Friday, September 20, 2013

University suspends prof who hoped for murder of NRA children

Administrators at the University of Kansas have suspended the journalism professor who suggested on Monday he would like to see the murder of the children of National Rifle Association (NRA) members.

KU's chancellor, Bernadette Gray-Little, announced the suspension Friday morning, according to a local radio station, KMBZ.

"In order to prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students, the School of Journalism and the university, I have directed Provost Jeffrey Vitter to place Associate Professor Guth on indefinite administrative leave pending a review of the entire situation,” he said.

“Professor Guth’s classes will be taught by other faculty members," he added.

Read more:

This is how fear of government snooping takes its toll on tech companies

Two very different technology offerings were dropped on Thursday because of fears that the US and China might be trying to spy on the customers using them.

In Baltimore, Maryland—just down the road from the headquarters of the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade—a US company called CyberPoint International lost a contract to provide a videoconferencing system to the federal government after US Customs determined that CyberPoint’s offering was in fact Chinese, substantially made by telecom equipment maker ZTE. A US House Intelligence panel has recommended that government agencies and contractors should avoid using equipment made by ZTE and its larger Chinese counterpart Huawei, because of fears that they might have ties to the Chinese military that could compromise the security of federal computer networks. ZTE and Huawei have strenuously denied the claims.

Meanwhile, another US company called RSA Security—a unit of computer storage giant EMC—quietly told its customers to stop using a software encryption algorithm that it had long recommended. According to documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA, which helped create the Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (or Dual EC DRBG for short), had secretly introduced vulnerabilities into the algorithm so it could exploit them later.

Read more:

House immigration group collapses, Obama blamed

The road to overhauling the nation's immigration laws became even more difficult Friday when two Republicans abandoned a bipartisan group that had been working to craft a solution in the House of Representatives.

Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, and Rep. Sam Jonhson, R-Texas, put the blame for their decision to leave the House working group on President Obama.

They said the bill they were developing put a lot of responsibility in the hands of the executive branch to enforce immigration law, and they couldn't trust him to follow through.

Read more:

Halliburton will pay a $200,00 fine for destroying BP oil spill evidence

A federal judge accepted a plea agreement Thursday that calls for Halliburton to pay a $200,000 fine for destroying evidence after BP's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Halliburton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from the deletion of data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP's blown-out Macondo well.

The Houston-based company could have withdrawn its guilty plea if US District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo had rejected its deal with the Justice Department.

Halliburton also agreed to make a $55m contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Read more:

Hillary Clinton's image control: Security swipes man's phone, erases pic of her at speech

At one point, a member of the audience, Andrew Rothberg, had his Galaxy Note II smartphone taken from him by security, which removed his picture of Clinton onstage and then gave his device back in front of a Miami Herald reporter in the auditorium stands.

“It’s crazy,” Rothberg said.

“That’s American politics,” said a docent, one of a handful of hotel security and volunteers who roamed the aisles looking for people taking pictures or making recordings. None was allowed.

“I wanted to take pictures for my girls; I have four girls,” Rothberg, who was writing a piece about the conference for Boca Raton-based Grey Matters Magazine, told the Miami Herald. “I think Hillary Clinton who is probably running for president in 2016 would want all the publicity she could get and I think it’s kind of ironic they would take the camera away.”

Read more:

Nancy Pelosi defends Obama, ridicules GOP

Striking a tone of disgust, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi ridicules the GOP as obsessed with its loathing of President Obama and hell-bent on hurting him politically, regardless the cost. She assigns little to no blame to the president (even though Democrats privately say that’s laughable) and instead portrays him as saintly, above reproach and the victim of jealousy or something worse.

After 26 years in the House, she says, “I haven’t seen anything like it. I haven’t seen anything like it.”

Throughout a 50-minute interview on Thursday in her second-floor Capitol office, where the late Speaker Tip O’Neill used to receive supplicants, Pelosi was sharply derisive about the scorn Republicans have for this president.

“You know why it is,” she said. “You know why it is. He’s brilliant, … he thinks in a strategic way in how to get something done … and he’s completely eloquent. That’s a package that they don’t like.”

Read more:

Dozens of TSA employees fired, suspended for illegal gambling ring at Pittsburgh airport

Dozens of local Transportation Security Administration workers have been fired or suspended after they were caught in an illegal gambling ring at Pittsburgh International Airport.

TSA sources tell the KDKA Investigators that the officers were fired or suspended Thursday morning.

The investigation took a few months. TSA took a look at more than 300 of its employees who work at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Read more:

Company that vetted Snowden also ran Aaron Alexis's background check

The contractor responsible for vetting Edward Snowden in 2011, already under a criminal investigation for "routine" background check failures, was also responsible for vetting Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis in 2007. After initially denying involvement, USIS did some digging and discovered that it did, in fact, run the background check for Alexis's secret-level clearance.

In a statement, USIS spokesman Ray Howell explained the new development:

"Today we were informed that in 2007, USIS conducted a background check of Aaron Alexis...We are contractually prohibited from retaining case information gathered as part of the background checks we conduct for OPM and therefore are unable to comment further on the nature or scope of this or any other background check.”

Read more:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Democrats leave Benghazi hearing before testimony from families of victims

During the second portion of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing about Benghazi Thursday on Capitol Hill, the majority of Democrats on the Committee left the room and refused to listen to the testimony of Patricia Smith and Charles Woods. Ms. Smith is the mother of Sean Smith, an information management officer killed in the 9/11 Benghazi attack. Charles Woods is the father of Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was also killed.

Read more:

Cop admits to soliciting a bribe at hookah bar (video)

He was supposed to protect and serve. Instead, a DeKalb County police officer has resigned in disgrace after admitting he solicited a bribe and became violent after he noticed someone shooting video of the transaction.

Officer Brandon Brown had just finished working a part-time job at Meskerem, an Ethiopian restaurant and hookah bar on Clairmont Rd., early in the morning on August 5th when an employee told him someone there was smoking pot. Brown confronted the suspect.

“I’m telling you,” Brown said to the suspect, “this is like a $500 ticket.”

“We can work something out,” the suspect replied.

Retelling the story to DeKalb County Police Internal Affairs investigators, Brown admitted he solicited a bribe.

“Fifty dollars, just give me fifty. And I walked away,” the officer said.

Read more:

Bill would require Michiganders to work for welfare, pass drug test

Could this mean the end of welfare as we know it?

A bill has passed in the Michigan Senate that would require those receiving public assistance to do some “volunteer” work. Another bill, which passed the House Commerce Committee, requires drug testing, revoking benefits for welfare recipients who refuse the test or who test positive.

“What [the legislation] does, it says, in order for your to receive your cash assistance, your welfare check, you must provide some kind of community service to the community,” said the volunteer work bill’s sponsor, State Senator Joe Hune, who represents Livingston and Shiawasse counties in Mid-Michigan.

Hune says he was inspired by a constituent who began to volunteer while on welfare — and that community service evolved into full employment.

Read more:

New Australian PM abolishes climate watchdog

Australia's new conservative government on Thursday abolished an independent climate change commission set up by the previous Labor administration, as part of its plans to streamline bureaucracy.

The Climate Commission was set up to provide apolitical and reliable information to the public about the science of climate change, emissions targets and international action being taken.

But Prime Minister Tony Abbott's conservative coalition, which plans to repeal Labor's tax on corporate pollution and is the first post-war Australian government not to have a science minister, said an independent body was not needed and the role wouldscourge be assumed by the Department of the Environment.

Read more:

FBI: Chicago passes New York as murder capital of U.S.

The city of Chicago registered more homicides than any city in the nation in 2012, surpassing even New York — despite the fact that the Second City has only one third as many residents as the Big Apple.

In new crime statistics released Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported 500 murders in Chicago in 2012, up sharply from the 431 recorded in 2011. New York reported 419 murders last year, compared with 515 in 2011.

But residents of Chicago and New York were much less likely to be victims of a homicide than residents of Flint, Mich. Sixty-three murders occurred in 2012 in Flint, a city of 101,632, meaning one in every 1,613 city residents were homicide victims. Detroit, which experienced 386 homicides in 2012, was almost as unsafe; that’s enough murders to account for one in every 1,832 residents.

Read more:

Deaf man calls arrest wrong and humiliating

Police laughed at a deaf man when he asked why he was being arrested and refused to provide him with a sign language interpreter, the man claims in Federal Court.

David Updike says police descended on his home in Gresham, Ore., based on a neighbor's report of a disturbance there. It had been early in the afternoon on Jan. 14, 2013. The neighbor, who learned about the alleged disturbance from a note left at her door, informed the operator that all parties involved in the disturbance were deaf, according to the complaint.

Four officers allegedly entered the garage where Updike was working, grabbed the man and placed him under arrest.

Though they knew Updike was deaf, they did not provide him with an American Sign Language interpreter and did communicate with him in ASL, according to the suit.

Read more:

JPMorgan execs indicted for book-cooking

Federal prosecutors say two JPMorgan Chase executives cooked the books to hide losses in the credit derivatives trading portfolio that ultimately lost more than $6 billion.

Though the Synthetic Credit Portfolio (SCP), which consists of indices and tranches of indices of credit default swaps, has generated $2 billion in gross revenues since its inception in 2007, the SCP began sustaining consistent and considerable losses in the first quarter of 2012, according to the indictment.

From at least March 2012, Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout allegedly conspired to disguise those losses by artificially manipulating the SCP marks.

Martin-Artajo had been a managing director at JPMorgan and the head of credit and equity trading at the bank's chief investment office. Grout was a vice president for the bank's chief investment office and an SCP trader.

They allegedly hoped in part that this would to avoid losing control of the SCP to other traders at JPMorgan.

The SCP lost approximately $130 million in January 2012 and approximately $88 million in February 2012, the Justice Department claims.

Read more:

Surprise: Heavily-armed assault team ordered to stand down during Navy Yard shooting

A tactical unit of heavily-armed Capitol Police officers was near the scene of the Washington Navy Yard shooting as it happened, ready and capable of stepping in. But according to multiple sources speaking to the BBC, that unit was ordered to stand down and leave the scene, instead of helping the Municipal Police Department take down the shooter.

The officers, part of a four-man Containment and Emergency Response Team responsible for guarding the nearby Capitol, were "wearing full tactical gear and armed with HK-416 assault weapons" when they arrived near the scene of the then active mass shooting on Monday morning, according to the BBC. Here's what allegedly happened next:

"According to a Capitol Police source, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington DC's main municipal force, told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on the site equipped with long guns and requested their assistance in searching for the gunman. 
When the Capitol Police team radioed in to their superiors, they were told by a watch commander to leave the scene, the BBC was told."

The Capitol Police are pulling radio logs from Monday morning to investigate the incident, according to a spokesperson for the agency, who added that the department provided "mutual support and assistance" in the aftermath of the shooting. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terry Gainer told the BBC that "It's a very serious allegation and inference to indicate that we were on scene and could have helped and were told to crushes me if that's the case." Gainer's position includes oversight of the Capitol Police. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the MPD told the BBC that the allegations of an initial order to stand down were "not true."

Read more:

Ron Paul: 'I would think' Rand is running in 2016

Hey Dad, is Rand running for president in 2016?

“I would think so, he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing, but I haven’t had a conversation of what your plan is,” Paul said on Morning Joe. “He’s been pretty independent.”

Kentucky’s Tea Party darling Sen. Rand Paul is already being floated as a potential 2016 candidate for the Republican Party.

“I think if you look at where’s he’s traveling, which states he’s going to, I would think it’s on his mind, but I haven’t had any personal conversations,” said Paul, a former Texas congressman.

Read more:
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Significant inaccuracies found in terrorism stats

A government audit of the Justice Department's terrorism-related statistics revealed that all were inaccurately reported, and most were significantly inflated.

Five years ago, the Office of the Inspector General found problems with the Justice Department's reporting of terrorism-related statistics and advised it to revise its internal controls.

This year's follow-up audit was intended to determine if the Department's corrective actions improved the accuracy of its statistics.

Auditors selected 11 of the 39 statistics to thoroughly test, including the number of terrorism-related cases filed, the number of defendants convicted at trial or by guilty plea, and the number of defendants sentenced to prison.

But, instead of improvement, the audit found that the Department "inaccurately reported all 11 statistics we reviewed during this follow-up audit. Most of these 11 statistics were inaccurately reported by significant margins."

Read more:

Undocumented LA County parents on pace to receive $650 million in welfare benefits

A projected $650 million in welfare benefits will be distributed to illegal alien parents in 2013, county officials said Monday.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich announced the latest figures from the Department of Public Social Services, which showed more than $376 million in CalWORKs benefits and food stamps combined have been distributed through July to illegal alien parents for their native-born children.

Read more:

Accused 9/11 plotter ejected from war court

Angry objections from an accused Sept. 11, 2001, plotter led to his ejection Monday from a pretrial hearing for the death penalty case at the war court in Guantanamo Bay.

Five men accused of plotting in the terrorist attacks, including alleged "mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, were captured between 2002 and 2003 before their transfer to Guantanamo Bay on Sept. 4, 2006. Their arraignment finally came on May 5, 2012, and the pre-trial proceedings of their military commissions continue to drag.

More than 12 years after the attacks, discovery proceedings in the case encountered further delays on Monday, amid complaints from two angry defendants and an attorney who had fallen ill.

Read more:

Congressman: CIA employee who refused to sign non-disclosure on Benghazi suspended

A CIA employee who refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring him from discussing the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, has been suspended as a result and forced to hire legal counsel, according to a top House lawmaker.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) revealed at an event on Monday that his office was anonymously informed about the CIA employee, who is purportedly facing an internal backlash after refusing to sign a legal document barring him from publicly or privately discussing events surrounding the Benghazi attack.

The revelation comes about a month after several media outlets reported that CIA employees with knowledge of the terror attack had been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) and submit to regular polygraph tests.

Read more:

Second private spacecraft set for space station run

Sending a package to outer space is not as simple as dialing a parcel company. But it's getting there.

If all goes well, on Wednesday morning a privately owned robotic spaceship, the Cygnus, will blast off from Wallops Island, Va., to deliver cargo to NASA astronauts living on the International Space Station. Crews in space have already received three loads of freight on robotic spaceships belonging to California-based SpaceX, but Cygnus is owned by a rival firm. And that means that Wednesday's flight will mark a milestone of its own: the beginning of competition in the high-stakes business of supplying astronauts in orbit.

Read more:

Carney: Obama implementing executive actions following Navy Yard shooting

President Barack Obama on Monday wearily lamented “yet another mass shooting,” this time in the nation’s capital where the debate that raged earlier this year over tightening firearms laws has stalled amid opposition from gun-rights advocates.

The shooting at the Washington Navy Yard came a week after voters recalled two Colorado legislators who supported tougher gun measures, illustrating the strong political headwinds faced by lawmakers seeking to respond to the violence.

Read more:

Man arrested after throwing firecrackers on the White House lawn

Police have arrested a man accused of throwing firecrackers over a fence near the White House Monday evening.

Officials tell NBC News that it was not clear why the man was using the fireworks but that he was not considered a threat.

Read more:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Don’t underestimate Rand Paul as a 2016 presidential contender

The first nine months of 2013 have convinced us of one thing: Rand Paul acts, and the rest of the potential 2016 Republican presidential field reacts.

On drones, the senator from Kentucky led a 13-hour filibuster that drew Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), among others, to the floor in support. On Syria, Paul was out front in his opposition to a military strike — a position that more than two dozen of his Republican Senate colleagues came to share.

Paul, in short, seems to be a step or two in front of the ongoing transformation of the Republican Party from a hawkish conservatism to a sort of populist libertarianism.

That’s not to say, of course, that significant strains of resistance to the vision of the Republican Party that Paul is offering don’t remain. They do. And it remains to be seen whether the establishment, such as it is — elected officials and major donors, primarily — can unite to keep Paul from the nomination in favor of a politically “safer” choice such as Rubio or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Read more:

Photo by Gage Skidmore

How letter diplomacy keeps Iran and US 'talking'

The way that US and Iranian leaders communicate, you might think that telephones, faxes, and emails have yet to be invented. Or even stamps.

Iran's seizure of the US embassy in Tehran in November 1979 caused the US to break off diplomatic relations. For the last 34 years, the two countries have been opponents. But, in recent years, the country's respective leaders have managed to send each other occasional letters delivered through intermediaries.

The tradition appears to have begun in 2006 when Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wrote an 18-page letter to his US counterpart.

"Mr George Bush, President of the United States of America," Mr Ahmadinejad wrote.

Read more:

Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of shelling border

Afghan officials on Monday accused the Pakistani military of firing roughly 40 missiles over the eastern Kunar province within the last 24 hours.

"There is no human loss, but the shelling damaged crops, forests and property," Kunar Governor Shuja-ul-Mulk Jalalah told Anadolu Agency.

He accused the Pakistani army of targeting the remote Nari and Dangam districts of his province.

"This is not the first time Pakistani forces fired missiles at Afghan soil," Kunar police chief Abdul Habib Saidkhail told AA.

He said some people had been killed and wounded in similar Pakistani shelling within the past three years, but could not provide exact death tolls.

"We are trying hard to secure the province so that people can live in peace," Saidkhail said. "But such attacks make people angry at Pakistan, which creates tension."

Read more:

Ron Paul: Tide turns against warmongers

Will the history books record these past couple of weeks as the point when the tide finally turned against our interventionist foreign policy?

We began September with the Obama Administration on the verge of launching Tomahawk missiles at Syria. The missiles were needed, the administration claimed, to punish the Syrian government for using poison gas on its own people. There were reports that in addition to missiles, the administration was planning airstrikes and possibly even more military action against Syria. The talks of a punishing “shot across the bow” to send a message to the Syrian government also escalated, as some discussed the need to degrade the Syrian military to help change the regime. They refused to rule out a US ground invasion of Syria.


Back to school in Syria as threat of U.S. strike subsides

Thousands of Syrian school children started their academic year on time on Sunday after concern that schools would not open on schedule due to threats of a U.S. military strike.

In Damascus, many school buildings had been transformed into barracks to house personnel fleeing military sites that could be targets in a strike that U.S. President Barack Obama said would be punishment for an alleged chemical attack on August 21.

By Sunday morning most soldiers had moved out, in a sign that President Bashar al-Assad's government no longer fears strikes following a deal negotiated by the United States and Russia under which he would destroy his chemical arsenal.

Read more:

Israel legal ruling lets Palestinians reclaim former Jewish settlement

A ruling by Israel's attorney general allows Palestinians access to West Bank lands decades after they were seized, Israeli media report.

In 1978, Israel seized around 170 acres of the Palestinian village of Burka, citing security needs. But a small military camp set up on the hilltop was quickly replaced with civilians, and the site became the Jewish settlement of Homesh.

Homesh was among four West Bank settlements Israel removed under the terms of a 2005 disengagement plan, when it removed all Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.

Read more:,0,3749137.story

Egyptian security forces storm community held by Morsi supporters

Egyptian security forces on Monday stormed a community where supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi had seized control weeks earlier, news reports and officials said.

The Coptic Christian minority in Dalga, about 190 miles south of Cairo, had reported a harsh campaign of intimidation by militants who burned churches and shook them down for protection money. About one-sixth of the town’s 120,000 residents are Christians.

Read more:,0,5734987.story

Police launch investigation into claims of sexual abuse at immigration centre in Bedfordshire

Police have launched an investigation into claims that a woman who was held at an immigration removal centre was subject to inappropriate sexual behaviour from guards.

The 23-year-old alleges that she had sexual contact with male guards at Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire, which her lawyer said could amount to misconduct in public office.

Harriet Wistrich of the law firm Birnberg Peirce urged the government to investigate and said consent could be an issue in the matter. Wistrich said the alleged case revealed by the Observer, involving a Roma woman who was released from the centre last March, was not an isolated one.

Read more:

Beaten and Tasered at school for the deaf, parents claim

Staff members at the American School for the Deaf chased a student into a construction site where police Tasered the boy without warning, his parents claim in Federal Court.

A.M. is a "profoundly deaf" 12-year-old resident of Bronx, N.Y., who also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

His parents, Audley and Judith Muschette, sued the American School for the Deaf, the town of West Hartford, Conn., two West Hartford police officers and two school employees.

The complaint describes a March 2013 altercation at the school where an unknown staff member choked A.M., and threw him to the ground "without justification or cause," leading the boy to suffer "significant head injuries."

An employee of American School for the Deaf who spoke to the Muschettes about the incident described A.M.'s assailant as "E," but would not reveal the worker's full name.

Read more:

HHS internal watchdog doesn't have time to vet Obamacare cyber designs

Inspectors have declined to review draft and final security plans for health insurance online marketplaces set to launch Oct. 1.

Due to limited means, Health and Human Services Department internal watchdogs do not intend to examine key security designs they did not have a chance to assess during a recent audit of Obamacare’s online insurance network, a federal investigator told Nextgov.

At a Wednesday House hearing, lawmakers and the former Social Security Administration commissioner blasted the HHS inspector general for failing to probe the system's vulnerability to hacking. The so-called hub, which opens Oct. 1, will transmit personal information to and from various agency databases when a patient visits a government website, called an “exchange,” to sign up for insurance coverage.

“We've got to cut off our work at a certain point," HHS assistant inspector general Kay Daly said during an interview on Friday. A system security plan and risk assessment completed July 16 did not make it into the Aug. 2 audit, because their inspection ended on July 1, she said.

"We don't have any plans to look at those at this time. We are still trying to figure out what's the best use of our resources, given all the various risks associated with this project and many others," Daly added.

Read more:

Joint Chief Adm. Greenert evacuated from Navy Yard during shooting

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the top U.S. Navy officer and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was at the Navy Yard during Monday morning’s shooting and was evacuated safely, Defense One has learned.

According to multiple news reports from the Navy Yard, at least four people have been killed and at least 10 wounded by a gunmen believed armed with at least an automatic weapon.

Greenert is chief of naval operations, known in the military as the CNO. The Navy Yard in Southeast Washington, D.C., houses the CNO’s headquarters.

Read more:

House GOP takes step on Internet sales tax legislation

Republicans in the House are taking a step forward on Internet sales tax legislation despite potential opposition from the GOP base.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) is expected to release his own set of principles on the issue in the next week or two, according to sources who are closely watching the legislation.

The principles are a sign of fresh momentum for online sales tax legislation after Goodlatte and other top Republicans in the House — including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — voiced deep skepticism about the Senate-passed Marketplace Fairness Act.

Read more:

WH: 'We urge citizens to listen to the authorities and follow directions from the first responders on site'

An unnamed White House official released this statement on the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.:

"The President has been briefed several times about the unfolding situation at the Washington Navy Yard by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco and Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromanaco. The President directed his team to stay in touch with our federal partners, including the Navy and FBI, as well as the local officials. We urge citizens to listen to the authorities and follow directions from the first responders on site."

Read more:

Google's Eric Schmidt says government spying is 'the nature of our society'

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, reiterated the tech industry's call for greater transparency from the US government over surveillance on Friday, but declined to "pass judgment" on American spying operations.

Speaking in New York, at an event hosted by the New America Foundation, Schmidt said it was time for a public debate about the nature of the surveillance activities carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA). But he also said that spying was a fact of modern life.

"There's been spying for years, there's been surveillance for years, and so forth, I'm not going to pass judgement on that, it's the nature of our society," he said.

Read more:

Media shield law approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

In its attempt to define who’s a journalist and who’s not, is the US Senate trying to say that Thomas Paine, a corset-maker, wouldn’t have deserved the same protections from government heavy-handedness as a newspaper publisher like Ben Franklin?

The first version of a media shield law that handily made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday defined for the first time what constitutes a “real reporter” deserving of extra protection versus what Sen. Dianne Feinstein called a “17-year-old blogger” who doesn’t deserve a legal shield.

“Journalism is an activity, not a profession,” wrote University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, who mans the popular InstaPundit blog.

Read more :

Sweden to cut income taxes for fifth time since 2006

Sweden's centre-right coalition government said on Monday it would cut income taxes for a fifth time since 2006, aiming to boost a sluggish economy and overcome a daunting lead for the opposition heading into elections next year.

The package of tax cuts will total 15 billion Swedish crowns $2.28 billion (1.43 billion pounds), comprising 12 billion in lower income taxes and 3 billion related to a raising of the threshold for incomes subject to central government as well as municipal taxation.

"If we do not use our strong public finances we risk losing jobs," Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told a news conference.

"What we propose now will generate 13,000 new jobs. Most experts are in agreement that this measure creates jobs."

Read more:

Armed EPA raid in Alaska sheds light on 70 fed agencies with armed divisions

The recent uproar over armed EPA agents descending on a tiny Alaska mining town is shedding light on the fact that 40 federal agencies - including nearly a dozen typically not associated with law enforcement -- have armed divisions.

The agencies employ about 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department report.

The FBI, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Park Service are among 24 federal agencies employing more than 250 full-time armed officers with arrest authority, according the federal report, which is based on the 2008 Census of Federal Law Enforcement Officers.

The other 16 agencies have less than 250 officers and include NOAA as well as the Library of Congress, the Federal Reserve Board and the National Institutes of Health.

Read more:

Video: Beyoncé is pulled off stage by a fan during performance in Brazil

Beyoncé was pulled off stage by a shirtless concertgoer during a performance in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sunday night.

The over-excited fan managed to put his arms around the 32-year-old singer and yank her off the elevated platform she had been singing from.

However, Beyoncé's entourage were quick to step in, with two security guards rushing onto the stage to disentangle the singer from the grip of the fan.

Read more:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Video: Homeowner confronts suspected burglar with shotgun

This is the moment a furious homeowner armed with a shotgun caught a serial burglar carrying away his neighbor's 47-inch flat-screen TV. The alleged burglar, Gilbert Nunez, 27, had broken into Paul Cavazos' condo building in San Antonio, Texas, at least twice before - including once when he stole a laptop from Mr Cavazos' home while his girlfriend was home.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Obama snubs Boehner, Cantor after winning their support on Syria

If there has been a bright spot in President Obama’s ill-fated effort to get Congressional support on Syria, it’s been the solid backing he’s received from Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor even in the face of overwhelming opposition from the Republican rank-and-file. But when the president decided to pull the plug, for now, on the Syria resolution, nobody at the White House bothered to tell the Republican leadership.


US Air Force facing drone pilot shortage, study finds

The use of unmanned aircraft in modern warfare may be ramping up in a hurry, but a new study suggests the U.S. Air Force may be facing a shortage of drone pilots, largely because these positions are still seen as less desirable than piloting more traditional manned aircraft.

A report released last month from the Brookings Institution, a non-profit think tank based in Washington, D.C., found that the Air Force has struggled to fill all of its training spots for drone pilots. In 2012, only 82 percent of the available training positions for remotely piloted aircraft were filled, whereas all of the spots in the training programs for manned aircraft were taken.

This year appears to be no different. As of January 2013, after the first round of the Air Force Academy's assignment process, only 12 individuals had volunteered for the 40 available training slots, a figure that works out to 30 percent.


Video: Best political ad: "Wake Up Minneapolis"

Minneapolis mayoral candidate Jeff Wagner has released a campaign ad titled ''Wake Up Minneapolis'' on youtube.

"I am cool with making $100,000 a year. I will not take money from the developers. I will not take money from the political angle," Wagner says in the video.

"I will not even go to the strip clubs anymore!"

House unveils legislation to police specialty pharmacies

House lawmakers have introduced legislation that would bring more federal oversight to large specialty pharmacies like the one that triggered a deadly meningitis outbreak last year.


Nation's bloated nuclear spending comes under fire

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, a seven-year, $213 million upgrade to the security system that protects the lab's most sensitive nuclear bomb-making facilities doesn't work. Those same facilities, which sit atop a fault line, remain susceptible to collapse and dangerous radiation releases, despite millions more spent on improvement plans.

In Tennessee, the price tag for a new uranium processing facility has grown nearly sevenfold in eight years to upward of $6 billion because of problems that include a redesign to raise the roof. And the estimated cost of an ongoing effort to refurbish 400 of the country's B61 bombs has grown from $1.5 billion to $10 billion.

The NNSA has racked up $16 billion in cost overruns on 10 major projects that are a combined 38 years behind schedule, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reports. Other projects have been cancelled or suspended, despite hundreds of millions of dollars already spent, because they grew too bloated.


California governor to sign driver's license bill for illegal immigrants

California Governor Jerry Brown said on Friday he would sign a bill authorizing the state to provide driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, a last-minute reversal of his position.

Brown said he approved of the measure, which its author had withdrawn on Thursday under the threat of a veto, capping a full day of lobbying by California politicians for immigration reform at the federal level.

"This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally," Brown, a Democrat, said in an email sent to reporters shortly after midnight. "Hopefully it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due."


Arizona can't roll its own constitution

Arizona enacted an unconstitutional law that prohibits commercial use of "roll-your-own" tobacco machines, two nonprofit social clubs claim in Federal Court.

The NFP Organization of Phoenix and the RYO Club of North Phoenix sued Gov. Jan Brewer, Attorney General Tom Horne and the state's tax director to stop enforcement of Senate Bill 1312, which Brewer signed into law in June.

The social clubs claim they were created so smokers can roll cigarettes that "contain only tobacco, and contain none of the at least 599 additives which large, commercial cigarette manufacturers add to the tobacco."


Investigators probe Jeffrey E. Thompson’s possible role in Clinton’s 2008 campaign

Federal investigators are probing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign as part of an effort to expand their case against a D.C. businessman alleged to have financed below-the-radar political operations, people familiar with the investigation said.

The businessman, Jeffrey E. Thompson, allegedly provided more than $600,000 to fund secret get-out-the-vote efforts to help Clinton in at least four primary states. Prosecutors do not expect to pursue a separate criminal case against Clinton’s campaign, these people said.

In a wide-ranging effort to expand their 18-month-old corruption case against Thompson, federal investigators have reviewed hundreds of e-mails and interviewed more than a dozen Clinton campaign staffers and supporters, according to people familiar with the probe.


Biden calls Republicans 'Neanderthals'

Vice President Joe Biden said Repulican opposition to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the House of Representatives came from the "Neanderthal crowd." And he gave himself credit for coming up with the law almost 20 years ago.

"Packed into the front room of the Vice President's residence just before 7pm, Biden spoke for about half an hour to the crowd of several dozen people, most of whom played a role in making VAWA a reality. The room was full of chatter as Biden was standing at the mic waiting to talk, so he turned around and let out a piercingly loud whistle, and the room went quiet. He talked about when he first came up with the idea for VAWA legislation in the early 1990s," according to the pool report from an event last night.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Colorado lawmakers ousted in recall over gun law

Two Colorado Democrats who provided crucial support for a package of state gun laws were voted out of office on Tuesday in special elections seen as a test of whether swing-state voters would accept gun restrictions after mass shootings at a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.

The vote, which came five months after the United States Senate defeated several gun restrictions, handed another loss to gun-control supporters and gave moderate lawmakers across the country a warning about the political risks of voting for tougher gun laws.

The immediate effect of the recalls — the first of their kind in Colorado — was to remove two state senators, Angela Giron of Pueblo and John Morse of Colorado Springs, and replace them with Republicans.


Video: Cornel West 'uncertain' of official 9/11 narrative

The official government narrative of 9/11 is “uncertain” but Osama Bin Laden was likely involved, Princeton University professor Dr. Cornel West said while speaking at the Million Muslim March in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

While being interviewed by the Capitol City Project's Joe Schoffstall at today's Million Muslim March, Cornell West said he it was a "possibility" that 9/11 was an inside job and that Fox News needs to "quit lying".


Residents being fined for parking in their own driveway

It sounds absurd: tickets and warning letters for parking in your own driveway.

“This is where I’ve been parking for over 18 years,” said Eileen Freedman, as she pointed at the driveway to her home on Hobart Street in Squirrel Hill.

“We’re no longer allowed to use our driveway to park, because of a law that says you have to park at least 30 feet away from the street,” said Freedman.


Video: David Petraeus ambushed, branded "war criminal" by protesters

A video shows former CIA director David Petraeus being ambushed by protesters on the streets of New York and branded a “war criminal.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Video: Russians refuse to shake Obama's hand

Watch this 10-second video where a lineup of leading Russians refuse to shake his hand. Did you see this on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN or MSNBC? This is "hard ball", Soviet Style.

Anyone ever seen a Head of State snubbed like this? Speaks volumes.

VA execs will leave if Congress bans bonuses, group says

Proposals to ban performance bonuses for senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department are unwarranted and damaging to VA’s mission, according to a professional association representing top federal managers.

The Senior Executives Association wrote a letter to Reps. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Mike Michaud, D-Maine, the chairman and ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, to condemn a recent push to limit or altogether block performance awards to Senior Executive Service and equivalent grade employees at VA.

“There seems to be a misperception that federal career senior executives are collecting Wall Street salaries and bonuses while accomplishing little of value,” SEA President Carol Bonosaro wrote in the letter. “Nothing could be farther from the truth.”


Weiner exits NYC mayoral race with his middle finger erect

After the dust settled in the New York mayoral race primary — leaving Anthony Weiner a loser — the last memorable image of Weiner’s failed candidacy was his middle finger.

Classy to the finish, Weiner delivered his concession speech Tuesday night and as he was leaving flipped the bird at a reporter. An NY1 News reporter captured the imaged and dispatched it on Twitter.


Woman says she was raped by a cop

A Honolulu policeman raped a woman in a parking garage and the city let him quit without prosecuting him, though he failed a polygraph test, the woman claims in court.

Raynell Keala Kaowili sued the City and County of Honolulu and its former police Officer Todd D. Dickerson, in Oahu First Circuit Court.

Kaowili claims Dickerson raped her while on duty, in uniform and carrying a gun, on Sept. 17, 2011. She says it happened near a Long's Drug Store after he and two other unidentified officers stopped her to question her about a shoplifting incident.

After questioning her, at about 3:30 p.m., Kaowili says in the lawsuit, the other two officers left, leaving her with Dickerson.


FBI arrests ex-TSA worker after LA airport threats

A security screener at Los Angeles International Airport has been taken into custody after quitting his job and making threats that led officials to clear and search terminals at the airport, the FBI said in a statement Wednesday.

Nna Alpha Onuoha, 29, was arrested shortly before midnight Tuesday east of Los Angeles in Riverside, and he remained in custody on suspicion of making threats pending additional investigation.

Authorities searched Onuoha's minivan Wednesday morning as part of the investigation, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.


Explosion damages Libya's Foreign Ministry on anniversary of 9/11 attack on U.S. Consulate

A powerful car bomb exploded Wednesday near Libya’s Foreign Ministry building in the heart of the eastern coastal city of Benghazi, security officials said, exactly one year after an attack there killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

The early morning blast targeted a building that once housed the U.S. Consulate under the rule of King Idris, who former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi overthrew in a 1969 bloodless coup. The explosion caused no serious casualties, though several passers-by were slightly wounded, officials said.

The bomb blew out a side wall of the building, leaving desks, filing cabinets and computers strewn among the concrete rubble. It also damaged the Benghazi branch of the Libyan Central Bank along a major thoroughfare in the city.


NSA blasted for 'flagrant violation' of privacy

A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge slammed the National Security Agency in 2009 for an apparent "flagrant violation" of the privacy rights of U.S. citizens through nearly three years of unauthorized searches of telephone records, according to newly declassified documents.

The Director of National Intelligence released the top-secret documents on Tuesday in response to a California lawsuit filed after details of a massive surveillance program were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The newly revealed documents include a furious Jan. 28, 2009 top-secret order signed by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Reggie Walton slamming government lawyers for "what appears to be a flagrant violation" of a court order to protect the privacy rights of U.S. citizens.


McCain calls Russia's Syria plan a stall tactic

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) called a Russian plan for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons a stalling tactic, in comments Wednesday at a Wall Street Journal event the morning after President Barack Obama addressed the nation over possible diplomatic progress and the need for a credible U.S. military threat.

Mr. McCain expressed severe skepticism about the possibility of compromise—whose origins he called "queasy"—that arose this week and urged the White House to give the diplomatic track limited time to play itself out. "I'm worried that we have a game of rope-a-dope for a while, and the slaughter goes on," Mr. McCain said.

Mr. McCain made the comments at a Seib & Wessel breakfast hosted by the Wall Street Journal.


Obama nominates consulting executive to fill management chief void

President Obama on Tuesday evening announced that he has picked an executive at a top private sector consulting firm to serve as his management chief.

Obama said he will nominate Beth Cobert, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co., to be deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. That position has been vacant since Jeffrey Zients, who also had significant private sector experience, left the job on May 1.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

FACT CHECK: Obama's Syria case still lacks proof

President Barack Obama voiced his conviction Tuesday night that Syrian President Bashar Assad was to blame for deadly chemical attacks against civilians, but again he offered no proof.

A look at his remarks to the nation, seeking support for a military strike against Syria, and how they compare with the facts as publicly known:

OBAMA: ‘‘We know the Assad regime was responsible.... The facts cannot be denied.’’

THE FACTS: The Obama administration has not laid out proof Assad was behind the attack.

The administration has cited satellite imagery and communications intercepts, backed by social media and intelligence reports from sources in Syria, as the basis for blaming the Assad government. But the only evidence the administration has made public is a collection of videos it has verified of the victims. The videos do not demonstrate who launched the attacks.


US will continue to jail pot dealers 'in all states'

The White House has pledged to continue to jail those who traffick in marijuana or sell it to minors -- even in two US states where its recreational use is now legal.

At a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Deputy Attorney General James Cole defended the federal decision not to challenge new laws legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington states, approved by voters in November 2012.

Those law clash with federal laws which classify marijuana as a Schedule One controlled substance, on par with heroin.


U.S. providing some lethal aid to Syrian rebels: opposition spokesman

The United States has begun distributing some weapons to the Syrian rebels, a spokesman for the Syrian Coalition of groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday, after months of reported delays.

White House officials suggested in June that President Barack Obama had decided to provide military aid to the Syrian rebels, but in the months since, rebel leaders and U.S. lawmakers have said no lethal assistance has arrived.

"The U.S. is distributing non-lethal aid and ... some lethal assistance as well to the SMC (Supreme Military Council)," Saleh told a news conference, referring to the council that oversees operations of rebels loyal to General Salim Idriss.


Mysterious actions of Chinese satellites have experts guessing

A set of three mysterious satellites has experts guessing about the Chinese space program's intentions. No one really knows what the Chinese are up to, and everything is speculation.

That appears to be the consensus of space experts tracking a set of Chinese spacecraft. Some have speculated that the Chinese are testing possible anti-satellite technology, while others have described the satellites as prosaic probes meant to sharpen the country's overall space skills.

Under debate are the orbital antics of several newcomers to space — the Chinese satellites Shiyan-7, Chuangxin-3 and Shijian-15 — which all launched into orbit together on July 20. Experts are also discussing the actions of China's elder spacecraft Shijian-7, which launched more than eight years ago.


Home Depot is accused of shaking down suspected shopliters

Jimin Chen received two worrisome letters this summer. Both came from a law firm hired by Home Depot (HD). The first demanded payment of $350 to settle claims that he shoplifted from a California store. According to Chen, in early June he had been wrongly accused of taking two pairs of work gloves (priced at $3.99 each) as he purchased nearly $1,500 worth of merchandise from Home Depot. A second letter demanded $625. Both helpfully included five ways he could pay, and both threatened legal action if he didn’t.

Chen didn’t pay. Instead, on Sept. 5, he filed a class-action lawsuit (PDF) in California Superior Court, alleging that Home Depot is shaking down customers for arbitrary and unjust damages for shoplifting charges and using false threats of criminal prosecution.


Photo by Ildar Sagdejev

Report: CIA believes Israel acquired chemical weapons decades ago

Israel is believed to have secretly developed a range of chemical weapons in the 1960s and 70s as further defense against an attack by the surrounding enemy states, according to a report in Foreign Policy, which quotes a "secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate."

The CIA document, Foreign Policy says, states that US satellites in 1982 found "a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility... at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert." Furthermore, the document is claimed to have said, "Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry."


As Syria rages, US and Russian chemical weapons stockpiles persist

As the United States and Russia lock horns over the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the former Cold War foes are still wrestling with the remnants of their own massive chemical stockpiles that they have been working to eliminate for two decades.

“They are terribly expensive to maintain and provide good security for,” Paul Walker, a former US Congressional staffer and nonproliferation expert who has inspected US and Russian chemical weapons storage facilities, told RIA Novosti on Monday.

Both the United States and Russia still possess thousands of tons of chemical weapons that they are in the process of destroying, a process that has proven more expensive and technically difficult than officials originally envisioned.

The United States has destroyed 90 percent of its declared Cold War-era stockpiles, though it still has some 2,600 tons (2,359 metric tons) of deadly mustard agent at a Colorado storage facility and 523 tons (474 metric tons) of blister and nerve agents at a Kentucky facility that the Pentagon says are slated for destruction by 2019 and 2023.


Antigovernment protests flare again in Turkey following death

Antigovernment protests flared in several cities late Tuesday following the death of a 22-year-old demonstrator, raising the specter that the protest movement that rocked Turkey in the summer could gather strength into the fall.

Police fired tear gas and sound grenades at thousands of demonstrators seeking to gather late Tuesday in several Turkish cities, including Istanbul, Ankara and Hatay, a town in southern Turkey where the young protester died in the early morning hours.


Ron Paul launches homeschooling curriculum focusing on liberty and self-discipline

Ron Paul may no longer be representing Texas in the U.S. Congress, but he does have a fascinating new project: A homeschooling curriculum for children of all ages. Using his worldview as the basis of the educational program, Paul has launched, a project that pledges to teach students “the basics of Western Civilization and Western liberty.”

In addition to geography, the self-guided curriculum will instruct students on history, mathematics, science, economics and, of course, the U.S. Constitution. A description of the project is overwhelmingly positive, as it pledges to teach young people how America can — and will — be reclaimed to encompass and tout its intended values.


Syrian FM: Syria will sign chemical ban, open storage sites

Syria's foreign minister said Tuesday his country is ready to sign an international agreement banning chemical weapons and pledged to open its storage sites and provide full disclosure immediately.

"We fully support Russia's initiative concerning chemical weapons in Syria, and we are ready to cooperate. As a part of the plan, we intend to join the Chemical Weapons Convention," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in an interview with Lebanon-based Al-Maydeen TV.


Father arrested after beating naked peeping tom, faces longer sentence than the perv

An Albuquerque, New Mexico dad who found a naked prowler peering into his young daughter's room will face charges after seriously beating the peeping tom.

Police say Emilio Chavez III found 29-year-old Dylan Maho naked and making noises near a little girl's window when he chose to exact vigilante justice and beat Maho so badly he was taken to the hospital.

While both men could be convicted of felonies, Chavez could potentially get a longer sentence for what he did to the intruder.


FBI continues to investigate Hastings for 'controversial reporting'

The FBI released a heavily redacted document on Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings, Monday, which revealed the law-enforcement agency is continuing to investigate what it characterized as "controversial reporting" by the journalist, who died in a late-night car crash in Los Angeles in June.

The FBI turned over the three-page document to Al Jazeera and Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in FOIA research, in response to a joint-Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the agency.


Caught on camera: Deputy brutalizes a family

Harris County investigators said Deputy Jimmy Drummond was caught on dash cam video brutalizing a family.

Drummond followed the son home because he said he was speeding. As other family members approached the scene, they were all beaten.

Drummond has been charged after an investigation by the Internal Affairs Division, the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office said.

“We firmly believe the District Attorney’s Office is following the appropriate course of action in reviewing the details of the overall incident, up to and including justification for dismissal of charges in the original case. No one in law enforcement supports abuse of official capacity is the use of force and likewise we do not support assaults on an officer in the performance of their duty,” officials said in a statement released Tuesday.


Monday, September 9, 2013

China frees journalist turned in by Yahoo

A Chinese activist who was arrested nearly a decade ago after a politically sensitive email he sent was disclosed by Yahoo has been released from prison, a writers' group has reported.

Authorities sentenced Shi Tao, a journalist and poet in the central Chinese city Changsha, to a 10-year jail term in April 2005 for "illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities". It was later revealed that the US internet giant Yahoo had given the Chinese government access to Shi's email account, facilitating his arrest.

Shi, 45, was released in the north-western city Yinchuan on 23 August, 15 months before the end of his sentence, according the Independent Chinese Pen Centre, an affiliate of the nonprofit writer's group Pen International. He is currently living with his mother in Yinchuan, the group said in a statement on Saturday. The reasons for his early release are still unclear.


Why 31 million people will remain uninsured under ObamaCare

President Obama's signature health-care law is expected to extend coverage to 25 million uninsured people in the U.S. as all of its provisions are implemented over the next decade. But ObamaCare is far from universal — the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 31 million people will still lack insurance by 2023.

Undocumented workers will make up a growing share of the uninsured, say Sarah Kliff and Lena H. Sun in a Monday article in The Washington Post, because they will be ineligible to buy insurance on new exchanges that are scheduled to go online next month and will extend coverage to 24 million people over the next decade, according to CBO estimates.


Nearly 20 million illegal immigrants in U.S., former Border Patrol agents say

The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is actually closer to 20 million, according to former Border Patrol agents who issued a letter this weekend disputing the count of 11 million that the government and most top private demographers use.

“The more likely figure is 18-20 million and rising daily,” Zack Taylor, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, Inc., said in an open letter dated Sunday.


CNN poll: Obama's foreign policy rating at all-time low

A day before President Obama is scheduled to deliver a prime time address on Syria, a new national poll shows his approval rating on foreign policy has hit an all-time low.

Only four in 10 approve of the job Obama is doing on foreign policy, while 57 percent disapprove, according to the CNN/ORC International survey of more than 1,000 adults.


Coalition of the willing on Syria includes such superpowers as Albania, Estonia, Honduras

It’s not likely to ease Americans’ concerns about going to war, but the White House announced Monday that Albania is on board with the Obama administration’s plans to punish Syria.

Tiny Estonia, too, has agreed that Syria must be held accountable for using chemical weapons. And Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania and Morocco.


Leaked Iranian letter warned US that Syrian rebels have chemical weapons

As a primary backer of the Syrian government, Iran has argued vehemently against US airstrikes, warned that sectarian "fire" will spread, and that jihadi rebels may have been behind the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that US officials say killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.

According to leaked diplomatic correspondence, Iran has been warning Washington since July 2012 that Sunni rebel fighters have acquired chemical weapons, and called on the US to send “an immediate and serious warning” to rebel groups not to use them.

In a letter acquired by The Christian Science Monitor that was sent sometime in the spring, Iran told American officials that, as a "supporter" of the rebels, the US would be held responsible for any rebel use of chemical weapons.


Video: Susan Rice: Strike on Syria not 'another war'

White House national security adviser Susan Rice says any U.S. military action against Syria "would not be another war." She says the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its own people and said that raises threats to other countries.

Prince Andrew mistaken for intruder, tackled (video)

Royal blunder: Prince Andrew mistaken for intruder, tackled The Queen's son, Prince Andrew, was mistaken for an intruder in the palace garden. CBS News' Charlie D'Agata reports.

Organic molecules found in space rock

Scientists have discovered unexpected ingredients for life — organic molecules never seen before in meteorites — inside a chunk of space rock that fell to Earth over California last year, scientists say.

The discovery comes from an analysis of the so-called Sutter's Mill meteorite, which lit up the California night sky with a dazzling fireball in April 2012. Meteorite fragments from the event may shed light on the primordial ooze that helped give rise to life on Earth, researchers said.


Glenn Beck, Savage, Levin join Rush in opposing attack on Syria

Conservative talk radio hosts are among those leading the charge in opposition to military action in Syria, offering predictions of dire consequences and criticizing President Barack Obama's strategy.

From Glenn Beck and Mark Levin to Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage, conservative talk show hosts lashed out at Obama's plans to attack Syria, with Hugh Hewitt one of the few voices supporting the action.

Beck, on his show on BlazeTV, said that with Russia and China adding their names "to the list of don't do anything in Syria," intervention would be akin to going "into World War III against Iran, China, and Russia."


Americans were 12 times more interested in Miley Cyrus than Syria

That Miley Cyrus captures more attention than escalating war in Syria is, by now, conventional wisdom. But an exhaustive survey of news sources now reveals exactly how much attention Miley steals: Americans viewed twelve times as many pages about Miley Cyrus as they did about Syria — even though the news sources published 2.4 Syria articles for every one about Miley.


Photo by Angela George at

The next American Revolution

The next American Revolution will not be an event, it will be a process. We naturally turn to the past for templates of the future, but history has a way of remaining remarkably unpredictable. Indeed, all the conventional long-range forecasts made in 1900, 1928, 1958, 1988 and 2000 missed virtually every key development--not just in the distant future, but just a few years out.

The point is that extrapolating the present into the future fails to capture sea changes and developments that completely disrupt the supposedly unchanging, permanent Status Quo. The idea that the next revolution will take a new formdoes not occur to conventional forecasters, who readily assume the next transition will follow past critical junctures: armed insurrection against the central authority (The first American Revolution, 1781), civil war (1861) or global war (1941).

I submit that the next American Revolution circa 2021-23 will not repeat or even echo these past transitions. What seems likely to me is the entire project of centralization that characterized the era 1941-2013 will slip into irrelevance as centralization increasingly yields diminishing returns.

Everything centralized, from the Federal Reserve to the Too Big To Fail Banks to Medicare to the National Security State depends on the Federal government being a Savior State that must ceaselessly expand its share of the national income and its raw power lest it implode. All Savior States have one, and only one trajectory-- they must ceaselessly expand and concentrate wealth and power or they will fail.


Chinese naval taskforce enters West Pacific

A taskforce of the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLAN) which is to visit three South American countries, namely, Chile, Brazil and Argentina, passed through the Bashi Channel and entered the waters of the West Pacific at around 07:00 on September 5, 2013.

The guided missile frigate "Liuzhou" navigates in the West Pacific on September 5, 2013. A taskforce composed of the guided missile destroyer "Lanzhou" and the guided missile frigate "Liuzhou" from the South China Sea Fleet of the PLAN sailed through the Bashi Channel on Thursday morning and entered the West Pacific. The two Chinese warships, entrusted with an outgoing visit mission to Chile, Brazil and Argentina, set sail on September 3 from Sanya, a port city in south China's Hainan province.


Newer Posts More headlines