Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Kori Schake, Hoover, in re: why didn’t Panetta plan ahead for sequestration at the DOD? What's to be done now? Panetta Still Isn't Facing Up to his Pentagon Budget Disaster by Kori Schake Shadow Government.
“Al Nusrah's tactics, operations, and propaganda are nearly identical to those of al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Nusrah has now claimed credit for 26 of the 33 suicide attacks that have taken place in Syria since December 2011. The Syrian terror group conducts complex suicide assaults, ambushes, IED attacks, and assassinations. Just as al Qaeda in Iraq rails against the Shia, Al Nusrah says its attacks are directed against the Nusayri, or Alawite, enemy. Alawites are a sect of Shia Islam, and President Assad's regime is supported by Iran.”
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: . Joel Rayburn, National Defense University & New America Foundation; writing in Defining Ideas in re: the Nasrah Front of Eastern Syria, Al Qaeda in 2013.Today, theMiddle East is at a turning point in its history, as political forces unleashed in one region are spreading to others. The revolt that began in Syria in early 2011—itself inspired by events elsewhere in the Arab world—is on the verge of becoming a sectarian war spanning the entirety of Turkish Arabia, from Iraq to Lebanon to Jordon. The most powerful of the Syrian revolutionary forces, the Nusrah Front, has been formed around a core of what we have previously known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. We can envision, then, a sectarian war raging across the whole of the Fertile Crescent. The prospect will be a frightening one for the region’s major powers and for the United States…
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: . Chuck Blahous, Hoover, in re: what's wrong with Social Security and how can it be fixed? Too late? Understanding Social Security Benefit Adequacy: Why Benefit Growth Should Be Slowed by Charles Blahouse21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Adriel Bettelheim, Roll Call, in re: the Democrats turn to SuperPACs, House Majority PAC to raise money for candidates, and use a video appeal with House members, reversing the disdain toward SuperPAC. Rules of the Game: Democrats' Super PAC Promotion Signals Shift Eliza Carney reports: A recent video starring seven House Democrats promoting the super PAC that helped elect them speaks volumes about how few rules constrain such political action committees — and how wholeheartedly Congress has embraced them. The video dismayed watchdog groups and not just because it featured personal testimonials from lawmakers thanking the super PAC, despite laws that theoretically require such unrestricted groups to keep candidates at arm’s length. More disturbing, say advocates of stricter rules, was that it trotted out newly elected freshmen — a group that historically tends to champion campaign finance fixes. “I would have expected them to come to Capitol Hill rallying the cry of campaign finance reform and saying these largely undisclosed or unlimited sources of money have to be reined in,” said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “Instead, what we got are these same freshman Democrats saying that they want to participate in this unlimited money slush fund system; these super PACs are a good deal. I find that very troubling.” House Majority PAC, which backs Democratic House candidates, released the video last week to demonstrate its success in responding to big-spending conservative super PACs that hammered Democrats in 2010, spokesman Andy Stone said. He said the ad is for “interested parties,” but it clearly targets donors with the message: “With your help, we formed House Majority PAC to fight back.” Freshman Democrats are featured in the video praising House Majority PAC’s ads on specific issues, such as stem cell research and women’s rights. The PAC raised and spent more than $35 million, public records show, and ended 2012 with $155,000 in the bank. It has already targeted 10 Republicans in the runup to 2014