Shorter Question Everything
• U.S. charges Snowden with espionage: Federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials. Snowden was charged with theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person,” according to the complaint. The last two charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.
• Glenn Greenwald’s Latest Self-Debunking Non-Bombshell: Glenn Greenwald’s latest overheated, over-long, deliberately confusing piece claims to reveal: The Top Secret Rules That Allow NSA to Use US Data Without a Warrant. “To intentionally target either of those groups requires an individual warrant.” Wait a minute — did Glenn Greenwald just debunk his own exaggerated claims? Why yes, he did. To recap, what these rules show is a surveillance agency that is greatly encumbered by many layers of oversight and legal limitations. And even though the NSA can store information (Greenwald confuses “storing” with “using”) from US citizens collected inadvertently in the course of an investigation, that information is strictly limited, and anonymized, and if the NSA wants to investigate it further, they need an individual warrant to do so. In other words, that headline borders on an outright lie. The New York Times headline for this non-bombshell is much more accurate: Documents Detail Restrictions on N.S.A. Surveillance. “The two sets of rules, each nine pages long, belie the image of a rogue intelligence agency recklessly violating Americans’ privacy.”
• Greenwald Debunks Himself: NSA Targeting of a U.S. Citizen Requires a Warrant. The NSA absolutely can not intentionally target U.S. citizens without an individual warrant. Even if you’re the most vocal Edward Snowden supporter in the universe, you have no choice but to acknowledge the truth and accuracy of this statement. How can I say such a thing? On Thursday, Glenn Greenwald wrote it deep within his latest “bombshell” article for the Guardian: “To intentionally target either of those groups requires an individual warrant.” The “groups” Greenwald referred to here are U.S. persons or residents. And there you go.
• [?] Obama Was Wiretapped in 2004: Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice says Barack Obama – at the time a candidate for U.S. Senate – was targeted by domestic surveillance operations run by the NSA in 2004. Appearing on Edmonds’ show, Tice strongly hinted at the notion that he was asked to tap several phone lines used frequently by then-candidate Obama.
• Spain uncovers al Qaeda network for Syrian jihadists. In raids conducted earlier today, Spanish authorities arrested eight suspected members of an al Qaeda network who are allegedly involved in training, funding, and facilitating travel for jihadist fighters to Syria. The network is based in the Spanish territory of Ceuta and in the city of Fnideq in neighboring Morocco. Authorities have not yet disclosed the names or nationalities of those arrested, who are all Spanish citizens, the BBC reported. The network has apparently funneled “dozens” of fighters to Syria, where some have taken part in suicide attacks and others have joined training camps. The network recruited fighters from various parts of Spain as well as Morocco and Ceuta, which has a population of 80,000, half of whom are Muslim.
• The United States has left about 700 combat-equipped troops in Jordan after a training exercise, President Barack Obama said Friday, amid concern about the civil war in neighboring Syria. Obama said the deployment was done at the request of the Jordanian government, which fears a spillover of the war into its territory and where an estimated half-million Syrian refugees have fled to escape the bloodshed.
• The CIA and US special operations forces have been training Syrian rebels for months, since long before President Barack Obama announced plans to arm the opposition, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. Training for rebel forces covers the use of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and has been carried out at bases in Jordan and Turkey since late last year, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed US officials and rebel commanders.
Stupid things rightwingers say
• Republican state Rep. Stella Tremblay, the New Hampshire lawmaker who said that the bombing of the Boston Marathon may have been a government “black ops” conspiracy resigned this week.
• Absurd argument coming from Eric Cantor’s office that Democrats should get the blame for Republican House’s inability to pass a farm bill that included massive cuts to food stamps. That was idiotic spin on two levels: First, Republicans actually run the House, and blaming Nancy Pelosi for their ineffectiveness only serves to highlight their incompetence. Moreover, Democrats are eager to accept credit for blocking harsh and unnecessary cuts to food assistance programs.
• The Illinois GOP official who called congressional candidate and former Miss America Erika Harold a “street walker” has resigned his office as chairman of the Montgomery County GOP. In an email to the website Republican News Watch Tuesday, Jim Allen called Harold a “little queen” and likened her to a “street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO [Republican in Name Only] REPUBLICANS.” Allen sent his letter of resignation to Illinois Republican Chairman Jack Dorgan Thursday. Dorgan said Allen’s emailed remarks were “offensive and inappropriate.”
• People’s filibuster: A group of more than 700 pro-choice Texans descended on the state capitol in Austin Thursday to protest House Bill 60, the draconian new anti-abortion measure that would criminalize all abortions after 20 weeks, shutter all but five clinics in the state that provide abortions and ultimately make safe, legal abortions all but impossible to obtain. “Our words are not repetitive,” testified protester Lesli Simms. “Our government’s attacks on our choice, on our bodies, is repetitive.”
• Texas took a major step toward enacting tough new abortion restrictions on Friday, after a lawmaker cut short an 11-hour attempt to stage a “citizen’s filibuster.”
• FGM: According to a report by the non-profit group Sanctuary for Families, the practice of FGC is on the rise in the United States. The study claims that up to 200,000 American girls and women are at risk of FGM whether at home or through what is known as “vacation cutting,” in which young women in the U.S. are sent abroad to undergo the ritual.
• Alberta: The heaviest floods in decades shut down the Canadian oil capital of Calgary on Friday, with an evacuation of the downtown core and tens of thousands of residents forced to leave their homes. Police said four people may have died in the town of High River, located about 60 km (37 miles) south of Calgary, including a woman who was swept away with her camper and a man seen falling from a canoe in the swollen Highwood River. Some 1,200 troops were helping with the evacuations.
• Photos: Instagram users capture Alberta flooding. Flood waters continue to rise in Calgary and parts of Southern Alberta and residents are taking to Instagram to share their photos. Take a look.
• The number of Canadian troops deployed to flood zones across southern Alberta is expected to reach 1,300 by Friday evening as the province struggles to deal with a deluge unprecedented in scale.
In other news
• Tesla obviously doing something right: Auto dealers are backing two bills in the New York State Assembly that would make it illegal to register Tesla cars in the state. Tesla doesn’t sell its cars through dealership franchises, and so far it’s the only manufacturer to sell its cars directly to consumers. The bills state that cars could only be sold and registered through a third party, which would be a dealer or a private seller. A car company cannot sell its own cars directly.
• Prison industrial complex: State lawmakers who embraced private prisons as a cost-cutting measure are starting to have trouble ignoring their abysmal conditions. Corrections Corporation of America, the largest and most powerful private prison company in the nation, lost four prison contracts in the past month after extensive reports of abuse, neglect, and even fraud within their operations.
• Worst Hanford tank may be leaking nuclear waste into soil, U.S. Energy Department says. Routine inspection shows material has breached one layer of container’s two walls. The U.S. Energy Department said workers at Washington state’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation detected higher radioactivity levels under tank AY-102 during a routine inspection Thursday.