• The Anti-Abortion Vanguard | Jacobin

    Modern contraception works pretty well: the two-thirds of women who use it consistently account for only 5 percent of abortions. And yet, not one major anti-abortion organization supports making birth control more available, much less educating young people in its use: not Feminists for Life, National Right to Life, or the Susan B. Anthony List; not American Life League, Americans for Life, or Pro-Life Action League, to say nothing of the US Council of Catholic Bishops, Priests for Life, and Sisters for Life.

    Anti-abortion organizations either openly oppose contraception, or are silent about it. Even Democrats for Life of America avoids the subject.

    It is hard to find a public-health expert who will deny that the most effective way to prevent abortion is reliable contraception, but anti-abortion hardliners find ways to dispute this no-brainer. They argue that the Pill and emergency contraception are “abortifacients,” “baby pesticide,” and “killer pills” which prevent the implantation of fertilized eggs, no matter how many studies show that these drugs do not work this way


  • TPP Is in Trouble, Thanks to Public Interest | Al Jazeera America

    he public debate over the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership has been a lot more robust and educational than the one that preceded the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement more than two decades ago. During that fight, then-Washington Post editorial page editor Meg Greenfield didn’t see a problem with a six-to-one ratio of space for pro- vs. anti-NAFTA editorials. “On this rare occasion when columnists of the left, right, and middle are all in agreement ... I don’t believe it is right to create an artificial balance where none exists.”

    Today there are more economists in the news debunking the arguments put forth to promote the TPP, and this has contributed to the collapse of some of these talking points.

    This week, economists Dean Baker and Paul Krugman warn that people should be suspicious of any agreement that leads its proponents to lie and distort so much in order to sell it. They called attention to President Barack Obama’s former Chief of Staff William M. Daley, who made the ridiculous claim in a New York Times op-ed that it is “because our products face very high


  • From Quarantine To Appeasement | Foreign Policy

    hen President Obama recently nominated Gayle Smith to be the next administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, many members of the country’s small Africa-related foreign policy community howled.

    Though USAID isn’t an Africa-specific bureaucracy, the agency focuses disproportionately on the continent because of its development mission. After the Pentagon, which has quietly come to dominate American policy toward Africa in recent decades, no other part of the U.S. government has as big a footprint in Africa as USAID.

    Smith’s critics, myself included, have objected to the fact that over the years, this former journalist has been a conspicuous backer of authoritarian regimes in places like Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda. When I first made this point publicly, a former White House staffer offered a disconcertingly ambivalent response: “I’m not sure if there were more compelling candidates out there,” he said.

    He may well be right – and the reason for the lack of qualified personnel is a direct consequence of Washin


  • In Search of the Real Barack Obama | Foreign Policy

    ❝David Rothkopf: I re-read your most recent interview with Obama. It is the first interview with the president in which you seemed to really express your discomfort with some of his views. In fact, in my view, it is one of the most candid and direct interviews I have ever seen done with him. What was your takeaway?

    Jeffrey Goldberg: For me, it’s a mix — the main frustration, of course, is technical — there’s never enough time, and this president talks in perfectly formed paragraphs, and he’s given to filibustering on occasion, and it is, of course, hard to interrupt any president in the Oval Office. So most of the time I’m just worrying about getting in the questions I want answered. (Actually, by the way, it’s something deeper and more interesting than filibustering — I think he takes pride in deducing the next three questions in an interview, and so he answers these imagined questions before you get a chance to ask. The flummoxing part of this is that he’s very often right about the questions. Maybe it’s a lawyer trick, I don’t know.)

    Obviously, there was also frustration for me with a number of his answers. Let me put the Israel issue aside, because, as I’ve written, I probably share a lot of his analysis of Israel’s core dilemmas. To put it crudely, the

  • Please, Mr. President, Read This Before You Go to Camp David - Mohammed A. Al-Jasem - POLITICO Magazine

    ne reason I’m such a skeptic is that I’ve been at this a long time. I have been a lawyer since 1978 and was a court observer for Amnesty International in Bahrain and Egypt. I started working in media in 1994 and eventually became the editor in chief of a daily newspaper and the Arabic versions of Newsweek and Foreign Policy.

    In 2003, while I was still an editor, I was accused of instigating to overthrow the regime in a State Security case. I was a guest speaker at an election campaign event and spoke openly about the relations between the ruling family and Kuwaiti people. I said simply that there had been no change in the ruling family’s mentality for decades. That was enough for the state prosecutor to take notice. Two days later he notified me I was being investigated. Even though I wasn’t imprisoned in that case—I was released on bail—the U.S. Stat


  • A rare bipartisan consensus on the Iran nuclear negotiations | Brookings Institution

    A statement on the Iran nuclear negotiations issued earlier this week by a study group organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has received considerable media and broader public attention. Dwelling on the fact that several former Obama administration officials signed the statement, a number of media accounts interpreted the statement as an indication that those former officials had broken ranks with the administration and lost confidence in its ability and determination to achieve a sound agreement. A reporter at the June 25 State Department press briefing even asked whether it was unprecedented for former senior officials “to have staged such an open revolt.” As a signer of the group’s statement and a former member of the Obama administration’s Iran negotiating team, I believe such an interpretation of the statement is unfounded and distorts the statement’s significance.


  • Obama: Fight Against Islamic State ’Will Not Be Quick’


    U.S. President Barack Obama says the fight against Islamic State radicals will be long, hard-fought and require more than American military might to win.

    “This will not be quick. This is a long-term campaign,” the president said Monday during a rare visit to the Pentagon, where he met with his national security team. “It will take time to root them out, and doing so must be the job of local forces on the ground with training and air support from our coalition.”

    “There will be periods of progress, but there will also be some setbacks,” added Obama, who has pledged to neutralize and defeat Islamic State militants without dragging America into another ground war.

    The president, who once conceded the U.S. lacks a “complete strategy” to battle IS, met with Defense Secretary Ash Carter and top military commanders and intelligence officials. The gathering followed a weekend of intensified airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition against the militants, who have taken control of large swaths of northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria. The coalition conducted 38 strikes, with nearly half directed around the self-proclaimed IS capital of Raqqa.


  • The deadly consequences of mislabeling Syria’s revolutionaries - The Washington Post

    As has become obvious, the Obama administration’s response to the Syrian conflict is an abject failure. No clear strategy has been determined; the administration’s “red lines” have not been honored. Short-term, stopgap measures informed by the Iraq and Afghanistan experiences, along with the noise generated by a media fixated on the Islamic State, have taken priority over achievable, long-term goals. The result: a death toll commonly estimated at between 200,000 and 300,000 people (though it’s certainly higher), more than 11 million displaced and numerous cities in ruins.

    Nowhere is this failure clearer than in the consequence of the misguided way that Syrian revolutionaries are labeled as either “moderate” or “extremist.”

    In December, Secretary of State John F. Kerry stated that “Syrians should not have to choose between a tyrant and the terrorists.” There was, Kerry declared, a third option: “the moderate Syrian opposition who are fighting both extremists and [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad every day.” Unfortunately, this commendable view has broken down because the United States has defined the term “moderate” in such a narrow and arbitrary fashion that it excludes the bulk of the mainstream opposition.


  • ICSR Insight: The Tunisian-Libyan Jihadi Connection / ICSR

    ICSR Insight: The Tunisian-Libyan Jihadi Connection


    by Aaron Zelin, The Rena and Sami David Fellow, ICSR

    It should have come as no surprise that Seifeddine Rezgui, the individual that attacked tourists in Sousse, Tunisia more than a week ago, had trained at a camp in Libya. The attack represented the continuation of a relationship between Tunisian and Libyan militants that, having intensified since 2011, goes back to the 1980s. The events in Sousse are a stark reminder of this relationship: a connection that is set to continue should The Islamic State (IS) choose to repeat attacks in Tunisia in the coming months.

    Brief History on the Tunisian-Libyan Militant Nexus

    Although Ennahda did not explicitly call for individuals to fight against the Soviets during the Afghan jihad, militants in the mujahedeen were regularly involved in facilitation and logistical networks that brought Libyans to the region. Additionally, according to Noman Benotman, a former shura council member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Libyans alongside Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the Afghan leader of Ittihad-e-Islami, attempted to help the Tunisians create their own military camp and organization. This would not come to fruition until 2000, when future leaders of Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST), Tarek Maaroufi (based in Brussels) and Sayf Allah Bin Hassine (moved from London to Jalalabad, Afghanistan; also known as Abu Iyadh al-Tunisi) co-founded the Tunisian Combatant Group.

  • Marco Rubio: Obama’s strategy for the Middle East has backfired - The Washington Post

    The fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to the Islamic State and recent gains by the group in Syria are the latest signs that President Obama’s strategy to defeat this brutal terrorist group is failing. But the problem is far bigger than that. The president’s entire approach to the Middle East has backfired.

    The Middle East is more dangerous and unstable than when Obama came into office — a time when Iraq and Syria were more stable, the Iranian nuclear program was considerably less advanced and the Islamic State did not yet exist.


  • How Bernie Sanders Learned to Be a Real Politician | Mother Jones

    Sometime in the late 1970s, after he’d had a kid, divorced his college sweetheart, lost four elections for statewide offices, and been evicted from his home on Maple Street in Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders moved in with a friend named Richard Sugarman. Sanders, a restless political activist and armchair psychologist with a penchant for arguing his theories late into the night, found a sounding board in the young scholar, who taught philosophy at the nearby University of Vermont. At the time, Sanders was struggling to square his revolutionary zeal with his overwhelming rejection at the polls—and this was reflected in a regular ritual. Many mornings, Sanders would greet his roommate with a simple statement: “We’re not crazy.”


  • A Tale of Two Supermarkets: One Transition Town’s Efforts to Respond to Gentrification - IPS

    Community resilience is often thought of in concrete terms: growing local food, using sustainable energy, riding bikes and using alternative transit, and lowering carbon emissions.

    All of this is tremendously important. But resilience is also a question of who, as well as what. It is possible to imagine a future full of gated neighborhoods that are highly resilient, where wealthy people live in carbon-neutral communities complete with bikes, electric cars, mini-farms, windmills, and solar panels.

    This is how gentrification systematically undermines attempts to create resilience for all. It’s why the future scenario of “gated resilience” is one we must seriously consider and work to prevent. We must always ask: who is community resilience really for? It’s also clear that as communities build resilient “amenities,” such as community gardens, green space, walkable business districts, farmers markets, and bike paths, they become more desirable places to live – and real estate prices rise. Tragically, the folks who worked so hard to improve their communities, and make them resilient, get priced out.