Blogs

New NIE on Terrorist Threats to the US Homeland

| Tue Jul. 17, 2007 8:17 AM EDT

Coming at 10am from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on terrorist threats against the US homeland. I previewed some of what will be released here last week:

--Concern that Al Qaeda is getting more comfortable in "ungoverned spaces" of Pakistan, due to various factors, including a recent agreement by the Pakistani authorities with tribal leaders to leave Islamic militants in Waziristan alone. Intelligence community seeing more signs Al Qaeda is regrouping, able to train, and communicate in Pakistan ...
--Expect a new National Intelligence Estimate on terrorist threats to the homeland (this is not yet officially out ...), which [ODNI intel chief Thomas] Fingar rated the greatest threat to US national security. Al Qaida remains the greatest threat to the country. US intel community is increasingly concerned about Al Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan using Europe, and in particular the UK, as a gateway to target the US homeland. Thwarted airplane plot last summer "very sophisticated" and of the type that concerns them, with its mix of UK and Pakistani-based terrorists working together on a plot to target the US. ...

We'll post and analyze the report when it's out. But for starters, go read Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank on how the Iraq war has increased the terrorism threat sevenfold worldwide.

Update: Here's the report (.pdf).

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Top Ten Stuff 'n' Things - 7/16/07

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 11:23 PM EDT

I know I said I didn't like reggae. But, I lied. Mostly I just don't like people who like reggae, especially people in San Francisco who like reggae. Take a shower! But, ensconced in my relatively tidy house, with running water and clean air that doesn't reek sourly of weed (I swear! It doesn't!) sometimes that loping dancehall beat hits the spot. Thus, the presence of four, count 'em, four reggae or kinda-reggae tracks on this week's Top Ten, plus the usual techno and stuff. Welcome to Jamrock:

mojo-photo-teganandsara2.jpg10. Tegan & Sara - "The Con" (from The Con, out 7/24 on Sire)
(iTunes link)
Not reggae, and not quite as instantly catchy as 2005's "Walking With a Ghost," the Canadian duo still bring infectious melodies to this slightly rockier single. Their lyrics are as obtuse as ever ("I'm capsized, staring on the edge of safe") but clearly impart the pain and confusion of a breakup.

mojo-cover-builttospill.jpg9. Built to Spill - "They Got Away" (single on Warner Bros.)
(mp3s just taken down from Stereogum here, but they promise a stream soon, or, wow, buy it on iTunes)
Hey whoa, remember this band? Ten years ago (!) they made Perfect From Now On, a near-masterpiece of epic, heartbreaking 7- and 8-minute songs reminiscent of Neil Young. Now they've put out a, er, one-off reggae single, but somehow it works. Don't worry, it's still in a minor key, with lead singer Doug Marsch lamenting "they got the things that they came for," before the band launches into an echoey instrumental dub.

mojo-photo-peoplepressplay.jpg8. People Press Play - "These Days" (from the self-titled album on Morr) (mp3 via Boule a Facettes)
This icy track from the Copenhagen quartet could fit on your mix tape with Air and Swayzak, but they're unapolagetically synthy, with glitchy percussion and bubbling bass owing more to Aphex Twin, and a theremin-reminiscent solo at the end. Plus I think I have that same Ikea stool from their publicity photo. Flüggi or whatever.

mojo-cover-justicecross.jpg7. Justice - "Genesis" (from on Ed Banger / Vice)
(mp3 via Hate Something Beautiful)
The first track on the French duo's new album makes explicit the hard-rock connection with what sounds like a Sabbath sample. But then it heads straight for techno-land, with acid squelches rising up in pitch until you can just imagine the hands-in-the-air cheers of the basement crowd.

mojo-photo-thepack.jpg6. The Pack - "Robocop" (from the forthcoming Based Boys)
(Stream at The Fader blog here)
This Bay Area rap crew had trouble getting their last video, "Vans," on MTV, seeing as it's about a trademarked shoe product; can somebody tell the Pack that their latest song title is shared with a movie that starred our freakin' Governator er, features a robotic cop?! Thankfully it makes sense: as The Fader points out, you can totally do the robot all day to the song's Kraftwerky beats.

Vitter Watch: Senator Denies Ever Visiting New Orleans Establishment

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 10:25 PM EDT

In his first public appearance since going into seclusion, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter faced the news media today and denied he had ever visited the establishment of the "Canal Street Madam," Jeanette Maier, who says Vitter paid $300 an hour for services. Vitter, with his wife Wendy by his side, said again--as he said in 2004--that he had no relationship with a prostitute named Wendy or with any New Orleans prostitute. His only explanation for why Maier said he was a client and why there are alleged photos of him and Wendy Cortez was that his admission of guilt in the DC Madam scandal "has encouraged some long-time political enemies...to spread falsehoods."

UN's Ban Ki-moon To Press Bush on Climate Change

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 7:01 PM EDT

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he would press President Bush over climate change when they meet in Washington on Tuesday, Reuters reports. "On climate change, I'm encouraged by a high level of expectations as well as representation on that special high level meeting on Sept. 24," Ban said, referring to a conference on the environment that he has called for September on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly. "I would like to discuss this matter with President Bush and would expect President Bush and the American administration will be represented at the highest possible level." JULIA WHITTY

Karl Rove's Reefer Madness-Induced Memory Loss

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 5:26 PM EDT
reefer_madness.gif

Karl Rove's game sure has improved since he was a young Republican on the make in the early 1970s. The New York Times recently found a letter written by Rove in the Nixon archives in which the 22-year-old Capitol Hill aide outlines his ideas to recruit kids for a sexy-sounding group called "New Federalism Advocates." His big idea: midnight showings of John Wayne movies and Reefer Madness. Like many a former fan of the cult antidrug flick, Rove now pleads memory loss. "God, this is 1973!" he told the Times. "You work the math. I don't remember it all."

Rove also said he's not surprised his old letter was found, explaining, "When you send something to a White House person, it tends to be collected and remain." Yeah, unless that White House person happens to be "Dude, Where's My Email?" Rove.

Karl Rove's Reefer Madness-Induced Memory Loss

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 5:24 PM EDT
reefer_madness.gif

Karl Rove's game sure has improved since he was a young Republican on the make in the early 1970s. The New York Times recently found a letter written by Rove in the Nixon archives in which the 22-year-old Capitol Hill aide outlines his ideas to recruit kids for a sexy-sounding group called "New Federalism Advocates." His big idea: midnight showings of John Wayne movies and Reefer Madness. Like many a former fan of the cult antidrug flick, Rove now pleads memory loss. "God, this is 1973!" he told the Times. "You work the math. I don't remember it all."

Rove also said he's not surprised his old letter was found, explaining, "When you send something to a White House person, it tends to be collected and remain." Yeah, unless that White House person happens to be "Dude, Where's My Email?" Rove.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Live Earth Germany Loses Big Euros

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 4:07 PM EDT

mojo-photo-liveearthlogo.JPGI promise I'm not jumping on the Drudge-led Live Earth-bashing "there's no global warming" bandwagon, but this is the story: Billboard.biz reports the German edition of Live Earth on July 7th lost 1.3 million buckaroos. Ticket sales and merchandise added up to about $1.7 million, but costs added up to $2 million, not including the $1 million they paid to the Live Earth organization, for what exactly it's not clear. Access to the Al Gore holographic projection data stream? Anyway, perhaps it was the lineup that kept ticket buyers away (only 29,000 of 45,000 were sold): the big names were Chris Cornell, Snoop Dogg, and DJ Sasha. Weird! Buried at the end of the Billboard story: news that the City of Hamburg is now stuck with the bill. Sorry, Hamburgers: that money we were going to spend on energy-efficient light bulbs, it's, ah, being redirected.

Sick of "Umbrella" Yet? Don't Be

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 3:50 PM EDT

mojo-photo-rihanna.jpg Barbadian teen superstar Rihanna could be heading for the record books: her summer anthem "Umbrella" just extended its reign at the top of the UK charts to eight weeks. Will it go another week? The last single to spend nine weeks at #1 was, in fact, Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" (see previous post), which was famously "deleted" (i.e., removed from distribution and chart eligibility) in order to prevent Gnarls overload. So, is "Umbrella" in danger of, er, gouging everyone's ears out? Not yet, says The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey, who gives nine reasons why he's still enjoying the "ella, ella, ay, ay, ay:"

1. It's such an improbable R&B summer smash. Neither laidback and fuzzy nor upbeat and exuberant, it's more like a rock power ballad stripped down to drums, voice, and thundercloud synths. Plus - and more on this later - it's about rain, for crying out loud. Who writes a summer song about rain?

He goes on to cite the track's detailed production, Rihanna's voice (and good looks), and even maintains the much-maligned intro rap from Jay-Z is actually a positive, throwing the rest of the track's brilliance into sharper relief, I guess. The track's current seven-week reign in the US means we should also be inching towards "Umbrella" saturation soon, but one of Lynskey's reasons to hold out is peculiarly British: the endless rain that has apparently been pouring down on the UK all summer makes the song seem oddly relevant. Interestingly enough, the rain has been so bad that an Ireland radio station that's been playing my Snow Police mash-up got in touch with me to do a mash-up commission (in an apparent attempt to break the curse of the summer storms): a combo of "Umbrella" with any song about sun, or warmth, or drought, or dryness of any sort. I gave it a try with "Walkin' on Sunshine," but it didn't really work. Sorry, waterlogged Irish kids…

Gnarls Barkley Talks New Album, Barely

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 3:03 PM EDT

mojo-photo-gnarls2.JPG

Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) gave an interview to Billboard recently to discuss the upcoming sophomore effort from Gnarls Barkley, but didn't say, or offer, very much. He apparently went back on a promise to play multiple songs from the new album, instead offering to play only one, from his personal iPod, and don't look at it or ask any questions:

"I can play the song now or after the interview," he says. "I'm not going to talk about the song, so it doesn't matter when I play it. And I can't tell you the name of the song, either."

Urp. He also refuses to give a name or possible release date for the new album (the follow-up to last year's surprise hit, the 1.3-million-selling St. Elsewhere). Idolator muses that perhaps he's "cracking a little under the pressure," but this kind of secrecy worked for "Crazy:" mp3s of the track began circulating in late 2005 without a title attached, an acapella of Cee-Lo's vocal was never released or distributed (despite voracious demand from bootleggers eager to pull a Grey Album on Danger Mouse), and it took months for bloggers to track down the original sample. While "Crazy" was a once-in-a-lifetime slice of brilliance, perhaps Burton's tactic of resisting the internet age's mantra of "everything you wanted to know (and even things you didn't want to know) all the time" is an astute strategy for hit-making. We'll see whenever the new album comes out.


KA Paul Says Bush Has Brought Death Upon "Thousands of Orphans and Widows"

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 2:27 PM EDT

The reverend KA Paul is at it again. The self-proclaimed advocate for the Third World poor, conscience of Third World dictators, and peddler of poorly inspected brands of snake oil, has stepped up his rebellion against his erstwhile patrons in the Republican Right, this time, through the court system in his native India. According to a press release, Paul has filed suit in Bangalore on behalf of thousands of widows and orphans who supposedly died after President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice exerted their influence to cancel a peace mission with former Indian Prime Minister Deva Gowda to Iran, Libya, Sudan, Venezuela and Syria. I'm not sure how Bush was allegedly involved, how orphans allegedly died, and why anyone in India is still talking to Paul, who has been widely exposed as fraud, because the release didn't explain it. Still, I can't help but marvel at how Paul manages to keep getting attention. In October, I reported on his meeting with Rep. Dennis Hastert, in which he claimed to have convinced the embattled Speaker to resign over the Foley sex scandal. Ironically, Paul is now wrapped up in his own sex scandal: he was arrested in Los Angeles in May on suspicion of "lewd and lascivious acts with a minor." What's safe to say is that Paul (whom The New Republic once called "The world's most popular evangelist") will crusade on in his pirate ship as reliably as the political winds will blow him to some modicum of fame. Perhaps that explains his uncanny popularity with some evangelists here in America.