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Posts tagged ‘Los Angeles Times’

Morale Problems Plague CIA’s Iran Division.


The CIA division responsible for tracking Iranian affairs has been in disarray due to clashes between analysts and their chief, the Los Angeles Times reported. The agency has suspended the chief with pay over what are characterized as workplace issues.

Jonathan Bank, head of Iran operations, and a former Islamabad station chief, was told to stay home in the wake of an internal investigation, which established that his managerial approach had created an intimidating and inhospitable work environment, the Times reported.

Bank is a senior intelligence operative responsible for coordinating espionage on Iran, including its nuclear program. The Iran division has reportedly been torn apart by acrimony over Bank’s managerial methods. Some essential analysts have asked to be transferred.

“Iran is one of [our] most important targets, and the place was not functioning,” a former official told the Times.

In 2010, Pakistani intelligence reportedly leaked Bank’s name while he was CIA station chief in Islamabad. Among his previous assignments, Bank held a senior position in the agency’s clandestine service.

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd, while not commenting specifically on the Bank case, said,  “As a general matter, the CIA expects managers at all levels to demonstrate leadership skills and foster an environment that helps their employees perform at the highest levels to achieve agency objectives. Whenever that doesn’t happen, we examine the situation carefully and take appropriate action.”

Management issues have recently been a chronic problem at the agency.

In July 2013, the Times reported that while the CIA has a generally low turnover, management issues had driven accomplished CIA personnel from the agency.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Elliot Jager

Analysts: Putin Might Not Be All Wrong About Ukraine.


Vladimir Putin believes Russia’s troop movements in Ukraine’s Crimea region are sanctioned by a 1997 treaty that Moscow signed with Kiev, CIA director John Brennan told a senior lawmaker Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The newspaper cited U.S. officials it didn’t name as the source of the information. The officials declined to identify the lawmaker, the Times said.

The treaty — which expires in 2042— requires that Russia coordinate military movements with Ukraine. Russia announced that Ukraine’s ousted — illegally in its view— President Viktor Yanukovych requested Moscow to send troops across the border, the BBC reported.

The Russian connection to the Crimea peninsula dates to the 1700s when Russia captured the territories from the Muslim Ottoman Empire. When Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, Russia ceded the peninsula to the Ukrainian Soviet republic, according to the BBC. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was half Ukrainian.

The ethnic majority in the region is now Russian. Toward the end of World War II, Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Sunni Muslim Tatars from Crimea claiming they had collaborated with the Nazis.

Now, Russia points to a far-right element in the Ukrainian protest movement as having hijacked the campaign against Yanukovych. These forces have four posts in the new temporary government according to the BBC.

“The far right in Ukraine has now achieved the level of representation and influence that is unparalleled in Europe,” said University of Ottawa political scientist Ivan Katchanovski, according to The Daily Beast.

Meanwhile, veteran Russia watcher Stephen F. Cohen of Princeton and New York Universities writes in The Nation that while Moscow pursues many “repugnant” policies, coverage by the U.S. mainstream media basically denies Russia any legitimate interests “at home or abroad – even on its own borders, as in Ukraine.”

According to Cohen, the claim repeatedly made in the U.S. media that most Ukrainians long for integration into Europe is inaccurate. In fact, he wrote, the country is divided.

“There is not one Ukraine or one ‘Ukrainian people’ but at least two, generally situated in its Western and Eastern regions.”

Cohen said the media was also mistaken to discount Putin’s December 2013 offer to work with the West to save Ukraine’s economy.

Appearing on CNN on March 2, Cohen said Putin was not a thug, not out to recreate the Soviet Union, and “not even anti-American.”

Putin is behaving to protect what he sees as Russia’s vital interests, Cohen said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Elliot Jager

Dick Morris: NFL, Flake Forced Brewer’s Hand.


Image: Dick Morris: NFL, Flake Forced Brewer's HandArizona Gov. Jan Brewer and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during a Super Bowl host committee handover ceremony in New York.

By Todd Beamon

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a religious protection bill concerning gay rights because she was pressured by the state’s business community and the National Football League, which is scheduled to hold the Super Bowl in the state next year, political analyst Dick Morris told Newsmax late Wednesday.

“I think she vetoed the bill because of pressure from the Arizona business community,” Morris, who served as an aide to President Bill Clinton, told Newsmax in an email. “When Sen. Jeff Flake, a tea party conservative from Arizona, joined his colleague John McCain in urging a veto, it gave her political cover on the right to veto the bill,” Morris said.

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“I think the [National Football League] had a lot to do with it also,” he said. “By threatening to move the Super Bowl, they epitomized the harm that would flow to Arizona had she signed the bill.

“I don’t think she realistically had any choice. It became a jobs issue — and she had to veto the bill.”

In vetoing the legislation, Brewer said the controversial measure could “create more problems than it purports to solve.”

State Senate Bill 1062 would have allowed business owners to cite their religious beliefs as legal grounds for refusing to serve same-sex couples or any other prospective customer. It was passed by the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature last week.

“Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona,” Brewer said in a brief statement from her office as she announced her decision. “I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.”

She then attacked the bill as a broadly worded proposal that “could result in unintended and negative consequences.”

Brewer had come under mounting pressure to veto the measure after both McCain and Flake, both Republicans, opposed it. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, also spoke against the bill.

Three state Republicans who voted for the bill last week also reversed course and urged Brewer to veto it.

“I appreciate the decision made by Gov. Brewer to veto this legislation,” McCain said in a statement posted on his website. “I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and assure the American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our beautiful State of Arizona.”

Flake said on Twitter:

He added in a later post:

The legislation was backed by the Center for Arizona Policy, a socially conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage.

Cathi Herrod, the group’s president, said Brewer’s veto marked “a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty.”

The bill, she said, “passed the legislature for one reason only: to guarantee that all Arizonans would be free to live and work according to their faith.”

“Opponents were desperate to distort this bill rather than debate the merits,” Herrod said. “Essentially, they succeeded in getting a veto of a bill that does not even exist.”

Perhaps the strongest opposition to the legislation came from business leaders. Some who had opposed it threatened to boycott Arizona if Brewer approved it, similar to what many groups did after the state passed a tough anti-illegal immigration law in 2010.

That possibility worried some companies and business organizations, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Among the companies opposing the bill were Apple, American Airlines, Marriott International, and Delta Air Lines.

The Arizona Super Bowl Committee also voiced its opposition to the bill, contending that it would “deal a significant blow” to the state’s economy, the Times reports.

The 2015 Super Bowl is scheduled to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, just outside Phoenix.

In addition, the Hispanic National Bar Association said on Wednesday that it would move its 40th annual convention, scheduled for September 2015 in Phoenix, to another city because of the legislation, the Times reported.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Menendez Iran Sanctions Bill Stirs Democratic Unrest.


Image: Menendez Iran Sanctions Bill Stirs Democratic Unrest

By Melissa Clyne

A fight is brewing among Democrats and the White House over a bill proposed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez that would impose additional sanctions against Iran if the country fails to make good on its promises regarding its nuclear program.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the New Jersey Democrat’s bill has drawn criticism from the White House, which fears that saber rattling over more sanctions could upset efforts to reach a final agreement with Tehran aimed at effectively ending its nuclear program. In December, a large group of Democratic Senate chairman also raised the same concern about threatening new sanctions before talks have even gotten well underway.

The U.S., along with Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, struck a deal with Tehran to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the easing of international sanctions for six months. Menendez and other liberal Democratic heavyweights, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, have voiced skepticism over the interim deal, arguing that it has no “end game” and is not stringent enough.

Two dozen senators – 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans – are cosponsoring the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, introduced by Menendez and Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. Writing in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post last Thursday, Menendez argued that the U.S. needs to operate from a trust and verify stance with Iran, a historically untrustworthy nation.

“The American public supports diplomacy. So do I.” Menendez wrote. “The American public doesn’t trust the Iranian regime. Neither do I.”

The same day, the White House struck back with a statement from National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, who accused Menendez and other critics of the deal of being stealth war hawks.

“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action [against Iran’s nuclear development efforts], they should be up front with the American public and say so,” she said. “Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.”

Meehan argued that the Menendez-Kirk bill would be counter-productive and “divide the international community . . . and possibly end negotiations.”

Also lining up against Menendez and his camp are 10 Senate committee chairmen, whopenned a Dec. 18 letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging him to reject additional sanctions unless Iran violates the current agreement.

“We believe that new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail,” the letter stated.

But Menendez wrote in his op-ed piece that Iran has already laid the groundwork for breaching terms of the deal reached in Geneva by doing things like firing a rocket into space and improving their ability to develop a long-range ballistic missile. Tehran has also proposed enriching uranium up to 60 percent, well beyond any potential use for peaceful purposes, according to Menendez.

His bill, he argues, “supports continued negotiations, gives the administration a year of flexibility to secure a comprehensive agreement, respects the sanctions relief Iran is set to receive and prevents any new sanctions from taking effect while good-faith negotiations are underway.”

He called measure a “diplomatic insurance policy” and “an act of reasonable pragmatism.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Feds Charge Texas Man With Hate Crime in ‘Knockout Game’ Attack.


Eric Holder‘s Justice Department has charged a white suburban Houston man with a federal hate crime for sucker-punching a 79-year-old black man in a “knockout game,” a violent trend that has been sweeping the nation.

“The plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?” Conrad Barrett, 27, allegedly said in a cellphone call that was recorded, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday, citing court documents.

The sick game is played when one or more youths decide to knock down a stranger, preferably with one punch, as they pass by. The event often is recorded so the proof  can be posted on the Internet.

It’s the first time the Obama administration has taken action on the distressing trend, The Washington Times reported, although unlike most reported “knockout” cases, in this instance the accused is white and the victim black.

According to the complaint in the Texas case, similar incidents occurred as early as 1992, and the Los Angeles Times reported attacks have been reported in St. Louis, New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, among other areas.

An assault attributed to the knockout game reportedly killed a Vietnamese immigrant in 2011 in St. Louis. At least one legislator in Illinois has called for tougher penalties, thTimes said.

Many of the victims in news accounts have been white and their assailants black, but hate-crimes charges have been rare, The Washington Times reported.

In New York, knockout game attacks have been on the rise since September, according to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. At least one was caught by surveillance cameras in which a 19-year-old Jewish youth carrying a camera was knocked to the ground, a CBS affiliate reported.

Rabbi Yaacov Behrman told the CBS he believes the assaults are part of a disturbing game by some African-American teens.

“They’re playing a game: ‘knockout.’ ‘Knock out the Jew,’ maybe. And they’re going around the neighborhood punching Jews,” Behrman said.

Activist the Rev. Al Sharpton wrote last month of an incident in which a 78-year-old Jewish woman was walking down the street in Brooklyn and was punched in the face.

“These kids are targeting innocent people, and in many cases specifically targeting Jewish folks,” Sharpton wrote. “We would not be silent if it were the other way around, and we will not be silent now. This behavior is racist, period. And we will not tolerate it.”

New York police charged suspect Marajh Amrit with a hate crime in the alleged attack of a white Jewish man as part of a “knockout” game.

According to Texas authorities, Barrett allegedly hit his elderly victim so hard,he immediately tumbled to the ground. Barrett then laughed and said “knockout,” as he ran to his vehicle and fled, according to the allegations.

The elderly black man had two jaw fractures and was hospitalized for several days.

“It is unimaginable in this day and age that one could be drawn to violently attack another based on the color of their skin,” FBI Special Agent Stephen Morris said in a statement.

The attack occurred Nov. 24; the criminal complaint was filed under seal Tuesday and unsealed Thursday, when Barrett was arrested, television station KHOU reported.

Barrett made several videos, one in which he identifies himself and another in which he makes a racial slur and says blacks “haven’t fully experienced the blessing of evolution,” The Washington Times reported.

Barrett allegedly had been working up to playing the knockout game for approximately a week.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

New Daily Paper to Open in Los Angeles.


The parent company of the Orange County Register plans to expand with a daily paper in Los Angeles, looking to further stretch its regional reach to nearly all of Southern California.

The new, seven-days-a-week paper will be known as the Los Angeles Register, Freedom Communications CEO Aaron Kushner told The Associated Press on Thursday night, a few hours after announcing the move to his staff in the Orange County Register’s newsroom.

Kushner didn’t give many specifics about plans for the paper but said it will be launched “quickly” and be widely distributed in print in Los Angeles County. The Register’s story on the launch said it would come early next year.

Kushner said the paper will share Orange County Register content in sports and other areas with regional relevance, but he emphasized it will be a distinct entity with a Los Angeles office and a staff made up of existing Register employees and new hires.

“It will be the LA Register, not the Orange County Register,” Kushner said in a phone interview. “We’re not a national paper, we are a local community-building paper, so that means having local people in the community they’re covering.”

Shortly after the announcement, Orange County Register staffers received an email asking about their interest in covering Los Angeles.

The move represents the first time in years that a newspaper has sought to challenge the area’s dominant daily, the Los Angeles Times.

The Times’ last citywide daily competitor, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, folded in 1989, and plans for startups have been frequently proposed since, but all have faltered. Los Angeles County’s other newspapers have largely chosen to focus on their on their local area instead of the region.

Kushner said he believes there is a place for a paper with a different emphasis and perspective.

“We think the LA Times is a great national newspaper. We are a very different kind of newspaper,” Kushner said. “Obviously, we have a very different political perspective. We’re not liberal and we’re not reactionary. We believe in free markets.”

Asked to respond, Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan said in an email, “Our first and foremost mission is serving Southern California, as we have for 132 years.”

Last month, Freedom Communications Inc. bought the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the region’s biggest inland newspaper, for $27.2 million from Dallas-based A.H. Belo, a month after the deal was announced.

That acquisition combined with a new Long Beach daily and the move into Los Angeles means Freedom’s papers will have vast reach in a heavily populated region.

But it means an increasingly large gamble that the millions of potential readers will turn into lots of actual customers at a time when the newspaper business is generally shrinking.

Ken Doctor, a newspaper industry analyst with Outsell Inc., said the move may be an attempt to find new revenue to cover the Freedom’s fast-growing costs, but it’s bold nonetheless.

“Aaron Kushner and Freedom Communications are making the most contrarian play in American newspapers,” Doctor said. “While newspapers overall are receding and retracting and cutting, he is in expansionist mode.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

‘The Butler’ Snubbed by Golden Globes.


Image: 'The Butler' Snubbed by Golden Globes

By Lisa Barron

Lee Daniels’ controversial movie “The Butler” was dealt a major blow in Thursday’s Golden Globe nominations, being shut out in all categories.

The movie which had gone into the annual awards season as one of the favorites failed to get a single nod from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the host of the glitzy  showpiece.

The story of a black man from the south who served eight American presidents over three decades in the White House received nominations from the actors union on Wednesday for best ensemble, lead actor for Forest Whitaker and supporting actress for Oprah Winfrey.

“What the Screen Actors Guild giveth, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association taketh away,” film critic John Horn said in The Los Angeles Times.

The film, which opened this summer, earned mixed reviews and came under fire for its portrayal of former President Ronald Reagan as being racist, in part because he was not in favor of imposing economic sanctions on South Africa, and for casting Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. It grossed $116 million at the box office.

Making the decision more startling is that the Golden Globes has nominations for both dramatic movies and for musicals or comedies, doubling the amount of nominations of most other award shows.

The Foreign Press Association instead chose “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity,” “Captain Phillips,” “Rush,” and “Philomena” ahead of “The Butler,” in the dramatic category.

Following the Globe announcements at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, there were several startled responses to “The Butler” snub.

“Well, the HFPA was clearly not having this movie at all!” said New York magazine, adding, “Just a complete and total shutout across the board.”

“Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ was high on early lists, then fell back (and didn’t even make the American Film Institute’s Top 10 movies-of-the-year roster),” noted The New York Times.

Director Daniels revealed to The Hollywood Reporter last month that he initially had trouble getting financing for the film, which was based on a story by Washington Post reporter Wil Hargood, who tracked down then-89-year-old former White House butler Eugene Allen for a piece celebrating President Barack Obama’s election.

In that story, Allen fondly recalled first lady Nancy Reagan inviting him and his wife to a state dinner. “She said, ‘You and Helene are coming to the state dinner as guests of President Reagan and myself,” he told Hargood.

“I’m telling you! I believe I’m the only butler to get invited to a state dinner,” he grinned.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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