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Security

Can Rent-a-Cops Protect US Troops?

Erich Schlegel/Reuters

After 9/11 more private contractors took over security responsibilities on military bases as troops headed overseas. Recent veterans weigh in on the impact of that shift.

The most recent catastrophe at Fort Hood has Congress asking questions: how can we prevent this from happening again? Along with talk about treating and screening for service members with mental health issues, the focus has been on the security procedures at military bases and how it might be improved.As CNN reported April 6th, lawmakers are examining how the military secure its installations, and whether current controls are sufficient. Along with looking at physical security measures to prevent the transport of illegal firearms on base another issue being reviewed is whether the military should return to using troops to guard checkpoints, rather than the private security contractors common today.

Backsliding

Iraq’s Horrific Child Marriage Law

Karim Kadim/AP

A new law would approve marriage to girls as young as nine in a bid to appease the nation’s conservatives ahead of parliamentary elections.

In a bid to please the nation’s Shi’a Muslim majority ahead of parliamentary elections, Iraq’s Council of Ministers has drafted a law that would legalize marital rape, as well as grant men the authority to marry girls as young as age nine. The Jaafari Personal Status Law was approved by the Council of Ministers in February, and now awaits likely passage in the Iraqi parliament in the last days before the April 30 election.The chaos in neighboring Syria, a domestic electricity crisis of demand, and yet another “Battle for Fallujah” have all set a geopolitical tone for what will likely be contentious parliamentary elections.

Courtroom Drama

‘Say I Shot And Killed Her!’

Themba Hadebe/AP

The prosecution pounded Oscar Pistorius with a withering cross-examination today, forcing him to confront a picture of Reeva Steenkamp moments after her death.

It has been a riveting day of testimony at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria as state prosecutor GerrieNel launched a dramatic assault on Oscar Pistorius, who has been on the witness stand since Monday. Nel, who up until now had appeared to be a relatively unassuming figure during the state’s case, today demonstrated exactly why he is known as ‘The Bulldog’ within South African legal circles.“You are a model for sportsmen, disabled and abled bodied sportsmen, all over the world?” Nel asked as he initiated his cross-examination of the six-time Paralympic gold medalistaccused of killing his 29-year-old girlfriend, ReevaSteenkamp.

False Flag

Sy Hersh Gasses Turkey

Ammar Dar/Reuters

The veteran reporter blames Ankara for a horrific Syria chemical weapons attack. That’s unlikely—but he’s right that Turkey is increasingly frustrated at Western foot-dragging on Assad.

ISTANBUL— Analysts and diplomats in Turkey may doubt that Ankara orchestrated the deadly August poison gas attack near Damascus, as Seymour Hersh claims, but they insist that at least one important aspect of the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter’s new article is true.In the latest issue of the London Review of Books), Hersh writes that Turkey organized the August 21 attack, which killed more than 1,000 people, to provoke a U.S. intervention in Syria.

Afghanistan

Telling My Kids I'm Going to War

Sandy Huffaker/Getty

Before he leaves on another deployment to Afghanistan, a military officer has to break the news to his family.

Editor’s Note: Nick Willard is the pen name of a service member heading to Afghanistan on one of the final deployments in the closing days of America’s longest war. He will write what he sees in an ongoing feature for The Daily Beast that will appear as regularly as his schedule allows. Biographical details have been changed to protect his identity.  I’d known about the deployment to Afghanistan for three months, but made a deal with my wife to not tell the kids until after the holidays.

HOLY ROLLERS

Vatican Bank Rises From the Dead

The Daily Beast

After accusations of money laundering and corruption, Pope Francis was ready to close the institution. So why is he giving it a second chance?

VATICAN CITY—The Vatican bank, which says it’s not really a bank despite offering many services normally associated with banking has been given a reprieve from Pope Francis who has decided to reform the financial institution so it can “serve with prudence”, rather than closing it down as many thought he might.  Formally known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, or IOR, the non-bank does not have any branches outside Vatican City where its offices take up the better part of a 15th century tower that once housed the papal prisons.

South Africa

Pistorius’s Courtroom Sobbing Fit

Pool photo by Themba Hadebe

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius broke down in court once again during his turn on the witness stand, as he remembered the night that he shot his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The public has waited for over five weeks for a glimpse into the mind of South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who is currently in the witness box in Pretoria’s North Gauteng High Court to provide evidence and defend himself in the murder trial of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot and killed on Valentine’s Day last year. The six-time gold medalist was scheduled to be sworn in at the beginning of March, but the trial was postponed due to the illness of one of the judge’s assessors.

Finders, Keepers

US Won’t Give War Intel to Ukraine

Spencer Platt/Getty

American spies have spotted all the signs of an all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine. Why won’t they tell the Ukrainians about the forces on their border?

U.S. intelligence agencies now have detailed information that Russia has amassed the kind of forces needed for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But the Obama administration hasn’t shared with Ukraine the imagery, intercepts, and analysis that pinpont the location of the Russian troops ready to seize more Ukrainian land, The Daily Beast has learned.President Obama has repeatedly and publicly expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people—and warned Russian leader Vladimir Putin that there will be consequences if he takes over any more Ukrainian territory.

Crisis in Ukraine

Russia’s Riot-Backed Diplomacy

© Stringer . / Reuters

Moscow is offering a six-point plan for peace on its terms. The pro-Russian protestors who took buildings in Eastern Ukraine are part of that game.

On Tuesday, the website of Ukrainskaya Pravda published a video address by the Russian-speaking activists who have occupied the state security service building in Luhansk. In the video, several militiamen armed with Kalashnikov rifles and wearing black balaclavas denied there were any Russians among them.  Their commander introduced their unit as the “South-East Headquarters of Afghan Veterans and Border Control Unit.” The only demand they had was to hold a referendum, the commander said, “But if you are preparing to storm the building against us, war veterans trying to run a referendum, welcome to hell.

Crisis in Ukraine

They Wanna Be Back In The USSR

Maks Levin/Reuters

After the a takeover of public buildings and a “declaration of independence” in major East Ukraine cities, the streets are quiet, but the mood is ugly.

DONETSK, Ukraine—If you stand on Shevchenko Boulevard outside Donetsk City Hall, which was stormed by around a thousand pro-Russian activists on Sunday, you start to question the reality of modern geopolitics. Has the Cold War really ended? The scene is a vista of Soviet flags and iconography; Stalin smirks at me from flags banners; the color red dominates my eye line while the blue and yellow of Ukraine is barely in evidence. Just around the corner a huge bronze statue of Lenin looms over the city’s main square.

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Crisis in Ukraine

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