May 10, 2013 |
LET'S FACE FACTS, the judges on "American Idol" do less actual judging than the "judges" at Philadelphia Traffic Court. Their purpose is to cheerlead and create drama and give viewers some name recognition to latch on to while they learn the names of the new batch of karaoke singers. Judging chemistry is hard to duplicate, and "American Idol" has been floundering around since the original trio of Simon Cowell , Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson , mixing in Kara DioGuardi , Ellen DeGeneres , Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler before adding this year's newbies.
May 9, 2013
An agreement with Russia to renew efforts to negotiate peace in Syria bolsters President Obama's argument that now is not the time for a U.S. military role in the conflict. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Tuesday in Moscow that an international summit would be held as early as this month to revive a plan that would effectively end Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule. The announcement blunts the hawks' harsh criticism of Obama for backing away from his hasty declaration eight months ago that any use of chemical weapons by Assad would cross a "red line," leading to "enormous consequences.
April 30, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons could be a greater threat after that nation's president leaves power and could end up targeting Americans at home, lawmakers warned Sunday as they considered a U.S. response that stops short of sending military forces there. U.S. officials last week declared that the Syrian government probably had used chemical weapons twice in March, newly provocative acts in the two-year civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
April 27, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration said Thursday that the Syrian government had likely used chemical weapons on a small scale against its own people, but it stopped short of threatening military action against President Bashar al-Assad. In a letter to lawmakers, the White House said U.S. intelligence agencies "assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin. " Despite the caveats, the disclosure puts President Obama under new pressure to respond because it is the first time that the United States has joined other countries in suggesting that the Assad government is likely to have deployed chemical weapons over the course of the two-year-old Syrian civil war. A senior administration official acknowledged that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross the "red line" declared by Obama many times in recent months in warnings to Assad.
April 26, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Excerpts of the letter sent to Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Carl Levin (D., Mich.), by Miguel E. Rodriguez, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Legislative Affairs: Thank you for your letter of April 24 regarding the situation in Syria and the allegations of chemical weapons use there. I am responding on behalf of the president and want to offer a prompt response to your question: "Has the Assad regime - or Syrian elements associated with, or supported by, the Assad regime - used chemical weapons in Syria since the current conflict began in March 2011?"
April 23, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Democratic supporters of a new immigration bill accused opponents Monday of trying to "exploit" the Boston Marathon bombings to hold up the legislation, sparking a testy exchange at a Senate hearing. "I never said that! I never said that!" Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) interjected as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), a lead author of the bill, criticized "those who are pointing to what happened, the terrible tragedy in Boston, as a, I would say, excuse for not doing a bill or delaying it. " Schumer said he wasn't talking about Grassley, who said last week that the bombings, allegedly carried out by two immigrant brothers, raised questions about gaps in the U.S. immigration system that should be examined in the context of the new bill.
April 22, 2013
By Robert Menendez As a member of the Senate bipartisan Gang of Eight reflecting on our introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill this past week, I'm reminded of the Chinese proverb that says, "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. " Reaching an agreement on immigration reform is that "step," an extraordinary milestone, and I'm proud to have been part of it. This legislation fixes our broken immigration system, secures our national borders, helps the American economy, and preserves our history as a nation of immigrants.
April 20, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - After two weeks in the national spotlight, Sen. Pat Toomey was ready to move on. Toomey, seeming refreshed Thursday after the deflating defeat of his background-check plan the day before, greeted reporters with a smile as he rode an escalator up from the Capitol's subway platform. But the Pennsylvania Republican did not want to talk much about the fight that had put him at the center of the political and cultural maelstrom on gun laws. "The Senate has spoken on this," Toomey said.
April 19, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is sending about 200 soldiers from an Army headquarters unit to Jordan to assist efforts to contain violence along the Syrian border and plan for any operations needed to ensure the safety of chemical weapons in Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress on Wednesday. The decision to dispatch the First Armored Division troops of planners and specialists in intelligence, logistics, and operations comes as several lawmakers pressed the Obama administration for even more aggressive steps to end the two-year civil war. Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced persistent questions from senior members of the Armed Services Committee about efforts to force out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
April 16, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - In anticipation of Senate votes this week on a proposed expansion of criminal background checks for firearms sales, one gun-rights organization broke with the powerful National Rifle Association on Sunday to urge support for a compromise drafted by Sens. Joe Manchin, (D., W.Va.), and Patrick Toomey, (R., Pa.). The endorsement by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms - which calls itself the second-largest gun rights organization in the country behind the NRA, claiming 650,000 members and supporters - is one of several moves over the last few days that have provided a boost to the hopes of proponents of background-checks.