Posted: Oct 31, 2013 4:50 AM EDT
By LARA JAKES
AP National Security Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Terrorists "found a second chance" to thrive in Iraq, the nation's prime minister said Thursday in asking for new U.S. aid to beat back a bloody insurgency that has been fueled by the neighboring Syrian civil war and the departure of American troops from Iraq two years ago.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a packed auditorium at the U.S. Institute of Peace that he needs additional weapons, help with intelligence and other assistance, and claimed the world has a responsibility to help because terrorism is an international concern.
"If the situation in Iraq is not well treated, it will be disastrous for the whole world," said al-Maliki, whose comments were translated from Arabic. "Terrorism does not know a single religion, or confession, or a single border. They carry their rotten ideas everywhere. They carry bad ideas instead of flowers. Al-Qaida is a dirty wind that wants to spread worldwide."
The new request comes nearly two years after al-Maliki's government refused to let U.S. forces remain in Iraq with legal immunity that the Obama administration insisted was necessary to protect troops. President Barack Obama had campaigned on ending the nearly nine-year war in Iraq and took the opportunity offered by the legal dispute to pull all troops out.
Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq between the 2003 invasion and the 2011 withdrawal. More than 100,000 Iraqi were killed in that time.
By Tony Capaccio and Jonathan Ferziger - Oct 31, 2013
Israel carried out air strikes in Syria, according to a U.S. official who asked not to be identified discussing security matters.
Israeli warplanes struck a Syrian base near the Mediterranean port of Latakia, targeting missiles that were earmarked for the Hezbollah militant group, according to reports by CNN and Al-Arabiya television.
Arabiya said Israel carried out another attack around Damascus late yesterday, without saying where it got the information. Israeli officials declined to comment and the U.S. official didnt provide additional details.
It was at least the fifth report of Israeli strikes on Syrian targets this year, none of which were confirmed by the Jewish state. Syria has issued threats of retaliation after previous incidents, without carrying them out. President Bashar al-Assads ability to do so is constrained because hes battling rebel militias in a 2 1/2-year civil war that has left more than 100,000 dead.
The Associated Press reported that the attack near Latakia was aimed at destroying Russian-made missiles.
By Patrick Donahue - Oct 31, 2013
Chancellor Angela Merkels government hit back at a U.S. Treasury Department report criticizing Germany for running extended surpluses, defending the export boom as a sign of the nations strong economy.
The U.S. report targeted Germany for maintaining a current-account surplus throughout the four-year-old European debt crisis and said policy makers hadnt done enough to bolster domestic demand, delaying a resolution to the crisis.
The criticism is not justified, the German Economy Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement in Berlin. The current-account surpluses are a sign of the competitiveness of the German economy and global demand for quality products from Germany.
The spat over economic policy coincides with the diplomatic fallout over U.S. spying on allies and the possible tapping of Merkels mobile phone. The chancellor dispatched a team of officials to the White House yesterday to begin repairing political damage following the spy disclosures.
Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-31/germany-strikes-back-at-u-s-criticism-over-economic-policy.html
By Kathleen Miller - Oct 31, 2013
The U.S. government is studying whether it can scour social-media websites for clues about potential risks from workers such as Edward Snowden and the Washington Navy Yard shooter.
Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who leaked government secrets, and Aaron Alexis, who shot and killed 12 people, had security clearances. The cases have exposed a flawed system of vetting such employees, some of whom are slipping through the cracks.
The pilot studies, which looked at the feasibility of using automated records checks as well as social-media websites, turned up actionable information, Brian Prioletti, an assistant director in the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, said in testimony prepared for a Senate hearing today.
The tests also indicate that retrieving, analyzing and processing the data is likely to be resource intensive, he said.
Prioletti was among five government officials who appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee more than a month after the Navy Yard shootings.
By Terry Atlas - Oct 31, 2013
Russia has increased its weapons shipments to the Syrian government in the past year, complicating efforts to start peace talks, the U.S. ambassador to Syria said today.
Ambassador Robert Ford today called the Russian military aid substantial and in some cases militarily extremely significant. A second U.S. official, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman, said the Russian aid is now more important than the weapons provided to President Bashar al-Assads forces by Iran.
While he didnt provide details, Ford made clear that Russias action are a cause for tension between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. The diplomats speak several times a week in efforts to prepare for peace talks in Geneva as soon as next month, Ford told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
We have had, including at the level of the secretary, a lot of discussion with the Russians about the arms shipments, Ford said. The Russians would help everyone get to the negotiating table faster if they would stop these deliveries.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said the U.S. is in an Orwellian situation in which Russia cooperates on eliminating Syrias chemical weapons while increasing the quantity and quality of the conventional weapons in the hands of Assads forces.
By James Rowley - Oct 31, 2013
In a rebuke to the White House, Senate Republicans blocked two of President Barack Obamas nominations on the floor, drawing a threat from Democrats to change the rules for dealing with filibusters.
The U.S. Senate voted not to consider the nomination of Representative Mel Watt, a North Carolina Democrat, to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency following resistance from Republicans over his qualifications.
That opposition led to a 56-42 vote -- four votes short of the 60 needed -- to move the nomination to a final debate and floor vote on Obamas nominee to replace Edward J. DeMarco, who has been acting director since 2009.
Less than an hour later, Republicans blocked Washington lawyer Patricia Millett, the first of Obamas three nominations to vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The nomination to the court -- considered the nations second most influential because it hears appeals of regulatory cases -- was 55-38, with three senators voting present.
By Patricia Hurtado and Christie Smythe - Oct 31, 2013
Fannie Mae sued nine major banks over allegations their manipulation of the London interbank offered rate cost the mortgage financing company about $800 million.
The U.S. government-owned firm alleged that banks including Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Citigroup Inc. (C) acted to suppress the rate, according to a copy of the complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court. The filing couldnt be immediately confirmed in court records.
Global authorities have been investigating claims that more than a dozen banks altered submissions used to set benchmarks such as Libor to profit from bets on interest-rate derivatives or to make the lenders finances appear healthier.
The alleged suppression of the rate caused Washington-based Fannie Mae (FNMA) to lose as much as $332 million on interest-rate swaps with Barclays Plc (BARC), UBS AG (UBSN), Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan, according to the complaint.
Defendants initially took these and other overt acts described above to further the corrupt agreement between them and to carry out a common plan to execute a fraud on Fannie Mae and to benefit defendants, the mortgage financing company claimed.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes couldnt contain his exasperation on Wednesday in discussing the implications for poor Americans if $5 billion is cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on Friday.
Fifteen percent of Americans are poor, Hayes told Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and his other panelists. Forty-seven million people. I look at that and I say, this is not working. What we are doing right now our system, the system were running, is failing. Forty seven million people hungry, in poverty, in this country is a failing rate. American capitalism is not producing, at this moment, broad gains for people. It is not.
McGovern, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, also called for President Barack Obamas administration to join a broader discussion about not only conserving SNAP benefits, but the overall effects of poverty on the country.
We need to be talking about increasing the minimum wage, McGovern proposed. We need to be talking about how you extend ladders of opportunity to help people get out of poverty. But in the meantime, we need to make sure that we are there with a safety net to make sure that people have at least enough to eat. What a radical idea, that everybody in this country the richest country in the history of the world ought to have enough to eat.
Taking $5 billion out of the SNAP program, New York Coalition Against Hunger executive director Joel Berg told Hayes, would have the same effect as shutting down all of the countrys food charities for a year, a loss that food banks would not be able to cover, a topic that, as Media Matters reported on Tuesday, has gone largely ignored in media circles.
By Mairav Zonszein |Published October 27, 2013
I have recently reported on a few instances in which two Jewish anti-miscegenation groups - Lehava and Yad LAchim have been actively operating to thwart contact between Jews and Arabs. Lehava, which runs a hotline encouraging callers to inform on Jewish-Arab couples, was reportedly behind a campaign to pressure Israels National Service Administration to stop allowing Israeli Jewish females to work night shifts in hospitals presumably to make it more difficult for them to socialize with the Palestinian citizens of Israel with whom they work.
Yad LAchim whose mission is to fight assimilation (read: miscegenation) and whose slogan is, We dont give up on a single Jew - claims to collect the identification cards of Jewish women seen socializing with Palestinians.
Both these organizations have posters circulating on the streets and in social media that are racist, sexist and offensive. Here is a flyer by Lehava spotted in Jerusalem that says in Hebrew and Arabic: Dont even dare to think about a Jewish woman!
Yad LAchim has a poster going around social media that reads: In a relationship with citizen belonging to an ethnic minority? And below that: You know its not it, but having fun in the meantime? Dont waste your time! You are wasting the most beautiful years. Your life is not a game! Turn to Yad LAchims 24-hour hotline now.
Declaring himself "not happy" with health care enrollment problems, President Barack Obama said Wednesday he takes "full responsibility" for resolving the computer problems that have bedeviled the administration and undermined a key step in the health care law. "We're going to see this through," he said.
"All the parade of horribles, the worst predictions about health care reform in Massachusetts never came true," he said. "They're the same arguments that you're hearing now."
The president pointed to benefits already available under the 3-year-old health care law, including ending discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions and permission to keep young people on their parents' insurance plans until they turn 26.
But he conceded the troubled launch of the open enrollment period that began Oct. 1.
"There's no excuse for it," he said. "And I take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed ASAP. We are working overtime to improve it every day."
Read more: http://www.patriotledger.com/news/x919101071/Obama-cites-Mass-health-care-laws-slow-start-in-Boston-speech#ixzz2jFTN8DI6
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