Obama's Second Term
|Elise Vliebeck||November 15th 2014|
ObamaCare's health insurance marketplaces opened for general enrollment Saturday, a pivotal moment for the administration as it seeks to extend coverage to more uninsured Americans and avoid another disaster at HealthCare.gov.
The online portal to 37 states exchanges will be under close scrutiny for any signs of the problems that appeared last fall, when HealthCare.gov crashed and was almost unusable for weeks.
Federal health officials say the site is significantly stronger than it was on Oct. 1, 2013, and have promised that the process for signing up will be more consumer-friendly. Still, they acknowledge that some technical problems might arise as users log on to the system. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Sarah Ferris and Elise Viebeck ||November 12th 2014|
By - 11/12/14 06:55 PM EST
Comments about voter stupidity made by an ally of the Obama administration are turning into conservatives’ newest weapon against the president’s healthcare law.
A series of unearthed videos of ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber insulting U.S. voters while saying a “lack of transparency” helped Congress pass the healthcare law are attracting serious attention on the right just as Republicans prepare to take control of the Senate.
The newly discovered remarks — revealed so far in three videos circulated by conservative media — add fuel to the GOP’s claim that Democrats were deliberately obscuring pieces of the law to assure its passage. Read more ..
|Elise Vliebeck||November 11th 2014|
An architect of ObamaCare on Tuesday said he regretted his 2013 comment that a "lack of transparency" and the "stupidity of the American voter" helped Congress pass the healthcare law.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Jonathan Gruber made his first public comments on MSNBC after conservative media unearthed a video clip over the weekend of him discussing the healthcare law.
"The comments in the video were made at an academic conference," Gruber said on "Ronan Farrow Daily." "I was speaking off the cuff. I basically spoke inappropriately. I regret having made those comments." Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Rebecca Shabad||November 10th 2014|
Conservatives in Washington are adamant that Senate Republicans should pass a full repeal of the healthcare law next year, even it if means a certain veto from President Obama.
With Senate Democrats likely to filibuster any stand-alone repeal bill, conservatives say incoming Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should use a procedural maneuver known as reconciliation to muscle through a bill with 51 votes. “Republicans should use reconciliation to fully repeal ObamaCare,” said Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund. “Voters know that nothing is a bigger threat to the budget and our economy than ObamaCare. Senator McConnell is on record saying that the law can be repealed with 51 votes and Republican voters expect him to keep his word." Read more ..
|Edwin Black||November 7th 2014|
November 24, 2014 is a looming deadline for Iran, Israel, the United States and the world over its nuclear weapons program. Just hours ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] released a report summarized by its conclusion: “The Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities. Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, nor has it proposed any new practical measures in the next step of the Framework for cooperation.”
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, leading the international negotiations, has described the back and forth as “a forest of distrust.” At the same time, she declares, “Our bottom line is unambiguous … Iran will not, shall not obtain a nuclear weapon.” In the background, media revelations disclose secret correspondence between the Obama White House to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — kept even from Congressional leaders and America’s closest allies and Israel. Washington is struggling to enlist Tehran in the faltering campaign against the Islamic State. This process has juggled agreed numbers of centrifuges — a limit of 4,000 … or is it 10,000 … or is it something in between? Centrifuges are a critical component because each vertical cylinder slowly but steadily distills uranium into a highly enriched weapon-ready state. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Alexander Bolton||November 6th 2014|
For Republicans, now comes the hard part: governing.
Fresh off its historic gains on Election Day, the GOP will soon have control of both the Senate and the House for the first time since 2007. Republicans are promising to fix Congress, knowing that they — for better or worse — will run a historically unpopular institution ahead of the 2016 elections.
Republican leaders know the mandate they received Tuesday will be short-lived if they cannot enact laws to boost what many voters see as a sluggish economy.
In a rare phone call with President Obama Wednesday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) identified two major areas of possible compromise: trade agreements and tax reform. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Jessica Taylor and Alexandra Jaffe ||November 5th 2014|
Democrats on Wednesday morning began sorting through the wreckage of disastrous midterm elections in which losses eclipsed even their worst fears.
The scale of the defeats, taken together, was breathtaking: a Senate majority lost, over a dozen House seats swept away, and Democrats ousted from governors’ mansions across the country. The drubbing is sure to spark a round of soul-searching as Democrats ponder whether President Obama is to blame — or whether something deeper has gone wrong in the party that could threaten its chances of retaining the White House in 2016.
“This is where the administration has to take a real honest look at its decision-making and its management. Between the Veterans Administration, the health care website…it was a lot of things for the last two years that kept feeding this concern that Democrats aren’t able to manage this government,” said one Democratic strategist who requested anonymity to speak freely. Read more ..
Ukraine on Edge
|Martin Barillas||November 3rd 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
While Russian-led separatists in eastern Ukraine held elections on November 2, the Ukrainian government announced that "intensive" troop movements crossing over from Russia have cast doubt over a possible truce. Russia had backed the controversial balloting despite criticism from the West. The vote in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic was condemned by authorities in Kiev and the West. The election was intended to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the pro-Russian authorities already in control of the two main rebel-held cities. The truce that was agreed by authorities in Kiev and the rebels appears seriously in doubt.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced the ballot in eastern Ukraine as a "farce that is being conducted under the threat of tanks and guns," while warning Russia not to recognize the result of the ballot. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||November 1st 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
The terrorist forces affiliated to Al-Qaida seized the last stronghold of rebels back by Saudi Arabia and Western powers in Idlib – a province in northwestern Syria. This came on November 1 after days of intense fighting. With backing from similarly-minded Islamist groups, the Al-Nusra Front is seeking to exterminate the Syria Revolutionaries’ Front led by a Jamal Maarouf. The latter has been key to armed opposition to Syria’s dictator Bashr al-Assad and has received significant support from the United States and other Western countries. Islamist groups have accused him of corruption, as well as collaboration with the West.
Al-Nusra is the official affiliate of Al-Qaida in the war that has pitted various forces against the Assad regime. Once one of the strongest of the groupings opposed to Assad, it is now overshadowed by the Islamic State which now controls large extents of northern and eastern Syria. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Alexandra Jaffe||October 30th 2014|
Democrats have lost their grip on Hispanic voters heading into Election Day—and in turn could lose the Senate because of them.
Even though Latinos split heavily for their party in 2012, mounting evidence suggests Hispanics could sit the midterms out after immigration reform has fallen from the White House agenda.
"There's no question it's going to affect Democrats in this midterm. There's no one to blame but Democrats themselves," said Arturo Carmona, executive director of Hispanic engagement group Presente Action.
A Pew poll out Wednesday revealed Democrats suffered an eight-point drop in support from Hispanic voters nationwide since 2010, down to 57 percent. Meanwhile, Republicans gained six points over the past four years, with 28 percent now saying they support a generic Republican House candidate. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Alexandra Jaffe ||October 29th 2014|
Democrats’ path to holding their Senate majority has narrowed, with Republicans pulling ahead in critical states and on the cusp of upsets in several others.
Even some within the party are starting to say their midterm prognosis isn’t good.
“Democrats are, as we’ve talked about before, going to have a bad Election Day, no matter how you slice it,” former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN on Tuesday evening.
With wins in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana all but certain, the GOP feels increasingly optimistic about its chances of flipping Arkansas, Alaska and Louisiana, and nabbing at least one of the two most competitive swing states, Iowa and Colorado. Now, the party is eyeing tightening races in New Hampshire and North Carolina —races Republicans promised all along would be competitive in the end — as signs a GOP wave is building, giving it more options in its pursuit of Senate control. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|The Tower Staff||October 25th 2014|
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Writing in Vanity Fair in an article published Tuesday, Adam Ciralsky offers a definitive account of the threats Israel faced this past summer; especially the threat of Hamas’ attack tunnels.
The threat portrayed by Ciralsky was provided by Israeli intelligence officials who put things together “through electronic intercepts, informants, interrogations of Hamas operatives, as well as computers and satellite imagery obtained from Hamas compounds during the war.” What the intelligence officials determined was “a surprise assault in which scores of heavily armed Hamas insurgents were supposedly set to emerge from more than a dozen cross-border tunnels and proceed to kill as many Israelis as possible.” Given these threats Israel was forced to launch Operation Protective Edge to defend its population.
The Edge of Terror
|Martin Barillas||October 23rd 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Canada's premier said his country will never be intimidated by terrorists, after a gunman killed a soldier in Ottawa and then stormed Parliament before he was shot dead. In a televised address on the evening of October 22, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the attack committed that day in Ottawa, along with another incident this week in Quebec that led to a soldier's death, are grim reminders that Canada is not immune to terrorism.
The prime minister spoke hours after dozens of gunshots rang out in Canada's parliament buildings in Ottawa when a gunman shot and killed a soldier guarding the nearby Canadian National War Memorial. The fallen soldier has been identified as Army Corporal Nathan Cirillo. The diseased was armed with a ceremonial weapon, which was not loaded, as he guarded the memorial to the fallen Canadians of the First World War. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Justin Sink ||October 22nd 2014|
Political missteps by President Obama are unnerving Democrats just two weeks before the midterm elections.
The GOP could hardly contain its glee at what it viewed as Obama’s latest mistake: his comments that voters should support red-state Democrats who “vote with me” and “have supported my agenda in Congress.”
While the remarks on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show were intended to move black voters to the polls, they bolstered GOP attacks that a vote for Michelle Nunn in Georgia or Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas is essentially a vote for Obama. “Democrats running in the midterms have continually tried to distance themselves from Obama to no avail,” noted Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, who said Democratic candidates should “be straight with voters about their relationship with Obama.” Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Justin Sink||October 19th 2014|
President Obama will make the first public campaign appearance of the 2014 cycle Sunday in Maryland — just 16 days before voters head to the polls.
But the event — like almost every rally on the president’s schedule over the next two weeks — will be for the state's Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Anthony Brown.
In the biggest game in town - whether or not Democrats hold the Senate - the president is virtually absent from the campaign trail to help his party hold the upper chamber. He's fundraised to help Senate Democrats for months. But just over two weeks out the White House seems to have come to a sober reality - even though he has a ton to lose if Republicans take back the Senate, the president is more of a liability than an asset for Democrats locked in tough races. Read more ..
|Elise Vliebeck||October 16th 2014|
Debate over banning travel from West Africa dominated a House hearing on Ebola Thursday as Republicans clashed with federal health officials on the need to suspend flights.
"Administration officials still refuse to consider any travel restrictions for the more than 1,000 travelers a week entering the U.S. from Ebola hot zones," said Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
"Screening and self-reporting at airports have been a demonstrated failure, yet the administration continues to advance a contradictory reason for this failed policy that frankly doesn't make sense." Read more ..
|George Friedman||October 16th 2014|
Oil prices dropped steeply Oct. 14, with crude oil futures falling 4.6 percent to $81.84 per barrel -- the biggest decrease in more than two years. Brent crude dropped by more than $4 a barrel at one stage in the day, dipping below $85 for the first time since 2010. While these are relatively substantial drops, they are just one part of a continuing trend Stratfor has been tracking over the past few months. Factors behind the slump include weak demand, a surfeit of supply and the fact that many large Middle Eastern producers are reluctant to reduce their output.
In light of today's developments, we are republishing the following diary from Oct. 2, which details the reasons behind the falling prices and how the drops could affect oil-dependent countries around the world. Read more ..
The Ebola Pandemic
|Victor Beattie ||October 15th 2014|
The World Health Organization has warned that as many as 10,000 new cases a week of Ebola could develop in the three hardest-hit West African countries by early December. President Obama Tuesday said the world is not doing enough to fight the deadly virus, which a U.N. official said has far outpaced efforts to contain it:
WHO assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward told a Geneva news conference Tuesday the Ebola death toll exceeds 4400 and the number of confirmed cases is more than 8900 since March. And, Aylward said, the number of Ebola cases could reach 5,000 to 10,000 per week in the three hardest-hit West African countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia by December 1.
The WHO official said that while there are encouraging signs, including fewer cases in some of the worst affected areas, more burial teams and a ramped up international response, the ambitious goal set to contain the deadly virus, called "70-70-60," remains elusive. Read more ..
|Jonathan Spyer||October 13th 2014|
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*** WARNING: This post contains images which some readers may find disturbing. Caution is advised. Please scroll down to view these images.
The fate of Kobani city now hangs in the balance, as around 9000 fighters of the Islamic State organization close in on the Kurdish held area. The current IS assault on the Kobani enclave was not the first attempt by the jihadis to destroy the Kurdish-controlled area.
The Kobani enclave, most of which is now in the hands of the IS, at one time extended to Tel Abyad in the east, and Jarabulus in the west. It constituted a major hindrance to the desire of the jihadis to maintain free passage for their fighters from Raqqa city up to the Turkish border and westwards towards the front lines in Aleppo province. IS has therefore long sought to destroy it. Prior to the current campaign, the most serious (but unsuccessful) attempt to conquer Kobani came in July 2014, shortly following the dramatic IS advance into Iraq.
Obama's Second Term
|Justin Sink||October 12th 2014|
President Obama needs to shake up his White House staff to give new life to his presidency, top Democratic strategists and former White House veterans say.
They argue Obama needs an infusion of talent if he hopes to recover over his final two years in office.
One prominent party strategist said Obama “should take a flamethrower to his office.”
“He needs dramatic change — it’s not even a debatable point,” the strategist said. “The general consensus that the president is surrounded by people who do him more harm than good because they are more focused on pleasing him than they are challenging him or proposing a different course.” Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Julian Hattem||October 8th 2014|
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s criticism of President Obama is “dishonorable” and “sad,” former deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton charged Tuesday.
“He is a guy who has had a long and storied career in Washington and has really served his country well,” Burton said during an interview with CNN. “And it is kind of sad that in its twilight he's done such a dishonorable thing by — at a time — by going after the president that he served at a time of a lot of different instabilities around the world.” Panetta has generated a slew of headlines during his recent book tour with his stinging critique of Obama, saying the president has been too willing to “step back and give up” when facing leadership challenges. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||October 6th 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
The Iranian Students News Agency reported today that detonations were witnessed at an explosive material production unit at the Parchin nuclear facility near Tehran. The facility is not far from the Iranian capital. According to Sahamnews – a news site opposed to the Islamist regime – the explosion occurred on the evening of October 5, and was so intense that windows of buildings nine miles away were shattered. According to the BBC, "The glare from the blast could also be seen from a great distance." ISNA, quoting defense sources, reported that two workers lost their lives in the incident.
For a number of years, Israel has alleged that the Parchin military base is used by Iran for testing technology to be used for detonating a nuclear weapon. Israel has frequently criticized negotiations conducted by the U.S. and other major powers, citing fears that the Islamic Republic is merely trying to buy time in order to develop enough nuclear know-how to develop a weapon and thus obviate the need for negotiation. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Benjamin Goad ||October 5th 2014|
Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder will leave office with his signature civil rights agenda still a work in progress, and whether his unfinished business remains a top priority for the Justice Department depends largely on his yet-unnamed successor.
Holder has championed a broad array of initiatives to promote civil rights, from the administration’s support for same-sex marriage to changes in federal prosecutorial policies meant to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
He has signaled an aggressive agenda in his remaining time on the job, with plans to roll out new regulations against racial profiling and complete a national death penalty review that includes an examination of potential racial bias in executions.
But his fight for expanded voting rights is still being waged, and a series of initiatives launched in response to this summer’s fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teen in Missouri are in their early stages. Read more ..
The Ebola Outbreak
|Dan Levin||October 3rd 2014|
NBC News released the following:
An American freelance cameraman working for NBC News in Liberia has tested positive for Ebola and will be flown back to the U.S. for treatment. The freelancer, Ashoka Mukpo, 33, was hired Tuesday to be a second cameraman for NBC News Chief Medical Editor and Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Snyderman is with three other NBC News employees on assignment in Monrovia, reporting on the Ebola outbreak.
Mukpo came down with symptoms on Wednesday, feeling tired and achy. As part of a routine temperature check, he discovered he was running a slight fever. He immediately quarantined himself and sought medical advice. On Thursday morning, Mukpo went to a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) treatment center to be tested for the virus. The positive result came back just under 12 hours later. Read more ..
The 2016 Vote
|Amie Parnes ||September 30th 2014|
Republicans are working hard to define a Hillary Clinton presidency as a third term for President Obama’s White House.
Seizing on Obama’s low approval ratings, the Republican National Committee (RNC) and outside GOP spending groups are casting the president’s former secretary of State as being in lockstep with his agenda.
It is a strategy Republicans say they unveiled just in time for the midterm elections, as Clinton prepares to campaign for Democrats in tight races across the country. America Rising, a super-PAC targeting Clinton, released a memo to supporters last week titled “Stop Hillary 2016, Obama’s 3rd Term.” In the memo, officials seek to make the case that Obama’s policies are Clinton policies. “No matter how many of her advisers whisper to reporters that she’s different from Barack Obama, Americans still know who she is: Barack Obama Part Deux,” the memo says. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Justin Sink||September 29th 2014|
President Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday night that he thinks the Democrats can hold the Senate.
The president told “60 Minutes” that he will spend the next six weeks campaigning on his economic record.
“The country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office,” Obama said, offering to put his record “against any leader around the world in terms of digging ourselves out of a terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis.”
“Ronald Reagan used to ask the question, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ In this case, are you better off than you were in six?’” Obama asked. Read more ..
|Timothy Cama||September 28th 2014|
President Obama largely blamed the United States' intelligence community in an interview broadcast Sunday for giving an incorrect assessment of the capabilities of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria," Obama said on CBS’s'"60 Minutes."
Obama said ISIS, also known as ISIL, went "underground" when United States forces fought al Qaeda in Iraq in the last decade.
That, along with Syria's civil war, allowed ISIS to regroup and recruit fighters from all over the world, including Europe, the United States, Australia and the Muslim world, Obama said in an excerpt from the interview. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Benjamin Goad||September 26th 2014|
Conservatives are warning President Obama against using a lame-duck session of Congress to push through Attorney General Eric Holder's replacement, even as the White House signals its intention to fill the post quickly.
Holder’s announcement that he will resign as the nation’s top law enforcement officer reverberated Thursday around Washington, where speculation has already begun to mount about who might fill the Cabinet position.
Republican lawmakers quickly vowed that whomever Obama taps would be subject to intense scrutiny following an era when the GOP was often at odds with the Justice Department. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Alexander Bolton||September 25th 2014|
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has begun to have serious conversations with state officials and local powerbrokers about running for a sixth term in the Senate.
The longtime Republican senator is expected to face a tougher challenger and would be a major target for Tea Party groups given his support for a Senate immigration bill granting a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.
And McCain, who turned 78 last month, has at times suggested he’s willing to hang it up, telling the entertainment website The Wrap earlier this year that he didn’t “want to be one of these old guys that should’ve shoved off.” But more recently, McCain has given every indication that he wants to stay in the upper chamber, even after three decades as a senator.
“I’m leaning toward it,” McCain told The Hill when asked about running for re-election. “I’m doing all the things necessary to do so,” McCain says of a reelection bid. “A good fundraising quarter. A lot of meetings and talking to a lot of people in the state, the usual preparations in the state.”
The 2008 GOP presidential candidate met Friday in Phoenix with “key supporters” to plan his re-election race, a McCain aide said. And McCain says whether Republicans win a Senate majority in November won’t “particularly” make a difference in his decision. McCain faced a primary challenger in 2010, just two years after Barack Obama defeated him for the White House. He easily fought off former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, defeating him by 25 points after pouring $25 million into the face.
But Hayworth was seen by many as a weak candidate, and McCain could face a much tougher challenger in 2018. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) is flirting with a run against McCain. He is hosting a breakfast Thursday in Scottsdale for local Republican candidates, including Mark Brnovich, the candidate for state attorney general. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||September 23rd 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
The United States and a group of five Arab countries have carried out air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria.
In a September 23 statement, U.S. Central Command said 14 air strikes overnight damaged or destroyed targets in four areas of eastern Syria, including in the Islamic State group's main stronghold of Raqqa.
It said Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates either participated in or supported the attacks, which hit training compounds, militant headquarters and a finance center.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the airstrikes killed or wounding tens of militants.
According to Voice of America, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Pool said on the evening of September 22 that the strikes involved fighter planes, bombers and ships at sea firing cruise missiles. Read more ..
Terror at Home
|Justin Sink||September 22nd 2014|
|Douglas M McCain, American who died fighting for Islamic State|
Some of an estimated 100 Americans who have traveled to the Middle East and joined terrorist organizations like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have returned to the United States, a senior administration official said Monday.
At a Monday briefing previewing an administration push for a United Nations resolution to prevent the flow of foreign citizens into conflict zones to join terrorist groups, a senior administration official said that an estimated 15,000 individuals had entered Iraq and Syria to join groups like ISIS and the al Nusra Front. The official said that 2,000 of those foreign fighters were European, and that 100 were Americans. Read more ..
Britain on Edge
|Marianne Brown||September 19th 2014|
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he is "delighted" with the result of Scotland’s referendum on independence as the majority of Scots voted to stay in the union.
It was a sleepless night for many across Scotland as the results of the referendum on independence slowly trickled in early Friday.
A "No" vote was expected early on, as several constituencies predicted to turn up a "Y" majority instead delivered support for the union.
At 7 a.m. London time, David Cameron said the referendum delivered " clear result" rejecting full independence.
"So there can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people. Scotland voted for a stronger Scottish parliament backed by the strength and security of the United Kingdom and I want to congratulate the 'No' campaign for that, for showing people that our nations really are 'Better Together,'" said Cameron. Read more ..
The Oil Addiction
|Edwin Black||September 15th 2014|
ISIS has trebled its forces within recent months and in large measure finances its expansion with $10 million to $20 million per week in illicit oil sales from as many as 70 captured oil wells.
Iran now has multiplied its centrifuges to almost 20,000, enabling it to convert its 5 percent and 20 percent enriched uranium to 90 percent weapons grade HEU within a 7-week breakout period. With sanctions lifted, Tehran’s monthly oil revenues have soared to almost 3 million barrels per day, generating billions of dollars per month.
Tiny Qatar, with only about 280,000 citizens, provides Hamas with some $400 million annually. Qatar exports more than 600,000 barrels of oil per day helping to establish an estimated $200 billion petrodollar reserve.
Oil is driving it all —and more.
American petroleum use accounts for about one-quarter of global consumption, depending upon whose numbers you’re refining. Kicking our oil addiction is an old mantra that is preached daily from the sidelines by an army of expert energy analysts and security insiders.
A slick, kinetic new Hollywood movie, PUMP, is breaking out of the wooden oil documentary mold to help power a concerted national effort to get off of oil. Read more ..
|Charles Recknagel||September 14th 2014|
As Washington vows to put together a broad coalition to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, the outlines of the new alliance are beginning to take shape.
Much of the emphasis has been upon finding partners among the Arab states. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on September 11 that 10 Arab states had agreed to "do their share" in the fight. They are Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and six Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||September 13th 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Thousands of Israeli Arabs convened in Umm el-Fahm on Septemer 12 for a rally organized by the Islamic Movement in Israel to express their opposition to the radical Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or Caliphate. Israel Radio cited the leader of the Islamic Movement's hardline northern branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, as stating that he is dead set against the extremist Islamist group that has conquered parts of Syria and Iraq and aims to overun the entire Middle East.
However, Salah noted that he also opposes the coalition led by President Barack Obama, who has pledged to "destroy" the Islamic State with military action, including air strikes in Iraq and Syria. The Arab Muslim leader said that such military action against Islamic State fighters threatens the Arab world. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Scott Stearns||September 12th 2014|
United States officials declared on Friday that the country "is at war with ISIL, in the same way that we are at war with al-Qaida and its al-Qaida affiliates all across the globe."
The statements, from spokepersons for the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department, mark the first time that top American officials used the word war to describe the U.S.-led offensive against the militants, also known as the Islamic State.
In a televised speech on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said the United States would fight the Islamic extremists with a coalition, but would not put soldiers on the ground. He refrained, however, from using the term "war" to describe a four-pronged strategy based on airstrikes, counterintelligence, humanitarian aid, and support for forces in Syria and Iraq currently fighting the militants.
Also Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced nearly $500 million in additional U.S. aid for those affected by Syria's civil war. The new funding is designated for civilians displaced inside Syria and the more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. More than half of Syria's population has been displaced by conflict. Read more ..
|Amie Parnes||September 11th 2014|
President Obama vowed to “destroy” Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terrorists in a prime-time address Wednesday that sought to restore eroding public confidence in his leadership and ability to safeguard national security.
The president announced a “systematic campaign of airstrikes” against fighters with the ISIS “wherever they exist,” signaling U.S. targets will expand from Iraq to Syria.
“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country wherever they are,” Obama said during the 15-minute address from the White House. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against [ISIS] in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
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Islam's War Against Christianity
|Martin Barillas||September 9th 2014|
|Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram|
Tens of thousands of Christians are fleeing northeastern Nigeria, in the wake of mass killings and the destruction of several churches by the Boko Haram Muslim sect. According to Fr . Patrick Tor Alumuku, Social Communications officer of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, "I spoke to priests in Maiduguri (Ed. note: the capital of Borno State in northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram is most active) who speak of terrifying happenings." According to the priest, "Boko Haram is determined to eliminate every sign of Christian presence and many churches have been destroyed or torched. Last week in a village in the area of Maiduguri, Boko Haram took over the parish for its local headquarters."
Catholic Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, "in areas where Boko Haram is active Christians are fleeing by the thousands." He reported that at least 90,000 Catholics are now displaced by the Islamist rebels who are challenging the sovereignty of the Nigerian government. Read more ..
Israelis and Palestinians
|Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel||September 8th 2014|
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has reportedly offered to give PA President Mahmoud Abbas part of the Sinai Peninsula adjacent to Gaza to establish a contiguous Palestinian state in those areas. United States President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were also notified of the plan, according to a report today (Monday, August 9) on Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio). Although there has been no official confirmation of the proposal, news of the initiative met with approval from Israeli leaders.
Abbas, meanwhile, is reported to have categorically rejected the plan, which entails a demilitarized PA state located on lands encompassing five times the current area of the Gaza Strip. The state, referred to as "Greater Gaza," would contain PA citizens and Palestinian refugees living in other countries. The offer would also enable Arab cities in Judea and Samaria to retain PA autonomy, on condition that Abbas maintains a viable administration in those areas. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Alexander Bolton||September 8th 2014|
The politics of terrorism have returned with a vengeance for the midterm elections. National security dominated the first election cycles after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with Democrats fearful of being labeled unpatriotic if they criticized then-President George W. Bush.
The Republican advantage eroded years later as public opinion soured against the Iraq War. By the time President Obama sought reelection in 2012, he was able to tout the killing of Osama bin Laden to portray Democrats as the party of strength in foreign policy. But now, with the 13th anniversary of 9/11 just days away, Obama and the Democrats are back on the defensive. Read more ..
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