While we´ve been distracted by a flurry of intelligence releases on Syria´s chemical weapons strikes - and the ongoing saga over the United States´ response - many have overlooked another intelligence report pertaining to weapons of mass destruction with severe implications for America´s red lines and credibility in the Middle East. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the world´s nuclear watchdog, reported that "Iran plans to test about 1,000 advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges it has completed installing." As Iran´s enrichment capabilities increase, its breakout time - how long Iran would need to rapidly amass enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon
Washington - Friday´ s jobs numbers continued to paint a bleak picture of the ongoing U.S. jobs crisis, and experts said at current rates the country will have to wait years to return to pre-recession levels of unemployment. (Snip) "At this rate, it would take until well into 2021 to fill our gap of 8.3 million jobs and return to a healthy labor market," said Economic Policy Institute Economist Heidi Shierholz on the organization´ s website. The U.S. jobs market has been struggling for years now, since the economy tanked at the end of 2007 and sparked a global economic
On Friday’s broadcast of Hugh Hewitt’ s radio show, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said President Barack Obama should handle the Syrian crisis by taking significant action or no action at all. Hewitt compared the present-day United States to the one the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke of in 1943 at Harvard in his famous “price of greatness” speech. Churchill had applauded the United States for stepping up as a world power in the middle of World War II. That attitude about America’s role in the world is far different today than Churchill had espoused
Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD), the world’s largest hog and pork producer, said U.S. regulators will allow the company to be bought by China’s Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. in what would be the biggest Chinese purchase of a U.S. firm. “This transaction will create a leading global animal protein enterprise,” Zhijun Yang, Chief Executive Officer of Shuanghui International, said in a joint statement from both companies released yesterday. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or CFIUS, approved the transaction and it will be voted on by Smithfield shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Sept. 24.
As he takes me on a tour of his buzzing little town, mayor Brent Sanford points out the acres of development that have already happened — the giant grocery store, the smart restaurant, the school extension and the endless housing developments. And he tells me what’s still to come — a smart new recreation centre, a state-of-the-art hospital, public housing, a day-care centre and even an 18-hole golf course. There’s a new bank, which is essential, as so many local businesses are flourishing and so many more are clamouring to move in. But it’s not always easy to
Kazakhstan and China plan to sign 22 agreements worth around $30 billion, including in the key energy sector, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on Saturday after talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. "We´ve reached an agreement on building an oil refinery which Kazakhstan needs," Nazarbayev told reporters after hosting Xi at his Akorda residence. (Snip) Earlier this week, the Chinese president visited the reclusive energy-rich nation of Turkmenistan where he launched production from the world´s second-largest gas field the two countries are developing together. He is to travel to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan next.
In 2010, the bestselling atheist Richard Dawkins, in the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post, called the pope “a leering old villain in a frock” perfectly suited to “the evil corrupt organization” and “child-raping institution” that is the Catholic Church. Nobody seemed to mind very much. Three years later, in a throwaway Tweet, Professor Dawkins observed that “all the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” This time round, the old provocateur managed to get a rise out of folks. Almost every London paper ran at least
Charlotte’s recent spate of violence took a new twist Thursday night when gunfire broke out at an anti-violence vigil in the city’s Villa Heights neighborhood. Four people were injured, but police say none of the victims’ injuries is considered life-threatening. No arrests have been announced. Mothers of Murdered Offspring sponsored the vigil, calling attention to last Thursday’s death of Javon Booker, who police say was fatally shot when he allegedly tried to rob a convenience store on Tom Hunter Road in north Charlotte. The service took place in the 2500 block of Pinckney Avenue, a block south of Matheson
As you may recall, much of Senator Obama´s message in 2008 was about international coalitions. He mocked President Bush for "going at it alone." I guess that 40-something countries in Iraq was not a big enough coalition. Or, having UK, Canadian and other NATO soldiers take bullets in Afghanistan was not enough either. Today, President Obama stands alone in the world. He can´t even get the UK in Syria. He has found some "moral support" but no one is offering airplanes or missiles. President Obama is saying that the world drew a "red line." However, no one seems ready to enforce it
Hi. I’m Dr. John Barrasso, United States Senator for Wyoming. As a doctor who took care of patients for 25 years, I saw the problems with America’s health care system every day. There’s no question we needed real reform — reform so that people could get the care they needed, at lower cost. Americans now know that’s not what President Obama’s health care law delivered. What we got is higher taxes and bigger government, without the lower costs or quality care. The so-called Affordable Care Act is hurting middle class families — their wages, their jobs and their health care.
International Business Machines Corp. plans to move about 110,000 retirees off its company-sponsored health plan and instead give them a payment to buy coverage on a health-insurance exchange, in a sign that even big, well-capitalized employers aren´t likely to keep providing the once-common benefits as medical costs continue to rise. The move, which will affect all IBM retirees once they become eligible for Medicare, will relieve the technology company of the responsibility of managing retirement health-care benefits. IBM said the growing cost of care makes its current plan unsustainable without big premium increases. IBM´s shift is an indication that health-insurance
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is bracing for double-digit defections in the Democratic caucus on the resolution authorizing military strikes on Syria, which will get a vote this coming week. The Syria resolution presents Reid with one of the biggest tests of his leadership this Congress and the outcome has significant effects for President Obama’s domestic and foreign policy agendas. Failure of the measure in the Democratic-controlled upper chamber could spur House Republicans to pick a fight with the weakened president over the budget, as well as embolden the regimes of Iran and North Korea. “The president’s team has
Almost three weeks ago in Syria, more than 1,000 innocent people — including hundreds of children — were murdered in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. And the United States has presented a powerful case to the world that the Syrian government was responsible for this horrific attack on its own people. This was not only a direct attack on human dignity; it is a serious threat to our national security.
WASHINGTON — The documentary record regarding an attack on Syria consists of just two papers: a four-page unclassified summary and a 12-page classified summary. The first enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion. On Thursday I asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.” The Syria chemical weapons summaries are based on several hundred underlying elements of intelligence information. The unclassified summary cites intercepted telephone calls, “social media”
Pakistan has announced the release of seven Taliban prisoners in a bid to help the Afghan peace process. At least one former senior militant was among the men freed "in order to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process", said a foreign ministry statement. Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Islamabad recently to promote peace. Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif said at the time he wanted to help regional efforts to stabilise Afghanistan. The foreign ministry statement named those freed on Saturday as Mansoor Dadullah, Said Wali, Abdul Manan, Karim Agha, Sher Afzal, Gul Muhammad and Muhammad Zai. Mansoor Dadullah served as the
A few moments ago, Kevin Rudd conceded, so, in a day or two, after the usual prompt eviction that occurs under the Westminster system, Tony Abbott will become Australia’s Prime Minister. I’d like to second John O’Sullivan’s wise words on Mr Abbott’s conservatism: we’re not talking about a Cameronesque trimmer and opportunist here.* If you’re interested, here’s me with the new Aussie PM (and Britain’s Dan Hannan) in Melbourne last year. I was the warm-up act, so, after I’d chilled down the room with my usual doom-mongering, it fell to the then Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to restore jollity
Online retail giant Amazon is considering offering its much-anticipated smartphone for free, it has been reported. The retailer is understood to be aiming to ´undercut rivals´ and ´grab a meaningful market share´ by tempting consumers using iPhones and Galaxy phones--which normally cost about $200 (£127)--to switch to their free version. However, it is thought the company, which is already behind the hugely popular Kindle e-reader, may require its smartphone users to sign up to services such as its loyalty programme, Amazon Prime. [Snip] But it is expected to come with some strings attached. ´One of them is whether Amazon would require
Don´t look for Iraq War-style protests, says the liberal activist, who -- like "M*A*S*H" star Mike Farrell -- opposes military action. In 2003, ahead of a U.S. attack on Iraq, a robust anti-war movement in Hollywood included a TV commercial starring Martin Sheen and Sean Penn visiting Baghdad. There were online petitions signed by Ed Asner; letters to President George W. Bush pleading for peace were signed by Matt Damon, Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand and Alec Baldwin; former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell fronted multiple press conferences where celebrities denounced war. In interviews, Janeane Garofalo stopped identifying herself as an actor
Tony Abbott has won the Australian election--a blow not only to the Australian Labor Party but to Left-wingers everywhere who presumed that he was too "Neanderthal" to win. Well, us Neanderthals will be having a barbie tonight and sculling some beers to celebrate. "Good on yer, mate!" Abbott won for two reasons. First, the Australian Labor Party is going through a long-term identity crisis. The ALP was once the party of the working man (and Sheila) but in recent years it´s succumbed to the worst aspects of factional politics, becoming a magnet for liberal pressure groups desperate for their slice
With the United States threatening to attack Syria, U.S. and allied intelligence services are still trying to work out who ordered the poison gas attack on rebel-held neighborhoods near Damascus. No direct link to President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle has been publicly demonstrated, and some U.S. sources say intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward. While U.S. officials say Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons strike even if he did not directly order it, they have not been able to fully describe
It is very possible that the president will not obtain a join authorization to bomb Syria; if he chooses to go ahead and attack anyway, Obama will incite a constitutional crisis—the first time in history that a president has decided to go to war against the declared wishes of Congress. The public and the courts will adjudicate the legality of that act, and it would be contentious. So the corner that Obama has painted himself into is now inescapable. Defying Congress will put the country into a Watergate/Monicagate mess. Not doing anything will confirm the administration’s impotence and only enhance
Since their marriage in 2000, Asma al-Assad, stylish wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has stood by his side through thick and thin. This, despite the fact that her husband Bashar presides over a government which Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch insist routinely tortures, imprisons and kills its political opponents. Most recently, of course, his government is accused of killing over a thousand Syrian men, women and children using chemical weapons. Asma, who is pretty and fit, is also smart. She was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan when she met the Syrian president, who was then training in London
Having been mostly away from the internet these past two days, I’ve watched from afar how quickly things have turned on Syria. It’s amazing how Obama has gone from being backed into a corner to being on a ledge where his presidency is just a vote away from being over all but in name. It’s not that Obama was wrong to want to react to the use of chemical weapons. I was willing, at the outset, to give Obama the benefit of the doubt because the stakes were so high if the large-scale use by the Assad government of chemical weapons was proven. This
The school district in Little Rock, Ark. has announced plans for a dress code that will require teachers to wear underwear. Every single day. Female teachers will have to wear bras, too. An Aug. 29 letter from the Little Rock School District’s Office of the Superintendent to all employees explains that the dress code will officially go into effect in the fall of 2014. “Foundational garments shall be worn and not visible with respect to color, style, and/or fabric,” the letter reads. “No see-through or sheer clothing shall be allowed, and no skin shall be visible between pants/trousers, skirts, and shirts/blouses at
Despite a $6 billion increase in food assistance spending, there was no reduction in the number of American households that are “food insecure,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA says its food programs “increase food security.” However, the agency’s spending through the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) increased by $6.4 billion from 2011 to 2012 with no statistically significant change in the level of food insecurity. “Food and nutrition assistance programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) increase food security by providing low-income households access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education,” the USDA said in