Saturday ReadsPosted: November 27, 2010
Good Morning!! You probably heard the top story on all the commercial and cable networks last night. President Obama got a split lip from a flying elbow while playing basketball Friday, and needed 12 stitches.
The White House has identified the person whose elbow injured President Barack Obama during a pickup game of basketball on Friday as Rey Decerega, who works for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Decerega had better watch his back. He did manage to do a little public sucking up:
The White House also released a statement from Decerega, NBC News said: “I learned today the president is both a tough competitor and a good sport. I enjoyed playing basketball with him this morning. I’m sure he’ll be back out on the court again soon.”
Perhaps that will help. Good Luck Ray Decerega!
U.S. officials are freaking out over the upcoming release of diplomatic documents by Wikileaks. According to The Independent:
Frantic behind the scenes wrangling was under way last night as US officials tried to stem the fallout from the expected release of up to three million confidential diplomatic communiques by the Wikileaks website.
Over the past 48 hours, American ambassadors have had the unenviable task of informing some of the country’s strongest allies that a series of potentially embarrassing cables are likely to be released in the coming days….
Downing Street yesterday confirmed that the US ambassador in London had already briefed the Government on what might be contained in the files. Similar meetings were also reported in Turkey, Israel, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia.
abc has more on the “Big Freakout”. there must really be some unsavory stuff in that report. Apparently, most of the stuff comes from Bradly Manning.
Bracing for WikiLeaks’ Release of Diplomatic Documents, State Department Warns Allies
Senior U.S. officials warn that the next round of WikiLeaks documents would be considerably more damaging than the two previous WikiLeaks document dumps.
“This is outrageous and dangerous,” a senior U.S. official told ABC News. “This puts at risk the ability of the United States to conduct foreign policy. Period. End of paragraph.”
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also weighed in today, telling CNN he hoped these kinds of leaks will eventually be plugged.
According to op-ed commentator Jerome Taylor: This is a public airing of Washington’s dirty linen
What makes the release of diplomatic cables so potentially explosive is that they could cover a vast spectrum of information that America and her allies would like to keep secret. Cables are the diplomatic equivalent of dirty linen that no country wants to see aired in public. “Diplomatic cables might talk about political instability inside the country – there could be information about secret deals, weapons agreements, talks with dissidents, all sorts of things,” explains Yossi Mekelberg, an expert on Israel-US relations at Chatham House. “But cables are not policy papers. When I read cables I’m often surprised at how gossipy they can be.”
The informal nature of such missives has the potential to cause some serious red faces in capitals around the world.
The U.S. has now been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviet Union was.
The last Red Army troops left Feb. 15, 1989, driven out after nine years and 50 days by the U.S.-backed Afghan fighters known as mujahedin, or holy warriors. Ragtag yet ferocious, they were so spectrally elusive that the Soviet forces called them dukhi, or ghosts. A fitting term, perhaps, for a country that has been called “the graveyard of empires.”
Aren’t you proud to be an American? And our empire hasn’t even collapsed like the USSR’s–yet.
And history twists back on itself. In the Soviets’ war, the United States armed and aided the mujahedin; in this one, Russia is increasingly cooperating with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Moscow agreed this month to let the Western military alliance take armored vehicles through its territory. Last month, Russian counternarcotics agents went along on a joint NATO-Afghan drug raid.
It’s all so pointless…and yet it’s destroying us.
And what about Korea? Is our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President going to get us involved there too? It doesn’t look good:
The joint military exercises the US will conduct with South Korea’s navy on Sunday, off the Korean peninsula in the Yellow Sea, are taking on added significance as a message-bearer to North Korea, following Pyongyang’s shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong on Tuesday.
The Pentagon is quick to point out that the naval exercises are “defensive in nature” and that similar events have been held frequently. But US commanders also acknowledge that this joint exercise is a pointed reminder to the North of US military strength and America’s allegiance with South Korea. The US announced the exercises after the artillery barrage of Yeonpyeong, home to South Korean military bases and a small civilian population.
George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen has an article in the Washington Post in which he argues that the TSA’s naked body scans and “enhanced pat down” searches are unconstitutional. Interestingly, he cites a 2006 decision by then circuit court judge Samuel Alito:
…Alito stressed that screening procedures must be both “minimally intrusive” and “effective” – in other words, they must be “well-tailored to protect personal privacy,” and they must deliver on their promise of discovering serious threats. Alito upheld the practices at an airport checkpoint where passengers were first screened with walk-through magnetometers and then, if they set off an alarm, with hand-held wands. He wrote that airport searches are reasonable if they escalate “in invasiveness only after a lower level of screening disclose[s] a reason to conduct a more probing search.”
As currently used in U.S. airports, the new full-body scanners fail all of Alito’s tests. First, as European regulators have recognized, they could be much less intrusive without sacrificing effectiveness. For example, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, the European airport that employs body-scanning machines most extensively, has incorporated crucial privacy and safety protections. Rejecting the “backscatter” machines used in the United States, which produce revealing images of the body and have raised concerns about radiation, the Dutch use scanners known as ProVision ATD, which employ radio waves with far lower frequencies than those used in common hand-held devices. If the software detects contraband or suspicious material under a passenger’s clothing, it projects an outline of that area of the body onto a gender-neutral, blob-like human image, instead of generating a virtually naked image of the passenger. The passenger can then be taken aside for secondary screening.
…there’s good reason to believe that the machines are not effective in detecting the weapons they’re purportedly designed to identify. For U.S. courts, that’s yet another consideration that could make them constitutionally unreasonable.
Broadly, U.S. courts have held that “routine” searches of all travelers can be conducted at airports as long as they don’t threaten serious invasions of privacy. By contrast, “non-routine” searches, such as strip-searches or body-cavity searches, require some individualized suspicion – that is, some cause to suspect a particular traveler of wrongdoing. Neither virtual strip-searches nor intrusive pat-downs should be considered “routine,” and therefore courts should rule that neither can be used for primary screening.
The only question is whether the Supreme Court will stand up for individual rights or continue to accede to the executive branch’s demands for more Presidential power.
I’m going to end with a funny, but pretty realistic, satirical piece from The Onion: Frustrated Obama Sends Nation Rambling 75,000-Word E-Mail
The e-mail, which was titled “A couple things,” addressed countless topics in a dense, stream-of-consciousness rant that often went on for hundreds of words without any punctuation or paragraph breaks. Throughout, the president expressed his aggravation on subjects as disparate as the war in Afghanistan, the sluggish economic recovery, his live-in mother-in-law, China’s undervalued currency, Boston’s Logan Airport, and tort reform.
According to its timestamp, the e-mail was sent at 4:26 a.m.
“Hey Everyone,” read the first line of the president’s note, which at 27 megabytes proved too large for millions of Americans’ in-boxes. “I’m writing to you because I need to clear up some important issues. First and foremost, I want to say that this has nothing to do with the midterm elections because I was going to send an e-mail regardless of the outcome. However, I guess one could argue that, in the end, the midterms are an important measure of a president’s overall success, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call the results a referendum. Legislatively, I feel I’ve had a lot of success that I think history will judge quite favorably. I mean, pretty much every modern president has seen his party lose seats during a midterm, you know?
Go read the whole thing. It’s really funny, in an lolsob kind of way. Oh…and Fox News published the Onion story on their website without identifying it as satire.
[MABlue’s Saturday picks] It’s all about real life crime and investigation.
From Vanity Fair: The Case of the Vanishing Blonde
After a woman living in a hotel in Florida was raped, viciously beaten, and left for dead near the Everglades in 2005, the police investigation quickly went cold. But when the victim sued the Airport Regency, the hotel’s private detective, Ken Brennan, became obsessed with the case: how had the 21-year-old blonde disappeared from her room, unseen by security cameras? The author follows Brennan’s trail as the P.I. worked a chilling hunch that would lead him to other states, other crimes, and a man nobody else suspected.
Apparently, the Chandra Levy case is not resolved: Reasonable doubt in the Chandra Levy case
How reliable is the conviction of Ingmar Guandique for the 2001 murder, when the key evidence is a disputed prison confession?
There’s a debate going on about the goodness of religion between Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens. By all accounts, Hitch won the 1st round yesterday.
Hitchens defeats Blair in Canadian religion debate