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February 06, 2014

This Week's Issue: A Neighborly Noise Feud in Burlington, 'Border' Security and Maple Saplings

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Find these news and politics stories in this week's Seven Days...

November 20, 2013

This Week's Issue: Union Drives, Big-Money Developers and a Long Time in the Clink

112013-coverAnother week, another Wednesday, another Seven Days. Here's this week's lineup of news and politics stories:

Pick up this issue in print, online or on the iOS app.

November 14, 2013

On Trip to North Africa, Welch Monitors Diplomatic Security in Libya, Peace-Keeping in Egypt

Welch.SinaiIn the fourteen months since Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has become an epicenter of outrage over the incident.

Its Republican members have criticized the Obama administration for failing to keep U.S. diplomatic personnel safe and, they allege, for covering up details of the attack.

Last weekend, four committee members — including Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) — traveled to Libya to review the State Department's progress in implementing security improvements to American embassies. It was a rare chance, Welch says, to put aside the partisan rancor and focus on substantive changes.

"The Oversight Committee, I think, unfortunately politicized what happened in Benghazi," he says. "But this trip, I thought, was an opportunity for two Republicans, two Democrats to start looking at this in a broader perspective and hopefully bring that back to the committee."

Joining Welch on the four-day trip to Libya, Egypt and Malta were U.S. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.). Chaffetz, a conservative Republican who chairs an oversight subcommittee focusing on national security and foreign operations, has been particularly critical of the administration's handling of the embassy attack.

Continue reading "On Trip to North Africa, Welch Monitors Diplomatic Security in Libya, Peace-Keeping in Egypt" »

October 29, 2013

Green Mountain Police State? Vermont's Spy Guy to Speak at ACLU Event

F-journalists-arkinSouth Pomfret resident Bill Arkin isn't shocked by recent revelations about the worldwide and domestic spying operations of U.S. intelligence agencies.

That's because he and colleague Dana Priest reported extensively on privacy invasions by U.S. espionage agencies in an investigative series, "Top Secret America," published in the Washington Post more than three years ago.

Arkin and Priest showed how the national-security state had expanded exponentially in the years following the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. They reported, for example, that more than 3000 government organizations and private companies are engaged in "homeland security" activities in 10,000 locations around the United States, six of them in Vermont.

Arkin will update and analyze his findings as they relate to Vermonters and millions of other Americans at a conference on Wednesday in Montpelier. He's the featured speaker at the free, day-long event in the Pavilion Auditorium sponsored by the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Arkin's talk will focus on "the big national picture and how Vermont fits into it," he said in a telephone interview on Monday. He'll also be touting his newly published book, American Coup: How a Terrified Government Is Destroying the Constitution.

Continue reading "Green Mountain Police State? Vermont's Spy Guy to Speak at ACLU Event " »

October 10, 2013

Leahy Criticizes Obama Administration for "Muddled" Message to Egypt

Leahy.Echo2The Obama administration's partial freeze of U.S. military aid to Egypt doesn't go far enough, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said late Wednesday. 

By failing to fully cut off funding to the U.S. ally after its democratically elected president was overthrown in a July coup, Leahy said, the administration is thwarting the will of Congress and sending a "muddled" message to Cairo.

"Our law is clear," Leahy said in a written statement. "When there is a military coup, U.S. aid to the government is cut off."

On Wednesday, administration officials confirmed to national news outlets that the U.S. would freeze delivery of $260 million in aid and a certain pieces of military equipment. They said the country would continue to provide counter-terrorism funding, military training and spare parts for Egypt's arsenal. 

Continue reading "Leahy Criticizes Obama Administration for "Muddled" Message to Egypt" »

October 03, 2013

This Week's Issue: A Famous Sea Captain, Political Dark Arts and Scandalous Dancing

100213-coverIt's a big news week in Vermont with the long-awaited launch of the state's health care exchange. We've got stories about that and more in this week's Seven Days.

Read these stories and more in print, online or on our iOS app.

Cover photo of Captain Phillips by Oliver Parini

September 18, 2013

This Week's Issue: Untangling Vermont's Health Care Exchange; Union Busting Allegations at SMC

Cover-091813Happy Wednesday, people. Here are the news and politics stories you'll find in the latest edition of Seven Days:

If those links aren't your style, read these stories in print or on the Seven Days app.

Cover illustration by Michael Tonn

September 13, 2013

Did Sanders Just Come Out Against Syria Strikes?

Sanders.WesternCorridorYes, I know. You're all tired of reading about the Vermont congressional delegation's tortured positions on potential Syrian air strikes, which — at least for now — aren't gonna happen.

Believe me. I'm tired of writing about them.

Buuuuuuuut... Sen. Bernie Sanders' regular "Bernie Buzz" e-newsletter crossed the transom earlier today and something about it struck me as a little odd. Here's the lede:

In the midst of widespread public opposition to military strikes against Syria, which Bernie shares, President Obama seized the opportunity to explore a proposal for international monitors to take over Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons. Bernie welcomed the president’s new approach.

Sanders "shares" "widespread public opposition" to the strikes?

From what I recollect, Sanders never actually came out in opposition to Obama's proposed air strikes. Sure, he talked Ed Schultz's ear off on a near-daily basis on MSNBC about his reservations. He said time and again that he was hesitant to get "involved in a bloody and complicated civil war in Syria." 

But every time I asked him or his staff whether he'd decided to vote against the strikes, they brushed off the question.

Continue reading "Did Sanders Just Come Out Against Syria Strikes? " »

September 10, 2013

Sanders and Welch Praise Prospect of Peaceful Resolution in Syria

Sanders.WesternCorridor

* Updated below with new comments from Sen. Patrick Leahy *

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) voiced a cautious optimism late Monday that the United States might yet find a peaceful resolution to its standoff with Syria.

The comments came after a frenetic day of diplomacy and public relations, in which U.S. and Russian officials signaled a willingness to avert a showdown by convincing Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international monitors. That development prompted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to postpone a test vote previously scheduled for Wednesday on whether to strike Syria.

In a written statement released late Monday, Sanders said he "appreciate[s] that the majority leader delayed a vote and that President Obama is prepared to work with Russia to have Syria turn over control of its chemical weapons to international monitors." 

While Sanders has yet to explicitly state his opposition to Obama's proposed strikes, he has expressed grave reservations about the prospect in countless interviews with the national news media. 

"Most Americans would support an effort that could remove chemical weapons from Syria without American military involvement in another Middle East war," he continued in the statement. "I urge the president and Russia to work vigorously to achieve that goal."

Welch, meanwhile, addressed the developments Monday night during an hourlong "telephone town hall meeting" with Vermonters. 

Continue reading "Sanders and Welch Praise Prospect of Peaceful Resolution in Syria" »

September 09, 2013

Peter Galbraith, Ex-Diplomat and Vermont State Senator, Says Syrian Strikes Are a Mistake

Galbraith2The Vermont politician with arguably the most diplomatic experience in the Middle East won't have a chance to vote this week on whether the U.S. should strike Syria.

That's because former ambassador and veteran diplomat Peter Galbraith now serves in Vermont's state senate, whose foreign policy jurisdiction ends at the New Hampshire border.

But if he could vote, Galbraith says, he'd oppose President Obama's proposed strikes.

"We should not, because the airstrikes won't accomplish anything," Galbraith says. "They are not going to degrade the Syrian government's ability to use the weapons. They are not going to change the military balance. So they're really about making a statement, and that's not, in my view, an appropriate use of military force."

Galbraith knows a thing or two about chemical weapons. Twenty-five years ago this month, while serving on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Galbraith traveled to the Iraqi-Turkish border, where he uncovered evidence of Saddam Hussein's gassing of the Kurds. That discovery led to Senate passage of the "Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988," which Galbraith credits with prompting Hussein to halt his use of chemical weapons.

Continue reading "Peter Galbraith, Ex-Diplomat and Vermont State Senator, Says Syrian Strikes Are a Mistake" »

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