04 20 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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  • Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about 'high stakes' tests   
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  • Watch Rachel Maddow interview VA Secretary Robert McDonald  
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Stop Global Warming GreenpeaceRussian investigators said Wednesday they had found narcotics on a Greenpeace ship whose crew was detained in the Arctic last month -- an allegation quickly disputed by Greenpeace as a smear.

Some of the 30 people who were aboard the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise are likely to face additional charges, the Russian Investigative Committee said. Authorities say they think the narcotics include opium.

The 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists who were arrested on the ship as they protested Arctic drilling already face piracy charges. All 30 pleaded not guilty in court last week.

The Investigative Committee said Russian experts were looking into the "origin and purpose" of the drugs seized, which it described as "presumably opium straw and morphine."

Greenpeace said the claim that Russian authorities had found drugs on the vessel "is a smear, it's a fabrication, pure and simple."

"We assume this announcement is designed to deflect attention from the growing global outrage over the continued imprisonment of the detainees," it said in a written statement.

The environmental campaign group has repeatedly condemned the detention of its activists, saying they were taking part in a peaceful protest against the "slow but unrelenting destruction of the Arctic."

Russian authorities made the arrests after two of the activists left the Arctic Sunrise and tried to climb the side of an oil platform owned by the Russian energy giant Gazprom in the Barents Sea.

The government in the Netherlands -- where the Arctic Sunrise is registered -- wrote to the Dutch parliament Friday to say it has launched legal action aimed at freeing the 30 under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea. Two of those detained are Dutch citizens.

The defendants also include Americans Peter Wilcox, who is the captain of the Arctic Sunrise, and Dmitry Litvinov, who Greenpeace says also holds Swedish citizenship.

The other detainees are from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Britain, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, France, Italy, Turkey, Finland, Switzerland, Poland, the United States and Sweden, the group said.

If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

Lawyers acting on Greenpeace's behalf have filed appeals in court seeking the defendants' release, Greenpeace said.

Russian authorities accuse the defendants of trying to commandeer the platform. The authorities and Gazprom also say that the activists endangered the lives of the company's employees and that their action could have led to an environmental disaster.

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