JASTA ► Legislation Authorizing Saudi Arabia 911 Lawsuits The U.S. Senate passed legislation on 17 MAY that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia's government for damages, setting up a potential showdown with the White House, which has threatened a veto. The Saudis, who deny responsibility for the 2001 attacks, strongly object to the bill. They had said they might sell up to $750 billion in U.S. securities and other American assets in retaliation if it became law. The "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act," or JASTA, passed the Senate by unanimous voice vote. It must next be taken up by the U.S. House of Representatives, where the Judiciary Committee intends to hold a hearing on the measure in the near future, a committee aide said.
If it became law, JASTA would remove the sovereign immunity, preventing lawsuits against governments, for countries found to be involved in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. It would allow survivors of the attacks, and relatives of those killed in the attacks, to seek damages from other countries. In this case, it would allow lawsuits to proceed in federal court in New York as lawyers try to prove that the Saudis were involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir has said his country's objection to the bill is based on principles of international relations. "What (Congress is) doing is stripping the principle of sovereign immunities which would turn the world for international law into the law of the jungle," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
James Kreindler, a prominent trial lawyer who represents 9/11 families and won large payouts for the victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan American Airways Flight 103 over Scotland, said he expected the bill to pass the House and become law. "It would be crazy for (President Barack) Obama to veto bipartisan legislation (which would) open (U.S.) courts to victims of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history," Kreindler said. Republican Senator John Cornyn, also a sponsor of the bill, said JASTA does not target the Saudis, although he alluded to a still-classified section of a report on the Sept. 11 attacks that Saudi critics say might implicate Riyadh. "We have yet to see the 28 pages that have not been yet released about the 9/11 report, and that may well be instructive," Cornyn said at the news conference. Other lawmakers who have seen the 28 pages have said releasing them would quiet such rumors. Cornyn said it was up to the court to decide whether the Saudis were liable. "I don't believe that this will be destructive of the relationship that we have with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," he said.
The White House said Obama still plans to veto JASTA. "This legislation would change long-standing, international law regarding sovereign immunity," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a daily press briefing. "And the president of the United States continues to harbor serious concerns that this legislation would make the United States vulnerable in other court systems around the world." Asked if Senate Democrats would back a veto, Schumer said he would vote against Obama. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had opposed the bill, said the version passed on Tuesday eased his worries that it might leave U.S. allies more vulnerable to lawsuits, for example if groups based within their borders but not supported by their governments were behind a terrorist attack. "We don't want to alienate allies, but we do want to create redress if a nation-state was involved in helping a terrorist organization attack American interests, and I think they should be held liable," Graham said in a brief interview. [Source: Reuters | Patricia Zengerle | May 17, 2016 ++]
National Security ►EMP Threat Electromagnetic pulses and violent space weather outbursts might seem like national security threats straight out of science fiction. But the House Homeland Security Committee wants to ensure federal agencies are doing their best to prepare for them. During an Oversight and Management Efficiency subcommittee hearing 17 MAY, legislators reviewed the possible ramifications that a man-made EMP weapon, detonated nuclear device or even space weather phenomena could have on the nation’s power grid. While seemingly remote, the threats drew comparisons to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
While unlikely, being unprepared could mean loss of life and could be devastating to the nation’s telecommunications and power grid, lawmakers said. One report estimates the potential cost of a large-scale solar storm, emanating from a large release of energy by the sun, could exceed $2 trillion and leave large portions of the population without power for months or longer. “Investigations determined the attack on Pearl Harbor was possible, not probable,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA). “Same thing for 9/11.” In fact, small-scale solar events have occurred before and caused damage to modern critical infrastructure. In 1989, a geomagnetic storm shut down the Quebec Hydro Electricity Network for days and ultimately cost nearly $2 billion in damages. Rep. Earl Carter (R-GA) said EMP and space weather ought to be treated “as a top priority,” but questioned whether federal officials were taking it seriously, highlighting a March report by the Government Accountability Office. That report said there wasn’t a single entity within the Homeland Security Department focused on electromagnetic risks.
The first notable solar flare of 2015, as observed from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The White House’s National Space Weather Action Plan, published in October, establishes responsibilities for agencies in the event of space weather-related phenomena, but electromagnetic risks aren’t addressed explicitly in that policy. “I wouldn’t characterize it as a low priority,” said Brandon Wales, director of DHS’ Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis. “The Space Weather Action Plan that applies across the agency demonstrates the department is extremely focused on doing what it can.” In testimony 17 MAY Chris Currie, GAO’s director of Homeland Security and Justice, said DHS and the Energy Department were not duplicating work and had addressed many of GAO’s March recommendations. But while DOE and DHS are working together to determine what EMP events would cause the most damage to power systems, Currie told the subcommittee there was otherwise “little partnering between agencies.” More industry engagement will also be important, he said, as the nation’s telecommunications and power grid infrastructure is chiefly owned by industry, not the government.
Included among that infrastructure are some 55,000 power substations across the country, any of which could require up to a year of lead time to replace. A single solar storm could knock out hundreds of them at once. “The industry argument is that we can’t protect each of these,” said Joseph McClelland, director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Infrastructure. McClelland argued assets should be focused around functionality – prioritizing the stations that would be needed to provide skeletal services to urban areas, for example. In any case, McClelland suggested more collaboration is necessary in the near future if the U.S. wants to mitigate against sophisticated electromagnetic weaponry or Mother Nature gone mad. “The United States is falling behind in EMP and space weather preparedness,” McClelland said. [Source: Nextgov | Frank Konkel | May 17, 2016 ++]
Remember When ► Nostalgia (6) For those who never saw any of the Burma Shave signs, here is a quick lesson in our history of the 1930s and 1940s. Before there were interstates, when everyone drove the old 2 lane roads, Burma Shave signs would be posted all over the countryside in farmers' fields. They were small red signs with white letters. Five signs, about 100 feet apart, each contain 1 line of a 4 line couplet.....And the obligatory 5th sign advertising Burma Shave, a popular shaving cream.
DON'T STICK YOUR ELBOW
OUT SO FAR
IT MAY GO HOME
IN ANOTHER CAR.
TRAINS DON'T WANDER
ALL OVER THE MAP
'CAUSE NOBODY SITS
IN THE ENGINEER'S LAP
SHE KISSED THE HAIRBRUSH
SHE THOUGHT IT WAS
HER HUSBAND JAKE
DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD
TO GAIN A MINUTE
YOU NEED YOUR HEAD
YOUR BRAINS ARE IN IT
DROVE TOO LONG
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
IS NOT AMUSING
GOOD MORNING, NURSE
TO HER RECKLESS DEAR
LET'S HAVE LESS BULL
AND A LITTLE MORE STEER
SPEED WAS HIGH
WEATHER WAS NOT
TIRES WERE THIN
X MARKS THE SPOT
THE MIDNIGHT RIDE
OF PAUL FOR BEER
LED TO A WARMER
AROUND THE CURVE
NO MATTER THE PRICE
NO MATTER HOW NEW
THE BEST SAFETY DEVICE
IN THE CAR IS YOU
A GUY WHO DRIVES
A CAR WIDE OPEN
IS NOT THINKIN'
HE'S JUST HOPIN'
LOOK EACH WAY
A HARP SOUNDS NICE
BUT IT'S HARD TO PLAY
BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL
EYES ON THE ROAD
THAT'S THE SKILLFUL
THE ONE WHO DRIVES
WHEN HE'S BEEN DRINKING
DEPENDS ON YOU
TO DO HIS THINKING
CAR IN DITCH
DRIVER IN TREE
THE MOON WAS FULL
AND SO WAS HE.
PASSING SCHOOL ZONE
TAKE IT SLOW
LET OUR LITTLE
HE SAW THE TRAIN
AND TRIED TO DUCK IT
HE KICKED THE GAS
AND THEN THE BUCKET !!
A MAN A MISS,
A CAR A CURVE,
HE KISSED THE MISS,
AND MISSED THE CURVE,
[Source: http://www.modelaircraft.org/insider/07_11/burma.htm May 2016 ++]
Help!!! ► Things that might make you say it (09)
Brain Teaser ► Odd Name Out Which name in the following does not belong?
The Dead Sea.
The West Indies.
Have You Heard? ►Questions 2 Can you cry under water?
How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?
Why do you have to "put your two cents in".. But it's only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?
Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?
Why does a round pizza come in a square box?
What disease did cured ham actually have?
How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours?
If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?
Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?
Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?
Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.
Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?
Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?
If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why in hell is there a stupid song about him?
Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane ?
If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?
Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn't he just buy dinner?
If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?
If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?
Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?
Brain Teaser Answer ► Odd Name Out
October is the 10th month, not the eighth, as the name implies.
Greenland is mostly covered with an ice sheet and is not at all green.
The West Indies are in the Caribbean, not off the coast of India.
Li’l Abner is big, not small.
So, the answer is Dead Sea, which is really dead. Due to its extremely high salt content, no plants, or animals can live in it. Tourists thrive there, however!
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