November 30th, 2010
MEDIA ADVISORY : M10-167
NASA Sets News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery; Science Journal Has Embargoed Details Until 2 p.m. EST On Dec. 2
The news conference will be held at the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency's website at http://www.nasa.gov.
- Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
- Felisa Wolfe-Simon, NASA astrobiology research fellow, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.
- Pamela Conrad, astrobiologist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
- Steven Benner, distinguished fellow, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Gainesville, Fla.
- James Elser, professor, Arizona State University, Tempe
Media representatives may attend the conference or ask questions by phone or from participating NASA locations. To obtain dial-in information, journalists must send their name, affiliation and telephone number to Steve Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-358-0918 by noon Dec. 2.
For NASA TV streaming video and downlink information, visit:
For more information about NASA astrobiology activities, visit:
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November 30th, 2010
By Barry Secrest
The following Republican Senators will receive auspicious notoriety for voting against the banning of earmarks. Earmarks are a practice which eventually inflates various bills which increases Government spending while offering meaningful avenues of legislative bribery, such as in the passage of Obamacare:
Republicans Who Ignored The Tea Party
Sens. Thad Cochran (Miss.)
Susan Collins (Maine)
James Inhofe (Okla.)
Dick Lugar (Ind.) (Faces Re-election in 2012)
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Richard Shelby (Ala.)
Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio
Sen. Bob Bennett (Utah)
The overall Senate proposal to ban earmarks failed 39-56
The Following Democrats voted For the banning of earmarks:
Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.)
Bill Nelson (Fla.)
Retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)
Defeated Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)
Michael Bennet (D)
Mark Udall (D)
Mark Warner (D-Va.)
The Hill's Jordan Fabian contributed to this report
November 30th, 2010
Interpol wanted notice for Julian Assange
Assange's details were also added to Interpol's worldwide wanted list. Dated 30 November, the entry reads: "sex crimes" and says the warrant has been issued by the international public prosecution office in Gothenburg, Sweden. "If you have any information contact your national or local police." It reads: "Wanted: Assange, Julian Paul," and gives his birthplace as Townsville, Australia.
Friends said earlier that Assange was in a buoyant mood, however, despite the palpable fury emanating from Washington over the decision by WikiLeaks to start publishing more than a quarter of a million mainly classified US cables. He was said to be at a secret location somewhere outside London, along with fellow hackers and WikiLeaks enthusiasts.
In contrast to previous WikiLeaks releases, Assange has, on this occasion, kept a relatively low profile. His attempt to give an interview to Sky News via Skype was thwarted today by a faulty internet connection.
But he was able to give an interview to Time magazine in which he called for Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, to resign. "She should resign, if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering US diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations, in violation of the international covenants to which the US has signed up. Yes, she should resign over that," he said.
Assange's reluctance to emerge in public is understandable. It comes amid a rapid narrowing of his options. Several countries are currently either taking – or actively considering – aggressive legal moves against him. This lengthening list includes Sweden, Australia and now the US – but so far as can be made out, not Britain.
The US attorney general, Eric Holder, announced yesterday that the justice department and Pentagon are conducting "an active, ongoing criminal investigation" into the latest Assange-facilitated leak under Washington's Espionage Act.
It was not immediately clear whether Holder was referring to Bradley Manning, the dissident US private suspected of being the original source of the leak, or Assange. The inquiry by US federal authorities is made tricky by Assange's citizenship – he is Australian – and the antediluvian nature of the law's pre-internet-era 1917 statutes.
According to the Washington Post, no charges against anyone from WikiLeaks are imminent. But asked how the US could prosecute Assange, a non-US citizen, Holder struck an ominous note. "Let me be clear. This is not sabre-rattling," he said, vowing to swiftly "close the gaps" in current US legislation.
But Assange's most pressing headache is Sweden. Swedish prosecutors have issued an international and European arrest warrant (EAW) for him in connection with rape allegations, and the warrant has been upheld by a Swedish appeal court.
Assange strongly denies any wrongdoing but admits having unprotected but consensual encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden in August.
Mark Stephens, his London-based lawyer, has described the allegations as "false and without basis", adding that they amount to persecution as part of a cynical smear campaign.
Nonetheless, the Swedes appear determined to force Assange back to Sweden for questioning. Stockholm's director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, said last month: "So far, we have not been able to meet with him to accomplish the interrogation."
Assange contests this too. But if he declines to return to Sweden voluntarily, and the UK decides to enforce Sweden's arrest warrant, things may get tricky. Some friends believe Assange's best strategy is not to go to ground but to get on a plane to Sweden and face down his accusers.
Stephens, moreover, says that the Swedish attempts to extradite Assange have no legal force. So far he has not been charged, Stephens says – an essential precondition for a valid European arrest warrant.
Under the EAW scheme, which allows for fast-tracked extradition between EU member states, a warrant must indicate a formal charge in order to be validated, and must be served on the person accused.
"Julian Assange has never been charged by Swedish prosecutors. He is formally wanted as a witness," Stephens told the Guardian today.
"All we have is an English translation of what's being reported in the media. The Swedish authorities have not met their obligations under domestic and European law to communicate the nature of the allegations against him in a language that he understands, and the evidence against him."
Assange's legal team are challenging the warrant in Sweden's supreme court. They are optimistic: a previous appeal was partially successful in limiting the grounds on which the warrant was issued.
Today a spokesman for Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency, which is responsible for validating extradition requests, would not confirm or deny receipt of a European arrest warrant for Assange's extradition.
Assange has previously suggested he might find sanctuary in Switzerland. More promising perhaps is Ecuador, whose leftist government unexpectedly offered him asylum on Monday.
"We are ready to give him residence in Ecuador, with no problems and no conditions," Ecuador's foreign minister, Kintto Lucas, said.
At the very least, Ecuador could offer Assange a new passport. He might need one. Yesterday Australia's attorney general, Robert McClelland, said Australian police were also investigating whether any Australian laws had been broken by the latest WikiLeaks release.
In reality, Assange's predicament may not be as hopeless as it seems. The US would be hard pressed to make charges against him stick, experts suggest.
"There have been so few cases under the Espionage Act, you can put them on one hand," said David Banisar, senior legal counsel for the campaigning group Article 19 and an expert on free speech in the US. "There is the practical problem that most of the information published by WikiLeaks wasn't secret. Then there is the debate about whether the documents were properly classified – there are detailed rules in the US about what can and cannot be classified."
Other Articles From The Guardian
November 30th, 2010
November 30th, 2010
Carolina Journal Online
November 30, 2010
RALEIGH — After wandering in the political wilderness for more than a century, could the North Carolina Republican Party’s retaking of the General Assembly Nov. 2 herald a long-term return to power?
The verdict from political experts: it’s hard to say. The answer hinges on how Republicans perform in office, how the economy fares, and how deftly Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue handles the new GOP majorities — not to mention a federal criminal investigation into her 2008 campaign.
“Although it appears that Republicans should be in a strong position to capitalize on their successes at this point, that could change over the next two years depending on how they handle having power in Raleigh,” said Hunter Bacot, a political science professor and pollster at Elon University.
The unpredictable Tar Heel voter is another mitigating factor. Although Republicans gained 27 seats in the state House and Senate combined in the midterm, North Carolina’s three centrist Democratic congressmen, who ran in opposition to much of President Barack Obama’s agenda, easily won re-election, even after pundits pegged them as vulnerable to Republican challengers.
History isn’t on the GOP’s side, either. After winning a majority in the state House in 1994, Republicans maintained control for only four years. The party hasn’t had full control of both chambers at the same time since Reconstruction.
Another problem, particularly if the economic slump continues, is that voters will see Republicans as insiders two years from now.
“Republicans are now going to be part of the status quo, and it’s going to be interesting how the public sees that,” said N.C. State University political science professor Andy Taylor.
“If the public remains in an ornery mood, and things don’t perceivably turn around in the next couple years,” he said, “then just as President Obama and Gov. Perdue are now seen as the villains, whereas they were the saviors in 2008, my sense is that [it] will happen to the Republican majorities in the General Assembly.”
Unless Perdue faces a successful primary challenge from within the party, she’ll top the ballot two years form now, along with President Barack Obama.
What could that mean for her fellow Democrats? Much of the answer depends on her popularity with voters, and how she weathers a federal probe into her campaign finance activities during her 2008 bid for governor.
An Elon University poll in October put Perdue’s approval rating at 39 percent. The same month, the left-leaning Public Policy Polling gave her an approval of only 35 percent. Taking her first two years in office as a whole, Perdue has emerged as the most unpopular first-term governor in modern times.
In another survey (PDF download) released Monday, the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm found Perdue trailing two potential 2012 GOP rivals — outgoing state Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer of Raleigh (42-40) and her 2008 opponent, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory (49-37). Perdue also received negative feedback in this poll, with only 33 percent of voters approving of her performance and 49 percent disapproving.
“She’s in a position where she might want to sit back and either let the Republicans lead, and hope they overreach and sentiment starts to move back to her side, or she has an active approach, and it’s one that’s bipartisan,” Taylor said.
In addition to governor, all Council of State offices will be up for grabs in 2012. Republicans control only two of those offices. In the legislature, all 120 state House and all 50 state Senate seats also will be up.
To regain legislative control, Democrats would need to reverse their losses from this year by winning at least seven seats in the Senate and nine in the House.
Beyond the legislature, the ideological balance of the N.C. Supreme Court could tip to the political left if Associate Justice Paul Newby, backed by Republicans, fails in his re-election effort. Voters will get to choose judges for four seats on the state Court of Appeals as well.
On the federal front, all 13 congressional seats will be up, but no Senate seats. North Carolina’s junior U.S. senator, Democrat Kay Hagan, faces re-election in 2014.
David N. Bass is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.