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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 25,605

Journal Archives

Snowden Leaks Could Spell High Court Reboot of NSA Challenge


(CN) - Edward Snowden's leaks should prompt reconsideration of whether Amnesty International has standing to challenge mass surveillance, a rights group told the high court Friday.

In 2008, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal complaint on behalf of labor, legal, media and human-rights organizations opposing warrantless surveillance as unconstitutional.

Saying the groups could not prove that the government actually spied on them, and that their fear of injury under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was merely speculative, a Manhattan federal judge initiall sided with the government on summary judgment.

When the 2nd Circuit reversed in March 2011, it said the critics did indeed have standing to fight as the entities would be more than tangentially related to the "persons of interest" who could be the target of any possible surveillance. That 63-page decision said government surveillance poses a threat that is great enough to have caused immediate harm. The groups have gone to great lengths to avoid the chance that wiretaps could compromise their communications with clients and sources, according to the ruling.

This claim of "future injury" was too " speculative ," however, for a five-member majority of the Supreme Court in February 2013.



Israeli Deputy Minister: 'Even Gay Jews Have A Higher Soul Than Gentiles'

Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, from the settler party Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) gave an interview (Heb) to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv yesterday on his party’s stance against gay marriage. Personally, I couldn’t decide which headline I should go with on this one: his racism against non-Jews, or his contempt for gays. It was a lose-lose situation.

Here’s a snippet from the interview. Remember, this man is a high ranking government official in the only democracy in the Middle East.

What will you do if the Knesset votes on a bill legalizing gay marriage?

No way. Also, a Jew cannot marry a gentile. Is that the same thing?

We don’t recognize either of them. And anyway, a Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he’s gay.


US Pressuring Egyptian Army Not To Back al-Sisi In Presidential Election

Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces convened earlier this week to discuss the possibility of nominating Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for president.

The move came despite US pressure to prevent the nomination of a military figure.

It reviewed the American pressure and Sisi shared the details of his most recent phone conversation with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Sisi said he told Hagel he rejected outside intervention in the will of the Egyptian people.

The source said that the Obama administration had carried out a campaign in the past few days in which intensive contacts took place with several Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait with the goal of getting them to pressure Egypt to nominate a non-military figure for president. The Gulf states rejected the American request.



Up To 7,000 Foreign Jihadis Fighting In Syria, New Study Finds

Majority come from Arab countries; volunteers undergo radicalization, continue terrorist activities in countries of origin.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 foreign fighters have arrived in Syria to take up arms with rebels against the Assad regime, with a large majority of them joining jihadi organizations, the Nusra Front being foremost among them, a study released Thursday said.

The Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center that published the study is a part of the Israeli Intelligence and Heritage Commemoration Center, founded in the 1980s by leading members of the Israeli intelligence community.

Researchers who spent several months putting together the study warned that in Syria, foreign jihadis gain military experience, and undergo a process of radicalization.

“They are liable to continue terrorist and subversive activities in their countries of origin when they return,” the document said. It added that “this past year saw a marked increase in the involvement of foreigners in the fighting against the Syrian regime.”

The two central jihadi organizations, the Nusra Front, headed by al-Qaida’s central leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and its competitor, the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, a branch of al-Qaida in Iraq, have a combined membership of 9,000, of which an estimated 6,000 are foreign volunteers, according to the study.



Russian Navy to Get 40 New Ships in 2014

MOSCOW, January 3 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Navy is expected to receive 40 new warships and auxiliary vessels in 2014, a high-ranking official said Friday.

In addition to surface ships of various classes, the navy will also commission the third Borey-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, the Vladimir Monomakh, and a Varshavyanka-class diesel electric submarine, Rear Admiral Viktor Bursuk, a deputy commander of the Russian navy, said.

Bursuk, who oversees weapons procurement for the navy, said that Russia will continue the repair and overhaul of the Admiral Nakhimov nuclear-powered missile cruiser and three nuclear-powered attack submarines this year.

The Kirov-class cruiser, known as the Kalinin until 1992, was commissioned in 1989 and mothballed in 1999. It has since been docked for upgrades at the Sevmash shipyard in the northern Russian city of Severodvinsk, on the White Sea.

The Admiral Nakhimov is expected to rejoin the Russian navy in 2018 with the most advanced weapons systems for its vessel type, the Sevmash shipyard said in June last year.



The New Warmongering Wing Of The Democratic Party

A group of Democrats are joining Republicans in trying to undermine the White House's negotiations with Iran by imposing a new set of sanctions. Fifteen of them, actually, who prefer status quo bluster and threats to diplomacy that might actually do something to end Iran's nuclear ambitions. They are:

Bob Menendez (NJ)
Chuck Schumer (NY)
Ben Cardin (MD)
Bob Casey (PA)
Chris Coons (DE)
Dick Blumenthal (CT)
Mark Begich (AK)
Mark Pryor (AR)
Mary Landrieu (LA)
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
Mark Warner (VA)
Kay Hagan (NC)
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Cory Booker (NJ)
Joe Manchin (WV)

The Senate equivalent of the Blue Dog caucus is well represented on this list, with Begich, Casey, Donnelly, Landrieu, Manchin, Pryor, and Warner. I've always considered Coons and Blumenthal to be part of the party's business/corporatist wing. But I guess they hate diplomacy too.

The most interesting are Booker and Gillibrand, both harboring presidential ambitions. If anything, 2008 should've taught Democratic presidential contenders that a policy of warmongering no longer plays well in Democratic primaries. Someone might want to remind these two of what Hillary learned that year.

The real danger is that a veto-proof majority could emerge supporting new sanctions, undercutting the administration's diplomacy efforts. We expect that sort of thing from Republicans, of course, but we shouldn't abide it from our Democrats. So use this tool to find out where your own senators stand and send them a message on how you feel about this issue.



Guest Lineups For The Sunday News Shows

“Meet the Press” on NBC

• Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
• Gene Sperling, director, White House National Economic Council
• Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.)

“Face the Nation” on CBS

• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

“This Week” on ABC

• Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
• Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman, Senate Rules Committee
• Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D)

“Fox News Sunday” on Fox

• Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R)

“State of the Union” on CNN

• Sperling
• Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Russia to Test 70 New Rockets and Missiles in 2014

MOSCOW, January 3 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian military plans to test around 70 types of rocket and missile weaponry at a major testing site this year, a Defense Ministry spokesman has said.

The testing program at the Kapustin Yar range in southern Russia will include about 300 launches of rockets, missiles, and aerial drones as part of more than 180 R&D projects, said Colonel Igor Yegorov.

The range is located in the Astrakhan region between the cities of Volgograd and Astrakhan. It is known for tests of Iskander-M tactical ballistic missiles, S-300 and S-400 air defense systems and Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems.

In addition, Kapustin Yar is often used to host large-scale military exercises.

The 4th State Central Range at Kapustin Yar was established in 1946 and is considered the birthplace of the Russian rocket industry. The first rocket launch on October 18, 1947, was of one of 11 German A-4s captured during World War II.



Putin Tries Out Olympic Slopes in Ski Trip to Sochi

OCHI, January 3 (RIA Novosti) – President Vladimir Putin tested the ski slopes at the Olympic host city of Sochi Friday as the Black Sea resort counts down to the start of the Winter Games.

Putin skied a few runs at the Laura complex for biathlon and cross-country skiing, located on the Psekhako Ridge in Krasnaya Polyana, which will host the mountain competitions when the Winter Olympics get under way on February 7.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev skied with the president before the two men enjoyed a glass of mulled wine.

Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Putin would inspect all the Olympic facilities at Sochi’s mountain and coastal clusters during his visit to the city, as well as reviewing preparations for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games.

Putin would pay particular attention to buildings that are not quite finished yet, Peskov said.



Government Lawyers Appeal Ruling That Threatens NSA Phone Surveillance Program

Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Government lawyers are asking the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington to overturn a federal judge’s ruling that threatens the National Security Agency’s practice of collecting every Americans’ telephone records every day.

The Justice Department filed its notice of appeal Friday. Meanwhile, Larry Klayman, the opposing lawyer who spearheaded the case against the NSA said he will ask the appeals court to refer the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled last month that the NSA phone records program was likely unconstitutional, so the government’s appeal was expected. In a separate case, a district judge in New York last month upheld the NSA program as lawful. The ACLU, which lost that case, said this week it will appeal that case.

Read more: http://www.660news.com/2014/01/03/government-lawyers-appeal-ruling-that-threatens-nsa-phone-surveillance-program/
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