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September 04, 2013

Welch Undecided on Syria Strikes, Calls it a "Wrenching Decision"


* Updated below with new comments and video from Sen. Bernie Sanders. *

In his first public comments since last month's chemical weapons attacks in Syria, Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said Wednesday he's "still in the process of deciding" whether to vote in favor of responding with air strikes.

"It's obviously a very wrenching decision," Welch said. "I mean, I've strongly opposed the U.S. getting involved in the civil war in Syria. That tragedy is something that I don't think we can control. We can't micromanage the outcome."

But, he continued, "There's a new question as a result of [the chemical weapons attacks of] August 21st — and that is when the Syrian state uses chemical weapons in violation of an agreement signed by 98 percent of the countries, there's a legitimate and moral basis for punitive action."

Continue reading "Welch Undecided on Syria Strikes, Calls it a "Wrenching Decision"" »

This Week's Issue: Bike Thefts, Crowded Sidewalks and Harry Potter


This week's Art Hop issue is on newsstands now. But fear not, news junkies! We've got the usual bunch of news and politics, too. Here's what you'll find:

September 02, 2013

Calling Syria Resolution "Too Open-Ended," Leahy Says it Won't Pass Congress

Leahy.ECHOSen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Monday criticized the White House's draft resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria as "too open-ended" and predicted it "will not pass as written."

While the senior Vermont senator said he hoped Congress would narrow the scope of the resolution, he expressed ambivalence as to whether he could support even a whittled-down version.

"I don't know the answer to that — and I'm trying to be as honest as I can. I have no question that the use of chemical weapons is heinous and contrary to everything since the Geneva Conventions," he said. "What I worry about is what happens next."

Leahy's comments came two days after President Obama abruptly reversed course and said he'd seek Congress' approval before launching retaliatory air strikes in response to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons late last month.

Leahy hailed Obama's decision to seek Congress' imprimatur, saying that, no matter the war or the president, "The point is, you need to go to Congress." 

But after flying back to D.C. for a classified briefing in the Capitol on Sunday, Leahy told reporters assembled outside that the White House draft was "too open-ended" and would be amended in the Senate.

Leahy elaborated on those comments Monday morning, telling Seven Days that the resolution as written could empower the president to send ground troops to Syria — or elsewhere.

"It's the breadth of what he can do [under the draft resolution] that's the biggest concern now. I mean, there's nothing to stop sending military into Syria or into other countries. See, that's the concern. It's too open-ended. And I've told the White House this. But having said that, I'm not the only one who's told them. They're hearing it from everybody."

Continue reading "Calling Syria Resolution "Too Open-Ended," Leahy Says it Won't Pass Congress" »

August 22, 2013

Leahy Stands by Assertion That Aid to Egypt Is "Not Being Sent"


Senator Patrick Leahy (right) with Norwich University President Richard Schneider. Photo by Taylor Dobbs
Senator Patrick Leahy (right) with Norwich University President Richard Schneider. Photo by Taylor Dobbs

In Sen. Patrick Leahy’s first public appearance since his office publicly parted with the White House over whether the U.S. has suspended military aid to Egypt, Vermont's senior senator stuck to his guns.

“It’s not being sent,” Leahy said Thursday in an interview after announcing new federal funding for Norwich University.

The answer came on the heels of a Daily Beast story published Monday quoting Leahy spokesman David Carle as saying, “[Sen. Leahy’s] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest refuted that report Tuesday — calling it “not accurate” — and said the administration's review of its Egyptian aid policy was ongoing.

But, according to Leahy, it was accurate.

Continue reading "Leahy Stands by Assertion That Aid to Egypt Is "Not Being Sent"" »

Reports Shed New Light on the Death of Michael Hastings


Michael Hastings, the acclaimed journalist who considered Vermont his "spiritual home" after spending parts of his life here, died in a fiery, early-morning car wreck in Los Angeles in June. The strange circumstances surrounding the crash and Hastings' history of reporting articles unfriendly to the powers-that-be prompted a flurry of theories suggesting that the incident was an assassination.

Now an autopsy report and an exhaustive newspaper feature have revealed new details about Hastings and the crash that killed him.

On Tuesday the Los Angeles coroner's office released its official report about the Hastings crash, declaring it an accident and noting that drugs were found in his system, but, in the coroner's view, they did not play a role in the crash. Via the Los Angeles Times

Coroner's officials said Hastings had traces of amphetamine in his system, consistent with possible intake of methamphetamine many hours before death,  as well as marijuana. Neither were considered a factor in the crash, according to toxicology reports. 

The cause of death was massive blunt force trauma consistent with a high-speed crash. He likely died within seconds, the report said.

Continue reading "Reports Shed New Light on the Death of Michael Hastings" »

July 29, 2013

Morning Read: Vermont's "World Citizen" Garry Davis Dies at 91

MorningreadLike many prophets, Garry Davis was egotistical, single-minded and ... uniquely in touch with a higher truth. The Vermont-based founder of the World Government of World Citizens, who died in Williston last week at age 91, gets a full-scale, strongly sympathetic send-off in today's New York Times.

"His rationale was simple, his aim immense: If there were no nation-states, he believed, there would be no wars," the Times observes.

Davis, the longtime companion of local philanthropist and activist Robin Lloyd, launched his world government in 1953 from the steps of the Ellsworth, Maine, town hall. His organization has since issued some 2.5 million "world passports." 

Davis was a regular at public meetings in and around Burlington. He often took advantage of the Q&A portion to pitch his project. Seven Days profiled Davis in 2001. Last month, a new documentary about his life was released, entitled My Country Is the World, and the World Is My Stage: The True Story of Garry Davis

Gary.Davis"Whether Mr. Davis was a visionary utopian or a quixotic naïf was long debated by press and public," the Times recounts. "His supporters argued that the documents he issued had genuine value for refugees and other stateless people. His detractors countered that by issuing them — and charging a fee — Mr. Davis was selling false hope to people who spent what little they had on papers that are legally recognized almost nowhere in the world."

It's clear, though, where the Times and writer Margalit Fox stand on Davis' unparalled act of chutzpah in declaring himself head of a world government.

"What is beyond dispute is that Mr. Davis’s long insistence on the inalienable right of anyone to travel anywhere prefigures the present-day immigration debate by decades," the obit opines. "It likewise anticipates the current stateless conditions of Julian Assange and Edward J. Snowden."

Read the full New York Times story here.

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