04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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(CNN) -- For award-winning Nigerian film director Obi Emelonye, the London premiere of "Last flight to Abuja" in early June was supposed to be a celebratory event, a marquee moment introducing his suspense-filled airplane disaster thriller to the rest of the world with pomp and grandeur.

But then June 3rd happened.

On that fateful Sunday, the Dana Air Flight 992 from the Nigerian capital of Abuja crashed into a densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, killing all 153 people aboard as well as at least 10 people on the ground.

The tragic news left Emelonye, whose high-octane action movie is based on a series of fatal air crashes that stunned Nigeria in 2006, in a state of shock.

"The coincidences and the timing of it was scary," he says. "This was five days to the London premiere that we've been building up to -- my first reaction was to cancel the premiere."

But after consulting his team, Nigerian officials and some of the families of the bereaved, Emelonye was convinced to go ahead with the original plan, using the movie to spotlight aviation safety in Nigeria.

"They said 'no, this might end up being one of the longest lasting legacies to the lives of these people that were lost so needlessly in those crashes,'" he remembers. "This film was supposed to flag some of those issues that have now taken their lives, so it's in their interest that this story goes out there -- if for nothing, to put the issue of aviation safety squarely in the public agenda so that we don't forget."

Five days later, in an emotional event attended by hundreds of people, Emelonye made sure the premiere was dedicated to the Dana Air crash victims -- attendees observed one minute of silence while the film's end credits were replaced by the names of those who lost their lives on that ill-fated flight.

Emelonye says that "Last Flight to Abuja," written in 2007 and shot in November last year, has now become a campaign film, raising attention for safer flying in Nigeria and the rest of the continent.

"The film has taken on added significance way beyond my planning," he explains. "It has become an advocacy ... for aviation safety, not just in Nigeria but for the whole of Africa, and it's a responsibility I take very seriously."

As a result, Emelonye says that some of the profits of the film will be donated to a fund dedicated to helping the families of the air crash victims.

"We're trying to give back financially because we feel whatever profits from this film should go to, in some way, to continue the campaign for safer skies," he says. "In the absence of social security, there are people in dire hardship from that accident and we'll contribute something and kind of compel our partners to contribute also."

At just 30 years old, Emelonye is one of the rising stars of Nigeria's booming movie-making industry, known as Nollywood. Passionate and self-taught, he left behind a career in law to follow his dream of becoming a filmmaker. He achieved critical and commercial acclaim last year with "The Mirror Boy," a fantasy/adventure film released all across the African continent and the UK.

And now he is aiming for further success with "Last Flight to Abuja," a big-budget production starring many of Nollywood's biggest names.

The 81-minute long film has already become a box office hit in Nigeria and is shown in screens across West Africa and in London.

Emelonye says he hopes the movie, along with promoting civil aviation safety in Nigeria, will open up his country's burgeoning film industry to a wider audience, dismissing the low-quality tag that's often attached to Nollywood productions.

"We have a film that has pushed the boundaries with Nollywood and introduced a new genre in Nollywood filmmaking," he says.

Emelonye says Nollywood films are growing in popularity because they offer audiences a narrative they can connect to.

"There's something I call the quintessential African voice, which has kind of given Nollywood, in spite of its qualitative problems, international attention -- it's watched across Africa, it's watched across the world, even though they're shot on very low quality cameras, very simplistic stories, they have a common connection with people that is great."

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