Saturday, October 30, 2010

NY Times-NYT Review of BBC America's "Luther" (Best Show on TV)

Idris Elba as Det. John Luther: NYTCredit/BBC
(NY Times Television Review by Ginia Bellafante)

At first perusal, a drama about a tormented-but-brilliant cop whose ethics code doesn’t require cleaning up as much as fumigation would seem like an old, familiar destination. You have made the journey here before, particularly if you got on board “The Shield” for its seven seasons. And yet, when the cop is played by Idris Elba (Stringer Bell of “The Wire”) and his mind-meld is happening with a murderer who looks like a gangster’s moll, quotes Bertrand Russell and sounds like Judi Dench, the stamp on your passport starts to look decidedly novel.

The angst and psychological machinations arrive in the form of “Luther,” a six-part series beginning on BBC America on Sunday. The Luther of the title is John Luther, a London detective who lets a maniac fall to his near death in the show’s tense opening moments. The perpetrator in question obliterates children. We meet him hanging from a high beam, getting no assist from a cop who instead recounts the names of the young victims, thus setting the tone for a series grippingly compelled by the most gothic threats to domestic tranquillity.

The London of Luther’s purview is a city in which the number of deranged evildoers per capita would seem to outrank the number of wool sports coats in Oxford and Cambridge. There are rapists who menace young mothers in their living rooms, sons who kill for their fathers’ approval, daughters who gun down their parents and stage the crimes as home invasion. The series provides one of the most chilling television images in a long time as the camera closes in on a baby peacefully playing on a Gymini while his mother unwittingly opens the front door to a psychopath.

(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website.)

My debut anthology of street journalism from the 1980s (and more current essays), "Hooked On The American Dream-Vol.1: New Jack City Eats Its Young," is now available on Kindle/Amazon. Click here to go to the Amazon site.

UK Daily Mail-"Bozo" Tancredo; "Obama Is Worse Than Al-Qaeda"

Colo. Tea Party Gubernatorial candidate Tom "Bozo" Tancredo: UK Daily Mail
(Story reported by UK Daily Mail)

President Barack Obama is a bigger threat to the United States than Al Qaeda or terrorism, Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo has claimed.

The former Congressman made the comments while campaigning in Canon City Tuesday.

Tancredo said that Obama posed a threat to the Constitution, saying: 'It's not Al Qaeda, it's the guy sitting in the White House.'

Tancredo also said he believes Obama and Democratic Colorado gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper are 'kindred spirits.'

Tancredo has a reputation for controversial comments, including a suggestion that the United States bomb Islam's holy sites if attacked by nuclear weapons.

The former Republican congressman is running on the American Constitution Party ticket.

Tom Tancredo is quick to admit he brings plenty of baggage to the Colorado governor's race.

He once called Miami a 'Third World country.'

During President George W Bush's administration, he got thrown out of the White House for suggesting Bush was soft on illegal immigration.

And he once refused to take part in a presidential debate because it was on a Spanish-language network.

(Click here to read the full story on the UK Daily Mail website.)

The New Yorker-Seymour M. Hersh; Fears Of A Cyber War on the U.S.

Illustration: The New Yorker
(Story reported by Seymour M. Hersh for The New Yorker)

On April 1, 2001, an American EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance plane on an eavesdropping mission collided with a Chinese interceptor jet over the South China Sea, triggering the first international crisis of George W. Bush’s Administration. The Chinese jet crashed, and its pilot was killed, but the pilot of the American aircraft, Navy Lieutenant Shane Osborn, managed to make an emergency landing at a Chinese F-8 fighter base on Hainan Island, fifteen miles from the mainland. Osborn later published a memoir, in which he described the “incessant jackhammer vibration” as the plane fell eight thousand feet in thirty seconds, before he regained control.

The plane carried twenty-four officers and enlisted men and women attached to the Naval Security Group Command, a field component of the National Security Agency. They were repatriated after eleven days; the plane stayed behind. The Pentagon told the press that the crew had followed its protocol, which called for the use of a fire axe, and even hot coffee, to disable the plane’s equipment and software. These included an operating system created and controlled by the N.S.A., and the drivers needed to monitor encrypted Chinese radar, voice, and electronic communications. It was more than two years before the Navy acknowledged that things had not gone so well. “Compromise by the People’s Republic of China of undestroyed classified material . . . is highly probable and cannot be ruled out,” a Navy report issued in September, 2003, said.

The loss was even more devastating than the 2003 report suggested, and its dimensions have still not been fully revealed. Retired Rear Admiral Eric McVadon, who flew patrols off the coast of Russia and served as a defense attaché in Beijing, told me that the radio reports from the aircraft indicated that essential electronic gear had been dealt with. He said that the crew of the EP-3E managed to erase the hard drive—“zeroed it out”—but did not destroy the hardware, which left data retrievable: “No one took a hammer.” Worse, the electronics had recently been upgraded. “Some might think it would not turn out as badly as it did, but I sat in some meetings about the intelligence cost,” McVadon said. “It was grim.”

The Navy’s experts didn’t believe that China was capable of reverse-engineering the plane’s N.S.A.-supplied operating system, estimated at between thirty and fifty million lines of computer code, according to a former senior intelligence official. Mastering it would give China a road map for decrypting the Navy’s classified intelligence and operational data. “If the operating system was controlling what you’d expect on an intelligence aircraft, it would have a bunch of drivers to capture radar and telemetry,” Whitfield Diffie, a pioneer in the field of encryption, said. “The plane was configured for what it wants to snoop, and the Chinese would want to know what we wanted to know about them—what we could intercept and they could not.” And over the next few years the U.S. intelligence community began to “read the tells” that China had access to sensitive traffic.

(Click here to read the full story of Seymour M. Hersh's investigation on the fears of cyber war against the U.S. on The New Yorker website.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wired-Feds Want 18 Months For Student Who Hacked Palin's E-Mail

David Kernell, the college student who hacked Sarah Palin's email account: Wired Magazine
(Story reported by Kim Zetter for

David Kernell, the Tennessee student convicted of hacking into Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account, has asked the court to forgo a prison sentence and give him probation for his crimes.

Kernell, 22, was convicted earlier this year of misdemeanor computer intrusion and a felony count of obstruction of justice. The jury found him not guilty of a wire-fraud charge and hung on a fourth charge for identity theft, after four days of deliberating.

The convictions carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000.

Federal sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence of between 15 and 21 months in prison. The government is seeking 18 months.

Kernell, scheduled to be sentenced in Tennessee on Nov. 12, was found to have deleted evidence from his hard drive to thwart investigators, in the most serious charge.

In a motion filed with the court (.pdf) this week, his attorney asserted that although his client might have deleted evidence, this should be balanced against the fact that he didn’t destroy the computer entirely or get rid of it.

(Click here to read the full story on the website.)

Roll Call-Meek Denies He Wanted To Drop Out Of Fla. Senate Race

Dem. Fla. Senate Candidate Kendrick Meek:
(Story reported by Melanie Starkey for Roll Call)

Rep. Kendrick Meek pushed back Thursday against a report that President Bill Clinton nearly talked the Florida Democrat into withdrawing from his Senate race last week.

Politico, citing anonymous sources, reported Thursday that Meek agreed twice to drop out and endorse Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, in the hopes that Democratic voters would redirect their support to the independent candidate, but that Meek backed out.

“The press report that’s out there from Politico is inaccurate — at best,” Meek said at a news conference Thursday night. “President Clinton and I are good friends. ... He’s continuing to be a supporter of this campaign. ... Any rumor or any statement by anyone that says that I made a decision to get out of the race is inaccurate.”

(Click here to read the full story on the Roll Call website.)

Mediaite-President Obama Stays On Message On "The Daily Show"

President Obama and Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" : Mediaite
(Story reported by Hillary Busis for Mediaite)

When President Obama appeared on The Daily Show Wednesday night, he made a claim that may have caused some viewers to take pause. “Most of the jobs that we lost were lost before the economic policies we put in place had any effect,” Obama told Jon Stewart.

But Polifact, the St. Petersburg Times’s Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking operation, has taken a closer look at the President’s statement—and found that it holds up.

Here’s a timeline of our nation’s climbing unemployment, according to Obama: “We lost 4 million jobs before I was sworn in; 750,000 the month I was sworn in; 600,000, the month after that; 600,000 the month after that.” Polifact examined those numbers and discovered that BLS data corroborates Obama’s assertion:
Looking at BLS data on seasonally adjusted non-farm employment from December 2007, when the recession officially began, to January 2009, the month before the stimulus was enacted (a 25-month period), the jobs number declined by 4.4 million. So Obama’s first number was right, although he could have been clearer about the time frame.

When he refers to his economic policies, we presume he is referring to his main economic stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It passed in February 2009, but it took several months before the impact of its spending was felt in the economy.

Job loss didn’t stop, but Obama is right that it slowed down. In the 19 months from February 2009 through September 2010, the month of the most recent preliminary data, the overall job decline in the private and public sectors was 2.6 million. And the number of jobs lost per month has declined from around 700,000 a month at the beginning of the administration to months in which there were small net gains. Since May, however, the losses — albeit smaller ones — have returned, giving Republicans fresh ammunition. For example, payroll employment dropped 57,000 between July and August 2010.
It’s debatable how well Obama’s economic policies have worked to pull our country out of the recession. What isn’t debatable, though, is the fact that the President inherited a real mess, one that spiraled before his policies could have an effect either way.

(Click here to read the full story on the Mediaite website, and click here to watch President Barack Obama interviewed by Jon Stewart on 10.27.2010 episode of "The Daily Show".)'s Wife Tiny Charged With Possession of Ecstasy

mug shot of Tameka "Tiny" Cottle:
(Story reported by

TMZ has learned the L.A. County District Attorney has charged  T.I.'s wife -- Tameka Cottle -- for possessing the drug ecstasy when the couple was arrested on Sunset Strip last month.

If convicted, Tameka could face up to a year behind bars.

As we previously reported, the D.A. has elected not to prosecute T.I. for charges stemming from the incident, noting that the rapper will already be serving time in Georgia for a probation violation stemming from the L.A. arrest.

(Click here to read the full story on the website.)

Reuters-Victims of Sex Abuse To March On The Vatican

The Vatican:
(Story reported by Philip Pullella for Reuters)

(Reuters) - Victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests will try to march on the Vatican on Sunday despite the lack of a police permit, to demand the Church do more to protect children and hold abusers accountable.Bernie McDaid and Gary Bergeron, founders of, told a news conference on Friday they would start a petition drive to ask the United Nations to declare systemic pedophilia a crime against humanity.

"We are not crippled. We are injured people who are willing to talk about it now. The guilt and the shame is in the cover-up," said McDaid, who become one of the first abuse victims to meet with Pope Benedict in Washington in 2008.

Revelations about children who were sexually abused by priests over the past decades has rocked the church this year, particularly in Europe, the United States and Australia.

McDaid, 54 and Bergeron, 47, were abused by the same priest as children in different cities in the Boston area some seven years apart in the 1960s.

Both were altar boys and both said they were molested by a priest who was first denounced as an abuser in 1962 but was shifted from parish to parish instead of being defrocked.

They met as adults in 2002 when the Church sex abuse scandal first swept the United States, with its epicenter in Boston.

This year, a new chapter in the scandal came to light as victims in other countries, including Ireland, Austria, Italy and the pope's native Germany, came forward. Bishops in several European countries have resigned either because they were unmasked as abusers or had mishandled abuse cases.

Bergeron and McDaid will lead two days of activities in Rome along with victims of abuse from 12 countries, culminating on Sunday, which they have dubbed Reformation Day, the anniversary of the day in 1517 when Martin Luther began the Reformation.

(Click here to read the full story on the Reuters website.) Activists Harass Elderly Black Voters In Texas

photo credit:
(Story reported by Ryan J. Reilly for Talking Points

Two middle-aged white Republican activists in Texas allegedly harassed and intimidated at least seven elderly African-American voters at their homes in eastern Texas, according to a complaint filed with the Justice Department on Thursday.

Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center, submitted a report to DOJ alleging that two unidentified women visited elderly African-American voters at their homes in Bowie County and questioned them about their mail-in ballot applications, Mother Jones first reported.

The women allegedly showed up to 78-year-old Willard Wherry's home and asked him who had helped him fill in his mail-in ballot. "We are just trying to be sure no one is trying to coax someone to vote," one of the woman allegedly told Willard. Other individuals who were allegedly visited by the women were also listed on the complaint.

A GOP candidate for Bowie County Clerk, Natalie Nichols, also allegedly threatened a Bowie County elections official due to her concerns over mail-in ballot fraud.

Lacey Golden, the elections official, said in a statement that Nichols came into the office on Oct. 15 and asked if Golden had verified the signatures on the envelopes of mail-in ballots and grew aggressive.

"I feel she personally threatened me and severely invaded by personal space," Golden wrote. "She told me I was committing fraud by letting that happen, and she had called the [Secretary of State] about it already."

(Click here to read the full story on Talking Points

Chicago Sun Times-Explosive Devices Bound For Chicago Synagogues

Police investigating explosive packages at Newark Liberty International Airport: AP
(Story reported by Mary Wisniewski and Frank Main for the Chicago Sun Times)

President Barack Obama said Friday that initial examination of two packages bound for Chicago from Yemen determined that they apparently contained explosive materials. The packages were apparently bound for Jewish synagogues in the Chicago area.

The president said the American public should be confident in the government's counterterror efforts.

Obama spoke to reporters Friday hours after details of the potentially al-Qaida-linked plot emerged.

According to a CNN report, law enforcement sources said they were acting on a tip in the last 24 hours from an unnamed “ally” that cargo coming from Yemen were headed for Chicago synagogues.

The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago was alerted about the possible threat by authorities this morning, according to Linda Haase, associate vice president.

“We are taking appropriate precautions, and we are advising local synagogues to do likewise,” Haase said.

“Sadly, this is not the first time the Jewish community has had to deal with a security issue.”

It was not immediately known which institutions may have been targeted. A woman answering the phone at

Anshe Emet synagogue in Lakeview said that the synagogue’s security personnel is handling all packages and working with Chicago Police.

(Click here to read the full story on the Chicago Sun Times website.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Hill-The Republicans Who Would Vote For President Obama Again

Gen. Colin Powell and President Barack Obama: Getty Images
(Story reported by Hannah Brenton and Hayleigh Colombo for The Hill)

Republicans who supported Barack Obama in the 2008 election say they have few regrets.

The Hill contacted 17 prominent Republicans and members of “Republicans for Obama” groups that launched across the country two years ago. Most of them defended the president and indicated they might vote for him again in two years.

Their statements are somewhat surprising, because polls show that Republicans and independents have turned against the president. Political analysts say the fired-up GOP base, coupled with dissatisfaction from independents, could help the GOP win control of Congress on Nov. 2.

Some so-called “Obamacans” did not want to discuss their views on Obama. More than two-dozen Republicans who attracted media attention in 2008 for their support of Obama declined to comment on the issue.

One of them was former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), who served in the upper chamber as a Republican and is now running for governor as an Independent.

Obama attracted criticism this week from Frank Caprio, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Rhode Island, after the White House acknowledged that the president was not going to get involved in the race.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said Obama’s decision was made “out of respect for his friend Lincoln Chafee.”

(Click here to read the full story on The Hill website.)

Miami Herald-Did Clinton Ask Meek To Drop Out of Fla. Senate Race?

Democratic Fla. Sen Candidate Kendrick Meek: Al Diaz/Miami Herald
(Story reported by Beth Reinhard, Lesley Clark. Adam C. Smith for the Miami Herald)

Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek's mentor and most important political ally, former President Bill Clinton, urged him last week to quit the race to block Republican frontrunner Marco Rubio from winning and helping his party take over the Senate, according to a Clinton spokesman.

The stunning development, which was first reported by Politico, was confirmed in an e-mail late Thursday to the Herald/Times by Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna. The story broke hours after a Quinnipiac University poll showed Meek with only 15 percent of the vote and Gov. Charlie Crist just seven percentage points behind Rubio, with 42 percent.

Crist, a former Republican running as an independent, has been trying to squeeze Meek out of the race for weeks. He told Keith Olbermann of MSNBC Thursday night that he doesn't expect Meek to quit. Asked how he knew about the conversation between Meek and Clinton, Crist said, ``Because I had numerous phone calls with people very close to President Clinton. It's true.''

The Meek campaign fervently denied that he had considered leaving the race. Politico reported that Meek and Clinton spoke in Jacksonville, but Meek's campaign manager Abe Dyk said they were never together in that city last week. Clinton and Meek campaigned together Tuesday in St. Petersburg and Wednesday in Orlando.

``The article is not true,'' Dyk said in a statement. ``Kendrick Meek was never dropping out of this race, is never dropping out of this race, and will never drop out of this race. Kendrick Meek will always stand up for the middle class and will not leave Floridians a choice between two lifelong conservative Republicans who only stand with the special interests. Kendrick is the Democratic nominee so if anyone should drop out, it's Charlie Crist.''

The Rubio campaign was also dismissive.

``Charlie Crist truly will say and do anything to get elected and hold on to power,'' said Rubio's senior strategist, Todd Harris. ``Secret deals to trade away principles for power is already the problem in Washington, its not the solution. This is simply politics as usual which is exactly what voters across the country are emphatically rejecting this election.''

(Click here to read the full story on the Miami Herald website.)

Wash Po-Halliburton Knew Cement Was Faulty Before BP Expiosion

BP Oil Rig Explosion:
(Story reported by Steven Mufson for the Washington Post)

Three advance tests the oil services firm Halliburton carried out on a cement mixture used to try to close BP's Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico showed that the cement would be unstable, according to evidence collected by the national oil spill commission.

Halliburton told BP about only one of those tests before the April 20 well explosion, yet BP and Halliburton went ahead with the cementing job, according to the commission.

A fourth Halliburton test - the only one indicating that the cement slurry might have contained the high-pressure pool of oil and gas at the bottom of the Macondo well - was not available until the night of April 19 at the earliest and might not have been complete until after the cement was poured, the commission staff said in a letter issued Thursday.

At the commission's request, Chevron recently carried out independent lab tests of a cement slurry that Halliburton said was the same as that used in the Macondo well. The commission staff said that Chevron reported that "its lab personnel were unable to generate stable foam cement in the laboratory using the materials provided by Halliburton."

The commission staff said in the letter Thursday that the Halliburton tests before the blowout on the Macondo well and the new lab tests conducted by Chevron show that "Halliburton (and perhaps BP) should have considered redesigning the foam slurry before pumping it at the Macondo well."

A Halliburton spokeswoman said, "We continue to review today's report."

The quality of the cement job - which was supposed to seal the Macondo oil well - has been a matter of dispute in the effort to figure out what caused the blowout that triggered the massive oil spill, sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and killed 11 workers. Experts largely agree that the cement placed at the bottom of the well failed, the first of several failures that fateful day, but they do not agree why or who was to blame.

(Click here to read the full story on the Washington Post website.)

Wash Po-Clinton to Gingrich During Monica Scandal: "You and I Are Alike"

(Story reported by Matt DeLong for the Washington Post)

Marvin Olasky of the Christian magazine, World, has a new interview out (subscription req'd.) with former GOP House majority leader and FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey. The Texas Republican alleges that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and ex-President Bill Clinton used to "bond" over wine and cigars while sharing stories about their respective marital infidelities. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's excerpt from the interview:
Olasky: In 1998 during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a reporter asked you what you would do if you were in President Clinton's position. You're said to have replied, "I would not have gotten a chance to resign. I would be lying in a pool of my own blood with Mrs. Armey standing over me saying, how do I reload this thing?" True?
Armey: True. By the way, she outshoots me with a handgun and knows how to reload it.
Olasky: Who did know?
Armey: When I heard that Newt had been carrying on an affair for all the years that we'd worked together, I went home and said, "Honey, I had no idea about this." She said, "Of course not. You're the last person in town Newt would have wanted to know about this." Newt was scared of me. What I discovered: Clinton found out about the Gingrich affair and called Newt over to the White House for a private meeting between the two of them. Clinton said, "You and I are alike." Which meant, shut up about Monica or I'll start telling your story.
 (Click here to read the full story on the Washington Post website.)

TPM-Fake Political Group Tries To Mislead Black Voters In Texas

A fraudulent political group distributed misleading fliers to African American voters in
(Story reported by Ryan J. Reilly for Talking Points

Misleading fliers are showing up on the windshields of vehicles at a predominately African-American polling place in Houston that claim to come from a non-existent group called the "Black Democratic Trust of Texas."

The fliers were placed on the windshields of vehicles at and near the Sunnyside Early Voting location and tell voters not to voter straight Democrat, according to Texas Democrats and local news reports.

"Republicans are trying to trick us!" the flier reads. "When you vote straight ticket Democrat, it is actually voting for Republicans and your vote doesn't count. We are urging everyone to VOTE for BILL WHITE. A VOTE for BILL WHITE is a VOTE for the ENTIRE DEMOCRATIC ticket. We have fought too hard to let Republicans use voting machines to deny us our basic rights. We must guard the change and NOT VOTE STRAIGHT TICKET DEMOCRAT!"

(Click here to read the full story on the Talking Points website.
"YES WE CAN," the flier reads.

Mediaite-Billboard in TX; "GOP Is The New Black" (Yeah, Right...)

Raging Elephants billboard in Houston, Tx., where the Republican party is trying to court African Americans: Mediaite
(Story reported by Colby Hall for Mediaite)

African-American voters have historically been a predominantly strong base for the Democratic party, but a Houston based group called Raging Elephants is looking to change that with a “GOP Is The New Black” campaign. The new billboard depicts a number of well-heeled African-American actors while trumpeting the new slogan. Its also likely to spark a debate that may include allegations of race-baiting, as well as a certain inquiry into where the funds initially came from…coming to a basic cable news program near you!

(Click here to read the full story on the Mediaite website.)

NY Times-President Obama Defends His Record on "The Daily Show"

President Obama with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show": Doug Mills/NY Times
(Story reported by Sheryl Gay Stolberg for the NY Times)

WASHINGTON — If you are president of the United States and you take your campaign get-out-the-vote blitz to a fake news program, do you get tweaked, or do you get a pass?

You get tweaked, as President Obama discovered Wednesday, when he made his first appearance as president on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. As the host, Jon Stewart, needled him, the president declared that he never promised transformational change overnight.

“You ran on very high rhetoric, hope and change, and the Democrats this year seem to be running on, ‘Please baby, one more chance,’ ” Mr. Stewart said at one point. At another, he wondered aloud whether Mr. Obama had traded the audacity of 2008 for pragmatism in 2010, offering a platform of “Yes we can, given certain conditions.”

Mr. Obama paused for a moment. “I think I would say, ‘Yes we can, but —— ”

Mr. Stewart, laughing, cut him off. The president pushed ahead, finishing his sentence: “But it’s not going to happen overnight.”

The gentle ribbing was perhaps a price the White House was willing to pay for the opportunity to reach Mr. Stewart’s valuable audience — young people who turned out in droves for the president, but who are deeply dissatisfied with him. Mr. Obama is spending the waning days of the election season trying to motivate that crowd to get to the polls, and he closed the interview by urging them to do just that, telling Mr. Stewart he wanted to make “a plug just to vote.”

(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BBC News-'Hotel Rwanda" Hero Accused of Funding Rwandan Terrorists

Paul Rusesabagina, the man who saved the lives of hundreds of Tutsis, has been accused by Rwanda's top prosecutor, of funding terrorist in Rwanda: BBC News
(Story reported by BBC News) 

The Rwandan authorities have accused the man on whom the film "Hotel Rwanda" is based of funding subversion.

Paul Rusesabagina became a well-known figure after the film depicted his efforts to save hundreds of Tutsis at his hotel during the genocide of 1994.

Now Rwanda's top prosecutor has accused him of sending money to two former commanders of an extremist rebel group.

Mr Rusesabagina has denied the accusations and says there is a smear campaign against him

Now Rwanda's top prosecutor has accused him of sending money to two former commanders of an extremist rebel group.

Mr Rusesabagina has denied the accusations and says there is a smear campaign against him.

Rwanda's prosecutor general, Martin Ngoga, said Mr Rusesabagina had helped to finance what he described as terrorist activities in Rwanda by funding commanders of the FDLR, or Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

Correspondents say in recent years Mr Rusesabagina has spoken out against the government of President Paul Kagame, which has faced criticism from several quarters that it targets its political opponents.

In a BBC interview, Mr Rusesabagina accused the government of launching a smear campaign against him.

"It is the latest step in a campaign against me by the Rwandan government that has included public insults from the president himself, lies and physical harassment," he said.

(Click here to read the full story on the BBC News website.)

Art Info-1964 James Bond Aston Martin Sells for $4.1M in London Auction

Original 1964 James Bond Aston Martin DB5, which sold for $4.1 million in an auction in London: RM Auctions

(Story reported by Natalie Shutler for Art 

LONDON—James Bond's 1964 silver Aston Martin DB5, driven by Sean Connery in "Goldfinger," the classic film of the same year, made a hammer price of £2.6 million ($4.1 million) at an automobile sale at London's RM Auctions today, while falling far short of its £3.5 million ($5.5 million) low estimate. The auction house had hoped it might sell for as much as $10 million.

The Aston Martin — fully equipped with a bulletproof windows, an ejector seat, and twin machine guns — made its dramatic first appearance in "Goldfinger" when the hapless (but endearing) technology expert Q shows Bond the car's "rather interesting modifications," which can be operated by switches in one of the car's armrests. Connery's disbelief about the existence of an ejector seat prompts Q's infamous cinematic one-liner,

"I never joke about my work, 007."

The car was offered for sale by Philadelphia-based radio broadcaster Jerry Lee, who purchased the vehicle from the Aston Martin factory for $12,000 in 1969, after it had gone on a lengthy promotional tour in support of the Bond movie franchise. The proceeds from the auction will go toward Lee's charity work, which is focused on solving social problems associated with poverty, Bloomberg reports.

(Click here to read the full story on the Art website.)

NME-Jay-Z and Kanye West to Record Joint Album; "Watch The Throne"

Jay-Z and Kanye West:
(Story reported by

Kanye West and Jay-Z are working on a joint album named 'Watch The Throne'.

Speaking in a video interview with MTV, West said that the rap duo had already started making the album and were set to continue recording in France soon.

"We're going to the south of France at the end of this month, just to record new ideas," he said. "We'll probably be done with the album in a day or whatever."

He added: "We’ve done about five [songs] so far… but we got some more. But think about it, it's really easy; he only has to think of 10 verses."

Kanye West's new album, 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy', is out on November 22

(Click here to read the full story on the website.)

Washington Post-North Va. Man Arrested In DC Metro Bomb Plot

Washington, DC Metro Station: Gerald Martineau/Washington Post
(Story reported by Peter Finn, Greg Miller, and Spencer S. Hau for the Washington Post)

Federal law enforcement authorities have arrested a Northern Virginia man in connection with an alleged plot to carry out a series of terrorist bombings at stations in the Washington Metro system, according to a federal indictment.

Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, conspired with people he believed to be al-Qaeda operatives to attack the stations at Arlington National Cemetery, Pentagon City, Crystal City and Court House, the indictment said.

An administration official said Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Pakistan, first drew the attention of law enforcement officials by seeking to obtain unspecified materials. He later became the target of an undercover sting operation, officials said.

According to the indictment, in April Ahmed began to meet in hotels in Northern Virginia with people he believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization. He agreed to conduct video surveillance of the stations, suggested the best time to attack and the best place to place explosives to maximize casualties, the indictment alleges.

"Today's case underscores the need for continued vigilance against terrorist threats and demonstrates how the government can neutralize such threats before they come to fruition," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security. "Farooque Ahmed is accused of plotting with individuals he believed were terrorists to bomb our transit system, but a coordinated law enforcement and intelligence effort was able to thwart his plans."

(Click here to read the full story on the Washington Post website.)

NY Times-Is NY A Police State For Minorities?

Cop and Resident in the neighborhood of Brookyn, NY's 73rd Precinct: Todd Heisler/NY Times
(Story reported by Al Baker and Ray Rivera for the NY Times) 

Tens of thousands of times over six years, the police stopped and questioned people on New York City streets without the legal justification for doing so, a new study says.

And in hundreds of thousands of more cases, city officers failed to include essential details on required police forms to show whether the stops were justified, according to the study written by Prof. Jeffrey A. Fagan of Columbia Law School.

The study was conducted on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is suing the New York Police Department for what the center says is a widespread pattern of unprovoked and unnecessary stops and racial profiling in the department’s stop-question-and-frisk policy. The department denies the charges.

The study examined police data cataloging the 2.8 million times from 2004 through 2009 that officers stopped people on the streets to question and sometimes frisk them, a crime-fighting strategy the department has put more emphasis on over the years.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly has rejected the accusation of racial profiling, and said the racial breakdown of the stops correlated to the racial breakdown of crime suspects. Mr. Kelly has also credited the tactic with helping to cut crime to low levels in the city and with getting guns off the street.

But as the number of stops has jumped — to more than 570,000 last year from 313,000 in 2004 — the practice has come under increasing scrutiny, from lawmakers at City Hall and Albany and from civil libertarians including the constitutional rights center and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Professor Fagan found that in more than 30 percent of stops, officers either lacked the kind of suspicion necessary to make a stop constitutional or did not include sufficient detail on police forms to determine if the stops were legally justified. The study also found that even accounting for crime patterns in the city’s various neighborhoods, officers stopped minorities at disproportionate rates.

(Click here to read the full story on the NY Times website.)

BBC News-Computer Hacker Tried To Sabotage 1994 Mandela Election

South African President Nelson Mandela casting his vote in his historic 1994 election: Getty Images
(Story reported by Martin Plaut for BBC News) 

A new book in South Africa says a computer hacker tried to sabotage the historic election in 1994.

This was the vote which ended apartheid and brought Nelson Mandela to power.

The book by Peter Harris, who was the head of the official election monitoring division, says the hacker got into what was thought to be an impregnable system.

The manipulation was detected at the time, but the culprit was never discovered.

It is easy to forget just how tense South Africa was ahead of its first truly democratic election in 1994.

There were threats from the far right and plots by sections of the white military to disrupt the vote.

"There was a right-wing conspiracy to start an armed insurrection with the help of the Defence Force," he says, "and that resulted in a number of bombs going off to try and stop the election and cause mass panic and despair."

Peter Harris was head of the official election monitors. 

The April election went ahead as scheduled.

Votes were counted and the results began trickling out.

But Peter Harris says at 0500 on 3 May, a hacker managed to get into the Election Commission computer.

The hacker boosted the votes of three right-wing parties, shaving votes off the ANC's tally.

(Click here to read the full story on the BBC News website.)

UK Daily Mail-Al Qaeda Is Now In America Says U.S. Defense Sources

Osama bin Laden: AP
(Story reported by Derek Gardner for the UK Daily Mail)

 Homegrown al Qaeda terrorists may now pose the biggest threat to America, defence sources claimed today.

Intelligence experts believe Americans have now risen to the very top of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.

With their innate knowledge of the country’s psyche and the ease with which they can travel the country without being detected, the U.S. passport-carrying terrorists have become a nightmare for counter-intelligence agents.

They fear U.S.-based al Qaeda factions could be plotting a Mumbai-style atrocity.

Confidence in America’s safety that has slowly rebounded since the 9/11 attacks would be shattered if its own citizens are found to be behind a murderous assault on a ‘soft’ target on the mainland.

‘We would be just as traumatised if someone walked into a mall or a train station than if you had another 9/11,’ former FBI official Brad Garrett told ABC News.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolotano underlined the danger in a speech to top police chiefs.

She said: ‘The stark reality that I shared with Congress recently - and that I'm sharing with you today - is that we at the Department of Homeland Security, and I venture to say the FBI as well, are operating under the premise that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist acts are already in the country, and may carry out these acts of violence with little or no warning.'

(Click here to read the full story on the UK Daily Mail website.)

The Hill-Congressman Rangel May Represent Himself at November Trial

NY Congressman Charles Rangel:
(Story reported by Susan Crabtree for The Hill)

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) will likely represent himself at his mid-November ethics trial, setting up a potential spectacle less than two weeks after what’s expected to be a disappointing — if not devastating — election for Democrats.

Rangel and his attorney, Leslie Berger Kiernan, and her legal team parted ways earlier this month, according to sources, leaving little time before the Nov. 15 trial for another lawyer to take the case and prepare.It is unclear whether Rangel or Kiernan severed the attorney-client relationship, though Rangel had complained publicly about how much he was spending on legal bills. Neither Rangel’s office nor Kiernan returned a request for comment.

Some experts argue the ethics committee cannot afford the negative publicity of further delaying the trial to allow another attorney to prepare Rangel’s defense — and it could be that Rangel now wants to mount that defense himself.

(Click here to read the full story on The Hill website.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wired-PlayBook; Blackberry's Answer to the iPad

Blackberry's PlayBook:
(Story reported by Brian X. Chen)

Maybe Flash on a tablet isn’t as bad as Steve Jobs says it is. That’s what Adobe and Research In Motion want you to think after watching the video below.

Taped at Adobe’s MAX conference this week, the segment shows the BlackBerry PlayBook running media apps coded in Adobe Air, which is based partly on Flash. The video also shows playing a video with Flash 10.1 player.

“We’re not trying to dumb down the internet for a small mobile device,” says Mike Lazaridis, RIM’S CEO, during the PlayBook demonstration. “What we’re trying to do is bring up the performance and capability of the mobile device to the internet.”

Though there is no mention of Apple in the video, the comments about dumbing down the internet appear to target the iPad, which does not support Flash. In a famous blog post published April, Apple CEO Jobs explained why Apple was leaving Flash out of its mobile operating system, citing issues such as application crashes and battery drain. Later, when Flash debuted on the Android OS, some independent tests found that Flash was causing crashes on Android devices and that performance was sluggish, but battery drain was not significant.

(Click here to read the full story on the Wired Magazine website.)

Chicago Sun Times-President Obama To Lead Chicago Rally Saturday

President Obama in Chicago's Grant Park in November 2008, after his victory: Getty Images
(Story reported by Lynn Sweet for the Chicago Sun Times)

President Obama returns to Chicago on Saturday for a Democratic get-out-the-vote rally, his biggest event in the city since Election Night 2008 in Grant Park and his first free and public event here since moving into the White House. Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Common -- a South Side native -- will perform as Illinois Democrats search for votes in the final weekend of the campaign.

Former President Bill Clinton headlines a rally at the Palmer House this morning where people will be urged to walk over to City Hall and the County Building to cast an early vote after the rally is over.

The Clinton-Obama double feature comes as massive Democratic turnout from Chicago and the surrounding Cook County suburbs is crucial if the top of the Illinois ticket -- Gov. Quinn and Alexi Giannoulias, the Senate nominee -- are to have any chance against Republican governor and Senate contenders Bill Brady and Mark Kirk, closing their campaigns positioned to win.

Chicago is one of four stops for Obama on the final weekend before the Nov. 2 midterms. Before coming home, Obama will headline get-out-the-vote rallies Saturday in Philadelphia and Bridgeport, Conn. After spending a rare night in Chicago, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden pair up in Ohio to host their last campaign rally, at Cleveland State University.

(Click here to read the full story on the Chicago Sun Times website.) Sheen; Tortured Soul

Charlie Sheen:
(Story reported by

Charlie Sheen has been hanging out with some "bad people" over the last few months -- and some people who were trying to save him felt he might die ... this according to multiple sources connected to the actor.

Our sources say Sheen -- who is currently hospitalized after a drinking binge that ended with Charlie allegedly trashing his NYC hotel room -- has been having renewed substance abuse problems since August, shortly after he entered his guilty plea in the Aspen domestic violence case.

We're told several people came into Charlie's life soon after the court case ended that took him "in a bad direction."  We're told when Charlie was at the Playboy mansion in August, he was already drinking again.

One source who has been working with Charlie recently says he's been "a tortured soul for months" and his friends openly talked about how they feared for his life.  Another source very close to Charlie echoed the fear that Charlie's most recent downturn could end tragically.

(Click here to read the full story on the website.)

CNN-LeBron James=Ricardo Tubbs+Miami Vice? (Great Nike Video!)

LeBron James: The Business Insider
(Story reported by Laura Batchelor for CNN)

New York (CNN) -- LeBron James addresses the off-season controversy over his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat in a 90-second video posted on YouTube by Nike.

"What should I do?" the NBA star asks rhetorically.

The video -- titled "Rise" -- begins on a set similar to the one James used to announce last summer he was leaving Cleveland, Ohio, for Miami, Florida.

The fast-paced video looks at different scenarios of what James could have done, including a cameo by "Miami Vice" TV star Don Johnson offering advice.

"You've got to deal with the heat, man," Johnson says. "Be patient. After a while the temperature drops and everything is free and easy."

James recites a portion of Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise."

"Should I be who you want me to be?" James asks as a basketball rolls off his fingertips and into a hoop.

"We're celebrating his courage to forge his own journey even when others may have disagreed with his decisions," Nike's vice president of global brand marketing, Davide Grasso, said in a news release.

(Click here to read the full story on the CNN website. Below is the LeBron James Nike "Rise" video on YouTube.)

LA Times-A Photographic Journey of Sinatra and the Rat Pack

cover of the coffee table book, "The Rat Pack": LA Times

(Story reported by David Ng for the LA Times)

Paeans to Frank Sinatra and his coterie of pals known as the Rat Pack are plentiful and remarkably diverse. On the low end of the consumer spectrum, you can spend a few bucks on a Rat Pack T-shirt from your local sidewalk merchants. On the opposite side of the scale, you could shell out $650 for a new photography volume from Reel Art Press dedicated to the legendary Vegas clique.

"The Rat Pack" is a special, limited-edition volume that is positioned as the Rolls-Royce of Sinatra memorabilia. At 448 pages, it's a hefty book filled with photos by Sid Avery, Bob Willoughby and others, and text by Rat Pack aficionado Shawn Levy. Some of the images in the book have remained stored away and undeveloped for decades.

Such a fancy volume doesn't come cheap. The launch price for the master edition is $650, while the deluxe edition is priced at $1,650. If you're looking to spend even more than that -- and who isn't in this economy? -- the heritage edition is definitely for you, with prices upward of $4,000 for the customizable version. The heritage edition is limited to 30 copies and comes with its own rare, vintage photograph.

Only 2,250 copies of "The Rat Pack" in all editions were printed.

(Click here to read the full story on the LA Times website.)

NY Times-Alessandra Stanley's Review of HBO's "In Treatment"

Gabriel Byrne as therapist Paul Weston in HBO's "In Treatment": Paul Schiraldi/HBO
(Story reported by Alessandra Stanley for the NY Times)

Therapy is out of fashion and almost off the air.

Tony isn’t discussing his dreams on “The Sopranos” anymore. “Huff,” a Showtime shrink played by Hank Azaria, is long gone, and “Head Case,” a send-up of psychiatry on Starz, was also canceled. HBO shut down “Tell Me You Love Me” after one season. All of Toni Collette’s multiple personalities in “United States of Tara” are on hiatus until next year. Neurotics and sociopaths are still rampant, of course, from a serial killer on “Dexter” to a teacher turned drug kingpin on “Breaking Bad,” but for the most part television characters carry on without counseling or medication.

Except on “In Treatment.”Monday’s season premiere on HBO picks up Paul Weston, the moody therapist played by Gabriel Byrne, pretty much where he was left off: fragile, chastened, but still in the business of healing.

This is the third season and the first that relies on original scripts instead of adaptations of episodes from the hit Israeli series “Be’ Tipul.” The first seasons were faithful adaptations, and, remarkably, it took only a few minor adjustments to transpose the psychic pain in Tel Aviv to Maryland and Brooklyn.

When it began, the American version was praised for not seeming like a knockoff of the Israeli series. Now it’s a compliment to say that Season 3 does: Paul’s relationships with his new patients are as finely etched as before. The writing may seem a little less sophisticated — each session offers incremental insights about the patient that can seem a bit pat or forced — but over all “In Treatment” is still an absorbing dramatization of psychotherapy.

(Click here to read Alessandra Stanley's full review of HBO's "In Treatment" on the NY Times website.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reuters-Karzai Admits Iran I$ Breaking Him Off (Paid In Full)

Afghan President Harmid Karzai: S. Sabawoon/EPA
(Story reported by Hamid Shalizi for Reuters)

(Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Monday his office receives cash in bags from Iran, but said it is a transparent form of aid that helps cover expenses at the presidential palace, and that the United States makes similar payments.
The comments came after a report on Sunday that Karzai's chief of staff, Omar Dawoodzai, receives covert bagfuls of money -- possibly as much as $6 million in a single payment -- which neighboring Iran sends in a bid to secure influence and loyalty.

The New York Times, citing an unnamed Afghan official, said that millions of dollars in cash channeled from Iran have been used to pay Afghan lawmakers, tribal elders and Taliban commanders.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said the international community should have "every reason to be concerned about Iran trying to have a negative influence on Afghanistan."

Karzai said he gets money from several "friendly countries" but named only the United States and Iran, the latter contributing up to 700,000 euros ($976,500) twice a year.

He will continue to ask for Iranian money, he added.

(Click here to read the full story on the Reuters website.)

Politico-R.I. Dem. Says President Obama Can Shove His Endorsement

Rhode Island Dem. gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio, says President Obama can take his endorsement and "shove it": AP Photo
(Story reported by Jonathan Allen for Politico) 

Rhode Island's Democratic gubernatorial nominee said President Obama can "shove" his endorsement amid an ugly intraparty squabble that has Democrats buzzing that the commander in chief is showing too little loyalty to his own party.

Obama, showing deference to Republican-turned-independent Lincoln Chafee, is refusing to endorse Democrat Frank Caprio, even as he travels to the smallest state to do a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

"He can take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I'm concerned," Caprio said on WPRO radio, according to an account on the Providence Journal's Website.

There had been behind-the-scenes activity to try to get the president to endorse Caprio — or at least appear with him while in Rhode Island.

But Obama, who won a cross-party endorsement from Chafee in the 2008 presidential campaign, has made clear he doesn't intend to put his thumb on the scale for Caprio in one of the few states where his endorsement might benefit a Democrat this year.

(Click here to read the full story on the Politico website.) Sniffing Dog Finds $1.5M Worth of Coke

Drug sniffing dog:
(Story reported by Larry Harstein for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

An Atlanta man used a storage unit near Buford to hide 15 kilos of cocaine worth nearly $1.5 million, authorities told the Gainesville Times.

Robert Perez-Mendoza, 32, was arrested and charged with trafficking cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, according to the newspaper. He's being held in the Hall County Jail.

An officer in Hall County's Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad was training with his police dog this month at the mini-storage facility "when the dog indicated on a certain unit," the squad's commander, Lt. Scott Ware, told the paper. "We obtained a search warrant and found the 15 kilograms inside."

"Our K-9 officer trains his dog throughout Hall County in different environments, and we got lucky on this one," Ware added.

(Click here to read the full story on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wash Po-Ex-Girlfriend Of Justice Thomas; "He Was Obsessed Wtih Porn"

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: AP
(Story reported by Michael A. Fletcher for the Washington Post)

For nearly two decades, Lillian McEwen has been silent -- a part of history, yet absent from it.

When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his explosive 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Thomas vehemently denied the allegations and his handlers cited his steady relationship with another woman in an effort to deflect Hill's allegations.

Lillian McEwen was that woman.

At the time, she was on good terms with Thomas. The former assistant U.S. attorney and Senate Judiciary Committee counsel had dated him for years, even attending a March 1985 White House state dinner as his guest. She had worked on the Hill and was wary of entering the political cauldron of the hearings. She was never asked to testify, as then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), who headed the committee, limited witnesses to women who had a "professional relationship" with Thomas.
Lillian McEwen, former girlfriend of Justice Clarence Thomas, who has written a book about their relationship: Bill O'leary/Washington Post
Now, she says that Thomas often said inappropriate things about women he met at work -- and that she could have added her voice to the others, but didn't.

In her Senate testimony, Hill, who worked with Thomas at two federal agencies, said that Thomas would make sexual comments to her at work, including references to scenes in hard-core pornographic films.

"If I used that kind of grotesque language with one person, it would seem to me that there would be traces of it throughout the employees who worked closely with me, or the other individuals who heard bits and pieces of it or various levels of it," Thomas responded to the committee.

McEwen scoffs softly when asked about Thomas's indignation, which has barely cooled in the 19 years since the hearings. In his vivid 2007 memoir, the justice calls Hill a tool of liberal activists outraged because he did not fit their idea of what an African American should believe.

McEwen's memoir describes her own "dysfunctional" family in the District and, ultimately, a long legal career.

She charts how she developed an "inner self" to escape the chaos of her childhood. Her story also includes explicit details of her relationship with Thomas, which she said included a freewheeling sex life.

Given that history, she said Hill's long-ago description of Thomas's behavior resonated with her.

"He was obsessed with porn," she said of Thomas, who is now 63. "He would talk about what he had seen in magazines and films, if there was something worth noting."

(Click here to read the full story on the Washington Post website.)