Angela Merkel denied access to NSA file on her government

The US government is refusing to grant Angela Merkel access to her NSA file or answer formal questions from Germany about its surveillance activities, raising the stakes before a crucial visit by the German chancellor to Washington.

Merkel will meet Barack Obama in three weeks, on her first visit to the US capital since documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been monitoring her phone.

The face-to-face meeting between the two world leaders had been intended as an effort to publicly heal wounds after the controversy, but Germany remains frustrated by the White House’s refusal to come clean about its surveillance activities in the country.

In October, Obama personally assured Merkel that the US is no longer monitoring her calls, and promised it will not do so in the future. However, Washington has not answered a list of questions submitted by Berlin immediately after Snowden’s first tranche of revelations appeared in the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, months before the revelations over Merkel’s phone.

The Obama’s administration has also refused to enter into a mutual “no-spy” agreement with Germany, in part because Berlin is unwilling or unable to share the kinds of surveillance material the Americans say would be required for such a deal…

A senior US administration official denied the surveillance controversy would overshadow Merkel’s visit.

So, Germany isn’t spying on enough people to make it worthwhile for the White House to order diminished spying on Germans and their government. Not exactly a modern approach to democracy.

The “senior US administration official” – of course – is a liar.

RTFA article for history, details, the kind of info embraced by few journalists and even fewer editors.

Dumb Crook of the Day

A Maine man who was trying to avoid being charged with marijuana possession may now be wishing he simply pleaded to police that the pot was his.

When Douglas Glidden was stopped by police in Livermore Falls because an officer recognized him and knew his license was suspended, he “told them the marijuana found in the car was not his because he had stolen the car.”

While Glidden was being taken to the Androscoggin County Jail for booking, police said the car’s owner called and reported that it had been stolen from his driveway.

The 25-year-old was charged with felony operating under the influence, and felony counts of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer and violating condition of release.

Har.

States the most & least dependent on Federal Government

Dependent states
Click for large interactive map

The extent to which the average American’s tax burden would vary based on his state of residence represents a significant point of differentiation between state economies. But it’s only once piece of the puzzle.

What if, for example, a particular state can afford not to tax its residents at high rates because it’s receiving disproportionately more funding from the federal government than states with apparently oppressive tax codes? That would change the narrative significantly, revealing federal dependence where bold, efficient stewardship was once thought to preside.

The idea of the American freeloader burst into the public consciousness when #47percent started trending on Twitter. And while the notion is senselessly insulting to millions of hardworking Americans, it is true that some states receive a far higher return on their federal income tax investment than others.

Just how pronounced is this disparity, and to what extent does it alter our perception of state and local tax rates around the country? WalletHub sought to answer those questions by comparing the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of three key metrics: 1) Return on Taxes Paid to the Federal Government; 2) Federal Funding as a Percentage of State Revenue; and 3) Number of Federal Employees Per Capita.

Folks living in New Mexico know even without looking where we fit into this picture puzzle. Yup, tied with Mississippi at the bottom of the heap.

Our Republican governor is often spoken off as the hope for moderate Republicans as President or Vice-President in 2016. Right now, our education system battles with Mississippi for the honors of being the worst, unemployment is still increasing while the rest of the country seem to be growing a few jobs and here we are at the bottom.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Louisiana republican sets new speed record for getting caught in sleazy behavior


McAllister and some of the folks who worked to get him elected

The married U.S. congressman embroiled in controversy over kissing a woman on his Louisiana office staff may request a federal investigation into the leak of the security camera video showing the incident, his spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Republican Representative Vance McAllister, who took office last November in a special election that he won partly by promoting his Christian values, apologized on Monday after a Louisiana newspaper posted a surveillance video showing him in a passionate embrace with office scheduler Melissa Peacock, who is also married. The scandal erupted when the security video from his Monroe, Louisiana, district office was posted on the website of a local weekly newspaper, the Ouachita Citizen.

Peacock resigned from McAllister’s office on Monday, the congressman’s communications director, Jennifer Dunagin, said.

If you believe.

But McAllister considers the leak to be a serious breach in office security and may send a letter to House Speaker requesting an official investigation into the matter by the FBI, Dunagin said…

The Ouachita Citizen, which boasts a paid weekly circulation of just 5,200 copies, said it had obtained the video from an “anonymous source.” The grainy low-light footage was captured by a handheld camera pointed at a computer monitor showing multiple security camera images throughout the small office building…

The Monroe, Louisiana News-Star…quoted McAllister’s chief of staff, Adam Terry, as saying that a staffer had denied providing the video to the newspaper…

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he was glad McAllister had apologized for the incident, but declined to say whether McAllister should resign when asked by reporters…

Peacock and her husband, Heath Peacock, have longstanding ties to McAllister, each contributing $5,200 to his election campaign, according to Federal Elections Commission disclosure forms. Heath Peacock and McAllister had previously worked together at Mustang Engineering, an oil and gas pipeline and services company.

CNN quoted Heath Peacock on Tuesday as saying that he was “devastated” by the incident and blamed McAllister for ruining his marriage.

“He has wrecked my life,” Peacock told CNN. “We’re headed for divorce.”

Eric Cantor burbled a few remarks about the high standards in our Congress. I’m not certain if he’s talking about public record-keeping or what. He certainly can’t be talking about ethics or dedication to service for Americans.

Regular readers recall my dicho about “Republicans would have invented hypocrisy if Christians hadn’t beaten them to it”. Congressman McAllister gets an extra pat on the behind for catching both sides of the ethic.