Renewal Of Warrant-less Wiretaps

Warrantless wiretaps was one of the many, many things that Obama attacked George Bush over. But as president, Obama has renewed nearly every, single bill that Bush ever signed into law. Kinda funny that, eh?

obama-signs-warrantless-wiretap-renewal-bill-in-secretFrom AP: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed into law a five-year extension of the U.S. government’s authority to monitor the overseas activity of suspected foreign spies and terrorists.

The warrantless intercept program would have expired at the end of 2012 without the president’s approval. The renewal bill won final passage in the Senate on Friday.

Known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law allows the government to monitor overseas phone calls and emails without obtaining a court order for each intercept.

The law does not apply to Americans. When Americans are targeted for surveillance, the government must get a warrant from a special 11-judge court of U.S. district judges appointed by the Supreme Court. source – AP

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Senator Reid issues stern warning about fiscal cliff

With a Deal to avert the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” nowhere in sight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday predicted a compromise would not be reached in time to avert the tax increases and automatic spending cuts set to be triggered on January 1. Reid also criticized Republican House Speaker John Boehner in unusually personal terms, accusing him of running the House as a “dictatorship” and blasting him for letting lawmakers out for vacation. Boehner will be to blame “if we go over the cliff, and it looks like that’s where we’re headed,” Reid insisted as the Senate returned to work for a post-Christmas session focused on disaster relief for Sandy victims and renewing key government surveillance powers.Reid’s speech on the Senate floor came shortly before President Barack Obama returned to Washington from Hawaii to resume discussions of how to avoid the fiscal cliff. White House Spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said Obama had spoken to Reid, Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Wednesday evening.Reid, a Nevada Democrat, repeatedly pressed Boehner to have the House take up a Senate-passed bill extending income tax cuts on income under $250,000, calling that measure the only “viable escape route.” House Republicans have thus far balked at raising taxes at all.

“The Speaker just has a few days left to change his mind,” Reid said. “But I have to be very honest…I don’t know, time-wise, how it can happen now.””Speaker Boehner should call members of the House back today,” Reid said, adding that the Ohio Republican “seems to care more about keeping his speakership” than pushing his party to accept a deal that would avert a tax increase for all but the highest income taxpayers. Democrats have repeatedly leveled that charge at Boehner, whose reelection on January 3 is not seriously in doubt despite ever-louder conservative grumbling.Reid also accused Boehner of operating a “dictatorship” that had shut out House Democrats and all but the most conservative voices in the GOP, saying that the Senate-passed bill would pass with mostly Democratic votes but some Republican support as well.“Nothing can move forward in regards to our budget crisis unless Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell are willing to participate in coming up with a bipartisan plan,” Reid warned. “Speaker Boehner is unwilling to negotiate, we’ve not heard a word from Leader McConnell, nothing is happening. Democrats can’t put together a plan on their own,” he said.

Source: Yahoo

CHINESE STATE MEDIA DEMANDS US CITIZENS BE DISARMED

The official Chinese government news agency, Xinhua, has demanded the US immediately adopt stricter gun control measures to reduce the number of firearms the US populace is permitted to possess.

The Chinese state-controlled media’s statement, titled “Innocent Blood Demands No Delay for US Gun Control,” is primarily focused on the Newtown tragedy in which 26 Americans were killed by a mad gunman. Twenty of the victims were young children.

The Chinese government stated, “Their blood and tears demand no delay for the U.S. gun control.”

In an apparent effort to restrict information to their populace, the Chinese government wrote of a number of US mass shootings but failed to mention they were either stopped by a citizen legally carrying a firearm or otherwise only occurred in the controversial gun-free zones that critics say make prime targets for madmen.

The Chinese government states:

The past six months have seen enough shooting rampages in the United States. Just three days ago, three people were shot dead at a shopping mall in Oregon. Two weeks ago, a football player shot his girlfriend dead and then committed suicide. Five months ago, 12 people were killed and 58 wounded in a shooting spree at a midnight screening of a Batman film in Colorado.

The government went on to express a strong dislike of the National Rifle Association while also attacking the Republican Party as somehow complicit in the violence. Conversely, the article heaps praise on the Democratic Party:

The Clinton government launched a series of gun control policies at the end of last century. And the Democrats lost the Congressional election in 1994 and the presidential election in 2000, with the shadow of the NRA present in both defeats.

The current Chinese government, the communist People’s Republic of China, was established in a revolution led by Mao Zedong, who killed an estimated 40-70 million people with starvation, executions, and re-education camps.

Source: Here

Dead Sea Scrolls online library launched by Google and Israel

JERUSALEM — More than six decades since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls — and thousands of years after they were written — Israel on Tuesday put 5,000 images of the ancient biblical artifacts online in a partnership with Google.

The digital library contains the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the second listing of the Ten Commandments, and a portion of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, dated to the first century B.C.

Dan Balilty  /  AP

A worker of the Dead Sea Scrolls conservation laboratory at the Israel Antiquities Authority holds a frame with small fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls in a laboratory in Jerusalem, on Tuesday.

Israeli officials said this is part of an attempt by the custodians of the celebrated manuscripts — often criticized for allowing them to be monopolized by small circles of scholars — to make them broadly available.

“Only five conservators worldwide are authorized to handle the Dead Sea Scrolls,” said Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “Now, everyone can touch the scroll on screen around the globe.”

Last year, Google partnered with the Israel Museum to put five scrolls online.

The scrolls, considered one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century, are thought to have been written or collected by an ascetic Jewish sect that fled Jerusalem to the desert 2,000 years ago and settled at Qumran, near the shore of the Dead Sea. The hundreds of manuscripts found in caves near the site have shed light on the development of the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Christianity.

Google says the new digital library took two years to assemble, using technology first developed by NASA. The multimedia website allows users to zoom in on various fragments, with translations and Google maps alongside.

Google hopes to further expand its project. Two months ago, Google launched a “Cultural Institute,” a digital visual archive of historical events in cooperation with 17 museums and institutes around the world.

“We’re working to bring important cultural and historical materials online and help preserve them for future generations,” said Yossi Matias, head of Google’s Research and Development Center in Israel. “Our partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority is another step toward enabling users to enjoy cultural material around the world.”

Source: msnbc