Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)--who helped write and pass the Patriot Act have submitted the USA Freedom Act. The bill would force the bulk collection of data on innocent US citizens to stop. The bill would also force the NSA to be more transparent. This appears to be a good legislative first step.
The Presidential Task Force appointed by Obama is said to recommend that collected records be held by phone companies themselves rather than the NSA. The Task force also suggests reforms in what searches can be done by the NSA. Of note, the actions of the NSA were...
Deng Xiaoping was fond of quoting the ancient Chinese proverb “Tao guang yang hui”, which is generally rendered: “Hide your brightness, bide your time.” The idea was to keep China’s capabilities secret until the moment was right to reveal them. Until then, the priority was to raise incomes and integrate the country into the global economic system.
Now China is comfortably the world’s second-largest economy and, quite possibly, on its way to becoming the largest. In Xi Jinping it has a leader whose articulation of a China Dream – “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” – is explicitly aimed at recapturing national greatness. The time for false modesty, it seems, is over.
By Leonid Ragozin in Moscow, theguardian.com, Dec. 12, 2013
Vladimir Putin has defended Russia's anti-gay laws in his annual address to both chambers of the Russian parliament.
In an apparent reference to the laws banning "propaganda of non-traditional relations", the Russian president said that on the international arena Russia sees itself as a defender of conservative values against what it considers an assault of "genderless and fruitless so-called tolerance" which he said "equals good and evil".
By Michael R. Gordon, Mark Landler and Anne Barnard, New York Times, Dec. 11/12, 2013
[....] The administration acted after warehouses of American-supplied equipment were seized Friday by the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist fighters who have broken with the moderate, American-backed opposition, but who also battle Al Qaeda.
Administration officials said that the suspension, confirmed on Wednesday, was temporary and that the nonlethal aid, which is supplied by the State Department, could flow again.
But with rebels feuding with one another instead of concentrating on fighting Mr. Assad, and with the United States still groping for a reliable partner in Syria,...