Friday, August 21, 2009

CIA Satellite Redirected to Spy on Buenos Aires by Janitor

In a sign that the nation's spy agency is perhaps outsourcing too much of its work, agency officials on Friday briefed top congressional intelligence members on a recent incident involving a janitor who redirected a satellite focused on drug lords in Colombia to spy on his philandering wife in Buenos Aires.

An international incident was narrowly averted after a fellow janitor alerted a CIA official that the cuckolded janitor was planning to redirect a drone -- an unmanned aircraft -- to bomb the apartment building in which the liaisons took place.

The New York Times recently reported on the agency's dependence on an outside contracting firm, Xe -- formerly known as Blackwater -- to kill al-Qaeda leaders. But not reported was the fact that Xe has also been supplying support staff -- including cleaning people and cafeteria workers -- to the CIA.

According to a staffer for the House Intelligence Committee, CIA chief Leon Panetta informed the top ranking Democras and Republicans of the Intelligence panels of the averted catastrophe on Friday morning and staff provided more details in the afternoon.

The janitor, who worked the graveyard shift, apparently learned how to reroute satellites by eavesdropping when he worked at the Blackwater office. By rerouting the satellite to Argentina he was able to confirm that his wife was not repeatedly staying overnight at a sick friend's apartment but rather visiting her lover.

The whistleblower found out about the jilted janitor's plans when he asked to trade floors. The whistleblower grew suspicious and confronted the other janitor because the former's floor has more bathrooms and is generally considered the least desirable area to clean.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hospitals Forbid Talk of Possibility of Death

Health care reform may be on a respirator, but the practical effects of the debate are being felt in hospitals across the country, in particular by the very ill.

In an attempt to refute claims that medical centers are encouraging the withholding of care through so-called death panels, some hospitals have started to forbid doctors and nurses from even mentioning the possibility of death, even among the terminally ill.

Some GOP leaders have attacked Obama's health care plan by claiming that it would create "death panels" that would rule on whether the infirm, elderly or disabled would qualify for care. In fact, the proposal would merely provide funding for optional consultations with doctors about "end of life" care, such as hospice.

Nonetheless, some hospitals are sensitive to the claims raised by those railing against "death panels" and are concerned about possible litigation. The guidelines that have been disseminated at one Boston hospital forbid doctors from telling patients that they have a terminal illness; they also include a long list of words and phrases that they aren't allowed to say to their patients, such as "towards the light", "angels", "last rites", and "get your affairs in order."

Such avoidance of reality is a disservice to patients and their families, says one doctor who works at a hospital where talk of death is verboten. "We're not allowed to tell them about DNRs (do not resuscitate) orders -- which means that we're spending thousands of extra dollars for extraordinary measures that some of the patients probably don't want."

In order to get around the new guidelines, the doctor said, he had taken to speaking in tortured metaphors and euphemisms to patients who begged him for a prognosis. For example, for patients with serious heart disease, he speaks elliptically about artichokes and says if the center (heart) is rotten then that affects the health of the rest of the artichoke -- which will soon be doomed -- even if the leaves appear healthy.

"Most of them look at me like I'm crazy since they're worried about the looming possibility of a fatal heart attack and I'm talking produce," said the doctor. "But what can you do?"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chelsea Clinton to Get Married In Space

All attention has turned to Martha's Vineyard in anticipation of President Obama's vacation next week and the rumored upcoming nuptials of Chelsea Clinton. But the former first daughter will actually be taking out-of-this world measures to ensure a private wedding: she will be getting married in space, according to a high ranking NASA astronaut who asked not to be named because he did not want to compromise his future flight chances.

Clinton has been dating Goldman Sachs banker Marc Mezvinsky, the daughter of Edward Mezvinsky and Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky, both former members of Congress. Although neither have confirmed that they are even engaged that has not quelled rumors that they will soon be tying the knot.

It had been rumored that the wedding would take place at the estate of family friends Vernon Jordan or Ted Dansen and Mary Steenburgen. But the astronaut said that Chelsea and Marc will be blasting off on August 25. NASA lists the purpose of the flight as "carry[ing] experiment and storage racks to the International Space Station."

A NASA contractor with no knowledge of the nuptials said that the cost of such a flight could easily run to half a billion dollars.

As such, the flight will not solely be used for the wedding; although the Clintons are reportedly paying $10 million each for Chelsea and Marc's fare.

"It's a lot to pay but they said it was worth it to be able to ensure Chelsea's privacy," said the astronaut. Bill and Hillary Clinton have always taken great care to shield their only daughter from the spotlight. Chelsea was just 12 years old when she moved into the White House.

"She's had to put up with a lot being their daughter. She deserves this perk. Nobody else can say they honeymooned in space," the astronaut said.

The flight is scheduled to return Sept. 6.

Spokespeople for Clinton's parents have denied that any wedding is taking place, "at Martha's Vineyard or on the moon." As usual, Clinton's representative declined to comment.

Due to the logistical impossibility of a secretary of State and a former president traveling to Florida without raising suspicion, no family members will be present at the wedding. One of the astronauts will serve as officiant and the remaining crew will be witnesses. All members of the flight have signed nondisclosure agreements under penalty of permanent exile to space.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Usain Bolt Drops Out of 200, Cites Lack of Practice for Victory Dance

BERLIN -- Jamaican sprinting sensation Usain Bolt announced Monday that he was dropping out of the 200 meter race because he had not spent enough time practicing his pre- and post-victory dance.

Bolt sealed his reputation as the fastest man in the world Sunday with a new world record of 9.58 seconds in the 100 meter dash, breaking the previous record of 9.69 seconds he set during the Beijing Olympics last year. He was widely regarded as the favorite for the 200.

But even though Bolt's astonishing running prowess has won him numerous medals, it is his pre-race preening and post-race celebrations that have earned him mega-celebrity attention. Bolt's "lighting bolt" pose has become his signature, and he makes it at every race. Onlookers marveled at his chest thumping at Beijing before he even crossed the finish line in the 100 meter finals.

On Sunday, Bolt continued to run after crossing the finish line, lifting his arms as though soaring through the air. He and fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell, who placed third, later did an Irish step dance for the cameras. Bolt reportedly took private lessons from Michael Flatley to prepare the Irish jig.

Powell, who has been consistently overshadowed by his faster and more extroverted teammate, also tried to up his showmanship Sunday by taping his number six lane number over his mouth prior to the race.

Bolt's non-participation in the 200 is sure to disappoint, but he said that he took his role as an showboating superstar seriously. Although Bolt does not describe his antics before the race a friend close to him said that he had been practicing his moonwalk as an ode to Michael Jackson, but that a foot injury sustained from a car accident earlier this year prevented him from perfecting it. That injury has also hampered his training for the 200 but the friend said that was not the issue.

"He could win the 200, no problem," said the friend. "But he's not just going to go out there and make a fool of himself by walking backwards awkwardly. The world record will always be there for him to beat, but he only gets one chance to debut his moonwalk."