Friday, November 13, 2015

Paris Terrorist Attacks Leaves around 150 Dead

UPDATE 11/14/15 1:34 AM EST:

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, promoting calls for increased action against the Islamist terrorist state by western nations.

UPDATE 11/14/15 12:07 AM EST:

At least 8 terrorist are dead, 7 from suicide bombs. Read more:

Aftermath of after explosions at stadium in Paris, France
Multiple terrorist attacks in Paris, France, have killed at least 150 people in at least six separate attacks. The attacks come ten months after terrorist attacks shook the nation after Islamists massacred Charlie Hebdo employees and killed people at a French supermarket before they were killed.

In addition to those killed, at least 200 have been wounded, and that number is expected to rise.

The terrorists, believed to be members or associated with the Islamic State, used AK-47s and bombs to attack several targets around the city. A witness told the media that the perpetrators shouted "Allahu Akbar" before carrying out their attacks.

The worst carnage occurred at a Paris concert hall, where gunmen opened fire on attendees, killing over 100.

French President Francois Hollande has declared a state of emergency in the wake of the attacks.

This is a developing news story and details will be added as they are made available.

Location of attacks in France
Credit: CNN

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Analysis: First Democratic Presidential Primary Debate 2016

The Democratic candidates met Tuesday in Las Vegas, NV, for
the first Democratic primary debate. From left to right, the
candidates are Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton,
Martin O'Malley, and Lincoln Chafee.
The CNN debate hosting the Democratic candidates for President in 2016 broke records for Democratic primary debates at 15 million, and while 9 million short of the Fox News GOP debate in August, it shows that this coming Presidential race has garnered interest even accounting for the Trump factor. Here is a analytical rundown of how the candidates performed last night:

Hillary Clinton: The former secretary performed the best of the five candidates, delivering clear answers to the questions and avoiding any major gaffes. While certain questions slipped her up, such as if and how she would differentiate herself from President Obama (her answers were that she is a woman and she would continue most of his policies) and why her changes of political positions over time, she managed to outperform expectations given her lackluster campaign thus far.

Clinton also managed to avoid major confrontation over her private email server and her failure to turn in those emails until two years after her term ended: While Lincoln Chafee pressed her on it, her short reply of "no" when asked if she would like to respond to his comments by moderator Anderson Cooper and her help from Bernie Sanders (see more below) helped clear the issue for her, at least in this debate.

Bernie Sanders: The second-place polling leader managed to hold his own, and while he emphasized his economic policy positions first and foremost, he managed to talk about some of positions on other issues with competency. However, his position on gun issues (he is more conservative on gun issues than most of the Democrats on the stage) managed to get him into a heated exchange with Martin O'Malley, who has made gun control a central issue in his political career. Sanders also seemed to stumble on foreign policy, one time appearing lost in place when he began speaking about Putin and Russia when the previous speaker was talking about China.

Sanders, when given the opportunity to criticize Clinton on her email controversy, said the following: “I think the Secretary is right. And that is I think the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails." This comment elicited thank you's from Clinton and removed the issue from the debate, but it prevented Sanders or any other candidate from using it to exploit possibly Clinton's biggest weakness: her low trustworthiness rating among voters.

Martin O'Malley: While O'Malley gave some lines that progressives are sure to love, he did not manage to have a break out performance against either Clinton or Sanders and is likely to see little movement in the polls.

Jim Webb: Webb positioned himself as the most moderate Democrat, and while he may be able to carve a niche among them, the leftward shift of the Democratic Party and his lackluster delivery are unlikely to give him the momentum he needs

Lincoln Chafee: Chafee had the worst performance of the night, giving few, if any, memorable lines and fumbling questions on his previous Senate votes (citing inexperience and the bandwagon effect).

Other Players:

Anderson Cooper: Cooper asked tough questions and, perhaps surprisingly, even tougher follow up questions when the candidates tried to evade the questions, such as when Clinton tried to brush off her position changes or when Chafee called himself "a block of granite" on the issues while changing his political affiliation twice (from Republican to Independent and Independent to Democrat).

Joe Biden: He may have suffered the most from last night's debate, and he wasn't even on the stage. If Clinton manages to keep her campaign afloat, the rationale for his candidacy (to put up an electable, acceptable Democrat for the general election), disappears. However, Clinton's email controversy, while a near non-issue in this debate, will be brought up again by Republicans and the general population may still care about the issue, though Democratic primary voters may not.

In conclusion:

Winners: Hillary Clinton
Neutral: Bernie Sanders
Losers: Jim Webb, Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee

In one sentence: Hillary Clinton may have had the best night, but the weakness of the Democratic field may put her strength in an improper perspective when she faces the Republican nominee who is coming out from a much more difficult field.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comment section.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Quick Rundown: What Each Democratic Candidate Needs to Show at Tonight's Debate

For Tuesday's CNN Democratic Presidential primary debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, each candidate faces certain challenges:

Hillary Clinton:

Clinton must counter some of her perception as untrustworthy by showing herself as capable enough to become President while also putting some effort into increasing her likeability, both among Democrats and the general electorate. While Clinton has been gaining ground against Sanders amid continued ambivalence from Joe Biden about his possible candidacy, a recent Fox News poll has her trailing many top-tier Republicans in the general, which may be lead to some questions about her viability in the general.

Bernie Sanders:

While Sanders has made his campaign primarily about economic inequality, the nature of a primary debate is to discuss a host of issues and challenge the positions of the candidate's rivals, which Sanders has been reluctant to do on the campaign trial. His performance tonight may shed some light on his future campaign strategy and whether he can answer questions of his general election viability in light of his self-description as a "democratic socialist."

Martin O'Malley:

This is his make-or-break moment, but it is unclear of a strategy that could allow him to "make" it. One possible way is for him to highlight his record as a liberal progressive as governor of Maryland, though the fact that he was succeeded by Republican Larry Hogan in a Democratic state could blunt the effectiveness of this approach.

Jim Webb:

Also a make-or-break moment for the former senator from Virginia. He could tout his moderate positions in relation to the rest of the field.

Lincoln Chafee:

Facing low polling numbers, he must essentially go "nuclear" in order to gain popularity in the field.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Shooting at Oregon Community College Kills 13, Wounds At Least 20

Shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, OR
leaves 13 dead
Credit: Mike Sullivan/Roseburg News via Associated Press
UPDATE 11:39 PM EDT 10/1/15:

Death toll has been updated to 10, wounded 7. The gunman was Chris Harper Mercer. Reports indicate that he shot those who identified as Christian in the head; those who did not were shot in the leg.

Mercer is also reported to have worn full body armor. More details on Mercer's life and disturbances can be found here.

A gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg, Oregon, Thursday, killing 13 and wounding at least 20 others. The gunman, who has not yet been identified, was killed in a shootout with police at the scene; he was been described as a twenty-year-old male.

The shooting began around 10:30 PDT, with police hearing reports of the shooting around ten minutes later. One student claimed the gunman told the students to get on the ground and then stand and state their religion before he started shooting.

UCC serves 13,000 students, with 3,000 of them full-time.

President Obama spoke on the situation, in addition to calling for gun control laws, saying,"Somehow, this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. We become numb to this....It cannot be this easy for someone who wants to inflict harm on other people to get a gun. ... The notion that gun laws don't work is not borne out by the evidence."

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D), in contrast, told MSNBC's Brian Williams, "It would not have been legal for a concealed carry to occur on a community college campus...It's a complicated area. But that's my understanding – not that it's particularly relevant right at the moment."

This is a developing story and more details will be added as they become known.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Republican Field Thinning May Begin Soon

With the departures of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from the Republican field (over low fundraising and poll numbers, and in Walker's case, mismanagement), who will be the next GOP contender to call it quits?

None of the bottom five of the major candidates, George Pataki, Bobby Jindal, Jim Gilmore, Rick Santorum, and Lindsey Graham, have seen any major movement in the poll numbers, and the increased attention on Fiorina, Carson, and Rubio has prevented the media from spending any additional time on them, so any of them is a likely candidate for the next drop out.

Rand Paul and Chris Christie have not seen the support as of yet to clinch the nomination, and Mike Huckabee is facing declining poll rankings. Any of them may also leave soon.

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson have managed to hold their own, so they are unlikely to drop out in the near future.

Jeb Bush still has a massive campaign infrastructure and war chest to match, so he is almost assured to stay in it for the long haul.

As for Donald Trump, his continued status as number one (though that may be threatened soon) is unlikely to deter him from continuing his campaign.