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At least 37 deaths were confirmed by the state medical examiner’s office Monday evening. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said at least three tornadoes touched down in the state, including in Oklahoma City, the state capital, and in the city of Moore about 15 miles to the south. Duncan, farther southwest, was also struck.
KFOR-TV/Associated PressA house fire burned in the wake of a tornado in the Olahoma City area Monday.
Moore, a city of about 55,000, appeared to take the hardest hit based on television news reports, which showed entire blocks shredded by tornado damage. But the extent of damage and potential injuries or fatalities couldn’t be immediately confirmed.
“We don’t have a lot of information,” said Rhonda Baxter, assistant to Moore’s city manager, adding that her boss was out collecting data. At the Moore Fire Department, a dispatcher who answered the phone said, “All of our people are out in the field working.”
News9, a local TV station, reported onFacebook FB -1.87% that all students at Briarwood Elementary School had been accounted for, with only minor injuries. But the status of children at Plaza Towers Elementary wasn’t immediately clear. “We are trying to turn over every stick to find survivors” at Plaza Towers, said Jerry Lojka, a public-information officer for the Department of Emergency Management.
Associated PressA child is pulled from the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., Monday. The extent of injuries at the school wasn’t clear.
Father Guy Dunklee, of the St. Thomas the Apostle Church of Orthodox Anglicanism, said he lives about two blocks from one of the schools hit by the storm, but that his home wasn’t seriously damaged. Like many homes in Oklahoma, his has a storm shelter, and his wife retreated to it. “We’ve been fortunate,” he said. In Oklahoma “you have to have a storm shelter. We have one in the garage, that’s where my wife went,” he said.
The path of the tornado that hit Moore was estimated to be 20 miles long, according to a report by the National Weather Service. The agency assigned it a preliminary damage rating of at least EF4, which means winds of between 166 and 200 miles an hour.
More than a dozen counties in Oklahoma were under a state of emergency declared by Gov. Mary Fallin on Sunday due to storms over the weekend. Ms. Fallin added more counties to the list on Monday and deployed National Guard Troops to help with search-and-rescue efforts in the affected areas, said Aaron Cooper, a spokesman.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said his neighboring state is ready to help Oklahomans. “The images emerging from Oklahoma today are a terrifying reminder of how quickly the force of Mother Nature can devastate entire communities,” he said in a statement.
“We haven’t had much business, but we’re in a concrete building, so we’re really fine,” said James Thrasher, whose father owns the Fat Elvis Diner in Oklahoma City. Mr. Thrasher said the storm hit about 30 miles southeast of the restaurant.
Destruction at Midwest City, Okla., one of the towns hit by the May 5, 1999, tornadoes.
Although Oklahoma is a state where tornadoes are a fact of life, few days stand out like May 3, 1999.
That was when some 70 tornadoes touched down over a 21-hour period, cutting paths of destruction like deep cuts of a knife blade in and around Oklahoma City. One tornado maxed out the Fujita scale at F-5, smashing through some of the very same areas that were hardest hit on Monday. Its winds topped out at a staggering 318 mph, the highest ever recorded anywhere on Earth.
At the time, it was the deadliest twister in 20 years in the U.S. and the costliest (estimated at the time to be $1 billion) in the state’s history, according to NOAA.
A decade after the 1999 tornadoes, the experience was still fresh for survivor Renee Faulkinberry, who recalled how she and her 16-year-old daughter huddled in a bedroom closetas the massive twister leveled their home. Faulkinberry told local media that the best she could figure was that they both blacked out. When they came to, she called out to her daughter, who replied that she was OK.
“All I could see was blood coming down my arm and down my face,” Faulkinberry said recently. “I remember her getting out and me lying there waiting for her to get help. It seemed like forever. I didn’t hear anybody, and I kept screaming for help.”
Oklahoma sits at the heart of “Tornado Alley,” which stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians. Although on average Texas has more total tornadoes, Kansas and Oklahoma rank at the top for tornadoes per square mile.
As devastating as the 1999 tornadoes were, with 46 deaths across two states, the toll was far short of one that struck on April 9, 1947. It was an F-5 that did most of its damage about 140miles northwest of the capital, in the town of Woodward. The tornado killed 185 people starting in Texas and ending in Kansas — a path of destruction that measured 100 miles long and 2 miles wide in some places.
According to NOAA, the tornado “unleashed its worst destruction on Woodward, striking the city without warning at 8:42 pm. Over 100 city blocks on the west and north sides of the city were destroyed … Confusion and fires reigned in the aftermath with over 1,000 homes and businesses destroyed, at least 107 people killed in and around Woodward, and nearly 1,000 additional injuries.”
The second deadliest twister to hit the state was on May 10, 1905. That was the day an F-5 tore through the town of Snyder, about 115 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, killing 97 people. An F-4 on May 2, 1920, in the small town of Peggs, 130 miles northeast of the capital, ranks as No. 3 on the list. It killed 71 people.
NOAA says that in and around Oklahoma City, “May is the peak month for all tornadoes, followed closely by April and June.”
“About two thirds of all tornadoes in [Oklahoma City] have struck during those three months. Strong and violent tornadoes tend to occur slightly earlier, with April the peak month.”
NOAA says 18 of the 27 April tornadoes were F-2 or greater, and that 5 of the 10 F-4/F-5 tornadoes on record occurred in April.
A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.
Signs of Danger
Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
Remember when movies and news reports talked about “F3 tornadoes” or “F5 tornadoes”? That’s the Fujita Scale, devised by Dr. T. Theodore Fujita of the University of Chicago in 1971. For almost forty years, scientists rated tornado windspeed on the F0-F5 scale based on the damage caused by a tornado.
But the devastating tornadoes in Jarrell, TX in 1997 and Moore/Oklahoma City in 1999 demonstrated to many engineers, emergency managers and meteorologists that there were flaws in the original Fujita system. In 2006, the National Weather Service unveiled the Enhanced Fujita Tornado Scale based on four years of research. In 2007, the EF-scale replaced the original F-scale in all tornado damage surveys in the United States.
Overall, most tornadoes (around 77 percent) in the U.S. are considered weak (EF0 or EF1) and about 95 percent of all U.S. tornadoes are below EF3 intensity. The remaining small percentage of tornadoes are categorized as violent (EF3 and above). Of these violent twisters, only a few (0.1 percent of all tornadoes) achieve EF5 status, with estimated winds over 200 mph and nearly complete destruction. However, given that on average over 1,000 tornadoes hit the U.S. each year, this means that 20 of these can be expected to be violent and one could possibly be incredible (EF5).
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Washington (CNN) – An e-mail discussion about talking points the Obama administration used to describe the deadly attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, show the White House and State Department were more involved than they first said in the decision to remove an initial CIA assessment that a group with ties to al Qaeda was involved, according to CNN sources with knowledge of the e-mails.
The unclassified talking points have become a political flashpoint in a long-running battle between the administration and Republicans, who say that officials knew the attack last September 11 was a planned terror operation while they were telling the public it was an act of violence that grew out of a demonstration over a videoproduced in the United States that insulted Islam.
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That was the story that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told five days later when she made the rounds of all five Sunday morning television talk shows.
Obama administration officials have long said that Rice was using official talking points that were edited almost exclusively by the intelligence community.
The attack also occurred two months before the November election, in which President Barack Obama’s campaign often pointed out that it had “decimated” al Qaeda.
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Friday called the controversy a “distraction” from the facts and said the administration had raised the possibility of extremist involvement from the start.
He told reporters the administration was careful with information on Benghazi and was open with the public once facts were established.
An interagency discussion over the talking points to describe the attack just days previous that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans included the White House, State Department, CIA, FBI and Justice Department officials.
A senior administration official told CNN that the e-mails were made available to Congress earlier this year and nothing contradicts what it has said.
“The White House made stylistic edits to the talking points to emphasize that the investigation was ongoing as to who was responsible” and to simplify certain phrasing, the official said.
Carney added that the only edit made by the White House or the State Department was to change the description of the targeted facility to a diplomatic post from consulate.
The e-mail exchange and alterations to the talking points were first reported by ABC and The Weekly Standard and confirmed by CNN appear to contradict that assertion.
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A source familiar with the matter said then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland raised concerns over the CIA’s first version of the talking points, saying that they went further than what she was allowed to say about the attack during her briefings and that she believed the CIA was attempting to exonerate itself at the State Department’s expense by suggesting CIA warnings about the security situation were ignored.
Carney said on Friday there was a “deliberative process” around the talking points involving several agencies. He said the talking points reflected the best assessment of the intelligence community at the time of what occurred in Benghazi, and said there has been an effort since to politicize the tragedy.
“This is an effort to accuse the administration of hiding something we did not hide,” he said.
The CIA had no comment on the matter.
According to a congressional source with knowledge of the e-mails, the CIA’s first draft of the talking points was sent to other agencies on the afternoon of Friday, September 14.
They were requested by Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger during a classified briefing by then-CIA director David Petraeus and were intended to be used by members of Congress and administration officials.
According to ABC News and The Weekly Standard, the first draft included a line that said “Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.”
The first version also
The massive beige and white building on Dakhdaev Street was probably the safest place the FBI could find to work this week in the southern Russian city of Makhachkala, where bombings and counter-terrorism raids are a routine part of life for the locals. That building is the regional headquarters of the FSB, the statesecurity service that replaced the KGB after the fall of the Soviet Union, and it is fenced off with tall iron bars, blocked from the street by concrete slabs, and guarded day and night by surly special forces troops in full combat gear. So when the American investigators arrived in the Russian region of Dagestan on Tuesday to interview the parents of the Tsarnaev brothers, the prime suspects in the bombing of the Boston Marathon last week, the questioning took place inside that building. In light of recent tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the FSB’s hospitality seems remarkable, and it shows how much the Boston bombings have changed the tone between the secret services.
On Wednesday morning, an official at the U.S. embassy in Moscow told TIME that the FBI “is receiving cooperation from the Russian government in its investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing.” Speaking on customary condition of anonymity, the official added: “A group from the US embassy in Moscow traveled to Dagestan yesterday [April 23] as part of this cooperation with the Russian government to interview the parents [of the Tsarnaev brothers].”
That day, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the suspected Boston bombers, was questioned for around eight hours by both the FSB and FBI and only allowed to go home around midnight, according to Heda Saratova, a local rights activist who has been working closely with the family. “The atmosphere was very cordial,” Saratova told TIME after speaking with Tsarnaeva. “But she was exhausted afterwards, as if in a trance.” For reasons of health, Anzor Tsarnaev, the father of the suspected bombers, stayed home on Tuesday, but the following day both of the parents were questioned for another eight hours. “The FBI and FSB were both there. They were working together,” said Zaurbek Sadakhanov, a lawyer who has been consulting the family and spoke to
them after the second day of questioning.
Even a few months ago, it would have been hard to imagine the FBI and FSB helping each other so openly. The political atmosphere between their two countries has recently become so combative that it has poisoned relations between the special services, and in January, Moscow even pulled out of an 11-year-old agreement between the US and Russia to cooperate on issues of law enforcement and security. Some channels did remain open, as became clear after the Boston Marathon bombings, but their usefulness was apparently stilted by a lack of follow through.
On April 19, the FBI revealed that it had received information from a “foreign government” that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the prime suspect in the bombings who was killed in a shootout with police on Friday, had links to religious extremists. (On April 24, Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss claimed the Russians had approached the U.S. twice in 2011 regarding Tsarnaev.) TIME’s sources in the security services in Dagestan confirmed that this information came from the FSB. Local agents had flagged Tsarnaev as a potential extremist in 2011 after he attended services at a mosque in Makhachkala where suspected terrorists have been known to congregate.
The FBI looked into the claims, but found no signs that Tsarnaev was linked to terrorism. “The FBI requested but did not receive more specific or additional information from the foreign government,” the agency said in its statement. TIME’s security source in Makhachkala, who specializes in religious radicalism in Dagestan, said he was not senior enough to know the details of the back-and-forth of these transnational communiques, which are usually conducted through the FSB’s federal headquarters. “There was a request passed along for more information,” he said. But he was not aware of a similar request being sent back from the FBI to the FSB. “That would have been through Moscow, so I don’t know.” The fact that such information did not seem to reach agents working on the ground is itself an indication of the overly bureaucratized and slow nature of this process.
Andrei Soldatov, an expert and author on the Russian security services in Moscow, said the FSB does not seem to have opened a two-way line of communication with the FBI on the Tsarnaev case. “In the case of Tsarnaev, that seems to have been a request. It was not an invitation. It said, ‘Hey, I want to get information from you,’” says Soldatov. Its failure to lead to more robust cooperation is perhaps a sign of the times. Several scandals, as well as a gradual erosion of trust, have broken many of the links the FSB and FBI maintained a decade ago.
The good old days of that relationship date back to 2003, when the agencies worked together on a sting operation to capture a suspected arms dealer named Hemant Lakhani, a British citizen of Indian origin. A group of Russian agents, posing as disgruntled military officers, provided Lakhani with a set of surface-to-air missiles which he then attempted to sell to a group of FBI agents pretending to be Somali terrorists. Before handing the missiles over to Lakhani, the Russians had disarmed them, and when Lakhani attempted to sell these Russian duds to undercover FBI agents, he was arrested and later convicted for attempting to provide material support to terrorists. The effort was trumpeted by U.S. officials as an “incredible triumph” in the war on terror.
Posted: Apr 18, 2013 8:27 PM EDTUpdated: Apr 20, 2013 7:28 PM EDT
Horse drawn carriages walk down main street and the feeling of the old west is alive every day. Now a town that’s been fighting to preserve history is fighting for self preservation.
Hearing the Wyatt Earp House and Gallery is closing for good is sad news for locals and tourists. It’s been around for more than a century. It closes on Sunday for good, and officials blame it on the economy and a decline in tourism.
“I didn’t know, but I’m not surprised,” said Wyatt Earp Theatre Owner James Ferguson. “Our tourism is dropping pretty steadily.”
Every owner is fighting for their business to stay alive.
“Last couple years, we wound up closing two of our businesses [and we] now just have this photo studio left,” said Old Tyme Photos Owner Jim Newbauer.
“Last few months, 11 businesses closed down,” Chamber of Commerce President Susan Wallace said. “We’re also seeing large turnover of businesses, but we also have new businesses coming in.”
The owners of the Wyatt Earp house are not in town today, but we’re told they plan to re-open as a vacation rental. Officials say this is not expected to affect Wyatt Earp Days in May, but some in town feel it will; one less place for visitors to check out.
“Hopefully they’ll keep statue of Wyatt there so people can still take pictures with it,” Newbauer said.
Town officials say an international marketing campaign is now in the planning stages.
“Normally, the tourists [whom] Tombstone does well with are Europeans, Japanese [and] the Asians,” the Mayor said over the phone.
But the town is too tough to die and still hanging on.
“It’s very sad but we won’t give up,” Ferguson said. “We want to promote history of this town, Wyatt earp, mining; it’s what this town is all about.”
Part of their marketing campaign includes printing their brochures in different languages. The goal is to bring international tourists to Tombstone, Ariz. They also plan to make their website accessible to tourists by offering options for several different languages in the near future.
Chamber president Susan Wallace says this advertising campaign is expected to cost them a few hundred thousand dollars. They hope to use money from the town’s bed tax, and revenue generated from city-owned attractions like the boothill cemetary.
Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.
(CBS News) BOSTON – In the aftermath of last week’s Boston Marathon bombing attack, 36 of the wounded are still in the hospital while one is in critical condition. Many of the wounded — among them a dancer who lost a limb– are beginning a long journey.
Progress is measured in steps now for Adrianne Haslet-Davis. This was her first day of physical therapy. The 32-year-old dance instructor was watching with her husband, Air Force Capt. Adam Davis, when the first bomb exploded.
“He looked down,” she recalled, “and grabbed onto my leg and lifted it up and just started screaming. It was terrifying because I was just losing so much blood, I thought that that was it.”
/ CBS News
Haslet-Davis thought she was going to die at that point. “This all was gone,” she said, demonstrating what was missing through her intact leg. “The lower part. From here down was all gone. It had been completely blown off. My shoe was gone, long gone. And that was all missing and there was just blood in the gallons, it seemed like.”
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She crawled inside a restaurant. Her husband found her and used his belt as a tourniquet to slow the bleeding.
“I started crying and screaming and telling him that I loved him,” said Haslet-Davis.
/ CBS News
Haslet-Davis woke up in the hospital the next morning.
“I was lying in bed and I opened my eyes and I saw my parents. I didn’t think about anything else. I was just happy to be alive, happy to see them and I immediately just remember saying ‘Dad and Mom!’ And then I said, ‘Mom, will you help me,’ because I feel like my foot is falling asleep. And she said, ‘Adrianne, honey, you don’t have a foot.’ And I just lost it. I was really, really upset. I just started crying and thought, ‘My career is over,’ and I just thought, ‘My life is over.’”
However, Haslet-Davis turned the corner. “I find my optimism becauseI feel like you have two choices: You could either be the one sitting eating potato chips and not having friends and not talking to people and feeling sorry for yourself.’ Or you can say, ‘This is who I am now.’ I wouldn’t let one of my students come to me and say, ‘This happened to me.’ I wouldn’t let them say that their life was over. I’m hopeful for the future and hopeful to dance again.”
As for whether if she’ll be on the ballroom floor, Haslet-Davis said with confidence, “Yes. I know so.”
/ CBS News
Haslet- Davis hopes to be fitted with a prosthetic leg by her 33rd birthday in June. She has already been talking with a prosthetic engineer about designing an artificial leg specifically made for dancing.
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Published April 24, 2013
April 10, 2013: Activists rally for immigration reform in Los Angeles. (AP)
Monday, April 22, 2013: The Rev. Eugene Barnes of Illinois, joins immigration advocates outside the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C. (AP)
People fill a committee room on Thursday, April 18, 2013 in Montpelier, Vt. A Vermont House committee is hearing testimony on a bill that would allow farmworkers in the country illegally to become drivers. Last week, the Senate gave final approval for a bill to create driver privilege cards for people not eligible to get an enhanced driver’s license under the federal REAL ID law. The measure is expected to extend driving privileges to 1,200 to 1,500 immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Guatemala and mostly working on Vermont dairy farms who are in the United States without the legally required immigration papers.(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
For far too long, the standard operating procedure in Washington has been to rush large pieces of legislation through Congress with little opportunity for elected officials and the American people to scrutinize and understand them.
Before we hurry to overhaul our immigration laws, we must methodically look at each of the various components that need to be remedied. Immigration reform is too important and complex to not examine each piece in detail.
Immigration reform is too important and complex to not examine each piece in detail.
By now, we’ve all learned what happens when Congress rushes legislation and bypasses regular order. In 2010, the House jammed the 2,700-page ObamaCare bill through Congress without a single hearing or markup on the bill that was ultimately signed into law.
Americans are now stuck with the consequences of this hasty decision—higher premiums, more taxes, over 20,000 pages in new regulations, and overall bad policy. Even Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the bill’s chief architects, warned last week that he sees ObamaCare as a “huge train wreck coming down.”
Regular order is also important because it allows Congress to reflect on past legislative mistakes and avoid making similar ones in the future.
For example, nearly 30 years ago Congress passed and President Reagan signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, assuring the American people that it would fix our immigration system.
We were promised tougher enforcement in exchange for the legalization of roughly three million people. But these promises were never kept and our immigration laws remain broken. The American people want to know how Congress plans to avoid this similar outcome in the current debate surrounding immigration reform.
Some critics may think the call for regular order is an attempt to kill a larger immigration bill but this could not be further from the truth—the two are not mutually exclusive.
Regular order will help us get immigration reform right and win the trust of the American people so that we don’t face the same problems we do now down the road.
While the Senate works its will, through the Gang of Eight’s bill or some other piece of legislation, the House will do the same.
Once each chamber holds Committee hearings, markups, and passes legislation, the House and Senate can work out their differences. That’s the American legislative process.
This process can be long but it allows every representative and senator to have their constituents’ voices heard, rather than solely the opinions of a few members in a working group. And by taking a fine-tooth comb through each of the individual issues within the larger immigration debate, it will help us get a better bill that will benefit Americans and provide a workable immigration system.
The members of the Senate Gang of Eight have worked hard to produce legislation and their efforts should be applauded.
While it’s true that many in the House of Representatives have concerns about the Senate immigration bill, we are hopeful that we can produce better solutions.
The House Judiciary Committee has held numerous hearings on immigration and also plans to hold one on the Senate immigration bill in the coming days to consider its merits and flaws.
At the same time, we are receiving input from members from both sides of the aisle, as well as stakeholders and other interested parties, in order to reach consensus on many of the issues plaguing our immigration system.
Consensus has been reached on some issues and the House Judiciary Committee this week will introduce a couple of stand-alone bills that tackle various issues within our immigration system.
The other helps ensure we turn off the jobs magnet that attracts illegal immigration by requiring all employers to use E-Verify. This web-based program provides employers with a quick and easy way to check the work eligibility of their newly hired employees.
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Brazilian multiple entry visa in aUS passport, with immigration stamps from Brazil, France, and the United States.
A visa (from the Latin charta visa, lit. “paper that has been seen”) is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter or leave the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant’s passport (or passport-replacing document). Some countries do not require a visa in some situations, such as a result of reciprocal treaty arrangements. The country issuing the visa typically attaches various conditions of stay, such as the territory covered by the visa, dates of validity, period of stay, whether the visa is valid for more than one visit, etc.
A visa generally gives non-citizens clearance to enter a country and to remain there within specified constraints, such as a time frame for entry, a limit on the time spent in the country, and a prohibition against employment. The possession of a visa is not in itself a guarantee of entry into the country that issued it, and a visa can be revoked at any time. A visa application in advance of arrival gives the country a chance to consider the applicant’s circumstance, such as financial security, reason for applying, and details of previous visits to the country. A visitor may also be required to undergo and pass security and/or health checks upon arrival at the border.
Visas are associated with the request for permission to enter (or exit) a country, and are thus, for some countries, distinct from actual formal permission for an alien to enter and remain in the country.
Some countries require that their citizens, as well as foreign travelers, obtain an “exit visa” to be allowed to leave the country.
|This section requires expansion. (August 2011)|
Some visas can be granted on arrival or by prior application at the country’s embassy or consulate, or through a private visa service specialized in the issuance of international travel documents. These agencies are authorized by the foreign authority, embassy, or consulate to represent international travelers who are unable or unwilling to travel to the embassy and apply in person. Private visa and passport services collect an additional fee for verifying customer applications, supporting documents, and submitting them to the appropriate authority. If there is no embassy or consulate in one’s home country, then one would have to travel to a third country (or apply by post) and try to get a visa issued there. The need or absence of need of a visa generally depends on the citizenship of the applicant, the intended duration of the stay, and the activities that the applicant may wish to undertake in the country he visits; these may delineate different formal categories of visas, with different issue conditions.
Some countries apply the principle of reciprocity in their visa policy. A country’s visa policy is called reciprocal if it imposes visa requirement against citizens of all the countries which impose visa requirements against its own citizens. The opposite is never true: no country lifts visa requirements against citizens of all the countries which lift visa requirements against its own citizens.
Some examples of countries who apply reciprocity in their visa policy are:
A fee may be charged for issuing a visa; these are often also reciprocal, so if country A charges country B’s citizens US$50 for a visa, country B will often also charge the same amount for country A’s visitors. The fee charged may also be at the discretion of each embassy. A similar reciprocity often applies to the duration of the visa (the period in which one is permitted to request entry of the country) and the amount of entries one can attempt with the visa. Expedited processing of the visa application for some countries will generally incur additional charges.
This reciprocal fee has gained prominence in recent years with resentment by some countries of the United States charging nationals of various countries a visa processing fee ($140 for tourist visas, non-refundable, even if a visa is not issued). A number of countries, including Brazil, Chile and Turkey have reciprocated. Brazil requires an advance visa before entry into the country, and that a US citizen be fingerprinted and photographed on arrival—matching U.S. requirements for Brazilians and other foreigners.
The issuing authority, usually a branch of the country’s foreign ministry or department (e.g. U.S. State Department), and typically consular affairs officers, may request appropriate documentation from the applicant. This may include proof that the applicant is able to support himself in the host country (lodging, food), proof that the person hosting the applicant in his or her home really exists and has sufficient room for hosting the applicant, proof that the applicant has obtained health and evacuation insurance, etc. Some countries ask for proof of health status, especially for long-term visas; some countries deny such visas to persons with certain illnesses, such as AIDS. The exact conditions depend on the country and category of visa. Notable examples of countries requiring HIV tests of long-term residents are Russia and Uzbekistan. However, in Uzbekistan, the HIV test requirement is sometimes not strictly enforced. Other countries require a medical test which includes an HIV test even for short term tourism visa. For instance Cuban citizens and international exchange students require such a test approved by a medical authority to enter Chilean territory.
Developed countries frequently demand strong evidence of intent to return to the home country, if the visa is for a temporary stay, and especially if the applicant is from a developing country, due to immigration concerns.
The issuing authority may also require applicants to attest that they have had no criminal convictions, or that they do not partake in certain activities (like prostitution or drug trafficking). Some countries will deny visas if the travelers passports show evidence of citizenship or travel to a country which is not recognized by that country. For example, some Muslim countries will not issue visas to nationals of Israel or those whose passports bear evidence of visiting Israel.
Each country has a multitude of categories of visas and with various names. The most common types and names of visas include:
By method of issuance:
This list is not exhaustive. Some countries may have more detailed classifications of some of these categories reflecting the nuances of their respective geographies, social conditions, economies, international treaties, etc. Others, on the contrary, may combine some types into broader categories.
Visas can also be single-entry which means the visa is canceled as soon as the holder leaves the country; double-entry, or multiple-entrywhich permits double or multiple entries into the country with the same visa. Countries may also issue re-entry permits that allow temporarily leaving the country without invalidating the visa. Even a business visa will normally not allow the holder to work in the host country without an additional work permit.
Once issued, a visa will typically have to be used within a certain period of time.
With some countries, the validity of a visa is not the same as the authorized period of stay. The visa validity then indicates the time period when entry is permitted into the country. For example, if a visa has been issued to begin January 1 and to expire March 30, and the typical authorized period of stay in a country is 90 days, then the 90-day authorized stay starts on the day the passenger enters the country (entrance has to be between January 1 and March 30). Thus, the latest day the traveler could conceivably stay in the issuing country is July 1 (if the traveler entered on March 30). This interpretation of visas is common in Americas.
With other countries, a person may not stay beyond the period of validity of their visa. The visa may also limit the total number of days the visitor may spend in the covered territory within the period of validity. This interpretation of visas is common in Europe.
Once in the country, the validity period of a visa or authorized stay can often be extended for a fee at the discretion of immigration authorities. Overstaying a period of authorized stay given by the immigration officers is considered illegal immigration even if the visa validity period isn’t over (i.e., for multiple entry visas) and a form of being “out of status” and the offender may be fined, prosecuted, deported, or even blacklisted from entering the country again.
Entering a country without a valid visa or visa exemption may result in detention and removal (deportation or exclusion) from the country. Undertaking activities that are not authorized by the status of entry (for example, working while possessing a non-worker tourist status) can result in the individual being deemed deportable—commonly referred to as an illegal alien. Such violation is not a violation of a visa, despite the common misuse of the phrase, but a violation of status hence the term “out of status.”
Even having a visa does not guarantee entry to the host country. The border crossing authorities make the final determination to allow entry, and may even cancel a visa at the border if the alien cannot demonstrate to their satisfaction that they will abide by the status their visa grants them.
Some countries which do not require visas for short stays may require a long stay visa for those who intend to apply for a residence permit. For example, EU does not require a visa for many industrialized countries for stays under 90 days, but its members require a long stay visa for longer stays.
Many countries have a mechanism to allow the holder of a visa to apply to extend a visa. For example, in Denmark a visa holder can apply to the Danish Immigration Service for a Residence Permit after they have arrived in the country. In the United Kingdom applications can be made to the UK Border Agency. In certain circumstances, it is not possible for the holder of the visa to do this, either because the country does not have a mechanism to prolong visas or, most likely, because the holder of the visa is using a short stay visa to live in a country. In such cases, the holder often engages in what is known as a “visa run”: leaving the country for a short period just before the allowed length of stay runs out to “restart the clock”. However, immigration officers can also deny re-entry under these circumstances, especially if done more than once as such acts may signify that the foreigner wishes to permanently reside or work in that country. Also, some countries may have limits as to how long one can spend in the country without a visa, further creating a barrier to visa runs.
A visa may be denied for a number of reasons, some of which being that the applicant:
Possession of a valid visa is a condition for entry into many countries, however various exemption schemes do exist. In some cases visa-free entry may be granted to holders of diplomatic passports even as visas are required by normal passport holders (see: Passport).
Some countries have reciprocal agreements such that a visa is not needed under certain conditions, e.g. when the visit is for tourism and for a relatively short period. Such reciprocal agreements may stem from common membership in international organizations or a shared heritage:
Other countries may unilaterally grant visa-free entry to nationals of certain countries to facilitate tourism, promote business, or even to merely cut expenses on maintaining consular posts abroad.
Some of the considerations for a country to grant visa-free entry to another country include (but are not limited to):
To promote “safe” tourism and save on consular staff worldwide, some countries rely on other country’s (or countries’) judgments in issuance of visas. For example, Mexico allows citizens of all countries to enter without Mexican visas if they possess a valid visa of the USA (on which an entry has already been granted to the USA). Costa Rica accepts valid visas of Schengen/EU countries, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the USA (if valid for at least 3 months on date of arrival). The ultimate example of such judgment is Andorra, which, being inaccessible without passing through the territory of France or Spain and thus “protected” by the Schengen visa system, imposes no visa requirements of its own whatsoever.
Visa-free travel between countries also occurs in all cases where passports (or passport-replacing documents such as laissez-passer) are not needed for such travel. (For examples of passport-free travel, see International travel without passports.)
As of 2012, the Henley Visa Restriction Index ranks the Danish passport as the passport with the most Visa Exemptions by other nations totalling 169, allowing holders of a Danish passport to take part in the most visa-free travel globally.
Normally visas are valid for entry only into the country which issued the visa. Countries that are members of regional organizations or party to regional agreements may however issue visas valid for entry into some or all of the member states of the organization or agreement:
These schemes no longer operate.
During the fascist rule in Italy, an exit visa was required from 1922 to 1943. Nazi Germany required exit visas from 1933 until its collapse in 1945. The Soviet Union and itsEastern European allies required exit visas both for emigrants and for those who wanted to leave the USSR for some time.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13, part 2, proclaimed in 1948 that “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” Yet, some countries still have a requirement that an individual obtain an exit visa (i.e., permit) to leave the country. This happens mostly in countries where there is political, economic or social turmoil that results in a rise in emigration. Sometimes this requirement also applies to foreign nationals.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have an exit visa requirement, particularly for foreign workers. Hence at the end of a foreign worker’s employment period, the worker must secure clearance from his/her employer stating that the worker has satisfactorily fulfilled the terms of his/her employment contract or that the worker’s services are no longer needed. The exit visa can also be withheld if there are pending court charges that need to be settled or penalties that have to be meted out.
The communist government in Nepal requires citizens leaving the country to work abroad to present an exit visa issued by the labor ministry. This document is called a labor permit and needs to be presented to immigration to leave the country.
Uzbekistan is the last remaining former USSR country that still requires an exit visa, which is valid for a two-year period. There has been explicit UN criticism of this practice,which can be a means of controlling political dissidents (“exit visa can be easily used to stop human rights defenders from leaving the country”).
The government of the People’s Republic of China requires its citizens to obtain a “tourist visa” issued by the PRC authorities prior to their visit to the Chinese dependencies of Hong Kong or Macau. The “tourist visa” is a de-facto exit visa for Hong Kong- or Macau-bound trips for PRC citizens.
Some countries, such as Russia or the Czech Republic, require that an alien who needs a visa on entry be in possession of a valid visa upon exit. To satisfy this formal requirement, exit visas sometimes need to be issued. Russia requires an exit visa if a visitor stays well past the expiration date of their visa. They must then extend their visa or apply for an exit visa and are not allowed to leave the country until they show a valid visa or have a permissible excuse for overstaying their visa (e.g., a note from a doctor or a hospital explaining an illness, missed flight, lost or stolen visa). In some cases, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can issue a Return-Home certificate that is valid for ten days from the embassy of the visitor’s native country, thus eliminating the need for an exit visa.
A foreign citizen granted a temporary residence permit in Russia needs a temporary resident visa to take a trip abroad (valid for both exit and return). It is also colloquially called anexit visa.
A statement Wednesday said the pope invited Peres. The Israeli Nobel Peace laureate would be among the first world leaders to visit the new pope, who took office last month. Peres will also meet Italian leaders.
The Vatican and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1993.
Israel and the Vatican have been discussing the status of church properties in the Holy Land and other issues.
The statement said Franciscan monks will give Peres an award, the “Medal of Honor for Peace.”
John Laing Plc, a U.K. developer of hospitals, schools and roads, estimates it will spend about 50 million pounds ($76 million) this year on onshore wind and photovoltaic power projects in Britain and Sweden.
The company plans to invest in five developments this year, using debt to fund 50 percent to 70 percent of each plant, Ross McArthur, head of renewable energy for London-based John Laing, said in an interview. It wants to invest in areas with different regulatory structures to reduce reliance on one kind, he said.
The company completed three wind and two solar deals last year. While it’s currently focused on northern European markets including the U.K., John Laing is able to access the Australian and North American markets through locally based teams, said Andy Harmer, head of waste and energy. This may bring opportunities over the next year to 18 months, he said.
Sweden plans to get half of its energy from clean sources by 2020, from 47 percent now, and the U.K. is aiming for 15 percent, up from about 9.4 percent. Both subsidize renewable energy by placing an obligation on electricity suppliers to buy a certain portion of their power from low-carbon sources.
To contact the reporter on this story: Louise Downing in London at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott andAttorneys General from 11 other states on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the legality of the Obama Administration’s unprecedented and overreaching greenhouse gas environmental regulatory scheme. In a petition for writ of certiorari filed Friday, the States explain that the EPA violated the U.S. Constitution as well as the federal Clean Air Act by concocting its greenhouse gas regulations without Congressional authorization. The States explain that the EPA ignored Congress’ law-making role by re-writing federal laws through administrative rule-making. The States urge the Supreme Court to overturn the Obama Administration’s “attempts to unilaterally implement policies in the absence of congressionally delegated authority” and to “rein in a usurpatious agency and remind the President and his subordinates that they cannot rule by executive decree.”
“Since Day One of the Obama Administration, the EPA has issued a barrage of overreaching and illegal regulations,” Attorney General Abbott said. “In doing so, the EPA has not only ignored the devastating economic impacts of their regulations, but also ignored the laws of our land. The EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations were unlawfully created out of whole cloth and are a massive burden on states and businesses. As Texas has proven in other lawsuits against the EPA, this is a runaway federal agency that must be reined in. In the last 13 months alone, federal courts have ruled against the EPA and in favor of Texas in three separate lawsuits.”
The 12-state coalition includes Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is also a petitioner.
at Apr 23, 2013 9:25 AM
BEIJING (AP) — A violent clash between authorities and assailants described as a terrorist gang left 21 people dead in China’s restive northwestern region of Xinjiang, the local government said Wednesday.
Among the dead in the Tuesday afternoon fighting were 15 police officers and local government officials, the Xinjiang government propaganda office said in a news release. It said six assailants were killed on the spot and another eight were captured alive.
“Initial investigations show this was a gang plotting to carry out terrorist acts and the case is now being further cracked open,” the release said.
A leading activist from the region’s indigenous Turkic Muslim Uighur ethnic group questioned the official account, saying local sources said that police sparked the incident by shooting a Uighur youth during an illegal search of homes.
The death toll was the highest for a single incident in months in Xinjiang, which sees recurrent outbreaks of violence pitting Uighurs (pronounced WEE’-gurs) against the authorities and majority ethnic Han Chinese migrants. Rioting in July 2009 between Uighurs and Han killed nearly 200 people in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, and there have been sporadic attacks since, all of them quickly suppressed with overwhelming force by local paramilitary units.
Tuesday’s violence appeared to point to the chaotic nature of much of the Xinjiang violence, as well as problems with how authorities respond. It began when three local officials reported a group of suspicious men armed with knives hiding inside a home in Selibuya township outside the city of Kashgar, the news release said.
The three were then grabbed by the men in the house and local police and officials rushing to the scene were taken by surprise and attacked, it said. Those inside the house killed their three captives and set fire to the building, while the fighting ended only after armed units — who are often stationed in larger towns and barracks and must be specially summoned by commanders — arrived and began firing on those continuing to resist, the report said.
The release said 10 of those killed on the government side were Uighurs, three were Han, and two were from the Mongolian ethnic group. It said two other Uighurs were injured. The ethnicity of the assailants wasn’t given and local police and government officials reached by phone said they had no additional information to give.
“We know only what is in the release and have no more to add,” said an officer with the Xinjiang regional police, who gave only his surname, Meng, as is common with Chinese officials.
Xinjiang, a sprawling region that borders Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, is home to millions of Uighurs, many of whom complain of tight restrictions on religious and cultural life by Beijing and say they have been marginalized by policies favoring Han migrants.
China claims much of the violence is orchestrated by Uighur activists based in the West or in Pakistan and other neighboring countries, but has provided little evidence publicly. The U.S. initially placed one group, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, on a terrorist watch list following the 9/11 attacks, but later quietly removed it amid doubts that it existed in any organized manner.
Uighur activists say violence largely results from heavy-handed policing by the authorities, including the frequent detention of Uighur men with little or no due process.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur Congress, said repression has intensified in the area around Kashgar, with an unknown number of Uighurs detained. He denied those involved in Tuesday’s clash were part of an organized group and dismissed the government’s terrorism claims.
“They always use such labels as a way of justifying their use of armed force,” Raxit said in a phone interview.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration is postponing letting passengers carry small knives back aboard airline flights.
After facing strong opposition to the policy change from flight attendants and its own air marshals, the agency said Monday it was delaying the policy change so that the airline industry, passenger advocates and law-enforcement experts could weigh in on what should be allowed on planes.
“This timing will enable TSA to incorporate the feedback about the changes to the Prohibited Items List and continue workforce training,” the TSA said in a statement.
The TSA had planned to let the knives, with blades up to 2.36 inches, on flights starting Thursday. It
The FBI’s announcement that it needs a new home has touched off a virtual real estate beauty contest, with communities around the region jockeying for the opportunity to attract the law enforcement agency — and attendant economic benefits — to their neighborhoods.
The pursuit has turned congressmen from neighboring states into competing pitchmen, spurred newspaper op-eds and even required a public apology from an economic development official who disparaged another community bidding for the headquarters. Public debate on Capitol Hill and in the real estate development community has focused on whether an agency whose identity is linked to the nation’s capital could find a more suitable home in the Washington suburbs.
“You would expect there to be competition among the jurisdictions for a development project as favorable as the FBI,” said Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, who joined counterparts from Virginia in testifying last month before a House subcommittee. “We’re all friends. We’re going to try to sell our jurisdictions as the best sites.”
The contenders include Maryland’s Prince George’s County, already home to federal agencies specializing in intelligence research and cybersecurity. Northern Virginia proponents boast of the area’s high-quality schools and proximity to the CIA headquarters and other existing FBI facilities, including its training academy, in the area. The District of Columbia is also offering a waterfront site near highways, public transit and a major league baseball stadium.
The General Services Administration, which oversees federal office space, has received about three-dozen submissions following its request for ideas to develop a new headquarters of approximately 2.1 million square feet. One idea under consideration is a property swap in which a developer would take over the existing FBI headquarters in exchange for constructing or providing a new building for the agency. That possible arrangement would allow the government to save on costs of a new land acquisition while a developer would get the chance to build the new headquarters and repurpose a downtown city block.
The level of interest isn’t surprising: At stake is a multi-million-dollar economic development project that would bring thousands of jobs, expand the tax base and boost area retail and service industries.
“Think about the daytime population, people coming to the FBI headquarters morning, noon and night,” said Douglas Cooper or the Urban Land Institute in Washington, a nonprofit research group. “Think about the potential for people relocating from one jurisdiction to the other to be closer to work.”
The FBI’s current headquarters, a hulking Brutalist structure that opened in 1974 on prime Pennsylvania Avenue real estate, is known by many Americans for its appearances in news broadcasts and movies. Millions have visited for tours, which are now discontinued. But the FBI says the J. Edgar Hoover Building is obsolete, inefficient and in disrepair. Those findings were confirmed by a 2011 Government Accountability Office report that agreed the building didn’t meet the agency’s long-term security needs.
The bureau wants to move more than 10,000 employees spread among leased annexes throughout the region into a secure consolidated headquarters near the highway and mass transit. It says a new headquarters could save at least $44 million in rent payments annually.
A massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160, officials said.
LM Otero, Associated Press
Members of The Church ofJesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and LDS missionaries are safe following a massive fertilizer plant explosion, which rocked West, Texas, on Wednesday evening, April 17.
WEST, Texas — Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and LDS missionaries are safe following a massive fertilizer plant explosion, which rocked West, Texas, on Wednesday evening, April 17.
Blake R. Christensen, president of the Waco Texas Stake, said church leaders in the area immediately contacted county emergency response officials and offered assistance after the blast, which killed at least a dozen people and injured more than 160.
The destruction around the West Fertilizer Co. extended for blocks in the small farming community in central Texas. The blast shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake and destroyed homes, an apartment complex, a school and a nursing home.
One member was impacted by evacuations, said President Christensen, noting that West is part of the Waco Texas Stake.
He said the community has “responded amazingly” and reached out to the victims. “The city has been inundated with commodities,” he said.
As soon as the area is cleared for people to enter, President Christensen said local LDS church members will assist with cleanup efforts.
Opinion | April 19, 2013
By: Bruce Riedel
The two Chechen immigrants apparently responsible for the terror attack on the Boston Marathon may never have had any contact with al Qaeda—or even a single member of al Qaeda—but they are likely soon to be lauded as “heroes” of the global jihad.
April 17, 2013
April 16, 2013
It is much too soon to come to any hard conclusions about the motives and intentions of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged perpetrators, but it is not too soon to understand how al Qaeda and associated jihadists see the Chechen struggle against Russia in the context of their own ideology and narrative. Al Qaeda has long seen the Chechen struggle as part of the global war between Islam and its enemies. For the extremists who run al Qaeda and related movements, Russia’s actions in Chechnya are no different than Israeli actions in Gaza, French actions in Mali, or American actions in Afghanistan. All are allegedly part of a global conspiracy against Islam that ranges from the Caucasus to Kashmir to Bali.
In an audio message issued less than two weeks ago, Ayman Zawahiri, the Egyptian leader of al Qaeda and its chief ideologue, said the greatest enemies of Islam are the “biggest criminals in Washington, Moscow and Tel Aviv.” Thus Zawahiri lumped American, Russia and Israel together as the enemies of Muslims everywhere.
For Zawahiri and his predecessor, Osama bin Laden, this argument that Islam is under siege by a global conspiracy is nothing new. Zawahiri and bin Laden began their careersfighting in Afghanistan against the Russians. The Chechen struggle against Russia is for them only a continuation of that war and indeed of the Central Asian and Caucasian Muslims’ struggle against Tsars, Commissars, and now Putin that goes back to the 18th century. Zawahiri himself was briefly arrested in Russia in the mid-1990s, apparently while he was actively assisting the Chechen insurgency. Bin Laden encouraged Saudis to go to Chechnya to fight Russia.
For angry young Muslims radicalized by what has happened in their own homeland, the al Qaeda narrative provides an explanation for a bigger struggle that involves not just their own country but the entire Muslim world. At the same time it also gives them more targets for their anger. If an angry Chechen cannot attack a Russian target, then a soft target in his own city in America or Europe—a marathon or another public space—is an easier target.
Al Qaeda has been encouraging just such attacks for the last several years. The Yemeni American Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a drone strike in 2011, articulated it in the English language web magazine he helped create, called Inspire, that also printed simplemanuals for how to build a bomb in your family kitchen. The attempt by a Pakistani American, Faysal Shahzad, to blow up a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010 (which was foiled by NYPD at the last minute), was an early example of this kind of small but devastating attack. Shahzad has now become a hero in the al Qaeda narrative even though he failed in his attempt.
Whether al Qaeda had any role – direct or indirect by the internet – in the radicalization of these two men, it is likely to revel in the results of their attacks in Boston. While the attack was nowhere near the magnitude of 9/11, it has consumed the American media and political scene for almost a week so far, led to the unprecedented lockdown of an entire American city, and sent the White House itself into enhanced security.
Americans have every right to ask: Why do they hate us? Americans are not responsible for the ugly civil war in Chechnya, or the horrendous terrorist attacks carried out by Chechen terrorists in Moscow and other Russian cities. Unfortunately the global jihadist movement and its violent ideology doesn’t see the differences that we rightly see. For according to the narrative of Ayman Zawahiri, Islam is under attack from every direction, and the jihadist answer is to strike back in New York, Madrid, London, Toulouse—and now Boston.
by Edward Alden
April 19, 2013
The immigration bill introduced in the Senate this week – all 844 pages – is not a perfect piece of legislation. But it is the most serious effort in many years to create an immigration system that would better serve U.S. economic needs, strengthen the rule of law, and enhance security.
Immigration, I and others have argued, has long beenAmerica’s secret weapon. For generations, it brought to our shores a windfall of the world’s hardest working, brightest, and most ambitious individuals. They went to school, raised families, started companies, and in thousands of ways contributed to the creation of the most vibrant and dynamic economy in the world. But it was also a chaotic system. There was little scrutiny of those applying for visas to come to the United States. Once they arrived here, there was little effort to make sure they abided by the terms of the visa. And for those who lived near America’s borders, it was not difficult to just walk across and stay, and some 11 million people who have done so are still living in this country.
Such chaos was always a challenge, but became intolerable over the last two decades. It become intolerable for border states like California and Arizona in the 1990s, and it became intolerable for much of the rest of country following the 9/11 attacks, which exposed the weaknesses of U.S. entry controls. But in response to legitimate fears, the United States has spent much of the last decade walking away from the openness that has been such a great source of American strength. That has kept out or driven away many of the ambitious immigrants that the United States wants to attract and keep.
Congress has a chance now to recreate a vibrant immigration system, but one that operates within rather than outside the rule of law. The bill has many pieces, and we are only at the beginning of what will be a great national debate. But some of the more sensible proposals include:
• New opportunities for highly-skilled and educated immigrants. U.S. economic progress depends on maintaining its leadership in innovation, yet there are surprisingly few slots available for these immigrants unless they have family ties in the United States. The bill would expand and improve the H-1B visa program for skilled workers. It would eliminate quotas for the most highly educated immigrants, and expand opportunities for others, especially in science and engineering. It would create a new visa for foreign entrepreneurs coming to the United States to start companies. And it would create 120,000 new “merit-based visas” awarded based on education and employment skills.
• A more flexible immigration system in which numbers adjust depending on the strength of the economy. It is self-evident that the United States should be admitting more immigrants when the economy is strong and unemployment is low, as it was in the 1990s, than when the economy is weak and unemployment is high, as it has been in recent years. But rigid quotas and long waits for green cards have meant that immigrants tend to come when their bureaucratic number comes up, not when the economy needs them. As economist Gordon Hanson has written, the only part of the U.S. immigration system that has been responsive to market demands is the illegal part. The Senate proposal would start to change this by adjusting immigration quotas to respond more to market signals. A new program for low-skilled immigrants would fluctuate from 20,000 to 200,000 visas annually depending on labor market demand. H-1B visas could range from 110,000 to 180,000 per year. And the new merit visas could rise to as many as 250,000 annually in a strong economy.
• Reasonable benchmarks for border security. For the past decade, Congress’s approach to border security has been to throw more of everything at the border (agents, technology, fencing, etc.) with little thought to whether those resources were actually doing anything to discourage illegal migration. This bill, however, sets ambitious but achievable targets for apprehending or discouraging illegal border crossers, and for preventing temporary visa entrants from overstaying their visas and remaining in the United States illegally. There are tough issues to resolve in measurement and evaluation, but the bill moves in the right direction by finally holding the administration and the Department of Homeland Security accountable for performance, not promises.
• Workplace verification. The biggest failing the last time Congress did something similar (the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act) was the failure to discourage employers from hiring people not authorized to work in the United States. The new bill would make mandatory the E-Verify system that checks the identity of new employees against Social Security and immigration records. It is not a perfect system, and there will still be a cash market for labor that will elude any such controls. But the bill should make it much harder for anyone who lacks legal status in the United States to find work, greatly reducing the incentive to migrate illegally in the first place.
• A sensible legalization scheme. The promise of legal status for unauthorized immigrants – an estimated 11 million currently – will be the most controversial element of the bill. But the legislation is reasonable and pragmatic. It offers a long temporary status – with the right to work, travel, and be freed from the fear of deportation – for those who come forward. It excludes only those with significant criminal records. It is open to anyone living in the United States before December 31, 2011, a more generous scheme than the 1986 bill and one that will only exclude a small number of very recent migrants. It gives new hope to those who those without criminal records who were deported but are hoping to rejoin family in the United States, allowing them to apply for legal return. And after a decade – and half that for young people and for farmworkers – they can apply for green cards and citizenship.
Unlike so many pieces of legislation in recent years, the bill is a serious, good faith effort by senior members of both parties to solve real problems and develop constructive compromises, not to score political points. Whether such an effort can survive the broader airing that will be required to pass the Senate and the House remains to be seen. But it is a fine start.
Pelosi called Wednesday’s defeat of the Manchin-Toomey amendment ‘disappointing.’
House Democrats will continue to push for gun control legislation despite the Senate’s failure to pass a bipartisan agreement to expand background checks, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday.
“It’s disappointing,” Pelosi said of Wednesday’s defeat of the Manchin-Toomey amendment in the Senate. “But again, it’s going to energize the efforts so that even more attention is paid on the choices made here in Congress and who is on the side of the safety of our children.”
Pelosi said voters should now focus their efforts on the House version of the Toomey-Manchin amendment introduced by Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). The bill calls for expanding checks for commercial gun purchases, including those made at gun shows.
Thompson repeatedly told reporters the Wednesday vote was not going to be the end of gun control legislation in Congress.
“We’ll recalculate and get our bearings and go forward on this,” Thompson said. “What gives me the confidence? It’s the voters that we all represent.”
Thompson said he has had discussions with other members to convince them to add their names to the bill as co-sponsors. But with little appetite to overhaul gun laws among House Republicans, the Democrats will likely need to file a discharge petition to bring the bill to the floor.
“The process on where to go from here is we will be collecting any bipartisan sign up as co-sponsors of the bill, which is already bipartisan… What we want also is a vote,” Pelosi said. The American people can say to the leadership in Congress to Speaker Boehner, ‘Give us a vote.’ As you can see, we’re just not taking no for an answer.”
Protests have erupted in Delhi today demanding justice for the five-year-old girl Delhi girl, who was brutally raped in Gandhi Nagar area, and punishment for policemen for their insensitivity in dealing with the case even as police arrested the main accused from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district. (Condition of five-year-old Delhi rape victim stable)
In a throwback to scenes of December last in the wake of gangrape of a girl in a moving bus, protesters clashed with the police when they tried to break the barricades and enter into the Delhi Police headquarters near the ITO in central Delhi, where the main roads were closed to traffic. People also staged demonstrations at various places in the national capital, including the residences of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
Demonstrations were also held at AIIMS where the girl is undergoingtreatment and outside the Gandhi Nagar police station where policemen allegedly showed laxity in dealing with the case.
The protests started in the morning with a small crowd at police headquarters demanding stringent action against policemen, but as the day progressed, it grew to a few hundreds.
The protesters tried to enter the PHQ at regular intervals by breaking the barricades but a heavy posse of security personnel stationed there prevented them.
Activists of BJP, CPI(M), CPI, AAP, AISF, AIYF, SFI, ABVP and other organisations were part of the protest. There were protests at AIIMS also.
In the afternoon, a group of protesters marched to Shinde’s 2-Krishna Menon Marg residence demanding t
Published April 20, 2013
Xu Mengjia, party secretary of Ya’an city, which administers the area where the quake hit, told China Central Television on Saturday that the casualty count could climb higher.
The quake, which struck shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday, was measured at magnitude-7 by China’s seismological bureau and at 6.6 by the U.S. Geological Survey. It struck near the area where a devastating quake left 90,000 dead or missing and presumed dead five years ago.
The quake — measured by China’s seismological bureau at magnitude-7 and the U.S. Geological Survey at 6.6 — struck the steep hills of Lushan county shortly after 8 a.m. toppling buildings, many of them older brick structures. People ran into the streets in their underwear and wrapped in blankets, according to photos posted online.
The quake’s shallow depth, less than 8 miles, likely magnified the impact. The official Xinhua News Agency said that the quake rattled buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu 70 miles, to the east. It caused the shutdown of the city’s airport for about an hour before reopening, state media said.
Lushan, where the quake struck, is home to 1.5 million people where the fertile Sichuan plain meets foothills that eventually rise to the Tibetan plateau. Known for its mountains, the area is near a well-known preserve for pandas.
Social media users who said they were in Lushan county posted photos of collapsed buildings and reported that water and electricity had been cut off.
A man who answered the phone at the Ya’an city government said telecommunications were cut and that medical and rescue teams are on the way to the area.
“I felt the strong quake this morning in my office. All drawers of the desk opened and some stuff on the table fell on the floor,” said the man, who refused to give his name, as is usual with low-ranking Chinese government officials.
The area lies near the same Longmenshan fault where the devastating 7.9-magnitude quake struck in May 2008, leaving more than 90,000 people dead or missing and presumed dead.
The General Services Administration late Monday announced it is appealing an administrative judge’s March ruling reversing the agency’s year-old decision to remove Paul Prouty as a regional commissioner of the scandal-tarnished Public Buildings Service.
Acting just before an April 15 deadline, GSA agreed to return Prouty to the position he lost with other top officials after disclosure of overspending by the PBS at a 2010training conference held in Las Vegas. Though Prouty, who lives in Denver, Colo., will regain full back pay and benefits while the appeal proceeds, he will be placed on administrative leave due to a determination that his presence in the workplace would be “unduly disruptive to the work environment,” according to GSA.
“GSA has taken strong action against those officials whom we believe were responsible and will continue to do so where appropriate,” said GSA spokeswoman Mafara Hobson. “Over the past year, the agency has saved nearly $30 million in conference and travel spending as a result of strict internal reforms and oversight.”
Through his attorney, Bill Bransford, Prouty declined to comment while the case continues, and has 25 days to respond to GSA’s new decision.
On March 13, Merit Systems Protection Board judge Patricia Miller ruled that Prouty, a 41-year GSA veteran, had been wrongfully dismissed during fallout from an inspector general’s report on an $820,000 conference held for some 300 Western Region employees. The conference was orchestrated by Jeff Neely, a regional commissioner based in Sacramento, Calif., who was subsequently fired.
The embarrassing event was captured on video and featured lavish receptions, commemorative coins, a bicycle assembly drill as a team-building exercise, as well as eight staff trips to Las Vegas to plan the event.
Also forced out were GSA Administrator Martha Johnson and PBS Chief Robert Peck, as well as Portland, Ore.-based Commissioner Robin Graff, Fort Worth, Texas-based Commissioner James Weller and others. Hundreds who attended the Las Vegas event received letters of reprimand. President Obama appointed Dan Tangherlini to serve as acting GSA administrator and begin an effort to restore the agency’s image.
In her reversal of Prouty’s firing, the judge noted that conference “travel and budget authorities were delegated to the regions, which had assigned to them two levels of Senior Executive Service supervisors…. Given the appellant’s higher level in the supervisory chain of command, he had no reason to know the details of the meetings and travel activities,” she said. The agency, she ruled, had failed to establish that Prouty “actually directed or had knowledge of and acquiesced in the misconduct alleged by the agency.”
On the question of who approved creation of coins as employee awards, the judge concluded that the GSA had failed to provide sufficient evidence that Prouty was responsible. “As sworn statements, the testimonies of the appellant, Weller and Graff are entitled to greater probative weight than the summary, unsworn, hearsay conclusions submitted in the OIG report,” she wrote. “Therefore, I find the coins were issued as recognition of the employees’ performance and were not merely impermissible mementos.”
GSA’s decision to appeal Prouty’s reinstatement surprised Joe Moravec, who worked closely with Prouty while serving as acting GSA administrator from 2001 to 2005. He described Prouty as “an outstanding civil servant and proud man who felt the government was trying to ruin him.” He said Prouty became determined to clear his name after his daughter came home from school after news of the GSA scandal broke and asked him, “Are you a crook?”
Moravec says the Obama administration’s response to the scandal devolved into “an old-fashioned political witch hunt. When the president is embarrassed, for whatever reason, the political people have to fall on their swords,” he said, referring to Johnson and Peck. “But a lot of senior career people got hurt who had nothing to do with it.” He warned of a “brain drain at GSA, with morale very low” and GSA “retreating back to a posture in which no one wants to take risks of any sort,” which makes running the agency more difficult.
“It generally takes years,” he said, “for an agency to get back to some kind of balance between being vigilant and responsive while also adding any kind of value to doing the job of government.”
(Image via Flickr user anujbiyani)
Israel is not capable of launching a military strike against Iran, the commander of Iran’s military said Thursday as the country held its annual Army Day parade in Tehran.
Official Iranian news agency Press TV quoted Maj.-Gen. Ataollah Salehi as saying that the Israeli regime was too weak to challenge Iran militarily.
“The Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran gives a swift and crushing response to any aggression by enemies against our country with full preparedness,” he said at the parade, a show of Iranian military might attended by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Salehi stated that Iran would “not hesitate to give a response” to either an Israeli or US attack against Iran.
Published April 18, 2013
April 10, 2013: Activists rally for immigration reform in Los Angeles. (AP)
But, in a letter obtained by FoxNews.com, National ICE Council President Chris Crane said “this legislation again does nothing to resolve that.”
The letter was sent Tuesday to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a key member of the Gang of Eight, shortly before the legislation was formally released. Crane thanked Rubio for meeting with him, a meeting he had long sought, but complained that the bill did not address his concerns.
“In fact, it appears that the security components it does contain focus mostly on the exterior, and rely on the discretion of DHS, even though DHS is in federal court right now for undermining the constitutional rule of law,” Crane wrote, referring to a lawsuit brought by ICE agents.
The proposal, as emphasized by its co-authors, does aim to invest billions in border security — both for a security and fencing plan. In a bid to ease conservative concerns, the bill establishes a set of “triggers” that would have to be met before illegal immigrants currently in the country can apply for a green card.
Those triggers include steps for the Department of Homeland Security to launch a new border security and fencing plan, and achieve high levels of apprehension along high-risk areas on the Mexican border.
But Crane said the Senate legislation should be held until several major issues are addressed — including what he described as “directives” that release “dangerous criminal aliens” back into the community and the Obama administration’s “dangerous abuse” of prosecutorial discretion.
The administration has allowed “prosecutorial discretion” to let the government focus on deporting high-risk illegal immigrants. Officials have said criminal aliens are generally not being released, and that only low-priority individuals are given a reprieve. The administration also issued a directive allowing some illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay.
Critics, though, warn that legalizing the millions of illegal immigrants already in the country without establishing a strict system of interior enforcement will allow the problem to fester all over again.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who has been one of the Senate’s biggest critics of the immigration bill, echoed Crane’s concerns.
“Our interior enforcement needs are almost totally neglected in the Gang’s proposal,” he said in a statement. “Alarmingly, the bill leaves intact the single greatest obstacle to immigration reform: the administration’s abuse of prosecutorial discretion to prevent the enforcement of federal law.”
Sessions is expected to join with Crane and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., for a press conference on the bill Thursday afternoon.
The bill is scheduled to come up for its first hearing on Friday. Rubio has sided with fellow Republicans in saying the bill should get a thorough review on Capitol Hill.
“Our immigration system is broken, and the status quo of having 11 million undocumented people living under de facto amnesty will only continue if we do nothing to solve this problem. This bill marks the beginning of an important debate,” he said.
Rubio described the bill as a “strong conservative effort.”
While the path to citizenship and other provisions draw the most scrutiny from congressional Republicans, the nearly 900-page bill contains a number of other measures — including a new system of temporary visas for low-skill workers and expanded visas for high-skill workers.
The bill, unlike the recently stalled gun control legislation, comes out of the gate with prominent bipartisan backing. Rubio was one of four Republicans drafting the bill, and some other Republicans have expressed a willingness to consider an immigration overhaul, with the goal of leveraging the immigrant workforce to help the economy and cutting red tape.
WASHINGTON — The federal government could pump an additional $7 billion into securing the border with Mexico, the nation’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants could become U.S. citizens in 13 years or less, and the country’s legal immigration system would be fundamentally altered under a bill by a bipartisan group of senators to be filed Tuesday.
The group of senators known as the Gang of Eight have been working on the bill for more than two months and will announce their final measure during a press conference Wednesday. They had planned to release it Tuesday, but Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said they delayed it out of respect for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Details of the bill were described to USA TODAY by Senate aides who requested anonymity because the measure had not yet been filed.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., went on seven talk shows Sunday to explain the broad outline of the bill and immediately faced criticism from Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and others about granting legal status to unauthorized immigrants before fully securing the border. According to the bill, the two processes would move hand in hand.
First, the Department of Homeland Security would have six months to develop a strategy to further secure the nation’s southwest border. The bill provides a wide variety of resources to help do that, including:
• $3 billion to increase manpower and resources, including up to 3,500 Border Patrol agents, grants to local law enforcement agencies, unmanned aerial vehicles, surveillance technology and Department of Defense radar technology.
• Authorizes the deployment of National Guardsmen to help build Border Patrol outposts and monitor the region.
• $1.5 billion to extend the 651 miles of existing fencing across the 1,969-mile border.
Once that plan is developed and submitted to Congress, the nation’s unauthorized immigrants could apply for temporary legal status.
PATH TO CITIZENSHIP
Immigrants would be able to achieve that status — and be known as “Registered Provisional Immigrants” — if they entered the U.S. before Dec. 31, 2011, and maintained continuous physical presence in the country, pass acriminal background check and pay $500 and any outstanding taxes. That temporary status could be renewed six years later with an additional $500 payment.
Meanwhile, all business owners would have to begin checking the immigration status of new hires using the federal E-Verify program, and the government would have to implement a program to track every time a person enters and exits the country.
Homeland Security would then face a big test five years after starting its border security program. The agency will have to prove that it is monitoring 100% of the border, and intercepting 90% of people trying to illegally cross it in “high-risk” areas.
If Homeland Security doesn’t reach those goals, the job would be handed over to a newly-created “Southern Border Security Commission” made up of governors from the four border states – California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – and other border experts appointed by the president and leaders of both parties of Congress.
The commission would receive an additional $2 billion to develop and implement a strategy to reach those goals. But the commission would not need to reach any statistical benchmarks for border security before Registered Provisional Immigrants to begin applying for green cards.
Ten years after the bill is passed, and after paying an additional $1,000 fee, those who have remained under temporary legal status could apply for a green card, and then U.S. citizenship three years later.
When hearing the proposed pathway, Sessions labeled it “amnesty.” But Rubio responded saying they had established a lengthy, arduous, “earned” pathway to citizenship, and that it would actually be easier for unauthorized immigrants to return to their home countries and apply from there.
The bill would also dramatically change the way the U.S. grants visas and green cards for future immigrants. Among the changes:
• Eliminates the diversity visa lottery, which randomly grants up to 55,000 visas a year to people around the globe, most of which go to African countries.
• Ends the practice of allowing U.S. citizens to petition for green cards for their siblings.
• Creates a “merit-based” visa, which awards up to 250,000 visas a year based on a point system that measures their education and employment, among other criteria.
• Increases the cap on the number of H1B visas, which go primarily to college-educated foreigners in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, from 85,000 to 205,000.
• Creates up to 200,000 visas a year, known as
The economy and jobs still are considered the top issues facing the United States today, not guns or immigration, Gallup said Monday.
Twenty-four percent of Americans frequently mention the economy in general, 18 percent say jobs/unemployment, and 11 percent say the deficit, results of the Gallup poll indicated.
The percentage mentioning each of these economic issues is in the same range as has been the case each month so far this year, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said.
Overall, 56 percent of Americans name some economic issue as the nation’s top problem, the lowest such percentage since December 2009, Gallup said. Now, nearly as many name a non-economic issue.
Four percent of Americans mentioning guns as the nation’s top problem, the same as month, Gallup said.
Gallup said 4 percent of Americans named immigration as the top problem, down from the 5 percent who mentioned it in March.
Four percent of Americans this month mention North Korea as the nation’s most important problem, up from 1 percent last month.
Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews conducted with 1,005 adults April 4-7. The martin of error is 4 percentage points.
Source: Copyright UPI 2013
The annual torch-lighting ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl marked the end of Remembrance Day on Monday evening and touched off Israel’s 65th Independence Day celebrations.
There were 14 torch lighters in this year’s ceremony including Danny Shapira, formerly Israel’s chief test pilot, noted historian Muki Tsur, Orthodox feminist and philosophy scholar Tamar Ross and Beduin Achva Academic College president Elian Elkarnoy.
Members of Knesset in attendance included Leader of the Opposition Shelly Yacimovich, Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett and Education Minister Shai Piron. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz was also present.
Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein gave the opening address of the ceremony and lit the first torch of the event. Edelstein emphasized the importance of civility in Israeli political discourse. Edelstein said “Even when we argue we should never desire the destruction of our opponent.”
Armina Ashurov came to the ceremony from Netanya with her mother, niece and nephew. Ashurov made aliya from Azerbaijan 33 years ago when she was one years old with her parents. This is her first time coming to the ceremony. “I am very proud of the state that despite our enemies we survive every year,” she said, adding she feels Israeli and not something else.
Following a day of ceremonies honoring Israel’s fallen soldiersand victims of terror attacks, Israelis began to celebrate the country’s birthday.
Free outdoor concerts were set to be held in cities throughout the country on Monday evening.
Independence Day ceremony Monday night.
President Shimon Peres uploaded a video inviting the general public to take part in Independence Day celebrations to be held Tuesday.
The central Independence Day celebration was scheduled to air from the President’s Residence at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“My dear friends, brothers and sisters. Today we celebrate the 65th Independence Day of the State of Israel, these were 65 miraculous years without halt,” Peres said. “Let’s celebrate together and continue to work, hope and be faithful to our values.”
On Tuesday the weather forecast called for rain in the north and central parts of the country and below seasonable temperatures but Israelis were still expected to visit the country’s parks and nature reserves in the hundreds of thousands and hold barbecues throughout the country.
More than 1.5 million people paid their respects to Israelis fallen on Sunday and Monday in nearly 60 state ceremonies. Israel, including the pre-state Yishuv, has lost 25,
European Internet Users Urge Regulators to "Rein in Google" on Privacy Concerns PR Newswire LONDON, May 19, 2013 LONDON, May 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Internet users have instructed lawyers to press European internet regulators to take robust action to address Google's repeated privacy breaches once and for all and to ensure Google complies with European laws in the future. London-based law firm Olswang has written to the regulators, setting set out the concerns of consumers about Google's consolidation of personal data. The internet giant is pooling data from all of its products, giving it a comprehensive record of each internet user's preferences. Ross McKean, Olswang partner, argues that regulators must do more to ensure that companies stay within the law: "All companies must comply with data protection laws when collecting users' data, and Google is no exception. Despite having received detailed complaints from European regulators about its handling of internet users' personal information, Google seems determined to ignore these and continue its plans to create comprehensive files on consumers, pulling together data from a variety of sources, in many cases without any apparent legal justification. "The maximum fine the Information Commissioner can impose on Google for this action is just half a million pounds. Google makes that much money from its operations in just one country in less than two hours. It simply is not a deterrent." Consumers in the UK have already launched a legal action against Google for breaching their privacy by installing cookies to track their online activities despite specifically stating they did not want to be tracked. Similar actions in France and Spain are being considered. In the United States, the company agreed to pay $22.5million to the US Federal Trade Commission to settle a related action. The company has faced heavy criticism for other breaches, including the illegal gathering of data such as banking details from home computers whilst developing its Street View product. Campaigners like Marc Bradshaw say that enough is enough: "I don't trust Google on privacy. They seem think they can behave however they like because they have nothing to fear from regulators. The regulators need to take extraordinary action to deal with a company determined to ignore users' legal rights. They and government need to ask themselves why Google is doing this so frequently and why it is ignoring the laws of this country. Something must be done to rein in Google and we believe our proposed sanctions for historic and ongoing breaches of privacy should be enforced." The sanctions proposed by the campaigners include: o Clear warnings on Google's search home page explaining how and why data is collected and tracked; o Reversing Google's merger of all data across its services or, if that isn't possible, deleting all illegally merged data, with deletion independently verified; and o A prominent apology to be placed on the Google search home page. Marc Bradshaw continues: "Google is one of the largest companies in the world with huge financial resources and access to the most expensive lawyers around the world. It really shouldn't be down to ordinary people to have to fight to ensure they comply with the law. Regulators must rise to this challenge and rein in Google. If they fail, every internet user in this country will suffer and the right to online privacy could be lost forever." Please do not contact the Olswang Press Office for further information on this statement. Notes to editors Olswang LLP is an international law firm and a European leader in technology, media, telecommunications and real estate. The firm comprises of over 700 people including more than 110 partners, across eight international offices. Olswang is part of a 'best friends' network of leading independent law firms throughout the world. M&A International Global Awards 2013: TMT Law Firm of the Year, Germany M&A International Global Awards 2013: Real Estate Law firm of the Year, Germany World Finance Legal Awards 2013: Best Property Firm in Germany immobilienmanager.AWARD 2012: Category "sharing networks and know how", Germany Belgian Legal Awards 2012: Competition and Antitrust Law Firm of the Year, Belgium Lexis Nexis Taxation Awards 2012: Taxation Team of the Year M&A Awards 2011: Law Firm of the Year JUVE Awards 2011: Real Estate Law Firm of the Year, Germany Chambers Asia Pacific 2011: Corporate Finance Mid-market Firm of the Year Finance Monthly Law Awards 2011: Real Estate Law Firm of the Year, Germany NOA Awards 2010: Outsourcing Advisory of the Year The Sunday Times Best Green Companies 2010 The Law Society Award for Excellence in Environmental Responsibility 2010 JUVE Awards 2010: Media Law Firm of the Year http://www.olswang.com SOURCE Olswang LLP Contact: For more information or to set up an interview please contact:Jonathan Hawker, FTI Consulting, T: +44(0)2
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian government forces backed by Lebanese fighters from the militant group Hezbollah pushed Sunday into parts of a strategic city long held by rebels, according to both an antigovernment activist and pro-government news channels. If the advance holds, it would be a serious setback for opponents of President Bashar al-Assad and further inflame regional tensions.
The battle for Qusayr, Syria, raged on Sunday. A photo from a citizen journalist captured what was said to be the results of military airstrikes and artillery assaults.
The Syrian military hammered the city, Qusayr, on the Lebanon border, with airstrikes and artillery, killing at least 52 people and wounding hundreds as civilians cowered, unable to flee the city, activists said. By day’s end about 60 percent of the city, including the municipal office building, was in army control for the first time in months, activists said.
Syrian state news media said that the army had “restored security and stability” to most of Qusayr, killing many fighters and capturing others. State television said the army had “tightened the noose on the terrorists,” the government’s term for its armed opponents, by attacking from several directions.
The battle for the city, in heavily contested Homs Province, has deepened the involvement of Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict, raising sectarian tensions and fears of a regional conflagration. The fight is viewed by both loyalists and government opponents as a turning point that could, in the words of one activist in Qusayr, “decide the fate of the regime and the revolution.”
“It is one of the hardest days all over Syria,” said Tarek, the activist, who would give only his first name because of security concerns. “If Qusayr is finished, it will be the end of the revolution in Homs.”
Mr. Assad, according to people who have spoken with him, believes that reasserting control in Homs Province is crucial to maintaining control of the string of population centers in western Syria and eventually to military campaigns to retake rebel-held territory in the north and east. Many analysts say it is unlikely that the government will be able to regain control of those areas, but that it could consolidate its hold on the west, leading to a de facto division of the country.
The battle has brought Hezbollah’s role in Syria to the forefront as the war becomes a regional conflict, pitting Shiite-led Iran, the main backer of Mr. Assad and Hezbollah, against the Sunni Muslim states and their Western allies that support the uprising.
Tensions have risen in Lebanon as Syrian rebels have shelled Hezbollah-controlled areas. On Sunday, they hit the Lebanese town of Hermel with Grad missiles, activists said.
Ali, a Shiite from southern Lebanon, said Sunday that one of his relatives was fighting with Hezbollah in Qusayr and reported in a text message: “Things are fine. They are perfect.”
He said he supported Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria because it would deter the rise of Sunni extremist groups like Al Nusra Front among the rebels.
“If we don’t defend our villages,” he said, referring to Shiite villages in Syria, “Al Nusra will be outside our homes the next day.”
Lebanese news media and residents of the Bekaa Valley bordering Syria have reported a recent increase in the funerals of Hezbollah fighters who have been fighting near Qusayr. One resident described Lebanese Shiites in the area as being concerned about relatives recently deployed to Syria by Hezbollah.
“They are soldiers — they have to go,” the resident said.
Though many Lebanese Shiites support Mr. Assad against an uprising in which Sunni extremists are playing an increasing role, there is quiet consternation that the Syrian conflict is growing more bloody and that Hezbollah guerrillas are being sent to battle fellow Arab Muslims in a country where they have many ties, rather than fighting their primary foe, Israel.
Perhaps seeking to address such concerns, Hezbollah, which depends on Mr. Assad for its shipments of weapons from Iran, recently acknowledged its military role in Syria more openly. The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has said the group would not allow Qusayr, or the Syrian government, to fall to a rebellion that it views as being used by Israel and the West to their advantage.
Anne Barnard reported from Beirut, and Hala Droubi from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut.
The White House’s chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups, a senior White House official said Sunday.
That disclosure has prompted a debate over whether the president should have been notified at that time.
Associated PressWhite House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, shown in 2010, said Sunday the Obama administration wouldn’t cooperate with “partisan fishing expeditions.”
In the week of April 22, the Office of the White House Counsel and its head, Kathryn Ruemmler, were told by Treasury Department attorneys that an inspector general’s report was nearing completion, the White House official said. In that conversation, Ms. Ruemmler learned that “a small number of line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain…organizations by using words like ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot,’ ” the official said.
President Barack Obama said last week he learned about the controversy at the same time as the public, on May 10, when an IRS official revealed it to a conference of lawyers. The president’s statement drew criticism, focusing attention on his management style and whether he has kept himself sufficiently informed about the agencies under his authority.
Others, including veterans of previous scandals, said the counsel—whose role is to advise the president on all legal matters concerning his job and the White House—was right to avoid telling Mr. Obama about the audit’s early findings. Doing so could have caused a new storm by creating the appearance of meddling in an independent investigation that hadn’t yet concluded, former officials said.
The White House, which declined to make Ms. Ruemmler available for comment Sunday, wouldn’t say whether she shared the information with anyone else in the senior administration staff.
The new detail doesn’t help answer some fundamental questions about the IRS scandal, including how it began and who, if anyone, in the administration was aware of the severity of the inspector general’s probe before last November’s presidential election.
Instead, it focuses attention on the White House’s handling of the matter, which has blown up into the kind of crisis that could persist.
When findings are so potentially damaging, the president should immediately be informed, said Lanny Davis, who served as a special counsel to President Bill Clinton.
Of the controversies dogging Mr. Obama, including the terrorist assault in Benghazi, Libya, and the Justice Department’s seizure of phone records of Associated Press journalists, the IRS case “is the most nuclear issue of all,” Mr. Davis said. It involves the “misuse of the IRS” and “anyone who knew about this a few weeks ago and didn’t tell the president shouldn’t be in the White House,” Mr. Davis said.
On the Sunday political talk shows, the White House rejected suggestions that the president should have taken action before the inspector general’s office released its report May 14, a few days after the probe’s findings were disclosed in news accounts.
Dan Pfeiffer, a White House senior adviser, said on NBC that the matter “was handled in the exact appropriate way. As I said, we do not ever do anything to give the appearance of interference in an investigation. What would be an actual scandal would be if we somehow were involved [in such interference]…”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was notified in a March 2013 meeting with the Treasury inspector general for the IRS that an audit was “forthcoming,” according to the Treasury Department. But at that meeting, the inspector general didn’t provide details of his findings, the Treasury said.
Jack Quinn, who served as White House counsel under former President Bill Clinton, said Ms. Ruemmler’s office acted correctly in not sharing the information directly with the president.
If she had instead gotten “involved and called people over to the White House for a full briefing to know all the details, you know what we’d be talking about now? We’d be talking about whether she had tried to interfere with the IG’s investigation,” Mr. Quinn said.
John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under Mr. Clinton, said: “The worst thing is if you do anything that is perceived to be interfering with an independent investigation” especially if it isn’t fully complete. “That gets you in such trouble your head spins.”
Republicans are expected to zero in on the question of who in the Obama administration’s senior ranks knew about the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, especially before the November election last year.
Republican lawmakers on House oversight committees are pressing the investigation, with more hearings set for this week.
“Exactly who in the administration knew what about the IRS targeting is one of the key outstanding questions,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif), chairman of a House oversight committee that plans to hold a hearing Wednesday on the matter, in an emailed statement.
“In waiting so long to address wrongdoing and inform the public, President Obama and his administration seem more preoccupied with having deniability than quickly addressing serious wrongdoing,” Mr. Issa added.
In his comments Sunday, Mr. Pfeiffer suggested that more personnel changes could come at the IRS, after last week’s ouster of acting commissioner Steven Miller by the president. Mr. Pfeiffer also went on the offensive, saying that White House cooperation with GOP investigators has its limits and that Mr. Obama won’t take part in “partisan fishing expeditions.”
—John D. McKinnon contributed to this article.Write to Peter Nicholas at email@example.com
By MEG HANDLEY
The Obama administration released its latest version of long-awaited rules proposed to govern hydraulic fracturing on public lands Thursday, angering environmental groups who say the government is selling out to the oil industry at the expense of public health.
The Interior Department’s updated proposal, now open for public comments for the next 30 days, kept key components of the previous draft rules released in May 2012, but backpedaled on requiring companies to disclose the ingredients of fracking fluid, a cocktail of water, sand, and chemicals injected into well heads to break up shale rock and release trapped oil and gas.
While environmental groups argue the ingredients of fracking fluids should be publicly available for health reasons, the industry claims the formulations are proprietary information and publicly disclosing them would jeopardize a firm’s potential competitive advantage.
With the new rules, firms would be required to log most ingredients on an industry-operated web site called FracFocus. While operators would not be required to submit components they consider “trade secret” information, the Bureau of Land Management reserved the right to require operators to submit the claimed trade secret information in cases where disputes arise.
The revised rules disappointed green groups who had hoped for stricter disclosure rules on the chemicals oil and gas companies use in fracking, as well as greater protections for groundwater supplies surrounding well sites.
“This was a big backslide from the proposal last year,” says Jessica Ennis, legislative associate at Earthjustice. “More of the oil and gas industry’s concerns were addressed than the concerns from the environmental and public health community.”
Furthermore, while having companies disclose all chemicals except those considered trade secrets on FracFocus might seems like a consolation prize for green groups and public health advocates, many flaws exist with that approach, Ennis argues.
For starters, the site is industry funded, it’s difficult to navigate, and doesn’t allow users to aggregate well data in their region, she says, meaning they have to search well by well to learn about the composition of frack fluids used.
“The draft proposal would allow the industry to continue hiding behind a veil of secrecy,” Ennis says.
The industry itself criticized the rules,too, arguing that regulation from the federal government would be duplicative of existing rules by states, which have historically regulated energy production.
“The states are the best regulators for the industry,” Chris Faulkner, CEO of TK-based Breitling Energy Companies, said in an E-mail. “The Department of Interior doesn’t need to take on another layer of regulation when they have no personnel or budget to support it.”
Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy said in statement: “BLM’s rule is a solution in search of a problem. States are much better suited to regulate hydraulic fracturing and have done an effective job. The new rule is duplicative to state regulation and the Department of Interior’s rule fails to provide a credible rationale as to why another set of regulations are needed.”
But the hodgepodge of state rules, some of which are stricter or more lenient than others, is exactly why the federal government needs to step in and provide a baseline for regulation of the controversial practice, Ennis argues.
“Some states have highlights in their regs, and every state has lowlights in their regulations,” Ennis says. “The BLM should establish a minimum federal floor. As more and more states are dealing with fracking now, we were hoping [the BLM rules] would be the gold standard, but that’s not how it played out.”
WASHINGTON (AP) – A senior White House adviser insists President Barack Obama learned the Internal Revenue Service had been targeting tea party groups “when it came out in the news.
DES MOINES, Iowa It’s all about the odds, and one lone ticket in Florida has beaten them all by matching each of the numbers drawn for the highest Powerball jackpot in history at an estimated $590.5 million, lottery officials said Sunday.
EAST GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Graduation day was bittersweet for students at Hofstra University Sunday, as students carried heavy hearts for a classmate who was shot and killed in a violent home invasion.
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Armed men broke into a U.N. outpost in a buffer zone separating Israel and Syria and abducted three U.N military observers, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said Thursday.
Herve Ladsous told a group of reporters that the unarmed observers were held by the Syrian men for about five hours and released unharmed Wednesday morning.
It was the third abduction of U.N. peacekeepers in the tense region since March and underlined again their vulnerability in the spillover of the conflict in Syria, which is now in its third year.
Ladsous called the latest abduction “a very serious incident … that illustrates the very difficult conditions that now prevail” in and around the area separating Syrian and Israeli forces which is supposed to be free of armed groups.
The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the abduction of the three observers by “a group of anti-government armed elements” who also looted the observation post. In a statement Thursday evening, the council called on all Syrian parties to cooperate with U.N. peacekeepers, ensure their security, and enable them to operate freely.
Ladsous said that early Wednesday morning, a group of unknown unarmed men broke into U.N. Observation Post 52 in the area of separation and abducted three members of Observer Group Golan, which is part of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, known as UNTSO.
They were released unharmed about five hours later and returned safely to the observation post, where they were met by the head of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, known as UNDOF, Ladsous said.
UNTSO, the first U.N. peacekeeping mission, was established in May 1948 to help supervise a truce after an Arab-Israeli war that followed the breakup of Palestine into two states. According to the U.N., its military observers, numbering about 150, have remained in the Middle East to monitor cease-fires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other U.N. peacekeeping operations.
UNDOF was established in May 1974 following intensified firing on the Israel-Syria border after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war to monitor the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and Syria wants the land returned in exchange for peace. It currently has a little over 1,000 troops.
Ladsous, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, did not say where the three military observers were from but the media in New Zealand reported that one was a New Zealander.
Ladsous said the U.N. has temporarily adjusted the operational activities of UNDOF “but I believe that implementing the mandate of 1974 remains crucial for the whole region.”
The first abduction — of 21 Filipino peacekeepers from UNDOF — on March 6 was by the Syrian rebel group, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which held them for three days. Another group of four Filipino peacekeepers from UNDOF was abducted by the Yarmouk rebels on May 7 and released Sunday.
Ladsous said it wasn’t known which Syrian group abducted the three UNTSO observers.
The buffer zone between Syria and Israel had been largely quiet for four decades, but tensions have increased as the conflict in Syria has escalated. One result is that several countries that have contributed troops to UNDOF have pulled out their soldiers.
The Philippine foreign secretary has said he would recommend withdrawing Filipinos from UNDOF but the final decision is up to the president.
Ladsous said the U.N. his trying to keep the remaining troops.
“We are in close contact with the troop contributors with a view to retaining their active support because they are crucial,” he said.
A U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of an announcement, said about 150 troops from Fiji will replace Japanese and Croatian contingents that left.
Ladsous reiterated that his department is doing contingency planning for a possible U.N. peacekeeping operation in Syria after the fighting ends, working in close consultation withLakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League envoy.
President moves to quell furore over IRS’s scrutiny of conservative groups by firing acting commissioner Steven Miller
Barack Obama fired the most senior tax official in the US on Wednesday in an effort to bring a speedy end to a scandal over the targeting of Tea Party organisations and other conservative groups for special scrutiny.
Obama, speaking at the White House, described the conduct of the employees at the Internal Revenue Service office in Cincinnati, Ohio, as “inexcusable”.
The president said that the Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, had asked the acting commissioner of the IRS, Steven Miller, to resign in the light of a critical report from the inspector general. “Americans are right to be angry about it. I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this in any agency, especially in the IRS,” Obama said.
The inspector general’s report found that ineffective management at the IRS had allowed agents in the Cincinnati office to target conservative groups inappropriately for more than 18 months. Officials had picked out groups with the words Tea Party or Patriots in their titles and subjected their requests for tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny.
“The IRS has to operate with absolute integrity,” Obama said in his White House statement, saying he would hold those responsible accountable.
“Today secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS because, given the controversy surrounding this audit, it is important to institute new leadership that can help us restore confidence going forward,” Obama said.
He added that new safeguards would be put in place to prevent similar abuse in future and he would work with Congress to fix the problem.
The Obama administration over the last five years has successfully managed to avoid a damaging series of sackings and resignations. Miller is one of the biggest victims yet of political scandal.
The move came as the White House battled on three fronts – the IRS, the seizure of phone records of the Associated Press and the Benghazi killings. The administration hopes that by acting to remove Miller, it will at least be able to quell the furore over the IRS.
In a sign that the firing may dampen the row, Republican congressman Darrell Issa, a leading critic of the Obama administration, described on CNN the sacking as “an extremely good first step” and that Obama had set the right tone.
The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, was less upbeat, saying: “More than two years after the problem began, and a year after the IRS told us there was no problem, the president is beginning to take action. If the president is as concerned about this issue as he claims, he’ll work openly and transparently with Congress to get to the bottom of the scandal – no stonewalling, no half-answers, no withholding of witnesses.”
Miller, in an effort to save his job, had earlier identified two employees in Cincinnati as being “overly aggressive” in handling requests for conservative groups.
Holder, who has already announced an FBI investigation into the affair, told the House judiciary committee that people would be held accountable. “As of Friday last week, I ordered that a criminal investigation begin … the facts will take us wherever they take us,” he said.
All 45 Republican senators signed a letter to Obama asking his administration to fully comply with the congressional investigation into the IRS.
“The American people deserve to know what actions will be taken to ensure those who made these policy decisions at the IRS are being held fully accountable and more importantly what is being done to ensure that this kind of raw partisanship is fully eliminated from these critically important non-partisan government functions,” they said.
House speaker John Boehner, at his weekly press conference, echoed that sentiment. “My question isn’t about who’s going to resign, my question is, who’s going to jail over this scandal?”
Former White House adviser David Axelrod, in a television interview, insisted those in the IRS responsible had not been put up to it by the White House. “Also, one prima facie evidence that nobody political was involved in this, was that if anybody political was involved in this, they would say: ‘Are you kidding me? Are you nuts? What are you doing?’” Axelrod said.
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(WASHINGTON) — Then CIA-Director David Petraeus objected to the final talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used five days after the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, because he wanted to see more detail publicly released, including a warning issued from the CIA about plans for a break-in at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, a newly released email shows.
Under pressure in the investigation that continues eight months after the attacks, the White House on Wednesday released 99 pages of emails and a single page of hand-written notes made by Petraeus’ deputy, Mike Morell, after a meeting at the White House the day before Rice’s appearance. On that page, Morell scratched out from the CIA’s early drafts of talking points mentions of al-Qaida, the experience of fighters in Libya, Islamic extremists and a warning to the Cairo embassy on the eve of the attacks of calls for a demonstration and break-in by jihadists.
“No mention of the cable to Cairo, either?” Petraeus wrote after receiving Morell’s edited version, developed after an intense back-and-forth among Obama administration officials. “Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this, then.”
A senior U.S. intelligence official told reporters Wednesday that Morell made the changes to the talking points because of his own concerns that they could prejudge an FBI investigation into who was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The official said Morell also didn’t think it was fair to disclose the CIA’s advance warning without giving the State Department a chance to explain how it responded.
The official spoke on a condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the emails on the record. Petraeus declined to be interviewed.
Critics have highlighted an email by then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that expressed concern that any mention of prior warnings or the involvement of al-Qaida would give congressional Republicans ammunition to attack the administration in the weeks before the presidential election. Fighting terror was one of President Barack Obama’s re-election strong points.
That email was among those released by the White House, sent by Nuland on Sept. 14 at 7:39 p.m. to officials in the White House, State Department and CIA. “I have serious concerns about all the parts highlighted below, and arming members of Congress to start making assertions to the media that we ourselves are not making because we don’t want to prejudice the investigation,” she wrote.
The emails were shared with Congress earlier this year as a condition for allowing the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director to move forward.
The general counsel for the national intelligence director’s office briefed members and staff from the Senate Intelligence Committee and leadership on the emails on Feb. 15 at a session in which staff could take notes. A similar briefing took place March 19 for the House Intelligence Committee and leadership staff.
An interim report last month from the Republicans on five House committees criticized the Obama administration and mentioned the emails, but the issue exploded last Friday when new details emerged.
Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee read some of the emails aloud last Wednesday at a hearing with State Department officials. The next day, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called on the White House to release the emails.
A Boehner spokesman said Wednesday the emails released by the White House only confirm the interim report.
“They contradict statements made by the White House that it and the State Department only changed one word in the talking points,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement. “The seemingly political nature of the State Department’s concerns raises questions about the motivations behind these changes and who at the State Department was seeking them.”
Congressional officials selectively shared parts of the emails, and new revelations emerged Friday that showed State Department and other administration officials pressing for references to terror groups and prior warnings be deleted, expressing concerns about the political implications.
The White House released the full set of emails sent to Congress under the pressure in hopes of putting an end to the controversy that has dogged the administration for months. The White House says congressional Republicans have misrepresented some of them.
The emails released by the White House were partially blacked out, including to remove names of senders and recipients who are career employees at the CIA and elsewhere. The names were replaced with references to the office where they worked.
The talking points were used by Rice in her appearance on five news shows on Sunday, Sept. 16, and also sent to Congress. An official with the CIA’s office of congressional affairs whose name was blacked out sent the final version to Petraeus on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 12:51 p.m.
“As mentioned last night, State had voiced strong concerns with the original text due to the criminal investigation,” the official wrote.
Petraeus responded at 2:27 saying he’d prefer not to even use them in that form.
But he said the decision was up to the White House’s national security staff.
“NSS’s call, to be sure; however, this is certainly not what Vice Chairman (Dutch) Ruppersberger was hoping to get for unclas use. Regardless, thanks for the great work.”
Ruppersberger is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
At a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said there has been “very, very substantial progress” in the investigation into who was responsible for the twin nighttime attacks in Benghazi. Earlier this month, the FBI said it was seeking information on three people who were on the grounds of the diplomatic mission when it was attacked. The FBI posted photographs of the three people and said they may be able to provide information to help in the investigation.
Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday’s release of the emails was a “wise choice”
Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.
Published May 15, 2013
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan told Sulaiman Abu Ghaith that he could cause himself problems by choosing attorney Stanley Cohen to defend him against charges that he conspired against Americans in his role as al-Qaida’s chief spokesman.
Cohen was indicted last year in Syracuse, N.Y., on federal charges that he failed to file individual and corporate tax returns between 2005 and 2010 and committed other tax-related violations. A federal prosecutor in Manhattan told Kaplan that additional charges may be filed against Cohen.
Kaplan asked Abu Ghaith a series of questions designed to make sure the 47-year-old defendant understood the hazards of rejecting three public defenders to have Cohen and another attorney represent him.
The judge said he wanted to make clear to Abu Ghaith that Cohen “has interests that are potentially in conflict with your own.”
He also told him it was “quite possibly ill advised” for a defendant to proceed with an attorney who faces criminal charges himself, and he noted that Cohen might not be able to obtain security clearance from the government to view classified materials necessary to prepare for trial.
Abu Ghaith insisted he wanted Cohen to represent him after his brother in Kuwait hired the veteran civil rights attorney.
“I understood he’s very enthusiastic about this case,” Abu Ghaith told Kaplan. “I thank you very much but I’ve made my decision.”
The judge set a hearing for next week to further explore the legal issue. He told the government to submit legal papers explaining its position on whether Abu Ghaith can be represented by Cohen and whether his understanding of his rights was sufficient to switch lawyers.
Abu Ghaith has pleaded not guilty to charges that he urged the death of Americans after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Prosecutors say evidence against Abu Ghaith includes a widely circulated video of him in early October 2001 sitting with bin Laden and current al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri and another in which he calls on every Muslim to join the fight against the United States, declaring that “jihad is a duty.”
Cohen said outside court that he believes he was chosen because of his extensive contacts throughout the Middle East and his ability to travel and speak with witnesses where other lawyers cannot.
“I’ve probably done more terrorism cases — real and fake — than any other lawyer in the United States,” he said.
By Kim Dixon and Matt Spetalnick. WASHINGTON | Wed May 15, 2013 8:06pm EDT. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington’s top tax official was fired on Wednesday as President Barack Obama sought to stem a rising tide of criticism in a scandal over the …
The acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service was forced to resign Wednesday in connection with the inappropriate targeting of conservative political groups.
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Treasury Department Inspector General issued a report Tuesday on the Internal Revenue Service’s focus on conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
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THE FIX | The president is in the midst of one of the worst weeks of his presidency.
The IRS provided the documents to the investigative-reporting organization, potentially violating federal guidelines.
The report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration described in detail the use of “inappropriate criteria” to screen political advocacy groups. An IRS unit created a “lookout” list for organizations with keywords such as “tea party” or “patriot” in their names. Organizations faced months of delays in getting their applications approved.
President Obama on Tuesday called the report’s findings “intolerable and inexcusable,” adding that he has directed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew “to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again.”
IRS officials told the inspector general that they had used the keywords as shorthand to efficiently manage a deluge of new political advocacy groups, but that explanation was rejected by the inspector general’s office.
“Developing and using criteria that focuses on organization names and policy positions instead of the activities . . . does not promote public confidence that tax-exempt laws are being adhered to impartially,” said the report, which Inspector General J. Russell George issued.
The report did not find evidence that the actions were motivated by partisan interests. IRS officials told investigators that they did not consult anyone outside the agency about the screening.
The watchdog report is likely to stoke growing outrage over the agency’s actions. No IRS employees involved in the decisions have been disciplined, and one has been promoted, said House Oversight and Government Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), whose panel prompted the audit.
“We still do not know why the targeting began, how extensive it was, who initiated it and who knew about it,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a member of the oversight committee. “The IRS must be held accountable to the American people, which requires a full investigation.”
In a written response attached to the watchdog report, Joseph Grant, acting commissioner of tax-exempt and government entities at the IRS, conceded that “some errors occurred” but pledged that “significant improvements in this area are in place and we are confident that what transpired here will not recur.”
The Justice Department seized records of 20 separate phone lines used by reporters or editors for the Associated Press, in a move that officials familiar with the case said was intended to gather information for a leak investigation involving a May 2012 AP …
A top House Republican vowed to seek additional testimony on the handling of last year’s assault in Libya while a prominent senator called for a special committee to investigate.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to the cusp of power in an election in which Pakistanis braved Taliban intimidation to cast ballots.
Turkish officials said the nine people detained in the attacks that killed 46 people had been linked to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, a claim that Syria denies.
Two game-changing politicians entered the June presidential race, angering the governing establishment.
Osamu Shimomura, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, who as a teenager lived through the dropping of an atomic bomb, recently visited the birthplace of the atomic era.
Despite protesters forcing the government to resign, the election has aroused little interest or discussion.
The island’s consumer electronics industry has run into serious trouble due to declining personal computer sales.
A researcher in the Netherlands wants to show the world — including potential donors — that meat created in a laboratory is a reality.
Rafael Nadal defeated Stanislas Wawrinka, 6-2, 6-4, in a dominant clay-court performance.
After building up surely an unsurpassable record of team management, Alex Ferguson walked out of the Manchester United stadium for the final time on Sunday.
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(National Review) – Democratic senator Max Baucus is retiring because he is “fed up” with the Affordable Care Act, according to his Republican colleague Chuck Grassley. Speaking at Friday night’s Lincoln Day dinner in Iowa, Grassley told the audience the Montana senator is leaving office ”because he’s so fed up with the possibility of the [...]
(National Review) – Democratic senator Max Baucus is retiring because he is “fed up” with the Affordable Care Act, according to his Republican colleague Chuck Grassley. Speaking at Friday night’s Lincoln Day dinner in Iowa, Grassley told the audience the Montana senator is leaving office ”because he’s so fed up with the possibility of the [...]
(CNS News) – The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight has thrown down an investigative gauntlet to the Internal Revenue Service, demanding that the agency hand over by next Wednesday every communication in its records that includes the words “tea party,” “patriot” or “conservative.” The committee is also demanding of the IRS that by [...]
(Breitbart) – An Inspector General report indicates that IRS officials knew as early as 2011 that conservative groups were being targeted for additional scrutiny in determing tax-exempt status, contradicting previous statements by the agency. On Friday, the IRS admitted to and apologized for targeting groups that had the words “Tea Party” or “patriots” in their [...]
(TeaParty.org) – The Day the IRSberg Officially Crashed, Shattering the Remnants of America’s Faith in Government. Perhaps it is best to call it the “iceberg that destroyed America” as that’s exactly what Americans are thinking as they view the recent deceitful and corrupt actions of the IRS. In the latest scandal to rock Washington, the [...]
(TeaParty.org) – Jewish groups and Tea Party organizations no doubt were the biggest threat to the Obama regime, how else can one explain these two profiles being targets of the administration? These unfolding events are shocking and disturbing, not only was there viewpoint discrimination based on a political platform, but also anti-Semitism based on one’s [...]
ATTORNEY: Whistleblower Greg Hicks Told To Take Desk Job or Be Terminated FAX BLAST SPECIAL: Impeach Obama NOW!
Fabrication power to the People! Why no government can stop the 3D printing revolution (NaturalNews) – The 3D printing revolution has arrived, and it’s freaking out governments around the world because distributed, non-centralized fabrication technology threatens their monopolistic controls over physical objects. For a few thousand dollars, anyone can purchase a 3D printer (an “additive” [...]
(WFPL) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is calling on the Obama administration to conduct a government-wide probe in the wake of an admission by the Internal Revenue Service that it targeted conservative groups. The IRS apologized on Friday for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see [...]
(Breitbart) – In the White House’s latest efforts at transparency, the administration announced to reporters that it would brief reporters on the latest shocking developments about the Benghazi situation … behind closed doors. Politico reports that the meeting started at approximately 12:45 PM ET, and that it moved the normal press briefing to 1:45 PM [...]
(Fox News) – Tea Party leaders refused to accept an apology from the IRS Friday in which the agency acknowledged that it inappropriately flagged conservative groups for additional review during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. “It is a sad day when our government turns against its people like [...]
(ABC News) – When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story. ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the [...]
(CBS) – Illinois State Police say they’re trying to deal with a huge backlog of applications for Firearms Owner Identification cards. The agency received more than 28,000 applications for cards during April alone. FAX BLAST SPECIAL: Don’t Let The Government Take Your Guns! Protect Your Second Amendment Rights! That’s on top of an existing backlog [...]
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American Center for Law and Justice
Christian Science Monitor
USA TODAY-by Gregory Korte-18 hours ago
The scandal broke Friday when Lerner apologized for how the agency handled Tea Party-related groups’ tax-exempt applications. Her apology …
Raw Story-by David Edwards-2 hours ago
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Senior officials at the Internal Revenue Service were aware that its agents were targeting Tea Partygroups as early as 2011, Fox News …
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Christian Science Monitor-by Patrik Jonsson-18 hours ago
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A new disclosure contradicts repeated public statements by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman that tea party groups in 2011 were not …
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