Outline created by Adam Curry on Thursday, February 07, 2013.

Shownotes

Search

Gas Pices

Behind the scenes Obama embraces private-equity - National Conservative | Examiner.com

While all that trashing of private capital was going on, the Obama Administration was deep in the process of wooing another private-equity firm to save a Pennsylvania oil refinery that was tabbed for closure by the current owner Sunoco.

Last month Carlyle agreed to take a two-thirds stake in the refinery plus an investment of at least $200 million in improvements. The move is estimated to save 850 union jobs in Pennsylvania.

The head of Obama's National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, led the discussions to convince the Carlyle Group, another private-equity firm, to invest in the Sunoco refinery. Sperling spoke to Carlyle executives on numerous occasions bringing in unnamed government officials and union leaders to press for Carlyle's investment.

Drone Nation

Opinio Juris >> Blog Archive >> The DoJ White Paper's Fatal International Law Flaw '-- Organization

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:57

There is much to say about the DoJ White Paper on the targeted killing of US citizens, which reflects the US's idiosyncratic interpretation of international law. In this post I want to focus on the White Paper's primary '-- and in my view fatal '-- flaw: its complete failure to address the relationship between the organized armed groups that it considers to be engaged in a single non-international armed conflict (NIAC) with the US.

The White Paper begins with the standard premise that ''[t]he United States is in an armed conflict with al-Qa'ida and its associated forces'' (p. 2). It then claims that the armed conflict in question is a global NIAC that extends to any member of ''al-Qai'da and its associated forces'' anywhere in the world (p. 3; citations omitted; emphasis mine):

[T]he United States retains its authority to use force against al-Qa'ida and associated forces outside the area of hostilities that targets a senior operational leader of the enemy forces who is actively engaged in planning operations to kill Americans. The United States is currently in a non-international armed conflict with al-Qa'ida and its associated forces. Any U.S. operation would be part of this non-international armed conflict, even if it were to take place away from the zone of active hostilities.

After making that claim, the White Paper does something interesting: it explicitly addresses the argument that the existence of a NIAC between the US and al-Qaida must be determined according to the test established by the ICTY in Tadic '-- the test adopted by the ICRC, by the ICC, and by nearly all international law scholars. Here is what it says (pp. 3-4; some citations omitted):

Claiming that for purposes of international law, an armed conflict generally exists only when there is ''protracted armed violence between governmental authorities and organized armed groups,'' Prosecutor v. Tadic, Case No. IT-94-1AR72, Decision on the Defence Motion for Interlocutory Appeal on Jurisdiction, para. 70 (Int'l Crim. Trib. for the Former Yugoslavia, App. Chamber Oct 2. 1995), some commenters have suggested that the conflict between the United States and al-Qa'ida cannot lawfully extend to nations outside Afghanistan in which the level of hostilities is less intense or prolonged than in Afghanistan itself. See, e.g., Mary Ellen O'Connell, Combatants and the Combat Zone, 43 U. Rich. L. Rev. 845, 857-59 (2009). There is little judicial or other authoritative precedent that speaks directly to the question of the geographic scope of a non-international armed conflict in which one of the parties is a transnational, non-state actor and where the principal theater of operations is not within the territory of the nation that is a party to the conflict. Thus, in considering this potential issue, the Department looks to principles and statements from analogous contexts.

The Department has not found any authority for the proposition that when one of the parties to an armed conflict plans and executes operations from a base in a new nation, an operation to engage the enemy in that location cannot be part of the original armed conflict, and thus subject to the laws of war governing that conflict, unless the hostilities become sufficiently intense and protracted in the new location. That does not appear to be the rule of the historical practice, for instance, even in a traditional international conflict. Particularly in a non-international armed conflict, where terrorist organizations may move their base of operations from one country to another, the determination of whether a particular operation would be part of an ongoing armed conflict would require consideration of the particular facts and circumstances in each case, including the fact that transnational non-state organizations such as al-Qaida may have no single site serving as their base of operations.

If an operation of the kind discussed in this paper were to occur in a location where al-Qa'ida or an associated force has a significant and organized presence and from which al-Qa'ida or an associated force, including its senior operational leaders, plan attacks against U.S. persons and interests, the operation would be part of the non-international armed conflict between the United States and al-Qa'ida that the Supreme Court recognized in Hamdan.

In one important respect, this analysis is absolutely correct: as long as the US is engaged in a NIAC with an al-Qa'ida group in a particular location '-- because the organization of the group and the intensity of the hostilities there satisfy Tadic '' any member of that al-Qa'ida group can be targeted anywhere in the world. In such a situation, contrary to what scholars like O'Connell argue, there is no need to find Tadic-level hostilities in the location where the member of that al-Qa'ida is located. The laws of war, in this regard, are indeed completely aspatial.

But here we come to the White Paper's fatal flaw. Notice that it completely ignores one of the two constitutive elements of the Tadic test: the organization requirement. The White Paper simply assumes that ''al-Qa'ida and its associated forces'' constitute a single organized armed group for purposes of IHL '-- ''a transnational, non-state actor'' that is ''one of the parties'' involved in ''the non-international armed conflict between the United States and al-Qa'ida that the Supreme Court recognized in Hamdan'' (emphasis mine). Indeed, the White Paper must make that assumption because, by its own admission, what justifies targeting a ''senior operational leader'' away from an active battlefield is precisely that, as a member of ''al-Qa'ida or an associated force,'' he takes part in that NIAC.

The assumption that ''al-Qa'ida and its associated forces'' constitute a single organized armed group for purposes of IHL, however, is deeply problematic. Here is a snippet of my essay on signature strikes (citations omitted):

For various groups that call themselves AQ or associate themselves with AQ to qualify as a single party, they must '' at a minimum '' share a common command structure. That requirement has been accepted by the ICTY, by the ICRC, and by scholars '' and it means that different terrorist groups cannot be considered one organization simply because they share the same ideology.

There is little evidence, however, that the various terrorist groups that call themselves AQ or associate themselves with AQ possess the kind of integrated command structure that would justify considering them a single party involved in a global NIAC with the U.S. According to Kenneth Anderson, ''Islamist terror appears to be fragmenting into loose networks of shared ideology and aspiration rather than vertical organizations linked by command central.'' Similarly, Bruce Hoffman insists that, since 9/11, AQ ''has become more an idea or a concept than an organization; an amorphous movement tenuously held together by a loosely networked transnational constituency rather than a monolithic, international terrorist organization with either a defined or identifiable command and control apparatus.'' Indeed, even the U.S. government rejects the idea that AQ is a unified organization, dividing AQ into three separate tiers: (1) core AQ; (2) ''small groups who have some ties to an established terrorist organization, but are largely self-directed''; and (3) ''homegrown extremists' who 'have no formal affiliation with al Qaeda, but'... are inspired by its message of violence.''

The actual organization of ''al-Qa'ida and its associated forces'' fatally undermines the White Paper. If those terrorist groups do not form a single organized armed group, there can be no single NIAC between the US and ''al-Qa'ida and its associated forces.'' And if there is no single NIAC between the United States and ''al-Qa'ida and its associated forces,'' the US cannot '-- by its own standards '-- justify targeting anyone who is a ''senior operational commander'' in one of those groups simply by citing the existence of the hostilities between the US and al-Qai'da in Afghanistan. On the contrary, in order to lawfully target a ''senior operational commander'' in a terrorist group that does not qualify as part of al-Qaida in Afganistan, the US would, in fact, have to show (under Tadic) that there is a separate NIAC between the US and that group where that group is located.

It is possible, of course, that the US could make the requisite showing. But the White Paper never even considers the issue, because of its flawed understanding of the Tadic test. As a result, the White Paper authorizes the use of lethal force against individuals whose targeting is, without more, prohibited by international law.

Opinio Juris >> Blog Archive >> The DoJ White Paper's Confused Approach to Imminence (and Capture)

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:49

According to the White Paper (p. 6), a US citizen ''who is located outside the United States and is an operational leader continually planning attacks against US persons or interests'' cannot lawfully be killed unless, inter alia, ''an informed, high-level official of the US government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of attack against the United States.'' Early criticism of the White Paper has focused on how it defines imminence. The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer, for example, says that it ''redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning.'' That's actually something of an understatement; as I'll discuss in this post, the White Paper's entire approach to the concept of imminence is deeply confused '-- and deeply problematic from the standpoint of international law.

The first thing to note is that it's not clear why the White Paper even discusses imminence. As I noted in my previous post, the White Paper's central premise is that all targeted killings of ''senior operational leaders'' in ''al-Qa'ida or its associated forces'' take place in the context of a global non-international armed conflict (NIAC) and are thus all subject to the laws of war (IHL). The White Paper also takes the position that the laws of war apply to a U.S. citizen in the same way that they apply to a non-citizen; it specifically argues (p. 3) that because ''the military may constitutionally use force against a US citizen who is part of enemy forces,'' the DoJ ''does not believe that US citizenship would immunize a senior operational leader of al-Qa'ida or its associated forces from a use of force abroad.''

Although I reject the White Paper's claim that the US is engaged in a global NIAC with ''al-Qa'ida and its associated forces,'' I have no problem with the idea that US citizenship does not affect the targetability of an individual who is otherwise a legitimate target under IHL. But why, then, discuss imminence at all? It is black-letter IHL that a legitimate target can be targeted at any time; it is not necessary to show that the target is an imminent threat, regardless of how imminence is defined. Given that the White Paper assumes both that all targeted killings of US citizens take place in armed conflict and that US citizenship does not affect targetability under IHL, it should consider whether a US citizen poses ''an imminent threat of attack against the United States'' '-- or against anything else '-- to be completely irrelevant.

So why does the White Paper graft an imminence requirement onto IHL? There are two possible explanations. The cynical one is simply politics. The DoJ doesn't really believe imminence is required before a US citizen who is a member of al-Qa'ida or an associated force can be lawfully targeted, but it is worried that the American public would reject the idea that an ''enemy'' US citizen can be killed abroad at any time. So it has decided to endorse an imminence requirement that '-- as discussed below '-- provides no meaningful constraints on the use of lethal force against a US citizen. A cynical move, to be sure. But a smart one.

The more generous explanation is that the DoJ believes that imminence is required by IHL's presumption of civilian status. Article 57(2) of the First Additional Protocol provides that ''[t]hose who plan or decide upon an attack shall'... [d]o everything feasible to verify that the objectives to be attacked are neither civilians nor civilian objects,'' while Article 50(1) provides that if it is still unclear whether an individual is a legitimate target after all feasible precautions are taken, ''that person shall be considered to be a civilian'' who is immune from attack. IHL is notoriously vague concerning the precise quantum of evidence necessary to determine that an individual is a member of an organized armed group, so perhaps the DoJ believes that a showing of imminence is the minimum necessary to establish that a target is a member of al-Qa'ida or an associated force '-- at least, or perhaps especially, when the target is a US citizen.

That explanation has a nice ring to it, but it is difficult to accept. To begin with, it would still contradict the White Paper's claim that US citizenship is irrelevant to the application of IHL. Nothing in IHL suggests that the standard of proof for membership in an organized armed group differs for citizens and non-citizens; indeed, such a citizen/non-citizen distinction would contradict IHL's basic targeting premise, which is that the only relevant distinction is between civilians and non-civilians.

The generous explanation of the imminence requirement also suffers from a more important flaw: it is completely inconsistent with the White Paper's insistence (p. 6) that a US citizen can be targeted only when ''a capture operation would infeasible.'' First, the capture requirement does not help establish whether a US citizen is, in fact, a member of al-Qa'ida or an associated force. Second, the capture requirement has no basis in IHL: as Article 41(2)(b) of AP I makes clear, unless a lawful target ''clearly expresses an intention to surrender'' '-- such as by yelling surrender or by raising his hands or a white flag '-- IHL imposes no capture obligation whatsoever on an attacker. That is an unforgiving rule, permitting the use of lethal force against a target who is unarmed, defenseless, running away, or even asleep. But it is a rule nonetheless.

We are left, then, with the cynical explanation. The imminence requirement and the capture requirement both come from international human rights law (IHRL), not from IHL. The US, however, categorically rejects the idea that IHRL applies to any of its targeted killings; as noted above, it considers itself to be in a global NIAC with al-Qa'ida and its associated forces. There is thus no non-political (i.e., legal) reason for the US to condition the use of lethal force agains a US citizen on the threat of an imminent attack and the impossibility of capture. The imminence requirement is all for show.

Finally, given that many scholars (including me) reject the US position that none of its targeted killings are subject to IHRL, it is worth noting that the US definition of imminence is significantly broader than the IHRL definition. I discuss that issue at length in my essay on signature strikes; see pp. 29-31. I will simply note here that at least one aspect of the US definition is clearly unacceptable from an IHRL perspective '-- namely, its acceptance of the idea that a ''senior operational leader'' in al-Qa'ida or an associated force can be considered an imminent threat even when there is no evidence that he is planning future attacks against the US. Here is what the White Paper says (p. 8):

[W]here the al-Qa'ida member in question has recently been involved in activities posing an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States, and there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities, that member's involvement in al-Qa'ida's continuing terrorist campaign against the United States would support the conclusion that the member poses an imminent threat.

Even granting '-- as most scholars do '-- that IHRL's imminence requirement is far from the picture of clarity, this standard is woefully overbroad. It not only relieves the US of the need to possess evidence that the ''senior operational leader'' in question intends to continue to attack the US, it actually shifts the burden of proof onto that individual to show that he is no longer a threat. (How he would actually do that is never addressed in the White Paper. Take an ad out in the New York Times?) That is simply unacceptable from an IHRL perspective; as the Human Rights Committee has specifically noted, states must ''not use 'targeted killings' as a deterrent or punishment.''

International humanitarian law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The twelve powers of a President. - Democratic Underground

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:07

OpEdNewsOriginal Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_ed_marti_070621...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 22, 2007

The twelve powers of a President.

By Ed Martin

The President of the United States is in all respects a creation of our Constitution. The position of President is created by Article ll. Sections two and three are the only place in the Constitution that define a President and his powers and duties. They consist of just 317 words which can be condensed to just twelve items of 129 words:

l. Be commander in chief of the Army and Navy when called into service.

2. Require the opinion of the principal officer in each executive department.

3. Have power to grand reprieves and pardons.

4. Make treaties.

5. Nominate and appoint ambassadors, judges of the Supreme Court and all other officers of the United States.

6. Fill up all vacancies during the recess of the Senate.

7. Give to Congress information of the state of the union.

8. Recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

9. On extraordinary occasions convene both Houses, or either of them.

10. Receive ambassadors and other public ministers.

11. Take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

12. Commission all the officers of the United States.

There you have it, the complete list of the constitutional duties of the President. The Constitution doesn't say anything about his power to veto legislation. Article l, Section 7 allows him to return to Congress, within 10 days, any bills he doesn't approve of, with his objections. It would be interesting to know if he has done this with the bills he has supposedly "vetoed." If he didn't, they automatically become law.

Take a look at those twelve items that a president is limited to doing and consider the following list of things that George Bush has been involved in and all the candidates are spouting off about:

Abortion, budget, economy, civil rights, corporations, crime, drugs, education, energy, oil, environment, families, children, foreign policy, free trade, government reform, gun control, health care, homeland security, immigration, jobs, principles, values, social security, tax reform, technology, war, peace, welfare and poverty.

Notice that none of the above items are included in the list of twelve items the president is limited to doing. George Bush has been doing and all the candidates have been talking about doing things which are completely outside a president's powers and duties, and which they are constitutionally prohibited from doing. In other words, they're talking nonsense. They're talking about things, which as president, they have no business sticking their noses in. They have a right to their personal opinion on these matters, but that's all it is.

Notice, also, that the twelve powers of a president does not include, as George Bush claims, any such thing as executive privilege, the unitary executive or signing statements. He has no constitutional authority to claim those things. Item five says that he can appoint officers of the United States, such as US attorneys, and item two says he can ask for their opinion. But, that's all he can do. Nowhere in the twelve items is he given the power to fire them.

It would be enlightening if someone would ask Bush or any of the candidates, "What are the twelve constitutional powers of a president?" I'd be willing to bet that neither Bush nor any of the candidates could recite the short list of twelve things that a president, by law, has the power to do. And, I'll bet that none of them understand that a president is limited to doing just those twelve things.

The most significant evidence that the United States has come to completely misunderstand what a president is, is that Bush nor any of the candidates are asked any questions about the twelve powers that a president can actually do, and it's doubtful that, even if asked, any of them could answer.

We have a President and candidates who want to be President who are completely in the dark about what it means to be the President of the United States.

Authors Bio: Ed Martin is an unindicted curmudgeon. He is not a Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, deist, atheist, or a member of any -ism.

BBC News - CIA operating drone base in Saudi Arabia, US media reveal

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:24

6 February 2013Last updated at08:17 ETThe US Central Intelligence Agency has been operating a secret airbase for unmanned drones in Saudi Arabia for the past two years.

The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen.

A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who was alleged to be AQAP's external operations chief.

US media have known of its existence since then, but have not reported it.

Senior government officials had said they were concerned that disclosure would undermine operations against AQAP, as well as potentially damage counter-terrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

The US military pulled out virtually all of its troops from Saudi Arabia in 2003, having stationed between 5,000 and 10,000 troops in the Gulf kingdom after the 1991 Gulf war. Only personnel from the United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) officially remain.

'High-value targets'The location of the secret drone base was not revealed in the US reports.

Continue reading the main storyThe revelation that US drone strikes against militants in Yemen have been launched from a secret base inside Saudi Arabia will be an embarrassment for the government in Riyadh.

King Abdullah has embarked upon a gradual process of reform in the face of a conservative religious elite who strongly object to the presence of foreign non-Muslim troops in the country.

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's two holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there in the 1990s was seen as an historic betrayal. The campaign for their withdrawal became a rallying cry for al-Qaeda and its late Saudi-born leader, Osama bin Laden.

However, construction was ordered after a December 2009 cruise missile strike in Yemen, according to the New York Times.

It was the first strike ordered by the Obama administration, and ended in disaster, with dozens of civilians, including women and children, killed.

US officials told the newspaper that the first time the CIA used the secret facility was to kill Awlaki.

Since then, the CIA has been "given the mission of hunting and killing 'high-value targets' in Yemen" - the leaders of AQAP who government lawyers had determined posed a direct threat to the US - the officials added.

Three other Americans, including Awlaki's 16-year-old son, have also been killed in US strikes in Yemen, which can reportedly be carried out without the permission of the country's government.

Kristian Coates-Ulrichsen, an expert on Gulf politics at the London School of Economics, told the BBC that Saudi anxieties about the growing threat of AQAP would have been behind the government's decision to allow the US to fly drones from inside the kingdom.

"The Saudis see AQAP as a very real threat to their domestic security," he said. "They are worried about attacks on their energy infrastructure and on the royal family, so it fit their strategy to allow the drone attacks."

The existence of the base was likely a "sensitive issue" for both Washington and Riyadh, Mr Coates-Ulrichsen added.

A source close to the Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, declined to comment when contacted by the BBC.

The Washington Post reported that President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, played a key role in negotiations with the government in Riyadh over building the drone base.

Saudi Arabia is home to some of Islam's holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there was seen as a historic betrayal by many Islamists, notably the late leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden.

It was one of the main reasons given by the Saudi-born militant to justify violence against the US and its allies.

Leaked memoThe revelation of the drone base came shortly after the leaking of a US justice department memo detailing the Obama administration's case for killing Americans abroad who are accused of being a "senior, operational leader" of al-Qaeda or its allies.

Lethal force is lawful if they are deemed to pose an "imminent threat" and their capture is not feasible, the memo says. The threat does not have to be based on intelligence about a specific attack, since such actions are being "continually" planned by al-Qaeda, it adds.

NBC News said it was given to members of the US Senate intelligence and judiciary committees as a summary of a classified memo on the targeted killings of US citizens prepared by the justice department.

The latter memo was written before the drone strike that killed Awlaki.

Under President Obama, the US has expanded its use of drones to kill hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. It says it is acting in self-defence in accordance with international law.

Critics argue the drone strikes amount to execution without trial and cause many civilian casualties.

Senators are expected to ask Mr Brennan about drone strikes, the memo and the killing of Awlaki on Thursday when he faces a confirmation hearing on his nomination to become the new CIA director.

Oregon Drone Bill Would Claim the 'Airspace' Above Your Shoestrings

Link to Article

Source: Gitmo Nation News

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 14:25

Can the air near your shoes be considered ''public airspace?'' In Oregon, at least, it soon might be.

A new bill making its way through Oregon's state senate would establish something known as ''Airspace of Oregon'' which the state could use to regulate drone use by agencies and private citizens.

Proponents of the bill are trying to get ahead of a nationwide push to set rules for unmanned aerial vehicle use by civilians, which some advocates worry could intrude on personal privacy.

''The use of drones domestically will raise significant new privacy issues which cannot be addressed by current law,'' says Becky Straus, legislative director of ACLU's Oregon office. ''We are not and should not be a surveillance state. Drones should never be used for mass surveillance. Law enforcement should only use them when there is individualized suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.''

But experts say it's unclear whether Oregon would be allowed to regulate ankle-level airspace at all, since it's typically covered by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Read more here: Oregon Drone Bill Would Claim the 'Airspace' Above Your Shoestrings '' US News and World Report.

Virginia Becomes First State to Pass Drone Regulations - US News & World Report

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 02:42

People inspect a Gatewing X100 drone at the 'UAV Show Europe', Sept. 26, 2012.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that will put a two-year moratorium on the use of drones by state and local law enforcement. If signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, Virginia will become the first state in the U.S. to enact drone regulations.

Virginia House Bill 2012 easily passed Monday by a vote of 83-16 and its companion, Senate Bill 1331, passed Tuesday by a vote of 36-2.

The measures require that no state or local law enforcement agency "shall utilize an unmanned aircraft system before July 1, 2015." In cases where there is a "major disaster" or Amber Alert, a search and rescue operation using police drones may be used when "necessary to protect life, health, or property."

[RELATED: Va. City Becomes First to Pass Anti-Drone Law]

Both bills are largely pared down from earlier drafts, which would have required law enforcement to obtain government permission to purchase a drone and a warrant in order to operate the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Claire Gastanaga, director of the Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, says law enforcement and privacy groups couldn't agree on the more extensive drafts.

"We folded it into the moratorium bill because we just couldn't come to consensus with all the stakeholders. Frankly, the law enforcement folks were saying they didn't want to go beyond the bare privacy protections the fourth amendment allows," says Gastanaga, who helped write the bill. "This preserves the status quo, and allows us to go slow, and gives us the time to show everyone why we'd want to require a warrant to use this technology. The idea with the moratorium is we'll get everyone to the table to agree on regulations, then we'll come back next session."

[PHOTOS: 'Stealth' Hoodie Lets You Duck Drone Cameras]

Charlottesville, Va., became the first city in the United States to pass anti-drone legislation, passing a resolution banning drone use on Monday. That resolution included language that "endorses the proposal for a two-year moratorium on drones in the state of Virginia."

One potential hang-up is McDonnell, who said last summer that use of drones by law enforcement agencies would be "great" and "absolutely the right thing to do." Gastanaga says her group's work has stemmed from those comments.

"With such as strong bipartisan vote, I'm hoping he will sign the legislation," Gastanaga says.

More News:

How Obama Transformed an Old Military Concept So He Can Drone Americans | Danger Room

Link to Article

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 18:30

An MQ-9 Reaper drone taxies on the airfield at Fort Drum, New York, October 2011. Photo: U.S. Air Force

''Imminence'' used to mean something in military terms: namely, that an adversary had begun preparations for an assault. In order to justify his drone strikes on American citizens, President Obama redefined that concept to exclude any actual adversary attack.That's the heart of the Justice Department's newly leaked white paper, first reported by NBC News, explaining why a ''broader concept of imminence'' (.pdf) trumps traditional Constitutional protections American citizens enjoy from being killed by their government without due process. It's an especially striking claim when considering that the actual number of American citizens who are ''senior operational leader[s] of al-Qaida or its associated forces'' is vanishingly small. As much as Obama talks about rejecting the concept of ''perpetual war'' he's providing, and institutionalizing, a blueprint for it.

Imminence has always been a tricky concept. It used to depend on observable battlefield preparations, like tanks amassing near a front line, missile assemblage, or the fueling of fighter jet squadrons. Even under those circumstances, there has been little international consensus about when a nation under threat can take action. A classic example is Israel's June 1967 bombing of the Egyptian Air Force on its tarmac, which followed months of signals that Egypt was about to launch a massive assault. Whether you view Israel or Egypt as the aggressor tends to depend on your sympathy to either party in the conflict.

President George W. Bush contended that the U.S. had to invade Iraq not because the government knew Saddam Hussein was about to launch an attack on America, but because it didn't. Bush contended that uncertainty about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, augmented by 9/11'Ós warnings of shadowy terrorist groups plotting undetectable attacks, redefined ''imminence'' to mean the absence of dispositive proof refuting the existence of an unconventional weapons program that could be used in an attack. But when U.S. troops invaded, they learned that Saddam did not possess what Bush aide Condoleezza Rice famously termed a smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

The undated Justice Department white paper, a summary of a number of still-classified legal analyses, redefines imminence once again. Al-Qaida leaders are ''continually planning attacks,'' the undated white paper says, and so a preemptive attack ''does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests in the immediate future.'' Referencing the intelligence failures preceding 9/11, the paper concedes the U.S. ''is likely to have only a limited window of opportunity within which to defend Americans.'' For an adversary attack to be ''imminent,'' and a preemptive U.S. response justified, U.S. officials need only ''incorporate considerations of the relevant window of opportunity, the possibility of reducing collateral damage to civilians, and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks to America.''

There's a subtlety at work in the Justice Department framework. It takes imminence out of the context of something an enemy does, and places it into the context of a policymaker's epistemic limitations. ''The U.S. government may not be aware of all al-Qaida plots as they are developing and thus cannot be confident that none is about to occur,'' the white paper warns.

If there is a reasonable debate over what imminence means in an era of terrorism, and what standards ought to be accepted for defining it as an international norm, that framework preempts it. All that matters to justify a drone strike attack is for the U.S. to recognize it can't be all-knowing. It's the logical equivalent of the CIA's signature strike, which target anonymous military-age males in areas where terrorists operate based on a presumption that their pattern of observed behavior is consistent with those of terrorists.

It would be one thing if Obama was talking about foreigners who enlist in al-Qaida. But he's actually talking specifically about American citizens overseas who are ''senior operational leader[s] of al-Qaida or its affiliated forces'' '-- people whom the Constitution protects against the loss of life without due process of law. (The Justice Department stops short of claiming the government can take such lethal actions at home.) U.S. citizenship ''does not immunize'' such a person from reprisal. Here the white paper does not define what it means to be a ''senior operational leader'' of al-Qaida, let alone its ''affiliated forces,'' and instead asserts the applicability of Supreme Court precedent from World War II holding that U.S. citizens who joined the Axis can be treated as enemy belligerents. (My Wired colleague David Kravets will have more on the specific legal claims Obama makes.)

To read this, you might think the U.S. faced an onslaught of treason. The data show otherwise. For the third straight year, U.S. Muslim involvement in terrorism declined, according to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, to the point where it's assessed to be fewer than 10 cases in a million '-- none of which resulted in anyone's death. The few such cases that do exist do not in any rigorous way describe ''senior operational leaders'' of al-Qaida. The only American in al-Qaida's senior cadre is a Californian metalhead turned propagandist named Adam Gadahn. The administration has asserted that Anwar al-Awlaki, the American citizen who incited terrorism in YouTube clips, was a senior operational leader of al-Qaida's Yemen branch, but refuses to provide evidence for the claim. Not only did the U.S. kill Awlaki in a drone strike, it later killed his 16-year old son Abdulrahman, whom it has never publicly claimed was a senior operational leader of al-Qaida.

Under the Obama administration, the decision to target members of al-Qaida abroad, both foreign citizens and Americans, is made under a regularized institutional process known by the shorthand of the ''disposition matrix.'' One of its architects, White House counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, will testify on Thursday ahead of a Senate vote to confirm him as CIA director. Eleven senators, Democrat and Republican, wrote to the White House on Monday requesting the full secret memos '-- plural '-- explaining the administration's arguments for targeting Americans in drone strikes and commando raids.

Whether or not they receive the memos, the white paper asserts an understanding of battlefield imminence that means little more than the mere existence of al-Qaida, and unconstrained by protections for U.S. citizens that the Constitution traditionally grants. Once the U.S. makes that claim, so can others, creating pretext for further acts of war.

''The Justice Department's legal arguments purportedly defending targeted killing fundamentally misconceive the nature of self-defense,'' University of Notre Dame professor Mary Ellen O'Connell said in a prepared statement. ''It is a right to use military force against a state that has or is about to launched a major military attack on the United States. The 9/11 attacks led to a war of self-defense in Afghanistan. That had all the hallmarks of legality. Contrast that use of force with the CIA firing of missiles from drones at a single individual and innocent bystanders in Yemen. You do not need to be an expert in international law to understand the enormous violation of law involved and the egregious conduct involved in attempting to exploit lack of knowledge of the law to achieve political cover for targeted killing.''

DARPA's 1.8 gigapixel drone camera is a high-res Fourth Amendment lawsuit waiting to happen

Link to Article

Sun, 03 Feb 2013 23:54

As unmanned aerial vehicles continue to populate the skies above battlefields and college campuses faster than anyone can count them, the US government has taken a keen interest in equipping them with an increasing number of state-of-the-art surveillance technologies. The latest to be revealed is DARPA's frightening ARGUS-IS, a record-setting 1.8 gigapixel sensor array which can observe and record an area half the size of Manhattan. The newest in the family of "wide area persistent surveillance" tools, the system can detect and track moving objects as small as six inches from 20,000 feet in the air.

But what's most terrifying about ARGUS (fittingly named after Argus Panoptes, the 100-eyed giant of Greek myth) is what happens afterward: the system gives its owner (and eventually, DARPA says, a well-programmed A.I.) the ability to scan an entire city for all sorts of "suspicious" activity, not just in real-time but after the fact. It all adds up to around 6 petabytes (6,000 terabytes) worth of 12 frames-per-second video per day.

What's really interesting is that the system is kind of a hack-job. Its massive resolution comes from chaining together 368 5-megapixel cellphone cameras '-- something similar doesn't seem like it would be impossible to reproduce on a civilian scale. The image processing, however, is another story. ARGUS' real-time surveillance capabilities rely on both on-board and ground-based processing, which need to transmit to the tune of 600 gigabits per second, though DARPA won't disclose exactly how they'd be able to run that kind of network from the air.

The new info comes from "Rise of the Drones," a new PBS NOVA TV special-bordering-on-infomercial which was funded in part by drone manufacturer Lockheed Martin '-- seemingly in direct violation of PBS' own underwriting guidelines. It's not clear where ARGUS-IS will be used just yet, but its probably a safe bet we'll see it as payload on the cheap and ubiquitous MQ-1 Predator drone. Don't expect it to stay in war zones, though '-- thanks in part to a recent Department of Homeland Security initiative, the FAA estimates 30,000 drones in US skies in the next 20 years, and it's a probably safe to assume that ARGUS isn't far behind, with a trail of potential Fourth Amendment violations in tow.

The Washington Post, New York Times and a Bunch of Other News Organizations Helped Keep a CIA Drone Base Secret

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 19:36

We would all like to know as much as we can about the Obama Administration's top-secret program of assassinating U.S. citizens with drones, so we can figure out how best not to get assassinated. But don't look to the pages of U.S. newspapers like the Washington Post, which cooperated with the Administration to cover-up the location of a key drone base.

In advance of CIA chief nominee John Brennan's big Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow, the New York Times reported today the existence of a CIA drone base in Saudi Arabia, from which was launched the drone strike that killed American radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son in 2011. This prompted the Washington Post to follow up with its own story, which revealed the paper has been co-operating with "several news organizations" and the Obama Administration to keep the base secret for over year:

The Washington Post had refrained from disclosing the location at the request of the administration, which cited concern that exposing the facility would undermine operations against an al-Qaeda affiliate regarded as the network's most potent threat to the United States, as well as potentially damage counterterrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

The Post learned Tuesday night that another news organization was planning to reveal the location of the base, effectively ending an informal arrangement among several news organizations that had been aware of the location for more than a year.

So the dearth of information about the U.S.'s scariest policy has been in part perpetrated by the Post and these other organization. The concern about undermining the hunt for terrorists might be legitimate, if the Obama Administration hadn't determined that even officially acknowledging the extrajudicial drone assassinations of U.S. citizens would "undermine" it. Bottom line: If you have any information about the drone program, it's best to give it to Gawker.

Update: The New York Timesalso withheld the location of the base for "many months," according to a blog post by the Times' Public Editor.

[Image via AP]

Mathews v. Eldridge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Link to Article

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 07:23

Mathews v. EldridgeSupreme Court of the United StatesArgued October 6, 1975Decided February 24, 1976Full case nameF. David Mathews, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, v. George H. EldridgeCitations424 U.S.319 (more)96 S.Ct. 893; 47 L.Ed.2d 18

Prior historyGrant of certiorari from the United States Court of Appeals, 492 F.2d 1230HoldingDue process does not require a Goldberg-type hearing prior to the termination of social security disability benefits on the ground that the worker is no longer disabledCourt membershipCase opinionsMajorityPowell, joined by Burger, Stewart, White, Blackmun, RehnquistDissentBrennan, joined by MarshallStevens took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.Laws appliedU.S. Const. amend. VMathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S.319 (1976), is a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that individuals have a statutorily granted property right in social security benefits, that the termination of those benefits implicates due process, but that the termination of Social Security benefits does not require a pre-termination hearing. The case is important in the development of American administrative law.

[edit]Legal principlesIn determining the amount of process due, the court should weigh three factors:

The interests of the individual in retaining their property, and the injury threatened by the official actionThe risk of error through the procedures used and probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards;The costs and administrative burden of the additional process, and the interests of the government in efficient adjudicationSocial security benefits are a statutorily created property right implicating due process.

Termination of social security benefits does not require a pre-termination hearing.

[edit]Facts and procedural postureThe SSA terminated Eldridge's social security benefits through its normal procedures. However, Eldridge was not provided with a hearing before the termination of his benefits in which he could argue for a continuation of the benefits. He sued, even though he had not exhausted his post-termination administrative remedies. The district court held that the termination was unconstitutional, and the court of appeals affirmed.

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that no pre-termination hearing was required.

[edit]See also[edit]External linksText of Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976) is available from: Justia áFindlaw

Shut Up Slave!

Lance Armstrong May Testify Under Oath To U.S. Anti-Doping Investigators

Link to Article

Source: Radar Online

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 14:42

In a surprising '-- and very last minute '-- change of heart, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong may now testify under oath before the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in a last-ditch effort to reduce his lifetime ban on participating in the sport that made him rich and famous.

Armstrong '-- who has publicly said he ''deserves'' the chance to come back '' originally faced a deadline of Wednesday night (February 6) to tell-all to anti-doping officials, but USADA officials have granted him an extension in wake of his apparent willingness to come clean before the panel. If Armstrong '-- who last month was stripped of his bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympics '-- does fess up, his lifetime ban could possibly be reduced to eight years.

PHOTOS: The Biggest Cheating Scandals In Sports

''We have been in communication with Mr. Armstrong and his representatives and we understand that he does want to be part of the solution and assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling,'' USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a written statement Wednesday night. ''We have agreed to his request for an additional two weeks to work on details to hopefully allow for this to happen.''

Armstrong's troubles don't end with the USADA '' he remains the target of a re-ignited federal criminal investigation into his doping. (A year ago, federal prosecutors told Armstrong that the two-year investigation into his use of performance enhancing drugs was over and that no charges would be filed.)

PHOTOS: Sexy Stars Who Play With Pro Athletes

ABC News reports that, according to a high-level source, ''agents are actively investigating Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation'' for allegedly threatening people who dared tell the truth about his cheating.

The investigation was revived after Armstrong's mea culpa interview on OWN last month, in which, for the first time, he confessed to years of doping through all of his seven Tour de France titles and lying about it, while often bullying his accusers.

PHOTOS: The Biggest Cheating Scandals In Sports

If Armstrong does in fact get charged, the consequences of ''serious potential crimes'' could be severe, ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams said, including ''possible sentences up to five, 10 years.''

ABC News reports investigators are not so concerned with Armstrong's drug use, but his behavior in trying to keep his secret by allegedly threatening and interfering with potential witnesses, including his fellow teammates.

PHOTOS: Check Out The World's Sexiest Olympians!

Meanwhile, Armstrong remains the target of several civil suits would could cost him millions. The latest lawsuit '' expected to be filed any time now '' comes from SCA Promotions, a sports insurance company, that paid the cyclist more than $10 million in bonuses; it wants its money back.

Dispended | Define Dispended at Dictionary.com

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 23:05

'var prefix = '\n';window['spLabel'] = 'Ads';if(num==1){window['spLabel'] = 'Ad';}var suffix = '

';var template = '{label}

';s += prefix;var ads = window['google_ads'];var ajslAds=window['ajsl_ads'];var spnrAds=window['spnr_ads'];for(var i = 0; i = topHeavyCharCount){longDescriptionPresent = true;break;}}if(ajslAds){for(var i = 0; i 65 ? ads[i].visible_url.substring(0, 65) : ads[i].visible_url);if(false){fragment = fragment.replace(/\{ncbmwidth\}/,"width:px");fragment = fragment.replace(/\{ncbm1width\}/,"width:px");}ads[i].line1 = highlightQuery(ads[i].line1);var dbgInfo="";if(false){adt = 'afc';if(ads[i].adType != null && 'ta' == ads[i].adType){adt = 'ta';}dbgInfo="[id=" + ads[i].n +",type="+adt+"]";}fragment = fragment.replace(/\{title\}/, dbgInfo+ads[i].line1);ads[i].line2 = highlightQuery(ads[i].line2);ads[i].line3 = highlightQuery(ads[i].line3);if(longDescriptionPresent){fragment = fragment.replace(/class=\"slD\"/,"class=\"slDL\"");}fragment = fragment.replace(/\{abstract\}/, ads[i].line2 + " " + ads[i].line3);return fragment;}function render_inhouse_ad(top, ads, template,i,label) {if(!label){label= false;}var fragment = template;if(window['spShadedLabel'] && i==window['ad_config_top']+ads.length-1) {fragment = fragment.replace(/\{label\}/, spShadedLabel);} else if((window['spLabel'] && i==window['ad_config_top']+ads.length-1 ) || label){fragment = fragment.replace(/\{label\}/, spLabel);}else {fragment = fragment.replace(/\{label\}/,"");}for(var k=0;fragment.indexOf("{pickJavascript}")!= -1;k++){fragment = fragment.replace(/\{pickJavascript\}/,ads[i].pickJavascript);fragment = fragment.replace(/\(position\)/,"");fragment = fragment.replace(/\{counter\}/,"");fragment = fragment.replace(/\{io\}/, i);}fragment = fragment.replace(/\{en\}/g, ads[i].adType);fragment = fragment.replace('gg_', ads[i].adType+"_" + i);fragment = fragment.replace(/\{ec\}/g, ads.length);fragment = fragment.replace(/\{url\}/g, ads[i].url);fragment = fragment.replace(/\{visibleUrl\}/, ads[i].visible_url.length > 65 ? ads[i].visible_url.substring(0, 65) : ads[i].visible_url);if(false){fragment = fragment.replace(/\{ncbmwidth\}/,"width:px");fragment = fragment.replace(/\{ncbm1width\}/,"width:px");}ads[i].line1 = highlightQuery(ads[i].line1);var dbgInfo="";if(false){dbgInfo="[id=" + ads[i].n +",type="+ads[i].adType +"]";}fragment = fragment.replace(/\{title\}/, dbgInfo+ads[i].line1);ads[i].line2 = highlightQuery(ads[i].line2);ads[i].line3 = highlightQuery(ads[i].line3);if(longDescriptionPresent){fragment = fragment.replace(/class=\"slD\"/,"class=\"slDL\"");}fragment = fragment.replace(/\{abstract\}/, ads[i].line2 + " " + ads[i].line3);return fragment;}var ajslAds=new Array();var spnrAds=new Array();var repeatAds="true";function debug_info_update_render_ads(){if(document.getElementById('afc_ads_recieved')){var no_of_ads_debug_info = document.createTextNode(google_ads.length);document.getElementById('afc_ads_recieved').appendChild(no_of_ads_debug_info);}}function google_ad_request_done(google_ads) {debug_info_update_render_ads();window['google_ads'] = google_ads;inhouseAds = false;if(window['google_ads'].length ]+$/)){return true;}return false;}function isQueryinInput(firstindex, input_str, j){for(i=firstindex; i" + input_str.substring(first_pos,exactmatch) + "";input_str = input_str.substring(0,first_pos) + bold_str + input_str.substring(exactmatch);next_pos = input_str.toLowerCase().indexOf(word_arr[0],exactmatch+7);while(next_pos != -1) {return highlightCombinationWords(input_str,next_pos);}}return input_str;}function highlightSimpleWords(input_str,token, first_pos) {var end_pos = first_pos + token.length;if(!isAlpha(input_str.charAt(end_pos)) && !isAlpha(input_str.charAt(first_pos-1))){bold_str = "" + input_str.substring(first_pos,end_pos) + "";input_str = input_str.substring(0,first_pos) + bold_str + input_str.substring(end_pos);next_pos = input_str.toLowerCase().indexOf(token,end_pos+7);}else {next_pos = input_str.toLowerCase().indexOf(token,end_pos);}while(next_pos != -1) {return highlightSimpleWords(input_str,token,next_pos);}return input_str;}verb (used with object) Obsolete.to pay out; expend; spend.

Origin: 1250''1300;Middle Englishdispenden Anglo-French, Old Frenchdespendre Latin dispendere to weigh out; see dispenseCollins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition2009 (C) William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 (C) HarperCollinsPublishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009Cite This Source00:10

Dispendedis always a great word to know.

So is quincunx. Does it mean:

MIC OPs

Adam-

While conducting some business at my local bank branch here on the west side of

Portland, I looked up past the banker and saw a string of black military, armed

helicopters fly by, maybe about 1500' off the ground. This is unusual for this area

since we don't have any bases near by and rarely have helicopters flying around (I

think there is one news helicopter in the whole metro area that all the networks

share). They weren't shooting blanks but it was unusual to see them.

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 approximately 2:20pm

Flying in a southeast direction over Hillsboro, Oregon in the direction of Wilsonville.

They were not Blackhawks but something with the shape of a Little Bird or UH-72 with

rocket tubes and other stuff mounted on the sides (I am not an expert in this area).

I used the opportunity to hit the banker in the mouth about the other black

helicopter events.

Mike (keep my name private please)

Federal USNAS

MI5 to install 'black box' spy devices to monitor UK internet traffic | Mail Online

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 19:34

MPs' report outlines spooks' take on the draft Communications Data BillIt shows they are keen to implement nationwide surveillance regimeThey want ISPs to install 'black boxes' that can inspect all internet trafficSpies claim they are only interested in 'communications data'Campaigners warn it will give spies unprecedented surveillance powersBy Damien Gayle

PUBLISHED: 08:06 EST, 6 February 2013 | UPDATED: 13:53 EST, 6 February 2013

Listening in: UK spy agencies want to install 'black box' surveillance devices to monitor citizens' use of online services. Picture posed by model

UK spy agencies want to install 'black box' surveillance devices across the country's communications networks to monitor internet use, it emerged today.

A report by an influential committee of MPs tells how spooks are keen to implement a nationwide surveillance regime aimed at logging nearly everything Britons do and say online.

The spy network will rely on a technology known as Deep Packet Inspection to log data from communications ranging from online services like Facebook and Twitter, Skype calls with family members and visits to pornographic websites.

But civil liberties and privacy campaigners have reacted with outrage, saying that the technology will give the government a greater surveillance capability than has ever been seen.

The report by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, published on Tuesday, gives UK intelligence agencies' perspective on the government's draft Communications Data Bill, which is intended to update surveillance powers.

The government argues that swift access to communications data is critical to the fight against terrorism and other high-level crime, but it has been delayed after the Liberal Democrats dropped support for the bill.

MI5 chief Jonathan Evans told the committee: 'Access to communications data of one sort or another is very important indeed. It's part of the backbone of the way in which we would approach investigations.

'I think I would be accurate in saying there are no significant investigations that we undertake across the service that don't use communications data because of its ability to tell you the who and the when and the where of your target's activities.'

The Bill has encountered stiff opposition, but authorities have been at pains to stress that they're not seeking unfettered access to the content of emails or recordings of phone calls.

Instead, they claim, what they are after is what many have described as 'outside of the envelope' information: Who sends a message, where and how it is sent, and who receives it.

For example, while the email addresses of senders and recipients would be available to agencies, they would still need to obtain a court order for access to the contents of the emails.

A similar situation would apply in the case of mobile phone calls, with the callers' identities and locations available to agencies, along with the time of the call and its duration, but agents restricted from listening without authorisation from the courts.

The Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) on the west of Cheltenham: Spooks say swift access to communications data is critical to the fight against terrorism and other high-level crimes

Critics have said that in effect there is no way to reliably separate such communications data from the content of messages and calls, and that giving easy access to the former would also open the way to access of the latter.

Campaigners also challenged the government over how it could criticise totalitarian regimes overseas which may be using similar systems to crack down on dissent.

Spymaster: MI5 Director General Jonathan Evans said access to communications data is 'very important indeed' to UK security

Emma Carr, deputy director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: 'Using highly intrusive technology to monitor how people use the internet is not something that a civil society should be using on every citizen.

'The danger is that the whole communication, including content, is inspected and potentially stored, intruding on people's privacy in a dangerous and unprecedented way.

'This sends a highly dangerous signal to regimes around the world who are looking for justification to use similar equipment on their populations.

'The fact that at no point does the Government need court approval, either to install, use or look at data gathered is a major concern and if it is to be used as a last resort should only be done so on the highest judicial authority.'

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, which campaigns for freedom online, said the real threat was posed by the addition of what the report calls the 'filter' to the surveillance system.

He explained that this would work as a kind of search engine for everyone's private data, linking it together from the various online and telecoms accounts people use to communicate.

'The really worrying part of this is the "filter" the government wants to build,' he told MailOnline.

'This would put data from your mobile phone, email, web history and phones together, so the police can tell who your friends are, what your opinions are, where you've been and with who.

'It could make instant surveillance of everything you do possible at the click of a button.'

A key challenge for the government has been extracting that information from overseas service providers - companies based in Silicon Valley or elsewhere that might not feel obliged to comply with a British spy agency's request.

FOIL THE LISTENERS: HOW TO ENCRYPT YOUR COMMUNICATIONSWhile the government has insisted that it will not invade the privacy of citizens' communications without a court order, there are fears that installing deep packet inspection across the UK will nevertheless give them the capability.

Luckily, there is a range of software for both computers and mobile devices, much of it free, that can encrypt communications to keep it secure.

1) iSafeguard Freeware 6.2: This program will secure emails and files using strong encryption and syncs with most popular email clients.

2) HushMail: This web-based email service uses a Java applet to encode emails with 1024bit public key encryption.

3) GnuPG: This Linux-only application is an open-source replacement for PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). PGP was one of the first military-grade encryption products available to the general public.

It was in those cases, the committee's report said, that the surveillance devices would come in handy.

'It is important for the agencies that there is some means of accessing communications data from uncooperative overseas communications service providers,' the report said.

The report said the probes would work using 'deep packet inspection,' so-called because it allows those intercepting packets of data to comb through their content.

The services that might be targeted by the probes weren't identified, although Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, and Google Chat are all popular in Britain and were among the services named elsewhere in the report.

Britain's surveillance plans remain in draft form, and the report carried several critiques of the government's proposals.

But in general it rejected opponents' claims that the surveillance regime was unworkable or oppressive, warning that the pace of technological change would soon 'have a serious impact on the intelligence and security agencies' unless the new surveillance powers were introduced.

The report also appeared to reject suggestions that encryption might allow those trying to maintain the privacy of their communications to baffle government monitoring.

'We have heard that the government has (redacted) options in dealing with the challenge encryption poses,' the report said.

The next two paragraphs were completely blanked out.

Mr Killock of the Open Rights Group said it was unlikely that the government had the capability to crack advanced digital encryption.

BBC News - Bin Laden city Abbottabad to build amusement park

Link to Article

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 22:26

4 February 2013Last updated at16:38 ETThe Pakistani city where Osama Bin Laden was found and killed by US special forces is building an amusement park in the hope of boosting tourism.

The park has no link to the al-Qaeda leader, who was discovered living in a compound in Abbottabad in 2011.

Instead, it will boast a zoo, water sports, mini-golf, rock-climbing and a paragliding club, officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said.

The park will cost some $30m (£19m) and take five years to build, they said.

That cost could rise to $50m with further private investment.

"The amusement city will be built on 50 acres (20ha) in the first phase but later will be extended to 500 acres," Syed Aqil Shah, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's minister for tourism and sports told the AFP news agency.

The compound where Bin Laden lived in Abbottabad has now been demolished, and the new amusement park will not be built on the site.

Officials are reported to have earmarked the old compound for government housing units.

Instead the new venture will be located on the edge of Abbottabad, part of a major push to improve tourist facilities across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

"This project has nothing to do with Osama bin Laden," Mr Shah said, adding: "We are working to promote tourism and amusement facilities."

Raid remindersAbbottabad, situated in the Himalayan foothills some 120km (75 miles) north of Islamabad, was an anonymous military garrison town before it shot to international notoriety in 2011.

The US Navy Seal raid that saw Bin Laden killed caused an diplomatic row between the US and Pakistan, which was furious the US launched the raid without its permission.

The hunt for Bin Laden and the raid itself have recently been the focus of renewed attention with the release of the film Zero Dark Thirty, which the story of the long hunt for the 9/11 mastermind.

The film is being boycotted in Pakistan, although bootleg copies are freely available.

Vaccine$ and $uch

UK NHS REPORT

Mid Staffs report calls for sweeping changes to improve patient safety

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 13:19

Report into scandal makes 290 recommendations to ensure patients' interests become top priority for NHS

Stafford general hospital. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Hospital staff and managers should face prosecution if patients are harmed or killed as a result of poor care as part of sweeping changes to finally end the NHS's neglect of patient safety, the landmark report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal has recommended.

The report by Robert Francis QC, who chaired the 31-month public inquiry into the scandal, amounted to a damning indictment of NHS attitudes, practices and organisations.

Francis made no fewer than 290 recommendations, which he said were designed to ensure that patients' interests became the top priority for the NHS and that in future any lapses in care standards are detected and stopped right away, unlike at Stafford hospital.

Ministers will have to contemplate further changes to the NHS's system of regulation '' which Francis has found to be seriously wanting '' and monitoring of hospitals.

David Cameron, apologising on behalf of the government and country for the way the system had allowed "horrific abuse to go unchecked and unchallenged" for so long, said the report's evidence of systemic failure means "we cannot say with confidence that failings of care are limited to one hospital".

He confirmed a new post of chief inspector of hospitals would be created from the autumn and demanded that the General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council, the professional bodies policing doctors and nurses, explain why no one had been struck off for their part in the failings. He also said the Health and Safety Executive must say why there had been no prosecution.

An estimated 400-1,200 patients are believed to have died between January 2005 and March 2009 as a result of poor care at Stafford hospital in one of the biggest NHS scandals.

As the report was published, Francis delivered an excoriating verdict on conditions at Stafford and demanded a change of culture to put patients first from the top to bottom of the NHS, which, he said, had "betrayed the public".

He said: "This is a story of appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people. They were failed by a system which ignored the warning signs and put corporate self-interest and cost control ahead of patients and their safety.

"We need a patient-centred culture, no tolerance of non-compliance with fundamental standards, openness and transparency, candour to patients, strong cultural leadership, caring compassionate nursing, and useful and accurate information about services."

Francis said that while the hospital trust itself bore most of the responsibility for allowing "appalling suffering of many patients" to go unchecked between 2005 and 2009, multiple failures by a wide array of organisations and individuals across "the NHS system" allowed poor care to persist and meant opportunities to intervene were not taken.

Patients were left at risk at the hospital even after the then NHS regulator sounded the alarm about unusually high death rates there, he added. Checks and balances designed to protect patients did not prevent "serious systemic failure of this sort".

In a scathing assessment of the trust's board of directors, Francis accused it of "a serious failure" of its duties. "It did not listen sufficiently to its patients and staff or ensure the correction of deficiencies brought to the trust's attention. [It also] failed to tackle an insidious negative culture involving a tolerance of poor standards and a disengagement from management and leadership responsibilities," he said.

But he also cited the hospital A&E unit's need to treat 98% of patients arriving there within four hours to meet the government's key NHS targets, the trust's attempts to balance its books and its "seeking foundation trust status '... at the cost of delivering acceptable standards of care" as contributory factors.

Francis said in future the NHS should have a relentless focus on fundamental standards of care which, if breached should lead to serious sanctions.

"Any service or part of a service that does not consistently fulfil the relevant fundamental standards should not be permitted to continue," Francis said, in a move that could lead to the closure of hospital units arousing concern.

In addition, "non-compliance with a fundamental standard leading to death or serious harm of a patient should be capable of being prosecuted as a criminal offence, unless the provider or individual concerned can show that it as not reasonably practical to avoid this", he recommended.

Francis also recommended the creation of, in effect, one new super-regulator for the NHS to scrutinise both clinical and financial standards. Those tasks are currently performed separately by two watchdogs '' the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates care, and Monitor, which regulates semi-independent foundation trust hospitals and is due to become the NHS in England's overall financial regulator in April.

In a letter to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, accompanying his report, Francis said the causes of the NHS's failings at Mid Staffs included:

' A culture focused on doing the system's business '' not that of patients

' Too great a degree of tolerance of poor standards and of risk to patients

' An institutional culture which ascribed more weight to positive information about the service than to information capable of implying cause for concern

' A failure of communication between the many agencies to share their knowledge of concerns.

Action against Medical Accidents welcomed the recommendation to make it a statutory duty for NHS staff to own up to their mistakes, for which it has been campaigning strongly.

Its chief executive, Peter Walsh, said ministers must accept the recommendation, "which would represent the biggest advance in patient safety and patients' rights in the history of the NHS", he said.

Walsh added: "So far they have fiercely resisted this. The duty of candour, together with other recommendations to ensure full openness and transparency, represent a new dawn for the NHS. Organisations that sweep errors under the carpet do not learn lessons. An open and transparent NHS will be a safer NHS."

Clare Gerada of the Royal College of GPs said: "At a time when the NHS is under greater than ever financial pressure, it is imperative that the needs of patients are put first, and that cuts are not made which could jeopardise the safety of patient care."

Cathy Warwick of the Royal College of Midwives also welcomed the duty of candour suggestion. "We hear far too often from midwives who are genuinely petrified about raising the alarm bell over poor quality of care," she said. "They fear that senior managers will come down on them hard simply for raising concerns '... NHS staff must never again be afraid to raise concerns about standards of NHS care. Today must be a watershed for the NHS."

(C) Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Cameron apologises and vows to tackle NHS 'complacency'

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 13:18

PM announces fast-tracked reforms to increase accountability, including a new chief inspector of hospitals, in wake of Francis report

Stafford hospital, where up to 1,200 patients died as a result of poor care over the 50 months between January 2005 and March 2009. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The prime minister has formally apologised for the care scandal at the Mid Staffordshire NHS hospital trust and announced immediate moves to improve patient care, increase accountability of hospitals and tackle a culture of "complacency" in the NHS.

Among the fast-tracked reforms were proposals that hospital boards could be suspended for ongoing serious care failures; an element of performance-related pay for nurses would be introduced; a new chief inspector of hospitals modelled on the Ofsted inspection agency for schools; and an inquiry into hospitals with the highest mortality rates nationwide.

David Cameron made the statement in the House of Commons after Robert Francis QC published his report into the institutional and structural failings in the NHS that allowed a catalogue of horrific incidents to occur from 2005-2009, despite complaints from patients, families and staff members.

Cameron opened his statement by insisting he had a "deep affection" for the NHS and that most staff did a good job most of the time: "It's a fantastic institution, a great organisation '... I always want to think the best of it," he said.

Listing a series of findings about failures '' ranging from the board of the hospital trust through layers of bureaucracy to regulators and the Department of Health, including doctors who "kept their heads down" and the Royal College of Nursing, which Francis said was "ineffective" as a professional body and a trade union '' Cameron said the report identifed three "fundamental problems" with the culture of the NHS. They were: a focus on finance and figures rather than patient care; a view that patient care was "always someone else's problem"; and a tendency towards "defensiveness and complacency".

"All too often there's a culture of only examining the positives, rather than any critical analysis," said the prime minister. "Managers were suppressing inconvenient facts in favour of looking for comfort in positive information '... What this inquiry tells us was that there was a manifest failure to act on the data available to the hospital and more widely."

Cameron commended the previous government for apologising for the scandal when it was exposed, but said the latest report revealed that blame went far further than staff and managers at the hospital. "I'd like to go further and apologise to the families of all those who have suffered for the way that the system allowed this abuse to go unchecked and unchallenged for so long," he added. "On behalf of our government and indeed our country, I'm truly sorry."

The government would consider all the report's 290 recommendations, and make a further statement in March, said Cameron. However, he also announced immediate moves to tackle underlying problems.

Among those were proposals that hospital boards in future could be suspended for serious and ongoing care failures, not just for financial failure. The government has already extended the list of "zero harm" issues it wants to see eliminated totally from the NHS, including bed sores, which for too long had been seen as an "occupational hazard". In future, nurses would be hired for compassion and not just academic qualifications, and pay rises would be linked to quality of care not just the length of time served, said the prime minister.

Other recommendations for immediate action included a review of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Medical Council for doctors, with possible changes to their structures; the possible transfer of powers to launch criminal prosecutions for care scandals from the Health and Safety Executive to the Care Quality Council; and a new inspection regime, which would focus more closely on how clean, safe and caring hospitals were.

National reviews have also been ordered into the hospitals with the highest mortality rates, and how complaints are handled in the NHS, said Cameron.

Cameron's focus on quality of care, and his conciliatory tone towards the Labour administration of the time, will be seen as part of health secretary Jeremy Hunt's strategy to shift the debate on the NHS from last year's inflammatory reform of the health system structure, to less divisive issues such as care standards.

However, both sides will be aware that proposals such as performance-related pay and Labour's immediate backing for the report's call to benchmark staff numbers are likely to cause controversy as they emerge, something highlighted by Labour MPs using the debate to raise concerns about seriously understaffed hospitals.

In a notably consensual exchange, the Labour leader Ed Miliband also praised the vast majority of NHS staff, who he said "share our horror" at the "appalling betrayal" of events at Stafford hospital.

In addition to the PM's immediate action, he raised particular recommendations from the report for the government to consider acting upon, including benchmarks for staff numbers and skills in each NHS organisation, merging the care regulator the CQC and financial regulator Monitor into a single body, training and regulation of the small army of healthcare assistants who work in the NHS, and better integration of health and social care.

"We cannot turn the clock back and undo the damage that happened at Stafford," added Miliband. "But we owe it to those who suffered, to the people of Stafford and the country as a whole to work together to act on this report and stop a scandal like this happening elsewhere, and we on our side of the House will play our part in making them happen."

(C) Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Patinten creperen in ziekenhuizen - De Standaard

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 13:17

Tussen 400 en 1.200 patinten stierven tussen 2005 en 2009 door slechte behandeling in het ziekenhuis van Stafford, in Noord-Engeland. De sterfte was zo opvallend en de zorg zo ontoereikend, dat nabestaanden zich verenigden. Na een lange strijd konden ze een doorlichting afdwingen.

Dat rapport, uit 2010, bracht schrijnende toestanden aan het licht. Het ziekenhuis was zo onderbemand dat familieleden er zelf kwamen helpen om patinten te voeden en verschonen. Patinten die pijnstillers nodig hadden konden er uren om hulp roepen, sommigen werden wekenlang niet gewassen of lagen uren in hun eigen vuil in bed omdat er geen verpleegkundigen waren om hen te helpen naar de wc te gaan. Het gebrek aan respect voor de patint in dit ziekenhuis was volgens de onderzoekers 'schokkend'. Sommige patinten dronken het water uit vazen met bloemen op omdat ze zelf urenlang niets te drinken kregen. Ook werden er abnormaal veel verkeerde diagnoses gesteld.

Dat alles was al bekend, maar de verantwoordelijken van de National Health Service wasten hun handen in onschuld. Dit lag immers hoofdzakelijk aan de directie van het ziekenhuis, dat een semi-onafhankelijke status had afgedwongen '' nota bene door zeer sterk te besparen op personeel.

De publieke verontwaardiging was echter zo groot dat een grondiger officieel onderzoek werd bevolen, onder leiding van een ervaren topjurist. Deze Robert Francis heeft nu zijn rapport van drieduizend pagina's klaar. Volgens Francis is ook de hele controle op wanpraktijken binnen de National Health Service '' tot aan de minister van Volksgezondheid toe '' krakkemikkig.

Lat ligt laag

'Hoe zwaar ook de verantwoordelijkheid van de directie van het ziekenhuis, het vreselijke lijden van vele patinten kon voortduren door veelvuldige fouten van allerlei organisaties en individuen binnen het systeem.' Francis zegt dat er een cultuur heerst binnen de NHS 'die meer gericht is op het goed functioneren van het systeem dan het welzijn van de patint'. Over het algemeen is er 'een aanvaarding dat de lat qua zorgkwaliteit erg laag ligt, met alle risico's van dien voor de patint'.

290 aanbevelingen telt het rapport. Francis vindt onder meer dat ziekenhuisdirecties en artsen strafbaar moeten worden voor de dood van patinten, als ze niet kunnen aantonen dat ze hun werk behoorlijk gedaan hebben. Hij stelt ook belangrijke wijzigingen voor aan het controlesysteem.

Premier Cameron zelf reageerde gisteren in het parlement: hij verontschuldigde zich namens de natie tegenover patinten en familieleden voor 'de verwerpelijke catalogus aan fouten die in dat ziekenhuis werden vastgesteld'.

Moeilijker is wat er met het hele systeem '' toch een stukje Britse nationale trots '' moet gebeuren: door de aangekondigde besparingen zullen de ziekenhuizen het veeleer met nog minder handen aan het bed moeten doen.

Neurologist discovers 'dark patch' inside brains of killers and rapists | Mail Online

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 19:36

Scans reveal a patch at the front of the brain can be seen in people with records for criminal violenceGerman scientist who made the discovery classifies evil in three groupsBy Allan Hall In Berlin

PUBLISHED: 10:32 EST, 5 February 2013 | UPDATED: 18:29 EST, 5 February 2013

A German neurologist claims to have found the area of the brain where evil lurks in killers, rapists and robbers.

Bremen scientist Dr Gerhard Roth says the 'evil patch' lies in the brain's central lobe and shows up as a dark mass on X-rays.

He discovered it when investigating violent convicted offenders over the years for German government studies.

Dr Gerhard Roth demonstrates where the 'evil patch' can be identified in the brains of those inclined to violence

Scans studied by Dr Roth indicate that the patch he says is associated with wicked behaviour is found at the front of the brain

'We showed these people short films and measured their brain waves,' he said.

'Whenever there were brutal and squalid scenes the subjects showed no emotions. In the areas of the brain where we create compassion and sorrow, nothing happened.'

The dark mass at the front of the brain, he says, appears in all scans of people with records for criminal violence.

He says his researches have led him to believe that some criminals have a 'genetic predisposition' to violence.

He added: 'When you look at the brain scans of hardened criminals, there are almost always severe shortcomings in the lower forehead part of the brain.

'There are cases where someone becomes criminal as a result of a tumour or an injury in that area, and after an operation to remove the tumour, that person was completely normal again.

Dictators: Josef Stalin (left) and Adolf Hitler (right) belong to Dr Roth's third group - pure psychopaths

'Or there are physiological deficits, because certain substances such as serotonin in the forebrain are not working effectively.

'But this is definitely the region of the brain where evil is formed and where it lurks.

'Of course it is not automatic. The brain can compensate somewhat for violent tendencies and it is unclear how that works.

WHAT IS A PSYCHOPATH?Psychpathy is a personality disorder that has been variously characterised by shallow emotions (including reduced fear, a lack of empathy, and stress tolerance), coldheartedness, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity, criminality, antisocial behavior, a lack of remorse, and a parasitic lifestyle.

Terrorists are sometimes called psychopaths, and comparisons can be drawn with traits such as antisocial violence, a selfish worldview that precludes welfare for others, lack of remorse or guilt, and blaming external events.

While no psychiatric or psychological organisation has sanctioned a diagnosis of 'psychopathy' itself, assessments of psychopathy are widely used in criminal justice settings in some nations and may have important consequences for individuals.

'But when I will look at young people, and I see there are developmental disorders in the lower forehead brain, I can say that there is a felon in the making with 66 per cent probability.

'It is easy to spot this anti-social behaviour from very early on.'

Dr Roth said no two criminals are alike. He divides them into three groups for the purposes of his hunt for evil.

The first he classifies as 'psychologically healthy,' people who grow up in an environment where it is 'OK to beat, steal and murder'.

The second type is the mentally disturbed criminal who looks at his world as threatening.

'A wrong look, one false move, he can explode and become a killer,' he said.

The third group are pure psycopaths, a group in which tyrants such as Hitler and Stalin belong.

He said not all monsters are born and that many are made worse by their environments on their roads to evil.

He added: 'Experts detect a mental decline in some people that begins in the kindergarten. It is the task of society to offer widespread support to the children and their parents before they become criminals.'

Dr Roth is one of Germany's best-known brain specialists and has was at the forefront of calling for sentencing reforms a few years ago.

Catastrophic Health Insurance Plans - High Deductible Medical Plans

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 13:23

Catastrophic Health InsuranceCatastrophic health insurance plans are designed to provide an emergency safety net to protect you against unexpected medical costs.

Catastrophic plans are individual and family health insurance plans that emphasize coverage for hospitalization or serious illness. The word "catastrophic" is not always used in the name of the plan - they may also be referred to as hospital-only or short-term plans. Catastrophic plans may not provide coverage for other services such as prescription drugs, regular doctor's visits, immunizations or checkups.

Monthly premiums for catastrophic plans may be lower than those of other health insurance plans but annual deductibles are usually higher. That means you may have to pay for the first $2000-$5000 of medical expenses each year before the insurance company begins to pay for covered services.

If you're relatively healthy, young, or expect to have employer-based health insurance within 6-12 months, a catastrophic plan might be right for you. You'll want to be sure you can pay the deductible in case of emergency, but catastrophic coverage can still provide valuable financial protection in case of emergency.

Catastrophic health insurance plans:Limit your medical expenses in case of emergencyMay offer affordable monthly premiumsUsually have a high annual deductibleMay have higher out-of-pocket costs for covered servicesDon't always provide coverage for preventive careA catastrophic plan may be right for you if:You have no pre-existing medical conditionsYou're not on regular prescription drugsYou rarely see the doctorYou can't afford more robust coverageYou expect to have other coverage within 6-12 monthsYou only want coverage in case of emergency

Federal Register | Importer of Controlled Substances; Notice of Application; GE Healthcare

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:35

Pursuant to Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations 1301.34 (a), this is notice that on July 28, 2011, GE Healthcare, 3350 North Ridge Avenue, Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004-1412, made application by renewal to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for registration as an importer of Cocaine (9041), a basic class of controlled substance listed in schedule II.

The company plans to import small quantities of ioflupane, in the form of three separate analogues of Cocaine, to validate production and quality control systems, for a reference standard, and for producing material for a future investigational new drug (IND) submission.

Any bulk manufacturer who is presently, or is applying to be, registered with DEA to manufacture such basic class of controlled substance listed in schedule I or II, which fall under the authority of section 1002(a)(2)(B) of the Act 21 U.S.C. 952 (a)(2)(B) may, in the circumstances set forth in 21 U.S.C. 958(i), file comments or objections to the issuance of the proposed registration and may, at the same time, file a written request for a hearing on such application pursuant to 21 CFR 1301.43, and in such form as prescribed by 21 CFR 1316.47.

Any such written comments or objections should be addressed, in quintuplicate, to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control, Federal Register Representative (ODL), 8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, Virginia 22152; and must be filed no later than March 8, 2013.

This procedure is to be conducted simultaneously with, and independent of, the procedures described in 21 CFR 1301.34(b), (c), (d), (e), and (f). As noted in a previous notice published in the Federal Register on September 23, 1975, 40 FR 43745-46, all applicants for registration to import a basic class of any controlled substance in schedule I or II are, and will continue to be, required to demonstrate to the Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration, that the requirements for such registration pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 958(a); 21 U.S.C. 823(a); and 21 CFR 1301.34(b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) are satisfied.

Dated: January 31, 2013.

Joseph T. Rannazzisi,

Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration.

[FR Doc. 2013-02682 Filed 2-5-13; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4410-09-P

To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to incentivize the development of abuse-deterrent drugs. (H.R. 486) - GovTrack.us

Link to Article

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 15:19

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

EUROLand

Deur gaat dicht voor goudfraude

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 13:15

BRUSSEL - Kilo's goud alleen met contant geld aankopen zal niet meer kunnen. Zo wil de regering de toenemende fraude in de goudsector aan banden leggen.

Bijna 1,2 miljard euro aan verdachte transacties in de goudsector kreeg de antiwitwascel vorig jaar doorgeseind.

Dat is een record, waardoor het totaalbedrag van de opgespoorde witwasdossiers bij die Cel voor Financile Informatieverwerking (CFI) minstens vier keer hoger ligt dan in 2011.

Uit cijfers van minister van Financin Steven Vanackere (CD&V) blijkt namelijk dat de cel tussen januari en oktober vorig jaar 2,29 miljard euro frauduleus geld op het spoor kwam.

'Die stijging is vooral toe te schrijven aan de toenemende interesse van criminelen in goud', zegt CFI-topman Jean-Claude Delepi¬re aan De Standaard .

'De grote schaal waarop goud en andere edelmetalen in de onderwereld over de toonbank gaan, is op zijn minst verontrustend te noemen.'

Delepi¬re spreekt van een tiental zware fraudedossiers, die zich vooral situeren in het Brusselse en Antwerpse goudmilieu.

Gat in de wet

Vandaag bespreekt de ministerraad een gezamenlijk voorstel van minister van Justitie Annemie Turtelboom (Open VLD), Vanackere en staatssecretaris John Crombez (SP.A) dat het criminelen moeilijker moet maken om goud wit te wassen.

Door een gat in de wet is het tot op heden mogelijk om als (goud)handelaar aankopen volledig contant te betalen. Interessant wanneer zich een klant met dubieus goud aanbiedt, want overschrijvingen zijn op te sporen.

In de toekomst mag het aankoopbedrag van de handelaar hoogstens vijfduizend euro zijn. Zodra dat wordt overschreden, mag maximaal tien procent daarvan nog cash worden betaald. Anders gezegd: als u morgen voor zesduizend euro aan goud wilt verkopen aan een handelaar, zal u zeshonderd euro cash krijgen. De rest wordt in principe overgeschreven.

verdere berichtgeving.

Reynders: 'Belgi gaat voor Europa full option' - De Standaard

Link to Article

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 15:13

BRUSSEL - Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Didier Reynders heeft maandag op de diplomatieke dagen in Brussel de Belgische blik op Europa benadrukt.

Ons land heeft gekozen voor een ''full option Europa met alle rechten en plichten'' die daar bij horen, drukte hij de Belgische ambassadeurs op het hart. Reynders zette zo het verschil in de verf met meer eurosceptische EU-lidstaten als het Verenigd Koninkrijk.

''Wij kiezen voor het 'full option model''', zei Reynders op de jaarlijkse bijeenkomst van de Belgische ambassadeurs, consuls-generaal en permanente vertegenwoordigers wereldwijd. Voor het eerst tekenden ook enkele Europese collega-ministers present.

Reynders zei de aankondiging van de Britse premier David Cameron te ''respecteren'', maar waarschuwde dat een dergelijke ''ontrafeling'' van Europa ''ons voor een serieus probleem zou stellen''. Cameron kondigde enkele weken geleden aan Europese bevoegdheden naar Londen te willen terughalen, om nadien de Britse bevolking te laten kiezen al dan niet uit de Europese Unie te stappen.

Bank$ters

Standard & Poor's says it will face Justice Dept suit over subprime ratings - Feb. 4, 2013

Link to Article

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 15:08

Shares of S&P parent McGraw-Hill fell sharply on news of the looming suit.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

The ratings agency said in a statement that the Department of Justice "has informed the company that it intends to file a civil lawsuit against S&P focusing on its ratings in 2007 of certain U.S. collateralized debt obligations," investments based on pools of mortgages.

S&P called the potential lawsuit "entirely without factual or legal merit." The firm said that it "deeply regrets" the fact that its ratings "failed to fully anticipate the rapidly deteriorating conditions in the U.S. mortgage market," but that it relied on the same data as U.S. government officials and other analysts who failed to predict the housing bust.

News of the looming lawsuit was reported earlier by TheWall Street Journal. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice declined to comment.

S&P is a division of McGraw-Hill(MHP, Fortune 500), shares of which dropped sharply on the news, closing down 13.8%. Shares of fellow ratings agency Moody's(MCO) fell 10.7%.

A Moody's spokesman declined to comment. A spokesman for Fitch, the other of the big three ratings agencies, said the firm has "no reason to believe Fitch is a target of any such action."

Related: U.S. credit ratings test is yet to come

Analysts have long pointed to ratings agencies as key culprits in the financial crisis.

Wall Street firms and other investors rely on the agencies to analyze risk and give debt a "grade" that reflects the borrower's ability to pay the underlying loans. The safest investments are rated "AAA."

Some investors, including pension funds and insurance companies, operate under guidelines that require them to hold a certain percentage of highly rated securities in their portfolios.

In the years preceding the meltdown in 2008, large numbers of mortgage-backed securities received AAA ratings, only to fail as the housing market collapsed. Critics say that because the major ratings agencies are paid by banks and other issuers of securities rather than investors, they succumbed to a conflict of interest in giving their seals of approval to dubious investments.

"Credit rating agencies allowed Wall Street to impact their analysis, their independence and their reputation for reliability," U.S. Senator Carl Levin said in a 2010 hearing. "And they did it for the money."

A 2011 Senate report on the financial crisis said the agencies "weakened their standards as each competed to provide the most favorable rating to win business and greater market share."

First Published: February 4, 2013: 3:47 PM ET

Is your 401K about to be nationalized?

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 01:45

Mike Shortridge

WASHINGTON, February 3, 2013 'ð The $19.4 trillion sitting in personal retirement accounts like the 401K may be too tempting an apple for a government that is quite broke, both monetarily and morally. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray recently mentioned these accounts in a recent interview, stating ''That's one of the things we've been exploring and are interested in, in terms of whether and what authority we have.''

This agency, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank-Act, is very concerned about how safe your retirement savings are. They are apparently concerned that retiring baby boomers may become victims of financial scams.

If the government takes control of retirement accounts, it will not be called "nationalization." There will most likely be an indecipherable document that provides an opt-out option (initially), but why would you want to do that? The US government only wants to ensure the safety of your retirement funds; they did after all create a new bureaucracy for that specific purpose. And what could be a safer investment than US bonds?

China's premier Wen Jiabao recently made a very polite, but very pointed statement to the US concerning its continued policy of debt monetization (printing money to pay the bills).

''We have made a huge amount of loans to the United States. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I'm a little bit worried. I would like to call on the United States to honor its words, stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets.''

It is estimated that of the roughly $2 trillion China holds in currency reserves, about half is in U.S. Treasuries. While that may not seem significant, you would not want to know what would happen should they put even half of those treasuries on the open market. While that is certainly not expected, an escalation of Japan-China tensions in their ongoing (and worsening) argument over East and South China Sea islands, with the U.S. firmly behind Japan, means anything is possible.

Assuming that the island dispute does not turn into open warfare, there is still the matter of addressing the very serious concerns that China has voiced, and many other countries echo: We are devaluing our currency, which they are heavily invested in, at a rapid pace and with no indication of ever stopping.

This brings us back to that juicy apple hanging from the tree of our life's work. Nationalizing the personal retirement accounts would allow our government to borrow even more from its largest debtor (U.S. citizens) without further devaluing the currency. While this may seem far-fetched, as international pressure mounts to maintain the value of the dollar, you will hear more about this.

If at some date we find ourselves at a tipping point in international relations, it may very well come down to nationalizing our 401K's or going to war. Many Americans are choosing to take their penalties and withdraw their 401K funds while they still can.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

Art Cashin On Big VIX Bet - Business Insider

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 05:57

Sam Ro|Feb. 6, 2013, 9:37 AM|20,528| Stocks have been rallying relentlessly to post-crisis highs.Meanwhile, the volatility index (aka the VIX, aka the "fear index") is near historic lows.

But according to UBS's Art Cashin, some options trader has made an enormous $11.25 million bet that the VIX will explode higher very soon.

And a rally in the VIX is usually accompanied by a drop in the stock markets.

From this morning's Cashin's Comments(emphasis ours):

A Very Big Bet In A Somewhat Unlikely Instrument '' My friend, Jim Brown, the ever-alert consummate professional over at Option Investor pointed us to a rather unusual trade. Here's what he wrote in last night's edition of his valuable newsletter:

In past years I have reported on trades that were so large it appeared someone had inside knowledge of a pending event. Sometimes those were massive put positions on the S&P. A new trade just appeared that suggests there will be a market event in the near future. Last week somebody put on a call spread on the VIX using the April 20 and 25 puts. They bought 150,000 contracts for a net of $75 per contract. That is an $11,250,000 bet that the VIX will move over 20 over the next 60 days. You would have to be VERY confident in your outlook to risk $11 million on a directional position with the VIX at five year lows and the markets trying to break out to new highs.

Jim then goes on to list some of the scheduled events and deadlines visible over the next 60 days (mostly in Washington). When you add in the broad variety of geo-political possibilities, it's a decent reason to stay extra alert.

Hopefully, this person is wrong.

SEE ALSO: The Stupidest Reason To Sell Stocks >

EARon

Iran's new Ghaher-313 jet figher -- a mock-up model?

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 23:20

Posted: February 2, 2013| Author:iranmilitarynews|Filed under:Iran Air Force, Military Developments| Tags:Day Dawn Western Australia, Fighter aircraft, Ghaher-313, HESA Saeqeh, Iran, Iranian Revolution, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Press TV, Qaher-313|After weeks of building anticipation, Iran announced on Saturday that it had unveiled its new Ghaher-313 jet fighter.

Iran presented the Ghaher-313 to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as part of the country's Ten-Day Dawn ceremonies celebrating the 1979 Revolution.

However, it seems as if the plane is nothing more than a mock-up model of a design, judging from photos credited to Fars News.

Among other things, the displayed plane appears to have no engine exhaust pipe, and its landing gears are missing electrical hydraulic wiring.

Even if the fighter displayed is a mock-up, however '' which could be in order to avoid giving away precise details about the new design '' the fighter model displayed appeared to show a new ejection seat, which Iran earlier announced it was working on.

Here are some of the images posted earlier that give the impression the Ghaher-313 displayed is merely a small mock-up:

Press TV, aimed at a Western audience, emphasized that the new fighter was completely indigenous, a theme that Iran continues to stress when discussing its claims of military advances.

Ahmadinejad also stated that the fighter jet had been completely designed and manufactured by Iranian experts.

As with previous claims about Iran's earlier Saeqeh fighter, Press TV also claimed that the fighter is not based on the F-5 even though it appears similar, but that it is instead more like the F-18.

Iran's Sepah News, the IRGC's public relations site, cited Ahmadinejad as saying that the Ghaher-313 was ''among the most advanced fighters in the world''.

Ahmadinejad claimed to have spoken with the aircraft's pilot, whom he reported as saying that the fighter's flight performance is ''very satisfactory''.

The Aviationist offers more details of the fighter's design.

Mashregh News, close to Iran's security services, offers more images of the Ghaher-313:

The Fix Is In

Europol to unveil results of match fixing probe

Link to Article

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 14:30

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -The European police agency is unveiling results of a major investigation across the continent into match fixing in football, including what it is calling "top international games."

The presentation Monday at Europol's headquarters in The Hague will likely be one of the most comprehensive overviews yet of rigging games.

Europol says investigators from Germany, Finland, Hungary and Slovenia are presenting the results of probes into the murky world of fixing matches and the huge sums of money involved.

Football already has been rocked by several match-fixing cases, most notably in Germany and Italy.

Last month, FIFA security director Ralf Mutschke said more help is needed from national law enforcement agencies and that FIFA had asked Interpol to persuade its members to help protect the world's most popular sport.

Vijf Nederlanders betrokken bij matchfixing-schandaal

Link to Article

Source: VK: Home

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 14:28

Vijf Nederlanders betrokken bij matchfixing-schandaal14:01 De KNVB heeft uit het maandag gepresenteerde onderzoek van Europol naar matchfixing begrepen dat er vijf Nederlanders tot de verdachten behoren. 'Maar op welke wijze ze betrokken zijn is ons niet duidelijk', zegt Gijs de Jong, manager ...

Volkskrant.nl is wettelijk verplicht toestemming te vragen voor het gebruik van cookies en soortgelijke technieken en u te informeren over het gebruik daarvan op de site. Als u hiervoor toestemming geeft kunt u voortaan zonder deze melding Volkskrant.nl bezoeken.

Volkskrant.nl maakt gebruik van cookies en soortgelijke technieken om ervoor te zorgen dat u Volkskrant.nl optimaal kunt gebruiken, om statistieken en analyses te kunnen maken en om advertenties te kunnen tonen. Ook kunnen derde partijen cookies plaatsen via geøntegreerde functionaliteiten als Youtube en Buienradar.

Nee, ik geef geen toestemming.

Meer weten over cookies?

Power outage stops Super Bowl for 33 minutes

Link to Article

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 22:03

Power outage stops Super Bowl for 33 minutes Power outage stops Super Bowl for 33 minutes The Super Bowl was delayed because of a power outage Sunday, leading to a 33-minute delay in the biggest game of the year. When it happened, the Baltimore Ravens were leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6. (Feb. 3)

-->Posted!A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.

Sent!A link has been sent to your friend's email address.

The Super Bowl was delayed because of a power outage Sunday, leading to a 33-minute delay in the biggest game of the year. When it happened, the Baltimore Ravens were leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6. (Feb. 3)

{ "aws": "sports", "aws_id": "sports", "seotitletag": "Power outage stops Super Bowl for 33 minutes", "ssts": "sports", "contenttype":"videopage", "excludeTransitionAd":true, "noinitialanalytics":true, "templatename": "videos/asset" }

Super Bowl Blackout Wasn't Caused by Cyberattack - Bloomberg

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 00:38

Entergy Corp. (ETR) has ruled out a cyberattack as a cause of the blackout that interrupted the Super Bowl.

''After a thorough and extensive review of our equipment and operating systems, Entergy has ruled out the possibility of the power outage being caused by a cyber event,'' Michael Burns, a spokesman for New Orleans-based Entergy, said today in a telephone interview.

There was no Internet or remote computer access to the piece of equipment inside the stadium that sensed an abnormality in the electrical system and partially cut power to the Superdome, Burns said. The nine workers who were monitoring the so-called electrical switchgear equipment found no evidence of either a cyber or physical attack, Burns said.

Entergy, the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District and SMG, the New Orleans Superdome manager, will hire an independent third-party expert to probe the cause of the power failure, the companies and district said today in a joint statement.

About half of the lights at the facility, which held 71,024 fans for the last NFL game of the season, went dark early in the third quarter of what is historically the most-watched television program in the U.S. every year. The failure halted play for 34 minutes.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation had ''no intelligence to indicate the power outage was the result of a cyberattack or a threat of terrorism of any kind,'' Mary Beth Romig, a spokeswoman for the FBI's New Orleans Division, said in an e- mail statement.

The blackout doesn't fit the profile of an attack from a terrorist or nation-state, which probably would have been designed to cause widespread panic by shutting off all the lights, James Arlen, a utility security consultant at Leviathan Security Group, said in a telephone interview. If it was a cyber prank or activist hacker, they would ''probably want to do something far more interesting like flicking the lights on and off,'' Arlen said.

''There is a far greater chance that it was something like a rat fell and touched two conductors simultaneously and that was just enough to cause a blip in the power field,'' he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Chediak in San Francisco at mchediak@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is seen during a sudden power outage that lasted 34 minutes during the second half of Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Europol Investigation Shows Fixing Is Suspected in 680 Soccer Matches - NYTimes.com

Link to Article

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 22:33

Soccer is known throughout much of the world as the beautiful game. But the sport's ugliest side '-- the scourge of match-fixing '-- will not go away.

The Times's soccer blog has the world's game covered from all angles.

With next summer's World Cup in Brazil drawing closer, a European police intelligence agency said Monday that a 19-month investigation revealed widespread occurrences of match-fixing in recent years, with nearly 700 games globally deemed suspicious. The list of matches is staggering and encompasses about 380 games in Europe, covering World Cup and European championship qualifiers, as well as Champions League games, including one match played in England.

Officials of Europol, an agency that works with countries across the continent, offered details that strike at the sport's core: nearly $11 million in profits and nearly $3 million in bribes were discovered during the investigation, which uncovered ''match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before,'' said Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol.

Fixers typically seek to dictate a game's result by corrupting the players or the on-field officials, and officials said Monday that roughly 425 people were under suspicion because of the investigation, with 50 people having been arrested. The scope of the investigation covered games from 2008 to 2011.

An organized crime syndicate based in Asia is believed to be the driving force behind the fixing activity, which stretches across at least 15 countries, officials said. Individual bribes were, in some instances, upward of $136,000, and fixers would place bets on the tainted matches through bookmakers in Asia. Various matches in Africa, Asia and South and Central America were identified as suspicious, though the European element of the investigation is the most significant.

''This is a sad day for European football,'' Wainwright said at a news conference in the Netherlands, adding: ''It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results, which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe.''

But officials at the news conference repeatedly dodged questions from reporters on how many of the 680 matches cited were previously known and how many were newly discovered.

Nor would they identify any of the teams and individuals newly linked to match-fixing, citing the need to guard the confidentiality of police procedures.

Still, the breadth of the investigation was significant, and it inspired strong reactions from global fans. Even as the news conference continued, fans took to social media to speculate on which matches might have been fixed, with a particular fascination as to what English Champions League contest drew the investigators' scrutiny. Indeed, the notion that corruption has been identified in British soccer, home of the English Premier League, the world's most popular grouping, will reverberate globally.

''It would be naøve and complacent of those in the U.K. to think such a criminal conspiracy does not involve the English game and all the football in Europe,'' Wainwright said.

Europol and Interpol officials said an international arrest warrant had been issued for the ringleader of the Asian syndicate so that he can be extradited to Europe to face fraud and bribery charges.

Europol did not publicly identify the ringleader, but several knowledgeable law enforcement officials later said on condition of anonymity that it was a man based in Singapore known as Dan Tan. They said Tan had been implicated in match-fixing cases dating to 1999.

The conclusion of Europol's investigation comes after a slew of high-profile incidents. Last month FIFA, the sport's governing body, barred 41 players for fixing matches in South Korea; in December 2012 the president of the South African Football Association was suspended after FIFA determined that four exhibition matches before the 2010 World Cup had been fixed; and last summer a complex match-fixing network was discovered in Italy, rocking that country's high-profile professional leagues.

David Jolly contributed reporting from The Hague.

PedoBear

Zitting Dutroux onder grote belangstelling

Link to Article

Source: VK: Home

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 14:36

Zitting Dutroux onder grote belangstelling15:03 Onder enorme belangstelling van de media is maandagmiddag in Brussel een zitting begonnen over het verzoek van de beruchte kindermoordenaar en -verkrachter Marc Dutroux om onder voorwaarden onder elektronisch toezicht te worden vrijgelaten. De ...

Volkskrant.nl is wettelijk verplicht toestemming te vragen voor het gebruik van cookies en soortgelijke technieken en u te informeren over het gebruik daarvan op de site. Als u hiervoor toestemming geeft kunt u voortaan zonder deze melding Volkskrant.nl bezoeken.

Volkskrant.nl maakt gebruik van cookies en soortgelijke technieken om ervoor te zorgen dat u Volkskrant.nl optimaal kunt gebruiken, om statistieken en analyses te kunnen maken en om advertenties te kunnen tonen. Ook kunnen derde partijen cookies plaatsen via geøntegreerde functionaliteiten als Youtube en Buienradar.

Nee, ik geef geen toestemming.

Meer weten over cookies?

War on Water

US Breweries go to War against Fracking Industry.

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 23:09

US brewers have now taken up their case against fracking, worried that any potential contamination of ground water supplies would ruin their business. The process of brewing beer requires clean water, with many breweries being built at the sites they are specifically for the mineral composition of the water.

Simon Thorpe, the CEO of the Ommegang Brewery explained to NBC that ''it's all about the quality of the water. The technology surrounding fracking is still not fully developed. Accidents are happening. Places are getting polluted.'' His brewery was built in Cooperstown, NY, due to the ready access to fresh water, but ''if that water supply is threatened by pollution, it makes it very difficult for us to produce world-class beer here.''

Related article: Why the World May Never Experience a Shale Boom

Simon is worried as local landowners are trying to sell leases of their land to companies for the exploration and extraction of natural gas. Jennifer Huntington, a dairy farmer in the area assured that they are only offering such leases due to their confidence of the safe nature of fracking. ''We all love this area, none of us want to see it ruined,'' she said.

Purification equipment at the Ommegang Brewery can filter sediment from the water, and alter the pH levels, but it cannot remove some of the chemicals that could potentially enter the water table via fracking, such as benzene, methane, and possibly diesel. If any such chemicals do enter the water supply then the brewery will have to import its water from elsewhere, or close the brewery completely.

Brooklyn Brewery, also in the state of NY, is equally worried and asks for state authorities to protect their water supply.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

Colorado Dems Want Gunmakers Liable in Attacks

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:30

DENVER -- Surrounded by the survivors and the families of victims from three of the most horrific mass murders in U.S. history, Democrats on Tuesday unveiled their blue print for comprehensive gun-control legislation.

In addition to often talked about measures such as universal background checks for all gun purchases and limiting high-capacity magazines to 10 rounds of ammunition, a new bill was promised -- one that would make gun owners, sellers and manufacturers strictly liable for the death and destruction caused by military style assault rifles.

Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said his bill would ensure that in the future the manufacturers and sellers of assault weapons such as those used in Aurora and Sandy Hook will be held responsible for the events in civil court.

That liability will result in industry changes on how the weapons are manufactured and sold, he said.

"There's enough profit here that they can figure out how to get this accomplished," said Morse, former Fountain chief of police. "The classic case, if you will, of strict liability is transporting dynamite. You are strictly liable -- if something goes wrong it's up to you. Does that mean we don't transport dynamite? No, we've found ways to make sure nothing ever goes wrong."

Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, called Morse's proposal the most egregious of the extreme gun control policies presented Tuesday.

He likened it to holding a brewery, the distributor and the convenience store responsible for a drunken driving crash.

"There are real consequences to passing bills like these," Brophy said.

Morse said he is a week away from filing the actual language of his bill.

Other bills are closer to being ready.

Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, said she will introduce a bill that would limit high-capacity magazines to 10 rounds of ammunition -- a move that she said would save lives when attacks occur.

"High capacity magazines are designed for one thing, to kill large numbers of people as quickly as possible," Fields said. "They are weapons of war."

Brophy countered that limiting the magazines would do nothing to prevent their use, pointing out they are sold as standard issue with assault weapons and are prevalent on the streets.

And if they ban them, Brophy said, criminals will only make their own.

"Barring this is only going to keep law abiding citizens from having them, it wouldn't keep them out of the hands of criminals," he said.

Soldiers are given 30-bullet magazines, Fields said, while James Holmes used a 100-round magazine -- that reportedly jammed -- when he killed 12 people in an Aurora movie theater last summer.

Among those killed in the theater shooting was Jessica Watt's cousin Jonathan Blunk, a Navy veteran and father of two.

Watts, 28, detailed how gun violence has impacted her life, starting with her husband attending Columbine High School when the 1999 massacre occurred.

She said he wasn't hurt physically but they have dealt with the emotional scars of that event.

Then in 2006, a girl she babysat for, Emily Keyes, was killed in a hostage situation at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey.

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino called Watts' story "a sad commentary on the pervasiveness of gun violence in America."

Ferrandino said Democrats also will seek a mandatory background check for all gun sales including those that occur between private parties.

He said lawmakers also are drafting legislation to address mental health needs in Colorado, including funding for state programs and other needs.

--

Proposed Gun Laws

These eight laws were proposed Tuesday by Democrats in the House and Senate but have not been filed as legislation.

** Assault Weapons Liability -- would make manufacturers, sellers, owners or possessors of military assault firearms, strictly liable for any death or injury resulting from the weapon.

** Universal Background Checks -- would require background checks for all gun buyers, including those who purchase from individual sellers, and would enhance mental health sharing data between state and federal agencies.

** High-Capacity Magazine Ban -- A ban on the sale or ownership of any ammunition feeding devices capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

** Mental Health Support -- would direct mental health professionals to notify the Colorado Bureau of Investigation of individuals who are a danger to themselves or others so they could be put in a database and rendered unable to purchase a firearm.

** Domestic Violence Prohibition -- would prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence or currently under a protective order from possessing firearms.

** In-Person Training -- Prohibits training online for concealed carry permits.

** Background Check Fee -- establishes a $10 fee for anyone undergoing a background check from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to obtain a firearm.

** Campus Safety -- prohibits concealed carry on college campuses in Colorado.

(C) Copyright 2013 The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo.. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

War on Ammo

Assemblymembers Ting and Gomez Introduce Gun Liability Insurance Bill - Assemblymember Phil Ting Representing the 19th California Assembly District

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 19:26

DetailsCreated on Tuesday, February 05, 2013Second measure will provide tax credit for guns turned in to buyback programs

Sacramento, CA '' Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D '' San Francisco) and Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D '' Los Angeles) introduced legislation, AB 231,* today that will require gun owners to purchase liability insurance to cover the cost of damage that may be caused by the weapon.

''The government requires insurance as a condition of operating a car '' at the very least we should impose a similar requirement for owning a firearm,'' Ting said. ''The cost to society of destruction by guns is currently being born collectively by all of us, and not by those who, either through carelessness or malice, cause the destruction. It is time to change that equation so that those who cause the harm pay the costs.''

''Our goal is to make sure that those who own guns do so in the most responsible way possible. A liability insurance requirement will incentivize gun owners to take safety precautions '' such as using a trigger lock, keeping their guns locked when not in use, and participating in a training course '' in order to get a more affordable insurance policy,'' Gomez said.

A second measure authored by Ting, AB 232, was introduced today to provide a state income tax credit to persons who turn in a firearm to a local gun buyback program, pegged to the value of the weapon, up to a $1,000 cap.

''Gun buyback programs are an effective way to reduce the number of guns in circulation, and lower the risk of intentional or accidental damage by these weapons. We need to step up the financial incentives for voluntary buyback programs that have been successful so far, but will be even more effective if we provide the right incentives to motivate people to participate,'' Ting said.

Quick facts about gun-related destruction:

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the mean medical cost per gun injury was approximately $17,000 in 1994; roughly $1.1 billion was paid by Unites States taxpayers.From 2005 '' 2010, nearly 3,800 people in the US died from unintentional shootings. Eight percent of such deaths resulted from shots fired by children under the age of six.Most unintentional firearm deaths among children occur in or around the home; 50% at the home of the victim and 40% at the home of a friend or relative.The US General Accounting Office estimates that 31% of unintentional deaths caused by firearms could be prevented by the addition of a child-proof safety lock and loading indicator.More than one-half of firearm owners keep their firearms loaded and ready for use some of the time.Approximately 3.3 million children in the US live in households with firearms that are, at times, kept loaded and unlocked.For every time a household gun was used for self-defense, there were four unintentional shootings. Overall, guns kept in the home were 22 times more likely to be used in unintentional shootings, murder or assault, and suicide attempts than in an act of self-defense.*As proposed to be amended

Contact: Colleen Beamish (Ting), 916.319.2019John Scribner (Gomez), 916.319.2051

Calif. Law Would Force Gun Owners to Buy Insurance | NBC 7 San Diego

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 19:25

advertisement

Democratic lawmakers proposed legislation Tuesday that would require California gun owners to buy liability insurance to cover damages or injuries caused by their weapons. Similar bills have been introduced in other states after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. They include Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York.

"I was moved, like many others, being the father of two young children, by the Sandy Hook incident and looking for constructive ways to manage gun violence here in California as well as the rest of the country,'' said Assemblyman Philip Ting of San Francisco, who introduced AB231 along with Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez of Los Angeles. "There's basically a cost that is born by the taxpayers when accidents occur. ... I don't think that taxpayers should be footing those bills.'' Ting equated the idea to requiring vehicle owners to buy auto insurance. Gomez said it would encourage gun owners to take firearms safety classes and keep their guns locked up to get lower insurance rates.

No state has enacted the requirement despite repeated previous attempts, said Jon Griffin, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bills have been offered unsuccessfully in Massachusetts and New York since at least 2003, when the conference began keeping track, he said. Similar bills were proposed in Illinois in 2009 and in Pennsylvania last year. Lawmakers are introducing the bills this year in even more states after the recent shootings. Some proposals would require buyers to show proof of insurance before they could purchase a weapon. The proposal in California would apply to anyone owning a weapon, Ting said, though the bill's details are still being worked out. Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said most gun owners already act responsibly and can be sued for damages if they don't. He said the proposal is part of an ongoing attempt to "price gun owners out of existence,'' particularly the law-abiding poor who live in crime-ridden areas and need protection the most. Criminals would ignore the law, he said. Moreover, he questioned whether it is constitutional to require someone to buy insurance to exercise a constitutional right. "If they don't address it in committee, I'll guarantee they'll have to address it in court,'' Paredes said. Ting said he and Gomez plan to work with gun owners and opponents to craft a constitutional bill. It will not require insurance companies to offer gun insurance, but will encourage them to enter the market. He noted that the National Rifle Association itself already offers its members the chance to buy liability insurance, despite its opposition to requiring gun owners to buy such policies. Ting also introduced AB232, which would give a state income-tax credit of up to $1,000 to anyone who turns in a firearm to a local gun buyback program. The amount of the credit would be determined based on the value of the weapon.

More Stories:

Copyright Associated PressGet the latest headlines sent to your inbox!

Cyber War$

Broad Powers Seen for Obama in Cyberstrikes - NYTimes.com

Link to Article

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 00:50

By Ben Werschkul, Nikolia Apostolou, Channon Hodge, Erica Berenstein, Pedro Rafael Rosado, Kriston Lewis, Abe Sater and Robin Lindsay

Responding to a Digital Attack: The Times's David E. Sanger discusses a secret legal review concerning President Obama's powers in the face of a major cyberattack on the United States.

WASHINGTON '-- A secret legal review on the use of America's growing arsenal of cyberweapons has concluded that President Obama has the broad power to order a pre-emptive strike if the United States detects credible evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad, according to officials involved in the review.

That decision is among several reached in recent months as the administration moves, in the next few weeks, to approve the nation's first rules for how the military can defend, or retaliate, against a major cyberattack. New policies will also govern how the intelligence agencies can carry out searches of faraway computer networks for signs of potential attacks on the United States and, if the president approves, attack adversaries by injecting them with destructive code '-- even if there is no declared war.

The rules will be highly classified, just as those governing drone strikes have been closely held. John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser and his nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, played a central role in developing the administration's policies regarding both drones and cyberwarfare, the two newest and most politically sensitive weapons in the American arsenal.

Cyberweaponry is the newest and perhaps most complex arms race under way. The Pentagon has created a new Cyber Command, and computer network warfare is one of the few parts of the military budget that is expected to grow. Officials said that the new cyberpolicies had been guided by a decade of evolution in counterterrorism policy, particularly on the division of authority between the military and the intelligence agencies in deploying cyberweapons. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk on the record.

Under current rules, the military can openly carry out counterterrorism missions in nations where the United States operates under the rules of war, like Afghanistan. But the intelligence agencies have the authority to carry out clandestine drone strikes and commando raids in places like Pakistan and Yemen, which are not declared war zones. The results have provoked wide protests.

Mr. Obama is known to have approved the use of cyberweapons only once, early in his presidency, when he ordered an escalating series of cyberattacks against Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities. The operation was code-named Olympic Games, and while it began inside the Pentagon under President George W. Bush, it was quickly taken over by the National Security Agency, the largest of the intelligence agencies, under the president's authority to conduct covert action.

As the process of defining the rules of engagement began more than a year ago, one senior administration official emphasized that the United States had restrained its use of cyberweapons. ''There are levels of cyberwarfare that are far more aggressive than anything that has been used or recommended to be done,'' the official said.

The attacks on Iran illustrated that a nation's infrastructure can be destroyed without bombing it or sending in saboteurs.

While many potential targets are military, a country's power grids, financial systems and communications networks can also be crippled. Even more complex, nonstate actors, like terrorists or criminal groups, can mount attacks, and it is often difficult to tell who is responsible. Some critics have said the cyberthreat is being exaggerated by contractors and consultants who see billions in potential earnings.

One senior American official said that officials quickly determined that the cyberweapons were so powerful that '-- like nuclear weapons '-- they should be unleashed only on the direct orders of the commander in chief.

A possible exception would be in cases of narrowly targeted tactical strikes by the military, like turning off an air defense system during a conventional strike against an adversary.

''There are very, very few instances in cyberoperations in which the decision will be made at a level below the president,'' the official said. That means the administration has ruled out the use of ''automatic'' retaliation if a cyberattack on America's infrastructure is detected, even if the virus is traveling at network speeds.

While the rules have been in development for more than two years, they are coming out at a time of greatly increased cyberattacks on American companies and critical infrastructure. The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that an American power station, which it did not name, was crippled for weeks by cyberattacks. The New York Times reported last week that it had been struck, for more than four months, by a cyberattack emanating from China. The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have reported similar attacks on their systems.

''While this is all described in neutral terms '-- what are we going to do about cyberattacks '-- the underlying question is, 'What are we going to do about China?' '' said Richard Falkenrath, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. ''There's a lot of signaling going on between the two countries on this subject.''

International law allows any nation to defend itself from threats, and the United States has applied that concept to conduct pre-emptive attacks.

Pre-emption always has been a disputed legal concept. Most recently Mr. Bush made it a central justification for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, based on faulty intelligence about that country's weapons of mass destruction. Pre-emption in the context of cyberwar raises a potentially bigger quandary, because a country hit by a pre-emptive cyberstrike could easily claim that it was innocent, undermining the justification for the attack. ''It would be very hard to provide evidence to the world that you hit some deadly dangerous computer code,'' one senior official said.

The implications of pre-emption in cyberwar were specifically analyzed at length in writing the new rules. One major issue involved in the administration's review, according to one official involved, was defining ''what constitutes reasonable and proportionate force'' in halting or retaliating against a cyberattack.

During the attacks on Iran's facilities, which the United States never acknowledged, Mr. Obama insisted that cyberweapons be targeted narrowly, so that they did not affect hospitals or power supplies. Mr. Obama frequently voiced concerns that America's use of cyberweapons could be used by others as justification for attacks on the United States. The American effort was exposed when the cyberweapon leaked out of the Iranian enrichment center that was attacked, and the ''Stuxnet'' code replicated millions of times on the Internet.

Under the new guidelines, the Pentagon would not be involved in defending against ordinary cyberattacks on American companies or individuals, even though it has the largest array of cybertools. Domestically, that responsibility falls to the Department of Homeland Security, and investigations of cyberattacks or theft are carried out by the F.B.I.

But the military, barred from actions within the United States without a presidential order, would become involved in cases of a major cyberattack within the United States. To maintain ambiguity in an adversary's mind, officials have kept secret what that threshold would be; so far, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has only described the ''red line'' in the vaguest of terms '-- as a ''cyber 9/11.''

The Obama administration has urged stronger firewalls and other systems to provide a first line of defense, and then ''resiliency'' in the face of cyberattacks. It failed to get Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation that would have allowed the government to mandate standards.

Announcing We the People 2.0 and a White House Hackathon

Link to Article

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 21:44

Peter WelschFebruary 05, 201310:58 AM EST

Since we launched We the People, our team of developers has been hard at work on the code that makes the whole thing tick. Good thing, too! More than 2 million users joined We the People in the last two months of 2012 alone and some 6 million of you have logged in to the system and left more than 10 million signatures. That's a lot of citizen engagement for one application to handle, but it's done well, and we continue to release updates to the source code on GitHub and Drupal.org

Today, though, we're starting the next stage of We the People's development. I'm pleased to announce that Petitions 1.0, the code that We the People runs on, is complete. We're now working towards Petitions 2.0.

In software development, when you go from one version number to another it means that something big is going on. We're taking a new approach to how the application works, one that starts with the assumption that it should be as open, transparent, and flexible as possible.

As a result, Petitions 2.0 is based on an application programming interface, or API, that we will release to the public in the coming months. The first set of methods, Read API, will be released in March, 2013 and will allow anyone to retrieve data on petitions, signatures, and responses. Later, we'll release a second set of methods, Write API, that will allow other websites and apps to collect and submit signatures without directly sending users to WhiteHouse.gov. With this API in place we'll be able to decouple the presentation and data layers of the application and build a new, streamlined signature process. This also means that developers who reuse our code will be able to choose which database the application relies on. Between that and our continued work on a white label theme, Petitions 2.0 will be easier for others to contribute to and reuse.

But it all starts with the API'... and we'd like to give you a sneak peek.

We're inviting a small group to join us in Washington, DC on February 22, 2013 for the White House Open Data Day Hackathon. In the weeks before the event we'll give participants access to We the People's Read API methods so they can use them, ask questions, provide feedback, and build cool stuff. For the hackathon, participants will come to the White House to share their work, talk with the API developers, and submit examples to be included in a software development kit (SDK).

Want to take part? If you have the skills necessary to work with APIs and develop visualizations, tools, or other services that rely their data, we want to hear from you.

Click here to apply for the White House Open Data Day Hackathon.

If you are selected to attend, you will be notified no later than Friday, February 8, 2013. To learn more about Open Data Day or find other ways to take part, visit OpenDataDay.org.

USPS

Broke US Postal Service Cuts Saturday Delivery

Link to Article

Source: Zero Hedge

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:45

The completely bankrupt US Postal Service, employer of some 500,000 government workers, which for the past two quarters has been surviving on liquidity fumes even as it posted it biggest ever loss in Fiscal 2012, and which recently announced its latest stamp price hike (which bought it two extra weeks of time), has just disclosed what was long anticipated: the end of Saturday mail delivery - a crushing blow to shippers of junk mail everywhere.

From The AP:

The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service says it plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays, but continue delivering packages six days a week.

In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the cut, beginning in August, would mean a cost saving of about $2 billion annually.

The move accentuates one of the agency's strong points '-- package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010. The delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet use.

Considering the USPS loss last year was $16 billion, all the postal office needs to do to return to profitability is cut delivery on 7 more days in the week and all shall be fixed. Sadly, we are confident some government worker just read this and a lightbulb went over their head. And no: taxing Americans $0.45 per email sent will not be a popular measure.

Of course, the inevitable outcome is that the USPS itself will have to be bailed out. In the meantime, the USPS can spend what little money it does not have on TV ads on channels such as CNBC whose viewers are certainly unaware of the services provided by this most bloated of legacy government entities.

Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 3.7(3 votes)

Elite$

Report: Big Sis Considering Run For President In 2016'...

Link to Article

Source: Weasel Zippers

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 01:46

Just the thought of a ''President Janet Napolitano'' is enough to make you break out in cold sweats.

Via WaPo:

So, what happens if Hillary Clinton doesn't run in 2016?

It is hard to imagine the presidential field without a woman contender, and here's one to keep your eye on: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Napolitano is quietly making it known that she is considering the race, and there is reason to take her seriously.

Before coming to Washington, Napolitano was a highly regarded and very popular governor in Arizona, a state not known as a hospitable one for Democrats. In 2005, Time Magazine named her one of the nation's five best governors, noting: ''Positioning herself as a no-nonsense, pro-business centrist, she has worked outside party lines since coming to office in January 2003 to re-energize a state that, under her predecessors, was marked by recession and scandal.'' [...]

Still, Napolitano is a sharp and savvy politician, and her decision to remain in the Obama administration for a second term is a telling one. Immigration overhaul may well be an opportunity to put herself at the forefront of an issue''and a constituency''that represent the future of the Democratic party. Particularly if Clinton doesn't run, it's a decent bet that she will be on the debate stage in 2016.

Tunesia

Tunisia protests after government critic shot dead

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 18:30

Tunisia protests after government critic shot deadTop News

Tunisia protests after government critic shot dead

Wed, Feb 06 13:28 PM EST

By Tarek Amara

TUNIS (Reuters) - A fierce critic of the Tunisian government's dealings with radical Islamists was shot dead on Wednesday, sending protesters onto the streets two years after their Jasmine Revolution sparked revolt across the Arab world.

The headquarters of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, which rules in a fractious coalition with secularists, was set ablaze after Chokri Belaid, an outspoken, secular leader, was gunned down outside his home in the capital.

His party and others in the opposition parties said they would quit the assembly that is writing a new constitution and called a general strike for Thursday when Belaid will be buried.

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who said the identity of the attacker was not known, condemned his killing as a political assassination and a strike against the "Arab Spring" revolution. Ennahda denied any involvement.

As Belaid's body was taken by ambulance through Tunis from the hospital where he died, police fired teargas towards about 20,000 protesters at the Interior Ministry chanting for the fall of the government.

"This is a black day in the history of modern Tunisia ... Today we say to the Islamists, 'get out' ... enough is enough," said Souad, a 40-year-old teacher outside the ministry.

"Tunisia will sink in the blood if you stay in power."

Despite calls for calm from the president, who is not an Islamist, thousands also demonstrated in cities including Mahdia, Sousse, Monastir and Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the revolution, where police fired teargas and warning shots at protesters who set cars and a police station on fire.

While Belaid's nine-party Popular Front bloc has only three seats in the constituent assembly, the opposition jointly agreed to pull its 90 or so members out of the body, which is acting as parliament and writing the new post-revolution charter. Ennahda and its fellow ruling parties have some 120 seats.

The small North African state was the first Arab country to oust its leader and hold free elections as uprisings spread around the region in 2011, leading to the ousting of the rulers of Egypt, Yemen and Libya and to the civil war in Syria.

But as in Egypt, many who campaigned for freedom from repression under autocratic rulers and better prospects for their future now feel their revolutions have been hijacked by Islamists they accuse of clamping down on personal liberties, with no sign of new jobs or improvements in infrastructure.

Tunisia's new constitution will pave the way for new elections but will inevitably be a source of friction between secularists and Islamists, just as it was in Egypt, where the president adopted sweeping powers to force it through.

The ruling parties have agreed to hold the vote in June, but that date still needs approval by the assembly.

HARDSHIP

Since the uprising, the government has faced a string of protests over economic hardship and Tunisia's future path, with many complaining hardline Salafists were taking over the revolution in the former French colony once dominated by a secular elite under the autocratic rule of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Last year, Salafist groups prevented several concerts and plays from taking place in Tunisian cities, saying they violated Islamic principles. That worries the secular-minded among the 11 million Tunisians, who fear freedom of expression is in danger.

Salafists also ransacked the U.S. embassy in Tunis in September, during international protests over an Internet video mocking Islam.

The embassy issued a statement on Wednesday condemning Belaid's killing: "There is no justification for this heinous and cowardly act," it said. "Political violence has no place in the democratic transition in Tunisia."

The United States urged the Tunisian government to bring his killers to book.

Declining trade with the crisis-hit euro zone has left Tunisians struggling to achieve the better living standards many had hoped for following Ben Ali's departure. Any further signs of unrest could scare off tourists vital to an industry only just recovering from the revolution.

"More than 4,000 are protesting now, burning tires and throwing stones at the police," Mehdi Horchani, a Sidi Bouzid resident, told Reuters. "There is great anger."

Jobless graduate Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in December 2010 in the city, 300 km (180 miles) southwest of Tunis, after police confiscated his unlicensed fruit cart, triggering the "Jasmine Revolution" that forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia less than a month later, on January 14, 2011.

President Moncef Marzouki, who last month warned the tension between secularists and Islamists might lead to "civil war", canceled a visit to Egypt scheduled for Thursday and cut short a trip to France, where he addressed the European Parliament.

"There are political forces inside Tunisia that don't want this transition to succeed," Marzouki told journalists in Strasbourg.

"When one has a revolution, the counter revolution immediately sets in because those who lose power - it's not only Ben Ali and his family - are the hundreds of thousands of people with many interests who see themselves threatened by this revolution," he added.

Belaid, who died in hospital, said earlier this week that dozens of people close to the government had attacked a Popular Front group meeting in Kef, northern Tunisia, on Sunday.

A lawyer and human rights activist, the 48-year-old had been a constant critic of the government, accusing it of being a puppet of the rulers in the small but wealthy Gulf state of Qatar, which Tunisia denies.

"Chokri Belaid was killed today by four bullets to the head and chest," Ziad Lakhader, a Popular Front leader, told Reuters.

The Interior Ministry said he had been gunned down by a man who fled on a motorcycle with an accomplice.

DENIES INVOLVEMENT

Prime Minister Jebali, a member of Ennahda, said the killers wanted to "silence his voice".

"The murder of Belaid is a political assassination and the assassination of the Tunisian revolution," he said.

Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi denied any involvement by his party in the killing. "Is it possible that the ruling party could carry out this assassination when it would disrupt investment and tourism?" Ghannouchi told Reuters.

He blamed those seeking to derail Tunisia's democratic transition: "Tunisia today is in the biggest political stalemate since the revolution. We should be quiet and not fall into a spiral of violence. We need unity more than ever," he said.

He accused secular opponents of stirring up sentiment against his party following Belaid's death. "The result is burning and attacking the headquarters of our party in many areas," he said.

Witnesses said crowds had also attacked Ennahda offices in Sousse, Monastir, Mahdia and Sfax.

French President Francois Hollande said he was concerned by the rise of violence in Paris's former dominion, where the government says al Qaeda-linked militants linked to those in neighboring countries have been accumulating weapons with the aim of creating an Islamic state.

"This murder deprives Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices," Hollande's office said in a statement.

Riccardo Fabiani, Eurasia analyst on Tunisia, described it as a "major failure for Tunisian politics".

"The question is now what is Ennahda going to do and what are its allies going to do?" he said. "They could be forced to withdraw from the government which would lead to a major crisis in the transition."

Marzouki warned last month that the conflict between Islamists and secularists could lead to civil war and called for a national dialogue that included all political groupings.

Ennahda won 42 percent of seats in a parliamentary election in 2011 and formed a government in coalition with two secular parties, the Congress for the Republic, to which President Marzouki belongs, and Ettakatol.

Marzouki's party threatened on Sunday to withdraw from the government unless it dropped two Islamist ministers.

(Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris; Writing by Alison Williams; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

Tunisia protests after government critic shot deadTop News

Tunisia protests after government critic shot dead

Wed, Feb 06 13:28 PM EST

By Tarek Amara

TUNIS (Reuters) - A fierce critic of the Tunisian government's dealings with radical Islamists was shot dead on Wednesday, sending protesters onto the streets two years after their Jasmine Revolution sparked revolt across the Arab world.

The headquarters of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, which rules in a fractious coalition with secularists, was set ablaze after Chokri Belaid, an outspoken, secular leader, was gunned down outside his home in the capital.

His party and others in the opposition parties said they would quit the assembly that is writing a new constitution and called a general strike for Thursday when Belaid will be buried.

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who said the identity of the attacker was not known, condemned his killing as a political assassination and a strike against the "Arab Spring" revolution. Ennahda denied any involvement.

As Belaid's body was taken by ambulance through Tunis from the hospital where he died, police fired teargas towards about 20,000 protesters at the Interior Ministry chanting for the fall of the government.

"This is a black day in the history of modern Tunisia ... Today we say to the Islamists, 'get out' ... enough is enough," said Souad, a 40-year-old teacher outside the ministry.

"Tunisia will sink in the blood if you stay in power."

Despite calls for calm from the president, who is not an Islamist, thousands also demonstrated in cities including Mahdia, Sousse, Monastir and Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the revolution, where police fired teargas and warning shots at protesters who set cars and a police station on fire.

While Belaid's nine-party Popular Front bloc has only three seats in the constituent assembly, the opposition jointly agreed to pull its 90 or so members out of the body, which is acting as parliament and writing the new post-revolution charter. Ennahda and its fellow ruling parties have some 120 seats.

The small North African state was the first Arab country to oust its leader and hold free elections as uprisings spread around the region in 2011, leading to the ousting of the rulers of Egypt, Yemen and Libya and to the civil war in Syria.

But as in Egypt, many who campaigned for freedom from repression under autocratic rulers and better prospects for their future now feel their revolutions have been hijacked by Islamists they accuse of clamping down on personal liberties, with no sign of new jobs or improvements in infrastructure.

Tunisia's new constitution will pave the way for new elections but will inevitably be a source of friction between secularists and Islamists, just as it was in Egypt, where the president adopted sweeping powers to force it through.

The ruling parties have agreed to hold the vote in June, but that date still needs approval by the assembly.

HARDSHIP

Since the uprising, the government has faced a string of protests over economic hardship and Tunisia's future path, with many complaining hardline Salafists were taking over the revolution in the former French colony once dominated by a secular elite under the autocratic rule of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Last year, Salafist groups prevented several concerts and plays from taking place in Tunisian cities, saying they violated Islamic principles. That worries the secular-minded among the 11 million Tunisians, who fear freedom of expression is in danger.

Salafists also ransacked the U.S. embassy in Tunis in September, during international protests over an Internet video mocking Islam.

The embassy issued a statement on Wednesday condemning Belaid's killing: "There is no justification for this heinous and cowardly act," it said. "Political violence has no place in the democratic transition in Tunisia."

The United States urged the Tunisian government to bring his killers to book.

Declining trade with the crisis-hit euro zone has left Tunisians struggling to achieve the better living standards many had hoped for following Ben Ali's departure. Any further signs of unrest could scare off tourists vital to an industry only just recovering from the revolution.

"More than 4,000 are protesting now, burning tires and throwing stones at the police," Mehdi Horchani, a Sidi Bouzid resident, told Reuters. "There is great anger."

Jobless graduate Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in December 2010 in the city, 300 km (180 miles) southwest of Tunis, after police confiscated his unlicensed fruit cart, triggering the "Jasmine Revolution" that forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia less than a month later, on January 14, 2011.

President Moncef Marzouki, who last month warned the tension between secularists and Islamists might lead to "civil war", canceled a visit to Egypt scheduled for Thursday and cut short a trip to France, where he addressed the European Parliament.

"There are political forces inside Tunisia that don't want this transition to succeed," Marzouki told journalists in Strasbourg.

"When one has a revolution, the counter revolution immediately sets in because those who lose power - it's not only Ben Ali and his family - are the hundreds of thousands of people with many interests who see themselves threatened by this revolution," he added.

Belaid, who died in hospital, said earlier this week that dozens of people close to the government had attacked a Popular Front group meeting in Kef, northern Tunisia, on Sunday.

A lawyer and human rights activist, the 48-year-old had been a constant critic of the government, accusing it of being a puppet of the rulers in the small but wealthy Gulf state of Qatar, which Tunisia denies.

"Chokri Belaid was killed today by four bullets to the head and chest," Ziad Lakhader, a Popular Front leader, told Reuters.

The Interior Ministry said he had been gunned down by a man who fled on a motorcycle with an accomplice.

DENIES INVOLVEMENT

Prime Minister Jebali, a member of Ennahda, said the killers wanted to "silence his voice".

"The murder of Belaid is a political assassination and the assassination of the Tunisian revolution," he said.

Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi denied any involvement by his party in the killing. "Is it possible that the ruling party could carry out this assassination when it would disrupt investment and tourism?" Ghannouchi told Reuters.

He blamed those seeking to derail Tunisia's democratic transition: "Tunisia today is in the biggest political stalemate since the revolution. We should be quiet and not fall into a spiral of violence. We need unity more than ever," he said.

He accused secular opponents of stirring up sentiment against his party following Belaid's death. "The result is burning and attacking the headquarters of our party in many areas," he said.

Witnesses said crowds had also attacked Ennahda offices in Sousse, Monastir, Mahdia and Sfax.

French President Francois Hollande said he was concerned by the rise of violence in Paris's former dominion, where the government says al Qaeda-linked militants linked to those in neighboring countries have been accumulating weapons with the aim of creating an Islamic state.

"This murder deprives Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices," Hollande's office said in a statement.

Riccardo Fabiani, Eurasia analyst on Tunisia, described it as a "major failure for Tunisian politics".

"The question is now what is Ennahda going to do and what are its allies going to do?" he said. "They could be forced to withdraw from the government which would lead to a major crisis in the transition."

Marzouki warned last month that the conflict between Islamists and secularists could lead to civil war and called for a national dialogue that included all political groupings.

Ennahda won 42 percent of seats in a parliamentary election in 2011 and formed a government in coalition with two secular parties, the Congress for the Republic, to which President Marzouki belongs, and Ettakatol.

Marzouki's party threatened on Sunday to withdraw from the government unless it dropped two Islamist ministers.

(Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris; Writing by Alison Williams; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

Turkey

DutchNews.nl - Turkish paper claims Dutch link to American embassy attack

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 19:58

Turkish paper claims Dutch link to American embassy attackWednesday 06 February 2013

The suicide attack which killed a security guard outside the American embassy in Ankara last Friday was ordered by Turkish left-wing extremists in the Netherlands, Dutch media quote Turkish paper Bugun as saying.

The paper bases its claims on a Turkish intelligence report and says the Dutch intelligence service was told about the presence of extreme left-wing Turks in the Netherlands.

The attack was later claimed by an extreme left-wing group DHKP/C, or Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front. The group opposes Turkish membership of Nato and wants the withdrawal of Dutch Patriot missile systems which are currently stationed in Turkey.

According to Bugun, the group's leader, Mussa Assaoglu, is currently in the Netherlands. The group's former leader, Dursun Karatas, also lived in the Netherlands until he died of cancer in 2008. Several dozen sympathisers are still thought to live in the Netherlands, website nu.nl said.

On Monday, two members of the group told the NRC the attack in Ankara was 'justified'.

(C) DutchNews.nl

TV Guide

Senate Committee to Hear from CIA Director Nominee | C-SPAN

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 14:37

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and Acting Director of the CIA Michael Morrell met with Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee today on Capitol Hill. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke to reporters after the meeting, saying they are "significantly troubled" over responses to their questions regarding the explanation of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

More Info >>

Top Defense Chiefs to Testify on U.S. Consulate Attack in Libya | C-SPAN

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 14:37

Ted Widmer is the editor of ''Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy.'' The book contains two audio CDs with 75 minutes of recorded conversations from the oval office, cabinet meetings, telephone calls, and private dictations during Kennedy's presidency. Mr. Widmer describes how he was approached by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation to select and introduce and transcribe the recordings. He shares numerous clips throughout the program including a phone call from President Kennedy to Defense department advisors about the best way to board inbound Soviet ships during the Cuban missile crisis. We hear as President Kennedy calls Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman seeking advice. Widmer also chose to share the contentious discussions between Kennedy and then Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett as they dealt with the riots over the enrollment of James Meredith as the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi. Widmer also reveals a more light-hearted side to the President in several of the recordings. Widmer reflects upon his academic training at Harvard, as well as his experiences serving both President Bill Clinton, during his presidency, and Hillary Clinton, during her time as Secretary of State.

More Info >>

New Bills

To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require labeling of genetically engineered fish. (H.R. 584)

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 13:43

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

To amend the National Organ Transplant Act to prevent the sale of bone marrow and umbilical cord blood, and for other purposes. (H.R. 589)

Link to Article

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 13:42

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a reduced rate of excise tax on beer produced domestically by certain qualifying producers. (H.R. 494)

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:18

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for the taxation of marijuana, and for other purposes. (H.R. 501)

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:16

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

Out There

BrainWave Generator - Download

Link to Article

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 07:47

Contents:Main PageInformationTheoryFeaturesTestimonialsF.A.Q.NewsMailing ListDownloadPreset Library RegisterLinksAffiliates

Copyright 1998-2004 by Noromaa Solutions Oy.All rights reserved.

Download BrainWave Generator 3.1 by clicking the following link. Run the self-extracting archive and follow the instructions of the installation program.bwgen31.exe 1,207,296 02/22/2005 BrainWave Generator version 3.1.12BrainWave Generator is also available to download from Simtel.net.

You can also download extra background sounds for use with BrainWave Generator. You will need these sounds only if you are creating your own brain wave entrainment programs (presets). To install, run the self-extracting archive, select the folder where you installed BrainWave Generator, and click Unzip. After this, the new backgrounds should be visible in the Background box in the Preset Options dialog of BrainWave Generator.

bgextra.exe 574,464 07/01/2002 Extra background sounds

7.83 Hz Sounds 'Õ SPARKY's Blog

Link to Article

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 07:44

The Schumann Resonance is 7.83 cycles per second (7.83 Hz).

Named after Winfried Otto Schumann, the Schumann Resonance is said to be the frequency of the Earth's vibration. This puts the Schumann Resonance in the ELF (extremely low frequency) range of the Earth's total electromagnetic spectrum.

The Schumann Resonance is also associated with 13.8 Hz, 19.7 Hz, 25.7 Hz, 31.7 Hz, 39 Hz, and 45 Hz. The exact frequency also varies over time. On top of that, there's evidence that the Earth's average frequencies are drifting over time too.

At 7.83 Hz, the Schumann Resonance lies within the alpha brain wave range. Therefore, listening to a binaural beats at the Schumann Resonace tends to increase alpha brain wave patterns.

For example, Nada Brahma Schumann Resonance is a binaural beat I made with a 7.83Hz difference between the L and R channels. Both start at 136.1 Hz (C#) but drift apart.140.02 '' 132.19 = 7.83L channel: 136.1 fading to 132.19 HzR channel: 136.1 fading to 140.02 Hz

The Schumann Resonances are quasi standing wave electromagnetic waves that exist in this cavity. Like waves on a spring, they are not present all the time, but have to be 'excited' to be observed. They are not caused by anything internal to the Earth, its crust or its core. They seem to be related to electrical activity in the atmosphere, particularly during times of intense lightning activity. They occur at several frequencies between 6 and 50 cycles per second; specifically 7.8, 14, 20, 26, 33, 39 and 45 Hertz, with a daily variation of about +/- 0.5 Hertz. So long as the properties of Earth's electromagnetic cavity remains about the same, these frequencies remain the same. Presumably there is some change due to the solar sunspot cycle as the Earth's ionosphere changes in response to the 11-year cycle of solar activity. Schumann resonances are most easily seen between 2000 and 2200 UT. (source:NASA)

Schumann frequency and its effects on the bodyThe way the earth's pulsating frequency operates can now be explained in detail. Applying the earth's frequency to the human body has been shown in double blind studies and in practical application to have definite positive results with many disorders. The success of therapy with 7.83 Hertz pulsating magnetic fields very clearly demonstrates the importance of this frequency.

The human brain in a healthy state has also been shown to oscillate at 7.83 Hertz. Consequently our brains are in a natural state of resonance with the earth. The loss of this characteristic would result in not insignificant limitations to our vitality and health.

In just the same way the natural oscillations of water can be disrupted or superimposed by artificially generated frequencies. In addition the information-bearing structures can be destroyed on the long journey through the pipes. If this is the case, water can no longer fulfil its regulatory role in the body properly. The Schumann frequency is all the more important here.

Free Download : The Nada Brahma Schumann Resonance (MP3)

Brain Wave Generator

VIDEO

VIDEO-Children Allegedly Engaged In Sex Acts With Each Other At Carson Preschool CBS Los Angeles

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 23:31

CARSON (CBSLA.com) '-- At least six parents have sued a Carson preschool following revelations that their children were allegedly involved in sexual acts with each other on school grounds.

Attorney Greg Owen filed the lawsuit Tuesday against First Lutheran Church of Carson School on behalf of the parents, who claim staff members failed to supervise the students and allowed them to engage in the inappropriate behavior.

Richard McCarthy said his 5-year-old son was molested in an unlocked bathroom in Oct. 2012.

''A teacher opened the door and saw this girl performing oral sex on my son,'' he said.

The sexual misconduct reportedly occurred multiple times in the bathroom, on the playground and during naptime.

Owen said the girl who allegedly had contact with McCarthy's son was molested by another child last year and school officials didn't do anything about it.

The attorney said that girl's family is also part of the suit against the preschool.

PAGE 2

VIDEO-Attorney General Eric Holder on National Security - C-SPAN Video Library

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 22:54

Northwestern University

Attorney General Eric Holder explained the Obama administration's legal justification for killing an American-born al-Qaida operative in Yemen.'­In his speech he said the decision to kill a U.S. citizen living abroad .. Read MoreAttorney General Eric Holder explained the Obama administration's legal justification for killing an American-born al-Qaida operative in Yemen.'­In his speech he said the decision to kill a U.S. citizen living abroad who poses a terrorist threat is legal and sometimes necessary in the war on terror.

40 minutes | 3,381 Views

7 Year Old SUSPENDED For Throwing FAKE Grenade

VIDEO-Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 2/5/13 | The White House

Link to Article

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 00:44

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

February 05, 2013

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:24 P.M. EST

MR. CARNEY: Thanks for being here. I was hoping to skip the briefing today, but apparently I'm here to take your questions.

Julie.

Q Thank you. How can the government determine that an American citizen is an imminent threat to the U.S. or U.S. interests without having any kind of specific evidence that that person is planning an immediate -- an attack in the immediate future?

MR. CARNEY: Well, the question, obviously, that you ask relates to some stories out today regarding a document prepared -- an unclassified document prepared for some members of Congress -- and understandable questions. And I can just say that this President takes his responsibilities very seriously, and first and foremost, that's his responsibility, to protect the United States and American citizens. He also takes his responsibility in conducting the war against al Qaeda as authorized by Congress in a way that is fully consistent with our Constitution and all the applicable laws.

We have acknowledged, the United States, that sometimes we use remotely piloted aircraft to conduct targeted strikes against specific al Qaeda terrorists in order to prevent attacks on the United States and to save American lives. We conduct those strikes because they are necessary to mitigate ongoing actual threats, to stop plots, prevent future attacks, and, again, save American lives. These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise. The U.S. government takes great care in deciding to pursue an al Qaeda terrorist, to ensure precision and to avoid loss of innocent life.

As you know, in spite of these stories -- or prior to these stories, this administration, through numerous senior administration officials, including Deputy National Security and Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan, State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh, and former Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson -- have spoken publicly and at length about the U.S. commitment to conducting counterterrorism operations in accordance with all applicable domestic and international law, including the laws of war.

In March 2012, the Attorney General gave a speech at Northwestern University Law School in which he outlined the legal framework that would apply if it was necessary to take a strike against one of the "small number of U.S. citizens who have decided to commit violent acts against their own country from abroad." The Attorney General made clear that in taking such a strike, the government must take into account all relevant constitutional considerations, but that under generations-old legal principles and Supreme Court decisions, U.S. citizenship alone does not make a leader of an enemy force immune from being targeted.

Q But how can the government decide that there's an imminent threat if there's no evidence that an attack is happening in the immediate future?

MR. CARNEY: As you know, Congress authorized in an authorization of the use of military force all necessary military force to be used in our fight against al Qaeda. And certainly under that authority, the President acts in the United States' interest to protect the United States and its citizens from al Qaeda.

The nature of the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates is certainly different from the kinds of conflicts that have involved nations against nations. But this has been discussed amply, again, in the effort that we have made through our senior administration officials to explain the process that we use, by the officials I named -- by John Brennan in a speech, and he addressed this very issue about ''imminent.''

I would point you to the now-released -- it was not meant for public release, but it's not classified -- the now-released white paper, which goes into some detail on that very issue.

Q Should the American people be comfortable with the administration's definition of "imminent" if it also means that there is no specific evidence to back that up?

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I think that what you have in general with al Qaeda senior leadership is a continuing process of plotting against the United States and American citizens, plotting attacks against the United States and American citizens. I think that's fairly irrefutable.

What you also have is the authorization for the use of military force by Congress. You also have a President who is very mindful of the very questions that you are asking and is, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, taking all the necessary steps to ensure that he fulfills his constitutional obligation to protect the United States and its citizens, and does so in a way that comports with our Constitution and with our laws.

Q Did he sign off on this memo and any classified documents to back it up?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I certainly have no information on any classified documents. I don't know the specific process by which this memo was generated.

Yes, Reuters.

Q Jay, the President's remarks today -- what sort of package is he talking -- how big a package is he talking about? What's the mix between spending cuts and revenue? Is he going to offer his own package?

MR. CARNEY: I think you heard from the President a couple of things. First that he has sought continually with leaders in Congress to achieve broad deficit reduction that would reach the target of $4 trillion over 10 years that would help put our economy on a fiscally sustainable path. He continues to seek achievement of that goal.

We have come a long way, or a significant way, towards achievement of that goal -- over $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction through the combined actions that this President has signed into law -- the spending cuts and revenues as well as saving through interest that we've achieved thus far.

The deal that he put forward to Speaker Boehner in December, which, unfortunately, the Speaker walked away from, remains on the table. The President made that clear. We are in a situation now where if Congress is not able to or willing to act immediately on this bigger deal -- which would eliminate the sequester entirely as well as achieve all those other important objectives like $4 trillion in deficit reduction, like continued investment in our economy to make sure it continues to create jobs and grow -- we need to not engage in a process where Washington is inflicting a wound on the economy unnecessarily. And that's what would happen if the so-called sequester were to be allowed to kick in on March 1st.

Because we have relatively little time between now and March 1st, the President believes that we ought to -- Congress ought to take action to buy down the sequester in a balanced way -- which we actually just did in December so we know what the model looks like to achieve it. And he would work with -- we would work with Congress on the composition of that package.

But the point is, as the President said, leaders in the Senate and the House have committed themselves to a standard budget process, a budget process that we hope would result in -- and produce a package that achieves the kind of further balanced deficit reduction the President talked about, that allows the economy, which is poised to grow and create jobs in 2013, to do just that.

So we should not, while that process is underway, essentially blow it up by permitting the sequester to take effect, the result of which would be hundreds of thousands of people potentially losing jobs and a direct hit to the American economy at a time that we shouldn't be letting Washington do such a thing.

Q Republicans were talking about closing tax loopholes in lieu of a tax increase on the wealthy. But you got the tax increase on the wealthy. Why would they be in any position to support tax -- closing these loopholes now?

MR. CARNEY: I've heard some folks speaking about this very issue on the Republican side, in search for I think better messaging on the same set of proposals. The problem is the proposals. It's not the communication strategy. And here's why. If it was desirable and achievable last year to raise up to $800 billion in revenue by cutting, eliminating loopholes in our tax code that benefit the wealthiest Americans and corporations, by capping deductions that benefit the wealthiest individuals, it can't possibly be the case now that that policy is good policy and that we should instead reduce our deficit further solely by asking the same people that Republican leaders now are insisting they care most about to bear the burden of deficit reduction alone. It can't be.

If $800 billion in deficit reduction were achievable through tax reform, raising revenues through tax reform, because those loopholes needed to be closed and because those deductions needed to be capped, because, in our view, hedge fund managers should not be paying at a significantly lower rate than bus drivers or clerical assistants or store managers, that has to be the -- if that was true then, it's got to be true now.

And what we need to do is continue to cut spending in a responsible way, eliminate or change programs that can and should be eliminated or changed, but also raise revenue through tax reform by doing the very things that, again, outside groups have said we should and must do -- Simpson-Bowles Commission and others -- doing the things that have been identified by the President, by Democrats and Republicans, including the Speaker of the House just a couple of months ago.

Dan.

Q Thank you, Jay. Just to follow on drones. So is there a checklist then that will more narrowly define what "imminent threat" is? Is there a checklist that will be followed?

MR. CARNEY: I would point you to a speech by John Brennan where he talked about this issue. And again, I want to say from the outset, these are important questions and the President takes them very seriously, just as he takes his responsibility to defend the United States and its citizens very seriously.

Mr. Brennan gave a speech in which he talked about this issue of imminent threat. I think I just talked in general terms about the nature of the conflict we have with the terrorists who have set as their goal the killing of Americans and attacks on the United States. And this President and those who work for him are very mindful of the need to fulfill our responsibility to protect the United States and its citizens, and to do so in a way that is consistent with the Constitution and consistent with the laws that apply. And that is certainly something of great importance to the President.

Q So the White House doesn't believe that this is vague in any way?

MR. CARNEY: Again, I would point you to the paper that we've been talking about that generated the stories today, that as a general -- in a general statement of principles on matters related to this, explains some of the legal reasoning that undergirds it.

There's no question that in the conflict that we have been engaged in with al Qaeda, that as many more sophisticated observers than I have noted, we have significant challenges because of the nature of the attacks, how they're planned, who plans them. But there is no question that senior operational leaders of al Qaeda are continually planning to attack the United States, to attack American citizens.

Under the authorization of Congress in the war against al Qaeda, the authorization to use military force, it is entirely appropriate for the United States to target senior operational leaders of al Qaeda.

Q Jay, on gun violence --

Q Jay, not to --

MR. CARNEY: I'm sorry, I'm taking questions here, thanks. And I'll call on others as Dan finishes.

Q Thanks. On gun violence, how committed is the President to pushing for the assault weapons ban? And is this something that he wants to see happen initially or happen later? I mean, it almost seems like this is being separated from some of the -- background checks and some of the other things that the President is pushing for.

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think there's obviously active discussion and debate on Capitol Hill about all the measures that the President put forward in his comprehensive package of common-sense solutions to reduce gun violence, and that includes the need to institute universal background checks. It includes the need to confirm an ATF director for the first time. It includes the need to do something about limiting high-capacity ammunition clips and to reinstate an updated assault weapons ban.

The President supports all these measures. He made that clear again yesterday in Minneapolis. He has long supported the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, and looks forward to Congress having a vote and taking action on that issue. So there's not -- the package the President put together entirely enjoys his support and he will push for all of it.

He has said, when asked and in his remarks about this effort, that he understands that these are hard things to achieve. If they weren't hard, they surely would have been achieved already. But it is imperative that we commit ourselves to getting this done, to working with Congress, to working with organizations and groups and individuals around the country to raise awareness of the need to act, to raise voices in support of the need to act. And that's why the President traveled yesterday on this issue and while he'll continue -- he and the Vice President and others -- will continue to make the case both here in Washington and around the country.

Jon.

Q The President strongly opposed the enhanced interrogation techniques --

Q -- senators are calling for the release of those papers --

MR. CARNEY: I think I called on Jon.

Q Are you going to release those papers that --

MR. CARNEY: I think I called on Jon. Go ahead.

Q The President obviously strongly opposed the enhanced interrogation techniques, so-called, from the Bush administration. He ended them. How is dropping -- how does dropping a bomb on an American citizen without any judicial review, any trial, not raise the very human rights questions, or more human rights questions than something like waterboarding?

MR. CARNEY: Jon, again, as I said, the questions around this issue are important and the President takes them seriously. He takes his responsibility as Commander-in-Chief to protect the United States and its citizens very seriously. He takes the absolute necessity to conduct our war against al Qaeda and its affiliates in a way that's consistent with the Constitution and our laws very seriously.

It is a matter of fact that Congress authorized the use of military force against al Qaeda. It is a matter of fact that al Qaeda is in a state of war against us and that senior leaders, operational leaders of al Qaeda are continually plotting to attack the United States, plotting to kill American citizens as they did most horrifically on September 11, 2001.

So again I would point you to the speeches that have been given by senior administration officials to the document that we've been discussing here, where the reasoning is laid out, and simply make the point that the President understands the gravity of these issues. That is why he is committed to taking very seriously his responsibilities in this and committed to the kind of process that you've seen in an effort to communicate publicly about it, elaborated by senior administration officials on numerous occasions.

Q But let's be clear. This is giving a legal justification for killing American citizens without any trial whatsoever, without any evidence.

MR. CARNEY: Again, I would point you to the ample judicial precedent for the idea that someone who takes up arms against the United States in a war against the United States is an enemy, and therefore could be targeted accordingly. That's I think established in a number of cases, and I'm not even a lawyer and I'm aware of that.

So having said that, the issues here are important and the President recognizes that. And that's why he takes these responsibilities so seriously. That's why he has authorized various senior administration officials to discuss publicly these issues the way that they have, and why I believe that process will continue.

Q What do you say to the ACLU that calls this a profoundly disturbing document because it gives broad power without checks, without balances?

MR. CARNEY: Again, I would point you to the legal reasoning behind what we are talking about here, and recognize that these are weighty matters that are all about the balancing of imperatives here, the need to defend the United States, defend American citizens against senior al Qaeda officials and affiliated actors who are engaged continually in an effort to attack the United States and American citizens.

So, again, you won't get a debate with me about whether these are significant matters that merit discussion. But I think you've seen in the way that this President has approached them the seriousness with which he takes all of his responsibilities on this.

Q Well, what about -- just one more -- what about the drone strike that killed the 16-year-old son of Awlaki. Does he meet that definition of a senior operational leader as outlined in the white paper?

MR. CARNEY: Well, Jon, I'm not going to talk about individual operations that may or may not have occurred. What I can talk to you about is the general principle that had been discussed by senior administration officials, the acknowledgement that we've made about actions taken in countries like Yemen and Somalia, and the overriding fact that senior operational leaders of al Qaeda have, without question, engaged in plots against the United States and engaged in plots designed to kill Americans, often many, many Americans.

And that's a reality that a Commander-in-Chief has to confront as part of his constitutional responsibility. And therefore, it is, this President believes, important that we address it in a way that acknowledges those constitutional responsibilities and the responsibility to carry out our war against al Qaeda in a way that is consistent with our values and our laws and our Constitution.

Q What about some kind of review? I mean, you're taking away a U.S. citizen's due process. And nobody is questioning particularly this President's good intentions, but you're establishing a precedent which will last beyond this administration. You're pointing to various legal decisions to back it up, but doesn't it deserve a broader debate and a broader court hearing?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I don't know about a specific suggestion like that. I can tell you that the administration has -- and I think this is demonstrated by the public comments of senior administration officials on this matter -- reviewed these issues -- I think that's demonstrated by the so-called white paper that was published today -- and is continually reviewing these matters. How that process moves forward from here I'm not going to speculate. But, again, going back to what I've said before, we understand that these are weighty matters, that these are serious issues, and they deserve the kind of considered approach that this President has taken to them.

Q Shouldn't it be considered beyond the executive branch, is what I'm asking.

MR. CARNEY: Well, I'm not going to speculate about how these issues or matters might be considered in the future. What I can tell you is that, internally, they have been reviewed and considered with great care and deliberation.

Q On the sequester, is the President asking Congress to do exactly what he suggested to the Speaker last fall?

MR. CARNEY: Well, first of all, I want to congratulate those who have taken the bait in a communications effort -- you know that you've lost the argument when you start relying on a complete misinterpretation of a quote that everybody knows is wrong as the basis of an argument, which is, the President, when he said that, was talking -- you're talking about vetoing -- would never -- "I would veto this?"

Q No. I'm just asking if -- (laughter) --

MR. CARNEY: Tell me then what you're talking about. (Laughter.) Because I think that's what you are talking --

Q Apparently it's the answer you wanted to give, but it's not the question. (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY: Let's see what you're talking about, Bill, because I have my suspicions.

Q All right. The President and the Speaker discussed how to do this last fall. Is that what the President is asking?

MR. CARNEY: Discuss how to do what?

Q Discuss how to reduce spending.

MR. CARNEY: If you're asking me is the President's plan from -- you mean last December?

Q Yes.

MR. CARNEY: Okay. Absolutely. He made very clear here that the President believes that -- and encourages the Speaker of the House and Republican leaders in Congress to take up the remaining portions of the proposal that he put before the Speaker that the Speaker walked away from.

Q So that's what he wants?

MR. CARNEY: Well, you were sitting right here. You heard the President talk about how he would be delighted if Congress were to act on that right away. Because there are only a few weeks before the sequester kicks in, he also doesn't want -- if it's not possible for Congress to do that, he doesn't want to have the sequester kick in right at a time when leaders in Congress are committed, from both parties, to a budget process that will obviously extend beyond March 1st, and which will hopefully produce a budget that achieves the kind of balanced deficit reduction that this President supports, that Democrats and Republicans and independents support, that bipartisan commissions support.

So his point today was the big deal, if you will, remains what he seeks. We have an imminent deadline when it comes to the sequester kicking in, and we certainly oppose suggestions by some that as a political tool we should allow the sequester to kick in; that for political advantage, it would be okay to have tens and thousands or hundreds of thousands of Americans lose their jobs because of these across-the-board indiscriminate cuts in defense and nondefense spending. We shouldn't do that, because we should not inflict harm on the economy right when it's in a position to grow and create jobs.

So we should act responsibly in a balanced way to buy down the deficit, just as we did as part of the fiscal cliff deal -- the sort of unremarked-upon part of the fiscal cliff deal at the end of the year to allow Congress the time and space necessary to move forward with this budget process, which the President hopes, as a part of a return to sort of normalcy, if you will, and the way that we deal with these matters, will produce something that represents balance and the principles that he has espoused for so long.

Q One more. Israeli television says the President will visit there on March 20.

MR. CARNEY: That's a statement. Do you have a question?

Q Yes. (Laughter.) Will he?

MR. CARNEY: When the President spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu on January 28th, they discussed a visit by the President to Israel in the spring. The start of the President's second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including of course Iran and Syria. Additional details about the trip, including the dates of travel, will be released at a later time.

Q Jay, following on the sequester, what I wonder is if you could flesh out for us, though, what specifically the President is calling for. We remember what was on the table in December. Some of that was acted on, some of it wasn't. But, for example, I seem to remember the President saying something like he'd be willing to do $350 billion in Medicare cuts -- because you were referring back to his previous budget. In this case, you only need about $85 billion to shut off the sequester. So my question is --

MR. CARNEY: You need far more than that. The sequester is $1.2 trillion.

Q I think for the short-term, though.

MR. CARNEY: Right, so the President --

Q And the President is talking about $85 billion in the short term.

MR. CARNEY: So I just want to be clear, and that is that the deal the President offered Speaker Boehner, which many of you reported on, that represented meeting Republicans at least halfway when it came to revenues as well as spending cuts, that represented some very tough choices on entitlement reforms, remains on the table in its entirety.

Q But please spell that out.

MR. CARNEY: Well, it's been spelled out. I'm happy to give you more details.

Q Unchained CPI, Social Security -- what's on the table?

MR. CARNEY: Everything that was in that plan is available today to the Republicans, including the additional $600 billion in revenue that was part of the President's proposal. And that revenue could be achieved through tax reform. And that means eliminating -- closing loopholes that give tax advantages to the wealthy and to corporations that average Americans and average businesses don't have. They give the ability of hedge fund managers and others who enjoy the benefit of paying tax on their income through the carried interest rule that allows them to pay a much lower percentage of tax on their income than, say, most average Americans. So that should be closed.

So there's the subsidies to oil and gas companies. There's the subsidies to corporate jet owners. These are the kinds of things that can account for -- there's the cap on deductions, limiting it to 28 percent. These are proposals that are, on paper, part of the President's plan.

And if we were to move forward and try to achieve all of the remaining deficit reduction that would hit that $4 trillion target, that would far exceed what's necessary to eliminate the sequester and it would put us -- because included in the President's package are targeted measures to invest in our economy and help it grow and create jobs -- that would put us on a fiscally sustainable path and allow us to grow more and create jobs faster.

Q Thank you for answering that. And a follow would be then, that $600 billion you referred to, mostly you referred to deductions and capping things --

MR. CARNEY: Tax reform.

Q Tax reform. So are you closing the door on new tax rate increases as part of this? Is it just deductions?

MR. CARNEY: The President was asked this on Sunday. I think it was much discussed at the end of the year when we were doing the fiscal cliff negotiations. The President sought and achieved a return to the Clinton-era rates, a top marginal rate of 39.6 percent for top earners, for millionaires and billionaires. In the deal that was reached with Congress on the fiscal cliff, that set the threshold at $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families. That's a significant accomplishment that helps achieve the revenue that has contributed to the deficit reduction that we talked about, the $2.5 trillion.

Q But he wanted $250,000.

MR. CARNEY: There's no question that that was part of the deal that was reached in the fiscal cliff. Going forward, we can -- if you're telling me, if you're announcing to me that Republicans want to revisit tax rates, that would be an interesting --

Q Do you want to?

MR. CARNEY: I think the President answered this question very clearly. Are you telling me you didn't watch the Super Bowl? But the President answered this question. I think we answered it frequently at the end of the year. The point is there is still revenue that must be achieved as part of a balanced package through tax reform.

And that's a principle not only that the President has articulated, it's a principle that Speaker Boehner articulated at the end of the year. And as I was saying earlier, it can't possibly be that the reforms to our tax code that were good and desirable then are somehow not worth doing now, that we shouldn't close those loopholes that allow corporations and wealthy individuals to take advantage of the tax code in a way that average folks can't.

We need to reform our tax code in a way that makes it fairer and better, and that allows us to raise some additional revenue combined with spending cuts that achieve the kind of deficit reduction we need.

Q So last thing -- when he was talking about the March 1st deadline and the reason why we need a short-term solution is that Congress may not get a budget done by March 1st, a broader budget, so you've got to deal with the sequester separately. You've got the March 1 deadline on that. Why didn't he meet the deadline for submitting his own budget then? And when will we see --

MR. CARNEY: Part of what the President has talked about just in recent days is that we need to get beyond this situation where we are governing, especially with regards to our fiscal and economic matters, in a state of constant crisis, under a cloud of crisis. And as you saw with the nail-biting negotiations over the fiscal cliff, with the machinations over whether or not we would entertain default, that's what we've been doing. And that has certainly distracted from the process of producing --

Q So why not submit a budget and calm the markets and say, here's the plan?

MR. CARNEY: I think I'm answering your question -- that because of these things, we are delayed in producing a budget. But, Ed, let's be clear. The President produced a budget that achieves the kind of balanced deficit reduction that everyone has called for, that the American people support. Republicans produced a budget in the House that contains no balance and asked -- if it were ever to become law, even though it's not supported by the American people -- that would have asked seniors and other Americans to bear the burden solely of deficit reduction while eliminating Medicare as we know it. Not a great idea.

The President, again, in his negotiations with the Speaker of the House put forward a broad $4 trillion deficit reduction package that remains available -- the parts that haven't been acted on -- to the Speaker right now.

So when it comes to specific plans -- again, we had this debate at the end of the year -- the specificity attached to the President's proposal to Speaker Boehner is considerable compared to what we saw in return. Specificity is there. It remains available to be acted on.

What the President was announcing today is, given that we have this imminent deadline, given the unfortunate reluctance of the Speaker and others to act on that proposal at least right now, we should not allow the sequester to kick in and threaten the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Americans and deliver a blow to the economy right when we can't afford it.

Kristen.

Q Jay, thanks. A group of bipartisan senators, 11 of them wrote a letter to the President asking him to release all of the Justice Department memos relating to the subject of a suspected al Qaeda leader who might be a U.S. citizen as well. Will President Obama release those memos?

MR. CARNEY: I just have nothing for you on alleged memos regarding potentially classified matters.

Q So you can't tell us whether you're going to release --

MR. CARNEY: Again, I just don't have anything for you on that.

Q Can you address the broader question of transparency? The President has obviously talked a lot about the importance of transparency, and here you have a document being leaked, senators calling for more information. Is this transparency?

MR. CARNEY: Well, what I would say is that, as I've been saying, with regards to this matter and the issues around it, the President has made clear, as reflected in the statements by and speeches by senior administration officials, that we need to inform the public and explain to the public and to you the process that we're undertaking and the reasoning behind it. And the white paper that was provided to some members of Congress -- it is unclassified, it's been released -- is part of that process. And since it is out there, you should read it. I think it's a click away.

Q It was leaked.

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, it was an unclassified document provided to, as I understand it, members of Congress with a particular oversight responsibility on these issues.

The fact is -- and I encourage you to go back to look the speeches by the Attorney General, by John Brennan, remarks by Jeh Johnson and by Harold Koh on these matters, and I think they provide a pretty voluminous accounting of matters that are treated here with great deliberation and seriousness.

Q I want to just shift to immigration quickly, Jay. After the President's meeting this morning with progressive and labor leaders, some of them came out of the meeting and said that they want -- they don't want to see a path to citizenship be contingent on border security. Is that a line in the sand that the President is willing to draw as well?

MR. CARNEY: I think the President has addressed this. What we -- and I have. When it comes to border security, the President's record is extremely strong. And as we've said, the goals that were set out by Senator McCain and others that needed to be -- that they believe needed to be met in terms of border security in order to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, while we do not agree that we needed to do it first before we move forward -- the President thought we should have passed comprehensive immigration reform when he was senator, he thought we should have passed it in 2010 -- the fact of the matter is close to all of those goals, if not all of those goals, have been met because of the President's commitment to enhanced border security.

And I won't go through it again because I think I've provided a substantial amount of numerical evidence to that. Senator McCain himself has said in recent days that there's been enormous strides made when it comes to border security. So that's a fact. And the President's -- among the President's four principles in moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform is that we have to continue to take steps to enhance our border security.

I'm not going to prejudge and he's not going to prejudge what the Senate comes up with in this bipartisan effort to produce comprehensive immigration reform. What is clear is that the President's commitment to border security has been amply demonstrated and is backed up by hard, cold facts.

It is also true that he remains, as part of the comprehensive immigration reform process, committed to increasing our border security further. But when we talk about comprehensive immigration reform, we're talking about a whole package that moves as a whole. And that includes a clear path to citizenship for people who are affected here. So those are the President's principles. I'm not going to rule in or out things in legislation that doesn't yet exist.

Julianna.

Q Thanks. On the sequester, the package that the President is talking about to temporarily delay it, does that need to meet the definition of balance?

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

Q Could that be spending cuts alone?

MR. CARNEY: Balance.

Q Because he was talking of spending cuts and tax reform, but tax reform is a --

MR. CARNEY: Tax reform that generates revenue.

Q -- tall order in the next month.

MR. CARNEY: Well, when we talk about -- going to Ed's question -- about the size of a temporary buy-down, there are certainly means available to achieve balance. That includes cuts and revenue that would not be that complicated. So we would look forward -- the principle of balance applies in all things when this -- as far as the President is concerned when we approach reducing our deficit because it can't be the right way to go in December and not the right way to go in February or March.

Q And that's a priority over letting the sequester go into effect?

MR. CARNEY: Well, the President doesn't believe that we should ask our seniors, or families who have children with disabilities, or folks who are trying to send their kids to school, that they should bear the burden of deficit reduction alone. So a proposal that says we'll solve this problem temporarily or for the long term, either way, just by asking those folks to bear the burden is not one the President would support.

Q And on John Brennan's confirmation hearing -- does the White House believe that they're going to be smooth sailing? Or do you expect to see the same sort of resistance as Senator Hagel?

MR. CARNEY: Well, let me start with Senator Hagel. I think that we've seen since his hearing an increase in the number of senators who have come out publicly to say that they will vote to confirm him. We've seen Senator McCain say, I believe yesterday, that he would oppose what would be essentially an unprecedented attempt to filibuster that nomination, and that is certainly appreciated. So we see momentum behind Senator Hagel's nomination. The President believes that he will be confirmed, and looks forward to having him serve as Secretary of Defense.

When it comes to John Brennan, that process obviously has not started, as far as hearings go. But, again, the President selected John Brennan because he knows from his experience working with him here in the White House that he would be an excellent director of Central Intelligence, and we believe that he will be confirmed.

Q Does the President believe that there are any areas that should be off limits in the confirmation hearings, such as unauthorized -- renditions?

MR. CARNEY: Well, setting aside what -- from the President here, I think that everyone involved in public hearings understands that the discussion of classified issues -- I'm not saying that issue can't be discussed, but classified matters is not a -- discussing classified matters in public hearings, generally not an appropriate thing to do or a legal thing to do.

But I'm sure that there will be -- the Senate will fulfill its responsibility here. This is a process that's important, and the President believes that Mr. Brennan will answer the senators' questions ably and that he will be confirmed.

Yes. Welcome.

Q Thank you. Two quick things. On Israel, the Jerusalem Post is apparently reporting he's also going to go to the West Bank, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Without obviously giving us dates and things, can you at least confirm the nature of the other countries he's going to be visiting?

MR. CARNEY: I can tell you that that report is, at least in part, incorrect. The President will --

Q We got one country wrong? (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY: -- also travel -- well, I mean, but that shouldn't be the standard, right, get it half right?

Q So Israel is right?

Q Any more?

MR. CARNEY: Were you not here? I confirmed a question earlier that the President will --

Q Not March?

MR. CARNEY: I'm not confirming dates here. We'll have more information about dates later. The President will also travel to the West Bank and Jordan to continue his close work with Palestinian Authority officials and Jordanian officials on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest.

So there's going to be a little correction on that report I guess.

Q And then one other thing on the transparency question involving the white paper and the memo. Seeing as how you've cited repeatedly today the extent to which administration officials have gone out and talked about the principles, and now you're have a 15-page white paper that kind of lays out the legal arguments, what is the administration's argument against releasing some form of the actual memos, perhaps -- if nothing else, a redacted form that -- since you already have now released both in written and verbal form much of the arguments that undergird them?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think the discussions that you've seen in public, including in the white paper, have to do with general principles that are applied on this important matter. Without going into the alleged existence of any particular memo or action, I can say that what we cannot do is discuss classified operations. It would compromise what tend to be called sources and methods, and would do harm to our national security interests.

The fact of the matter is that the white paper that we've discussed was provided -- was developed and produced in an unclassified manner precisely so that those general principles could be spelled out and elaborated -- and I would refer you to Justice as well on this. But that's precisely why a document like that would be produced.

Q But you will release the white paper? You've pointed us to it several times.

MR. CARNEY: I think it's out there. It's online.

Q From you? From you?

MR. CARNEY: No, no -- I think it was a news organization that Kristen works for has put it out online.

Q You've repeatedly pointed to it, referred to it.

MR. CARNEY: I'm just saying that that document was produced by the administration, provided not for public release but provided to senators who have jurisdiction on these issues last year and for the very purposes of consideration that we've been discussing here. And the reason why I can talk about it openly and refer you to it is because it is an unclassified document.

Q But we request that you put it out, Jay.

MR. CARNEY: Put what out?

Q The white paper you've referred to dozens of times.

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I'll take the question. I'm sure the Justice Department can also take this question. It is out there online.

Q Not the same thing. It's not.

MR. CARNEY: I take your point.

Ari.

Q You said that U.S. citizenship alone does not make a leader of an enemy force immune from being targeted. Talk about U.S. citizenship plus residency. Why does the U.S. believe it's legal to kill Americans abroad but not to kill Americans at home without judicial process?

MR. CARNEY: Again, I would point you to the ample material here both in spoken presentations by senior administration officials as well as the much discussed white paper. I'm not a lawyer and these are the kinds of things that are probably best expressed and explained by lawyers. My understanding, for what it's worth --

Q How would that --

MR. CARNEY: Thank you for your interruption. But there are issues here about, again, that have been discussed and are out there about feasibility of capture that I think are pertinent to that very question.

Q So it's not --

MR. CARNEY: Again, I'm not a lawyer -- and maybe you are. I bet you are --

Q I'm not. (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY: But you'd make a very good one. (Laughter.) So I can't -- it's not appropriate for me --

Q But it sounds like you're saying there's no constitutional distinction; it's just that capture is feasible in the U.S. and it may not be feasible abroad.

MR. CARNEY: Again, I would look at the reasoning that underpins what we've been talking about here, again, available in the presentations made by senior administration officials that got far less attention than this story at the time -- even collectively less attention and fewer questions, even though they were public speeches given, in some cases, before journalists. And it talked about just these issues -- and also the document that we've been discussing, which is available.

Q But doesn't it stand to reason that if imminence is one of the major tests, a plot in the United States conducted by a terrorist leader in the United States would be more imminent than something abroad?

MR. CARNEY: Yes, I think I've addressed this in terms of the general reasoning here and I would point you to the sources that I've just talked about.

Q Jay, on immigration, the President met with labor leaders this morning and has business CEOs coming in later today. And I'm wondering to the extent he thinks a deal might be possible between both sides in the debate on a temporary worker program. I mean, does he think that's realistic? Is he trying to help make that happen?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think we've discussed this before or I've been asked about it before. The President will obviously look forward to working with Congress, the Senate, as it produces legislation -- and the House, if it produces legislation on this matter, and will consider as part of the comprehensive deal efforts to address that question. I don't have any disposition in particular to provide to you about it. We're looking to Congress to deliberate on that issue.

Yes. Tara, how are you?

Q Fine, thanks. On the sequester, when you agreed to the two-month extension as part of the fiscal cliff deal, sort of the rationalization for the short-term nature of that was to give Congress and the White House time to come up with a solution. You're now asking for another short-term extension. Was there anything, any attempt in the last couple weeks to come up with a solution if you made a determination that would not happen by March 1st? And to speak to your point, you said here that the government can't run on a short-term extension and the President has said that. Now that you're asking for the second short-term extension or fix, how are the two -- the action and the statements consistent?

MR. CARNEY: Well, there's no question, as the President made clear when he came out here, that the preferred course of action is to resolve this by accepting what the President put forward, which is a compromise solution that achieves the big deal, the $4 trillion total in deficit reduction, in a balanced way, that would allow our economy to grow and to continue to create jobs, but would also, by reducing our deficits significantly, put us on a fiscally sustainable path.

It would do it in a way that would protect seniors and middle-class families, and not ask them to bear the sole burden of the need to reduce our deficit. It would do it in a way that asks folks to play by the same rules, that says we should close loopholes in our tax code that allow wealthy individuals or corporations to enjoy tax benefits that average folks and average businesses don't enjoy.

So it remains and has been the President's preferred course. What he has also said is -- as recently as 40 minutes ago -- that if Congress won't act on the bigger deal or can't in the time before the sequester is scheduled to kick in, we need to take action, Congress needs to take action to make sure the sequester doesn't kick in.

Because far from being a useful political tool in someone's back pocket, the sequester, if allowed to kick in, threatens the livelihoods of tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of Americans. It would do harm to middle-class families around the country. And there's no reason to allow it to take effect when we can agree, as we did in December, or January 1st, to buy down the sequester for a period of time to give Congress the time and space to do what it has now, in the interim, agreed to do, which is pursue a budget process that the President hopes will result in further balanced deficit reduction along the lines that he's proposed.

Q But were there any serious attempts to do it in this two-month --

MR. CARNEY: Well, there was certainly a hope that in the wake of what you all wrote was -- well, I won't go there -- but in the wake of the fiscal cliff deal that produced the result that it did, that there might be a greater willingness in the near term to embrace the kind of reasonable compromise the President put forward; that, again, numerically, factually, represented the President coming halfway towards Republicans, the President making some very tough decisions and leading the Democrats on those issues when it comes to entitlement reforms and spending cuts; and that maybe there would be a willingness to grab hold of that opportunity, perhaps to achieve the significant deficit reduction in a bipartisan way, claim victory for everyone here in that effort, and then move on to other issues.

That hasn't happened yet. However, the Congress has decided to move forward with a budget process that has the potential of allowing the kind of action to take place here when it comes to these matters that removes the constant state of crisis, removes the cloud of crisis that we've had over our head for so long. And the President is encouraged by that. So we should buy down the sequester so that we don't create chaos in our economy right as we're trying to do something bigger and better.

Q Jay, is the release of the memo a threat to national security?

MR. CARNEY: I'm sorry?

Q Is the release of this memo a threat to national security?

MR. CARNEY: Which memo?

Q The drone -- switching topics -- (laughter) -- I mean, sorry, the release of the DOJ white paper?

MR. CARNEY: No. No.

Q What's that?

MR. CARNEY: No, it was provided -- it's an unclassified document.

Q So you don't -- even though it was unclassified, the fact that it's out there is --

MR. CARNEY: It wasn't designed for public release, but it's an unclassified document.

Q Okay.

MR. CARNEY: Thanks, guys.

END 2:16 P.M. EST

Meacham On Drone Kills: Obama Acting 'Like American King'

Link to Article

Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:25

On Morning Joe, presidential historian and former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham criticizes President Obama for ignoring the "rule of law" and describes him as acting like "an American King."

Joe Scarborough seconds Meacham's statement, adding that if this had come to light under George W. Bush, articles of impeachment would be in the air.

Rev. Al Sharpton Invokes Pledge of Allegiance, Sans 'Under God,' In New 'Lean Forward' Spot

Link to Article

Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 00:36

In a new Lean Forward promo spot for MSNBC, Politics Nation host the Rev. Al Sharpton evoked the language of the Pledge of Allegiance, sans the term "under God," ironically. Sharpton rattled off a laundry list of pet issues that MSNBC obsessed over in 2012 before dreaming of a "nation that is really living up to the creed of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Video clipped during a commercial break in the 4 p.m. EST hour of MSNBC programming on 5 February 2013.

Watch Two Far-Left MSNBC Hosts Actually Support DOJ Drone Memo

Link to Article

Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 22:44

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2013, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

Chris Christie: NFL Commissioner 'Didn't Seem To Care One Bit' When Lights Went Out at Super Bowl

Link to Article

Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 15:11

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2013, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

Sharia Law Patrols On The Streets Of London

Maddow Examines AG Holder's Response To Questions About Drone Memos About Killing Americans

CIA Has Been Operating Secret Drone Out Of Saudi Arabia For Over Two Years

Protester Throws Shoe At Ahmadinejad In Egypt

CNN: Two Thirds Of The American People Heartily Approve Of The Use Of Drones

Execution By Air! No Due Process! No Court! No Charges! No Trial! And Relatively Little Oversight!

Congressmen Blumenauer And Polis Move To End The Federal Prohibition Of Marijuana

"Al Qaeda Is Our Enemy And We Have To Go After Them!" Leon Panetta

UKIP Nigel Farage: The EU is Increasingly About War - Feb 2013

XML