Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Two hours on a live debate stage Tuesday should be ample time for the Democratic underdogs battling front-runner Hillary Clinton to make a beneficial impression on voters — or to acutely disappoint them, politics watchers say.
"The debates will alter the race," said
Stephanie Cutter, a Democratic strategist and top staffer in the President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. "Clinton will no longer be running against herself — the debates will force a choice, but only if she strongly stands by her positions, record and beliefs and doesn't get pushed to the left by others."
Nearly 23 million viewers tuned in for the last GOP debate, featuring the smash-mouth antics of
Donald Trump and his rivals' attempts to weaken him. Will the Democrats be able to engage as many people for their first debate, set to begin at 9 p.m. ET (coverage starts at 8:30) on Tuesday in Las Vegas?
"Hillary should appear in character as 'Val,' " joked
Tracy Sefl, a former senior adviser to Ready for Hillary, the super PAC that laid the groundwork for Clinton's campaign. Clinton portrayed a bartender named Val in a recent Saturday Night Live sketch.
Those competing Tuesday are Clinton, a former secretary of State; Vermont U.S.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, her closest rival in the polls; former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley; former Virginia senator Jim Webb; and former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee.
Executives with debate host CNN have said they'll squeeze in an extra podium for the still-deciding Joe Biden if the vice president files last-minute paperwork for a 2016 presidential bid before the debate begins.
CNN reported recently that the vice president was likely to skip the opening debate. Still, the Biden question mark adds drama, said Grant Woodard, an Iowa political operative and lawyer.
"If he is there," Woodard said, "it will be one hell of a show."
The debate comes as Sanders has closed the polling gap on Clinton in Iowa, where party caucuses kick off the nation's presidential voting, and overtaken her in New Hampshire, home of the first primary.
Here are six things to watch for:
1. Steam from the Hillary grilling
If the CNN debate moderators treat this as their chance to grill Clinton on live TV instead of carrying out an actual debate where other candidates are allotted plenty of time to make their case, "Democrats will likely be frustrated," said Pat Rynard, a former Democratic campaign staffer from Iowa.
2. The Biden shadow
Even if he's not on the stage, "Joe is a real part of the debate," said Democrat Patty Judge, a former Iowa lieutenant governor.
"Sadly," added Rynard, "in terms of the media narrative, nothing in the debate may matter if Biden announces his intentions the next day and wipes out all the coverage. Hopefully that doesn't happen, but it's near when Biden has to make a decision for ballot purposes."
3. Sanders' fidelity to fixed talking points
The liberal messenger could miss an opportunity if he expounds only a dry, policy-heavy message, Democrats said.
"He really refuses to deviate much from his economic inequality shtick on the campaign trail — which, to be fair, is a very powerful message that has gotten him far," said Rynard, who writes about presidential politics on the website Iowa
Starting Line. "(But) debates tend to favor interaction and candidates quick on their toes who can give punchy responses."
4. Two debates in one
One debate will likely be a policy contest between Clinton and Sanders, both of whom have declined to stray into personal attacks, observers said.
"She will continue to move herself to the left in order to appeal to undecideds and to those who are leaning to Sanders but not firmly in his camp," Judge said of Clinton. "She will also try to continue to distance herself from the
Obama administration to give herself room to take on Biden if he gets into the race."
The second debate could feature hard swings from the low-polling contenders, especially O'Malley, who has gotten increasingly personal in drawing contrasts with Clinton.
Watch for gun control, trade, banks and foreign policy to take center stage, said Michael Cheney, a professor of communication and economics at the
University of Illinois at Springfield.
5. O'Malley's moment?
Many Democrats worry that Sanders' "socialist" label and Clinton's struggles with her email controversy would badly hinder them in the general election, Rynard said.
O'Malley has run a serious campaign and impressed Democrats who go see him. But he barely attracts national media coverage, and many voters haven't noticed him yet.
Cutter said: "This is the last best chance for Martin O'Malley."
O'Malley needs to pull votes from Sanders, she said. "If he doesn't distinguish himself as the person more likely to achieve results for a progressive agenda, rather than just a protest," Cutter said, "then he's out."
6. The invisible Democrats
It's now or never for Webb and Chafee, neither of whom do any real campaigning, Rynard said.
"At this point, they're just taking up space," he said.
Democrats said they're hesitant to take either candidate seriously when even low-polling GOP candidates such as
Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Grahamthrow energy into reaching out to early state voters.
But debates are fertile ground for earning a bump in the polls, strategists noted.
"The best debaters," Sefl said, "are those who don't look like they rehearsed their one-liners thousands of times, and who know how to demonstrate command of the issues without being the annoying kid from class who always raised their hand to every question."
According to Russia's permanent envoy to NATO, Afghanistan cannot deal with thousands of Islamic State militants without any outside cooperation.
– Afghanistan’s security forces are incapable of handling the situation inside the country without outside help since 4,000 Islamic State (ISIL) militants have entered the country, Russia’s permanent envoy to NATO said Tuesday.
New data from the United Nations on the military advances by a resurgent Taliban is alarming for what it says about the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan — and what it suggests about the American military’s honesty about what is happening there.The fall of Kunduz two weeks ago was a startling sign of how the Taliban has reasserted itself, wresting a northern city from the control of the NATO-trained Afghan Security Forces, who are not doing a great job of showing they are up to defending their country. The United Nations data, reported by The Times on Monday and backed up by interviews with local officials, paint an even bleaker picture of an expanding insurgency that has spread through more of Afghanistan than at any point since the Taliban government was deposed at the end of 2001. Compiled in early September before the latest uptick in violence, the data shows that United Nations officials have rated the threat level as high or extreme in about half of the country’s administrative districts. Contrast that with the assessment offered by Gen. John Campbell, the American commander in Afghanistan, when he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. “The Afghan security forces have displayed courage and resilience,” he said. “They’re still holding. The Afghan government retains control of Kabul, of Highway One, its provincial capitals and nearly all of the district centers.” According to The Times’s Rod Nordland and Joseph Goldstein, Highway One, which connects all of Afghanistan’s main cities, has long suffered repeated Taliban attacks; in recent weeks, the insurgents have cut a highway in Baghlan Province, which had been an uncontested government stronghold. Meanwhile, in many districts that are nominally under government control, like Musa Qala in Helmand Province and Charchino in Oruzgan Province, Afghan military forces hold only the government buildings in the district center and are under constant siege by the insurgents. Administration officials say General Campbell has been forthright in private about the challenges faced by the Afghan Security Forces as well as about the political divisions within the unity government. These officials argue that President Obama understood when he ordered the withdrawal of most American troops that the Afhgans would not be able to secure the whole country right away. They say Afghan forces fought hard and have suffered thousands of casualties, even though they failed to hold Kunduz and have yet to field an air force. But the contrast between the image offered by the Pentagon and the reality on the ground as portrayed in the United Nations report and the Times article raises far-too-familiar memories of the Pentagon’s habit of manipulating the facts to maintain public support for wars that are going badly. That was powerfully true in Vietnam, but also in Iraq, and at other times in Afghanistan. American military officials far too often have provided misleadingly upbeat assessments of battlefield efforts and belittled reporting that contradicted their narrative. Now, at the request of Afghan officials, Mr. Obama is considering whether to delay the withdrawal of the remaining 9,800 American troops. As long as this country has troops and money invested in Afghanistan, Congress and the public need to hear the truth about how the mission is going. That truth will come out, sooner or later, and, meanwhile, trying to hide it just feeds people’s cynicism about government and the military and can produce disastrous policy.
India on Tuesday lashed out at Pakistan for “lecturing” it on pluralism after Islamabad expressed concern over attempts to disrupt functions of its prominent personalities, and asserted that non-practice of terrorism was central to the betterment of the Indo-Pak relationship.
“[As if] Pakistan is the embodiment of tolerance, pluralism. India does not need to take a lecture from Pakistan. If India has a shortcoming, it is capable of looking after it,” top official sources said.
The Indian reaction came after Pakistan Foreign Office said it “noted with concern attempts to disrupt functions organised in respect of prominent Pakistani personalities on visit to India” while referring to cancellation of a cultural event by gazal maestro Ghulam Ali and attempts to disrupt a function in Mumbai organised for its former Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.
“There is a need to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur,” the Pakistan Foreign Office said.
However, the sources said India still remains interested in NSA-level talks as per Ufa understanding but made it clear that terrorism cannot be an instrument of statecraft.
“A lot of what has not gone as per Ufa is because of Pakistan’s domestic politics.... They are also having some disturbance. There are non-elected players in play. The dynamics of it is both complicated and less transparent.
“The issue is that there has to be a recognition that terrorism cannot be an instrument of statecraft and you cannot say it was only Gurudaspur attack, why are you overreacting or an attack on BSF, why are you overreacting.
“It cannot be a routine way. There has to be recognition that non-practice of terrorism is central to the betterment of the relationship. If they are in denial of that [that is an issue]. One country cannot resort to terrorism as a way of pressurising the other. It is not asking for too much,” they said.
On Pakistan leaders meeting Kashmiri separatist Hurriyat leaders, the sources said India has an issue if the manner of consultation or discussions or whatever way they interact with the Hurriyat was done in a manner where they are projected as a third party.
Pakistan - 584 UN-REGISTERED RELIGIOUS INSTITUTES IN KARACHI WITH 73 THOUSAND LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: REPORT
584 un-registered religious institutes in Karachi with 73 thousand local and international students: Report
Special Branch Survey, which was conducted with regard to National Action plan, has revealed information that had not been know earlier. Geo-tagging and registration of religious institutes (madaaris) is almost complete. There are more than 7 thousand and 4 hundred religious institutes in Sindh, including Karachi out of which more than 584 are un-registered. These un-registered madaaris have more than 73 thousand students, some ghost madaaris are also there that exist only on papers. This is the first time that the data of special branch has been attained with regard to religious institutes (madaaris) in Sindh, including Karachi.
According to the report, there are more than 7400 madaaris in Sindh out of which around 2500 are located in Karachi and its adjacent areas. 1900 madaaris in Karachi and its adjacent areas are registered in which around 200,000 students are studying. Report tells that the number of registered madaaris were 1400 a year ago. It has also been revealed in the report that there are around 584 un-registered Madaaris in Karachi which have more than 73,000 students.
Special Branch’s report revealed that some ghost madaaris also exist and Sindh government has been trying to figure out the real work of such madaaris. In addition to this, Geo-tagging of madaaris is also in process and geo-tagging of more than 6500 madaaris in Sindh has been completed whereas the remaining work will be completed in a month. According to the report of Special branch, geo-tagging has been done for the first time in country’s history and it has not only made the access to information digital and easy but also made it easy to keep an eye on every kind of movement.
BY ASAD HASHIM
Aid programs for some of the 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan are being slashed amid the worst funding shortfall for a generation, as the European and Syrian migrant crisis uses up cash and dominates headlines, United Nations officials said.
Pakistan hosts the world's largest long-term refugee population, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), mostly Afghans who fled more than three decades of war.
The exodus of people from countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan is forcing U.N. officials to cut programs like infant feeding, education, and sanitation for refugees in Pakistan.
The UNHCR in Pakistan has received only $33.6 million for 2015 out of its $136.7 million annual budget, officials said.
That means schools like the one run by principal Mohammad Zamir, 55, at the sprawling Kababiyan refugee camp outside the northwestern city of Peshawar, are telling students to go home.
"This year, during the summer holidays, we were suddenly told that the funds aren't there, and so we are withdrawing 7th and 8th grade classes," said Zamir, gazing over a crowd of blue-uniformed students sitting on the floor of a tent.
Thousands of children could be affected by the cuts.
More than half a million refugees have tried to enter Europe this year, including 80,000 Afghans, UNHCR says.
That's still a fraction of the 2.5 million who live in Pakistan. Many fled violence one or two generations ago.
Since the 1980s, Afghanistan has endured the campaign against Soviet occupation, civil war after the Soviets withdrew and the ongoing battle against Taliban insurgents since the hardline Islamist movement was toppled in 2001.
"The U.N. is supporting Syrian refugees. But no one ever asks about Afghans. Our war has been going on for 35 years," said Mohammad Amin, a white-bearded veteran of the fight against the Soviets, unable to hide his anger.
Globally, UNHCR's budget is under-funded by 61 percent in 2015, the largest gap in more than 15 years.
The shortfall is forcing hard choices.
"If ... there is a child who has just crossed with their families into the hills of Lebanon, and it's winter and they're freezing to death: do you give a tent there, or do you replace a shelter (in Pakistan)?" asked Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR's Pakistan chief.
The cuts could have the unintended effect of creating more migrants to Europe.
In Kababiyan camp, home to around 12,000 people, some members of Saida Jan's family have already decided there is no future to be had in staying.
Two young relatives of the 60-year-old Afghan from Nangarhar province, who fled his native country 35 years ago, paid people smugglers to get them to Germany and left around two months ago. They have arrived there safely.
"I cannot tell you all of the difficulties that we face over here," he added.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party has condemned an attack and firing on the office of Sindh Daily Sobh in Karachi and expressed sympathy with the workers of the newspaper.
In a press statement, the PPP Chairman said his Party has always stood for freedom of the press and offered sacrifices together with the journalist community in the struggle against the gagging press.
He said PPP won’t tolerate such attacks and invasions against the media adding that Government of Sindh has already initiated investigations into the incident. The culprits involved in the attack in Daily Sobh shall be arrested soon and punished according to the law, he added.