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10 Controversial U.S. News Stories & Events

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Many events in world history have been labeled controversial.  A controversy
is officially defined as a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually
concerning a matter of opinion.  Every important political and religious
decision has opposing points of view.  History has taught us that controversy
is one of the most powerful forces on earth, causing world war and
segregation.  However, many levels of controversy exist.  This article will be
examining some of the most controversial news stories and events in the
United States.       

10. Bill Clinton Pardons Controversy

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U.S. President Bill Clinton was widely criticized for some of his criminal
pardons and other acts of executive clemency during his presidency.
Collectively, the controversy surrounding these actions has sometimes
been called “Pardongate” in the press.  Federal prosecutor Mary Jo White
was appointed to investigate the pardons.  She was later replaced by James
Comey, who found no grounds to indict Clinton.

On August 11, 1999, Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 members of
FALN, a violent Puerto Rican terrorist group that set off 120 bombs in the
United States, mostly in New York City and Chicago. The members had
convictions ranging from conspiracy to commit robbery, to bomb-making,
and explosives violations.  The 16 men were convicted of conspiracy and
sedition and sentenced with terms ranging from 35 to 105 years in prison.
The commutation was opposed by U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, and the
Federal Bureau of Prisons.  The decision was criticized by many people,
including former victims of FALN terrorist activities.  Congress condemned
this action, with votes of 95-2 in the Senate and 311-41 in the House. 

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President Clinton cited executive privilege and refused to turn over
documents to Congress related to his decision to offer clemency to
members of the FALN terrorist group.  In March of 2000, Bill Clinton
pardoned Edgar and Vonna Jo Gregory, owners of the carnival company
United Shows International, for charges of bank fraud from a 1982
conviction.  Although the couple had already been released from prison, the
prior conviction prevented them from doing business in certain American
states.  First Lady Hillary Clinton's youngest brother, Tony Rodham, was an
acquaintance of the Gregorys, and had reportedly lobbied Clinton on their
behalf.

Bill Clinton issued 140 pardons as well as several commutations on his last
day of office, January 20, 2001.  The list of criminals pardoned is extensive
and random.  Clinton pardoned Carlos A. Vignali, who was accused of
cocaine trafficking.  Almon Glenn Braswell was pardoned of his mail fraud
and perjury convictions, even while a federal investigation was underway
regarding additional money laundering and tax evasion charges.  Linda Sue
Evans and Susan Rosenberg, members of the radical Weather Underground
organization, both had sentences for weapons and explosives commuted. 

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I Will Not Buy a Presidential Pardon

Dan Rostenkowski, a former Democratic Congressman from Illinois was
pardoned for his role in the Congressional Post Office scandal.  Melvin J.
Reynolds, a Democratic Congressman from Illinois, was pardoned of bank
fraud, 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice, and solicitation of
child pornography.  Roger Clinton, the president's half-brother was pardoned
for drug charges after having served the entire sentence more than a decade
earlier.  The list goes on and on.  On February 18, 2001, Bill Clinton
responded with a New York Times column defending the 140 pardons.   

9. List of American Idol Controversies 

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American Idol is the most popular television show in the United States.  Last
season was the shows 5th consecutive year at the #1 spot, matching All in
the Family and The Cosby Show.  Over the years, American Idol has
generated controversy in many areas.  Starting with the claims that show
producers take total control of the careers of the contestants that do well,
forcing them to sign with their management company, 19 Entertainment.  If
you are featured on American Idol then you have to sign your contract with
19 Entertainment.  There is a clause in the contract that all contestants sign
in order to participate.

The New York Post referred to the show as "owning" the contestants.
However, show participants are happy to sign the contracts in order to gain
the opportunity for success and visibility not otherwise available.  The
American Idol agreement stipulates that the finalists are "forever" properties
of 19 Management.  On July 29, 2009, Lyndsey Parker at Yahoo's "Reality
Rocks" headlined a show titled "Ex-Idol Contestant Says Show Is Rigged.”
She reported that Season 8 contestant Ju'Not Joyner charged American
Idol with being fixed.  He stated that after initial competitions, when winners
reach a serious stage, a bad contract was offered, a "slavetract."  

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Joyner claimed that he was cut out of further competition at this late stage,
because, "I have a son to feed and I had to ask questions and know what I
was signing.  Plus I write my own songs and I needed to know details" of
what rights he'd be giving up.  He charged that he was told, essentially, "Just
shut up and sign," or else he'd lose the next round.  He also speculated that
perhaps the reason Kris Allen had beaten runner-up Adam Lambert in the
Season 8 finale was that the producers weren't satisfied with the contract
Lambert had accepted. 

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Carrie Underwood

Voting controversies:

Out of 24 million votes recorded following the season two finale, Ruben
Studdard finished just 130,000 votes ahead of Clay Aiken, and there remains
controversy over the accuracy of the reported results.  Claims were made
that the phone systems became overloaded during the final, and that
potentially more than 230 million calls were dropped by AT&T and SBC
(over 30% of the market), making the results statistically invalid.  Since then,
the voting methods have been modified in an attempt to avoid this problem.

During the second season, a phone scam operation based in Salt Lake City,
Utah was discovered, in which people were tricked into believing that
viewers could vote for their favorite contestants through a 1-800 number,
rather than the 1-866 number used on the show.  The people were then
instructed to call a 1-900 number to vote.  This allowed the company to
charge the caller anywhere from 99¢ to $1.99.  To raise awareness to the
scam, Ryan Seacrest repeatedly reminds viewers of the correct phone
number lines.

During Season 5, there was controversy when finalist Chris Daughtry was
voted off the show.  Some voters claimed that phone calls dialed for
Daughtry during the first few minutes of voting were misrouted to Katharine
McPhee's lines.  The callers reported that they heard Katharine’s recorded
message thanking them for voting.  It is not clear whether votes were
actually tabulated for the wrong contestant, or if the "Thank you for voting
for me" messages that callers heard were incorrectly assigned.

In the top thirteen of season 8, the expected phone number for finalist Alexis
Grace, IDOLS-13, was not owned by American Idol, but by a company
called Intimate Encounters, who used it as a sex line.

In May 2009, following allegations in the media of an American Idol texting
scandal dubbed "Textgate,” one of American Idol's corporate sponsors
AT&T, admitted providing free mobile phones and texting services for fans
of Kris Allen at parties organized on the night of the program's final episode.
Company representatives also provided Allen's supporters with lessons in
how to send "power texts" which send ten or more votes with the touch of a
single button.  Bobby Kierna, one of the 2,000 guests who attended just one
of the events, told reporters that she had voted for Allen 10,840 times.

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Chris Daughtry

Jim Verraros was the first openly gay contestant on the show.  He was told
by FOX to remove all gay comments from his online journal.  Verraros later
explained, "It wasn't because I was gay.  It was because they thought I was
trying to gain more votes and have that little extra edge."
Semi-finalist

Frenchie Davis was removed from the competition in Season 2
when topless photos of her surfaced on an adult website.  Frenchie would
later star in the musical Rent on Broadway.

Season seven contestant Carly Smithson has stirred up controversy due to a
prior major label record deal she had with MCA Records.  It was reported
that MCA spent over 2 million dollars promoting Smithson's previous album
Ultimate High, which she made under the name Carly Hennessy.  Season 8
semifinalist Joanna Pacitti raised a lot of parallels to Carly Smithson when it
was revealed that Pacitti had a prior record deal with A&M Records.  Pacitti
was removed from the show.

Chris Golightly, who had originally been selected for the top 24, was
disqualified on February 15, 2010 for being in a recording contract at the
time of his original audition.  Golightly later provided documentation proving
that his recording contract had no longer been binding at the time of his
original audition, but the producers ignored the documents and he was
dropped from the show.  He was replaced by Tim Urban.

During the season six and season seven finales, the show went over its
scheduled 2-hour time limit and ended at 10:09 PM EST.  Many DVR users
claimed the recording ended before the new winners Jordin Sparks and
David Cook were announced shortly after 10 PM.  On the April 7, 2009
performance episode of season eight, the show ended nearly eight minutes
past its set ending time.  This caused viewers who recorded the program to
completely miss the show's final performance, Adam Lambert's rendition of
Mad World by Tears for Fears, which received a standing ovation from
judge Simon Cowell.  Be sure to extend you American Idol recording by 15
minutes or you might miss something. 

8. Electric Dylan Controversy

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During the 1965 Newport Folk Festival singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was the
subject of much controversy.  During his performance Dylan "went electric,”
by playing with an electric blues band in concert for the first time.  In 1965,
Bob Dylan released a half-electric and half acoustic album titled Bringing It
All Back Home.  During the early 1960s, folk music was making a revival in
America and Bob Dylan had emerged as one of the country's leading young
folk singers.  Dylan was greeted warmly at the 1963 and 1964 Newport
festivals and was scheduled as the concerts Sunday-night headliner in 1965.

Bob performed three folk songs on Saturday evening and then told concert
organizers that he wanted to play with a pickup band the following evening.
The band that went on stage on Sunday included Dylan (vocals, electric
guitar), Mike Bloomfield (guitar), Sam Lay (drums), Jerome Arnold (bass
guitar), Al Kooper (organ), and Barry Goldberg (piano), most of these were
members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. 

Similar to in the past, the festival was being filmed for a music documentary.
In the documentary footage, the sound of loud booing begins just a few
bars into Bob Dylan's first song, Maggie's Farm, and continues throughout
the second, Like A Rolling Stone. 
After playing three songs, Dylan told the
band, "Let's go, man. That's all", and walked off-stage.  The sound of loud
booing and clapping can be heard as the band leaves the stage. 

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Basically, Bob Dylan was booed off the stage before he had a chance to
perform with his electric guitar.  Dylan was highly distressed by this incident.
It was probably the first and only time he had been booed so extensively.
To make the matter worse, Peter Yarrow got on stage and assured the
audience that Dylan was "just getting his axe" even before it was clear
whether or not he was willing to return solo.  Dylan was essentially being
forced to perform an impromptu acoustic set on a night when he was
planning a major artistic statement.

Eventually he was coaxed back onstage, but Bob realized that he didn't have
the right harmonica.  Dylan, his voice betraying real nervousness and
distress, had to beg the audience for “an E harmonica.”  Within a few
moments a clatter of harmonicas hit the stage and he snapped one up out
the darkness.  He then sang two songs to the now-silent audience.  They
were It's All Over Now, Baby Blue and Mr. Tambourine Man.  The crowd
exploded with applause at the end, calling for more.  However, Dylan did not
return to the Newport festival for 37 years.  His 2002 performance at the
Newport Folk Festival is one of three times he has performed in a wig and
fake beard. 

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Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival

Bruce Jackson, who was a director of the Newport Folk Festival, called the
incident "the myth of Newport".  He claims that the audience was not booing
Dylan, but Peter Yarrow instead.  It was reported that many of Bob Dylan’s
fans disliked his decision to go electric.  During 1965 and 1966, Bob
structured all of his concerts this way.  The first half would be folk music and
the second rock (with electric guitars), and the rock segment was often
greeted with hostility.

7. Boy Scouts of America Membership Controversies

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The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the
United States, with over four million youth members.  Since its founding in
1910 as part of the international Scout Movement, more than 110 million
Americans have been members of the Boy Scouts.  The organization has
come under fire of late due to some long standing policies.  The youth
organization has laws which prohibit atheists and agnostics from
membership.  For those who aren’t familiar, atheism is commonly defined as
the belief that there are no deities.  The Boy Scouts also prohibit "avowed"
homosexuals from leadership roles.

The organization has often denied or revoked the membership of youths and
adults for violating these prohibitions.  This has caused the club to be
viewed as a strict religious organization by many Americans.  People find
these laws unjust, but the Boy Scouts of America contends that these
policies are essential in its mission to instill the values of the Scout Oath and
Law in young people.  The organization's legal right to have these policies
has been upheld repeatedly by both state and federal courts. 

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During the membership application process, youths and adults are required
to subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle and to
agree to abide by the Scout Oath and Law, which includes the words, "do
my duty to God.”

The organization believes that atheists and agnostics are not appropriate
role models of the Scout Oath and Law for boys.  Many people feel that the
regulations are teaching children the wrong morals.  The scouts officially
recognizes religious emblems for over 38 faith groups, including Baha'i,
Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and many varieties of Christianity.

6. California Textbook Controversy over Hindu History

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In 2005, a controversy in the U.S. state of California concerning the portrayal
of Hinduism in history textbooks began.  Several university academics, as
well as Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu organizations reacted to
proposals suggesting the rewriting of parts of some educational textbooks
on Hinduism and Indian history. 

The Vedic Foundation (VF) and the America-based Hindu Education
Foundation (HEF) complained to California's Curriculum Commission,
saying the coverage in sixth grade history textbooks of Indian history and
Hinduism was biased against Hinduism. 
The groups demanded that the
portrayal be revised according to the views of Hinduism and Indian history
shared by most people in the world. 

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In 2005, Christian, Jewish, Islamic and the two Hindu groups submitted their
edits to the California Board of Education.  After intensive scholarly
discussions, over 500 changes proposed by Jewish and Christian groups
and 100 changes proposed by Muslims were accepted by the California
Curriculum Commission.  The matter was moved along to the state board of
education, which usually follows the Curriculum Commission’s
recommendations.

However, a large number of U.S. scholars opposed the changes regarding
the Hindu faith.  The group was led by Michael Witzel, the Wales Professor
of Sanskrit at Harvard University.  Witzel wrote a letter to the California
Board of Education protesting the changes. 

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Witzel suggested that the matter be discussed publicly, and that professional
advice be taken into account by the Board.  The letter was supported by the
signatures of 47 academics in the field of Asian Studies from all over the
world.  The edits on Hinduism were also opposed by organizations that
included the Friends of South Asia (FOSA), the Coalition against
Communalism (CAC), and the Federation of Tamil Sangams in North
America.

After extensive discussions on the edits by specialized scholars, a decision
was reached on February 27, 2006.  The subcommittee approved some 70
changes, but it rejected proposed major revisions on the Hindu faith,
including monotheism, women's rights, the caste system, and migration
theories.  Many of the ideas originally accepted were not included in the final
draft.  A PR firm hired by the Vedic Foundation and the America-based
Hindu Education Foundation released a statement saying "What is at stake
here is the embarrassment and humiliation that these Hindu children (in
America) continue to face because of the way textbooks portray their faith
and culture."

5. Kecksburg UFO Controversy

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On December 5, 1965 a strange event occurred over North America.
People reported seeing a large and brilliant fireball streaking through the
sky.  The object was viewed by thousands of people in at least six U.S.
states, and Ontario, Canada.  The object traveled over the Detroit, Michigan
and Windsor, Ontario area, and reportedly dropped hot metal debris over
the land.  It also started grass fires, and caused sonic booms in western
Pennsylvania.  The occurrence was widely reported by the press to be a
meteor.

However, eyewitnesses in the small village of Kecksburg, about 30 miles
southeast of Pittsburgh, claimed something strange crashed in the woods.
Many people reported that the fireball was traveling under intelligent control,
making sharp and abrupt turns.  People claimed that the object was making
strong changes in elevation and was not falling at a steady pace.  Using
radar readings, research and experiments were conducted, which indicated
that the UFO was traveling at a speed of around 1,000 mph.  This is far too
slow to be a meteor. 

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After the accident, members of Kecksburg traveled to the woods where the
object landed, this included local fire department members.  These people
reported finding a strange object in the shape of an acorn and about the size
of a large Volkswagen Beetle.  They claimed the craft had writing resembling
Egyptian hieroglyphics and that it had a band around the base.  The town of
Kecksburg was soon under intense military presence, most notably the
United States Army.  The military secured the area and ordered all civilians
out.  However, people reported seeing government officials removing
several different objects from the woods, culminating with the strange craft
on a flatbed truck.  At the time, however, the military claimed they searched
the woods and found "absolutely nothing.”

One of the first men to arrive at the scene was a reporter and news director
named John Murphy.  Murphy took several photographs of the object and
conducted interviews with witnesses.  His former wife Bonnie Milslagle later
reported that all but one roll of the film were confiscated by military
personnel.  In the following weeks, Murphy became obsessed with the
incident and wrote a radio documentary called Object in the Woods.

Shortly before the documentary would have aired, he received an
unexpected visit at the station from two men in black suits identifying
themselves as government officials.  A week after the visit, an agitated
Murphy aired a censored version of the documentary, which made no
mention of the unexplained object.  In February 1969, John Murphy was
struck and killed by an unidentified car in an apparent hit-and-run while
crossing a road. 

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Model of the UFO used on Unsolved Mysteries

In 2003, the Sci Fi Channel sponsored a scientific study of the area.  The
most significant finding of the team was tree damage dating to around 1965.
In December 2005, just before the 40th anniversary of the Kecksburg crash,
NASA released a statement indicating that they had examined metallic
fragments from the object and reported that it was from a re-entering
"Russian satellite.”  The spokesman added that the related records had been
misplaced.

This new explanation from NASA contradicts the official Air Force statement
from 1965, which claimed that the fireball was from a meteor and that nothing
was found.  In 1990, a witness came forward who claimed to be part of the
military team that was sent in to retrieve the object.  He claims that he was
given orders to shoot anyone who got too close.  He also revealed that the
object was being transported to the Wright Patterson Base. The Kecksburg
UFO incident is often referred to as Pennsylvania's Roswell.

4. The Biscuit Fire Publication Controversy

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The Biscuit Fire publication controversy refers to an academic and political
controversy in the United States, which occurred in January 2006. The U.S
Forest Service and a group of professors (including six at the Oregon State
University College of Forestry) wrote a letter to the prestigious scientific
journal Science, requesting that publication of a short forestry paper written
by an OSU graduate student be delayed until the authors could respond to
it.  Alternatively, the group requested that Science publish a sidebar
illustrating their concerns alongside the paper.  The magazine refused, as
the paper had already undergone peer review and had been approved for
publication.  The article appeared in the January 20, 2006 edition of the
journal.

The paper was written by graduate student Dan Donato and several
colleagues.  It was concerning the effects of logging in the aftermath of the
2002 Biscuit Fire, a massive wildfire which burned nearly a half million acres
in southwestern Oregon.  Some forestry scientists, as well as the Bush
administration, have proposed that salvage logging is a necessity for fire
safety and forest regeneration.  Salvage logging is the practice of logging
trees in a forest area that has been damaged by wildfire, flood, severe wind,
disease, or insect infestation. 

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The primary motivation of salvage logging is economic.  It has also been
suggested that forests containing burnt trees are unhealthy, and are
considered to have a high probability of experiencing catastrophic wildfires
and large scale insect and disease outbreaks.  However, there is little
evidence to support such claims.  The legitimacy of salvage logging
operations in forests have often times been put under question, especially
for trees burnt in a long-standing fire regime.

Donato’s research and paper provides evidence that salvage logging is
harmful to the environment.  The group of researchers compared sections
of the Biscuit Fire which were burned severely and then salvage logged to
sections which had only been burned.  They found that the unlogged portions
of the forest had significantly more conifer seedlings than were found in the
logged portions.

The paper suggested that soil disturbance and materials left over from the
logging process may have disturbed the growth of seedlings.  In addition,
the paper reports on elevated surface fuels in the logged sites, which, they
concluded, elevated the risk of future fire.  The incident, and its aftermath,
have had significant repercussions in the forestry community, and have
highlighted the political issues surrounding forestry research.

3. Kanawha County Textbook Controversy

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Kanawha County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia.  As
of 2000, the population was 200,073 people, making it the most populous
county in the state of West Virginia.  In 1974, Kanawha County was the site
of a violent school control struggle.  In April of 1974, the five members of
the Kanawha County Textbook Selection Committee, supported by teachers
from elementary and secondary schools, recommended the adoption of new
textbooks designed to support an English Language program.  The new
textbooks would include more diverse views and opinions.  The goal was to
expose children in the Appalachian region to world cultures and new ideas.

The textbooks included stories and poems by, and about, African Americans
and other minorities.  They also included narrative stories emphasizing
tolerance and the acceptance of alternative views on world traditions and
cultures.  The recommended text book list was presented to the Kanawha
County School Board on March 12, 1974, and the books were displayed in
the county library for public examination.  The School Board agreed to make
a final decision on June 27th regarding the formal adoption of the books.
The decision caused a major uproar in the community. 

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On June 27, the school board met again, with over 1,000 local residents
observing.  They voted to approve the books and this was met with anger
and violence from conservative groups.  Reverend Marvin Horan called for
a boycott of all public schools.  Fliers were distributed around the county
containing faked, purposefully lewd "quotations" from the books.  Thousands
of miners, bus drivers, and trucking workers joined in the boycott.  Reverend
Charles Qugiley was quoted as asked Christians to “pray that God would kill
the three board members who voted to keep the books.”

In the nine month period between April 1974 and January 1975, mobs forced
the County’s 124 public schools to close.  Demonstrators surrounded the
schools and blockaded bus garages.  In the protests, two people were shot,
schools were dynamited and firebombed and teachers were threatened.  In
April 1975 Marvin Horan was sentenced to three years in prison on charges
related to the school bombings, effectively ending the demonstration.  

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In fall of 1975, the school board restored the full line of books that they had
originally approved.  The Kanawha County textbook controversy represents
a defining moment in not only educational politics, but American political
history.  Many videos exist of grown adults verbally assaulting kids who were
only trying to go to school. 

2. Dubai Ports World Controversy

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The DP World controversy began in February 2006 and rose to prominence
as a national security debate in the United States.  The issue involved the
sale of port management contracts in major U.S. seaports to a company
based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and whether such a sale would
compromise sea port security.  In 2006, the company DP World purchased
the British firm Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O).

DP World is a major operator of marine ports with 49 terminals in operation
and a further 12 under development, handling 46.8 million TEU in 2008.  It
employs 30,000 people, operates in 31 countries and expects to double
capacity in 10 years with development projects in India, China and the
Middle East.  Prior to the purchase, the British based P&O controlled
management contracts of six major United States ports.  As part of the sale,
DPW would assume the leases and manage major U.S. port facilities in
New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Miami,
as well as operations in 16 other ports.

Strong opposition arose in the United States and a review of the acquisition
was ordered.  U.S. President George W. Bush argued vigorously for the
approval of the deal, claiming that the delay sends the wrong message to
U.S. allies.  The U.S. Coast Guard intelligence officials raised concerns
over the security risks associated with the management of U.S. port
operations by a Dubai company.  After the story was made public, the
Congressional politicians were quick to respond.  Both Democratic and
Republican members of Congress started to question the approval. 

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On February 22, 2006, President Bush threatened to veto any legislation
passed by Congress to block the deal, a veto that would be his first.  The
controversy created a public and high-profile dispute within the Republican
Party, and between the Republican controlled Whitehouse.  On February 23,
2006, DPW volunteered to postpone its takeover of the ports to give the
White House more time to convince lawmakers that the deal posed no
increased risks from terrorism.

The next day it was reported that there were 22 U.S. ports in the deal, not
just the six major ports mentioned in initial news stories and reports.
Additionally, DPW would take over P&O stevedoring operations at nine
ports along the Gulf of Mexico, including the Texas ports of Beaumont, Port
Arthur, Galveston, Houston, Freeport, and Corpus Christi, plus the Louisiana
ports of Lake Charles and New Orleans. 

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Former Senate Majority Leader and 1996 Republican presidential candidate
Bob Dole was hired by Dubai Ports World to lobby Congress on its behalf.
On March 8, 2006 the House Panel voted 62–2 to block the deal, and
Senator Charles Schumer added amendments to a senate bill to block the
deal, causing an uproar in the senate.

Dubai Ports World eventually sold P&O's American operations to American
International Group's asset management division, Global Investment Group,
for an undisclosed sum.  Intelligence and security officials opposed to the
deal with Dubai Ports World claim that sea ports are vulnerable to the entry
of terrorists or illicit weapons because of the large number of containers that
enter U.S. territory.  Others opposed to the sale have argued that no foreign
government should be permitted to own such strategic assets.

Many people feel that port security should remain in the hands of American
firms under American control.  After the DM World announced its decision to
transfer the U.S. port operations to a U.S. entity, the BBC quoted Daniel T.
Griswold, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies, as
saying that the affair would "send a chilling signal.  It is just assuming that if a
company is from the Middle East it is de facto disqualified from investing in
the United States, and I think that is a terrible message to send."  President
Barack Obama showed strong opposition to the deal. 

1. NSA Warrantless Surveillance Controversy

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The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy concerns surveillance of
individuals within the United States.  During the Bush administration, a
number of laws and bills were passed as part of the President’s Surveillance
Program.  One of the levels of the program involves giving the U.S. National
Security Agency (NSA) access to American citizens’ personal information.
The bill was referred to as the “terrorist surveillance program” by the Bush
administration.  Basically, the NSA is authorized by executive order to
monitor phone calls, e-mails, Internet activity, text messaging, and other
communication without warrants.

The Bush administration maintained that the authorized intercepts are not
domestic, but rather foreign intelligence integral to the conduct of war.  The
program officially states that one party of the intercepted conversation has
to be "outside of the United States.”  The exact scope of the organization is
not known.  However, the NSA was provided total, unsupervised access to
all fiber-optic communications going between some of the nation's major
telephone companies, including phone conversations, email, web browsing,
and corporate level network traffic. 

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Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed the existence of the program.
It was first reported in a December 16, 2005 article in The New York
Times.  The Times posted the exclusive story on their website the night
before publishing, after learning that the Bush administration was considering
seeking a Pentagon-Papers-style court injunction to block its publication.
The revelation raised immediate concern among elected officials, civil right
activists, legal scholars, and the public at large about the legality of the
program and the strong potential for abuse.

The U.S. Court of Appeals has overseen many lawsuits challenging the
surveillance program.  In these cases, evidence is often times dismissed
based on the government’s claim of state secrets.  The American Civil
Liberties Union has been involved with appealing the bill.

The NSA surveillance controversy involves legal issues that fall into two
broad disciplines, which are statutory interpretation and Constitutional law.
Statutory interpretation is the process of interpreting and applying legislation
to the facts of a given case.  Constitutional law is the body of law that
governs the interpretation of the United States Constitution.  Many questions
still remain surrounding the President’s Surveillance Program that was
launched after the attacks of September 11, 2001. 

One More:

Wikipedia Biography Controversy

wiretapping9.jpg

The John Seigenthaler Wikipedia biography controversy was a series of
events that began in May 2005 with the anonymous posting of a hoax article
on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.  John Seigenthaler is an American
journalist, writer, and political figure.  He founded the Freedom Forum First
Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.  The fake post fabricated
statements that Seigenthaler had been a suspect in the assassinations of
U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

In reality, the 78-year-old Seigenthaler was a close friend and aide to Robert
Kennedy.  He was a pallbearer at his funeral.  After becoming aware of the
article, Seigenthaler characterized the Wikipedia entry about him as "Internet
character assassination.”  The hoax was not discovered and corrected for
more than four months, after which Seigenthaler wrote about his experience
in USA Today. 

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Seigenthaler and Bobby Kennedy

The incident raised questions about the reliability of Wikipedia and other
websites with user-generated content.  After the fake entry was discovered,
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales stated that the encyclopedia had barred
unregistered users from creating new articles.  The author of the hoax article
was later identified as Brian Chase, an operations manager of Rush
Delivery, a delivery service company in Nashville, Tennessee.

Since the incident, a variety of changes have been made to Wikipedia's
software and working practices.  Today, many Wikipedia articles are being
used in classrooms all over the world.  I am personally assigned reading
from Wikipedia for school related activities.

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John Doe - March 7, 2010
If these are your "top ten" controversial news stories, then you have a
serious problem.  A better title would have been 10 Controversial U.S. News
Stories & Events That you have never heard of and never will hear about
ever again.

Bryan - March 7, 2010
I apologize if I have confused some readers.  This list is definently not
depicting the Top 10 Controversial News Stories in U.S. history.  It is just
discussing some stories that have been labeled controversies.  I chose
events that many people may not have heard of, so I could introduce some
new information.  All of my lists that are a "Top 10" will be indicated in the
title, rather then just "10."
  

Copyright The List Blog - Top 10, All Rights Reserved, Posted March 5, 2010