North America

At a crossroads, Part II: No more shadows: The future of intelligence oversight in Congress

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In the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, M (Judi Dench) and Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) debate how to respond to a leak that has led to the assassination of several MI6 intelligence agents. Tommy Ross War On The Rocks They are torn between a desire to ensure that MI6, Britain’s premier spy agency, remains a credible part of British democratic institutions and the need to avoid antiquation in the face of rapidly changing technology and… At one point, Mallory laments, “We ... Read More »

Tom Wolfe elevated journalism into enduring literature

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In 20th-century popular culture, journalists were portrayed as needy hacks desperate to write the Great American Novel. William McKeen The Conversation Journalism was the means to an end that few achieved. But Tom Wolfe, who died May 14 at age 88, helped change that in the 1960s. He was one of the New Journalists, who wrote nonfiction using the techniques of fiction. As an example: Journalists had long been trained to use direct quotations sparingly and to look for money ... Read More »

In ‘The Restless Wave,’ John McCain Says America Is Still Exceptional

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Senator John McCain has sustained a long political career by seeming to have it both ways: praised as a fiery maverick when times are bland, and as a bipartisan consensus-seeker when they’re not. Jennifer Szalai The New York Times This isn’t so much an accusation as an observation — one that McCain himself repeatedly alludes to in “The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations,” his latest collaboration with his former chief-of… The ailing McCain, who learned last ... Read More »

Team Trump places Pakistan in a paradox

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Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul recently has raised expectations about the viability of the peace process between Kabul and Islamabad while highlighting India’s success in peeling Kabul away from dependency on Pakistan’s ruling… William Holland Asia Times As well, the meeting served to cement US regional policy goals: If realpolitik supplants rigid ideology, then policymakers in Islamabad will need to rethink their approach to China, India and the US while… In April, ... Read More »

One day, two students: What college looks like from opposite ends of the income gap

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A college degree has long been touted as society’s great leveler, essential for entry into the middle class. Rachel Kurzius andHarrison Smith The Washington Post Nearly 20 million students enrolled in an undergraduate program in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Movies and television tend to portray an idealized college experience, featuring 18- to 21-year-olds who attend four-year institutions and live on campus. But in reality the college experience is far more varied. Only 15 percent of the undergraduate ... Read More »

US embassy in Jerusalem opens amid violence: 4 essential reads

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On May 14, the day the U.S. embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem, at least 55 Palestinians were killed and 2,700 wounded by Israeli soldiers amid protest at Israel’s border, according to The New York Times. Danielle Douez The Conversation What began as Palestinian protests against economic sanctions in Gaza months ago now also includes a response to the embassy move. President Donald Trump announced the move back in December 2017, when he recognized Jerusalem as the “true capital” of ... Read More »

Turkey’s long, slow pivot to the dark side

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Some hardline conservatives in America are already over Turkey. “Turkey is effectively an ally no more,” argues Frank Gaffney, president and CEO of the right wing Center for Security Policy. “I think we have been divorced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who seeks to become the leader of a new Ottoman caliphate.” Jamie McIntyre Washington Examiner It’s a harsh assessment for a country that has been a NATO member for 66 years, and which had been considered a model ... Read More »

Submarines are increasingly lurking in seas around the world, and the US Navy’s high-tech Poseidon is there to hunt them

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The US Navy announced this month that it was restarting the 2nd Fleet to oversee the western Atlantic Ocean, including the North Atlantic and the US East Coast. Christopher Woody Business Insider The decision comes after several years of tensions between NATO members and Russia — and several warnings from Western officials about growing Russian naval activity, including more sophisticated and more active submarines. NATO has responded in kind, with a special focus on antisubmarine warfare — a capability that ... Read More »

Yanis Varoufakis: ‘Brexit is like watching a train crash in slow motion’

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The rebel former finance chief, Yanis Varoufakis, is back in the saddle at London’s Greek power diner Jonathan Heaf GQ If you want to get a Greek man or woman to smash a few plates, all you need do is mention Yanis Varoufakis. On the odd occasion I mentioned I was meeting the famed Greek former minister of finance, it resulted in such a response (from his fellow countrymen and women) that I wondered why I hadn’t brought him up ... Read More »

Why bullshit hurts democracy more than lies

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Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as president, members of his administration have made many statements best described as misleading. Michael Blake The Conversation During the administration’s first week, then-press secretary Sean Spicer claimed that Trump’s inauguration was the most well attended ever. More recently, Scott Pruitt claimed falsely to have received death threats as a result of his tenure at the Environmental Protection Agency. President Trump himself has frequently been accused of telling falsehoods – including, on the campaign ... Read More »

Gaza violence: Israel defends actions as 55 Palestinians killed

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said his military was acting in self defence during violence on the Gaza border that left dozens of Palestinians dead. Some 55 were killed and 2,700 wounded by Israeli troops, Palestinian officials said, on the deadliest day of violence since the 2014 Gaza war. BBC The Palestinian Authority’s leader condemned a “massacre”. The UN spoke of “outrageous human rights violations”. The violence came as the US opened a controversial embassy in Jerusalem. The move of ... Read More »

US should put the breaks on China’s expansion into South China Sea

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With North Korea dominating the headlines out of Asia, not enough attention is being paid to major developments dealing with the South China Sea – the major cause of tensions in the larger Indo-Pacific region before North Korea started testing its… Harry J. Kazianis FoxNews China recently placed advanced anti-ship missiles and air-defense batteries on islands it has built in the South China Sea – yes, China has built its own islands from almost nothing, using some of the world’s ... Read More »

How can the D.C. region absorb an Amazon headquarters if it can’t cope now with gridlock and housing costs?

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Stephanie Landrum, a leader of Alexandria’s quest to lure Amazon.com’s second headquarters to the city, promises that a proposed site in Potomac Yard could handle an influx of up to 50,000… Robert McCartney and Katherine Shaver The Washington Post “We only offer them stuff where they could fit,” said Landrum, who calls herself the “salesperson for the city” as president of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. “The scale of… Many residents of the nearby Del Ray neighborhood are skeptical. They already ... Read More »

The newest weapon in the US Navy’s arsenal is now under construction

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WASHINGTON ― When the destroyer Jack Lucas joins the U.S. Navy’s fleet in 2024, it will look similar to the 73 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that preceded it. David B. Larter DefenseNews But it’s going to be a very different, more capable killer than its predecessors. Huntington Ingalls announced Tuesday that it had begun fabrication of the first Flight III Destroyer, a ship that crucially adds Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6 air and missile defense radar. A ship is considered “in fabrication” after the ... Read More »

The Danger of Imitating Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at his hotel in New York City, U.S., May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RC15D321FDD0

Michael Cohen is the latest to try to adopt the president’s tactics, only to have it backfire. David A. Graham The Atlantic Donald Trump’s genius has always been his ability to capitalize, literally, on his fame—to use his celebrity as a vehicle to enrich himself, even when he didn’t have the accomplishments or knowledge or business prowess (or the cash) to back up what he claimed. Since his entry into politics, plenty of his hangers-on have attempted the same thing, ... Read More »

Re-Orienting American Seapower for the China Challenge

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As a seafaring state, America demands maximal access to the world’s oceans within the constraints of international law. Ryan D. Martinson and Andrew Erickson War On The Rocks Though seldom recognized, U.S. efforts to defend its interest in maritime freedom in the Western Pacific have been fairly successful. When the People’s Republic of China unlawfully draws “fences” around the sea, U.S. warships steam through the fences. Beijing recognizes the seriousness of America’s position, and thus far has generally yielded. However, ... Read More »