House Republicans late Thursday were able to corral enough votes to defeat a bill that would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to those sickened by toxins resulting from the 9/11 attacks.
In the process, they set off a host of fiery speeches and denunciations from their Democratic colleagues and produced a veritable YouTube moment from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y), whose district includes many of the affected.
The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.
The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”
WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that he does not know how many of his agents cheated on an important exam on the bureau’s policies, an embarrassing revelation that raises questions about whether the FBI knows its own rules for conducting surveillance on Americans.
On Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be holding a hearing on the release of Lockerbie airliner bomb Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, and the role that BP may have played. Today, however, ousted BP CEO Tony Hayward told reporters that he wouldn’t be attending the hearing because he’s “too busy”:
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was infuriated by Hayward’s reply, stating, “It is apparently more important to BP and Mr Hayward to focus on his multimillion dollar golden parachute than to help answer serious questions about whether the company advocated trading blood for oil.”
A US federal watchdog has criticised the US military for failing to account properly for billions of dollars it received to help rebuild Iraq.
The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the US Department of Defence is unable to account properly for 96% of the money.
Out of just over $9bn (£5.8bn), $8.7bn is unaccounted for, the inspector says.
“There is a legitimate role for secrecy, and there is a legitimate role for openness. Unfortunately, those who commit abuses against humanity or against the law find abusing legitimate secrecy to conceal their abuse all too easy. People of good conscience have always revealed abuses by ignoring abusive strictures. It is not WikiLeaks that decides to reveal something. It is a whistleblower or a dissident who decides to reveal it. Our job is to make sure that these individuals are protected, the public is informed and the historical record is not denied.”
Adding insult to the Gulf’s injury, an oil platform hit by a tugboat is now spewing oil and natural gas near a Louisiana marsh area, officials said Tuesday.
The oil and gas is shooting up 20 feet into the air, the office of Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said.
Crews don’t expect to be able to cap the well before 6 p.m. ET, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft told reporters.
Every three years, the Library of Congress has the thankless task of listening to people complain about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA forbade most attempts to bypass the digital locks on things like DVDs, music, and computer software, but it also gave the Library the ability to wave its magical copyright wand and make certain DRM cracks legal for three years at a time.This time, the Library went comparatively nuts, allowing widespread bypassing of the CSS encryption on DVDs, declaring iPhone jailbreaking to be "fair use," and letting consumers crack their legally purchased e-books in order to have them read aloud by computers.
In a deal negotiated last month, President Obama and BP officials agreed the company would pay $5 billion annually over the next four years into an escrow account for damage its oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused. Ken Feinberg, who was appointed to administer oil spill claims out of the escrow fund, has said he “hasn’t been able to start writing claims checks” because BP PLC has failed to deposit any money into the $20 billion fund it promised to create:
Feinberg, who was appointed to administer oil spill claims out of the fund, said he doesn’t have the authority to force BP to deposit the money, but his hands are tied until it does. “I don’t want the checks to bounce,” he said.
The day after the escrow account’s establishment in June, BP CEO Tony Hayward told Congress that BP is “unwavering in our commitment to fulfill all our responsibilities” and the company “won’t stop spending until the job is done.”
America’s biggest creditor – China – has called our bluff.
As the Financial Times notes, the head of China’s biggest credit rating agency has said America is insolvent and that U.S. credit ratings are a joke:
The head of China’s largest credit rating agency has slammed his western counterparts for causing the global financial crisis and said that as the world’s largest creditor nation China should have a bigger say in how governments and their debt are rated.
“The western rating agencies are politicised and highly ideological and they do not adhere to objective standards,” Guan Jianzhong, chairman of Dagong Global Credit Rating, told the Financial Times in an interview.
“The US is insolvent and faces bankruptcy as a pure debtor nation but the rating agencies still give it high rankings ,” Mr Guan said.
This "piece" of driftwood washed up on the beach at La Push, a small community in Clallam County, Washington. On our visit there in early spring, a very strong gale was blowing. Powerful winds accompanied by high tides are required to bring monsters like this ashore. The entire length of the beach was strewn with driftwood of all sizes.
An Italian Catholic diocese has denounced homosexual priests for their "double life" and said they should not be in the priesthood.
The Diocese of Rome was responding to a magazine article on three homosexual priests that gave details of alleged sexual encounters and trips to clubs.
The diocese said "the honour of all the others" was sullied by their behaviour.
Wait, what? Catholic priests still have honour left?
Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study.
Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents.
Critical fire and gas leak alarm systems had been disabled for at least a year aboard the Deepwater Horizon because the rig’s leaders didn’t want to wake up to false alarms, a rig chief engineer tech told federal investigators.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls the evidence “overwhelming” that the Cheonan, a South Korean warship that sank in March, was hit by a North Korean torpedo. Vice President Joe Biden has cited the South Korean-led panel investigating the sinking as a model of transparency. But challenges to the official version of events are coming from an unlikely place: within South Korea…
Armed with dossiers of their own scientific studies and bolstered by conspiracy theories, critics dispute the findings announced May 20 by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which pointed a finger at Pyongyang.
They also question why Lee made the announcement nearly two months after the ship’s sinking, on the very day campaigning opened for fiercely contested local elections. Many accuse the conservative leader of using the deaths of 46 sailors to stir up anti-communist sentiment and sway the vote…
“I couldn’t find the slightest sign of an explosion,” said Shin Sang-chul, a former shipbuilding executive-turned-investigative journalist. “The sailors drowned to death. Their bodies were clean. We didn’t even find dead fish in the sea.”
Shin, who was appointed to the joint investigative panel by the opposition Democratic Party, inspected the damaged ship with other experts April 30. He was removed from the panel shortly afterward, he says, because he had voiced a contrary opinion: that the Cheonan hit ground in the shallow water off the Korean peninsula and then damaged its hull trying to get off a reef.
“It was the equivalent of a simple traffic accident at sea,” Shin said.
Two South Korean-born U.S. academics have joined the chorus of skepticism, holding a news conference this month in Tokyo to voice their suspicions about the “smoking gun:” a piece of torpedo propeller with a handwritten mark in blue ink reading “No. 1” in Korean.
“You could put that mark on an iPhone and claim it was manufactured in North Korea,” scoffed one of the academics, Seunghun Lee, a professor of physics at the University of Virginia.
Lee called the discovery of the propeller fragment five days before the government’s news conference suspicious. The salvaged part had more corrosion than would have been expected after just 50 days in the water, yet the blue writing was surprisingly clear, he said.
“The government is lying when they said this was found underwater. I think this is something that was pulled out of a warehouse of old materials to show to the press,” Lee said.
Rear Adm. Thomas J. Eccles, the senior U.S. representative on the panel, said investigators considered all possibilities: a grounding, an internal explosion, a collision with a mine. But they quickly concluded that the boat was sunk by a bubble-jet torpedo, which exploded underneath the vessel and didn’t leave the usual signs of an explosion, he said.
“The pattern of damage was exactly aligned with that kind of weapon,” Eccles said in a telephone interview. “Torpedoes these days are designed to drive underneath the target and explode. They use the energy of their explosion to make a bubble that expands and contracts. It is designed to break the back of the ship.”
Large-scale deforestation in the Amazon rainforest fell dramatically last year, according to official figures released yesterday.
Data from satellite sensors making fortnightly detections of only larger areas of forest destruction (greater than 25 hectares) was 1,500km2 between August 2009 and May 2010, compared with 3,000km2 in the same period a year earlier.
The Brazilian environment agency, Ibama, which is responsible for protecting the forests against illegal logging, said the drop was due to the increased use of satellite data to spot the felling of trees and new tactics to deter loggers, including ending their ability to hide under cloud cover.
During the Bush years alone, from 2000-2008, median family income dropped by nearly $2,200 and millions lost their health insurance. Today, because of stagnating wages and higher costs for basic necessities, the average two-wage-earner family has less disposable income than a one-wage-earner family did a generation ago. The average American today is underpaid, overworked and stressed out as to what the future will bring for his or her children. For many, the American dream has become a nightmare.
The 400 richest families in America, who saw their wealth increase by some $400 billion during the Bush years, have now accumulated $1.27 trillion in wealth. Four hundred families! During the last fifteen years, while these enormously rich people became much richer their effective tax rates were slashed almost in half. While the highest-paid 400 Americans had an average income of $345 million in 2007, as a result of Bush tax policy they now pay an effective tax rate of 16.6 percent, the lowest on record.
Of course, Colbert has something to say about it:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Pilot Capt. Brian Bews ejects as his a CF-18 fighter jet plummets to the ground during a practice flight at the Lethbridge County Airport on Friday, July 23 for the weekend airshow in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. "He is alive and we believe right now that his injuries are non-life-threatening," Canadian Forces Capt. Nicole Meszaros told CBC News.
More amazing pictures at the link
77% of iPhone owners say they’ll buy another iPhone, compared to 20% of Android customers who say they’ll buy another Android phone.
Nokia, the world’s largest maker of cellphones, said Thursday that its profit fell 64 percent in the second quarter as it struggled to compete with the innovative software makers Apple and Google in the critical smartphone segment.
“Nokia’s problems are big and serious,” he said. “The emergence of the iPhone and the Android operating system have made that all too clear. Nokia was not prepared for either one. They are clearly not the same industry leader they have been for the last 30 years.”
Microsoft is hoping to bolster its early Windows Phone 7 app list with those made by its staff in their free time, a memo obtained Thursday said. As part of the same note that promised free WP7 phones to staff, mobile lead Andy Lees encouraged workers to write their own apps to help support the launch. The company is further rolling out an employee developer program to fast-track apps made unofficially within Microsoft.
Un’inchiesta con telecamera nascosta, seguita da verifiche minuziose e da controlli accurati. Per venti giorni Carmelo Abbate, giornalista di Panorama, affiancato da un «complice» gay, si è infiltrato nelle serate brave di alcuni preti che, a Roma, conducono una sorprendente doppia vita: di giorno sono sacerdoti in abito talare; di notte, smessa la tonaca, sono uomini perfettamente integrati negli ambienti omosessuali della capitale. Quella che ne è uscita è un’inchiesta sul campo che ha permesso di scoprire una realtà inedita e per certi versi sconvolgente: sacerdoti che partecipano a feste notturne con escort uomini; che hanno rapporti omosessuali con partner casuali; che frequentano chat e ritrovi gay.
A gay priest sex scandal has rocked the Catholic Church in Italy today after a weekly news magazine released details of a shock investigation it had carried out.
Using hidden cameras, a journalist from Panorama magazine – owned by Italian Prime Minister and media baron Silvio Berlusconi – filmed three priests as they attended gay nightspots and had casual sex.
Today there was no immediate comment from the Italian Bishops Conference and the Vatican – which has been rocked by a series of sex scandals involving paedophile priests since the start of the year.