John Brennan is the best nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency in a generation—alas. The best of a bad lot.
Brennan will be the agency’s eighth director in the past two decades. His immediate predecessors included hapless technocrats, a hopeless congressman, gung-ho generals — and, lest we forget, Langley’s own Sir Lancelot, George Tenet. He sought the holy grail of Saddam Hussein’s secret arsenal and made the “slam dunk” case for the Iraq war: an intelligence failure ranking with Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks.
It’s been ages since a career CIA officer like Brennan has been chosen to lead the Agency. He did time in the overseas clandestine service, notably as a station chief in Saudi Arabia, where he went belly-to-belly with Iran’s spooks, and he served as an analyst and a top espiocrat at CIA headquarters. He has been Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser in the White House for the past four years. His resume as an American spy is long, varied, and distinguished.
His confirmation hearings, however, may be short, nasty, and brutish. In the few hours allowed him, he has some explaining to do - if Congress has the courage to ask the questions.
Harvey Shapiro would have likely preferred to be remembered as a poet, and perhaps also as one of the better editors of the New York Times Book Review. But his Jan. 7 Times obituary plays up another aspect of his life of which I was previously unaware. It was Shapiro, then an editor at the New York Times Magazine, who assigned Martin Luther King Jr. to write his 1963 “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” which today ranks as one of the preeminent literary-historical documents of the 20th century.
The assignment would have assured Shapiro a place in magazine-editor heaven if the Times Magazine had published the result. But it didn’t. Rejected, the letter ended up (under the headline, “The Negro Is Your Brother”) in the Atlantic. The Times Magazine’s role here ranks well above William Styron’s rejection, as a reader at McGraw-Hill, of Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki as one of the great busted plays in American publishing.
Police forced their way into an apartment in Germany after hearing what they described as a “child-like voice” calling for its mother and father. Instead of an abandoned toddler, they found a cheerful and very talkative parrot.
The woman who called the police on Tuesday morning sounded worried. She said she had been trying for several days to speak to a neighbor but no one had answered the door when she knocked, even though she could hear children’s voices inside.
Police dispatched to the flat in the western German town of Ibbenbüren heard a distinct child-like voice calling “Mama,” “Papa” and “Mama Come.”
When the nominations for the Academy Awards are announced Thursday, untold millions of people already will have watched some of the leading flicks. But many of them likely didn’t view the motion pictures on a theater’s big screen, even though the movies haven’t been released on DVD or Blu-ray.
That’s because many Blockbusters have leaked to BitTorrent pirate sites, and the likely seeders are academy members.
The academy usually sends out digital or disc screener editions in December to many of its roughly 6,000 voting members. Many of the hot, in-theater-only flicks are now available online and they’re tagged “DVDSCR.”
The development highlights an unspoken irony in the file-sharing world. While the Hollywood studios loudly complain that pirate sites are dooming their businesses and demand Congress do something about it, the top flicks appearing on pirate sites often are seeded by insiders.
It happens year after year, despite screener copies now being loaded with watermarks. To be sure, camcording is also a problem, but the latest blockbuster flicks appearing on the top pirate sites are the real deal.
A Texas high school student who claimed her student identification was the “Mark of the Beast” because it was implanted with a radio-frequency identification chip has lost her federal court bid Tuesday challenging her suspension for refusing to wear the card around her neck.
Radio-frequency identification devices are a daily part of the electronic age — found in passports, and library and payment cards. Eventually they’re expected to replace bar-code labels on consumer goods. Now schools across the nation are slowly adopting them as well.
Northside Independent School District in San Antonio began issuing the RFID-chip-laden student-body cards when the semester began in the fall. The ID badge has a bar code associated with a student’s Social Security number, and the RFID chip monitors pupils’ movements on campus, from when they arrive until when they leave.
Sophomore Andrea Hernandez was notified in November by the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio that she won’t be able to continue attending John Jay High School unless she wears the badge around her neck. The district said the girl, who objects largely on religious grounds, would have to attend another high school that does not employ the RFID tags.
Things can go terribly wrong if you are a crazy person pretending not to be.
The life of an illegal immigrant is not an easy one. There is the matter of the day to day- work, taking care of family and in the case of younger illegals (the vast majority of them) simply growing up. Then there is the underbelly- the exploitation many illegals have to live with, the challenges they face in procuring necessary documents in this increasingly document- and computerized- society.
While the media tends to focus on the criminal element (Jose Q Public going to work day and day out won’t sell newspapers), the vast majority of illegals are honest, law abiding and hard working seeking no more than than a better life for themselves and their children.
There are many Americans who believe that is liberal spewed hogwash but it is the truth- and it has nothing to do with politics.
Imagine you lived in an environment in which it was virtually impossible to support your family. Imagine your parents, grandparents and other close relatives lived in poverty with no hope of escape. Imagine that environment was filled with corrupt politicians and bureaucrats or criminal gangs. Wouldn’t you do whatever you could to change that reality? Isn’t that what generations of immigrants- legal and otherwise- have done?
Since when has offering the teeming masses an opportunity for a better life, become a political football? How have we become a nation which turns it’s back on ‘wretched refuse’?
Yes, we are a nation of laws- but we are also meant to be a merciful nation. We can find a way to accommodate those who have circumvented the legal and appropriate ways to apply for immigrant status. They may have to wait for those legal applicants to move to the front of the line (where they belong) pay back taxes and so on.
This nation has been enriched by immigrants since her inception, believing in and following the American dream. Shortchanging those law abiding illegal immigrants will hurt them, to be sure- but it will us as a nation, even more.
In the controversy over illegal immigration that has roiled our politics for decades, the image of “living in the shadows” has been invoked by all sides. For immigrant advocates, “the shadows” are where the undocumented are harassed by overzealous law-enforcement officers and exploited by unscrupulous landlords and employers. For many other Americans, “living in the shadows” conjures vaguely sinister intruders using public services to which they are not entitled and preying on law-abiding Americans through illicit activities and crime.
Yet regardless of one’s views on the issue, this imagery is profoundly misleading. It helps to perpetuate the myths and exaggerations that have made our immigration debate so fruitless. Undocumented immigrants are hardly mere victims of economic or political forces beyond their control. But neither are they dangerous criminals or public charges lurking on the fringes of our society. Rather, they are responsible agents who have made difficult choices in a complicated and risky environment — an environment for which all Americans bear some blame.
These choices produce both beneficial and negative consequences for the nation and for the immigrants themselves. And our policies must contend with both sets of effects. If we are to find our way to a solution, we must examine the genuine predicament of the millions of illegal immigrants in our midst without ignoring the legitimate concerns millions of Americans have about their presence.
If we succeeded in removing the hyperbole and stereotypes from the immigration debate, our politics might open itself to a balanced approach to the problem: legalization for as many undocumented immigrants as possible, but citizenship for none of them. Under this proposal, illegal immigrants who so desired could become “permanent non-citizen residents” with no option of ever naturalizing.
The GOP seems to have squandered away it’s traditional strong suits- national security and foreign relations. For a party which has been ravaged by what many consider extremist elements to ideas which now seem tired and out of step, the Republicans are seeking an anchor, something which might tether their fractious party, together.
In a rapidly changing world, foreign policy might be the glue the party needs. Richard Nixon ended the war in Vietnam and opened up China, Ronald Reagan stared down Gorbachev in Helsinki and at the Berlin Wall. Republican administrations oversaw the reunification of Europe and united the nation after 9/11.
And then came the wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan and the global war on terror.
There were successes and their were failures but mostly, we became tentative which only exacerbated failures. What is clear is the 21st century cannot be understood through the lenses of the 20th century.
The GOP needs to reestablish their credibility. The voters have established that as a fact, not as an opinion. While the party has a long way to go, starting fresh with foreign policy is a good first step.
Needed: This past fall was not kind to U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. It became increasingly clear that Afghan security forces were not going to be ready for the 2014 transition. The New York Times highlighted the administration’s failure to persuade the Iraqi government to allow a residual U.S. force to stay in the country, leaving Baghdad ever more at the mercy of Tehran. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought publicly over how to respond to Iran’s advancing nuclear program. The administration’s much-touted “pivot” to the Pacific seemed like more talk than action, as the United States passively watched tensions rise between China and Japan. And then, the administration tripped over itself repeatedly in trying to explain the fiasco in Benghazi, Libya.
Yet despite all this, Obama not only won the election in November but was more trusted by the public than Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, on foreign policy and national security issues. The Pew Research Center’s last preelection poll, for example, found that more voters trusted Obama than Romney on foreign affairs, by 50 percent to 42 percent, and CBS/New York Times and NBC/Wall Street Journal surveys showed similar figures. Tracking polls suggested that the foreign policy debate helped halt whatever momentum Romney had.
This was all a big change from the past. Republicans had previously possessed a decades-long advantage on foreign policy. Exit polls have shown that voters consistently trusted Republican presidential candidates over Democratic ones on foreign policy from the Vietnam era until 2012. So Obama’s edge cannot be chalked up simply to incumbency. And if this exception becomes a trend, it will pose a serious problem for the Republican Party, significantly altering the political landscape. Foreign policy is rarely the decisive issue in presidential campaigns, but it does matter: even voters who profess not to care about the rest of the world need to feel comfortable that their candidate can be the next commander in chief. A candidate’s command of foreign policy acts as a proxy for assessing broader leadership abilities. As of right now, far too many Republicans flunk that test.