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Purveyor

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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 20,175

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More Pumpkins, Less Politics As Obama, First Lady Greet Halloween Trick-Or-Treaters

By JOSH LEDERMAN | ASSOCIATED PRESS | 35 minutes ago in Politics

Ghastly webs with giant black spiders adorned an orange-hued White House on Thursday, slithering down from the Truman Balcony along the South Portico, where haystacks and nearly 200 pumpkins dotted the lawn for the annual White House Halloween event.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, clad in orange and black, emerged in the evening to greet the zombies, wizards and superheroes waiting diligently to hear the president's response to an eerie query: Trick or treat?

It was treats _ thousands of packages of jelly beans, dried fruit and White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookies _ that the president and Mrs. Obama handed children as they walked across the South Lawn, past stilt-walkers, jugglers and a giant, transparent bubble housing Glinda the Good Witch, who brandished her magic wand in true Wizard-of-Oz fashion.

Fog billowed across the lawn, obscuring the Washington Monument in the distance as children and their parents mingled with White House staffers dressed as football players, vampires and princesses. A brass band of white-faced skeletons set the mood with creepy Halloween tunes, dancing as they played alongside a family of ghosts camped out near the area where the president's helicopter normally lifts off.

Even the president's dogs donned costumes _ no, not the real Sunny and Bo, but topiaries carved from shrubs and dressed up, Bo as a pirate and Sunny as a sunflower.

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http://www.newser.com/article/da9pe9fg0/more-pumpkins-less-politics-as-obama-first-lady-greet-halloween-trick-or-treaters.html

16 Senate Women Say 'Run, Hillary, Run' in 2016

With President Barack Obama’s approval ratings near a new low this week, the Democratic water-cooler talk is focusing especially early on hopes for 2016 — with the bulk of today’s attention on news that all 16 of the Senate’s Democratic women have written to Hillary Rodham Clinton, urging her to run.

The unanimity of the group means as many as three potential aspirants for the nomination would defer to the former secretary of State, adding to the sense of inevitability about her candidacy and to the expectation that her bid would essentially clear the Democratic field.

Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has been widely touted on the left as a worthy liberal alternative to Clinton, and she hasn’t explicitly ruled out such a candidacy. But the freshman senator’s signing of the letter appears to amount to such a demurral. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have both publicly described themselves as Clinton supporters and have signaled they would shelve their White House aspirations if she ran next time. Their signatures lock those promises in place.

Another newsworthy signature comes from the dean of the female senators, Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, because it means she’s not waiting for her state’s governor, Martin O’Malley, to formalize his presidential intentions before declaring her preference for someone else.

The letter was orchestrated by Barbara Boxer of California in early spring, only months after Obama’s second term began and Clinton left her Cabinet seat. It came just as the Ready for Hillary super PAC was being created by aides to her 2008 campaign in an effort to centralize the recruiting efforts. Clinton herself has said she won’t announce her intentions before next year.

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http://blogs.rollcall.com/hawkings/16-senate-women-say-run-hillary-run-in-2016/

Russia Demands U.S. Explanation Over Blacklisted Singer

By Alexei Anishchuk

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s foreign ministry asked the United States on Thursday to explain why it had imposed sanctions on a well-known singer and supporter of President Vladimir Putin, calling the move “unacceptable”.

The U.S. Treasury Department this week named Grigory Lepsveridze as one of six people it said were linked to a “Eurasian crime syndicate” called the Brothers’ Circle.

The Treasury added him to its list of blacklisted people, meaning U.S. citizens were barred from doing business with him, and any assets he had in the United States were frozen.

Lepsveridze, who performs under the stage-name Grigory Leps, dismissed the allegation.

Russia’s foreign ministry said Washington’s accusation broke “the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence”.

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http://www.euronews.com/newswires/2188896-russia-demands-us-explanation-over-blacklisted-singer/

President Obama Halted NSA Spying On IMF And World Bank Headquarters

Source: REUTERS

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has ordered the National Security Agency to stop eavesdropping on the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as part of a review of intelligence gathering activities, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter.

The order is the latest move by the White House to demonstrate that it is willing to curb at least some surveillance in the wake of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of programs that collect huge quantities of data on U.S. allies and adversaries, and American citizens.

The NSA’s surveillance of the Washington-based IMF and World Bank has not previously been disclosed. Details of such spy programs are usually highly classified.

In response to Reuters inquiries, a senior Obama administration official said, “The United States is not conducting electronic surveillance targeting the headquarters of the World Bank or IMF in Washington.”

Read more: http://www.euronews.com/newswires/2188950-obama-halted-nsa-spying-on-imf-and-world-bank-headquarters/

Obama Tilts Federal Judiciary Back Toward Democrats

WASHINGTON — The federal judiciary — long the province and priority of Republicans — is turning more Democratic.

The number of active federal judges named by Democratic presidents will draw even Friday with the number named by Republicans, following two retirements. The next of President Obama's nominees to be confirmed by the Senate will tilt the balance in Democrats' favor; that majority will grow for the remainder of his term.

The trend is particularly noteworthy at the appeals courts, 10 of which had a majority of Republican appointees by the end of George W. Bush's presidency. Although the Supreme Court remains 5-4 in Republicans' favor, judges named by Democratic presidents now dominate seven appeals courts, and two more are split down the middle.

"It is an important milestone," says Kathryn Ruemmler, the White House counsel. "It is a good indicator that the president is making his mark on the courts."

The federal courts — particularly the 13 appeals courts — often set precedents in areas ranging from national security and economic regulation to abortion, immigration, voting rights, affirmative action, gun control and gay marriage.

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/10/31/obama-judges-democrat-republican-senate/3286337/

Republican Infighting Over the Farm Bill Infuriates Farmers

The next battle in the GOP civil war opened Wednesday as members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees sat down to hammer out differences over two versions of the Farm Bill. The massive piece of agriculture and nutrition legislation usually sails through both chambers, but it has become the latest litmus test for powerful conservative interest groups to decide whether individual Republican lawmakers are really conservative enough.

As farmers and ranchers in conservative districts have urged their congressmen to pass the bill this year, Heritage Action, the Club for Growth, and Americans for Prosperity have all pushed conservatives to vote against it, tagging it as wasteful, bloated spending. The decision by the three groups to label the Farm Bill as a “key vote” on their legislative scorecard over the summer led to a rebellion among House Republicans that sank the legislation until House leaders split it into two pieces, with agriculture funding moving forward and nutrition assistance, in the form of food stamps, getting slashed by $40 billion in a separate bill.

Rarely mentioned in the political sparring over the Farm Bill are the farmers themselves, who have long supported their own Republican members of Congress. Now they are becoming collateral damage in the ongoing battle between the party’s warring factions that has ground crucial legislation like the Farm Bill and immigration reform almost to a halt and left some farmers worrying about their futures.

“Most of our members would be quick to point out that frustration is an apt word that they’re feeling,” says Dale Moore, executive director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau. “You throw in the budget debates that have tied a lot of things up in knots, it gets so people are saying they just have to see something get done.”

Political pressures, especially on Republicans, are making a tough Farm Bill even harder to pass, Moore says. “The issue is Republican members who get targeted as not being conservative enough,” he says. “They’re already driving on the stripes on the right-hand side of the road just before you before you get to the shoulder. How much farther to the right do you have to get?”

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http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/31/republican-infighting-over-the-farm-bill-infuriates-farmers.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thedailybeast%2Fpolitics+%28The+Daily+Beast+-+Politics%29

Putin Repeals Orders On Missile Shield Cooperation With NATO

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invalidated the order of 2011, which set up an interdepartmental working group at the Russian presidential administration to develop missile defense cooperation with NATO.

He also repealed the presidential decree of April 25, 2012, "On the Repeal of the Russian President's Order 'On the Special Representative of the Russian President for Missile Defense Interaction with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)'."

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was the special representative and headed the interdepartmental working group. The president's order was posted in the official legal data portal.

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_31/Putin-repeals-orders-on-missile-shield-cooperation-with-NATO-1479/

Boy Who Was 10 When He Killed His Neo-Nazi Father Committed To California Juvenile Facility

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A California judge ruled Thursday that a 13-year-old boy who was 10 when he killed his neo-Nazi father will spend at least the next seven years in a state juvenile facility.

Judge Jean R. Leonard said the maximum the boy can serve would be until he is 23. He’ll be eligible for parole in seven years

The decision came after prosecutors and defence attorneys argued for months about the best placement to assure his safety and rehabilitation.

His attorneys say the boy was severely abused and has serious emotional and learning disabilities from a brutal and twisted childhood.

The Riverside County boy shot Jeffrey Hall, 32, at point-blank range as he slept on a sofa on their home on May 1, 2011, after a night of drinking.

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http://www.news1130.com/2013/10/31/boy-who-was-10-when-he-killed-his-neo-nazi-father-committed-to-california-juvenile-facility/

Kerry To Mideast, Europe On Damage Control Mission

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State John Kerry is hitting the road again, this time on a damage-control mission to the Middle East and Europe where rancor is high over U.S. strategies in Syria, Egypt and Iran as well as American surveillance activities revealed by ex-NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

Kerry will leave Washington this weekend for Saudi Arabia, Poland, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco, the State Department said on Thursday. With tensions between the U.S. and many of its allies rising, the department acknowledged that at least parts of the nine-day trip might be difficult.

"The secretary overall believes that rolling up his sleeves and having personal diplomacy is the way that we should continue to approach either issues we work together on, global challenges, or issues where there may be concerns as it relates to the intel-gathering reports," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

At his first scheduled stop in Riyadh, Kerry will confront multiple spats with the Saudis over resolving the continuing conflict in Syria, nuclear negotiations with Iran and President Barack Obama's decision to withhold significant amounts of U.S. assistance to Egypt.

In his meeting with Saudi King Abdullah, Kerry "will reaffirm the strategic nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, given the importance of the work between our two countries on shared challenges, and the leadership Saudi Arabia provides for the region," Psaki said.

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http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_US_KERRY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-10-31-16-31-18

Snowden Disclosures Fuel Europe's Privacy Fears

Although it has been six months since the first disclosure by Edward Snowden, the public revelations of the scope and scale of the capabilities of the National Security Agency do not appear to be slowing down.

Based on new leaked information, the NSA has recently been accused of eavesdropping on the telephone conversations of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany.

This information, along with accusations of intercepting phone calls by other high-ranking foreign officials, comes at a critical time as the European Union deliberates new data protection regulations. For over a decade, the data protection regulations of the European Union and its member states have represented the most stringent of their type in the world.

Germany, in particular, has been at the forefront in enforcing these laws. These regulations generally prohibit the transfer of personal data of EU citizens to any country that lacks adequate data protection safeguards unless approved by the citizen's member state.

Beginning in 2012, the EU initiated a process to further strengthen its approach to the protection of personal data and to ensure unified treatment and enforcement across all of its member states. In response to these new reports of government surveillance, the US can expect a critical review of its status as a permitted recipient of EU personal data.

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/cybertruth/2013/10/31/snowden-disclosures-fuel-europes-privacy-fears/3327889/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=206567
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