A bipartisan group of senators is pushing to impose new sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and its supporters, just as the international community assesses how to rid his forces of chemical weapons that they allegedly turned on citizens in the ongoing civil war.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) announced on Thursday that they were joining with Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in filing the Syria Sanctions Enhancement Act of 2013. The stand-alone bill, they said in a statement, would “update existing sanctions to reflect the reality that the Syrian regime continues its persistent war crimes.”
“The Syria Sanctions Enhancement Act looks at all the perpetrators of horrific violence who empower these terrorists and creates sanctions against them,” Blumenthal said. “Anyone who helps Assad and the Syrian regime develop weapons of mass destruction or provides them with conventional weapons is responsible for the majority of killings in Syria.”
The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control since 2004 has had a Syria sanctions program — which was created and expanded upon through presidential executive orders — in part to thwart the country’s support of terrorism and pursuit of WMD and missile programs.
The four senators’ proposed legislation would codify the exiting sanctions program and build upon it. Their bill would target Syria’s relationship with Russia by ending transactions between the U.S. and financial institutions — in Russia and elsewhere — that support the Assad government. The measure also would ban any entities that provide arms to the Syrian regime from having procurement contracts with the U.S. government. The Pentagon already has decided to stop buying Russian helicopters for Afghanistan’s air force from Russian state-owned exporter Rosoboronexport, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
International condemnation of Assad has increased since a massive Aug. 21 chemical-gas attack in a Damascus suburb, which his embattled regime is widely believed to have perpetrated. Under pressure from both the United States and Syrian ally Russia, the Assad government in September agreed to eliminate its roughly 1,300 metric tons of sarin nerve agent and mustard gas.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Executive Council adjourned a meeting at its headquarters on Friday without making a decision on accepting a chemical-weapons destruction plan crafted by Assad, according to Reuters.
The Hague-based organization opted to wait for an expected announcement later on Friday from Albania about whether it would host the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons on its soil. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said he will decide whether to heed the controversial request by the United States to destroy the poisonous arms. Protesters have flocked to the Albanian capital for days to denounce the prospect.
What We're Following See More »
Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”