Susan's Feed
Apr 18, 2013

Suspect in U.S. ricin letter threat obsessed by Elvis, body parts

WASHINGTON, April 18 (Reuters) – Paul Kevin Curtis, charged
this week with sending toxic letters to President Barack Obama
and other politicians, grew disenchanted with government over a
scandal he claimed to uncover in a Mississippi hospital morgue,
where he said he found human organs destined for black market
sale.

Curtis, 45, best known in Mississippi as an Elvis
impersonator who once went to jail dressed in costume, wrote
angry letters to government officials and tried to talk to U.S.
Senator Roger Wicker at a performance, according to an account
posted on the internet by a Paul Kevin Curtis.

Apr 17, 2013

Preliminary tests show letter to Obama contains poison ricin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A letter addressed to President Barack Obama contained a substance that preliminarily tested positive for the deadly poison ricin, authorities said on Wednesday.

News that the letter to Obama was being investigated came as a flurry of other reports of suspicious letters and a package caused the evacuation of parts of two Senate buildings and set nerves in Washington on edge.

Apr 12, 2013

U.S. names 18 people as alleged human rights abusers in Russia

WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters) – The Obama administration on
Friday designated 18 people under a U.S. law requiring a list of
alleged human rights abusers in Russia, in a move that could
cause more friction in the U.S. relationship with Moscow.

The list includes 16 people directly related to the case of
Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in his jail
cell in 2009, as well as two others, a senior State Department
official said on condition of anonymity. Those named on the list
will be subject to visa bans and asset freezes in the United
States under a law passed by Congress last year.

Apr 12, 2013

U.S. to list 18 alleged human rights abusers in Russia: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration will send Congress on Friday a list of 18 alleged abusers of human rights in Russia, a congressional source said, in a move that could cause more friction in the U.S. relationship with Moscow.

The list includes 16 people directly related to the case of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in his jail cell in 2009, as well as two others, said the source, who asked not to be named. The people named on the list will be subject to visa bans and asset freezes in the United States under a law passed by Congress last year.

Mar 28, 2013

U.S. debates how severely to penalize Russia in human rights spat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a controversy underscoring continued stresses in U.S.-Russia relations, Obama administration officials are debating how many Russian officials to ban from the United States under a new law meant to penalize Moscow for alleged human rights abuses.

The debate’s outcome, expected in about two weeks, is likely to illustrate how President Barack Obama will handle what critics say is a crackdown on dissent in Russia and set the tone for Washington-Moscow relations in the president’s second term.

Mar 22, 2013

U.S. rethinking lowest-priced contract rule for guarding embassies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawmakers are reconsidering a 1990 law that makes the State Department accept the lowest bids for contracts to provide private security at most U.S. diplomatic posts, a requirement that can lead to the hiring of thousands of guards based on how cheap they are rather than their quality.

Concerns about the policy, which was aimed at cutting costs, were heightened by the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, last September, in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. None of the local guards was outside the lightly defended complex when it was overrun by militants, according to the results of a U.S. government inquiry.

Mar 4, 2013

House Republicans propose extra $2 billion for embassy security

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House Republican leaders proposed on Monday to spend another $2 billion on U.S. diplomatic security this year, using money unspent in Iraq to provide cash the Obama administration said was necessary to help prevent another Benghazi-style attack.

The proposal, an exception amid general budget cutbacks, is part of the House Republican majority’s plan for funding the government for the rest of fiscal 2013, which ends on September 30. Much of the legislation would continue government spending at the same level of last year – minus cuts mandated by the so-called sequestration that took effect last week.

Feb 15, 2013

More than half U.S. diplomatic posts may not meet security rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than half the U.S. diplomatic posts overseas may not fully meet security standards, a senior U.S. official told a hearing on Thursday that follows an attack on the mission in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans died.

Pat Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management at the State Department, told a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee that the United States had a diplomatic presence at 283 locations around the world.

Feb 13, 2013

U.S. should hit the “pause” button on Afghan aid: watchdog

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government should reconsider whether to spend more on reconstruction aid in Afghanistan, the U.S. watchdog who monitors the funds said on Wednesday, citing Afghanistan’s persistent corruption and inability to manage projects as U.S. troops withdraw.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction, said $20 billion in U.S. assistance for Afghanistan had been appropriated but not yet spent. Nearly $10 billion more in aid may soon be approved by Congress.

Feb 12, 2013

Afghanistan can’t handle direct aid, U.S. watchdog says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s government does not appear able to manage the large amounts of direct aid that the United States and other countries have pledged, the U.S. watchdog monitoring funds spent on Afghan reconstruction said.

John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, raised a red flag over U.S. plans to give Kabul billions of dollars more in direct aid instead of providing assistance through contractors and non-governmental organizations operating on behalf of the American government.