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Angels living in evil

The angelic faces of Syria’s children stare back from the television, the computer, the newspaper.  They stare with deep sadness in their eyes. These beautiful, innocent children living in refugee camps throughout Lebanon.

And like all children, they dream.

The Beyond Association, a UNICEF partner, provides schooling as well as art and music therapy at Fayda Camp, some 25 miles east of Beirut, Lebanon. These moments beyond loss and grief find a way into the children’s imaginations where they can dream of a future, one with all their family members, with peace and with the normal routine children deserve – school, soccer, chores, friends and laughter.

War disturbs so much of our intended life: the landscape, pieces of our cultural and communal past. But somehow, war – any war – seems to claim children more than anything else; if not their lives, then their very souls.

(S-R archive photo: Syrian children stand near their tent at a refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese border town of Arsal, Lebanon)

Raul: We Aren’t World’s Police Force

Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador uses his weekly electronic newsletter to reaffirm his opposition to use of force in Syria, recounting an exchange with a veteran whose son served in Afghanistan and is “no longer the same.” In an 800-word essay, Labrador says the woman, whose husband also is a veteran, begged him to “keep us out of Syria.” Labrador recounts meeting the woman at the Boise Philharmonic’s “Americana” concert Aug. 30 in Eagle and himself being moved by a piece by composer John Williams from the World War II film, “Saving Private Ryan.” “As I was listening to the music, I could not stop thinking about the many men and women who had given their lives in defense of our country and ached for them and their families,” Labrador writes. “I also thought about those who could lose their lives if we got embroiled in a conflict in Syria/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Do you agree with Congressman Labrador that “We are not the police force of the world”?


Read more here: http://blogs.idahostatesman.com/idahos-labrador-on-syria-we-are-not-the-police-force-of-the-world/#storylink=cpy

Risch Becomes Senate Voice On Syria

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, is becoming a “go-to” guy for cable news on Syria. Here he is on MSNBC, saying, among other things, that Russian President Vladimir Putin's claims are laughable and that it's time to stop the rhetoric and concentrate on getting Syria's chemical weapons. Why Risch? Partly because he's on the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, and partly because he's pretty quotable/Jim Camden, SR Spin Control.

Question: Are you surprised that U.S. Sen Jim Risch, R-Idaho, has become a go-to guy re: Syria?

Risch: Stop the rhetoric, get the chem weapons

 

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, is becoming a “go-to” guy for cable news on Syria. Here he is on MSNBC, saying, among other things, that Russian President Vladimir Putin's claims are laughable and that it's time to stop the rhetoric and concentrate on getting Syria's chemical weapons.

Why Risch? Partly because he's on the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, and partly because he's pretty quotable.

More congressional reax on Syria speech

After President Obama gave his speech on Syria last night, there was a scramble to get reaction from the region's congressional delegation, and fit  it into the tight space in this morning's Spokesman-Review. We wound up with a shortened version of the reaction. For a fuller version of their comments, go inside the blog. 

 

Labrador comes out against military strike on Syria

1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador today came out against a military strike against Syria. “I will vote ‘no’ on any Congressional authorization to use force against Syria, and I will encourage my colleagues to do the same,” Labrador said. The second-term congressman said he reached his conclusion after reviewing the arguments on both sides, attending a classified briefing and talking to the Obama Administration. “Nothing they said changed the fact that we are not the police force of the world, we don’t have any compelling national interest in Syria, and it’s doubtful that an alternative government in Syria will be any better than the current one,” Labrador said. “While no one doubts that Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator, it’s very likely that removing him power will embolden al-Qaeda and other terrorists.”

Click below for Labrador's full statement; Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, earlier came out against a strike as well, and voted against it in the committee last week.

Risch: Better to do nothing than launch strike against Syria

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, in a Boise news conference today, said he believes the nation is better off doing nothing than launching a military strike against Syria in the wake of that country’s chemical weapons attack against its own citizens. “Nothing I say today should be taken as minimizing this attack that was done by the Assad regime on his own country,” Risch said. But, he said, “There are no good answers here. … My judgment is the risk of doing something is worse than the risk of doing nothing.”

Risch, who was in the minority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voting against a resolution yesterday authorizing limited use of force by President Obama, said he wanted Idahoans to know his thinking on the issue; the resolution cleared the panel on 10-7 vote. He’s posted the full video of the news conference on YouTube; you can watch it here.

“There’s tons of nerve gas and other weapons of mass destruction in Syria,” Risch said. “We know where some of those are. Unfortunately, we don’t know where all of those are.” He said, “If this attack unseats the Assad regime, it puts radicals in control of those weapons of mass destruction. Now this is the problem I’ve got with that: I have asked over and over again in Washington, D.C., what are you going to do if that happens? What is the plan to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of some very, very, very bad people? I’m not getting answers to that that are adequate, other than it’ll be right. And I’m not satisfied with that.”

Risch said, “The bottom line here is I cannot support a military attack on Syria at this time. I don’t deny that what he’s done on Aug. 21 is very, very bad. What he did before Aug. 21 was even worse, where he’s killed tens of thousands of people through conventional means.” Risch said if the Assad regime had used weapons of mass destruction against Americans or American interests, “This would have been an absolute no-brainer for me and I would have come down differently on this.” But he said the Syrian conflict is a civil war, and at this point, he doesn’t believe Assad has attacked American interests or allies.

Risch predicted the resolution would pass the Senate over his opposition, but said he can't predict what will happen in the House.

Today’s fun video: Stewart take on Syria

Jon Stewart returned to the Daily Show this week, and it didn't take long before he was smacking the Obama Administration over Syria.

Risch Asking Right Q’s RE: Syria

Some of the best questions (re: Syria), so far, have come from Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho. Serving on the Foreign Relations Committee, Risch Wednesday joined the minority in opposing Obama's request for congressional authorization.Here's what Risch is saying:

  • “I want to hear the analysis of what happens if you do pull the trigger,” Risch told Boise's KTVB. “You heard (Obama's) statement that it was going to be a one-shot deal sort of thing is what he described. Well, what happens if (Syrian strongman Bashar Hafez) al-Assad turns around and ups the ante and kills 5,000 people or 10,000 people with the nerve gas, which he has the capability of doing. What do you do then?”
  • This is no Afghanistan. Syria has some of the most sophisticated weaponry Russia can supply. So what happens after the U.S. intervenes? “My biggest fear is escalation and the unknown,” Risch said.
  • If not responding to the chemical attack threatens U.S. credibility, what about staging any attack that leaves al-Assad still in power? More here.

Question: Do you appreciate the hard questions that U.S. Sen. Risch is asking re: Syria?

Panel OKs Syria Resolution, Risch: No

Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch was among the minority in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee just now opposing a bipartisan resolution giving President Obama authority to use limited military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack; the resolution, crafted by the panel’s Democratic chairman and GOP ranking member, passed on a 10-7 vote. Five Republicans and two Democrats opposed it; seven Democrats and three Republicans supported it; while one Democat, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., voted “present.” The measure now moves to the full Senate for a vote next week/Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Do you agree/disagree with Sen. Risch?

Senate panel passes Syria force resolution 10-7, Risch votes no

Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch was among the minority in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee just now opposing a bipartisan resolution giving President Obama authority to use limited military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack; the resolution, crafted by the panel’s Democratic chairman and GOP ranking member, passed on a 10-7 vote. Five Republicans and two Democrats opposed it; seven Democrats and three Republicans supported it; while one Democat, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., voted “present.” The measure now moves to the full Senate for a vote next week.

It would permit the president to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground for combat operations; you can read the full resolution here. Among Republicans voting in favor of the measure were Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake. CBSNews has a full report here on the debate and vote; the New York Times has one here.

Idaho Congressman Wary Of Strike

Idaho lawmakers in Washington, D.C., were deeply skeptical of President Obama's plan for a strike against Syria's chemical weapons infrastructure. In responses this week, Republican U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador all expressed wariness such a strike would enhance U.S. power or bring a swifter end to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Risch committed to opposing a strike. Obama says Assad's government was responsible for numerous gas attacks, including one Aug. 21 said to have killed 1,429 people/Associated Press via Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Would Idaho congressman have as much trouble with the president's request, if George W. Bush was in office rather than Barack Obama?

Idaho congressional delegation wary of strike against Syria

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho lawmakers in Washington, D.C., were deeply skeptical of President Obama's plan for a strike against Syria's chemical weapons infrastructure. In responses this week, Republican U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador all expressed wariness such a strike would enhance U.S. power or bring a swifter end to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Risch committed to opposing a strike. Obama says Assad's government was responsible for numerous gas attacks, including one Aug. 21 said to have killed 1,429 people. In Tuesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, however, Risch worried a post-strike Assad would emerge stronger. Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner support a strike. Though Simpson is usually a Boehner ally, the Idaho Republican's spokeswoman said he's “strongly leaning against supporting military action.”

Read a report here from S-R reporter Kip Hill, including comments from Idaho and Washington senators; click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Simpson, Labrador aligned on Syria strike

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — It took potential military action against Syria to get Republican U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador on the same side. The feuding Idaho lawmakers signed a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to seek authorization from Congress before ordering a strike against Syria after its government allegedly used chemical weapons against its own people. Simpson and Labrador, who have traded barbs this year including over whether House Speaker John Boehner should be leading the chamber's majority, joined Boehner in the letter on Wednesday. In the document, they argue that Obama is required by the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to consult with lawmakers before authorizing a strike. Many Democrats are also urging Obama not to take action without first seeking proper authority to do so.

Syria ~ now what?

We are war weary in our country: Iraq, Afghanistan, even the memories of Viet Nam for some of us are enough to cause us to exhale grief as we recall images of caskets draped with our own stars and stripes. And now those images of innocent civilians in Syria writhing in pain from chemicals invading their bodies and killing them, their children, their families.

The evil in the world is ever-present. Where is one safe? What next? 

(S-R archives photo: Syrian refugee children peer from the window of their classroom, newly decorated with a mural, at Zaatari refugee camp, near the Syrian border, in Mafraq, Jordan)

Poll: Stay Out Of Syria

Americans are polarized about many things, it seems, but , they agree that the United States should stay out of the Syrian conflict. Seventy percent of those polled said they oppose the U.S. and its allies sending arms to anti-government groups in Syria. Just 20 percent favor it. The poll comes less than a week after the Obama administration announced it had “high confidence” the government of Bashar Assad had used chemical weapons and because of that to the Syrian rebels/NPR. More here.

Question: Do you agree with the Pew Poll results — that the U.S. should stay out of the Syrian conflict?

Pickett Knew Slain French Journalist

A French photographer who was killed Wednesday in Syria was a close friend and associate of Butte native Holly Pickett, she said in an email. Pickett, a freelance photojournalist living in Cairo, said she worked with Remi Ochlik in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Libya and one time the two had to run from gun fire. “He was very brave and very much wanted to cover these important stories,” Pickett said Wednesday in an email from New York City, where she's working. “He cared very deeply for the people he photographed and for his other colleagues.” Ochlik, 28, was killed in Homs when Syrian forces bombarded the city/Nick Gevock, Butte Standard. More here. (In this photo by Niels Hougaard, Jyllands-posten, Holly Pickett is shown covering a revolution in Tunis, Tunisia)

Question: Do you ever think of the cost that some journalists & photojournalists pay to cover the news around the world?