February 17th, 2012
A 29-year-old Moroccan man who authorities say wanted to be the first suicide bomber on U.S. soil was arrested Friday after strapping on what he thought was an explosive vest and heading for the U.S. Capitol, CBS News' John Miller reports.
A source told CBS News' John Nolen that the suspect was identified as Amine El Khalifi, a Moroccan citizen who has lived in the United States for more than 12 years. He was taken down by FBI agents and U.S. Capitol Police officers in Alexandria, Va., outside Washington. An intelligence source confirmed the suspect's name to CBS News.
The Justice Department announced that El Khalifi was charged "by criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against property that is owned and used by the United States." He faces life in prison if convicted.
El Khalifi made a brief appearance in federal court in Alexandria on Friday afternoon. He was wearing a green shirt and black parts and holding his arms together behind his back.
A judge set a bail hearing in his case for Wednesday at 2 p.m.
In a statement released by the Justice Department, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco said: "Today's case underscores the continuing threat we face from homegrown violent extremists. Thanks to a coordinated law enforcement effort, El Khalifi's alleged plot was thwarted before anyone was harmed."
Added FBI Assistant Director in Charge James W. McJunkin: "This individual allegedly followed a twisted, radical ideology that is not representative of the Muslim community in the United States. He became known to the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) because of his stated desire to carry out attacks in the U.S., specifically, the U.S. Capitol building. This arrest is the result of dedicated special agents, task force officers and intelligence analysts from the FBI and our partner law enforcement agencies that make up the JTTF."
Last December, the suspect allegedly told an undercover law enforcement officer that he planned to detonate a bomb at an Alexandria building that contained offices for the U.S. military, Nolen reported. His plans changed until he settled on the Capitol. Other targets the suspect allegedly considered were a synagogue and a Washington restaurant frequented by members of the military.
A high-ranking source told CBS News the man was "never a real threat."
Undercover FBI agents met with the suspect Friday morning in his garage, giving him a vest filled with explosives that had previously been rendered inoperable, Miller reported. The agents also provided the suspect with an impaired automatic firearm that he allegedly planned to use to shoot U.S. Capitol Police officers, Nolen reported.
Both the House and the Senate were in session Friday voting on a deal to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.
At some point, the suspect came close to actual explosives and allegedly participated in a demonstration of an improvised-explosive device in a quarry, Nolen reported.
El Khalifi came to the U.S. when he was 16 years old and is unemployed and not believed to be associated with al Qaeda. He had been under investigation for about a year and had overstayed his visitor visa for years, a counterterrorism official and a government official briefed on the matter told The Associated Press on a condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Police are close to arresting one of his associates on charges unrelated to the terror conspiracy, the counterterrorism official said. The associate was said to also be a Moroccan, living here illegally. Police are investigating others El Khalifi associated with, but not because they believe the associates were part of a terror conspiracy, the official said.
February 17th, 2012
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's struggles in Michigan are fueling speculation that Republicans might have to resort to a doomsday scenario and launch a frantic search for a 2012 savior at their nominating convention in late August.
Rare in the modern age of U.S. politics, a "brokered convention" could result in Republicans ditching their current crop of candidates and turning to someone else who they feel would have a better chance of defeating Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.
How did Republicans get to this point? Romney's failure to get conservatives fully behind him and put down yet another challenger in the party - this time it's Rick Santorum - is causing angst in the party.
Many senior Republicans do not think Santorum, a social conservative caught up in the U.S. culture wars over issues like abortion and contraception, has a chance to beat Obama if he wins the party's presidential nomination.
When he ran for re-election as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania in 2006, Santorum lost by 18 percentage points. But, nevertheless, he is exposing Romney's weaknesses in Michigan, where Santorum leads polls ahead of the big Midwestern state's February 28 primary.
A Romney loss to Santorum in Michigan, the state where he was born and where his father was governor, would only intensify the talk about a weak Republican field and feed demands for someone else as the party's candidate to challenge Obama.
"It's hard for me to see how Romney rights the ship if he loses Michigan," said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak. "There is no level of spin that can overcome that disaster."
Michigan will set the table for "Super Tuesday," the March 6 jackpot when 10 states hold Republican nominating contests. A loss for Romney in Michigan would raise serious doubts over whether he can rally enough support to have a big day on Super Tuesday and make a big move toward clinching the nomination.
The candidates are engaging in a state-by-state battle to become the Republican nominee. The party will officially pick a nominee at its August convention in Tampa, Florida.
Romney is the best financed and organized of the Republican candidates and long has been considered the likely nominee. But the former Massachusetts governor and private equity executive has failed so far to take control of the race.
Who would Republicans turn to if not Romney or Santorum? Think of two popular governors, Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey, or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, or even U.S. congressman Paul Ryan, author of a budget plan popular with Republicans.
All four men turned down appeals to run for president earlier in the campaign but might be persuaded to jump in with enough arm-twisting.
PALIN OFFERS HELP
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a champion of the conservative Tea Party movement, is making noises about being willing to "help" at a brokered convention. That notion sounds suspiciously like she would love to have her own name thrown into the mix, if even only as a kingmaker.
"We could be looking at a brokered convention," she told Fox Business Network on Wednesday. "Months from now, if that's the case, all bets are off as to who it will be willing to offer up themselves ... in service to their country. I would do whatever I could to help."
The Republican race could turn into a math problem. The nominee this year needs 1,144 nominating delegates to secure the nomination at the convention. Each state is allocated a certain number of delegates to the convention based on its population.
This year in many states, the delegate count is proportional to the vote they receive in a nominating contest, instead of winner-take-all. That means a candidate who does not come in first in a particular state could still pick up some delegates to the convention.
On Super Tuesday there is the potential for Romney and Santorum, along with the other two candidates Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, to split the delegates, making it harder for anyone to get to the magic number of 1,144 before Republicans pick their candidate in August.
South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint told CNN the way delegates are divided means "it could very well go to the convention."
Once the convention rolls around, the candidates could do some horse-trading to try to peel away delegates from their rivals and get to the magic number. But if that fails, then party regulars could try to draft someone else into the race.
The appeal of such a move for someone like Daniels or Christie would be that they would have to campaign for essentially only two months, September and October, and could end up in the White House or have some momentum looking ahead to the 2016 presidential race, when they might have a better shot.
While a brokered convention is an intriguing scenario, the odds are always against it.
University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato first raised the idea of a brokered convention back in December and says he immediately got calls from establishment party figures in politics and the news media to discuss the prospect.
"They had already realized that this field was really weak," Sabato said. "They were already trying to think of a way to get to a brokered convention."
A staggered Romney could trigger a move to find a fresh face to run in a way that would avoid a brokered convention. There is still time for a candidate to get his or her name on the ballot for nominating contests in big states like California, New York and New Jersey.
The winner could gain major momentum and the ability to peel away delegates from the others.
"If you see Romney lose Michigan, I think there is just going to be a cry for another candidate who is not Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum," said Jennifer Duffy, a political analyst at the non-partisan Cook Political Report.
Most Discussed at Reuters
(Editing by Will Dunham)
February 17th, 2012
UK Daily Mail
By Rob Waugh
Google and Facebook may have used a computer 'trick' that allows them to monitor web browsing via Apple's Safari browser to build up advertising 'profiles' - circumventing Apple's safety measures.
The search giant bypassed privacy settings built into Apple's Safari web browser on iPhones, PCs and Macs, according to a recent report.
Other advertising companies, and Facebook, reportedly used a similar method.
Safari is the most popular mobile web browser, used in all models of Apple's iPhone and iPad.
Google allegedly circumvented the protection to build up profiles of web users, using a 'cookie' that collected advertising information.
The move has caused outcry among privacy advocates.
Google allegedly used a 'trick' which sends a blank message to the browser to make it accept unauthorised 'cookies'.
Apple says it is 'working to put a stop' to the practice.
The code was uncovered by a Stanford University researcher Jonathan Mayer and was reported in the Wall Street Journal.
Google has since disabled the code, and claims that the report is in error, and that its cookies only collected anonymous information.
The revelation caused outcry among online privacy advocates.
San Francisco's Electronic Frontier Foundation says, 'Coming on the heels of Google's controversial decision to tear down the privacy-protective walls between some of its other services, this is bad news for the company.
'It's time for Google to acknowledge that it can do a better job of respecting the privacy of Web users.'
Google says that the report was in error.
'The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why,' says a spokesperson. 'We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.'
Under fire: Google is accused of 'bypassing' Apple's privacy protection to gather advertising information
'Unlike other major browsers, Apple’s Safari browser blocks third-party cookies by default,' says the spokesperson. 'However, Safari enables many web features for its users that rely on third parties and third-party cookies, such as 'Like' buttons. Last year, we began using this functionality to enable features for signed-in Google users on Safari.
'To enable these features, we created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google’s servers, so that we could ascertain whether Safari users were also signed into Google, and had opted for this type of personalization.'
'However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser. We didn’t anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers.
The policy was due to come into effect on March 1, and would allow Google to share what it knows about users between services such as Google Search, Gmail and YouTube.
The move horrified privacy advocates and bloggers - tech site ZDNet said that Google would 'know more about you than your wife does' and said the policy was 'Big Brother-ish'.
The European Union working party asked for Google to stop the new policy while the working group investigate whether personal data is protected.
‘We call for a pause to ensure that there can be no misunderstanding about Google’s commitments to information rights of EU citizens.’
More From The Daily mail
February 17th, 2012
Cr edit: Indeed, how does that saying go? Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder, I think?
Polls show Rick Santorum surging ahead of Mitt Romney in Michigan, where Romney grew up, in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Both candidates campaigned there on Thursday, taking shots at each other.
It wasn't long ago that the campaign trail was a lonely place for Santorum.
Now, his events are packed, and he's become the darling of evangelical Christians and Tea Party supporters. His popularity is due in large part to his deeply conservative views on social issues.
But now, he's going straight at Romney on the economy, saying, "(Former Massachusetts) Governor Romney supported the bailout of Wall Street and decided not to support the bailout of Detroit."
Santorum worked to protect his new front-runner status by attacking Romney.
Clearly feeling the heat, Romney hit back, criticizing Santorum for decisions he made as a U.S. senator (from Pennsylvania), saying, "Rick Santorum voted five times to raise the debt ceiling. ... He also voted and continued to defend earmarks. ... During Rick Santorum's term in office, the government in Washington grew by 80 percent. Eighty percent!"
Santorum's poll numbers have soared in recent weeks. And now, Romney's trailing him in Michigan, Romney's home turf, where Romney was born and raised and where his father was governor.
Some political analysts say Santorum's surge is not really about him, it's about Romney. "They're looking for somebody, anybody but Romney," says Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. "They've seized on everybody from Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich and now, finally, Rick Santorum."
But many establishment Republicans fear that, if Santorum wins the nomination, past controversial statements -- on contraception, for example -- won't play well in the general election.
On Thursday, Foster Friess, who's contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Super PAC that supports Santorum, ignited a firestorm of criticism when he attempted humor in calling for abstinence. "You know," he said on "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on MSNBC, "back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly."
"Excuse me, I'm just trying to catch my breath from that," Mitchell replied.
Liberal women's groups reacted with outrage to Friess' comment, calling it insulting and irresponsible and demanding that both Friess and Santorum apologize.
Until now, President Obama's campaign had been focused like a laser beam on Romney, but there are now reports that they're starting to focus some attention on Santorum.
More From CBS
February 17th, 2012
A conservative Hispanic group is coming to the defense of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio after Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid questioned the Cuban-American lawmaker's commitment to "Hispanic issues" given his early opposition to an ambassadorial nominee who is Puerto Rican.
Harry "Quirog" Reid, posing in his most natural form, thinks that Hispanics should always vote for the most Hispanic person in a race.
"In Nevada, this woman is seen by the Puerto Rican community, the Hispanic community, as really somebody who is an up-and-rising star. ... I just think it's a mistake for someone who is supposedly representing Hispanic issues to do what (Rubio) has done," Reid said.