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Thursday, February 07, 2013




"On Feb. 1, a Turkish national named Ecevit Sanli walked up to the side entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara like many others had done that day. Dressed inconspicuously, he waved a manila envelope at the man inside the guard booth as he approached the entrance. The security guard had no reason to distrust the man approaching the checkpoint; the entrance is used to screen packages, and perhaps the guard assumed Sanli was dropping off a document or was a visa applicant at the wrong entrance. What the guard did not know, perhaps, is that Sanli was a person of interest to the Turkish police, who suspected that he was plotting an attack. The guard opened the door of the access control building -- the outermost door of the embassy compound -- to speak to Sanli, who took one step inside before detonating the explosive device that was strapped to his body. The explosion killed Sanli and the security guard, seriously wounded a journalist who was visiting the embassy and left two other local guards who were manning the entrance with minor injuries. The embassy's local security personnel, as designed, bore the brunt of the attack. They are hired and trained to prevent threats from penetrating the embassy's perimeter. The low casualty count of the Feb. 1 attack is a testament to the training and professionalism of the local guards and the robust, layered security measures in place at the embassy -- factors for which those responsible for the attack apparently did not sufficiently plan." (STRATFOR)


"Lawmakers have been demanding to see the Obama administration's justification for the use of armed drones on Americans suspected of terrorism for more than a year, but the administration wouldn't even acknowledge that the documents exist until last night, when President Obama finally directed the Justice Department to make them available to the Congressional Intelligence Committees. An administration official explained that this is just 'part of the president’s ongoing commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters.' It certainly had nothing to do with members of Congress threatening to hold up the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA chief. The controversy escalated this week after a white paper outlining the administration's legal rationale for targeting Americans in drone attacks was leaked by NBC News. On Thursday morning, the committees will receive a longer and more detailed memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel that justifies the killing of New Mexico–born Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011, just in time to grill Brennan about it." (NYMag)


"Yesterday, Wednesday, Michael’s. Interesting Table One right next door in the bay. I noticed first because there were a couple of models at the table of six or eight. I knew they were models because ... duh... they don’t look like real people: they look like photographs. Or something like that. And they’re very tall and very thin. But not like they were underfed; more like they were stretched extra by God. And they were fully made up. By which I mean, no other woman in the room looked like they had just come from a makeup artist. I don’t mean any of this sarcastically. I mean they looked different, something extra, glamorous, sensational. What I didn’t know because I don’t know these things, until Diane Clehane, who was lunching with them, told me: they were famous too. Karolina Kurkova and Coco Rocha. But also at the table, and whom I didn’t see until she strode by on her way out after lunch was -- Naomi Campbell. I’d never seen her in person before. No photograph tells you: she’s sensational looking; long, tall, gorgeous, splendidly dressed in black that almost sparkled. More than all that, it’s the energy. She walks by and you go, Who Is That?! She looks like a movie star – the kind they used to call legends, not the kind like you see today who look like they just got off the bus from anywhere (after a long overnight ride). She was beautiful unlike any other. And pow! Also at table, Nigel Barker, the famous fashion photographer and television celebrity. Why were they at Michael’s? A stop on their media tour for their new show on Oxygen, The Face, a supermodel competition. At the table next to them (and next to mine) was Richard Belzer. On the other side of me, Cornelia Guest lunching with Jason Binn, the publisher of DuJour. There was another great beauty in the room yesterday too, whom I almost forgot in my aria about table one: Melania Trump. Also, like Campbell, one of those disarming beauties whom the camera can never capture perfectly." (NYSocialDiary)


"The 2014 midterm elections are a long way off but one thing is already fairly clear: Democrats face an uphill battle in trying to win back control of the House of Representatives. Thanks in part to their control of redistricting in a large number of key states, Republicans easily managed to hold on to their House majority in 2012. Despite losing the national House vote by well over a million votes, the GOP suffered a net loss of only eight seats in the House. So Republicans will go into the 2014 midterm election with 234 seats to 201 seats for the Democrats. This means that Democrats would need to pick up at least 17 seats to regain control of the House. In order to win back control of the House in 2014, Democrats would have to overcome one of the best known regularities in American politics — the tendency of the president’s party to lose House seats in midterm elections. Since World War II, that’s what has happened in 15 out of 17 midterm elections, including eight out of nine midterms under Republican presidents and seven out of eight midterms under Democratic presidents. In the nine midterms under Republican presidents, the GOP has lost an average of almost 21 House seats. Democrats have done even worse in the eight midterms under Democratic presidents, losing an average of almost 33 seats, including a postwar record 63 seats in the 2010 midterm election. There are several reasons why the president’s party almost always loses House seats in midterm elections. One is that opposition party voters are usually more motivated to turn out to express their discontent with the president and his party than voters from the president’s party are to turn out to express their support. In addition, House candidates from the president’s party no longer have the benefit of whatever coattails the winning presidential candidate had two years earlier. Finally, if the president’s party made substantial gains in the presidential election, they have to defend those seats, including some that may typically lean toward the opposition party, in the midterm election. Given the historical pattern of midterm losses by the president’s party, is there any reason for Democrats to be hopeful about the outlook for 2014? The answer, surprisingly, is yes." (CenterforPolitics)


"President Obama has embraced a series of proposals to advance gay causes in his second term, highlighting his changing views on gay rights. Three weeks ago, Obama became the first president to mention gay marriage in an inaugural address, citing the 'Stonewall' riots in New York City as a major landmark in the fight for civil rights. Since then, he has offered an immigration proposal that would give the same benefits to heterosexual and same-sex couples, called on the Boy Scouts to open its membership to gays, and seen the Pentagon announce it would offer certain benefits to same-sex couples. The transformation of the president who just 15 months ago said he was still evolving on the issue is remarkable — so much so that it caught even gay rights activists and supporters by surprise.
They’re now hopeful Obama will make history again by appointing the first openly gay Cabinet secretary, which would 'be an important milestone,' said Denis Dison, the vice president of communications for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute. 'I don’t want to say I find it surprising,' said one top gay rights activist and Obama donor." (TheHill)

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