Breaking: Obama to Veto Defense Spending Bill if GOP Includes Anti-LGBT 'Religious Freedom' Provision
Crucial Annual Spending Bill Appropriates $600 Billion

President Barack Obama is prepared to veto a crucial $600 billion annual defense spending bill if Republican lawmakers insist on including a controversial provision that would effectively void his executive orders banning anti-LGBT nondiscrimination. Roll Call’s John M. Donnelly first reported the news, citing senior Obama administration officials who spoke at a White House meeting Monday with groups that oppose the provision.

The Russell Amendment, named after its sponsor, Oklahoma GOP Rep. Steve Russell, would allow any religious-based entity that has a government contract to discriminate against LGBT people in what conservatives claim is an effort to expand “religious freedom.” President Barack Obama has signed several executive orders prohibiting any discrimination against LGBT workers by government contractors.

The provision was hotly contested by House and Senate Democrats earlier this year. The defense spending bill is known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has personally reached out to key lawmakers on the issue, the administration officials said at Monday’s meeting,” Roll Call reports, adding that “administration officials told their allies Monday that they have delivered just that message privately to [congressional] members in unequivocal terms.

President Obama has vetoed 12 bills previously and has staunchly defended what he sees as laws or executive orders that are critical to his legacy. One year ago Pres. Obama did not waver and vetoed the NDAA for issues related to spending "gimmicks” and the closing of Guantanamo.

H/T: David Badash at TNCRM 

The ‘nuclear football,’ a briefcase containing strike options, secret hideouts, Emergency Alert System procedures, and a card (or 'biscuit’) containing nuclear codes, accompanies the President of the United States at all times. Very rarely, the codes have been accidentally left unsecured– including when Reagan was shot in 1981, and the biscuit was found on the floor of the ER. Source Source 2

The Intercept received a leaked document detailing the “suspicious signs” checklist used by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to identify potential terrorists. Could you be a target next time you are waiting in line at airport security? Learn more on Democracy Now! today.

(Image courtesy The Intercept)

A Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert, has been hit with a lifetime ban from entering Gaza by the Israeli government.

Israeli authorities cited security reasons for shutting Doctor Gilbert out from the Gaza Strip.

The Norwegian 67-year-old has travelled to and from Gaza to treat Palestinians. This summer, the chief physician who lives and works in northern Norway, was back working at Shifa hospital, Gaza, where he spend more than 50 days treating many of the 11,000 injured.

The doctor was attempting to return to the region in October to help in the hospital and was stopped by Israeli officials from entering.

Gilbert says: “When we came back to the Erez border station, the Israeli soldiers told me that I could not go in to Gaza.”


This is absolutely disgusting. But is anybody surprised? No. Israel wants as many Palestinians dead as possible, which means doctors must be kept out of Palestine.

“Security concerns” is one of Israel’s most used phrases because of its vagueness. It allows the Israeli government to not have to explain their lies.
Exclusive: Feds Regularly Monitored Black Lives Matter Since Ferguson
The Department of Homeland Security has used social media to closely track activists.

The documents, released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Operations Coordination, indicate that the department frequently collects information, including location data, on Black Lives Matter activities from public social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, even for events expected to be peaceful. The reports confirm social media surveillance of the protest movement and ostensibly related events in the cities of Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York.

This sort of information gathering was not confined to Ferguson. A few days after rioting and protests there, a DHS email forwarded another message reporting on the “National Moment of Silence,” nationwide silent vigils planned in response to the shooting. The original email listed the cities with planned vigils and noted that they were being spread on social media with the hashtag #NMOS14. It also mentioned that NYPD’s counterterrorism intelligence organization would be “monitoring the situation.” The DHS email forwarding that information said the data was provided “for your situational awareness.”

Baher Azmy, a legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, however, argues that this “providing situational awareness” is just another word for surveillance and that creating this body of knowledge about perfectly legal events is a problem in and of itself. “What they call situational awareness is Orwellian speak for watching and intimidation,” said Azmy. “Over time there’s a serious harm to the associational rights of the protesters and it’s an effective way to chill protest movements. The average person would be less likely to go to a Black Lives Matter protest if the government is monitoring social media, Facebook, and their movements.”

“It is concerning that the government would be diverting resources towards surveilling citizens who are assembling and expressing their First Amendment rights,” says Maurice Mitchell, an organizer with Blackbird, a group that helps support activism against police violence in communities across the country. “The fact that our government is doing this — I can only assume to disrupt us — is pretty alarming…

Raven Rakia, a journalist who investigates state surveillance and policing, said that the DHS’ decision to monitor Black Lives Matter is hardly surprising, given the federal government’s well documented history of spying on and suppressing black social movements and groups like the Black Panthers. “There’s a long history of the federal agencies, especially the FBI, seeing black resistance organizations as a threat to national security,” says Rakia.


Go on the Front Lines of Ukraine’s Violent Protests

The first thing photographer Brendan Hoffman did upon waking up Thursday was check Twitter and the local news to see what was happening on the streets outside his hotel in Kiev. It’s just part of the routine when you’re a photojournalist covering the protests that have raged there for months. All was calm, at least for the moment.

By the time he left his hotel near Independence Square, though, Hoffman found a gruesome scene. Anti-government protesters and medics were carrying bloodied bodies into makeshift clinics–and morgues. Gunfire rang in the distance. Confusion reigned as government security forces clashed with protesters.

“There was no way to tell exactly what was happening, but people were saying some of it was snipers,” the 34-year-old photographer told WIRED by phone. “I did see a lot of people with a single shot to the head.”

Hoffman did what he always does: He grabbed his gear and ran toward the chaos. Hoffman, an American photographer based in Moscow and member of the Prime Collective, has been covering the protests intermittently for several months, and in that time he’s witnessed a lot of bloodshed. But this week has been especially bad, he said.

(Continue Reading)


A new report from scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that a major decline in federal science spending is resulting in the real possibility of an “innovation deficit.” 2014 saw a number of major scientific achievements: the European Space Agency landed a spacecraft on a comet; Chinese scientists developed the world’s fastest supercomputer. Meanwhile, in the U.S., science funding is “the lowest it has been since the Second World War as a fraction of the federal budget,” said Marc Kastner, the MIT physicist that led the research team. “This really threatens America’s future.”

The report warns that the lack of adequate funding for sciences in the U.S. is threatening 15 important fields 


Palestine was formally accepted as a member state of the International Criminal Court today, April 1st, 2015. The Palestinian bid to request ICC membership at the beginning of the year was met with stark opposition from both the U.S, Israel, and a number of observing ICC countries including Canada, but was hailed by humanitarian organizations and international justice groups as an opportunity to hold accountable the years of Israeli-led aggression towards Palestine. In response to the Palestinian bid, Israel froze tax revenue distributions to the Palestinian Authority, traditionally used to fund Palestinian infrastructure and pay government salaries. Secured membership paves the way for the prosecution of Israelis and Israeli officials accused of committing warcrimes against Palestinians. Additionally, militants associated with Hamas also face the possibility of prosecution as they too now fall under ICC’s jurisdiction.

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Obama declares cyber-security ‘national emergency,’ announces hacker sanctions

“I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the increasing prevalence and severity of malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the UnitedStates. I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with this threat.