CNN Washington AM Note
June 18th, 2013
06:09 AM ET
10 years ago

CNN Washington AM Note


CNN: Afghan forces formally take over security of country.

Marking a key transition in the more than decade long war, Afghan forces have formally taken over security for the entire country from NATO-led troops, Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced at a handover ceremony in Kabul on Tuesday. "You are the sons and guardians of this country and it is your responsibility to protect it," Karzai told the troops. ""I wish a long-term peace in Afghanistan." The head of NATO said Afghans are now in charge. "The main effort of our forces is shifting from combat to support. We will continue to help Afghan troops in operations, if needed, but we will no longer plan, execute, or lead these operations," NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the ceremony. Inside a firefight with the Taliban Born solely to serve others Packing up, shippping out of Afghanistan "By the end of 2014, our combat mission will be completed," Rasmussen said.

ALSO SEE: Reuters: Explosion in Kabul coincides with Afghan security handover


CNN: Weather disasters cost $110 billion in 2012

From Superstorm Sandy and last year's drought to tornadoes, wildfires and a hurricane, the weather and climate disasters of 2012 caused more than $110 billion in damages, making it one of the costliest years on record for weather events, national climate data show. There were 11 disaster events last year, each one causing more than $1 billion in damages, the National Climatic Data Center said. Since 1980, only 2005 had a higher damage total at $160 billion, according to the center, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The two most expensive disasters were Sandy, which caused about $65 billion in losses, and the yearlong drought, which cost about $30 billion, the center said. The drought, which affected more than half the country for most of 2012, also led to several wildfires and a fatal heatwave, the center said.

CNN: Federal investigators called in as Colorado firefighters make progress

As hundreds of firefighters began to get the upper hand on a huge blaze near Colorado Springs, investigators stepped up their probe into the cause of the most destructive wildfire in the state's history. Investigators are treating the 16,000-acre Black Forest Fire, which was 75% contained Monday, as a crime scene, though they don't yet know whether a crime was committed, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said. Authorities are allowing more people to visit their homes by the day - the mandatory evacuation area covered the homes of 4,100 people Monday, down from tens of thousands last week. But Maketa asked for patience from those still being kept out, citing not only the remaining hot spots, but also the need to preserve evidence.

WSJ: Teacher Training's Low Grade

U.S. colleges of education are an "industry of mediocrity" that churns out teachers ill-prepared to work in elementary and high-school classrooms, according to a report by a nonprofit advocacy group that represents the first comprehensive review of such programs. The study, by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which has long promoted overhauling U.S. teacher preparation, assigned ratings of up to four stars to 1,200 programs at 608 institutions that collectively account for 72% of the graduates of all such programs in the nation. U.S. News & World Report will publish the results Tuesday. They are similar to the magazine's rankings of top colleges, undergraduate engineering programs and business and law schools—which are widely followed but whose methodology some education officials have criticized.

CNNMoney: Health care costs to slow in 2014

Total costs for health care services, including everything from doctor visits and prescription drugs to surgeries, are expected to rise 6.5% in 2014, when the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in, according to a report released Tuesday. While costs are rising faster than inflation, the projected increase pales in comparison to the double-digit spikes seen in the early 2000s. It's also slightly less than the 7.5% increase PwC estimated for 2013. The growth in health care costs is typically used by insurers to set premiums, according to the report by PwC's Health Research Institute, which analyzed costs for the 150 million Americans covered by employer health care plans.


CNN: Obama bristles at suggestion he's shifted on snooping

Critics who have compared President Barack Obama's stance on government surveillance to that of hawkish former Vice President Dick Cheney are missing his insistence on proper systematic balances, Obama said in an interview that aired Monday. Defending at length the recently revealed government programs that gather information about phone calls and Internet usage, Obama said his focus has always been on allowing information to be gathered while ensuring necessary oversight. "Some people say, 'Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he's, you know, Dick Cheney.'" Obama told PBS' Charlie Rose. "Dick Cheney sometimes says, 'Yeah, you know? He took it all lock, stock, and barrel.' My concern has always been not that we shouldn't do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances?"

ALSO SEE: Reuters: Obama says Bernanke has 'stayed a lot longer' than he wanted at Fed

WSJ: New Outreach: White House Dinners

The kids are getting older, the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue is emptier on weekends, and the nation's first couple is filling the time by hosting casual Friday dinner parties that have been known to stretch past midnight. President Barack Obama, often criticized for shunning Washington's social life, has said it had been a priority to devote time to his wife and two daughters. But with Malia, who is nearly 15 years old, and Sasha, 12, now eager to be with friends, the first couple has been hosting more small dinner parties in the White House residence—talk-filled events with business leaders, public figures and friends. The White House wouldn't provide a list of who has been invited, but people familiar with the dinners say guests have included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, American Express Co. AXP +1.19% Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault and David Rubenstein, co-founder of Carlyle Group CG -0.45% and a former adviser to President Jimmy Carter.

Irish Examiner: Bono’s surprise guests

She’s married to the most powerful man in the world and is used to eating haute cuisine with heads of state. Today, however, Michelle Obama will trade silver service for pub grub when she visits one of Dublin’s most famous hostelries. The US first lady is being treated to lunch by U2’s Bono at his local pub, Finnegan’s of Dalkey.  The family bar, which has hosted luminaries as disparate as author Salman Rushdie and actress Pamela Anderson, was preparing to go into lockdown last night.  Crash barriers were erected outside at 7pm as curious locals took their evening stroll through the village.

CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?

A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll. And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation. Republicans argue that the Obama administration used the IRS to intimidate and harass political opponents. Democrats say poor management at the tax agency, rather than political bias, is to blame. Congressional sources on both sides say that interviews with IRS workers so far have found no political conspiracy.


CNN: House GOP leaders add rape exception to abortion bill

House Republican leaders are hoping to head off a repeat of last week's controversy over the issue of whether there should be an exception for cases of rape and incest in a GOP sponsored bill banning late term abortions by adding that exception before the House debates the measure on Tuesday. Republican members on the House Judiciary committee, which marked up the abortion bill last week, voted down a Democratic amendment to allow women who are raped to obtain an abortion beyond 22 weeks into a pregnancy. But House GOP leaders decided to add a slightly different exception to the bill after several GOP members expressed concerns about the issue, according to two House Republican leadership aides. The new language permits an exception for those women who get pregnant through rape or incest to obtain an abortion if they report the crime to the authorities first.

Politico: Immigration momentum grows in House this week

The Republican-led House will take its deepest dive yet into immigration reform this week, rushing to play catchup with the Senate on the chief domestic policy battle this year. The House bipartisan group, which has labored for four years without releasing anything, is finally on the verge of producing a bill. The House Judiciary Committee is holding its first immigration markup on Tuesday on an enforcement-centered bill that Democrats abhor. And the all-Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus will huddle with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday, and immigration will undoubtedly be a hot topic.

CNN: Cruz to add voter ID amendment to immigration bill

In a move that could affect the prospects for the immigration reform bill, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced Monday via Twitter that he plans to file an amendment to the legislation that would allow states to require proof of citizenship before registering to vote. His announcement came in response to the Supreme Court's decision Monday to strike down an Arizona provision in its voter registration law that required identification confirming citizenship. If the senator's amendment goes to the floor, it could throw a wrench in the already-complicated immigration reform bill. A bipartisan group of senators have been pushing the bill

ALSO SEE: NYT: In Round 3, Immigration Bill Faces Sessions, Who Won Rounds 1 and 2

ALSO SEE: CNN Poll: Big generational divide in immigration battle

Politico: AFL-CIO wants original deal for H-1B workers

The AFL-CIO is blanketing Senate offices with a list of demands for the Gang of Eight immigration bill, detailing what measures it will and will not support as the chamber continues debating the mammoth legislation. On the approved list for the union: keeping hard-fought labor protections for immigrant workers and making sure the pathway to citizenship is still attainable. And what they’ll fight: enacting additional barriers for undocumented immigrants to become legalized, denying immigrants federal benefits, and tampering with a new guest-worker program it negotiated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a four-page letter sent to senators Monday evening, the AFL-CIO also said they would fight to reinstate the original agreement on H-1B workers — a deal that was changed during the committee markup to placate Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and the high-tech community, much to the dismay of unions.

WSJ: Farm Bill Foes Tangle GOP Leadership

Republican leaders in the House will face a familiar foe when they bring a massive farm bill to the floor later this week: their own rank-and-file. Conservatives on and off Capitol Hill are working to scuttle the latest rewrite of federal farm and nutrition policy, providing another glimpse of the fault lines that have roiled Republicans in the House all year. Top Republicans are confident they will muster the votes necessary to pass the bill, which would authorize $940 billion in spending over 10 years. But doing so would require Democratic support. The challenge presents House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) with another tactical headache in a year defined by intra-party bickering.

ALSO SEE: The Hill: Obama threatens to veto House farm bill

NYT: Top Senator on Panel Blocks Aid to Afghans

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan may still be getting his monthly cash deliveries from the C.I.A. But now, until the Obama administration explains the rationale behind the payments, the Afghan government will have to go without $75 million in American aid. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, announced Monday that he was putting a hold on the aid until the White House offered “sufficient assurances” that the bags of cash being delivered to Mr. Karzai by the C.I.A. were not fueling the corruption that pervades the Afghan government.

National Journal: Sen. Cornyn Reveals Not One, Not Two, but Three Public Pensions Atop His Salary

Texas Republican John Cornyn supplemented his Senate salary with a trio of public pensions last year from his days as a Texas judge and elected official—a practice some fiscal watchdog groups have attacked as “double dipping.” Cornyn, who is the minority whip and the No. 2 ranking Republican in the Senate, reported collecting $65,383 in public retirement benefits in 2012 in addition to his $174,000 salary as a U.S. senator.   Cornyn’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Elected to the Senate in 2002, Cornyn is a former district judge, Texas Supreme Court justice, and state attorney general. In 2012, he collected pensions from three separate state retirement programs. The biggest of Cornyn’s pensions—$48,807— is from the Judicial Retirement System of Texas. He served on the state Supreme Court from 1991 to 1997. He reported another $10,132 in retirement benefits last year from the Employees Retirement System of Texas—the pension fund for state elected officials and workers. Cornyn served as Texas attorney general from 1999 to 2002.

ALSO SEE: Politico: Who are the wealthiest House leaders?


WSJ: Treasury's Lew: IRS Set to Recommend Changes

Daniel Werfel, acting commissioner at the Internal Revenue Service, will recommend changes to the agency next week stemming from the recent uproar over the targeting of conservative groups, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a Monday interview with Univision. Mr. Lew wouldn't suggest what some of those recommendations might be, but he said the White House was still committed to holding responsible any agency officials that might have been involved in improperly targeting conservative groups applying for non-profit status. He also said the White House was going to "look beyond [the current scandal to] make sure that if there's a structural issue in the IRS that allowed this to happen, we make sure we fix that as well."

USA Today/Pew Poll: Snowden should be prosecuted for NSA leaks

A majority of Americans say the person responsible for leaking top-secret documents about U.S. surveillance of phone and Internet records should be criminally prosecuted, a new USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll finds, even as views are closely divided about the wisdom of the programs themselves. The poll, taken Wednesday through Sunday, shows a nation riven by cross-currents about the unauthorized disclosures by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, of sweeping surveillance programs that can collect information about millions of Americans and foreigners.

ALSO SEE: CNN Poll: Majority give Snowden thumbs down

BuzzFeed: E.W. Jackson: I Stand By Everything I Said About Gays And Planned Parenthood

In an interview Monday, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E. W. Jackson, defended controversial comments he has made about gays and comparisons he drew between the Klu Klux Klan and Planned Parenthood. “The main similarity, which I will continue to propound is that the moral dilema that both pose is very similar,” Jackson told conservative talk radio host Bryan Fischer. “The justification for slavery is in a sense the same as the justification for unfettered abortion, which is, the victim is not a real person, he’s not a human being and therefore has no rights that we are bound to respect.” Later, Jackson declined to back off his views of what Fischer said was “the normalization of homosexuality.”

Politico: Massachusetts Special Election: Ed Markey to hit Gabriel Gomez with guns, abortion ad before final debate

Rep. Ed Markey (D) will go on the radio Tuesday with an advertisement attacking Gabriel Gomez ahead of the final debate before the special Massachusetts Senate election. The 60-second spot, shared first with POLITICO, hits the Republican candidate for comments he made about guns, abortion and home mortgages deductions during the first two debates. “Gomez has been complaining about the discussion between the candidates on ending gun violence, but Ed Markey has simply pointed out that Gomez was against a ban on high capacity magazines and Gomez is against a ban on assault weapons,” a male narrator says. “Gomez should be explaining why he sides with Washington, D.C., Republicans and the NRA.”


BBC: G8 summit to focus on tax, trade and transparency

Tax, trade and transparency are expected to dominate discussions on the second day of a summit of the G8 group of leading industrialised nations. The issues – dubbed "The Three Ts" – were placed at the top of the agenda by the UK for its presidency of the G8. Monday's meetings in Northern Ireland focused on the conflict in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin was pressed to agree a joint communique calling for peace and better access for aid. After talks with his US counterpart Barack Obama, both men acknowledged their differences but said they shared a common desire to stop the bloodshed.

ALSO SEE: CNNMoney: U.S. and Europe kick off free trade talks

CNN: After summit talks, U.S. and Russia still don't see eye to eye on Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he still doesn't see eye to eye with the United States on Syria. But "all of us have the intention to stop the violence in Syria ... and to solve this situation peacefully," Putin said Monday after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the Group of Eight Summit in Northern Ireland. Putin said he and Obama "agreed to push the parties to the negotiating table." But the Russian president didn't specify who could be involved in Syria talks, when they would take place or what their end goal would be. The G8 summit comes days after the United States pledged to play a greater role in assisting Syrian rebels, citing evidence that President Bashar al-Assad's regime used chemical weapons against the rebels and his own people.

ALSO SEE: Der Spiegel: German-Russian Relations Hit a Deep Chill

CNN: Snowden claims online Obama expanded 'abusive' security programs

A series of blog posts on Monday purportedly by Edward Snowden said he leaked classified details about U.S. surveillance programs because President Barack Obama worsened "abusive" practices instead of curtailing them as he promised as a candidate.

In 90 minutes of live online chatting, the person identified as Snowden by Britain's Guardian newspaper and website insisted that U.S. authorities have access to phone calls, e-mails and other communications far beyond constitutional bounds. While he said legal restrictions can be easily skirted by analysts at the National Security Agency, FBI and CIA, Snowden stopped short of accusing authorities of violating specific laws. Instead, he said toothless regulations and policies were to blame for what he called "suspicionless surveillance," and he warned that policies can be changed to allow further abuses.

Fox: NSA chief Alexander to testify on classified leaks in rare public hearing

National Security Agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander will address the House intelligence committee on Tuesday in a rare public hearing that could shed new light on the scope of the federal government’s classified phone and Internet surveillance programs. The session involving two of Washington’s most secretive bodies comes as an NSA leaker,  former contractor Edward Snowden, threatens to reveal more government secrets from his hiding spot in Hong Kong. Alexander has already gone to Capitol Hill several times since Snowden revealed details earlier this month about the government programs - to discuss the agency’s budget and meet privately with congressional members.  But the upcoming meeting, titled “How Disclosed NSA Programs Protect Americans, and Why,” will be the first time Alexander speaks publicly about the agency-led surveillance programs.

ALSO SEE: Politico: Dianne Feinstein: No NSA Senate hearing soon

CNN: Could be two years until women can train for elite combat

It may be another two years before women can start training for jobs in Army Ranger and Navy SEAL units under plans to be announced by the Pentagon on Tuesday, a Defense Department official familiar with the matter said. The official declined to be named because the plans are not yet announced. It is part of the next step in a longstanding effort to open as many combat jobs as possible to women. The plan now is for jobs in special operations to be available to women possibly in mid-2015. The official argued the latest development is not a delay, but is more of an acknowledgment by the military that it needs more time to study the issue.

CNN: U.S. releases names of ‘indefinite detainees’ at Guantanamo

The names of dozens of detainees held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were released for the first time on Monday after a newspaper sued the federal government for the information. The list identifies 46 inmates being held for “continued detention” at the facility, which President Barack Obama has vowed to close. The report was made public after a lawsuit from the Miami Herald. The Obama administration first acknowledged that detainees were being held indefinitely in Guantanamo in 2010, but didn't make their identities public until now. Recently, more than half of the 166 current Guantanamo detainees have staged a hunger strike. They are protesting their treatment and indefinite detention, resulting in force feedings of more than 20.

CNN: U.S. takes wait-and-see stance on Iran's new president

The U.S. State Department said Monday it wasn't surprised that Iran's newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should stay in power until 2014. "We have a number of differences with Iran, and the leadership there, over Syria and the path forward," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. "We've expressed on a number of occasions our concerns about their recent aid to the regime and the influx of foreign fighters, and specifically Hezbollah." The United States and other Western nations are working on how to help the rebels in Syria's brutal, two-year civil war as the al-Assad government receives backing from Iran and Russia. During his election campaign, Rouhani supported more moderate policies inside Iran and constructive engagement with other countries. But in his first news conference over the weekend, he stuck by al-Assad and insisted Iran would not revive its moratorium on uranium enrichment from a decade ago, saying , "This period is over."

ALSO SEE: CNN: Rouhani: Iran could open talks with U.S. if it quits bullying, respects nuclear rights


CNN: Man disrupts flight, screams about CIA, poison, passengers say

Passengers on a United Airlines flight on Monday helped subdue a man who they said stood up and screamed about the CIA, national security leaks and poison. The disruption occurred during Flight 116 from Hong Kong that eventually landed safely at its scheduled destination in Newark. Passengers aboard the Boeing 777 said the unidentified man began making troubling statements about 10 hours into the flight. "There was this gentleman screaming that he had names of people that work for the CIA and he was screaming those names - not making too much sense," Jacques Roizen told CNN's The Situation Room. But it wasn't until the man reached for something in his pocket that a group of passengers converged and tackled him. "He resisted and started saying things like 'they're trying to kill me, they're trying to poison me,'" Roizen said.

CNN: Source: 'Highly credible' info led to new Hoffa dig; murder put on Detroit mob

The FBI - working on information from an aging reputed mobster - will continue digging in the waist-high grass of a Detroit-area field Tuesday in yet another search for the remains of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. The information that sparked the latest hunt in the nearly four-decades-long search for Hoffa is "highly credible," a source familiar with the investigation said. Agents were executing a search warrant for a field in Oakland Township, north of Detroit, based in part on information provided by alleged mobster Tony Zerilli. The paperwork filed under seal that accompanies the search warrant is described as "several pages long," according to the source, and it explains thy the FBI believes the search is justified. "The information provided by Tony Zerilli is highly credible," the source said.

CNN: Star prosecution witness: 'It broke my heart' to learn Bulger was FBI informant

With defendant James "Whitey" Bulger sitting less than eight feet away and staring straight ahead, a star government witness in the case against Bulger explained Monday why he turned against the man he long counted among "my partners in crime, my best friends." Aging mobster John Martorano said he learned Bulger was an FBI informant, the worst thing you could be in "Southie," a part of Boston that prided itself on absolute loyalty. "It broke my heart. It broke all loyalties," said Martorano, his testimony laced with what sounded like sadness. Bulger is charged in the deaths of 19 people during the nearly two decades that federal prosecutors say he was the head of the Irish mob in Boston.

WSJ: Justices to Review Housing Bias Case

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review an important legal strategy used in housing-discrimination cases, taking up a dispute similar to one that has caused political trouble for labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez. The court agreed to hear a case from Mount Holly, N.J., on whether U.S. civil-rights enforcers or individuals can bring lawsuits to challenge housing practices that allegedly harm minorities, regardless of whether the perceived discrimination was intentional. Last year, the Supreme Court was preparing to hear a different case on the issue but Mr. Perez, currently the Justice Department's top civil-rights lawyer, helped broker a deal that removed the case from the court's docket. Mr. Perez has said he acted out of concern that an adverse high-court ruling could have dealt a blow to civil-rights enforcement.


Dallas Morning News: Some say West blast ‘rushed’ nursing home patients’ deaths

At first, they were considered miracles. One hundred thirty or so patients at the West Rest Haven nursing home somehow survived when the fertilizer plant exploded nearby. Some were injured, others were simply shaken up. Only one patient died that first horrific night. Since then, however, an alarming number of those patients have died. There are 14 in all, almost double what’s normal for a two-month period at the nursing home, administrator Rose Ann Morris said. Among an already frail population, it would be difficult to say for sure whether the blast caused their deaths. Still, the medical director of West Rest Haven, the board president and many of the patients’ families agree that the explosion was a contributing factor.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Corbett signs bill restricting abortion coverage under insurance exchange

Women in Pennsylvania who sign up for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act's new insurance exchange will not be able to purchase abortion coverage – even with private dollars. Gov. Corbett signed into law a bill today that prohibits abortion coverage in insurance plans offered through the exchanges. Pennsylvania is now one of about 20 other states limiting coverage under the health care exhanges. set up to provide lower cost health care to independent workers and small businesses that cannot afford insurance for their employees. Corbett decided not to set up a Pennsylvania-specific exchange, so residents must rely on plans administered by the federal government.


CNN: Syria's new 'reconciliation minister' offers plan to stymie carnage

Ali Haidar has a job title that may sound more like a pipe dream than an official post. But Syria's new minister for national reconciliation said he believes the country can still unite for a political solution - even after two years of incessant bloodshed and more than 92,000 deaths. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, Haidar said all parts of the Syrian government should be up for negotiation. "The best compromise that we can achieve today is that the regime and we, as a part of the homeland peaceful opposition, agree to the negotiating table without any preconditions, without excluding anybody from the opposition - which means everything is subject to discussion," Haidar said. And that includes the presidency.

Reuters: U.S. right to arm Syrian rebels, says Israeli president

Israeli President Shimon Peres has thrown his weight behind U.S. plans to arm Syrian rebels, shrugging off fears the weapons could be turned on Israel and exacerbate the conflict. In a wide-ranging interview with Reuters before his 90th birthday, Peres dismissed the idea that Israel could launch a unilateral military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities and urged Palestinians and Israelis to forge immediate peace. Looking at the many problems besetting the Middle East, Israel's elder statesmen, who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said terror groups were ripping apart the Arab world.

Jerusalem Post: Clinton: Israel must make peace in order to survive

While strongly advocating a two-state solution for Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, former US president Bill Clinton stressed on Monday night that “preparing for the worst” in an uncertain Middle Eastern climate is a sensible attitude for the Jewish State. “But if all you do is prepare for the worst and you don’t work for the best then there is no possibility of ever seeing the triumph of creative cooperation,” Clinton said. Facing a surging Palestinian population in the West Bank, the only choice for Israel to remain a Jewish and democratic nation will be to work toward a two-state solution, Clinton said at an event in Rehovot on Monday night. The former US president was speaking about global cooperation and sustainability at a gala event of the Peres Academic Center, an event also held in the presence of President Shimon Peres in honor of his 90th birthday.

CNN: 'Standing man' inspires silent demonstration in Turkey

A single man stood silently in Istanbul's Taksim Square for hours Monday night, defying police who broke up weekend anti-government protests with tear gas and water cannon and drawing hundreds of others to his vigil. For more than five hours, he appeared to stare at a portrait of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state. Police eventually moved in to arrest many of those who joined him, but whether Erdem Gunduz - a performance artist quickly dubbed the "standing man" - was in custody was unclear early Tuesday. Turkey has been wracked by more than two weeks of protests against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But many of those who joined Gunduz late Monday said they were standing only for peace, not taking sides.

CNN: 9 cent hike leads to clashes on Brazil's streets

Nine cents have been enough to make tens of thousands of Brazilians cry foul for a week. For the demonstrators who have transformed streets in Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte into protest battlegrounds, it isn't so much that the price of a bus ticket went up from 3.00 to 3.20 reais ($1.38 to $1.47). The small bump in fare was the straw that broke the camel's back in a much larger issue, and protesters plan to march again Tuesday to vent their anger. They say the hike is just one more example of how government nickel-and-dimes the poorest out of their money, then throws it out on lavish, high-profile projects.

Yonhap: Seoul envoy against resuming 'talks for talks' sake' with Pyongyang

South Korea's chief nuclear envoy on Tuesday responded coolly to North Korea's proposal of high-level talks with the United States, saying there should not be "talks for talks' sake" with Pyongyang. Cho Tae-yong, South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, made the remarks as he left for Washington for a trilateral meeting with his American and Japanese counterparts - Glyn Davies and Shinsuke Sugiyama. The trip by Cho to the U.S. came two days after North Korea offered talks with Washington aimed at easing tensions and denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Cho will also visit Beijing later this week.

The Guardian: G20 summits: Russia and Turkey react with fury to spying revelations

Turkey, South Africa and Russia have reacted angrily to the British government demanding an explanation for the revelations that their politicians and senior officials were spied on and bugged during the 2009 G20 summit in London. The foreign ministry in Ankara said it was unacceptable that the British government had intercepted phonecalls and monitored the computers of Turkey's finance minister as well as up to 15 others from his visiting delegation. If confirmed, the eavesdropping operation on a Nato ally was "scandalous", it added. The ministry summoned the UK's ambassador to Ankara to hear Turkey's furious reaction in person. A spokesman at the foreign ministry read out an official statement saying: "The allegations in the Guardian are very worrying … If these allegations are true, this is going to be scandalous for the UK. At a time when international co-operation depends on mutual trust, respect and transparency, such behaviour by an allied country is unacceptable."

BBC: Julian Assange: Ecuador will continue to grant asylum

Ecuador's foreign minister has said its embassy in London will continue to provide political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Ricardo Patino was speaking after talks with his UK counterpart, William Hague. Mr Assange has been staying inside the embassy for the past year to avoid extradition to Sweden. The Australian anti-secrecy campaigner is wanted there for questioning over allegations by two women of sexual offences – which he denies. Mr Assange, who arrived at the Ecuadorean embassy in the Knightsbridge area of London a year ago on 19 June, will be arrested if he leaves the building. Mr Patino said Mr Assange was prepared to stay inside the embassy for five years.


Bloomberg: Yahoo Received Up to 13,000 Data Requests From U.S. Authorities

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), the largest U.S. Web portal, said it got as many as 13,000 requests for information from U.S. law enforcement agencies, becoming the latest technology company to detail government data collection. The requests occurred in the six months ended May, with the most common types related to fraud, homicides and criminal investigations, Yahoo said in a posting on Tumblr. The company said it can’t lawfully break out Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests, and it urged the U.S. government to reconsider its stance on the issue. Yahoo joins Apple Inc. (AAPL), Facebook Inc. (FB) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in detailing thousands of warrants from government entities for data. The companies have come under scrutiny since Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency, disclosed this month that the NSA is collecting data under a U.S. government program code-named PRISM.


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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    I hope corbett doesn't get one of his mistresses pregnant and like the rep in Arkansas(?) asks her to have an abortion because the woman would have to go to a more progressive less woman hating state.

    June 18, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  2. king

    why is Americans so easily fooled, when Bush and Chaney came up with the patriot act, they were running it willy nilly. Obama has structured this law by putting in check and balances, by the court, congress and the executive branch. this law is legitimated because of these provisions. lesson folks we are still in a war that doesnt have borders, and yes we need to protect ourselves with the least intrusive to the Americans people privacy, i think the new patriot act is the best way we can do this.

    June 18, 2013 07:00 am at 7:00 am |