Fukushima fallout?U.S. seeks bids for 14 million potassium iodide pills –Delivery required on or before 1 February 2014 03 Jan 2014 Could the US government possibly be planning for fallout, literally, from the Fukushima nuclear disaster? On 6 December, the Department of Health and Human Services posted a solicitation for vendor bids, with a response date of 23 December 2013, for 14 million potassium iodide tablets. Solicitation Number 14-284-SOL-0015A reads, in part: (ii) This solicitation is issued as an Request for Quote (RFQ). (iv) The contract line item number, item, quantity and unit of measure is: Line No. 001; potassium iodide tablet, 65mg, unit dose package of 20s; 700,000 packages (of 20s) (v) Delivery is required on or before February 1, 2014. Delivery will be made to: DHHS, SSC, Bldg #5 Receiving Dock, Perry Point, MD 21902.
Surveillance court renews NSA phone records program –FISA court approves metadata collection program for 36th time in seven years 03 Jan 2014 A U.S. surveillance court has renewed its approval of a National Security Agency program that collects U.S. residents’ telephone records in bulk. The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Friday again approved the NSA phone records program amid multiple lawsuits challenging the legality of the program and more than 20 bills in Congress that seek to alter the program. The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence asked the FISC for a renewal of the telephone records metadata collection program, the ODNI said in a statement Friday.
U.S. court allows more phone snooping 03 Jan 2014 The secretive U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Friday renewed the authority of U.S. intelligence agencies to collect data on millions of Americans’ telephone calls in a program that has set off a legal battle over privacy rights. The court allowed the intelligence community to collect metadata from phone companies, the Office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a news release. The release offered almost no details about the ruling, but a U.S. official said the authority was renewed for three months, and that it applied to the entire metadata collection program.
Appeals court: OK to keep surveillance opinion secret 03 Jan 2014 The Justice [sic] Department is not obligated to release a legal opinion it prepared regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s surveillance authorities, even though an FBI official referred to the memo while defending the agency at a public Congressional hearing, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit strengthens the almost unlimited discretion the Justice Department enjoys in deciding which Office of Legal Counsel opinions to make public and which to keep under wraps. Judge Harry Edwards, writing for Judges Sri Srinivasan and David Sentelle, found that the OLC opinion was not binding on the FBI–even though it is virtually unheard of for an executive branch agency to defy an OLC opinion, especially an agency also part of the Justice Department.
Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower (The New York Times) 02 Jan 2014 Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.
US the biggest threat to world peace in 2013 – poll 02 Jan 2014 The US has been voted as the most significant threat to world peace in a survey across 68 different countries. A global survey conducted by the Worldwide Independent Network and Gallup at the end of 2013 revealed strong animosity towards the US’s role as the world’s policeman. Citizens across over 60 nations were asked: "Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?" The US topped the list, with 24 percent of people believing America to be the biggest danger to peace.
Armed men attack US military base in Afghanistan 04 Jan 2014 A joint NATO-Afghan military base has come under attack in Eastern Afghanistan with one NATO soldier killed in the assault, Press TV reports. Taliban militants say they have attacked the base belonging to the US-led forces in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar. The militants reportedly attacked the base, situated in Nangarhar’s Ghazni Khail village, with a car bomb on Saturday. Gunfire was heard following the blast.
Confirmed: 2013 deadliest for Iraq since 2008, UN estimates 03 Jan 2014 A total of 8,868 people, including 7,818 civilians, have been killed in violent attacks across Iraq in 2013, the United Nations reports – the highest annual death toll in the war-torn country in five years. In December alone, at least 759 Iraqis were killed and another 1,345 wounded in terrorist attacks and violence, reports the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNIRAQ), which monitors the impact of armed violence and terrorism on Iraqi civilians. May was the most violent month of 2013, according to the mission’s statistics, with a total of 3,154 civilian casualties (including civilian police), of whom 963 people were killed and 2,191 wounded.
WikiLeaks made ‘extraordinary error of judgment’ in meeting Assad, says Tony Abbott 02 Jan 2014 Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, has lashed out at WikiLeaks as a "pretty eccentric" group after a delegation led by Julian Assange’s father [John Shipton] met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – an encounter Mr Abbott described as "an extraordinary error of judgment". The delegation from Australia’s WikiLeaks Party, set up by Mr Assange to contest last September’s federal election, travelled to Syria late last month to meet with Mr Assad and other high-ranking Syrian officials as part of a "peace and reconciliation" trip. [Right, because no leaders in the West would ever meet with Assad, right? LOL.]