Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hillary Clinton IS! Unstoppable!

Is Hillary Clinton Unstoppable? 

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Two years from now we will be full throttle into the 2016 presidential campaign cycle and if the current opinion polls are any guide, Hillary Clinton should be well on her way to winning the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.  The strange thing is, I might have written that same sentence in 2006 and as it turned out I would have been COMPLETELY WRONG.   The latest ABC-Washington Post poll has Clinton winning the support of 73 percent of Democrats.  Vice President...

Kerry on Amanda Knox, Sochi security 

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Secretary of State John Kerry weighs in on the Mideast peace process, safety at the Sochi Olympics, and Amanda Knox.
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U.S. warns airlines of possible attack 

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The U.S. is advising airlines with direct flights serving Russia to be aware of possible toothpaste tube bombs.
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U.N.'s scathing report on the Vatican 

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CNN's John Vause speaks with Joelle Casteix, a spokesperson for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests about the report.
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Pussy Riot members demand release of anti-government protesters in Russia

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Band members also demand 'a Russia that is free and a Russia without Putin' at Amnesty International concert in New York 
Two members of punk band Pussy Riot took to a New York stage on Wednesday evening to demand the release of anti-government prisoners as Russia prepares to open the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has staked his reputation on the Sochi Games. But Moscow has come under pressure by human rights activists in the months leading up to the games for its intolerance of political dissent and a law passed last year banning promotion of homosexuality among minors.
"We demand a Russia that is free and a Russia without Putin," said Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, after being introduced at Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert by the pop star Madonna.
In 2012, Tolokonnikova, 24, and Maria Alyokhina, 25, were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after storming Moscow's biggest Orthodox cathedral and beseeching the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin.
After nearly two years behind bars, Putin granted them amnesty in December.
Before speaking at the concert, the pair met the US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, to discuss "disturbing" trends in Russia, prompting a retort from Moscow's UN envoy.
At the concert, the pair sought to draw attention to the fate of eight Russian demonstrators who will be sentenced later this month after being charged with mass disorder at a 2012 protest against Putin.
While Pussy Riot did not perform, R&B singer Lauryn Hill, Blondie, and the alternative rock groups Imagine Dragons and Cake played at the all-star concert at a packed Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.
"Pussy Riot in many ways symbolises the spirit of what Amnesty stands for, which is that we take injustice personally and that we speak truth to power," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary general, at a press conference before the concert.
"We do not want anybody to be fooled by what is happening before the Sochi Olympics."
At the same news conference, Alyokhina said she absolutely did not regret the performance that landed her in prison and said there was no question but that she would continue to live in Russia.
"We want to say to him: leave," she said of Putin.
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina also denied rumours about Pussy Riot's demise.
"Anybody can be Pussy Riot. You just need to put on a mask and stage an act of protest in your particular country," Alyokhina said. "We are just two individuals that spent two years in jail for taking part in a Pussy Riot protest action."
While in the United States, the women plan to visit prisons and meet related non-governmental organisations to gain insight into how the Russian prison system might be improved.
The women made a similar trip to Holland, but said they could not imagine that Russian prisons would ever resemble Dutch facilities, which Tolokonnikova described as "a universe apart".
The event marks the return of a global concert series that Nobel peace prize-winning Amnesty International began 25 years ago, which has featured such rock greats as U2, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Lou Reed.
"Now it's time to pass that torch to another generation of young artists," said Steven Hawkins, Amnesty's executive director. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Sochi: Ban Ki-moon Speaks Out On Gay Attacks

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The UN Secretary General says discrimination must end as laws restricting gay activism in Russia attract worldwide protests.

Sochi Says 65 World Leaders Coming to Olympics - ABC News

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ABC News

Sochi Says 65 World Leaders Coming to Olympics
ABC News
A record number of world dignitaries are coming to the Sochi Olympics, triple the amount that attended the 2010 Vancouver Games, Russian organizers said Thursday on the eve of the opening ceremony. Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Sochi organizing...
Sochi Olympics: Putin's moment on world podiumChristian Science Monitor
Ban Ki-moon condemns persecution of gay people in RussiaThe Guardian

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Page 2

Ban Ki-moon condemns persecution of gay people in Russia

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Amid criticism of Russia's anti-gay laws, UN secretary-general urges 'speaking out against prejudice' in keynote speech to IOC
The United Nations secretary-general has used a speech ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi to condemn attacks on the LGBT community, amid growing criticism of Russia's so-called "gay propaganda" laws.
Ban Ki-moon, addressing the IOC before Friday's opening ceremony, highlighted the fact that the theme of the UN's
human rights day last December was "sport comes out against homophobia".
"Many professional athletes, gay and straight, are speaking out against prejudice. We must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people," he said. "We must oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions they face."
"The United Nations stands strongly behind our own 'free and equal' campaign, and I look forward to working with the IOC, governments and other partners around the world to build societies of equality and tolerance. Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century."
It emerged last week that more than 50 current and former Olympians have called on the IOC to uphold principle six of its charter, which forbids discrimination of any kind, and this week more than 200 writers added their voice to the protest against the new laws in a letter to the Guardian.
Ban did not refer specifically to Russia's new laws, which ban the promotion of "non-traditional" sexual relations to
under-18s, but his words carry strong symbolic weight.
Speaking to reporters after his address, Ban, who is due to carry the Olympic torch and meet Putin in Sochi on Thursday, added: "I know there has been some controversy over this issue. At the same time I appreciate the assurances of President Putin that there will be no discrimination and that people with different sexual orientation are welcome to compete and enjoy this Olympic Games."
Asked about the new laws,
the Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak insisted that there was no discrimination against anyone based on their "religion or their sexuality or their nationality". He said the new laws were to protect children.
"We are all grown up and every adult has his or her right to understand their sexual activity. Please, do not touch kids. That's the only thing. That's prohibited by law in all countries whether you are gay or straight."
Kozak also appeared to highlight an apparent inconsistency between the IOC and the Russian organisers over the issue. The IOC
president, Thomas Bach, has said athletes should not protest against the issue on the medal podium but are free to speak out in press conferences.
But Kozak said: "Political propaganda is prohibited during the sporting event. It is prohibited by the Olympic
charter not by Russian law."
He also referred to renewed security concerns sparked by reports that US homeland security sources had warned that terrorists might try to smuggle explosives aboard flights bound for Sochi in toothpaste tubes.
The department said later in a statement that it was not aware of any
specific threat.
Kozak said the security threat in Sochi, which is protected by a "ring of steel" of 40,000 troops, police and security personnel, was no more serious than any major American city.
"I'm sure the security risk in Sochi is no more than in New York, Washington or Boston," he said, adding that the Russian security services were working with colleagues in the US and western Europe.
In December, suicide bombers killed 34 people in the Russian city of Volgograd, 400 miles
north-eastof Sochi. The attacks raised fears of further attacks during the Games.
A poll published by the Levada Centre, an independent Russian research
organisation, this week found that 53% of those surveyed thought Russia was right to host the Olympics, 26% said the country should not have tried to do so and 21% were undecided. When asked what they saw as the main reason behind authorities' desire to hold the games, 38% said it was "opportunity for graft" and only 23% said it was important for national pride and to serve for the development of sport.
About half of respondents put the record price tag of the Sochi games down to corruption.
When asked about the survey during the press conference, Kozak said there was no evidence of "any large-scale corruption or theft" during the run-up to the Games, and that to say otherwise would "violate the democratic principle of presumption of innocence". © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Ban Ki-moon condemns persecution of gay people in Russia - The Guardian

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The Guardian

Ban Ki-moon condemns persecution of gay people in Russia
The Guardian
"The United Nations stands strongly behind our own 'free and equal' campaign, and I look forward to working with the IOC, governments and other partners around the world to build societies of equality and tolerance. Hatred of any kind must have no ...
Sochi prepares to welcome the world with winter wonderlandeuronews 
Sochi Olympics: Putin's moment at world podiumChristian Science Monitor 

Sochi Says 65 World Leaders Coming to OlympicsABC News

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A law that would permit Afghan men to hurt and rape female relatives | Manizha Naderi 

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President Karzai is about to ratify a law that would prevent relatives testifying against men accused of domestic violence
It is hard sometimes to describe the enormous efforts taken by the Afghan political elite and conservative lawmakers to roll back hard won progress on women's rights in Afghanistan. Here we have yet another frightening example: a new law, passed by both houses of the Afghan parliament and waiting for President Hamid Karzai's ratification, would prohibit the questioning of relatives of an accused perpetrator of a crime, effectively eliminating victim testimony in cases of domestic violence.
In article 26 of the proposed change in the criminal prosecution code, those prohibited from testifying would include: husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and descendants of those relatives up to the second generation. Doctors and psychiatrists would also be banned from giving evidence.
This proposed law is particularly troubling in a country where violence against women is endemic and, most commonly, is at the hands of a relative. In a 2008 study, Global Rights found that 87% of Afghan women will experience some form of violence in their lifetime; 62% experience multiple forms of violence, including forced marriage and sexual violence.
Women for Afghan Women (WAW) can attest to these findings. Over 90% of the nearly 10,000 women and girls we have served since 2007 have been victims of domestic violence. Our clients have been raped, sold, beaten, starved and mutilated – primarily at the hands of a family member, or in some cases, multiple family members.
Should Karzai sign this law into effect, justice for these women would be virtually impossible. Not only would they be barred from testifying against family members who committed crimes against them, any family member who witnessed the crime would be barred as well.
Under the proposals, WAW clients, such as 15-year-old Sahar Gul who was kept in a basement and tortured by her in-laws, would have been robbed, not only of justice, but of the opportunity to reclaim her power and testify against her tormentors. Furthermore, the doctors who treated her bloodied, malnourished, and burned body would also be barred from testifying. Sahar Gul's in-laws are serving a five-year prison sentence for torturing her. Had the new measure been law in 2012, her in-laws would likely be free to torture and abuse more women.
Other clients, such as 16-year-old Naziba who was raped by her father, would be left with no other option but to live with the abuse. At Naziba's rape trial, her mother and uncles courageously testified against her father, and he is now serving a 12-year prison sentence. If Naziba's relatives had been barred from testifying on her behalf, Naziba's father might still be raping her today.
The timing of this proposed change to the law is important: a recent report by UN Women found that reported cases of violence against women was up 28% in the past year. This finding is significant because it illustrates that Afghan women are beginning to understand their rights and demand access to them.
Since 2007, our organisation has worked hard to build coalitions with local police departments, government ministries and court officials. As a result of our advocacy, these agencies are referring more and more victims to our services, instead of sending them back home or imprisoning them for running away. In some provinces, such as Kabul, the police are our biggest ally – they refer more women than any other agency. This gives us hope, illustrating that there has been a shift in attitude and perception about violence against women, not only among Afghan women, but at an institutional level as well.
However, should Karzai ratify this law, I fear that women would stop coming forward because prosecutions would be nearly impossible to secure. As an organisation that has been working tirelessly to obtain justice for women and girls who have suffered so much and so needlessly, our hands would be tied. There would be little we could do.
We, along with other human rights activists, refuse to stand back and allow this to happen. The stakes are too high and the consequences too horrific to imagine. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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US Official: Al-Qaida Responsible for Nearly All Suicide Attacks in Iraq

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A U.S. State Department official has highlighted the threat al-Qaida in Iraq poses to the country and its neighbors, as violence in Iraq escalates.Brett McGurk, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has significantly increased its attacks in Iraq since early last year."Suicide attacks, we assess, are nearly all attributable to ISIL, and nearly all suicide bombers are foreign...

Pakistan, Taliban start peace talks in Islamabad

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ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -
A long-awaited first round of peace talks between
Pakistani Taliban insurgents and the government began in Islamabad on Thursday after persistent delays and growing doubt over the chance of their success. 


Pussy Riot Pair 'Will Not Forgive' Putin Regime

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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina demand a free Russia at a concert in New York where they meet their supporter Madonna.

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France destroys illegal ivory stocks 

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Public destruction of three tonnes intended as a warning to poachers and traffickers that there is no future in ivory

• Eco audit: does destroying ivory help save elephants?
France became the first European country to destroy its stocks of illegal ivory on Thursday in a dramatic warning to those involved in the lucrative wildlife trade that is endangering elephants and other species.
The three tonnes of ivory, mostly elephant tusks packed into white builders' bags, were unloaded from a lorry at the Champs de Mars in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and laid out on a blue tarpaulin.
In bitterly cold drizzling rain, the tusks were fed one by one on to a conveyer belt and into a pulveriser that spewed out a fine, dirty-white dust.
It was intended as a powerful message to the poachers and traffickers: there is no future in ivory.
The destruction of France's impounded ivory comes as London prepares to host a global summit to tackle the $19bn a year illegal wildlife trade on February 12 and 13, led by Prince Charles and David Cameron, to which 50 heads of state have been invited.
Most of the tusks, either whole or carved into batons of ivory, weighing 2,304kg, had been seized by customs officers at Roissy and Orly airports either in freight cargo or from passengers.
A further 15,357 pieces of ivory, including statues and jewellery, weighing 800kg, were also fed into the grinder. Officials said the powder would be encased in a composite material to make it impossible to retrieve, and used in construction.
Philippe Martin the minister for ecology, durable development and energy, added that all ivory seized in France in future would be destroyed, apart from samples kept for scientific or educational purposes and those items that might help trace traffickers.
"The destruction of illegal ivory has become indispensable in the fight against trafficking of threatened species. It's a firm message that we are sending to the dealers who are threatening the survival of the elephant in Africa," Martin said.
"Our weapons against the illegal trade in wild species has been considerably reinforced and will continue to be in 2014."
He said France had increased fines against those dealing in illegal ivory by up to 10 times.
"The message to the poachers and traffickers is clear: the trafficking of ivory has no future; with this action we are telling them ivory has no value."
Hubert Géant, the director of police at the national office of hunting and wild fauna, said: "The contraband from wild animals has become the most lucrative criminal activity after drugs, fake money and the trafficking of human beings.
"All species included it brings in more than $14bn. Pure ivory can bring in $2,000 a kilo in the Asian black market, it's main destination. We estimate that the illegal trade in wild specials involves 500-600 million tropical fish, 15 million fur animals, five million birds, two million reptiles and 30,000 primates." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Is Sochi ready?

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From concerns over security to outrage over reports that stray dogs are being poisoned, Sochi has been rocked by a series of unflattering headlines. Is it really ready to host the Winter Olympics?

Lord Hastings on the future of civil society - video

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KPMG's global head of corporate citizenship, Michael Hastings on the role of the private sector in development: "There is no longer a viable separation between the NGO, business and governmental commitment to development. All of us need to be in this for the solutions we can find not for the territories we can define independently."

Putin aide warns U.S. on Ukraine, says Russia could act

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KIEV (Reuters) - A senior Kremlin aide accused the United States on Thursday of arming Ukrainian "rebels" and, urging the Kiev government to put down what it called an attempted coup, warned it could intervene to maintain the security of its ex-Soviet neighbor.

Europe warns of Turkey Internet censorship - USA TODAY

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Europe warns of Turkey Internet censorship
ISTANBUL — Europe is voicing concern Thursday over new Turkish legislation that would tighten government controls over the Internet. Turkey's Parliament on Wednesday approved measures allowing the government to block websites without seeking ...

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US productivity grew at 3.2 percent rate in Q4 - The Sentinel

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US productivity grew at 3.2 percent rate in Q4
The Sentinel
U.S. productivity slowed in the fourth quarter while labor costs kept falling. For the year, productivity turned in another weak gain. The Labor Department says productivity grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the October-December period, down slightly from ...

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Ukrainian Activist Forced to Admit Being US Spy Under Torture

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A Ukrainian anti-government activist who fled the country after being abducted said on Thursday he had been forced under torture to declare himself an American spy. Dmytro Bulatov, leader of a protest group known as Automaidan, said his kidnappers forced him to say on camera that he had accepted money from the U.S. Embassy to organize anti-government protests in Ukraine. “I was telling them lies just to stop the torture... At one point I asked them to kill me because I couldn't...

Obama Offers To Stay Away From Some Senate Races - KUTV 2News

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KUTV 2News

Obama Offers To Stay Away From Some Senate Races
KUTV 2News
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama told Senate Democrats on Wednesday he'd be willing to stay away from election battles where his presence would not be helpful, a Democratic source said -- an apparent nod to his poll numbers. Obama's comments came ...

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UN Chief Carries Olympic Torch in Sochi

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took part in the Olympic torch relay Thursday, one day before the Winter Olympic Games officially open in Russia's Black Sea resort city of
Sochi. InternationalOlympic Committee President Thomas Bach passed the torch to Ban next to the Sochi
River. Bachsaid he was glad to send an "Olympic message of peace and
understanding." Fans cheered both men as they carried the Olympic flame toward Fisht Olympic Stadium, where

Protests in Kyiv

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Ukraine's Yanukovich backs 'compromise' as sole way out of crisis

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich told a senior U.S. official on Thursday that "dialogue and compromise" were the only way out of the political crisis gripping Ukraine, his website said.


U.S. Targets Companies Linked to Iran

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The U.S. targeted multiple companies with links to Iran for allegedly evading
American sanctions against the country and aiding its nuclear and missile programs, the Treasury Department said.
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Taliban fighters capture military dog in Afghanistan, flaunt prisoner of war in ... - New York Daily News

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Taliban fighters capture military dog in Afghanistan, flaunt
prisoner of war in ...
New York Daily News
It may be the first canine ever used in a prisoner of war video. Taliban fighters have captured a military dog and flaunted their confused canine prize in an online video, according to the Washington Post. A Twitter account said to routinely push Taliban...
US military dog held by TalibanWashington Post
Taliban Brag About Latest Battlefield Captive -- a DogIndiana's NewsCenter
Bow-wow P.O.W: Taliban claim they have captured a US dog of war that sniffs ...Daily Mail
Sky News-Ukiah Daily Journal
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New York Daily News

Ukraine's President Says He Backs 'Dialogue and Compromise'

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Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych said Thursday that he backs "dialogue and compromise" with the political opposition to end the country political crisis.In a meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Mr. Yanukovych said he supports opposition demands for reform of Ukraine's constitution that would cede some presidential powers to the country's parliament. Nuland arrived in Ukraine Thursday for talks with Mr. Yanukovych and with supporters of...

Georgia denies plan to meet Putin during Sochi Olympics

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BOCHAROV RUCHEI, Russia/ TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgia denied on Thursday that President Georgy Margvelashvili would travel to Sochi for the Olympic Games after the Kremlin said he could meet Russia's Vladimir Putin there in what would be the neighbors' first top encounter since a 2008 war.

Religious Freedom Is a Tenet of Foreign Policy, Obama Says

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President Obama on Thursday urged China to do more to allow the freedom of worship, called on North Korea to release a Christian missionary and insisted that Iran free a Christian pastor.

James Clapper might as well be called director of US fearmongering | Michael Cohen 

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There are real threats to the US, but Clapper should be able to talk about them in sober, evidence-based, non-hysterical terms
James Clapper is very worried. It's not the first time.
Last week the man who serves as America's Director of National Intelligence trudged up to Capitol Hill totell the assembled members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee (pdf) that the annual worldwide threat assessment, put together by the intelligence community, has filled him with dread. He told the room:
Looking back over my more than half a century in intelligence, I have not experienced a time when we have been beset by more crises and threats around the globe.
That is some scary stuff.
However, if you think you've heard this before from Clapper … well you have.
Last year he appeared before Congress for a similar purpose and, lo and behold, he was very, very concerned then too (pdf):
I will say that my almost 50 years in intelligence, I do not recall a period in which we confront a more diverse array of threats, crises and challenges around the world. This year's threat assessment illustrates how dramatically the world and our threat environment are changing.
And here he was in 2012testifying (pdf) on that year's threat assessment report, "Never has there been, in my almost 49-year career in intelligence, a more complex and interdependent array of challenges than that we face today."
Of course, one must consider the possibility that over the past five decades the world has never been as dangerous, complex and challenging as it's been over the past three years (putting aside for a moment that whole "threat of nuclear holocaust" that defined much of the 60s, 70s and 80s.) If, however, you're skeptical about this, well you have good reason because Clapper's alarmist tone is hardly matched by the threats he cites.
So what precisely is worrying Clapper? There are the old stand-bys like "the scourge and diversification of terrorism" both of the global jihadist and home-grown variety. We'll simply put aside for a second the fact that significantly more Americans die each year from falling furniture and exponentially more die from freedom … er, I mean guns.
Clapper is concerned about "implications of the drawdown in Afghanistan", which is a nice pivot from a few years ago when Afghanistan was a vital national interest that necessitated a ramp up of US military engagement there (pdf). There's also the "sectarian war in Syria" and "its attraction as a growing center of radical extremism", which is compelling evidence that Syria is poised to take up the mantle of "failed state that foreign policy elites are really worried about."
There is the habitually frightening adjective war front, "anassertive Russia, a competitive China; adangerous, unpredictable North Korea, a challenging Iran." The sober-minded might look at these countries and conclude that a more accurate set of descriptors would be "an enfeebled and corrupt Russia, an economically slowing and environmentally challenged China, a contained and sort of predictable North Korea and an isolated and diplomatically-engaged Iran". But that would be a pretty lame threat assessment, wouldn't it?
Then there are the really scary sounding threats that aren't actually threats to Americans. Things like, "lingering ethnic divisions in the Balkans, perpetual conflict and extremism in Africa; violent political struggles in … the Ukraine, Burma, Thailand and Bangladesh." I for one am troubled by each of these, as well as Clapper's reference to "specter of mass atrocities" and "the tragedy and magnitude of human trafficking" and "the increasing sophistication of transnational crime" and even the "insidious rot of inventive synthetic drugs" but the idea that any of these are serious "crises" or "threats" to America and its citizens is ludicrous.
This is what makes Clapper's argument – and indeed the entire process of writing a "worldwide threat assessment" so fundamentally unserious and distorting. America doesn't face a single truly serious security threat. We are a remarkably safe and secure nation, protected by two oceans, an enormous and highly effective military and dozens upon dozens of like-minded allies and friends around the world. Truly we have nothing to fear – except perhaps global climate change, which oddly merits aone-paragraph mention (pdf) in this year's threat assessment.
To listen to Clapper and others in the intelligence community one might never know that inter-state war has largely disappeared and that wars in general are in the midst of a multi-decade decline. For all of Clapper's expressed concern about "the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction", one might not know that 2013 was a landmark year for non-proliferation with important progress made in slowing down Iran's nuclear aspirations and enforcing the norm on chemical weapons usage.
With Clapper offering worrying words about "the increasing stress of burgeoning populations" and "the urgent demands for energy, water and food" one might be surprised to find out that global poverty continues a dramatic free-fall; that people around the world are living longer lives and have better access to healthcare, food and education than ever before. You also probably wouldn't know that these indicators of material and political progress point in the direction of continued global stability.
It's almost as if Clapper and the intelligence community that he helms are playing up foreign threats in order to justify bloated post-9/11 budgets and broadly supported intelligence capabilities. Now granted, it's uncomfortable to accuse public officials of purposely hyping potential foreign threats, but how else does one react to arguments like this about the community's perpetual bête noire, cyber:
Iran and North Korea are unpredictable actors in the international arena. Their development of cyber espionage or attack capabilities might be used in an attempt to either provoke or destabilize the United States or its partners.
Or "Terrorist organizations have expressed interest in developing offensive cyber capabilities."
I've expressed interest in playing second base for the Boston Red Sox … and yet the man currently holding that job (Dustin Pedroia) seems blithely unconcerned that he will soon be unseated. Balancing intentions versus capabilities is (or at least should be) a crucial element of threat assessment and yet in Clapper's telling virtually every threat is of equal significance and likelihood.
All of this is not to say that there aren't real challenges facing the United States. There certainly are terrorists who still want to kill Americans; there is the potential (albeit slim) for instability in the Far East; and there are international criminal networks and even global pandemics that could harm America's economic interests as well as pose health risks. The United States should hardly ignore these – and other ongoing challenges – but policymakers like Clapper should also be able to talk about them in sober, evidence-based, non-hysterical terms.
The irony of all this is that Clapper has been under fire for months now becausehe allegedly lied to Congress over the extent to which the National Security Agency was collecting phone and e-mail records of individual Americans.
Yet, the yarn he spun on Capitol Hill last week was far worse than that: deceiving Americans about the nature of the world today and the threats facing the country. But in a political environment in which threat mongering and exaggeration is the norm rather than the exception, Clapper not only gets a pass – hardly anyone even noticed.
Here's betting that next year, when Clapper trudges up to Capitol Hill to tell Congress about the worldwide threat assessment he'll be saying the exact same thing. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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President Obama Praises Freedom of Religion at the National Prayer Breakfast - The White House (blog)

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The White House (blog)

President Obama Praises Freedom of Religion at the National Prayer Breakfast
The White House (blog)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy). This morning, the President, the First Lady, and the Vice President ...

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Is Hillary Clinton Unstoppable?

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Two years from now we will be full throttle into the 2016 presidential campaign cycle and if the current opinion polls are any guide, Hillary Clinton should be well on her way to winning the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.  The strange thing is, I might have written that same sentence in 2006 and as it turned out I would have been COMPLETELY WRONG.   The latest ABC-Washington Post poll has Clinton winning the support of 73 percent of Democrats.  Vice President...