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Libyan Newswire
  • Provision of Humanitarian Air Services in Response to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in West Africa

    Guinea

    Despite the abundance of natural resources in Guinea, its population endures high poverty and malnutrition rates. Since 2000, the country has experienced socio-economic adversity….

    Liberia

    Endowed with vast and varied natural resources, a large biodiversity, lush vegetation and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia has enormous potential in mining and ecotourism, as well as food and cash crop production….

    Sierra Leone

    Although Sierra Leone has great natural resources, the decade-long civil war severely devastated the country’s economy, destroyed infrastructure and caused large-scale human suffering….

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  • Yemen Army Jet Crashes, Pilot Killed

    Yemen Army Jet Crashes, Pilot Killed
    Wed 27 Aug 2014 at 17:36

    NNA – A military training jet crashed in south Yemen on Wednesday, killing its pilot, an army officer told Agence France Presse.The accident took place as the Czech-made L-39 aircraft was …

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  • Most of 2013 terrorist attacks took place in only a few countries

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    TerrorismMost of 2013 terrorist attacks took place in only a few countries

    Published 27 August 2014

    The majority of terrorist attacks occurring in 2013 remained isolated in just a few countries, according to the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is generated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). In 2013, 11,952 terrorist attacks resulted in 22,178 fatalities (including perpetrator deaths) and 37,529 injuries across 91 countries. More than half of all attacks (54 percent), fatalities (61 percent), and injuries (69 percent) occurred in just three countries: Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

    The majority of terrorist attacks occurring in 2013 remained isolated in just a few countries, according to the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is generated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) based at the University of Maryland. With the addition of nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, the database now includes more than 125,000 events dating back to 1970 and, according to START, it remains the most comprehensive unclassified database of terrorist attacks around the world.

    2013 terrorist attacks
    START says that in 2013, 11,952 terrorist attacks resulted in 22,178 fatalities (including perpetrator deaths) and 37,529 injuries across 91 countries. More than half of all attacks (54 percent), fatalities (61 percent), and injuries (69 percent) occurred in just three countries: Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

    By wide margins, the highest number of fatalities (7,046), attacks (2,852) and injuries (15,736) took place in Iraq. The average lethality of attacks in Iraq was 34 percent higher than the global average and 30 percent higher than the 2012 average in Iraq.

    “It is important to note that increases in terrorism in 2013 were geographically concentrated in many of the same places which saw high levels of political violence in 2012,” said Gary LaFree, START director and professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “The list of countries that experienced the most attacks remained virtually unchanged over the past two years-terrorism is generally getting worse in the places where it has been bad for several years.”

    While terrorism remained heavily concentrated in the same parts of the world, the countries within those regions experienced some notable changes. In 2013, total attacks increased for Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Lebanon; and decreased for Nigeria and Turkey. The most lethal single attack in 2013 took place in September in Nigeria when members of Boko Haram set up illegal checkpoints and killed 142 civilians.

    10 countries with the most terrorist attacks in 2013

    Country

    Attacks

    Fatalities

    Iraq

    2852

    7,046

    Pakistan

    2212

    2,891

    Afghanistan

    1443

    3,697

    India

    690

    464

    Philippines

    652

    432

    Thailand

    477

    253

    Yemen

    424

    622

    Nigeria

    341

    2003

    Somalia

    331

    641

    Egypt

    315

    243

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  • Canada Concerned About Downing of UN Helicopter in South Sudan

    August 27, 2014 – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:

    “Canada is concerned by reports that a UN helicopter crashed after being attacked near Bentiu, South Sudan. Three crew members are confirmed to have died. The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan [UNMISS] has dispatched an investigative team to confirm the cause of the crash.

    “This incident comes only one day after the Government of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army [SPLA] in Opposition signed an agreement in Ethiopia to work toward a permanent ceasefire and form a national unity government within 45 days.

    “Canada urgently calls on both sides to respect agreements they have made toward preventing more violence and bloodshed in the area and to cease military engagements. They must also allow UNMISS to carry out its mandate to protect civilians and facilitate full, safe, unhindered humanitarian access to all parts of South Sudan.

    “An immediate ceasefire is essential to ensuring the safe delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid.”

    – 30 –

    For further information, media representatives may contact:

    Media Relations Office 
    Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
    343-203-7700
    media@international.gc.ca
    Follow us on Twitter: @DFATDCanada
    Like us on Facebook: Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada-DFATD

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  • WFP Lifeline Operation To Feed Displaced Iraqis Reaches Over 700,000 People

    Copyright: WFP/Photolibrary

    KARBALA, IRAQ – Food aid convoys from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have reached displaced Iraqis in Karbala, southwest of Baghdad, bringing the number of people receiving food assistance to over 700,000 people since the start of violence in mid-June.

    This week 2,000 displaced families in Karbala received food assistance after WFP sent convoys from Erbil in the northern Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) area – using a corridor along the Iranian border to avoid volatile security in the area. More convoys will depart daily from Erbil to Karbala until all 15,000 families registered there have received assistance.

    “The humanitarian situation in Iraq is extremely challenging,” said Mohamed Diab, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and East Europe. “Thanks to the generous contribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, WFP has been prepared to provide food to communities that need it most and are in a very difficult and complex security situation.”

    Throughout the country more than 1 million people have been displaced – many without access to food, water or other basic needs. They are living in unfinished buildings, mosques, churches, parks and schools.

    “Our team met an Iraqi woman who arrived in Karbala from Mosul in July with her five children and three grandchildren. She said that until she got her food parcels from WFP this week, she had been living hand-to-mouth through random meal donations from citizens,” said Jane Pearce, Country Director for WFP in Iraq.

    WFP’s primary food assistance in Karbala, and in most governorates across Iraq, consists of food parcels containing essential items such as rice and cooking oil. Each parcel feeds a family of five for one month. WFP also distributes emergency ready-to-eat rations such as canned food, which provide immediate relief – especially to people still on the move. A third type of assistance is through emergency kitchens providing hot meals to people who fled persecution in Sinjar in the northern Nineveh governorate.

    “We have different methods to assist people in Iraq. Some people have settled in areas where they have access to cooking facilities, others need immediate relief after days on the road and in the heat. The tailored assistance ensures we can meet people’s urgent nutritional needs,” said Pearce.

    WFP’s operations in Iraq have been significantly scaled up in recent weeks, thanks to a US$148.9 million contribution in July from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that has helped the agency to respond quickly to the humanitarian crisis in the country.

    Before the latest wave of displacement, WFP was already assisting about 240,000 people displaced by conflict in Iraq’s al-Anbar governorate, as well as more than 180,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria who are sheltering in Iraq.

    #                              #                                 #

    Broadcast-quality video footage showing people displaced from the fighting in Iraq and WFP food distribution can be downloaded at this link:
    https://www.hightail.com/download/ZUczZm1lK3hUWUQ0WjhUQw
    You can view it streaming here:
    http://content.jwplatform.com/videos/B2nd9JV5-owG8ISvN.mp4
    High-resolution photos can be downloaded at this link:
    https://www.hightail.com/download/ZUczZm1mcGtmVFo3czlVag

    WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food in emergencies and working with communities to build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries.    Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media and @wfp_mena

    For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
    Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Mob. +20 1066634352. Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2600
    Shaimaa Fayed, WFP/Cairo, Mobile: +2 010 2008 4172
    Laure Chadraoui, WFP/UAE, Mob. +971506502338
    Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
    Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob.  +1 646 8241112

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  • Jarring News in Leaked UN Climate Report

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    An early edition of the next big Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was leaked. The topic was emissions. The conclusion is unsettling to say the least. “Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report. Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentage points, the report found, and that could grow much worse if emissions continue unchecked. Higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world as a result of human-produced emissions, the draft report said, and those problems are likely to intensify unless the gases are brought under control.”  (NYT http://nyti.ms/1qsrYlN)

    This Gaza Ceasefire Agreement Looks Like it Will Hold…”Thousands of Palestinians are celebrating in Gaza after Israel and Palestinian groups agreed an open-ended ceasefire to end seven weeks of fighting in Gaza…Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Gaza, said that the deal agreed an immediate easing of Israel’s blockade of crossings into Gaza, and a gradual lifting of restrictions on fishing off the coast of the strip. “The embargo will be lifted and the five border posts will see considerable changes, with the Rafah border crossing opening,” he said in reference to the crossing between Egypt and Gaza. Discussions on the creation of a seaport and airport will take place in a month, when indirect talks betwen Israel and Palestinians are scheduled to resume.” (Al Jazeera http://aje.me/1qssSig)

    Ebola

    The World Health Organization has withdrawn staff from a laboratory testing for Ebola at Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone after one of its medical workers there was infected. (VOA http://bit.ly/1sw54s9)

    The Ebola virus may have the “upper hand” in an outbreak that has killed more than 1,400 people in West Africa but experts can stop the virus’ spread, CDC Chief Thomas Frieden said at the start of his visit to the hardest-hit countries. (AP http://yhoo.it/1wxou6A)

    MSF said it could provide only limited support to tackle a new outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo as it was already overstretched by the worst ever epidemic. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1swfwAa)

     The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa is unprecedented in many ways, including the high proportion of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who have been infected. To date, more than 240 health care workers have developed the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, and more than 120 have died. (WHO http://bit.ly/1wxvZKJ)

    Africa

    The UN confirmed three people were killed when a Mi-8 cargo helicopter was shot down, apparently by rebels, in Benitu state South Sudan. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1tSzF4h)

    With a population of over six million, Sierra Leone has refocused its health initiatives, working tirelessly to strengthen the capacity and training of skilled midwives — an exceptional tool in reducing maternal and infant mortality. (IPS http://bit.ly/1sw2LWj)

     Despite progress in five East African countries and Congo in ratifying the United Nations Convention against Torture, human rights abuse is still prevalent as governments are reluctant to draft and implement local laws, human rights experts said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1swbgAC)

     Public health services in Uganda have long been poor because of limited government funding, and many qualified but poorly paid health workers have sought opportunities in Europe and the United States. Although private hospitals are springing up, most people cannot afford their services in a country where many live on less than $1 a day. (AP http://yhoo.it/1swcRGz)

    Malawian President Peter Mutharika has shot down a proposal to hike cabinet ministers’ pay to almost triple his own salary, a spokesman said Tuesday, amid austerity measures following foreign aid flight. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1swd24N)

    The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday called for the “swift neutralization” of Rwandan rebels in Democratic Republic of the Congo as essential to bringing stability to the conflict-torn eastern regions of the country. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1swf84G)

    MENA

    Family members and US officials say the Islamic State militant group has been holding a young female American aid worker hostage in Syria since last year. (AP http://yhoo.it/1swkRHx)

    Between government efforts to wipe out insurgents from Pakistan’s northern, mountainous regions, and the Taliban’s own campaign to exercise power over the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the real victims of this conflict are often invisible. (IPS http://bit.ly/1ARnJ6W)

    Asia

    Thailand’s military-led government is planning to hold talks with separatist groups in Southern Thailand to try to end a decade of violence that has claimed more than 6,000 lives. Analysts remain cautious about potential progress after previous talks stalled. (VOA http://bit.ly/1sw5M8U)

    Heavy flooding across Bangladesh has forced thousands of people from their homes and caused severe damage to crops, with officials on Tuesday warning the situation could worsen as floodwaters poured into the capital, Dhaka. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1sw9K1l)

    Doctors in India have removed the skeleton of a foetus that had been inside a woman for 36 years in what is believed to be the world’s longest ectopic pregnancy, a doctor has said. http://yhoo.it/1sw7KpX

    On Thailand’s border with Myanmar a malaria research and treatment center is increasing efforts to kill, or eliminate, a drug-resistant form of the parasite before it spreads abroad. (VOA http://bit.ly/1swhqAK)

    An international conference on small island developing states, scheduled to take place in Samoa next week, will bypass a politically sensitive issue: a proposal to create a new category of “environmental refugees” fleeing tiny island nations threatened by rising seas. (IPS http://bit.ly/XPJ2bd)

    As Bhutan – a nation best known for valuing “gross national happiness” above GDP – accelerates its development, its government and people have engaged in a new fight to preserve its culture and keep its unique identity alive. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1ARoFrU)

    The Americas

    Salvadoran police have detained two Nicaraguan men who authorities say were transporting nine Nepalese and three Bangladeshi migrants who were bound for the United States. (AP http://yhoo.it/1wxlBTa)

    Mexico’s president spoke of the need for US immigration reform on a two-day visit to immigrant-friendly California, saying those who reject diversity and inclusion will ultimately be proven wrong. (AP http://yhoo.it/1wxpl74)

    Young Colombians are taking part in a special squad of undercover agents trying to clamp down on sexual harassment on Bogota’s public bus network. (BBC http://bbc.in/XPJpCL)

    Opinion/Blogs

     Why have women been excluded from peace-building in Sudan? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1sw4OcX)

    Under-prepared aid agencies fail to disburse polio vaccines in Syria (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1q37zUz)

    International Day of the Girl: Map shows the U.N. Development Program’s gender inequality index. (Slate http://slate.me/1q37UGT)

    “Ebola is the Kardashian of diseases” (Chris Blattman http://bit.ly/1q37BMf)

    Will the real humanitarians please stand up? (WhyDev http://bit.ly/1vNOYfM)

    A risky humanitarian relief gambit pays off (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1vNQGOq)

    Good economics and the right thing to do: how to eliminate hunger and malnutrition (DevPolicy http://bit.ly/1q3800Z

    Do ‘girl ads’ detract from girls’ empowerment? (The XX Factor http://bit.ly/1q384Ol)

    Essential reading on foreign aid (Chris Blattman http://bit.ly/1q38p3x)

    Ethiopia: Assessing the Impact of Abortion Law Change (Development Diaries http://bit.ly/1q38uo2)

    Research/Reports

    This August UNICEF shipped 1,000 metric tonnes of life-saving supplies for children caught in the world’s most urgent crises — the largest emergency supply operation in the organization’s history in a single month. The amount delivered would fill 19 cargo jumbo jets. http://bit.ly/1wxiNp6

    Following months of lobbying by poor island states and NGOs, action on climate change is to be a stand-alone goal among the 17 newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1sw3TZR)

    Governments should ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, warning that they pose a “serious threat” to foetuses and young people. http://yhoo.it/1wxnPBX

    Read more
  • Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Josh Earnest en route Charlotte, NC, 8/26/2014

    The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary

    For Immediate Release

    August 26, 2014

    Aboard Air Force One
    En Route Charlotte, North Carolina

    10:44 A.M. EDT

    MR. EARNEST:  This afternoon, as you know, the President will be addressing the National Convention of the American Legion, where he’ll discuss keeping our commitment to America’s veterans isn’t just a policy priority, it’s also a moral obligation.  That’s why the President, when he took office, dedicated additional resources to mental health care for veterans, benefits for those veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, and loans for those veterans and members of their families who are trying to get an education.

    And in light of reports earlier this summer that highlighted the need for new management reforms to improve service delivery at the VA for our veterans, the administration acted quickly to implement them.  But there is a lot more work to be done, some of which has already been announced just today.  And as Secretary McDonald continues his work, he’ll make sure that accountability is restored at the VA and that America has a VA that puts our veterans first.

    So you’ll hear a lot more from the President on this issue today, and I’d refer you to the factsheet that we put out earlier today for additional details on some of these proposals.

    So with that, we’ll go to your questions.

    Q    Josh, can you talk to us a little bit about surveillance over Syria, what the goals are?  Does that suggest that there’s some imminent military action by the U.S.?  And has the U.S. consulted at all with the Assad regime over this surveillance?

    MR. EARNEST:  Let me start with a couple of things that I said yesterday.  The first is, the President has not made any decisions at this point about any military operations in Syria.  I’m not in a position to discuss the details — the operational details of our nation’s intelligence activities.  As I also mentioned yesterday, there are teams of professionals at the Pentagon who are responsible on a daily basis for reviewing and updating and putting together contingency plans for the President of the United States and the Commander-in-Chief. 

    This is work that the Pentagon does on a regular basis, and for details about those plans I’d refer you to the Pentagon.  But it certainly isn’t a surprise to anybody here that those plans are based on intelligence. 

    What we have also made clear that is the President, as a matter of policy, will not hesitate to use military force where necessary to protect Americans.  We’ve been just as clear about our view that resolving the situation in Iraq, related to ISIL, is not something that can be done only using America’s military might.  Permanently restoring — or at least restoring on a sustainable basis security to the nation of Iraq and to that region between Iraq and Syria will require the United States to use so many other tools in our arsenal.  It will require an effective, inclusive Iraqi government that can unite that country to face the threat that’s posed by ISIL.  It will require the involvement of other governments in the region that have a blatantly obvious interest in this outcome.  It will require the involvement of countries around the world, particularly our Western allies that also have an incentive to confront that threat that’s posed by ISIL.

    We talked also a little bit yesterday about the risk that’s posed by foreign fighters, those individuals with Western passports that have traveled to that region and taken up arms alongside ISIL.  We are concerned, and our allies are concerned, about the risk that is posed by those individuals returning to the West and carrying out violent actions in the West that could be aimed at Western targets.

    So we’ve been clear about what our strategy is here, and it is a strategy that is focused on using all the elements of American power and influence to try to resolve this situation.  That, of course, includes the military, but is not limited only to the military. 

    Q    The Assad regime has said that any act over its territory would be considered a hostile act if they did not — if they weren’t notified.  Can you categorically say the U.S. will not notify or consult or coordinate with the Assad regime on any action?

    MR. EARNEST:  As a matter of U.S. policy, we have not recognized the Assad regime as the leader of Syria.  And there are no plans to change that policy, and there are no plans to coordinate with the Assad regime as we consider this terror threat.

    Q    Can you comment on the Egypt-UAE bombings in Libya?

    MR. EARNEST:  I’ve seen those reports.  I’m not in a position to comment on those reports either.  I would suggest that you check with the Egyptians and the Emiratis on those reports that cite their military involvement in Libya. 

    The thing that I will reiterate is that it is the view of the United States that an outside interference in the situation in Libya only exacerbates the tensions in that country and serves to undermine the democratic transition that the political leaders in that country are trying to implement.  But in terms of the specific reports of those military airstrikes, I’d refer you to the countries that are mentioned in those reports.

    Q    But is it fair to say that you would not welcome the participation of other nations in that conflict at this point? 

    MR. EARNEST:  Again, I can’t talk about specific military actions that are reported or maybe being contemplated by other countries.  But just as a general matter, it’s our view that outside interference is counterproductive, because it exacerbates tensions that already exist in that country and undermines the democratic institutions — admittedly fledgling democratic institutions, but democratic institutions nonetheless in that country.

    Q    Josh, I know that you’re not going to say exclusively, but can you give us some idea of where the President is in thinking and the decision on airstrikes?

    MR. EARNEST:  Well, Roger, as you know, the President has already ordered airstrikes that are underway in Iraq, that are aimed at a couple of specific goals; one is the protection of Americans in Iraq, and they were also deployed to avert a humanitarian disaster and a genocide there. 

    Q    I’m talking about Syria.

    MR. EARNEST:  As it relates to Syria, the President hasn’t made any decisions.  And I’m not in a position to give you an update in terms of where the President’s current thinking is on this, other than to point out that our strategy on this, for dealing with this situation, does not rely solely on the American military.  I mean, the thing that’s important to remember here is, at the risk of putting too fine a point on it, the previous administration tried relying only on our military.  And sending 140,000 American servicemen and women to Iraq for a prolonged period of time had an impact on the security situation in Iraq — there is no question about that — for the positive.

    But it was not — it certainly was not the policy of the Bush administration or of the Obama administration to leave those American troops — and there were hundreds of thousands of them, or more than a hundred thousand of them — there permanently.  And what we saw is that the Iraq’s political leaders didn’t seize the opportunity to capitalize on that stabilized security situation.  And because of the failure of Iraq’s political leadership, we saw that that country was very vulnerable to the influence and to the attacks of violent extremists.

    And let me just go back to this, because this is important.  That’s why it’s so important for us to build up effective partners in the region — because for all of our efforts, they’re only undermined if there aren’t effective partners in the region and in these countries that can take responsibility for providing security for their own people.  And that is why the President is so cognizant of this idea that we can’t rely only on American military might.  Of course, the American military has tremendous capabilities that can influence these kinds of situations.  But for a sustainable solution we’re going to need effective partners both in the form of effective governments where these actions are taking place, but also the constructive contribution of other regional governments that have a clear interest and a vested stake in the outcome.

    Q    When you say the strategy doesn’t rely solely on the military, that’s a reference to the need for partners, is that correct?

    MR. EARNEST:  That is a reference to the way in which we’re going to confront the threat that’s posed by ISIL, and the need for us to build up an effective partner in the Iraq government, but also the effective contribution — or the constructive contribution of other governments in the region.

    Peter.

    Q    Can I clarify on — the current military campaign in Iraq is based, in your all’s view, on the President’s inherent Commander-in-Chief powers, not on any previous authorization to use military force, either in 2001 or 2002?  Is that right?  In other words, not the Iraq resolution and not the post-9/11 resolution?

    MR. EARNEST:  The current military action that has been ordered in Iraq is vested in the powers as the Commander-in-Chief.  And we have filed war powers notifications demonstrating our commitment to coordinating with Congress as we deploy that power. 

    It has been our policy that — and the President talked about this in a speech he gave earlier this year about his view that the current Iraq AUMF, authorization to use military force, needed to be changed because it was so broad.  But as it relates to the military actions that are underway, those are actions that are underway — or that have been authorized under the President’s powers as Commander-in-Chief. 

    For a more detailed analysis, I don’t want to go too much farther here.  We’re sort of — we’re reaching the limits of my knowledge on this, because it’s complicated and I want to make sure we get this right.

    Q    Is it the White House’s theory, then, that inherent power would be enough to go across the border into Syria as well?  If you expand what you’re doing against the same enemy, is it the same authorization — authority that you guys are relying on?  Or would you be using the 2001 one, which is what you do use in Somalia and Yemen and other places like that that use drone strikes, that kind of thing?

    MR. EARNEST:  Well, what we have said about this, Peter, is we have not speculated about what sort of authority would be required from Congress if the President were to make a decision to authorize military — the use of military force in Syria.  Since he hasn’t made that decision, we haven’t talked about what sort of authority he may or may not use if he were to make that decision.  We just haven’t sort of speculated that far.

    It’s a legitimate question, and if we reach the point where the President does make a decision to use military force in Syria, then that will open up an additional set of questions that you’re raising right now.  But we haven’t attempted to answer them at this point because the President has not made a decision to authorize military force in Syria.

    Q    But you all make a distinction between this potential action and last year, when you asked Congress to weigh in — not that you said Congress had to weigh in; you thought you had the authority even without Congress last year, but you said you wanted them to weigh in, to have a sense of consensus, right?  But you make a distinction between the retaliatory strikes you contemplated last year and these kind of intervention, which would be a different type.  Is that right?

    MR. EARNEST:  Well, the goals of those two missions — the goal of the mission from last year was aimed squarely at the Assad regime and was in response to the intel assessment that they had used chemical weapons against innocent civilians.

    The situation a year later is markedly different.  What we’re talking about now is confronting a terrorist group that has sought a safe haven in Syria.  This is a group that poses a threat to Americans in the region and could potentially, down the line, pose a broader threat to American interests and our allies around the globe.  So the situations are somewhat different.

    Now, what the ramifications of those differences are for our — for some of the legalistic questions that you’re asking are important.  But these are questions that I don’t have answers for right now just because the President, like I said, hasn’t made a decision to authorize this military action in Syria.

    Q    One last question on this.  Do you have any sense of the timetable?  He’s meeting with Secretary Kerry today.  How important is that meeting?

    MR. EARNEST:  The President confers on a regular basis with the Secretary of State.  They typically will meet on a weekly basis when the Secretary of State is in Washington, which is rare these days.  He’s putting a lot of miles on the airplane.  But I would anticipate that they will discuss a range of issues in that meeting, including our ongoing efforts to face down the threat that’s posed by ISIL.

    But in terms of whether or not there’s a presidential decision that will come directly out of this meeting, I’m not in a position to say.

    Q    But I just meant, like are we — are we talking about days?  Are we talking about weeks?  I mean, he didn’t move that quickly on Iraq, right?  He came out in June and said, I’m contemplating airstrikes, but he didn’t move until August when he felt the circumstances had changed.

    MR. EARNEST:  Well, it’s fair to say that the President is watching the situation very closely, as are the other elements of his national security team.  Some of that is because there is already kinetic military action that’s underway in Iraq at the President’s direction.  So this is something that has his close attention.  But I wouldn’t prejudge at this point when the President would act, or even at this point if he will act. 

    Q    — options yesterday in the meeting with Secretary Hagel?

    MR. EARNEST:  I’m sorry?

    Q    The President hasn’t made a decision, but was he presented with options in the meeting with Secretary Hagel yesterday?

    MR. EARNEST:  I’m just not in a position to get into the details of those discussions.

    Did you have a question?

    Q    Yes, I was just — anything imminent on it?

    MR. EARNEST:  I just don’t have an update on the timing.

    Q    Josh, there are reports today that Ukraine took Russian soldiers the day after the ambassador — the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine sent out a tweet that was very solidly against Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.  Can you comment on that?  I mean, on the fact that Ukraine has soldiers and what the President thinks should be done at this point.

    MR. EARNEST:  Well, our posture on this remains that we are disappointed that President Putin and the Russians have not used their influence to deescalate this situation.  And in fact, what we have seen are repeated provocations by the Russian regime to further escalate tensions in the region.  And whether that’s moving humanitarian convoys across the border into eastern Ukraine without the consent of the Ukrainian government, that certainly represents a pretty flagrant escalation of this situation.

    There are also a number of reports that the Russians are now actively moving military hardware across the border.  That’s something they’ve been doing for some time, and there are some indications that the pace of those movements have increased.  We’ve actually asked President Putin to do the opposite.  We’ve actually asked him to use his influence to try to deescalate the situation and to convince pro-Russian separatists to actually lay down arms and to negotiate with the legitimate government of Ukraine to resolve this situation.

    So the Russian regime has faced sanctions from the international community, and their economy has borne some costs as a result of their actions in Ukraine.  And by continuing to ramp up that activity, they make the imposition of additional costs even more likely.

    Q    Is the President pessimistic about the meeting today between Poroshenko and Putin?

    MR. EARNEST:  I haven’t asked him about that specific meeting, but we certainly will be interested to learn about those discussions.  And I’m confident that U.S. officials will be in touch with the Ukrainians to hear their takeaways from that meeting.

    Q    Josh, was the White House aware that Vice President Biden was doing these photo-line fundraisers with congressional candidates tacked onto official trips or other campaign trips and not announcing them publicly?

    MR. EARNEST:  I will say that I know that — well, let me say that I read your story in Politico today, so I’m now aware of them.

    Q    We got a reader.  (Laughter.) 

    MR. EARNEST:  There’s at least one, right?  (Laughter.)  What I’ll say is that the Vice President’s political activities are obviously very closely coordinated with the political activities of the President and other senior members of the West Wing.  So the President and Vice President are spending a lot of time and energy supporting Democrats who are on the ballot this fall, and they’ll continue to do that. 

    What I would observe is I don’t think that there is a significant difference between the Vice President, for example, doing photo lines, where he doesn’t do formal remarks, in support of Democratic fundraising activities, and the President convening roundtables with donors to Democratic Party causes to discuss his support for Democrats in the fall elections.

    There isn’t press access for either of those things, because in neither case is the President or the Vice President delivering formal remarks.  But I do think that they are indicative of this administration’s desire to support the campaigns of Democratic candidates who are eager to support the President’s agenda and support the plight of middle-class families in the Congress.

    Q    And is the President doing any events like that where he’s doing photo lines attached to events for Democratic donors that aren’t on the public schedule?

    MR. EARNEST:  I know the President typically does photo lines in conjunction with fundraising events.  Off the top of my head, I can’t think of an example in which the President has done a photo line without doing a more formal fundraising event.  I wouldn’t — that’s not a definitive thing, because it’s off the top of my head, but if he’s done any of those he’s not done very many.

    Q    Josh, is Senator Hagan — I didn’t see — is the Senator on the plane?  Is she meeting the President on the tarmac?  What’s the deal today?

    MR. EARNEST:  She is not on the plane.  I understand that she’s been in North Carolina for the August recess.  And I understand that both Senator Burr and Senator Hagan will meet the President on arrival at the airport in Charlotte.

    Q    Will he travel in with them to the convention?

    MR. EARNEST:  I don’t know what their travel plans are.  You should check with them.  I believe that both senators, however, are addressing the convention at some point while the convention is in town.

    Q    Hagan had some pretty harsh comments on the President, in her statement last Friday — I’m sure you saw it.  Do you have a reaction on that?

    MR. EARNEST:  Well, Senator Hagan is certainly an independent voice for the people of North Carolina, and that means that she doesn’t always agree with President Obama on a range of issues.  But Senator Hagan has demonstrated that she is a dedicated advocate for America’s veterans.  President Obama is, too.  And I’m confident that that means that they’ll have an opportunity to work together, because they both believe it’s a priority to make sure that we’re living up to our covenant with America’s veterans. 

    Q    Is the President concerned about potentially being a drag on Senator Hagan as she runs for reelection in November?

    MR. EARNEST:  No.  The President, over the course of the last two elections, has performed — has out-performed expectations in North Carolina.  He obviously narrowly won North Carolina in 2008; fell just a little short in 2012.  But that demonstrates that the President has a pretty deep reservoir of political support here in North Carolina.

    The people of North Carolina — the North Carolina economy in particular is one that benefits from the kinds of policies that the President is championing in Washington, D.C.  Everything from investments in R&D have a significant economic benefit in areas like the research triangle.  Immigration reform is something that would certainly benefit — strongly benefit the North Carolina economy.  So there are any number of reasons why the President has strong support here in the state of North Carolina.  And if there’s an opportunity for the President to lend some of that support to Senator Hagan’s campaign, then he won’t hesitate to do it.  But based, again, on my reading of Politico and other news organizations that are carefully covering the North Carolina Senate race, it sounds like Senator Hagan is doing a pretty darn good job of making a case for herself right now.

    Anybody else?  Okay, thanks, guys.  We’ll see you on the ground.

    END
    11:06 A.M. EDT

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