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Archive for July 25th, 2013

Scourge of whom? US Presidents, Israel, Freedom of Expression… Helen Thomas dies at 93

You may read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/us-reporters-dean-helene-thomas/

Helen Thomas, a wire service correspondent and columnist whose sharp questions from the front row of the White House press room challenged and annoyed 10 presidents and who was effective in divulging information that federal officials tried to keep secret, died July 20 at her home in Washington. She was 92.

A friend, retired journalist Muriel Dobbin, confirmed her death. No immediate cause of death was disclosed, but Ms. Thomas had been on dialysis for a kidney ailment.

 published this July 20, 2013 E-mail the writer

Helen Thomas, feisty scourge of presidents, dies at 92

“Not intimidated by presidents or press secretaries, Ms. Thomas was known as the dean of the White House press corps for her longevity in the beat. She reported for the United Press International wire service for almost 60 years.

Among the most-recognized reporters in America, Ms. Thomas was a short, dark-eyed woman with a gravelly voice who, for many years, rose from her front-row seat at presidential news conferences to ask the first or second question. For nearly 30 years, she closed the sessions with a no-nonsense “Thank you, Mr. President.”

“Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism,” President Obama said in a statement. “She covered every White House since President Kennedy’s, and during that time she never failed to keep presidents — myself included — on their toes.”

Ms. Thomas’s pointed queries often agitated the powerful, but she was also lauded for posing questions “almost like a housewife in Des Moines would ask,” a colleague once said. She asked President Richard M. Nixon point-blank what his secret plan to end the Vietnam War was, and she asked President Ronald Reagan what right the United States had to invade Grenada in 1983.

Video

Helen Thomas, a long-time White House correspondent and a pioneer for women in journalism, has died. She was 92. A friend, Muriel Dobbin, says Thomas died at her apartment in Washington on Saturday morning.

Helen Thomas, a long-time White House correspondent and a pioneer for women in journalism, has died. She was 92. A friend, Muriel Dobbin, says Thomas died at her apartment in Washington on Saturday morning.

 When President George H.W. Bush announced that the defense budget would remain the same after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disappearance of communism in Europe, she succinctly asked, “Who’s the enemy?”

“I respect the office of the presidency,” she told Ann McFeatters for a 2006 profile in Ms. magazine, “but I never worship at the shrines of our public servants. They owe us the truth.”Ms. Thomas had a number of scoops, including her exclusive interviews with Martha Mitchell, which helped expose some aspects of the Watergate scandal. Mitchell, the wife of Attorney General John Mitchell, told Thomas in late-night phone calls that she had seen a Nixon campaign strategy book that included plans for Watergate-style operations. Thomas also broke the story that Nixon’s speechwriters were working on a resignation address that he would give the next day.Her strength was her indefatigable pursuit of hard news, the bread-and-butter staple of the wire services. She arrived at work every morning before dawn and accompanied presidents on overseas trips. She was the only female print reporter to accompany Nixon on his historic visit to China, and later, in her 70s and 80s, she often outdistanced younger reporters on arduous around-the-world travels.

Her unparalleled experience covering the presidency earned her the respect and affection of both colleagues and public officials for decades.

Expanding U.S. military drone surveillance: to hot spots beyond declared combat zones?

The steel-gray U.S. Air Force Predator drone plunged from the sky, shattering on mountainous terrain near the Iraq-Turkey border. For Kurdish guerrillas hiding nearby, it was an unexpected gift from the propaganda gods.

Fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, filmed the charred wreckage on Sept. 18 and posted a video on YouTube. A narrator bragged unconvincingly that the group had shot down the drone.

For anyone who might doubt that the flying robot was really American, the video zoomed in on mangled parts stamped in English and bearing the label of the manufacturer, San Diego-based General Atomics.

 published in The Washington Post, E-mail the writer “U.S. military drone surveillance is expanding to hot spots beyond declared combat zones”

For a brief moment, the crash drew back the curtain on Operation Nomad Shadow, a secretive U.S. military surveillance program.

Since November 2011, the U.S. Air Force has been flying unarmed drones from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey in an attempt to suppress a long-simmering regional conflict. The camera-equipped Predators hover above the rugged border with Iraq and beam high-resolution imagery to the Turkish armed forces, helping them pursue PKK rebels as they slip back and forth across the mountains.

As the Obama administration dials back the number of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, the U.S. military is shifting its huge fleet of unmanned aircraft to other hot spots around the world. This next phase of drone warfare is focused more on spying than killing and will extend the Pentagon’s robust surveillance networks far beyond traditional, declared combat zones.

Over the past decade, the Pentagon has amassed more than 400 Predators, Reapers, Hunters, Gray Eagles and other high-altitude drones that have revolutionized counterterrorism operations. Some of the unmanned aircraft will return home with U.S. troops when they leave Afghanistan.

Many of the drones will redeploy to fresh frontiers, where they will spy on a mélange of armed groups, drug runners, pirates and other targets that worry U.S. officials.

Graphic

See where the Pentagon operates its drone fleet

Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

See where the Pentagon operates its drone fleet

Elsewhere in the Middle East, the U.S. Air Force has drone hubs in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to conduct reconnaissance over the Persian Gulf. Twice since November, Iran has scrambled fighter jets to approach or fire on U.S. Predator drones that edged close to Iranian airspace.In Africa, the U.S. Air Force began flying unarmed drones over the Sahara five months ago to track al-Qaeda fighters and rebels in northern Mali. The Pentagon has also set up drone bases in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Seychelles. Even so, the commander of U.S. forces in Africa told Congress in February that he needed a 15-fold increase in surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering on the continent.In an April speech, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the Pentagon is planning for the first time to send Reaper drones — a bigger, faster version of the Predator — to parts of Asia other than Afghanistan. He did not give details. A Defense Department spokeswoman said the military “hasn’t made any final decisions yet” but is “committed to increasing” its surveillance in Asia and the Pacific.

Continued

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