News PM Punch — ‘Loved by the Spooks’

December 13, 2013

newsmanClear and not-so-cold this afternoon on California’s north coast — some high cloud haze dulls the sunshine every-now-and-then, but still nice outside.

Far, far away, winter weather harshly walloped Jerusalem and a big chunk of the Middle East: “We are battling a storm of rare ferocity,” Mayor Nir Barkat said as snow in the Holy City piled up to around 37 centimetres (15 inches) and thousands of homes lost power.

More from AFP:

The Gaza Strip was lashed by torrential rain for a third day, and its Hamas rulers said residents had been evacuated from 60 flooded homes since storms hit the coastal territory on Wednesday.
The severe weather prompted Israel to open the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza to allow in humanitarian aid following a UN request.
In Syria, meanwhile, a child and a baby were said to have died from the cold Thursday, and an activist in a besieged rebel-held town said residents were struggling to stay warm with electricity cut off and no food or fuel allowed in.
“Normally we face the shelling and fighting, as well as food and fuel shortages. Today we also have snow and extreme cold,” Abu Anas said by Internet from the town of Hara.
“The worst part is that children and the elderly cannot resist the cold as much as the young people can… We feel completely cut off from the world.”

Yesterday, Jerusalem had its heaviest December snowfall since 1953. Last week, hurricane-force Storm Xaver blasted its way across northern Europe, ‘…the worst storm to hit the continent in years,’ and killed six people, with wide-spread heavy flooding from the UK to Germany..
Global interpretations of a warming environment.

Beyond the never-ending weather-events phenomenon, the news cycle this PM carried another piece of the obvious downing-puzzle of the NSA. Despite all the clamor, da’ new boss, same as da’ old boss — from the Washington Post this morning:

The Obama administration has decided to preserve a controversial arrangement under which a single military official is permitted to direct both the National Security Agency and the military’s cyberwarfare command, U.S. officials said.
The decision by President Obama comes amid signs that the White House is not inclined to impose significant new restraints on the NSA’s activities and favors maintaining an agency program that collects data on virtually every phone call that Americans make, although it is likely to impose additional privacy-protection measures.

“The big picture is there’s not going to be that much [additional] constraint” by the White House, said a second U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
“They’re really not hurting [NSA] that much.”

Congress is debating whether to rein in that program or endorse it explicitly in legislation.
Civil liberties groups have sued the government, alleging that the collection violates privacy law and the Constitution.
The external panel, formally known as the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, had considered recommending an end to the bulk collection program, an official familiar with the deliberations say. But that recommendation “had been changed or withdrawn,” the official said.
The White House, several sources said, is not likely to terminate the program, which allows the NSA to collect information such as when phone calls were made and how long they lasted, but not the content of the conversations.

And that bow tied itself. Despite Eddie Snowden’s disclosures/revelations, the NSA will continue merrily on its way. And most likely nothing will ever be done to rein in the crazies — they’ve grown too big for the asylum. Powerful people loves them some secrets and spies.
In context of John Brennan, director of the CIA, Marcy Wheeler offers a suggestion why the NSA/CIA/NRO, etc., etc., will continue unabated: Dianne Feinstein could, of course, move to declassify the report in its current state. But she won’t do that, and John Brennan knows it. You see, he knows DiFi wants to be loved by the spooks she oversees, and they could care less what she thinks of them, so long as they continue to hide the true nature of their organizations. And her desire to be loved by those she oversees makes her an easy mark.
And fly on the wall, forever.

Also on the news list is an event of terrible-historical irony — tomorrow marks a year since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, so this afternoon, another school shooting. Via CNN: A student opened fire Friday inside a suburban Denver high school, injuring three people before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.
The shooter was apparently after a specific teacher.
According to a Daily Beast feature, there have been 25 school shootings since Sandy Hook, which have claimed 18 lives: In the year since 20 first-graders were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, another school shooting has taken place in America every two weeks on average.
Horrific score card.

Now it’s darkening across the sky, and Friday night ti neigh. More laptop TV and bed.

(Illustration above found here).

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