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September 28, 2013 [Foreign Policy Update - Iran & Syria]


Two major breakthroughs were announced in foreign policy yesterday. First, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the UN Security Council has voted to adopt the draft resolution to resolve the matter of Syria's use of chemical weapons diplomatically. The resolution called for Syria to turn over a complete inventory of its chemical weapons to UN weapons inspectors and then allow for those weapons to be completely dismantled. A timeline has been set for the weapons inspectors to arrive in Syria within a week to start their work, and for the weapons to be destroyed by November.


Also yesterday, President Obama announced that he spoke on the telephone with the President of Iran, Hassan Ruhani, before the Iranian President left New York after he attended and delivered a speech at the United Nations this week. The conversation was said to have lasted 10 to 15 minutes, after which President Obama made the announcement to the White House press without taking questions. The President acknowledge the barriers that exists on the road to forging a diplomatic solution over Iran's nuclear program. However, given that the Iranian Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini gave his green light for President Ruhani to engage in serious diplomatic negotiations with the U.S. to reach a negotiated settlement that would benefit all parties, including the middle East as a whole, by bringing about more stability, and satisfy the United State government, while allowing Iran to continue to pursue a peace civilian nuclear program. This was a breakthrough announcement, considering that the two countries have been in a virtual Cold War and open hostility since 1979, when Iranians revolted and overthrew the American puppet government of the Shah of Iran, took American hostages and returned the Supreme Leader, who was in exile in France, The Ayatollah Khomeini. President Obama was very conciliatory and expressed hope that this telephone conversation was just the beginning of future normal relationships with Iran, while putting an asterisk on his statement by pointing out that any agreement that may be reached between the two countries will have to be transparent and verifiable. As extraordinary as this news was in the grand scheme of foreign policy, the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Iran would immeasurably benefit the Iranian people who have been squeezed economically under crippling sanctions that have been imposed on Iran by the Obama administration and the European Union (EU). Press reports from Iran are that President Ruhani was welcomed back home by cheering crows, while a small group of hard-liners greeted him at the airport by throwing eggs, rocks, and shoes at his convoy. News are fast developing fast on the foreign policy front, and peace may be breaking out. Only time, hard and sustained diplomatic work, and patience will tell.

September 27, 2013 [Syria Update]

UN Security Council Approved U.S. - Russia- Syria Agreement

U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry & Russian & Syrian Negotiators 




NBC broke the news late yesterday that the United Nations' Security Council has approved the agreement reached in Geneva last week between the United States and Russia to halt eminent military actions by the U.S. against Syria, in response for Syria's use of chemical weapons in the two and a half years civil war against Syrian rebels and the government of President Bashar Al Assad. Based on press reports, it appears that China and Russia, which have been supporting Syria and were opposed to U.S. intervention, have agreed to the language of the agreement by removing the threat of military action if Syria does not comply with the unobstructed monitoring and inventory, and the complete destruction of the country's chemical weapons arsenal. The Security Council is made of five member countries, including the U.S., France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China. This agreement will not prevent President Obama from taking military action if he believes that the interests or security of the United States and and/or its allies are threatened by the actions of the Assad's government to prevent the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. UN weapons inspectors are schedule to arrive in Syria to begin their work there within a week, and hopefully complete the dismantling of all of Syria's chemical weapon program by November.

Last night, NBC also reported that Secretary of States, John Kerry, held his first meeting with Iranian officials to discuss possible diplomatic negotiations toward resolving the U.S. Iran conflict over Iran's nuclear program. Earlier this week, the President told the 126 countries UN General Assemble that he had no problem with the Iranian government pursuing nuclear energy for the Iranian people, but that he was determined to enforce the world's nuclear non-proliferation treaty. the meeting between the Secretary of State and Iranian officials marked the first time the two countries have talked face to face since 1978 after the Iranian revolution that overthrew the puppet American government of the Shah of Iran, and the return by the Iranians of their Supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini.

September 27, 2013

The George Washington Library Commemoration
What Could Today's Politicians Learn from The First President?

Today in Virginia, the new George Washington Library will be commemorated in a Grand Opening in Mount Vernon. Washington called Mount Vernon home for more than 40 years, and lived on the historic estate with his wife Martha only 16 miles south of Washington, DC along the Potomac River in Northern Virginia. Ironically, this represents this last presidential library opening is being dedicated to the First President of the United States. The library has been privately funded through donations, which means that it would stay opened in the event of a government shutdown, which Republicans in Congress are threatening this week over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling. From 1775 to 1783, George Washington was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. He was elected President unanimously by Congress and served two terms from 1789 to 1797. He refused to serve a term as president. The question is, how did Washington govern, and what were his views on power, party politics, and compromise? Washington was very worried about dueling fractions leading the new republic into ever escalating political struggles that would undermine the health of the country and the well-being of its citizens.


Quotes by George Washington:


On the Power to Lead

However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion. (Farewell Address – Sept. 17, 1796) Source:


On Duty to the Country


“It may be laid down, as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it.”


On Compromise - Modern Politicians:


NJ Gov. Chris Christie with President Obama

after Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey Shore in November 2012


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:


“We believe - we believe that, if we tell the people the truth that they will act bigger than the pettiness we see in Washington, D.C. We believe it is possible to forge bipartisan compromise, and stand up for our conservative principles.”

Fl. Republican Senator Marco Rubio: “I would love nothing more than compromise. But I would say to you that compromise that's not a solution is a waste of time.”


Andrew Carnegie: “I shall argue that strong men, conversely, know when to compromise and that all principles can be compromised to serve a greater principle.”          

Fl. Republican Senator Marco Rubio


Photo_Fox News

September 24, 2013

President Obama’s Speech at the United Nations

President Obama concluded a powerful and remarkable 40-minute speech before the United Nations’ General Assembly at around 11:00 AM. The president spoke without interruption or applause in an unprecedented policy statement in which he outlined his foreign policy agenda going forward. The president covered all of the bases in his speech, from the NSA spying scandal to the use of Drones and recent terrorist bombings just this week in Kenya, Pakistan, and Iraq. Those terrorist attacks have killed close to 70 people in Kenya, over 100 in Pakistan, and numerous deaths in Iraq with hundreds of civilians injured. The President sharply narrowed his focus on the Middle East and North Africa, reminding the 126 nations’ body of their responsibilities to take advantage of new opportunities to bring about peace in those regions.

Prior to today, there have been great speculations and anticipation among foreign policy analysts and officials in Washington, deriving from the newly elected president of Iran’s statement to a reporter that if his country and his government would welcome negotiations between the United States and Iran. President Obama, in a speech largely devoted to issues affecting Israel and the Palestinians, Iran, Syria, and North Africa, announced that he has delegated U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with Iranian officials to negotiate over Iran’s nuclear weapons. The president offered a shift in vision for the role of the United States and leadership in the world, from military intervention to peaceful and diplomatic resolutions of conflicts.

Hassan Rouhani: President of Iran


For Syria, the president reasserted that he will keep the possibility of military action against Syria, in the event that Syria reneges on the agreement that is scheduled to be presented as a resolution before the UN Security Council. Press in the past few days suggest that Russia and Syria are not willing to sing on to the agreement if it contains the military option language. But it does not appear that the U.S. will agree to any resolution that does not expressly articulate the right of the United States to pursue military strikes outside an acceptable agreement that ensures that Syria’s chemical weapons are completely accounted for and destroyed. On Israel, President Obama reiterated his support for Israel and the need for the Palestinians and other Arab states, and Iran, to recognize the right of the Jewish people to exist and live in peace and security. But the president also called on Israel to end their occupation in the West Bank and the Gaze Strip.

The president called on all the nations in the United Nations to focus on lifting the world’s people by fighting poverty, illiteracy, and health crisis, and work on developing their economy and generating respect for human rights, and in particular, the rights of women and minorities. He announced that in addition to the billion dollars the U.S. already contributed to economic and humanitarian aid in Syria and Egypt, the U.S. government is prepared to contribute an additional $300,000,000. However, given the recent turns of events in the Egypt’s revolution, initially called the Arab Spring, the United States is withholding the usual military aid that has gone to the Egypt military until the new interim government changes course from military rule and the persecution and oppression of minorities in Egypt to an open society in which the Egyptian people can strive. The president reminded the world body that despite the U.S. restrain in the use of military force, civil wars within countries are threatening to destabilize the Middle East and countries in North Africa. But the president underlined his commitment to work with all countries and world leaders to seek to resolve conflicts in more peaceful and diplomatic channels going forward.

September 23, 2013 [Syria Update - 1:05 PM]

Three-Way Deal: The US - Russia – Syria Agreement

Mass Destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons

The UN General Assembly: Photo_UN


The Action Moves to the UN

After all the threats by President Obama to unleash U.S. missiles against Syrian military targets and facilities, the hand-wringing in Congress, the speculations among the Washington press and pundits, and the divided public opinion, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed on a proposal by Russia’s Vladimir Putin to inventory and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. News of the initial agreement was broken on September 20, but the details of the agreement were not yet in place, so negotiations have continued between the U.S., Russia, and Syria as to what language and provisions will be written into the agreement to ward off U.S. military action, while making sure that Syria’s weapons are completely accounted for and destroyed under the supervision of the United Nations weapons’ inspectors. Although the decisions for Russia are being made by President Vladimir Putin, the diplomatic negotiations took place in Geneva between Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. President Obama has suspended the threats of military action to give the diplomatic efforts a chance to be developed and implement, while, he said, he reserves the right to order military action if Syria does not follow through on the agreement.


As of today, Russia and the U.S. are expected to bring a resolution before the United Nations to compel Syria into compliance with the destruction of its chemical weapons and the verification and monitoring measures that put into the agreement, or face potentially damaging military actions by the United States. The U.S. has promised to support Syria’s acceptance into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) if Syria allows the agreement to be fully implemented.


Events Round-Up


Sept. 15: The United States and Russia worked out a deal to prevent U.S. military intervention in Syria, and instead allowing Syria to turn over control of its chemical weapons to UN weapons’ inspectors for inventory and destruction.


Sept. 16: Although UN weapons experts indicated that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapon attacks in the Syrian civil war; Russia’s Defense Minister urged a boarder probe into the possible perpetrators of the attacks, including the rebel groups that have been fighting the Syrian government for over two years.


Sept. 17: The agreement to get Syria’s chemical weapons destroyed is threatened by the fact that Israel has not ratified the Chemical Weapons ban and Convention.


Sept. 19: Al-Qaeda affiliate seizes Syrian town. The fighting between rebel groups intensified and Islamist fighters took over Azaz in Syria.


See all events round-up on Syria in article below.

September 14, 2013 [12:00 Noon]

U.S. & Syria Reach Agreement on Chemical Weapons

Courtesy: Diplomacy

Secretary of State John Kerry & Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Ivanov in Geneva

Reuters International reported this morning that the United States and Russia have reached an agreement in Geneva on the issues surrounding Syria chemical weapons program. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Ivanov, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had been in negotiation since Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ceased on a passing comment Kerry made to a reporter that Syria could avoid a U.S. military intervention by agreeing to destroy the country’s chemical weapons stockpile. The proposal would eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, Secretary of State John Kerry said this morning after three days of negation.

Kerry: "We share hopes for a political solution"

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his team opened two days of meetings with their Russian counterparts, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Thursday, hoping to emerge with the outlin...

According to Kerry’s statement issued to the international press in a joint press conference with Ivanov the agreement would require Syria to submit to a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons arsenal within one week. The agreement calls for Syria to allow full access it chemical weapons facilities to U.N. inspectors. Under the fast-mowing development, UN weapons inspectors will be on the ground in Syria to do an inventory of Syria’s chemical weapons program and a deadline has been set for those weapons inspectors to begin their work in Syria by November and for all of Syria’s chemical weapons to be completely destroyed by the middle of 2014.weapons by the middle of 2014.


Kerry and Lavrov said that if Syria does not comply with the agreement, which must be finalized by the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, the country would face consequences under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, the part that covers sanctions and military action.Kerry said there was no agreement on what those measures would be. U.S. President Barack Obama, he said, reserves the right to use military force in Syria.


"There's no diminution of options," Kerry and Ivanov said of the agreement, "There (is) nothing said about the use of force and not about any automatic sanctions." However, President Obama has indicated that he would be prepared to follow through with military action if Syria does not follow through or violate this agreement. The President has also indicated in his several interviews and address to the country that he believes he has to constitutional right to take military action – not war- with or without a resolution by Congress or the United Stations, so long that he concludes that America’s national security interests are threatened. Constitutional scholars and media analysts agree with the President. There are many recent precedents where U.S. Presidents have taken military actions unilaterally without Congress’ approval or a declaration of war or a UN resolution. In 1983, President Reagan invaded Grenada, and bombed Libya in 1986. George H. Bush invaded Panama in 1989. In 1994, Clinton sent U.S. troops to invade Haiti, and in 1995 he joined NATO to intervene in Bosnia, followed by Kosovo in 1999.

September 13, 2013

The Syrian Crisis – Brilliant President Obama

The U.S. Diplomat in Chief


U.S. Military Intervention May Have Been Averted

The Hot Potato has Now Been Dropped in The United Nations' Lap

UN General Assembly (NY) 


Since news broke on August 20, 2013 that chemical weapons were used in the Syrian civil war, developments have been fast-moving. By early September, the United States government was on the verge of launching military strikes against Syria. The country was divided and Congress demanded that the President consulted them before engaging the military in the Syrian conflict. Although the media was caught up in the weeds of daily speculations, rumors, and debates over what the President Obama should do and how and when he should speak in public, even what he should be saying, By Monday September 9, the possible of a diplomatic breakthrough presented itself in the form of an answer from U.S. Secretary John Kerry from a reporter.

Round-up of the Developments in the Syria Conflict


Tuesday August 20 - The Islamic politics and cultural website, Islamic Invitation Turkey, released several videos they said showed evidence that Syrian rebel groups, considered to be terrorists—as opposed to other rebel groups referred to as freedom fighters, had launched a chemical attack near Damascus, the capital of Syria.


Wednesday August 21 - The international press reported stories about the attack, but the evidence began to indicate that the chemical attack, which killed 1500 civilians, including 400 children, was ordered and carried out by the military forces of Syrian’s President Bashar Al Assad. Despite the circulation of the videos, the government of Assad and Syria and it ally in the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin, steadfastly maintained that the attack was staged by Rebel groups as a sinister tactic to compel the U.S. to get involve militarily in the 2 and a half year civil war that had already caused an estimated two hundred thousand deaths and casualties among Syrian civilians, and government and rebel forces alike.


Saturday August 24 - Syria warns the U.S. not to interfere in the civil war or attack the country. The government of Syria cautioned that the war had already spilled over into Lebanon and turkey. They accused rebels’ use of chemical weapons in Air War in Kosovo as Precedent in Possible Response to Syria Chemical Attack. Syria not only denied any involvement in the attack, the government also denied that it possessed chemical weapons. That claim was perceived by Western government and lawmakers in Washington as holding no credibility and was roundly rejected.


Sunday August 25 - President Obama made a statement to the public expressing that there was evidence that a chemical attack did take place in Syria. But he said that he needed more intelligence, while expressing his complete outrage over the killing of innocent civilians with the use of chemical gas.


Monday August 26 - Secretary of State, John Kerry made a blistering and forceful statement on camera charging Syrian’s President Bashar Al Assad with committing crime against his own people, and announcing that the U.S. government was in possession of irrefutable evidence that Syrian government forces were responsible for the chemical attack. The Secretary of State’s remarks were made just hours after United Nations weapons inspectors were allowed access to some of Syria’s chemical weapons.


Tuesday August 27 – UN inspectors took samples and collected evidence and interviewed witnesses, but left the country to return in order to analyze the evidence and issue a report. It was doubtful whether the weapons inspectors would be able to identify with any certainty as to which of the warring party might have launched the attack. Meanwhile, Secretary of John Kerry continued an intense and aggressive international and internal campaign to hold Bashar Al Assad accountable for what the Secretary of State referred to as “a cowardly crime and a moral obscenity.” He also continued to engage the media to make the government’s case for what he called, “undeniable evidence” that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical attack.


Wednesday August 28 – President Obama said, in a televised interview with PBS NewsHour, that he has no doubt Syria used chemical weapons on its own people. He said government claims that the opposition used them were impossible:

"We do not believe that, given the delivery systems, using rockets that the opposition could have carried out these attacks. We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out. And if that's so, then there need to be international consequences."


Thursday August 28 – The news media began reports that the Pentagon is looking to target the Syrian Military and, or Syria’s chemical sites. There was confusion as to what the military action would entail in terms of time frame and objectives, and concerns about how Syria and other in the region, such Iran may react to a military intervention. And while consensus against the use of chemical remained strong both in the U.S. and among the international community, the international community was divided over a U.S. military intervention in Syria. Russia, China, and Iran stood firmly on the side of Syria, and in Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama was still weighing a potential response, but said his administration was working on a "compressed timeline."


In Congress, Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California sent a letter to President Obama asking that the President seek "an affirmative decision of Congress" before committing American forces. In addition, more than 90 members of Congress, most of them Republican, signed another letter initiated by Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia urging President Obama "to consult and receive authorization" before authorizing military action. A bill sponsored by the Senate on whether or not to back military action passed by small bipartisan majority and was sent to the House of Representatives where it faced great oppositions from both Democrats and Republicans.


Friday August 29 - Following these activities, President Obama announced in a press conference that he would delay military actions, and that he would schedule time to consult with members of Congress and address the public. Upon his return from the G20 Summit in Russia on September 7, the President consulted with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and scheduled an address to the nation for Tuesday September 10, at 8:00 EST.


Sunday September 8 - U.S. officials said Kerry’s a comment by Secretary of State, John Kerry, made in response to a question from a reporter in London change the course of the impending U.S. Syrian Showdown. The reporter asked Kerry if there was anything that Syria could do to avoid retaliatory military strikes against the country, and according to reports, Mr. Kerry replied that President Assad could agree today to get rid of all of his chemical and biological weapons. While Secretary of State Kerry’s answer might have been spontaneous, within hours his Russian and Syrian counterparts quickly followed up and offered to embrace the Secretary of State’s proposition, and the international community immediately showed relief and joined in supporting the idea.

Monday September 9 - Russia and Syria embraced Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s suggestion as a way to avert a U.S. attack by. Syria agreed to place its chemical weapons under international control. By the end of the day, President Obama conceded that the idea of monitoring and ultimately destroying Syria’s arsenal “could potentially be a significant breakthrough.”


Tuesday September 10 – President Obama addressed the American Public from the White House. He took no questions Mr. Obama said that, given Syria's recent offer to give up its chemical weapons, he's asked the leaders of Congress to postpone their vote on the use of force. The administration will work with its allies in the United Nations, he said, to put forward a resolution requiring Assad to give up the weapons. The international community will also give U.N. inspectors an opportunity to report their findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Earlier, at the beginning of the conflict, the British Parliament voted to prevent Prime Minister David Cameron from getting British troops involved in any U.S. intervention in Syria. The President of France strongly backed President Obama’s resolve to confront Syria on the use of chemical weapons, but other countries who have signed the international chemical weapons ban treaty stayed on the fence.

President Obama Address To The Nation On Syria! - FULL SPEECH!! - 9/10/2013

September 10, 2013 - Obama Syria Speech Address - President Obama delivered a speech to the American people on Tuesday night on Syria outlining the U.S. response to the Syrian regime's use of chemical...

Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin published an Op-ed in the New York Times, and it he wrote in part, “No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored. It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.” The Associate Press reported Putin as saying yesterday, that Syria's move to join the international convention banning chemical weapons has proven its good faith and reaffirmed a strong warning to the US not to use force.

In further statements the same day, Putin said that the international community should welcome Syria’s decision to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. This would leave a total of 6 countries that are still not part of the treaty. Iran also expressed optimism towards Assad’s move to prevent U.S. intervention by relinquishing control over his chemical weapons. The President of China, Xi Jinping, said that his country welcomes the Russian initiative about Syrias chemical arsenals. China’s President Xi Jinping said in his new statements that Beijing welcomes the proposal by Moscow and supports the initiative that the Syrian government in Damascus hands over its chemical weapons arsenals under an international control of the United Nations (UN).


President Obama has not removed the threat of military use against Syria off the table, as he has stated that it was the threat of military action that brought Syria and its friend and ally Russia to the negotiating table. Russia and China have been blocking all resolutions from going through the United Nations. Both countries enjoy veto power in the U.N Security Council where major international decisions involving war and peace, and things like famine and genocide, are made. The UN General Assembly is scheduled to meet in 2 weeks to take up a resolution to help move the Syrian matter forward. 

September September 7, 2013 [Update]

Obama is back in the United State after attending the G20 Meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. But the the country has been embroiled in debates over the Syrian matter since reports emerged last week that Syria used chemical weapons in the two and a half year civil war between Syrian rebels and the government of Syria. Read our editorial in Views & Analysis Below:

September 6, 2013 (4.50 PM)



President Obama Speaks at the G20 Summit Press Conference



(Reuters) – While U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry continues to make a strong case for military action against Syria, at the G20 Summit in Russia today, President Barack Obama made a case for the international community to joint his effort against Syria alleged use of chemical weapons to kill over 1500 people, including 400 children. The president was defiant in the face of pressure to abandon plans for air strikes against Syria. World leaders remain divided on the issue of military intervention. On the issue of Syria, the U.S. President and Russian President Vladimir Putin remained far apart despite statements by White House staff and from President Obama that a previously scheduled meeting between the two leaders had been cancelled, it has been reported that yesterday, on the side-line, the Russian and U.S. Presidents did Syrian President Bashar Al Assad

hold a 20-minute one-on-one talk regarding the crisis surrounding Syria and the

use of chemical weapons.


While Russian President Vladimir Putin has been reported saying that he and Obama stood their ground and neither blinked but at least there was dialogue. "We hear one another, and understand the arguments but we don't agree. I don't agree with his arguments, he doesn't agree with mine. But we hear them, try to analyze them," he said. Reuters also reported that the President of China, Xi Jinping, also tried, unsuccessfully, to dissuade Obama from pursuing military action against Syria. "A political solution is the only right way out for the Syrian crisis, and a military strike cannot solve the problem from the root," Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying. "We expect certain countries to have a second thought before action."


2013 G20 Summit in Russia: Photo_Share


The only unity among that emerged from the meetings in Russia was an agreement that the world economy still needs to be spurred through growth policies. G20 leaders, including emerging economies, account for 90 percent of the world’s economy and two thirds of the world’s population. They all agreed that the economy was not out of crisis yet and remained on the mend. Reuters has quoted a G20 source as saying, "There has been a long discussion with a clear split in the group," following a State dinner in a Tsarist-era palace in St. Petersburg, the former imperial capital of Russia.

Meanwhile, in Washington, following a close bipartisan vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to approve a resolution that would give the president the backing to begin strikes against Syrian military targets, the hand-wringing continues. Opposition against military action is growing among the American public, and it spilled over this week when Congressmen and Senators held town meetings in their districts Wednesday and yesterday. The measure heads to the U.S. House of Representatives where members on both sides of the political aisles are skeptical and divided over what course to follow in this sudden war debate that has embroiled the nation. According to the Huffington Post, the vote count in the House of Representative, as of today, was as follows:

U.S.House Speaker John Boehner





217 Votes are needed for the resolution to pass the Republican lead House

At the conclusion of the G20 Summit, President Obama announced in a press conference from St. Petersburg, Russia, that he plans to address the nation Tuesday evening, as well as consulting further with Congress on the issues.

Google Images_CC_Share

Syria and Planned U.S. Military Action [Updated September 5, 2013 (3:50 PM)

September 4, 2013 (7:30 PM)

Latest News on Eminent U.S. Military Action in Syrian - Obama Plays Battleships


Another Case of or for Weapons of Mass

Where do the Similarities End?

After seeking a resolution from Congress before ordering military actions against Syria, President Obama said, earlier today, that he retains the right to order strikes against Syria even if Congress does not give him authorization. This followed a hectic weekend in Washington during which lawmakers from both parties took to television shows to make their positions known regarding the question of whether or not it is in the United States’ national security Interest for the president to order military strikes against Syria, in retaliation for the alleged use of chemical weapons in the two-year civil war in that country. Lawmakers in Washington on both sides of the aisles hold divergent views on the issue, with some arguing that it would make the U.S. and the president look weak if no action is taken. Ironically, some in the liberal wing of the party express opposition or unease about any type of intervention and believe that the United States should only continue the diplomatic efforts that have thus yielded no results, while the civil war escalated and chemical weapons may have been used by the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. "We will be stronger as a country in our response if the president and Congress do it together," Said President Obama in a news conference today in Stockholm where his is attending the G20 Summit. The President also said that he believes Congress will approve his plan to strike targets in Syria. He added that inaction on the part of the U.S. government will foster a more dangerous future for the entire international community. Policy makers who started to trickle back to Washington from their long vacation held a hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Secretary John Kerry Syria FULL Statement, Unveils Evidence of Chemical Attack by Assad's Government

News Conference Speech 8/30/2013Kerry Says Assad, A 'Thug And Murderer,' Was Behind Attack(Washington Post) Secretary of State John F. Kerry made a forceful case Friday for U.S. military interventi...


Many lawmakers remain opposed and skeptical about the need for military involvement by the U.S. The Hocks and the Neocons, including conservative commentator Bill Crystal from the Heritage Foundation and Senators Graham and McCain are calling from a broader military intervention than the more narrow strikes that have discussed by military analysts in the media. Some Tea Party Republican Congressmen express concerns about spending more on the military actions at a time when the country is going through a budget sequestration. But the Libertarian Wing of the Republican Party, headed by its more vocal members, such as Senator Rand Paul, consistently oppose military intervention where the direct interests of the country and its allies are not eminently threatened. Yesterday, the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee voted to approve, on a narrow bipartisanship, a resolution which is very likely to reach the House of Representatives by the end of the week. Washington has moved faster in five days this week that it has moved in the past five years, since the President put the military on readiness and moved missile launchers and other hardware into the region, including a battle ship, but delayed any action after members of Congress complained that they should be consulted and given a chance to vote on the measure. Meanwhile, the international community remains as divided on the same issue, after the British Parliament voted last week to prevent Prime Minister David Cameron from joining the United Kingdom as part of any coalition to strike Syria. France’s President, Francois Hollande, announced that France will support the United States in any action President Obama might decide to take. Reports out of the Middle East indicate that President Assad has put his military on alert. Israel is encouraging action by the U.S. The Arab League has not communicated a clear position. Russian President Vladimir Putin whose relationship with the U.S., and with President Obama in particular, has degraded to the point where the President cancelled a one-on-one meeting that was previously scheduled to take place between the two leaders at the G20 Summit, is reported to have moved and positioned Russian ships into the Persian Gulf. This week, Putin continued his very harsh and even hostile rhetoric against President Obama’s plan to take some type of measured action against Syria for the reported use of chemical weapons.

USS. Nimitz:Photo_Wikipedia


NBC’s Pentagon military reporter, Jim Miklaszewski reported that the Pentagon has the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz, along with one guided missile cruiser and three guided missile destroyers positioned in the Red Sea. Meanwhile, at least four American guided-missile destroyers remain stationed in the eastern Mediterranean, in addition to at least one submarine in the region, each loaded with up to 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles, Miklaszewski reported. The Pentagon press secretary George Little issued a written statement confirming a Missile Defense test in the region by the Israeli military, which he called a "U.S.-Israel Missile Defense test." The statement explained that the test was a “long-planned” action “to help evaluate the Arrow Ballistic Missile Defense system's ability." The Department of Defense also provided technical assistance and support to the Israeli Missile Defense Organization flight test of a Sparrow target missile over the Mediterranean Sea,” earlier today, the statement said.    

September 5, 2013

Endurance Swimmer Diana Nyad completed Swim



From Havana to Key West, Florida

After her fifth attempt, Diana Nyad did something truly historic, when she completed a swim from Havana, Cuba to the Key West, a voyage she started 35 years ago. The 64-year-old left Havana Saturday and reached the shores of Florida’s Key West on Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2013 just before 2 PM local time after about 53 hours of swimming in shark-infested water. Although looking a bit dazed, with a swollen lip, and covered with sunburn, Nyad swam within feet of the beach before walking onto dry land. She was received by clapping spectators who cheered her on and wanted to take pictures with her. She was taken to the hospital for medical treatment. CBS reported that she was released from the hospital Monday evening after receiving IV treatment. The record-book swimmer told reporters, "I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you're never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team," she said on the beach. "I have to say, I'm a little bit out of it right now," she was reporting saying.


Except to stop for nourishment from time to time, Nyad swam straight from the seawall of the Hemingway Marina in Havana to the waters of Key West, Florida between Saturday August 31 and Monday September 2, 2013. Her team in support boats accompanied her on the 112 (statute) miles long swim, 35 miles longer than anyone has been known to swim, and she wore a jellyfish-protection suit and mask. Just before the end of her journey, she has been reported saying, "I am about to swim my last two miles in the ocean. This is a lifelong dream of mine and I'm very, very, glad to be with you. Some on the team are the most intimate friends of my life and some of you I've just met. But I'll tell you something, you're a special group. You pulled through; you are pros and have a great heart. So let's get going so we can have a whopping party."


Her team has posted photos of the record swim on Facebook, and indicated that she had "swum farther north than the farthest end point of any of her previous attempts." There are also postings on her blog by her medical team. At 64, she is the person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. This was her fifth attempt, in a dream that started in 1978. Her story exemplifies the sheer power of human determination, effort, and perseverance when added to skills in the dogged pursuit of a dream.


Her team has posted photos of the record swim on Facebook, and indicated that she had "swum farther north than the farthest end point of any of her previous attempts." There are also postings on her blog by her medical team. At 64, she is the person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. This was her fifth attempt, in a dream that started in 1978. Her story exemplifies the sheer power of human determination, effort, and perseverance when added to skills in the dogged pursuit of a dream.

September 1, 2013

North Carolina's Bran New Sweeping Voter Suppression Law 

November 2013 Elections - Voter Line

original.jpg [ Google Images]

Leading into the November 2013 elections, the 38 States, mostly in the South, including Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and North Carolina passed extreme voter ID laws with other measures all aimed at preventing targeted groups of voters from casting ballots in the general elections. Those laws targeted Blacks and Hispanics, younger voters, low income and elderly voters by making it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to obtain newly required State ID that the State made almost impossible to obtain based on the very requirements that were put in place to obtain such ID. In addition, many states reduced the number of days for voting, cut down on voting hours, and reduced voting precincts by moving them out of populated areas and increasing them in more rural areas with lower populations. Civil rights groups successfully sued over those voting restrictions and by election day, most of those laws were struck down and found unconstitutional by the Courts. In addition, the Justice Department blocked several of those states from putting those laws into effect by using Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to challenge the new laws and protect the voting rights of millions of Americans. Last June, the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, and Republican governors all over the country went right back to work to pass new voter suppression law under the guise of " against voter fraud. From all account, the only voter fraud being committed in mass consists of those voter ID laws. protecting the vote." 

North Carolina Gov. Rob Taylor on Voter ID

Photo_dailyreflector [AP]


What is in the North Carolina Voter Suppression Law?


On Monday August 12, 2012, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law one of the nation’s most sweeping Voter ID laws. This law would require voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls. It shortens the early voting period from 17 to 10 days. It ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-old voters who will be 18 on Election Day and eliminates same-day voter registration.

The changes come as the state has fallen under Republican control for the first time in more than a century. North Carolina’s state legislature went Republican for the first time since Reconstruction after the 2010 election. McCrory then won in 2012, becoming the state’s first Republican governor since the early 1990s. While he is at it, McCrory also recently signed an extensive new abortion restrictions law.

The purpose of these laws is to suppress the minority and the youth vote, and to reduce Democrats’ advantage in early voting. Democrats and opponents of those laws have pointed out that there is little documented evidence of voter fraud. Republicans not only argue the non-existent voter fraud theory, the also say that these laws will save the state money. They additionally also note that, while the North Carolina law makes many changes to how the state conducts its elections, most of its major proposals — specifically, Voter ID and ending same-day registration — bring it in line with many other states. Currently, over 15 states have some kind of Voter ID law, and even more have no same-day registration. Many states do not allow in-person early voting.

“While some will try to make this seem to be controversial, the simple reality is that requiring voters to provide a photo ID when they vote is a common-sense idea,” McCrory said in a statement. “This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country. This common-sense safeguard is commonplace.”

A spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association said McCrory’s “cynical” move will come back to haunt him.

“When he ran for governor, Pat McCrory pretended to be a moderate pragmatist,” the spokesman, Danny Kanner, said. “Today, he proved that he’s just another cynical, ultra-conservative ideologue intent on disenfranchising voters who might not be inclined to vote Republican.”

While there is significant resistance to Voter ID laws on the left, polls generally show the American people support them by large margins. Recent North Carolina polls and a Washington Post poll last year showed nearly three-quarters support requiring voters to show photo ID. The Post poll also showed, though, that Americans are split when it comes to whether it’s more important to fight voter suppression or to combat voter fraud. And while Voter ID polls popularly, the bill covers much more than that. Several similar efforts have passed in recent years in other states with Republican-controlled state legislatures and GOP governors, but North Carolina’s has drawn a particularly high degree of backlash from the left, given how far-reaching and all-inclusive the new law is.

The Justice Department has suggested it will fight the new law, which comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act. States like North Carolina are no longer required to obtain preclearance from the Justice Department for such changes after the Court struck down the formula used for determining which states and jurisdictions with a history of voter suppression require preclearance. The Justice Department is also looking to challenge a new Voter ID law in Texas and has also fought against a new Voter ID law in Florida.

The other big change in the law — a reduction in the number of early-voting days — could diminish Democrats’ historical advantage in early voting, which accounted for more than half of ballots cast in North Carolina last year.

But Republicans note that the law still requires the same number of hours of early voting — just over a smaller period of time. County election officials can either extend hours on a given day or provide more early voting locations.

Other provisions in the new North Carolina law would prohibit paid voter registration drives, end straight-ticket voting (in which a voter can vote for all candidates of one party by voting just once — another area in which Democrats benefit) and loosening restrictions on poll watchers who can challenge a voter’s eligibility.



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