Tag Archives: Washington Post

The surprisingly simple way Egyptians moved massive pyramid stones without modern technology

Camels and horses stand tied to a fence below the Great Pyramid of Giza on October 21, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.

Camels and horses stand tied to a fence below the Great Pyramid of Giza on October 21, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.

Few have traveled to the pyramids of Egypt and not wondered how an ancient civilization without modern technology could have constructed structures so large they can be viewed from space. Some have theorized they were built inside out.

On the flakier side, some say aliens did it.

Perhaps the most confounding mystery of all involves how incredibly large stones made their way to the middle of the desert without massive mechanical assistance. No camel, even the Egyptian kind, is that strong.

The truth, researchers at the University of Amsterdam announced this week in a study published in the journal Physical Review Letters, may actually be quite simple. It has long been believed that Egyptians used wooden sleds to haul the stone, but until now it hasn’t been entirely understood how they overcame the problem of friction. It amounts to nothing more, scientists say, than a “clever trick.”

They likely wet the sand. ”For the construction of the pyramids, the ancient Egyptians had to transport heavy blocks of stone and large statues across the desert,” the university said. “The Egyptians therefore placed the heavy objects on a sledge that workers pulled over the sand. Research … revealed that the Egyptians probably made the desert sand in front of the sledge wet.”

It has to do with physics. The sort of sledges the Egyptians used to transport the two-ton loads of stone were pretty rudimentary. They were wooden planks with upturned edges. Dragging something that heavy through hot sand would — unsurprisingly — dig into the grains, creating a sand berm that would make progress nearly impossible. It “was perhaps observed by the Egyptians that in [a] dry case, a heap of sand forms in front of the sled before it can really start to move,” says the study, authored by a team of eight researchers led by Daniel Bonn.

Wall painting found in the tomb of Djehutihotep. A large statue is being transported by sledge. A person standing on the front of the sledge wets the sand. (Courtesy of Daniel Bonn)

Wall painting found in the tomb of Djehutihotep. A large statue is being transported by sledge. A person standing on the front of the sledge wets the sand. (Courtesy of Daniel Bonn)

The only way around that problem would be to constantly clear the sand out of the way, making a tedious process even more tedious.

Damp sand, however, operates very differently. According to the research, “sliding friction on sand is greatly reduced by the addition of some — but not that much — water.” So this time, researchers placed a laboratory version of an Egyptian sledge in a bin of sand that had been dried in the oven. Then they threw down some water, and measured the grains’ stiffness. If the water had the appropriate level of wetness, something called “capillary bridges” — extremely small droplets of water that glue together individual grains of sand — would form.

These bridges not only stopped the sled from forming sand berms but also cut by half the amount of force required to move the cart. “I was very surprised by the amount the pulling force could be reduced — by as much as 50 percent — meaning that the Egyptians needed only half the men to pull over wet sand as compared to dry,” Bonn told The Washington Post.

Indeed, he says the experiments showed the required force decreased in proportion to the sand’s stiffness. “In the presence of the correct quantity of water, wet desert sand is about twice as stiff as dry sand,” the university says. “A sledge glides far more easily over firm desert sand simply because the sand does not pile up in front of the sledge as it does in the case of dry sand.”

Too much water, however, would create separate problems. “The static friction progressively decreases in amplitude when more water is added to the system,” the study says.

Adding more evidence to the conclusion that Egyptians used water is a wall painting in the tomb of Djehutihotep. A splash of orange and gray, it appears to show a person standing at the front of a massive sledge, pouring water onto the sand just in front of the progressing sled. What this man was doing has been a matter of great debate and discussion.

“This was the question,” Bonn wrote in an e-mail to The Post. “In fact, Egyptologists had been interpreting the water as part of a purification ritual, and had never sought a scientific explanation. And friction is a terribly complicated problem; even if you realize that wet sand is harder  – as in a sandcastle, you cannot build on dry sand — the consequences of that for friction are hard to predict.”

He said the experiment not only solved “the Egyptian mystery, but also shows, interestingly, that the stiffness of sand is directly related to the friction force.”

In all, the scientists say, “the Egyptians were probably aware of this handy trick.”

via – washingtonpost

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​FBI ‘intentionally and unlawfully’ used No Fly List to recruit Muslims as informers

The FBI used a no-fly list to recruit four US Muslims as informants, violating their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, association and religion. That’s the claim being made by four US Muslims in a New York federal court Tuesday.

Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, Naveed Shinwari and Awais Sajjad, who are between them either US residents or permanent US residents, are demanding that the FBI remove them from the no-fly list which contains the names of people who are not permitted to board a commercial aircraft for travel in or out of the United States, according to threat and intelligence reporting.

“This impermissible abuse of the No Fly List has forced Plaintiffs to choose between their constitutionally-protected right to travel, on the one hand, and their First Amendment rights on the other,” says the lawsuit.

One of the plaintiffs, Awais Sajjad, a lawful permanent US resident, learned that he was on a No Fly List in 2012 when he tried to board a flight to Pakistan. The FBI agents questioned Sajjad at the airport before releasing him. Soon they returned with an offer: he could work as an FBI informer and in return the agency would give him citizenship and compensation, the Washington Post reported.

When he refused, the bureau “kept him on the list in order to pressure and coerce Mr. Sajjad to sacrifice his constitutionally-protected rights,” says the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, three other complainants – Tanvir, Algibhah and Shinwari – said they were added to the list immediately after they refused to work as FBI informants for religious reasons.

Shinwari, a legal US resident from Omaha, Nebraska, said that after his arrival from his native country, Afghanistan, in 2012, he was twice detained and questioned by FBI agents who wanted to know if he knew anything about national security threats. He was soon put on the No Fly List, though he has never been convicted of a crime or posed a threat to national security, according to his lawyers.

In one of their visits, FBI agents wanted to know about the “local Omaha community, did I know anyone who’s a threat?” he says.

“I’m just very frustrated, [and I said] what can I do to clear my name?” says Shinwari. “And that’s where it was mentioned to me: you help us, we help you. We know you don’t have a job; we’ll give you money,” The Guardian reported him as saying.

Though Shinwari was allowed to fly within the United States in March, he still fears that if he flies to Afghanistan to see his wife and family, whom he hasn’t seen for at least two years, he might not be able to return.

“Defendants’ unlawful actions are imposing an immediate and ongoing harm on Plaintiffs and have caused Plaintiffs deprivation of their constitutional rights, emotional distress, damage to their reputation, and material and economic loss,” adds the lawsuit.

According to Jameel Algibhah, from the Bronx, New York, the FBI asked him to get access to a Queens mosque and even pose as an extremist in online forums.

“We’re the only ones who can take you off the list,” an unnamed FBI agent told him, Algibhah told The Guardian.

The fourth plaintiff, Muhammad Tanvir, started taking action against the FBI in October 2013, after he refused to spy on his local Pakistani community. Now he can’t visit his ailing mother.

Ramzi Kassem, associate professor of law at the City University of New York, told the Washington Post that “the no-fly list is supposed to be about ensuring aviation safety, but the FBI is using it to force innocent people to become informants.”

Meanwhile, the lawsuit seeks not only the plaintiffs’ removal from the no-fly list but also the establishment of a more robust legal mechanism to contest placement upon it.

“This policy and set of practices by the FBI is part of a much broader set of policies that reflect over-policing in Muslim-American communities,” said Diala Shamas, one of the lawyers for the four plaintiffs.

The FBI has not commented on the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, this is not the first No Fly List-related lawsuit against the FBI. In 2010 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attempted to sue US Department of Justice and the FBI over their barring of American citizens, including several veterans of the US military, who ended up on the No Fly List and have been denied entry to their own country.

The No Fly List was created by the US government’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. In 2012, the list was extended to around 21,000 individuals.

The list, including US citizens and residents as well as foreigners, has been repeatedly criticized on civil liberties grounds, due to ethnic, religious, economic, political and racial discrimination. It has also raised concerns about privacy and government secrecy.

The ACLU called inclusion on a list a potentially “life-altering” experience, adding that “it is not at all clear what separates a ‘reasonable-suspicion-based-on-a-reasonable-suspicion’ from a simple hunch.”

Until March, no one had successfully convinced a court to force authorities to take them off the No Fly List. Rahinah Ibrahim, a Malaysian architect, became the first person ever removed from the notorious list after the managed to force officials to admit she had been placed on the list due to an error by the agency.

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Secret Service Agents in Obama’s Detail Sent Home After Boozy Night


Three Secret Service agents in charge of protecting President Obama in Amsterdam were sent home Sunday after going out for a night of drinking, sources familiar with the incident told NBC News.

One of the agents was found intoxicated in a hotel hallway Sunday morning by hotel security, who contacted the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands, the sources said.

The embassy then alerted Secret Service managers on the presidential trip.

The agents were put on administrative leave but have not faced any other disciplinary action, the sources said.

Secret Service officials insist that they have raised their standards and toughened the codes of conduct following a scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, in April 2012. That’s when a dozen agents and officers had gone out, drank heavily and then brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms prior to the president’s arrival.

Obama landed in the Netherlands on Monday for a week of diplomacy in Europe and Saudi Arabia.

 NBC News.com.

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​Surveillance watchdog ‘was not personally aware’ of bulk NSA spying

Protesters dressed up in costumes representing U.S. President Barack Obama and an National Security Agency agent rally in front of the U.S. Capitol building during the Stop Watching Us Rally protesting surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency

A Pentagon watchdog charged with oversight of the National Security Agency said he was “not aware” of its bulk phone records collection until it was exposed in June. Furthermore, he said his office is not investigating the agency’s surveillance policies.

Anthony C. Thomas, the deputy Defense Department inspector general for intelligence and special program assessments, told reporters at the Pentagon that he “can’t quantify” how much oversight he conducts in regard to the NSA.

“The bulk of that is in reviews that we have done, and in the collaborative work that we have done with the NSA [inspector general],” Thomas said, according to the Guardian.

“From my own personal knowledge, those programs, in and of themselves, I was not personally aware,” Thomas said.

Since June – when news outlets first published proof of the agency’s vast domestic phone records collection program based on material leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden – US officials have repeatedly assured the public and lawmakers that the NSA’s sprawling, global surveillance empire came with proper safeguards and adequate oversight, including from the Pentagon’s inspector general.

Thomas said he’s able to see the NSA’s own “plans” for reviews and investigations through defense-associated intelligence inspectors general forums.

“That doesn’t mean that the DOD IG is saying: ‘well, if you look at that, we won’t look at that.’ Certainly not, but it’s more of an ongoing relationship … a constant discussion,” Thomas said.

“If the NSA IG is looking into something and we feel that their reporting, their investigation is ongoing, we’ll wait to see what they find or what they don’t find, and that may dictate something that we may do. In the course of a planning process, we may get a hotline [call], or we may get some complaint that may dictate an action that we may or not take,” Thomas added.

As for bulk surveillance, Thomas said he does not have an open investigation, as he is “waiting to see the information that the NSA IG brings forward with the investigations that are going on, and what we often do not want to do is conflict.”

Thomas added Tuesday that he would have listened to Snowden’s concerns about the scale of NSA spying had the whistleblower contacted his office.

“If Edward Snowden had called our hotline, there would have been a robust look at his allegations,” Thomas said.

Snowden has said that he had no faith in the internal reporting system before he leaked the classified documents to the Guardian and The Washington Post, believing his concerns “would have been buried forever,” leaving him “discredited and ruined.”

“The system does not work,” Snowden told The New York Times in October. “You have to report wrongdoing to those most responsible for it.”

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines would not answer questions regarding any NSA reviews or investigations by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General.

“The NSA OIG does not comment on investigations or reviews that it has opened. The Office does have a division dedicated to intelligence oversight, and it does have reporting obligations to the Congress and the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board,” Vines said, according to the Guardian.

Shortly after Thomas’ comments at the Pentagon, the Washington Post – citing Snowden documents – wrote that the US-administered surveillance program MYSTIC is capable of recording “100 percent” of the contents of each and every phone call in a foreign country.

MYSTIC and its “retrospective retrieval” tool known as RETRO can store “billions” of phone discussions for 30 days, and the oldest conversations are purged as new ones are logged. Once the content enters the NSA’s system, however, analysts are able to go back and listen in as much as a month later to find information on a person who might never have been suspected of a crime at the time that their initial conversation was collected, unbeknownst to them, by the US government.

Since the first Snowden-fueled revelations appeared in June, US officials have maintained that the NSA is properly overseen, like any other federal agency.

In October, before the House intelligence committee, outgoing NSA director Keith Alexander ran through the various watchdogs in his universe, including that of the Defense Department.

“The [office of the Director of National Intelligence] has an inspector general and a general counsel that also oversees what we’re doing,” he said. “The Department of Defense has a general counsel and an inspector general that oversees what we’re doing. And the Department of Justice, their national security division, oversees what we’re doing and works with us in the court and the White House.”

President Obama vowed some reform to US surveillance operations in January, though it is unclear if any actual substantive change will occur.

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Amid NSA fallout, US to relinquish top internet oversight role

American lawmakers announced Friday that the US will give up the federal government’s longstanding oversight of the administration of the Internet, satisfying international critics while potentially frightening some American business leaders.

Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, told Craig Timberg of the Washington Post that US authorities plan to either end or drastically reduce the contract between the US Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The government’s long standing agreement with the California-based non-profit is scheduled to expire next year but may be extended if the plans are not executed in a timely manner.

“The timing is right to start the transition process,” Strickling said. “We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan.”

The immediate consequence of the decision is unclear, however the federal agencies have been under intense pressure to act in some way since Edward Snowden leaked classified National security agency documents last year indicating that the intelligence agency logs and analyzes much of the communication that is transmitted through US-based websites.

As international complaints became more vocal there was speculation that the United Nations would step into a bigger role of Internet administration. A number of global leaders have advocated such a measure, although the US has never been in favor and the announcement Friday seemed to further minimize that possibility.

The government said it intends to help in the creation of a new oversight body, and that the group must have the full trust of the international community.

“I welcome the beginning of this transition process that you have outlined. The global community will be included in full,” Fadi Chehadé, president of ICANN, told the Post. “Nothing will be done in any way to jeopardize the security and stability of the Internet.”

Not all parties are as enthusiastic, though, over concerns that ICANN has not done enough to maintain a secure environment online. The organization’s primary responsibility is to supervise the assignment of online domains. It is currently in the midst of a bulky transition that includes the addition of hundreds of new domains such as .management, .army, and .expert rather than the traditional .com or .org.

A popular criticism accuses ICANN of essentially bending to the concerns of the profitable domain industry rather than regulating it.

“To set ICANN so-called ‘free’ is a very major step that should be done with careful oversight,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the association of National Advertisers. “We would be very concerned about that step.”

A Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami, told the Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer that ICANN has been angling for greater independence from its federal overseers for years. In September 2009 the two parties agreed on an “Affirmation of Commitments,” which gave ICANN more power to govern itself but ensured that the US could intervene in an emergency.

“The Affirmation of Commitment was kind of a truce,” he said. “ICANN got most of what it wanted; the Europeans and Japanese got most of what they wanted; the US gave up, you know, a lot, without giving up the core thing – which is that, in case of emergency, it can step in.”

Froomkin went on to tell the magazine that, in the time since that agreement, the NSA revelations have “become a way for a lot of different agendas to meet.”

International leaders will convene in Singapore on March 24 to further deliberate over the future of the Internet.

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NSA confidence shaken since Snowden leaks began

Morale at the US National Security Agency has plummeted since the Edward Snowden leak made international headlines and inspired an ongoing wave of criticism against the intelligence agency – news that coincides with the publication of more NSA documents.Six months after the first Snowden documents were published in the Guardian and the Washington Post, the NSA has become an object of scorn both at home in the US and internationally. A number of anonymous sources have since told the Post that a lack of support from President Obama has further impacted morale at the agency. One official said confidence within the NSA is “bad overall.”“The news – the Snowden disclosures – it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” he said. “It\’s become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, \’Why are you spying on Grandma?\’ And we aren\’t. People are feeling bad, beaten down.”Some observers have compared the current situation to 2006, when then-President Bush traveled to NSA headquarters at Fort Meade to address a New York Times report that the NSA had been spying on Americans before the September 11 attacks.“Bush came out and spoke to the workforce, and the effect on morale was tremendous,” Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002-2006, told the Post. “There\’s been nothing like that from this White House.“The agency, from top to bottom, leadership to rank and file, feels that it is had no support from the White House even though it\’s been carrying out publicly approved intelligence missions,” Brenner continued. “They feel they\’ve been hung out to dry, and they\’re right.”The President\’s reluctance could be attributable to the political message a visit to Fort Meade would send. Obama has publicly asserted that, despite their past secrecy, the bulk data collection programs are fully legal – with his most notable defense coming in a speech in favor of the government\’s massive collection of Verizon phone records.Yet the administration has not endorsed a bill that would entrench that policy into law and Obama said in a recent interview that he will propose some “self-restraint” depending on the results of an investigation into the NSA programs.“The President has multiple constituencies – I get it,” one former US official said. “But he must agree that the signals intelligence NSA is providing is one of the most important sources of intelligence today.”Confronted with reports of NSA employees openly complaining about the President, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Post that multiple administration officials have visited to “express the President’s support and appreciation for all that NSA does to keep us safe.”“The President has the highest respect for and pride in the men and women of the intelligence community who work tirelessly to protect our nation,” Hayden went on. “He\’s expressed that directly to NSA\’s leadership and has praised their work in public. As he said: \’The men and women of our intelligence community work every single day to keep us safe because they love this country and believe in our values. They\’re patriots.\’”Yet the pressure appears unlikely to subside any time soon. An NSA document dated April 3, 2013 obtained by CBC News has revealed that Canada has built surveillance centers and launched espionage attacks at the NSA\’s request. Citing matters that would be harmful to Canadian national security, CBC did not publish details on the document but did note that it reveals the existence of a secret, 60-year-old intelligence partnership between the US and Canada.

via NSA confidence shaken since Snowden leaks began – report — RT USA.

Dictator Obama- WaPo’s Modest Proposal .

Barack-Obama-and-Joe-Biden-SC-504x250“It’s time to put that power back where it belongs,” explains Jonathan Zimmerman in today’s Washington Post, “Barack Obama should be allowed to stand for re election just as citizens should be allowed to vote for — or against — him. Anything less diminishes our leaders and ourselves.” The 22nd Amendment, limiting the Presidential term, according to Zimmerman, reflected “a shocking lack of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the people.” Of course, in the increasingly ‘entitled’ America, it would only cost a few hundred million to bribe all the newlydowngraded Middle-to-Lower class Americans with Obamaphones in order to finally get a “dictatorial democracy” by indirectly funding the lower common denominator with $400 in free money every election cycle.

End Presidential Term Limits (Jonathan Zimmerman),

Via WaPo, I’ve been thinking about Kilgore’s comments as I watch President Obama, whose approval rating has dipped to 37 percent in CBS News polling — the lowest ever for him — during the troubled rollout of his health-care reform. Many of Obama’s fellow Democrats have distanced themselves from the reform and from the president. Even former president Bill Clinton has said that Americans should be allowed to keep the health insurance they have.

Or consider the reaction to the Iran nuclear deal. Regardless of his political approval ratings, Obama could expect Republican senators such as Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) to attack the agreement. But if Obama could run again, would he be facing such fervent objections from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)?

Probably not. Democratic lawmakers would worry about provoking the wrath of a president who could be reelected. Thanks to term limits, though, they’ve got little to fear.

Nor does Obama have to fear the voters, which might be the scariest problem of all. If he chooses, he could simply ignore their will. And if the people wanted him to serve another term, why shouldn’t they be allowed to award him one?

Read More at Zero Hedge . By Tyler Durden.

Dictator Obama- WaPo’s Modest Proposal – Sound Money Institute.

Britain targets Guardian newspaper over intelligence leaks related to Edward Snowden.

LONDON — Living in self-imposed exile in Russia, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden may be safely out of reach from Western powers. But dismayed by the continued airing of trans­atlantic intelligence, British authorities are taking full aim at a messenger shedding light on his secret files here — the small but mighty Guardian newspaper.

The pressures coming to bear against the Guardian, observers say, are testing the limits of press freedoms in one of the world’s most open societies. Although Britain is famously home to a fierce pack of news media outlets — including the tabloid hounds of old Fleet Street — it also has no enshrined constitutional right to free speech.

The Guardian, in fact, has slipped into the single largest crack in the free speech laws that are on the books here — the dissemination of state secrets protecting queen and country in the British homeland.

A feisty, London-based news outlet with a print circulation just shy of 200,000 — albeit with a far bigger footprint online with readers in the many millions — the Guardian, along with The Washington Post, was the first to publish reports based on classified data spirited out of the United States by Snowden. In the months since, the Guardian has continued to make officials here exceedingly nervous by exposing the joint operations of U.S. and British intelligence — particularly their cooperation in data collection and snooping programs involving British citizens and close allies on the European continent. In response, the Guardian is being called to account by British authorities for jeopardizing national security. The Guardian’s top editor, Alan Rusbridger, is being forced to appear before a parliamentary committee Tuesday to explain the news outlet’s actions. The move comes after British officials ordered the destruction of hard drives at the Guardian’s London headquarters, even as top ministers have taken to the airwaves to denounce the newspaper. Scotland Yard has also suggested it may be investigating the paper for possible breaches of British law.

The government treatment of the Guardian is highlighting the very different way Britons tend to view free speech, a liberty that here is seen through the prism of the public good and privacy laws as much as the right to open expression.

Nevertheless, the actions against the paper have led to growing concern in Britain and beyond. Frank La Rue, the U.N. special rapporteur on free expression, has denounced the Guardian’s treatment as “unacceptable in a democratic society.” The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, a Paris-based trade association, will send a delegation of “concerned” publishers and editors from five continents to London in January on a “U.K. press freedom mission.”

“The kind of threats and intimidation being experienced by the Guardian, especially compared to the different responses in the United States and Germany, is something that we should all be very worried about,” said Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, a London-based freedom of expression group.

Threat to national security?

The Guardian is among the global news outlets thoroughly studying the Snowden files and publishing key parts, a club that in addition to The Post has expanded to include the New York Times and Germany’s Der Spiegel, among others.

U.S. intelligence officials have said publicly that the disclosures endanger national security, and the head of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, has said the federal government needs to a find a way to stop them.“We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers, but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on,” Alexander told the Defense Department’s Armed With Science blog in October.

The Post does not show stories to U.S. officials in advance of publication, nor does it routinely agree to official requests. But language in some articles has occasionally been modified when officials cited very specific risks to certain intelligence operations and individuals, according to the paper’s executive editor, Martin Baron. A spokeswoman for the New York Times pointed to statements by executive editor Jill Abramson in which she said the paper had turned down at least one request by U.S. officials to withhold a story.

Although legal experts say the First Amendment offers stronger protection for the news media in the United States than their counterparts enjoy in Britain, U.S. authorities still have tools at their disposal to limit the disclosure of classified data. Those tools include the 1917 Espionage Act, which federal prosecutors have used to charge Snowden. Nevertheless, U.S. officials have thus far stopped short of the more aggressive tactics being deployed against the Guardian in Britain.

The German government has also taken a relatively hands-off approach. “At Der Spiegel we have not encountered anything similar,” managing editor Klaus Brinkbäumer said in an e-mail. “There is no serious pressure.”

In contrast, Rusbridger must explain to the parliamentary committee the paper’s dissemination and handling of the Snowden data. The move came after Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking on the floor of Parliament in October, offered comments that seemed to open the door for the editor’s public grilling.

Scotland Yard, meanwhile, has suggested that it might be investigating the Guardian in connection with the authorities’ continuing probe of David Miranda, the partner of Brazil-based freelance journalist Glenn Greenwald, who formerly worked with the Guardian on its Snowden stories.

In August, British authorities arrested Miranda at Heathrow Airport while he was on an information-gathering trip funded by the Guardian. British officials interrogated Miranda for nine hours before confiscating his laptop, cellphone, USB memory sticks and video-game consoles.

Miranda was released after being questioned, but the confiscated items remain in official custody.

Read More :Britain targets Guardian newspaper over intelligence leaks related to Edward Snowden – The Washington Post.

Obama’s elite Secret Service agents removed over sexual misconduct allegations — RT USA

Two secret service agents have been removed from President Obama’s elite personal security detail and are currently under investigation over charges of sexual misconduct.

The Washington Post is reporting that two agents – Ignacio Zamora, Jr. and Timothy Barraclough – have been removed for sending sexually suggestive emails to an unidentified female subordinate.

The investigation began when Zamora was found trying to re-enter a woman’s room at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C. Zamora said he met the woman at the hotel bar and had accidentally left a bullet in her room.

According to a Secret Service review of the incident, the hotel then notified the White House, which began an internal investigation into the matter. During that review, agency officials discovered that both Zamora and Barraclough had sent the emails in question to a female agent working under them.

Zamora has been removed from his position, and Barraclough has been reassigned to a separate part of the division, the Post reported.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan declined to comment on the situation directly, and efforts by the Post to reach either Zamora or Barraclough were fruitless.

Speaking with NBC News, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman for the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the reports of inappropriate behavior are“unacceptable,” and that Congress will review the situation.

“Allegations of misconduct on the part of those tasked with protecting the nation’s highest officials are extremely concerning,” he said. “The integrity of those looking after our First Family must be exemplary, and anything less does our entire nation a disservice.” 

The incident comes just one year after a prostitution scandal rocked the agency as it prepared for President Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia. Twelve secret service agents were caught up in the scandal, nine of whom are no longer with the agency. An inspector general report on the incident is set to be released in the next few weeks.

In March, Obama appointed Julia Pierson to be the Secret Service’s first female director, in an attempt to change the culture at the agency.

Obama’s elite Secret Service agents removed over sexual misconduct allegations — RT USA.

GOP presses Obama to salvage Saudi ties, address ‘loss of credibility’ in Mideast | World Tribune

Sen. John McCain, left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham. /AP/J. Scott Applewhite

WASHINGTON — The Republican leadership in Congress has pressed President Barack Obama to improve U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia.

Leading Republican members of the House and Senate have called on the Obama administration to respond to Saudi concerns over Iran and Syria. They said the U.S. crisis with Riyad reflected the loss of confidence in Obama’s leadership.

“The United States is experiencing a serious failure of policy and loss of credibility in the Middle East,” two senior Republican senators wrote.

On Oct. 27, Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote a column in the Washington Post that criticized Obama’s policy toward U.S. allies in the Middle East.

“Events in the region are headed in a perilous direction, and there is little reason to feel confident that the Obama administration has a strategy to secure U.S. interests and values in this vitally important part of the world,” the two senators said.

The column marked a series of statements by Republicans on the Saudi
crisis with Washington. Media reports have quoted senior Saudi officials as
saying that the Gulf Cooperation Council kingdom would conduct an
independent policy regarding Iran and Syria.

“Those are critical issues to the Saudis, to the Qataris, to the
Jordanians and to others in the Arab League that I think rattled their faith
in the administration’s ability to protect them in a very dangerous world,”
House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers said.

In an interview with CNN, Rogers warned that Saudi Arabia retained
options to cooperate with allies other than the United States. He cited
reports that Riyad was working with France and Jordan.

“So what you see is that friction starting to take hold and we have to
repair this and repair it soon,” Rogers said. “They’re going to find other
friends. I argue that’s not good for the United States.”

GOP presses Obama to salvage Saudi ties, address ‘loss of credibility’ in Mideast | World Tribune.