TCG Weekly Digest – November 20th, 2015


Week ending November 20, 2015

Weekly roundup about our democracy and The Common Good community

  • Terrorist attack on a hotel in Mali today – 21 dead

  • Russia steps up airstrikes against ISIS in wake of Paris attacks and bombing of Russian airplane

  • Donald Trump regains frontrunner position in GOP race

  • Largest healthcare provider in US may drop out of Obamacare

Foreign Affairs/National Security

Terrorists storm hotel in Mali, kill 21: Assailants attacked the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, capital of Mali. At least 21 people died,  and dozens were trapped in the building for hours. Jason Hanna and Ed Payne, CNN [More]

Hollande extends state of emergency for 3 months. Three teams of coordinated attackers carried out assault on Paris, officials say; Hollande blames ISIS:  “It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France,”said President François HollandeAdam Nossiter, Aurelien Breeden, and Katrin Bennhold, New York Times [More]

Russia increases airstrikes against ISIS: “Putin told the military to step up the bombing after the confirmation that the Russian plane crash in Egypt that killed all 224 people on board was downed by a bomb, which the Islamic State group said it had planted.” New York Times [More]

The Paris attackers: Why weren’t some of them picked up before the attack?: “As many as 6 of the assailants were Europeans who had traveled to Syria. 7 died during the attacks and 8 were arrested. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian militant and suspected chief organizer of the attacks, died in a police raid in a Paris suburb early Wednesday. Mr. Abaaoud planned the attacks for 11 months and was involved in at least 4 of 6 terrorist plots foiled in France since the spring.” New York Times [More]

House passes legislation aimed at tightening controls on refugees from Syria and Iraq. Obama threatens veto. “The bill would require the FBI director to certify the background investigation for each Syrian or Iraqi refugee.” Mike DeBonis, Washington Post [More]

ISIS fighters often on drug, Captagon: “[The drug] quickly produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing Syria’s fighters to stay up for days, killing with a numb, reckless abandon.” Peter Holley, Washington Post [More]

CIA Director John O. Brennan faults Snowden for terrorism: “[He] blames leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden for enabling terrorists to evade detection. But drawing a line from Snowden to the Paris tragedy is problematic, according to some analysts…it is difficult to isolate the extent to which they caused terrorist networks to change the way they communicate.” By Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, Washington Post [More]

Threats in Italy and Vatican City: Italian security forces were “working to identify five people” who may be planning possible attacks. France could also face a chemical or biological attack. William Booth and Souad Mekhennet, Washington Post [More]

If you missed this article from the March issue of the Atlantic, it is still highly relevant and important. In What ISIS Really Wants, Graeme Wood uncovers the origins, motivations, and misconceptions surrounding ISIS.  Graeme Wood, Atlantic [More]

No longer just a “local threat”: How we underestimated ISIS’s capabilities, behaviors, and aspirations. J.M Berger (TCG Speaker), Politico [More]

ISIS’s shift in strategy causes counterterrorism officials to recalibrate initial assessment and response: “The massacre in Paris on Friday, following bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, and the downing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt, all claimed by the Islamic State, reveals a terrorist organization that has changed in significant ways from the West’s initial understanding of it as a group focused on holding territory in Syria and Iraq and building a caliphate, or Islamic state.” Eric Schmitt and David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times [More]

Obama on defense, responds to critics after Paris terrorist attacks: At the G-20 summit in Turkey, President Obama says U.S. is amplifying strategy against ISIS while rejecting calls for deployment of large number of U.S. troops to Iraq or Syria. Carol Lee (TCG Speaker), Wall Street Journal [More]

French government  seeks tougher measures to thwart ISIS attacks: “France’s parliament will debate a bill on Thursday and Friday that would extend the country’s state of emergency to three months. Powers permitted under the measure include increased surveillance, soldiers on the streets, the ability to place people under house arrest and sweeping capabilities to carry out additional raids and searches by security forces such as the one Wednesday morning in Saint-Denis.” Kim Hjelmgaard, Maya Vidon and Jabeen Bhatti, USA TODAY [More]

ISIS releases photo claiming to show bomb that brought down the Russian jet: “The image, which includes a Schweppes Gold can and other apparent components of improvised explosives, could not [be] independently verified. The Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate asserted responsibility for the downing of the jet on Oct. 31; 224 people were killed.” Andrew Katz and Andrew Roth, The Washington Post [More]

In an attempt to repair relations with the West, Russia allies with France Against ISIS: “It was announced that Russia had deployed cruise missiles, long-range bombers and other warplanes…For Putin, ending the diplomatic isolation could be an important first step in persuading the West to lift sanctions on his wobbly economy imposed because of the Ukraine dispute.” Neil MacFarQuhar, New York Times [More]

2016 Campaign

Hillary Clinton joined Fareed Zakaria at the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss U.S. foreign policy, national security and outlined her strategy to defeat ISIS. [More]

[Clinton] argued for more American involvement, but also more international involvement…For listeners on the left, Clinton stressed her opposition to limit the flow of refugees into the United States. “This is no time to be scoring political points…We must use every pillar of American power, including our values, to fight terror.” Adam Chandler, Atlantic [More]

Marco Rubio lays out strategy to combat ISIS: “First, I would protect the homeland by immediately stopping the flow of Syrian refugees into the United States-not because refugees fleeing conflict are unwelcome, but because it is currently impossible to verify their identities or intentions…Next, I would reverse defense sequestration so we have the capabilities to go on the offense…Furthermore, I understand the ideological conflict at the heart of this struggle and will apply the appropriate pressure to tip the scales in favor of peace and stability.” Marco Rubio, Politico [More]

Ben Carson likened Syrian refugees fleeing civil war and ISIS to dogs: Carson stressed that the United States wants smart leaders who care about people, but noted there should always be a balance between safety and humanitarian concerns. ‘For instance, you know, if there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably gonna put your children out of the way,’ Carson said. ‘Doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination.’” Nolan D. McCaskill, Politico [More]

Republican insiders say that Carson’s foreign policy mistakes could prove costly to his campaign: “Last week’s terror attacks in Paris — combined with a number of missteps on international issues — imperil Carson’s status as a leading candidate, according to the insiders, who said the retired pediatric neurosurgeon has failed to articulate coherent foreign policy or shown command of the issues. A resounding 71 percent of Republicans said Carson was the most vulnerable among the 14 GOP hopefuls on foreign policy — far more than any other candidate.” Steven Shepard, Politico [More]

Rubio and Cruz duel over defense, immigration and the GOP’s future: Rubio has accused Cruz of being soft on national security because he voted this year for the USA Freedom Act, which imposed more limits on government surveillance…Cruz has repeatedly accused Rubio of being too soft on immigration because he co-sponsored a comprehensive Senate bill that would have created a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.” Sean Sullivan and Katie Zezima, The Washington Post [More]

Cruz: GOP candidate must be both inspiring and conservative: “[Cruz] doesn’t dismiss the need to improve the party’s standing among minorities, particularly Hispanics. But he sees a different route, arguing that possible vote gains among those minority groups are “dwarfed” by the millions of conservatives, Reagan Democrats and otherwise disaffected Americans who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 because they found the Republican presidential nominees…uninspiring or insufficiently conservative.” Dan Balz (TCG Speaker), The Washington Post [More]

How Cruz is winning with evangelicals: “[E]vangelical leaders and political operatives…say it’s the well-funded Cruz who has made the bigger organizational effort with politically active churchgoers. He’s rounding up the very grassroots leaders who wield influence with this crucial Republican voting bloc.” Katie Glueck, Politico [More]

Kasich’s super PAC planning aggressive anti-Trump campaign: “The attack…will play out over the next two months on radio, TV, mail and online in New Hampshire. Strategists with the pro-Kasich group, called New Day for America, say the budget for the anti-Trump campaign is likely to grow.” Alex Isenstadt, Politico [More]

Trump threatens to sue pro-Kasich super PAC. Alex Isenstadt, Politico [More]

Bernie Sanders delivered a long-anticipated speech explaining what he means when he calls himself a “democratic socialist” on Thursday. [More]

The Economy

New law would allow US Government to deny or revoke passports for citizens with outstanding taxes: “Under a new law…the State Department will block Americans with “seriously delinquent” tax debt from receiving new passports and will be allowed to rescind existing passports of people who fall into that category…If enacted in current form, the law would take effect on Jan. 1 and would apply to existing tax debts.” Laura Saunders, The Wall Street Journal [More]

The housing market’s problem is supply, not demand: “On Wednesday, the Census Bureau announced that new home construction fell 11% in October, suggesting there may indeed be a supply problem—in terms of labor and land…rather than just an issue of weak demand and a lack of available credit.” Chris Matthews, Fortune [More]

U.S. gender pay gap grows from last year: “In the U.S., the gap stands at 64%, meaning that women earn about two-thirds of what men make for similar work. That’s actually worse than it was last year, when the gap was 66%. The U.S. now ranks 74th in wage equality among 145 countries. Last year, it was 65th.” Ivana Kottasova, CNN [More]

The dollar could soon be worth as much as the euro: “The two currencies are heading toward parity after Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, dropped yet another strong hint that he is about to pour more money into the European economy.” Ivana Kottasova, CNN [More]

The bull market is over, the investing playbook needs to look different: “Investors should now be watching their backs and playing some defense…That would mean raising cash, culling the portfolio of overvalued stocks and even buying what has already been beaten up in their own multi-year bear market, including commodity related equities such as gold miners and agriculture related stocks.” Peter Boockvar, Op-Ed, CNBC [More]

America’s education bubble: “If the return on investment in education continues to decline…the risks of default and delinquency would rise, along with financial insecurity and general instability, all of which would exacerbate the inequality trifecta (income, wealth, and opportunity).” Mohamed A. El-Erian, Op-Ed, Project Syndicate [More]

Domestic Affairs

Nation’s largest health insurer may exit Obamacare: “The possible move by UnitedHealth Group raises new questions about the viability of President Obama’s signature health law and follows the departure of more than half of the non-profit insurance cooperatives this year. If UnitedHealth drops out, consumers would lose one of the lowest-cost plans available in much of the country, and some wonder how smaller insurers could fill the void.” Nathan Bomey and Jayne O’Donnell, USA Today [More]

The reasons behind decreasing migration from Mexico to the U.S.: “Workplace raids by immigration agents, nose-diving birthrates at home and the economic slowdown north of the border have convinced 47% of Mexicans surveyed that life in their native country is as good or better than what would await them if they crossed into the U.S.” Nigel Duara and Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times [More]


Donald Trump regains first place in new national poll: Mr. Trump leads all Republican candidates with 24%, followed by Dr. Carson with 20%. Rubio has 12%, Cruz 9%, Bush 6%, Christie 4%. Kasich, Fiorina, Paul, and Huckabee all have 3% support, with Pataki, Santorum and Graham rounding out the field with 1% each. Bloomberg [Poll]


Review: “Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy” by Micah Zenko: “How to anticipate unthinkable terrorist attacks? Hire oddballs to think of them…Zenko..lays out the uneven history and potential of “red teams” — small, expert groups of outsiders enlisted to find vulnerabilities, shake up preconceived notions and imagine the unimaginable, all in an effort to improve security and thinking throughout the military, intelligence and corporate worlds.” Carlos Lozada, Washington Post [More]

Archive of Past Digests

TCG Weekly Digest – November 13th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – November 6th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 30th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 23rd, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 16th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 9th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – October 2nd, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 25th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 18th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 11th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – September 4th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 28th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 21st, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 15th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – August 7th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – July 30th, 2015

TCG Weekly Digest – July 24th, 2015