Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mutilated cows fund at Missouri farm, police not ruling out aliens

Who would cut the tongues and take the reproductive organs from several cows? That’s the mystery police in a small town 90 miles away from Kansas City are dealing with.

Robert Hills, Henry County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy, says the first cow was discovered in December of 2011, the second and third this summer. All were female cows and were owned by rancher Lyn Mitchell.


Junior shareholders sue Fannie & Freddie

Junior preferred stockholders sued Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, claiming they've been stiffed in the government-sponsored corporations' recent billion-dollar recoveries.

Lead plaintiff Joseph Cacciapelle sued the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and their conservator, the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA), in Federal Court.


NYC's big-soda ban unconstitutional

A mid-level state appeals court ruled Tuesday that the city's Board of Health exceeded its legal authority when it voted last year to put a size limit on soft drinks served in restaurants, theaters, stadiums, sidewalk food carts and many other places.

The ban, which would have stopped the sale of many high-calorie beverages in containers bigger than 16 ounces, had been lauded by some health experts as an overdue attack on one of the primary contributors to a national obesity epidemic.


Jury begins deliberations in trial of former Goldman trader

Jurors began deliberating Wednesday over whether to hold former Goldman Sachs Group Inc trader Fabrice Tourre liable for defrauding investors in a complex deal tied to subprime mortgages.

A federal judge in New York dispatched the five women and four men on the jury to consider the fate of Tourre, 34, who for more than three years has fought against U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission claims he misled investors in a deal called Abacus 2007-AC1.


XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest-reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet.


House Republicans blast IRS for spending millions on union activity

In their ongoing barrage of criticisms of government abuse, House Republicans on Tuesday blasted the Internal Revenue Service for permitting employees to spend too much time on union work, while also faulting the pace at which IRS attorneys are responding to committee demands for millions of pages of documents related to the scandal in the Exempt Organizations division.


Shooting armed man may leave cops liable

A widow can pursue claims that sheriff's deputies shot her husband while he was standing on his patio with a gun and a walker, the 9th Circuit ruled.

Santa Barbara Sheriff's Deputies Jarrett Morris, Joseph Schmidt and Jeremy Rogers fatally shot 64-year-old Donald George shortly after 8 a.m. on March 6, 2009.

His wife, Carol Ann George, says it all started when she got up early that morning to fix a snack for Donald, who had brain cancer and "ate frequently to manage headaches," according to the ruling, which relies on Carol's version of events.

After Carol went back to bed, Donald came upstairs and took the keys to their truck. Carol followed him out of concern for his safety, and saw him get a pistol from the truck and load it.


Warrantless cellphone tracking is upheld

In a significant victory for law enforcement, a federal appeals court on Tuesday said that government authorities could extract historical location data directly from telecommunications carriers without a search warrant.

The closely watched case, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is the first ruling that squarely addresses the constitutionality of warrantless searches of historical location data stored by cellphone service providers. Ruling 2 to 1, the court said a warrantless search was “not per se unconstitutional” because location data was “clearly a business record” and therefore not protected by the Fourth Amendment.


Student abandoned in DEA cell for 4 days to get $4.1 million settlement from taxpayers

An attorney for the man who was abandoned in a Drug Enforcement Administration holding cell for four days without food or water says his client has agreed to settle claims for $4.1 million.

Daniel Chong's attorney, Eugene Iredale, said Tuesday that no one has yet been disciplined for the April 2012 incident and no criminal charges will be filed.


Homeland Security loses track of 1 million foreigners

The Homeland Security Department has lost track of more than 1 million people who it knows arrived in the U.S. but who it cannot prove left the country, according to an audit Tuesday that also found the department probably won’t meet its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system.

The findings were revealed as Congress debates an immigration bill, and the Government Accountability Office’s report could throw up another hurdle because lawmakers in the House and Senate have said that any final deal must include a workable system to track entries and exits and cut down on so-called visa overstays.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Deputy accused of rape, soliciting bribes while on duty

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy accused of raping women and soliciting bribes while on duty is due in court Wednesday morning.

Jose Rigaberto Sanchez, 28, was arrested at his home Monday night without incident after a nearly three-year investigation.

Sanchez, a seven-year department veteran, was most recently assigned to patrol duties at the Palmdale Station.


Officer resigns after caught sexting during shift

On Monday, Sgt. Penny Dane of the Daytona Beach Police Department was forced to resign after the department discovered that she had spent shift time posting naked pictures of herself online. The officer was uploading the pictures to “Red Light Center,” an online destination meant to imitate the Amsterdam Red Light district.


Woman shackled by deputy while she gave birth

A South Texas sheriff's deputy kept a woman in handcuffs as she gave birth, though she begged in pain for the cuffs to be removed, the woman claims in court.

Christina Mejia Gutierrez sued Hidalgo County, its Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Guadalupe Trevino and Deputy Garza in Federal Court. Shackling a woman while she gives birth is illegal in Texas, though Mejia does not raise this claim in the lawsuit, which does not include Deputy Garza's first name.


JPMOrgan to pay $410 million in power market manipulation probe

JPMorgan Chase & Co agreed to pay a civil penalty of $285 million and disgorge $125 million to settle allegations of power market manipulation in California and the Midwest, the latest settlement in a series of high-profile investigations by U.S. federal energy regulators against banks.


Man imprisoned for epic poop

The story is simple. Basically, 50-year-old Ronald Strong spent a week in jail for leaving the bathroom of a federal courthouse covered in his poop. The unfortunate soul who discovered the scene said that 75% of the floor was “covered in feces” and that more was “smeared more than two feet up on the walls.”

Strong said that he didn’t mean to leave such a mess, and blamed his heart medication for causing him to poop his pants. He went into the bathroom to clean up the mess, but apparently made a worse one in the process.


Interior secretary: cutting spending will have devastating effect on economy

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday blasted a House Republican bill that would cut environmental and wildlife spending, saying it would have devastating effects on her department and, subsequently, the economy.

Jewell defended her department's fiscal status as "one of the few government agencies that actually takes in more money that it spends," calling it "an outstanding investment for the American taxpayer." The department also released a map showing its economic contributions state-by-state.


Big-name GOP donors urge members of Congress to back immigration overhaul

More than 100 Republican donors — many of them prominent names in their party’s establishment — sent a letter to Republican members of Congress on Tuesday urging them to support an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

The letter, which calls for “legal status” for the 11 million immigrants here illegally, begins with a simple appeal: “We write to urge you to take action to fix our broken immigration system.”


Ark. district arming teachers. staff with guns

As Cheyne Dougan rounded the corner at Clarksville High School, he saw three students on the floor moaning and crying. In a split-second, two more ran out of a nearby classroom.

"He's got a gun," one of them shouted as Dougan approached with his pistol drawn. Inside, he found one student holding another at gunpoint. Dougan aimed and fired three rounds at the gunman.


Manning verdict to be announced on Tuesday

The judge presiding over the case of Army private first class Bradley Manning will announce her verdict Tuesday afternoon from Ft. Meade, Maryland.

Col. Denise Lind, the presiding judge in the court-martial of the United States v. Pfc Manning, said Monday morning that the long-awaited verdict will be delivered at 1 p.m. EDT from the military courthouse at the Ft. Meade Army Base outside of Baltimore.


Black Caucus pushing Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee for DHS post

A letter dated July 25 and signed by Rep. Marcia Fudge, Ohio Democrat and caucus chairwoman, urges President Obama to consider Miss Jackson Lee for the position, calling the Democrat a “voice of reason” that the agency could stand to gain, the Houston Chronicle reported.


House to hear long-sought testimony about Benghazi from task force chief

Congress will hear eagerly awaited testimony Wednesday on the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack from a special operations task force commander who is set to retire the next day.

Col. George Bristol, the former commander of a task force that operated in Northern and Western Africa, will appear at a classified, members-only briefing with a House Armed Services subcommittee, congressional and Defense sources told The Hill.


French ban on Mercedes cars provokes German fury

Sales of thousands of the most prestigious Mercedes cars have been halted in France since Paris last month refused to allow the registration of four new models that include a refrigerant in their air-conditioning systems that has been banned by the EU on environmental grounds.


Adam Kokesh ordered held without bond in D.C.

A D.C. Superior Court judge has ordered a veteran and activist accused of openly carrying a shotgun in D.C.'s Freedom Plaza held without bond.

During a preliminary hearing Monday, an attorney representing Adam Kokesh argued that the stunt -- filmed and posted on YouTube -- was nothing more than political theater.

The judge disagreed, ordering that Kokesh be held until his next court appearance.

"I consider your client to be a very dangerous man," the judge said. "This is not a political statement."


FBI to Rand Paul: Domestic drone surveillance doesn't require a warrant

Drone surveillance in the United States does not require a warrant, but the practice remains limited, the FBI told Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in a letter after he placed a hold on James Comey’s nomination to be the new FBI director.

“[T]he FBI does not, and has no plans to use [unmanned aerial vehicles] to conduct general surveillance not related to a specific investigation or assessment,” Stephan Kelly, the assistant director at the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs, wrote Paul.


Bernanke ordered to testify in AIG case

A judge has ordered Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, to testify about the bailout of AIG in a case where the government is accused of illegally appropriating the insurer and using it “to covertly funnel billions of dollars to foreign entities”.


Police kill 95-year-old man with bean bag rounds

The 95-year-old resident of a Park Forest senior living community who died after a Friday confrontation with police was killed by the bean-bag rounds police fired at him, the Cook County medical examiner's office determined following an autopsy today.


Friday, July 26, 2013

SAC: federal grand jury indicts hedge fund for insider trading

A federal grand jury has indicted SAC Capital, the embattled hedge fund that has been pursued by financial authorities for years, for insider trading after regulators failed to charge its powerful founder, Steven A Cohen.

The US attorney who brought the charges, Preet Bharara, also hit the firm with civil money-laundering charges that would require the firm to forfeit potentially billions of dollars in assets.


'That is a whistle-blower,' Manning's lawyer concludes

Challenging the military's label of Pfc. Bradley Manning yesterday as a "traitor," the defense highlighted chats in which the young soldier shared his aims to inform the public. "That is a whistle-blower," attorney David Coombs said Friday during closing arguments in the landmark court-martial.

Both the defense and prosecution quoted Pfc. Manning telling an online confidant three years ago, "If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months what would you do."


Halliburton admits to destroying evidence in the Gulf spill

Halliburton Energy Services admitted it destroyed evidence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster that set off the worst oil spill in history, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Halliburton also agreed, subject to court approval, to pay the maximum statutory fine, to pay $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation - whether the court accepts the plea deal or not - and to cooperate in the government's criminal investigation.


U.S. Army foresees robots becoming squad members

The U.S. Army wants to move from using robots as tools to creating a human-robot cooperative that will make machines trusted members of the military.

"The issue is can I have a squad augmented with robots cover more ground, be more effective, do more things on a 72-hour operation than they can today?" asked Lt. Col. Stuart Hatfield, Branch Chief of Soldier Systems and Unmanned Ground Systems with the Army.

In 20 to 40 years, humanoid robots, using human tools, could precede soldiers into dangerous areas, performing tasks such as turning a wrench to open valves, opening doors and climbing ladders. Some day, the Army might send autonomous robots into battle to physically engage with the enemy.


How Nancy Pelosi saved the NSA surveillance program

The obituary of Rep. Justin Amash's amendment to claw back the sweeping powers of the National Security Agency has largely been written as a victory for the White House and NSA chief Keith Alexander, who lobbied the Hill aggressively in the days and hours ahead of Wednesday's shockingly close vote. But Hill sources say most of the credit for the amendment's defeat goes to someone else: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It's an odd turn, considering that Pelosi has been, on many occasions, a vocal surveillance critic.

But ahead of the razor-thin 205-217 vote, which would have severely limited the NSA's ability to collect data on Americans' telephone records if passed, Pelosi privately and aggressively lobbied wayward Democrats to torpedo the amendment, a Democratic committee aid with knowledge of the deliberations tells The Cable.


Obama: A lot of reporters told me my ideas "sound great"

"It’s interesting, in the run-up to this speech, a lot of reporters say that, well, Mr. President, these are all good ideas, but some of you’ve said before; some of them sound great, but you can't get those through Congress. Republicans won’t agree with you. And I say, look, the fact is there are Republicans in Congress right now who privately agree with me on a lot of the ideas I’ll be proposing. I know because they’ve said so. But they worry they’ll face swift political retaliation for cooperating with me."

Watch video >> 

UC Davis pepper spray cop wants compensation for 'psychiatric injury' from 2011 incident

The former police officer who pepper-sprayed students during an Occupy protest at the University of California, Davis is appealing for worker's compensation, claiming he suffered psychiatric injury from the 2011 confrontation.

John Pike has a settlement conference set for Aug. 13 in Sacramento, according to the state Department of Industrial Relations' website.


College Republicans say they were denied entry into Obama event over 'security reasons'

A group of college republicans say they were denied entry into President Obama’s speech at the University of Central Missouri on Wednesday for security reasons.

Missouri College Republicans State Treasurer Courtney Scott told Campus Reform on Thursday that an unidentified police officer told the group they were barred from the event for “security reasons and for the president’s protection.”

“You will not be allowed any further,” the officer allegedly told the group of six College Republicans, dressed in republican and tea party clothing, as they attempted to enter the event.


University students sign petition to legalize abortion after childbirth


Several students at George Mason University (GMU) signed a petition on Wednesday demanding lawmakers legalize “fourth trimester” abortions.

The petition, which was circulated on GMU’s flagship campus in Fairfax, VA., just outside Washington D.C., by Media Research Center reporter Dan Joseph said it was aimed at sending “a message to our lawmakers that women have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and babies” even “after their pregnancies.”


Drone blimps hovering over D.C. to stop cruise missiles

If America is attacked, we might be saved by blimps. No, not state-of-the-art jet fighters that can fly well beyond the speed of sound. But blimps: lumbering, relatively jovial blimps—the manatees of aviation.

Within a year, a pair of souped-up $2.7 billion blimps (price includes R&D) will be floated 10,000 feet above the District of Columbia and act as a 340-mile-wide eye in the sky, detecting incoming missiles and the like.


Chris Christie: Rand Paul 'dangerous'

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is ripping libertarians — including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — for challenging government surveillance programs and failing to understand the dangers of terrorism.

“This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” the New Jersey GOP governor said on Thursday at a Republican governors forum in Aspen, Colo. “You can name any number of people and (Paul is) one of them.”


Russia won't extradite Snowden to US - Kremlin

Moscow says security agency FSB is in talks with the FBI over Snowden. But the whistleblower will not be extradited to the US, a Kremlin spokesman said, adding he's sure the fugitive NSA contractor will stop harming Washington if granted asylum in Russia.

“Russia has never extradited anyone, and will not extradite,” said Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.


US to Russia: We won't seek death penalty for Snowden

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has reassured his Russian counterpart that whistleblower Edward Snowden will not be tortured or given the death penalty if Moscow extradites him.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Zimmerman helps rescue family from overturned vehicle

George Zimmerman, who has been in hiding since he was acquitted of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, emerged to help rescue a family who was trapped in an overturned vehicle, police said today.

Zimmerman was one of two men who came to the aid of Dana and Mark Gerstle and their two children, who were trapped inside a blue Ford Explorer SUV that had rolled over after traveling off the highway in Sanford, Fla. at approximately 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.


Hammer-wielding thugs attack two in Harlem

Two men were attacked blocks apart in Harlem early yesterday by a hammer-wielding gang of thugs, police sources said.

The first victim of the seemingly random violence, Timmie Sampson, 31, was hit in the head with a hammer outside 1370 Fifth Ave., at East 115th Street, at about 12:45 a.m.


13-year-old girl raped by more than a dozen illegal aliens in Texas

The girl, a runaway, who lives at the Settlement Home for Children, was picked up by three Latino men and driven to the Avalon Arms apartments, where she was raped by a large group of men for several hours, according to police.

As many as 13 men took turns sexually assaulting the girl. Many cheered and filmed the sickening crime on their cell phones, according to court documents.


Senate immigration reform supporters push lobbyists to target house GOP

John McCain and his fellow immigration gangsters called about 50 business lobbyists to the Capitol with a simple message: Pony up and fight. Delivering some of his famous “straight talk,” McCain told them they weren’t spending enough money and were losing the battle for comprehensive immigration reform. What’s needed, McCain said, was a national, coordinated campaign to push the House to act on immigration reform.


U.S. congressional hurdles lifted on arming Syrian rebels

President Barack Obama will move forward with a plan for the United States to arm the struggling Syrian rebels after some congressional concerns were eased, officials said on Monday.

"We believe we are in a position that the administration can move forward," House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told Reuters.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Jack Hunter resigns as Rand Paul aide

Hunter said in an e-mail to the Daily Caller that he will resume his career as a pundit and that he didn’t want to be a distraction for the senator, who is considered a top potential 2016 presidential candidate. Paul’s office has confirmed his departure to Post Politics.

“I’ve long been a conservative, and years ago, a much more politically incorrect (and campy) one,” Hunter wrote. “But there’s a significant difference between being politically incorrect and racist. I’ve also become far more libertarian over the years, a philosophy that encourages a more tolerant worldview, through the lens of which I now look back on some of my older comments with embarrassment.”


George Soros funded ProPublica ties to IRS attacks on Tea Party and patriot groups

A George Soros supported journalism group ProPublica says the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office that targeted and harassed conservative tax-exempt groups during the 2012 election cycle gave the progressive group nine confidential applications of conservative groups whose tax-exempt status was pending.

The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year… In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting theirfinancial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)


Bill requiring warrants for email searches nears Senate vote

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is pushing to fast-track legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails and other private online messages.

Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) goal is for the Senate to unanimously approve his bill before the August recess, according to one of his committee aides. Any opposition could delay a vote until after Congress returns in the fall.


CIA backs $630,000 study into how to control global weather through geoengineering

According to US website 'Mother Jones' the CIA is helping fund a study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that will investigate whether humans could use geoengineering - which is defined as deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth's climatic system - to stop climate change.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Man points smartphone camera at cop, gets arrested for brandishing "weapon"

The San Diego Police Department is in hot water with photographers and First Amendment rights advocates everywhere this week over the way two of their officers handled a situation this last Saturday.

Adam Pringle and two of his friends were walking down a Mission Beach boardwalk when two bicycle officers stopped to write Pringle a citation for smoking. Everything was ok until Pringle got out his Samsung Galaxy and began recording the officer.


FISA court renews NSA surveillance program

The Obama administration has renewed the authority for the National Security Agency to regularly collect the phone records of millions of Americas as allowed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The United States government has reportedly asked the FISA court every 90 days since 2006 to renew an order that compels the nation’s telecommunication providers to hand over telephony metadata pertaining to millions of US citizens. The program has been conducted in near total secrecy, however, until NSA leaker Edward Snowden released top-secret documentation to the Guardian newspaper which caused an international backlash upon being published last month.


FAA: Please don't shoot down the drones

Earlier this week, one Colorado town floated the idea of letting its residents buy hunting permits for drones. Now, the FAA has responded to the proposal by telling Americans to please stop thinking about shooting down drones.


Court tells reporter to testify in case of leaked CIA data

In a major ruling on press freedoms, a divided federal appeals court on Friday ruled that James Risen, an author and a reporter for The New York Times, must testify in the criminal trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency official charged with providing him with classified information.

In a 118-page set of opinions, two members of a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., ruled that the First Amendment does not protect reporters who receive unauthorized leaks from being forced to testify against the people suspected of leaking to them. A district court judge who had ruled in Mr. Risen’s case had said that it did.


Solution: U.S. overhauling intelligence access to prevent another Snowden

The United States is overhauling procedures to tighten access to top-secret intelligence in a bid to prevent another mega-leak like the one carried out by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, senior U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The National Security Agency, which Snowden worked for as a Hawaii-based contractor, said it would lead the effort to isolate intelligence and implement a "two-man rule" for downloading - similar to procedures used to safeguard nuclear weapons.


Arizona college suspended students because she wanted English-only classes

A nursing student at Pima Community College (PCC) has filed a lawsuit claiming that she was illegally suspended after she complained that her classmates were speaking in Spanish and orally translating English to Spanish so excessively that she was failing to learn.

In early April, the student, Terri Bennett, formally requested a rule limiting classroom discussion to English. Nursing program director David Kutzler allegedly responded by called her a “bigot and a bitch,” reports Courthouse News Service.


Florida nurse terrorized by US Marshals in warrantless raid

The nurse, employed by the Sarasota Doctors Hospital, proceeded towards the kitchen sink to clean the dishes when she gazed out her window. Her gaze met the eyes of a man wearing a hunting vest who was aiming a gun directly at her face.

Craig Dorris, her boyfriend who worked as a manager for a security alarm company, heard her screams and tried to make sense of his girlfriend’s reaction when suddenly they both heard a man screaming to open the front door.

Goldsberry, who had never been arrested before, wondered if they could really be police and if they would speak this way. She had no idea as to why the police would be trying to force their way into her apartment with their weapons drawn.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Intervention in Syria: U.S. military preparing for war, potential chemical weapons

About 1,500 paratroopers dropped out of the night sky from an altitude of just 800 feet, bringing with them nearly 190,000 pounds of equipment. They were the first of some 4,000 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division parachuting into an exercise designed in part to prepare for the worst in Syria.


Hamid Karzai levies taxes, penalties, customs fees and fines worth $1 billion on exiting American forces

So much for thanks: As the U.S. accelerates its exit from a decadelong, $100 billion reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, American generosity is getting an unwelcome penalty in the form of taxes and fees imposed by President Hamid Karzai’s government on U.S. contractors supporting the rebuilding effort.

Everything from exiting military equipment and food for troops to new federal contract dollars are facing levies, customs fees and fines — a wave of taxation estimated to slice $1 billion or more off the top of aid that was supposed to go to the Afghan people. Instead, it’s going into the coffers of the Karzai government.


Ron Paul group sounds the alarm on more gun control

The president of a group chaired by former Congressman Ron Paul is warning supporters that, with the filibuster deal in place, Democrats in charge of the U.S. Senate could turn next to gun control.

John Tate, the president of the Campaign for Liberty which Paul chairs, sent a message to supporters on Thursday insisting U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could soon push gun control legislation.


Ex-CIA agent convicted of kidnapping terror suspects is arrested in Panama

The highest-ranking American official to be tried and convicted for abducting terror suspects overseas has been arrested in Panama, opening the possibility that he could be sent to prison for an "extraordinary rendition." In 2009, an Italian court convicted Robert Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan, and 22 other American operatives for kidnapping a Muslim cleric six years earlier.

The abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was in 2003 at the height of the CIA's aggressive use of rendition, where foreign terrorism suspects were arrested in one country and then either transported to a U.S. facility in another country or turned over to a different government for questioning. (Nasr was eventually sent to Egypt, where he claims he was tortured.) The Italian intelligence services were also accused of being complicit, but courts did not allow them to be charged.


Wyoming Tea Party poll finds little enthusiasm for Liz Cheney

When several dozen members of the Bighorn Basin Tea Party met Wednesday night in Cody, Wyoming for a regularly scheduled meeting, the results of their straw poll on the 2014 Republican Senate primary between incumbent Senator Mike Enzi and recently announced challenger Liz Cheney surprised few in attendance.

In the poll, 65% said they had no preference in the race because they did not have enough information on which to base a decision. Of those who had a preference, 26% said they would vote for Liz Cheney if the election were held today, while only 9% said they would vote for Mike Enzi.


AP fact check: Obama spins health insurance rebates

Another year, another round of exaggeration from President Barack Obama and his administration about health insurance rebates.

In his speech defending his health care law Thursday, Obama said rebates averaging $100 are coming from insurance companies to 8.5 million Americans. In fact, most of the money is going straight to employers who provide health insurance, not to their workers, who benefit indirectly.


China's feud with West on solar leads to tax

Escalating a long-simmering trade dispute with the West over solar panels, China plans to impose tariffs that could exceed 50 percent on a material it imports from the United States and South Korea to make the panels, its Ministry of Commerce announced on Thursday.


NSA imposes rules to protect secret data stored on its networks

The National Security Agency has imposed new rules designed to sharply restrict the sharing and downloading of top-secret material from its computer networks after a review of how Edward J. Snowden, a former agency contractor, managed to expose several of the country’s most sensitive surveillance programs, two of the Pentagon’s most senior officials said Thursday.


G-20 backs plan to curb tax evasion by large corporations

Government officials from the world’s largest and richest economies have endorsed a blueprint to curb widely used tax avoidance strategies that allow some multinational corporations to pay only a pittance in income taxes.

In one widely cited example, Starbucks has managed to post a profit of nothing in Britain even after selling untold millions of beverages and baked goods. Apple drew scrutiny for leaving billions of dollars in profits overseas and instead passing along the fruits of its commercial success to shareholders by taking out loans.


Black Panthers offer $10,000 to capture George Zimmerman 'dead ore alive'

Reports emerged this week that the Black Panthers were offering a $10,000 reward for the "dead or alive" capture of George Zimmerman. However, the video in question, which was picked up by various media outlets, was in fact from March last year before Zimmerman was arrested for the Trayvon Martin killing.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

New studies: ‘Conspiracy theorists’ sane; government dupes crazy, hostile

Recent studies by psychologists and social scientists in the US and UK suggest that contrary to mainstream media stereotypes, those labeled “conspiracy theorists” appear to be saner than those who accept the official versions of contested events.

The authors were surprised to discover that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventionalist ones: “Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist.” In other words, among people who comment on news articles, those who disbelieve government accounts of such events as 9/11 and the JFK assassination outnumber believers by more than two to one. That means it is the pro-conspiracy commenters who are expressing what is now the conventional wisdom, while the anti-conspiracy commenters are becoming a small, beleaguered minority.


USDA grants $149,074 to study food shopping patters with GPS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a $149,074 grant to study food shopping patterns that may form the basis of future shopping "interventions.”

The USDA award went to the University of Kentucky in April for the study titled, “Adolescent and Parent Food Activity Patterns as Drivers of Food Choice and Behaviors."


Cops: Woman, 25, left her two little kids in car while she attended Lil Wayne concert

A Florida woman left her two young children--ages five and three--unattended in her car for several hours while she attended a Lil Wayne concert last night, cops report.

Brittany Harris, 25, was arrested on a pair of child neglect charges after the children were left unsupervised in a parking lot at the South Florida Fairgrounds, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report.


Egypt's Jewish community leader calls Zionism racism

“Zionism is a racist movement,” the new leader of Egypt’s Jewish community declared in a recent interview.

“The failure to draw a distinction between Judaism as a religion and the Israeli state is the result of ignorance,” Magda Haroun continued, according to the transcript of the interview published on the Egypt Independent news website.


Jewish activists groups object after pro-Palestinian activist appointed to University of California board

The University of California appointed a Muslim American woman as a student member of its governing board on Wednesday in a move opposed by Jewish groups that objected to her pro-Palestinian activism.

Sadia Saifuddin, a 21-year-old social welfare major at the prestigious University of California at Berkeley, will become the first Muslim student member of the 26-person board of regents for a year-long term starting in 2014.


Britain abandons plans to arm Syrian rebels

Britain has abandoned plans to arm Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad and believes he might survive in office for years, sources familiar with government thinking say.

"Britain is clearly not going to arm the rebels in any way, shape or form," said one source, pointing to a parliamentary motion passed last week urging prior consultation of lawmakers.


Monsanto drops GM crop plan in EU

Biotechnology giant Monsanto is scrapping plans to win approval to grow new types of genetically modified crops in the European Union.

In Europe there have been concerns about the use of GM food products, and approval for GM crop cultivation can take years to obtain.


Federal court tosses injunction on NDAA indefinite detention

The Obama administration regained the authority to indefinitely detain US citizens when a federal appeals court on Wednesday lifted a lower court order which had blocked the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The 3-0 decision by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York was a disappointment to journalists and activists who had filed the lawsuit arguing the NDAA unconstitutionally gives the president the authority to detain anyone suspected of supporting al-Qaeda or the Taliban.


If Supreme Court says corporation have same rights as humans, can they be charged with murder?

It has been established by the highest court in the United States that corporations possess the same rights as humans. But does that mean they bare the same legal responsibilities? If a human murders another human, they face criminal proceedings for homicide. Can, or should, the same occur for companies that are responsible for someone’s death?


NSA warned to rein in surveillance as agency reveals even greater scope

The National Security Agency revealed to an angry congressional panel on Wednesday that its analysis of phone records and online behavior goes exponentially beyond what it had previously disclosed.

John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform "a second or third hop query" through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations.


Harry Reid blames climate change: 'West is burning'

“Why are we having them? Because we have climate change. Things are different. The forests are drier, the winters are shorter, and we have these terrible fires all over the West.”

“You can make all the excuses,” he said, such as that fires are disasters that “just happen every so often.”

The fire was started by a lightning strike in Trout Canyon on the west side of the Spring Mountains on July 1.


Despite Pentagon claims, Marine colonel sought in Benghazi investigation not yet retired

Defense Department officials have told members of Congress that Bristol cannot be forced to testify because he retired after stepping down during a March change of command ceremony, according to several media reports. The Pentagon reinforced that point of view to Marine Corps Times on Tuesday.

That isn’t the case, however. While Bristol is preparing for retirement, he is on active duty through the end of July, said Maj. Shawn Haney, a Marine spokeswoman, on Wednesday. He will be placed on the inactive list on Aug. 1, she said. That contradicts statements that Pentagon officials have issued to both Congress and the media.


Police charge website owner with corrupting morals for hosting murder video

Canadian police have charged the owner and operator of a website that hosted a gruesome video of a murder and dismemberment last May.

Edmonton homicide detectives said Wednesday that they have charged Mark Marek, 38, with corrupting morals.


Momentum shifts in Syria, giving Assad the advantage

In recent weeks, rebel groups have been killing one another with increasing ferocity, losing ground on the battlefield and alienating the very citizens they say they want to liberate. At the same time, the United States and other Western powers that have called for Mr. Assad to step down have shown new reluctance to provide the rebels with badly needed weapons.


McCain orchestrates another GOP surrender

Sen. John McCain spent the weekend negotiating with Majority Leader Harry Reid on a deal to avert Reid's threatened use of the "nuclear option" to change Senate rules to eliminate filibusters on Presidential nominations. Through his efforts, McCain was able to secure a complete GOP capitulation on 7 pending nominations. Reid secured all the benefits of exercising the "nuclear option" without the political cost of actually using it.


Politico: McCain 'sane' for not being conservative

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who once said the mainstream media represented his base and assailed conservative leaders as "agents of intolerance," is now getting back into the media's good graces by being the favorite Republican of Democrats, especially Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).


Off-duty AZ cop fired for pointing gun at clerk

A Tucson, Ariz., police officer has been fired after authorities say he pulled a gun on a gas station attendant while off duty and apparently intoxicated.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department notified Tucson police that 23-year-old Kyle James McCartin was arrested early Tuesday on two counts of aggravated assault.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ousted Metra CEO describes corrupt Illinois politics

A former California transit executive tapped to clean up Chicago's scandal-tarnished Metra commuter rail agency said Wednesday he was pushed out barely two years into the job for doing exactly that and resisting pressure from some of Illinois' most powerful politicians.

Alex Clifford was allowed to speak publicly for the first time Wednesday about his lucrative buyout, which critics have called hush money and a waste of taxpayer funds. Clifford alleged that House Speaker Michael Madigan pushed Metra staff for a pay raise for a political pal and that Madigan and another politician also sought patronage hires. Clifford also described an episode in which he was asked to simply write a $50,000 check to an organization of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush's choosing.


Arrest of 5-year-old Palestinian child causes outrage around globe

The recent arrest of Wadie Maswadeh, a 5-year-old Palestinian child by the Israeli military has caused outrage around the world. The Israeli soldiers arrested the child for allegedly throwing a rock, even though the arrest of anyone that age is a violation of Israeli law. After the arrest, the child was threatened and the child’s father was handcuffed and blindfolded. Etyan Buchman, a spokesman for the Israeli military, responded to the outrage declaring: “This is conduct that was considered reasonable by all military personnel involved.”


Agent who tracked Iowa governor's speeding SUV fired

Larry Hedlund, a 25-year veteran Iowa investigator who earned $96,518 annually, was removed from duty May 1 -- two days after he e-mailed a scathing complaint that blamed Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad for speeding by the governor's driver and called for an end to "what apparently is a common practice that puts the general public in danger." Hedlund was placed on paid administrative leave pending a review of alleged rule violations.



IRS officials in Washington ordered special scrutiny: congressional investigation

Top House committee chairmen said Wednesday they’ve learned that the IRS sent some tea party groups’ applications for tax exempt status through special scrutiny at the direction of agency officials in Washington, in a revelation that shows headquarters employees were aware of the targeting

The committee chairmen released partial excerpts of interviews with IRS employees that show they were prepared to rule on some of the tea party groups’ applications but Lois Lerner, an official at the root of the investigation, overruled them and instead created the complex and intrusive inquiries that have become the center of a Washington scandal.


Ex-poll worker sentenced to prison for illegal voting

Melowese Richardson, a Hamilton County poll worker, was sentenced to five years in prison for voting illegally in the name of others.

Three of her four convictions involved voting for a relative in coma since 2003. Richardson, 58, a poll workers since 1998 admitted to voting illegally in 2008, 2011, and 2012 elections.

She became the third person convicted this year of illegal voting in Hamilton County.

Richardson admitted to Cincinnati's Channel 9 that she voted twice in the 2012 election. “I’ll fight it for Mr. Obama and Mr. Obama’s right to sit as president of the United States,” she proclaimed in the interview.


Pentagon spends $81k on TVs for Gitmo while civilian workers are furloughed

Just two days after the Pentagon began furloughing hundreds of thousands of civilian personnel due to budget cuts, the Army ordered its second batch of televisions for the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, an expense totaling more than $80,000 in the last two months.


Longmont officer arrested for sex assault

A Longmont police officer, Christopher Martinchick, has been arrested for two counts of sexual assault, a class-three felony, and two counts of criminal invasion of privacy for sexual gratification, a class-one misdemeanor.


Police Lt. charged with excessive force

An East Greenwich police officer has been arrested on charges he used excessive force on a prisoner, the State Police said.

Lt. Paul C. Nahrgang, 44, of 46 Landis Drive in Warwick, faces charges of disorderly conduct and simple assault stemming from an arrest on May 22. He was released on a promise to appear in District Court, Warwick, on July 23 for arraignment.


Federal judge tells FDA to decide if genetically modified foods are "natural"

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been asked by a federal judge to determine whether food manufacturers can label foods as “natural” even if they include genetically modified ingredients.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers’ decision (pdf) to involve the FDA came in the lawsuit against Gruma Corp., which sells tortillas, guacamole and other products under the brand name Mission.


'Sorry is not enough': Bolivia demands EU find culprits behind aerial hijack

EU apologies for the aerial blockade that forced the Bolivian president’s plane to land are “not enough,” said Bolivia’s foreign minister. The presidential plane was grounded amid suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden had stowed away onboard.

“Not only Spain has sent a verbal apology, but also Portugal and Italy have sent messages accounting for their actions,” said Choquehuanca at a press conference in the Bolivian capital of La Paz. However, Choquehuanca stressed that the apologies were not enough and the four countries “must identify those responsible and punish them in an exemplary fashion so that such an incident does not happen again.”


Harry Reid's favorite Republican: John McCain

It was the same day that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that Reid would go down as the worst Senate majority leader “ever” if he made good on his nuclear option threat. But behind the scenes, Reid and McCain — working with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and the two Tennessee GOP senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, as well as Democrat Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) — negotiated throughout the weekend and into Tuesday morning before reaching a deal on confirming executive branch nominees.


Due to increased regulations, millions of Americans forced to reconsider U.S. citizenship

"The legislation is Fatca, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. To appreciate its breathtaking scope along with America's unique "citizen-based" tax practices, imagine this: You were born in California, moved to New York for education or work, fell in love, married and had children. Even though you have faithfully paid taxes in New York and haven't lived in California for 25 years, suppose California law required that you also file your taxes there because you were born there. Though you may never have held a bank account in California, you must report all of your financial holdings to the State of California. Are you a signatory on your spouse's account? Then you must declare his bank accounts too. Your children, now adults, have never been west of the Mississippi but they too must file their taxes in both California and New York and report any bank accounts they or their spouses may have because they are considered Californians by virtue of one parent's birthplace," Graffy explains.


Police stop woman 70 times after break up with cop boyfriend

Katie Bowman, who has never been convicted of a crime, claims police interest in her - which saw her stopped 70 times for suspected offenses ranging from drink-driving to assault - meant she could ‘barely leave the house’.

The 24-year-old alleges she was targeted over 28 months by Thames Valley Police officers from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, after splitting from Alexander Ash.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

San Marcos Cpl. jailed after illegal arrest of pedestrian

Corporal James Angelo Palermo, 40, stopped a Toyota Prius for driving the wrong way on a one-way street and began questioning the driver.

A pedestrian walking by was called over by Palermo and asked why she was walking by his traffic stop. He then asked for the woman’s identification.

When the woman insisted she had done nothing wrong Palermo slammed her against the Prius; then onto the concrete driveway near his patrol car.

Palermo arrested the woman for obstruction.

James Palermo of the San Marcos Police Department was arrested Tuesday, July 16 and charged with aggravated assault with serious bodily injury by a public servant, a first degree felony, in connection with an incident that occurred May 29 in which a woman suffered serious injuries during an arrest. Police Chief Howard Williams ordered an internal investigation on May 30.

Employed by the SMPD since 2000, Palermo has been on paid administrative leave since June 10 while the San Marcos Police Department conducted the investigation. The arrest was reviewed by the Hays County District Attorney’s Office and by a prosecutor with the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Palermo was booked in the Hays County Law Enforcement Center Tuesday afternoon and awaits magistration.


Carl Levin wouldn't want J. Edgar Hoover have NSA powers

This is not exactly a huge vote of confidence in the National Security Agency's institutional safeguards against wrongly invading Americans' privacy. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D.-Mich, told reporters Tuesday that he wouldn't want someone like notorious FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to have the NSA's powers to spy on U.S. citizens.


Stevie Wonder boycotting Florida following Zimmerman verdict

"I decided today that until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again," Wonder said Sunday while performing in Quebec City. "As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world."


Police shoot pet while notifying family of son's homicide

Hamiel's nephew, Ricky Ellerbe, 33, turned up shot to death hours later, about eight blocks from his home and just yards from the all-night convenience store on Mechanicsville Turnpike that had been his destination.

Hamiel's nephew, Ricky Ellerbe, 33, turned up shot to death hours later, about eight blocks from his home and just yards from the all-night convenience store on Mechanicsville Turnpike that had been his destination.


US Special forces accused of ordering torture and murder of civilians

An Afghan interpreter arrested on suspicion of torturing and murdering civilians has accused US Special Forces of ordering the atrocities, but denied personal responsibility.

Six weeks ago, Afghan authorities detained Zakeria Kandahari, a translator who says he worked for US Special Forces for the past nine years. Police claim Kandahari took part in the torture and murder of Afghan civilians in Wardak Province. At least nine corpses have been recovered in the region, one belonging to Sayid Mohammed, a local resident who was last seen being taken into US custody and whose body was found mutilated and footless. Mohammed’s corpse was found in close proximity to the Nerk Special Forces base in May.


Teens with Free Zimmerman bumper sticker slaughtered in Jacksonville

Two white teenagers were murdered in the parking lot of a Golden Corral in Jacksonville, FL. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office says they were killed by multiple perpetrators, and that they have a photo of the suspect’s car. There were also multiple witnesses. However, they have not released any information or description of the suspects or the suspect’s car.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is calling it an armed robbery and not a hate crime, even though it appears nothing was stolen.


Army apologizes for 'scary' choppers in Port Angeles

Port Angeles Mayor Cherie Kidd met with Army officials Monday and received an apology for a nighttime training exercise last week that she says “terrorized my city” with low-flying helicopters.


White man beaten by 6 black teens dies - no hate crime

Authorities say the Cincinnati-area man who was badly beaten by six teens almost a year ago in a Cincinnati suburb has died.

Pat Mahaney, 46, died yesterday in the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, said Julie Wilson, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office.


Trayvon's mother trademarks her son's name as merchandise hits stands

The mother of slain Trayvon Martin recently filed a trademark to protect the rights to his name as an attempt to control- and collect funds from- the masses of merchandise being produced in support of their cause.

It was revealed today that Sabrina Fulton, the boy’s mother, filed two petitions last week to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to specifically gain the rights to the phrases ‘I Am Trayvon’ and ‘Justice For Trayvon’, both of which have been frequently used by protesters across the country.


EU to bar aid to Israelis in West Bank, stoking Israeli anger

The European Union said on Tuesday it will bar financial assistance to Israeli organizations operating in the occupied territories, underlining its concern that Israeli settlement-building harms prospects for peace with the Palestinians.


US inflation rises to 1.8% in June

That was up from the 1.4% figure recorded in May but still below the target inflation figure of 2%.

The consumer price index increased by 0.5% in June from the month before.

The US economy is growing more strongly than most of Europe, but unemployment has put downward pressure on wages, making it harder for retailers and other firms to raise prices.


Spain's Queen Sofia booed at hotel opening

Spain's Queen Sofia has been booed by angry crowds as she arrived to open a new hotel in Cangas del Narcea, northern Spain.


Australia dumps unpopular carbon tax

Australia's government has moved to scrap its carbon tax and bring forward an emissions trading scheme a year earlier than planned.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday that he wanted the fixed price on carbon emissions to end on June 30, 2014.

"The government has decided to terminate the carbon tax to help cost of living pressures for families and to reduce costs for small businesses," he said.


Spain apologizes to Bolivia for presidential plane delay

Spain apologized on Monday for its part in the events that led Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane to be delayed earlier this month during an international search for U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden.


World Trade Center developer seeks billions in 9/11 damages from airlines

A federal judge in New York heard initial arguments Monday in a trial in which the developer of the World Trade Center argues that he should get billions of dollars from the airlines whose jets plowed into the Twin Towers almost 12 years ago.


UPenn prof on Zimmerman verdict: God is a ‘white racist’ who carries gun and stalks ‘young black men’

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) Professor Anthea Butler on Monday expressed anger over the not-guilty verdict of the George Zimmerman trial, arguing in a blogpost that God must be a “white racist.”

“God ain’t good all of the time,” she said. “In fact, sometimes, God is not for us. As a black woman in an nation that has taken too many pains to remind me that I am not a white man, and am not capable of taking care of my reproductive rights, or my voting rights, I know that this American god ain’t my god."


Anthea Butler on

Congressional picks for DHS head include backers of mass surveillance

To fill the top job running the Homeland Security Department after Secretary Janet Napolitano steps down, lawmakers on the House Homeland Security Committee are suggesting individuals who have supported programs similar to National Security Agency digital surveillance initiatives. Napolitano is leaving DHS in September to lead the University of California.

Among the people ranking Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Tenn., would prefer, according to minority committee aides, is Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., a committee member who supported the divisive Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA.


Liberal policy: Cost of college slips out of reach of many middle class families

Over the past three decades, the inflation-adjusted income of the median American family has basically remained stagnant. The same can’t be said of college costs, which have simultaneously surged to almost unrecognizable heights, according to a new report by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Costs at private nonprofit four-year colleges have increased by more than 150 percent since 1982, but the real trouble is at four-year public schools, where inflation-adjusted costs have experienced a startling 250 percent jump.


Obama administration hiding details of Presidential Policy Directive

Despite promising the most transparent administration in history, the Obama White House has actually become more secretive than that of George W. Bush, at least in the area of Presidential Policy Directives (PPDs). Of the more than twenty PPDs issued since Barack Obama took office, only a few have been officially released to the public on the White House website.


Panama seizes North Korean ship carrying weapons

Panama has detained a North Korean-flagged ship coming from Cuba as it approached the Panama Canal with undeclared weapons, President Ricardo Martinelli said.

The weapons, hidden in containers of brown sugar, were detected after Panamanian authorities stopped the ship, suspecting it was carrying drugs. The vessel was pulled over near the port of Manzanillo on the Atlantic side of the canal.


Goldman Sachs profit doubles in second quarter

Goldman Sachs doubled its profit in the second quarter as the financial giant saw surges in investment banking and trading.

The New York-based banking giant said it earned $1.9 billion in the second quarter, up from $962 million the same period a year ago.


Thugs protesting Zimmerman verdict attack TV reporter, storm Walmmart

A peaceful protest of the George Zimmerman verdict in Los Angeles turned violent Monday after youths broke away from the main demonstration in Leimert Park, stomped on cars, broke windows, set fires and attacked several people.

KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV reporter Dave Bryan and his cameraman were among those who came under assault. One of the two journalists was taken to a hospital with a possible concussion, Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andy Neiman told The Times.


Tensions on the rise between U.S. & Israel

The Israeli prime minister's office refused to comment on allegations Israel blocked an official from testifying in a U.S. court against a Chinese bank.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Feds admit improper scrutiny of candidate, donor tax records, Justice declines to prosecute

The Treasury Department has admitted for the first time that confidential tax records of several political candidates and campaign donors were improperly scrutinized by government officials, but the Justice Department has declined to prosecute any of the cases.

Its investigators also are probing two allegations that the Internal Revenue Service “targeted for audit candidates for public office,” the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, has privately told Sen. Chuck Grassley.


Belfast police targeted by bombs in fourth night of rioting

Rioters threw Molotov cocktails, homemade grenades and pipe bombs at police during a fourth night of violence Monday in Belfast, authorities said.

The Belfast Telegraph said there had been no reports the blasts had inflicted injuries, though at least one pipe bomb detonated near police.


Legislative aide to Rep. Bachmann arrested on theft charges

A senior legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has been arrested in an investigation into theft at the Rayburn House Office Building, police say.

Javier Sanchez, 37, of Virginia was arrested Thursday, Roll Call reported Monday.


Mitch McConnell fundraising committee refunds $100,000 in donations

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's joint fundraising committee has taken the unusual step of refunding almost $100,000 in contributions.

Among the 16 contributors to have a total of $99,600 in donations to the McConnell Victory Kentucky committee returned were the Republican senator from Kentucky and his wife Elaine Chao, who each received $12,500.


Russia says it will not allow Syria no-fly zones

Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, will not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday.

"I think we fundamentally will not allow this scenario," Lukashevich told a news briefing, adding that calls for a no-fly zone showed disrespect for international law.


Japan to nationalize 400 unclaimed remote islands

Japan may nationalize any unclaimed islands in its waters in a bid to bolster its territorial claims, a government source said Monday.

The government plans to establish a new council aimed at strengthening the administration of Japan’s 400 or so remote islands to ensure it has control over natural resources in the surrounding waters, the source said.


Report: Saudi missile sites target both Iran, Israel

Saudi Arabia has built missile launch pads that target both Iran and Israel with ballistic missiles, according to imagery and analysis by IHS Jane's, the British security consultancy.

The discovery is a sign that Saudi Arabia has prepared for the possibility that Iran will become a nuclear power, and it's a reminder that a decades-long truce between Saudi Arabia and Israel is just that, and not a peace treaty, says Michael Rubin, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.


Playboy gets 9 years for fleecing mom, uncle

A scion of a well-known publishing family was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison for stealing $3.6 million from his mother and mentally disabled uncle, money he used to finance a playboy lifestyle that included trips, jewels and gifts for a stripper and a porn star.


German spies made use of U.S. surveillance data: paper

Germany's foreign intelligence agency (BND) has known about U.S. surveillance and storage of German data for years and used it in cases of Germans kidnapped abroad, the mass-circulation daily Bild reported on Monday.


Workout groups may have to pay additional tax to use city parks

Boot camps, yoga, jogging groups — people love working out in Denver’s city parks, but now workout groups might have to pay to break a sweat in a park.

Next week Denver City Council will discuss fees for fitness classes who use city parks.


15-year-old arrested for threatening 'mass homicide' over Zimmerman verdict

The tweet that got a 15-year-old promptly pulled into a police station. Last week a teen was freed from jail after being arrested for something offensive he wrote on Facebook. Over the weekend, another teen was arrested for something he wrote on Twitter.

A 15-year-old Chicago high school sophomore with the twitter handle @Mark12394995 tweeted about the Zimmerman trial before a verdict had been reached.


Soul singer assaulted after dedicating song to Trayvon

A 73-year-old soul singer is recovering after being assaulted by a woman at a blues festival on Saturday after dedicating a song to Trayvon Martin.

Lester Chambers, best known for his work with the 1960s soul group The Chambers Brothers, was performing at the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival in Hayward, Calif., and had just dedicated Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" to the slain Florida teenager when a woman jumped onstage and attacked him, police say.

The woman, 43-year-old Dinalynn Andrews Potter, was subdued by security and taken into police custody. She was cited for battery and released, but could face additional charges, Hayward Police Lt. Ruben Pola told the San Jose Mercury News.


Britain charges 2 former brokers in Libor inquiry

British authorities on Monday charged two former brokers at RP Martin Holdings with fraud as part of a widening investigation into the manipulation of global benchmark interest rates.

The Serious Fraud Office said Terry J. Farr was charged with two counts and James A. Gilmour with one count of conspiracy to defraud. The announcement comes one month after Tom A.W. Hayes, a former UBS and Citigroup trader, was charged with eight counts of fraud in what was the first criminal case in Britain linked to the far-reaching manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.


Egypt freezes assets of 14 senior Islamist figures

The Egyptian Stock Market started on Monday freezing the assets of 14 senior Islamist figures, following a decision by the public prosecution to freeze their accounts.

The prosecution issued the order on Sunday regarding the Muslim Brotherhood Chief Guide Mohammed Badie, his deputy Khairat El-Shater and the Brotherhood's former Guide Mahdi Akef, in addition to Mohamed Saad Katatni, Rashad al-Bayoumi and Essam el-Erian and Mohamed El-Beltagy.


Putin blasts US for intimidation in Snowden asylum saga

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was still in the transit area of a Moscow airport because Washington had “blocked” him there by intimidating countries that had been ready to grant him asylum.

“He arrived on our territory without an invitation. He wasn’t flying to us. He was on a transit flight to other countries,” Putin said in St. Petersburg, adding that the United States had “intimidated other countries, [so that] nobody wants him.”

“That’s how they [the US] blocked him on our territory,” Putin said. “Some gift for us.”


Department of Justice slaps Gallup with $10.5M fine

Gallup Organization has agreed to pay the government $10.5 million to settle a false claims case against the company for allegedly inflating cost estimates in government contracts.

The Justice Department announced the settlement Monday, resolving a complaint originally brought under the Whistleblower Protection Act by a former Gallup director of client services.


Black woman stands her ground, kills white man

Houston area investigators are looking into a stand-your-ground case where after a minor fender-bender, a 22-year-old white male was shot and killed by a 23-year-old black woman. During a morning commute, Crystal Scott and Jonathan Ables were in an accident and pulled into a Shell gasoline station to survey the damage.


Russian military stages biggest war games since Soviet times

160,000 servicemen, 1000 tanks, 130 planes and 70 ships are taking part in Russia’s biggest military drill since Soviet times. The war games will continue in the country’s Far East until July 20.

The maneuvers are the latest in series of surprise military checks which performed by Russia, in an effort to reveal and oust flaws in the country’s defense program.


State Attorney Angela Corey fires information technology director who raised concerns in Trayvon Martin case

State Attorney Angela Corey fired her office’s information technology director Friday after he testified last month about being concerned prosecutors did not turn over information to George Zimmerman’s defense team in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

On the same day attorneys finished their closing arguments in that nationally watched trial, a state attorney investigator went to Ben Kruidbos’ home about 7:30 a.m. to hand-deliver a letter stating Kruidbos “can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.”


U.S. envoy snubbed by both sides on Egypt visit

The first senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since the army toppled its elected president was snubbed by both Islamists and their opponents on Monday.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns arrived in a divided capital where both sides are furious at the United States, the superpower which supports Egypt with $1.5 billion in annual aid, mostly for the army that deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi two weeks ago.


Spanish prime minister rejects calls to step down over scandal

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday rejected calls for his resignation over a ruling party financing scandal and said he would not allow the matter to deter his reform plans.

Pressure mounted on Rajoy as the former treasurer of his People's Party gave new testimony before a judge looking into the affair, saying he made 90,000 euros in cash payments to Rajoy and another party leader in 2009 and 2010.