FROM Richard Gowan
Syrian Peace Talks Begin on Shaky Ground Syrian Peace talks first scheduled for Monday finally got under way today in Geneva…for the first time in two years. Expectations have not been high. Somini Sengupta is in Geneva for the New York Times .
A War of Words about Peace in Syria In Montreaux Switzerland today, Syrian peace talks got under way, preliminary to the so-called Geneva II process scheduled for Friday. Nobody thinks the conference will lead to peace. Even optimists call it a "possible first step" to ending three years of appalling civil war. President al Assad has gained strength by giving up chemical weapons and fighting extremists, despite charges that he's a war criminal. Will the US have no choice but to deal with him, rather than ending his rule-if only to gain a temporary ceasefire for humanitarian reasons? We look at today's angry start of a process that might — or might not — lead to changing unacceptable conditions on the ground.
President Obama Wants to Give Peace a Chance In last night's speech to the American people, President Obama laid out his case for punishing Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons to kill its own civilians. He asked every member of Congress, and those watching at home, to view shocking pictures of children writhing and dying, alleged evidence of Syria's use of chemical weapons. In addition to the moral argument, the President said there's a real risk to national security. But he asked Congress to postpone approval for limited military action -- a vote he was almost certain to lose. Instead, he said there's a chance of accomplishing his objectives without force, by negotiating a deal proposed by Russia. Did the President make the alternatives clear? If diplomacy fails, will the President renew the threat? What about Congress?
At the G8 Summit: World Leaders Meet Low Expectations The leaders of the US, Japan, Russia, Canada, Germany, France and Britain have assembled in L'Aquila, Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is hosting the so-called G8 Summit . L'Aquila was devastated by an earthquake just three months ago. Some 3500 reporters are on hand today.
At the G8 Summit: World Leaders Meet Low Expectations The leaders of the US, Japan, Russia, Canada, Germany, France and Britain and some 3500 reporters have crowded into L'Aquila, Italy, a town still feeling aftershocks from a devastating earthquake in April. Iran and food security are on the agenda , and President Obama faces pressure to demonstrate US leadership on economic recovery and global warming. Prime Minister Berlusconi's personal scandals have led to a lack of planning. China's President Hu Jintau has gone home to deal with the Uighurs. We get an update and a preview of what's to come.
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.