Posts tagged ‘cia’

News dump

There’s been a lot of news recently, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

Despite the inaction of the country as a whole, the western states have banded together to reduce carbon emissions, thereby joining the rest of the world in combating global warming. It’s pretty cool to watch the whole world (with a couple idiotic exceptions) come together to work on this stuff.

A battle has moved through the British courts over how far the freedom of the press extends: there is currently a scandal over a deal made by Tony Blair’s fundraisers, wherein they offered honours to various people in exchange for off-the-record loans during the campaign season, and then tried to cover up the whole thing. The government, claiming it would mess up the police investigation of the events, repeatedly tried to bar newspapers from discussing the evidence. However, it looks like the high court has sided with the press, and they can publish stories about the scandal. Much of this hinges on an email between Lord Levy and Ms. Turner discussing their deal, but I can’t seem to find a copy of the text online. I suspect this will damage even Tony Blair’s reputation, though I could be wrong about that.

Speaking of scandals and cover-ups, “Scooter” Libby has been found guilty of obstructing justice in the whole CIA leak thing (remember, the one with Valerie Plame?). It’s nice to see that his comeuppance has arrived, but it’s kinda too bad that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald couldn’t get enough evidence to try others; I strongly suspect Libby was the “fall guy,” and there are others who are equally guilty but will go free.

The Democrats, meanwhile, have been trying to put a timetable on the Iraq war and bring our troops home before Bush leaves the oval office. I strongly doubt this will actually happen, but it’s nice to see that they’re trying to hold him accountable, if only symbolically.

As usual, Bush has been greeted with violent protests every where he goes, because most of the world is reasonable and sees this man is a greedy warmonger. This is happening pretty consistently across all of Latin America, on top of Hugo Chavez’s scathing words against him (Bush is on a tour of the area at the moment).

Finally, the UN is beginning to consider an embargo against Iran over its nuclear programme, but China and Russia are expressing their doubts. We’ll see what happens, but Iran will probably not be faced with strong penalties.

As always, remember to use BugMeNot if you can’t access these or other articles.

News is far overdue

First off, there has been a huge backlash against Facebook in the two days since they unveiled their new creepy stalker newsfeed. The group I linked to yesterday already has the membership of about 5% of all of Facebook (and that includes all the Chipotle Burritos, Case Dorms, and residents of Guttlesohn Falls that are signed up, too). This has even prompted many newspapers to take notice. It’s pretty cool to watch so many people actually stand up and protest for what they want.

Having said that, the big news today is that President Bush finally admitted to having a network of secret CIA prisons scattered around the world. I have posted about rumors of these before. It’s pretty discouraging to find that they were true, but slightly hopeful that enough people within the CIA and elsewhere in the government are beginning to stand up and say that this really should stop. edit: Bush went so far as to say that prisoners would be transferred to Guantanamo Bay and given rights from the Geneva Conventions.

Speaking of people getting fed up with unpopular polities, the Democrats tried to have a vote of no confidence on Donald Rumsfeld. It was blocked by Republicans, but at least they’re starting to fight back. For too long have the Democrats just rolled over and let the Republicans do whatever they want. I hope this is a sign of things to come. This comes in the wake of a very controversial speech by Rumsfeld, in which he drew parallels between terrorism today and fascism in the 1930’s, and then attacked Amnesty International (the first group to condemn the secret CIA prisons) for questioning the US. The government tried to censor news agencies that reported on this speech, but they have held strong on their articles.

It’s pretty cool to see everyone starting to wake up and fight back against all of this stuff!

On a less uplifting note, the truce in Darfur is being threatened. I apparently missed when this truce began; does anyone else remember hearing about thata few months ago? The problem here, like in Lebanon until recently (I’ll get to that soon) is that the UN has no actual power, and the countries that make up the UN are reluctant to contribute troops voluntarily (and China, Russia, and India are already arming the fighters).

Going back to less recent news, Europe has committed troops to keeping the peace in Lebanon and attempting to disarm Hezbollah. Both Israel and Hezbollah (and their benefactor, Iran) seem to be claiming victory here: Israel for getting the UN to pledge to try to disarm Hezbollah, and Hezbollah for firing so many rockets and killing so many civilians and not being completely destroyed (yet) in response. I am ever hopeful that the Middle East can settle down, but I don’t think it’s likely to happen until the UN gets a concrete plan to disarm Hezbollah (and then solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they’ve at least made a little headway here already).

Security guru and all-around awesome dude Bruce Schneier has a pretty rational look at the liquid explosives plot to blow up British airplanes bound for the US (which led to a US ban on liquids; special thanks to Natalie for the link). He mentions some very good points about the futility of our current strategy and how using more investigation and intelligence will work much better than our current strategy of banning everything and making everyone scared. Among other methods, he suggests that watching body language to find nervous, suspicious-acting characters is much more effective than banning liquids or shoes. This reminds me of a 2002 debacle in which airport security forced a woman to drink her own breast milk to “prove” that it was not a terrorist weapon. Although the current rules make exceptions for breast milk, medicine, and a couple other things, the entire situation is ridiculous.

Due to the UN’s hesitation on sanctioning Iran, the US is considering unilateral sanctions instead. Because, you know, unilateral sanctions have worked so well with Cuba. I suspect this is just empty talk, but it’s the sort of thing the Bush Administration is just crazy enough to try anyway.

Right. I think that’s about all the news I’ve been meaning to post. I can now close about 20 Firefox tabs.

Another news spike

Nothing interesting has happened for nearly a week, and all of a sudden, lots of things are out there! The space shuttle Discovery appears to have launched without incident, and is on its way to take a German dude to the ISS. Former Enron executive Ken Lay died of a heart attack (note that this brought up an excellent example of why Wikipedia should not be trusted (edit: link is broken; use the WayBack Machine to see the article) as much as an actual encyclopedia, since its information is not guaranteed to be correct). Although neither of thise is particularly important news, I thought I’d add them in anyway. More importantly, North Korea had a failed missile test which has prompted much of the rest of the world to be quite alarmed. UN Security Council meetings and economic sanctions appear to be following quite quickly. The test included a Taepodong-2 missile which, if successful, could hit the west coast of the USA. It appears as though Korea will have another missile test in the near future. In Europe, the Italians are cracking down on people who supposedly helped the CIA kidnap people and transfer them to countries where they were tortured. If this is part of the alleged secret CIA torture system throughout Europe, there is a lot more to be uncovered. However, it appears so far to just be a few people. Finally, Israel has continued its incursion into the West Bank, this time attempting to stop Palestinians from firing grenades into villages. The military activity began a week ago when Palestinians kidnapped an Israeli soldier, the first such abduction in over a decade.

Right. I think that’s all for the moment… Oh! and the World Cup final seems to be Italy versus France.

After three years of investigation, Carl Rove will not be indicted for leaking Valerie Plame’s CIA status to the press (a more leftist article can be found at the LA Times). I predicted this a little less than a year ago: the laws are defined too narrowly to really be applicable to such cases, for the most part. This also brings the hopeful trend of indictments to a close.

It’s strange—the Republicans are celebrating because one of their own didn’t land in jail (I personally don’t think this should be cause for a celebration). The Democrats are making a lot of noise because even though Rove is not going to be charged, such an action was considered, and this somehow makes him disreputable (which is the opposite of the way the legal system is supposed to work, what with the presumption of innocence and all). The way I see it, I don’t think anyone has a good cause for making a big deal of any of this. and yet I’d be quite disappointed if this story, like so many other denouements, just went quietly into the night without anyone noticing. Ideally, I’d like the reaction to such news to be everyone going “huh,” and then returning to whatever they were doing, but this will never happen for any story of which I catch wind (I hear about them precisely because people make such a big fuss). I don’t know where I’m going with this, but it’s interesting to contrast my reaction and the rest of the country’s.