One enterprising U.S. intelligence officer discovered the singers in the Vienna Opera were always the first to know, well, everything. (Snip) The most remarkable thing about the shift in U.S. intelligence estimates is that it had virtually nothing to do with the intelligence actually being collected. And now there is every sign that the intelligence community, in analyzing the al Qaeda threat, is making the same mistake again. The administration is writing a narrative that the al Qaeda threat is on the wane.
Not since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and prior to that the fall of France in 1940, has there been so swift an erosion of the world influence of a Great Power as we are witnessing with the United States. The Soviet Union crumbled jurisdictionally: In 1990-1991, one country became the 16 formerly constituent republics of that country, and except perhaps for Belarus, none of them show much disposition to return to the Russian fold into which they had been gathered, almost always by brute force, over the previous 300 years. The cataclysmic decline of France,
Tasha has the look of a young Britney Spears. With long, blonde hair, dressed in a bright pink skimpy top with skin-tight trousers and rather too much make-up, the 17-year-old appears a little too defiant, hard and knowing. But behind the posturing quivers a hurt little girl, still smarting from the day, as she describes it, ´Dad left Mum for another woman, abandoning us - innocent children with an idyllic family, or so we thought.´ Tasha is one of a number of children and young adults appearing in a BBC TV documentary shown tonight describing, with almost unbearable honesty, the
The National Security Agency is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age, according to newly disclosed documents. The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show. Many users assume — or have been assured
A new program developed by FemTechNet and titled “Storming Wikipedia” will apparently hit fifteen universities, including Yale, Brown, and Penn State, beginning this year. The program gives students college credit for writing “feminist thinking” into Wikipedia entries. There are 300 students registered for the course, according to course facilitator Alexandra Juhasz, professor of media studies at California’s Pitzer College. Juhasz explained, “A woman’s point of view or feminist point of view is not yet expressed in relationship to women in technology in Wikipedia. We hope that people engage in this project in respect to other themes as well.” It’s an
Rumblings are once again underway indicating movement on President Obama’s State of the Union proposal to “work with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America,” and to drive forward his agenda to create a “cradle to career” government education system. Increased spending of Americans’ tax dollars for universal child care means more government involvement in determining which facilities should receive funds. As prospects for the President’s plan to create a federal scorecard to evaluate colleges indicate, that will be, at the very least, a problematic venture. A new study published by the journal Science found
The recent announcement of Jeff Bezos’ plan to buy the Washington Post — and just the Post, along with a few other smaller publications, but not the parts of the Washington Post Company that are actually making money, like Kaplan Inc. — has prompted a lot of speculation. The speculation seems to be based on a simple syllogism: traditional newspapers are no longer capable of making a profit; Bezos bought a traditional newspaper; therefore, Bezos has some other motivation besides making a profit. (Snip) But what if Bezos knows what he’s doing? Let’s see if we can make sense of
One in five applicants for jobs at the Central Intelligence Agency have ties to Muslim terrorist organizations, according to the latest round of Snowden leaks. And Israel is a major target of American counterintelligence. Washington is insane. Three years ago, the Washington Post sketched the elephantiasis in the U.S. intelligence establishment without, of course, access to the detailed numbers leaked by Edward Snowden last week. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend if you can’t hire people you can trust. If you spend $52 billion in the “black budget,” you create so many conflicting bureaucratic interest groups as to
Republican´s intraparty divisions on Syria reflect a GOP roiled as much by an overwhelming distrust for President Obama’s foreign policy leadership as by a rising isolationist wing that is capitalizing on this sentiment to exert greater influence on party decisions. The GOP’s unusually dovish opposition to intervening in Syria, as expressed by a vocal cadre of Tea Party-affiliated Republicans, has suggested a possible drift and retreat from the muscular, internationalist foreign policy that has defined the party since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. But congressional Republicans rejecting a Democratic president’s request for an authorization to use military force would not be unprecedented,
President Obama´s unprecedented regulatory agenda is driving both foreign and domestic capital out of the United States. For now, the U.S. fortunately is still the top destination for investment in the world. Foreigners have invested more than $3.5 trillion in the U.S. economy, more than triple the share of the next-closest economy. But that edge is slipping. In 2011, foreigners invested $227 billion in the United States. That dropped to just $147 billion in 2012, a drop of more than 35 percent. And the decline occurred during what was supposedly an economic recovery. There are many reasons why investors are
For all the talk these days of how to revive our supposedly moribund American Dream, it took a college dropout-turned-actor to state the obvious. “I believe that opportunity looks a lot like work,” Ashton Kutcher recently said at the Teen Choice Awards. “I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.” That such remarks
Congress hasn’t passed immigration legislation, but that hasn’t stopped President Obama from issuing directives that grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. Last week, the Obama Administration issued the latest in a line of policy directives granting amnesty by default. This latest directive instructs Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials not to enforce immigration laws in cases where an illegal alien is the primary provider for any minor child—regardless of the child’s immigration status—or the parent or guardian of a child who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. In a statement about the new directive, House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte
Unskilled entry-level workers demand double pay without offering more to their employers or customers. NEW YORK — Beginning a day of protests that organizers say will spread to 50 cities and 1,000 stores across the country, a crowd of chanting workers gathered Thursday morning at a McDonald’s in midtown Manhattan to call for higher wages and the chance to join a union. (Snip) Fast-food customer service is hard work, but it’s entry level. I know, because I’ve done a version of it in my storied career. It’s a skill-developing stepping stone from which an ambitious person should seek a better gig.
Russia last night issued a chilling threat to assist Syria if the US leads military strikes against its hated regime. As a summit of world leaders broke up in acrimony, Vladimir Putin declared openly that he is already supplying arms to Syrian tyrant Bashar Assad and vowed to step up support if a planned missile attack goes ahead. There were gasps as the Russian President made his remarks after being asked how he would react if Barack Obama proceeds with an attack in response to Syria’s used of chemical weapons. ‘Will we help Syria? We will. And we are already helping,
The woman whose opinion lawmakers are relying on to go to war in Syria is also a paid advocate for the war-torn country’s rebels. On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry encouraged members of the House of Representatives to read a Wall Street Journal op-ed by 26-year-old Elizabeth O’Bagy — an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War — who asserted that concerns about extremists dominating among the Syrian rebels are unfounded. “Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaida die-hards,” O’Bagy wrote for the Journal
There is proof the footage of the alleged chemical attack in Syria was fabricated, Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, mother superior of St. James Monastery in Qara, Syria, told RT. She says she is about to submit her findings to the UN. Mother Agnes, a catholic nun, who has been living in Syria for 20 years and has been reporting actively on what has been going on in the war-ravaged country, says she carefully studied the video featuring allegedly victims of the chemical weapons attack in the Syrian village of Guta in August and now questions its authenticity. In her interview
Don´t look for Iraq War-style protests, says the liberal activist, who -- like "M*A*S*H" star Mike Farrell -- opposes military action. In 2003, ahead of a U.S. attack on Iraq, a robust anti-war movement in Hollywood included a TV commercial starring Martin Sheen and Sean Penn visiting Baghdad. There were online petitions signed by Ed Asner; letters to President George W. Bush pleading for peace were signed by Matt Damon, Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand and Alec Baldwin; former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell fronted multiple press conferences where celebrities denounced war. In interviews, Janeane Garofalo stopped identifying herself as an actor
President Obama will sit for interviews Monday with six TV networks as he makes his case to the nation for military intervention in Syria. Obama will tape interviews Monday afternoon with anchors from ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as with PBS, CNN and Fox News, the White House said. The interviews will be conducted by ABC´s Diane Sawyer, CBS´s Scott Pelley, CNN´s Wolf Blitzer, Fox´s Chris Wallace, NBC´s Brian Williams and PBS´s Gwen Ifill. The interviews will air that night, ahead of Obama´s Tuesday speech on Syria.
Drug war hawk John McCain is turning pot dove. McCain appears open to making a dramatic shift on marijuana policy, saying during a town-hall meeting in Arizona that he´s open to potentially legalizing weed. “Maybe we should legalize. We´re certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned,” McCain said in comments first reported by Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller. “I respect the will of the people." In the past, McCain has been a hard-liner on federal drug policy. During his 2000 presidential primary campaign, the Arizona Republican suggested increasing penalties and sentence guidelines for those convicted
President Obama said that the U.S. talk of military action in Syria is bypassing the "hocus pocus" of the U.N.: "Frankly, if we weren´t talking about the need for an international response right now, this wouldn´t be what everybody would be asking about," said Obama at a press conference this morning. "You know, there would be some resolutions that were being proffered in the United Nations and the usual hocus pocus, but the world and the country would have moved on. So trying to impart a sense of urgency about this, why we can´t have an environment in which over
It is very possible that the president will not obtain a join authorization to bomb Syria; if he chooses to go ahead and attack anyway, Obama will incite a constitutional crisis—the first time in history that a president has decided to go to war against the declared wishes of Congress. The public and the courts will adjudicate the legality of that act, and it would be contentious. So the corner that Obama has painted himself into is now inescapable. Defying Congress will put the country into a Watergate/Monicagate mess. Not doing anything will confirm the administration’s impotence and only enhance
Michelle Obama credited her anti-obesity program with bringing about a "cultural shift" in the way Americans eat. "Make no mistake about it. We are changing the conversation in this country. We are creating a cultural shift on how we live and eat. And our efforts are having an impact on our children´s lives." The first lady touted the success of her Let´s Move anti-obesity program during a visit on Friday to Orr Elementary School in Washington, D.C. Obama said when she first began her signature initiative, she couldn´t imagine a time when fast-food commercials advertised for breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites. And
The statesmanlike case for voting Yes on the congressional resolution to use force against the Assad regime has been made widely and well by conservative foreign policy thinkers. At the end, the case boils down to this: As a policy matter, a Yes vote may be problematic in all kinds of ways. But a No vote would likely be disastrous for the nation in very clear ways. Statesmanship requires choosing the problematic over the disastrous. It’s true that Republicans on the Hill lack confidence in President Obama’s execution of the military action they are being asked to vote to authorize.
A 31-year-old African American who allegedly said he wanted to attack the next white person who walked by could be charged with hate crimes after punching three people in an apparent racially motivated attack. One of his victims, 62-year-old Jeffrey Babbitt, has been left brain damaged after being punched to the ground in New York´s Union Square on Wednesday afternoon, in a senseless attack that shocked onlookers. Witnesses were shocked at the unexpected violence in Union Square on Wednesday afternoon, as Lashawn Marten punched Mr Babbitt and two other men after allegedly making racist comments. He said "the next white person who
Retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, former CIA director under President Barack Obama, called strongly Saturday for Congress to back the White House on Syria, declaring that military action against the regime is “necessary” to deter “Iran, North Korea and other would-be aggressors.” “Failure of Congress to approve the president’s request would have serious ramifications not just in the Mideast but around the world,” Petraeus said in a four-sentence statement provided to Politico. (Snip) In his years as U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus was regarded by many Republican lawmakers as a god on military matters.