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  • Many Of The Military's Top Leaders Can’t Stand The Retired General Leading The Anti-ISIS Coalition

    john allen

    One would think a man with four stars on his collar leading U.S. forces in Afghanistan just one year ago would have no problem working with military leadership in the fight against militants of the so-called Islamic State at present.

    But for retired Marine Gen. John Allen, who was appointed by President Obama in September as special envoy to lead the global coalition to counter the militant group, that calculus has been wrong.

    Gen. Lloyd Austin

    An article posted at Foreign Policy on Thursday by Mark Perry lists a surprising number of detractors to Allen's appointment, including many in and out of uniform. The most obvious rift comes from Gen. Lloyd Austin, the man in charge of Central Command, tasked with carrying out the military plan to "degrade and destroy" ISIL, the administration's preferred acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

    "Why the hell do we need a special envoy — isn't that what [Secretary of State] John Kerry's for?" a senior officer close to Austin told Perry, of the potential for confusion since Gen. Allen reports directly to President Obama.

    Allen, 60, was given an incredibly difficult task upon his appointment. With the Islamic State consuming much of Iraq and Syria and boasting roughly 31,000 fighters, his role as special envoy is to "help build and sustain the coalition," and coordinate their efforts, according to the State Department.

    But Allen — now inside the State Department and no longer wearing military rank — commands a role not very far outside the scope of duties of Gen. Austin at Centcom, who is charged with overseeing relationships, offering military support, and carrying out operations when necessary in 20 Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq and Syria.

    SYRIA IRAQ

    Indeed, Gen. James Mattis — the commander before Austin at Centcom — demonstrated a perfect example of the military's ability to build coalitions without outside support, in retelling how he got 29 nations together to counter Iran's attempt to mine the Strait of Hormuz.

    "The military overseas can do more than simply reinforce foreign policy," Mattis said earlier this year. "We can also buy time for the diplomats to do their magic."

    It became apparent after only a few days of Allen's appointment that a turf war had emerged.

    Via Foreign Policy:

    When Allen requested that the Pentagon provide him with air transport to the region just days before his scheduled arrival in Iraq on Oct. 2, he was turned down by Austin's staff, who told him to check with the State Department. It was a slight "that left Allen steaming," a former high-level civilian Pentagon official confirmed.

    Even Gen. Anthony Zinni — himself a former Centcom commander who later served as special envoy to Israel for peace talks in 2002 — was critical of Allen's appointment (via The Tampa Tribune):

    “John Allen is a great guy, but does it take a retired general to coordinate a coalition? What is Centcom, chopped liver? Did Norman Schwarzkopf get some retired general? Who is really leading here, that is my question.”

    islamic state isis

    And there are many more gripes noted by military officers who spoke on condition of anonymity to Foreign Policy. One derides Allen as "a boy scout." Another, noting his new role as a quasi-diplomat though he's never been one, said "I don't know how that's going to work."

    For many of the military's top leaders it seems, having a retired general like Allen outside of the military chain-of-command reporting to Obama is a sign of White House "micromanagement." It also offers the possibility of conflicting messages between State and the Pentagon in the fight against ISIL.

    “We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.

    But perhaps the most devastating critique comes from one of the tribal leaders that US forces need to support in pushing back the Islamic State. As militants battled for control of the home town of Jalal al-Gaood in Iraq's Anbar province, the man desperately tried to reach Allen to ask for assistance, but it was too late.

    “Gen. Allen said, ‘I will put you in touch with someone in Centcom.’ But it never happened,” Gaood told The Washington Post's David Ignatius. “Every time the Iraqis meet with Americans, they just take notes.”

    SEE ALSO: The US Confirms That It Is Not Coordinating With The Free Syrian Army

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  • This Damning Book Offers Little Hope For The Future Of Afghanistan

    US Soldier Sleep Afghanistan"If the central government doesn't stay together, I'll have to find a way to protect my people."

    That's just one of the many negative outlooks about the future of Afghanistan offered by Afghan civilians, police commanders, and US troops alike in the new book "Swimming with Warlords: A Dozen-Year Journey Across the Afghan War" by award-winning journalist Kevin Sites.

    The pessimistic quote comes from a police commander named Imam Muhammad whom Sites interviewed, as he travels back to Afghanistan for his fifth and final journey to retrace his steps when he first entered at the beginning of the US-led war against the Taliban in 2001.

    As Sites notes in his book, the commander's reference to "my people" is a bad sign, signifying a reliance on tribalism rather than a national identity — as Afghans — that continues to plague the war torn nation.

    To be fair, the country has accomplished much in the years since the US invasion. Construction of schools, bridges, and dams have provided some semblance of infrastructure, and a growing art and skateboarding scene has emerged in Kabul — a development that would be unheard of under Taliban rule. Meanwhile, women's rights have considerably improved, and the average Afghan has seen health care improvements that have dramatically increased life expectancy.

    But high levels of distrust toward the government among Afghans should yield no illusions as to the likely outcome when US troops leave.

    "Corruption, all kinds of corruption," former Northern Alliance Gen. Moammar Hassan told Sites. "The justice system in Afghanistan doesn't work. The people are frustrated. And this is why in the western and southern provinces they go to the Taliban for justice and the application of Sharia law."

    Afghanistan

    While offering a sober look at the state of Afghanistan, the book yields interesting perspectives from not only the many subjects interviewed but also the world of Sites himself, a journalist who has been in-and-out of conflict zones for more than 28 years. As he tries to follow along the path that took him to Afghanistan more than a decade before, he brings the reader back to entries in his 2001 journal, which offers perspective, wonderful reporting — and at times — sheer terror.

    There is much to bolster the pessimistic argument toward Afghanistan's future these days. A new US government report shows record levels of opium production in the region, which is now a $3 billion industry with much of the profit going to the Taliban. And then there is the 2013 Vice documentary "This Is What Winning Looks Like," which showed that despite the best efforts of US forces, rampant corruption, military and police incompetence, and illiteracy still continue.

    It's not just Afghans who are worried about the Taliban possibly returning to power. Sites references a Jan. 2014 classified "National Intelligence Estimate" put together by all 16 US intelligence agencies, which predicts chaos will engulf the country if foreign military and financial aid dries up, with the Taliban likely seizing control by 2017.

    A favorite Taliban saying is that "the Americans have watches. We have the time." — Eric Margolis   

    Still, there is an air of uncertainty that remains over Afghanistan — and Sites does not try to predict what will happen beyond 2014. It's worth remembering that before Afghanistan was ravaged by war, the country had paved roads, plenty of cars, schools, a modern, professional military, and a shared national identity.

    Could it happen once more? As Sites argues, there is some room for optimism:

    "So is all lost? My journeys tell me no. Hope both political and economic remains. Youth movements are forming, pushing back against both the government's corruption and the Taliban's extremism. Experts also say that Afghanistan could one day sustain itself with properly managed mineral and other natural resources. China, India, and other nations are already investing."

    Girls Afghanistan goats

    Whether Afghanistan blooms into the democracy hoped for by the US or turns to a Taliban dictatorship, Sites' book is a clear reminder of the inherent dangers of America's fiasco of "nation-building" in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki destroyed the promise of democracy by pushing Sunnis out of the political process, paving the way for the rise of the Islamic State. With the final withdrawal of NATO forces approaching quickly, the next US president will want to avoid a similar outcome in Afghanistan.

    "One thing I do know is that while hope is mightily tested, often beaten, battered, and sometimes stolen, it never really dies in the hearts of most Afghans," Sites writes in his afterword.

    Sadly, much of Sites' book on the current state of Afghanistan yields little optimism toward the country's future. But only time will tell whether he's right about the survival of Afghan hope.

    You can check out Sites' book "Swimming With Warlords" at Amazon >

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  • These Maps Reveal How Ethnic Groups Are Spread Across America

    german ancestry mapThe United States may be a melting pot, but many ancestry groups still stick together.

    Take German-Americans, the country's largest ancestry group with 49 million members. While they make up more than 30% of the population in the Midwest, they account for less than 10% of the population in the Deep South and California.

    Irish-Americans are everywhere in the North East, but almost nowhere in the South West. Meanwhile, there are hardly any Mexican-Americans in New England.

    Maps of the largest ancestry and racial groups in America based on the American Community Survey can be found in a book called "Ancestry & Ethnicity in America." With permission from Grey House Publishing, we're posting them here.

    49,840,035 Germans live mostly in the Midwest.

    From "Ancestry & Ethnicity in America" based on the American Community Survey (2006–2010 Five Year Estimate). Respondents could name more than one ancestry group or race.



    35,751,251 Irish are strongest in the North East.

    From "Ancestry & Ethnicity in America" based on the American Community Survey (2006–2010 Five Year Estimate). Respondents could name more than one ancestry group or race.



    31,798,258 Mexicans are strongest west of the Mississippi.

    From "Ancestry & Ethnicity in America" based on the American Community Survey (2006–2010 Five Year Estimate). Respondents could name more than one ancestry group or race.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider






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  • The Cop Who Shot Michael Brown Is Unlikely To Face Federal Civil Rights Charges

    Officer Darren Wilson

    Darren Wilson, the cop who shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Missouri in August, is unlikely to face civil rights charges for killing the teen, The Washington Post reports.

    The Justice Department reportedly doesn't have a strong enough case to charge Wilson and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to violate Brown's constitutional rights, sources told the Post.

    The department has also been investigating the policing practices of the Ferguson Police Department. Attorney General Eric Holder has said "the need for wholesale change in that department is appropriate."

    Wilson reportedly told investigators that there was an altercation in his police vehicle before he shot Brown. Wilson said Brown was reaching for Wilson's gun.

    But other witnesses have told a different story, saying that Brown was shot when he had his hands up in the air in a sign of surrender.

    Wilson, who is white, shot Brown after stopping him and a friend for walking in the street.

    Protests broke out in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, after Brown was shot. Witness accounts saying that Brown had his hands up when Wilson shot him ignited accusations of racism.

    Read the full report in The Washington Post >

    SEE ALSO: Autopsy Report Reveals The Cop's Story About What Happened In Ferguson

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  • America May Have Just Lost One Of Its Top Counterterror Partners In Africa

    RTR4CC7J

    After 27 years in power, Blaise Compaore, president of Burkina Faso, has been overthrown following a wave of popular protests.

    Faso joins Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych — the Kremlin client tossed from the presidency during widespread protests in Kiev this past February — as the only other world leader ejected from office as the result of a popular uprising in 2014 (so far, at least).

    Compaore's ouster won't involve the US to the degree that Ukraine's turmoil has. But neither is the US totally without interests in the country — interests that could become jeopardized depending on how the post-Compaore period unfolds.

    Burkina Faso is home to a number of US national security assets, including a joint special operations air detachment that ran a classified aerial surveillance program called Creek Sand, first revealed by the Washington Post in 2012. Burkina Faso is one of the US's centers of operation in a part of the world that's become increasingly relevant to the fight against terrorism, a country wedged between Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb in Algeria and Niger, and Ansar al Dine in Mali.

    Compaore's Burkina Faso was important for a separate yet related reason: the conflict in neighboring Mali.

    It's easy to lose sight of this now, what with the country's current relative stability and a spate of other, fresher terrorism-related sagas over the past couple years. But the collapse of Mali after a coup in March of 2012 threatened to create a vast terrorist safe haven in west Africa and rapidly became one of the world's major security crises.

    Junior officers ousted the country's elected president in March of 2012, partly because of his failure to confront an intensifying Tuareg insurgency roiling the country's north. In the ensuing collapse of the Malian state, most of the northern half of the country was taken over by a constellation of hardcore jiihadist groups and Tuareg nationalists, some of them former mercenaries for recently ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

    By mid-2012, and with astonishing speed, Mali became an example of how an obscure and essentially local dispute over governance, ethnicity, and citizenship could mutate into the possible jihadist takeover of a sizable country not far from mainland Europe.

    The crisis seemed to have ended when the French military was deployed to northern Mali in January of 2013, sending the jihadists fleeing from the region's major cities and leaving the new government in Bamako to negotiate with the Tuaregs. But as Thomas Miles, an independent scholar and author of an upcoming book on Mali and Niger told Busines Insider, Compaore played a crucial mediating role in a situation that remains in flux, providing a safe haven for non-jihadist Tuareg groups while holding a certain amount of leverage over them.

    "This removes somebody who's abetting the conflict," Miles says, "but it also removes somebody who can control some of its actors."

    Lesley Anne Warner, a political and military analyst who focuses on Africa, told Business Insider that the Mali crisis helped turned Compaore's Burkina Faso into an important security partner for the US.

    Screen Shot 2014 10 31 at 3.42.48 PM

    "After the 2012-13 crises in Mali, there were several countries in the region that suddenly became the primary frontline states for US counterterrorism operations in the region," she told Business Insider. "In Burkina Faso, the US started to build the capacity of the gendarmerie to provide border security along its common border with Mali in 2013."

    Compaore was well-positioned both politically and geographically to become a vital US ally in West Africa. It doesn't seem like the immediate transitional period will threaten American activities in the country: the military is supposed to shepherd Burkina Faso through a transitional period before handing off power to a civilian government.

    But as Miles explains, a more open political system could complicate US policy. Burkina Faso has an unusually active left-wing bloc by regional standards, thanks partly to the legacy of Thomas Sankara, the Burkinabe president sometimes referred to as West Africa's Che Guevara. Compaore was part of the plot that resulted in Sankara's ouster and execution in 1987.

    "Opposition to American basing could become a real card for the left, a really active left that has a lot of popular support, much more so than in other places in the region," says Miles. "We've seen the Sankara rhetoric in the protests even though it's not something that most of the actual power brokers share. But there's going to come a moment when those things come at loggerheads."

    US assets in the country aren't in an imminent danger of being thrown out. And the US could always redeploy its forces to neighboring Niger, whose government has also been broadly cooperative with American security efforts.

    But Burkina Faso's change in leadership already poses some major challenges. It could upset the ever-fragile and unresolved situation in Mali, where there have been deadly clashes between the French military and militant groups this week. And it could lead the US into conflict with a future government in Ouagadougou the character of which is currently unknowable — at least in the frantic 24 hours after nearly 30 years of US-friendly rule has come to an end.

    SEE ALSO: The US is leaving behind a dysfunctional and incompetent army in Afghanistan

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  • A Facebook News Feed Experiment On 1.9 Million Users May Have Increased Voter Turnout In The 2012 Election

    mark zuckerberg facebook

    A new report from Mother Jones says a Facebook News Feed experiment could have had a serious impact on how people voted in the 2012 election.

    Facebook has previously come under fire for how it experiments with its News Feed, the stream of updates you see from your Facebook friends. This summer, it was revealed that Facebook conducted an experiment in 2012 that manipulated the emotions of its users.

    Writing for Mother Jones, Micah Sifry — one of the cofounders of the Personal Democracy Forum and the editor of techPresident.com — says that for the three months prior to Election Day 2012, Facebook experimented with the News Feeds of 1.9 million users.

    On Election Day, Facebook published a note that read: "Facebook is focused on ensuring that those who are eligible to vote know where they can cast their ballots and, if they wish, share the fact that they voted with their friends." 

    The social network showed the random 1.9 million users in the experiment more news stories, a move one Facebook data scientist told Mother Jones "measurably increased civic engagement and voter turnout." 

    Facebook data scientist Lada Adamic gave two public talks in 2012, Sifry reports. In the video, Adamic says that after changing the News Feeds of 1.9 million users and studying how they behaved, researchers noted a "statistically significant" increase regarding how much attention users paid to government news. The number who voted climbed from 64% to 67%, meaning a Facebook News Feed experiment positively affected voter turnout by 3%. Of course, those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt; users self-reported, so some people could have said they voted but didn't, or didn't say they voted but did.

    Users were not made aware of the experiment, Sifry writes. By agreeing to Facebook's Data Use Policy — which all users must do when they sign up for Facebook — you give Facebook permission to include you in psychological experiments like this. 

    The experiment was used to help Facebook develop something it calls the "voter megaphone," according to Sifry. That's a tool that will remind more users to vote every year on Election Day by letting users share buttons on Facebook that say "I'm a Voter" or "I'm voting."

    If this experiment sounds familiar, that's because it's not the first time Facebook experimented with its features during election season. Before the 2010 elections, Facebook experimented on 61 million users, putting the "I'm Voting" button in different places on their News Feeds.

    Check out the full Mother Jones story here.

    We've reached out to Facebook for comment, and will update this story if we hear back. 

    SEE ALSO: Facebook Ran A Huge Psychological Experiment On Users And Manipulated The Emotions Of More Than 600,000 People

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  • Here's How To Get A Job At The CIA

    CIA advises ukraine

    If you told a friend you were in the running for a job at the CIA, you might get a raised eyebrow, be asked whether you're even allowed to revealed that fact, and perhaps some questions about how close to the Bourne trilogy the whole process really is.

    But speaking with Forbes, CIA head of recruitment Ron Patrick explained what it takes to get a job at one of the most secretive wings of the US government. And much of it looks like a pretty standard job application. You can even apply online now.

    "Everything out there — movies and books — make it seem as if there is some secret way to get into the CIA, when in fact it’s not so secret," Patrick said.

    Recruiters will look at your resume before granting you a telephone interview. Pass that and you're looking at a few online tests to gauge your writing and problem-solving abilities, as well as to evaluate whether you're an "interpersonal fit."

    Only then does it get into the not-so-standard stuff. If your background investigation goes smoothly — "Have they lived their life in an honest and open way," asks Patrick — it's time for a polygraph test.

    The questions at this stage are still similar to what you'd get at any company serious about their hiring process, but Forbes contributor Maseena Ziegler says they just place more value on closely analyzing the answers.

    And there's nothing here about the rumored spinal tap meant to tell all about your drug use history (the Navy has actually debunked the myth that only this method can reveal past LSD use). In fact, a Colorado applicant who admitted to having smoked pot wasn't totally barred from entry. Instead he was told to wait at least a year before reapplying for the agency.

    As for recruiting priorities, the CIA's needs shift with their expectation of what the global landscape will look like five to ten years down the line.

    "So we need cultural knowledge, geographical knowledge and language skills — skills that allow us to do our job in that part of the world," said Patrick, in reference to whatever region the CIA believes will be the source of the next set of challenges.

    Getting the job could have a lot to do with having the right skills for the times, just like at any other employer. And even once you've landed it, you'll be drinking fewer shaken martinis at the CIA than you might have hoped. 

    As author and former CIA agent Lindsey Moran explained to Pursuit Magazine, a CIA officer's work is more about being able to work with and read people than it is about being able to carry out dangerous or violent missions. "So much of what you do as a CIA operative is psychology-based. On the most basic level you’re acting — almost — as a clinical psychologist for your assets," she said. "They come to you with their problems, and you have to listen, and talk them through their issues."

    SEE ALSO: This chart shows how the US military is responsible for almost all of the technology in your iPhone

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  • Political Campaigns Are Making Absolutely Terrible Halloween-Based Pitches Today

    halloween ad

    Friday is Halloween and Election Day is next Tuesday — so political campaigns are doing their best to connect the two with some groan-inducing puns.

    Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott sent out a fund-raising solicitation comparing trick-or-treating to "unhealthy handouts" from the government.

    "This evening, you may have children in costumes knocking at your door for unhealthy handouts. Speaking of … if Wendy Davis is elected, Big Government will be knocking at your door – and they’ll be asking for more than candy. We need your contribution today to stop them," the campaign wrote.

    But the puns didn't stop there.

    "While the Halloween costumes may be enough to give you the creeps – even more terrifying is what your taxes will look like if Sen. Wendy Davis and her allies succeed in turning Texas blue and monster-mashing the state’s economy into the grave," the Abbott email continued.

    Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) also fired off a Halloween-themed fund-raising solicitation bashing conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch.

    "You know what a scary Halloween costume would be? Dressing up like a Kochtopus," Reid wrote to supporters.

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) even released a Halloween-themed television ad. "You think this is scary? Have you seen Tom Wolf’s plan for raising the state income tax?" a chainsaw-wielding man narrates.

    Corbett's opponent, Tom Wolf, also got in on the action with a "Scary pumpkin" email. "Corbett's record of cutting $1 billion from public schools and leading Pennsylvania to dead last in job growth is scary enough. So, if we want to end Pennsylvania's nightmare, we've got to get out the vote," the email said.

    pumpkin wolfNew Hampshire GOP Senate hopeful Scott Brown sent his supporters an email titled "BEWARE."

    "Today is Halloween and here's a truly chilling fact: we are still $61,236 short of our $143,201 goal," Scott said, calling his opponent's support of President Barack Obama "scary" and "downright frightening." "Tonight, kids will ring doorbells asking for candy but our campaign team will be ringing doorbells all weekend asking for votes."

    Independent US Senate candidate Greg Orman's campaign, meanwhile, sent out a campaign press release that filled six paragraphs with Halloween puns blasting Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas).

    "WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! … IT'S SPOOKY HOW OFTEN SEN. ROBERTS IS A GHOST IN COMMITTEE HEARINGS," the press release's subject line declared. "In the twilight of this election, Kansans find Roberts' chronic absenteeism ghoulish."

    "The Kansas Senate race has revealed a spooky phenomenon in the Capitol that to this point is still unexplained," it continued. "It's an eerie occurrence that has happened so frequently it's scary. ... That’s just creepy. Since joining the Finance Committee in 2007, Roberts appears to have ghosted 20 of 22 hearings on tax reform. ... 'It should send a chill down every voter's spine that Sen. Roberts is claiming to attend hearings when the record clearly shows he wasn't there,' said Orman for Senate campaign manager Jim Jonas."

    The Orman campaign then started referring to its opponent as " Ghost Pat Roberts."

    "This Halloween, we want to document how many places in Kansas we can find Ghost Pat Roberts. Is Ghost Pat Roberts at your Halloween party? Is Ghost Pat Roberts sitting at your kitchen table? Maybe you went trick or treating at Ghost Pat Roberts' home in Kansas … Oh wait – yeah, maybe not," the statement said.

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  • OBAMA: Here's When Republicans Will Stop Calling It 'Obamacare'

    Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama predicted on Friday that Republicans would stop calling the Affordable Care Act by its colloquial name, "Obamacare," sometime in the next decade because the American public will eventually view it as a success.

    "No matter how many times Republicans threaten to repeal this law, we're going to keep it in place — because it's working. Not only is it covering more people, not only is it protecting women and people with preexisting conditions from discrimination, but it's actually been part of the trend that's lowering health care inflation," Obama said during remarks Friday at Rhode Island College in Providence.

    "We're actually saving money because the system is getting smarter and there’s more preventive care instead of emergency care, and we're changing how health care is delivered. Which is why I’m pretty sure that in 10 years they're not going to call it Obamacare anymore. Republicans will be like, oh, I was for that, yes. That's how that works."

    After he laid down the market, an audience member shouted they would "remember" that Republicans were vehemently opposed to the law. 

    "You’ll remember though. You’ll remind them," Obama said.

    Republicans coined the term "Obamacare" during the debate over the law. Obama eventually embraced the term during the 2012 presidential campaign, saying he does "care — that's why we fought so hard to make it happen." Indeed, polls have shown that calling the healthcare law "Obamacare" makes it significantly less popular than "the Affordable Care Act."

    A common belief among supporters of the law is that it will be viewed in a much more positive light down the road, after Obama leaves office and benefits of the law kick in for more and more Americans. Right now, though, it remains unpopular — an average of six October polls shows the majority of the American public still opposes the law.

    Obama hasn't been shy on touting the law's successes on the campaign trail, saying earlier this month that more than 10 million people — 26% of the uninsured in the country — had gained access to health insurance in the first year of the law.

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  • One Of The World's Most Powerful Literary Agents Compared Amazon To ISIS

    Jeff Bezos Sad

    Andrew Wylie, one of the most powerful literary agents in the world, has compared Amazon to the Islamic State, saying that the ebook retailer "is sort of a ISIS-like distribution channel," the Guardian reports. 

    Wylie, who can name Salman Rushdie and Philip Roth among his clients, was speaking at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) in Toronto, Canada, on Oct. 27.

    In a Q&A session after his speech, he turned his attention to Amazon's Jeff Bezos accusing him of  having "taken the business and distorted it radically." He went on to predict a gloomy future for the online store, saying that soon the readers will realize how bad Amazon is and it "is going to be buried."

    Amazon was not directly available to comment.

    This is not the first time Wylie has criticized the world's biggest online bookstore, although he tried to collaborate with Amazon in 2010 through one of his publishing houses, Odyssey

    Publisher Weekly reports that he previously took a public stance in defending Hachette in a dispute against Amazon, while encouraging his colleagues to "stand firm" against the company.

    The fight between Amazon and old-school publishers is a old one: Publishers say the online retailer just care about selling the books and not their literary significance. 

    Earlier this month, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman compared Amazon to the early 20th century oil drillers like J.D. Rockefeller noting that giant online retailer has "too much power."

    SEE ALSO: A Strike In Germany Could Cripple Amazon This Week

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  • Pentagon: The Navy SEAL Who Shot Bin Laden Should Not Reveal Himself On Fox News

    navy seal

    On Wednesday, Fox News announced it planned to reveal the identity of the Navy SEAL who shot Osama Bin Laden in a documentary set to air next month.

    But in a statement issued to Business Insider, the Pentagon stressed that anyone who participated in the 2011 operation that left the Al Qaeda leader dead was "still bound" by a "non-disclosure agreement to not discuss classified information, especially in a nationally televised interview."

    This seems to indicate the SEAL could face a criminal investigation for participating in the documentary.  

    The statement came from Navy Commander Amy Derrick-Frost, a Defense Department spokeswoman, who said the military had not confirmed that the person participating in the Fox News documentary was indeed the SEAL who fired the fatal shot at Bin Laden.

    However, Derrick-Frost spoke generally about whether that person would be allowed to discuss the operation on TV. She began by noting that all members of the military would sign nondisclosure agreements.

    "As a private citizen, former or retired service members are free to speak with the media and exercise their First Amendment rights," Derrick-Frost told Business Insider. "However, it is important for all former service members to adhere to their signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) when they seek to openly discuss classified or sensitive information, or make claims about their active duty operations or accomplishments.

    "NDAs are voluntarily executed by service members. After a thorough briefing on the NDA and what each paragraph contains, the service member is aware that his/her signature signifies their understanding and intent to comply with the lifelong obligation for protecting National Defense Information."

    Derrick-Frost went on to remind the "individual" involved in the Fox News documentary that he would still be "bound" by this NDA.

    "If in fact this individual was associated with the military unit that carried out the UBL raid, which is yet to be determined, he is still bound by his non-disclosure agreement to not discuss classified information, especially in a nationally televised interview," Derrick-Frost said.

    bin laden raid

    This is not the first time someone who claimed to have been involved in the raid on Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan has spoken publicly about the operation. In 2012, ex-Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette released a book about the raid. Earlier this summer, the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into whether he leaked classified material. 

    Derrick-Frost concluded her statement on the Fox News documentary by encouraging any former SEAL to be discreet about his past work.

    "Navy SEALs continue to serve and fight bravely around the world, accomplishing critical missions that keep our nation safe. The major details of the bin Laden mission are well known, many of them a matter of public record," she said. "We urge any former SEAL to abide by the SEAL Ethos, particularly the core tenant, 'I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.'"

    Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it was concerned the person in their documentary may have violated an NDA.


    NOW WATCH: These Facts About Texas Will Blow Your Mind

     

     

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  • With Just Months Left In The US Mission, Bloodshed In Afghanistan Has Surged This Year

    Afghanistan

    Casualties in Afghanistan are climbing for everyone except coalition and US soldiers, according to a report by the Inspector General in charge of investigating US-led reconstruction efforts in the country.

    US troops have taken on an advisory and training role in the past two years, in preparation for their exit from the country by the end of 2014.

    That translates to lower American casualties: 49 American soldiers have been killed in the country this year, which would be the lowest annual rate in over a decade if it holds.

    But last month, the UN Secretary-General reported on violent incidents in Afghanistan overall, which are at their second-highest clip ever. The latest quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) represents these statistics as an average of 71.8 "security incidents" per day, a rate only surpassed in 2011.

    Civilian deaths and injuries have increased to levels on par with those of that same year, the UN found in a separate report, while Afghan ministries have just stopped releasing police and military casualty data after a particularly bloody 2013.

    Here's the SIGAR report's breakdown of security incidents in 2014:

    SIGAR Violence Afghanistan Security Incidents

    Armed clashes made up nearly half of these incidents, while improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were responsible for 30% of them.

    This continues a trend the UN noted during the first six months of this year: mortars, RPGs, and small-arms fire near population centers are responsible for a growing share of civilian deaths.

    "The nature of the conflict in Afghanistan is changing in 2014," a UN official said in a statement accompanying the research, "with an escalation of ground engagements in civilian-populated areas." 

    Alongside reports of a Taliban force growing in ambition and military initiative, these numbers paint a worrying picture of the legacy that the 13-year-long US-led effort in Afghanistan may leave behind.

    SEE ALSO: The US is leaving behind a dysfunctional and incompetent army in Afghanistan

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  • New York Democrats Just Sent An Oddly Threatening Letter To Voters

    voting

    The New York State Democratic Party has apparently taken to a new strategy to mobilize voter turnout: intimidation.

    The party said it sent a million registered voters a letter informing them that Democrats will be personally monitoring each of them to find out whether or not they voted, the New York Post reported Thursday evening.

    The letter suggests those who don't vote will be contacted to by the party to "hear why not."

    "Who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public records. Many organizations monitor turnout in your neighborhood," the letter reads. "We will be reviewing the ... official voting records after the upcoming election to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014. If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not."

    The Post's headline: "Democrats: Vote or we’ll kick your ass."

    At least some voters said they found the pressure menacing:

    Peter Kauffmann, a spokesman for the state party, told Capital New York that the letter is "standard practice throughout the country."

    "This flyer is part of the nationwide Democratic response to traditional Republican voter suppression efforts — because Democrats believe our democracy works better when more people vote, not less," Kauffman said.

    Indeed, as Talking Points Memo documented, there have been similar letters sent out to motivate voters in other states. Some studies have found reminding voters their voting records are public is effective in mobilizing turnout.

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  • The US Is Leaving Behind A Dysfunctional And Incompetent Army In Afghanistan

    Vice This is What Winning Looks Like 26

    The US-led mission in Afghanistan is coming to an end this year, with allied forces withdrawing from the country's fractious Helmand Province earlier this week.

    With coalition troops leaving Afghanistan to meet their withdrawal deadline this calendar year, there's no better time to watch Ben Anderson's 2013 documentary: "This Is What Winning Looks Like".

    The British producer spent six years in the country, capturing a damning picture of both the Afghan National Army and the US-led coalition's efforts to train it.

    Rampant corruption, illiteracy, technical incompetence, and a Taliban threat indistinguishable from provincial civilians are only a few of the problems stacked against the prospect of the Afghan state's meeting success by western standards. It's a reminder of the uncertainty that lies ahead for the country, and the failure of the US to fulfill many of its major goals.

    The documentary takes its title from the words of American General John Allen in February 2013, on his last day as head of NATO forces in Afghanistan. Allen's words were meant to inspire. The documentary adopts them with dark irony.



    At a patrol base, US soldiers discover that Afghan troops have been detaining four men in a makeshift prison of stacked sandbags. An interpreter translates their version of the facts ...



    ... but confronted about the illegal detention, an Afghan soldier puts his foot down, and the Americans see little choice but to back off in response. A US soldier later tells one of his comrades: "Just wait, I don't want to piss them off. It's their show." The whole episode is just one example of a lack of communication and differing standards between the Afghan and US militaries.



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  • A Gay UK Politician Thinks Same-Sex Marriage Backers 'Are Like Nazis'

    David Coburn

    A British gay politician thinks that same-sex marriages are wrong.

    In an interview with the British Huffington Post, David Coburn, who is a member of UK's far-right group UKIP said:

    "What you're doing with the gay marriage issue is you're rubbing people's noses in the dirt. Everyone had agreed and been quite happy with the idea of civil partnership, it was all bedded in and people were happy with it, they got used to the idea.

    "But when you go across the road to pick a fight with someone of faith, that's not got anything to do with it, that's the equality Nazis trying to give Christianity a jolly good kicking. You know it, I know it, we all know it - it's false bollocks, the lot of it."

    He also said that "same-sex marriage makes a mockery of the holy sacrament of marriage."

    The United Kingdom passed a law allowing same sex unions in March, a move supported by the center left Labour Party as well as the ruling Conservatives Party. 

    UKIP, who is further on the right from the Tories, has always taken a strong stand against gay marriage, a position that, oddly, even homosexual Coburn supports. 

    SEE ALSO: Why Apple CEO Tim Cook Came Out As Gay

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  • The ISIS 'Mastermind' Responsible For The Group's Advance Through Western Iraq May Be A Figurehead

    ISIS Commander Omar Al Shishani Chechen

    Omar al-Shishani, the red-bearded Georgian ex-commando, is the most recognizable Islamic State leader below Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It was Shishani who posed with the stolen US Humvees taken from Mosul and brought into Syria to reinforce the militant group's advances in the west. 

    Shishani is also credited with leading successful operations by the Islamic State (also called ISIS or ISIL) against Iraqi Security Forces in Anbar province, putting the group within striking distance of Baghdad. 

    Yet, according to Will Cathcart, Vazha Tavberidze, and Nino Burchuladze of The Daily Beast, Shishani is a figurehead.

    They say the Georgian, named Tarkhan Batirashvili at birth, is the charismatic face for the real brains behind some of ISIS' more effective battlefield operations: His older brother, Tamaz Batirashvili. 

    The Daily Beast

    If this is true, it explains why, unlike the rest of the top ISIS commanders, Tarkhan allows himself to be photographed extensively. They are creating the illusion that he is the “head of snake”— while the real architect of ISIS’s Syria operation, Tamaz Batirashvili, remains in the shadows.

    This preference for avoiding the spotlight mirrors the brothers' shared history.

    Shishani had formerly served in the Georgian special forces — where he may have received training from British or American instructors — during the war against the Russians in 2008. However, Shishani was eventually dismissed from the military with tuberculosis and arrested for 15 months for illegally harboring weapons. 

    Meanwhile, Shishani's brother fought on the front lines against the Russians in Chechnya as part of the growing jihadist movement in the separatist republic. Tamaz's battlefield resume made him of particular interest to the Georgian military, a small force always in need of experienced soldiers.

    “Tarkhan [Shishani] was the only newbie,” an unnamed Georgian military source told The Daily Beast. “We only recruited him because we were interested in his brother — Tamaz and his friends, who were ‘real wolves,’ experienced soldiers, and veterans of the Chechen wars."

    Shishani's military style could reflect his brother's experience fighting for an insurgency. Whereas other ISIS commanders fight in a more standard way through wave attacks or frontal assaults, Shishani "is fighting like an insurgent. He’s using a complex style in Anbar, relying on a very small force," according to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

    If Shishani is merely a charismatic front for his tactically brilliant brother, it highlights the difficulty US and coalition forces may have in tracking down the ISIS leadership. Little is publicly known about either Tamaz or Shisani. And perhaps even less is known about Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS' self-declared caliphate.

    One of ISIS' top leaders has already managed to evade capture despite being one of Iraq's most well-known fugitives for more than a decade. It is believed that one of the premier military commanders in ISIS is Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam Hussein's former deputy and one of the most wanted men in Iraq. Al-Douri has effectively evaded US-led efforts to capture him since 2003. 

    If Shishani is merely a front for the real tactical commander within ISIS, the coalition faces a serious hurdle in identifying, let alone capturing or killing, the group's leadership. 

    SEE ALSO: This Is The ISIS Mastermind Responsible For The Group's Advance Through Western Iraq

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  • The 25 Most Powerful Photos From October

    Kuta Fire War Ceremony

    A lot happened in October. 

    Conflict raged in Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria. Government protests continued in Hong Kong. Ebola freaked everybody out. Atlantic City fell apart. Comic-Con had some really awesome costumes.

    The world's news photographers captured it all.

    Here are 25 of the most amazing photos from the past month.

    October 5 was the second day of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast day. Festivities start at the end of the Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, pictured here.



    Philosopher-activist Cornel West struggles with police during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, on October 13.



    A blindfolded man waits to be interrogated by Free Syrian Army in Aleppo on October 6. He was suspected of giving information to the Syrian government.



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  • A Top NYPD Official Abruptly Resigned After Getting A Promotion

    phillip banks

    The man who was set to become No. 2 in the New York Police Department will instead resign, NY1 reported Friday morning.

    According to the Daily News, the NYPD announced it was promoting the officer, Philip Banks III, from chief of department to first deputy on Tuesday.

    It was not clear what led to his resignation. However, the New York Post reported that Banks struggled with Commissioner Bill Bratton over influence within the department.

    "Police sources said Banks threatened to resign last week and reluctantly agreed to a promotion to First Deputy Commissioner because he was told by Commissioner Bill Bratton that he would have more responsibilities. But he felt Bratton reneged on the agreement, sources said, because he thought more people would be answering to him," the Post reported.

    Update (3:31 p.m.): Reached for comment, the NYPD provided a statement from Bratton on Banks' resignation: "After a highly successful tenure, Chief Philip Banks III., the highest ranking uniformed member of the service, has decided to retire from the New York City Police Department. Chief Banks’ commitment to the NYPD and the people of this city has been demonstrated throughout his impressive 28 years of police service.  He has served this Department in all ranks as an exceptional leader and  effectively worked with the community to support our efforts to make  New York City  one of the safest largest cities in the world. As a result of his outstanding leadership and commitment,  Chief Banks was selected to become the First Deputy Commissioner, the second highest position within the NYPD at the upcoming promotions on Monday, November 3, 2014. His decision to retire is truly a loss to the Department and my leadership team."

    Updated (10:40 a.m.): With the New York Post report.

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  • Here Are The 29 States Where Tim Cook Could Have Been Fired For Saying He Was Gay

    tim cook china

    Apple CEO Tim Cook's announcement that he is gay was met with overwhelming support at his LGBT-friendly company, but there are many parts of the US where people can be fired for disclosing their sexual orientation.

    While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from being discriminated against based on whether they are male or female, there is no federal law protecting people from employers who take issue with their sexual orientation.

    In fact, only 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting people from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation. This group includes California, where Apple is based, but not Cook's home state of Alabama.

    The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy organization, has a handy map showing which states have laws protecting people from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

    The states in white — including most of the Midwest and nearly the entire Southeast — are the ones without laws prohibiting a company from firing a person just for being gay.

    HRC gay employment rights state map

    national law to outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity passed the Senate late last year but has not yet been brought to a vote in the House of Representatives.

    The federal government has, however, said that its departments and its contractors cannot discriminate against employees based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

    Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which brings lawsuits against companies on behalf of their employees, has argued that discrimination against transgender and gay people are forms of sex discrimination and should be covered by the Civil Rights Act.

    However, it's up to the individual courts hearing the EEOC's cases to decide whether they agree with that argument.

    SEE ALSO: 7 Surprising Ways Your Company Can Discriminate Against You

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  • Prominent Chinese Politician Compared Hong Kong Protesters To American Slaves

    Laura cha

    Earlier this week a prominent Chinese politician and businesswoman reportedly compared Hong Kong's protestors demands for democracy to the emancipation of African-American slaves, The New York Times reports.

    Laura Cha, a nonofficial member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council, spoke at a trade event in Paris on Wednesday when she gave the analogy, saying, “American slaves were liberated in 1861, but did not get voting rights until 107 years later. So why can’t Hong Kong wait for a while?” according to remarks reported by Hong Kong newspaper The Standard.

    Approximately 5,000 have signed an online petition denouncing Ms. Cha's comments and calling for an immediate apology.

    "We, the Hong Kong public, will not stand these remarks likening our rights to slavery, nor will we stand the kind of voter disenfranchisement her and her associates attempt to perpetrate on the Hong Kong public," said the petition to HSBC, that sought an apology from Cha.

    “Furthermore, we’re puzzled by her lack of understanding of American history, and why she failed to understand that the full ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870 already granted full emancipation to African-American slaves, including full voting rights," the petition notes.

    The financial hub and former British colony has been rocked for weeks by a student-led civil disobedience movement called "Occupy Central" that demands full democracy, sparking clashes with police and other groups.

    Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows it wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms and specifies universal suffrage for choosing its leader as an ultimate goal.

    But Communist Party leaders in Beijing have insisted on screening candidates for the job first, prompting the popular, and in the most part courteous, dissent.

    The student-led protesters now appear to be settling in indefinitely, even though the government is powerless to change the financial hub's "Basic Law" mini-constitution and go against Beijing rule.

    Reuters contributed to this report.

    SEE ALSO:  Here's What China's Richest Man Says About The Hong Kong Protests

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  • We Might Not Know Who Controls The Senate For A While — And It Could Create Total Chaos In Washington

    washington dc capitol dusk shadow

    Voters will head to the polls next week, but the biggest question of this year's midterm election — whether Republicans take control of the US Senate — could be in limbo for another two months.

    Party strategists have long prepared for the possibility that the two most contentious Senate races — in Louisiana and Georgia — could each go into a runoff.

    With both races tight, the runoffs appear more and more likely, and if they keep the race for Senate control open, the unprecedented scenario could throw Washington for a loop during the planned lame-duck session of Congress. It could force party leaders to change strategy and shelve legislative priorities in favor of another few weeks of midterm politics.

    Both Louisiana and Georgia will hold runoffs if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in Tuesday's election.

    Right now in Louisiana, where Rob Maness is siphoning votes from fellow Republican and establishment candidate Bill Cassidy, a runoff between Cassidy and incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu seems all but certain.

    And in Georgia, both Republican candidate David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn are polling under 50%. Georgia's runoff would not be held until Jan. 6 — three days after the planned start of the next session of Congress. 

    Even if the Republicans take the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid would hold his position for the first few days of the year. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would be due to take over on Jan. 5, which means leadership would be in limbo for at least a full day in addition to the lame-duck period at the end of this year.

    A Democratic strategist who spoke to Business Insider floated several plausible scenarios that would leave the Senate hanging until Jan. 6:

    • Republicans win expected races in South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia. That would give both parties 45 Senate seats.
    • Democrats hold on in New Hampshire and North Carolina and pull off surprises in two of three states in which they currently trail in the polls: Alaska, Iowa, and Colorado. This would give them 49 seats.
    • Republicans stay on top in Kentucky and Kansas, where two of their most senior members — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Pat Roberts — are facing close races. And they win one of Alaska, Iowa, or Colorado. This would give them 48 seats to the Democrats' 49 and would make Louisiana and Georgia vital.

    U.S. President Barack Obama talks with U.S. Senator Mary LandrieuLouisiana is considered more likely to determine control of the Senate, because polls and current conditions on the ground favor Republicans to win at least two of Alaska, Iowa, and Colorado. Under that scenario, if the GOP also won Louisiana's runoff on Dec. 6, it would capture control of the Senate.

    However, if the Democrats do surprise on election night, it would mean Republicans would have to win both runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia to take the Senate. But Cassidy is favored to win a runoff in Louisiana, as Landrieu hasn't led in a head-to-head poll between the two candidates since July. 

    "There’s definitely a good chance the Republicans will be stuck at 50 seats on Election Day and need one of those two runoffs to clinch control," Tom Jensen, the director of Public Policy Polling, told Business Insider.

    "I think their chances of doing so will be pretty strong, though. Almost everyone in Louisiana voting for one of the candidates other than Landrieu and Cassidy says Cassidy would be their second choice, so he would at least start out as the favorite in a runoff even if Landrieu finishes first next Tuesday."

    If Louisiana's runoff does not decide Senate control, however, it would be a sprint to the eventual finish in Georgia in January. Both parties would deploy operatives to one or both of the states, and there would be a fresh push for new donations.

    Analysts consider it likely that parties and outside groups will pour tens of millions of dollars into both runoffs combined. But the situation would also add a wrinkle in the donor factor — campaign finance law counts runoffs as an extension of the initial race and not a new one, meaning that fundraisers who have already maxed out to candidates or party committees could not donate again.

    For Democrats, the key to winning a runoff in Georgia would be maintaining momentum Nunn has gathered over the past few weeks. In Georgia's two previous Senate runoffs, turnout fell more than 40% from Election Day to January — though those runoffs came in presidential years, meaning there could be less of a drop this time.

    Ironically, it would be a much better situation for Nunn if Senate control were already decided on Election Day — even if it meant Republicans gained control of the chamber.

    "Given David Perdue’s troubles, it’s possible that having two more months could help Michelle Nunn’s campaign find further weaknesses to exploit," said Geoffrey Skelley, an associate editor at Larry Sabato's "Crystal Ball."

    "At the same time, if Georgia’s race is set to decide things, it will be harder and harder for Nunn to maintain separation from her and national Democrats, especially if the lame-duck Senate is taking major action."

    Harry Reid

    If Senate control hangs in the balance ahead of the runoff elections, it could have a "halting effect" on the start of the lame-duck session, said Chris Krueger, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities. It could also shift the priorities of Democrats, who have talked up an ambitious lame-duck agenda.

    Reid has said he plans to try to confirm as many of Obama's executive and judicial nominees as possible while Democrats still have a majority. The White House also hasn't ruled out trying to get a new attorney general to replace Eric Holder confirmed during the lame-duck session. But if Senate control is still to be determined, Reid might be wary of making Landrieu take tough polarizing votes Republicans could use against her in a runoff.

    "I think it's highly likely Democrats rethink their operating strategy if Senate control rests on the runoffs," a senior Republican Senate aide told Business Insider. "The prospect of losing Senate control based on pushing their liberal agenda through in [the lame-duck session] is something I'd say they're taking very seriously."

    The scenario could also further delay one of Obama's biggest priorities of the next few months — taking executive action to reform the nation's immigration system.

    The thinking, according to multiple Republican congressional aides, is the president would not want to take any action that could be fodder for Republicans in both Louisiana and Georgia. Opposition to the immigration reform favored by Obama and other Democrats has been a key driver of conservatives to the voting booth.

    "The things they'd be voting on are the exact things they probably wouldn't want to be voting on," the Republican aide said. "And the things they might want to happen probably wouldn't."

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  • Israel Has Reopened A Jerusalem Mosque That Closed Following A Palestinian Death

    afp israel reopens al aqsa mosque ahead of muslim prayers

    Jerusalem (AFP) — Israel reopened Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound Friday ahead of the weekly Muslim prayers, after a rare closure following clashes sparked by the killing of a Palestinian by police.

    The streets of east Jerusalem were calm ahead of the prayers at midday, following an Israeli clampdown on the shrine, which is holy for Muslims and Jews alike.

    Clashes erupted when Israeli police on Wednesday night shot dead a Palestinian accused of trying to kill a Jewish hardliner.

    The closure was the first for decades and prompted a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to condemn the move as an Israeli "declaration of war".

    Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that because of fears of unrest at the midday prayers, entry for Muslim men would be restricted to those over 50.

    Additional police were deployed around the Al-Aqsa compound in the heart of the Old City, with local media reporting the presence of some 3,000 officers, three times more than usual.

    The Al-Aqsa mosque compound — known to Jews as the Temple Mount — is the third holiest site in Islam and Judaism's holiest.

    The clashes subsided late Thursday with a few sporadic confrontations between stone-throwing Palestinians and police firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Three Palestinians were arrested, Samri said.

    The funeral of the Palestinian passed off without incident, she added.

    Jerusalem has been shaken by months of unrest sparked by the murder of a Palestinian teenager in July in revenge for the killings of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank.

    A 50-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza in July and August intensified protests and clashes in the Holy City.

     

    SEE ALSO: Israeli Far Right Activist Shot And Wounded

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  • The Navy SEAL Who Wrote The Book About The Bin Laden Raid Is Under Criminal Investigation

    matt bissonnette no easy day mark owen navy seal

    The ex-Navy SEAL who wrote the best-selling memoir "No Easy Day" that provided a first-hand account of the raid resulting in the death of Osama bin Laden is under a Justice Department criminal investigation for possibly leaking classified material.

    Though Matt Bissonnette's 2012 book initially got him in hot water since he failed to submit the manuscript to the Pentagon for review, people familiar with the investigation told The New York Times there is more interest in what he's said in paid speeches at corporate events.

    From The Times:

    They include at least one talk last year, at a golf club in Atlanta, in which audience members were asked to turn in their cellphones before he spoke so that nothing could be recorded, according to people who attended the event.

    Mr. Bissonnette has apologized for failing to have the book vetted through the Pentagon’s required security review process.

    Bissonnette's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, told The Times he thought an agreement was reached with Justice and the Pentagon to settle the book matter and have Bissonnette forfeit some of the royalties. Instead, a criminal investigation was opened in May or June.

    The SEAL's book, which he wrote under the pen name "Mark Owen," offered insight into the training and workings of the elite SEAL Team 6 — known as Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) — along with interesting details about the Bin Laden raid.

    Although it remains the only first-hand book written of the raid, there were few startling revelations from "No Easy Day." A long article about how the May 2, 2011 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan transpired appeared in The New Yorker just three months after it occurred. And other books, including "The Finish" by Mark Bowden, and "Manhunt" by Peter Bergen also recounted what happened, citing both military and civilian sources.

    The website SOFREP, a military news site run by former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb, reported in Aug. 2012 that the public affairs officer for Adm. William McRaven, then commander of Special Operations Command, "[had] been in contact with the author directly, and that (apparently) no classified information has been disclosed in the memoir."

    SEE ALSO: 25 Things We Learned From SEAL Book 'No Easy Day'

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  • Sweden Formally Recognized Palestine — And Israel Responded With A Joke About Ikea

    Benjamin Netanyahu

    Sweden's government made the country the biggest in Europe to recognize the state of Palestine Thursday, and while the move made Israel furious, it took the opportunity to make a joke about Ikea furniture.

    "Today the government takes the decision to recognize the state of Palestine," Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallstrom said in a statement in the Dagens Nyheter daily.

    The Israeli foreign minister called it a "very unfortunate decision," Haaretz reported.

    In his swearing-in earlier this month, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven pledged that his government would eventually recognize a Palestinian state. Soon after the Israeli government found out, it summoned the Swedish ambassador to protest the move, according to Haaretz.

    Sweden went forward, however, making the formal announcement on Thursday "as an important step that confirms the Palestinians' right to self-determination," according to a statement.

    "We hope that we can make the parties a little less unequal," Wallstrom told CNN. "[and] that we might inject some new dynamics into the suspended peace talks."

    From the Associated Press:

    While the US and European powers have so far refrained from recognizing Palestinian independence, they have become increasingly critical of Israeli settlement construction. The 28-nation European Union has urged that negotiations to achieve a two-state solution resume as soon as possible.

    In a symbolic move, British lawmakers earlier this month voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state.

    "The Swedish government needs to understand that relations in the Middle East are more complicated than a piece of furniture from Ikea that you assemble at home," Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told Haaretz, referring to the Swedish furniture retailer, "and should act with responsibility and sensitivity."

    In response to Lieberman's comments, Wallstrom quipped (via NPR): "I will be happy to send Israel Foreign Minister Lieberman an Ikea flat pack to assemble. He'll see it requires a partner, cooperation, and a good manual."

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    Details: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/businessinsider/politics/~3/6G5XbY662k8/sweden-recognizes-palestine-2014-10

  • Charlie Rangel Says Some Republicans 'Believe That Slavery Isn't Over'

    charlie rangel

    Veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) had some harsh words for the Republican Party during a Thursday campaign rally for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

    As he has done repeatedly before, Rangel compared some members of the GOP to confederates from the Civil War era. But at the Thursday evening event, he added that they "believe that slavery isn't over."

    "We have to win. We have to be able to send a national message with Andrew Cuomo. And the thing is: Everything we believe in — everything we believe in  they hate. They don't disagree — they hate! They think if you didn't come from Europe 30 years ago, you didn't even make it. Some of them believe that slavery isn't over and they and think they won the Civil War!" Rangel shouted. 

    In contrast, Rangel said the Democratic Party is doing "God's work" on issues important to the American people.

    "And so what we have to do is send a collective voice," he said of the upcoming midterm elections. "Everything we're doing is God's work: education, healthcare, affordable housing, [protecting against] discrimination, paying people the minimum wage."

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    Details: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/businessinsider/politics/~3/NkGv6TMlyCw/charlie-rangel-some-republicans-believe-that-slavery-isnt-over-2014-10

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