Slatest PM: When Obama's New Drone Rules Don't Apply

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 29 2013 5:17 PM

Slatest PM: When Obama's New Drone Rules Don't Apply (Possibly Today, For Starters)

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In this handout released by the U.S. Navy, Northrop Grumman personnel conduct pre-operational tests on an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 13, 2013 in the Atlantic Ocean

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin J. Steinberg//U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

U.S. Drone Strike: Washington Post: "The Pakistani Taliban’s second-in-command was killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike early Wednesday in the tribal North Waziristan region, two Pakistani intelligence officials and a local Pakistani Taliban commander in the region said. ... The officials in North Waziristan, who did not want their names used, said at least four people were killed in the drone strike, including Wali ur-Rehman, a top deputy to Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. Rehman’s death would be a major blow to the Pakistani Taliban insurgency, which is waging war against the state to impose harsh Islamic law and has been linked to thousands of civilian and military deaths. In the past, however, numerous militant leaders — including Mehsud — have been falsely reported as being killed by drones or other strikes, only to quickly resurface."

When The New Rules Don't Apply: New York Times: "If confirmed, the drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal belt, along the Afghan border, would be the first since President Obama announced sweeping changes to the drone program last week, including new limits on who would be targeted and more transparency in reporting such strikes. But that map for use of American power seemed to be some distance down the road on Wednesday, as American officials refused to confirm the strike or any details for hours after the news was being reported in Pakistan. It was unclear whether the Taliban deputy leader, Wali ur-Rehman, was considered to have posed a 'continuing and imminent threat' to citizens of the United States — one of Mr. Obama’s guiding criteria for future drone strikes. But in the days since the president’s speech, American officials have asserted behind the scenes that the new standards would not apply to the C.I.A. drone program in Pakistan as long as American troops remained next door in Afghanistan."

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Attack on the Red Cross: Reuters: "Insurgents attacked the International Committee of the Red Cross in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, killing an Afghan guard in the second major assault on a humanitarian organization in less than a week. Seven staff members, believed to be the total number of foreign workers at the ICRC in Jalalabad, were rescued by Afghan police during the attack, which involved a suicide bomber and three gunmen, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. Police carried away the blood-soaked body of the guard who was shot dead at the beginning of the assault, which started when the suicide bomber detonated explosives at the ICRC gate .... The attack was the first of its kind on the strictly neutral ICRC in Afghanistan since it started operations in the country in 1987."

Happy Wednesday, and welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

In Related News, Bachmann Has a Court Date: Des Moines Register: "A trial date has been set in an Iowa lawsuit alleging that Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., stole and misused an e-mail distribution list maintained by an Iowa home school group during her failed 2012 presidential campaign. This morning, the seven-day trial in Heki v. Bachmann was scheduled for May 14, 2014, court records show. ... The lawsuit names Bachmann, her campaign, former campaign chairman Kent Sorenson and five other Republican operatives, along with their personal business entities. It alleges that Sorenson stole the home-schooler database off Barbara Heki’s personal computer in early November 2011 as it sat in a Bachmann campaign office in Urbandale."

The Latest Party-Switching Politician: Providence Journal: " A spokeswoman for Governor Chafee has confirmed that Republican-turned-Independent Chafee will switch his political party once again and become a Democrat on Thursday. Chafee will officially announce his switch from "unaffiliated'' to Democrat at Warwick City Hall, after filling out the paperwork, according to spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger. The move is not unexpected for Chafee, who spoke at the National Democratic Convention. Asked his reasons, Hunsinger said: 'a recognition that the Democratic party and he are aligned on policies and principles,'' and that there is "strength in numbers when it comes to fighting for Rhode Island taxpayers.''"

Givers, Not Takers: New York Times: "Immigrants have contributed billions of dollars more to Medicare in recent years than the program has paid out on their behalf, according to a new study, a pattern that goes against the notion that immigrants are a drain on federal health care spending. The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, measured immigrants’ contributions to the part of Medicare that pays for hospital care, a trust fund that accounts for nearly half of the federal program’s revenue. It found that immigrants generated surpluses totaling $115 billion from 2002 to 2009. In comparison, the American-born population incurred a deficit of $28 billion over the same period. The findings shed light what demographers have long known: Immigrants are crucial in balancing the age structure of American society, providing an infusion of young, working-age adults who support the country’s aging population and help cover the costs of Medicare and Social Security."

The Rise of the "Breadwinner Mother": ABC News: "A record four out of 10 households have mothers as the sole or primary source of income in the family, according to a new report released Wednesday. Pew Research Center analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and found that 40 percent of all households with children under age 18 include mothers who are the sole or primary breadwinner, up from 11 percent in 1960. The report, called Breadwinner Moms, also surveyed 1,003 adults by telephone about their views of female breadwinners. Among the survey respondents, 51 percent say children are better off if a mother is home and doesn't hold a job while only 8 percent say the same about a father." Read the full report here.

Zimmerman's Almost Out of Cash: Orlando Sentinel: "George Zimmerman's defense team said on Wednesday that the defense is "out of money," less than two weeks before jury selection is set to begin in his murder trial. The defense's trust account has less than $5,000, the Zimmerman lawyers said in a blog post, and more than $20,000 in liabilities. Zimmerman and his attorneys have been soliciting donations for his defense since early in the case, and based on their updates have raised — and apparently spent — about $400,000 already. In its latest update Wednesday, the defense team set an ambitious goal: Another $120,000, the post says, would give Zimmerman 'the defense he deserves,' while $75,000 would be the "barest minimum" for a 'fighting chance.'"

Update From Maryland: Associated Press: "Train operator CSX Transportation on Wednesday pointed to a hazardous chemical in a rail car as the source of an explosion on a derailed train near Baltimore that sparked a fire, rattled homes and damaged buildings. A company spokesman said officials still weren't sure what caused the sodium chlorate to explode in the first place, but it ignited another chemical in a second car. Authorities are continuing to look into the cause. Robert Sumwalt, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said investigators were examining evidence on the scene and reviewing train video that might show the collision with a garbage truck that set off the incident. But he said they had not reached any conclusions. ... Sodium chlorate is used mainly as a bleaching agent in paper production."

Iowa, Rejoice! CBS News: "Three months after being dropped from the 2020 Olympics, wrestling won a reprieve Wednesday and made the IOC short list for inclusion in the games. Also making the cut were squash and a combined baseball-softball bid. Eight sports were vying for a single opening in the lineup. Eliminated from contention were five sports — karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of wushu. The IOC executive board will submit wrestling, squash and baseball-softball to the full IOC assembly for a final decision on Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. ... Wrestling, with a tradition dating to the ancient Olympics, was surprisingly cut from the list of core sports by the IOC board in February. The decision caused an international outcry and prompted the United States, Russia, Iran and other countries to join forces in a bid to bring the sport back."

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