Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • Could U.S. Military Action Turn Syrian Civil War into a "Widespread Regional War"?


    The White House has launched what it describes as a "flood the zone" campaign to persuade Congress to authorize bombing Syria days after President Obama surprised many by announcing he would seek congressional approval before taking action against the Syrian government. On Saturday, the White House released a proposed military resolution that authorizes the president to use the armed forces "as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria." Critics of military intervention say the draft resolution could open the door to possible use of ground troops or eventual attacks on other countries. “It would intensify sectarian tensions inside Syria and neighboring states in particular in Lebanon and Iraq,” says Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations and Middle East studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “It would deepen the involvement of regional powers further in Syria, particularly Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar on the one hand, and Iran, Hezbollah and to a smaller extent, Iraq. It would rekindle the collective memory of Arabs and Muslims of previous Western hegemonic attacks. The Iraq model is very much alive in the Arab imagination.” While Washington debates the use of military force, the United Nations has revealed the number of refugees who have fled Syria has topped two million. The tide of children, women and men leaving Syria has risen almost 10-fold over the past 12 months.

  • In Secret AT&T Deal, U.S. Drug Agents Given Access to 26 Years of Americans’ Phone Records


    The New York Times has revealed the Drug Enforcement Administration has an even more extensive collection of U.S. phone records than the National Security Agency. Under a secretive DEA program called the Hemisphere Project, the agency has access to records of every phone call transmitted via AT&T’s infrastructure dating back to 1987. That period covers an even longer stretch of time than the NSA’s collection of phone records, which started under President George W. Bush. Each day, some four billion call records are swept into the database, which is stored by AT&T. The U.S. government then pays for AT&T employees to station themselves inside DEA units, where they can quickly hand over records after agents obtain an administrative subpoena. The DEA says the collection allows it to catch drug dealers who frequently switch phones, but civil liberties advocates say it raises major privacy concerns. We speak with Scott Shane, national security reporter for The New York Times and co-author of the report, "Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing NSA’s."

  • David Frost, 74, Remembered by Director Ron Howard for Historic Interview with Richard Nixon


    British broadcasting legend David Frost has died at the age of 74 after a heart attack. He spent more than 50 years as a television personality best known for his signature long-form interviews, particularly for a series of historic interviews he conducted in 1977 with the disgraced former president, Richard Nixon, who had resigned three years earlier. The interviews lasted more than 28 hours and ended with Nixon making a tacit admission of guilt regarding his role in the bugging of Democratic rivals at Washington’s Watergate building and the later cover-up. The interview was later dramatized in the 2008 film "Frost/Nixon," directed by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard. In December 2008, Democracy Now! interviewed Howard about the film.

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    Juan González on How Puerto Rico’s Economic "Death Spiral" is Tied to Legacy of Colonialism
    Could Puerto Rico become America’s Greece? That’s a question many are asking as the island faces a devastating financial crisis and a rapidly crumbling healthcare system. Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt. $355 million in debt payments are due December 1, but it increasingly looks like the U.S. territory may default on at least some of the debt. Congress has so far failed to act on an Obama administration proposal that includes extending bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico and allocating more equitable Medicaid and Medicare...


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