Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

More of your freedoms are disappearing by the day: The D.C. government is launching a system today that would tie together thousands of city-owned video cameras, but authorities don't yet have the money to complete the high-tech network or privacy rules in place to guide it. The system will feature round-the-clock monitoring of the closed-circuit video systems run by nine city agencies. In the first phase, about 4,500 cameras trained on schools, public housing, traffic and government buildings will feed into a central office at the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. Hundreds more will be added this year. By making all those images available under one roof, officials hope to increase efficiency and improve public safety and emergency response. But civil libertarians and D.C. Council members say the network is being rushed into place without sufficient safeguards to protect privacy. Privacy? Who cares?

The economy stumbles some more and sheds jobs: ...the Labor Department reported that claims for unemployment benefits rose by 35,000 to 380,000. That was a much bigger increase than the 18,000 than private economists had expected and highlighted the strains that the weak economy is putting on the labor market. The report on jobless claims came a day ahead of a report on unemployment for April. Economists expect that report will show that the unemployment rate edged up to 5.2 percent, from 5.1 percent in March. The economy is expected to lose 70,000 jobs, for the fourth straight month of job losses. Some legacy, huh?

You mean we still haven't seen everything? At a federal court hearing in Washington, CIA attorneys declined to provide any records related to the secret operations of a deceased undercover officer named George Joannides whose role in the JFK story has never been explained by the agency. A three-judge appellate court panel ruled in December that the agency had to search its files for records of Joannides' secret operations in 1963, when he served undercover in Miami running "psychological warfare" operations against the government of Fidel Castro. The court also ordered the CIA to explain why 17 reports on Joannides' secret operations in 1962-1964 are missing from the National Archives. The CIA provided no written explanation of its actions during a hearing before Judge Richard Leon. Afterwords, agency attorney John Truong claimed orally that a search of files on Joannides operations found no records responsive to my 2003 Freedom of Information Act request. Truong offered no explanation, written or oral of the missing records, In December, Judge Judith Rogers ruled that the CIA's previous explanation of the 17 missing reports was inadequate. "On remand the CIA must supplement its explanation," she wrote. That has yet to happen, despite the agency promising to comply with the appellate court order by April 30.

Heroin arrives on the prairie When the police in Mulvane, KS (about 12 miles south of Wichita) decided to crack down on the dopers in their little burg, they figured they would find a little weed, a little speed, a little blow, maybe some prescription meds in the hands of folks for whom they weren't prescribed...Boy were they surprised to find heroin. They were evcen more surprised that they found it on a high school kid. “We had never seen it down here,” Mulvane Police Chief Dave Williams said Thursday. “Up to this point I knew that it had kind of made a comeback. And it was just a matter of time before it showed up here. “But I was surprised that a high school kid sold it to us.” (Blue Girl says: Color me dumbstruck. I have been to Mulvane dozens of times and at one point we considered buying a house there when we were billeted at McConnell, and I never...never would have thought that heroin would be peddled by high school kids in that picture-perfect little town. I'm no babe in the woods, but damn! This rocks my world!)

It wasn't a threat, it was a promise
The Longshoremen's Union (ILWU) on the west coast wasn't kidding when they said they were going to observe May Day by shutting down the ports on the west coast in protest of the war in Iraq. Solidarity forever! Oh - and I would pay money to see a soft, overfed conservative chickenhawk tell a longshoreman that he's a dirty fuckin' hippie. Wouldn't you?

Inhofe withdrew his co-sponsorship for S 22 (Jim Webb's 21st Century GI Bill legislation) on Tuesday - the same day that veterans rallied on the hill in support of the bill. How long before Worst. Senator. Ever. bumperstickers start cropping up on cars around Ft. Sill and Tinker AFB?

This dovetails nicely with something we posted this morning. The Senate Armed Services Committee spoke with one loud voice today and sent a message to Iraq. During deliberations on the Defense authorization bill for FY 2007, the panel unanimously approved a provision prohibiting the Pentagon from bankrolling infrastructure projects in Iraq with pricetags exceeding $2 million.

35 dead, 75 injured
in a double suicide blast on a busy shopping street in Balad Ruz in Diyala province. One of the bombers targeted a wedding party. But hey! No worries - the war was over five years ago! Remember?

Finally! Confession time...for the last 30 years I have stubbornly refused to take a taxi in DC. I would wait an hour for a bus or walk from NoVA to Maryland before I would get in an unmetered cab after an experience with an unscrupulous driver when I was traveling alone as a teenager. Well, next trip east I can leave the stubborn resolve at home. DC taxicabs are metered now.

Musharef must feel like he woke up on the wrong side of the bed The new coalition government in Pakistan has reinstated the Chief Justice and 60 other jurists that were fired by him as he struggled to hold power. This is not going to bode well for him, and I'm sure the U.S., where the lion's share of his support comes from, is probably scrambling, too. Some low-level staffers at State are having a very long night tonight.

Chinese anti-French boycott falls flat
but hey, they tried to get their outrage on. Chinese citizens, ired by what they consider shabby and disrespectful treatment of the Olympic torch when it passed through France, attempted to stage a boycott of the French retailer Carrefour, but none of the stores had more than a few protesters outside, and business continued unabated as petite fours flew off the shelf.

We hate him. We really, really hate him
71% of the American public actively disapproves of aWol Bush. Again, I have to ask of those that still approve of this chump...Who are these people, and what, exactly is the combination in the drug cocktail they are currently enjoying?

Nobody likes her, everybody hates her, she's gonna go eat worms on her way out the door at the GSA, bush Hack Lurita Doan detailed with charts and graphs, with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, just exactly how the media and the congress and, presumably, bloggers like us, have been mean to her. Thanks for the yucks, Lutita! We just knew in our bones that you were good for one last round of mocking, and you didn't disappoint!

Open thread below. You get the roundup early tonight, since I am in the middle of a thunderstorm and could lose my lights at any minute...


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