News from North America, Friday 7th June 2013

New York Times: “The federal government has been secretly collecting information on foreigners overseas for nearly six years from the nation’s largest Internet companies like Google, Facebook and, most recently, Apple, in search of national security threats, the director of national intelligence confirmed Thursday night.

The confirmation of the classified program came just hours after government officials acknowledged a separate seven-year effort to sweep up records of telephone calls inside the United States. Together, the unfolding revelations opened a window into the growth of government surveillance that began under the Bush administration after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has clearly been embraced and even expanded under the Obama administration.

Government officials defended the two surveillance initiatives as authorized under law, known to Congress and necessary to guard the country against terrorist threats.”

Reuters: “The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $39 billion Department of Homeland Security spending bill for next fiscal year that would boost its funding by nearly $1 billion, shifting deeper cuts into other domestic agencies.

The measure passed on a 245-182 vote largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled chamber. It faces a veto threat from President Barack Obama, who considers House Republicans’ $967 billion limit for next fiscal year on spending controlled by Congress to be too low.”

CNN: “Civil rights groups filed a complaint this week against a federal judge in Houston after she allegedly said during a lecture that some minorities are prone to violence.

Judge Edith Jones, who serves on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was a Bush-era Supreme Court frontrunner, allegedly made the comment while speaking on the death penalty to The Federalist Society at the University of Pennsylvania in February.”

BBC News: “Two Massachusetts residents have sued the New York Post, accusing the tabloid of identifying them as suspects in the Boston marathon bombing.

The newspaper published a front-page photo of Salaheddin Barhoum, 16, and Yassine Zaimi, 24, with the headline, Bag Men, three days after the blasts.

The plaintiffs say the story exposed them to ‘scorn, hatred, ridicule, or contempt’.

But the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid is standing by its coverage.

The lawsuit – which asks for an unspecified amount of money in compensation – accuses the newspaper of libel, privacy invasion and negligent infliction of emotional distress.”

Comment: CNN: ‘Terrorists target the military’ by Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland. “The massacre at Fort Hood is part of a trend of ‘homegrown’ al Qaeda-inspired terrorist attacks and plots against U.S. military targets.

For those individuals who buy in to the late Osama bin Laden’s key claim that the U.S. is at war with Islam, American soldiers who are fighting wars in Muslim countries make compelling targets. Indeed, more than a quarter of all the jihadist extremists who have carried out or plotted attacks inside the United States since the 9/11 attacks have targeted the U.S. military.

Since 9/11, 21 people have plotted to attack American soldiers or military installations, according to a count by the New America Foundation.”

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