Tag Archives: National Security Agency

Why can’t you trust Snowden? Let me count (some of) the ways…

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Edward Snowden’s Russian ID

From the onset, let me say that I know some of our TFC readers are pro Snowden and that’s perfectly fair.   This particular article happened to be “anti Snowden”.  I’ll be sure to balance it out within the week.

SuliaMilt Shook

I just read a comment on a blog post in which a poster claims it was the $250 million investment to Glenn Greenwald’s “news” website start-up that made her think that, perhaps, Snowden was full of crap.

Really? It was that, which is completely unrelated to Snowden? Why?

I would think that what Snowden has done would certify him as full of crap. Think about it…

He lied and took a national security job under false pretenses.

He got NSA employees to give him usernames and passwords under false pretenses.

He stole thousands of documents that he had no right to.

He lied to his bosses to get time off to hightail it to China with the stolen documents.

He lied to us in his introductory video about what his job was and how much he was supposedly “giving up.”

Who knows what he’s doing with the documents he stole, other than giving them to Greenwald and reporters.

He even lied about not taking the documents to Russia. How is he determining what to release unless he’s looking at them?

Seriously. Greenwald’s a money whore; we all knew that. But that has nothing to do with why you can’t trust Snowden.

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NSA collection of phone data is lawful, federal judge rules

NSA Logo

Of course this Federal Judge is not the final arbiter of this matter but it does put a bit of a damper in Snowden’s “I was right…I’m exonerated” meme.  Thoughts?

Washington Post

A federal judge in New York ruled Friday that the massive collection of domestic telephone data brought to light by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is lawful, rejecting a challenge to the program by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The decision conflicts with that of a U.S. District Court judge who ruled against the government early last week, finding that the NSA’s program was almost certainly unconstitutional. The divergent decisions make it more likely that the Supreme Court will make its own ruling.

In a 53-page opinion, U.S. District Judge William Pauley said Friday the legality of the program, which collects virtually all Americans’ phone records, is “ultimately a question of reasonableness,” under the Fourth Amendment and represents the U.S. government’s “counter-punch” to eliminate the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Pauley said that if the U.S. government had the phone data collection program before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it could have helped provide critical clues. He said that so-called telephone metadata might have permitted the NSA to notify the FBI that one of the terrorists was calling a Yemeni safe house from inside the United States.

“The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world,” Pauley wrote. “It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program — a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data.”

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said the government is “pleased the court found the NSA’s bulk telephony metadata collection program to be lawful.”

In a statement, the ACLU said it intended to appeal the case.

“We are extremely disappointed with this decision, which misinterprets the relevant statutes, understates the privacy implications of the government’s surveillance and misapplies a narrow and outdated precedent to read away core constitutional protections,” said Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU deputy legal director.

Pauley’s opinion comes 11 days after a federal judge in Washington ruled that the NSA’s collection of bulk telephony metadata is based on “almost-Orwellian technology.”In that opinion, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon granted a request for an injunction that blocked the collection of the phone data of conservative legal activist Larry Klayman and a co-plaintiff. Leon stayed his ruling to give the government time to appeal.

As the issue plays out in the courts, Congress is debating whether the NSA’s sweeping collection of phone data should be curtailed. A panel appointed by President Obama recommended this month the NSA should no longer store the data.

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Tea Party ‘revolutionary’ Larry Klayman blames Obama for disastrous CNN interview

“It’s Obama’s fault!”

Sorting out the crazies indeed…

The Raw Story

Tea Partier and frequent litigant Larry Klayman said in an interview with World Net Daily on Thursday that he is considering filing a lawsuit against the news network CNN after an embarrassing interview with anchor Don Lemon and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin earlier this week.

Not only did Klayman tell WND head Jerome Corsi that Lemon should be fired for being a “well-known ultra-leftist African-American political activist who pursues a LGBT sexual agenda,” Right Wing Watch reported that the Tea Party leader said that the interview was the culmination of a plot against him by formidable forces.

“What CNN did to me yesterday was a hit piece orchestrated against me by the Obama White House with the direct involvement of the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to discredit me and to turn the public against Judge Leon’s court decision that the NSA is violating Fourth Amendment rights,” Klayman said to Corsi

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon — appointed by George W. Bush — found in favor of a suit by Klayman and fellow right-wing activist Charles Strange alleging that the National Security Agency’s metadata spying program is unconstitutional.

Toobin argued on CNN that while perhaps it’s true that the program is invasive and unconstitutional, a nuisance litigant like Klayman — who has sued, variously, President Barack Obama in a “birther” lawsuit demanding evidence of the president’s birth in Hawaii, the Minneapolis City Pages and the Phoenix Sun-Times, his ex-wife, an Ohio family court officialthe Clinton administration (18 different times) and even his own mother— was a useful tool in a targeted political ruling.

Toobin read from p. 39 of Leon’s ruling, which quoted Klayman as saying, “I think they, the NSA, are messing with me.” The judge wrote that Klayman “then went on to explain that he and his clients had received inexplicable test messages and emails, not to mention a disc, containing a spyware program.”

The legal analyst said that even the judge who granted the suit thinks that Klayman is a victim of “tin-foil hat paranoia” and a “lunatic.”

“He had some fantasy that the NSA was after him,” said Toobin. “This case is not about Larry Klayman. It’s about the metadata program that affects everybody, but the idea that Larry Klayman is the representative is simply outrageous.”

Klayman said on Thursday that all of this is an orchestrated hit on his credibility. 

“This was a Clinton thing as much as it was an Obama thing,” he said, accusing Lemon of being a “shill” for the DNC.

“Obama and the Clintons know this was a key decision, and they don’t want us to have any oxygen,” he said. “The DNC wants to cut me down to size.”

The Obama administration, he said, is carrying out “the worst violation of constitutional rights in America history.”

“The entire segment with me yesterday was structured as a hit piece, designed to bring in CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin whose job was to call me a lunatic even though he appeared not to have read Judge Leon’s decision,” he insisted, and as a result he is contemplating filing a defamation suit against the network.

Earlier this year, Klayman announced at a rally during the government shutdown that a coup was going to sweep President Barack Obama out of office on November 19. Pointing toward the White House, the former Freedom Works leader ordered Obama to “put the Koran down” and “come out with your hands up.”

Klayman’s November 19 “coup” rally, which he promised would bring millions to the capital and send Obama “back to Iran” turned out to be around 130 people carrying signs and voicing various complaints against the Obama administration, from “birthers” to anti-Islam activists like “Ground Zero Mosque” opponent Pamela Geller.

 

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10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2013

The Fed's decision to start tapering sent stocks unexpectedly soaring. 

The Fed’s decision to start tapering sent stocks unexpectedly soaring. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Week

Stocks soar as the Fed tapers its stimulus, advisers urge Obama to curb NSA spying, and more

1. Fed curbs its bond-buying stimulus program
Stocks surged around the world early Thursday after the Federal Reserve announced it was tapering its effort to stimulate the economy by purchasing bonds. The Fed will cut back by $10 billion at the beginning of 2014, but will still pump $75 billion into the economy in January, before gradually ending its purchases by year’s end. The Fed also announced it was strengthening its plans to keep short-term interest rates near zero. The moves signal that the job market is making solid gains but still needs some help. U.S. stock futures fell back after hitting records on Wednesday. [Wall Street JournalLos Angeles Times]
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2. Advisers recommend limiting NSA spying
A panel of advisers on Wednesday urged President Obama to limit the National Security Agency’s surveillance powers. The panel, echoing a recent court ruling, said that the NSA should not be allowed to collect phone logs in the hunt for terrorists. Instead, the advisers said, the information should be left in the hands of telecommunications companies to protect privacy, and intelligence agencies should be required to get a court order before doing any data mining. [New York Times]
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3. Senate sends Obama a budget deal
The Senate passed the bipartisan, two-year budget deal on Wednesday, sending it to President Obama for his signature. The agreement amounts to a pledge by Republicans and Democrats to avoid a government shutdown when a temporary spending measure expires Jan. 15. It says nothing about what will happen the next time the government reaches the debt limit, so there could be another budget clash when that happens, in late February or early March. [Washington Post]
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4. Foreigners evacuating South Sudan as rebels seize a town
The U.K. and U.S. sent planes Thursday evacuate British and American nationals from South Sudan as violence spread following government claims of a failed coup attempt. The British government announced its decision to get its citizens out of the oil-rich country a day after rebels seized control of a town in the country’s north from the South Sudanese Army. [BBC NewsNew York Times]
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5. Potential security breach reported at Target stores
The Secret Service is investigating a potentially massive security breach involving the credit card information of up to 40 million Target shoppers, USA Today reported on Wednesday. The problem appears to have started around Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Krebs on Security says information may have been stolen from the magnetic stripe on the backs of cards used at most of Target’s 1,800 stores around the nation. [USA Today]
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6. Kerry tries to calm India’s outrage over diplomat’s arrest
Secretary of State John Kerry is reportedly meeting with India’s external affairs minister on Thursday to soothe tensions over the arrest of India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade. Prosecutors say Khobragade lied in an application for a visa for her housekeeper, dramatically inflating what she pays the woman. Indian officials say Khobragade was subjected to a “barbaric” strip search and are demanding an apology. [CNN]
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7. Congress reaches deal to send some Guantanamo prisoners home
Members of Congress have reached a tentative deal that could allow the transfer of about half of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay to their home countries. The compromise, part of a broad defense bill, still has to pass the Senate. A vote is expected later this week. If it clears that hurdle, the deal would mark a rare victory for President Obama’s push to close the controversial prison for terror suspects. [Associated Press]
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8. Obama is expected to nominate Baucus as China ambassador
President Obama reportedly plans to name outgoing Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) as the next U.S. ambassador to China. Baucus has served in the Senate since 1978, but has already said he would not run for reelection when his term ends in 2014. If he leaves early, he’ll be giving up the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee in the middle of a push to rewrite the tax code, dampening the effort’s chances in this Congress. [Politico]
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9. Guantanamo nativity scenes spark a controversy
The commander at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, Capt. J.R. Nettleton, ordered the removal of Nativity scenes from two dining halls on Wednesday after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained the displays improperly promoted Christianity. The decorations will be moved to the base’s chapel. “The spirit of the Navy’s policy on this is, if it’s religious, it goes to the chapel,” Nettleton said. [Associated PressMiami Herald]
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10. Duck Dynasty star suspended over anti-gay remarks
Phil Robertson has been suspended from the Duck Dynasty reality TV show over homophobic remarks he made in GQ magazine. Robertson, 67, said gay sex was “not logical,” and sinful, equating it to bestiality and sleeping around. A&E Networks said it was “extremely disappointed” over the comments, and gay-rights activists said they “fly in the face of what true Christians believe.” [New York Daily News]

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Tuesday Blog Roundup – 12-17-2013

The fear of a black Santa continues

Judge orders NSA to stop phone spying

Paul Ryan On Immigration: ‘No Amnesty’

Christie scandal almost too absurd to believe

Obama suffers most from year of turmoil, poll finds

Snowden to Brazil: Swap you spying help for asylum

Jeh Johnson confirmed as secretary of homeland security

Senate Conservatives Fund accuses Boehner of discrimination. Against conservatives.

Arizona Woman Gets Punched for Saying ‘Happy Holidays’ Instead of ‘Merry Christmas’

Media Matters staff: Fox’s Sean Hannity: “The Pope Sounds Like He Is Against Capitalism”

Homophobic RNC Committee Member Accuses Gay Colleagues Of Manipulating Health Benefits

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10 things you need to know today: December 9, 2013

Ukrainian protesters knock down a statue of Vladimir Lenin.

Ukrainian protesters knock down a statue of Vladimir Lenin. (AP Images/Sergei Chuzavkov)

The Week

Tech giants demand surveillance limits, protesters topple Lenin statue in Kiev, and more

1. Coalition of rival tech giants calls for surveillance limits
Eight leading tech companies, led by Google and Microsoft, launched a campaign on Monday urging President Obama and Congress to tighten limits on government surveillance. The coalition, alarmed by revelations about internet-data mining by the National Security Agency, called for the U.S. to lead a global effort to regulate online spying. The push marks an unprecedented effort by rival tech giants to work together to pressure Washington. [New York Times]
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2. Protesters topple Lenin statue in Kiev
Ukrainian protesters knocked down a statue of Vladimir Lenin on Sunday in anger at their government’s rejection of closer ties with Europe in favor of boosting cooperation with Russia. Police said they were investigating the incident to determine who was responsible. A lawmaker from the nationalist Svoboda party claimed responsibility. “This is the end of Soviet occupation,” the party tweeted. “End of (the) regime of shame and humiliation.” [CNN]
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3. Winter storm marches up the East Coast
A freezing storm pushed up the East Coast from the South early Monday, forcing airlines to cancel flights and hampering road travel with snow and ice. Thirty-five thousand customers lost power in Northern Virginia, and the massive system was dumping up to a foot of snow, along with sleet and freezing rain, on areas expected to stretch from Maryland to Maine. [ReutersWashington Post]
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4. Thai prime minister dissolves Parliament
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved Parliament on Monday and said she would call elections to restore calm after mounting protests. The announcement came as 100,000 protesters — opponents of Yinluck’s brother Thaksin who was ousted in a 2006 coup — marched in Bangkok vowing to overthrow her. The protests demanding an end to the “Thaksin regime” continued despite Yingluck’s announcement. [Fox NewsBangkok Post]
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5. Senators head for confrontation over Obama nominees
Democrats are preparing to launch a push to confirm President Obama’s nominees for key judgeships and other positions in a two-week end-of-year session that begins on Monday. The effort comes after a controversial move last month by the Senate’s Democratic leadership to limit Republicans’ ability to delay the confirmations using the filibuster rule, which allows a minority to block legislation with just 41 votes. [Associated Press]
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6. Hagel discusses Pakistan’s complaints about drone strikes
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Pakistani leaders on Monday to discuss complaints about the U.S. targeting of Islamist militants with drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Hagel is the first by a Pentagon chief to visit the South Asian terror-war ally in nearly four years. Pakistan says the strikes kill too many civilians and violate its sovereignty. [Reuters]
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7. More pilot whales die in Florida
Eleven more pilot whales were found dead Sunday in the Florida Keys, bringing the number of dead whales found in the past week to 22. Another 29 whales from the pod, which got stranded in shallow water off Everglades National Park, are missing. “Given our knowledge of past mass pilot whales strandings,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, “the outlook for finding the remaining whales alive is bleak.”[CNN]
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8. Pyongyang acknowledges purge of Kim Jong Un’s uncle
North Korea’s state media confirmed Monday that leader Kim Jong Un’s once powerful uncle, Jang Song Thaek, had been purged from the government. Jang’s dramatic arrest on charges of corruption to womanizing are being interpreted as a warning intended to squelch criticism and consolidate the young Kim’s power two years after he inherited it following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. [Associated Press]
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9. Admirers mourn Paul Walker in California
Thousands of fans of actor Paul Walker gathered Sunday to pay tribute to the late star of the Fast & Furious movie franchise. Mourners rode in a slow procession of muscle cars and motorcycles through the California industrial park where he and his friend, Roger Rodas, were killed in a Nov. 30 car crash. Participants said they came out to remember Walker, 40, and to celebrate the culture of high-powered cars his films promoted. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. Performing icons receive Kennedy Center honors
Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, opera star Martina Arroyo, and actress Shirley MacLaine received this year’s Kennedy Center Honors for their impact on American culture. President Obama and top performers saluted the winners in a Sunday ceremony. Joel said the honor beat his six Grammys. “This is coming more from my country than just people who come to see me,” he said. “It’s a little overwhelming.” [Associated Press]

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10 things you need to know today: November 27, 2013

Two unarmed B-52 bombers flew through airspace that China recently claimed as its own.

Two unarmed B-52 bombers flew through airspace that China recently claimed as its own. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force)

The Week

The Supreme Court reviews another ObamaCare challenge, the U.S. challenges China’s claim over disputed airspace, and more

1. Justices agree to review another ObamaCare challenge
The Supreme Court is wading back into the battle over ObamaCare. The high court, which upheld the law’s individual mandate to buy insurance last year, agreed on Tuesday to review a provision requiring private companies to offer coverage of birth control and other reproductive health benefits with no co-pay. Appeals courts have sided with employers who say some treatments, such as morning-after pills designed to prevent embryos from implanting, violate their religious beliefs. [CNN]
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2. The U.S. and Japan defy China’s new airspace claims
The U.S. sent two unarmed B-52 bombers on a training mission over disputed islands in the East China Sea on Tuesday in defiance of China’s newly declared airspace defense zone. Japanese airlines also ignored Beijing’s claim to the airspace and flew through on Wednesday, without notifying Beijing. The provocative moves intensified a standoff between China and Japan over which country controls the area, and experts in U.S.-China relations said Beijing would be forced to respond if the flights continue. [Reuters]
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3. Government moves to limit non-profits’ political spending
The Obama administration is proposing new rules to curb the political activities of tax-exempt non-profit groups. The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service want to spell out more clearly what constitutes political spending — such as TV ads or get-out-the-vote drives — and put limits on how much of it non-profits can do. The move threatens to drag the IRS deeper into partisan politics, as some Republicans complain it will encourage attacks on free speech by administration opponents. [New York Times]
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4. Storm fouls up Thanksgiving plans 
The deadly and messy winter storm that is fouling up Thanksgiving travel plans on the East Coast is threatening to disrupt another holiday tradition — the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The sloppy mix of snow, rain, and winds gusting to 36 miles per hour has already forced the cancelation of hundreds of airline flights. Parade organizers say if the nasty conditions continue through Thursday they could also force the grounding of the parade’s giant flying balloons depicting Snoopy, SpongeBob, and other cartoon favorites. [Christian Science Monitor]
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5. Pope Francis attacks the “tyranny” of unchecked capitalism
Pope Francis, in a statement outlining his papacy’s mission, called unchecked capitalism a “new tyranny” plaguing the world’s poor. “We… have to say thou shalt not to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” said the Pope, who has drawn admirers in and out of the church for his modest ways and defense of the poor. He called on world leaders to fight poverty and overhaul the global financial system to share the world’s wealth more evenly. “Money must serve,” he said, “not rule!” [Associated Press]
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6. CBS News star Lara Logan is put on leave
Lara Logan, a high-profile CBS News correspondent, has been placed on leave for using a discredited source in 60 Minutes’ October report on the Benghazi attack. Logan told an account of the attack, which left ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead, by security contractor Dylan Davies, even though he had told his employer he was not at the scene. CBS didn’t say whether Logan — or producer Max McClellan, who was also suspended — would be out, or whether she would still be paid. [USA Today]
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7. A once-distant comet zooms close to the sun
Comet ISON, which soared far out on the edge of the solar system for 4.5 billion years, will make a spectacular fly-by past the sun on Thursday. Some scientists believe the comet will burn up as it nearly grazes the sun, but they are also pretty sure that it will provide a never-before-seen glimpse of some of the building blocks that formed planets. If the comet survives, it could provide an impressive light show in the early December night sky. [New York Times]
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8. Microsoft executives debate how to block NSA spying
Microsoft is preparing a major push to better encrypt its internet traffic over growing suspicions that the National Security Agency might have hacked into its global communications networks. Microsoft was worried even before news reports in October that said the NSA had been intercepting traffic of Microsoft rivals, Google and Yahoo. Insiders say leading Microsoft executives are meeting this week to decide when and how to beef up their company’s encryption. [Washington Post]
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9. Historic book sells for a record $14.2 million
One of 11 surviving copies of the first book printed in America — the Bay Psalm Book — sold for $14.2 million at a Tuesday night auction at Sotheby’s in New York. It was the most ever paid for any book in an auction. The previous record was set in December 2010 when a buyer paid $11.5 million for John James Audubon’s Birds of America. David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of private equity firm Carlyle Group, purchased the Bay Psalm Book and plans to loan it to libraries. [Reuters]
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10. Maddux and Glavine make Hall of Fame ballot
Major League Baseball has unveiled this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, and it includes some revered pitchers, including four-time Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux and two-time winner Tom Glavine. The nominees also include tainted heroes from baseball’s steroid scandal, including pitcher Roger Clemens and sluggers Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire. About 600 sports writers will cast votes. The inductees will be announced Jan. 8. [Associated Press]

 

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10 things you need to know today: November 19, 2013

Back in jail.

Back in jail. (AP Photo/Seminole County Sheriff’s Office)

The Week

Bombers target Iran’s embassy in Beirut, George Zimmerman faces domestic violence charges, and more

1. Suicide bombers target Iran’s embassy in Lebanon
Two bombs exploded outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people, including at least one Iranian diplomat. More than 100 others were injured. The attack reportedly was carried out by two suicide bombers, one on a motorcycle and the other in a car. It appeared to be the latest spillover of sectarian violence into Lebanon from the civil war in neighboring Syria, where Iran is a major ally of the government. [Los Angeles TimesDaily Star]
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2. Zimmerman arrested on domestic violence charges
George Zimmerman was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon and domestic violence on Monday after his girlfriend said he pointed a shotgun at her, smashed a glass table, and tried to push her out of her home. Zimmerman, acquitted in July of murder and manslaughter in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was being held late Monday without bail in the Seminole County, Fla., jail. [Orlando Sentinel]
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3. Documents detail authorization for NSA spying
The Obama administration released 1,000 pages of declassified documents late Monday, including one that appeared to be the initial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order authorizing the National Security Agency to collect data on Americans’ email and phone records to help catch terrorists. The documents, released in response to lawsuits, also included admissions of privacy-rule violations and repeated promises to fix them. [Washington Post]
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4. Paris police hunt for gunman
Heavily armed police guarded news media offices in Paris on Tuesday as a huge manhunt was underway to find a gunman who walked into the main entrance of the left-leaning newspaperLiberation on Monday, fired two shotgun blasts, and fled. One man, a photographer’s assistant, was critically wounded. Surveillance video indicated that the same man had brandished a shotgun on Friday at the TV news channel BFMTV’s headquarters on Friday. [Independent]
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5. Toronto council members take away Rob Ford’s powers
The Toronto City Council voted Monday to strip Mayor Rob Ford, whose reputation is in freefall since he admitted to smoking crack in a “drunken stupor,” of most of his authority. Ford compared the move to “a coup d’etat” and the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. “Mark my words, my friends, this is going to be outright war in the next election,” Ford told the council members, “and I am going to do everything in my power to beat you guys.” [CNN]
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6. GOP senators block another Obama judicial nominee
Senate Republicans on Monday used a filibuster to block one of President Obama’s judicial nominees — the third one in a few weeks. Obama had named Robert L. Wilkins to fill one of three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the nation’s most powerful appeals court. GOP leaders, who want to prevent Obama from eroding the court’s conservative tilt, said the court’s work load didn’t justify filling its vacancies. [New York Times]
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7. Pastor convicted in church trial over gay wedding
Pennsylvania United Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer was found guilty Monday in a church trial of violating church practice by presiding over his son’s marriage to another man six years ago. Schaefer told the jury of 13 pastors that he knew that performing a same-sex wedding went against church doctrine, but he said he did it in “good conscience” out of a sense of obligation to his son. [WHTM]
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8. Icahn spooks investors with talk of a market plunge
After the Dow surged past 16,000 for the first time, stocks retreated a bit from record levels on Monday following a warning from billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn that the market could be in for a nosedive. Icahn said high share prices are being buoyed not by earnings and good corporate management but historically low interest rates, thanks to Federal Reserve policy. “This market could easily have a big drop,” Icahn said. [Reuters]
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9. Spacecraft takes off from Florida to study Mars
NASA launched an Atlas V rocket carrying a spacecraft on a 10-month trip to Mars on Monday. The $671 million Maven mission will study the Red Planet’s atmosphere to provide hints about how the once wet and warm planet lost its water. Fifty-three minutes after the rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., the orbiter deployed for its trip. “What a Monday at the office,” project manager Dave Mitchell said. [USA Today]
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10. Selfie is proclaimed Oxford’s word of the year

Sorry, “twerk” fans. The Oxford Dictionaries announced Tuesday that “Selfie” is the word of the year for 2013. Selfie — a self portrait usually on a smartphone or webcam — saw a 17,000 percent rise in usage over a year ago, evolving “from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand for a self-portrait photograph.” Despite its sudden popularity, the word isn’t all that new. Oxford editors traced its origin to a 2002 Australian online forum. [Reuters]

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10 things you need to know today: October 31, 2013

Ichiban!

Ichiban! (REUTERS/Greg M. Cooper – USA Today Sports)

The Week

The Red Sox win the World Series, Sebelius and Obama take responsibility for Healthcare.gov glitches, and more

1. Red Sox win the World Series at home
The Boston Red Sox won the World Series with a 6-1 victory in game six over the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night. It was the first time since 1918 the team had sealed a Series championship at home. “It was just an unbelievable feeling to do this in front of our fans,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. The Red Sox, led by MVP David Ortiz, are the first team since the 1991 Twins to go from last in their division to a Series crown in one year. [Boston GlobeUSA Today]
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2. NSA reportedly intercepted information from Google and Yahoo users
The National Security Agency has secretly tapped into the system connecting Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing interviews as well as documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. One hand-drawn sketch created by a NSA worker portrayed how information from the Google Cloud could be intercepted. Two Google engineers erupted in profanities when they saw it. [Washington Post]
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3. Sebelius and Obama take responsibility for Healthcare.gov disaster
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took responsibility Wednesday for thebotched rollout of the ObamaCare website. “Hold me accountable for the debacle,” she told the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Furious Republicans want her to resign. CBS News says Sebelius gave the “all clear” even though the site crashed in tests days before launch. President Obama said he takes “full responsibility” for fixing the problems. [Associated PressCBS News]
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4. Fed policy makers keep the stimulus going
The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it was prolonging its campaign to boost the economy by purchasing $85 billion a month in bonds and other assets. The decision came after a two-day meeting of Fed policy makers, and provided little insight into when the central bank might make a change. The Fed said the job market was slowly improving, but that fiscal policy (meaning spending cuts, the shutdown, etc.) are “restraining economic growth.” [New York Times,CNN]
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5. New York ups the age for buying tobacco to 21
The New York City Council voted Wednesday to raise the legal age for buying cigarettes to 21, from 18, giving New York the toughest limit on tobacco sales of any major U.S. city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he will sign the measure, which will take effect six months after he does. Critics say it’s unfair to tell people old enough to vote or join the military they can’t smoke, but advocates say higher age limits will keep many young people from getting hooked. [Associated Press]
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6. Syria disables its chemical weapon factories as promised
Syria has met a deadline to destroy or disable its chemical weapons production facilities, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday. The watchdog, which won the Nobel Peace Prize this month, said its inspectors had confirmed the work. Syria’s next deadline under its ambitious disarmament push is Nov. 15, when it must agree to a detailed plan to destroy its 1,000-plus metric tons of chemical agents and weapons. [Reuters]
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7. China arrests suspects tied to Tiananmen crash and fire
Chinese authorities announced Wednesday that they had detained five suspects in connection with a fiery crash that killed five people, including two tourists, in Tiananmen Square this week. Investigators said the men, all ethnic Uighurs from China’s western Xinjiang region, were Islamic jihadists who got a man, his wife, and his mother to drive across a crowded sidewalk and toward the entrance to the Forbidden City. [New York Times]
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8. Iraq says it needs more U.S. military aid
Two years after the departure of U.S. troops following the collapse of security talks, Iraq reportedly plans to ask the Obama administration for more weapons and training to counter an increase in attacks by al Qaeda-linked suicide bombers. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki plans to discuss the request Friday with President Obama at the White House. A bipartisan group of senators said this week that the surge in violence was partly Maliki’s fault. [Al JazeeraCNN]
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9. Facebook stock rises, and falls
Facebook’s stock jumped by 15.5 percent on Wednesday after the social networking giant reported a sharp increase in profits and revenue that shattered Wall Street’s expectations. The shares hit an all-time high of $56.65 in after hours trading, but the euphoria didn’t last. Facebook shares dropped again in extended trading after the company acknowledged that usage by teenagers has decreased recently. [USA Today]
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10. Woman is fined for driving while wearing Google Glass
A California woman topped everyone ever busted for the dangerous habit of texting while driving. Cecilia Abadie, 44, got a ticket this week for motoring down a Southern California interstate while wearing a Google Glass headset computer. “Is Google Glass illegal while driving or is this cop wrong???” Abadie posted online. “Any legal advice is appreciated.” The state Highway Patrol said it’s illegal to drive with a video monitor on in the front seat. [Los Angeles Times]

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Report: U.S. Tracked Merkel’s Cell Phone Since 2002

Aptopix-germany-obama-visit

AP Photo / Gero Breloer

Apparently this all started during the paranoid years of the Bush/Cheney administration…

TPM LiveWire

The United States may have monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone for over ten years, German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

Der Speigel reported that Merkel’s mobile phone was listed by the NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002, and it was still on the list weeks before President Barack Obama visited Berlin in June, according to Reuters.

The magazine cited an SCS document that said the NSA had a “not legally registered spying branch” in the U.S. embassy in Berlin, where NSA and CIA staff were able to monitor communications.

The report noted Obama told Merkel he would have stopped the surveillance had he known about it, according to Reuters.

 

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