Arakan

The land that is known as Arakan by the foreigners is called Rakhaing-pray by its own people, Rakhaing-thar (Arakanese) who were titled this name in honour of preservation on their national heritage and ethics or morality.

Six Russian fighter jets intercepted off Alaska

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Saturday, September 20, 2014 0 comments

Six Russian fighter jets intercepted off Alaska

Russian MiG 29 Russian fighter jets were intercepted by Canadian and American planes on Wednesday
 
Six Russian fighter jets were intercepted by American and Canadian planes off the coast of Alaska on Wednesday, US defence officials have confirmed.

They entered what is known as the Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), but did not enter US air space.

The planes, two of which were MiG 31 jets, left the area without incident.

Officials said this type of incident was not uncommon, and happens up to 10 times a year.
The ADIZ is a zone of airspace which extends out approximately 200 miles from the coastline and is mainly within international airspace.

US sovereign air space extends 12 nautical miles from land.

Two Alaskan-based F-22 fighter jets and two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the Russian planes in two separate incidents on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

Also on Wednesday, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said two Russian military aircraft had crossed into Swedish air space south of the Baltic Sea island of Oland.

The ministry called it a "serious violation".

Sweden has said it has summoned the Russian ambassador over the incident.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-29288277

White House staff evacuated as intruder seen in grounds

A US Secret Service agent with an automatic rifle hurries people to evacuate the White House complex over a security alert Agents sprang into action after a man was spotted jumping the fence
 
Secret Service agents briefly evacuated part of the White House after an intruder was spotted running through the grounds.

The intruder was seen shortly after President Barack Obama left the building on Friday night.

Witnesses said they saw a man jump the fence and run towards the building's North Portico.
Mr Obama had just taken off on his helicopter for Camp David when the incident happened.
Secret Service officials said the man was apprehended just after entering the North Portico doors.

He was taken to a Washington hospital after complaining of chest pains, they added.
Staff and reporters working in the complex were escorted out and taken away from the premises.

Much of the West Wing was evacuated.

On the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks last week, the Secret Service arrested a man who jumped over a fence.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-29288279

In Myanmar, China's Scramble for Energy Threatens Livelihoods of Villagers

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Tuesday, September 16, 2014 0 comments

In Myanmar, China's Scramble for Energy Threatens Livelihoods of Villagers

In western Myanmar a Chinese-backed energy and trading hub is taking shape on a remote island.

A photo of a boatman steering through a mangrove swamp near the start of a 1,500 mile oil pipeline from the Bay of Bengal to China's Yunan province.
A boatman steers his vessel through a mangrove swamp on western Myanmar's Ramree Island. Heavy Chinese investment is beginning to transform the island into a trade and transport hub. Oil and gas pipelines from Ramree across Myanmar into Yunnan Province will allow Chinese companies to bypass the pirate-ridden Malacca Strait.

Photograph by Hereward Holland
Hereward Holland for National Geographic
Published September 5, 2014

OIL MOUNTAIN, Myanmar—The mood at a ramshackle bar in this village on Ramree Island, in western Myanmar's Rakhine State, is one of fatalism punctuated by the occasional comic trope.

As dusk falls, Nyint Shwe, a one-man oil driller, knocks back a warm can of Chang beer and laments the recent boom in natural gas drilling, driven by China's growing appetite for energy.

"The Chinese are getting huge profits from here," he says. "The local people don't get anything. To get a big fish, [China] needs little bait."

Nyint Shwe's bamboo oil rig, which doubles as his home, will soon be cleared to make space for a free-trade zone and a vast transport node, a crucial part of China's plans to diversify its global energy and its trade security.

Ramree Island now serves as the western terminus of parallel 770-mile (1,240-kilometer) oil and gas pipelines linking the Indian Ocean with China's southern Yunnan Province, a route that bypasses the narrow, U.S.-patrolled Strait of Malacca.

With over 1.3 billion citizens and a fast-growing economy, China's thirst for energy is rapacious. China has become the world's largest energy consumer and producer and will shortly overtake the U.S. as the largest importer of oil on the planet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The recently completed pipelines have already begun transforming the northern part of this remote island into a 6.5-square-mile (17-square-kilometer) center of trade and commerce—a kind of little Singapore on Myanmar's impoverished western coast.
Map of Myanmar.
NG STAFF. SOURCE: IHS ENERGY
During the past year an offshore gas facility pumped 66.5 billion cubic feet (1.88 billion cubic meters) of gas to China. The oil pipeline will come online later this year and is expected to carry 440,000 barrels of Middle Eastern and African crude a day.

The first phase of the "special economic zone" involves building, over the next ten years, a 2,471-acre (thousand-hectare) industrial park, a 12,355-acre (5,000-hectare) residential area, and a deep-sea port on the eastern side of Ramree Island.

Oil drilling by Nyint Shwe and other villagers on Ramree—a centuries-old tradition—is in jeopardy.

Nyint Shwe's plight is emblematic of concerns that some transparency groups, such as the New York-based Natural Resource Governance Institute, harbor about Myanmar today: That amid the scramble for the country's resources, local people will continue to suffer exploitation, oppression, and penury.

For many Burmese, it's not yet clear if recent political reforms, such as releasing opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and engaging in peace talks with militant ethnic minority groups, are window dressing aimed at convincing foreign powers to completely lift economic sanctions, or if they're substantive efforts to end an oppressive and grim chapter in Myanmar's history.

Nyint Shwe, for his part, sees the government's obsession with economic development as a new form of despotism, fearing that developments on Ramree Island will leave him unemployed and homeless.

"There are a lot of resources in Rakhine State," he says. "We want to own those resources."
A photo of a woman carrying a jerry can of oil through the village of Oil Mountain.
A woman carries a jerrican of oil through the village of Oil Mountain, where artisanal drillers have long made a modest livelihood from the precious liquid.
Photograph by Hereward Holland
 
From Artisanal Wells to Offshore Drills
Oil Mountain (Yenan Taung, as it's known locally) is a jumble of steeply roofed huts, like thatched pyramids scattered across a hillside. Each of the dozens of dwellings shelters an artisanal well up to hundreds of feet deep.

Every day, well owners like Nyint Shwe toil to extract some eight gallons (30 liters) of bronze-colored liquid from the ground.

The Ramree oil, which looks and smells like gasoline, was once distilled in makeshift refineries in the nearby town of Kyaukphyu. The fuel was sold to power motorbikes and cars, but the refining process was dangerous, and more reliable supplies of gasoline are now trucked in from Myanmar's commercial capital, Yangon.

Nyint Shwe says he makes 14,000 kyats (U.S. $14) a day for his oil, which is used in lanterns as a cheaper alternative to kerosene. He sends most of the money to his wife, who lives in a village an hour away by foot, a trek he rarely has time to make.

Workers extract the oil using techniques passed down from the period when Myanmar, then Burma, was colonized by the British. A torpedo-shaped capsule, often made from bamboo or blue plastic piping, is lowered into the borehole. The capsule fills with oil and is drawn back to the surface with a rope, either manually or using a winch system attached to the apex of the wooden frame of the hut.

But modern oil exploration and extraction is moving in on a vast scale. The Myanmar government is planning to build a port and marine depot to support the exploration of 20 offshore oil blocks it auctioned in April this year, most to Western-backed consortiums, including Shell*, ENI, Total, and Chevron.

Oil companies from China were conspicuously absent from the process, despite its being the world's second largest oil consumer—a telltale sign that Myanmar is hedging its international allies.

China isn't out of the picture. Beijing still sees Myanmar, and Ramree Island in particular, as the key to faster and safer trade.

There are plans to build rail and road links along the same route as the oil and gas pipelines, establishing an economic artery that shortens transport times, avoids pirate-infested waters, and is, crucially, insurance against any future standoff with the U.S. over use of the Strait of Malacca.

Chinese economists revealed such fears ten years ago when they proposed the pipelines.
"Most of China's oil imports come from the Middle East and Africa," Li Chengyang, a co-author of the proposal, told the Straits Times in 2004. "Given the current situation in the Malacca Strait, we feel that we should come up with a suitable alternative. For China to fall under American control is a very risky thing."
A photo of a man pulling oil up from a well in western Myanmar.
A man pulls a torpedo-shaped canister filled with oil to the surface in the village of Lake Aye, on the island's west coast.
Photograph by Hereward Holland
 
Reforms: Real-or Window Dressing?
A 40-minute boat ride from Kyaukphyu takes you past clusters of gray warships moored in the calm lee of Ramree Island and into the port that marks the western terminus of the pipelines.

As we coast alongside the towering yellow pipes that will soon be used to suck oil from the holds of tankers, Soe Shwe, a campaigner with the Shwe Gas Movement, a local civil society group, expresses a commonly held view in Myanmar.

"The old military government and the new are the same—they just changed their clothes," he says, referring to the rise of a quasi-civilian administration in the 2010 election, which Western diplomats widely considered a sham.

Despite the costume change, he worries the same cast of characters will continue to plunder the country's resources with the same disregard for Myanmar's people.

The new government is overwhelmingly populated by retired generals with strong ties to the old regime.

At independence, in 1948, Burma was the world's largest exporter of rice and boasted one of the best universities in Asia. Half a century of tyranny and economic mismanagement have left the country splintered and impoverished.

The new government's efforts at reform have earned muted applause from the U.S. and the EU, as investors line up to claim the country's underground treasures—oil, gas, gold, timber, rare earth minerals, gemstones—and benefit from its cheap workforce.

But Billy Kyte of the Natural Resource Governance Institute says that Myanmar runs the risk of perpetuating the same kind of murky political economy as in the past, a system that enriches the few and sees little trickle-down effect. The rush to liberalize the economy and encourage joint ventures between international companies and domestic partners has placed the insiders in a privileged position, he says.

"[There's] a danger that the hidden owners of the oil- and gas-related businesses are the same cronies who are adept at avoiding tax, avoiding prosecution for human rights abuses, and generally ignoring the plight of local communities," Kyte says.
A photo of activists observing a port that will service a 1,500 mile oil pipeline from the Bay of Bengal to China's Yunan province.
Human rights activists observe an emerging port that will service the western end of a 770-mile (1,239-kilometer) oil pipeline running from the Bay of Bengal to Yunnan Province that will begin operating later this year.
Photograph by Hereward Holland
 
Promising Signs
The Chinese-backed development of Ramree Island serves as something of a test of the government's real intentions. Undoubtedly, there are positive signs.

The government established a committee to inform locals about the plans and respond to their concerns, and hired a Singaporean firm, CPG Consultants, to develop the master plan and help choose investors. The plan includes an environmental impact assessment.

The first phase of development will focus on manufacturing, particularly construction materials and textiles, and fisheries, CPG Consultants wrote in an email. "All efforts will be made to engage the local community as the key labor force in these industries."

In July, Myanmar was granted candidate status in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global transparency standard, administered in Norway.

Under EITI, the country has 18 months to prepare a report that demonstrates progress on a range of resource governance issues. This represents significant progress toward lifting the veil on hitherto secretive extractive industries in Myanmar.

As Emma Irwin, EITI adviser for the World Bank, puts it: This is "a golden opportunity for Myanmar to address transparency and promote public dialogue around issues including revenue transparency, license allocation procedures, beneficial ownership, and contract disclosure."

In accordance with EITI, President Thein Sein pledged to ensure that oil and gas receipts will be made public. "The most important thing is to have completely transparent financial accounting to ensure everyone knows where the revenues from these extractive industries are going," Thein Sein says.
A photo of a gas terminal on Myanmar's Ramree Island.
A gas terminal on Ramree Island pumped 66.5 billion cubic feet (1.88 billion cubic meters) of gas from offshore fields to China in the past year.
Photograph by Hereward Holland
 
Seeds of Discontent
Such assurances only go so far. The fears of villagers like Nyint Shwe have been wrought in bitter experience: In the past, exploitation of Myanmar's natural abundance has not translated into wealth for ordinary citizens, and Chinese-backed megaprojects have sparked outrage in local communities that claim they've been victims of land-grabbing.

In 2012 a crackdown on demonstrators protesting the expansion of the Letpadaung copper mine, in the Sagaing region, turned violent. Police used white phosphorus to quell the crowd, and dozens, including many Buddhist monks, were taken to the hospital with burns.
Earlier this year, protestors walked across the country, some 800 miles (1,287 kilometers), from Yangon to the proposed site of the $3.6 billion Myitsone hydroelectric dam, where construction was suspended in 2011, much to China's chagrin. A year earlier a Chinese worker was among a handful of people reportedly killed near the dam site in fighting between the army and rebels.

The trekking demonstrators were concerned that work on the dam, which would have sent 90 percent of the electricity it generated to China, may resume after the next elections, in 2015.

Ramree Island hasn't seen violence yet, but discontent bubbles under the surface. In 2012 authorities confiscated Maung Win Naing's two acres (0.8 hectares) of land to clear a passage for the gas pipeline.

The government paid the subsistence farmer $4,500 as compensation, but the money quickly ran out. Now he has no way to earn a living. "I built a house, and a year later all the money is gone," he says mournfully.
A photo of a woman holding an old tea pot that has been converted into a lamp and contains oil pumped from nearby wells in Oil Mountain, Myanmar.
A woman holds up a teapot that now serves as a lamp using oil from wells in Oil Mountain.
Photograph by Hereward Holland
 
Attempts by villagers to bring complaints to the China National Petroleum Corporation and to local authorities about land confiscation over the pipelines have been answered with numerous arrests by police and, only later, meager compensation.

Fishermen on Ramree estimate that stocks have plummeted by about two-thirds since the corporation started work on the oil pipeline, in 2010.

At his rickety trading station nestled in a mangrove thicket, U Tin Kyi buys fish caught near the pipeline terminus, then sells the catch in Kyaukphyu.

He says no one was consulted about the oil pipeline project. During construction, large boulders were strewn along the riverbed, which snared nets, making it impossible to fish.
Even more troubling to him, fishing is now banned in the deeper waters of the shipping lane, supposedly because fishing vessels might obstruct tanker traffic.

U Tin Kyi claims he used to make a yearly profit of 10 million kyats ($10,500). Those profits have dwindled to nothing. So he joined other local people protesting at the oil pipeline terminus but was seized by police and jailed for two months.

"Now I don't make any profit, just living costs for my family," he says. "The government should try to solve the problem. Instead they arrest us."

At the national level, old opaque habits die hard. In the past two years the government has auctioned off 16 onshore and 20 offshore oil and gas blocks. Global Witness, an extractive industry watchdog, says that despite the talk of transparency, the vast majority of the ultimate beneficiaries of the oil consortiums remain anonymous, raising the specter of graft.
"Anonymous companies are the global getaway cars for corrupt politicians, gangsters, and tax evaders," Global Witness's Juman Kubba says.

"They can allow powerful individuals to hide who they are and what they're doing, creating the risk that they could award themselves oil and gas riches at knock-down prices."

Additionally, company secrecy could help divert money toward old-guard members of the regime, helping them continue to obstruct reforms.
A photo of the China Natural Petroleum Corporation's multibillion-dollar oil and gas pipeline in Myanmar.
A section of China National Petroleum Corporation's pipeline is seen as it was being laid near the village of Man Li Kyay in 2012.
Photograph by Sim Chi Yin, VII Mentor Program
 
The Song of Oil
Three generations of Maung Aye's family have listened for the "song" of oil in the seaside paddies of Lake Aye, a village on Ramree's west coast.

The song, Maung Aye explains, is the noise made when the canister is dropped down the well. "When the vessel hits the oil, I hear a soft sound, and when it hits water, it makes a louder, harder noise," he says.

Special economic zone committee maps show that his land, which steps gently down to the surf, will be developed into a residential resort, or maybe a hotel.

Beyond silhouetted palms and white-capped breakers lie the unexplored oil blocks that will, if they prove as petroleum-rich as anticipated, speed the transformation of Ramree Island—and Myanmar itself—during the coming decade.

Resource-hungry China filled the vacuum of foreign investment in Myanmar during the years of stringent Western economic sanctions, from the late 1990s until 2012, when most were lifted. At that time Myanmar officials, worried that their country could become a vassal state to China, began courting European and American interests as a way to balance foreign influence.

"Governments of oil-rich countries usually try to diversify the oil companies they sell licenses to in order to maximize political leverage and the geopolitical clout of their state," says Jill Shankelman, a U.K.-based international extractive industry consultant.

"So I'm not at all surprised that Myanmar has diversified away from China and has a mix of European, North American, and Asian investors."

For the people of Ramree Island, though, it will make little difference which foreign power gets the spoils, unless Myanmar adopts transparent governance and returns some of the new wealth to its citizenry.

"I love this land," says Maung Aye, carefully pouring oil into a jerrican. "The government in Nay Pyi Taw doesn't care about the people who live around here."

*Shell is the sponsor of National Geographic's Great Energy Challenge initiative. National Geographic maintains autonomy over content.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/09/140905-myanmar-china-burma-drilling-oil-energy-asia-petroleum/?utm_source=hootsuite&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=general

International Scholarships to Study in Australia

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Sunday, September 14, 2014 0 comments

International Scholarships to Study in Australia

International Scholarships to Study in Australia
Always wanted to study in Australia? Captivated by the idea of spending your student years enjoying barbeques, surfing and studying at a prestigious Australian university? Now’s your chance, with this selection of Australian scholarships.
The list below covers government-funded, externally funded and university-specific Australian scholarships for international students at bachelor’s, master’s and PhD level.

Government-funded Australian scholarships for international students

Australia Awards Fellowships – Fellowships for international students to undertake short-term study and professional development programs at selected institutions and organizations in Australia. Only available to international organizations and professionals.
Australia Awards Scholarships (AAS)scholarships to study in Australia for students of all degree levels (bachelors, masters, PhD) hailing from selected countries within Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.
Australian Awards Leadership Program – supplementary to the above scholarship program, international postgraduate students applying to AAS will automatically be considered for the leadership program.
Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarships for International Students – a range of merit-based international scholarships to study in Australia. Funded by the Australian government and available to postgraduate students from Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.
Australia International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS) – postgraduate-level Australian scholarships for international students from all regions (excluding New Zealand) to study towards a research degree at a participating Australian university.

University-specific Australian scholarships for international students

Adelaide Scholarships International (ASI) – offering tuition fee scholarships to master’s- or PhD- level students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.
Curtin University International Research Scholarships – offering international scholarships to students undertaking master’s or PhD programs at Curtin University in Perth.
Flinders International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (FIPRS) – Australian scholarships to study at Flinders University in Adelaide. Awarded to master’s and PhD research students, based on merit.
La Trobe Academic Excellence Scholarships (AES) – scholarships for international students to study at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Open to high-achieving students enrolled on any taught undergraduate or postgraduate program. Scholarship lasts a maximum of two semesters.
Macquarie Vice-Chancellor’s International scholarships –partial tuition fee scholarships available to ‘outstanding’ international students to study in Australia at Macquarie University in Sydney. Not open to New Zealanders.
Melbourne International Research Scholarships (MIRS) – offering scholarships for international students to undertake a master’s or PhD research program at Melbourne University.
Monash University International Scholarships for Excellence – offering merit-based scholarships for undergraduate and graduate international students to study in Australia at Monash University in Melbourne.
Sydney Achievers International Scholarships – Australian scholarships open to high-achieving international students studying at the University of Sydney.
The University of Western Australia International Postgraduate Research Scholarships – research scholarships for master’s and PhD students to study in Australia at The University of Western Australia.
University of Newcastle Postgraduate Research Scholarships (UNIPRS) – Australian scholarships for postgraduate students to study in Australia at the University of Newcastle.
University of Sydney International Scholarship (USydIS) – offering scholarships to international students undertaking research programs (master’s or PhD) at the University of Sydney.
University of Western Australia International Postgraduate Research Scholarships – offering scholarships to study in Australia at UWA to international master’s and PhD students.

Other Australian scholarships for international students

ARSA Travel Scholarships for Commonwealth Citizens – scholarships to study in Australia for international students from the Commonwealth enrolled on a graduate research degree in another country. The purpose of this scholarship is for researchers to visit Australia to consult leading scholars – not for extended study in Australia.
International Water Centre Scholarships for International Students – Australian scholarships for international students undertaking the Masters in Integrated Water Management program at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.

http://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/scholarships/international-scholarships-study-australia

Full Scholarship opportunities at Korea Development Institute

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Friday, September 12, 2014 0 comments


 
Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management is Providing full scholarship opportunities for outstanding graduates, senior students, or faculty members for one of the degree programs below:
- Master of Public Policy (MPP)
- Master of Development Policy (MDP)
- Master of Public Management (MPM)
- Ph. D in Public Policy (PP) : Specialization in Economic Policy or Development Policy
The KDI School was founded with an authorization from the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development in 1997 to foster international experts with theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the field of development economics and public policy. The academic curriculum has been drawn from a wealth of research and resources from their mother institution, the Korea Development Institute (KDI), which is the nation's leading economic think tank.
Every year, KDI Schools admits outstanding international students from 70 different countries and morethan 90% of them receive tuition waiver and monthly stipend (app. 1000 USD) while pursuing their Master's or Ph. D. degree programs. All classes are conducted in English by renowned faculty with established credentials in both the public and private sector.
The application deadline for spring 2015 Admission is October 24, 2014 and enclosed you will find the school brochure. please feel free to contact the admission office of KDI School for more information about the admissions, scholarship opportunities, and candidate recommendation (phone: 02-3299-1281, email: admission@kdischool.ac.kr).

http://io.its.ac.id/full-scholarship-opportunities-at-korea-development-institute/ 


Fishing-village-in-Kyaukphyu
A fishing village in Kyaukphyu, one two townships in Rakhine State where an overnight curfew was lifted on September 11. Photo: Kyal Pyar/Mizzima
An overnight curfew imposed more than two years ago on Sittway and Kyaukphyu townships in Rakhine State was lifted on September 11, a state government spokesperson said.
A 10pm to 4am curfew had most recently applied in Sittway, the state capital. An 11pm to 4am curfew had applied in Kyaukphyu.
The decision was announced by State government information committee secretary U Win Myaing, who said overnight curfews would remain in force in Buthedaung and Maungdaw townships because of security concerns.
"In some townships with different populations, the curfew cannot be lifted yet," U Win Myaing said, adding that the deployment of security forces in Buthedaung and Maungdaw had been extended.
Curfews were imposed in townships throughout Rakhine State in June 2012 in the aftermath of communal violence which left scores dead and forced tens of thousands of people to seek refuge in camps for the internally displaced.
Rakhine State MP U Aung Win (Rakhine National Party, Myaephone Township) welcomed the decision to lift the curfew in Sittway and Kyaukphyu.
"With the state returning to stability it is better to lift the curfew because it is an obstacle to business," he said.

http://www.mizzima.com/mizzima-news/myanmar/item/12695-rakhine-authorities-lift-curfew-on-sittway-kyaukphyu



By STEPHEN BRAUN

WASHINGTON (AP) - On the cusp of intensified airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama is using the legal grounding of the congressional authorizations President George W. Bush relied on more than a decade ago to go to war. But Obama has made no effort to ask Congress to explicitly authorize his own conflict.
The White House said again Friday that Bush-era congressional authorizations for the war on al-Qaida and the Iraq invasion give Obama authority to act without new approval by Congress under the 1973 War Powers Act. That law, passed during the Vietnam War, serves as a constitutional check on presidential power to declare war without congressional consent. It requires presidents to notify Congress within 48 hours of military action and limits the use of military forces to no more than 60 days unless Congress authorizes force or declares war.
"It is the view of this administration and the president's national security team specifically that additional authorization from Congress is not required, that he has the authority that he needs to order the military actions," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. He said there were no plans to seek consent from Congress. "At this point we have not, and I don't know of any plan to do so at this point," he said.
The administration's tightly crafted legal strategy has short-circuited the congressional oversight that Obama once championed. The White House's use of post-9/11 congressional force authorizations for the broadening air war has generated a chorus of criticism that the justifications are, at best, a legal stretch.
"Committing American lives to war is such a serious question, it should not be left to one person to decide, even if it's the president," said former Illinois Rep. Paul Findley, 92, who helped write the War Powers Act.
As a U.S. senator from Illinois running for president in 2007, Obama tried to prevent Bush's administration from taking any military action against Iran unless it was explicitly authorized by Congress. A Senate resolution Obama sponsored died in committee.
Nearly seven years later, U.S. fighter jets and unmanned drones armed with missiles have flown 150 airstrikes against the Islamic State group over the past five weeks in Iraq under Obama's orders - even though he has yet to formally ask Congress to authorize the expanding war. Obama told the nation Wednesday he would unleash U.S. strikes inside Syria for the first time, along with intensified bombing in Iraq, as part of "a steady, relentless effort" to root out Islamic State extremists. Obama has not said how long the air campaign will last.
The White House has cited the 2001 military authorization Congress gave Bush to attack any countries, groups or people who planned, authorized, committed or aided the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Earnest on Thursday described the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, generally known as the AUMF, as one that Obama "believes continues to apply to this terrorist organization that is operating in Iraq and Syria."
The Islamic State group, which was founded in 2004, has not been linked to the 9/11 attacks, although its founders later pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden. In February, al-Qaida declared that the Islamic State group was no longer formally part of the terror organization. And in recent weeks, senior U.S. officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Matthew Olsen, head of the National Counterterrorism Center, have drawn significant distinctions between al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.
Earnest said Thursday that Obama welcomes support from Congress but that it isn't necessary. "The president has the authority, the statutory authority that he needs," Earnest said.
Others disagreed.
"I actually think the 2001 AUMF argument is pretty tortured," said Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., who serves on the House Intelligence Committee. "They are essentially saying that ISIL is associated with al-Qaida, and that's not obvious," Himes said, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State group. "Stretching it like this has dangerous implications."
Himes supports a new congressional vote for a specific IS group authorization, as does another Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California.
There is wariness even from some former Bush administration officials. Jack Goldsmith, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel under Bush, said in the Lawfare blog that "it seems a stretch" to connect the Islamic State group to al-Qaida, considering recent rivalry between the two groups.
The White House also finds authorization under the 2002 resolution that approved the invasion of Iraq to identify and destroy weapons of mass destruction. That resolution also cited the threat from al-Qaida, which Congress said then was operating inside Iraq. But the U.S. later concluded there were no ties between al-Qaida and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein or his government, and the group formally known as al-Qaida in Iraq - which later evolved into the Islamic State group - didn't form until 2004, after the U.S.-led invasion.
Obama is using both authorizations as authority to act even though he publicly sought their repeal last year. In a key national security address at the National Defense University in May 2013, Obama said he wanted to scrap the 2001 order because "we may be drawn into more wars we don't need to fight." Two months later, Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, asked House Speaker John Boehner to consider repealing the 2002 Iraq resolution, calling the document "outdated."
Obama has asked only for congressional backing to pay for the buildup of American advisers and equipment to aid Syrian opposition forces. House Republicans spurned a vote on that separate request earlier this week, but Boehner is now siding with the administration. The White House acknowledged it could not overtly train Syrian rebels without Congress approving the cost of about $500 million.
Since U.S. military advisers went into Iraq in June, the administration has maneuvered repeatedly to avoid coming into conflict with the War Powers provision that imposes a 60-day time limit on unapproved military action. Seven times, before each 60-day limit has expired, Obama has sent new notification letters to Congress restarting the clock and providing new extensions without invoking congressional approval. The most recent four notifications have covered the airstrikes against the Islamic State group that began Aug. 8.
An international law expert at Temple University's Beasley School of Law, Peter J. Spiro, described the letters as workarounds that amount to "killing the War Powers Act with 1,000 tiny cuts."
Former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who now heads the Lugar Center for foreign affairs in Washington, said Obama could ask for congressional approval in a way that would be less formal than a specific war resolution - perhaps either as an appropriations request or a simple resolution.
"It may not be the most satisfactory way to declare war," Lugar said. "But it may be a pragmatic compromise for the moment."

http://www.aol.com/article/2014/09/12/can-obama-wage-war-without-consent-of-congress/20961769/

Ancient Arakan Gold and Sliver Coins

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