mistersandman: How would you feel if you had to put on a really stupid hat? (RAGE)
[personal profile] mistersandman
The U.S. Congress yesterday approved, and President Barack Obama signed into law, a four-year extension of provisions in the USA Patriot Act that allow law enforcement to track suspected terrorists with roving wiretaps.

The legislation was first passed by the Senate, 72-23, followed by the House, 250-153. Because Obama was in France for meetings of the Group of Eight nations, he directed that an autopen machine, which holds a pen and replicates his signature, be used to sign the bill, the White House said.

The bill was signed yesterday before a previous extension, approved by Congress in February, expired at midnight, the White House said. The new law continues the surveillance powers until June 1, 2015.

The measure "will safeguard us from future attacks," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said before his chamber's vote. "By extending this invaluable terror- fighting tool, we're staying ahead" of terrorists who want to attack the U.S., he said.

The bill's roving-wiretap section allows federal agents to obtain a single warrant to monitor telephone calls of suspects using a series of mobile phones.

Other provisions allow authorities to obtain business and library records, and to target so-called "lone wolf" suspects who aren't affiliated with any terrorist group.

Senator Rand Paul, a bill opponent, tried to delay the Senate vote, pressing for the bill to be amended. The Kentucky Republican said the legislation goes too far in violating privacy rights to keep the U.S. secure.

"Do we want a government that looks at our Visa bill?" he said in a May 24 floor speech. "Do we want a government that looks at all of our records and is finding out what our reading habits are?"

The Patriot Act was passed after the Sept. 11 attacks, and many of its provisions are permanent law. Some of its surveillance powers have been opposed by some lawmakers and outside groups, including civil liberties activists.



I tried writing a letter to Obama describing my feelings on his decision but it came off as too venomous so I decided to post here instead. What the fuck, Obama? What was the point of all that talk about change and hope if you keep or strengthen the worst of your predecessor's policies?

The President doesn't want to appear weak on terror for the sake of the same howling ninnies who insist that he's a Nazi terrorist Islamic Christian socialist. There's no satisfying those people. It seems like Obama spends more time courting the people who hate him than satisfying the people who put him into office.

I took an environmental history class once and the professor (the spitting image of Clint Eastwood) growled, "I don't like Obama. He's too conservative for me." He got a few good laughs with that one, but I'm not laughing anymore.  The worst part is, there's no viable alternative.  I could vote for Jon Huntsman in 2012 to punish Obama, but as much as I like Huntsman, there's no way he'd ever repeal the Patriot Act.  I thought the recent hit on bin Laden would make America feel safer and more confident, but it seems like it's only convinced Congress that the War on Terror is a really great idea that must be pursued vigorously.
mistersandman: (SHAME)
[personal profile] mistersandman
Israel called on the United States and a number of European countries over the weekend to curb their criticism of President Hosni Mubarak to preserve stability in the region.

Jerusalem seeks to convince its allies that it is in the West's interest to maintain the stability of the Egyptian regime. The diplomatic measures came after statements in Western capitals implying that the United States and European Union supported Mubarak's ouster.

Israeli officials are keeping a low profile on the events in Egypt, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even ordering cabinet members to avoid commenting publicly on the issue.

Read more... )


Could there be any stronger indication that the United States' alliance with Israel is little more than a Cold War relic? When it is in the United States' "genuine interests" to prop up a massively unpopular president-for-life, maybe it's time to reconsider some priorities.


mistersandman: (Default)
[personal profile] mistersandman
Really tremendous speech by President Obama. If the video isn't loading, watch it on YouTube here.
mistersandman: (Default)
[personal profile] mistersandman

WASHINGTON — American scientists deliberately infected prisoners and patients in a mental hospital in Guatemala with syphilis 60 years ago, a recently unearthed experiment that prompted U.S. officials to apologize Friday and declare outrage over "such reprehensible research."

The discovery dredges up past wrongs in the name of science — like the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study in this country that has long dampened minority participation in medical research — and could complicate ongoing studies overseas that depend on cooperation from some of the world's poorest countries to tackle tough-to-treat diseases.

Uncovering it gives "us all a chance to look at this and — even as we are appalled at what was done — to redouble our efforts to make sure something like this could never happen again," said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH-funded experiment, which ran from 1946 to 1948, was uncovered by a Wellesley College medical historian. It apparently was conducted to test if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent some sexually transmitted infections. The study came up with no useful information and was hidden for decades.

Click for full article )

Awful human rights violations in the name of science: Not just for Hitler!

mistersandman: (hahaha)
[personal profile] mistersandman
Read more... )

So many valuable lessons learned. First: never use the New York Times because they will make articles inaccessible halfway through your post. Second: Oil tycoons become really concerned with the environment when faced with the possibility that someone other than they will get to take advantage of it. Third: We demand that President Obama be tough on socialists at home and abroad, some of the time.

This is a major turning point. I hope Raul "We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where one can live without working" Castro uses this opportunity to get some payback for the last century of US-Cuban relations, which has consisted largely of America being a huge condescending asshole. They can sell their oil to China and it would be the sweetest Fuck You in the history of international relations.

Alternatively, Obama might follow in the footsteps of his esteemed predecessors McKinley, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, and Eisenhower and once more "liberate" Cuba of its sovereignty. It would be the first time "environmental issues" were the stated reason for US imperialist-style intervention.
mistersandman: How would you feel if you had to put on a really stupid hat? (comical hat)
[personal profile] mistersandman

WASHINGTON — Broad new regulations being drafted by the Obama administration would make it easier for law enforcement and national security officials to eavesdrop on Internet and e-mail communications like social networking Web sites and BlackBerries, The New York Times reported Monday.

The newspaper said the White House plans to submit a bill next year that would require all online services that enable communications to be technically equipped to comply with a wiretap order. That would include providers of encrypted e-mail, such as BlackBerry, networking sites like Facebook and direct communication services like Skype.

Federal law enforcement and national security officials say new the regulations are needed because terrorists and criminals are increasingly giving up their phones to communicate online.

"We're talking about lawfully authorized intercepts," said FBI lawyer Valerie E. Caproni. "We're not talking about expanding authority. We're talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security."

The White House plans to submit the proposed legislation to Congress next year.

The new regulations would raise new questions about protecting people's privacy while balancing national security concerns.

James Dempsey, the vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, said the new regulations would have "huge implications."

"They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function," he told the Times.

The Times said the Obama proposal would likely include several requires:

-Any service that provides encrypted messages must be capable of unscrambling them.

-Any foreign communications providers that do business in the U.S. would have to have an office in the United States that's capable of providing intercepts.

-Software developers of peer-to-peer communications services would be required to redesign their products to allow interception.

The Times said that some privacy and technology advocates say the regulations would create weaknesses in the technology that hackers could more easily exploit.


Resisting the urge to use any Orwellian rhetoric, I find this highly problematic.

mistersandman: (hahaha)
[personal profile] mistersandman
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will march together on Washington.

Or against each other in Washington.

Either way, expect plenty of Comedy Central fans to show up on October 30 when Stewart's "Rally To Restore Sanity" will meet Colbert's "March To Keep Fear Alive" in the nation's capital.

The duo have been hinting at a major announcement for several episodes in a mock response to Glenn Beck's own "Restoring Honor" rally that was held this year on the anniversary of a famous Martin Luther King speech at the same monument. There's no indication that the announced get-together is a joke, though.

Both comedians are telling their audiences to book hotel rooms now (though for different reasons, as you'll see). "It'll be like being in a chat room," Stewart explained. "But real."

Stewart punctuated his announcement on the earlier program with a homemade-looking banner reading, "Take It Down A Notch For America."

Colbert followed up with an announcement on his own show, and insisted that he would "notch it up a scotch."


Read more... )
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[personal profile] mistersandman
President Obama has denied that rising violence is making Mexico more and more like Colombia at the height of its drugs war.

The remark is an apparent contradiction to comments made by his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

She said on Wednesday that the drug war in Mexico had begun to resemble the violence in Colombia 20 years ago. But Mr Obama told a US Spanish-language newspaper that there was no comparison between the two.

"Mexico is vast and progressive democracy, with a growing economy, and as a result you cannot compare what is happening in Mexico with what happened in Colombia 20 years ago," he told the Los Angeles-based daily La Opinion.

Mrs Clinton made her remarks after a foreign policy speech at a think tank in Washington.

Drug cartels, she said, were "showing more and more indices of insurgencies".

The traffickers were "in some cases, morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America", she said.

The violence was beginning to resemble Colombia of 20 years ago when insurgent groups controlled some 40% of the country, Mrs Clinton added.

Mexico rejected Mrs Clinton's analogy.

Speaking in Mexico City, a government spokesman said the only aspect that the Mexican and Colombian conflicts share is their root cause - a high demand for drugs in the US.

More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon deployed the army to fight the cartels in 2006 and violence has spilled over into Central America.



Recent advances in the War on Drugs aside, why would President Obama contradict Hillary Clinton? If drug cartels are indeed linked to insurgency groups, perhaps Obama wants to avoid getting the whole War on Terror thing mixed up in the smorgasbord of issues the United States currently faces with its southern neighbor, immigration being the hot topic of the hour.

As part of the Merida Initiative passed in 2008, Congress allotted 1.6 billion dollars over three years to combat drug trafficking, etc. While this brings up some awkward questions of sovereignty, the fact remains that without America, the drug trade in Mexico (and Columbia for that matter) may never have become an issue.  This poster wonders what effect legal marijuana in the US would have on Mexican drug cartels.
treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche
A federal judge in California has ruled that a ban on homosexuals serving openly in the US military is unconstitutional.

The judge said the law violated fundamental First Amendment rights.

The law allows gay and lesbian soldiers to serve if their homosexuality is not known but suspends them if it is. It is referred to as "don't ask, don't tell".

The latest case was regarded as a major test for the law, which President Barack Obama says he would repeal.

On Thursday, US District Judge Virginia Phillips granted a request for an injunction halting the policy.

She said the law did not help military readiness, but had a "direct and deleterious effect" on the armed services.

The Obama administration has promised to introduce legislation repealing it.

It has also announced that the repeal would not be implemented until after the Pentagon completed a review of its impact on the armed forces.

In the past, the issue of gays in the military has divided opinion in the US.

But most Americans now accept openly gay servicemembers, according a recent Gallup poll.

Gays in the US military
  • President Clinton wanted to lift the ban in gays in military

  • After staunch opposition, compromise "don't ask, don't tell" policy passed in 1993

  • Between 1997 and 2008, 10,500 servicemembers discharged under rules

  • President Barack Obama pledged to repeal the policy

  • Pentagon review announced in February 2010



It's awesome that what I've long-suspected to be true has been confirmed by someone with legal and judicial credentials, but I can't imagine that the Obama administration would suddenly stop dragging their heels on repealing DADT, what with elections coming up in less than two months.

The ironic thing is that the Democratic Party would be set back if they lost all their LGBT support (the gAyTM, as I've seen the LGBT support referred to), but the Democratic Party does little else but talk about doing things to get that support, and when they do get that support, they don't seem to follow through.

The main selling point seems to be, "The Republicans are the greater evil; we're the lesser."
mistersandman: (hahaha)
[personal profile] mistersandman

BEIJING - China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) seek an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, leaders of both nations have agreed.

The pledge comes at a time when several parties involved in the nuclear talks have strengthened diplomatic efforts to restart the deadlocked mechanism.

Click for full article )



Some boring stuff nobody really cares about )
This has all been kind of heavy stuff so I guess I will round out this post with something that is probably more in line with the spirit of ontd_political: a tribute to that most colorful leader, Hu Zongtong, and all of the truly awkward photo ops he has subjected the unwitting public to, as inspired by that gem at the top of the post.Hu will be the first to make a pun? )
mistersandman: (Default)
[personal profile] mistersandman

Former US presidential candidate John McCain has comfortably won the Republican Senate nomination in Arizona after a closely-watched primary race.

Analysts say Mr McCain was forced to the political right as he battled JD Hayworth, who is backed by the conservative Tea Party movement.

Read more... )



Just a follow up to [personal profile] bartlebyslament's post, which can be found here. Also, if anyone needed proof of the rose-tainted glasses applied to political history, it is that the Quayle name can be used positively (though I suspect that the Quayle fortune, rather than the Quayle brand was the true advantage in this case). There really is hope for George W. Bush's (or Vice President Biden) political legacy when we as voters can forget the numerous crimes committed against the English language by former Vice President Dan Quayle, who taught America the value of the potatoe.

"What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."
treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche
CHICAGO -- Against a backdrop of American-made cars, President Obama cast his Republican critics on Thursday as having lost faith in the American people, part of an emerging campaign strategy to try to turn the country's populist mood against his opponents.

Click for the full story. )


BONUS LINK: Yeah ... But what's Obama done for me today? (More than you're aware of, I'm sure.)
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[personal profile] buongiornodaisy
Days after telling students at Stanford University that waterboarding was legal "by definition if it was authorized by the president," former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was pressed again on the subject yesterday by a fourth-grader at a Washington school.

Rice, in her first appearance in Washington since leaving government, was at the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital before giving an evening lecture at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. She held forth amiably before a few dozen students about her love of Israel, travel abroad and the importance of learning languages, then opened the floor to their questions.

The questions had been developed beforehand by students with their teachers and had not been screened by Rice. At first, they were innocuous: What was it like growing up in segregated Birmingham, Ala.? What skill did she want to be best known for?

Then Misha Lerner, a student from Bethesda, asked: What did Rice think about the things President Obama's administration was saying about the methods the Bush administration had used to get information from detainees?

Rice took the question in stride. saying that she was reluctant to criticize Obama, then getting to the heart of the matter.

More at the sauce.


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