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Media on Edge

Reuters and AP Rapped for Netanyahu Photo

September 28th 2012

Netanyahu at UN

Photos of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu from his speech at the United Nations on Thursday published by two of the world’s largest newswires show him making a gesture eerily similar to the infamous Nazi salute.

The photos capture Netanyahu extending his left arm with his hand in the same formation that was used during the Third Reich to “Heil Hitler”. In Nazi Germany, the right arm was generally used for Nazi salutes, however the left arm was accepted if there was a physical disability.

“Of the hundreds of professional photos taken at this speech, the AP and Reuters decided to push these onto the wire,” wrote Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard. Reuters photo of Netanyahu from his UN speech. Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti Defamation League, called the the decision by both Reuters and AP “ugly” and “disgusting”. Read more ..


Russia on Edge

Russian Police and Russian Muslims Clash

September 28th 2012

Muslims Russian police

Shermamat Suyarov says he will think twice before returning to pray at Moscow's largest mosque. Suyarov, a 52-year-old Russian citizen of Kyrgyz origin, says he was sitting in a parked car waiting to attend prayers on September 17 when police ordered him out and detained him.

He was hauled into a police bus with scores of other would-be worshippers. Later, at a police station he claims he was beaten so severely after he complained about the rough treatment that he had to be hospitalized: "They beat me with their fists, batons and feet," he says. "There were five or six of them beating me and there were some others there too. I wasn't counting. I lost consciousness. I was in shock and broke a rib." Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Assad and Syrian Opposition at a Stalemate at Aleppo

September 28th 2012

Syrian Rebels in Aleppo

Syrian government forces captured several rebel-held districts in the capital Damascus Friday, as the rebels went on the offensive against government troops in the northern city of Aleppo. Rebel fighters clashed with government forces in at least a half dozen districts of Aleppo, on the second day of a rebel offensive. Witnesses say the rebels have been unable to gain much ground, and state TV claims heavy rebel casualties.

Rami Abd al-Rahman of the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that clashes in Aleppo have engulfed much of the city and that government forces are shelling the rebels to prevent them from advancing. Al-Rahman said that parts of Aleppo are being shelled, amid clashes on front lines between rebel-held territory and districts held by the government. He said that especially heavy fighting is reported in a Kurdish district under government control.

In Damascus, government troops stormed three rebel held districts amid heavy exchange of gunfire. Tanks and armored vehicles pushed into the areas as government troops searched houses, making arrests. Heavy street fighting was also reported inside the eastern oasis town of Deir Ezzor for a second straight day. Amateur video showed rebel fighters trading fire with government troops along streets strewn with rubble and burned-out vehicles Read more ..


China on Edge

Chinese Rising Star Bo Xilai Expelled from Chinese Communist Party

September 28th 2012

Bo Xilai

Chinese state media say disgraced politician Bo Xilai, who is at the center of China's biggest political scandal in decades, has been kicked out of the country's Communist Party and will "face justice." The official Xinhua news agency said Bo, once considered a rising star in Chinese politics, will face charges including corruption, abuse of power, bribe taking, and "improper" relations with a number of women. It said Bo's actions "created grave repercussions, and massively damaged the reputation of the party and the state." Bo, who has not been seen or heard from in months, was stripped of his party posts earlier this year when authorities became aware of allegations that his wife, Gu Kailai, was involved in the murder of a British businessman.

In a separate report on 28 September, Xinhua said the 18th Party Congress, which will begin the sensitive process of transferring power to a new generation of Chinese leaders, will convene on November 8. The scandal surrounding Bo has complicated the tightly scripted Communist Party power transfer, since Bo had widely been expected to attain a top position in the new leadership. Read more ..


The Edge of Safety

Enterprise Supports Bill to Get Unsafe Rental Cars Off the Road

September 28th 2012

Enterprise car logo

In a press conference today, Cally Houck joined Senators Barbara Boxer and Charles Schumer and safety advocates, to announce an exciting development in her battle to get dangerous rental cars off the road. Earlier this year, Cally Houck started a popular petition on Change.org calling on Enterprise Rent-A-Car to drop opposition to proposed legislation that would prohibit rental car companies from renting cars that have been recalled due to safety risks. She has worked tirelessly with safety advocates and members of Congress to secure industry support for the legislation.

Enterprise now supports the legislation, named after Cally's daughters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who died in 2004 while driving a recalled rental Enterprise car. The legislation would ensure the safety of America’s rental car fleet by preventing rental car companies from renting or selling recalled cars or trucks. The legislation is supported by Senators Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Claire McCaskill and Representatives Roy Blunt and Lois Capps. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Israeli Prime Minister Draws 'Red Line' on Iran's Nuclear Weaponization

September 27th 2012

Netanyahu's redline

Speaking at the General Assembly of the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resorted to graphics to indicate where Iran may reach by the middle of 2013 in its quest for nuclear weapons. He literally drew a red line where he said that Iran must be halted on a placard that he brought with him to the dais at the assembly hall.

See the video of complete Netanyahu address here

He laid out Israel’s case for stronger international action against Iran and to what he said were “libelous” accusations about the Jewish state’s treatment of Palestinians. His speech came just minutes after the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, had spoken to the international assembly. Netanyahu tackled statements made by Abbas in which the Palestinian leader accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians, while also saying that peace will only come if Israelis and Palestinians can “sit together, negotiate together and reach a mutual compromise.” The Israeli Prime Minister said that there must be “a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the one and only Jewish state." Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Gallup Polls Give Obama the Edge over Romney

September 27th 2012

Obama

President Obama has stretched his lead over Mitt Romney to 6 percentage points nationally, according to the Gallup daily tracking poll released Wednesday.

Obama takes 50 percent support over Romney's 44 percent.

The president has hit the 50 percent mark only twice before in the poll, most recently after the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this month. Obama's approval rating has also jumped in recent weeks, and sits at 51 positive and 43 negative, according to Gallup. Obama now leads the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of polls by 4 percent. Romney led the Gallup daily tracking poll on Aug. 27, 47 to 46 percent over Obama, but that’s the last time any major poll has shown him in the lead.

A string of polls in September has shown Obama pulling away, in some cases by as many as 8 percentage points, and the daily tracking polls have scarcely fluctuated over that time. Gallup has been almost completely static, with each candidate averaging near 45 percent support throughout most of the cycle. The latest survey from conservative-leaning Rasmussen still shows the race tied at 46 percent. Read more ..


Broken Government

U.S. Postal Service to Default on Treasury Payment - Again

September 27th 2012

Click to select Image

The Postal Service announced Wednesday that it would not make a scheduled $5.6 billion payment to the Treasury Department by the end of the month, officially throwing in the towel on a second large payment in as many months.

The agency, which lost more than $5 billion in the most recently completed quarter, had been widely expected to default on the prepayment for future retiree benefits, and rushed on Wednesday to assure customers that business would continue as usual.

“Customers can be confident in the continued regular operations of the Postal Service,” USPS said in a statement. “We will continue to deliver the mail and pay our employees and suppliers. Postal Service retirees and employees will also continue to receive their health benefits.” The second default — USPS also failed to make a $5.5 billion prepayment due on Aug. 1 — comes as postal officials plead with Congress to reach a final agreement on a broad overhaul of postal operations. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Candidates Criss-Cross Ohio as Obama Leads the Way

September 27th 2012

Obama

Mitt Romney and President Obama crisscrossed Ohio on Wednesday as the GOP nominee brought in some celebrity friends to boost his bid and the president sought to solidify his double-digit lead in the battleground state.

The candidates held a total of five public events throughout the day, trading barbs on trade with China and detailing their plans to reduce the unemployment rate in the traditionally blue-collar state. Ohio's 18 electoral votes are crucial in the race for the White House — no Republican has ever won the presidency without the state — and both candidates acknowledged its importance from the stump.

For Romney, who a New York Times poll released Wednesday showed trailing 53 to percent 43, that meant attempting to project confidence — and leaning on some famous friends. The Republican presidential candidate was joined on the stump by homegrown golf legend Jack Nicklaus early the day and later by "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe at a jobs roundtable outside Cleveland. He also deployed some of his top political allies, bringing Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to his campaign stops and on Tuesday afternoon appearing alongside running mate Paul Ryan and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Ahmadinejad Denounces the West's 'Intimidation' and Calls for New World Order

September 26th 2012

Ahmadinejad The Man

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad accused the West of nuclear "intimidation" in his speech to the UN General Assembly that was boycotted by the United States and Israel. The speech was Ahmadinejad's last at the United Nations before he stands down next year.

Meanwhile, thousands of people filled a plaza near the United Nations in a protest against the Iranian regime who spoke to the international body on September 26. The Iranian leader said that he sees hope of a new world order based on "cooperation and harmony" as opposed to a "hegemony of arrogance." Known for his fiery denunciations of the United States and Israel, Ahmadinejad cited what he termed the "continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality." Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

Republican Senators Demand Cables Penned by Slain American Ambassador

September 26th 2012

Ambassador J Christopher Stevens
Slain American ambassador Chris Stevens

Two Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday demanding to see diplomatic cables sent from Libya prior to the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

“While we appreciate your participation in the briefing to the U.S. Senate last week, we are extremely concerned about conflicting reports over the events leading up to the attacks,” wrote Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “Specifically, we are concerned over the apparent lack of security preparations made despite a demonstrable increase in risks to U.S. officials and facilities in Benghazi in the period leading up to the attacks.”

The letter goes on to request “all communications between the U.S. Mission to Libya and the State Department relevant to the security situation in Benghazi in the period leading up to the attacks, including, but not limited to, cables sent from Ambassador Stevens.” Read more ..


The Edge of the Universe

First Two Webb Telescope Flight Mirrors Delivered to NASA

September 25th 2012

Webb telescope flight mirror

The first two of the 18 primary mirrors destined for installation aboard NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have arrived at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The mirrors are going through receiving and inspection and will then be stored in the Goddard cleanroom until engineers are ready to assemble them onto the telescope’s backplane—the structure that will support them.

Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colo., under contract to Northrop Grumman, is responsible for the Webb’s optical technology and lightweight mirror system. On September 17, 2012, Ball Aerospace shipped the first two mirrors in custom containers designed specifically for the multiple trips. The mirrors trave through eight U.S. states while completing their manufacturing. The remaining 16 mirrors will make their way from Ball Aerospace to Goddard over the next 12 months as they await telescope integration in 2015. Read more ..


Energy Policy

Senate Energy Efficiency Bill is Toned Down to Suit House Republicans

September 25th 2012

Better Place EV charging

Backers of a Senate energy efficiency bill passed early Saturday said that removing authorizations and new standards were necessary to gain traction in the Republican-controlled House. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) got their energy efficiency legislation (S. 1000) through as an amendment to a previously passed House bill, but had to shed much of its weight in the process.

“Our amendment, while not everything we wanted, takes some reasonable and commonsense steps to ensure the federal government is coordinating with industrial manufacturers in developing and deploying industrial efficiency technologies, and places additional energy efficiency requirements on the federal government that will ultimately save money for the U.S. taxpayer,” Portman said in a statement Monday. The amendment was tacked onto H.R. 4850, which would update energy efficiency standards for products ranging from walk-in freezers to covered water heaters. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent, which could set it up for either a House floor vote or a conference committee. Read more ..


Broken Healthcare

Cabinet Officials Signal Crackdown on Medicare Billing Abuse

September 25th 2012

StethoscopeAndKeyboard

Top federal officials are stepping up scrutiny  for doctors and hospitals that may be cheating Medicare by using electronic health records to improperly bill the health plan for more complex and costly services than they deliver. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder notified five medical groups of their intention to ramp up investigative oversight, including possible criminal prosecutions, by letter on Monday.

The government action follows a year-long investigation found that thousands of medical professionals have steadily billed higher rates for treating seniors on Medicare over the last decade — adding $11 billion or more to their fees. A probe uncovered a broad range of costly billing errors and abuses that have plagued Medicare for years—from confusion over how to pick proper payment codes to outright overcharges. The findings indicated that Medicare billing problems are worsening as doctors and hospitals switch to electronic health records.

Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Romney Slams Obama's 'Bumps on the Road' in the Mideast

September 24th 2012

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney launched an aggressive new attack on President Obama's comments Sunday in an interview with "60 Minutes," during which Obama described recent events in the Middle East as "bumps in the road."

"These are not bumps in the road, these are human lives," Romney told a crowd in Pueblo, Colo. "These are developments we don't want to see."

Romney's comments at a rally on an airplane tarmac echoed similar remarks he made in a pair of television interviews conducted shortly before he spoke. In an interview with ABC News, Romney called the president's remarks "quite revealing."

"His indication that developments in the Middle East represent bumps in the road is a very different view than I have," Romney said. "The president — I can’t imagine saying something like the assassination of ambassadors is a bump in the road, when you look at the entire context, the assassination, the Muslim Brotherhood president being elected in Egypt, 20,000 people killed in Syria, Iran close to becoming a nuclear nation — these are far from being bumps in the road." Read more ..


After the Holocaust

Holocaust Survivors Rebuke Obama at State Department Commemoration for Being "At War with Survivors"

September 24th 2012

Hilary Clinton

On Monday, September 24, the U.S. State Department held a program commemorating the 73rd anniversary of the voyage of the SS St. Louis attended by numerous Department officials and foreign dignitaries. According to the program, the purpose of the event was to “acknowledge the courage and patriotism of the Passengers as well as their exceptional contributions to American society,” it presents the play The Trial of Franklin D Roosevelt, and concludes with a “panel discussion chaired by Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat that explores the lessons of the saga of the SS St Louis including issues related to immigration, human rights, racism and America’s proper role in a refugee crisis.”

Herbert Karliner, one of the few remaining survivors of the SS St. Louis, was one of the honored guests, and one of the panelists. Mr. Karliner, who currently lives in Miami Beach, is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA. At the proceedings, he gave Department officials a letter addressed to Secretary of State Clinton exposing the hypocrisy of the Administration’s use of the St. Louis as a metaphor for past injustice at the same time it is currently opposing Holocaust survivors’ rights to go to American courts to recover insurance policies sold by Allianz, Generali, and other companies to Jewish victims of the Holocaust.             

Mr. Karliner’s letter also attached previous correspondence from Holocaust survivor leaders to Secretary Clinton urging that she dismiss Mr. Eizenstat as “Special Advisor” to the State Department for Holocaust Issues, because he has a conflict of interest from his simultaneous position as “Chief Negotiator” for  the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (“Claims Conference”), a non-survivor NGO that has consistently opposed Holocaust survivors’ rights to control their claims against the insurance companies that defrauded their families. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Jewish Democrats Warn Netanyahu Away from U.S. Politics

September 24th 2012

Obama and Netanyau

Top Jewish Democrats are squarely standing by President Obama's decision not to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and warning Israel to butt out of the U.S. presidential race.

The White House has been on the defensive ever since Israeli officials publicly complained last week after Obama refused to adjust his schedule to meet with Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week. Republicans quickly pounced, urging Obama to reconsider and inviting Netanyahu to meet with them at his convenience. ''I don't think it's necessary for the president to rearrange his schedule,'' Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, stated. ''I didn't think it was appropriate for the prime minister to publicly get into a dispute with the president of the United States, since we're both very closely working together to impose sanctions and to force Iran to stop its development of a nuclear weapon.'' Read more ..


Religious Hatred

Vandals Trash Upper West Side Deli

September 23rd 2012

Lansky's Deli

Lansky’s Old World Deli on Manhattan’s Upper West Side will reopen on Saturday morning after thieves broke into the restaurant earlier this week,vandalized the inside and wrote anti-Semitic slurs on the walls. “We’ll be open tomorrow morning,” an employee told The Algemeiner, adding that the deli is still in the process of cleaning up the mess. “We’re fixing things up now,” she said.

David Ruggerio, the delis owner, said the extent of the damage inside was severe. “They smashed all the computers, smashed phones, broke every plate in the place, sliced every banquette,” he told The New York Post.  “It was like someone came in and went wilding. Vandalism is one thing, but it was a total defacement. They urinated everywhere.” Ruggerio, who isn’t Jewish himself, says he covered up the anti-Semitic words and symbols in order to keep the situation from becoming “inflamed”. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Clashes Continue Across Syria

September 23rd 2012

Free Syrian Army

Syrian activists say government and rebel forces continue to clash across the country, a day after the rebel Free Syrian Army announced it was moving its command center from Turkey to Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that most of the casualties from fighting Sunday occurred in the northern part of Syria. The Britain-based group also said the government was using aerial support to target rebel forces in central Homs province.

A day earlier, the Free Syrian Army - formed mostly of military defectors - released a video saying it is moving its command to what it called "liberated areas" of Syria. FSA chief, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, said the group hopes to launch an offensive on the capital, Damascus. On Sunday, a group of 16 Syrian opposition parties met in Damascus and called for an end to what it described as Syria's "authoritarian regime."  Ambassadors from Iran and Russia - two countries that support President Bashar al-Assad - also attended the meeting. Read more ..


Media on Edge

State Department Blasts Anderson Cooper and CNN Over Stevens Diary

September 23rd 2012

Amb Chris Stevens

U.S. State Department spokesman Philippe Reines says it is "disgusting" that news channel CNN has reported on the contents of the diary of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, despite objections from the diplomat's family.

CNN said on its website Saturday the public has the right to know what CNN has learned from multiple sources about the fears and warnings of a terror threat before the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Stevens and three other Americans. NN says it found the journal on the floor of what it called the "largely unsecured" compound. Reines says CNN "broke their pledge" to the Stevens family not to report on the journal.  Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Priorities Has Record Month, But Look Out for Crossroads' Bomb

September 23rd 2012

Ask Mitt

Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing President Barack Obama's re-election effort, had its best month of fundraising in August, collecting $10.1 million. That's more than twice as much as the group has raised in any month but one, and a third of the total amount it has brought in since it was started by two former Obama aides last year. Priorities spent $9.5 million, and had $4.8 million in the bank at the end of August.

The super PAC supporting Romney, Restore Our Future, pulled in just over $7 million last month. But American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-connected super PAC that has spent millions supporting Romney as well, raised $9.4 million while spending $6.9 million. That leaves American Crossroads with a whopping $32 million still in the bank, which it can let loose as an an enormous water balloon of negative advertising in the closing weeks of the campaign. Read more ..


Travel and Politics

Senator Rubio Tweets his dispute with American Airlines

September 22nd 2012

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) ran into trouble with his flight back to Washington on Friday and took to Twitter to vent his frustrations. “Trying to get to DC for early morning votes tonight but let's just say this has not been the best week in American Airlines history,” Rubio tweeted. “Every American flight I have been on this week has been at least two hours late or cancelled. This one already one hour delayed.”

The rising Republican star was coming back to Washington to vote on the six-month spending bill that will keep the federal government open until March next year. Rubio complained that the airline was delaying his flight back to the nation’s capital. “Delaying flight for ‘maintenance’ to squeeze connectors from other flight, oldest trick in book.Feel bad for crew.#cmonman#AmericanAirlines,” Rubio tweeted. Read more ..


Russia on Edge

South Ossetia and Georgia in a War of Words, So Far

September 22nd 2012

Russian Tanks Invade Georgia

Meeting earlier this week with the co-chairmen of the ongoing Geneva talks on the security and human rights repercussions of the August 2008 war, two senior South Ossetian politicians accused Georgia of engaging in a new military buildup that they fear presages a new attack on their breakaway region.

The European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) released a statement three days later saying it "has not observed any evidence to support those claims." At the same time, the EUMM said it had registered, and conveyed to the Russian authorities its concern about, a concentration of Russian forces along the "administrative boundary line" separating South Ossetia from the rest of Georgia.

Also on September 21, the Georgian Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing concern at the deployment "in recent weeks" of Russian troops and armor along the administrative boundary line. It called on international organizations and Georgia's foreign partners to convey to the Russian leadership that such an "aggressive posture" is unacceptable. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

Libyan Protester-Militia Clashes

September 22nd 2012

Libya protesters

Libyan protesters ousted a jihadist militia from its headquarters and seized a few other paramilitary bases in Benghazi early Saturday in clashes that left at least two people dead. The capture of the Ansar al-Shariah militia compound and the bases of other armed Islamic extremist groups came after tens of thousands of Libyans marched through Benghazi Friday, demanding the disbanding of the powerful armed gangs.
Libyans held up signs in English and in Arabic with phrases including "terrorism has no place in the new Libya" and "Libya lost a friend." Ansar al-Shariah has been linked to the the assault that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya last week, an allegation the group denies. Anti-militia demonstrators have also demanded the government build up the police and military forces to provide security.  The protests have revealed a growing backlash against the militias.
Read more ..

The Medical Edge

Test of New Dengue Vaccine Shows Promise

September 21st 2012

Kenya Kids

A clinical trial of a new vaccine against dengue fever shows progress toward fighting the most common mosquito-borne disease.  The drug is less successful than hoped, but seems to be effective at preventing three of the four related viruses that cause dengue. Dengue fever is endemic across the tropics, with more than 2.5 billion people in 128 countries at risk. Symptoms can range from aches and fever to circulatory failure, coma and death.  Some 21,000 people die of dengue each year, and the number of cases is increasing, including outbreaks in the southeastern United States.

There is no vaccine available to prevent dengue fever.  Part of the difficulty in developing one is that there are four different but related types of the disease.  Those who recover from infection by one type gain lifetime immunity, but only against that type.  Scott Halstead, of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative, explains that they are still at risk of infection with one of the other types. Read more ..


Broken Healthcare

Grassley says Providers Who Overbill Medicare Are Draining Its Finances

September 21st 2012

stethoscope

Medical professionals who cheat Medicare by billing for more complex and costly services than they deliver threaten to drain the elderly health-care program’s already shaky finances, Sen. Charles Grassley said Thursday. The Iowa Republican’s comments came in reaction to The Center for Public Integrity’s “Cracking the Codes”  series published this week. The investigation found that thousands of medical professionals have steadily billed higher rates for treating seniors on Medicare over the last decade — adding $11 billion or more to their fees. Grassley called the findings “disturbing,” though “not surprising” because any time Medicare creates a new payment structure, “a cottage industry develops to teach providers how to maximize revenue in the system.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Bests Romney in August Fundraising

September 21st 2012

Obama with baseball bat

President Obama ended the month of August with almost twice as much money to spend as his Republican rival, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday. But the Republican National Committee had more than ten times the cash on hand as their Democratic counterparts, more than neutralizing the president's advantage.

Obama ended the month of August with $88.8 million, compared to just $50.4 million for the Romney campaign. The Romney figure includes $15 million in loans that must be repaid, meaning that the candidate actually entered the month with access to around $35.4 million — less than 40 percent of Obama's total. Obama's advantage comes thanks to a stronger fundraising month in August that saw the president bring in $84.7 million, outpacing Romney's $66.6 million haul. In turn, Obama was able to spend more: the president had receipts totaling $83.7 million, versus around $66.4 million for the Romney campaign. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

Video Protests an 'Excuse' to Attack US Facility In Libya

September 20th 2012

Obama

The Obama administration on Thursday called last week’s assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya a terrorist attack. This is the first time that White House officials have called the incident a deliberate attack, rather than a part of protests against a video that many Muslims consider offensive.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters it was “self-evident” that the September 11 attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi was a “terrorist attack.” A short time later, President Barack Obama said that protests over a video that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad were used as a pretext for a planned strike against Americans.

“What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.  Well, we do not know yet.  And so we are going to continue to investigate this,” Obama said. The president said Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and other countries have cooperated fully with the United States in the investigation. Read more ..


The 2012 Fox

Clinton to Battle Tea Party Over Foreign Aid to Egypt and Libya

September 20th 2012

Hillary

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit Congress on Thursday in an attempt to beat back Tea Party pressure to cut foreign aid to Egypt and Libya in the wake of anti-American violence in those countries.

Clinton, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter are expected to brief members of the House and Senate on the unrest in the region, which included an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

During the briefing, Clinton is expected to make the case for America’s continued financial support to the region despite the tensions that were exposed during last week’s protests at U.S. embassies. “We are continuing to work with the Hill on the support that we think is important to support those very forces of moderation, change, democracy, openness in Egypt that are very important for defeating extremism of the kind that we saw,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier this week. “It’s a conversation we obviously have to continue to have, and the secretary will be having it with the Congress as well this week, we expect.” Read more ..


The Afganistan War

Terrorist Leader Who Targeted Prince Harry Arrested

September 19th 2012

Afgan Troops

A U.S.-led coalition security force on Tuesday arrested one of the Taliban commanders who led the Sept. 14, 2012 terrorist attack on the military installation, Camp Bastion, according to military officials. Members of the Taliban claim that Britain's Prince Harry, who is posted in Afghanistan, was their 'primary' target when they attacked Camp Bastion.

The terror suspect was taken into custody in Helmand following a joint effort by Afghan and coalition forces to track down the Taliban insurgents responsible for the attack, officials said. The Taliban leader is suspected of providing support to the terrorists whose attack killed two service members and caused damage to several coalition aircraft.

According to the Pentagon, nearly 20 jihadists infiltrated the perimeter of Camp Bastion and attacked International Security Assistance Force personnel and facilities using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide improvised explosive device (IED) vests, military officials reported. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Forces, Rebels Battle for Northern Border Crossing

September 19th 2012

Free Syrian Army

Syrian rebels were fighting Wednesday to overtake a northern border crossing from government forces. Rebels tore down the Syrian flag at the Tal Abyad post bordering Turkey after a day of fighting, but it was not clear if they controlled the entire crossing.Fighters opposed to President Bashar al-Assad control several other crossings along the northern border with Turkey.

Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International says there is evidence of what it calls an emerging pattern of indiscriminate attacks against civilians by the Syrian army. Amnesty released a report Wednesday based on its investigation earlier this month in Idlib, Jabal al-Zawiya and north Hama.  The group says government forces are routinely shelling towns and villages with imprecise weapons that should not be used in residential areas.     Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Somali Militants on the Defensive in Kismayo

September 19th 2012

Somali civilians and military officials say al-Shabab militants have been exiting Kismayo in recent days, fearing an impending onslaught by Somali forces, African Union troops and allied militaries. Some fighters said to be remaining behind may continue to pose a serious threat.

Kenyan military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna says ground troops are about 50 kilometers from Kismayo, and advancing from the northwest and the south, backed by navy and air forces. He says reports of al-Shabab fleeing the city are only “partly true,” adding that some elements may be planning to stay behind to snipe at allied forces when they enter the city. But Oguna says he does not expect a tough fight against these remnants. “We do not anticipate stiff resistance as we get into the city because the main commanders are leaving," said Oguna. "We do not expect the junior forces to fight without their commanders.  So we expect minimal resistance as we get to Kismayo.” He also says the militants have dismantled a radio transmitter in Kismayo, a sign that they are no longer using the city as a base for operations. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

France Braces for Muslim Backlash at Its Embassies Following New Muhammad Cartoon by Paris Magazine

September 19th 2012

Yemeni Protestor

France stepped up security at some of its embassies on Wednesday after a satirical Parisian weekly published crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The prime minister said he would block a demonstration by people angry over a movie insulting to Islam as the country plunged into a fierce debate about free speech.
The government defended the right of magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish the cartoons, which played off of the U.S.-produced film "The Innocence of Muslims," and riot police took up positions outside the offices of the magazine, which was firebombed last year after it released an edition that mocked radical Islam. The amateurish movie, which portrays the prophet as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester, has set off violence in seven countries that has killed at least 28 people, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. Government authorities and Muslim leaders urged calm in France, which has western Europe's largest Muslim population.
Read more ..

Energy Politics

Congress Focuses on Energy and Job Losses

September 19th 2012

Wind turbines in cloudy sky

Fresh layoffs in the coal and wind industries are fueling congressional battles over energy policy ahead of the elections. Republicans are seizing on job losses at coal mining giant Alpha Natural Resources as they seek support for legislation to kill, soften or delay various federal rules that affect the coal industry.

The House will vote later this week on the bill, which would upend federal greenhouse gas regulations and other White House policies that Republicans allege are harming the coal industry. The House Rules Committee is slated to meet Wednesday afternoon to vet amendments that could receive floor votes when the bill comes up. A final floor vote on the bill is expected Friday. While Republicans are focusing on coal, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) says layoffs announced by wind energy equipment maker Siemens shows why lawmakers must extend tax credits for wind projects. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Massachusetts Democrats Hedging their Bets Despite Warren Lead

September 19th 2012

Elizabeth Warren, native American
Elizabeth Warren

Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren finds herself ahead in multiple recent polls of the Massachusetts Senate race — but her party remains cautious about her chances, and Republicans insist that the race isn’t over yet.

Coming off a well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month, three polls have shown her leading incumbent Sen. Scott Brown (R).

Warren posted a 4-percentage-point lead in a poll conducted by Suffolk University and 7News in Boston that was released Monday, a 2-point lead in a poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling out on Sunday and a 6-point lead in a poll from Western New England University, also out on Sunday. Though her leads in the first two surveys were within the margin of error, three consecutive polls can generally be taken as more than a statistical anomaly. Read more ..


The War Afganistan

12 Killed In Afghan Suicide Bombing

September 18th 2012

Kabul Car Bomb

Afghan militants have claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack near the international airport in Kabul that killed 12 people, including at least eight foreigners. The Hizb-e Islami insurgent group said the bombing was in retaliation for a privately made U.S. film mocking the Prophet Muhammad that has ignited angry protests across the Muslim world.

The suicide bomber, who Hizb-e Islami said was a 22-year-old woman, rammed a car packed with explosives into a minivan carrying foreign aviation workers. "They were all civilian pilots working for [a] private company [Air Charter Service]," Kabul Deputy Police Chief Daud Amin said. "While they were on the way to the airport, there was a suicide attack with a car bomb." Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack. His office said the victims included eight South African nationals, one Kyrgyz, and three Afghans. Another 11 Afghan civilians were reportedly wounded. Suicide bombings carried out by women are extremely rare in Afghanistan, where few women even drive cars. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

Afghanistan Suicide Bombing Linked to Anti-Islam Film

September 18th 2012

Bomb Victims

A suicide bomber has killed at least 12 people in an attack on a mini-bus carrying foreigners near the Afghan capital.

Police say nine foreign workers, their Afghan driver, and two other Afghans were killed when the bomber detonated a car full of explosives near the bus Tuesday on the highway to the Kabul airport.  South Africa's Foreign Ministry confirmed eight of the dead were South Africans. Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it sent a female bomber in response to an anti-Islam, online video that has sparked worldwide protests, including in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, NATO confirmed it is scaling back joint operations with Afghan security forces amid a series of recent insider attacks and the release of the video. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iran Claims Blasts Cut Power to Nuclear Site

September 17th 2012

Iran Nuclear Equipment

Iran says power lines to its primary underground nuclear facility at Fordo were cut last month by explosive blasts set off by "terrorists and saboteurs." The head of Iran's atomic agency, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, made the comments Monday at a meeting in Vienna of the United Nations atomic watchdog member states.  He did not say who was responsible. Iran has in the past blamed the United States and Israel for targeting its nuclear program and scientists.

The Iranian comments come as European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she will meet Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Istanbul on Tuesday.  She said the meeting is "part of continuing efforts to engage with Iran." Talks between world powers and Iran in Moscow in June failed to reach a breakthrough. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that a political solution is still possible. Russia said Monday that ministers from six world powers plan to meet with Iranian negotiators on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting next week. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Has Latino Edge over Romney

September 17th 2012

Obama

President Obama holds a commanding lead over his Republican challenger among Latino voters, with a particular advantage among women, according to a poll released Monday by Latino Decisions.

The survey finds Obama with a 68-26 percent lead over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney among all Latinos. Among Hispanic women, Obama's lead is even larger. He leads Romney among this consituency by a 74-21 percent margin — a staggering 53-point advantage. Among men, the lead decreases to 61-32 percent in favor of Obama. Both Hispanic women and men give the president a 71 percent favorability rating, while Romney's favorability fails to crack 30 percent with either group. Romney is looking to chip away at that lead with a speech Monday afternoon to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. Romney will hit the president on the economy and immigration, according to excerpts of his remarks released by his campaign. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Obama Leads Romney in the Final Stretch with 50 Days to Go

September 17th 2012

Obama

With 50 days until the 2012 election, President Obama has a small, but clear lead over Mitt Romney.

Obama is ahead of Romney by a narrow margin in most national polls, and has a slightly wider lead in most swing states, giving Romney almost no room for error. Obama continues to lead Romney in personal likability — a major asset — and a sustained barrage of summer advertising from his campaign combined with a successful Democratic National Convention has put him in the driver's seat heading into the election's homestretch.

The president has led Romney in polling throughout the summer except for a slight blip following the GOP convention, and the electoral college map sets up favorably for the president. Republicans are hopeful their big spending advantage will help Romney claw his way back into the lead, though Democrats have the edge in the ground game. While the economy continues to drive the election, this past week’s flare-up in Middle East violence has injected itself, at least temporarily, into the campaign. Republicans have pushed hard on the issue, though Romney’s initial response was criticized from both sides of the aisle. Regardless, if violence and instability continues to roil the region, it could cut into Obama’s advantage with voters on foreign policy. Read more ..



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