Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman Blog’

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

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 16 2014

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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


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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

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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


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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

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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


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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

Ian Paisley Was ‘Powerful In The Pulpit’ And On Political Platforms

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:

Ian Paisley died today. He was a preacher and politician in Northern Ireland – a Unionist. That meant he was determined to keep Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. Like most unionists, he was a Protestant – a fire and brimstone fundamentalist. Here, he was railing against British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1991 for negotiating with the Republic of Ireland.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

IAN PAISLEY: We hand this woman, Margaret Thatcher, over to the devil that she might learn not to blaspheme. And, oh, God, in wrath, take vengeance upon this wicked, treacherous, lying woman. Take vengeance upon her, oh, Lord.

SIEGEL: Fast-forward to 2007. Paisley, by then, was first minister Northern Ireland, working hand-in-glove with Catholic Republicans – people who allied with the Republic and its capital, Dublin. The booming voice was still there, but the belligerence was gone.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PAISLEY: From the depths of my heart, I can say to you today that I believe Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace – a time when hate will no longer rule. How good it will be to be part of a wonderful healing in this province.

SIEGEL: Ed Moloney has given a lot of thought to this remarkable turnaround. He’s the author of “Paisley,” and we have him on the line with us. What happened to Ian Paisley?

ED MOLONEY: Well, there are various theories. One is that his wife, who was very ambitious, urged him to take power and make the necessary concessions. There are others who believe that he had a St. Paul to Damascus type of conversion. And then there are others who say that he was cynical and pragmatic for most of his political and religious life. And he exploited the extremism that he preached, but he didn’t really believe it towards the end. But he saw this – these qualities as necessary to get to the top of the heap. And of course, the top of the heap is where he ended up.

SIEGEL: People were always at pains to say that the conflict in Northern Ireland was a dispute between Unionists and Republicans, not really between Protestants and Catholics. But here was a man who called the Roman Catholic Church the whore of Babylon. I mean, was the conflict essentially religious for him, do you think?

MOLONEY: I think it was to begin with, but I think as time moved on and his views matured, you know, I think he dropped a lot of the overt anti-Catholic stuff. I mean, in his early days, when he was running his newspaper, they were full of stories of Jesuits and nuns having sexual affairs in the Vatican and stuff like that. But after few years and particularly after he got elected, he dropped that. And indeed, he earned the reputation for being a very good constituency politician – someone who looked after his Catholic constituencies every bit as avidly as he looked after his Protestant constituents. But he never dropped the political extremism. Even when he became the first minister in Northern Ireland, his unionism was untouched by that.

SIEGEL: When I was in Britain in the early 1980s, Ian Paisley struck me as one of the most American-like figures on the British political landscape. That was no accident. He spent a lot of time here.

MOLONEY: No, that was – absolutely. That’s because America played a very large part in his life. I mean, he’s Dr. – or was Dr. Ian Paisley. He got that PhD from Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bob Jones, Sr., the founder of the dynasty, if you like, was a very close personal friend who opened his church in Belfast. When Ian Paisley started off as a preacher and a politician, he had a very thick rural country accent. He got that softened and reshaped, thanks the training he got in America. And he was regarded by American Baptists as one the best preachers they had ever heard. And he was mesmerizing. He was extraordinarily powerful in the pulpit and also on the political platform.

SIEGEL: Ed Moloney, thanks for talking with us.

MOLONEY: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: Ed Maloney is the author of a biography of the Reverend Ian Paisley, who died today at the age of 88.

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Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/12/348010233/ian-paisley-was-powerful-in-the-pulpit-and-on-political-platforms?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Free Syrian Army Struggles To Maintain Control In Two-Front War

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 13 2014

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Beside the air campaign, President Obama’s plan to combat ISIS involves training and equipping what he spoke of as the Syrian opposition to take part in the fight. That was a reference to the loose array of rebel groups called the Free Syrian Army. How strong a fighting force are those rebel groups? How do they stack up against ISIS or against the Syrian army? Why Noah Bonsey of the International Crisis Group follows the Syrian war and he joins us now. Welcome to the program.

NOAH BONSEY: Thanks for having me.

SIEGEL: And first can we speak of a coherent force called the Free Syrian Army?

BONSEY: Well, no. As you alluded to there’s no single organization that we can really call the Free Syrian Army. It’s an array of rebel groups and organization among them varies from place to place. However when people in Washington talk about supporting the Free Syrian Army what they generally are referring to is to moderate or non-ideological groups within that wide array of rebel factions. And those very much do exist and their power has steadily risen, relative to more Islamist rebels over the last few months.

SIEGEL: Well, let me ask you this. I know this is a very tough question. The CIA yesterday upped its estimate of how many fighters ISIS or as they say ISL has, it’s over 30,000 now they say. Do you have any idea of how many fighters there are in the more moderate rebel groups that the U.S. would want to aid?

BONSEY: Well, talking about numbers is always difficult. What we can say, I mean, if you break it down by area in the areas that remain under anti-ISIS rebel control they’re the dominant force. But what they’re struggling to do is maintain control of areas they have, while fighting a two front war against both the regime and ISIS. So one place we see that, especially – dramatically is the crucial battle for Aleppo right now. Where you have regime forces seeking to encircle and eventually besiege rebels inside the city of Aleppo. Meanwhile the same rebel groups are fighting ISIS just roughly 15 miles to the north. And it’s in places like that were rebels are fighting this two front war at the very same time, that you see the most struggling for resources – short of resources.

SIEGEL: When they say they don’t have enough – we’ve been hearing for a couple of years now that these rebel forces don’t have enough arms – what is it that they don’t have enough of? What kind of weapons is it that they lack.

BONSEY: Well, one key thing they lack if we’re talking about the fight – that’s relevant to the fight against both ISIS and the regime are anti-tank weapons. They have some and that’s the change we’ve seen in 2014, the United States has allowed American made anti-tank weapons to be provided to vetted rebel groups and that has made a difference. However they need more of them and they also need more ammunition, more cash which can purchase ammunition and weaponry on the black market. So it’s a matter of quantity – it’s also a matter of quality. The rebel fighting force is often less than the sum of its parts because of the disorganization within its ranks, poor training. There’s a role for the opposition’s backers, including the United States, to help improve the organization of these forces. That will require an improvement of coordination among the opposition state backers themselves, you know, between Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the United States primarily.

SIEGEL: Should the U.S. assume that the moderate Syrian rebels whom it intends to train more and assist more, will inevitably be working in concert with say, the Nusra Front, which we describe as being related to al-Qaeda – that is, are we just one ally away from al-Qaeda in Syria at this stage?

BONSEY: For now in certain parts of the country, on certain fronts, we can expect even moderate rebel groups to continue to cooperate with al-Nusra, especially where they’re fighting the regime and ISIS in the same place at the same time. But over time one would expect that through increasing and improving support to moderate rebel groups one could wean them off of their dependence upon collaboration with al-Nusra. But that’s not something that will happen prior to improving support to these groups.

SIEGEL: Well, Noah Bonsey of the International Crisis Group, thanks for talking with us.

BONSEY: Thanks so much for having me. It’s a 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/2014/09/12/348010298/free-syrian-army-struggles-to-maintain-control-in-two-front-war?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Yemen May Not Offer Best Model For Obama’s ISIS Plan

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 12 2014

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

When the president laid out his plans to destroy ISIS – or, as he says, ISIL – last night, he compared the effort to U.S. strikes against suspected terrorists in Yemen and Somalia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL, wherever they exist, using our air power. And our support for partners – forces – on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

SIEGEL: Well, Yemen expert Gregory Johnsen argues that this may be a flawed model. He’s the author of “The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaida and America’s War In Arabia.” And he joins me on the line from Istanbul, Turkey. Welcome to the program once again.

GREGORY JOHNSEN: Thanks so much.

SIEGEL: Gregory, the target in Yemen has been al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Recently, you wrote this (reading) The more men the U.S. killed, the stronger al-Qaida seemed to grow.

And as you observe, the U.S. killed some al-Qaida leaders in the process. What’s going on?

JOHNSEN: Yeah, so what the president referred to last night is a campaign that the U.S. has been waging, really, since late 2009. The problem, however, is that in Yemen at least, the U.S. has confused killing with winning. So when the U.S. started this campaign in 2009, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the group in Yemen, numbered about 200 or 300 individuals. Now we’re four years into a bombing campaign, and instead of al-Qaida getting smaller, the group’s actually getting bigger. So it’s at least three to four times what it was when the U.S. started bombing.

SIEGEL: You relate a sequence of events in the new epilogue to your book that happened last December – al-Qaida attacked a hospital. People there saw security footage on television of a massacre of ordinary Yemenites. And it cost al-Qaida much in the way of public tolerance. Then, a few days later, the U.S. staged a drone attack that mistakenly hit a wedding convoy and everything was back to the way it was, I gather.

JOHNSEN: Yeah, this is a problem that the U.S. has had in Yemen. So really one of the fundamental truths of a war like this is that the side that kills the most civilians loses. Al-Qaida carried out a bloody assault on a hospital and for days, people in Yemen were up in arms. People were talking about what a horror, what a menace al-Qaida was. Then, only a few days later, the U.S. carried out a drone strike that seemed to be based on faulty intelligence. And instead of killing the target, the U.S. actually hit several cars that were in a wedding convoy. And just like that, all of the goodwill that the U.S. had garnered by al-Qaida making its mistake was lost. The difference in this is that al-Qaida apologized for the hospital attack. The U.S. never apologized for the wedding attack. And in fact, it continues to this day to say that it was a clean strike and that only terrorists were killed – a claim that no Yemini believes.

SIEGEL: Is the position of al-Qaida in Yemen analogous to the spread of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria?

JOHNSEN: Well, there are some similarities. So al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has, like ISIS up in Syria as well as in Iraq, taken over some territory and controlled towns. But ISIS is much bigger. It has much more men and it controls much more territory than does al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. So I think one of the problems that the U.S. is going to get into when it starts bombing targets in Iraq more than it has been and even into Syria, as the president suggested last night, is that it’s going to be very, very difficult for the U.S. to limit civilian casualties. So in a place like Yemen where the U.S. is using drones, in which drones can stay up in air for hours at a time, in which they can track a single target over days and days, the U.S. still makes mistakes and civilians are killed. What’s going to happen when the U.S. is bombing into urban areas in which ISIS is melding in with the civilian population? What we’ve seen in Iraq and in Syria is that ISIS has grown out of al-Qaida in Iraq. And the group has gotten bigger, it’s gotten more menacing and it’s become more and more of a threat. So I think the real concern for the U.S. moving forward is how can you tamp down this problem without actually making it worse?

SIEGEL: That’s Gregory Johnsen, author of “The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al- Qaida And America’s War In Arabia.” He was speaking to us from Istanbul. Gregory Johnsen, thank you.

JOHNSEN: Thanks so much, Robert.

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/2014/09/11/347738154/yemen-may-not-offer-best-model-for-obamas-isis-plan?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world