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Wednesday, August 7

Homeland Security orders golf courses in Greater Washington, DC area shut indefinitely in response to al Qaeda threat to White House; Glenn Greenwald denies biting reporter; Wyoming town takes precautions against al Qaeda

At yesterday's White House press briefing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney fielded several questions about Homeland's directive. A reporter for ABC News asked if the golf course closings were a stunt to deflect criticism of the National Security Agency (NSA).

Mr Carney replied somewhat cryptically that the White House did not engage in "childish histrionics" every time "some 29 year old hacker upstages the President of the United States."

When the reporter pointed out that Edward Snowden was now 30 years old, Mr Carney asked, "Tell me how old I am."

The reporter was saved from briefing room Siberia when a reporter for the Associated Press sitting next to him hissed, "48."

"48," called out the ABC reporter.

A reporter for the New York Times asked if the White House could confirm or deny the rumor that Edward Snowden learned Japanese within three weeks when he was stationed in Japan, and whether it was true he'd learned passable Russian within 40 days from a basic primer on the language and hearing announcements over the loudspeaker at Sheremetyevo airport.

Mr Carney referred the questions to the CIA.

A reporter from USA Today asked Mr Carney if President Obama could take a wool scarf her mother was knitting and a down coat to the Moscow summit to give to Edward Snowden.

"It gets cold in Moscow in September," she explained. "And also could he bring him a 21 piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken? He looks so terribly thin -- Edward, I mean," she added.

In answer Mr Carney removed his eyeglasses and glared at her.

"KFC has more than 80 outlets in Moscow," a Reuters reporter sitting behind her hissed.

A reporter for the Washington Post called out from the back of the briefing room, where she'd found herself seated after writing up Russia tourist tips for Edward Snowden, whether the White House could confirm or deny the rumor that Glenn Greenwald had bitten a still-unnamed reporter in the major U.S. press who refuses to cover the NSA surveillance issue.

Mr Carney referred the question to Glenn Greenwald.

"That's a lie," Mr Greenwald said via Skype from his home in Brazil. "There are 11 dogs in this house and one of them nipped the reporter in the ankle when he tripped over her, that's all." (1)

In other defense-related news: Just in case al Qaeda tries to blow up the liquor store in Mashed Potato Falls, Wyoming, the police force there has received a federal grant for training in SWAT tactics and a donation from the Pentagon of used body armor, AH-64 Apache gunship, and a M1A1 Abrams tank.

"Fred doesn't like wearing the armor," Chief of Police Eunice Parsons announced at her latest presser. But the rest of the force, consisting of a retired taxidermist and Eunice's brother-in-law, is getting the hang of driving the tank, which they deployed in July to raid an unlicensed moonshine still.

In answer to a question from a reporter for the Mashed Potato Falls Gazette, Eunice said that she didn't think the donations indicated a militarization of America's police forces.

"There's not much difference between a rifle and a tank when you get right down to it," observed Eunice. "They're both made to shoot."

I think the press conference is a help to any readers stumped by #13 on Wikipedia's list of criteria for the electronic police state.

1) Glenn rescues stray dogs; if you'd like to adopt one or just thank him for his incredible efforts to alert the public about the extent of clandestine NSA surveillance and prevent the issue from being buried by the mainstream media, you can reach him at @ggreenwald on Twitter or email him at glenn.greenwald@guardiannews.com

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