News from North America, Wednesday 29th May 2013

Reuters: “The Republican chairman of a congressional oversight committee ordered the State Department on Tuesday to provide documents related to ‘talking points’ prepared for television interviews about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a subpoena ordering 10 current and former State Department officials to hand over “documents and communications” related to the attacks in Libya last September 11, in which four Americans were killed.

The subpoena gives Secretary of State John Kerry a June 7 deadline to provide the material. A State Department spokesman said the department would look at the request and decide how to respond.”

LA Times: “It was the ‘worst-case scenario,’ according to notes recovered by police in western Oregon.

In that plan, according to newly revealed court documents, Grant Acord wrote that he was going to go to his first-period class at West Albany High School, duck out to the parking lot, throw a firebomb and then “cooly state” a line from the movie “Bad Boys II” right before the carnage began: “The Russian Grim Reaper is here.”

But Acord, 17, was arrested before carrying out any such plan at the 1,400-student school.

Charged as an adult, he was arraigned in Benton County, Ore., Tuesday on 21 counts of attempted murder, attempted arson and possession of illegal weapons after police said they discovered a secret cache of pipe bombs, Drano bombs and Molotov cocktails at his Albany home. He didn’t enter a plea. Bail was set at $2 million.”

CNN: “A Marine combat veteran killed by Texas authorities after a deadly shooting spree there has also been linked to the death of his wife in North Carolina, authorities said Tuesday.

Lance Cpl. Esteban J. Smith, 23, died Sunday in a shootout with Texas authorities after going on a two-hour rampage that left one person dead and five wounded, according to investigators.

Smith’s wife, Rubi Estenania Smith, 21, was discovered dead Sunday afternoon at a motel near Camp Lejeune, according to police in Jacksonville, North Carolina.”

Reuters: “Accused Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal Hasan will ask a U.S. military court on Wednesday to rule he can represent himself at his trial this summer which could bring the death penalty on charges he killed 13 people in a 2009 shooting rampage.

Jury selection in Hasan’s military trial at Fort Hood was delayed until next week after he asked the judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, to let him fire his lawyers and represent himself. The trial is scheduled to start July 1.”

Think Progress: “On Tuesday, the Tea Party website ‘Tea Party Nation’ put out an article that labeled Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) an ‘illegal immigrant’ because he had sneaked into Syria to visit rebels fighting against the Bashar al-Assad regime. Although the White House was aware of McCain’s Syrian visit, the article indicated that his visit was virtually the same as undocumented immigration. It also noted that McCain’s humanitarian support for rebels could be attributed to his lack of intelligence, and Democratic turnout for his unsurprising win in the Arizona Senate race.”

DNA Info: “Gay activist Eugene Lovendusky spent the past few weeks speaking out against the recent spate of homophobic attacks in New York — but early Saturday morning, he became one of the targets.

Lovendusky, a 28-year-old Queens resident and co-founder of the grassroots LGBT group Queer Rising, said he was punched in the face early Saturday morning during an altercation with a group of men who hurled anti-gay slurs at him and his boyfriend, in what police are calling a hate crime.”

Enterprise News: “Confessed killer Keith Luke has known for a long time what he wanted from  life, according to audio evidence played at the white supremacist’s murder trial  in Brockton Superior Court on Tuesday.

‘I was planning to murder people all my life … that’s what I dedicated my  life to do,’ Luke said during an audio recording of a jail cell call to his  mother played by prosecutors…

In other testimony Tuesday, a psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution  said Luke suffers from a severe personality disorder, not from a psychotic  disorder.

Dr. Russell Vasile, adult psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical  Center in Boston, said Luke’s beliefs are ‘kind of half-baked, anti-Semitic,  garden-variety neo-Nazi stuff … They’re parodied off a website.'”

WMCTV: “Former West Memphis police chief Bob Paudert on behalf of Tennessee homeland security spoke to Memphis police officers about a potentially deadly movement, sovereign citizens.

Paudert travels throughout the U.S. and Canada speaking to law enforcement with a warning about, what he calls, a growing movement.”

Comment: Huffington Post: ‘Terrorism Threat Elevates Public Support for Drones’ by Kerstin Fisk, Jennifer Merolla, Jennifer Ramos, and Elizabeth Zechmeister. “According to Obama, the drone strikes have been effective and legal, though he acknowledged being ‘haunted’ by the innocent civilians who have lost their lives as a result of some of these strikes.

Our own research on this topic (in Democracy at Risk: How Terrorist Threats Affect the Public) suggests that the public is likely to remain supportive of aggressive foreign policy, including drone strikes, in a context in which the Boston marathon bombings and other recent events have increased the salience of terrorism. So long as individuals feel threatened, we find greater support for drone strikes. What is striking about this inclination is its ubiquity and persistence: heightened support for drones under threat conditions is not limited to one partisan identity or another; it spans across contexts of terrorist threat and economic decline; and, it is not muted by simple reminders of democratic values.”

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