National Digest: Obama to speak on NSA reforms Jan. 17

NATIONAL SECURITY

Obama to speak on NSA reforms Jan. 17

President Obama will deliver his highly anticipated speech on National Security Agency reforms Jan. 17, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday.

The address comes in the wake of disclosures from documents stolen by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

Obama and his aides have been focused behind the scenes this week on finishing a review of the spy programs and preparing for the president’s address to the nation. Privacy and civil liberties activists, along with top executives of technology companies, are calling on the president to adopt sweeping reforms to curb the NSA’s collection of phone call metadata and personal information of online users.

U.S. defense and intelligence agencies have said such information is necessary to keep the public safe. But a White House advisory board report in December found no evidence that such data had prevented any attacks.

— David Nakamura

HEALTH

Tobacco companies, U.S. agree on ads

The nation’s tobacco companies and the federal government have reached an agreement on publishing corrective statements that say the companies lied about the dangers of smoking and requires them to disclose smoking’s health effects, including the deaths, on average, of 1,200 people a day.

The agreement, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, follows a 2012 ruling ordering the industry to pay for corrective statements in various advertisements. The judge in the case ordered the parties to meet to discuss how to implement the statements, including whether they would be put in inserts with cigarette packs and on Web sites, TV and newspaper ads.

The court must approve the agreement, and the parties are discussing whether retailers will be required to post large displays with the industry’s admissions.

The corrective statements are part of a case that the government brought in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act/ U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in that case in 2006 that the nation’s largest cigarette makers concealed the dangers of smoking for decades. The companies involved in the case include Richmond-based Altria Group, owner of the biggest U.S. tobacco company, Philip Morris USA; No. 2 cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, owned by Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Reynolds American; and No. 3 cigarette maker Lorillard, based in Greensboro, N.C.

— Associated Press

Ark. lieutenant governor to resign: Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr said Friday that he will leave office Feb. 1, giving in to pressure from Democrats and fellow Republicans who said his impeachment was inevitable over ethics violations tied to his campaign and office spending. Gov. Mike Beebe (D) and Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation had begun calling for Darr to resign on Dec. 31, a day after he agreed to pay $11,000 in fines imposed by the state Ethics Commission for 11 separate violations, including making personal use of more than $30,000 of his campaign funds.

— Associated Press

 
Read what others are saying