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Associated Press/Photo by Al Goldis

The Buzz

Need-to-know news

Issue: "On the road again," May 9, 2009

Tea time

On April 15 thousands of protesters donned their three-cornered hats, hung tea bags from their American flags, and gathered in nearly 900 cities across the 50 states for Tax Day Tea Party protests. Lucy Walker, a New Yorker carrying a sign that said "D.C. pirates are hijacking America's wealth," called Obama "the pirate president." In Washington children joined in with signs like, "Save some money for me. I'm 10 years old." Conservative talk show host Mike Church told the rain-soaked audience, "This is not civil disobedience. This is constitutional obedience."

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told the New York crowd to give their legislators an ultimatum: "If you vote against America's future, we're gonna fire you."

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Of the grassroots movement. Julia Hayden, spokeswoman for the San Antonio Tea Party Committee, said, "It's a very loose organization. . . . We all seem to be moving more or less in the same direction and thinking along the same lines, but it's not systematic." But Rebecca Wales, lead organizer for the Washington D.C. tea party, said databases are growing and "everybody who has signed up has gotten at least one email with a 'next step.'" Those next steps include local forums, more rallies on the Fourth of July, and a September march in Washington.

Turning point

Thursday (April 16), Cuban president Raoul Castro: "We are open, whenever they want, to discussing everything: human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners-everything they want to discuss."

Friday (April 17) President Barack Obama speaking in Trinidad at the Summit of the Americas: "I am prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues-from drugs, to migration and economic issues, to human rights, free speech and democratic reform."

Saturday (April 18) White House spokesman Robert Gibbs: "We will continue to evaluate and watch what happens, we are anxious to see what the Cuban government is willing to step up to do."

Although Obama ordered the lifting of travel restrictions and financial remittances with Cuba, he did not, as many presumed, formally lift the U.S. economic embargo in place against the island nation since 1962. But a significant thaw in relations has come alongside an April report by the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), once the strongest proponent of the embargo, advocating direct diplomatic engagement and lifting of the aid and travel restrictions. CANF was founded by a leader of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, and for over 25 years lobbied to keep the embargo in place.

Big endorsement

Meeting in London in April, the one-year-old organization of biblically orthodox Anglican primates known as GAFCON voted to formally recognize the emerging province of conservatives on this side of the Atlantic, the Anglican Church in North America. The action is significant because it is the first time a majority of the church's archbishops worldwide is, in effect, disassociating itself from the Episcopal Church.

Warnings and releases

Confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad remains on U.S. soil, technically, at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. But of the 71 Pakistanis imprisoned at the facility, 63 have been sent back to Pakistan. Eight are still in prison: Abdul Rehman, Ali Abdul Aziz, Majid Khan, Saifullah Paracha and Muhammad are among those eight-all linked directly to the 9/11 attacks against the United States. Only 241 of almost 800 total detainees remain at Guantanamo following President Barack Obama's decision to close the facility within the year.

Repatriating the suspected jihadists continued even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued her strongest warning yet over al-Qaeda and Taliban bases in Pakistan. In April 22 testimony before a House panel she warned of advances "now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state, a nuclear-armed state."

Hacked

`Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project, the Defense Department's costliest weapons program-according to current and former government officials who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. But while some officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the intruders were able to copy and siphon off extensive data, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman and Chief Financial Officer Bruce L. Tanner of Lockheed Martin, which makes the aircraft, said such attacks are not uncommon and have not involved sensitive information related to design and weapons systems. Similar break-ins have also breached the Air Force's air-traffic-control system in recent months. Some defense analysts say officials are drawing more attention to cyber-attacks ahead of an Obama administration report due this month that is likely to call for a "cyber-security czar" and increased spending on cybersecurity. Pentagon officials said they traced the latest intrusions with a "high level of certainty" to known Chinese internet protocol addresses. If true, it would be the most recent in a series of cyber-attacks linked to China.

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