Thursday, February 7, 2013

Breaking: John Brennan hearing stopped as protesters shout down CIA nominee !

John Brennan hearing stopped as protesters shout down CIA nominee 07 Feb 2013 Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) clears the room --"The next time, we're going to clear the chamber, and bring people back one by one," Feinstein says. Another protester immediately begins shouting. Feinstein clears the room. Hearing is recessed.

Brennan defends drone policy 07 Feb 2013 President Obama's choice to head the CIA told lawmakers Thursday that the administration's drone strike program is legal and essential to national security. "The president has insisted that any actions we take will be legally grounded," John Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee. Brennan's confirmation hearing was delayed by protesters against drone strikes and other counter-terrorism polices. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs intelligence committee, ordered the hearing room cleared before the nominee could complete his opening statement. Brennan also denied any involvement in waterboarding, one of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" [torture] begun during the George W. Bush administration.

Iran releases decoded footage obtained from captured US drone 07 Feb 2013 Iran has for the first time released decoded video recordings obtained from a US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone downed and captured by the Islamic Republic in December 2011. The recordings have been made by the drone's underbelly camera, and include views from the area surrounding the Kandahar base as the drone is about to land. The Kandahar base is located about 420 kilometers from Iran's eastern borders in Afghanistan. The majority of drone assassination attacks by the US on Afghanistan and Pakistan are carried out by the aircraft stationed at this base.

Intense manhunt waged for ex-cop wanted in 3 murders --Former officer issues manifesto threatening to kill families of LAPD officials in retaliation for his dismissal from the force 07 Feb 2013 Police are waging an intensive manhunt across Southern California for a former Los Angeles cop wanted in connection with a double murder and suspected of going on a revenge shooting spree. Overnight shootings in Riverside County that left one officer dead and two wounded have been linked to the former Los Angeles officer, Christopher Dorner, who was named as a suspect in the slaying of a young couple here Sunday. Across Southern California, digital traffic signs carried alerts urging motorists to report any sight of Dorner, believed to be driving a Nissan Titan pickup truck and considered armed and dangerous.

Polar bears 'may need to be fed by humans to survive' --Drastic measures are required to save the beleaguered animal from extinction, say scientists 07 Feb 2013 The day may soon come when some of the 19 polar bear populations in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Norway, and Russia will have to be fed by humans in order to keep them alive during an extended ice-free season or prevent them from roaming into northern communities. Some bears may have to be placed in temporary holding compounds until it is cold enough for them to go back onto the sea ice. In worst-case scenarios, polar bears from southern regions may have to be relocated to more northerly climes that have sufficient sea ice cover. Far-fetched, draconian, and unlikely as some of these scenarios may sound, 12 scientists from Arctic countries are, for the first time, suggesting that the five nations with polar bear populations need to start considering these and other management strategies now that sea ice retreat is posing serious challenges to the bears' survival.

Forecasters: Potentially historic storm will intensify Friday night 07 Feb 2013 The potentially historic storm expected to hammer Massachusetts with up to 2 feet of snow, high winds, and coastal flooding will start with just a few flakes Friday morning, but by that night, snow could be falling thick and fast, creating dangerous conditions on the road, the National Weather Service says. Only an inch or two is expected to fall Friday morning. The storm's intensity is expected to increase in the afternoon with another 2 to 4 inches falling. Then "the real fun" will begin after 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., when snow will begin to fall at 1 to 2 inches per hour, said weather service meteorologist William Babcock.

Obama to give white paper on targeted killings to Congress 06 Feb 2013 The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning will receive a classified document that seeks to justify the administration's policy of targeting Americans overseas via drone attacks, chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said late Wednesday. "I am pleased that the president has agreed to provide the Intelligence Committee with access to the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) opinion regarding the use of lethal force in counterterrorism operations," the California Democrat said in a statement. The announcement came shortly after an administration official said that President Barack Obama had yielded to demands that he turn over to Congress the classified Justice Department legal advice that seeks to justify the policy.

White House silent over CIA drone reports as pressure builds on Brennan 06 Feb 2013 The pressure on John Brennan, Barack Obama's nominee for CIA director and the architect of the White House strategy on drones, intensified on Wednesday amid revelations of a secret CIA drone base in Saudi Arabia and anger in Congress at the administration's refusal to reveal the legal basis for killing US citizens. The Obama administration and Saudi Arabia were silent over reports on Wednesday that the CIA is secretly using an air base in Saudi Arabia to conduct its controversial drone assassination campaign in neighbouring Yemen. The reports revealed that the drones that killed the US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his son in September 2011, and Said al-Shehri, a senior al-Qaida [al-CIAduh] commander who died from his injuries last month, were launched from the unnamed base. The revelation is an embarrassment to the White House, which pressured the Washington Post and some other news organisations to suppress the information for 12 months on national security grounds.

Leaked Obama administration memo sets out case for killing US citizens --Paper does not specify 'minimum legal requirements for launching lethal attacks on US citizens 05 Feb 2013 The detailed circumstances in which a US government may order the killing of an American citizen who
may be a high-ranking member of al-Qaida have been revealed in a leaked memo prepared by Obama administration lawyers. The document, acquired by NBC and dating from 2011, lays out for the first time the precise rationale for carrying out targeted killings of senior al-Qaida members who are US citizens, and who are believed to pose an "imminent threat of violent attack" against America. In a key passage in the document--which is unsigned--it argues that for a US citizen who has rights under the due process clause and the fourth amendment, "that individual's citizenship would not immunise from a lethal operation".

CIA using Saudi base for drone assassinations in Yemen 06 Feb 2013 The CIA is secretly ['Secretly.' Hmm... not so much, lol!] using an airbase in Saudi Arabia to conduct its controversial drone assassination campaign in neighbouring Yemen, according to reports in the US media. Neither the Saudi government nor the country's media have responded to the reports revealing that the drones that killed the US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his son in September 2011 and Said al-Shehri, a senior 'al-Qaida' commander who died from his injuries last month, were launched from the unnamed base. Saudi Arabia has previously publicly denied co-operating with the US to target al-Qaida in Yemen.

Secret US assassination drone base in Saudi Arabia exposed 06 Feb 2013 The existence of a previously secret US assassination drone base in Saudi Arabia has come to light amid President Barack Obama's bid to install his counterterrorism adviser and architect of his covert targeted-killing policy, John Brennan, as the next CIA director. CIA terror drones flown out of a secret American base in Saudi Arabia were used to carry out the "only strike intentionally targeting a US citizen" to kill Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son in a 2011 attack in Yemen, The Washington Post reports on Wednesday. The Obama administration's highly controversial and secret targeted-killing program has relied on an expanding collection of assassination drone bases maintained by the CIA spy agency and the US military's Joint Special Operations Command.

Pakistani ambassador to U.S. calls CIA drone strikes a 'clear violation' 05 Feb 2013 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan are "a clear violation of our sovereignty and a violation of international law" that threaten stable relations between the two governments, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday. Persistent reports that Pakistan has tacitly approved the strikes while publicly denouncing them are untrue, Ambassador Sherry Rehman said. "Let me assure you that since we have been in government, there has been no quiet complicity, no question of wink and nod," she said, referring to the hundreds of drone attacks on
civilian targets, most of them under the Obama administration.

Congress looks to limit drone strikes 05 Feb 2013 Uncomfortable with the Obama administration's use of deadly drones, a growing number in Congress is looking to limit America's authority to kill suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens. The Democratic-led outcry was emboldened by the revelation in a newly surfaced Justice Department memo that shows drones can strike against a wider range of threats, with less evidence, than previously believed. The drone program, which has been used from Pakistan across the Middle East and into North Africa to find and kill an unknown number of 'suspected terrorists,' is expected to be a top topic of debate when the Senate Intelligence Committee grills John Brennan, the White House's pick for CIA chief, at a hearing Thursday.

City in Virginia Becomes First to Pass Anti-Drone Legislation 05 Feb 2013 Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution. The resolution, passed Monday, "calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court," and "pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones." The measure also endorses a proposed two-year moratorium on drones in Virginia.

'Coalition of the Bribed' bigger than anyone suspected: CIA rendition: more than a quarter of countries 'offered covert support' --
Report finds at least 54 countries co-operated with global kidnap, detention and torture operation mounted after 9/11 attacks
05 Feb 2013 The full extent of the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme has been laid bare with the publication of a report showing there is evidence that more than a quarter of the world's governments covertly offered support. A 213-page report compiled by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a New York-based human rights organisation, says that at least 54 countries co-operated with the global kidnap, detention and torture operation that was mounted after 9/11, many of them in Europe. So widespread and extensive was the participation of governments across the world that it is now clear the CIA could not have operated its programme without their support, according to the OSJI. "There is no doubt that high-ranking Bush administration officials bear responsibility for authorising human rights violations associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, and the impunity that they have enjoyed to date remains a matter of significant concern," the report says.

Rip out Guantanamo microphones to prevent eavesdropping: judge 04 Feb 2013 A military judge on Monday suggested ripping out the defense table microphones to ease concerns that intelligence agents could be eavesdropping on confidential attorney-client conversations in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal. The judge also ordered that doctors examine Saudi defendant Abd al Rahim al Nashiri to determine whether his treatment in CIA custody had left him mentally competent to stand trial on charges of orchestrating a deadly attack on a U.S. warship. The issue arose after a revelation last week that someone outside the courtroom had briefly

cut the closed-circuit feed that provides sound and video to public viewing areas during a pretrial hearing for five prisoners accused of plotting the [Bush-Cheney] September 11 hijacked plane attacks on the United States in 2001.

Canada considers revoking citizenship from dual citizens linked to terrorism 06 Feb 2013 Canada's immigration minister said Wednesday his government should consider stripping Canadians with dual citizenship who commit terrorist acts of their Canadian status. The remarks follow revelations that a Canadian with dual Lebanese citizenship is suspected of being involved in a bus attack that killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year. A Conservative Canadian lawmaker has a bill before Parliament that would revoke citizenship from dual nationals if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian military. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said could be amended to include acts of terrorism abroad.

Alabama hostage rescue under direct authority of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta --Alabama hostage rescue: why some secrets will remain in the bunker 05 Feb 2013 While more will surely be told about the ordeal in Alabama, which ended Monday with a late afternoon raid that saved 5-year-old Ethan but ended in the death of Jimmy Lee Dykes, it's also clear that parts of the operation will remain shrouded in secrecy, given that it involved America's most expert paramilitary counter-terrorism units collaborating with US special operations forces, under the direct authority of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. "This all rings of a unique covert operation," says Randall Rogan, a crisis communications expert at Wake Forest University who has been following the story closely, adding the multiagency involvement is "atypical, quite honestly, for...what, after all, is not a significant terrorist event." "There may be some general overview and general description of what happened, but there won't be full, complete disclosure," he says. "And that's understandable. There are people out there who pay attention and who would make note of it, who are cognizant of what transpired and how it transpired, and who may take steps to prevent that sort of tactic from being utilized in the future."

High-tech military detection gear delivered to aid in Alabama hostage surveillance 04 Feb 2013 Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved a request from the FBI for high-tech military detection equipment to assist in surveillance on the underground bunker in Alabama where a 5-year-old boy was held hostage, CNN has learned... The military detection equipment was delivered on site, according to a military official, but it could not immediately be determined if the equipment was used before or during the rescue. Three Defense Department officials tell CNN that the equipment requested was similar to the technology used in war zones to detect buried explosives. Some small number of troops would have been needed to operate the equipment on-site. "Panetta personally approved it" said one senior Defense official, emphasizing the military was prepared to offer whatever it could to assist in rescuing the child.

FHP announces daytime driver license, vehicle inspection checkpoints 04 Feb 2013 The Florida Highway Patrol Troop C (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties) has announced the roads it plans to target with driver license and/or vehicle inspection checkpoints in February. FHP says the checkpoints will be conducted during daytime hours, and generally cause delays of five minutes or less. The list of targeted roads in Tampa Bay is here.

Sandy Hook DA cites 'potential suspects,' fears safety of witnesses 05 Feb 2013 Connecticut State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky has argued that unsealing warrants in the Sandy Hook case might "seriously jeopardize" the investigation by disclosing information known only to other "potential suspects." Sedensky said that unsealing the warrants would also: "identify persons cooperating with the investigation, thus possibly jeopardizing their personal safety and well-being." The statement by the CT prosecutor's office is the first indication from state authorities that Adam Lanza may have not acted alone. The statement was made in support of a motion to continue the seal on the results of five search warrants for 90 more days.

Hackers access Federal Reserve website, data 06 Feb 2013 The Federal Reserve has acknowledged that an outside party gained access to its website and a limited amount of data, raising questions about the central bank's cyber-security measures. The Fed did not say which of its websites had been compromised, or detail the information obtained by intruders. According to Reuters, the Fed notified bankers earlier this week that a contact database designed to facilitate communication between banks during a natural disaster had been compromised. The notice, sent via the Fed's Emergency Communication System, warned that email addresses, phone numbers and other contact information had been stolen and published.

US Fed acknowledges computer system hacked 06 Feb 2013 The Federal Reserve acknowledged Wednesday its computer systems were accessed by hackers but said the incident did not affect the central bank's "critical operations." [?] The acknowledgement came days after the hacker group known as Anonymous claimed it had posted personal information of some 4,000 bankers, purportedly obtained from the Fed. "The Federal Reserve System is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a Federal Reserve spokesman said in a statement in response to an AFP query. [Link to 4,000 bankers' doxed info is here.]

Postal Service will end Saturday mail delivery 06 Feb 2013 The Postal Service plans to drop Saturday delivery of first-class mail beginning the first week of August, a move that the financially struggling agency said will save $2 billion annually. The Postal Service is cutting costs aggressively as it grows increasingly frustrated that Congress is dragging its feet in authorizing a structural overhaul that could stabilize the agency. The agency, which lost $16 billion last year, has blamed much of its recent troubles on a 2006 [GOP/Bush] law that requires it to make massive payments into its future retirees' healthcare fund, as well as on reduced mail volumes as Americans increasingly turn to email and online communications rather than dropping a stamped letter in a postal box. [The Wall Street trolls in Congress want to privatize the US Post Office.]

Businesses don't want to pay for the US government's inside jobs: Debate Over Terrorism Insurance to Be Renewed 06 Feb 2013 Bipartisan legislation filed yesterday in the House of Representatives promises to renew the federal terrorism reinsurance program and the debate about whether the backup program is necessary. Introduced by Reps. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and eight co-sponsors, the bill (H.R. 508) extends the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (TRIPRA) for five years beyond its current expiration date of Dec. 31, 2014. Others have criticized the program's shifting of the potential costs of terrorist losses from businesses to taxpayers. The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) was first passed in 2002 in response to the 9/11 terror attacks to provide a public-private risk sharing mechanism. ['Public-private risk sharing mechanism.' *Puke* That's code for sycophantic Democrats and hypocritical 'anti-socialism' Republicans embracing more budget-busting welfare - as long as it's for corporations. --LRP]

Duke Energy to seek $1.65 billion from Florida customers for its failed nuclear plant 05 Feb 2013 Duke Energy Corp., the largest U.S. utility owner, will permanently shut its Crystal River nuclear power plant in Florida after deciding the risks and costs associated with repairing it outweighed the benefits. Duke will seek $1.65 billion from Florida customers for its failed investments in the reactor, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company said in a filing today. The cost recovery can begin in 2017 and last 20 years under a settlement approved by state regulators [sic] last year. The 860-megawatt reactor has been shut since 2009, when a crack was discovered while it was being refueled and its steam generator replaced. More cracks occurred in 2011 when the company was trying to repair the damage. [WHY do ratepayers have to fund these corpora-terrorists' environmental time bombs? Start reading.]

E-mails show plotting by lawmakers, GOP on Florida redistricting 05 Feb 2013 Florida legislative leaders appear to have authorized staff members to use private email accounts and had "brainstorming meetings" with Republican Party consultants to attempt to draw favorable political districts, despite a constitutional ban on such coordination. The allegations arise from a lawsuit challenging the Senate and congressional redistricting that include emails showing how top aides to House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate President Don Gaetz and several Gaetz consultants were in frequent contact with operatives who drafted and analyzed maps. The emails show that a month after voters in 2010 approved an amendment banning coordination between the party and lawmakers, GOP consultant and Gaetz adviser Rich Heffley called a redistricting "brainstorming" meeting at the chairman's conference room at party headquarters in Tallahassee.

Solomon Islands tsunami toll expected to rise 07 Feb 2013 Police in the Solomon Islands say at least six people have been killed after an earthquake and tsunami struck the Pacific nation on Wednesday. The 8.0-magnitude quake has caused major damage to villages in the Santa Cruz islands and triggered a small tsunami that sparked warnings in several Pacific countries. International aid agency World Vision says the communities of Venga and Nela in the Solomon Islands province of Temotu have been almost entirely wiped out by a one metre tsunami. There are unconfirmed reports that some people and fishing boats may have been swept out to sea by the surge.

8.0-magnitude earthquake strikes off Solomon Islands; tsunami warning issued 05 Feb 2013 An 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific early Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported, sparking a tsunami warning. The center of the quake was located some 360 miles east-southeast of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, the USGS said. It was reported to be 3.6 miles deep. A tsunami warning was issued for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna, according to the the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

'Historic Winter Storm' Moving Toward U.S. Northeast 06 Feb 2013 A "potential historic winter storm" may dump 2 feet of snow on Boston and eastern Massachusetts as it makes its way up the Atlantic coast, leaving 10 inches or more in New York City. Eighteen to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) of snow may fall in Boston, and the city has an 85 percent chance of receiving at least 12 inches from the storm that is expected to arrive in two days, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts. "A potential historic winter storm and blizzard is expected to drop 1 to 2 feet of snow across much of the region Friday into Saturday," the weather service said in a bulletin.

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