copper. I mean, I drive a Prius. It’s full of copper! The more you move toward a lower-footprint future, the more demand there is for our product.”

Toddler in a buying mood

A Portland, Ore., 14-month-old has used her Dad’s smartphone to snap up a 1962 Austin Healey Sprite, KOIN-TV reports. Paul Stoute only found out when eBay sent him an email. He panicked, then decided to spend the $225 for the car. Yes, it’s a wreck. He might fix it up and give it to his daughter for her birthday — in 15 years.

On the front page

From the New York Post: Eliot Spitzer, the onetime New York governor whose term was cut short in a sex scandal, did not vote in last year’s presidential election — four days after writing “Why I Am Voting for Barack Obama.”

From the BBC: For the first time, astronomers have found the color of a planet orbiting another star. The planet, dubbed HD189733b and 63 light-years away, is blue.

From the Chicago Sun Times: Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is denying state lawmakers their paychecks because of their failure on pension reform.