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White House calls drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil 'legal,' 'ethical' and 'wise' - even without evidence of a pending attack

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The White House is declining to explain its criteria for directing drone attacks against American citizens working abroad with terrorists
The White House today defended the use of targeted drone strikes against U.S. citizens abroad suspected of high-level terrorist activity, but declined to detail the criteria for ordering such an attack.

"Sometimes we use remotely piloted aircraft to conduct targeted strikes against specific al Qaeda terrorists in order to prevent attacks on the United States and to save American lives," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

"We conduct those strikes because they are necessary to mitigate ongoing actual threats, to stop plots, to prevent future attacks and, again, save American lives. These strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise," he said.

Administration lawyers found it is lawful to kill an American citizen if a "high-level" government official believes the target is an operational leader of al Qaeda who poses "an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States" and if capture is infeasible, according to a newly disclosed Justice Department document.

USA

'Judge, jury and executioner': Legal experts fear implications of White House drone memo

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Legal experts expressed grave reservations Tuesday about an Obama administration memo concluding that the United States can order the killing of American citizens believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida - with one saying the White House was acting as "judge, jury and executioner."

The experts said that the memo, first obtained by NBC News, threatened constitutional rights and dangerously expanded the definition of national self-defense and of what constitutes an imminent attack.

"Anyone should be concerned when the president and his lawyers make up their own interpretation of the law or their own rules," said Mary Ellen O'Connell, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and an authority on international law and the use of force.
"This is a very, very dangerous thing that the president has done," she added.

Airplane

Massive airship off to a flying start

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© WORLD AEROSCRAFT
Blimps and zeppelins plied the skies in the early part of the 20th Century, carrying passengers and cargo and even serving as military aircraft during the World Wars. But it didn't take long for airplanes to replace dirigibles for commercial and military flight and by the middle of the 20th Century, airships were mostly use for advertising, sightseeing and surveillance.

But blimps may be back. Montabello, Calif.-based Aeros is working on a rigid airship that can fly like a plane and float like a balloon. If realized, the 500-foot-long Aeroscraft would greatly alter the way cargo is shipped. The craft is designed to take off vertically and cruise at up to 130 miles an hour at an altitude of 12,000 feet. It will be able to travel thousands of miles on a single tank of fuel, carrying 66 tons of cargo -- that's three times the capacity of a C-130 and half that of the C-5, the largest military aircraft flown by the United States.

"This vehicle doesn't need infrastructure," Munir Tojo-Verge, the flight control systems engineer at Aeros, told Discovery News. "It could even land on water."

Pistol

Weapons reportedly meant for Brad Pitt film seized

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© Jeff J. Mitchell, Getty Images
Authorities in Hungary say the weapons that were to be used as props in Brad Pitt's World War Z had not been fully deactivated.
Nearly 100 live weapons to be used in Brad Pitt's World War Z film were confiscated by Hungarian authorities, local media reported Tuesday. The weapons included machine guns, rifles and pistols, security officials said.

The weapons arrived from London to Budapest's Ferenc Liszt Airport on Saturday and were discovered at a nearby duty free zone, Janos Hajdu, head of Hungary's Counterterrorism Center, said. He said he could not confirm they were meant for the film.

Cult

Alabama lawmaker pushing 'personhood' because 'aborted babies' might go to Hell

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A Republican lawmaker in Alabama says that he wants to pursue a so-called "personhood" bill outlawing abortion rights for women because the Bible proves that a fetus "is life inside of a mother," but he's not sure if "aborted babies" are going to Heaven or Hell.

In a recent interview with the Times-Journal, state Sen. Shadrack McGill lamented that "you can be charged up to $250,000 for destroying an eagle egg, but you can destroy babies in the womb?"

McGill explained that his interpretation of Psalm 22 made it clear that life began at fertilization.

"Just based on the Scripture alone, the Psalm that talks about God knowing us before he placed us in our mother's womb, is enough for me to know that that is a life inside of a mother," he said.

"So my question concerning aborted babies is, where do they go, heaven or hell?"

Snakes in Suits

Idaho lawmaker's bill would force students to pass 'Atlas Shrugged' test to graduate

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The chairman of the Idaho Senate's Education Committee says that he introduced a bill to require all students to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged because the book "made my son a Republican."

State Sen. John Goedde (R) introduced the bill in committee on Tuesday to mandate that each student pass a test on the novel before they are able to graduate from high school, according to The Spokesman-Review.

But Goedde said that he filed the bill to make a point and does not plan on pushing the issue.

"It was a shot over their bow just to let them know that there's another way to adopt high school graduation requirements," Goedde said during the committee meeting. "I don't intend to schedule a hearing on it."

Eye 1

Drone zone: Proposed aerial surveillance rules for Seattle

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The Draganflyer X6 is an electric powered Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) which most people refer to as a drone. Seattle Police have two of them. The drones must follow FAA guidelines which include not flying over crowds. They must be monitored by at least one operator and one observer
Put words like "surveillance" and "unmanned aerial systems" together, and people begin to worry about Big Brother watching their every move.
At the direction of Mayor Mike McGinn, the Seattle Police Department has been working on rules governing the use of drones. A city council committee will discuss, and likely vote, on the proposed policy Wednesday afternoon.

The SPD has two drones, so far, that were obtained with a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. While the technology will become more advanced, the drones Seattle has burn through batteries in about 10 minutes.

The city says the systems "are intended to help us protect public safety by gathering visual information in specific situations where sending in an officer would not be safe, or to take crime scene photography that a human being could not easily capture.

The use of aerial surveillance cameras will be "tightly controlled, regulated and will not be used to conduct random surveillance," they say.

USA

Former Target store manager to oversee U.S. nuclear security

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Ever since last summer, when a 82-year-old nun broke into the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the National Nuclear Security Administration has scrambled to improve its leadership and beef up security at America's nuke facilities. Now it appears the agency has found the man for the job: The weekly trade publication Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor reported last week that the NNSA has named as its acting head of nuclear security Steve Asher, a retired Air Force colonel who fewer than four years ago was working as a "team leader" at a Target store in Spokane, Washington. Prior to that, he commanded a missile base in Montana that flunked a nuclear security test within five months of his departure.

This November 2009 video, dug up by the Project On Government Oversight (where I used to be a fellow), shows Asher hawking Black Friday bargains: "A lot of folks were being thrifty in their shopping this year, and so we sold more of our $1.99 towels than we expected!"

Light Saber

De-propagandizing the 'North Korea bogeyman': South Korea still occupied, Real threat to world is U.S.

Abby Martin Breaks the Set on the North Korean threat, the US government's expanding terror programs, and the implications of intervention in Mali.

Like Breaking the Set @ http://fb.me/BreakingTheSet

Follow Abby Martin @ http://twitter.com/AbbyMartin

Episode Breakdown: On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin talks to the national coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition, Brian Becker, about North Korea's nuclear drive, its tense relations with the US and the rationale of harsh rhetoric coming from the International community.

Abby then talks to editorial board member for Liberation News, Eugene Puryear, about the efficacy of the 'bombing for peace' strategy by French troops in Mali, given the volatility of a nation already stricken with poverty and violence. BTS wraps up the show with a look at the global network the US has employed to carry out extraordinary rendition as well as the recently leaked memo outlining the government's expansive power as it relates to drones and kill lists.


Target

NYPD Muslim spying operation takes 'security' to an unjustified extreme

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© Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters
How many more lawsuits will it take for the NYPD to cease monitoring American citizens without a good explanation?

The New York Police Department's Muslim surveillance operation, set up under the direction of an ex-CIA operative, deployed undercover officers and informants in mosques, schools, restaurants, and bodegas throughout the city to spy on the daily lives of thousands of Americans.

Reams of information about innocuous activity landed up in police files. Unsurprisingly, these indiscriminate operations have proven ineffective. NYPD Intelligence Chief Thomas Galati made no bones about the fact that a key part of the program never turned up a lead worth pursuing.

After the Associated Press revealed that the NYPD had placed entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance, police commissioner Raymond Kelly vigorously defended the program.