Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman’

Rep. Gowdy To Lead New Benghazi Committee In First Public Hearing

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 17 2014

i
i

Rep. Trey Gowdy

Mark Wilson/Getty Images


hide caption

itoggle caption

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rep. Trey Gowdy

Rep. Trey Gowdy

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Sept. 11 attacks two years ago on an outpost in Benghazi, Libya, will get a fresh look by House lawmakers Wednesday. The attacks took the lives of four Americans including a U.S. ambassador.

It will be the first public hearing since Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of the Select Committee on Benghazi and named Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the chairman in May.

Gowdy is a Tea Party Republican who has made a name for himself as a hard-charging conservative, but he’s promised to take the politics out of his Benghazi committee and simply focus on how the deaths could have been prevented. Wednesday’s hearing is expected to focus on U.S. preparedness and how safety has improved since for diplomats.

The two-term congressman’s quirky, and ever-changing, hairdos have also gotten him noticed. Now that Gowdy can add chairman to his title, his fellow conservatives have some playful advice for him.

“Well, the first thing he needs to do is he needs to get a haircut and stay with it. That’s going to be the key. He changes his hair so much nobody can recognize him,” says his fellow Republican representative Devin Nunes of California.

Gowdy is aware people poke fun, but when it comes to his committee, he’s laser-focused on convincing the public it will be run fairly — without bias or personal ambition.

“Hair, suit, whether I shave or not, it’s got nothing to do with me. Just watch the process,” said Gowdy.

Gowdy already sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has had several briefings and hearings of its own on Benghazi. That’s one reason Nunes says this new committee is a perfect fit for Gowdy.

“I think he’s a good choice because he’s a junior member that has a solid professional background and he’s been doing the work. Not only on the oversight committee but also on this Benghazi working group, so he’s very well aware of what’s left to be done,” Nunes said.

i
i

Gowdy questions a witness during a May 2013 House committee hearing on Benghazi.

Cliff Owen/AP


hide caption

itoggle caption

Cliff Owen/AP

Gowdy questions a witness during a May 2013 House committee hearing on Benghazi.

Gowdy questions a witness during a May 2013 House committee hearing on Benghazi.

Cliff Owen/AP

Gowdy had a stellar law career before coming to Congress. He was a federal prosecutor in the 1990s. He was elected three times as South Carolina’s 7th Circuit solicitor in the 2000s. He then rode the Republican Tea Party wave of 2010 into Congress.

Gowdy has a habit of slipping into that prosecutor mode often, like when he told reporters what he hopes to hear from witnesses who testify before his panel.

“If they have knowledge about the pre-, during, or after they would be on the list. I would be committing legal malpractice if I didn’t talk to a witness who had knowledge,” said Gowdy.

He’s built a reputation on railing against the Obama administration on everything from its health care law to the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups. This has prompted some of Gowdy’s critics to raise concerns that he’s more interested in running the panel like a trial rather than focusing on how future attacks can be prevented.

South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney is a friend of Gowdy’s and says if the truth exonerates the Obama administration, Gowdy will be its “largest cheerleader.” But he warns witnesses to be forthcoming with all the information.

“I think Trey will be very fair with people and very evenhanded with people until he starts to get that sense that maybe they’re not telling him the whole answer. And when that happens then, yeah, I don’t want to be on the other side of that conversation from him,” says Mulvaney.

Like many Democrats, Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia is willing to give Gowdy the benefit of the doubt — at least for now — when it comes to the Benghazi hearings. But he says the chairman has an important choice to make.

“He can be nothing more than a demagogic attack dog for partisan purposes, or he can actually elevate the conversation and try to illuminate what happened in Benghazi and how best we can prevent that from recurring. That’s really his existential truth in accepting this role,” Connolly says.

Gowdy, though, says he wants to leave the country with only one impression when his work is complete.

“I care very much about the process; you are welcome to draw different conclusions, but I don’t want there to be any ambiguity about whether the process was fair,” he says.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/16/349033835/rep-gowdy-to-lead-new-benghazi-committee-in-first-public-hearing?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

More Birthdays For Kids Under 5 Around The World

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 17 2014

i
i

Jung Ha-yoon, 2, and other children in Seoul, South Korea, enjoy playing around (and in) ceramic jars. The country’s infant mortality rate dropped 91 percent between 1972 and 2012.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP


hide caption

itoggle caption

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Jung Ha-yoon, 2, and other children in Seoul, South Korea, enjoy playing around (and in) ceramic jars. The country's infant mortality rate dropped 91 percent between 1972 and 2012.

Jung Ha-yoon, 2, and other children in Seoul, South Korea, enjoy playing around (and in) ceramic jars. The country’s infant mortality rate dropped 91 percent between 1972 and 2012.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

In 2013, 6.3 million children under the age of 5 died. That’s a tragic statistic — yet it represents a 49 percent drop from 1990, according to data released Tuesday by the United Nations.

Dr. Mickey Chopra, the head of UNICEF’s global health programs, spoke with us about the encouraging trend — and what still needs to be done in parts of the world where children’s lives are threatened by unsanitary water, disease and malnutrition.

What do child mortality numbers tell us?

In many ways, under-5 mortality is a lens of how far we have progressed as a civilization. Newborns, premature babies and children under 5 are the most vulnerable members of our society. They are completely reliant on the values, the care and the love that we as a society are providing to each other.

The reduction in mortality rates is a measure of children’s lives, which are very important. Each life saved is someone else who will contribute to our well-being as a whole. But it’s also a measure of how we are progressing as human beings. If there are still children dying of causes which can be easily prevented, cheaply, and we still aren’t doing that? Then we aren’t really progressing as much as we think we are.

Deaths Of Children Under Age 5, Per 1,000 Live Births

Source: UNICEF CME Info

Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR

A record number of children under 5 are surviving. What’s made the difference?

We have much more awareness of the problem than we’ve ever had. Government leaders and communities recognize there are things they can do to solve this problem, and they’ve been doing them. We have new technology, specifically vaccines to respond against the biggest causes of death such as diarrhea and pneumonia.

We also have ways of delivering those interventions. Community health workers have been very important in many of the poorest countries where health systems are not yet properly established. They can now reach out, diagnose and treat common illnesses and common causes of death.

Finally, we have been making investments in other areas apart from health which also impact children’s health, most importantly girl’s education. We are seeing a close relationship with girls that are educated and the fact that their children are far less likely to die of diseases and illnesses.

In this report, WHO says, “We know what to do and we know how to do it. The challenge now is to move from plan to action.” What are some of those challenges?

First and foremost, we still need more resources to buy more vaccines, to pay for more health workers, to build more clinics and so forth. [African] governments all committed to putting 15 percent of their budgets aside for health and not many are doing that. And among richer countries, the aid going for children and women’s health is not rising fast enough to be able to accelerate change further.

Even when we have the resources, they don’t go to the right things. In many countries, most of the health budget is taken up by large hospitals and intensive care in the capital city, quite often addressing the needs of the better off, rather than where most of the child deaths are occurring, which is amongst the poor in the rural areas.

What can women do during pregnancy to increase their child’s chance of survival?

As you see in the report, [neonatal care] is the one area where we have not made as much progress as we have done with the child after one month of age. Of these childhood deaths, 44 percent are happening in the first month of life.

We know that delaying your first pregnancy until you’re 17 or 18 increases the chance of your child surviving by almost fivefold. We know that being well-nourished before you become pregnant is also important. During pregnancy, if we can avoid the mother getting malaria, HIV or syphilis, that increases the chance of survival.

One of the interventions highlighted in the report is called “kangaroo mother care,” or skin-to-skin care, which replaces the need for incubators for premature babies. Premature babies have trouble keeping their body temperature up. If you keep the baby right by the skin of the mother and wrap the baby and the mother together, the mother’s body temperature will regulate the baby’s. Just doing that has reduced newborn mortality, where it has been implemented, by 40 percent.

Have you been able to see these effects firsthand?

When I worked in Africa in the 1990s and early 2000s, I would see every year, like clockwork, hundreds of kids coming into the hospitals with measles. And many of them would die. But because of the attention to vaccinating children from measles, we’ve been able to almost eliminate it. There has been more than 70 percent reduction in measles deaths even in the last 10 years or so. You can see across large numbers of children how this has transformed their lives.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/09/16/348991905/more-birthdays-for-kids-under-five-around-the-world?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Dr. Kent Brantly: Ebola Survivor Gives Testimony On The Hill

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 17 2014

i
i

Dr. Kent Brantly was medical director at Monrovia’s only Ebola treatment center when he fell ill with the disease in July. He survived after being evacuated and treated in the United States.

Courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse


hide caption

itoggle caption

Courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

Dr. Kent Brantly was medical director at Monrovia's only Ebola treatment center when he fell ill with the disease in July. He survived after being evacuated and treated in the United States.

Dr. Kent Brantly was medical director at Monrovia’s only Ebola treatment center when he fell ill with the disease in July. He survived after being evacuated and treated in the United States.

Courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

Dr. Kent Brantly, a U.S. medical missionary who contracted Ebola in July while working as a doctor in Liberia and survived the deadly disease after treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, appeared at a joint Senate hearing today examining the Ebola outbreak.

In testimony prepared for the hearing, Brantly described the challenges and difficulties of working in what was already a “woefully inadequate healthcare system of a country still struggling to recover from a brutal civil war.” He “witnessed the horror that this disease visits upon its victims — the intense pain and humiliation of those who suffer with it, the irrational fear and superstition that pervades communities, and the violence and unrest that now threatens entire nations.”

When he fell ill on July 23, “I came to understand firsthand what my own patients had suffered,” Brantly said. “I was isolated from my family and I was unsure if I would ever see them again. Even though I knew most of my caretakers, I could see nothing but their eyes through their protective goggles… I experienced the humiliation of losing control of my bodily functions and faced the horror of vomiting blood—a sign of the internal bleeding that could have eventually led to my death.”

Treating Ebola patients, he said, “is not like caring for other patients. It is grueling work. The personal protective equipment we wore … becomes excruciatingly hot, with temperatures inside the suit reaching up to 115 degrees. It cannot be worn for more than an hour and a half.”

Brantly’s hospital, the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, was the capital’s only Ebola treatment center when the disease broke out and was quickly overwhelmed. In the month and a half he was treating Ebola cases there, he told the panel, there was only one survivor.

“The disease was spiraling out of control,” he said, “and it was clear we were not equipped to fight it effectively on our own. We began to call for more international assistance, but our pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears.”

The laboratory his hospital relied on to confirm the presence of Ebola in patients “was 45 minutes away and inadequately staffed,” he said. “A patient would arrive at our center in the afternoon and their blood specimen would not be collected until the following morning. We would receive results later that night at the earliest. Turnaround time to positively identify Ebola cases was anywhere from 12 to 36 hours after blood was drawn”—a potentially life-threatening delay. Patients languished in the isolation unit while waiting for diagnosis, potentially infecting others while they waited.

Brantly criticized the World Health Organization’s response to the Ebola outbreak as “painfully slow and ineffective … It is imperative that the U.S. take the lead instead of relying on other agencies.” The military, he said, is the “only force capable of mounting an immediate, large-scale offensive to defeat this virus before it lays waste to all of west Africa.” Given the dearth of commercial flights into Ebola-affected countries, one of the most important things the military can do would be to establish an “‘air bridge’ for the delivery of critically needed personnel and supplies… we cannot turn the tide of this disease without regular flights of personnel and large cargo loads of equipment and supplies.”

Brantly also emphasized the need to “consider the role of home care as we seek to stop the transmission of Ebola,” urging training and supplies for home caregivers, especially since “many infected people are choosing to suffer and die at home anyway. The least we can do is to try to give their caregivers the information and resources to protect themselves from this deadly virus.”

One of the most moving parts of his testimony was the story of a patient in Liberia named Francis.

“Initially, the lab told us that he was positive for Ebola, but the written report we received said ‘Negative,’” Brantly said. “Everything about his clinical case said that he was infected, so we made plans to retest him. We then received word that there was a typo on the first report and that his test was indeed positive.

“Like most patients at first, he was fearful, but he eventually shared the story of how he contracted the disease. ‘Doc, I remember who the man was,’ he said. ‘His condition worsened in his home, and his wife made the decision to take him to the hospital. Everyone around them fled, so I helped his wife carry him to the taxi.’ On his way to the hospital that man died. Had someone come alongside Francis with training and some basic personal protective equipment, his family might still have their husband, father and son, and the world might still have this Good Samaritan.”

Brantly said that he was one of the luckiest ones, receiving “the best care possible in Liberia … and world-class treatment” in the United States. But, he warned, the outbreak is “a fire straight from the pit of hell. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that the vast moat of the Atlantic Ocean will keep the flames away from our shores.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/09/16/349012693/dr-kent-brantly-ebola-survivor-gives-testimony-on-the-hill?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

With Turmoil Roiling Abroad, Why Aren’t Oil Prices Bubbling Up?

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 16 2014

i
i

A soldier guards a pipe en route to the Kawergosk Refinery near Irbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, in July. Fighting in northern Iraq forced the closure of the country’s largest oil refinery, Baiji, and cut production from the Kirkuk oil field this summer.

Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

itoggle caption

Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images

A soldier guards a pipe en route to the Kawergosk Refinery near Irbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, in July. Fighting in northern Iraq forced the closure of the country's largest oil refinery, Baiji, and cut production from the Kirkuk oil field this summer.

A soldier guards a pipe en route to the Kawergosk Refinery near Irbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, in July. Fighting in northern Iraq forced the closure of the country’s largest oil refinery, Baiji, and cut production from the Kirkuk oil field this summer.

Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images

The price of oil has been falling — a drop that you may already have noticed at the pump. Gasoline prices have dropped noticeably since June, and oil is now well below $100 a barrel.

Source: Energy Information Administration

Credit: NPR

That decline has happened even as conflicts have flared in or near oil-producing regions. Normally, oil prices are expected to spike higher amid turmoil — so why have they been trending lower?

The global price did rise to just under $112 a barrel in June, when ISIS first swept into northern Iraq. But the price of crude has trended down since then — despite the U.S. decision to enter that fight, despite the conflict in Ukraine and despite sanctions levied against Russia, one of the world’s largest oil producers, for its role there.

Then there’s the fight between Islamist militants and the government in Libya, a significant oil producer.

So why, then, are petroleum prices falling?

“There are two factors to keep in mind,” says Robin West, a senior adviser at IHS Global Insight. “One is supply, and one is demand.”

It really is as basic as that, West says. “Frankly, the global economy is slow. Demand is low, and so there’s very little growth in demand. And so, supply is strong, and demand is fairly week.”

The International Energy Agency made that point last week, when it said a weaker economic outlook in China and Europe is causing a remarkable slowdown in global demand growth. And demand is declining, West says, as global supplies surge due to the energy boom in North America — including shale oil production from North Dakota and Texas.

“There’s another 3 billion barrels a day that’s coming into the market and staying in the market,” he says. “This has really changed the global supply-demand balance very substantially” — and helped bring more stability to the market.

Michael Levi, senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, says it is true that a surge in North American production has added significantly to global supplies. But he doesn’t believe it is responsible for the decline in oil prices of the past three months.

“I think the U.S. oil boom has helped stabilize prices over the last few years, but that’s because it’s been a surprise,” Levi says. “And it no longer is a surprise. And that leads me to conclude that people are expecting too much from it, in terms of stabilizing oil prices in the future.”

Levi says the added production from North America has lulled market participants into believing they’re in an era of stability.

“I think there is excessive complacency in the ability of the global oil market to absorb disruptions that we haven’t seen yet,” he says.

There are good reasons the current conflicts haven’t pressured prices higher, Levi says. Syria’s production is minimal, Libya’s has been impaired for some time, and sanctions against Russia would hurt production in the future — not current production.

“On the flip side, no one expects Vladimir Putin to cut his own oil exports in order to inflict harm, because he can’t sustain his spending, his state, his budget, without the revenues from oil sales,” Levi notes.

Fadel Gheit, managing partner and head of oil and gas research at Oppenheimer Co., says oil prices will still spike higher when severe disruptions occur. But he thinks global supply will continue to grow and keep prices in check.

He predicts that will happen as fracking technology improves, reducing the costs of production.

“The break-even point continues to decline. Yes, we needed $80 [per barrel] oil for the North Dakota Bakken oil development to continue,” he says. “Now, it’s about $65. Five years from now, it could be $50, or even $40.”

Gheit argues that will lead to a long-term decline in the price of oil — a decline that we’re already beginning to see.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/15/348685733/with-turmoil-roiling-abroad-why-arent-oil-prices-bubbling-up?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

What Obama Should Say And Do About Ebola

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 16 2014

i
i

A health worker speaks with families in a classroom now used as Ebola isolation ward in Monrovia, Liberia. Ebola-stricken West Africa needs more health staff and more medical facilities.

John Moore/Getty Images


hide caption

itoggle caption

John Moore/Getty Images

A health worker speaks with families in a classroom now used as Ebola isolation ward in Monrovia, Liberia. Ebola-stricken West Africa needs more health staff and more medical facilities.

A health worker speaks with families in a classroom now used as Ebola isolation ward in Monrovia, Liberia. Ebola-stricken West Africa needs more health staff and more medical facilities.

John Moore/Getty Images

Tomorrow, President Obama is scheduled to announce a new U.S. plan to help stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

We offer two perspectives on what the president should say. One is from Sophie Delaunay, executive director of Doctors Without Borders, which has been on the ground in Africa since the first cases were identified this year. The other is from Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who studies how to prepare health care systems for pandemics.

Delaunay, who spoke to NPR last week, doesn’t hold back. “I have to say that we are quite exhausted and angry about the situation,” she says. “We believe that what an NGO [nongovernmental organization] like MSF [Medecins Sans Frontieres, her organization's name in French] does, a state can do at even larger scale. This is all we are asking. We really just want to stand in solidarity to the Liberians, the Sierra Leoneans and the Guineans. And in the face of this outbreak, we are really calling for additional capacity.”

Speaking of the role that the United States could play, she says that “thousands of people [at U.S. laboratories] are trained in working in highly contaminated environments” — and could offer guidance to health workers in Africa.

“The most urgent need at the moment is to set up isolation units so that people who are sick do not contaminate the rest of the population,” she says. “It is not technically complicated. It involves very basic organization to manage patient safety, to feed them, to provide them with water, to manage waste.”

She favors military participation in the anti-Ebola efforts. “What is critical in order to make this care successful is to have a strict monitoring, a strict supervision, a good chain of command. This is key. And this is why we do value the role of the military in this intervention and we would actually wish that there would be much greater mobilization of military assets and personnel, because they are much better equipped than any non-governmental organizations to put in place those kind of very strict and solid supervision from A to Z.”

From a practical standpoint, Dr. Adalja suggests that the U.S. provide the basics: portable hospitals, personal protective gear (gowns, gloves, masks, eye protection) and other scarce medical supplies like thermometers: “We know people are resorting to reusing thermometers.”

He also believes the U.S. can help educate African health-care workers on the proper way to wear personal protective equipment to minimize the risk of exposure.

“The thing with Ebola is it’s not a very complex disease to treat,” Dr. Adalja notes. Basic measures such as controlling infection, isolating patients, tracing others with whom they may have had contact and promoting “hygienic burial” have brought past outbreaks to a halt. The same, he says, should be done this time.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/09/15/348758156/what-obama-should-say-and-do-about-ebola?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

White House To Assign 3,000 Military Personnel To Combat Ebola

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 16 2014

The Obama administration is ramping up its response to West Africa’s Ebola crisis, preparing to assign 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the afflicted region to supply medical and logistical support to overwhelmed local health care systems and to boost the number of beds needed to isolate and treat victims of the epidemic.

President Barack Obama planned to announce the stepped up effort Tuesday during a visit to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta amid alarm that the outbreak could spread and that the deadly virus could mutate into a more easily transmitted disease.

The new U.S. muscle comes after appeals from the region and from aid organizations for a heightened U.S. role in combatting the outbreak blamed for more than 2,200 deaths.

Administration officials said Monday that the new initiatives aim to:

– Train as many as 500 health care workers a week.
– Erect 17 heath care facilities in the region of 100 beds each.
– Set up a joint command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate between U.S. and international relief efforts.
– Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the U.S. Agency for International Development will deliver to Liberia this week.
– Carry out a home- and community-based campaign to train local populations on how to handle exposed patients.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans ahead of Obama’s announcement, said the cost of the effort would come from $500 million in overseas contingency operations, such as the war in Afghanistan, that the Pentagon already has asked Congress to redirect to carry out humanitarian efforts in Iraq and in West Africa.

The officials said it would take about two weeks to get U.S. forces on the ground.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations African affairs subcommittee, applauded the new U.S. commitment. Coons earlier had called for the Obama administration to step up its role in West Africa.

“This humanitarian intervention should serve as a firewall against a global security crisis that has the potential to reach American soil,” he said.

Hardest hit by the outbreak are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The virus also has reached Nigeria and Senegal. Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of sick patients, making doctors and nurses especially vulnerable to contracting the virus that has no vaccine or approved treatment.

The U.S. effort will include medics and corpsmen for treatment and training, engineers to help erect the treatment facilities and specialists in logistics to assist in patient transportation.

Obama’s trip to the CDC comes a day after the United States also demanded a stepped-up international response to the outbreak. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, on Monday called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, warning that the potential risk of the virus could “set the countries of West Africa back a generation.”

Power said the meeting Thursday would mark a rare occasion when the Security Council, which is responsible for threats to international peace and security, addresses a public health crisis.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to brief the council along with World Health Organization chief Dr. Margaret Chan and Dr. David Nabarro, the recently named U.N. coordinator to tackle the disease, as well as representatives from the affected countries.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest, responding to criticism that the U.S. needed a more forceful response to the outbreak, said Monday that Obama has identified the outbreak “as a top national security priority,” worried that it could contribute to political instability in the region and that left unchecked the virus could transform and become more contagious.

He said the administration responded “pretty aggressively” when the outbreak was first reported in March.

“Since that time our assistance has steadily been ramping up,” he said.

The Senate was also weighing in Tuesday with a hearing to examine the U.S. response. An American missionary doctor who survived the disease was among those scheduled to testify.

Four Americans have been or are being treated for Ebola in the U.S. after evacuation from Africa.

The U.S. has spent more than $100 million responding to the outbreak and has offered to operate treatment centers for patients.

While at the CDC, Obama also will be briefed about cases of respiratory illness being reported in the Midwest, the White House said. Public health officials are monitoring a high number of reported illnesses associated with human enterovirus 68 in Iowa, Kansas, Ohio and elsewhere.

After leaving Atlanta, Obama planned to travel to Florida to visit the headquarters of U.S. Central Command in Tampa, where he’ll meet with military officials about the U.S. counterterrorism campaign against the Islamic State group. Central Command overseas U.S. military efforts in the Middle East.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/16/348862210/white-house-to-assign-3-000-military-personnel-to-combat-ebola?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Former Ambassador: It’s Not Too Late To Arm Syrian Rebels

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 14 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

WADE GOODWYN, HOST:

There are, of course, many who are not opposed to the president’s plan for military intervention. Ambassador Frederic Hof is one of them. He’s a former special advisor for transition in Syria and has been making the case for some of the points in the president’s plan for a long time now. He told me was mostly pleased with what he heard on Wednesday night.

FRED HOF: I think the president, in the course of 14 minutes, made a very effective case for a counterterrorism strategy against the Islamic State. I’m not so sure that counterterrorism will address the entirety of the problem, but he certainly said the right things about aiding the Syrian opposition and about refraining from any kind of cooperation or collaboration with the Assad regime.

GOODWYN: You, of course, know that the argument against arming the Syrian rebels is that their day has passed. It’s too late for them. They’re marginalized and weak. Arm them now and those arms will eventually fall into the hands of ISIS. You disagree?

HOF: I disagree with that. And look, this is going to be incredibly difficult, undoubtedly much more difficult than it would’ve been two years ago had a different decision been made. But if you are going to engage these Islamic State forces militarily, it will not be enough simply to do so with airstrikes. There has to be a ground component. There is a ground component of sorts on the Iraqi side with the Iraqi Army, such as it is, with the Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces. You need something on the Syrian side.

GOODWYN: Do you have evidence that there’s enough there there when it comes to the Syrian rebels left?

HOF: I think the view of people in the United States government who have the actual responsibility is that yes, there is some there there. It’s not as good as it was two years ago. In the time that’s expired over the past two years, these Islamic State people, these Nusra Front people, all of these descendants of al-Qaida in Iraq have had enormous resources. They’ve had a lot of money. They’ve been able to pull young Syrian rebels away from these more nationalist – some people use the phrase moderate – forces. They’ve had a magnetic effect. They’ve pulled people away. We need to try, even at this late date, to reverse that magnetic flow.

GOODWYN: Do you think the president’s words on Bashar al-Assad were strong enough?

HOF: My sense is that what the president had to say about Bashar al-Assad was quite welcome. I mean, he really put the spike into the idea that there could be some form of collaboration or cooperation between Assad and the United States. Personally, I would’ve preferred had the president gone a bit farther – had he taken note of the huge portfolio of war crimes and crimes against humanity that Assad has committed. I would have welcomed the president of the United States saying that if the sidelining of Nouri al-Maliki, the former prime minister in Iraq, was essential to getting on the path to defeating the Islamic State in Iraq, you could multiply that by 1,000. And there you would have a description of the role of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. As long as he is in power, he will be a major obstacle to the accomplishment of American and coalition objectives in Syria and in Iraq, for that matter. Bashar al-Assad’s dream from the beginning of this crisis has been for all of his opposition to be basically terrorist in nature so that he could make the case that he should be admitted, that he should be returned to polite society politically. But this is just – this is just not going to happen. It can’t happen.

GOODWYN: Ambassador Fred Hof is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States. He joined us in our Washington studios. Thanks so much.

HOF: It’s been my great pleasure.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/13/348181035/former-ambassador-its-not-too-late-to-arm-syrian-rebels?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Ukraine: Peace Disrupted By Barrage; Russia Sends New Aid Convoy

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 14 2014

i
i

A convoy of Russian trucks crosses the Ukrainian border at the Donetsk-Izvarino custom control checkpoint as Ukrainian refugees look on, Saturday. Russia says the trucks are carrying aid; Ukrainian officials say they don’t know what’s inside.

SERGEI VENYAVSKY/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

itoggle caption

SERGEI VENYAVSKY/AFP/Getty Images

A convoy of Russian trucks crosses the Ukrainian border at the Donetsk-Izvarino custom control checkpoint as Ukrainian refugees look on, Saturday. Russia says the trucks are carrying aid; Ukrainian officials say they don't know what's inside.

A convoy of Russian trucks crosses the Ukrainian border at the Donetsk-Izvarino custom control checkpoint as Ukrainian refugees look on, Saturday. Russia says the trucks are carrying aid; Ukrainian officials say they don’t know what’s inside.

SERGEI VENYAVSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Rocket fire tested — but didn’t break — a week-old cease-fire between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists Friday night. The deal has brought the release of dozens of prisoners and cut the number of casualties from fighting, even as both sides have reportedly violated its rules in skirmishes.

Russia has sent a second convoy of trucks bearing what it says is humanitarian aid into Ukraine. Similar to an August operation, neither Ukraine nor the Red Cross reportedly received an early warning about the trucks, and the AP says they crossed the border without being inspected.

Ukrainian defense spokesman Andriy Lysenko called the convoy a “violation of the established procedure of border and customs clearance,” according to Ukraine’s Interfax agency. He also added, “Representatives of the Red Cross do not accompany the cargo, its contents are unknown.”

The incident came as insurgents mounted a fresh attack near the airport in Donetsk, which is under the central government’s control.

From Donetsk, NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports:

“Volleys of GRAD rockets rang out in the night Friday to Saturday in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, underscoring the difficulties of enforcing the ceasefire a week after it was signed. Later, separatist military trucks were seen driving through the town carrying the rocket launchers.

“Still, 67 prisoners were released in an exchange between the Ukrainian army and the separatists on Friday, proving that other points of the ceasefire agreement are being adhered to.

“Despite the progress, the U.S. and European Union hit Russia with tough new sanctions this week in a coordinated response to what they said was Moscow’s ‘unacceptable behavior’ in Ukraine. Russia is accused of supporting the separatists with arms and fighters.”

Negotiations for a more permanent peace are continuing. And on Friday, the EU announced it had reached a compromise deal over its plan to expand a trade partnership with Ukraine that has alarmed Russian leaders. The new agreement postpones the full trade pact’s implementation until 2016, Ukraine’s Kyiv Post reports.

Ukraine’s leader criticized Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Saturday, calling him a threat to both Ukraine and Europe.

“Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said only membership of NATO would enable Ukraine to defend itself from external aggression,” Reuters reports.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/13/348191985/ukraine-peace-disrupted-by-barrage-russia-sends-new-aid-convoy?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

ISIS Video Purports To Show Beheading Of British Aid Worker

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 14 2014

Update at 8:50 p.m. EDT

The militant group that calls itself the Islamic State has released a video that purportedly shows the beheading of British aid worker David Haines.

The authenticity of the video, which appeared online Saturday, has not been independently confirmed by NPR.

The organization, also known as ISIS, had threatened to kill Haines just under two weeks ago, in an earlier video that showed the beheading of an American journalist. This weekend, Haines’ family had issued a public plea to his captors through the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The family asked ISIS to make contact with them.

Haines, an international aid worker, was abducted in Syria in 2013. “The British government had managed to keep his kidnapping secret out of concern for his safety until the most recent video Islamic State video identified him as a captive,” the AP writes.

The BBC reports that the 44-year-old father of two from Perth, Scotland, was kidnapped shortly after he began working with a French relief agency called ACTED. At his posting there, Haines was “working in the Atmeh refugee camp … supplying water, food and tents.”

Over the past decade and a half he’d worked with a variety of aid agencies, writes the BBC: “He had worked with a German charity on post-war reconstruction projects in Croatia, including housing and demining. He was also involved in efforts to help displaced people to return to their homes. In 2011 he became Head of Mission in Libya for Handicap International,” an organization that works to help vulnerable people with disabilities.

“The following year he joined another agency, the Nonviolence Peaceforce (NP), and went to South Sudan,” where he worked as an unarmed civilian peacekeeper.

ISIS previously released two videos showing the beheadings of two American journalists, which were confirmed by U.S. officials to be authentic. The first video, which showed the killing of James Foley, was released on August 20. The second, which showed the beheading of Steven Sotloff and contained the threat directed towards Haines, was released on Sept. 2.

The newest video, like those previous videos, appears to name another Western hostage as a future target.

NPR’s correspondent Alice Fordham, reporting for our Newscast unit, says the video begins with footage of British prime minister David Cameron. The two previous videos began with footage of President Obama.

The man identified as Haines, Alice reports, is shown “kneeling in a featureless desert in an orange robe.”

The video appears to be recent, Alice says: “The assailant refers to the bombing of Iraq’s Haditha dam a week ago. Another man identified as a British hostage appears at the end as the masked man exhorts Prime Minister Cameron to stop fighting the Islamic State.”

Cameron has tweeted a response, writing, “We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes.”

President Obama said in a statement that the U.S. “strongly condemns the barbaric murder of UK citizen David Haines by the terrorist group ISIL,” and pledged to work with the U.K. and other nations to “bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/13/348292090/isis-video-purports-to-show-beheading-of-british-aid-worker?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Border Crossings Slow But Immigration Courts Still Face Backlog

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 13 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The number of unaccompanied Central American children who are able to duck Mexican authorities and cross into the U.S. illegally may be down, as we just heard. But that decrease has not yet translated into a lighter caseload for immigration court judges. That’s according to Dana Leigh Marks who was an immigration judge as well as the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. We spoke with her in early July at the height of the migrant crisis. And we’re going to talk again now. Welcome to the program once again.

DANA LEIGH MARKS: Thank you so much, Robert.

SIEGEL: Crossings are down, but I gather the immigration courts still have a huge backlog. Is that right?

MARKS: That’s correct. It takes a long time for cases to work through our system. And even though there appears to have been a dip at the present time, we still are working on cases that had come in in the spring and the summer.

SIEGEL: Well, there was much talk in July about trying to ease the burdens on immigration courts. Is there anything different about the workflow there now than there was in early July?

MARKS: What’s happening is that the administration has decided that we should prioritize cases in terms of last in, first out, whereas in the past we would handle cases in according to the order that they came into our system. So that change has been implemented. And now we are working on more recent arrivals rather than working on cases that have been in our system for a longer period of time.

SIEGEL: So you’re saying – well, let’s say in the past week – cases that you’ve heard in your court – when did some of those people enter the U.S.?

MARKS: Well, my court is not a great example because I haven’t been assigned yet to these new surge dockets. But maybe it’s good by comparison. In San Francisco I’m dealing with cases that have been on my docket for three to four years before they come to a final conclusion. And some of them it goes up to five. In contrast, we are seeing cases of newly arrived, unaccompanied juveniles coming into our courts within 21 days of the filing of the charging document.

SIEGEL: You’ve called for more judges to be named. The administration didn’t get the amount of money it wanted, but it did move around some money. Have they flooded the zone near the Mexican border to at least add more judges to lighten the docket load a bit?

MARKS: What’s happened is that existing judges have been assigned in different ways to try to address the caseloads differently. But no additional judicial capacity has been added to the system. So by scheduling these newly arrived juvenile’s cases sooner, they are being handled more quickly but to the detriment or delay of the cases that are left behind by the fact that a judge is taken out of their existing docket – out of their existing courtroom and assigned to a courtroom along the border.

SIEGEL: Do you think that the shift to the last in, first out schedule is intended as a deterrent to Central American immigration? That is, to send a message to people who have been coming over this year, that they will be dealt with more promptly than perhaps their relatives who came over five years ago were dealt with.

MARKS: Well, it’s not really the role of the association to speculate with regard to political overtones and what messages are being sent. We do know that the administration has chosen to take this approach in response to the surge of cases at the border.

SIEGEL: And that’s a shift?

MARKS: And that that is a shift. That is correct.

SIEGEL: When it’s reported that the immigration court backlog is at 400,000, we’re not talking about people who are sitting in immigration detention facilities, are we?

MARKS: No. That is correct that the number one priority in our system has always been the cases of detained individuals to assure that they are processed through the system as quickly as possible.

SIEGEL: Judge Marks, thank you very much for talking with us today.

MARKS: Thank you so much, Robert.

SIEGEL: Dana Leigh Marks is an immigration judge in San Francisco and president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/12/348010261/border-crossings-slow-but-immigration-courts-still-face-backlog?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world