The Weight of Thought

As a tense situation continued to unfold in Ukraine on Sunday, the major Sunday talk shows brought on Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as other government officials, to discuss whether there should be any U.S. involvement here over Russia’s decision to send troops into the semi-autonomous region of Crimea and, if so, what that could look like.
While ThinkProgress on Saturday laid out five potential non-war options that the U.S. could seek to deal with the situation, more options — some fairly contentious — arose as a result of discussions on the Sunday shows.
Here’s a look at the ideas that U.S. government officials from both sides of the aisle are entertaining to deal with the situation in Ukraine:
1. Removing Russia from the G-8, taking the next G-8 meeting out of Sochi
Secretary of State John Kerry: “[Putin] is not going to have a Sochi G-8. He may not even remain in the G-8 if this continues.”

A short-lived truce has broken down in Ukraine as street battles have erupted between anti-government protesters and police. Last night the country’s embattled president and the opposition leaders demanding his resignation called for a truce and negotiations to try to resolve Ukraine’s political crisis. But hours later, armed protesters attempted to retake Independence Square, sparking another day of deadly violence. At least 50 people have died since Tuesday in the bloodiest period of Ukraine’s 22-year post-Soviet history. While President Obama has vowed to “continue to engage all sides,” a recently leaked audio recording between two top U.S. officials reveal the Obama administration has been secretly plotting with the opposition. We speak to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University. His most recent book, “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War,” is out in paperback. His latest Nation article is “Distorting Russia: How the American Media Misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine.”

One week ago, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden was interviewed on the German television network ARD. What many Americans may be unaware of is that the Edward Snowden interview was intentionally blocked from the US public with none of the major new outlets covering the interview or its contents. YouTube has even taken steps to remove the post as soon as it is reposted.

Israel has said it will act if Russia delivers promised anti-aircraft missiles to its ally Syria, in an apparent allusion to another air raid on the neighbouring country. 

Moshe Yaalon, Israeli defence minister, issued his warning on Tuesday shortly after a senior official in Moscow said the Russian government reserved the right to provide Syria with state-of-the-art S-300 air defence missiles

"As far as we are concerned, that is a threat," Yaalon said.

"As far as we are concerned, that is a threat," Yaalon said.

"At this stage I can’t say there is an escalation. The shipments have not been sent on their way yet. And I hope that they will not be sent.

"But if, by misfortune, they arrive in Syria, we will know what to do."

Yaalon’s comments were made before Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, ordered his cabinet to stay silent on the issue, according to public radio.

Earlier this month, Israel launched air raids inside Syria targeting what sources said were arms destined for the Lebanese Shia armed group Hezbollah, whose fighters have entered the conflict alongside the Syrian army.

Japanese Movement Against TPP Growing

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro called Friday for long-time ally North Korea and the United States to avoid hostilities on the Korean Peninsula.

“If war breaks out there, the people of both parts of the peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them,” he said in a column published in Cuban state media.

“Now that (North Korea) has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70 per cent of the population of the planet.” Mr. Castro, 86, reminded the United States of its duty to avoid a clash, amid mounting tensions this year between North and South Korea.

“If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States,” Mr. Castro said. “The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.” Cuba is one of the last remaining allies of the communist government in Pyongyang.

A United Nations-based drug agency urged the United States government on Tuesday to challenge the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and Washington, saying the state laws violate international drug treaties.

The International Narcotics Control Board made its appeal in an annual drug report. It called on Washington, D.C., to act to “ensure full compliance with the international drug control treaties on its entire territory.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that he was in the last stages of reviewing the Colorado and Washington state laws. Holder said he was examining policy options and international implications of the issue. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.

A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans’ e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law.

CNET has learned that Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge. (CNET obtained the revised draft from a source involved in the negotiations with Leahy.)

It’s an abrupt departure from Leahy’s earlier approach, which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications. The Vermont Democrat boasted last year that his bill “provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by… requiring that the government obtain a search warrant.”

Leahy had planned a vote on an earlier version of his bill, designed to update a pair of 1980s-vintage surveillance laws, in late September. But after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association organizations objected to the legislation and asked him to “reconsider acting” on it, Leahy pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday. The package (PDF) is a substitute for H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved.

One person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have expressed their displeasure about Leahy’s original bill. The department is on record as opposing any such requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an “adverse impact” on criminal investigations.

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Obama needs to face climate change, reject Keystone pipelineClimate activist Bill McKibben says now is the time for the administration to stand up to the richest industry on Earth.

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bamothernaturenetwork:

Obama needs to face climate change, reject Keystone pipeline
Climate activist Bill McKibben says now is the time for the administration to stand up to the richest industry on Earth.