Dec 15, 2014 at 6:38 PM
Mark Levin ripped Republicans a new one as he opened his show tonight, saying that he is one inch away from leaving the Republican Party.

He starts in hard, asking Republicans if they think this is a joke, if they think they can just lie to Republicans and conservatives with impunity about defunding Obamacare and fighting Obama’s illegal amnesty.

He points out that Republicans go on and on about an imperial president and his illegal amnesty and they can’t even vote on a point of order challenging Obama.

Levin says the Constitution is in tatters and that the Republican Party doesn’t even realize they’ve ceded their power to Obama.
And there’s so much more.

Australia hostage drama at Sydney cafe: Timeline

(AP Photo/Rob Griffith) SYDNEY (AP)
An armed gunman entered a Sydney cafe during Monday morning's rush hour and took an unknown number of hostages. Hours after the crisis began, five people escaped but a number of others remained inside. Then early Tuesday morning, a loud bang was heard and police stormed the cafe.

Emergency personnel wheel an injured hostage to an ambulance during a cafe siege in the central business district of Sydney , Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. A swarm of heavily armed police stormed the cafe in the heart of downtown Sydney early Tuesday, ending a siege where a gunman had been holding an unknown number of people hostage for more than 16 hours. A police spokesman confirmed "the operation is over," but would not release any further details about the fate of the gunman or his remaining captives. After a flurry of loud bangs, police swooped into the Lindt Chocolat Cafe shortly after five or six hostages were seen running from the building.

A timeline of events:


9:45 a.m. - Police are called to Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place, a busy plaza in the heart of the city. Initial reports suggesting it could be an armed robbery are soon ruled out.

10:10 a.m. - Australian television stations broadcast images of hostages inside the cafe with their arms in the air and hands pressed against the window. Shortly after, two hostages appear at the window holding a black flag with white Arabic script.

10:30 a.m. - Armed police line up outside the shop. Nearby buildings are evacuated.

12:30 p.m. - Prime Minister Tony Abbott goes on national television and pledges that the police response will be thorough for what he calls "a deeply concerning incident."

About 4 p.m. - Three men escape from the cafe's fire exit and run toward police. One is wearing a Lindt cafe apron and appears to be an employee.

About 5 p.m. - Two women sprint from the same side door and run into the arms of police. Both are wearing Lindt aprons.

6 p.m. - Prime Minister Abbott says the gunman has claimed "political motivation," but makes no reference to concerns of a terror plot.

6:30 p.m. - Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn says police are conducting a "sensitive negotiation" that requires discretion. She declines to say if direct contact has been made with the gunman, or specify the number of hostages held or any operational tactics.

8:15 p.m. - Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says the priority of police is getting everyone out safely. He declines to speculate on the gunman's motives or possible terror link.

9 p.m. - Lights inside the cafe are switched off. Police outside put on night googles.


1 a.m. - A cleric from Iran, Man Haron Monis, is identified as the gunman. He had been granted asylum in Australia.

2:10 a.m. - A loud bang is heard from the cafe, and several hostages flee.

Moments later - Heavily armed police storm the cafe after throwing what appear to be stun grenades.

2:40 a.m. - Police say the siege has ended.

5:30 a.m. - Police confirm 3 people died: two hostages - a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman - and the gunman. Four other people are wounded.

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Boehner Throws in with Obama

Listen to it ButtonBEGIN TRANSCRIPT
RUSH:  Okay.  So let me see if I have this right.  We're supposed to be entertained by the apparent fight, disagreement, fisticuffs, whatever, going on between the Democrats, Obama and Pelosi and that lamebrain Elizabeth Warren.  We're supposed to be excited by this?  Ah, gee, you talk about getting misdirected.

JOHNNY DONOVAN:  And now, from sunny south Florida, it's Open Line Friday!

RUSH:  The news is that the Republican Speaker of the House has thrown in with Barack Obama.  I don't care what the Democrats are doing.  What does that matter?  Holy smokes.  John Boehner has just squandered the election results before the Republicans even are sworn in to run the Senate, along with the House, if I've got this right.  


RUSH: There is a major falling out taking place in the Democrat Party, and we're supposed to be enthused by this, by the way, we're supposed to be excited by it.  We're supposed to sit back and, whoa ho, man, Washington is getting good, there's trouble in paradise in the Democrat Party.  Yeah, we're supposed to look the other way while our Speaker of the House gets in bed with Obama and advances the Obama agenda, takes care of it, amnesty, Obamacare, fully funded, done deal.  The election must not have mattered.


And then we got Elizabeth Warren out there who's staking her claim to the presidency while Mrs. Clinton isn't looking. To show you how out of whack things are, Elizabeth Warren of, "You didn't build that. You didn't make that happen" fame, well known communist socialist Elizabeth Warren is now being credited as practically the only person in Washington standing up for the little guy via her opposition to some of the relaxation of regulations in Dodd-Frank and some of the campaign finance.  By the way, about that campaign finance stuff, that everybody's upset about in the omnibus bill, I'm gonna tell you exactly what that is. 

We had a caller about it yesterday. The lady was fit to be tied. She was angry and she was right to be, because the limits have practically been obliterated, which means that corporate donors can just start giving left and right. It used to be a limit of $37,000. Now it's $737,000, something.  It's incredible.  But the point of it, do you know why it's in there?  You know why?  The Republicans put it in.  You know why it's in there, folks?  This is how corporate America's gonna defeat the Tea Party.  By allowing limitless donations from that crowd under the rubric that it's campaign finance and money is speech and freedom of speech and First Amendment. The theory is that Main Street, Tea Party people can't come close to competing with corporate money.

So it is a Republican establishment ploy that kind of dovetails nicely with Obama sicking the IRS on the Tea Party to basically eliminate them as a viable threat by relaxing a registration in Dodd-Frank that pretty much permits corporations to spend any kind of money they want on politics.  It's kind of a dichotomy.  It's a dilemma, in terms of figuring out what to think about it. 

Let me tell you about a congressman named Marlin Stutzman.  Marlin Stutzman is a Republican from Indiana, and he is claiming, he's put out a press release on this now.  He's admitting to this publicly. He's not relying on a publication to say it, he's saying it himself that he was lied to; that he was lied to by the Republican leadership; that the Republican leadership reneged on a deal they made with him to get his support for the omnibus bill.  Want the details?  He said, "I was very surprised and even more disappointed to see the cromnibus back on the floor. The American people deserve better."

See, Marlin Stutzman, Republican, Indiana, was one of the last Republicans to vote in favor of the rule allowing the House to fully vote on the omnibus spending bill, the $1.1 trillion omnibus.   

National Review Online reported that Marlin Stutzman, Republican, Indiana, backed the rule at the last minute.  He was one of two Republicans on whose vote this whole thing hinged.  Stutzman has now issued his own release admitting that this is true. 

Stutzman backed the rule at the last minute after the Republican leadership told him that they would pull the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill, once the rule was passed, and they would replace it with a short-term continuing resolution that conservatives, including Stutzman, wanted, and that they would take up the whole thing next year after the Republicans and the new Congress are sworn in, and he was lied to. 

In other words, the leadership in the House went to Marlin Stutzman and said, "Hey, if you vote for the rule, just give us the -- we need the rule.  Our reputation, our image, we just want, we need the rule, vote for the rule and we're gonna pull the omnibus and replace it with just a couple, three-month, two-month, whatever, continuing resolution." 

And Stutzman said, "I supported the rule because I was informed by leadership that the cromnibus was dead and a short term CR would take its place."  He was lied to flat-out because they didn't pull the bill obviously.  They lied to him to get his vote.  We're not supposed to pay any attention.  We're supposed to be watching the fallout on the Democrat side, right?  We're supposed to be entertained. We're supposed to be looking at Elizabeth Warren and Pelosi at war with Obama and we're supposed to get our jollies with that, while our people were lied to, Marlin Stutzman, just blatantly, openly lied to to get his vote. 

For the rule, he was told they would pull the full-fledged bill after they won the rule, but they had to win the rule for their reputation, for image, you know, protect Boehner's Speakership and all that.  "After President Obama came out in favor of the cromnibus, Republican leaders spent the day whipping their members and hoping that Democrats would deliver the requisite number of votes." What you had at the end of the day, Barack Obama was whipping votes for John Boehner. 


RUSH:  Yeah, so here's what happened.  The leadership goes to Marlin Stutzman, and they lied to him, said, "Marlin, if you vote for the rule, then fine," 'cause Stutzman wanted a continuing resolution of a couple of weeks or a month just to get us into January when the Republicans actually take control.  He didn't want to vote for the full-fledged $1.1 trillion bill.  Leadership said, "Marlin, look, if you just vote for the rule, and we'll pull it then.  We just need the victory on the rule.  We can't let the rule go down.  So Marlin, vote with us on the rule, and we'll pull the omnibus and replace it with a short-term CR."  And he did.

That made the vote 213 to 213.  They still weren't there.  Now we're at a tie, and a tie is a loss.  They actually, to win on the procedural vote or the vote on the rule.  So it was at that point the leadership went to a Santa Claus impersonator in the House, and this man is named Kerry Bentivolio.  It all came down to him.  He's an outgoing House member from Michigan.  He is a Tea Partier, for all intents and purposes.  He's a reindeer farmer in his spare time and he was the deciding vote on the rule. 

They got to him and they convinced him somehow to switch his vote from "no" to "yes" and that made it 214 to 212.  The Stutzman vote got them to 213 tied.  And as Bloomberg reported it, "Kerry Bentivolio, the retiring Michigan reindeer farmer, changed his vote and saved Christmas."  It was a tweet from Dave Weigel at Bloomberg, because, you see, if the rule hadn't passed, it would have derailed the whole omnibus and made a government shutdown possible. 

That's another thing.  Elizabeth Warren, is, for all intents and purposes, threatening to shut down the government.  Now, where this thing is in the Senate's kind of up in the air, but she's threatening to shut down the government.  And the media is praising her.  The media is praising her for principled opposition.  And, as you know, Republican shutdown, why, it's the end of the world, it's the end of everything as we know it.  


RUSH:  So why? Why was and why is Barack Obama whipping votes for John Boehner?  Let's review here, because it may be hard to follow. It may be hard to keep some of this in mind.  The reason is because the media is reporting this as, for all intents and purposes, a done deal.  They are reporting that all the action was in the House, and once the House voted for the $1.1 trillion omnibus, since the Democrats run the Senate it's a fait accompli that it's gonna get done.

That's not the case because there's a flamethrower over there named Elizabeth Warren, and she's not happy with what's in the Republican bill -- and neither, for that matter, is Nancy Pelosi.  So the Senate's not done on this.  They did a couple-of-days spending bill, and the Senate's gonna take its time and still argue about it, debate this.  Now, the consensus is that the Senate will ultimately pass it, because that's what Obama wants, and the Democrat Party's still loyal to him
But that's not a fait accompli.


So I guess the takeaway here is: It's not done yet, despite the reporting and the slanted nature of the reporting that makes it look like it's done because of the vote that happened in the House.  There is still the Senate to contend with.  Now, let's take a look at what is being reported here.  What's being reported -- and is this in the Drive-By Media, various places.  I just made some crib notes here to remind myself in some sort of chronological order. 

President Obama and John Boehner want a bill that the bases of their respective parties reject.  Boehner is enabling (or did enable) the passage of a bill in the House that the Republican base wants no part of.  They don't want Obamacare fully implemented or funded, and they do not want Obama to get away with this executive amnesty.

Boehner has worked with Obama

And the Republican version of the bill in the House flies in the face of what both the Democrat base and the Republican base want.  The Democrat base doesn't like the relaxation of regulations in Dodd-Frank, which is campaign finance, basically. There's some things the unions don't like about pensions as well, because their pensions are gonna end up being devalued. 

There are a couple other things in it that the Democrat base is not happy about.  Another thing being reported is that Elizabeth Warren is taking a stand on an issue that, if successful, would embarrass Obama.  This is being reported.  This is not my opinion.  You can find this story somewhere in the Drive-By Media stash today. The stand that she is taking on the issue is a very populist stand.  It is a stance against Wall Street. 

Wall Street has been given a great gift in the omnibus spending bill: Relaxation of regulations on Dodd-Frank.  Opposing Wall Street... Remember Occupy Wall Street?  Opposing Wall Street is a huge ticket item for Elizabeth Warren, particularly if she wants to run for president.  The presumptive nominee, of course, is Mrs. Clinton.  We're right back where we were 2007 and 2008 with the Washington establishment of both parties concluding that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee.

We've been there. 

We've done that. 

And out of the blue, in 2007, came Barack Hussein Obama.  Out of the blue this year is coming Elizabeth Warren, and she's got a ready-made entry and a ready-made ticket with her populist opposition to the Wall Street favors that are in the omnibus bill.  Obama is in favor of relaxing those regulations on Wall Street because Obama is in bed with Wall Street and has been from the get-go, but his base is not really aware of that. 

The Democrat Party base has been driven insane with hatred for Wall Street. They've been driven insane with hatred for the US military. They've been driven insane with hatred for the CIA.  The Democrat Party base has been driven insane by the radical nature of what everybody thinks are mainstream Democrats.  Obama is as closely tied and in bed with Wall Street as anybody is, and Elizabeth Warren is not.

And she is distancing herself from the Democrats and particularly from Obama in a major way by taking a stand on that issue regarding Dodd-Frank.  If this bill goes down to smithereens because of this, it would be an embarrassment to Obama.  Again, this is what's being reported.  It is also being reported that Barack Obama is being abandoned by Democrats by the score on this because the Democrats are not happy with a couple of provisions. 

See, the Democrats are not invested in Obamacare to the degree that you would believe.  Remember, Obamacare is why they lost, in their minds -- and you've heard by now the old stat that half the Democrat senators remaining in the Senate who voted for Obamacare, for one reason or another, are gone.  We've had Chuck-U Schumer and Tom Harkin and a number of other Democrats publicly throw Obamacare under the bus claiming it was bad bill.

(summarized) "It was a mistake timing-wise. We shouldn't have done it before we shored up the economy." There are Democrats running away from Obamacare.  It's John Boehner who's in bed with Obama on Obamacare, not the Democrats.  And one of the things we're supposed to be taking great satisfaction from watching is the Democrat fallout over Obamacare. 

But Boehner has picked up the slack there with the Republican omnibus bill, which fully funds it.  So now the Democrats are free to walk away from it, which they wanted to do and have.  So when you see it reported that Democrats are abandoning Obama by the score, one of the things they're abandoning him on is Obamacare.  Look, they have lost big in the last two midterm elections.

This is still... The scope of this defeat is still not accurately reported in the Drive-By Media, although if you keep your radio tuned to this station, you will soon hear that the Washington Post has a story today which fulfills a prophecy of mine back in 2008, 2009. I wasn't the only one, but I might have led the pack on this, as referring to Barack Obama's presidency as Jimmy Carter's second term.


Today's Washington Post pretty much says that, and they do it with polling data.  They do it on the basis that there is a nationwide malaise among the American people, that they are despondent and depressed and feeling hopeless. There's no opportunity for the American dream. There's no opportunity for economic advancement.  It's not a pretty picture, and it's being painted in the Washington Post.  Jimmy Carter's second term. 

That term isn't actually used, but all the comparisons to Jimmy Carter are made in the story.  Another story being reported today is that Democrats who may run for president in 2016 think they don't need Obama's support.  This is being reported.  I'm not offering my opinion here.  I'm giving you a little list here of the things that are being reported today in the Drive-By Media.  Now, remember, Hillary has tried to separate herself from Obama on foreign policy. 

All of the Hillaryites... If you've been paying attention the past few months, then you well know and you remember how all these Hillary people are out there ripping Obama on all kinds of things (Benghazi, you name it) all to protect Hillary.  Elizabeth Warren is also in this list of Democrats who may run for president who think they don't need Obama's support.  The media is speculating whether that's true or not.

The reason these stories are interesting to the Drive-Bys is, "Are these Democrats right?  Can they actually get the nomination? Can they get elected? Can another Democrat -- Hillary or Warren -- become president without help from Obama?  Can they do it without needing Obama's assistance?"  The media, the Drive-Bys are extremely curious about this.  Remember, they're fully invested in 

Obama, and they're not comfortable with all this fallout. 

They're not comfortable. 

Even though Obama's lame duck and all that, they're not comfortable with this open diss that is taking place.  It's also being reported that the omnibus spending bill is a push for deregulation.  That plays right into Elizabeth Warren's hands.  That's Wall Street being deregulated, and the Democrat base does not want Wall Street deregulated.  The media's also reporting that Barack Obama's signing off on a bill that reduces spending. 

Democrats supposedly don't like that.  Now, I don't know where they get that, but their story nevertheless is being reported.  Another story that's out there is that the Republicans in February will shut down Homeland Security if they don't get their way on immigration reform.  So that's a list of the stories that are out there that are bending and shaping all of this about the spending bill and the Democrats' betrayal of Obama over in the Senate and what it might mean. 

But while all that is going on, again, John Boehner has Barack Obama whipping Democrat votes for him.  It is Obama talking to recalcitrant Democrats in the Senate trying to get them on board to vote and support the Republican bill.  It's not Dingy Harry.  Pelosi is in this mix, too.  She's not happy, along with Elizabeth Warren.  Now, these, quote/unquote "facts" as they've been reported are as incongruous as I can imagine. 

Why are Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer, working so hard on John Boehner's behalf?  That's what's happening.  That's what you need to take away from this.  You'll find some people telling you to, "Hey, you know, sit back and enjoy this infighting in the Democrat Party."  Well, go ahead if you want.  I mean, if that lights your fire, have at it.  But I'm telling you: The thing that's happening that fascinates me is all these Democrats working so hard for John Boehner. 

That's what fascinates me. 

Obama, Biden, Dingy Harry, Steny Hoyer.  The reason why is it's Boehner's doing their bidding.  It's Boehner's bill they want.  Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House. His bill is what Obama wants.  That's why they're working.  That's why they're whipping votes for Boehner.  That, to me, is what's newsworthy today.  Not the fact that there may be some fallout in the Democrat side. 
I mean, that is newsworthy because we don't get treated to that very much.

It's true the Democrat Party is in big disarray, and if the media were half interested in it or half honest about it, you'd know that.  But they're not.  


RUSH: Obama went on ESPN Radio today to tell people there that he really cares about sports. That's what he's really into most of the time, but he takes time out to do president stuff. During the interview he was talking about the similarities, comparing politics and sports.

OBAMA:  The one difference is that, y'know, in politics, sometimes people forget we're actually all on the same team, uhhh, and that's the American team.

RUSH: Right.

OBAMA: A-a-and, you know, it's one thing in sports if, y'know, you go into the, uh, Eagles stadium or -- or the Raiders stadium (snickers) and folks are hollering at you and you're the opposing team. Sometimes, uh, I think in politics we, uh, forget that we're not actually on different teams.

RUSH:  Well, you could fool me!  You could fool me.  So you know what he's trying to do here, is trying to act bipartisan all of a sudden.  Now, I'm sure this has something to do with this stupid omnibus thing here.  There are a lot of people trying to save John Boehner's bacon right now is what I think is going on, including Obama.  Boehner is making himself an MVP up there at the White House.  

DHS: 100 Million Americans Could Lose Power in Major Sun Storm

Millions of Americans face catastrophic loss of electrical power during a future magnetic space storm that will disrupt the electric grid and cause cascading infrastructure failures, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document.

DHS’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stated in an internal 2012 fact sheet outlining its response plan for severe “space weather” that the actual impact and damage from a future solar storm is not known.

“An analysis of the space weather impacts indicates that the greatest challenge will be to provide life-saving and life-sustaining resources for large numbers of people that experience long-term power outage from damage to the U.S. electrical grid,” the FEMA document, dated March 1, 2012, states.

The FEMA fact sheet noted the findings of a 2010 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency that monitors sun storms, warning that an extreme solar storm could leave “130 million people without power for years,” and destroy or damage more than 300 hard-to-replace electrical grid transformers.

Major solar storms are rare. Two major solar disruption events took place in 1859 and 1921, times when electricity was less prevalent than today.

The study said a future solar storm like the great magnetic storm of May 1921 would black out most states east of the Mississippi River along with most states in the Pacific Northwest.

The long-term loss of electrical power likely would produce catastrophic loss of life.

However, the FEMA document disputed that worst-case scenario, noting that in 2011 DHS experts were “not convinced” about the dire consequences outlined in the earlier study.

Still, DHS scientists in 2011 warned that the U.S. electric grid remains vulnerable to damage from an extreme geomagnetic storm. The scientists said the extent of damage to high-voltage transformers from a space storm “are not well known” and the matter needs further study, the report says.

“Based on an analysis of many space weather studies, there does not appear to be specific agreement among space weather and electric industry experts regarding space weather impacts on the U.S. electric grid,” the document says, adding that there is “general agreement among the experts that extreme geomagnetic storms could have significantly damaging impacts on the U.S. electric grid.”
Space weather is defined as conditions on the Sun, in space, in the earth’s magnetic field, and upper atmosphere that impact space and ground technological systems and can “endanger human life on earth,” the report says.

The report outlines the scenario for a major “coronal mass ejection” from the Sun that will first be detected by U.S. satellites. The magnetic band reaches the earth within 24 to 72 hours, affecting up to 100 million people.

The largest such storms, called G-5s, would cause transformers and transmission lines to be “severely damaged.”

The storms last from hours to a day but can disrupt electric power grid operations, GPS satellites, aircraft operations, manned space flight, satellite operations, natural gas distribution pipelines, and undersea communications cables.

GPS satellites could be disrupted causing them to produce false positioning information.

“The extreme geomagnetic space weather event will cause widespread power outages to a large number of people (approximately 100 million people) in a multi-region, multi-state area of the U.S. due to geomagnetic induced currents damaging EHV transformers, especially along coastal regions,” the report says.

Power losses may cause spiraling failures that could lead to loss of systems that control water and wastewater systems, perishable foods and medications, lighting and air conditioning, computer, telephone and communications systems, public transportation, and fuel distribution.

After the magnetic storm passes in some 36 hours, power will be restarted and within 36 hours up to 65 million will regain electric power.

By two weeks, after damaged equipment is replaced or repaired, another 25 million people will have power restored.

However, the report indicates that it would take up to two months to repair or replace damaged electrical power equipment for the remaining 10 million people over six states.

Mark Sauter, an adviser to security companies and coauthor of the textbook Homeland Security: A Complete Guide, said severe space weather poses a major homeland security challenge.

“It occurs rarely, can’t be predicted, full protection is impossibly expensive and the potential impact ranges from inconvenient to cataclysmic,” said Sauter, who obtained the document under the Freedom of Information Act.

“The released documents indicate DHS/FEMA—with buy-in from the electrical industry and U.S. military—has now settled on a ‘plausible’ planning estimate that 25 million Americans could lose power for two weeks and 10 million could be without power for up to two months—and this estimate, the government admits, is 10 percent of one major outside study,” he said.

Sauter said FEMA’s more-than-200-page response plan for dealing with a solar storm was blacked out from the released documents.

“This makes one wonder why FEMA is refusing to release the government’s space weather response plan,” he said. “How would the government deal with 10 million, or many more, Americans without power for two months, or even longer?”

Sauter questioned whether the government is taking the threat of a major solar storm seriously, or is “just going through an obligatory bureaucratic exercise that in reality reflects DHS/FEMA crossing its fingers and hoping that such a plan will never need to be used.”

“Is FEMA simply worried about alarming the public?” Sauter asked. “For example, advice on the DHS Web site urges citizens to disconnect appliances and avoid using the phone during a space weather emergency, but doesn’t go into how people should survive for two months without electricity.”

Peter Pry, a former CIA official who now heads a group that has warned about the impact on the electric grid of a nuclear detonation-caused blackout from electromagnetic pulse, said a congressional EMP Commission warned several years ago of the threat posed by a geomagnetic super storm.
Such an event “could have catastrophic consequences for civilization,” Pry said.

A similar solar blast like the 1859 Carrington Event could collapse electric grids and life-sustaining critical infrastructures worldwide, putting the lives of billions at risk, he said.

U.S. utilities are unprepared for major solar storms such as the Carrington Event or the 1921 magnetic storm.

“We are running out of time to prepare,” Pry said, noting that NASA reported in July that Earth narrowly missed a second Carrington Event.

Pry said current legislation known as the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) passed the House last week unanimously and would help protect against natural or manmade EMP.

FEMA spokesman Rafael Lemaitre had no comment on the fact sheet and its outline of the potential damage from a major solar storm

“FEMA constantly monitors and plans for all hazards, and that includes the potential impact from a coronal mass ejection,” he said.

Torture report pits senator vs CIA chief yet again

John Brennan
 Central Intelligence Director (CIA) Director John Brennan gestures during a news conference at CIA

WASHINGTON (AP) — Their disputes over who spied on whom and censoring the Senate's scathing torture report are history. But the personal feud between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and CIA Director John Brennan may only be getting worse.

Relations between the outgoing Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman and America's top spy appeared to hit a new low Thursday as Feinstein live-tweeted comments contradicting Brennan as he publicly addressed her panel's sweeping allegations of CIA wrongdoing. While Feinstein later praised Brennan for accepting many of her inquiry's conclusions, the damage was done.

"#ReadTheReport" was the refrain from Feinstein as Brennan held a rare news conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. She berated the CIA chief for suggesting, contrary to her report, that the agency's "enhanced interrogation techniques" were legal and may have helped lead to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Brennan acknowledged CIA officers did "abhorrent" things and were unprepared to run a detention program after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Yet he was hardly praiseworthy of Feinstein and fellow Democrats, calling it "lamentable" they interviewed no CIA personnel to ask, "What were you thinking?" He called the investigation "flawed."

For the two main protagonists in this week's drama, bickering is nothing new.

In an extraordinary scene nine months ago, Feinstein took to the Senate floor to accuse the CIA of interfering with her investigation and trying to intimidate the committee's staffers by referring them to the Justice Department. The California senator suggested criminal laws and the Constitution were being violated.

Brennan fired back, denying his personnel spied on Senate investigators and indicating they may have committed a crime by improperly accessing sensitive CIA documents. On Feinstein's allegations, he said, "We wouldn't do that."

Months of testy back-and-forth ensued.

Feinstein seemed to emerge the victor as the Justice Department refused to launch a criminal probe. An internal CIA review then faulted five employees at the agency for hacking into the intelligence committee's computers and emails. Brennan apologized to Feinstein and her colleagues.
But that was as far as the spat went. Democrats who wanted Brennan reprimanded or even fired were rebuffed by the White House, which stood by one of President Barack Obama's closest and longest-serving aides.

And the CIA fared significantly better in a concurrent battle over what to black out in the torture report's 500-page executive summary and conclusions. Feinstein's plea for Obama to intervene fell on deaf ears.

The bad blood between the pair was there for all to see Thursday.

After Brennan credited detainees subjected to harsh interrogations with producing information used in the operation to find bin Laden, Feinstein said her report proved definitively that waterboarding and the like provided no such help.

When he declared it "unknowable" whether harsh interrogations were responsible for valuable intelligence, she wrote: "CIA had info before torture."

Also among her two dozen tweets was a question to Brennan about a waterboard and buckets found at a site where the near drownings never officially happened. When asked by a reporter on that point at the news conference, Brennan said he was aware of no undeclared waterboarding.

By the end of the day, Feinstein struck a more conciliatory tone, conceding in a statement that Brennan's remarks "were not what I expected."

"They showed that CIA leadership is prepared to prevent this from ever happening again — which is all-important," she said.

Revolutionary war-era time capsule found in Massachusetts state house

Crews worked carefully on Thursday to remove a time capsule dating back to 1795 from the granite cornerstone of the Massachusetts statehouse, where historians believe it was originally placed by Revolutionary war luminaries Samuel Adams and Paul Revere among others.

The time capsule is believed to contain items such as old coins and newspapers, but the condition of the contents was not known and the Massachusetts secretary of state, William Galvin, speculated that some could have deteriorated over time.

Originally made of cowhide, the time capsule was believed to have been embedded in the granite cornerstone of the building when construction on the state Capitol began in 1795. Adams was governor of Massachusetts at the time.

The time capsule was removed in the mid-19th century and its contents transferred to a copper box, Galvin said.
paul revere
Paul Revere, American patriot and silversmith, is believed to be among those who placed the time capsule. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
It is being removed now because of an ongoing water filtration project at the building.

The time capsule will not be immediately opened but instead taken to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, where it will be x-rayed to determine its contents.

Pamela Hatchfield, a conservator at the museum, slowly chiselled away at the cornerstone on Thursday to reach the box, a process that was expected to take several hours to complete. Galvin said the plan is to return it to the site sometime next year.

The excavation comes just months after another time capsule was uncovered from the Old State House, which served as the state’s first seat of government. That long-forgotten time capsule, dating to 1901, turned up in a lion statue atop the building and when opened, was found to contain a potpourri of well-preserved items including newspaper clippings, a book on foreign policy and a letter from journalists of the period.

Congress Passes Bill Which Grants “Unlimited Access to Communications of Every American”

Congress Passes Bill Which Grants "Unlimited Access to Communications of Every American"

by Paul Joseph Watson 
December 11, 2014
According to Congressman Justin Amash, Congress just passed a bill which grants the government and law enforcement “unlimited access to the communications of every American”.

When the Michigan lawmaker discovered that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 had been amended with a provision that authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of all communications data from U.S. citizens, he desperately attempted to organize a roll call vote on the bill.

However, the legislation was passed yesterday 325-100 via a voice vote, a green light for what Amash describes as “one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative”.

The bill allows the private communications of Americans to be scooped up without a court order and then transferred to law enforcement for criminal investigations.

The legislation effectively codifies and legalizes mass warrantless NSA surveillance on the American people, with barely a whimper of debate.

Read the full text of Congressman Amash’s letter below, which was sent out before the bill was passed.


Dear Colleague:

The intelligence reauthorization bill, which the House will vote on today, contains a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.

Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of the intelligence reauthorization bill with a new Sec. 309—one the House never has considered. Sec. 309 authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.

To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans’ private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.

Supporters of Sec. 309 claim that the provision actually reins in the executive branch’s power to retain Americans’ private communications. It is true that Sec. 309 includes exceedingly weak limits on the executive’s retention of Americans’ communications. With many exceptions, the provision requires the executive to dispose of Americans’ communications within five years of acquiring them—although, as HPSCI admits, the executive branch already follows procedures along these lines.

In exchange for the data retention requirements that the executive already follows, Sec. 309 provides a novel statutory basis for the executive branch’s capture and use of Americans’ private communications. The Senate inserted the provision into the intelligence reauthorization bill late last night. That is no way for Congress to address the sensitive, private information of our constituents—especially when we are asked to expand our government’s surveillance powers.

I urge you to join me in voting “no” on H.R. 4681, the intelligence reauthorization bill, when it comes before the House today.


Justin Amash
Member of Congress