Russia tries to go around Obama and influence our Congress


RUSSIA OBAMA

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CNN

First on CNN: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has turned down a Russian request to meet to discuss Syria, his office says, making it unclear if any U.S. lawmakers will sit down with a planned delegation from Moscow.
This comes less than a day after House Speaker John Boehner rejected a similar request from the Russian government.
A spokesman for the Russian embassy would not comment on the declined requests. “We are still working on the visit,” Maxim Abramov said.
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CHRIS MATTHEWS ASKS IF SYRIA WILL BE ONE STRIKE ONLY


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CHRIS HAYES’ TAKE ON SYRIAN CRISIS


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WHAT’S YOUR OPINION?

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THIS JUST IN . . .


Saudi Arabia called Sunday for international action in Syria.

“The Syrian regime has crossed all the lines with its tyranny. … It’s time for us to ask International community to carry its responsibility and put an end to this tragedy that is entering its third year,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said at a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.

“The Syrian regime has lost its legitimacy within the Arab world and internationally,” he said.

The Saudi stance came as the Obama administration pushed forward Sunday on a new path toward military action in Syria, urging Congress to support the president’s call.

Announcing that evidence collected independently of a United Nations probe shows Syria used sarin gas in an attack on its people, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States has to act.

“If you don’t do it, you send a message of impunity,” he said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Unio n.” Read the story here.

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BREAKING NEWS . . .


President Obama will address the situation in Syria from the White House at 1:15 p.m. today. Get complete coverage of breaking news on CNN TV, CNN.com and CNN Mobile.
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“Kerry accuses Syria of using chemical agents; US preparing to release evidence” 1


NBC NEWS

By Catherine Chomiak and M. Alex Johnson, NBC News

Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday accused Syria of using chemical weapons against its people, and U.S. officials told NBC News that they would release intelligence evidence to prepare the public for a possible military response.

President Barack Obama hasn’t made any decision on whether wage strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday. But other U.S. officials told NBC News that the administration could begin laying the groundwork by disclosing the evidence as early as Tuesday.

The officials said an attack isn’t imminent, because it will take time to make all the information public, and preparations must be coordinated with allies including Britain, France and Turkey. The U.S. is also unlikely to attack while a U.N. weapons team remains in Syria — and it isn’t scheduled to leave until Sunday.

The officials reiterated that any military action would be limited and not targeted at Assad because its goal would be to respond to the use of chemical weapons. Targets would be command and control bunkers, airfields and artillery.

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“Syria opposition group claims 1,300 killed in chemical attack in Damascus suburbs”


CBS NEWS

BEIRUT The Syrian opposition said Wednesday that state security forces had launched intense artillery and rocket barrages on the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus, claiming that hundreds of people died in what was being called a “poisonous gas” attack.

The attack coincided with the visit by a 20-member U.N. chemical weapons team to Syria to investigate three sites where chemical weapons attacks allegedly occurred during the past year. Their presence raises questions about why the regime – which called the claims of the attack Wednesday “absolutely baseless” – would use chemical agents at this time.

In a statement, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said the U.S. is deeply concerned by reports chemical weapons use in Syria, and that the Obama administration is “working urgently to gather additional information.

“If the Syrian government has nothing to hide and is truly committed to an impartial and credible investigation of chemical weapons use in Syria, it will facilitate the U.N. team’s immediate and unfettered access to this site,” Earnest said.

The Egypt-based Arab League condemned the “horrific attack” against civilians and called for an investigation.

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HOW CAN RUSSIA SUPPORT USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS?

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MTP: Richard Engel Reports on the Fighting in Egypt


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What do you think?  Should we suspend foreign aid to Egypt?

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“Star Trek actor George Takei backs petition to move Sochi Games to Vancouver”


George Takei on “The Last Word (MSNBC)

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THE PROVINCE

By Frank Luba

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VANCOUVER — Activist and actor George Takei, best known as helmsman Lt. Sulu in the original Star Trek series, is boldly going where tens of thousands have gone before, denouncing Russia’s anti-gay laws, calling instead for the 2014 Games to move to Vancouver from Sochi.

He’s the latest celebrity to weigh in on the Olympic controversy, endorsing a petition at Change.org that had garnered more than 55,000 supporters by Wednesday afternoon.

Russia “intends to enforce its laws against visiting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) athletes, trainers and fans, meaning anyone even so much as waving a rainbow flag (and I presume many men enthusiastically watching and dramatically commenting on figure skating) would be arrested, held for weeks and then deported,” he wrote in a blog post posted Tuesday.

“Given this position, the (International Olympic Committee) must do the right thing, protect its athletes and the fans, and move the 2014 Winter Olympics out of Russia.”

Takei noted Vancouver’s facilities are still in good condition and the city would be the easiest of possible alternatives. Moving the Games, he said, would be much better than a boycott — one of the options touted by some activists.

“A boycott of the games would punish athletes who have trained for years to participate, and a boycott of Russian vodka isn’t going to affect the kind of change needed,” he wrote.

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Lady Gaga attends The Rally during NYC Pride 2013 on June 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Lady Gaga attends The Rally during NYC Pride 2013 on June 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Pop star Lady Gaga is speaking out on Twitter against the anti-LGBT violence in Russia and the country’s ban on gay activism.

Activists around the world have been pressing the international community to help stop Russia’s anti-LGBT laws that prohibit the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” Under the law, promoting gay pride or speeches, kissing or holding hands in public, or even being suspected of being gay could mean jail time for both citizens and tourists.

In messages posted to her feed Monday, Lady Gaga offered her support to gay and lesbian Russians.

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Protesters pour out vodka over anti-gay Russian laws

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DON’T FORGET TO SIGN PETITION

[See Link Earlier in Post]

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