TIME Education

Obama to Sign Bill Improving Worker Training

Barack Obama, Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden greets President Barack Obama as he arrives to speak at Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Oakdale, Pa., about the importance of jobs-driven skills training. Carolyn Kaster—AP

On Tuesday, President Obama and Vice President Biden will announce new executive actions on job training at the signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Congress and the President have finally found some common ground: Obama will sign the first significant legislative job training reform effort in nearly a decade on Tuesday.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passed by Congress on July 9 will streamline the federal workforce training system, trimming 15 programs that don’t work, giving schools the opportunity to cater their services to the needs of their region, and empowering businesses to identify what skills workers need for success and help workers acquire them.

The bipartisan, bicameral bill is a response to a projection that by 2022, 11 million workers will lack the education necessary to succeed in a 21st century workplace including bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees, and vocational certificates.

“Workforce training is critically important to help grow the American economy still recovering from recession and bridge the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from promising careers in 21st century workplaces,” said Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) when the bill passed.

The Obama Administration apparently agrees. On Tuesday, when Obama signs the bill into law, he and Vice President Joe Biden will also announce new federal and private sector actions to address the need for an improved job training system, which currently serves about 21 million Americans including veterans, Americans with disabilities, the unemployed, and those who lack skills to climb the career ladder. The Obama administration’s new actions also complement the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by improving federal training programs not included in the bill.

Earlier in 2014, President Obama tasked Biden with reviewing the federal training system to find ways to improve it. As a result of that review, Biden will issue a report Tuesday that outlines “job-driven” strategies that the Administration says will make the federal training system “more effective, more responsive to employers, and more accountable for results” in Tuesday’s report.

Chief among these strategies is a new “job-driven checklist,” a tool that measures how effective programs are in preparing students for careers that will be incorporated into applications for all 25 federal training grants, at a total of about $1.4 billion, starting Oct. 1. The checklist requires programs to engage with local employers in designing programs that cater to their needs, ramp up opportunities for internships and apprenticeships, and keep better data on employment and earning outcomes.

“From now on, federal agencies will use specific, job-driven criteria to ensure that the $17 billion in federal training funds are used more effectively,” a senior White House official said on a Monday evening press call.

The Obama administration will also expand opportunities for apprenticeships, considered a “proven path to employment and the middle class,” according to a White House statement. After completing these programs, 87% of apprentices gain employment at an average starting salary of $50,000.

In addition to using competitions and grants to bolster job training in the U.S., the administration will also use technology. On Tuesday, Obama and Biden will announce $25 million award from the Department of Labor to develop a web-based “skills academy” for adult learners. And the Department of Education will experiment with education models that award skills based on a person’s tangible skills rather than their performance in a classroom setting.

“Too often job training programs are focused on providing the skills needed for yesterday’s jobs, not the jobs of today and tomorrow,” an administration official said Monday. “And teaching methods are often rooted in outdated, class-based models that haven’t kept pace with technology and new training techniques.”

TIME Crime

Here’s What Happens When You Get a Rape Kit Exam

It takes a lot longer and is more invasive than you think

+ READ ARTICLE

Updated: July 22, 4:00 p.m.

Getting a rape kit collected is no picnic. The process can last up to four hours, and involves getting poked, prodded, swabbed and photographed in exactly the places a rape victim would have been violated in an attack.

“There’s a lot of myths about there, myths about prostitutes coming in to get free medical care, but this is a very invasive 2-4 hour plus exam,” says Kim Hurst, director of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner program in Detroit. “We’re doing pubic hair pulls or combs, we’re doing swabs of the outside of the genitalia… and then we’re doing a speculum exam [which is internal] and taking swabs that way, and if there was an anal assault we’re doing swabs there. And then we use a colposcope [a specialized medical camera] to take pictures of genital injury.”

The exam is usually performed in a hospital before the kit of evidence is turned over to the police for their investigation. The DNA from the kit and potential rapist is entered into CODIS, a national FBI database that helps law enforcement track serial offenders across the country.

But as TIME reported this week, thousands of rape kits across the country have been shelved and forgotten without being tested. According to a 2011 report from the National Institute of Justice, 18% of all unsolved rapes between 2002 and 2007 involved forensic evidence that had never been processed. In 2009, over 11,000 forgotten rape kits were discovered in a Detroit police warehouse, which means 11,000 potential victims went through the rape kit collection process, only to have the evidence discarded. Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy has been setting an example for how best to clear the backlog and prosecute the cold cases, but other cities could follow her lead; Phoenix has almost 3,000 backlogged kits, Dallas has over 4,000, and Memphis has over 12,000. That’s why the House of Representatives recently passed $41 million to test backlogged kits and investigate the cold cases.

“The bottom line, by testing these rape kits, we can identify serial rapists, put them behind bars, and bring the ultimate nightmare of the women raped to an end,” said Vice President Joe Biden when he asked Congress in March for the backlog funding in Obama’s 2015 budget. The bill has yet to pass the Senate.

Pick up this week’s issue of TIME to find out more on how investigators in Detroit are leading the way in clearing the rape kit backlog and getting victims overdue justice, or follow this link.

 

With special thanks to Monica Pombo and the Crime Victims Treatment Center at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s in Manhattan.

TIME

Biden To Governors: Only You Can Save Us

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the National Governors Association convention on July 11, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the National Governors Association convention on July 11, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. Mark Humphrey—AP

Vice President Joe Biden told the nation’s governors Friday that it is up to them to lead the nation out of political gridlock.

With Congress and the White House at loggerheads on nearly every issue, and President Barack Obama embracing executive action, Biden said at the summer meeting of the National Governors Association, Democratic and Republican governors “are the best hope we have.”

“The way things have gotten today—and I’m not singling out any party or group of people, just the politics, the culture—it’s become too personal,” Biden said, noting that he served in the Senate when segregationists served in Congress. “It was never personal. It was never cast in the context of ‘you’re good or bad,’” he added. “There was a presumption that the other guys or woman you’d be dealing with was acting in good faith. It was always about their judgment, not about their motive.”

“You gotta lead us out of this mess we’re in,” he told the governors.

Biden prefaced his remarks on partisanship with a warning. “Folks. I probably shouldn’t say this … but then again I’m Joe Biden,” he said drawing laughs from the audience of governors, lobbyists and staff.

Biden also noted that demographic changes in the U.S. would leave “those of us who are caucasian or of european descent are going to be an absolute minority in the United States of America” in a few decades, adding “so we’ve got to get this right.”

The vice president used his remarks to call for congressional action on infrastructure spending and workforce training programs, praising Democratic and Republican “guvs” by name for successful programs in their states.

“You’re doing all you can,” Biden told the governors. “You’re attracting investment, while the federal government is sitting on its hands.”

“We’re looking to you,” he said.

TIME Immigration

Obama Urges Congress to Approve $4 Billion in Funds for Immigration Crisis

The President declined Governor Perry's request that he visit the border while in Texas: "I'm not interested in photo ops. I'm interested in solving a problem"

+ READ ARTICLE

Updated 6:29 p.m. ET on July 10

President Barack Obama called on Congress to swiftly approve nearly $4 billion in supplemental funding to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors at the Southwest border Wednesday, saying lawmakers need to set aside politics to solve the problem.

“Are we more interested in politics, or are we more interested in solving the problem,” Obama said in statement late in the day after a meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry and local faith leaders in Dallas to deal with the months-long crisis.

“What I emphasized to the governor is the problem here is not a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem,” Obama said. “The challenge is: Is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done?”

Obama described the meeting with Perry, which came about after days of partisan wrangling, as “constructive,” saying “there’s nothing that the governor indicated he’d like to see that I have a philosophical objection to.”

The President said he encouraged Perry to pressure the Texas delegation to support the supplementary request. “If the Texas delegation is prepared to move, we can get this thing done next week,” he said.

House Republicans have called on Obama to use his executive authority to take steps to deal with the surge of illegal immigrants but have not yet indicated whether they will bring the President’s request up for a vote.

Perry, meanwhile, called on Obama to immediately deploy 1,000 National Guard troops to help deal with the crisis and to personally visit the border.

“Five hundred miles south of here in the Rio Grande Valley there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding that has been created by bad public policy, in particular the failure to secure the border,” Perry said in a statement. “Securing the border is attainable, and the President needs to commit the resources necessary to get this done.”

Obama left open the possibility of sending the National Guard if it would help Republicans move on the funding request, but added that the supplemental request is a longer-term solution that should be amenable to both parties, saying the GOP needs to “rediscover the concept of negotiation and compromise.”

The President also offered his most forceful public comments of warning to parents in Central American countries ravaged by poverty and violence who might send their migrant children on the dangerous journey to the U.S.

“Their parents need to know that this is an incredibly dangerous situation and it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay,” Obama said, noting he has sent top Administration officials to Central America over the past several weeks. Vice President Joe Biden spoke Wednesday with the Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to review efforts to dissuade parents from sending their children to the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Thursday that up to 90,000 unaccompanied child immigrants could cross the border before September, burdening immigration agencies who badly need new funding to handle the influx. Johnson cited the highest calculation of immigrant children yet when he appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday afternoon. “We are preparing for a scenario in which the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border could reach up to 90,000 by the end of fiscal 2014,” Johnson’s testimony reads.

Obama meanwhile defended his decision not to visit the border, saying he’s not “interested in photo ops.”

“There is nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on,” he said. “This is not theater. This is a problem. I’m not interested in photo ops. I’m interested in solving a problem.”

 

TIME Lobbying

Ukrainian Employer of Joe Biden’s Son Hires a D.C. Lobbyist

Hunter Biden
Hunter Biden waits for the start of the his father's, Vice President Joe Biden's, debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. on Oct. 11, 2012. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

An obscure private Ukrainian natural gas company has been hiring friends and family of Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden, while seeking to influence Congress

When Vice President Joe Biden’s son, R. Hunter Biden, joined the board of a private Ukrainian oil and natural gas company this spring, he explained his new job as a legal one, disconnected from any effort to influence the Obama Administration. In a press release, the younger Biden boasted of his abilities on issues like improving corporate transparency.

But the company, Burisma Holdings, did not disclose at the time the scope of their plans for influencing the U.S. government. Recently released documents show that Biden’s hiring coincided with the launch of a new effort to lobby members of Congress about the role of the company in Ukraine and the country’s quest for energy independence.

David Leiter, a former Senate chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed on to work as a lobbyist for Burisma on May 20, 2014, about a week after Biden announced he was joining the company, according to lobbying disclosures filed this month.

Leiter’s involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry’s son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company.

Biden’s office referred questions to a Burisma spokesman, who says Biden has not been involved in contacting members of Congress or the Obama Administration about the company. “His role, like all board members, is to provide strategic guidance to Burisma,” said Lawrence Pacheco, who works in Washington D.C. for FTI Consulting, a communications firm that is also employed by Burisma.

But Burisma is contacting officials in Washington through Leiter’s lobbying firm, ML Strategies. “ML Strategies is working with Burisma to educate U.S. officials about the company and its role in creating a stable and secure energy future for Ukraine, not any specific policy or legislation,” Pacheco said. “Burisma supports energy independence, economic growth, national sovereignty and regional stability and will engage as needed to encourage efforts to further these goals.”

Some Democratic senators, meanwhile, have been working to secure more U.S. funding, either directly or through entities like the Export-Import Bank, to improve Ukraine’s domestic energy production potential. On June 27, Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, wrote President Obama a letter with three other Democratic senators calling for increased aid. “We should leverage the full resources and expertise of the U.S. government to assist Ukraine in improving its energy efficiency, increasing its domestic production, and reforming its energy markets,” wrote Markey, who has also proposed legislation with about $40 million in additional aide for Ukranian energy development.

Markey’s letter was trumpeted by Burisma Holdings as a commendable move towards securing the future security of Ukraine. “Burisma Holdings today applauded the range of U.S. legislative support for development of Ukraine’s broad and untapped resources and an increase in transparency and good governance,” the company said in a statement on the day the letter was released.

An aide in Markey’s office told TIME that Leiter, Biden and Archer were not part of discussions that led to the drafting of the letter or the legislation. Staff for the other senators who signed the letter, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, also said they did not have contact with Leiter, who could not be reached for comment.

Burisma Holdings is owned by a Cypriot holding firm, Brociti Investments Limited, which is controlled Nikolai Zlochevskyi, a former Ukranian government minister, according to Cypriot records. It controls government development licenses in three regions of Ukraine, and sells to industrial customers in the country, according to the company.

By taking a job with Burisma, the younger Biden has put himself in the middle of a struggle between the United States and Russia, which currently provides the bulk of the natural gas supplies to Ukraine. Both the White House and European nations have recently emphasized the strategic interest in making Ukraine less dependent on Russia.

Since Hunter Biden took the new job, his father, Vice President Joe Biden, has continued to serve as the Obama Administration’s point person on Ukraine, traveling to the country as recently as June for the inauguration of President Petro Poroshenko and talking to Poroshenko by phone at least five times in the last month.

“I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the last two months in Ukraine,” the elder Biden said on June 19. “You see what the Russians are doing relative to using gas as a foreign policy tool to try to alter behavior. And so it’s — around the world in varying degrees it’s of significant consequence in terms of security, both economic and political security of a nation.”

There is no legal barrier to prohibit Hunter Biden from working with a company that can be impacted by the policy decisions of his father, and the White House has maintained that the Vice President has not been influenced by his son’s employment. “The Vice President does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company,” said his spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff.

But Hunter Biden’s new job, along with the association with Burisma of other politically-connected businessmen, has raised concerns among some Ukraine watchers. “It’s unhelpful when we are trying to get across to the Ukrainians to clean up corruption and special deals for special folks,” said Ed Chow, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank. “It maybe sends the wrong message that Westerners are just hypocritical.”

Additional reporting by Alex Rogers and Zeke Miller/Washington

TIME 2016 Election

Bill Clinton: Hillary Is ‘Not Out of Touch’

Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton listens during a session of the annual gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative America in Denver on June 24, 2014 Brennan Linsley—AP

The former President said his wife is "not out of touch," after she came under fire for minimizing their wealth in recent interviews

Former President Bill Clinton defended his wife’s recent comments about their family’s wealth Tuesday in an interview at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has come under fire from Republicans and some Democrats for minimizing their wealth in recent interviews in promotion of her new book. Hillary Clinton said earlier this month she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001, and in an interview with the Guardian newspaper published last weekend, Clinton implied she was not among the “truly well-off,” despite more than $100 million that the former President has collected from speaking engagements alone.

The criticisms are undercutting Hillary Clinton’s efforts to highlight populist economic issues in preparation for a possible presidential campaign and lending to an image that she can’t relate to average Americans.

The former President told NBC News’ David Gregory he was not surprised the subject of their wealth came up, suggesting it was an effort by Republicans to “change the subject.”

“It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt,” Bill Clinton said in an interview airing this week on Meet the Press, in reference to the millions in legal fees they racked up in the White House. “Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic; I’m shocked that it’s happened. I’m shocked that people still want me to come give talks.”

With his wife and daughter looking on, Bill Clinton asserted that they do normal things in the tiny New York suburb of Chappaqua, the location of one of their two homes.

“The idea that now, after — I think I had the lowest net worth of any American President in the 20th century when I took office, but I still could have been tone-deaf,” said Clinton. “And, you know, now I don’t, and we’ve got a good life, and I’m grateful for it. But we go to our local grocery store on the weekend. We talk to people in our town. We know what’s going on. The real issue is if you’ve been fortunate enough to be successful, are you now out of touch and insensitive to the agonizing struggles other people are facing? That’s the real issue.”

Asked whether he could see why the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate’s comments were drawing accusations that she was out of touch, Bill Clinton said he could, adding “but she’s not out of touch.”

“She advocated and worked as a Senator for things that were good for ordinary people,” he continued. “And before that, all her life. And the people asking her questions should put this into some sort of context.”

Hillary Clinton’s remarks on wealth have evoked comparisons to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. On Monday, potential 2016 rival Vice President Joe Biden highlighted his relatively meager finances at an event on working families, but called himself fortunate regardless.

Watch the video of the exchange below:

TIME White House

Biden Gets Humble About His Wealth

The vice president falsely says he doesn't own a single stock or bond, or have a savings account — but admits that he's been "really, really fortunate"

Vice President Joe Biden highlighted his meager finances—by Washington standards—Monday at the inaugural White House Summit on Working Families, but cast himself as “really fortunate” regardless.

Highlighting the need to modernize family leave policies, Biden argued that he was well off on account of generous family leave and benefit policies afforded to or taken by him as a lawmaker, but said such benefits must be expanded to all Americans.

“I can speak a little bit from my own experience,” Biden said early in his remarks. “Look at Biden, man. He’s got a mildly expensive suit on. He’s Vice President of the United States of America, he makes—notwithstanding that he’s listed as the poorest man in Congress—he still makes a lot of money as Vice President of the United States. And I do by the way. And I do. Don’t hold it against me that I don’t own a single stock or bond. Don’t hold it—I have no savings account. But I’ve got a great pension and I’ve got a good salary. For real. For real. Sometimes we talk about this stuff about struggle. My struggle, my god, compared to where I grew up and the way people are trying to go through things. but here’s the point I want to make. I’ve been really, really fortunate.”

Biden’s point is well taken. The former Delaware Senator and his wife are worth between -$1,323,970 and $162,996 according to his 2013 financial disclosure released in May. But Biden was stretching the truth slightly. His financial disclosure shows he does have a savings account valued between $1,001 and $15,000, and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, invests in mutual funds that own in stocks and bonds. Biden’s 2014 salary is $233,000—more than four times the median household income.

In a possible, yet unlikely, 2016 contrast, Biden’s approach to talking about his wealth differs substantially from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has made repeated missteps when discussing her vastly-larger fortune.

Clinton claimed in an interview earlier this month to have been “dead broke” upon leaving the White House, and in an interview with The Guardian published this weekend, Clinton implied she and her husband were not among the “truly well off,” despite millions in the bank and well over $100 million collected in speaking fees alone over the past decade.

“But they don’t see me as part of the problem because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work,” Clinton said.

TIME Sports

Watch Joe Biden Congratulate Team USA in the Locker Room After World Cup Win

"Are you kidding me? This is a kick, man"

+ READ ARTICLE

The Vice President of the United States Joe Biden took a break from making perfect TV cameos to head to Brazil for the World Cup. After watching the U.S. defeat Ghana 2-1, the VP, joined by his granddaughter and nephew, visited Team USA’s locker room to offer congratulations, shake hands, take photos with the players, and just pal around with everybody.

MORE: Interview with Joe Biden on Amtrak

MORE: Veep Star Met Real-Life Vice President

MORE: 11 Photographers to Follow During The World Cup Tournament

TIME Iraq

Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds Leap into Battle in Iraq, Risking a Split

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014.
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014. Reuters

ISIS's advance on Mosul was just the beginning. Now the country risks fracturing along ethnic and sectarian lines

As fighters from an al-Qaeda inspired and staunchly Sunni Islamic militant group closed on more Iraqi cities in its march towards Baghdad, Iraq’s most senior Shi’ite cleric issued a call to arms at Friday prayers.

“Citizens who are able to bear arms and fight terrorists, defending their country and their people and their holy places, should volunteer and join the security forces to achieve this holy purpose,” Sheik Abdulmehdi al-Karbalai told his congregants in statements broadcast across the country.

Meanwhile, in the semi-autonomous northern enclave of Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish militias cemented control over the contested town of Kirkuk, taking militarily what they had long fought, and failed, to gain politically. Suddenly Iraq appears on the brink of a violent ethno-sectarian divide between Sunnis, Shi’ite and Kurds that poses the greatest security risk that the country, and the region, has seen since the U.S. invaded in 2003.

“We are seeing the state of Iraq disintegrate before our eyes,” says Feisal Amin Rasoul Istrabadi, Iraq’s former envoy to the U.N. and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East at Indiana University. “We seem to be headed now for a truly sectarian civil war.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, whose name alone indicates the breadth of its goals, has gained control of an estimated 10 percent of Iraq’s territory since its lightning strike on the northern city of Mosul earlier this week. The group’s leaders indicate that they want nothing less than complete domination of Iraq and the eradication of its Shi’ite majority, which they deem apostates. In a direct threat to Shi’ites, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohamad al-Adnani urged his fighters in a radio address on Thursday to march on the “filth-ridden” Shi’ite-city of Karbala and on “Najaf, the city of polytheism” — and home to Shi’ism’s major center of learning.

But ISIS’s blitzkrieg to Baghdad isn’t based on military prowess alone. Many of the Sunni tribes in the areas around Mosul and Tikrit, which ISIS captured a day after taking Mosul, backed the militants out of a deep-seated resentment for the Shi’ite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. In fact, many Iraqis say that ISIS played a relatively minor role, and that without Sunni support they wouldn’t have been able to gain any traction at all.

“The fall of Mosul was not brought by ISIS,” says Istrabadi. “Blaming ISIS alone overlooks the fact that the movement had much broader support from Sunnis that have been disenfranchised since 2003,” when the United States overthrew Sunni strongman Saddam Hussein, reversing decades of Sunni dominance. ISIS, he says, exploited the dissatisfaction of Sunnis who have long complained that Maliki’s government has monopolised power for his sect.

“What the Shi’ites see as a conspiracy, the Sunnis see as a revolution,” says Hoshang Waziri, an Iraqi analyst based in Erbil who has written extensively about the country’s sectarian divides. “What is going on in Mosul, and Tikrit and Baiji [all cities that fell to ISIS this week], is a rejection by the Sunnis of the new Iraq under Shi’ite rule.”

In Iraqi Kurdistan, a region that has enjoyed autonomy for two decades, the tensions fall along territorial lines. Where the Iraqi forces failed to confront ISIS, dropping their weapons and shedding their uniforms as the militants approached, the Kurdish militia, known as the peshmerga, triumphed in battle. An extremely disciplined and effective fighting force, the peshmerga was able to protect several towns from ISIS’s advance. They also benefited from the Iraqi army’s retreat, claiming long disputed territory in the name of shielding it from ISIS’s reach. The peshmerga now hold Kirkuk, an oil city officially controlled by the Iraqi government, but claimed by Kurds as their historic capital. It is unlikely that they will ever give it up. “Some Kurdish politicians see this as the perfect moment to declare independence,” says Waziri. And they may be better off, he adds, given what is going in the rest of the country. “This isn’t really a Kurd, Sunni and Shi’ite war, this is a war between Sunnis and Shi’ites, one that the Kurds do not want to get involved in. The best solution for this crisis at this point would be to build three different states.”

The idea of dividing Iraq along ethno-sectarian lines dates almost all the way back to its formation at the end of World War I, when the country was carved out of the former Ottoman empire. In 2006, it had a resurgence, when then Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, and now Vice President, Joe Biden suggested in a New York Times op-ed essay that semi-autonomous sections should be created along sectarian lines. “The idea, as in Bosnia, is to maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group — Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab — room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests.” A year later Biden pursued the theme, telling the senate on April 24, 2007, that then President George W. Bush’s centralized plan for Iraqi governance would set Iraq up with problems for years to come. “The most basic premise of President Bush’s approach, that the Iraqi people will rally behind a strong central government headed by Maliki, in fact, will look out for their interests equitably, is fundamentally and fatally flawed. It will not happen in anybody’s lifetime.”

Back then, a plan for Iraq’s federal-style division hammered out among all the parties could have worked. But now, as all three sides gird for war, and the United States plans to move an aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf, it may be too late. “The partition has already happened,” says Iraqi analyst Hiwa Osman. “If putting Iraq back together comes at the price of the people’s blood, let it go. If keeping the country intact means more mass graves, genocides and war, I say, to hell with Iraq.”

TIME 2014 Election

Democrats Induce Panic To Raise Money Before 2014 Election: “All Hope Is Lost”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, 2014.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, 2014. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

Prospects are grim for Democrats in the 2014 House elections, but not quite as horribly, terribly, no-good, awfully grim as Democratic fundraisers would have their marks believe.

The right has Benghazi, the Veterans Affairs scandal, Dr. Ben Carson and Obamacare. Democrats may have something even more powerful: liberal fear and self-loathing.

As the end of the May fundraising month approaches, emails to supporters from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have gone from gentle concern to Defcon 1, apocalyptic panic. It’s a time-honored tactic to get supporters to open an email, and their wallets, but rarely has it been employed at this level of alarm. “All hope is lost,” reads the subject line of a fundraising email sent Friday morning. “Quick Reminder: the Kochs are beating us — BADLY,” the email begins.

In 2012, one of the Obama campaign’s most successful emails was one from campaign officials warning “We could lose,” breaking through a barrier of invincibility that had developed among Obama supporters as the Republican Primary dragged on.

For the DCCC the challenge may be the opposite. While it’s better funded than Republicans’ National Republican Congressional Committee, few believe Democrats have any chance of retaking the House of Representatives this fall given midterm turnout patterns and redistricting. So Democratic fundraisers have been doing their best to install a near suicidal sense of foreboding in the liberal ranks.

And it’s working — already the DCCC has raised more money online than it did in the entire 2012 cycle.

“With Congressional Republicans prioritizing their special interest backers over the American people, the stakes of this election are high for middle-class families,” DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin said. “We rely on our grassroots supporters to keep pace with the millions of dollars we face from the likes of the Koch brothers.”

Below is a sampling of the emails from the past week with their heart-stopping subject lines meant to drive open rates:

All Hope is Lost

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 10.15.42 AM

STAGGERING setback

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.50.23 AM

HORRIFYING

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.50.18 AM

We know…SORRY!

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.50.03 AM

OBLITERATED

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.49.48 AM

throw in the towel

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.49.42 AM

CRUSHING blow

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.49.34 AM

bad news

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.49.12 AM

FURIOUS

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.49.07 AM

DEVASTATING defeat

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.48.59 AM

Painful Defeat

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.48.39 AM

EVISCERATED

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 9.47.54 AM

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