The Envoy
  • Sec. of State Hillary Clinton hosts Middle East Quartet diplomats in July 2011. (State Department)

    President Obama has dispatched his envoys again to the Middle East, in another bid to stymie Palestinian plans to seek enhanced international recognition at the UN later this month.

    White House Middle East adviser Dennis Ross and State Department Middle East envoy David Hale departed for Israel Tuesday. Middle East experts in consultation with the administration say the U.S. envoys are engaged in two main efforts. First, they're pursuing a full-court press on Palestinian leaders to induce them to abandon their plans for a UN bid, by threatening U.S. aid could be cut, among other measures.

    And second, Hale and Ross are trying to line up the international partners in the so-called Middle East "Quartet"—made up of the United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations--to join them in issuing a statement outlining terms for resumed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at some future point.

    The "Quartet" bid highlights the degree to which Washington must negotiate with allies for international cover for its stalemated Middle East diplomacy efforts amid mounting international doubts. Beyond the central issue of how to get the long-feuding Israelis and Palestinians back to the peace table--which no one seems to think is likely to happen in the near term--Washington to date has struggled to get the Europeans, Russians and UN to even agree on language to put in a prospective joint statement.

    "The U.S. seems to have put all of its money on a Quartet statement," said Zvika Krieger, a Middle East expert with the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, who consults frequently with the administration, in an interview with The Envoy Tuesday.

    Read More »from Obama envoys hope “Quartet statement” can avert Palestinian UN bid
  • TSA to use fewer patdowns on kids

    The Transportation Security Administration plans to roll out the use of less invasive security screening procedures for children under 12, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.

    "Children 12 years old and younger won't have to take off their shoes to get on an airplane, and they'll get patted down less," USA Today reported.

    The changes, which were tested at six airports in the spring, will be put into place at airports across the country by the end of the month after TSA officers receive more training, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.

    In April, an online video of a 6-year-old girl getting patted down at the New Orleans airport caused public outrage.

    Read More »from TSA to use fewer patdowns on kids
  • American hikers Shane Bauer, left, and Josh Fattal in Tehran in May 2010. (Press TV, File/AP)Iran's hardline judiciary has denied that the release of two long-imprisoned American hikers is a done deal. The announcement contradicts what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the U.S. press earlier in the week, indicating that the two men would be exiting prison soon.

    "The two Americans are going to stay in prison for a bit longer," reported Iran state television citing the judiciary statement, according to Reuters. "Reports of their imminent release are wrong."

    On Tuesday, Ahmadinejad told NBC's Today Show that Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, would be released in a couple days, after Iranian authorities processed their bail payments.

    But Ahmadinejad has previously raised hopes of the hikers' release only to be checked by hardline conservatives in Iran's parliament and the judiciary.

    Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and their friend Sarah Shourd were detained by Iranian officials while hiking in Kurdish northern Iraq in July 2009. Shourd, suffering medical problems, was released last September on humanitarian grounds after spending a year in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin Prison. Fattal and Bauer, after numerous procedural delays, were convicted in a brief trial last month of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison.

    Their families insist on their innocence; they and American officials have repeatedly implored Iranian officials to release the men on humanitarian grounds.

    Analysts described the judiciary's statement Wednesday as another reflection of deep and longstanding rifts within the Iranian regime.

    Read More »from U.S. hikers’ release not imminent, Iran judiciary says


(679 Stories)
  • Obama cuts line at famed Texas barbecue joint (but pays for lunch)
    Obama cuts line at famed Texas barbecue joint (but pays for lunch)

    President Obama made an unannounced stop at Austin's Franklin Barbecue and picked up a $300 tab for some hungry customers.

  • New York police see risks with drones' popularity
    New York police see risks with drones' popularity

    NEW YORK (AP) — One private drone crash-landed in midtown Manhattan. Another caused alarm by hovering over Times Square amid tight security during Super Bowl week. Most recently, authorities say, another had a close brush with a police helicopter near the George Washington Bridge.

  • U.S. lawmakers threaten to subpoena EPA over power plant regs

    Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday threatened to subpoena the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to obtain documents related to rules on carbon pollution from power plants. Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy wrote to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, saying that despite meetings between committee staff and EPA staff, "EPA has been wholly unresponsive to the committee." The lawmakers have argued that the EPA's proposed carbon emission performance standards for new coal-fired power plants are not valid because they require the installation of carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that is currently not available on a commercial scale in the United States.

  • 10 companies that put nearly all the food on supermarket shelves

    These conglomerates are responsible for almost all the processed food, candy and beverages stocked on supermarket shelves.

  • Earth's Magnetic Field Is Weakening 10 Times Faster Now
    Earth's Magnetic Field Is Weakening 10 Times Faster Now

    Earth's magnetic field, which protects the planet from huge blasts of deadly solar radiation, has been weakening over the past six months, according to data collected by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm. The scientists who conducted the study are still unsure why the magnetic field is weakening, but one likely reason is that Earth's magnetic poles are getting ready to flip, said Rune Floberghagen, the ESA's Swarm mission manager. While changes in magnetic field strength are part of this normal flipping cycle, data from Swarm have shown the field is starting to weaken faster than in the past. Still, there is no evidence that a weakened magnetic field would result in a doomsday for Earth.

  • Heart pounds, eyes close on the tallest waterslide
    Heart pounds, eyes close on the tallest waterslide

    KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Halfway up the 264 stairs leading to the top of the world's tallest waterslide, it was clear this was the most breathtaking ride I'd ever encountered.

  • Taliban post picture of commander with smiling U.S. captive

    By Katharine Houreld ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years, appeared smiling alongside an alleged Haqqani commander in a photo posted on a Twitter account purporting to be from the Afghan Taliban. "Bowe #Bergdahl was really impressed when he saw the hospitality of #Taliban He first thought that he will be tortured But he was wrong," the Twitter post said. He was released on May 31 in a prisoner swap that freed five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo prison in Cuba. He has not spoken to the media since his release and the Twitter account's description of his time in captivity could not be confirmed.

  • Microsoft says cybercrime bust frees 4.7 million infected PCs

    By Jim Finkle BOSTON (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp said it has freed at least 4.7 million infected personal computers from control of cyber crooks in its most successful digital crime-busting operation, which interrupted service at an Internet-services firm last week. The world's largest software maker has also identified at least another 4.7 million infected machines, though many are likely still controlled by cyber fraudsters, Microsoft's cybercrime-fighting Digital Crimes Unit said on Thursday. Richard Domingues Boscovich, assistant general counsel of the unit, said Microsoft would quickly provide government authorities and Internet service providers around the world with the IP addresses of infected machines so they can help users remove the viruses. "Those victims are currently not aware they are infected," Boscovich said in an interview.

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