The Envoy
  • The government of British Prime Minister David Cameron, perhaps Washington's closest ally, is reeling with the arrest today of Cameron's former media adviser in the unfolding News of the World phone-tapping scandal.

    Andy Coulson, who served as Cameron's top communications adviser from 2007 to January 2011, and previously as the editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned highest-circulation British tabloid from 2003-2007, was arrested "on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications" and "on suspicion of corruption allegations," according to a statement from Scotland Yard.

    Cameron, scrambling to try to get out ahead of the scandal's widening criminal scope, summoned journalists to a news conference at Downing Street today in which he took full responsibility for the decision to hire Coulson back in 2007.  (You can watch ITN video of Cameron's "hastily arranged" news conference below, as the New York Times' Sarah Lyall and Alan Cowell put it.) Cameron also announced two public inquiries into different dimensions of the scandal, including allegations that the News of the World paid bribes to British police for information.

    But  Cameron's efforts to distance himself from the scandal so far haven't made much headway, thanks largely to the Conservative Party leader's close personal ties with several top executives in the Murdoch empire. And though he acknowledged that a past police investigation of police bribe-taking went nowhere, Cameron insisted that wouldn't be the case for the newly initiated inquiries. 

    Read More »from Cameron government, shaken by expanding News of the World arrests, orders probes
  • FILE - This undated file photo released by Obama for America shows President Barack Obama as a young boy, and his father, who left the family to study at Harvard when Barack was just two. (Obama for America, File/AP)President Barack Obama's father, then on a student visa at the University of Hawaii, told U.S. immigration officials in 1961 that he and his pregnant wife planned to put their coming baby up for adoption, according to U.S. government memos obtained by Boston Globe reporter Sally Jacobs.

    Jacobs, author of a forthcoming biography of Barack Obama's father, obtained the files from the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. She also scoured Kenyan Finance Ministry files, where the elder Obama later worked, to learn more about the man President Obama depicted in his own autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," as an absent figure who abandoned him and his mother when he was two.

    "In the spring of 1961, President Obama's father revealed a plan for his unborn son that might have changed the course of American political history," Jacobs writes in a front page piece in the Globe today:

    The elder Barack H. Obama, a sophomore at the University of Hawaii, had come under scrutiny by federal immigration officials ... Although his new wife, Ann Dunham, was five months pregnant with their child ... [the elder] Obama declared that they intended to put their child up for adoption.

    "Subject got his USC wife 'Hapai' [Hawaiian for pregnant] and although they were married they do not live together and Miss Dunham is making arrangements with the Salvation Army to give the baby away,'' according to a memo ... with the Honolulu office of what was then called the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.

    Read More »from Dreams from his father: Obama’s father told INS of adoption plans
  • Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who investigated al-Qaeda's alleged infiltration of the Pakistani navy, was found murdered May 31 near Islamabad. (Cristiano Camera, Courtesy of Adnkronos/AP)It is not turning out to be a good day for Pakistan in Washington.

    This morning the Washington Post ran a front-page investigation into allegations by Pakistan's nuclear godfather A.Q. Khan that North Korea bribed Pakistani generals for nuclear technology.

    Then this afternoon, the top U.S. military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said flat out that the U.S. government believes Pakistan's spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, sanctioned the assassination of Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.

    Shahzad, 41, former Pakistan bureau chief for Asian Times Online, was found murdered May 31, days after he reported that a May 22 attack on a Pakistani naval port near Karachi was linked to al Qaeda's penetration of Pakistan's navy.

    The New York Times reported Tuesday that U.S. officials believed Pakistan's intelligence services ordered Shahzad's killing. But the U.S. officials cited in the piece were unnamed.

    Today, however, Mullen made the allegation on the record, as National Journal's Yochi Dreazen reports:

    Read More »from Mullen: Pakistan spy service sanctioned journalist’s murder

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  • Pope says will not be around in 10 years
    Pope says will not be around in 10 years

    Pope Francis said Friday he will not still be in the Vatican in ten years' time. Greeting athletes and officials from the Italian National Olympic Committee, the 78-year-old pontiff wished them well with their bid to host the 2024 Games, but said he would not be around to watch them. "Dear friends, best wishes for Rome's bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games," he said.

  • Gold medalist Michael Phelps pleads guilty to DUI
    Gold medalist Michael Phelps pleads guilty to DUI

    BALTIMORE (AP) — Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps avoided jail time on Friday when a judge placed him on probation for pleading guilty to a drunken driving charge for the second time in 10 years. The punishment came with a warning.

  • Too many skiers, not enough snow: French resort turns to quotas

    With no chill in the air and very little snow around, one French ski resort that has been blessed with snowfall has been forced to impose quotas to prevent a run on its slopes. As we are nearly the only station open in the Haute-Savoie region, we are expecting serious crowds," said Stephane Lerendu, director of the tourism office at the Avoriaz ski station in eastern France. The ski station has a maximum capacity of 12,000 skiers per day, but a snow drought in the neighbourhood has the resort fearing many more may descend on their slopes. Meteo France, the country's meteorological service, said there has not been such a dearth of snow since 2006, particularly in the northern Alps.

  • Lindsey Vonn claims 61st World Cup win in Val d'Isere
    Lindsey Vonn claims 61st World Cup win in Val d'Isere

    Val-d'Isère (France) (AFP) - Lindsey Vonn notched up her 61st World Cup win with success in the women's downhill at Val d'Isere on Saturday. The four-time overall World Cup champion claimed her latest race by clocking a time of 1min 44.47 sec to edge Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg and Austria's Elisabeth Goergl, who shared second at 19 hundredths of a second behind the American. This was 30-year-old Vonn's second downhill win of the season after this month's win in Lake Louise, her first victory since a high speed crash in early 2013. It put the girlfriend of 14-time golf major champion Tiger Woods just one win behind the all-time World Cup record of 62 held by Austria's Annemarie Moser-Proell.

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