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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  • Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about 'high stakes' tests   
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The Washington County TNT Squad's website headline says, 'When There's Something Big Going on in Your Neighborhood - Who Ya Gonna Call?'
(Photo from

A suburban law enforcement SWAT team serving a search warrant at New Columbia shot a young father Tuesday night who thought intruders were in his yard.

While police officials did not release the victim's name until late today, The Oregonian newspaper reported at midday that he is Alberto Flores, 31, who lives with his family on North Woolsey Avenue near where the Washington County Sheriff's Office Tactical Negotiation Team (TNT) massed after 9 p.m. last night in military-style uniforms and an armored vehicle.

Flores is at an area hospital with non life-threatening injuries after an exchange of gunfire with TNT in the darkness outside his home.

"The City takes incidents such as this very seriously. As with any officer-involved shooting, there will be a thorough investigation and we will make sure every element is examined," said Mayor Sam Adams.

Police officials say the Portland Police SWAT Team is away on a training mission; meanwhile news of the Tuesday night shooting came out just before the Portland City Council approved a new training facility for the Portland Police Department.

"I think the number one thing is something we've been asking the Portland Police Bureau about for years – which is when you call in another agency to help the Portland Police, who decides when it's okay to use deadly force? Because the Portland Police have a certain training around deadly force, and the Washington County Sheriffs Office has a different training around deadly force," said Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch this afternoon.

Handelman outlined the recent fruitless efforts by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition to persuade city leaders to adopt a 49-point policy plan submitted last fall, but almost all of which was dismissed during City Council hearings over the past few months.

Also, ironically, the city pulled the plug on its Charter Review Committee last month just as the panel was set to vote on police accountability policy recommendations.

Handelman urges concerned Portlanders to get involved with the AMA Coalition by reading up on exactly what their recommendations are.

"We don't know if this man fired his gun first according to the stories we've read so far, we don't know if it's the Portland Police who shot him, or if Washington County Sheriffs shot him. So there are lots of layers that we need to know," he said.

"I think overall everybody should be concerned that there's a man lying in critical condition because he was shot by somebody that works for our government, and that they did that in our name.

"And they still haven't figured out ways to de-escalate the situations without using bullets," Handelman said. "I think that's the main thing people have been marching in the streets about even longer than I've been doing Portland Copwatch, and that's 20 years now."

In statements today the Portland Police offered sketchy details about exactly what happened when Flores was shot Tuesday night, and how the TNT was involved. So far they have not revealed who exactly shot the victim, who had no ties to the case being investigated.

According to the Portland police, TNT was on hand in the 9500 block of North Woolsey Avenue to help with an arrest warrant as well as a search warrant related to a Sunday night shooting at New Columbia.

"Due to the high risk nature of the search warrant, the tactical team was requested to serve the warrant," Portland police said in a statement.

The TNT website shows the squadron wears a uniform of military-style green fatigues with helmets.  Their webpage headline says, "When There's Something Big Going on in Your Neighborhood - Who Ya Gonna Call?"

The Oregonian reported that neighbors say Flores was alerted to a disturbance in his yard, secured his personal handgun as his wife and children remained in the house, then went outside and confronted the intruders.

It's unclear how many shots were fired, but the daily paper reports the victim's 17-year-old son first staunched his father's gunshot wounds then was ordered by police to get down on the ground.

Flores' family was ordered out of the house before officers carried him to an ambulance.

The Portland Police say the original shooting they were investigating was gang related; on Tuesday night they eventually arrested 20-year-old Anthony Bagsby on charges of Attempted Murder, Assault in the First Degree and Robbery in the First Degree.

Police say they found a handgun at Bagsby's residence that had been used in a robbery and shooting Sunday at New Columbia.

Earlier Tuesday they also arrested a 16-year-old male who is charged with Attempted Murder, Assault in the First Degree and Robbery in the First Degree.

"Detectives from the Portland Police Bureau's Homicide Detail are investigating the circumstances of the officer-involved shooting," the bureau said.

Find more links to stories about this incident and more here.

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