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The inevitability of the imperial presidency

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© Unknown
About this blog: President Bush asserted his executive power in managing the war on terror. President Obama showed the muscle of the White House in managing the financial crisis. Since the Republic's early days a subtle balancing act has negotiated power between the president, Congress and the courts. But by the 20th century, power had tipped in favor of the president and has continued to grow. In their book The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic, recently released by Oxford University Press, Eric A. Posner and Adrian Vermeule explore the inevitability of the "imperial presidency" and argue that it must be accepted and is nothing to fear. Posner is a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School, while Vermeule is a law professor at Harvard Law School. Here, Posner takes us through the evolution and impact of an assertive executive branch.

Heart - Black

Massino testimony sheds light of mysterious disappearance of Nick Cirillo

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© Creative Common/Vincent Basciano
Massino testimony sheds light of mysterious disappearance of Nick Cirillo
Court testimony by Joseph Massino, the former boss of New York's Bonanno crime family, indicates that a top capo in a rival family might have ordered the killing of his own son.

Massino, who is testifying in the murder trial of his former underling, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, was asked by Nicholas Cirillo, the son of Genovese family gangster, Dominick "Quiet Dom" Cirillo.

Nicky Cirillo (who was reportedly not a member of organized crime) disappeared on May 9, 2004 (Mother's Day). Three weeks later, his abandoned automobile was found, but his body has never been located.

Bomb

Bomb In Belarus: Who Was Behind Last Week's Mysterious Bombing In Belarus?

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© Reuters
Flowers are left on the platform at the subway station in Minsk where 13 were killed.
Of all the countries in the world that one would expect to be a target of terrorist attacks, Belarus surely ranks near the bottom of the list. Unlike its neighbor, Russia, where a January bomb that killed 35 people at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport was just the latest in a string of attacks related to the ongoing conflict in Chechnya, Belarus is not fighting an Islamic insurgency -- or, in fact, any type of insurgency. It's an ethnically and religiously homogenous nation mostly composed of Orthodox Christian Slavs, kept in the tight grip of its authoritarian leader, Alyaksandr Lukashenka. There aren't violent sectarian rifts of the sort that brought decades of terrorism to Northern Ireland or ethnic cleansing to the Balkans. And Belarus is not participating in any foreign military operations of the kind that might inspire overseas terrorist organizations to strike.

Nuke

TEPCO mulls sinking walls around Japan reactors: TV

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© Agence France-Presse
A policeman is seen at a check-point in Namie, Fukushima prefecture, 20km from Stricken Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima nuclear power plant. The operator of the plant is considering installing underground walls around its crippled reactors to prevent radioactive water seeping out, according to a broadcaster
The operator of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant is considering installing underground walls around its crippled reactors to prevent radioactive water seeping out, according to a broadcaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is studying the measure to contain contaminated water leaking from the plant's reactors which were damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, TV Asahi said on Saturday, citing unnamed sources.

Workers would have to dig to a depth of 15 metres (50 feet) to reach an impervious layer to build the walls on, it said.

TEPCO has dumped a massive amount of water into reactor containers and overheating pools containing spent nuclear fuel rods, after the magnitude 9.0 quake triggered monster waves which knocked out the plant's cooling systems.

Workers battling to stabilise the battered nuclear facility later found highly contaminated water submerging turbine buildings and underground tunnels, with some running off from a cracked concrete pit into the Pacific Ocean.

Arrow Down

China: Hong Kong football star jumps to death: reports

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© Agence France-Presse
One of Hong Kong's best known soccer stars jumped to his death after an argument with his wife, reports said, as tributes poured in from the city's soccer community. Cheung Sai-ho (C), 35, was named the city's most valuable player in 2003 and was a holder of a world record -- scoring for the Hong Kong youth team 2.8 seconds after the start of a match in the Portsmouth Cup in Britain in 1993
One of Hong Kong's best known soccer stars jumped to his death after an argument with his wife, reports said, as tributes poured in from the city's soccer community.

Cheung Sai-ho, 35, was named the city's most valuable player in 2003 and was a holder of a world record -- scoring for the Hong Kong youth team 2.8 seconds after the start of a match in the Portsmouth Cup in Britain in 1993.

The talented midfielder, who retired from the sport in 2008, jumped from the window of his 36th floor flat after an argument with his wife, police said, according to the South China Morning Post and Chinese-language Apple Daily.

Heart - Black

Canada: Webcam slaying suspect attended York

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© Toronto Police Service
Qian Liu's body was found in her basement apartment on April 15.
Part of Qian Liu's attack was captured on computer

The man charged with the first-degree murder of York University student Qian Liu had attended the school and recently worked for a NATO-affiliated think-tank.

During a brief appearance Thursday in court, Brian Dickson wore a white shirt and jeans as the judge read out the charge. Dickson did not enter a plea, and was remanded in custody until Tuesday.

Dickson was acclaimed as McLaughlin College's representative with the York Federation of Students in 2006, according to the university's website. York issued a release Thursday afternoon saying he is not currently a registered student and never earned a degree from the school.

Dickson worked as an executive assistant to the president of the NATO-affiliated Atlantic Council of Canada in 2008. A bio on the organization's website says he studied global politics and was a delegate with the York Model United Nations.He was involved with Developments in Literacy, an NGO that seeks to improve literacy in underdeveloped areas in Pakistan, the bio says.

Arrow Down

US: Homemade cloth rope aids St. Louis jail escape

A "knuckle-headed corrections officer" is to blame for the escape of two men who apparently climbed down a homemade rope Friday morning to escape from a St. Louis detention center, the mayor's chief of staff said.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Vernon Collins, 34, and David White, 33, were discovered missing just before 7 a.m., but police believe they might have been gone for 90 minutes by that time.

White was later caught at a gas station wearing what a station clerk described as a "Bruce Lee wig," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He was taken into custody about 4 p.m. after police surrounded an older-model white Cadillac at a Phillips 66 station. Collins remained at large Friday afternoon.

Collins was in jail on a charge of assaulting a law enforcement officer, while White was being held on charges of assault, burglary and property damage. Collins also is accused of overpowering a corrections officer.

Stormtrooper

US: Man dies after police use Taser at Universal Studios

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A man who was causing a disturbance outside Universal Studios in Florida died after being shocked with a Taser stun gun by off-duty police, US authorities have said.

Adam Spencer Johnson, 33, was said to have been acting irrationally when the five officers approached, police said.

The officers used a stun gun because Johnson was "violently" resisting arrest, said Sgt Barb Jones.

Mr Johnson became unresponsive on the ground and was later pronounced dead.

The off-duty officers responded to a call from a security guard at Universal Studios early on Friday morning about a man acting irrationally outside the Cinemax theatres in the city of Orlando.

Crusader

Italy: Pope Benedict stumped by Japanese girl's question about suffering

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© Gregorio Borgia/AP
The pope answers questions on a TV show, watched by Catholics in Rome.
The pope answers questions on Italian TV, but cannot explain the devastation caused by the tsunami

Pope Benedict ventured where no pope has gone before on Friday when he answered questions on an Italian television programme - and was stumped by the first. A Japanese girl asked the pope, who, she said, "speaks with God", why she was having to suffer so much as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that had struck her country.

"I am very frightened because the house where I felt safe really shook a lot and many children my age have died. I cannot go to play in the park. I want to know: why do I have to be so afraid? Why do children have to be so sad?" said seven-year-old Elena.

Benedict admitted: "I also have the same questions: why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease?

"And we do not have the answers, but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent, and that the true God who is revealed in Jesus is by your side."

Whether Elena was satisfied with that answer was unclear. But the studio audience gave the pope a hearty round of applause.

Crusader

US: Pastor seeking to protest at mosque briefly jailed

Terry Jones
© AP Photo/John T. Greilick, Pool
Florida pastor Terry Jones makes his closing argument to the jury, Friday, April 22, 2011 in Dearborn, Mich. A judge has ordered Jones, a Florida pastor to jail after he refused to pay a $1 peace bond over a planned demonstration outside a Michigan mosque.

Dearbon, Michigan - A Florida pastor's planned demonstration outside a Michigan mosque was scuttled Friday after a jury determined the protest would constitute a breach of the peace and he was briefly jailed for refusing to pay what authorities called a "peace bond."

The Rev. Terry Jones, whose past rhetoric against Muslims has inflamed anti-Western sentiment in Afghanistan, said he refused to pay the $1 bond because to do so would violate his freedom of speech. He later paid it and was released.