It is impossible to approach the debate in Parliament about intervention in Syria without recalling the day in March 2003 when Tony Blair set out his arguments for attacking Iraq. This newspaper described his performance as one of the finest in recent Commons history: he marshalled a moral, legal, geopolitical and humanitarian case with such conviction that a Labour rebellion was contained and a large majority secured. [Snip] David Cameron is also a noted parliamentary performer, especially at moments of crisis, and we would expect nothing less than a polished and persuasive speech. Yet the fact that so few people--less
The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, did far more than just set out the intelligence against Syria. But he did do that. Although there is now more detail than we had before about the attack, there is no damning proof. Indeed, perhaps for understandable reasons, there is no proof at all--only assertions that we must take on trust. As Mr Kerry himself suggested, after Iraq trust is in short supply. [Snip] What he did was make it impossible for President Barack Obama to back away from it. He said if the US didn´t act, history would judge them harshly.
What a momentous day for British democracy. The era of presidential rule is over. Parliament has reclaimed the powers chipped away by successive prime ministers, culminating with Tony Blair and the hegemony of spin. It has even snatched some powers it never had, beyond control of the purse. There can be no going to war on executive authority alone, or by Royal Prerogative. Britain´s living Constitution has been refashioned before our eyes, in seven hours of exhilarating debate. Much of world´s political class watched the debate unfold, riveted by the clash of moral argument. Has anything quite like it been
George W. Bush was widely mocked by the Left during the Iraq War, with liberals jeering at the “coalition of the willing,” which included in its ranks some minnows such as Moldova and Kazkhstan. Michael Moore, in his rather silly documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, went to great lengths to lampoon the Iraq War alliance. But the coalition also contained, as I pointed out in Congressional testimony back in 2007, Great Britain, Australia, Spain, Italy, Poland, and 16 members of the NATO alliance, as well as Japan and South Korea. In Europe, France and Germany were the only large-scale countries that sat
The vote of British MPs against military intervention in Syria is likely to send shock waves through the Obama administration. Britain has tended to march in lockstep with the US and this rejection of President Barack Obama´s argument will leave bruises. Before the vote the administration was fairly sanguine about David Cameron´s difficulties and the delay in the UK joining any action. It may be a different story now that it is clear Britain, so often cast as America´s poodle, won´t take part at all. A senior administration official has told the BBC that they will continue to consult with the UK government,
The Pakistani doctor who was hailed a hero after helping the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden has had a 33 year prison sentence for treason overturned. Shakil Afridi was convicted in May 2012 on charges unrelated to the bin Laden incident of ´conspiring against the state´ by giving money and providing medical treatment to Islamic militants in Pakistan´s Khyber tribal area. The doctor´s family and the militants denied the allegations. Yesterday a senior Pakistani judicial official overturned the sentence and ordered a re-trial, on the grounds that person who had issued the sentence had not been authorised to hear
Top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden have revealed how a clandestine NSA unit helped bug phones to locate Osama Bin Laden, a previously undisclosed lab helped confirm his DNA and the SEALS who raided his compound were guided from space. According to a packet of classified intelligence documents that were leaked to the Washington Post by former NSA contractor-turned-Russian émigré Edward Snowden, the successful raid on Bin Laden´s lair was made possible in part thanks to a team of top secret operatives known as the Tailored Access Operation group. The elite hackers are tasked with breaking into computers and cell
President Barack Obama is planning for the possibility of launching a unilateral American military action against Syria within days after Britain opted out in a stunning vote by Parliament. Facing skepticism at home, administration officials spoke with a group of lawmakers for more than 90 minutes Thursday evening to explain why they believe Bashar Assad´s government was the culprit in a suspected chemical attack last week. Afterward, the House Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, pointedly sided with Republican Speaker John Boehner of Ohio in urging the administration to do more to engage with Congress on the matter. She
One voice in Washington that has been remarkably absent from this week’s Syria debate has been that of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton hasn’t said anything at all about President Obama’s plans for military strikes against the dictatorship in Damascus. As someone who dominated the US foreign policy landscape over the past four years, Clinton’s silence on Syria is striking. What explains this? [Snip] Firstly, a US military intervention in the Syrian civil war is strongly opposed by the vast majority of the American public.
Remember that a couple of weeks ago Glenn Greenwald´s husband was stopped at Heathrow airport, detained and had his electronic equipment seized? Well, we now have some idea of what was on it--and it doesn´t make Glenn look good. [Snip] The Government´s accessed just a small portion of an astonishing 58,000 pages of intelligence documents and, according to a witness statement by Oliver Robbins, deputy national security adviser to the Cabinet, it includes: "personal information of UK intelligence officers, any compromise of which would result in a risk to their lives and those of their family members."
Go back and listen to Cory Booker’s stump speeches over the years, and, as in those of any politician, you’ll hear many of the same stories. But Booker’s are more dramatic and heart-rending than most. They draw heavily on his experiences in Newark, N.J., where he moved in 1995 after his second year at Yale Law School. They have also helped to make him a political celebrity and put millions of dollars into his campaign war chest and Newark’s coffers. Booker’s tales of his trials and travails on the streets of Newark, the city that twice elected him mayor, are familiar,
We´ve just seen Parliament at its best and our media at their worst. Lumberingly, inexorably, journalists have been trotting out their clichés: ´David Cameron badly weakened´, ´mistake to recall Parliament´, ´calls his judgment into question´, blah blah. [Snip] In fact, we have just witnessed a rather beautiful moment. The House of Commons has recovered a prerogative that it wielded for a few brief years in the 1640s, namely control over the deployment of armed power. This shift has come about because David Cameron chose to stick to the letter and spirit of a promise he made in opposition.
MPs tonight dramatically voted against David Cameron’s plea to take military action against Syria. The Prime Minister faced calls to ’resign’ in the Commons as MPs voted by 272 votes to 285 to reject his motion backing British intervention in principle. A chastened Mr Cameron was forced by Labour leader Ed Miliband to pledge not to deploy any UK military forces without first staging another Commons vote. Mr Cameron said it was clear Parliament ´does not want to see British military action´ in Syria after the Government was defeated on the issue, adding: ´I get that, and the Government will
Fast-food workers in 50 U.S. cities plan to walk off the job today in an attempt to ratchet up pressure on McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) and Wendy’s Co. to raise wages. Protests that began in New York last year are spreading to cities including Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Diego and Indianapolis, according to the Service Employees International Union, which is advising the strikers. About 200 workers showed up at the two-story Rock N Roll McDonald’s store in Chicago’s River North neighborhood this morning chanting: “Hey hey, ho ho, poverty wages gotta go!” The non-union workers are demanding the right to organize
David Cameron’s defeat in the Commons delivered a second serious embarrassment to US-UK relations, with American officials already “livid” with the British, according to Western diplomatic sources at the United Nations. But the White House made clear they would not change course in light of the Commons vote. “The President believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States, and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesman for Mr Obama’s National Security Council. US officials also said they would not be constrained by the collapse
The secretary of state boiled with moral indignation, American pride and war bluster. The defense secretary huffed that America has “moved assets in place” and is “ready” to punish the strongman. And though the president says he has yet to decide whether to attack, leaked details of the coming military action were all over the newspapers: Within “days,” US Navy ships will launch a barrage of Tomahawks at selected targets. Have George W. Bush and his band of cowboy neo-cons retaken the White House? If only. This time the secretary of state is John Kerry, who launched a political career opposing the
A lawyer for Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning said in a blog post on Thursday the soldier is doing well as she goes through processing at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth. David Coombs wrote that he spoke on Wednesday with Manning, previously known as Bradley Manning, while she goes through the three-to-four-week period known as indoctrination at the Kansas prison. Coombs, who lives in Rhode Island, also said he plans to travel there in the coming weeks to meet with medical staff and the leadership in the quest to allow Manning to receive hormone therapy and other treatment for her gender
Oprah. Oscar. Oscar. Oprah. Yes, it might be a bit early to riff on David Letterman´s ill-fated, Uma-Oprah 1995 Academy Awards monologue bit. Then again, with Winfrey´s movie "Lee Daniels´ The Butler" sitting atop the box office for a second week with a 10-day take of $52 million, and Winfrey herself earning solid critical praise for her first acting turn since 1998´s "Beloved," the conversation has already started, like it or not. And, given the brand name in question, that debate will be spirited, intense and, to some extent, managed by Winfrey herself, as she has the built-in advantage of
Christians should be ‘repentant’ about the Church’s past treatment of gay and lesbian people, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last night. The Most Rev. Justin Welby told a group of traditional evangelical Christians that the Church’s historic support of homophobia was ‘utterly and totally wrong’. (Snip) The Archbishop insisted he did not regret voting against gay marriage legislation, but acknowledged that such views were seen by many as akin ‘to racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice’. The Marriage Act received royal assent in July and gay couples in England and Wales will be able to wed from
You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad. I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.
On Thursday, Clearwater Police arrested 16-year-old Mychal King for the alleged murder of Jason Taylor Paul. According to police, King admitted to killing Paul because he had a hard day and “just wanted to kill the first person he saw.” Paul was riding his bike home late when he was stabbed to death in January. He was 22-years old, working two jobs and saving to go to school to become a veterinary technician.
The Obama administration is today still reeling from Thursday’s enormous setback to the Syria intervention effort, as the UK voted to reject military intervention in the war-torn nation. It is difficult to overestimate just how devastating this is to the President’s foreign policy. Britain has stood side by side with America in almost every post-war conflict. The one major exception was the Vietnam War, arguably America’s biggest ever defeat. Put simply, America wins when it goes in with Britain, it loses when it does not. And Britain almost always stands shoulder to shoulder with its strongest ally. So what happened?
Having leaked to the world, and thus to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a detailed briefing of the coming U.S. air attack on Syria — (1) the source (offshore warships and perhaps a bomber or two), (2) the weapon (cruise missiles), (3) the duration (two or three days), (4) the purpose (punishment, not “regime change”) — perhaps we should be publishing the exact time the bombs will fall, lest we disrupt dinner in Damascus. So much for the element of surprise. Into his third year of dithering, two years after declaring Assad had to go, one year after drawing — then erasing
The Chicago Public Schools this year are mandating that the district’s kindergarten classes include sex education, fulfilling a proposal President Barack Obama supported in 2003 when he served in the Illinois state senate and later defended when he ran for president in the 2008 election cycle. At a Planned Parenthood convention at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., on July 17, 2007, a teenage girl who said she worked as a sex-education “peer educator” in the D.C. public schools asked then-U.S. Sen. Obama what he would do to encourage the teaching of “medically accurate, age-appropriate, and responsible sex education.”
Iowa Democrat gubernatorial candidates joined abortion activists in a prayer for increased access to abortion at a rally held Wednesday. Creative Minority Report notes the following video: [snip video] Similarly, Life News reports the “prayer:” We give thanks, oh Lord, for the doctors, both current and future, who provide quality abortion care. We pray for increased financial support for low-income women to access contraception, abortion and childcare. Today, we pray for women in developing nations, that they may know the power of self-determination. May they have access to employment, education, birth control and abortion. Today we pray for the families