Shorter Question Everything
Shorter than normal, and definitely more disjointed as I struggle through the stupid cold of doom. Some things happened in the world…
• Tea Party Civil War: Dick Armey walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.
• Israel voiced doubt on Tuesday about the accuracy of Syrian activists’ reports that chemical weapons had been used against rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad. “We have seen reports from the opposition. It is not the first time. The opposition has an interest in drawing in international military intervention,” Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Army Radio. “As things stand now, we do not have any confirmation or proof that (chemical weapons) have already been used, but we are definitely following events with concern,” he said.
• PROPAGANDA ALERT: Did Syria Just Use Nerve Gas Against Rebels? The regime of embattled Syrian president Bashar Assad has gassed rebel forces in the battleground city of Homs, Al Jazeera claimed on Sunday. If true — and that’s a huge if — the chemical attack could signal the biggest escalation yet of 20-month-old Syrian civil war, with serious implications for the rest of the world. The “poisonous material” was deployed by government warplanes, Haaretz reported, citing a rebel statement. Al Jazeera posted two videos it said were obtained from “a field clinic in the city.” The graphic videos indeed appear to depict victims of sarin or some other nerve agent — though again the origins and contents of these videos have yet to be verified by other sources.
• Juan Williams: The controversy’s dead. Over. Has been dead and over for a long time. I think there are people who want to perpetuate it but the fact is if you look at the report, it says there’s no cover up, no lies. It was politicized in the midst of the campaign… Nobody’s indicating that Secretary Clinton had some operative, decision-making role here that led to this calamity. Nobody’s saying that. So, you know, she may say she saw some of it but it’s not determinative. I think the larger issue here is the fact that this report – you know, and you have credible people behind it, saying, “You know what? We’ve looked into all this and there were assets on the ground.” Did anybody tell the people at the compound not to go help the people at the consulate? Turns out that the ambassador had an unusual attitude in his personal movements. Turns out that there had been requests for security but most of the requests were in Tripoli, not Benghazi. You know what? Human beings make mistakes. But to make it into this political – some people say Watergate – it was ridiculous from the start and it’s looking worse now.
• Romney ‘had no desire’ to be President: “He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” said Tagg, who worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside.”
• While Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was denying allegations of racial profiling last year, he was accepting an award from The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), a controversial Confederate heritage group. Two officials with the Arizona SCV division presented the group’s J. Edgar Hoover Law & Order Award to Arpaio in his office in October of 2011. This has never been previously reported.
• Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has denied a request to block part of the federal health care law that requires employee health-care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency contraception pills. Hobby Lobby Stores and a sister company, Mardel Inc., sued the government, claiming the mandate violates the religious beliefs of its owners. In an opinion issued Wednesday, Sotomayor said the stores fail to satisfy the demanding legal standard for blocking the requirement on an emergency basis. She said the companies may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts.
• Hamas has banned Palestinian journalists in Gaza from working with or giving interviews to the Israeli media. The order, issued this week, said: “The government has decided to bar co-operation or work with Zionist media due to its hostility. The prohibition applies to all Palestinian reporters and journalists.” It has also instructed its own government officials not to give interviews to Israeli press or television.
• As she enters the third week of her hunger strike, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence says she won’t back down until the Canadian government agrees to address First Nations’ struggles. “We’re living in Third World conditions right now and the prime minister says this is a great country…it’s not,” Spence said in an interview with CTV News.
• Released FBI documents reveal plans to assassinate OWS activists: Jason Leopold, an investigative journalist for Truth-Out, has obtained FBI documents – through the Freedom of Information Act – relating to Occupy Wall Street. Most of the pages in the documents are redacted, and show concerns of cyber threats against the financial sector. However, there are questions of assassination plots against Occupy activists in Houston, Texas. Because the documents have redactions, it is not clear who or what group was planning the assassinations.
• The leader of Navy SEAL Team Four, one of the most senior commanders in the elite world of special operations, has died after apparently committing suicide in Afghanistan, it was reported today. Commander John W Price, 42, was found dead in his quarters with a gunshot wound on Saturday – just three days before Christmas. Cmdr Price was based in Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Virginia, near Norfolk and had been in the military for more than 23 years. CNN reports that Cmdr Price was not involved in any controversies or military discipline. It is unknown why he committed suicide. His body was found when he failed to report for duty on Saturday, a source told the network. SEAL Team Four specializes in operations in Latin America and all members of the team are required to speak Spanish. The team was deployed to Grenada in 1983. The unit has also had multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
• At least two people were killed and dozens of others injured on Friday as looters targeted supermarkets and petrol stations across Argentina, including the capital Buenos Aires. The looting began on Thursday and has led to at least 500 arrests.
• After his peculiar rant on Friday in response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary last week, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre reaffirmed the lobby group’s stance on gun laws and continued to diffuse the blame of gun violence during an appearance Sunday on Meet the Press. “If it’s crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children… then call me crazy,” LaPierre defended himself Sunday. “I think the American people think it’s crazy not to do it.”