ThinkFast: September 27, 2010


On Friday, the FBI “searched eight addresses in Minneapolis and Chicago,” including the home of a well-known Palestinian American anti-war activist. The attorney for the activist believes that a recent Supreme Court case that allowed prosecution of humanitarian groups seen as aiding terrorists may be responsible for the raid.

The Obama administration employed a “state secrets” defense to urge a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by civil liberties groups who say the targeting of a U.S. citizen for killing overseas is illegal. The groups argue that U.S. efforts to kill the radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi — who is American-born — amounts to “an extrajudicial execution order against a U.S. citizen.”

The U.S. wants to make it easier to wiretap the Internet, according to a report in the New York Times. Federal law enforcement and national security officials say their ability to wiretap is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online, and will ask Congress to require that all services or devices that enable communication be able to comply with wiretap orders.

Nearly half of the guns that crossed state lines and were used in a crime came from just 10 states, according to a report released today by a mayors group. Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, California or Arizona were the source for 49 percent of such weapons.

On CBS’s 60 Minutes yesterday, the imam behind the New York City Islamic center said the project is meant “to prevent another 9/11” attack and to “strengthen the voice of the moderates.” “Ready, willing, and able to serve” the U.S. and the Islamic faith, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said, “It’s my duty as an American Muslim to stand between you, the American non-Muslim, and the radicals who are trying to attack you.”

Israel allowed its freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank to expire this weekend, threatening ongoing peace talks. Palestinian negotiators “did not immediately” walk out of the talks, as they had threatened to do, and American officials are “desperately seeking a formula to satisfy both sides.”

“Federal prosecutors in New York have opened a criminal probe of one of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brothers,” possibly preparing to “bring charges of tax evasion, racketeering or extortion.” “How many people do you think they have on me? Four, five, 10, 20?” responded Mahmood Karzai. “They won’t find anything. I’m just a businessman.”

A coalition of 300 liberal groups will host the “One Nation Working Together” rally this Saturday “to supplant what they say is the Tea Party’s divisiveness with a message of unity to promote jobs, justice, and education.” Predicting a crowd of over 100,000, sponsors — including the NAACP and the AFL-CIO — plan to “give Democrats some highly visible and clamorous backing to push through stalled legislation.”

And finally: The United Nations is prepared to appoint the first “space ambassador to greet alien visitors,” who will be “tasked with co-ordinating humanity’s response if and when extraterrestrials make contact.” Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist who currently heads the U.N.’s little known Office for Outer Space Affairs, has been tapped for the role.

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