Washington - Leaders of the Syrian opposition have put off a visit to Washington for a series of high-profile meetings, including an expected stop at the White House, administration officials said Thursday, underscoring the challenge the United States faces in cultivating a still-evolving political movement. The Obama administration had invited Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of the Syrian Opposition Council, and Gen. Salim Idriss, the leader of the opposition’s military wing, to make the trip this week, but Mr. Khatib told Secretary of State John Kerry last week at a conference in Rome on the Syria crisis
Out of respect for President Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan-owned oil refinery Citgo flew its flags at half staff outside its Houston and Lake Charles, La., offices Wednesday, sparking outcry from drivers passing by. (Snip) U.S. protocol allows for flags to be lowered for foreign dignitaries and Post recognized Citgo´s right to do so as a private company. However, he said upon seeing the American or Texas flag at half staff, he questioned the person being honored; and said his mind "immediately jumped to the last time we did this in the Houston-area and it was for Neil Armstrong, so, you wonder."
For more than two years, they have tried to work it out. He went to their place, they came to his. There were moments of hope, but mostly there was strain and heartbreak — the phone call that wasn’t returned, the name-calling on national TV. Now, once again looking for a way to repair his reality-show relationship with Republicans, President Obama is making the most basic of gentlemanly gestures: a fancy dinner, a lunch date and a promise to come over next week. Obama is changing course to reset his relationships with Republican lawmakers, hoping for a last chance
Looking back to the Republican rout of Bill Clinton and the Democrats in 1994, Clinton looked like he was a goner in 1996, plaintively remarking at a press conference in early 1995 that “I’m still relevant.” It is clear that Bill Clinton’s comeback began with the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, which enabled him to deploy his best “I feel your pain” schtick, and to demagogue conservative talk radio. It was an amazingly opportunistic performance, but it worked to turn around his sagging fortunes. Something of the same dynamic may have taken place yesterday for Republicans
A group of sixth graders from St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa has turned to the internet to save their school trip to the White House. The children were scheduled to tour the White House on March 16, but their visit was cancelled yesterday along with all other tours of the presidential residence due to “staffing reductions” caused by the so-called “sequester” budget cuts that took effect last Friday after lawmakers failed to make a deficit reduction deal. In an effort to muster support and salvage their trip, the school posted a brief video on Facebook
ohn McCain and Lindsey Graham have blasted Rand Paul over his filibuster of the Brennan nomination. Quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial, McCain said: “If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.” Graham wondered why Republican Senators had not been riled up over President Bush’s use of drones. He also said that Paul’s filibuster caused him to change from a “no” to a “yes” on confirming Brennan. Like McCain and Graham, I was not impressed
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has begun to tighten his grip on the process leading up to Iran’s upcoming presidential elections in June. A campaign of arrests, beatings, public lashings and executions has followed a clear warning to Iranians not to contemplate another uprising similar to that which tried to land reformist Green Movement candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi as president in 2009. When the effort to unseat President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad failed despite what appeared to be overwhelming support for the candidate at the polls, accusations of vote-rigging
As long as we’re shark-jumping, President Obama, let’s pole vault these suckers, shall we? The White House’s transparently petty decision to inflict sequester’s pain on America’s middle-schoolers (as if those years aren’t tough enough) revealed its sequestration doomsaying as silly and its post-doomsaying behavior as spiteful. In a rare good PR turn for Republicans, what was meant to make them look like heartless meanies has held the White House up for ridicule for its utter unwillingness to prioritize. Upon hearing the estimates that the White House’s cancellation
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a statement Thursday boasting about his dinner with Barack Obama. He made the following statement after meeting with the President: Last night´s dinner with President Obama and my Republican colleagues was productive and substantive. I hope it will serve as the beginning of a new, long-overdue paradigm where people in elected office actually begin talking to each other about meaningful issues. While Graham and his pals like John McCain were genuflecting before the president, Rand Paul was filibustering on the Senate floor, accompanied by
Cairo - Egypt´s election committee has scrapped a timetable under which voting for the lower house of parliament should have begun next month, state media reported on Thursday, following a court ruling that threw the entire polling process into confusion. Egypt now lies in limbo, with no election dates at a time when uncertainty is taking a heavy toll on the economy - the Egyptian pound is falling, foreign currency reserves are sliding (Snip) It also returned the electoral law, the subject of feuding between the opposition and Mursi´s ruling Islamists, to the Constitutional Court for review.
Though Rand Paul didn’t set any records in his 13-hour filibuster, there was at least one era-defining moment. It may sound silly, but when fellow GOP Senator Ted Cruz helped sustain the filibuster by reading tweets about the filibuster that used the hashtag inspired by that very filibuster, he marked an interesting notch on America’s political timeline. It was also, as Tim Groseclose pointed out at Ricochet, an interesting “reverse” homage to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Beyond the social media aspect of it, there was also the relative youth
Doral, Fla.—Tiger Woods was on his game, and so were most of the world best golfers Thursday in the Cadillac Championship. Except for the world´s No. 1 player. Woods made nine birdies on the Blue Monster at Doral for a six-under-par 66 that put him in a five-way share of the lead with Masters champion Bubba Watson, former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Freddie Jacobson. This World Golf Championship lived up to its name, with Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan among those one shot behind. But it was another rough day for Rory McIlroy.
Officials at NASA´s Langley Research Center permitted a contractor to hire a Chinese national affiliated with an organization designated by U.S. national security agencies as an "entity of concern," and then allowed the individual access to classified information, according to Rep. Frank Wolf. The as-yet unidentified individual was permitted to take that information back home to China, according to Wolf, the Virginia Republican who is chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA.
A mistrial was declared in the US after a man´s prosthetic eye popped out while he was testifying. John Huttick was weeping in Philadelphia´s Common Pleas Court last month as he testified about losing his eye in an August 2011 fight. The prosthetic eye popped out and Huttick caught it, prompting the judge to grant a mistrial. The Philadelphia Daily News reports the aggravated assault retrial began on Wednesday. Prosecutors allege 23-year-old Matthew Brunelli punched Mr Huttick in the left eye with an object that may have been a key. Mr Huttick´s eye ultimately had to be removed.
Madison, Wis. - Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly approved a polarizing mining bill Thursday and sent the measure to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature, completing a long push to help a Florida company open a giant iron mine on the shore of Lake Superior over environmentalists´ objections. The Assembly passed the measure 58-39 after nearly nine-and-a-half hours of debate. The state Senate approved the plan last week. Walker, a Republican who has touted the bill as his signature job-creation plan, has promised to sign it into law. Wisconsin Republicans have been working for nearly
Washington - President Barack Obama on Thursday reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, the landmark 1994 law designed to curb domestic abuse, which is now expanded to cover gays, immigrants, Native Americans and sex-trafficking victims. Obama signed the new version of the law at a packed ceremony at the Interior Department where the event was shifted because the White House could not accommodate all the advocates who supported the measure, the president said. "One of the great legacies of this law is that it didn´t just change the rules," Obama said.
It´s not a debt and deficit crisis, it´s a jobs crisis. The debt and the deficit are part of it, part of the general fear that we´re on a long slide and can´t turn it around. The federal tax code is part of it—it´s a drag on everything, a killer of the spirit of guts and endeavor. Federal regulations are part of it. The administration´s inability to see the stunning and historic gift of the energy revolution is part of it. But it´s a jobs crisis that´s the central thing. And you see it everywhere you look.
Gun Control: As the Colorado legislature considers a ban on campus concealed carry, a woman testifying how she was raped in a "safe zone" 50 feet from a police station is told that armed defense is useless. It didn´t receive quite as much media coverage as Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke´s plea for free contraceptives before Congress but on Monday a young woman named Amanda Collins mustered the courage to testify before a Colorado legislative committee on that state´s proposed gun ban legislation.
The phrase "jumping the shark" describes that gimmicky moment when something once considered significant is exposed as ludicrous. This is the week the White House jumped the sequester. The precise moment came Tuesday, when the administration announced that it was canceling public tours of the White House, blaming budget cuts. The Sequesterer in Chief has insisted that cutting even $44 billion from this fiscal year will cause agonizing pain—airport security snarls, uninspected meat, uneducated children. Since none of those things has come to pass, the White House decided it needed an immediate and high-profile way of making its point.
Budget: Now that President Obama´s anti-sequester PR campaign has imploded, he´s trying to sucker the GOP into a tax-hiking "grand bargain." They should refuse, and instead demand Obama produce his own budget. For months Obama traveled around the country warning that disaster lay ahead if Republicans refused to replace the $84 billion in sequester cuts with more taxes. Their obstinacy, he said, would cause a "series of dumb, arbitrary cuts" that would throw people out of their homes, deny women access to preventive care, cause monumental flight delays, and on and on. Obama´s scare tactics failed to sway the public, which
Certain lots of Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea canned tuna have been recalled because of a loose seal on the can that could cause spoilage or contamination by bacteria or other organisms, according to two alerts issued Wednesday by the US Food and Drug Administration. Bumble Bee Foods recalled 5-ounce cans of its white albacore packed in water and chunk light tuna in water and vegetable oil with lot codes 3016, 3017, and 3018. The “best-by” dates were January 16-18, 2016. It also recalled some of its Brunswick brands of chuck light and white albacore.
Washington - Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, said on Thursday he would not seek re-election in 2014, ending more than three decades in the Senate. "This decision was extremely difficult because I love representing the people of Michigan in the U.S. Senate and fighting for the things that I believe are important to them," Levin, 78, said in a statement issued by his office. In addition to chairing the Armed Services Committee since 2007, Levin sits on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
San Diego - U.S. authorities say a man accused of drug trafficking has been extradited from Mexico to face charges in San Diego that he oversaw efforts to bring methamphetamine into the United States. U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy says Cesar Alfredo Meza Garcia on Thursday became the first person to be extradited under Mexico´s new president, Enrique Pena Nieto. U.S. authorities say the 36-year-old was a leading figure in Mexico´s Tijuana cartel until he was arrested nearly six months ago in the Mexican border city. Meza Garcia is the top target arrested in a nearly two-year investigation
ABC News reports this evening that the White House is saving $18,000 per week by cancelling tours: "Republicans accuse the White House of playing politics," reports ABC. "But the White House says it is canceling the tours because sequester spending cuts have sliced $84 million out of the Secret Service´s $1.6 billion budget. And they are the ones who secure the tours. They wouldn´t say how much this saves, so, we did some math. Tours are open 20 hours a week and use 30 uniformed Secret Service officers at about $30 an hour. Total saved? Approximately $18,000 a week."
PITTSBURGH - The U.S. Federal Reserve´s latest survey of regional economic trends is mentioning the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom. The Fed´s latest Beige Book issued Wednesday mentions that Pennsylvania banks see customers paying down loans with natural gas royalty money. In neighboring Ohio the Fed says shale gas activity is expanding at a robust pace, but some auto dealers are worried they´re lose technicians to energy companies. Economists say it´s interesting that bankers and other businesses in the northeast are mentioning shale gas.
RUSH: Let´s go to the audio sound bites. I mentioned that the president is having a little trouble here with the sequester and the White House tours being shut down. In fact, in Politico there´s a story: "Now Democrat Worry: Did President Obama Cry Wolf? -- President Barack Obama hopes to spark a pitchfork revolt against Republicans over sequester-induced budget cuts -- but many Democrats fret that he’s undermined that effort with an early strategy marred by hype, poor planning and muddled messaging."