Thursday, June 25, 2009

In the News: Jun-25

Wordle: In the News: Jun-25

Iran Tries to Pacify Protesters With Lord Of The Rings Marathon - June 25, 2009 1:28:00 PM - Iranian state television's Channel Two is playing a Lord of the Rings marathon in an attempt to keep people inside watching hobbits and not protesting in the streets. Normally people in Tehran are treated to one or two Hollywood movies a week, but with recent events the government hopes that sitting through a nine hour trilogy will take the fight out of most. Perhaps this was not the best choice in films if you want your people not to believe that "even the smallest person can change the course of the future."
The peasants are revolting? As Sid Maier would say, "Give 'em some entertainment."

EFF sues for publication of FBI domestic surveillance manual - June 25, 2009 12:24:07 PM - The EFF's recent amicus filing in the case of Warshak v. United States got quite a bit of mileage out of a nice quote from the Department of Justice's surveillance manual, which contains language that appears to clearly forbid the kind of "back door wiretap" of the plaintiff's e-mail that got the FBI in hot water with civil liberties groups over the course of this long-running and important case. Now the EFF appears to be looking to get its hands on a copy of the equivalent manual for the FBI—the agency's Domestic Investigative Operational Guidelines, which details the rules of the road for FBI-run domestic surveillance. The only problem is that its contents are a secret. So, the EFF is filing suit to have the manual's contents released to the public.

Justice Department: Harman not under investigation - 25 Jun 2009 at 2:19pm - WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department says Congresswoman Jane Harman is not the subject or target of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Justice Department: Harman not under investigation - 25 Jun 2009 at 2:19pm - WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department says Congresswoman Jane Harman is not the subject or target of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Jobs picture dims and overshadows improved GDP - 25 Jun 2009 at 1:49pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fresh signs of weakness in U.S. job markets on Thursday underlined the strains faced by a recession-struck U.S. economy that contracted slightly less in the first quarter than previously thought.

Politkovskaya murder case to be retried - 25 Jun 2009 at 8:28am - Russia's Supreme Court has overturned the acquittal of three men who stood trial over the murder of high-profile investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Thought for the day:
The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority. -Ralph W. Sockman

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In the News: Jun-24

Wordle: In the News: Jun-24

"Cultural shift" needed in Afghan combat: commander - 24 Jun 2009 at 2:48pm - CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said on Wednesday foreign troops need to make a "cultural shift" away from conventional warfare and focus on winning the support of Afghans.

U.S. and Venezuela to restore expelled ambassadors - 24 Jun 2009 at 2:01pm - MARACAY, Venezuela (Reuters) - The United States and Venezuela will soon reinstate ambassadors expelled in a diplomatic spat last year, a sign of warmer relations between President Hugo Chavez and what he calls the U.S. "empire."

Where was Gov. Sanford? Argentina, not Appalachia - 24 Jun 2009 at 9:20am - ATLANTA — Gov. Mark Sanford arrived in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning, having wrapped up a seven-day visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, he said. Sanford said he had not been hiking along the Appalachian Trail, as his staff said in a Tuesday statement to the media.

U.S. to send ambassador to Syria after 4 years - 24 Jun 2009 at 6:00am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has decided to return a U.S. ambassador to Syria after a four-year hiatus as talks between the two nations intensify, U.S. media reported Tuesday.

Thought for the day:
We learn something every day, and lots of times it's that what we learned the day before was wrong. -Bill Vaughan

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In the News: Jun-23

Wordle: In the News: Jun-23

Chinese Muslims freed from Guantanamo wary of settling in Palau - 23 Jun 2009 at 1:59pm - Some Chinese Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who have been offered resettlement in Palau are wary of moving there for fear it cannot protect them from China, the tiny Pacific island nation's president said Tuesday.

Cop in bar fight video gets 2 years probation - 23 Jun 2009 at 1:43pm - CHICAGO -- An off-duty Chicago police officer convicted of pummeling a female bartender half his size has been sentenced to two years probation and anger management classes.

New U.S. orders in Afghanistan aim to reduce deaths - 23 Jun 2009 at 7:58am - KABUL (Reuters) - The new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan will issue orders within days requiring troops to disengage from combat when possible, to reduce civilian deaths that have put their mission at risk, a spokesman said.

Judge orders Guantanamo detainee freed - 23 Jun 2009 at 6:11am - WASHINGTON -- The discovery of suicide martyr videos seemed certain proof that Abd al Rahim Abdul Rassak was part of al-Qaida. A closer look at his video, though, showed he was actually being tortured by al-Qaida.

Thought for the day:
There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action. -Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

Monday, June 22, 2009

In the News: Jun-22

Wordle: In the News: Jun-22

Toronto stock market drops 3.5% as spring rally stalls - 22 Jun 2009 at 12:02pm - The Toronto stock market nosedived Monday morning, dragged down by falling commodity prices, amid concerns about the state of the world economy and the prospects for economic recovery.

Court will not revive Plame's lawsuit - 22 Jun 2009 at 11:51am - WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court will not revive a lawsuit that former CIA operative Valerie Plame brought against former members of the Bush administration.

High court rules narrowly in voting rights case - 22 Jun 2009 at 10:20am - WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has ruled narrowly in a challenge to the landmark Voting Rights Act, exempting a small Texas governing authority from a key provision of the civil rights law.

Court says public must pay for private special ed - 22 Jun 2009 at 10:33am - WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has made it easier for parents of special education students to be reimbursed for the cost of private schooling for their children.

Copeman named commander at Guantanamo - 22 Jun 2009 at 7:03am - With President Barack Obama pledging to empty the prison camps at Guantanamo, the man entrusted with the mission at Ground Zero is a fellow graduate of the president's Hawaii high school whose family has served a commander in chief for three generations.

Thought for the day:
Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up. -G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

Friday, June 19, 2009

In the News: Jun-19

Wordle: In the News: Jun-19

Newly disclosed RCMP email drops bombshell on Taser inquiry - 19 Jun 2009 at 2:58pm - The unexpected disclosure of a key email between senior RCMP officers has raised questions about officers' testimony at the Braidwood inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, resulting in a delay of the probe in Vancouver until September.

Iraq confident about security after U.S. troops leave towns - 19 Jun 2009 at 7:47am - TOKYO (Reuters) - Iraq is confident its security forces can manage alone after U.S. soldiers pull out of towns and cities this month, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Friday.

Congress passes restrictions on detainees - 19 Jun 2009 at 5:11am - WASHINGTON -- Legislation to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year is on its way to President Barack Obama, but it provides no money for closing the Guantanamo detainee prison and sets tough restrictions on the transfer of its inmates.

Thought for the day:
A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices. -William James (1842 - 1910)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

In the News: Jun-18

Wordle: In the News: Jun-18

Gates: Civilian deaths strategic problem in war - 18 Jun 2009 at 2:43pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the accidental killing of civilians in Afghanistan has become one of the military's greatest strategic problems in the faltering war.
It's also a moral/ethical problem. In the Pentagon, strategics trumps ethics? There's also the one-person's-accidental-killing-is-another-person's-collateral-damage factor, and perhaps that's what Gates is really talking about. In a sense, it's unfortunate to use the term "accidental killing" at all, because for each civilian death, someone -- somewhere between the commander in chief and the person who pulled the trigger -- has deemed the risk acceptable.

House Dems want to expand secret briefings - 18 Jun 2009 at 2:01pm - WASHINGTON -- House Democrats are pushing for a big increase in the number of lawmakers who hear briefings on the nation's most sensitive intelligence operations, from the current "Gang of Eight" to about 40.

Report: US not doing enough against gun smuggling - 18 Jun 2009 at 1:16pm - WASHINGTON - Two federal agencies are being faulted for not coordinating their efforts against border gunrunners, a failure one lawmaker says made it easier for Mexican drug cartels to smuggle illegal weapons from the United States.

ISPs must help police snoop on internet under new bill - 18 Jun 2009 at 1:03pm - Internet service providers would have to make it possible for police and intelligence officers to intercept online communications and get personal information about subscribers under bills tabled Thursday.

Court finds convicts have no right to test DNA - 18 Jun 2009 at 10:49am - WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court said Thursday that convicts have no constitutional right to test DNA evidence in hopes of proving their innocence long after they were found guilty of a crime.

Number of VA claims poised to hit 1 million - 18 Jun 2009 at 8:46am - WASHINGTON -- This isn't the same as getting a free duffel bag for being the millionth person to go through the turnstiles: The Veterans Affairs Department appears poised to have hit the 1 million milestone on claims it still hasn't processed.

Thought for the day:
Pity is the virtue of the law, and none but tyrants use it cruelly. -William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In the News: Jun-17

Wordle: In the News: Jun-17

US official denies charge of interference in Iran - 17 Jun 2009 at 1:59pm - WASHINGTON -- The State Department is disputing an allegation by the Iranian government that the United States is meddling excessively in its internal affairs.
But is the State Department explicitly denying that U.S. special ops played any part in encouraging protests?

Iran blames U.S. for bitter post-election dispute - 17 Jun 2009 at 1:37pm - As tens of thousands of supporters of Reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi gathered in Tehran Wednesday, Iran accused the United States of "intolerable" meddling in its internal affairs, alleging that Washington has fueled a bitter post-election dispute.

AG Holder: 50 or more Gitmo trials possible - 17 Jun 2009 at 1:11pm - WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday there may be 50 or more trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees as the Obama administration works to shut the detention center by early next year.

Top senator: NSA not violating surveillance law - 17 Jun 2009 at 11:34am - WASHINGTON -- The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee says there have not been flagrant violations of rules governing surveillance of American e-mails and phone calls.

NSA Email Surveillance Pervasive and Ongoing - June 17, 2009 10:16:00 AM - The NY Times has a piece about work being done by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) and others to curb NSA efforts to read email and Internet traffic. Here's an excerpt: 'Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency's ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former NSA analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans' e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.

Senator: Attorney General Holder soft on terror - 17 Jun 2009 at 10:48am - WASHINGTON -- The senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee says Attorney General Eric Holder is too soft on terrorism.

Thought for the day:
War is just to those to whom war is necessary. -Titus Livius (59 BC - 17 AD)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In the News: Jun-16

Wordle: In the News: Jun-16

AG Holder urges new hate crimes law - 16 Jun 2009 at 2:57pm - WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder says recent violent attacks show the need for a tougher hate crimes law.

Pentagon wavers on release of report on Afghan attack - 16 Jun 2009 at 2:06pm - WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials are debating whether to ignore an earlier promise and squelch the release of an investigation into a U.S. airstrike last month, out of fear that its findings would further enrage the Afghan public, Pentagon officials told McClatchy Monday.

Lawsuit: White House won't release visitor records - 16 Jun 2009 at 2:05pm - WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is declining to release documents that would identify visitors to the White House, embracing a legal position taken by the Bush administration, according to a watchdog group that filed a federal lawsuit over access to the records.

NATO boss says Afghan strategy was flawed: report - 16 Jun 2009 at 12:46pm - AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Making individual NATO members responsible for specific provinces in Afghanistan has hindered international cooperation efforts, NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in a magazine interview.

NH soldier killed disarming bomb in Iraq - 16 Jun 2009 at 12:36pm - SALEM, N.H. -- Bright and hardworking like his immigrant parents, Edmond Lo's future grew even more promising when he was offered a full scholarship to a prominent engineering school. But he turned it down, choosing instead to disarm bombs for the Army.

U.S. housing starts jump in May, inflation muted - 16 Jun 2009 at 9:23am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New U.S. housing starts and permits surged in May from record lows, while producer prices rose at a slower pace despite higher gasoline prices, boosting prospects for the economy's recovery from recession.

Iraqis take control of Baghdad's Green Zone - 16 Jun 2009 at 9:19am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - As the armored car carrying Westerners cut to the front of the line at a checkpoint into Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone, an enraged Iraqi leapt from his BMW and yelled at the occupants.

Israel sees deal soon with Obama over settlements - 16 Jun 2009 at 9:04am - JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is negotiating a deal with Washington under which Israeli building in existing Jewish settlements could go forward in certain cases, Israeli and Western officials said on Tuesday.
Pretty safe bet that however this deal is worded, from the Israeli perspective, it will be considered applicable to all cases.

Odierno: U.S. to stick to Iraq withdrawal date - 16 Jun 2009 at 4:17am - The top U.S. commander in Iraq said Monday that the country's "dark days" of violence have passed, and that improved security ...

Italy agrees to take 3 detainees from Guantanamo - 16 Jun 2009 at 3:19am - WASHINGTON -- Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, seeking to restore some shine to his tattered international image, agreed to take three detainees from Guantanamo Bay and praised President Barack Obama after a long meeting at the White House.

Thought for the day:
There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you. -Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)

Monday, June 15, 2009

In the News: Jun-15

Wordle: In the News: Jun-15

U.S. financial regulation reforms outlined - 15 Jun 2009 at 1:56pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration will target critical weaknesses in the troubled U.S. financial system, such as thin bank capital cushions and eroded lending standards, when it proposes an overhaul of financial regulation this week, two senior officials said on Monday.

Pentagon struggling to explain bombing incident - 15 Jun 2009 at 1:56pm - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military is delaying release of its investigation into air strikes last month that killed dozens of civilians in Afghanistan, debating whether any more information on the incident should be made public.
Please, please: come clean, explain your problems, and stop targeting civilians.

Court rules Taser inquiry can find officers at fault - 15 Jun 2009 at 1:39pm - The B.C. Supreme Court has dismissed a constitutional challenge by four Mounties who questioned whether a provincial public inquiry could find fault against the federal RCMP officers involved in the death of Robert Dziekanski.

U.S. commander sees fewer foreign fighters in Iraq - 15 Jun 2009 at 12:21pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has seen a significant fall in the number of foreign fighters arriving to battle U.S. and local forces, and efforts by neighboring Syria are starting to bear fruit, U.S. General Ray Odierno said on Monday.

Thought for the day:
An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions. -Robert A. Humphrey

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

In the News: Jun-02

Wordle: In the News: Jun-02

General: War in Afghanistan is 'winnable' - 2 Jun 2009 at 10:50am - WASHINGTON -- The Army general chosen to take over as top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan told senators Tuesday he believes the war can be won if a proper counterinsurgency campaign is undertaken.

U.S. combat troops to leave all Iraqi cities - 2 Jun 2009 at 9:57am - SAMARRA, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. combat forces will vacate all Iraqi cities on schedule by the end of this month, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq told Reuters Tuesday, including the still violent insurgent holdout of Mosul.

Guantanamo's Uighur detainees to get laptops - 2 Jun 2009 at 7:11am - GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — These captives already get to order fast-food takeout from the base and have access to a phone booth for weekly calls. Now some 17 Uighur Muslims awaiting a nation to grant them asylum are about to go high-tech, with laptops and web training.

Thought for the day:
Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think. -Hannah Arendt (1906 - 1975)

Monday, June 01, 2009

In the News: Jun-01

Wordle: In the News: Jun-01

Omar Khadr asks Guantanamo judge to dismiss his U.S. lawyers - 1 Jun 2009 at 1:26pm - Omar Khadr has asked a military judge at the Guantanamo Bay military prison to dismiss his U.S. defence lawyers.

Judge: Gitmo legal documents must be public - 1 Jun 2009 at 1:26pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge says the United States must publicly reveal the unclassified documents filed in the cases against more than 100 terror suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Military recruiter killed in Ark shooting - 1 Jun 2009 at 1:17pm - LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Police in Arkansas say a military recruiter has been killed in a shooting at an Army-Navy recruiting office in Little Rock and a second recruiter has been wounded.

FBI reports crime falls in 2008 - 1 Jun 2009 at 11:24am - WASHINGTON -- The FBI says violent crime dropped in 2008, falling 2.5 percent compared to the previous year.

AG orders protection in wake of doctor slaying - 1 Jun 2009 at 7:44am - WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered increased security for a host of unnamed individuals and facilities in the wake of the slaying of abortion Dr. George Tiller.

Thought for the day:
War is like love; it always finds a way. -Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1956)