TIME Military

U.S. Prepares to Fly Deeper into Syrian Civil War

Operation Northern Watch Enforces No-Fly Zone
Air Force / Getty Images A U.S. Air Force F-16 leaves a Turkish base in 2002 for a mission over Iraq. Soon they are likely to be flying similar assignments over Syria.

ISIS is the target, but U.S. pilots could also be at risk

The U.S. flew “no-fly zones” over northern and southern Iraq for more than a decade before the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. U.S. warplanes kept Iraqi aircraft out of the sky, and targeted Iraqi air-defense systems that threatened to shoot. Now, along with neighboring Turkey, the U.S. is planning to launch something similar over a stretch of northern Syria.

Eliminating Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria along a strip of the Syrian-Turkish border is the key goal, opening up a safe haven for tens of thousands of Syrians displaced by the country’s four-year-old civil war that has killed more than 200,000. Whether the move hastens the ouster of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad—or leads to the shootdown and possible capture or death of an American pilot—remains unknowable.

Institute for the Study of WarThe striped section of the map is the proposed “no-ISIS zone.”

U.S. officials stressed Monday that Washington and Ankara are planning to step up bombing of ISIS targets on the ground, and not create a formal no-fly zone, which would bar Syrian warplanes from bombing runs. “It’s not a no-fly zone—it’s a bombing campaign,” says retired Marine general Anthony Zinni, who oversaw the Iraqi no-fly zones as chief of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000. He doesn’t think such a bombing campaign will have much effect. “We see how well a year of bombing has worked in Iraq,” where ISIS remains in control of much of the western part of the nation.

The chance of clashes between Syria and U.S. and Turkish aircraft will be more likely once details of the new zone are hammered out and stepped-up U.S.-Turkish attacks on ISIS targets begin. “I think they’ll tell the Syrians to just stay out of the air space,” Zinni says of U.S. and Turkish commanders. “They’ll issue a demarche: ‘If you shoot any air defense weapons at us, we’ll nail you.’ That’s what we did to the Iraqis.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the Syrians aren’t challenging U.S. warplanes. “There is no opposition in the air when coalition aircraft are flying in that part of Syria,” he said. “The Assad regime is not challenging us; [ISIS] doesn’t have airplanes … they’re not being shot at.”

But that’s hardly a guarantee. U.S. commanders will ensure their flight crew fly high and well clear of any known Syrian air-defense threats to minimize the chance of a U.S. pilot being shot down and—in the worst case—falling into ISIS’s hands and murdered. But accidents and snafus can occasionally happen. “We never even had a plane scratched,” Zinni says of the more than 200,000 U.S. flights in the Iraqi no-fly zones from 1992 to 2003. “It was absolutely remarkable.” (Unfortunately, this record was marred by the 1994 shootdown of two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters, killing all 26 aboard, by a pair of U.S. Air Force F-15s.)

Conflicting loyalties and priorities complicate the more aggressive campaign. Last week, after a suicide bombing blamed on ISIS killed 30 in a Turkish border town, Turkey began flying air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria, and gave the U.S. long-sought permission to launch air strikes from Turkish bases. Turkey, a NATO ally, is growing increasingly concerned with ISIS on its doorstep, the growing refugee problem, and military successes by its Kurdish minority, some elements of which are seeking their own state.

Kurdish forces control most of the Syrian-Turkish frontier, and the Turkish government views them as a threat much like ISIS. Ankara is also more interested in toppling Assad than battling ISIS. “If there is one person who is responsible for all these terrorist crimes and humanitarian tragedies in Syria, it is Assad’s approach, using chemical weapons, barrel bombs against civilians,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told CNN. His government has called for a NATO meeting Tuesday to discuss the ISIS fight.

U.S. and Turkish air power are expected to be used to reinforce Syrian rebels on the ground who are battling ISIS, creating a 68-mile “no-ISIS zone” along the Syrian-Turkish border. “Moderate forces like the Free Syrian Army will be strengthened…so they can take control of areas freed from [ISIS], air cover will be provided,” Davutoglu told Turkey’s A Haber television news channel.. “It would be impossible for them to take control of the area without it.”

U.S. officials have been complaining since the Pentagon began bombing ISIS targets a year ago of a dearth of reliable partners on the ground, in both Iraq and Syria. ISIS drove the U.S.-trained Iraqi army out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, a year ago, and the U.S. has trained only about 60 Syrian rebels to fight ISIS’s 30,000-strong force.

TIME Campaign Finance

Why Some Donors Gave to Multiple Republican Candidates

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks with reporters as he emerges from the Senate chamber following a series or rare Sunday votes on July 26, 2015.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks with reporters as he emerges from the Senate chamber following a series or rare Sunday votes on July 26, 2015.

Houston entrepreneur Michael Rydin has contributed to five Republican presidential candidates so far: Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Carly Fiorina. But he’s not done. The software developer is now considering giving money to Donald Trump as well.

“I want to get a discussion going. Controversy gets people talking,” he said. “I know Trump is unlikely to become the president, but he gets other candidates talking on issues that they would otherwise avoid.”

Rydin is part of a select group of Republican donors who have given to more than one candidate in the crowded 2016 presidential primary. A TIME analysis of first-quarter campaign financial reports showed at least 971 people have given to two or more Republican candidates.

With an unprecedented 16 candidates running for office, donors who might support more than one candidate have more options than ever. And some are taking advantage of the opportunity to endorse more than one campaign.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has received the most donations from people who also gave to a rival candidate. The most popular combination of donations was Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, with at least 206 people giving to both, followed by Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with at least 183 contributing to both.

Kenneth Abramowitz, a financial analyst in Connecticut, argues that “the more Republican voices, the better.” Abramowitz gave a total of $10,400 to the four Republican candidates who held breakfast and lunch events in his area: Jeb Bush, Carson, Rubio and Cruz.

Shelley Payer, a retired Florida banker who has given to three campaigns, says she gave to the candidates who interested her: Rubio, Paul and Carson.

“Everybody has something to say,” she said.

TIME

Big Soda Sues San Francisco Over Beverage Warnings

<> on June 10, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan—2015 Getty Images Bottles of soda are displayed in a cooler at a convenience store on June 10, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

The soda industry’s largest trade body is suing the city of San Francisco over rules that would require mandatory warning labels on soda advertisements and ban their display on city property.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Beverage Association on Friday, claims the regulations due to come into force July 2016 are unconstitutional. The city, the complaint said, “is trying to ensure that there is no free marketplace of ideas, but instead only a government-imposed, one-sided public ‘dialogue’ on the topic—in violation of the First Amendment.”

The legislation was passed unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in June and stands among the strongest laws in the country relating to sugary beverages. The label, which must be affixed to all soda advertisements, would read: “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”

The plaintiffs in the complaint say forcing signs to carry that label “violates core First Amendment principles.”

Other parties to the suit also include the California Retailers Association and the California State Outdoor Advertising Association.

TIME privacy

Activists Flood Congress With Faxes to Protest Cybersecurity Bill

"We figured we’d use some 80s technology to try to get our point across"

Internet activists opposed to a controversial cybersecurity bill are trying to get Congress’ attention the old-fashioned way: by flooding its fax machines.

The nonprofit group Fight For the Future has set up eight phone lines to convert emails and tweets protesting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) into faxes that will be sent to all 100 U.S. senators. Supporters can fax their own messages via FaxBigBrother.com or with the hashtag #faxbigbrother.

The legislation, first introduced last year by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would give tech companies more freedom to collect user data and share it with federal agencies in the name of cybersecurity; the data they share would then be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.

“Groups like Fight for the Future have sent millions of emails [about the issue], and they still don’t seem to get it,” campaign manager Evan Greer told the Guardian on Monday. “Maybe they don’t get it because they’re stuck in 1984, and we figured we’d use some 80s technology to try to get our point across.”

 

 

 

TIME Donald Trump

Donald Trump Is Not as Aggressive on Immigration As He Sounds

Among the Republican presidential field, Donald Trump has had some of the harshest words for undocumented immigrants. But when it comes to the actual policies he supports, he’s much less aggressive than he appears.

The New York real estate mogul kicked off his campaign with some sharp words about undocumented immigrants from Mexico: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

He then doubled down, arguing that as President he would make Mexico build a wall along the border. “You force them because we give them a fortune,” he said in an interview with CNN. “Mexico makes a fortune because of us. A wall is a tiny little peanut compared to that. I would do something very severe unless they contributed or gave us the money to build the wall.”

Those comments drew criticism from parts of the Republican establishment as well as many Hispanics, but they were part of an overall sales pitch that helped push Trump toward the head of the pack. A Fox News poll at the end of June showed Trump in second place behind Jeb Bush, with his support more than doubling since those controversial statements.

But when it came time to discuss the actual policies he’d support, Trump was not nearly as harsh.

On July 23, he told CNN that he would not actually build a wall the entire length of the border with Mexico. “In certain sections, you have to have a wall,” he said.

On MSNBC the next day, Trump endorsed a “merit system” for the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the country—something that sounds a lot like a path to some sort of legal status, if not citizenship.

“I have to tell you, some of these people have been here; they’ve done a good job; in some cases sadly they’ve been living under the shadows,” he said. “We have to do something. … Somebody’s been outstanding, we (ought to) try to work something out.”

That puts Trump to the left of, say, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, whose campaign told TIME in May that he would not support a pathway to legal status or citizenship under any circumstances. And it puts him in line with other Republican candidates, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who have endorsed some kind of legal status but not citizenship.

Trump was never as aggressive on the issue as his campaign launch made it seem. In the past, he’d even gone after Republicans for taking too harsh a tack against immigrants.

In the wake of Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, Trump blasted him for a “mean-spirited” policy suggestion during the GOP primary that the U.S. should make daily life uncomfortable enough for undocumented immigrants that they would simply leave.

“He had a crazy policy of self-deportation which was maniacal,” Trump told Newsmax at the time. “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote.”

Read Next: Republican Candidates Dodge Immigration Questions

TIME Barack Obama

See Scenes From Obama’s Trip to Africa

President Obama spoke proudly of his Kenyan heritage on his third trip to sub-Saharan Africa, visiting Kenya before traveling to Ethiopia

TIME mike huckabee

President Obama Says GOP Criticism ‘Ridiculous’

President Barack Obama aggressively pushed back against Republican criticism of a deal his Administration helped negotiate to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands, telling reporters traveling with him to Ethiopia that the GOP presidential hopefuls who hope to succeed him were using “ridiculous” and “ad hominem” attacks to avoid a serious debate rooted in substance.

During a news conference in Addis Ababa, Obama was asked about remarks made a day earlier by Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor who compared the deal to the Holocaust. Obama used the question to level broader criticism of the jockeying happening inside the Republican Party that is still in the early days of a search for a 2016 nominee.

“I have not yet heard a factual argument on the other side that holds up to scrutiny,” Obama said of his GOP critics. “There is a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks this is a good deal. It’s because it’s a good deal.”

The Republican candidates looking to follow him into the White House do not share his analysis. For instance, Huckabee said the proposed deal gives too much trust to Iran and betrays Israel, musing to the conservative Breitbart News that Obama was ready to “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

The oven remark was a clear reference to the Holocaust, when Nazis murdered millions of European Jews in concentration camps. Iranian leaders often use strong anti-Israel rhetoric, promising “death to Israel,” though few analysts think the country is actually preparing to engage in a genocide.

Obama, whose great uncle helped to liberate part of the Buchenwald camp in Germany, took offense to Huckabee’s rhetoric and said it matched up with other statements he has heard from Republicans. Obama said it “would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.”

“We’re creating a culture that is not conducive to good policy or good politics. The American people deserve better. Certainly, presidential debates deserve better,” Obama said, speaking broadly about a crowded Republican field that has been marked by daily oneupmanship. “In 18 months, I’m turning over the keys. I want to make sure I’m turning over the keys to somebody who is serious about the serious problems that the country faces and the world faces.”

Obama has long shown an impatience with the political showmanship, especially when it comes to foreign policy. The President said his would-be-replacements should take time to more carefully study the issues before jumping forward with criticism to motivate the party’s base.

“We have robust debates. We look at the facts. There are going to be disagreements but we just don’t fling out ad hominem attacks like that because it doesn’t help inform the American people,” Obama chided.

Speaking in Des Moines, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton joined Obama in criticizing Huckabee’s rhetoric.

“Comments like these are offensive and have no place in our political dialogue,” Clinton said. “I am disappointed and I’m really offended personally.” The former Secretary of State said there is space for candidates to disagree on the details of the deal, but said Huckabee’s rhetoric “steps over the line” and deserved to be repudiated.

For his part, Huckabee was not backing off. From his campaign headquarters in Little Rock, Ark., Huckabee released a statement that doubled-down on his earlier rhetoric after hearing Obama’s criticism.

“What’s ridiculous and sad is that President Obama does not take the Iran threats seriously. For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to ‘destroy,’ ‘annihilate,’ and ‘wipe Israel off the map’ with a ‘big Holocaust,’” Huckabee said. His statement to reporters included links to Iranian leaders’ comments using that rhetoric.

Huckabee pledged he would never allow that to happen. “I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust,” he added. In a follow-up email to supporters, Huckabee asked them to sign a petition urging Congress to skip its summer break and stay in Washington to “fulfill your constitutional duty and KILL the dangerous Obama-Kerry nuclear deal with the Iranians.”

There was no real downside for Huckabee to continue his line of criticism. The former Baptist pastor is a favorite among the evangelical wing of the GOP and he is a frequent guide to the region, taking paying guests on tours of Biblical sites. Republicans—especially those voters who pick the party’s nominee—overwhelmingly support Israel and are more than willing to listen to criticism of anything Obama backs.

Republicans have been almost unified in their opposition to the deal with Iran, which was negotiated by world powers China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

Under the deal, Iran will get relief from sanctions and regain access to international oil markets, which will bring it a windfall of about $100 billion. In exchange, Iran must dispose of most of its low-enriched uranium, stop efforts to produce or acquire more nuclear fuel and consent to inspections. The deal is expected to block Iran from obtaining the technology needed to build a nuclear weapon for at least a decade.

With additional reporting by Sam Frizell.

TIME Foreign Policy

U.S. Removes Cuba, Malaysia From Human Trafficking List

US-TRAFFICKING-PEOPLE-RIGHTS
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during the release of the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report" on July 27, 2015 at the State Department in Washington, DC.

An estimated 20 million people worldwide are working under forced and illegal conditions

The U.S. State Department removed Cuba and Malaysia from its human trafficking blacklist on Monday as part of an annual update to its contentious Trafficking in Persons report.

The 2015 report separates 188 nations into three tiers based on their efforts to combat human trafficking. The lowest tier nations face the threat of diplomatic repercussions at the discretion of the U.S. President. Cuba and Malaysia’s ratings were watched closely this year in light of both nations’ growing economic ties with the U.S.

Human rights activists warned that a premature upgrade would hint at political favoritism and damage efforts to hold governments accountable. An estimated 20 million people worldwide are believed to be victims of human trafficking, working in industries ranging from the sex trade to fishing and mining.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 27

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

With just 10 days to the first GOP debate, the Republican National Committee is defending its efforts to take control of the debates process that will leave six candidates off the main stage next week. In anticipation of the culling, which will be determined by position in nationally polling, the candidates on the bubble are going up on television, increasing their travel schedule, and dialing up their rhetoric to gain attention. For instance, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee resorted to invoking the Holocaust over the weekend in a bid to highlight his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is out with the first leg of her climate change plan, but she can’t outrun lingering questions over her use of private email while at the State Department. A pair of inspector generals said Friday that there were at least four instances of classified information being found on her unsecured server in violation of handling rules. And she and the House Benghazi Committee remain locked in a war of words over the conditions under which she will testify later this year.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Officials: Classified Emails ‘Should Never’ Have Been On Hillary Clinton Server
More questions for Clinton over private email use [TIME]

Donald Trump Staffers Eye Third-Party Run
TIME’s Philip Elliott reports on the candidate’s flirtations with an independent run

Hillary Clinton Unveils Far-Reaching Climate Change Plan
500 million new solar panels by 2020 [New York Times]

Senate Smackdown: Ted Cruz, Mike Lee Efforts Squelched by Leaders
Drama in the Senate chamber [Politico]

Republicans Alter Script on Abortion, Seeking to Shift Debate
The GOP goes on offense after controversial videos emerge [New York Times]

Sound Off

“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama.

“I think every state should strengthen their laws. Every state should make sure this information is being reported in the background system. We need to make sure that background system is working. Absolutely, in this instance, this man never should have been able to buy a gun.” — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on CBS “Face the Nation” after last week’s mass shooting in Lafayette

Bits and Bites

John McCain to Campaign for Lindsey Graham Next Week [TIME]

Dispute Continues Over Hillary Clinton Testifying Before Benghazi Panel [TIME]

Here’s Jeb Bush’s Underwhelming Review of Sharknado 3 [TIME]

George Pataki Is Wearing Two Hats: Presidential Candidate and Cattleman
[Wall Street Journal]

Jeb Bush to Seek Latino Support in Central Florida [Washington Post]

Marco Rubio, Absentee Senator [Politico]

American Crossroads Gears Up for 2016 Elections, Aims to Stay Top GOP Super PAC [Wall Street Journal]

Exodus from Puerto Rico Could Upend Florida Vote in 2016 Presidential Race [Washington Post]

GOP: It’s No Longer Playing Catch-Up to Clinton on Tech Outreach [San Francisco Chronicle]

Where Candidates Stash Their Cash [Bloomberg]

 

 

TIME viral

Watch Obama Steal the Show by Dancing the Lipala During His Visit to Kenya

It seems the commander-in-chief can cut a rug like the best of them

We knew he could bring down the house singing Al Green and “Amazing Grace,” but we’d rarely seen Barack Obama put on his dancing shoes — until now.

Between stops in the busy itinerary of his visit to Kenya this weekend, which included visiting his father’s family and giving a ringing speech on Africa’s potential for innovation, Obama found time to dine at Nairobi’s State House. There, he joined Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, first lady Margaret Kenyatta, and U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice in doing the Lipala. A traditional dance common at rural celebrations, the Lipala has returned to mainstream popularity recently after Kenyan afro-pop stars Sauti Sol chose its moves to accompany the video of their hit song “Sura Yako (Your Face).”

The band, which performed at the dinner, posted a video on Instagram showing Obama getting down with fellow dignitaries, ably keeping up with the steps and clearly enjoying himself.

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