FROM Patrick McDonnell
Syria Peace Talks Break Down as Assault on Aleppo Begins So-called Syrian "peace talks" have broken down almost before they got started. The UN mediator asked for a pause in the violence to allow for humanitarian aid. Instead, the Syrian army launched a major offensive — supported by Russian bombardment. Patrick McDonnell was in Geneva. He's Beirut Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times .
Upheaval after Iran's Last Minute Invite to Syria Peace Talks The much-awaited Syrian peace conference is scheduled to begin on Wednesday in Switzerland. But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon may have thrown a wrench into the machinery yesterday by inviting Iran to attend at the last minute. Patrick McDonnell is Beirut Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times .
Syria's Assad Meets Chemical Weapons Deadline Syria has not yet destroyed all its deadly chemical weapons, but it has made the machinery to manufacture them "inoperable." The UN's Organization for the prohibition of Chemical Weapons says the Assad regime has met the deadline set forth in agreements with the US and Russia. The ongoing civil war is another matter. Patrick McDonnell, Beirut Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times , has more.
Syrian Prime Minister Survives Assassination Attempt The Syrian state media report that Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi has survived a bomb attack against his convoy in the capital of Damascus. There are unconfirmed reports that his bodyguard and others were killed by what is said to have been a car bomb. Patrick McDonnell is in Beirut, Lebanon for the Los Angeles Times .
Violence and the Politics of Religion in the Middle East Two years of bloody violence against a brutal dictatorship in Syria have awakened the ancient rivalry between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. It's become a religious battle, pitting neighbors against each other in Syria and across the Middle East, and is accentuating hostilities between nations, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. Terrorist organizations, like Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni al Qaeda, are threatening chaos to advance their competing agendas. Is it partly an unintended consequence of America's occupation of Iraq? Is there anything the US can do to contain it?
President Bush's Fence-Mending Trip to Latin America President Bush is visiting Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico this week, carrying with him a complicated economic and trade agenda. But after keeping Latin American issues on the back burner for six years can he effectively compete with rising radical leaders like Hugo Chávez? September 11 and then the war in Iraq got in the way of Bush’s promise to focus US foreign policy on Latin America. Now, he faces a series of what promises to be some massive and noisy protests in a part of the globe where he’s deeply unpopular. Guest host Marc Cooper speaks with journalists and experts in energy, foreign policy and national security. (This program was originally broadcast earlier today on To the Point .)
Too Late for Bush to Mend Fences with Latin America? When George Bush came into office six years ago he vowed the Southern Hemisphere would be his top foreign policy priority--but that was before September 11 and Iraq. Now, midway through his second term, the President has begun a week-long visit to the region , to try to woo back Latin America and boost American influence. One of the few concrete agreements that might come out of the trip is a deal with Brazil about ethanol production. However, Bush is up against some stiff political competition from radical leaders like Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, who argues the US has nothing good to offer its southern neighbors. Can the President overcome his widespread hemispheric unpopularity? Can he offset the growing influence of regional leftists like Chávez? Guest host Marc Cooper speaks with journalists and experts in energy, foreign policy and national security.
Bomb in Baghdad Market District Kills 24 General George Casey, America's top military official in Iraq, said today that Iraqi security forces should be able to take over in 12 to 18 months. But Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has told the Los Angeles Times that if current levels of violence continue, the US "simply cannot achieve its goals." Patrick McDonnell is in Baghdad for the Times.
Nationalism's appeal on both sides of the Atlantic Nationalism, Populism, concerns about immigration and outright racism are part of election campaigns from the US to Europe. We hear how today's election in Holland reflects the recent past and may forecast the future.
The 'deconstruction' of the administrative state President Trump has failed to fill high-level positions in important agencies — and some people he has named want to phase out the agencies they're supposed to lead. We look at the possible consequences for delivering services and providing security — and at top aide Steve Bannon's plans for "deconstructing the administrative state."
Political appointments and the reshaping of the judiciary President Trump has the chance for a long-term impact -- not just on the US Supreme Court, but on the entire federal court system. And his nominees are likely to get the support of a massive spending campaign by donors who don't have to reveal their names. Can President Trump "pack" the federal court system?
Further revelations into Russian involvement in 2016 election Last week's failure to "repeal and replace" Obamacare was an early setback for the Trump Administration. There may be long-term danger of a different kind in multiple investigations into ties with Russia among campaign workers, the White House staff and the Chief Executive himself. We look as some of the threads they're following.