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Posts tagged ‘Politico’

Kasparov: Appease Putin and He’ll Come Back for More.


Image: Kasparov: Appease Putin and He'll Come Back for More

 

By Elliot Jager

Vladimir Putin is neither a modern-day Hitler nor a master strategist. He is best understood as a bellicose poker player up against a bunch of docile opponents, Garry Kasparov writes in Politico.

Kasparov, a chess grandmaster and chairman of the Human Rights Foundation in New York, who was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, then part of the Soviet Union, writes that he has dedicated himself “to opposing Vladimir Putin’s campaign to destroy democracy and civil liberties in Russia.”

What Putin has going for him that his Soviet precursors did not is unhindered entrée to international markets and institutions, Kasparov says. “Putin’s oligarchs bank in London, party in the Alps, and buy penthouses in New York and Miami, all while looting Russia under the auspices of a reborn KGB police state.”

European authorities have enabled Putin by facilitating his regime’s access to Western capital. Western banks helped underwrite the Kremlin takeover of dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Yukos oil empire, Kasparov writes.

Putin rules like an authoritarian communist dictator but acts like a Western mogul. He is no Hitler, but “turning the other cheek” to him “just gets you slapped again,” Kasparov writes.

President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are mistaken to worry about possible “instability” and “high costs” in confronting Putin. What “could be worse than the instability caused by the partial annexation of a European country by a nuclear dictatorship, carried out with impunity?”  Kasparov asks.

Merkel seems to now appreciate the urgency of standing up to Putin, he notes.

Kasparov’s conclusion is that “Putin is no master strategist. He’s an aggressive poker player facing weak opposition from a Western world that has become so risk-averse that it would rather fold than call any bluff, no matter how good its cards are.”

He’s no Hitler, but Kasparov writes the instructive analogy is that “appeasing a dictator” and “greedily grabbing at an ephemeral peace” in the face of aggression is a recipe for war in the long run.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama, Hillary Join Forces to Raise Money for Democrats.


President Barack Obama is bolstering his party’s campaign coffers, joining an ally of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to help the Democratic National Committee climb out of a worrisome deficit. It’s the latest alignment of the Obama and Clinton orbits, as the former first lady considers a White House bid in 2016.

Obama is traveling to New York Tuesday to raise money for the party at two events, including a high-dollar fundraiser at the home of Alan Patricof, the founder of a New York venture capital fund. Patricof is a longtime Clinton friend and financial bundler for her Senate and presidential campaigns.

The event illustrates the overlapping fundraising draw that Obama and the former first lady, senator and secretary of state represent for the party at a crucial time for the cash-strapped DNC. It also helps bridge some internal party tensions between donors who are merely interested in presidential politics and the Democrats’ needs during this year’s midterm elections.

Patricof wrote in a February email to contributors that he and his wife, Susan, had been “relatively quiet on the political front” following Clinton’s loss to Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary.

“The most effective way that we all can be helpful to Hillary, and the Democratic Party in general, is to make sure that the Democratic National Committee is as strong as possible if Hillary should decide to run in 2016 and, for that matter, if any other good candidate appears on the scene if she decides not to be in the race,” Patricof wrote in the email, first reported by Politico.

He called the fundraiser with Obama a “fireside chat” that would include 13 couples — 26 people — paying $32,500 per person.

The DNC has been trying to pare down millions of dollars in debt accumulated during Obama’s re-election campaign; through the end of January the DNC owed more than $15 million.

Obama, who will also raise money at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser while in New York, has been making a sober fundraising pitch of late, warning that Democrats run the risk of losing control of the Senate if the party doesn’t have the resources to motivate voters this November.

The president’s cash-raising comes amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine and a fast-approaching health care sign-up deadline that have been preoccupying the White House, underscoring the competing demands on Obama. It also comes as Obama is struggling with tepid approval ratings. Recent Gallup and CNN/Opinion Research polls place his job approval at 45 and 43 percent respectively. Over the past year, Obama’s approval ratings as measured by Gallup have fluctuated between a high of 51 percent last April and 39 percent in January.

If Clinton runs and wins the party’s nomination in 2016, the DNC would serve as a platform of continuity between the Obama White House and a future Clinton campaign. Party leaders recently outlined plans to build upon its technological advantage over Republicans and expand its voter registration and protection work in key states, steps that will help Obama’s successor.

The DNC already has plenty of Clinton connections. Committee members include Harold Ickes and Minyon Moore, both longtime advisers to Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. One of its top fundraisers is Michael Kempner, a New Jersey public relations executive who served as co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 national finance committee and was a top bundler for Obama in 2012.

For many Clinton backers, the DNC is a natural place to offer help while the former New York senator mulls her future.

“It’s a clear signal that the Clinton faction of the party is seeking to help the president any way possible,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a New York-based Democratic strategist who advised Bill Clinton’s campaigns. “Money is still the mother’s milk of American politics.”

The fundraiser is the latest in a series of steps that have helped bring together the Obama and Clinton camps after the bitterness of the 2008 primary fight.

Democratic super PAC Priorities USA Action recently brought on board Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, to lead the group. It made clear that it will back Clinton if she seeks the nomination. The super PAC’s executive director is Buffy Wicks, a former top Obama campaign staffer.

Ready for Hillary, a grassroots group aiming to lay the groundwork for a Clinton campaign, is advised by former Obama campaign aides Jeremy Bird and Mitch Stewart. In Iowa, which traditionally holds the nation’s first presidential caucus, the super PAC dispatched 250 volunteers last weekend to sign up new members at county Democratic conventions. The group covered 84 of the state’s 99 counties.

Patricof is managing director of Greycroft LLC, a venture capital firm he founded in 2006. In November, Obama appointed him to the President’s Global Development Council.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

‘Growing Crescendo’ in GOP to Hold Lerner in Contempt


There’s a “growing crescendo” to hold retired IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her repeated refusal to testify about the tax agency’s targeted scrutiny of tea party groups, one House Oversight Committee member said Wednesday.

In the wake of a contentious less-than-10-minute hearing where Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination — triggering an angry exchange between committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa and ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings — North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows said “The American people … want to hold those people accountable.. and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“There is a growing crescendo that they should hold her in contempt of Congress and the American people get what they deserve,” Meadows told Fox News.

Among the GOP chorus calling for a contempt charge is House Speaker John Boehner.

“She has to testify or she should be held in contempt,” the Ohio Republican said after the hearing, saying he’d wait for a report from Issa.

A contempt vote could lead to a criminal prosecution — and fan the controversy that erupted last year when the agency’s extra scrutiny of tea party-backed nonprofits came to light.

Issa’s committee since then has held five hearings, issued three subpoenas for documents and interviewed IRS officials.

Democrats howled after the hearing, where Cummings had demanded he be given a right to speak before adjournment — but instead had his microphone turned off.

“I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America,” Cummings yelled as Issa dismissed the meeting and cut of microphones. “I am tired of this.

“We have members over here, each who represent 700,000 people. You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something wrong with that. And, it’s absolutely un-American,” Cummings yelled.

“We had a hearing. We are adjourned. I gave you an opportunity to ask a question. You had no questions,” Issa, a Republican from California, responded.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, slammed Issa for conducting a “witch hunt.”

“What we’re seeing in the House today is a sign of larger dysfunction and partisanship on behalf of Republicans,” Van Hollen told MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown,” according to Politico.

“Darrell Issa has been conducting this political witch hunt for a long time now. He’s frustrated because he hasn’t been able to come up with any evidence of intentional political wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration, and so he’s getting frustrated and making stuff up.”

Democratic National Committee chair, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, called Issa’s conduct at the Wednesday hearing comparable to oppression in Ukraine and Venezuela, according to Politico, saying she was “stunned” that Issa would try to silence Cummings by cutting off his mic.

Cummings continued speaking for about 10 minutes; Lerner remained seated.

Issa said he’ll decide by next week whether his committee will seek to hold Lerner in contempt.

Lerner first appeared before the committee last May, when she also invoked the Fifth Amendment after maintaining that she was innocent of wrongdoing. The committee determined the following month that Lerner waived her right against self-incrimination by making that statement.

A Treasury inspector general’s report has since determined the IRS had used inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups, though it found no evidence of a political motivation.

The Justice Department is involved in a criminal probe of the matter.

The IRS has since proposed new rules for handling social welfare groups engaged in political activity, though conservative groups have called them too restrictive.

Bloomberg news contributed to this report

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers and Cathy Burke

Journalist Greenwald Denies He’s ‘Fencing’ Stolen NSA Secrets.


Image: Journalist Greenwald Denies He's 'Fencing' Stolen NSA Secrets

By Drew MacKenzie

Freelance journalist Glenn Greenwald has flatly denied the allegations of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers that he’s selling U.S. surveillance secrets stolen by fugitive Edward Snowden.

The Michigan Republican claimed on Tuesday during a committee hearing that Greenwald is receiving payments from news organizations worldwide for the intelligence secrets that Snowden had illegally taken while working for the National Security Agency.

“A thief selling stolen material is a thief,” said Rogers. “For personal gain, he’s now selling his access to information.”

But Greenwald, who once worked for The Guardian in Britain, said that he’s giving hisservices to foreign news agencies as a journalist and that he’s not, as Rogers suggested, “fencing stolen material.”

He said in an interview, “I’m never selling documents. I don’t get money and give them documents, like, ‘Hey, nice doing business with you.’

“We do the reporting first I vet the stories. We come with the story already formed. We work on drafts of the story. We always edit the story. We have approval rights.”

Greenwald, who works with the help of other freelancers, said that he is careful to make sure that he has signed freelance contracts with various agencies before filing his Snowden stories to ensure that he’s seen as a journalist rather than a source.

“If I went around and reported on this without a freelance contract or a freelance fee paid, the government would say I’m acting as a source and not a distributor of the documents,” Greenwald said. “I never work with any foreign media outlet without any kind of agreement. I have to do it that way. If I don’t, they would make other accusations.”

Politico noted that in the past sources have been prosecuted for revealing secret data while the U.S government has been reluctant to go after journalists or publishers.

Rogers had attempted during the committee hearing to make a connection between journalism and criminality while being briefed by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey.

“I I’m a newspaper reporter…and I sell stolen material, is that legal because I’m a newspaper reporter?” Rogers asked. “If I’m hawking stolen, classified material that I’m not legally in possession of for personal gain and profit, is that not a crime?”

But Comey said that if a reporter was “hawking stolen jewelry” it would be a crime, but added that reporting on classified documents was harder to quantify because “it involves a news-gathering function” and “could have First Amendment implications.”

Greenwald pointed out that Roger’s accusations, if they stood up in a court of law, could criminalize the profession of journalism, and in essence the rights of free speech.

The writer, who is also an attorney and civil rights activist, claimed that his contracts are for a “trivial amount.”

He added, “Any journalist who reports on top-secret documents is necessarily getting paid. If you’re going to characterize that as selling documents, you’re necessarily selling documents.”

Greenwald also pointed out that journalist Bart Gellman had written stories for the Washington Post as a freelancer using Snowden’s documents, but Rogers had not accused him of fencing stolen goods.

“How is that any different than what Bart Gellman does?” Greenwald asked. “He’s freelance for the Washington Post and he gets paid per story.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Franklin Graham Disagrees With Pope Francis on Homosexuality.


The Rev. Franklin Graham is criticizing Pope Francis for his stance on homosexuality.

The pontiff declared earlier this year: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge them?”

But Graham, the son of the Rev. Billy Graham, says being gay is a sin in the eyes of God, and that unlike the pope he does not plan to soften his position, according to Politico.

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

“I want to warn people that I think he [the pope] is right when he says he’s not the judge,” Rev. Graham, the head of his father’s ministry, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, adding: “He’s not the judge. God is the judge.”

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking newsworld news, and news about the economy

“God would have to shift — and God doesn’t. God’s word is the same, yesterday and today and a million years from now. It’s a sin. I know the consequences of what will happen one day when they stand before God.”

Franklin also said on the program that his 95-year-old father is still “very weak.”

“His vitals are good, blood pressure, heart rate, these things are good. And he’s eating a little bit, but he’s just extremely weak. So I’ve asked people to pray. People who are watching this program, I hope they would pray for him. He would appreciate it very much.”

Billy Graham has been battling to regain his strength since celebrating his birthday last month by posting a personal, 30-minute video message online called “My Hope America,” which was described by some as possibly his final sermon.

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Drew MacKenzie

Franklin Graham Disagrees with Pope Francis on Homosexuality.


The Rev. Franklin Graham is criticizing Pope Francis for his stance on homosexuality.

The pontiff declared earlier this year: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge them?”

But Graham, the son of the Rev. Billy Graham, says being gay is a sin in the eyes of God, and that unlike the pope he does not plan to soften his position, according to Politico.

“I want to warn people that I think he (the pope) is right when he says he’s not the judge,” Rev. Graham, the head of his father’s ministry, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, adding: “He’s not the judge. God is the judge.” 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking newsworld news, and news about the economy

“God would have to shift — and God doesn’t. “God’s word is the same, yesterday and today and a million years from now. It’s a sin. I know the consequences of what will happen one day when they stand before God.”

Franklin also said on the program that his 95-year-old father is still “very weak.” 

“His vitals are good, blood pressure, heart rate, these things are good. And he’s eating a little bit, but he’s just extremely weak. So I’ve asked people to pray. People who are watching this program, I hope they would pray for him. He would appreciate it very much.”

Billy Graham has been battling to regain his strength since celebrating his birthday last month by posting a personal, 30-minute video message online called “My Hope America,” which was described by some as possibly his final sermon. 

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Drew MacKenzie

Huckabee: Talk Radio Job Like Being ‘NSA Agent’.


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says hosting a national radio talk show for nearly two years was like “being a junior NSA agent.”

Talk radio is “a very important force in American culture and certainly in politics,” the 2008 Republican presidential candidate told Politico. The medium also has “a certain sort of vicarious thrill that people have of listening in on other people’s conversations,” he said.

“The Mike Huckabee Show” ended its run on Cumulus Media Dec. 12. The three-hour weekday program began in April 2012. He continues to host his Fox News program on Saturdays.

Huckabee’s radio guests have ranged from country legend Willie Nelson and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential candidate.

Huckabee, 58, told Politico that he realized that Cumulus might not seek to expand his program further once it re-signed conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh to a three-year contract in August.

“We were at a point in the contract where I had an out,” Huckabee said. “And there are other things I’d like to do and the time that was involved was consuming me, literally consuming me.”

The former governor added, though, “I really did love doing it, that’s the hard part.”

Huckabee will not be leaving radio entirely, as he will soon begin providing brief commentaries three times a day to 600 stations nationally through “The Huckabee Report,” Politico reports.

Next year, he will begin “The Huckabee Post,” a website in partnership with Christian Media Corp. International.

Regarding a 2016 White House run, “I want them to be in the dark as much as possible,” Huckabee told Politico. “Keep ’em guessing, right?”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Todd Beamon

Obamacare Fumbling Continues With Newest Quick-Fix.


Image: Obamacare Fumbling Continues With Newest Quick-Fix

By Cathy Burke

Moving deadlines and quick-fixes have been the hallmark of Obamacare from the start, and the fumbling continued Monday with an abrupt change-of-date giving the uninsured a brief 24-hour extension, until Christmas Eve, to sign up for coverage beginning Jan. 1.

“We’re just trying to make sure everyone who wants to get enrolled to be covered by Jan. 1 is able to do that,” White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri told MSNBC on Monday, according to Politico. “We still consider the end of the deadline to be today, but we’re going to try to accommodate people who try to get it done [Monday].”

The HealthCare.gov Twitter account said record demand prompted a “fail-safe” extension, Politico reported — even though Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille sent a decidedly mixed signal.

“The deadline for signing up for coverage to start Jan. 1 is today,” her statement said, Politico reported. “We recognize that many have chosen to make their final decisions on today’s deadline, and are committed to making sure they can do so. Consumers should not wait until tomorrow. If you are aiming to get coverage Jan. 1, you should try to sign up today.”

The confusion is all too familiar. In October, Obamacare insurance buyers were operating  on the assumption they had until Dec. 15 to pick a plan if they wanted coverage beginning Jan. 1.

A month later, however, the no-later-than deadline was stretched to Dec. 23 — even as the Department of Health and Human Services was pushing back its deadline for when the first month’s insurance premium would come due, from Jan. 1 to Jan. 10.

It’s not just the deadlines that have kept Americans guessing.

On Dec. 19, the administration announced its most major “fix” for Americans who had lost their coverage because it didn’t measure up to Obamacare standards: changing policy to help people make the deadline to replace their dropped plans.

Those with inadequate insurance who got dumped by their insurance carriers were then allowed to claim a “hardship exemption,” giving them the option to buy cheaper, minimal coverage normally available only to people under 30.

“This is not a new policy,” Palmieri said Monday, Politico reported. “We merely clarified on behalf of a group of senators who asked the same questions on behalf of their constituents.”

“We actually don’t think in reality a great many people will avail themselves of this option,” she said. “We just want to make sure that people understand they have this option.”

Another Obamacare mandate “fix” came Nov. 14 — a week after President Barack Obama apologized to insured Americans whose plans were dropped despite his oft-repeated promise that would never happen under the new law — asking insurers to offer the sub-par coverage for another year.

The president switched the mandate for small businesses too, announcing last July that he was bumping the deadline requiring companies with 50 or more employees to offer insurance from Jan. 1, 2014, to Jan. 1, 2015.

Reuters contributed to this report

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama Signs up through DC Health Care Exchange.


In a symbolic step, President Barack Obama has signed up for health insurance through the new exchanges created by his health care overhaul.

The White House says Obama signed up through the Washington, D.C., marketplace over the weekend. Because he signed up in private, without reporters present, it was unclear whether Obama encountered any of the website glitches that millions of other Americans have experienced.

Obama, through a staff member, reportedly elected a lower-cost bronze plan offered through an exchange in the District of Columbia. However, technically, the commander-in-chief already has insurance through the military.

On vacation in Hawaii, Obama said he “was pleased to participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces, which are providing quality, affordable healthcare options to more than a million people,” officials said.

According to Politico, a staff member went to an exchange office, in person, to sign up Obama.

“Like some Americans, the complicated nature of the president’s case required an in-person sign up,” the official said. “As you’d expect, the president’s personal information is not readily available in the variety of government databases HealthCare.gov uses to verify identities.”

The president will pay a premium for personal coverage (excluding his family) of less than $400 monthly.

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Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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

Source: Newsmax.com

Special Council Would Oversee Nuclear Command System.


Lawmakers want the Pentagon to create a special council to oversee government leaders‘ communications in the event of a nuclear crisis.

The council to oversee the Pentagon’s existing NC3 system, which controls nuclear weapons command and communications processes, would be included in Congress’ compromise on an annual military authorization bill, reports DefenseOne.com. The council would also be responsible for identifying and mitigating any NC3 technology vulnerabilities.

It would also oversee system-performance assessments, develop system architectures, and ensure the program continues to have the resources it needs to operate, including support for ongoing projects like the Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals, which would give senior government and military officials the ability to communicate securely over satellites.

The 2014 defense authorization measure has already been approved in the House, with the Senate expected to begin its own discussions on it Wednesday, reports Politico.

The technology for ongoing projects is expected to take years of continued development, a Senate staffer told DefenseOne, so House and Senate Armed Service Committee members believe the whole process of acquisition and policy should be institutionalized, including establishing a council to manage it all.

Acquisition planning for NC3 advancements now happens on an “ad hoc” basis that changes depending who is in charge, the unnamed aide said.

If the provision is added to the authorization bill, it would elevate the NC3 network inside the Pentagon. The council would be co-chaired by the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics.

The council would also include the undersecretary of Defense for policy; the head of Strategic Command; the director of the National Security Agency; and the Pentagon’s chief information officer.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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