The Top 10 Stories of August 5, 2013
“For the past decade, the U.S. has been able to hide Bagram behind the shield of ongoing military conflict in Afghanistan. What’s happening now is that the shield is disappearing and what’s left is the legacy of the second Guantanamo, which is going to last beyond the Afghan war.” Tina M. Foster, director of the International Justice Network, which represents more than 30 detainees in the jail at Bagram air base outside Kabul, Afghanistan.
1. Embassy, consulate closures applauded on both sides of the aisle.
Rattled lawmakers in both parties applauded President Obama’s decision to shutter two dozen U.S. diplomatic posts across the Middle East and North Africa this weekend, calling the threat of a fresh terrorist attack credible, specific, and the most alarming in years.
2. August recess now high season for interests lobbying lawmakers.
Lawmakers hoping for a respite from Washington’s intense lobbying climate won’t get a break back home during the August recess. Once a lull in the political calendar, August is now officially part of the high season. An array of interest groups has methodically plotted how to use the congressional recess to press causes.
3. House weighs more guest-worker visas in immigration bill.
Two House Republicans are working on an immigration bill that could disrupt the delicate deal struck between labor and business groups over how many visas to award to low-skilled guest workers. GOP Reps. Ted Poe of Texas and Raul Labrador of Idaho may call for nearly twice the number of annual visas for low-skilled workers than the Senate included in its immigration bill, though they haven't yet settled on a number, two people familiar with drafts of the House bill say.
(Wall Street Journal)
4. Nebraska trial could delay Keystone XL pipeline.
While environmentalists, energy executives, and elected officials across North America await the State Department’s critical decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a little-noticed trial scheduled for next month in Nebraska could spell problems for the $5.3 billion project.
5. Demonstration at Arizona border divides supporters of immigration overhaul.
A protest by nine Mexican immigrants in which they tried to enter the country through a border station in Arizona even though they had no valid documents has provoked an unusual public argument among groups pushing Congress to overhaul the immigration laws.
(New York Times)
6. Israeli decree on West Bank settlements will harm peace talks, Palestinians say.
With peace talks scheduled to begin next week, an Israeli cabinet decision involving West Bank settlements on Sunday drew condemnation from the Palestinian leadership, highlighting the fragility of the Washington-brokered effort to resume long-stalled negotiations.
(New York Times)
7. Egypt's government, pro-Morsi protesters may be near compromise.
After weeks of deadly clashes, Egypt’s military-backed government and supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi may be edging toward a compromise that could ease the latest unrest threatening the nation’s erratic path toward democracy.
(Los Angeles Times)
8. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe reelected; opponents cry foul.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who at 89 has ruled the country for 33 years, was reelected president in an election declared a "farce" by rival Morgan Tsvangirai. The vote has been condemned as seriously compromised by the largest local observer group, the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network. African observers have commended the election for being peaceful — in contrast with past violent elections — while expressing mild concern about voting irregularities.
(Los Angeles Times)
9. Focus shifts to Obama if Congress axes immigration bill.
If immigration reform sputters in the deeply divided U.S. Congress, supporters are planning to push President Barack Obama to act on his own to help 11 million illegal residents, lawmakers and immigration advocates said.
10. Republican Ryan wary of shutdown strategy on Obamacare.
Influential Republican congressman Paul Ryan disagreed on Sunday with the idea of using the threat of a government shutdown as a means of trying to get rid of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law known as "Obamacare."