The Lookout
  • Picture 1Last November, Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, wrote a letter to the White House requesting information about the government's handling of the BP oil disaster. In particular, the Arizona Democrat was looking to flesh out the dubious assertions made by Carol Browner and others that the "vast majority" of the oil was gone by early August.

    This week, the White House finally responded to Grijalva's request -- but not with an abundance of actual information. Instead, the lawmaker found himself wading through a bunch of heavily redacted emails like the one to the right. He has since fired off another letter to the White House labeling the redactions "unacceptable and overreaching," adding that such secrecy violates "the spirit and principle of the accountability" that President Obama promised voters on the 2008 campaign trail.

    Even with so much material blacked out, some of the emails forwarded to Grijalva shed light on the intra-White House intrigue surrounding public statements about the spill. There's correspondence that shows, for instance, that some officials at the Environmental Protection Agency were not on board with the push to make public a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stating that three-fourths of the spilled oil was no longer soiling the Gulf. Dissenting EPA officials insisted that such findings "should not be considered accurate" -- but their views obviously did not carry the day.

    Read More »from Heavily redacted emails offer a window into WH effort to spin oil spill
  • AP03050807123The ghost of John C. Calhoun must be proud.

    The AP reports that Republican lawmakers in Idaho, Alabama, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming are talking about nullification measures--arising from the principle that individual states can reject federal laws they view as unfounded--as a way to battle the new health-care law.

    The 18th-century doctrine hasn't had a great success rate when politicians have invoked it in the past.

    Calhoun, as vice president, fought passionately in the 1820s and 30s for South Carolina's right to declare certain federal laws unconstitutional and thus ignore them. He based the right on writings by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, none of which were actually included in the Constitution. (Though "states rights" proponents also point to the 10th Amendment--which reserves all powers not enumerated as belonging to the federal government as belonging to the states as justification.)

    South Carolina voted to nullify the federal tariff, which state leaders viewed as a burden on its agricultural export, after Calhoun resigned the vice presidency, but revoked the nullification after they renegotiated the terms of the tariff with the federal government in the 1830s. Andrew Jackson also threatened to use force against the state if it didn't fall into line.

    The conflict set the stage for secession and the Civil War. Northern states invoked "states rights" defenses to fend off pro-slavery laws that required runaway slaves to be returned to their owners. (The Supreme Court ruled the Northern states were violating federal law, but they continued to resist.) But when President Abraham Lincoln was elected the tables turned and Southern states began to use the argument again.

    Read More »from Lawmakers want to fight health-care law with ‘nullification’ argument
  • Fed will continue asset-purchase program

    BernankeNoting that inflation does not appear to be on the rise, Federal Reserve policymakers voted unanimously today to continue its $600 billion bond-buying program, in a bid to jolt the economy.

    The result represents a vote of confidence in Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has championed the program. Some critics, especially on the right, have expressed concern that the asset buys could trigger price rises and won't help the economy.

    Whether the current $600 billion bond-purchase initiative will be extended after it expires in June remains to be seen.

    (Photo of Bernanke: AP/Dennis Cook)


(3,627 Stories)
  • Gaza truce holding but Israel's Netanyahu under fire at home

    By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An open-ended ceasefire in the Gaza war held on Wednesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced strong criticism in Israel over a costly conflict with Palestinian militants in which no clear victor has emerged. In Israel, sirens warning of incoming rocket fire from the Gaza Strip fell silent. Netanyahu told a news conference Israel had dealt Hamas its toughest blow ever and had rebuffed its demands for a truce.

  • The Moon Smells: Apollo Astronauts Describe Lunar Aroma
    The Moon Smells: Apollo Astronauts Describe Lunar Aroma

    The moon has a distinctive smell. With NASA's six Apollo lunar landing missions between 1969 and the end of 1972, a total of 12 astronauts kicked up the powdery dirt of the moon, becoming an elite group later to be tagged as the "dusty dozen." From the modest 2.5 hour "moonwalk" of Apollo 11 to the forays totaling just over 22 hours outside a spacecraft on Apollo 17, NASA's Apollo landing crews could not escape tracking lunar material inside their moon lander homes. Spent gunpowder smell probably was much more implanted in our memories than other comparable odors," said Apollo 17's Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, a scientist-astronaut who walked the moon's surface in December of 1972.

  • One of the iPhone 6’s most interesting new features just leaked for the first time
    One of the iPhone 6’s most interesting new features just leaked for the first time

    Apple’s next-generation iPhone 6 is now less than two weeks away from its official unveiling, if a report from a solid source and Tuesday’s big leak are to be believed. With the phone expected to launch the following week on September 19th, it makes sense that the components contained within the hotly anticipated handset are now leaking like crazy. Earlier this week, we saw a China-based cell phone parts retailer post a number of parts said to be destined for inclusion in either the iPhone 6 or the 5.5-inch iPhone phablet set to launch alongside or shortly after Apple’s flagship iPhone. Now, the retailer has added a different component that happens to be one of the iPhone 6’s most interesting new

  • Mega Buzz: Diaries' Changes, NCIS: LA's Throwdown and a Chicago Fire Accident
    Mega Buzz: Diaries' Changes, NCIS: LA's Throwdown and a Chicago Fire Accident

    Each week, executive editor Adam Bryant satisfies your need for TV scoop. Please send all questions to Any scoop on The Vampire Diaries? —   Jessica You've probably already Season 6's first teaser, which features Stefan telling Elena to move on. Well, there's a reason their convo wasn't face-to-face. When the season begins, Stefan will definitely not be anywhere near Mystic Falls. In fact, he will have taken up a surprising new profession in his new "home." And while we're the topic of professions, Alaric also has a new job. Hey, newly resurrected vampires have rent to pay too! How long will Talia be sticking around on   NCIS: LA ? —   MarySorry, Densi 'shippers: It doesn't look like Talia (Mercedes Masohn) is going anywhere soon.... Read More > Other Links From NCIS Bryan Cranston Leslie Hope Daniel Sunjata Ana Gasteyer Aaron Korsh Shane Brennan Weird Al Chicago Fire (MLS) Breaking Bad Sons of Anarchy Stephanie Jacobsen The Vampire Diaries NCIS: Los Angeles Nashville The Mindy Project Graceland About a Boy The Goldbergs Outlander

  • British Filmmaker: Why My Stepbrother And Others Have Become Islamic Extremists
    British Filmmaker: Why My Stepbrother And Others Have Become Islamic Extremists

    News this week of the death of Douglas McCain, an American who joined the ISIL militia and was killed in Syria, has hit close to home for Robb Leech. The British filmmaker’s stepbrother, Richard Dart, turned to Islamist extremism in 2009 and was convicted in England for plotting to commit terrorist acts in 2012, but Leech never thought of abandoning him. Instead, he turned on his cameras and delved into the militant community to learn more.

  • Will Harold Hamm's be the costliest divorce in history?
    Will Harold Hamm's be the costliest divorce in history?

    Harold and Sue Ann Hamm's divorce proceedings are under way in an Oklahoma courtroom. In order to keep his billions, Harold Hamm may have to fight against his image as a self-made man, and argue that his fortune is thanks entirely to luck. If he loses, his divorce may be the costliest ever.

  • 'Perfect storm' for Ebola to spread, says virus pioneer
    'Perfect storm' for Ebola to spread, says virus pioneer

    Peter Piot, the Belgian scientist who co-discovered the Ebola virus in 1976, on Tuesday said a "perfect storm" in West Africa had given the disease a chance to spread unchecked. "We have never seen an (Ebola) epidemic on this scale," Piot was quoted by the French daily Liberation as saying. "In the last six months, we have been witnessing what can be described as a 'perfect storm' -- everything is there for it to snowball."

  • IMF chief charged with 'negligence' over graft case
    IMF chief charged with 'negligence' over graft case

    IMF chief Christine Lagarde, one of the world's most powerful women, announced Wednesday she had been charged with "negligence" over a multi-million-euro graft case relating to her time as French finance minister. The shock announcement came a day after she was grilled for more than 15 hours by a special court in Paris that probes ministerial misconduct, the fourth time she has been questioned in a case that has long weighed upon her position as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. "The investigating commission of the court of justice of the French Republic has decided to place me under formal investigation," she said in exclusive comments to AFP. In France, being placed under formal investigation is the nearest equivalent to being charged, and happens when an examining magistrate has decided there is a case to be answered.

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