Nigeria on Edge
|Heather Murdock||February 9th 2013|
Police say nine female health workers were shot and killed in northern Nigeria Friday as they were giving out polio vaccines. At least one person was reported injured in the attack. No one has claimed responsibility and police say they have no suspects, but analysts say it was consistent with others by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
Police say the women workers were giving out polio vaccines at two community health centers in the city of Kano when men on three-wheeled motorcycles opened fire. Salisu Ibrahim Fagge is a journalist in Kano, a city that was hit by Boko Haram’s largest single attack to date in January 2012 when nearly 200 people were killed in coordinated bombings.
He says the shootings Friday also appeared to be coordinated, both happening around 9 o'clock Friday morning. The crime scenes are now surrounded by security, he says, and while people are shocked, the rest of the city is open for business. Aid workers say attacks on health clinics could cripple Nigeria's ability to fight polio. Read more ..
Edge of Tolerance
|Zach Pontz||February 8th 2013|
|Karen L. Gould|
Despite protests and opposition to the Political Science Department at Brooklyn College co-sponsoring a BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) event aimed at Israel on February 7, it took place, in part justified as a matter of free speech and academic freedom. During the event, however, multiple people were removed, according to student accounts, because they were presumed to be hostile to the intentions of the gathering.
Melanie Goldberg, an Israel Campus Coalition intern says she and three other students were escorted out by security because they would not relinquish BDS fact sheets that were in their possession. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||February 8th 2013|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
A criminal inquiry was launched on February 8 into an apparent hack of email accounts belonging to former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as other members of the Bush clan.
"There's a criminal investigation under way," Jim McGrath, according to AFP. McGrath is a spokesman for the elder ex-president Bush (88), who was recently hospitalized. This followed reports that private Bush family communications had been accessed.
"I can't get into the specifics," McGrath added. McGrath compiled Heartbeat: George Bush in his own words, a book the offered selected quotes from the 41st president of the United States. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Allan Yogasingam||February 7th 2013|
Building off the momentum of an international product launch in New York that featured not only a corporate re-branding and the naming of a Grammy-award winning artist as its new global creative director, one had to wade through a lot of flash and sizzle to get down to what was really important—the announcement of the first two handsets that would incorporate BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion)'s latest OS–BB10.
BlackBerry hasn’t had much good news lately, as a seemingly endless series of product delays pushed out its latest handsets from an April 2012 release all the way to Jan. 30. In that time, competitors such as Apple and Samsung have continued to erode whatever market share BlackBerry had left. Many analysts wondered if it was “too little, too late” for the Canadian smartphone manufacturer. Read more ..
Islam and Europe
|Soeren Kern||February 6th 2013|
"I live in a government safe house. I wear a bulletproof jacket. I have not walked the streets…in more than seven years. [I am] imprisoned in my own country for the mere fact that I have spoken out against the enemies of the West. — Geert Wilders, MP, Netherlands
Lars Hedegaard, a well-known seventy-year-old free speech activist and critic of Islam, narrowly escaped a murder attempt on February 5 outside his home in Copenhagen, Denmark. An unidentified assailant wielding a handgun fired a shot at Hedegaard, but fled on foot after the bullet missed its intended victim and the gun subsequently jammed.
According to Danish media, the gunman, in a postal service uniform, rang the doorbell of Hedegaard's apartment building on the pretext of delivering a package. When Hedegaard opened the front door, the man pulled out a gun and fired a shot, narrowly missing Hedegaard's head. Read more ..
|Diego Dighero||February 6th 2013|
A powerful earthquake shook islands in the South Pacific on February 6, triggering a regional tsunami that destroyed several homes and killed at least four people. The magnitude-8 quake hit a sparsely populated region near the Solomon Islands. A 1-meter tsunami later washed ashore on the island chain. A region-wide tsunami alert was lifted a short time later.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says four people are reported dead and two are missing in the Santa Cruz Islands of the Solomons, near the epicenter of the quake. It says "many traditional houses" were flattened when the tsunami traveled 500 meters inland.
Seismologist Dale Grant with the U.S. Geological Survey says the initial quake was followed by at least 14 aftershocks of magnitude-5 or bigger. "You can say that these are major quakes in very remote areas. So we're fortunate that there are no great population centers in the nearby area," he said. Read more ..
Japan on Edge
|John Chapin||February 6th 2013|
|Japanese destroyer 'Asigiri' visiting Anchorage, Alaska.|
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says it is "extremely regrettable" that a Chinese warship locked its pre-firing radar on a Japanese navy boat near disputed islands last week. Speaking to a parliamentary session on February 5, Abe called the move "dangerous." He said it could lead to an accidental clash, and he warned China against escalating the situation further. "At a time when it seemed there are signs of improvement towards increasing talks between Japan and China, having this sort of one-sided provocative action taken by the Chinese is extremely regrettable," said Abe.
Tokyo has lodged an official protest with Beijing over the January 30 incident, the latest in a series of dangerous escalations in their long-running dispute over ownership of a group of East China Sea islands. On February 5, Japan's defense ministry said it confirmed that the Chinese navy frigate aimed its weapons-targeting radar at the Japanese vessel. It also said a Japanese military helicopter was targeted with similar radar earlier last month. Read more ..
|Alexander Bolton||February 6th 2013|
Senate Democrats are facing a major dilemma on how hard they should push for an assault weapons ban, a sensitive topic for vulnerable centrists who are running for reelection next year. Gun control advocates are scrutinizing Senate Democrats’ strategy for implementing President Obama’s proposals for reducing gun violence, and a watered-down effort would likely prompt a backlash from the party’s liberal base.
Advocates are watching closely to see whether Senate Democrats will use their two-seat majority on the Judiciary Committee to include an assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines in gun violence legislation moving to the floor. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised to give Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of the assault weapons ban, a chance to offer her proposal on the floor.
But controversial amendments usually need 60 votes on the Senate floor to be added to pending legislation. Experts following the gun violence debate say an assault weapons ban offered as an amendment on the floor would have virtually no chance of passing. Read more ..
|Mike Lillis and Amie Parnes ||February 5th 2013|
Gun control advocates are corralling votes by trying to make life miserable for Democrats they think are too cozy with the National Rifle Association. The advocates are bankrolling a series of ads that attack Democrats wary of new restrictions as the first phase of a two-part strategy intended to help the party enact President Obama’s gun proposals. “The first aim is to make it a liability for any Democrats to be associated with the NRA,” said a Democratic strategist who promotes tougher gun laws but wanted to remain anonymous due to the political sensitivity of the issue. “It’s sort of an order of operation. You’ve got to hold the line on your own guys first.” Read more ..
|Justin Sink||February 5th 2013|
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) broke his silence on an alleged prostitution scandal for the first time Monday, dismissing the allegations that he solicited women during trips to the Dominican Republic as “totally unsubstantiated” and “absolutely false.”
“The smears that right wing blogs have been pushing since the election, that is totally unsubstantiated — it's amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a website can drive that kind of story into the mainstream,” Menendez told CNN in an interview Monday. “But that's what they've done successfully. Now nobody can find them, nobody ever met them, nobody ever talked to them, but that's where we're at.” Read more ..
Our Darkest Hour
|Martin Barillas||February 4th 2013|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
|Jimmy Lee Dykes|
A hostage situation in the rural town of Midland, Georgia, that had captivated the nation for nearly one week, has ended. An armed man identified as Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran, took a five-year-old boy hostage from a school bus in the rural community and shot to death the driver. The child hostage is “physically unharmed” and now hospitalized for observation.
FBI agent Stephen E. Richardson said in a press conference that at approximately 3:12 pm local time the boy, identified only as Ethan, was rescued by a special team of law enforcement officers. “Within the past 24 hours, negotiations deteriorated and Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun,” Richardson said. “At this point, F.B.I. agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child.” Dykes, said Richardson, is deceased. Richardson did not say, however, whether any shots were fired. Law enforcement agencies refused to comment on the details of the failed negotiations or the successful rescue of the child. Read more ..
|Alexander Bolton||February 3rd 2013|
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) fended off questions about Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) at a press conference about immigration reform. The first question out of the gate was from CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, who asked Reid when he learned that Menendez had reimbursed a political donor nearly $60,000 for two trips he took on the donor’s private plane.
Reid defended the Menendez as a “friend” and “outstanding senator” but declined to discuss any details he may have had with the New Jersey lawmaker about media reports of allegations that he had sex with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. “First of all, Bob Menendez is my friend. He’s an outstanding senator. Any questions in this regard, direct to him. I don’t know anything about it,” Reid said. The purpose of the press event was for Democratic leaders to reiterate their call for comprehensive immigration reform, and Reid wanted to discuss his plan for moving the bill through the Judiciary Committee and then to the floor. Read more ..
India's Darkest Edge
|Susan St. Claire||February 3rd 2013|
from VOA and agencies
Five men accused of the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India have pleaded not guilty, in a case that sparked outrage across the country. Defense lawyers say the men professed their innocence on Saturday in a fast-track court in New Delhi for crimes against women. The court will begin hearing testimony from witnesses this Tuesday. The five men could face the death penalty if convicted.
Defense lawyers have said police tortured the defendants to coerce confessions. A sixth suspect is being tried separately as a juvenile.
The defendants are accused of beating the woman and her male companion in December with an iron rod and using the rusty rod during the sexual assault of the woman. She died of her injuries two weeks after the attack in a Singapore hospital, where she had been taken for treatment. Read more ..
|Jordy Yager||February 2nd 2013|
A cloud of scandalous allegations is rapidly growing over Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), putting Democratic leaders in a difficult position as the integrity of their immigration point man in the Senate falls under question at a critical time.
The bad news keeps coming: a Senate Ethics probe, allegations involving underage prostitutes, an FBI investigation of a key campaign donor, undisclosed flights on the donor’s private plane, and now, reports linking Menendez to an existing multi-million dollar contract he urged officials to enforce for the disgraced donor.
Read more ..
|Keith Laing||February 2nd 2013|
The White House has released a photo of President Obama skeet shooting at Camp David from August, 2012, attempting to quell a controversy that arose when Obama said that he sympathized with hunters because he frequently went shooting himself.
“Attn skeet birthers. Make our day - let the photoshop conspiracies begin!,” former White House advisor David Plouffe tweeted in a message containing a link to a photo of Obama brandishing a shot gun and wearing ear muffs and sun glasses.
Conservative critics questioned the veracity of the Obama’s claims of skeet shooting because he had never been seen publicly shooting a gun.
“If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said in a television interview after Obama’s remarks were made public. Read more ..
Edge of Politics
|Jonathan Easley||February 1st 2013|
Television personality and radio host Geraldo Rivera announced Thursday he’s “truly contemplating” a run for Senate in New Jersey. “I mention this only briefly, fasten your seatbelt,” Rivera said on his radio show. “I mentioned this only briefly to my wife ... but I am and I’ve been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker.”
New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), 89, is up for reelection in 2014 but hasn’t announced whether he plans to seek another term. Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) has announced he is weighing a bid for the seat, a decision that has frustrated New Jersey Democrats, many of whom feel he was their best shot at unseating Gov. Chris Christie (R). Read more ..
|Jeremy Herb||February 1st 2013|
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) delivered a shaky performance at his confirmation hearing to lead the Pentagon while enduring a difficult day of grilling by his former Republican colleagues.
Hagel stumbled over some answers — describing Iran as having a “legitimate, elected government” at one point — and did little to convert critics who have deemed him unfit to serve as Defense secretary because of his past statements and positions.
Conservative groups jumped on several of his answers by releasing videos critical of his comments on Iran and his statement supporting President Obama’s policy of “containment.” Hagel later had to clarify both of those statements. Read more ..
Mali on Edge
|Diego Dighero||January 31st 2013|
Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore is ruling out dialogue with Islamist militants who took control of the country's north, saying he is only open to talks with secular Tuareg rebels. The Tuaregs first launched a rebellion in the north last January seeking autonomy, but later joined the Islamists to seize control of the region following a coup that toppled the government. The Islamists later pushed the Tuaregs aside and moved to impose strict Islamic law.
Traore told French radio on January 31 the only group he would consider negotiating with is the Tuareg National Movement for Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA. He says it must first drop its territorial claims. French-led forces were reported in control of three key towns in northern Mali on January 30, after al-Qaida-linked militants fled their last stronghold and escaped into a vast desert region with their weapons. Read more ..
The Battle for Syria
|Martin Barillas||January 31st 2013|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
Russia expressed concern over a January 30 aistrike, presumably carried out by Israeli air forces inside Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry says such action, if confirmed, amounts to "unprovoked attacks" against a sovereign nation, in violation of the United Nations charter.
Russia's foreign ministry said it was "deeply concerned" by the Syrian claims and that it was taking "urgent measures" to investigate. The strident statement said, "If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked strikes against targets located on the territory of a sovereign state, which brazenly infringes on the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motive used for its justification."
Differing accounts of the January 30 airstrike have emerged, with Syrian authorities saying Israeli jets fired on a military research facility near Damascus, killing two people.
Israeli and Western news media reported an Israeli airstrike at a different location, close to the Syrian-Lebanese border. They say the target was a convoy delivering missile parts to Hezbollah, the strongly anti-Israel Shi'ite militia based in Lebanon. Read more ..
Israel's Next Northern War
|Saul Roth||January 30th 2013|
Wolrd Jewish Daily
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Israel attacked an arms convoy traveling from Syria to Lebanon Tuesday night with as many as 12 Israeli jets participating in the raid.
According to Reuters, a "Western diplomat and security sources" said Israel attacked a convoy which may have contained chemical or conventional weapons. "There was definitely a hit in the border area," one security source said. A Western diplomat in the region who asked about the strike said "something has happened", without elaborating. An activist in Syria who works with a network of opposition groups around the country said that she had heard of a strike in southern Syria from her colleagues but could not confirm it. A strike just inside Lebanon would appear a less diplomatically explosive option for Israel to avoid provoking Syrian ally Iran.
Israel has expressed deep concern that chemical and advanced conventional weapons could end up in the hands of Hezbollah, a terror group allied with the terror state Iran. Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that an arms transfer to Hezbollah “would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach.” According to multiple sources, Israel sent its national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, to Russia and its military intelligence chief Aviv Kochavi to the United States for consultations. Read more ..
|Jonathan Easley ||January 29th 2013|
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is questioning President Obama’s claim that he’s an avid skeet shooter, challenging him to invite her the next time he goes shooting.
"I think he should invite me to Camp David, and I'll go skeet shooting with him and I bet I'll beat him," said Blackburn Monday night on CNN’s “OutFront with Erin Burnett.”
In an interview in The New Republic published Sunday, Obama, who is seeking to build public support for a sweeping package of gun reforms, expressed respect for the nation’s sportsmen and hunters. Asked if he’d ever fired a gun, Obama responded that at Camp David he skeet shoots “all the time.”
But Blackburn on Monday showed skepticism and suggested the president’s claim was just an effort to swing support in the nation’s gun-reform debate. "If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos? Why hasn't he referenced this at any point in time as we have had this gun debate that is ongoing,” Blackburn asked. “You would have thought it would have been a point of reference.” Read more ..
Mali on Edge
|Martin Barillas||January 29th 2013|
Cutting Edge Correspondent
Islamist militants have lost more ground in northern Mali, with French and Malian troops taking the city of Timbuktu and secular Tuareg rebels announcing they have seized the city of Kidal. A spokesman for Tuareg rebel group MNLA told VOA that the group's fighters now control Kidal and the nearby town of Tessalit. There has been no independent confirmation of the claim.
Meanwhile, French media reports say French and Malian troops entered central Timbuktu on January 28, a day after they seized the local airport and the key roads that lead to the historic city. The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO lists Timbuktu as a World Heritage site for its ancient mosques and shrines, some of which date back to the 15th century. But Islamist group Ansar Dine considers the sites sacrilegious, and the militants destroyed some mausoleums while they controlled the city. Read more ..
|Peter Schroeder||January 28th 2013|
A government watchdog is blasting the Treasury Department for continuing to dole out robust pay packages to executives of bailed-out companies. A new report found that executives from American International Group (AIG), General Motors, and Ally Financial, while still on a government lifeline, regularly pushed and received compensation in excess of guidelines originally set by the bailout team charged with overseeing executive paychecks.
Of the 69 top executives whose pay was approved by the Treasury official overseeing bailed-out executive pay, all but one received an annual payout of at least $1 million, and nearly a quarter received pay packages in excess of $5 million. The report, authored by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) accused the Treasury of over-relying on the company's claims when determining the size of paychecks, and was "effectively relinquishing" some of its authority to the companies it is monitoring. Read more ..
Israel on Edge
|Dan Levin||January 27th 2013|
from HaYom and agencies
Read more ..
"The Middle East is not waiting for the election results and it has not ground to a halt because of the coalition talks," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday at the start of the weekly cabinet session. "There is an accumulation of threats and the situation continues to unfold."
"The whole region is simmering with tension and we must be prepared, strong and resolute in the face of whatever development," Netanyahu said. "To achieve that goal I will strive to create the broadest and most stable government possible."
Netanyahu said the main goal of the next government would be "to address the security threats." He further said he was "convinced" Israel could "meet those challenges."
The Iranian Threat
|Susan St. Claire||January 27th 2013|
ran has formally banned all oil and gas exports to the European Union, an official said on January 27. Oil Ministry spokesman Ali Reza Nikzad Rahbar told the semiofficial Mehr news agency that the ban will remain in effect as long as "hostile decisions" continue to be made by the EU. The Iranian ban is expected to have limited effect since the 27-member bloc already has imposed its own boycott on Iranian energy as part of its package of sanctions over Iran's disputed nuclear program. Before the EU ban took effect last year, sales to the EU accounted for about 18 percent of Iran's oil and gas exports. The United States and many other countries fear that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Iran maintains its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.
Despite many requests by EU countries on buying oil and gas from Iran, Iran will not sell any oil and gas to those countries,” Nikzad Rahbar told Mehr news agency. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Sam Orez||January 27th 2013|
International computer hacking group Anonymous is threatening to release secret U.S. government information after hijacking the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency of the nation's judicial branch. The group says it took over the website to avenge the death of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide two weeks ago. Hackers took control of the commission's site early Saturday, replacing it with a message warning that "a line was crossed" with Swartz's death. The 26-year-old computer prodigy, who helped create RSS feeds and the social news site Reddit, had been set to go on trial later this year on federal charges that he stole millions of scholarly articles from the online archive and journal distribution service JSTOR. He had downloaded the articles to make them free to the public online and could have served 35 years in prison.
Swartz's family said in a statement that his death is the "product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach." JSTOR did not press charges against Swartz once it reclaimed the articles from him. But U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz reportedly would not drop the case. She is quoted as saying "stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars." Read more ..
|Dan Levin||January 27th 2013|
Read more ..
Brazilian officials say at least 180 people are dead and 200 more injured after a fire swept through a crowded nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria. Authorities said the fire broke out early Sunday at the Kiss club and that while the cause of the blaze is not yet known, the band did use pyrotechnics as part of its show. They said many of the victims died of asphyxiation or from being trampled as panicked revelers pushed and shoved to escape the building. The death toll could rise as emergency officials count the bodies.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cut short a visit to Chile early Sunday to return home following the blaze. Governor Tarso Genro of Rio Grande do Sul is quoted in a Twitter message as saying "all possible measures" were being taken and that he was on his way to the scene.
Obama's Second Term
|Erik Wasson||January 26th 2013|
President Obama is likely to announce soon that Sylvia Mathews Burwell will be his next budget director, sources said Friday. Burwell is a veteran of the Clinton administration, where she served as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. She is a close associate of former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and outgoing White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, who is Obama’s pick to be Treasury secretary.
Acting Budget Director Jeff Zients would either return to his previous role as the deputy OMB director overseeing the management of the government or assume a new role, should Burwell get the nod. His name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who leaves next month. Zients took over the budget role after Lew left OMB to become chief of staff last year. Read more ..
The New Egypt
|Diego DiGhero||January 26th 2013|
Egypt's armed forces deployed troops to the city of Suez, early on January 26, after at least six people died there in clashes between police and protestors on the second anniversary of the revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. Violence erupted across Egypt after Friday prayers in a day of nationwide protests marking the anniversary of the uprising. In addition to the six killed in Suez, another person was killed Friday in Ismailiya. The Health Ministry says more than 450 people were injured across the country.
President Mohamed Morsi has appealed for calm. In a post on his Twitter account Friday, Morsi urged Egyptians to "adhere to the values of the revolution, express opinions freely and peacefully, and renounce violence." Egyptian news outlets late on January 25 reported government buildings were set on fire in Suez. Read more ..
The New Egypt
|Elizabeth Arrott||January 25th 2013|
Egyptian protestors clashed with riot police in cities throughout Egypt on Friday during mass rallies marking the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. In Cairo, thousands of protesters marched towards Tahrir Square, where police fired tear gas on stone-throwing demonstrators attempting to approach a wall that security forces had erected to secure government buildings in the area.
Similar clashes were reported in the cities of Alexandria, Suez and Ismailia. Egypt's emergency services say more than 100 people were injured in Friday's mass rallies.
The secular-leaning political opposition has called for protests Friday against President Mohamed Morsi and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has used his Twitter account to call on protesters to "finally achieve the objectives of the revolution." In Tahrir Square, the mood was less joyous than two years ago, when Egyptians seemed to surprise even themselves with a show of popular power against an entrenched leadership. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Julien Happich||January 25th 2013|
Operators will be unable to keep up with smartphone users' growing demand for data on the move, a report from Deloitte warns. On average, iPhone, Android or Windows Phone handset owners consumed 35 times more data traffic than a typical phone user, said the annual Deloitte report.
And this would contribute to a 50-fold growth in wireless traffic by 2016. The bandwidth crunch would not mean users failing to connect at all, the report added, but mobile networks would suffer "rush hours" just like roads do. During these times, it might take two or three attempts to connect, there would be three or four times as many dropped calls, web pages may freeze and browsing speeds would be much reduced, the report said.
Despite the roll out of fourth generation (4G) networks which would also speed the passage of data, demand for wireless bandwidth will likely attempt to outstrip these improvements in supply for at least several years. Read more ..
America's Darkest Hour
|Alexander Bolton||January 24th 2013|
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and a group of Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced legislation to ban the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semi-automatic weapons with military-style features. The legislation also bans magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition and requires people who already own assault rifles to use secure storage and safety devices and bars them from selling high-capacity clips. “No weapon is taken from anyone,” said Feinstein. “The purpose is to dry up the supply of these weapons over time.”
Unlike the 1994 assault-weapons ban, there is no sunset provision in Feinstein’s newest gun-control bill. The lawmakers introduced the bill at a press conference with law-enforcement groups supporting the legislation. Groups endorsing the bill include the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Police Foundation, and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. The co-sponsors include Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, whose home state of Connecticut last month witnessed one of the nation’s worst episodes of gun violence when an assailant killed 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School with an M-4 Bushmaster assault rifle. Read more ..
|Jonathan Easley||January 24th 2013|
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he believes the primary goal of President Obama’s second term is to “annihilate the Republican Party.”
“Given what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans,” Boehner said in a speech Tuesday to The Ripon Society. “So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. “And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal — to just shove us into the dustbin of history.”
Boehner’s remarks referred to Obama’s inaugural address. Republicans were hopeful the president would use that speech to lay the groundwork for a partnership over the next four years, but he instead made it a rallying cry for an active federal government — including on such politically charged issues as climate change, gun control, gay marriage and immigration. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Scott Stearns||January 23rd 2013|
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says last September's attack on the U.S. mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi is part of wider terrorist insecurity across North Africa. Clinton made the remarks during testimony Wednesday before Congress on the attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Benghazi attack is just one example of the broader strategic challenge for the United States and African allies in the fight against terrorism.
"The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region. And instability in Mali has created an expanding safe haven for terrorists who look to extend their influence and plot further attacks of the kind we saw just last week in Algeria," she said. Clinton said the Obama administration remains in close contact with Algerian authorities about last week's hostage taking at a natural gas plant near the Libyan border and offers its deepest condolences to the families of those killed and injured. "We are seeking to gain a fuller understanding of what took place so that we can work together to prevent terrorist attacks like this in the future," said Clinton.
Testifying about the State Department's response to the Benghazi violence, she said she has accepted all of the recommendations from an independent review, and 85 percent of those will be completed by the end of March. "We are taking a top-to-bottom look, and rethinking how we make decisions on where, when, and how our people operate in high threat areas, and how we respond to threats and crises." Clinton said the United States continues to hunt the terrorists responsible for the Benghazi attacks and is determined to bring them to justice. Read more ..
Afghanistan on Edge
|Dan Levin||January 22nd 2013|
The rights group Amnesty International says 17 people have died from cold weather conditions in Afghan refugee camps, and it warns against a repeat of last year, when 100 people died in the camps due to a lack of assistance. Amnesty made the announcement Tuesday, saying that most of the 17 who died in the first two weeks of January this year were children. A spokeswoman called the deaths "a preventable tragedy" and blamed "inadequate coordination of winter assistance" to the hundreds of thousands of people living in displacement camps across the country. She said the deaths demonstrate the need to protect the most vulnerable groups - children and the elderly - from the harsh winter weather. Amnesty is calling on international donors and the Afghan government to make sure aid is delivered to those in need. Read more ..
Israel on Edge
|Sabine Guinsbourg||January 22nd 2013|
Israelis are voting on January 22 in a parliamentary election that is expected to bring a third term for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Opinion polls leading up to the vote have shown an alliance of Netanyahu's Likud party and the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party winning the most seats.
The centrist, main opposition Labor party and the far-right Jewish Home party are projected to finish far behind. Netanyahu needs a coalition to retain control of the 120-seat parliament, where no party has ever held a majority on its own. The next government faces a number of challenges, including increasing diplomatic isolation over Israel's policies toward Palestinians, a slowing economy and the threat of Iran developing possible nuclear weapons. Read more ..
Obama's Second Administration
|Diego DiGhero||January 21st 2013|
President Barack Obama has taken the public oath of office to start his second term as the Chief Executive of the United States. Several hundred thousand people gathered on January 21 on the National Mall in Washington D.C., waving American flags and cheering after Obama took the two-century-old oath from Chief Justice John Roberts. Obama promised to "preserve, protect and defend" the U.S. Constitution "to the best of my ability."
Earlier, President Obama attended a church service at St. John's Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square, near the White House, and then headed to the West Front of the U.S. Capitol building for his public inaugural.
VOA reported that as many as 800,000 people, many of them waving American flags, crowded the Mall to witness the event. That is a smaller number than Obama's first inauguration in 2009 when nearly 2 million people came to see the swearing-in of the nation's first black president. Read more ..
India's Darkest Edge
|Susan St. Claire||January 21st 2013|
from VOA and agencies
The trial of five men accused of the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year old student in New Delhi has begun in a fast-track court for crimes against women. The start of the trial on Monday was delayed by more than an hour as defense lawyers argued that it should be open to the media and public. The judge rejected the motion. Arguments in the case will begin on Thursday.
Defense lawyers of two of the five accused say their clients will plead not guilty. They say the men were tortured by the police to coerce confessions. Prosecutors say DNA evidence, cellphone records and the testimony of the victim will prove their case. A senior prosecutor has said he will seek the death penalty for the five men. A sixth suspect claims to be a juvenile and is being tried separately. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Kevin Bogardus ||January 20th 2013|
David Plouffe, a senior adviser to President Obama, said Sunday that the White House will try to “enlist” the public in the gun control debate. Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Plouffe noted that Obama’s broad package of proposals to stem gun violence will need the support of the American people to move on Capitol Hill. “We are trying to enlist the American people in these debates. The only way change is going to really happen and make progress is with the American people,” Plouffe said. “They need to be involved at the center of this and pushing here.”
The president’s reelection campaign is moving over into a 501(c)(4) non-profit group, called Organizing for Action. That group is expected to campaign to push lawmakers to back Obama on key issues, including gun control, during his second term. The new group will accept donations from corporations. On ABC’s “This Week,” Plouffe said its donors will be disclosed to the public. Read more ..
America's Darkest Edge
|Jennifer Martinez||January 20th 2013|
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Sunday declined to criticize a controversial new National Rifle Association (NRA) ad, instead charging proponents of gun control with “hypocrisy” in the debate over gun violence. The freshman Texas Republican was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about the NRA ad released last week which referenced the president’s daughters.
"Look, I'm going to let people decide to run what ads they want,” said Cruz. “I do think there is a fundamental point here and that there is a point of hypocrisy when it comes to gun control, that many of the proponents of gun control are very wealthy, live in communities where they can outsource police protection, but you have a lot of people who are worried about preserving the safety of their own home." Read more ..
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