September 2013

Sep 24, 2013

Terror Group Al Shabaab Pushed to Recruit Americans

With Pete Williams, NBC News

Al Shabaab was blamed for two bombings in the capital of Uganda two years ago that killed 75 people, and attacks against the government of Somalia. The group has tried to entice westerners to join, but the Somali-American community has made efforts to stop their recruitment.

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Fighting Continues for Fourth Day at Kenyan Mall

By Nicholas Kulish, Jeffrey Gettleman, and Alan Cowell, The New York Times

A bloody standoff at a Kenyan shopping mall entered its fourth confused day on Tuesday as government forces said they were picking off the militants who stormed it, while a group claiming to be connected to the attackers said militants inside the mall were still resisting the government assault.

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Budget Battle Blame

With John Harwood, CNBC

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Sep 23, 2013

U.S. Disability Rolls Swell in a Rough Economy

By Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post

The huge mills along the Penobscot River roared virtually nonstop for more than a century, turning the dense Maine forests into paper and lifting the thousands of men who did the hot and often backbreaking work into the middle class.

But the mills have struggled in recent years, shedding thousands of jobs. Now this area, whose well-paying jobs provided an economic foothold for generations of blue-collar workers, has become a place where an unusually large share of the unemployed are seeking economic shelter on federal disability rolls.

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The Government Versus Small Businesses

By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

Federal immigration agents showed up on Valentine's Day and turned Mark Sellew's life upside down. They wanted his employment records. They wanted to see if the workers at his nursery were legal. And to Sellew's horror, 140 of them couldn't prove it. If he wanted to stay in business, he had to dump them—as soon as he could—just as his busiest landscaping season was approaching and his need for manual labor was at its highest.

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Obama Wants "Action" From Iran Ahead of Talks

By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

President Obama is looking for "concrete action" from Iran before discussing any potential relief from crippling international sanctions imposed since 2006 to constrain Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.

The White House declined Friday to describe the “actions” sought by the administration as a test of Iran’s seriousness under newly elected President Hassan Rouhani, but Obama’s advisers re-emphasized that “a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to the United States.”

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Kenya Mall Carnage Shows Shabab Resilience

By Nicholas Kulish, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

The ferocious armed political movement known as the Shabab is on the ropes in Somalia, losing territory and influence in its home country.

Yet this weekend the Shabab showed that they are as dangerous as ever as a terrorist force, keeping Kenyan forces at bay through two days at the Westgate mall in Nairobi even as the militants mounted a coordinated attack against African Union forces in Mogadishu, according to senior American counterterrorism and diplomatic officials.

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Budget Drama Unfolds Again, With Obamacare Center Stage

Susan Davis, USA Today

A political drama unfolds in the nation's capital this week as Republicans attempt to dismantle President Obama's health care law, using two budget deadlines that threaten a government shutdown and a national default as their leverage.

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Sep 20, 2013

Iran Said to Seek a Nuclear Accord to End Sanctions

By Thomas Erdbrink and Mark Landler, The New York Times

Iran’s leaders, seizing on perceived flexibility in a private letter from President Obama, have decided to gamble on forging a swift agreement over their nuclear program with the goal of ending crippling sanctions, a prominent adviser to the Iranian leadership said Thursday.

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What Can the Colorado Recall Tell Us About 2014?

By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

Last week, Republicans successfully recalled two sitting Democratic state legislators who supported gun control legislation, including one from a district that gave Obama almost 60 percent of the vote. In the aftermath of this surprising outcome, many Democrats blamed “voter suppression,” arguing that an inability to vote by mail disenfranchised their base. Meanwhile, Republicans involved in the recall fight called it a victory for those who “will not tolerate an imposition of un-checked government over-reach on their lives.” Moreover say those Republicans, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who signed the gun legislation into law, will be extremely vulnerable in 2014.

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House Approves GOP Plan to Slash Food Stamp Funding

By Ed O'Keefe and Niraj Choksi, The Washington Post

House Republicans narrowly approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s food stamp program Thursday that would slash about $39 billion in funding over the next decade, cut aid to about 4 million Americans in the next few years and shift the burden of providing aid to some of the nation’s poor to state governments.

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The GOP’s Suicide Squeeze

By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

During the periodic budget fits that have seized Washington for the last several years, President Obama and his team have made a consistent claim about negotiating with Republicans. No matter what the president tries, or whom he negotiates with, the White House can never make progress because congressional Republicans are controlled by a hard-right faction that refuses to compromise or accept anything less than total victory. According to Obama, that is what killed the famous “grand bargain” talks with House Speaker John Boehner in the summer of 2011, and it's what killed the so-called Supper Club negotiations on the budget this summer with Republican senators. Now the GOP is handing the president more evidence for his claim. Republicans, including staunch conservatives, admit that a small band of ultrapure conservatives have forced the larger congressional GOP membership into a witless act of blundering self-destruction.

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