John Cook

    John Cook

  • Pakistan keeps border crossing closed after U.S. apology

    The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan appears to be on the brink of a serious rupture, with Pakistan refusing to open a vital border crossing to Afghanistan even as the U.S. offered an apology for a wayward helicopter attack that killed three Pakistani troops last week. The resulting backlog of trucks carrying fuel and [...]

  • Busted judge’s cases come under scrutiny

    The arrest of a 67-year-old senior federal judge in Georgia on drug and gun charges has created a "conflict of interest mess," according to the Associated Press. Federal agents arrested Judge Jack T. Camp last week shortly after he bought $160 worth of prescription pills and cocaine from an undercover agent, authorities said. Owing to [...]

  • Report: Private employers shed 39,000 jobs last month

    Private employers shed 39,000 jobs last month, according to a new report from payroll processor ADP Employer Services. That's not a good number for a recovery -- especially because economists had been expecting an increase of 24,000 private-sector jobs in September. It's the highest monthly job loss ADP has posted since December . The ADP [...]

  • Video of Israeli soldier dancing around bound Palestinian stirs anger

    A 2-year-old YouTube video appearing to show a male Israeli soldier dancing suggestively around a bound and blindfolded Palestinian woman is stirring controversy after an Israeli television station aired the clip this week. The video, which was originally posted to YouTube in April 2008, shows him grinning and belly-dancing around  -- and occasionally seeming to [...]

  • Robot jeeps patrol Nevada nuclear facility

    Let's say there's a secretive nuclear test site sitting on millions of cubic meters of radioactive waste and something called the Big Explosive Experimental Facility in the Nevada desert. You'd want unmanned robot jeeps doing security patrols, right? Because what's the worst that could happen? OK, the worst that could happen is that the robots [...]

  • Our man in Afghanistan: U.S. tries to reform corrupt but helpful warlord

    It sounds like the setup for a Hollywood comedy: An illiterate and corrupt 32-year-old warlord in Afghanistan is the target of a makeover attempt by the U.S. military, which sees him as the last best hope for securing stability. He wants to skim money from customs duties at the border he controls and take bribes [...]

  • Army embeds active-duty PSYOPS soldiers at local TV stations

    The U.S. Army has used local television stations in the U.S. as training posts for some of its psychological-operations personnel, The Upshot has learned. Since at least 2001, both WRAL, a CBS affiliate in Raleigh, N.C., and WTOC, a CBS affiliate in Savannah, Ga., have regularly hosted active-duty soldiers from the Army's 4th Psychological Operations [...]

  • Don’t tell anyone, but TARP and stimulus both came in under budget

    It's a good day for much-vilified government programs. New data suggests that the TARP and stimulus initiatives, favorite targets of anti-government activists, have been far more successful than previously thought. TARP — aka the Troubled Asset Relief Program —  is on track to cost taxpayers $50 billion. That's less than the annual budget of the [...]

  • Report: ‘Flash crash’ was sparked by a single trade

    A soon-to-be-released report will trace the so-called "flash crash" of May 6, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average inexplicably plummeted nearly 1,000 points in less than 20 minutes only to recover nearly as quickly, to a single trade by a Kansas mutual fund manager. The report, produced jointly by the Securities and Exchange Commission and [...]

  • Right-wing militias on the rise again

    Right-wing extremist militias are enjoying something of a renaissance, Time magazine's Barton Gellman reports, and the resurgence in anti-government rhetoric and action has federal law enforcement officials worried. Why? Well, there's the case of the multimillionaire neo-Nazi who was in the middle of building a radiological bomb to assassinate Barack Obama when he was killed [...]

  • Pakistan shuts down vital NATO supply route

    Pakistan's army shut down a major border crossing with Afghanistan on Thursday, closing a vital supply route for NATO forces there. The move apparently came in retaliation for a cross-border NATO airstrike that inadvertently killed three Pakistani soldiers. It's the latest in a series of incidents that show heightened tensions and mistrust between Pakistan and [...]

  • Report: Nation’s audio heritage at risk

    You'd think the Internet and digital revolution in entertainment would be a boon to music preservationists. You'd be wrong. According to an AP story on a new report from the Library of Congress, the nation's audio heritage is now at risk. On the one hand is the expected disintegration and decay of old master tapes [...]

  • Supreme Court to rule on corporate privacy

    The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear a critical case that could cut off public access to reams of information about private corporations. The case, AT&T vs. the FCC, turns on the issue of whether the Freedom of Information Act, which permits the public to review declassified government documents, protects the "personal privacy" [...]

  • U.S. soldier describes planned slaying of Afghan civilians

    One of five U.S. soldiers accused of murdering Afghan civilians for sport and posing for photographs with their mutilated bodies has confessed to investigators, according to video of the confession obtained by ABC News and CNN. Spc. Jeremy Morlock, 22, was arrested in June on charges of murdering three innocent civilians near Kandahar, where his [...]

  • Massive paperwork error halts foreclosures

    Nationwide home foreclosures were up 25 percent last month, with banks taking back the largest number of homes since the mortgage crisis began. But struggling homeowners are getting some unexpected relief due to a massive bureaucratic error by one of the nation's largest mortgage lenders: Ally Financial has suspended evictions in 23 states because the [...]

  • Senate votes to close SEC’s sunshine-law loophole

    The Senate voted unanimously yesterday to close a loophole in the financial regulatory reform bill that some open-government groups said could have exempted much of the Securities and Exchange Commission from the Freedom of Information Act. The loophole, which the SEC lobbied for, made "records or information obtained" in pursuit of the SEC's "surveillance, risk [...]

  • New Woodward book shows Obama fighting his generals on Afghanistan

    Bob Woodward's latest insidery, veil-piercing tome on the inner workings of the White House delves into Barack Obama's decision-making process on Afghanistan, and reports that Obama essentially crafted his own exit strategy in the face of calls from his generals to extend U.S. commitments indefinitely. According to excerpts published in the Washington Post today, Woodward [...]

  • Alleged rogue nuclear scientist has long and loud past

    The headlines make it sound like a security breach of epic proportions: A rogue Los Alamos scientist, privy to some of America's most sensitive nuclear secrets, allegedly tried to sell a nearly ready-made nuclear weapons program to Hugo Chavez's Venezuela for $800,000. The suspect in question was P. Leonardo Mascheroni, a highly successful physicist arrested [...]

  • FBI agents snooping on left-wing groups were just trying to keep busy

    The FBI may be improperly spying on your political activities, but only because it doesn't have anything better to do. That, at any rate, seems to be the gist of a new Justice Department Inspector General report on the bureau's aggressive surveillance of left-wing dissidents during the Bush years. The rationale for these initiatives was [...]

  • Murkowski expected to announce write-in campaign

    Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who recently lost her party's nomination to tea-party-backed political novice Joe Miller, looks like she's not ready to accept defeat. According to the Anchorage Daily News, in a few hours, Murkowski will announce a write-in campaign for Senate, pitting her against Miller and Democratic nominee Scott McAdams. Murkowski has been [...]