Syrian President Bashar Assad gave a defiant speech on Sunday at the packed Damascus Opera House, linking the opposition with al-Qaida terrorists and rallying his faction to remain steadfast. The Syrian opposition rejected his proposals and called his speech a declaration of war. Assad framed his speech as a new plan for a political solution, but it turned out to be a rallying cry, rejecting any concessions and signaling that he would continue his war “to defend the nation.” He called those opposing him “terrorists,” linking them with al-Qaida, thus trying to draw parallels to the West’s “war on terror.”
Oslo - Green schemes to fight climate change by producing more bio-fuels could actually worsen a little-known type of air pollution and cause almost 1,400 premature deaths a year in Europe by 2020, a study showed on Sunday. The report said trees grown to produce wood fuel - seen as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal - released a chemical into the air that, when mixed with other pollutants, could also reduce farmers´ crop yields. (Snip) Hewitt told Reuters there would be a similar impact wherever biofuels were produced in large quantities in areas suffering air pollution, including the United
Seoul - Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt will start their controversial private mission to North Korea on Monday that may include an effort to secure the release of an imprisoned American, South Korean media reported. (Snip) The mission has been criticized by the White House due to the sensitivity of the timing. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea and the isolated and impoverished state remains technically at war with South Korea. South Korea is in the midst of a transition to a new president
New York police union cards, which officers give their friends and family as ‘get out of jail free’ cards for minor offenses, are selling on eBay for as much as $100 a pop and city authorities are fuming, the New York Post reports. The union cards are meant to be used to prove that a police officer can vouch for another person, though holders often use them to get out of minor incidents like parking and speeding violations.(Snip) The cards that represent officers of a higher rank are reportedly worth more because they carry more weight than a street patrolman’s
Sometimes, watching a Democrat learn something is wonderful, like seeing the family dog finally sit and stay at your command. With President Obama back in office and his life-saving “fiscal cliff” bill jammed through Congress, the new year has brought a surprising turn of events for his sycophantic supporters. “What happened that my Social Security withholding’s in my paycheck just went up?” a poster wrote on the liberal site DemocraticUnderground.com. “My paycheck just went down by an amount that I don’t feel comfortable with. I guarantee this decrease is gonna’ hurt me more than the increase
Jerusalem - Israel announced Sunday that it was constructing a border fence along the length of its armistice line with Syria in the Golan Heights and that it was coordinating its intelligence with the United States in light of the deteriorating security situation in Syria. In remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Syrian Army had moved away from the frontier and that jihadist forces had moved in. “Therefore, we will defend this border against both infiltration and terrorism,” Mr. Netanyahu said, adding, “I also submit to the cabinet
The Affordable Care Act means many things for women, including birth control for all policy holders with no additional payment from the patient required. A lesser-known facet of the new so-called Obamacare law is a provision that requires insurance companies to cover the full cost of breast pumps without a deductible or out-of-pocket expense for new mothers. The cost of these devices is covered in insurance premiums, which in turn are paid by policyholders. The Washington Post notes that it was pumps, not pills, that caught suppliers off-guard after January 1, when this part of the
BOULDER, Colo. – A candlelight vigil was held in Boulder Sunday evening for an elk that was shot by a police officer last Tuesday. The vigil was held on Mountain View Road near where the incident occurred. Some residents say the elk was considered a friend and even a guardian. They created a memorial at a tree in the area. Two police officers who were involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave while the Boulder Police Department investigates. Officers Sam Carter and Brent Curnow are now on leave with pay, Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that recent tax increases are “not enough” to solve the country’s fiscal problems and argued that additional hikes should be included in upcoming deficit-reduction deals. "The president had originally said he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue," the House’s top Democrat told CBS’ "Face the Nation." "He took it down to $1.2 (trillion) … but that is not enough on the revenue side." (Snip) She said she was “fairly agnostic” about how lawmakers raise additional revenue, but implied closing loopholes and limiting deductions was a more likely
Authorities had two chances to give convicted gunman Tremaine Lebis lengthy prison terms after he was arrested for illegally possessing handguns. Instead of getting years of prison time, Lebis got six months in jail followed by six months in prison. On Dec. 17, just seven months after his release, Lebis shot and killed a rookie Clayton County Police officer who had responded to a domestic disturbance, authorities said. Lebis, 41, was also killed in an ensuing shootout. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of court files dating back 20 years show there were plenty of warnings of Lebis’ propensity for
Atlanta — On Nov. 11, the Desert Condor steamed into the port of Brunswick and unloaded 40,000 tons of Brazilian corn—the first time corn has ever been imported into Georgia. The ship´s arrival, followed a month later by the Genco Predator, underscores how last summer´s severe Midwestern drought sent prices skyrocketing and hurt industries—North Georgia poultry, in particular—that use corn as a raw material. Chicken growers, producers, retailers and consumers suffered the higher prices. "Pain is the right word," said Tom Hensley, president of Fieldale Farms in Baldwin,
Washington - President Obama is expected to nominate White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan for CIA director as early as Monday, Capitol Hill sources tell Fox News. Brennan has served in the counterterrorism post since the beginning of the Obama administration. Prior to taking that position, though, Brennan spent about 25 years at the CIA, which would suggest he knows the agency well. The president is planning a packed week of nomination announcements in the coming days, as he begins to roll out his second-term team. Former Sen. Chuck Hagel is expected to be nominated
President Obama will nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel to replace Leon E. Panetta as secretary of defense as early as Monday, an administration source told The Washington Times on Sunday. Mr. Hagel, of Nebraska, who retired from the Senate in 2008, would be the second Republican to serve as the Obama administration’s defense secretary. Robert M. Gates, who left the post in July 2011, was a holdover from the George W. Bush administration. The nomination is likely to face resistance from Republican critics who say Mr. Hagel, 66, is not pro-Israel enough, based on remarks he has made
The federal “fiscal cliff” deal. President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Gov. Jerry Brown’s sales and income tax initiative. That triumvirate of tax increases is kicking in for the state’s highest earners. Beginning this year — and in some cases retroactive to last — the wealthiest among us will see a greater share of their compensation captured not only by the federal government as a means of averting the fiscal cliff and funding health care reform but also as an antidote to the state’s long-running budget morass. “The increase in an already-high tax rate is a strong disincentive
More than five years ago, the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly, identified at first only as Baby P, shocked the nation. The child had suffered more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and his brother, all of whom were jailed for causing or allowing the death of a child. What so appalled people was not just the cruelty of these three but the neglect and incompetence of the social workers, health officials and police officers in Haringey, North London, who, despite seeing the child on some 60 occasions, had nevertheless left
WASHINGTON- The Obama administration is formulating a broader strategy for gun control as it looks to reduce U.S. gun violence, those privy to the discussions say. Rather than just pursuing the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, a White House working group led by Vice President Joe Biden is looking at a multi-prong approach that would include universal background checks for gun purchasers, creation of a national database to track guns, strengthening of mental health checks, and tougher penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, sources told The Washington Post.
No matter where you look, the news is the same--guns are flying off the shelves, bulk ammo can´t be found, and applications for concealed permits are going up, up, up. In short, Americans have weighed in on the gun debate and the winners are the right to keep and bear arms and the duty of self-defense. Just look at Florida, the state in which the huge national push for concealed carry began in earnest in the late 1980s. In 2012, in the Sunshine State, the number of background checks for gun purchases was 797,970. Which is 200,000 higher
WASHINGTON- Four years and one re-election after Barack Obama became America´s first black president, some of the thrill is gone. Yes, the inauguration of a U.S. president is still a big deal. But the ceremony that Washington will stage in a few weeks won´t be the heady, historic affair it was in 2009, when nearly 2 million people flocked to the National Mall to see Obama take the oath of office. This time, District of Columbia officials expect between 600,000 and 800,000 people for Obama´s public swearing-in on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 21.
San Francisco — In Houston, they tried air cannons so loud neighbors called in the SWAT team. In New Mexico, it took a half-dozen men and thousands of explosives. In Austin, technicians go out night after night with heavy-duty lasers. All to battle an 8-ounce, highly adaptive bird that´s colonizing the country — and leaving behind inch-thick layers of droppings as it goes. The great-tailed grackle, called by some the devil bird, is lovely to look at. Males are jet-black with a violet-blue iridescent sheen to their feathers that made them prized by Aztec kings
These atmospheric images show buildings, alleys and streets from the rapidly-disappearing London of the 1930s - cloaked in darkness. They were collated by a pair of photographers called John Morrison and Harold Burdekin for a book called London Night, which was published in 1934. They show the capital as it was before smog, before the Blitz changed the face of the city forever, and before the brutalist concrete monoliths of post-war rebuilding. They used newly-emerging night photography techniques to capture London´s unique atmosphere. It was a city of alleys lit by dim lamps, stark contrasts of light and dark and
Des Moines, Iowa — The new norm will be the same as the old norm for most American households this year: financial suffering and a continued slow recovery from the Great Recession. Americans can expect price tags for many goods and services to increase faster than take-home pay again this year. Higher costs are expected for food, airline flights, rent, housing prices, government fees, shipping costs and college tuition. While gasoline prices are expected to fall by a small amount, they´ll do so after two consecutive years of record prices at the pump. Many households will be confronted by the additional
Crowds may have flocked to the National Mall to see President Obama make history in 2009, but the team behind the president´s 2013 inauguration bash later this month are bracing themselves for a ton of empty seats. The ceremony that Washington will stage in a few weeks won´t be the historic affair it was in 2009, when nearly 2 million people flocked to the Capitol o watch Obama take the oath of office. This time, District of Columbia officials expect between 600,000 and 800,000 people for Obama´s public swearing-in on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, January 21.
The New York Times’ Fox Butterfield is famous for repeatedly reporting with astonishment that crime rates went down as the prison population went up without giving much heed to the possibility that the two trends might be correlated rather than (as the paper’s house ideology insists) contradictory. Here’s a good instance. Well, he now seems to have some competition in the “incredulous about cause and effect” department at the Times. In today’s paper, Times business reporter Reed Abelson notes with barely masked bewilderment that insurance premiums are rising sharply as Obamacare’s insurance regulations begin to take effect.
A flash mob at the Mall of Louisiana turned violent last night, causing the shopping center to be evacuated. As many as 200 young people were in the food court of the Baton Rouge mall for an apparent flash mob, but things turned ugly quickly. Around 6pm Saturday night, police officers responded to calls that there was a fight in the second story of the food court.[Snip]As the altercation escalated, the woman said that people started overturning tables and jumping over them. She told the station that she grabbed her child and ran as fast as she could
Getting reactions to the “fiscal cliff” deal/postponement from Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles – they of the much-cited “Simpson-Bowles Commission” – Meet the Press host David Gregory wistfully speculated on what might have been, had only Republicans agreed a year ago to raise income taxes. He cued up Bowles: “Had Republicans conceded the point on revenue earlier, say, in 2011, could we have had a broader agreement along the lines that you think is necessary?” Gregory’s question came after he explained how “Democrats reject this idea that there is some sort of equivalency
On Friday, my friend and colleague Peter Wehner wrote about the question of how the Republican Party can avoid a repeat of the fiscal cliff debacle in the upcoming months as a new deadline for raising the debt ceiling looms. Throughout the last few weeks, Pete has been spot-on in his analysis of what he rightly called the Republicans’ “losing hand” as President Obama and the Democrats forced them to accept a terrible fiscal cliff deal. Though some think the debt ceiling discussion will be very different from the cliff debate, Pete fears the GOP is headed