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From Divided States, A ‘united’ Nation — Thanks To These Men

A man mourns over the bodies of those killed in a suspected chemical weapon attack in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday, August 21. Syrian rebels said poisonous gas rained down from rockets, but authorities have denied the allegations that they used chemical weapons and accused the opposition of staging the attacks. U.S. officials, however, said there were “strong indications” that there was a chemical weapons attack by the government. People attend to the victims of the attack on August 21 in Damascus. British intelligence said at least 350 people died, while rebel leaders have put the death toll at more than 1,300. Constricted pupils was listed as a symptom in victims of the alleged attack on August 21. Victims of the attack are laid in the back of a truck in the Hamoria area of Damascus on August 21. A young survivor takes shelter in a mosque in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus on August 21. Victims are buried in a suburb of Damascus on August 21. People search for the dead to collect samples to check for chemical weapon use in the Zamalka area of Syria on Thursday, August 22. A group of young Salafists chants and waves black flags during a protest against the Egyptian and Syria regimes in the southern Gaza Strip on August 22.

A longtime journalist with The Guardian, Simon Winchester is also the author of The Professor and the Madman.

Julio Dely Valdes’ charges trail fourth-place Mexico by three points, meaning they have to beat the USA and hope Mexico lose away to Costa Rica. That scenario appears unlikely, with Mexico still harbouring hopes of an automatic qualification berth from the CONCACAF section. But with the United States already confirming their place in Brazil next year, Panama will be confident of an upset against Jurgen Klinsmann’s outfit. If Panama are to secure an improbable intercontinental play-off with New Zealand they will have to arrest a run of four games without victory. That included a 1-0 defeat to the United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in July, but they will be well backed by the Estadio Rommel Fernandez Gutierrez support. Panama’s hopes of a play-off spot were dealt a blow after they lost 2-1 to Mexico on Saturday. Luis Tejada had cancelled out Oribe Peralta’s opener, but with just five minutes remaining Raul Jimenez notched a crucial winner. The United States are already assured of their place as group winners, as they hold an unassailable lead over second-place Costa Rica. Klinsmann’s team have lost just twice in nine outings in the CONCACAF group, and their latest success came with a 2-0 home success over Jamaica on Friday. It took until the 77th minute to find the breakthrough as Graham Zusi netted before Jozy Altidore confirmed the win. Panama’s task is made even more daunting by the USA’s recent form. The United States have tasted defeat just once in 15 matches and head into the fixture in buoyant mood following Friday’s success.

FIFA World Cup Qualifying Preview: Panama v United States

British author Simon Winchester explores how this national unity came about in his new book, The Men Who United The States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible. In it, he depicts some of the men, the inventions and the enterprises from the transcontinental railroad to Morse code, from the Erie Canal to the Internet that helped make the United States whole. Winchester talks to NPR’s Scott Simon about the uniting influence of canals, roads and (our favorite) radio. Interview Highlights On how his perspective as an Englishman allows him to appreciate the United States’ unity I think our experience in Europe shows how very difficult it is for a polyglot peoples to be welded into one. … It is, to me, quite remarkable that a nation full of as many peoples and ethnic varieties and languages and religious affiliations can nonetheless call itself united. On the Chicago Sanitary District Canal, a unifying solution to a very messy problem Chicago is beguilingly close to the Mississippi River, so why not link the two? And there was an additional problem … all Chicago’s sewage and I don’t want to put people off their breakfasts here but all the sewage would sweep through central Chicago out into the lake. And of course, on a hot day, the effluent, it was a ghastly smell. And so there were numerous pleas from the citizens of Chicago, saying, “Let’s get the sewage out and send it to the West and to where people don’t care about it.” So, they did build first of all the Illinois and Michigan Canal … and then finally they took it upon themselves this engineer called Isham Randolph to build an almighty canal to serve the dual purpose of sending the sewage out to the West, but also to allow ocean-going ships. A longtime journalist with The Guardian, Simon Winchester is also the author of The Professor and the Madman.

United States of America: Political myths and realities

United States of America

Since then, American Presidents have been seen as some sort of substitute for that King of old and since the Second World War, have been treated as King-Emperors. The thing is, the American Constitution doesnt support that. Presidents are symbols, rallying points, and administrators. Theyre not supposed to rule by divine right, as did the King they rebelled against. Much is made these past few days, for instance, of how Obama won the 2012 election, so stop fighting over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). But constitutionally, all Obama can do is work with what Congress votes for. Right now theyre not voting funds for that Act (or many other things). He can try the bully pulpit approach, but the reality is that if Congress approves 50 cents and hes got a dollars worth of plans, he spends 50 cents, in accordance with whatever restrictions were put on it in the enabling legislation. (American money bills tend to direct the spending, rather than created broad-based spending envelopes or an overall budget that allows for reallocation as we use.) Likewise, he may want to borrow a few trillion dollars more, to do all the things hes got planned, but if Congress doesnt vote to allow that borrowing, then as President he is constitutionally obligated to cut program spending to fit within whats available. A failure to do so could well be considered grounds for impeachment: it would, at the very least, be a potentially-treasonous violation of his oath of office (to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States). The myth is that the President is all powerful. The reality is that if Congress doesnt give him the money, he can do diddly-squat other than cut spending to fit the funds available. But that doesnt let Congress off the hook. This is, after all, a body which has raised the debt ceiling over one hundred times, and which last submitted a balanced budget (taxes in equals spending out) back in 1969. Every year since then including when Bill Clinton supposedly balanced the books in 1999-2000 Congress has put forward total spending in excess of the taxes it would levy.

United States Reduces Some Military Assistance to Egypt

Kerry also said the United States will continue to provide the Egyptian armed forces with spare and replacement parts and related services for some programs important to continuing military education and training. Psaki said that the United States continues to support a democratic transition in Egypt and opposes violence as a means of resolving differences. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by telephone with Egypts defense minister, General Abdel Fattah Said el-Sisi, a career military officer who is a U.S.-trained infantry officer and a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, for 40 minutes October 9 to discuss the U.S. decision, a senior U.S. official said at the briefing. He added that Hagel and el-Sisi have spoken more than 20 times in the last several months, which underscores the importance the United States places on the relationship with Egypt. Secretary Hagel emphasized how important the U.S.-Egypt relationship was to the stability and security for Egypt, but for the United States as well and the broader Middle East, the senior official said. Hagel also made the point that the United States is continuing to provide assistance on the issues that advance both nations vital security objectives, which include countering terrorism and nuclear proliferation, border security, ensuring security in the Sinai, working for peace with Israel and continuing U.S. military assistance, the senior official said. Hagel and el-Sisi agreed to continue talking often, working together to strengthen the U.S.-Egyptian relationship and taking steps needed to resume the military assistance that has been withheld, the official added.

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