Clem’s Chronicles: Missile Defense Shift/Iran/Yale Murder

By Clem Lane

Sep 17, 2009 9:25pm

Happy Thursday folks. Here's what's happening this evening.

MISSILE DEFENSE SHIFT-President Obama announced a dramatic shift in our missile defense system today that Jake Tapper noted in his WORLD NEWS spot “caught many allies and members of Congress off guard.” Gone is the Bush-era plan for a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. In its place? A new proposal that “the Pentagon insists…would better protect US allies. Tapper explains the Administration’s position: “the missiles-on ships and land in the region will be largely mobile and thus adaptable to threats and because these missiles are much cheaper…so the US will have many more of them…a stronger deterrent." But it’s no secret that Russia was never a big fan of the Bush-era proposal, and today Russian President Dmitri Medvedev praised the decision by the Obama Administration as a “responsible move”. Critics of the move would beg to differ. Tapper reports that some see the move, “as blinking in the face of fierce Russian opposition to the original missile defense shield.” But the Obama Administration may be more focused on fighting Iran’s perceived threat to the region and garnering support where they can than worrying about critics’ perceptions. Tapper closed by pointing out that “the announcement comes one week before the President begins a summit in New York City on nuclear non-proliferation in which he hopes for the support for his initiatives and help in removing Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”

IRAN’S NUCLEAR CAPABILITY-The Associated Press is running a story that says that experts at the I.A.E.A. are “in agreement that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead”. That’s according to a secret document obtained by the AP. For its’ part the I.A.E.A. in Vienna put out a statement refuting that. The statement said in part “With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran.” The State Department had no comment on the report but Kirit Radia points out  that it’s “worth recalling comments last week by the new US Ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna, Glyn Davies, who said Tehran was approaching ‘breakout capacity’ in its ability to create a nuclear bomb… and that they have enough low enriched uranium to produce one weapon if they decide to go for it.”

IRAN/OPPOSITION PROTEST TOMORROW?-From Lara Setrakian: “Friday is the long-awaited rally for Al Quds Day, held every year on the final Friday of Ramadan. The day was founded by Ayatollah Khomenei to mark support for Palestinians, and is now being co-opted by the ‘Green Wave’ of opposition, who plan to turn out in droves (Mousavi and Karroubi have both said they'll attend). It is the first major protest event since July's commemoration of the 1999 student uprisings — demonstrators who've been unable to gather in public are using the government-sponsored forum as their show of force. One protester told me today that if Friday's event is a success it will ‘pump energy’ back into the movement.” 
YALE MURDER INVESTIGATION:  Authorities this morning arrested and charged lab technician Ray Clark in the murder of Yale graduate student Annie Le.  Forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee told ABC News’ David Muir that Clark’s arrest likely came after a DNA match from the physical samples obtained from Clark on Wednesday.  In addition to the physical DNA samples, investigators pored over hours of security surveillance tapes and seized 300 pieces of evidence. “Among the most crucial – ABC News has learned – are the access cards used to get into the building and from room to room,” David Muir reported on WORLD NEWS.  “After entering the building, Le passed through the basement, then swiped her way into a separate room.  Her card never used again.  It’s now believed Clark swiped into that room too.  ABC news has learned he was in and out of the building 10 times or more in the hours surrounding the disappearance…in rooms he wouldn’t normally enter.”  Sources also tell ABC News there was an exchange via email or text between Clark and Le, in which Clark complained that the lab’s mice cages had been left dirty.  Clark’s bail has been set at $3 million and he’s currently detained at MacDougal-Walker Correctional Institution, a high-security state prison.  He’s due back in court on October 6. (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)

FOOTBALL COACH ACQUITTED IN PLAYER DEATH:   High school football coach Jason Stinson has been acquitted in the death of football player Max Gilpin. Stinson was facing charges of reckless homicide and wanton endangerment in Gilpin’s death after he ordered his players – during a long practice in 94 degree heat – to continue running sprints.  Gilpin’s body temperature soared to 107 degrees and he collapsed, later dying of complications from heat stroke.  During the trial other football players and Gilpin’s stepmother testified the boy was not feeling well that day, and the players said they were allowed breaks during that practice and given water.  The jury unanimously ruled that Gilpin’s death was an accident – an opinion supported by Kentucky’s former chief medical examiner.  “Today’s acquittal is a relief to coaches across the country,” Eric Horng told us on WORLD NEWS, “who feared this case could change how they do their job.” (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)

LATEST ON GARRIDO PROPERTY SEARCH-From Brian Rooney: “Two cadaver dogs ‘indicated’ on the same spot on the Phillip Garrido property. The reaction of one dog was described as ‘tentative’. No decision yet on beginning to dig on that spot. They may go over the with ground penetrating radar. Police caution that under some circumstances dogs will give a false positive.
Other items
-Six cadaver dogs used
-Ground penetrating radar and magnetomer, some technology that can read down to 20 feet in some soil conditions
-They will use archeological (older bone) dogs Friday
-Hauled away 10 truckloads of junk today
-Have searched the interior of house, dog search included
-Will work through Friday, no search over weekend to save cost
-Hayward police have another case ‘in the back of their minds’ as a possible Garrido connection”

HOUSE/EDUCATION REFORM-From Mary K. Bruce: “This afternoon, the House passed legislation to overhaul the $92 billion student loan market. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act takes private lenders, the middle man, out of the federal student loan equation and allows students to borrow directly from the US Treasury instead. ‘Today the House made a clear choice to stop funneling vital taxpayer dollars through board rooms and start sending them directly to dorm rooms. This vote was a historic triumph for America’s students, families and taxpayers – and will ensure that their interests never again take a backseat to lenders and big banks,’ Chair of the House and Labor Cmte, Rep. George Miller, said in a written statement. For the last 35 years the federal government has subsidized loans made by private banks to students through the Federal Family Education Loan program, guaranteeing loans up to 97 percent and allowing lenders to reap the profits. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act – touted as the largest investment in higher education ever –  shuts down that program, replacing it with a direct loan program run by the Education Department.” The White House praised the move, Rachel Martin reports, “saying the legislation would create the largest education reform program since the GI bill.”

FLIGHTS TO NOWHERE/JOHN MURTHA AIRPORT REMAINS-From Jon Karl: “The Senate  today rejected a measure to strip $1.4 million in federal funding for the John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The Murtha Airport was the subject  of a World News ‘Your money’ story in April and has become a symbol of government waste derided as an ‘airport for nobody.’ Murtha Airport has an average of just 20 passengers a day, but it has received nearly $200 million in federal money over the last 15 years (including $800,000 in stimulus funds), almost all of it because of its powerful namesake, Democratic Representative John Murtha. The measure, which was rejected by a vote of 43 to 53, would have stripped the annual $1.4 million subsidy the airport gets under the FAA’s Essential Air Service program for its three flights a day to Washington Dulles airport.  Those flights to Washington, by the way, are the only commercial flights from the Murtha Airport.”

ILLINOIS MANHUNT-An extensive manhunt is under way for an armed "career offender" who overpowered two lawmen who were taking him to a Cook County, Illinois courthouse for a hearing. According to authorities, 39-year-old Robert Maday, a federal bank robbery suspect, overpowered the officers in a sedan bringing him to the courthouse in Rolling Meadows, Illinois on Thursday for a sentencing hearing related to a series of robberies. Maday drove off in their vehicle and dumped it in Mt. Prospect. Another auto carjacked and later abandoned in Arlington Heights. Rolling Meadows Deputy Police Chief David Scanlan said Maday was handcuffed in the car, but it was unclear how he subdued the investigators. Cook County state's attorney's spokeswoman Tandra Simonton says Maday took both officers' weapons, forced one of them to strip and put on the officer's pants and shoes. (AP)
HOUSE DENIES ACORN-The House voted today to deny all federal funds for ACORN just three days after the Senate took similar action. "ACORN has violated serious federal laws, and today the House voted to ensure that taxpayer dollars would no longer be used to fund this corrupt organization," said second-ranked House Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia. The vote, on a provision attached to a student aid bill, was 345-75, with Democrats supplying all the "no" votes. (Dean Norland/AP)
NY TERROR PLOT/ZAZI-A Colorado resident is meeting with the FBI for a second day. Najibullah Zazi has been identified by law enforcement as having a possible link to al-Qaida, something his lawyer denies. Zazi showed up at the FBI office in Denver. Agents also questioned Zazi for hours on Wednesday and searched his apartment. (Clayton Sandell)
KATHERINE JACKSON GETS MONTHLY EXPENSES STIPEND- According to papers filed in probate court today, 79-year old Katherine Jackson is getting more than $86,000 a month to cover her living expenses and the expenses of MJ’s three children.  Katherine gets $26, 804 a month for herself and controls $60k a month for food, clothes, education and entertainment for the kids. This money is NOT part of the allowance she gets for housing expenses.  That’s paid separately. (Lisa Fletcher)
TED KENNEDY SUCCESSOR- The Massachusetts House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill allowing Gov. Deval Patrick to name an interim appointment to the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Edward Kennedy last month. The House voted 97-58 in favor of the bill Thursday evening. It needs a second vote before it moves to the Massachusetts Senate. The bill's outcome in the Senate remains unclear. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Democrat, said the change is needed to ensure Massachusetts continues to be represented by two senators until voters can choose a replacement during a Jan. 19 special election. (AP)

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