Sunday, November 24, 2013

'Russian prisons are essentially torture chambers' - Deutsche Welle - 11/23/2013 -

» Wary silence from Arabs over Iran deal
24/11/13 08:34 from Reuters: International
RIYADH (Reuters) - Iran's nuclear deal with global powers was met with wary silence from Arab states on Sunday, with Iran's only two Arab friends Iraq and Syria welcoming the accord but others keeping their opinions to themselves.

» Israeli Leaders Decry Iran Accord - New York Times
24/11/13 08:06 from Top Stories - Google News
The Hindu Israeli Leaders Decry Iran Accord New York Times JERUSALEM — Israeli leaders denounced the agreement reached early Sunday in Geneva, saying they were not bound by it and reiterating the principle that Israel would be ready to d...

» Region will lose sleep over Iran deal: Saudi adviser
24/11/13 08:35 from Reuters: International
RIYADH (Reuters) - People in the Middle East will lose sleep over a nuclear deal between global powers and Iran, a Saudi foreign policy adviser said on Sunday, signaling the deep unease Sunni Muslim Gulf states have over Western rapproch...

» Analysis: US-Iran thaw starts to reshape Mideast power balance - Reuters
24/11/13 11:05 from Top Stories - Google News
The Guardian Analysis: US-Iran thaw starts to reshape Mideast power balance Reuters DUBAI (Reuters) - An interim international deal on Iran's nuclear program could tilt the balance of power in the Middle East towards Tehran after two...

» US Representative Has 'Concerns' About Iran Deal
24/11/13 02:21 from Voice of America
The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee is reluctant to throw his support behind the historic nuclear deal with Iran. Republican Ed Royce (of California) said Sunday he has "serious concerns" that the ...

» Why The U.S. Remains The World's Unchallenged Superpower - Forbes
24/11/13 10:36 from world - Google News
Why The U.S. Remains The World's Unchallenged Superpower Forbes Yet, the United States is the world leader and likely to remain there for decades. It has the greatest soft power in the world by far. The United States still receives f...

» Vatican unveils bone fragments said to be Peter's - Watertown Public Opinion
24/11/13 07:31 from Top Stories - Google News
Vatican unveils bone fragments said to be Peter's Watertown Public Opinion The relics of St. Peter are placed next to the altar prior to the start of a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the end of the Year of Faith, in St. Peter ...

» Latvia president calls supermarket collapse 'murder' - BBC News
24/11/13 07:08 from Top Stories - Google News
BBC News Latvia president calls supermarket collapse 'murder' BBC News The Latvian president has described the collapse of a supermarket in the capital Riga as "murder". Andris Berzins said many defenceless people had b...

» Fifty years later, J.F.K.'s assassination is the mother of all conspiracy theories -
24/11/13 06:57 from Top Stories - Google News Fifty years later, J.F.K.'s assassination is the mother of all conspiracy theories Did the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 50 years ago last week, and the subsequent shooting of the shooter...

» Robert F. Kennedy saw conspiracy in JFK's assassination - Boston Globe
24/11/13 02:55 from Top Stories - Google News
Wall Street Journal Robert F. Kennedy saw conspiracy in JFK's assassination Boston Globe Associated Press File 1963. Robert Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy watched as President Kennedy's coffin was placed in an ambulance at Andrew...

Interview with American journalist Peter Savodnik: Understanding Lee Harvey Oswald's 'Soviet' Period - RFERL

» Suspect Charged in Attack on Jewish Man in Brooklyn - New York Times
24/11/13 06:48 from Top Stories - Google News
Minneapolis Star Tribune Suspect Charged in Attack on Jewish Man in Brooklyn New York Times An attack on a Jewish man in Brooklyn on Friday morning was not connected to the so-called Knockout Game, where assailants try to knock someone o...

» Honduras Holds Presidential Election
24/11/13 06:12 from Voice of America
Hondurans go to the polls Sunday to choose a new president in a tight race that could fail to produce a clear winner. The election pits conservative Juan Orlando, candidate of the ruling Nation Party, against socialist Xiomara Castro, wh...

» Women Rescued From London Home Lived in 'Collective'
24/11/13 04:17 from World News
London police said that two of the three women rescued last month from a south London home originally lived in a politically based "collective" with the suspects arrested this week in an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude.

» Women 'brainwashed' before being turned into slaves - Irish Times
24/11/13 02:53 from Top Stories - Google News Women 'brainwashed' before being turned into slaves Irish Times Aneeta Prem, founder of the Freedom Charity, outside Scotland Yard in London. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity, said ...

» Russia Pulls Ahead in Tug-of-War With Europe
24/11/13 04:12 from World News
Vladimir Putin, who a month ago looked to be on the verge of a major defeat in his quest to cement Russian influence in the rest of the former Soviet Union, now looks to be celebrating a major diplomatic victory.

» Israeli officials blast deal with Iran as 'self-delusional' - Los Angeles Times
24/11/13 03:42 from Top Stories - Google News
Los Angeles Times Israeli officials blast deal with Iran as 'self-delusional' Los Angeles Times JERUSALEM -- Israeli officials denounced the interim deal reached between six world powers and Iran in Geneva as a "bad deal&quo...

» Woman accused of mailing ricin to Obama gets plea deal - GlobalPost
24/11/13 01:07 from Top Stories - Google News
ABC News Woman accused of mailing ricin to Obama gets plea deal GlobalPost (Reuters) - A Texas actress accused of mailing ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reached a plea deal with fed...

» Women in Domestic Slavery Case Lived in a 'Collective' With Suspect, Police Say - New York Times
23/11/13 23:49 from Top Stories - Google News
The Guardian Women in Domestic Slavery Case Lived in a 'Collective' With Suspect, Police Say New York Times Two of three women who say they were held as domestic slaves for 30 years in a London home had previously lived in a poli...

» 1 arrested on hate crime charge after 24-year-old punched in possible 'knockout ... - Minneapolis Star Tribune
23/11/13 23:07 from Top Stories - Google News
Minneapolis Star Tribune 1 arrested on hate crime charge after 24-year-old punched in possible 'knockout ... Minneapolis Star Tribune Members of the Guardian Angels post flyers to raise awareness about violent and dangerous behavior ...

» New York City man charged with hate crime in 'knockout' game - The Journal News |
23/11/13 22:37 from Top Stories - Google News
NDTV New York City man charged with hate crime in 'knockout' game The Journal News | NEW YORK — New York City police have charged a man with assault as a hate crime after a 24-year-old says he was punched in the face. P...

» 1 arrested after possible 'knockout' assault - Westport-News
23/11/13 21:58 from Top Stories - Google News
1 arrested after possible 'knockout' assault Westport-News NEW YORK (AP) — New York City police say one man was arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime after a 24-year-old says he was punched in the face. Police on Satu...

» Man Charged In Latest Alleged 'Knockout Game' Attack In Brooklyn - CBS Local
23/11/13 20:56 from Top Stories - Google News
Guardian Express Man Charged In Latest Alleged 'Knockout Game' Attack In Brooklyn CBS Local NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A suspect was charged Saturday morning in a string of violent attacks in Brooklyn, known as the “knockout game.” ...

» JFK anniversary: The myth and reality - BBC News
23/11/13 20:25 from Top Stories - Google News
BBC News JFK anniversary: The myth and reality BBC News The assassination of John F Kennedy means that we all get to decide how his story should have ended, and thus plot an alternative trajectory for the country he so fleetingly led. Th...

The Guardian

The volte face was a result of Russianblackmail, the Lithuanian president's office said as senior officials in Brussels said Yanukovych was sacrificing the hopes and wishes of most of his countrymen on the altar of Russian money and contracts.

Daily Beast
(Moscow propaganda usually has it that independent Baltic states with pro-European and pro-American bents are the modern-day embodiment of Nazi regimes insufficiently grateful for their “liberation” and occupation by the Red Army.) ... both of which ...

The Return of Russian Hard Power?

As Russia plays war games on imaginary NATO
targets and Putin pumps billions into the army,
the country’s Eastern bloc neighbors are growing
increasingly concerned about the return of Kremlin’s
military muscle.

"All of this suggests that the more immediate threat that a re-energized and revanchist Russia poses to the West isn’t advancing armies or aerial assaults but a sophisticated combination of hard and soft power plays that have become something of a Putinist stock-in-trade. These will include new trade wars, cyber attacks, acts of espionage, energy blackmails, and a more updated version of what the KGB used to term “active measures,” that is, the spreading of misinformation and propaganda, designed to make Russia’s enemies—chiefly Washington and Brussels—look bad. So while Russia’s military strives toward great-power worthiness unto 2020, Moscow’s old hostilities will be dealt with using familiar old methods."

Daily Beast
Though President Obama's defense cuts have come in for criticism, America still boasts a navy whose tonnage is larger than that of the next 13 largest navies combined, a figure that will not change despite a massiveRussian military modernization plan ...

The interim deal with Iran has some significant achievements that will halt the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, but it is also weak in some important respects, an analyst says. "I'm surprised getting Iran to come clean on all its past ...

Fox News
November 23, 2013: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at Geneva International Airport in Geneva, Switzerland for the Iran nuclear talks. (AP Photo/Denis Balibouse Pool). ADVERTISEMENT. WASHINGTON – The United States and Iran secretly ...

The Hill (blog)
Under the deal struck after long diplomatictalks in Geneva, the international community agreed to lift some of the sanctions imposed on Iran, in exchange for new limits and increased oversight over its nuclear efforts. The temporary agreement will ...

Fox News
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, along with five other foreign ministers worked Saturday on the fine print of a draft agreement of anIran nuclear deal. Diplomats refused to spell out details of the talks, held in a five-star Geneva hotel. But ...

Boston Globe

Philip D. Chism was prepared to kill. According to investigators, the 14-year-old freshman allegedly came to Danvers High School on Oct. 22 with a knife, a box cutter, changes of clothes, gloves, and a ski mask. He had been asked to stay late to ...

ABC News

Phillip Chism, 14, was arrested last month and charged with the murder of Colleen Ritzer, 24, his teacher at Danvers High School. An indictment released today charged Chism with murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery in connection with the savage ...


Philip D. Chism moved away from Tennessee following his parents' divorce, which was called “stressful” in the affidavit, the Boston Globe reports. Chism, 14, who is accused of raping and murdering Colleen Ritzer, also allegedly left behind a note that ...


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare). Tags. Europe, Iran, Meeting. Iranian President Hassan Rouhaniannounced that the deal reached in Geneva shows that world powers have recognized Tehran's “nuclear rights.” He added that Iran ...

Christian Science Monitor

“There is no evidence supporting this as a huge, viral number of attacks. If the 'KnockoutGame' really exists and isn't just a media label that could fit many of the hundreds of thousands of random attacks on strangers,” says Mike Males, senior ...


The dangerous "knockoutattacks on strangers in large U.S. cities are leading to arrests, more officers flooding the streets and more warnings for vigilance among an unsuspecting public. Perpetrators have dubbed the violent practice as the "knockout...

Fox News

The stabbing of Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds, followed by the alleged suicide of his assailant and son Austin "GusDeeds are tragic events that could have been easily prevented. According to reports, Gus was evaluated for psychiatric symptoms ...

U.S. News & World Report (blog)

In fact, a version of this episode indeed happened. But because it involved mental health and not a physical ailment, it's not so surprising that there was no room for Austin Deeds of Virginia. When insurance companies are reluctant to cover a certain ...

South China Morning Post

Officials at the National Security Agency, intent on maintaining the agency's dominance in intelligence collection, pledged last year to push to expand its surveillance powers, according to a top-secret strategy document. In a paper last February ...


There's something bothering Edgar Quintero, lead singer of the Mexican-American band Buknas de Culiacan, which specializes in songs that glorify Mexican drug kingpins. Quintero lives in Los Angeles with his family and he's a star in his increasingly ...

Daily Beast
No, 2013 is going to be remembered as the year the drug war died as a political issue. The headline of the latest Gallup Poll on the subject says it all: “For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana.” Fully 58 percent of respondents agreed ...

Jackson Free Press
Statistics from the Drug Policy Alliance show that law-enforcement agencies spend approximately $50 billion on the drug war and that 1.55 million people were arrested in 2012 for nonviolent drug offenses. In addition, two-thirds of people incarcerated ...

Huffington Post

Washington isn't exactly known for its bipartisan spirit these days, but on Wednesday, Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) became the latest pair of politicians to reach across the party divide in an effort to scale back the country's ...

CBS Local

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) – Budget cuts to the military have forced installations around the country to alter training exercises and daily routines to save money. For airmen and pilots, that means fewer flights. For soldiers and Marines, it means fewer ...

PJ Media
This means that anyone can learn to beAmerican. And over three centuries, tens of millions have arrived on our shores to do just that. The big ideas that define America — that all men are created equal, and that we are endowed by our Creator with ...

Posted by Ann Corcoran on November 23, 2013
We told you a few months ago that there has been a dramatic jump in the number of asylum claims on our southern border with aliens claiming they were fleeing Mexican crime.  Our asylum system (established in the Refugee Act of 1980 and patterned after the 1951 UN Convention) was never designed to offer protection to people fleeing drug-related and other criminal activities from a country that has a functioning system of government such as Mexico.
Here is the announcement from the House Judiciary Committee, hat tip: Cathy.


The House Judiciary Committee has begun looking at reports that Mexican drug cartelmembers are abusing the U.S. asylum system to bypass regular immigration checks and get into the country, where some are setting up smuggling operations and others ...

Mexican drug cartels exploit asylum system

By Washington Times (DC) 

The House Judiciary Committee has begun looking at reports that Mexican drug cartel members are abusing the U.S. asylum system to bypass regular immigration checks and get into the country, where some are setting up smuggling operations and others engage in the same violent feuds that caused them to flee Mexico in the first place.
In one instance, a woman made a claim of asylum and three months later was apprehended at a Border Patrol checkpoint with more than $1 million in cocaine, according to a memo obtained by the committee that says criminal gangs are exploiting holes in the asylum system.
The memo, viewed by The Washington Times, also details cartel hit- squad members who won access to the U.S. after claiming they feared violence after they "fell out of grace" with their employers.
In another case listed in the memo, two families involved in drug trafficking came to the U.S. claiming "credible fear" of persecution, then began targeting each other once they were here.
"It's outrageous that members of Mexican drug cartels and others involved in illicit activity are so easily able to exploit our asylum laws and live in the U.S. virtually undetected," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican.
"Our asylum laws are in place to help individuals who are facing truly serious persecution in their country," he said. "However, dangerous criminals are gaming the system by claiming they have a 'credible fear' of persecution when often they've been the perpetrators of violence themselves."
Homeland Security officials say they screen everyone who makes a credible fear claim and try to weed out those who don't meet the standards, and try to detain those who do but also could be dangers to the community.
The asylum system has come under increasing scrutiny after reports that the number of people making "credible fear" asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border has more than doubled in the past year.
The rising violence from drug cartels has spawned many of the cases, with Mexican nationals saying they fear for their lives because of family ties or even because of where they live.
"Credible fear" claims are based on the potential for someone to be tortured or persecuted if they return to their home country. But according to information received by the Judiciary Committee, some cartel members themselves are making such claims based on their time in the violent world of Mexico's drug wars.
"Intelligence clearly indicates individuals with direct and indirect associations to narcotics trafficking and other illegal activity are now residing in the U.S. under the protective status of [credible fear]. In some cases ongoing actions by these individuals clearly pose a significant threat to the communities in which they now reside," the memo says.
In the case of the woman caught with $1 million worth of drugs, the memo said she was married to someone involved with a smuggling operation in the El Paso, Texas, area.
A call to the U.S. attorney's office in the western district of Texas seeking information on the woman, whom the memo didn't name, wasn't returned Thursday.
The memo, stamped "For Official Use Only" and dated Oct. 2, says it was written by the Alliance to Combat Transnational Threats command in the El Paso sector of the border. A Judiciary Committee aide said the memo was obtained from a source within the Homeland Security Department and was circulated within the department.
The memo argues that there isn't enough scrutiny on the front end when someone makes a "credible fear" claim, and said that creates a loophole that can be exploited.
But Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for Homeland Security, said asylum seekers go through multiple background checks before any decision is made, including checks by law enforcement and an interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
"Credible fear determinations are dictated by long-standing statute, not an issuance of discretion. The USCIS officer must find that a 'significant possibility' exists that the individual may be found eligible for asylum or withholding of removal. During the credible fear review, USCIS initiates a background check using immigration, national security and criminal databases," he said.
Once an officer determines a "credible fear" of persecution or torture, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reviews the case to determine whether to detail the individual pending a court hearing or whether to parole the person into the country on the admonition of returning for hearings.
"If an individual claiming asylum at the border is deemed to be a threat to public safety or national security, ICE has the authority to keep the individual in detention until their case is heard by an immigration judge," Mr. Boogaard said. "Only a judge can determine asylum eligibility.
"On average, 91 percent of Mexican applicants seeking asylum following a determination that they have credible fear are denied. Individuals who are denied an asylum application are subject to removal from the United States," he said.
Mr. Goodlatte, though, said the law requires most people who raise claims of "credible fear" to be put in mandatory detention. Parole is reserved for special medical emergency cases or humanitarian reasons, or when there is a specific public benefit to being released.
The Obama administration has taken an expansive view of the public benefit section, arguing that unless there is a demonstrable flight risk or apparent danger to the community, those seeking asylum should be released rather than held.
Mr. Goodlatte said that expansive view is dangerous and has led to the problems detailed in the memo. He said his committee "will be closely examining this egregious abuse."
According to the memo, some alien smugglers are using the "credible fear" process as part of their technique for getting illegal immigrants into the U.S.
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Slate Magazine (blog)

There have also been a handful of unconfirmed stories suggesting the government is specifically involved in the production and smuggling of illicit drugs like heroin and meth, including one you-wouldn't-believe-it-if-it-weren't-North Korea report that...

Ottawa Citizen (blog)
The rugged, mountainous, and at times heavily forested terrain can easily masknarco-traffic activities while surveillance and intelligence asset upgrades can remain relatively limited at a time of budget restrictions. This week at the Securetech show ...