The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, released on December 13, proves to be an outstanding first film in this new Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy, the second installment of which is scheduled to hit theaters December 2013. It brings J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel about Middle-Earth to life in a way that can be accomplished only through masterful use of plot elements, impressive technological advances, charismatic performances, and top-notch direction and cinematography.
In an article posted by Libertarian-minded Judge Andrew Napolitano on LewRockwell.com on Thursday, Napolitano asserts that government spying has gotten out of control. According to Napolitano, both the Democratic and Republican Parties have justified the process of spying on American citizens and the violation of constitutional rights in the process, always under the guise of security, and in doing so, have violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution.
The Obama administration is expected to announce Wednesday the recognition of the new Syrian opposition group Syrian National Coalition in the hope that it will expedite the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The announcement is expected to come when American, European, and Arab diplomats meet in Morocco.
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner sat down on Sunday, December 9, for the first time in 23 days to discuss the fiscal cliff, but it seems a deal still has not been reached. However, both men seemed to come to agreement on one item, and that is what to say publicly regarding their talk.
The debate between congressional Republicans and Democrats over how to address the impending fiscal cliff remains heated, but Republicans are beginning to make concessions in an effort to reach a deal. House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday that by closing loopholes, taxes will effectively be increased on the so-called “rich,” in order to generate more revenue. Even with that concession, however, no deal has been reached between the two parties on the fiscal cliff.
The Alameda County, California sheriff’s office has been forced to suspend the purchase of a surveillance drone after constitutionalists and activists slammed the agency with concerns that the use of the unmanned aerial vehicle would violate privacy protections.
The sheriff’s office had asked the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to approve a $31,646 grant to purchase a drone. The money was part of a $1.2-million grant handed out by the California Emergency Management Agency.
County supervisors were preparing to vote on the use of grant money for such a purchase, but the public outcry from civil rights attorneys and anti-drone advocates has now forced the sheriff’s office to postpone the decision.
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted against the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees, despite veto threats from the White House. The measure was an amendment to the annual Defense Authorization Bill, which failed by a vote of 54-41, with 10 Democrats voting against their party in favor of the amendment.
Texas Republican Ron Paul, Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, and New Jersey Democrat Rush Holt are continuing the fight in the House of Representatives against the use of drones for targeted killing by the Obama administration. They have once again called upon the Obama administration to release documents to justify the use of the overseas drone strikes.
While the U.S. economy is said to be en route to go over the so-called "fiscal cliff" on January 1, Congress has made little headway in the process of reaching a solution, though there were indications of compromise over the weekend. Unless a compromise is reached, the American people will experience an onslaught of tax increases and spending cuts that the Congressional Budget Office says will set the economy on a downward spiral.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has announced that he will not be supporting the controversial Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act, which he wrote, after fierce criticism arose from a variety of groups over his revision to the bill allowing federal agencies warrantless access to Americans' e-mail accounts. The revised version of the legislation was antithetical to the original measure, which included a requirement for a search warrant.