A 26-year-old Virginia man is being held in federal custody after he allegedly threatened to set off bombs on the D.C. Metro system. The FBI was alerted to the threats, allegedly sent on Facebook's instant messaging system, by an informant before any plot was developed.
Awais Younis, who also goes by the names Sundullah "Sunny" Ghilzai and Mohhanme Khan, was arrested on Dec. 7. According to federal authorities, he described how to build a pipe bomb and said he'd place bombs on the third and fifth cars of Metro trains since those trains had the highest number of commuters on them.
The nature of the messages Younis allegedly sent to the FBI's complainant indicates they had a close relationship. The complainant, who is a woman according to Younis' Facebook messages, contacted the FBI's New Orleans Office in late November.
Joseph Lesinski, a special agent with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, wrote in an affidavit that the Afghanistan-born Younis said he could put a bomb underneath a sewer head in Georgetown during rush hour.
The woman told authorities she was worried because her father works in D.C. and rides the Metro to work.
According an an affidavit, Younis wrote to the woman on Dec. 5:
"you are sticking your nose where it doesn't belong into something bigger then you and I. that is the problem with Americans they cant leave well enough alone until something happends then they sit there wondering why we dropped the twin towers like a bad habit hahaha. im telling you right now you are going to regret doing what you did. for your peace i hope what i am hearing is all lies."
The affidavit states that a photograph on Facebook shows Younis "in Afghanistan holding an AK-47 rifle with his uncle standing in front of a tent with explosives in the tent. The caption for the photograph read, 'My family business'."
Another photo posted on Dec. 1 shows a hand holding rifle rounds for a machine gun with the caption reading "bullet behind every rock." The complainant to the FBI that Younis recently stated on Facebook that "Christmas trees were going to go boom," a possible reference to the plot against a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon.
The FBI sent a preservation request to Facebook for Ghilzai's profile on Dec. 2. His Facebook profile says he attended George Mason University where he studied biology and chemistry.
[H/T Washington Examiner]
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has filed a petition with the New York State Supreme Court demanding that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg release all records of communication with the leader of the future Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan as well as a slew of other Muslim groups.
"Mayor Bloomberg's support for the Ground Zero mosque needs to be fully explored. New Yorkers are going to want to know how closely he's working with the radicals supporting the Ground Zero mosque," the president of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton, said in a press release. "It is troubling that the Mayor's office cannot be bothered to comply with the open records law. What is the Mayor's office hiding?"
Judicial Watch filed a request under New York's Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, back in August, when the street outside the Park51 Islamic center was packed daily with protesters and Islamophobia in general was rising throughout America. The furor over the project has died down considerably since, with only the fiercest anti-mosque folks voicing opposition.
The group asked for any communications between Bloomberg and Park51's imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf. It also asked for communications between Bloomberg and several Muslim groups, including the Council for American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and other favorite targets of "stealth jihad" alarmists.
Although the city notified Judicial Watch that it had received the request, it never sent any documents, according to Judicial Watch.
The mayor's office declined to comment on "ongoing litigation."
Bloomberg has been supportive of the plans for Park51, and Judicial Watch filed its FOIL a few days after Bloomberg made a highly-publicized, very emotional speech in support of the project.
Although Judicial Watch bills itself as "non-partisan," its causes are mostly of a conservative bent. The group filed nearly 20 lawsuits against President Clinton's administration. It sued Hillary Clinton last year, alleging she was constitutionally ineligible to serve as Secretary of State.
In 2009, its list of most corrupt politicians included President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Attorney General Eric Holder (and, for good measure, Republican Sen. John Ensign). The group's blog called Holder's outreach to Muslim-Americans last weekend evidence of "the administration's fervent crusade to befriend Islamists" and has railed against Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for referring to illegal immigrants as "undocumented."
The group's founder, Larry Klayman, said just a few weeks ago that Obama is on a "political jihad to promote Islam."
A British court has granted bail to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, potentially releasing him until his next court appearance Jan. 11.
Reuters, the Guardian and others are reporting that Assange was granted bail after several wealthy supporters, including restaurant designer Sarah Saunders and filmmaker Michael Moore, promised to put up the money.
Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault charges.
Reporters at the hearing said his lawyer asked for a bail of around $300,000, the amount his supporters had promised to put up. His lawyer also said Assange would agree to several restrictions, including a curfew and electronic monitoring tag.
According to reporters tweeting from the courtroom, Assange's bail was set at 200,000 pounds, or about $315,000. He will be restricted by a curfew, tag, and will have to surrender his passport. He will reportedly stay at the manor home of Vaughn Smith, the director of the Frontline Club, and must report to the police station daily.
Assange has maintained his innocence in the face of the charges, accusing the U.S. government of pressuring Sweden to go after him in retribution for the information he has publicized via Wikileaks.
Assange won't be released immediately, but must reportedly stay in jail as Swedish prosecutors decide whether to appeal the ruling, which the AP is reporting is likely.
This breaking news post has been updated since it was first published.
YouTube now has a new category of inappropriate videos it allows users to flag for removal: "promotes terrorism."[...]
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Surprising the media that had been persistently reporting that he had decided against running (perhaps because, as Neal Cavuto says, no one in his party likes him), Michael Steele announced on Monday that he was planning on running for a second term as RNC Chair.
Michael Steele said Monday night that he would fight to remain chairman of the Republican National Committee next year, ignoring calls from some in the party for a new leader to help unseat President Barack Obama in 2012.
Mr. Steele notified fellow RNC members during a conference call that he will seek a second two-year term in the Jan. 20 election, participants said. The announcement ends weeks of speculation in which the 52-year-old former lieutenant governor of Maryland kept an unusually low profile.[..]
His decision could spark a contentious fight to lead the committee as the party gears up for the next presidential primary season and its effort to defeat Mr. Obama. Four candidates have already announced their intention to replace Mr. Steele, and others could enter the race.[..]
The announced candidates are Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan Republican Party chairman; Maria Cino, a veteran of the Bush administration, who claims the backing of former Vice President Dick Cheney and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie; Reince Priebus, chairman of the Wisconsin GOP; and Ann Wagner, a former U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.
As chairman, Mr. Steele presided over the biggest Republican gains in decades. The party netted 63 House seats in last month's midterm elections, regaining the majority, and gained seven Senate seats, including one in January.
Despite those gains, critics complained that Mr. Steele spent lavishly, neglected the party's biggest donors and failed to prove he can raise the money necessary to deny Mr. Obama a second term. The RNC raised $192 million during his tenure as chairman and spent $206 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That left the committee with more than $15 million in debt, according to its latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.
On Monday, Mr. Steele promised to "streamline the RNC" and told members that the committee had already begun implementing a new accounting system to track fundraising and spending. He trumpeted the committee's expanded base of small-dollar donors and, in a direct nod to his critics, acknowledged that "a significant number" of major donors "have migrated to other organizations led by former RNC chairmen?that are not bound by the same laws as the RNC."
I think I can speak for comedians and liberals when I say, "Go Steele!"
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, arrested in Britain on Swedish allegations of sex crimes, was conditionally granted bail by a British court today, an article by Reuters says this morning. The article notes that "Judge Howard Riddle, who had earlier[...]
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Yesterday morning, the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Factcheck.org hosted “Cash Attack 2010,” a discussion about political advertising in the 2010 midterm elections. One panel featured an assortment of Republican strategists, including Carl Forti, the director of the Karl Rove front group American Crossroads, and Rob Collins, a former aide to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) who now leads the Wall Street-funded group called American Action Forum. American Action Forum claims to be a policy think tank, but it spends much of its money on busing volunteers to help Republican candidates, airing attack ads on television and radio against Democrats, and engaging in other partisan activities. Along with the two tax entities of American Crossroads, AAN spent over $70 million helping to elect Republicans in 2010.
Collins used his time during the panel to explain that AAN played a pivotal role “expanding the playing field” for Republicans to gain additional seats by supplementing the campaign expenditures of candidates and party committees. One of the American Action Forum ads Collins highlighted was called “Ouch,” an early attack commercial against Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). The ad depicted Murray wearing her famous tennis shoes stepping through the mud and then literally stomping on the backs of a man and two children. The citation list that backed up the message for the ad claimed that Murray was stepping on children because she voted for H.R. 2, an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Yesterday, ThinkProgress asked Collins to justify how voting to provide children with health insurance is related to stepping on the backs of children. Collins stammered repeatedly before eventually mumbling that SCHIP decreases “opportunity”:
TP: I saw the Patty Murray tennis shoes ad, and when I saw the ad go up, I saw the citation back up that you put up to source your claims in that ad. For when you have Patty Murray stepping on the child, I saw the citation was her vote for SCHIP. As someone who leads an allegedly serious policy think tank, can you explain how stepping on a child is akin to voting for health insurance for children?
COLLINS: Um, can you summarize your question? You kind of had a long line there.
TP: The summary is, your ad had Patty Murray stepping on a child, and the back up claim for that ad in the citation was that she voted for SCHIP. Can you explain how stepping on a child, or voting for SCHIP is akin to stepping on a child?
COLLINS: Well you’re clearly trying to make a point and I appreciate that point and we have a different point of view.
TP: As the leader of a policy think tank, could you explain that to me?
COLLINS: Our point of view is government decreases the ability for this company, for this country to have um, economic freedom. This ad was about small business and as you increase the size of government, you decrease opportunity. When you’re — I mean you’ll have to forgive me, you’re talking about an ad. We did 53 individual ads.
TP: You featured the ad, you’re pretty proud of it in the newsreel, but you don’t want to explain that at all?
The SCHIP bill Murray voted for provided health insurance for four million children.
Some of the topics that I return to over and over and over again are nutrition, food security, food safety and the obesity epidemic that threatens to rob at least one generation of their aggregate quality of life.
I have said this before, and it bears repeating again -- over a career in medicine that spanned 25 years, in the first half of it, I never saw one single juvenile with Type II diabetes, and it was a rare occasion when I or a member of my crew had to use a 1.5" needle to tap a vein through a substantial layer of adipose tissue. When a mom with gestational diabetes came in and delivered a ten-pound baby with a high glucose that sent one of us to the floor to collect a venous specimen on a neonate to verify the sky-high glucose that the heelstick measured, we talked about it for days.
By the time I left regularly-scheduled employment in 2006, I was sticking two or three newborns a week, and I worked three overnight shifts in a suburban hospital. Those babies were the lucky ones. The babies in the inner-city hospital where I had worked previously were more likely to be born premature and have a terribly rocky start that involved a whole host of problems that were not self-correcting.
The right wing in this country likes to run around crowing about how pro-life they are and how much they love babies and families, but when given the opportunity to either put up or shut up by supporting a bill like the landmark child nutrition legislation that President Obama signed into law yesterday, they choose neither.
Sarah Palin not only attacked the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids act, she attacked the First Lady for her "Let's Move" program that is intended to get kids up on their feet and moving and getting some exercise, saying on a right-wing radio show that "Take her anti-obesity thing that she is on. She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat. And I know I'm going to be again criticized for bringing this up, but instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician's wife priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track."
While the fake-bitch failin' Palin was attacking the First Lady, the right-wing bloggers and republican operatives took up their keyboards to do battle with "loser parents" who "can't russle up a banana and a bowl of cereal" before they send their kids off to school.
The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of kids who need the nutritional assistance they will get at school that will be made possible by the legislation that was signed yesterday. The people who lost their jobs and whose unemployment insurance has run out are not the only victims in this economy. Many of them have families and many of those families include children.
Given what we know about the connection between hunger and poor school performance, it just makes sense to me to make sure that the kids in the classroom have eaten so they can concentrate on the lessons imparted, rather than on the fact their stomachs are empty and growling.
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"Senior Democrats" are urging Lieberman to run again. I mean, what's not to love?[...]
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General Electric (NYSE:GE) said Tuesday it inked a $500 million deal with Saudi Aramco to supply gas turbines and other equipment and services to expand the oil company’s Shaybah gas-oil processing capabilities. "The agreement demonstrates the strength of GE Energy’s integrated high-technology equipment and services portfolio and reflect GE’s commitment to continued investment and . . . → Full Story: Market Update: General Electric (NYSE:GE), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), General Motors (NYSE:GM)
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