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Archive for September 7th, 2014

U.S. Rabbi Quits over Pro-Palestinian Activism

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

U.S. Rabbi Quits over Pro-Palestinian Activism
An Evanston, Illinois, rabbi has resigned from his congregation because of long-standing tension over his solidarity with Palestinians in their conflict with Israel. Rosen, 51, has been taking increasingly vocal pro-Palestinian positions over the past several years. He marched in pro-Palestine solidarity rallies down Chicago’s Michigan Avenue at the height of the operation in Gaza this summer and in 2010 co-founded the rabbinical council at Jewish Voice for Peace. Rosen’s personal pro-Palestine activism began in 2008, during Operation Cast Lead. “I was very open and public about my anguish about outrages being committed. After that I went down a different road. I gradually became a Palestine solidarity activist rather than liberal Zionist,” Rosen told Haaretz.

Reports: Iran Cooperating with U.S. to Fight ISIS
Iran’s Supreme Leader has approved co-operation with the US as part of the fight against ISIS in Iraq, sources have told BBC Persian. Ayatollah Khamenei has authorized his top commander to co-ordinate military operations with the US, Iraqi and Kurdish forces, sources in Tehran said. Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham told Iran’s Press TV the report was not correct. Shia Iran sees the extremist Sunni IS group, which views Shias as heretics, as a serious threat.


No. 20 K-State rallies past Iowa State 32-28

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

No. 20 K-State rallies past Iowa State 32-28
AMES, Iowa (AP) — For about a quarter, it looked as if Kansas State was going to get run out of Ames.

Romney: I would have done a better job than Obama
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney says there is no question in his mind that he would have been more effective in the White House than President Barack Obama. But he reiterates he has no plans to run again.

Ryan, Bryant lead Falcons past Saints 37-34 in OT
ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Bryant kicked a 51-yarder field goal on the final play of regulation, then booted a 52-yarder in overtime to give the Atlanta Falcons a 37-34 victory over the New Orleans Saints.


In Mexico, Chris Christie feted by local officials and students

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

In Mexico, Chris Christie feted by local officials and students
The New Jersey governor visited a school in the Puebla region as part of a three-day trade mission in Mexico

GOP Senate candidate: To boost energy production, elect Republicans
Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan says President Obama and Senate Democrats are stifling domestic energy production and killing high-paying jobs


Former Bush Spokesman Lectures President Obama On “Leadership” To Confront Terrorist Threat

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Former Bush Spokesman Lectures President Obama On “Leadership” To Confront Terrorist Threat

From the September 7 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources:

Previously:

Fox Hides Bush’s Actions To Claim Bush Gave “Visionary” Warning About Islamic State

Media Lose Sight Of U.S. Strategy Against Islamic State In Frenzy Over “Manageable Problem”

Iraq And The Need For Pundit Accountability

Obama, The Press, And the “Leadership” Charade


What the Generic Ballot Tells Us About a GOP Wave

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

What the Generic Ballot Tells Us About a GOP Wave
Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics
Last week, I considered the question of whether a Republican wave was forthcoming in 2014, using Senate races as the metric. One of the more common objections to the idea of a Republican wave was the Democrats’ standing in the generic ballot. As of today, Democrats lead by 0.5 percent. This contrasts with this point in 2010, when Republicans led by 5.3 points. In order to understand why I don’t find this all that interesting, it is worth fleshing out my meta-view of this election. I can emphatically say: It’s not certain that a big Republican wave is coming. Rather, the data…


New Scots powers plan ‘within days’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

New Scots powers plan ‘within days’
UK Chancellor George Osborne promises a timetable for further Scottish devolution on the day a poll suggests a narrow lead for the pro-independence side.

MPs’ 9% pay rise ‘should go ahead’
MPs’ salaries should go up by the planned 9% to £74,000 after May’s general election, the body in charge of their pay and expenses says.


Obama: Golf after Foley remarks a mistake

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Obama: Golf after Foley remarks a mistake
Obama said he “should have anticipated the optics.”


International Education: A Missionary for Liberal Arts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

International Education: A Missionary for Liberal Arts
Bard College has become an unlikely champion of liberal education in countries known for their volatility and political upheaval.



Sinosphere Blog: Murong Xuecun Says He Is Target of Twitter Smear Campaign
Articles that are being spread on Twitter portray Murong Xuecun, a prominent author and critic of the Communist Party, as a sexually promiscuous, wife-beating, money-hungry hypocrite.



Cease-Fire in Ukraine Holds, but Soldiers and Residents Doubt It Will Last
The cease-fire between the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatists held on Saturday, but some violations were reported, and soldiers and civilians doubted that calm would prevail.




Obama Walks Back Comments Downplaying Power Of Terror Group

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Obama Walks Back Comments Downplaying Power Of Terror Group

Obama has been hammered for referring to the terrorist group as a “JV threat” months ago, and is now promising to layout a new strategy next week.

The post Obama Walks Back Comments Downplaying Power Of Terror Group appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Obama sits down with Meet the Press

Obama sits down with Meet the Press

CREDIT: NBC News

President Barack Obama used his latest appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday to discuss just how the United States will respond to the militant group that has seized territory throughout Iraq and Syria and walking back comments last year that referred to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and other terrorist organizations as “JV squads” in comparison to al-Qaeda. Obama also promised a more complete policy proposal about the group, which will come in the form of a speech on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, when speaking with the New Yorker, Obama dismissed the idea that all terrorist organizations including ISIS which had recently overtaken the Iraqi town of Fallujah, had the ability and will to carry out strikes against the United States,. “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV [junior varsity] team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said at the time, using what the New Yorker called “an uncharacteristically flip analogy.” Obama continued: “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”

That description of the numerous groups out there that are waged in local struggles against authorities, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and al Shabaab in Somalia, while accurate, has come back to bite the administration with the rise of ISIS. Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted to defend the president’s description, but was rewarded a less than stellar review from the Washington Post’s Fact Checker for his efforts. Chuck Todd, the new host of Meet the Press, called Obama out on this, pressing Obama to explain further if he thought ISIS qualifies as a “JV squad.”

“Keep in mind I wasn’t specifically referring to ISIL,” Obama said, using the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS. “I’ve said that, regionally, there were a whole series of organizations that were focused primarily locally. Weren’t focused on homeland, because I think a lot of us, when we think about terrorism, the model is Osama bin Laden and 9/11.”

Pressed by Todd, Obama admitted that ISIS is not now a “JV team,” but has evolved from a regional threat into one that threatens the United States, though there are no immediate threats against the homeland. But he insisted that the U.S. cannot occupy every country that contains a terrorist group, instead pointing to Pakistan and the drone strikes carried out there as a potential model. “Our goal has to be to partner more effectively with governments that are committed to– pushing back against the kind of extremism that ISIL represents,” Obama said. “And that’s going to require us to do things a little bit differently. We’re going to have to work smarter.”

Just what working smarter will look like will have to wait until Wednesday, when Obama promised to deliver a speech laying out to the American people what the next phase of the fight against ISIS — which has already included more than one hundred airstrikes in Iraq and the rushing of arms to Kurdish fighters — will entail. The day before, Obama and members of his administration will be consulting Congress, which has been getting antsy over the lack of information directed their way during their month-long vacation, on the way forward. Congressional buy-in will likely be crucial for any response that requires striking out at ISIS locations in Syria, given the way last year’s attempt to respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons fell flat in the face of Congress’ disapproval.

Obama said that the goal of the speech is for the American people and Congress “to understand very clearly and very specifically what it is that we are doing but also what we’re not doing. We’re not looking at sending in 100,000 American troops.” On whether the strategy will be to defeat or contain ISIS, a topic of discussion due to his recent off-the-cuff remarks where he said there is currently no strategy for facing ISIS in Syria, Obama said, “what I want people to understand, though, is that over the course of months, we are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of ISIL. We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities. We’re going to shrink the territory that they control. And ultimately we’re going to defeat ‘em.”

The Obama administration is currently working to try to cobble together an international coalition willing to help in that goal, preventing from the U.S. from having to do all the heavily lifting. On Friday, Secretaries of State and Defense John Kerry and Chuck Hagel announced the formation of a “core coalition” of countries — including Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark — working together against ISIS after meetings on the sidelines of the just completed NATO Summit.

“There is no contain policy for ISIL,” Kerry said ahead of his and Hagel’s meeting with NATO allies. “They’re an ambitious, avowed genocidal, territorial-grabbing, Caliphate-desiring, quasi state within a regular army. And leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us. So there is no issue in our minds about our determination to build this coalition, go after this.”

The post Obama Walks Back Comments Downplaying Power Of Terror Group appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Rand Paul Decides To Pick A Fight With Hillary Clinton Over Climate Change

The Kentucky Senator took issue when the former Secretary of State called climate change “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face.”

The post Rand Paul Decides To Pick A Fight With Hillary Clinton Over Climate Change appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

CREDIT: AP Photo / Charlie Neibergall

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) decided to pick a fight with Hillary Clinton over climate change on Friday.

The sticking point was a speech the former Secretary of State gave on Thursday to the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. Her remarks covered a wide range of issues, in particular foreign policy. But she also zeroed in on the need for the U.S. to tackle climate change, calling it “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face.”

That was the part Paul pounced on. “For her to be out there saying that the biggest threat to our safety and to our well-being is climate change, I think, goes to the heart of the matter or whether or not she has the wisdom to lead the country, which I think it’s obvious that she doesn’t,” Paul said in a Friday appearance on Fox News, while discussing ISIS — the Islamic terrorist that’s seized territory in parts of Iraq and Syria.

“I don’t think we really want a commander-in-chief who’s battling climate change instead of terrorism,” Paul continued.

Hillary Clinton is widely considered the Democrats’ main contender for the presidency in 2016, while Paul is one of several Republican front-runners. In particular, the Kentucky Senator has distinguished himself as a voice of skepticism regarding American military intervention abroad, a position that has both won him accolades and put him in the uncomfortable position of embodying one side in a growing rift within the GOP over foreign policy.

That side also appears to be losing, as polling of Republicans across the country suggests a convergence is happening in favor of foreign policy hawkishness . Recently, Paul himself has taken the rise of ISIS as an opportunity to push back at his reputation as an isolationist.

The trouble for Paul is that, by all accounts, Clinton’s characterization of climate change is perfectly sound. Multiple environmental groups — including the League of Conservation Voters and NextGen Climate — shot back at Paul, many of them pointing out that the Defense Department’s own Quadrennial Defense Review in 2014 pointed to climate change as a “significant challenge for the United States.”

“The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world,” the report explained. “These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

A 2014 study by a panel of 16 retired three- and four-star American generals and admirals also looked into the national security threats posed by climate change and concluded it is “a catalyst for conflict.” And Rebecca Leber noted in The New Republic that the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary of Defense for strategy and force development even explained the situation to the Senate panel Paul himself sits on.

“The effects of the changing climate affect the full range of Department activities, including plans, operations, training, infrastructure, acquisition, and longer-term investments,” Daniel Chiu told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July. “By taking a proactive, flexible approach to assessment, analysis, and adaptation, the Department can keep pace with the impacts of changing climate patterns, minimize effects on the Department, and continue to protect our national security interests.”

Beyond national security threats, the threats posed by climate change to Americans’ well-being and economic security are also striking. A recent national report entitled “Risky Business” — arguably the most comprehensive analysis done yet on the economic risks of climate change — noted that by 2100 there is a one-in-twenty chance climate change will reduce national labor productivity by three percent. “A decline of three percent in labor productivity nationally is like losing all of Connecticut’s labor force,” Kate Gordon, the study’s executive director, told ThinkProgress. A big part of that reduction would come from heat: within the same time frame, the eastern half of the country could begin seeing a few days a year where heat and humidity combine to such a degree that it literally becomes life-threatening for people to be outside for an extended period.

The latest National Climate Assessment, meanwhile, projects rising heat waves, more droughts, more floods, and even more insidious effects like ocean acidification for every region of the U.S. — all of which in turn threaten the stability of industries and infrastructure around the country. If current projections for sea level rise pan out, it could wipe much of South Florida, including the city of Miami, right off the map by 2100.

In short, if climate change is not “the most consequential” challenge facing America, it’s hard to imagine what issue could possibly qualify. And polling also indicates most Americans are aware of the problem, with majorities of voters consistently labeling climate change a serious threat and saying government should move decisively to deal with it.

That stance is not uniformly distributed, however: Democrats, along with Latinos, and other minorities, tend to register the most concern with global warming. But Republicans and Tea Party voters tend to be the most skeptical. They’ll also be the voters Rand Paul will need to court in 2016.

The post Rand Paul Decides To Pick A Fight With Hillary Clinton Over Climate Change appeared first on ThinkProgress.


This Is a ‘Pivotal Moment’ for the Movement to Remove Big Money From Politics

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 7th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

This Is a ‘Pivotal Moment’ for the Movement to Remove Big Money From Politics
From: John Nichols

A grassroots citizen-driven campaign has forced the Senate to debate a constitutional response to Citizens United.

Out for Executing the NBA Gameplan: The Atlanta Hawks and that Levenson Email
From: Dave Zirin

Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson "self reported" an email with all kinds of racist theorizing about how to get more white fans. But how much did Levensons words stray from the NBA's own corporate gameplan?