- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Lima News, Jan. 19

A controversial government surveillance program is being credited with alerting authorities to an alleged threat to bomb the Capitol and kill government officials.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, is a program that gives the government authority to eavesdrop under certain conditions. It was specifically mentioned by House Speaker John Boehner as being crucial in the apprehension of Christopher Lee Cornell, also known as Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, a Cincinnati man who told an FBI informant they should “wage jihad,” and showed his plans for bombing the Capitol and shooting people. …

Averting the act of terrorism that Cornell plotted was certainly a shining moment for the FBI. However, it doesn’t change the concerns that have been expressed about the National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance programs and its collection of Americans’ telephone “metadata” under a strained interpretation of the Patriot Act.

Collecting intelligence about foreign terrorism is a national priority, but so is abiding by the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The fact that the government has access to the communications of U.S. citizens - even if there is no showing of individualized suspicion - should be disturbing to all Americans. …

The United States Constitution is the greatest document in the world in regards to freedom. In fighting this war on terrorism, Americans need to be careful about stripping down the freedoms that make us a great nation.

Online: https://bit.ly/1GpSpT4

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The Warren Tribune Chronicle, Jan. 20

Within days of the August 2012 sexual assault of a 16-year-old Weirton, W.Va., girl by two Steubenville football players, allegations were made that school officials tried to cover up the crime. Nearly a year and a half later, the public knows very little about what really happened.

Former Steubenville school Superintendent Michael McVey had been scheduled to go on trial this week on various charges that he obstructed justice and falsified records linked to the case and another situation involving an underage girl in April 2012.

But after McVey, who had been on leave, resigned his post last Monday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office dropped charges against him. …

Just one person, former school district technology director William Rhinaman, remains accused of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. His trial has not yet been scheduled. …

McVey’s decision to resign, made in exchange for having the charges dropped, may indicate he had some culpability in the alleged coverup.

But without a trial, details of what he was accused of doing may never come to light. …

But the public - Steubenville residents in particular - has heard so many allegations of attempted obstruction of justice that there is an understandable hunger to know more about what happened. DeWine’s office should, if possible, provide more specifics about what was done in the coverup.

Online: https://bit.ly/1GpKXrb

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The Findlay Courier, Jan. 20

All eyes are expected to be on Ohio again during the next presidential election.

That’s one of the reasons why Secretary of State Jon Husted is already looking ahead to 2016 and trying to avert any Election Day controversies.

Last week, Husted rolled out several ideas at a conference of Ohio Association of Election Officials, including a new online tracking system for those who vote absentee. The measure is a good one, considering the continuing rise in the number of voters who vote without visiting a polling place. …

Absentee voting is increasingly popular, and there is no indication that trend will change.

Last year, Husted’s office mailed applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters across the state. More than 825,000 ballots were requested and mailed for last November’s election. The number is expected to continue to rise.

The problem with voting absentee, if there is one, is distrust. A person casting a ballot from home has no way of knowing if it arrives where it is supposed to, and if it gets counted.

That concern would be eliminated with Husted’s initiative. While the ballots would not be tracked through the Postal Service, voters could go online to see when their ballot arrived at the elections board and when it was counted. …

Allowing absentee voters to track their vote will improve confidence and moves Ohio closer to the day when all voting duties can be done without leaving home.

Online: https://bit.ly/1GpOzt6

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The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Jan. 20

France wasn’t the only nation under attack from brutal Islamic extremists this month. A few days before two gunmen slaughtered editors and staff in the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a contingent of Boko Haram fighters armed with grenade launchers and guns swept into a number of northern Nigerian towns and villages and slaughtered their inhabitants, according to witnesses.

Boko Haram fighters reportedly killed civilians in and around the town of Baga, and set fire to hundreds of homes and other buildings; satellite images appear to bear this out. Nigerian soldiers in a small military outpost responded to the Jan. 3 attack by fleeing, witnesses said. …

While Nigeria is rightly calling for help from nearby countries and the international community, it needs to make sure that its elected leaders are treating the Boko Haram scourge with appropriate priority and that the Nigerian army is in fighting shape. …

Nigeria can’t do it alone, making regional cooperation essential. However, its apparent incompetence and indifference in dealing with Boko Haram hardly invite partners in arms. For instance, it’s hard to figure out why Nigeria announced a cease-fire last year that immediately was refuted by the blood-drenched group. Whether Nigeria’s leaders were engaging in wishful thinking or just misled, it seems the terrorist group has no reason to grab an olive branch.

That’s yet another reason Nigeria must get a lot more serious about battling these toxic extremists.

Online: https://bit.ly/1yEFQzO

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