Saturday, June 16, 2012

To All the Dads in America.... and Those Serving Abroad

"The G-Man" 

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News Broken: US Journos Barred for Doing Job

America's First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but many journalists covering some of the country's major events are being hounded, rather than protected. An increasing number are reportedly being arrested, just for doing their jobs. Anastasia Churkina has more.  

Video courtesy of Russia Today news agency. 

Increasing Bloodshed Leads to Suspension of UN Observer Mission in Syria

Video courtesy of Russia Today news agency. 

Obama and Biden on the Death of Death of Crown Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud

Statement from President Obama

It was with great regret that I learned of the passing of Crown Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. For decades, Crown Prince Nayif served as Minister of the Interior and dedicated himself to the security of Saudi Arabia as well as security throughout the region.  Under his leadership, the United States and Saudi Arabia developed a strong and effective partnership in the fight against terrorism, one that has saved countless American and Saudi lives.  Crown Prince Nayif also strongly supported the broader partnership between our two countries begun by his late father, King Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, and President Roosevelt in their historic meeting in 1945.  On behalf of the American people, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to King Abdullah, the royal family, and the people of Saudi Arabia.

Statement from Vice President Biden

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Crown Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who, as Minister of the Interior for almost 40 years, made an historic contribution to the security of the Kingdom and to its strong partnership with the United States in the fight against terrorism. I was honored to be received by Crown Prince Nayif in Riyadh last October and had looked forward to welcoming him to the United States. I offer my deepest condolences to King Abdullah, the royal family and the people of Saudi Arabia.

Weekly Address: Ending the Stalemate in Washington

Top Newsy Headlines: Egypt Election Begins Amid Turmoil


By Nathan Byrne

Anchor: Nathan Byrne
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Japan Restarts First Nuclear Reactors Since Fukushima Crisis


By Sini Stephan

Anchor: Nathan Byrne
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Chicago Mayor Proposes Pot Decriminalization


By Lyndsey Garza

Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
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Grand Jury Will Decide Fate of Texas Dad


By John O'Connor

Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
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Rajat Gupta Found Guilty of Insider Trading


By Matthew Picht

Anchor: Christina Bryant
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Aljazeera's Top News Stories

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Saudi Crown Prince Nayef Dead

Crown Prince Nayef, the long-serving interior minister who led Saudi Arabia's crackdown against al-Qaeda's branch in the country and then rose to become next in line to the throne, has died. He was in his late 70s. Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who became heir to the throne last year at the age of 78, was head of the country's interior ministry since 1975. Nayef had traveled abroad for medical treatment and had "died outside the kingdom", Al-Ekhbariyah Television said, quoting a statement from the royal court. Al Jazeera's Tarek Bazley reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

UK Doctors Tap Medical App for Chronically Ill

Patients with chronic illnesses spend days in doctors' offices, visiting specialists and having tests done. As part of Al Jazeera's "Tapping into Technology'" series, Jessica Baldwin reports on a new smartphone application that is helping patients and doctors keep better track of their treatment.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English. 

South Africa Marks Bittersweet Youth Day

South Africa on Saturday will celebrate Youth Day, a commemoration of a 1976 student protest that helped end apartheid. Today, however, young South Africans are facing a different struggle: half of the country's youth are jobless. Al Jazeera's Tania Page reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Friday, June 15, 2012

White House Briefs

LGBT Pride Month Reception

Aljazeera's Top News Stories

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

UN Says Both Sides Escalating Violence

The head of the UN observer mission to Syria says neither side is trying to end the fighting. Major General Robert Mood told reporters in Damascus that the intense fighting is also preventing monitors from doing their jobs.  Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

President Obama Speaks on DHS Immigration Announcement

President Obama announces a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy that will allow certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria to be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.

West Wing Week: 06/15/12

This week, the President welcomed the Girl Scouts, the Presidents of the Philippines and of Israel, the New York Giants, local tv anchors from around the country, and Betty White. He also kicked off the Fatherhood Buzz Campaign and visited One World Trade Center. 

'The Devil's Breath': The Most Dangerous and Potent Drug on the Planet

DEA Official: "One of Our Agents Has Confirmed Everything You Said About This Drug"

In May, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail  published a news story entitled The Most Dangerous Drug in the World: The Devil’s Breath

The story focused on a Colombia-based drug called scopolamine, a derivative of burundanga, which reportedly places users or victims in a “zombie-like state”-- for hours, days or weeks -- and completely erases their memory.

Scopolamine also has the potential to render users and victims to a child-like state and can cause death in a matter of minutes if a certain dosage is exceeded. 

Pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. use scopolamine for the production of certain medications, such as motion-sickness tablets, but not in its purest form and only in very small quantities.

In the documentary film “World's Scariest Drug”, Ryan Duffy interviews people that were beaten or robbed shortly after the drug was slipped into drinks or blown into their face by prostitutes in nightclubs or people passing them on the street.

Others were victimized after receiving something as simple as a finger swipe under the nose.

“It’s called the Devil’s Breath because it takes your soul,” said one of the victims showcased in the film.

“It literally robs you of your free will, and there is nothing you can do about it.”

The drug is produced from the Borrachero tree, one of the country’s most recognizable and feared trees because of its potency and hallucinogenic components.

According to another witness appearing in the documentary, the powdery drug, which bears a striking resemblance to cocaine, is so potent that “if placed on a simple piece of paper, and the paper is placed near the person’s face, the person will fall victim to it in a matter of seconds.”
In numerous instances, victims were captured on bank surveillance tapes willfully emptying their bank accounts while the assailants waited outside.

Other victims happily rummaged through their belongings and handed over checkbooks, credit cards, jewelry, car keys and other valuable possessions at the request of criminals.

In the most extreme cases, victims discovered kidneys and other organs had been removed after regaining consciousness.

Amazingly, the victims have no recollection of what happened or how it happened. As a result, hundreds of crimes go unreported and unsolved. recently noted, “The U.S. State Department’s information about Colombia has for years cautioned travelers about such drugs. Its 21 June 2007 travel advisory about crime in that country said: The Embassy continues to receive reports of criminals using disabling drugs to temporarily incapacitate tourists and others. At bars, restaurants and other public areas, perpetrators may offer tainted drinks, cigarettes or gum. Typically, victims become disoriented or unconscious, and are thus vulnerable to robbery, sexual assault, and other crimes. Avoid leaving food or drinks unattended at a bar or restaurant, and be suspicious if a stranger offers you something to eat or drink.”   

In effort to verify much of what the Dail Mail story and film reported, From The G-Man contacted the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Washington, D.C. and spoke to Barbara Carreno, Public Affairs Officer, DEA HQ Public Affairs Section.

Carreno had no knowledge of the drug or its origin and went on to say that she would look into the matter.

Several days later, Carreno stated the following during a phone conversation:

“After conferring with one of the DEA agents here, who spent a number of years in Bogota, Colombia, the agent confirmed everything you stated regarding scopolamine and the crimes that are being committed. According to the agent, it has been a major problem for quite some.”

Carreno went on to note that she had concerns about this news story being published, citing it could provide information to people that might make them want to gain access to the drug for criminal purposes.

“I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t run the story. I just worry that criminals here in the U.S. who aren’t aware of the drug will read your story and say ‘Ah-ha!’ Personally, and I’m not speaking for the agency when I say this, I feel the less that people know about this drug, the better,” said Carreno.

From The G-Man asked Carreno if there was a possibility that scopolamine could one day infiltrate the U.S. -- and what measures, if any, are in place to prevent it from entering the country.  

“That’s a great question, but I would suggest you reach out to officials at U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) for an answer.”

Emails were sent and calls were placed to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. and the New York division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

To date, representatives from the aforementioned agencies have not responded to our request for comments regarding this story.

From The G-Man will publish all comments from the agency officials if and when they choose to respond.   

Top Newsy Headlines: Egypt Prepares for More Demonstrations


By Nathan Byrne

Anchor: Nathan Byrne
Video courtesy of

Holder Offers Deal to Congress on ‘Fast and Furious’


By Zach Toombs

Anchor: Lauren Zima
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From Fame and Fortune, Billionaire Stanford Gets 110 Years


By Jim Flink

Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
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Chinese Abortion Photo Causes Controversy


By Ferdous Al-Faruque

Anchor: Lauren Zima
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UN Observers Find 'Ghost Town' in Syria

The road to Haffa, once a town of 24,000 people and popular with tourists, is now empty with most of the people gone. Left are burnt-out cars, bombed buildings, and according to the United Nations observers, a stench of dead bodies. The UN had been trying to get into Haffa for a week, amid fears of a brutal assault by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. What observers found was evidence of a recent battle, and a strong Syrian army presence. Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Court Throws Egypt's Transition Into Disarray

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court has dissolved its recently elected parliament, calling it invalid, and ruled that the ousted president Hosni Mubarak's former prime minister can stand as president. This means the presidential run-off between Ahmed Shafik and the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi will go ahead this weekend. The Brotherhood said the dissolution of parliament will send Egypt into a "dark tunnel". Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Cairo.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Bomb Attack Hits Damascus Suburb

United Nations monitors in Syria have been inspecting the site of a bombing near Damascus. Activists say the government's bombing campaign continues in Homs and Deir Az Zor. Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Capital Flees Greece Ahead of Polls

The Greek election will be closely watched, especially by financial markets hoping for stability in Greece. Many Greeks are reluctant to keep their own money in banks, meaning billions of dollars have left the country's financial system. They have been removing their money from Greek banks for two years, sending it to Germany, the United States and other safe havens. As the general election approaches, the initiative has gathered pace. Central bank figures show that deposits shrank by about 17 per cent or 44.4 billion dollars in 2011. At the end of April this year they stood at 208.1 billion dollars. Consumers are stocking up on nonperishable food, worried about the election outcome. Al Jazeera's Tim Friend reports from Athens.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Tuberculosis Makes Comeback in Malaysia

Tuberculosis, as an infectious disease, is second only to HIV-Aids as the world's greatest killer. Every year in Malaysia, 22 000 people are diagnosed with tuberculosis. Doctors working in a tuberculosis ward of Kota Kinabalu worry that after seeing a decline in cases in the 1990s, that trend has now sharply reversed. They say the public needs to pay attention to the disease and take measures to prevent it. Al Jazeera's Stephanie Scawen reports from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Meeting Held Between NSA's Blinken and Iraqi Officials

Iraqi Leaders Urged to Move Quickly to Alleviate Current Tensions

National Security Advisor to the Vice President Tony Blinken visited Iraq on June 13-14 and met with a range of senior Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Maliki, Deputy Prime Minister Shahristani, and KRG President Barzani. 

Blinken also spoke by telephone with President Talabani, Foreign Minister Zebari, and Council of Representatives Speaker Nujaifi. 

NSA Blinken made clear to all his interlocutors that the United States takes no side in the current political situation, but favors any solution that is reached by the Iraqis themselves, in accordance with Iraqi law and the constitution, and is achieved in a clear and transparent manner that does not promote or lead to violence. 

Blinken urged Iraqi leaders to move quickly to alleviate current tensions in order to refocus energy on critical state-building challenges, including preparations for provincial and local elections next year, and he underscored that the United States calls on Iraq’s neighbors to support Iraq’s sovereign right to choose its own government.  

The NSA Advisor also stressed that the Iraqi and American people have sacrificed greatly for Iraq’s constitutional and democratic system, which continues to have our unwavering support. 

President Obama Endorses Congressman Meeks

"I Am Honored to Have President Obama's Endorsement and His Support..." 

Jamaica, NY - Friends of Gregory W. Meeks announced today that President Barack Obama has endorsed Congressman Gregory W. Meeks in the June 26 Democratic congressional primary for the newly-drawn Fifth Congressional District.

"Congressman Meeks is an important partner who has fought to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, reform Wall Street ,help responsible homeowners stay in their homes, and make health care accessible and affordable for tens of millions of Americans who lack coverage.  Hard working families in Southeast Queens and Nassau County will benefit from his dedicated and determined leadership in Congress,” said President Obama.

“I am honored to have President Obama’s endorsement and his support as I continue to work tirelessly in Congress to bring America from recovery back to prosperity,” said Meeks.

Congressman Meeks, serving in his 7th full term, is focusing his campaign on the issues facing many families in the 5th Congressional District fighting to keep their homes, and their jobs.

"The President’s endorsement is a symbol of an important partnership between the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress to invigorate our nation’s economic recovery while protecting Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs," Meeks noted.

“The Republicans have made clear they want to return to the failed policies of the past. But they did not work then, and they won’t work now. We need the experience and effective leadership of Congressman Meeks to help continue moving this country forward,” said President Obama. 

Congressman Meeks is a Senior Member of the House Financial Services Committee, and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia.  

He is the former Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade of the House Financial Services Committee. 

The Democratic congressional primary is June26.  Polls are open from 6 am to 9pm. 

Obama to Deliver 'Major Economic Speech'


By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Christina Hartman
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Feds Investigate Cable Companies for Possible Antitrust


By Jon Rehagen

Anchor: Christina Hartman
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Florida Under Fire for 'Voter Purge' After DOJ Files Suit


By Anthony Martinez

Anchor: Anthony Martinez
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Outrage Over 'Jew Rant' in Sweden's Social Media Experiment


By Matthew Picht

Anchor: Neville Miller
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Aljazeera's Top News Stories

Syria Accused of Organized Attacks

Syrian forces and armed gangs loyal to President Bashar al Assad are systematically killing civilians in attacks that could amount to crimes against humanity. That's according to a report by human rights group, Amnesty International. Its researchers working inside Syria found repeated examples of brutality. You may find some of the images in Dominic Kane's report distressing.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Economic Crisis Hits Greek Health Service

With the general election looming, a new crisis is hitting the Greek health service. Budget cuts mean the sick and elderly are not receiving the medicine they need. Pharmacists were owed huge amounts of money by the health ministry and now they have stopped supplying medicine on credit, even to those who have contributed to state insurance. Patients now have to pay up front. Those with high-risk chronic conditions were to receive emergency help, but even some of them have had difficulty finding medication. Doctors fear for the future of the Greek health service as Sunday's general election approaches with no clear favourite - and massive economic uncertainty. Al Jazeera's Tim Friend reports from Athens.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English. 

'Unfit Air Nigeria Planes' Cleared for Travel

Air Nigeria, the national carrier and second-largest airline of the West African nation, has been grounded for safety checks. The move comes days after one of the country's worst air crashes resulted in the deaths of all 153 people on board. Thousands of Air Nigeria passengers are now left stranded as rumours of financial troubles and an engineers' strike adds to the challenges facing the carrier. The most damning claims, however, come from John Nnorom, former finance director, who says the airline's engineers are under commercial pressure to certify unfit aircraft for travel. Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege reports from Abuja.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Itzhak Perlman Performs at the White House

Itzhak Perlman performs at the White House during a dinner in honor of President Shimon Peres of Israel.

President Obama Awards Shimon Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama awards President Shimon Peres of Israel the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a dinner at the White House in the East Room. An ardent advocate for Israel's security and for peace, Shimon Peres was elected the ninth President of Israel in 2007. Through his life and work, he has strengthened the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.

White House Briefs

Greek Elections Could Lead to an EU Exit

The Journal-SentinelBusinessMirror

By Leah Becerra

Anchor: Megan Murphy
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Eurozone Nations Plagued With Questions

All across the Eurozone, the worry of what will happen next is evident. Days after a bond sale the Spanish government touted as a success, there are new fears that a bailout of Spain's banks may not have been enough to keep the nation from economic disaster. In Italy, Mario Monti, the prime minister, continues to insist that Rome is not in need of a bailout. But for some, the implementation of austerity measures will not be enough to save the Italian economy. In Greece, this weekend's election will determine whether Athens accepts the eurozone's bailout and austerity scheme or if it could be the first nation to drop out of the economic bloc. Al Jazeera's Sonia Gallego reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Oval Office Chat Session: Obama, Van Rompuy and Calderon

Eurozone and G-20 Summit Among Topics Discussed

President Obama spoke separately today to European Council President Van Rompuy and Mexican President Felipe Calderon to discuss the economic situation in Europe as well as preparations for the June 18-19 G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. 

This continues the President’s close consultations with fellow leaders about the global economy. President Van Rompuy agreed on the importance of steps to strengthen the resilience of the Eurozone and growth in Europe and globally. 

President Calderon discussed the agenda of the Mexican Presidency of the G-20. 

In both calls, the leaders agreed to work closely together toward a successful Los Cabos Summit. 

The Power of the Pen: Bills Signed Into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary on S. 3261

On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, the President signed into law:

S. 3261, which authorizes the Chief of the Forest Service to award specified contracts for large air tankers in support of its fire suppression efforts.

'New Yorkers Will Have New Safeguards to Stop These Intrusive Calls'

Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo on the Passage of Telemarketing Legislation

"The legislation passed by both the Assembly and Senate that takes major steps to prevent unwanted and annoying telemarketing calls is a big win for the people of New York State. We all know what it is like to be harassed in our homes or on our cell phones by calls from telemarketers trying to sell their products, and with the legislation passed today New Yorkers will have new safeguards to stop these intrusive calls. I applaud the members of the Legislature for their swift passage of this important bill."

Details on the legislation are available here: Telemarketing Bill

Aljazeera's Top News Stories

Israel to Deport African Migrants

Israeli police have rounded up more than 200 African migrants for deportation since Sunday. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says illegal immigrants threaten the security and identity of the Jewish state. Polls suggest many Israelis agree. Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports from Tel Aviv.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

UN Official Calls Syria Conflict 'Civil War'

Herve Ladsous, the head of the United Nations' peacekeeping operations, has said that the situation in Syria now amounts to a full-scale civil war. Meanwhile, the United States says Russia is sending attack helicopters to the country. Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Children Rescued from Indian Factory

Social activists, with the support of the police, have raided a New Delhi factory employing children aged between six and 13. The children, who had been working there for more than a year, came from other regions of India like West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, according to the activists. Their parents, often poor and living in rural areas, were approached by brokers who promised them their child would be looked after and educated. The brokers also promised their child would send them money. In recent weeks, the state minister for labour and employment has emphasised the government's commitment to stamp out under-age labour, but charities say children living in poverty are still at risk. Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman reports from New Delhi.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English. 

Sectarian Violence Continues in Myanmar

Security forces in Myanmar are struggling to contain violence in the country's west. At least nine people have been killed in the latest fighting between Buddhists and Muslims. Hundreds are now trying to escape into neighbouring Bangladesh. Al Jazeera's Khadija Magardie reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Curfew in Tunisia After Widespread Riots

A Tunisian military court has sentenced former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to 20 years in jail for inciting violence during a police attempt to smuggle his nephew out of the country. It took place during last year's revolt which overthrew Ben Ali, now living in exile in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the government has imposed a curfew following widespread riots, the worst street violence since the revolution. Will Jordan reports.

Video courtesy of Aljazeera English.

Verizon Rolls Out Shared Data Plan


By Evan Thomas

Anchor: Nathan Byrne
Video courtesy of

JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon to Apologize in Senate Testimony


By Ferdous Al Faruque

Anchor: Brice Sander
Video courtesy of

KKK Denied Application to Adopt Highway


By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Lauren Zima
Video courtesy of

Online and On-Air: Obama, Romney Drop Millions on New Ads


By Zach Toombs

Anchor: Christina Hartman
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