Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Fareed Zakaria’s latest Washington Post column.

For some of us, the puzzle of this election is not why Donald Trump is doing so badly but why he is doing so well. Given his obvious lack of qualifications, his absurd proposals, his hypocrisy, his obnoxious rhetoric, his sheer incompetence as a candidate, why is he not down 10 points in every state?

In other words, who are Trump’s voters and why do they stick with him? Sometimes a good writer with a keen eye can provide more insight than a dozen polls. J.D. Vance has done just that in his lovely book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” The book has rocketed up the best-seller lists — deservedly so. But it has some interesting and important gaps.

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This is a fantastic piece that combines classy comedy along with actual insights in to the life of our President, and the politics, fame, and global issues that surround him. President Obama is outstanding.

http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/president-barack-obama-just-tell-him-you-re-the-president

 

 

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Legislation making its way through the US Congressional process is finally addressing financing of Hezbollah.  The US Government is finally targeting banks, individuals and institutions that fund and do business with terrorist groups and their proxies, including incendiary stations like Al Manar.  It is important to double down on this track, so funders of terror will know there will be consequences to their impunity.  As the below article indicates,  impact is beginning to be felt.  Hezbollah has over decades built a global funding network that traffics in drugs and contraband from Latin America to the US.   It is high time that those networks be targeted also.

Times of Israel: Hezbollah Said Mired in Financial Crisis, by Times of Israel Staff and Agencies

A Lebanese banking delegation is reportedly heading to the US next month after Washington said it would impose sanctions on terror group Hezbollah, which is said to be mired in financial crisis.

The US House of Representatives voted unanimously on December 16 to impose tough new sanctions on banks that knowingly do business with Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

According to Lebanese media reports, a team representing the Association of Banks in Lebanon will head to New York and Washington to discuss the new proposed guidelines with Treasury and State Department officials.

Sources linked to the delegation told the Lebanese An Nahar daily “the sector has no problem with the US authorities which are closely following up on Lebanon’s commitment to international laws and adherence to them, but that these commitments must be re-confirmed after the issuance of the said law,” according to a translation by the Naharnet website.

The reports said the Iran-backed Hezbollah is facing financial difficulties, and failed to pay November and December salaries to its officials.

The bill targeting the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist organization by Washington and Israel, passed the Senate last month. It now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The legislation also targets Hezbollah’s television channel Al-Manar by aiming to cut the broadcast of satellite operators that air the channel’s programming.

The House adopted the measure 422 to 0, following a unanimous vote in the Senate on November 17.

Obama will sign the legislation, a senior administration official told AFP, adding that the administration has worked with Congress for years “to intensify the pressure against the Hezbollah terrorist organization.”

The new rules direct the president to prescribe punishing regulations against financial institutions that conduct transactions with Hezbollah or otherwise launder funds for the organization.

It also requires the administration to present to Congress a series of reports highlighting the group’s narcotics trafficking, transnational crime and operations of international groups linked to Hezbollah, especially in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The administration will list those particular countries that support Hezbollah, or in which the group maintains a key logistical base.

“Hezbollah has had to cast a wide net because most Lebanese banks have not wanted to do business with them,” a congressional expert on the legislation told AFP.

With participants in Hezbollah’s global networks “in our cross-hairs, they should be worried,” House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce told lawmakers Wednesday ahead of the vote.

“There is no question that Hezbollah is stronger than ever,” said congresswoman Jackie Walorski, who described the group as a dangerous enemy to Israel and one that has amassed more than 150,000 rockets and missiles and gained hardened battlefield experience in Syria.

 

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The flight from reality

Published under Leadership, United States Oct 20, 2015

I may not agree with all the conclusions or proposals in the article, but I certainly agree with need to discuss and address these issues head on.

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By Fareed Zakaria, Thursday, October 8, 2015

Recent setbacks in Afghanistan — from the fall of Kunduz to the errant U.S. bombing of a hospital in that city — again raise a question. Why, after 14 years of American military efforts, is Afghanistan still so fragile? The country has a democratically elected government widely viewed as legitimate. Poll after poll suggests that the Taliban are unpopular. The Afghan army fights fiercely and loyally. And yet, the Taliban always come back.

The answer to this puzzle can be found in a profile of the Taliban’s new leader, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. It turns out that Mansour lives part time in Quetta, the New York Times reports, “in an enclave where he and some other Taliban leaders . . . have built homes.” His predecessor, Mohammad Omar, we now know, died a while ago in Karachi. And of course, we remember that Osama bin Laden lived for many years in a compound in Abbottabad. All three of these cities are in Pakistan.

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The Pope is an inspiring figure and such a ray of light, welcoming, inclusive, and progressive. What he represents and stands for is so necessary as an antidote to a lot of what is wrong with society today – extremism, intolerance, absolutism, rejection-ism, etc.  It is also wonderful that the admirable Rabbi Cosgrove  of Park Avenue Synagogue will be representing the Jewish people here.

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