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HeadlinesOctober 08, 2013

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Parties Trade Blame as Government Shutdown Enters 8th Day

Oct 08, 2013

The shutdown of the federal government is continuing for an eighth day as lawmakers remain deadlocked over Republican efforts to use the budget debate to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democrats are moving forward this week with “clean” legislation to increase the country’s borrowing limit without any other policy measures attached. Meanwhile, the White House has signaled willingness to accept a temporary increase in the nation’s borrowing limit in order to meet an October 17 deadline and give the parties more time to negotiate. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of refusing to come to the table.

Sen. Mitch McConnell: “There’s a time for politics. There’s a time for sitting down like adults and working things out. Republicans are ready and willing to negotiate. We invite Senate Democrats to join us.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hit back at Republicans, reading a quote from ThinkProgress editor-in-chief Judd Legum that he said summarized the current debacle.

Sen. Harry Reid: “Here’s how he explained it. Republicans ask, 'Can I burn down your house?' We say no. Republicans ask, 'How about burning down the second floor?' We say no. Republicans ask, 'How about just the garage?' We say no. Republicans say, ’Let’s talk about what I can burn down.’ We say no. And they say, ’You’re not compromising.’”

Military Contractors Head to Work Despite Gov’t Furloughs

Oct 08, 2013

Military contractors are still heading to work despite the U.S. government shutdown. United Technologies Corporation, which makes Black Hawk helicopters for the military, cancelled plans to furlough 2,000 workers after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reinstated nearly all furloughed Pentagon workers on Saturday. Hagel said a measure signed last week by President Obama allows civilians to work if they are aiding military morale or capabilities. In response, Lockheed Martin also downgraded its plans to furlough 3,000 workers, instead sending home just 2,400.

DOJ Asks for Delay in NSA Case Due to Shutdown

Oct 08, 2013

The government shutdown could delay new revelations about National Security Agency spying expected as part of an ongoing court case. The Justice Department has filed a request with the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to delay the case, which involves the Internet company Yahoo, saying its attorneys and staff are not able to work on it due to the shutdown.

Brazilian President Demands Explanation from Canada over Spying Report

Oct 08, 2013

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is demanding an explanation from Canada after reports a Canadian intelligence agency spied on Brazil’s mining and energy sector. A Brazilian TV report based on leaks from Edward Snowden given to Brazil-based journalist Glenn Greenwald said Canada targeted the communications of the former Brazilian ambassador to Canada as well as those of staff at the ministry managing Brazil’s vast energy reserves. In a Twitter post, Rousseff said, “The United States and its allies must immediately stop their spying activity once and for all.”

Report: Chronic Electrical Failures Plague Massive NSA Data Center in Utah

Oct 08, 2013

The Wall Street Journal reports chronic electrical failures have plagued the National Security Agency’s massive new data-storage facility in Bluffdale, Utah, preventing the center from opening, and destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment. There have been 10 meltdowns in just over a year that have prevented the NSA from using its computers. Project officials described the malfunctions as “a flash of lightning inside a 2-foot box,” saying they spark fiery explosions, melt metal and cost up to $100,000 in damages each. The NSA facility covers more than one million square feet and has a capacity projected to be larger than Google’s biggest data center.

Libya: Protesters Decry U.S. Capture of Suspect from Streets of Tripoli

Oct 08, 2013

In Libya, militants are calling for the kidnapping of Americans and attacks on Europe-bound gas pipelines after the United States snatched an accused bombing suspect off the streets of Tripoli Saturday. Abu Anas al-Liby is facing interrogation on board a U.S. warship in the Mediterranean. As of Monday, he had not been read his Miranda rights. On Monday, Libya summoned its U.S. ambassador to answer questions about the capture of al-Liby, who is a top suspect in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Libya says it had no prior knowledge of the operation, while the U.S. claims Libya provided assistance. Protesters in Benghazi accused the Libyan government of aiding the United States.

Ahmed Almertah: “The case of the kidnapping of our brother Abu Anas al-Liby from Tripoli is gesture towards the Americans and crusaders against Libya. We will not remain silent about this. We will go out in peaceful protests. A case like this will not pass easily in Libya.”

Maldives Court Invalidates 1st Round of Voting in Blow to Former President Nasheed

Oct 08, 2013

In the Maldives, the Supreme Court has rejected results from the first round of voting in the presidential election, dealing a blow to former president and environmental advocate Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed was ousted last year in what he described as a coup at gunpoint by supporters of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for three decades before Nasheed became the first democratically elected president in 2008. Last month, Nasheed won 45 percent of the vote, falling just shy of the bar to avoid a runoff with his closest rival, Abdulla Yameen, who is Gayoom’s half-brother. On Monday, the court invalidated those results and called for a new round of voting later this month after the third-place candidate alleged electoral fraud. Earlier Monday, a group of masked men broke into a television station known to support Mohamed Nasheed and set it on fire. Nasheed is known internationally for his activism against global warming, which he says threatens life on the small island country. Click here to see our interviews with him.

Kerry Touts Secretive TPP Trade Deal at APEC Summit

Oct 08, 2013

U.S. officials are pushing for an agreement by the end of the year on the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal described by critics as ”NAFTA on steroids” that would establish a free trade zone stretching from Vietnam to Chile to Japan and encompassing nearly 40 percent of the global economy. Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the U.S. commitment to the deal during an address to business leaders at the APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia.

John Kerry: “At its core, TPP is about generating growth for our economies and jobs for our people by unleashing a wave of investment and entrepreneurship all across the Asia Pacific. And at a time when we, all of us, seek strong and sustainable growth, TPP is creating a race to the top, not to the bottom.”

President Karzai Blasts U.S.-Led Occupation of Afghanistan on 12th Anniversary

Oct 08, 2013

Afghan President Hamid Karzai criticized the U.S.-led NATO occupation of Afghanistan Monday on its 12th anniversary. Karzai, who is due to step down in six months, said during a news conference the United States and NATO have failed to respect Afghan sovereignty and conducted raids and air strikes against Afghan people in violation of Afghan wishes. Karzai assessed the occupation’s legacy during an interview with BBC Newsnight.

President Hamid Karzai: “On the security front, the entire NATO exercise was one that caused Afghanistan a lot of suffering and a lot of loss of life and no gains, because the country is not secure.”

Karzai told the BBC that the United States wants Afghanistan to remain silent about the deaths of civilians.

Afghanistan: Funeral Held for Civilians Killed in Alleged NATO Strike

Oct 08, 2013

Funeral services were held Saturday for five civilians killed in what Afghan officials say was a NATO air strike on Friday. The victims, all reportedly between the ages of 12 and 20, had been hunting birds near Jalalabad when they were killed. The U.S.-led coalition claimed the attack targeted militants and that its initial reports showed no civilian casualties.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Key Campaign Finance Case

Oct 08, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in a major campaign finance case that is being referred to as “the next Citizens United.” The case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, could undermine most of the remaining rules curbing massive spending by wealthy donors. Currently, individuals can spend no more than $123,200 directly on candidates, political parties and political action committees in a single two-year election cycle. That cap includes a limit of $48,600 on direct donations to candidates. But the Republican National Committee, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican businessman Shaun McCutcheon want the Supreme Court to throw out the aggregate limits, saying they violate free speech. The case marks the first major challenge to campaign finance rules since the 2010 Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on elections. In a statement, longtime campaign finance advocate Fred Wertheimer said repealing the caps at stake in the McCutcheon case could “recreate the system of legalized bribery that existed prior to the Watergate campaign finance scandals.”

Arizona to Launch Two-Track Voting System for Those Lacking Proof of Citizenship

Oct 08, 2013

Arizona officials say they plan to launch a two-track voting system that will bar people who do not present proof of U.S. citizenship from voting in state and local elections. Under a plan unveiled Monday, Arizona will allow people who lack documents proving they are citizens to vote only in federal elections. The move follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June compelling Arizona to accept a federal voter registration form that does not require proof of citizenship. The head of the Arizona Democratic Party said the new plan “tests the boundaries of absurdity” and will create “a group of second-class voters.”

California Governor Signs TRUST Act, Rejects Bill to Allow Non-Citizens on Juries

Oct 08, 2013

California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have made the state the first in the country to allow immigrants without citizenship to serve on juries, saying such responsibilities should be reserved for U.S. citizens. The veto came after Brown signed a series of immigration bills, including the so-called TRUST Act, which limits the state’s cooperation with federal immigration agents under the controversial federal program known as Secure Communities. The new law protects undocumented immigrants in California from being held for up to 48 hours and turned over to immigration authorities for possible deportation unless they are charged with or convicted of a serious crime. In a surprise move, former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano had expressed support for the TRUST Act, even though it rejects compliance with a key program of the agency she formerly led. California is the second state after Connecticut to limit its cooperation with Secure Communities.

Ohio Bridge Bomb Plot Defendant Sentenced to 10 Years After Gov’t Sting

Oct 08, 2013

In Ohio, the last of five people convicted of attempting to detonate a fake bomb provided as part of a government sting operation has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors say Joshua Stafford used his cellphone to activate what he believed was a real bomb in an attempt to destroy a bridge running through a national park. Stafford and his co-defendants are self-described anarchists with links to the Occupy Wall Street movement in Cleveland. Their supporters say they never intended to hurt anyone and were egged on by an FBI informant. The four other defendants have already been sentenced to terms ranging from six to 11.5 years.

Police Officer Who Called Shooting Victim Kenneth Chamberlain a Racial Slur Is Fired

Oct 08, 2013

In New York, a White Plains police officer who used a racial slur against elderly Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. shortly before police shot Chamberlain dead in his own home in 2011 has been fired. Public Safety Commissioner David Chong did not say why he fired Officer Steven Hart, who was suspended last year. Hart had also been named as a defendant in a separate police brutality lawsuit stemming from an earlier incident. He called Chamberlain the “n” word after police arrived at Chamberlain’s apartment when he accidentally triggered his medical alert pendant. Police mocked Chamberlain, banged on his window, broke down his door, tasered him and then shot him dead. Chamberlain’s son, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., told the Journal News Hart’s firing was “a small, but significant step in getting justice for the murder of my father.”

Vietnam Veterans Mark Anniversary of Afghan Occupation

Oct 08, 2013

Vietnam War veterans and their allies were arrested Monday night at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in New York City during an event organized by Veterans for Peace marking the 12th anniversary of the occupation of Afghanistan. The veterans read the names of civilians and soldiers killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, as well as in the Obama administration’s ongoing drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. They were arrested after refusing to leave. Shortly before the arrests, veteran Mike Hastie addressed police.

Mike Hastie: “It’s just important that you know why we’re here. This monument belongs to us. This is a Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every single day. It’s important that you know that your government committed immense atrocities during the Vietnam War. We did it every day. It’s just important you know that, because some of you are so much younger, and that history has been denied you.”

Idle No More Movement Holds Day of Action on 250th Anniversary of Royal Proclamation

Oct 08, 2013

First Nations activists and their supporters across the United States and Canada staged dozens of protest events on Monday, marking the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation, which recognized the land rights of indigenous people in Canada. The protests are part of the Idle No More movement, which has mobilized people worldwide in support of indigenous treaty rights and against environmental devastation.

Study: 1 in 10 Young Americans Has Committed Sexual Violence

Oct 08, 2013

A new study has found nearly one in 10 young Americans admit having carried out some form of sexual violence. The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, surveyed people between the ages of 14 and 21. It found 4 percent of young Americans admitted they have raped or attempted to rape someone. Researchers said the results show the urgent need for bystander intervention training in schools to prevent sexual violence.

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