Puppet MastersS


Federal judge approves agreement to overhaul troubled New Orleans Police Department against City wishes

A federal judge Friday approved a long-awaited consent decree to reform the New Orleans Police Department, but the far-reaching and expensive agreement is already running into objections by the city.

Buried in the "order and reasons" issued by U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan is a note that the city intends to seek relief from the 123-page agreement.

"The City has informed the court that it intends to file a motion seeking relief from the judgment entered in connection with this order under the Federal Rules of Procedure," Morgan wrote.

The parties to the consent decree gathered in Morgan's chambers today to finalize the agreement, but according to multiple sources, objections by the city were set in motion before the ink was dry on Morgan's signature.

"The judge signed the consent decree, but under very, very difficult circumstances," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. "It's not a done deal." (See Landrieu's full statement)

Cowboy Hat

Mississippi governor targets last abortion clinic: 'My goal of course is to shut it down'

Republican Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says that there is one abortion clinic in the state and "of course" his goal is to "shut it down."

A federal judge last year delayed enforcement of a law that abortion-rights advocates say is designed to be so restrictive that it effectively abolishes abortion in the state. Under the law, Mississippi's only abortion clinic would need toget "admission privileges" from local hospitals, which have not been willing to cooperate.

The judge's order is set to expire on Friday and state officials have said that they will make an unannounced visit to the clinic in Jackson to determine if it was able to comply.

"My goal of course is to shut it down," Bryant told a group of pastors in video captured by WJTV on Thursday.


Unchartered waters: Japan and China scramble fighter jets in island dispute

© AFP Photo/JIJI PressThis aerial shot taken on September 15, 2010 shows the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China in the East China Sea.
The standoff between Japan and China escalated to a new level after both sides sent their jets to tail each other in airspace near the cluster of disputed islands that has created tension between the two powers.

A Chinese Y-8 transport plane flew near the vicinity of the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands (as they are known by the Chinese and the Japanese respectively) on what the Defense Ministry in Beijing described as a "routine patrol" on Thursday. It was immediately tailed by a Japanese F-15. Chinese authorities then ordered two more J-10 planes into the air, to perform "verification and monitoring" on the Japanese aircraft.

"Aircraft from Japan's Self-Defense Forces have intensified their surveillance activities against China, and expanded the area of their scope, disturbing the normal patrols and training of Chinese civilian and military aircraft," said a spokesman from China's Ministry of Defense.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman followed with another statement, accusing Tokyo of "creating tension".


Journalists targeted in Greece bombings

© Reuters/John KolesidisA resident stands next to the burnt entrance of a building following a series of arson attacks against journalists in Athens January 11, 2013.
Homemade bombs have exploded at the homes of five journalists from major media outlets in Athens. Police are linking the attacks to the current economic crisis in the country and the way the mainstream media have reported it.

The devices, made of gas canisters, exploded outside residences in different areas of Athens. The explosions caused minor damage to the buildings' entrances, but no one was injured.

Among the bomb targets, the editor of the state-run Athens News Agency, two journalists employed by state broadcaster NET and two presenters from the private Mega television channel.

The outlets singled out- either state-run or controlled by some of the country's leading business groups- have traditionally been seen by leftist groups as closely tied to Greece's political establishment.

"We believe the attacks are related to the latest economic developments and the way the journalists present the facts," a police official, who preferred to be unnamed, told Reuters.


United States ill-prepared for skyrocketing cyberattacks against critical infrastructure

© Reuters/Jim Urquhart)Cyber security analysts work to defend a network during a drill at a Department of Homeland Security cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho
Cyberattacks against the United States' critical infrastructure are increasing, but even the Department of Homeland Security is reporting that the country is ill-prepared to respond.

America's cyberdefense situation is in need of improvement, according at least to a newsletter published by the Homeland Security Department's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, the ICS-CERT Monitor [PDF].

In the late-2012 edition of the Monitor, cyber experts working for the United States government confirm that as attacks waged against America's essential sectors are on the rise, the number of qualified personnel able to respond is hardly adequate.

Between October 1, 2011 and September of last year, ICE-CERT claims to have received and responded to 198 cyber incidents as reported by asset owners and industry partners. In an analysis of the report by CNN, they report that the figure for Fiscal Year 2012 is 52 percent larger than the year before.

Elsewhere in the Monitor, ICE-CERT quotes noted security expert Alan Paller as saying that there are no more than 20 individuals in the entire country that could counter a substantial attack against the States' cyber infrastructure.

Eye 1

Pat Robertson: "Awful-looking" women are ruining marriages

© Credit: APPat Robertson
In a career of offensive remarks, the radical Christian televangelist's latest may be his most stupefying yet.

It always seems to be the woman's fault. No really - check this one out.
So, a 17-year-old boy writes in to Maxim magazine, complaining that his father never pays any attention to his mother.

"I'm 17 years old and I've noticed that there has been a change in my father's behavior," he wrote. "He spends too much time at the computer playing a war game. I've noticed how alone my mom feels. I just want my father to spend more time with my mom. What should I do? How can I talk to my father? I feel shame for him. Please help."

Luckily for this perceptive 17 year old, the radical Christian conservative Pat Robertson is on the case - and his answer is, well, exactly what you'd expect from this radical Christian televangelist.

He starts off with the suggestion that the boy try to get his parents out of the house on some type of romantic weekend getaway.

"The romance is obviously going out of the marriage," he said.

Star of David

Palestinians set up camp in Israeli-occupied West Bank territory

© Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto AgencyPalestinians erected tents in the contested piece of Israeli-occupied West Bank territory known as E1 on Friday.
Adopting a tactic more commonly employed by Jewish settlers who establish wildcat outposts in the West Bank, scores of Palestinian activists erected tents on Friday in a hotly contested piece of Israeli-occupied West Bank territory known as E1, and said they intended to stay put.

The Palestinians claim E1, just east of Jerusalem, as part of a future state. The protest comes six weeks after Israel announced that it was moving forward with plans for thousands of settlement homes in E1, stirring international outrage.

Israeli military authorities arrived on Friday and handed the protesters notices warning them that they were illegally trespassing and that they had to leave, according to a police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld. Mr. Rosenfeld said he expected some movement "at some point," with the protesters either leaving voluntarily or being removed by Israeli security forces.

But the protesters said that they had anticipated such action and that their lawyers had already gone to the Israeli Supreme Court to argue for a delay in any evacuation until the state details the grounds for such a move. Protest leaders said the court had given the state six days to respond.

Snakes in Suits

Federal union blasts Pentagon budget plan

© Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) says the Pentagon's budget plan shows "unapologetic bias ... in favor of contractors, regardless of cost."

The plan "is strictly precautionary," Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said at a news briefing Thursday. "This includes a plan to implement potential unpaid furloughs for our civilian personnel if sequestration is triggered," he said.

Sequestration is the across-the-board budget reduction that would hit federal agencies by March 1 unless Congress acts. The Defense Department cut would be about $52 billion through the end of this fiscal year.


France launches air strikes on Mali

© Photograph: Romaric Hien/AFP/Getty ImagesFighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine, which is largely composed of Tuaregs, at Kidal airport in northern Mali last year.
President François Hollande responds to advance south by Islamist rebels by sending armed forces to aid Malian troops.

French troops have begun military operations including air strikes in Mali to contain Islamist groups which are continuing to clash with the army in a fight for control of the desert north of the west African country.

François Hollande announced on Friday night that French armed forces had gone to the aid of Malian troops on the ground during the afternoon. The French president said Mali was facing a "terrorist aggression" of which "the whole world now knows its brutality and fanaticism".

The foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said France's air force carried out an air strike in Mali on Friday as it supported government forces.

The French military intervention came as the Islamists who control northern Mali advanced ever closer to the furthest town still under government control. Al-Qaida-linked groups have controlled northern Mali since the army deserted the military campaign against Tuareg and Islamist rebels, which was followed by a military coup last March. Since the coup, the country, where France was once the colonial power, has been thrown into disarray. Western powers have voiced fears that an alliance of al-Qaida-linked militants that seized the northern two-thirds of Mali last April would seek to use the vast desert zone as a launchpad for international attacks.

France said it was acting with the backing of west African states. It had responded to an appeal for help from Mali's embattled president, Dioncounda Traoré, after Islamists seized the town of Konna in the centre of the country, about 375 miles north-east of the capital, Bamako.

Snakes in Suits

Rep. Phil Gingrey: Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock are right about rape

In an address to the Cobb County, GA Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) told the assembled group that Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)'s remarks on rape were "partly right" and unfairly maligned by the U.S. media. According to the Marietta Daily Journal, the congressman believes that adrenaline can prevent pregnancies, and that women who are frightened during sex will not ovulate.

In his remarks, which largely centered around gun control, Gingrey veered into questions of the female reproductive system and its attendant mysteries, the magical power of women's bodies to block conception in cases of rape.

"Part of the reason the Dems still control the Senate is because of comments made in Missouri by Todd Akin and Indiana by Mourdock were considered a little bit over the top," he said. "Mourdock basically said 'Look, if there is conception in the aftermath of a rape, that's still a child, and it's a child of God, essentially.' Now, in Indiana, that cost him the election."