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posted by martyb on Friday May 05 2017, @11:26AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the watching-the-watchers dept.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey appeared before a U.S. Senate panel on May 3rd to defend his agency's conduct under his leadership during the 2016 elections:

Comey acknowledged that the realization the bureau could have affected the election's outcome left him feeling "mildly nauseous." But, he added, "honestly, it wouldn't change the decision." Comey has been transformed into an unusual kind of political celebrity over the past year, his decisions coming in for sharp criticism from almost every point of the political spectrum.

News reports have cited anonymous sources within the intelligence community casting him as too fond of the spotlight, despite his repeated insistence to the contrary. Whether he sought it or not, Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing was yet another center-stage moment for the FBI director. Cable networks carried virtually uninterrupted coverage of his testimony from the moment he took his seat before a scrum of news photographers.

Comey explained his reasoning behind the decision to inform Congress about Clinton emails discovered during an investigation into Anthony Weiner, and said that he had made the right choice. One event that factored into the decision and his earlier July 2016 announcement about the Hillary Clinton investigation was Bill Clinton's meeting with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. At Wednesday's hearing, Comey faced criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike on topics including the FBI's delay in disclosing an investigation into the Trump campaign and the decision to not charge Huma Abedin for mishandling classified information. On the day before the hearing, Hillary Clinton blamed the FBI Director for her loss, while President Trump tweeted that "FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!"

Comey appeared to confirm that the FBI is investigating whether its agents leaked information to Rudy Giuliani, a Trump ally. He also took the time to denigrate WikiLeaks by calling it "intelligence porn", and alleging that WikiLeaks acted as a "conduit for the Russian intelligence services or some other adversary of the United States just to push out information to damage the United States". Here's what Julian Assange had to say in response. Comey did not confirm whether or not the government is planning to charge Julian Assange with crimes related to his organization's recent activities. CNN reported in April that the U.S. is preparing to charge Assange with... something, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently called WikiLeaks a "non-state hostile intelligence service".

Also at The Washington Post, CNN, and The New York Times (editorial).

Original Submission

posted by on Thursday May 04 2017, @10:51AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the QfvLcozLwtE dept.

Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956

Guns are not a part of the culture of my homeland, except perhaps for the occasional Bollywood movie in which the bad guy meets his demise staring down the wrong end of a barrel.

My childhood in India was steeped in ahimsa, the tenet of nonviolence toward all living things.

The Indians may have succeeded in ousting the British, but we won with Gandhian-style civil disobedience, not a revolutionary war.

I grew up not knowing a single gun owner, and even today India has one of the strictest gun laws on the planet. Few Indians buy and keep firearms at home, and gun violence is nowhere near the problem it is in the United States. An American is 12 times more likely than an Indian to be killed by a firearm, according to a recent study.

It's no wonder then that every time I visit India, my friends and family want to know more about America's "love affair" with guns.

I get the same questions when I visit my brother in Canada or on my business travels to other countries, where many people remain perplexed, maybe even downright mystified, by Americans' defense of gun rights.

I admit I do not fully understand it myself, despite having become an American citizen nearly a decade ago. So when I learn the National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention here in Atlanta, right next to the CNN Center, I decide to go and find out more.


Original Submission

posted by on Wednesday May 03 2017, @09:14PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the to-be-replaced-by-piles-of-beignets dept.

A 2015 New Orleans Times-Picayune article tells how New Orléans' Vieux Carré Commission recommended that four monuments be removed. Three of them honour

[...] Confederate generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy [...]

The other monument

[...] was erected in 1891 to honor the 16 members of the White League who died during an insurrection against the integrated Reconstructionist government in Louisiana, which was based in New Orleans at the time.

Various news outlets are reporting that the latter monument, an obelisk, has been dismantled at the behest of the city government, and that the others are also set to be dismantled.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday May 02 2017, @09:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the not-exactly-like-Ted-Williams dept.

The Center for American Progress reports

On [April 29], Donald Trump marks the 100th day of his presidency, and finds his approval ratings much lower than any of his modern predecessors.

One reason for this could be perceptions about his accountability. To become president, Trump made a lot of promises to a lot of people--663, in fact. In just 100 days of what would be 1,461 days of a first term, Donald Trump has broken 80 promises he made before he was sworn in.

[...] A close analysis of the 663 promises Trump made on the campaign trail shows how few he has kept, and how many more he has broken.

Trump's promises about what he would accomplish in his first 100 days are not the first vows pegged to a key milestone that were summarily ignored or broken. As a candidate, Trump made several pledges about the first paper he would sign, as well as what would he would do during his first minute and first hour as president. He kept none of them. On his first day in office, Trump failed to keep 34 different promises of what he said he would do on Day One in the White House--and fulfilled just two.

In total, during his first month in office, Trump broke 64 promises. He kept just seven of his promises in that first month.

Including those from the first month, Trump has broken 80 promises and kept seven in the first hundred days. Three promises have been addressed with some caveats in a separate category below.

[...] When the AP's Julie Pace asked Trump about the 100-day plan, Trump replied, "I'm mostly there on most items."

The reality shows the opposite.

[...] Trump promised he won't let countries steal our jobs anymore.

"We'll put our people back to work, we will not let other countries steal our jobs. It it is not going to happen anymore." Worcester, MA, 11/18/15 [Video]

According to a ThinkProgress analysis of Labor Department data, at least 11,934 American jobs have been lost or are in the process of leaving the United States since Inauguration Day.

In going to a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to celebrate his amazing string of accomplishments over the last 100 days, Trump avoided the White House Correspondents Association dinner where he was sure to have been the butt of about a billion squarely-on-target jokes.

As for Trump's claim that "No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days", Politifact notes

The 15 major bills [which Franklin Roosevelt signed in his first 100 days] included those that created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Tennessee Valley Authority (both of which still exist) and the Home Owners Loan Corp. He signed the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which established farm subsidies, and the National Industrial Recovery Act, which started public-works efforts to reverse the Great Depression. He signed legislation to legalize the manufacture and sale of beer and wine, and he issued executive orders to establish the Civilian Conservation Corps and to effectively take the United States off the gold standard.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday May 01 2017, @05:39AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the as-far-as-you-can-throw-them dept.

The National Security Agency said Friday that it had halted one of the most disputed practices of its warrantless surveillance program, ending a once-secret form of wiretapping that dates to the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 expansion of national security powers.

The agency is no longer collecting Americans' emails and texts exchanged with people overseas that simply mention identifying terms — like email addresses — for foreigners whom the agency is spying on, but are neither to nor from those targets.

The decision is a major development in American surveillance policy. Privacy advocates have argued that the practice skirted or overstepped the Fourth Amendment.

The change is unrelated to the surveillance imbroglio over the investigations into Russia and the Trump campaign, according to officials familiar with the matter. Rather, it stemmed from a discovery that N.S.A. analysts had violated rules imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court barring any searching for Americans' information in certain messages captured through such wiretapping.

Though I'm personally wondering why now.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday April 29 2017, @05:28AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the where-to-draw-the-line dept.

Officials in Xinjiang will deny benefits to children with certain Islamic or Islam-related names:

Many couples fret over choosing the perfect name for their newborn, but for Muslims in western China that decision has now become even more fraught: pick the wrong name and your child will be denied education and government benefits.

Officials in the western region of Xinjiang, home to roughly half of China's 23 million Muslims, have released a list of banned baby names amid an ongoing crackdown on religion, according to a report by US-funded Radio Free Asia.

Names such as Islam, Quran, Saddam and Mecca, as well as references to the star and crescent moon symbol, are all unacceptable to the ruling Communist party and children with those names will be denied household registration, a crucial document that grants access to social services, healthcare and education.

Muhammad, Jihad, Medina, Mujahid, Arafat, Imam, Hajj, and Yultuzay are also banned.

Also at NYT. Reuters story about other restrictions that went into effect on April 1st.

Related: West Facing 'Payback' for Colonialism, says China's State-run Paper
China's Xi Jinping Negotiates $46bn Superhighway to Pakistan
Facebook's Zuckerberg Meets With China's Propaganda Chief, Social Media Mocks Facebook Block

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Friday April 28 2017, @04:04AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the venezuexit dept.

Various news outlets are reporting on an announcement by the Venezuelan government that it will leave the Organization of American States (OAS), a process that takes two years. The country will stop participating in OAS meetings immediately. No country has left the OAS since its founding in 1948.

According to Venezuela-based teleSUR, the move comes in response

[...] to a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States to discuss Venezuela scheduled for Wednesday, which violates the rules of the organization because it does not have the consent of the affected country.

[The foreign minister] indicated that there is also a group of countries with right-wing governments working under U.S. imperialist orders against Venezuela.

According to ABC News,

Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets demanding [President Nicolás] Maduro hold elections and denouncing his government as being responsible for triple-digit inflation, food shortages and a rise [in] crime.

It also says that 29 people have been killed in connection with the protests.

Additional coverage:

Original Submission

posted by on Wednesday April 26 2017, @06:55PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the pants-on-fire dept.

Common Dreams reports:

In yet another reminder of how corporate-friendly the Trump administration has been—despite campaign pledges to defend American workers and "buy American, hire American" rhetoric—a new study out [April 25] reveals that the president continues to reward U.S. companies who ship jobs overseas.

According to the analysis (pdf), conducted by Good Jobs Nation along with Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, "the flow of federal contract awards to major offshorers has continued unabated since Trump's inauguration."

The outsourcing of American jobs to other countries is a major issue for American voters, and helped propel President Donald Trump's victory in a number of economically distressed rust-belt states.

Despite this, as many as "56 percent of the top U.S. firms awarded the largest taxpayer-funded contracts in fiscal year (FY) 2016 engage in offshoring", the report notes. Further, 41 of the top 100 federal contractors--which in 2016 received a combined $176 billion in taxpayer dollars--have shipped jobs overseas and "many continue to do so today".

[...] "Even though he's signed over 60 executive orders during his first 100 days, he has yet to use the power of the pen to stop corporations that receive taxpayer dollars from shipping American jobs overseas", said Joseph Geevarghese, director of Good Jobs Nation.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday April 25 2017, @02:54PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the left-hand-meet-your-right dept.

When President Barack Obama announced the "one-time gesture" of releasing Iranian-born prisoners who "were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses" last year, his administration presented the move as a modest trade-off for the greater good of the Iran nuclear agreement and Tehran's pledge to free five Americans.

[...] But Obama, the senior official and other administration representatives weren't telling the whole story on Jan. 17, 2016, in their highly choreographed rollout of the prisoner swap and simultaneous implementation of the six-party nuclear deal, according to a POLITICO investigation.

[...] The biggest fish, though, was Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, who had been charged with being part of a conspiracy that from 2005 to 2012 procured thousands of parts with nuclear applications for Iran via China. That included hundreds of U.S.-made sensors for the uranium enrichment centrifuges in Iran whose progress had prompted the nuclear deal talks in the first place.

When federal prosecutors and agents learned the true extent of the releases, many were shocked and angry. [...] Through action in some cases and inaction in others, the White House derailed its own much-touted National Counterproliferation Initiative at a time when it was making unprecedented headway in thwarting Iran's proliferation networks. In addition, the POLITICO investigation found that Justice and State Department officials denied or delayed requests from prosecutors and agents to lure some key Iranian fugitives to friendly countries so they could be arrested. Similarly, Justice and State, at times in consultation with the White House, slowed down efforts to extradite some suspects already in custody overseas, according to current and former officials and others involved in the counterproliferation effort.

And as far back as the fall of 2014, Obama administration officials began slow-walking some significant investigations and prosecutions of Iranian procurement networks operating in the U.S. These previously undisclosed findings are based on interviews with key participants at all levels of government and an extensive review of court records and other documents. "Clearly, there was an embargo on any Iranian cases," according to the former federal supervisor. "Of course it pissed people off, but it's more significant that these guys were freed, and that people were killed because of the actions of one of them," the supervisor added, in reference to [Amin] Ravan and the IED network.

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Tuesday April 25 2017, @05:35AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the kings-of-debt dept.

CNN reports:

A full-page ad in the Sunday editions of the Washington Post and The New York Times urged Tesla CEO Elon Musk to "dump Trump."

The ads were paid for by a startup investor named Doug Derwin. The longtime Silicon Valley resident told CNNMoney he shelled out $400,000 to run ads in the Times and the Post, as well as the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News.

It's the latest step in Derwin's $1 million bid to convince Musk he's failing environmentalists. He calls it "Elon Dump Trump."

Derwin said he didn't want to launch the campaign at first. Back in January, he was eagerly awaiting the arrival of his Tesla (TSLA) Model S electric car.

But as his Tesla was about to be delivered, Derwin said he caught wind of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's decision to walk away from Trump's business advisory council, which Kalanick served on with Musk. Kalanick had previously defended his working relationship with President Trump, but public pressure mounted in the wake of the president's immigration order.

That's a lot of money allocated to deprive Trump of ostensibly good advice.

Original Submission

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