Stories written by Eli Clifton
Eli Clifton is a national security reporter for Eli holds a bachelor's degree from Bates College and a master's degree in international political economy from the London School of Economics. He previously reported on U.S. foreign policy for IPS, where he served as deputy Washington, D.C. bureau chief. His work has appeared on PBS/Frontline's Tehran Bureau, the South China Morning Post, Right Web, Asia Times,, and Website: Blog: | Web

U.S.: Obama’s Afghan Plan Has Something for Everyone… to Hate

President Barack Obama's speech Tuesday night at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point laid out his administration's plan to deploy an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan and start a phased withdrawal beginning in 18 months, but the plan has won the White House few supporters in either its own party or across the aisle.

US-AFGHANISTAN: Obama to Surge 30,000 Troops, With Deadline

In a highly anticipated speech Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama announced the dispatch of 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan over the next seven months and said he would begin drawing down the U.S. military presence there 12 months later.

BOOKS-US: Hawkish “Israel Lobby” More Bark Than Bite?

The Nov. 25 announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of a "moratorium" on settlement construction brought very different responses from the Jewish American "pro-Israel" groups J-Street and the heavyweight American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), calling attention to the increasing divide within the American Jewish community.

MIDEAST: Settlements “Moratorium” Still Short of Freeze

U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed an announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday that Israel will impose a 10-month "moratorium" on settlements, but warned that the move falls short of a freeze on settlement building - a condition that has been a mainstay of U.S. policy towards Israel.

POLITICS: Singh State Visit Cements US-India Ties

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President Barack Obama met in Washington Tuesday as both leaders sought to reinvigorate the U.S.-India bilateral relationship.

GUATEMALA: A Tax Code by and for the Oligarchs?

Taxation and government spending are the targets of a new report on Guatemala that argues the government is failing in its fiscal commitments to food, health and education.

US-INDIA: State Visit by Singh Could Smooth Bumpy Relations

The close of U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week brought rampant speculation about what a new U.S.-China relationship will look like, but next week's state visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will broaden the focus on the rising powers which Obama must balance during his administration.

HEALTH: Strategy to Cut Vaccine Price Paying Off

The price of a major combination vaccine called the 'pentavalent' has fallen considerably over the past year, bringing the cost per dose below three dollars - a decrease of almost 50 cents, according to data released Wednesday by an alliance of public and private partners who have worked to bring down vaccine prices in the developing world.

EDUCATION: Foreign Students Flock Back to U.S

The number of international students attending colleges and universities in the United States has reached an all-time high of 671,616, largely bolstered by an increasing number of undergraduate students from China, while U.S. students are also studying abroad in higher numbers.

US-MIDEAST: Baseball Team Urged to Cut Ties with Israeli Group

A coalition of 11 U.S., Israeli and Palestinian groups are calling on the New York Mets baseball team to cancel a fundraiser by the "violent and racist" Israeli Hebron Fund which is scheduled to be held at the Mets' stadium, Citi Field, on Nov. 21.

POLITICS-US: Right Seizes on Ft. Hood Killings as “Islamic Terror”

Senior military and Barack Obama administration officials have been on a full-court press to preempt an anti-Muslim backlash since the shooting spree by a Muslim soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, but right-wing pundits have wasted no time in characterising Major Nidal Malik Hasan's actions as an act of terrorism by a radical Islamic extremist.

U.S.: Obama to Meet Asian Leaders as China’s Shadow Lengthens

U.S. President Barack Obama's attendance at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum leaders' meeting in Singapore next week will chart a new direction for U.S. participation in Asian multilateral diplomacy and call attention to the new administration's policy of engagement with the reclusive military-led government in Burma.

POLITICS: Big Breakthroughs May Elude Obama’s Asia Trip

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Tokyo Thursday for the first stop of his four-nation trip to Asia, but an ongoing disagreement over realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, new roadblocks to a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea, and continuing tussles over climate change, trade and currency issues with China have led the White House to downplay goals for the northeast Asian legs of the trip.

U.S.: Congress Out of Step with Public on Intl Law?

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution Tuesday condemning the Goldstone Report on Israeli and Hamas actions taking during the Gaza War as "irredeemably biased" against Israel and calling on U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to oppose any consideration of the report in multilateral fora, such as the United Nations.

ZIMBABWE: Watchdog Groups Urge Ban on Diamond Exports

The past week brought new scrutiny of Zimbabwe's human rights record with the deportation of a senior U.N. official sent to investigate torture there, and demands by a coalition of civil society groups that the international community address human rights violations stemming from Zimbabwe's lucrative diamond industry.

U.S.: Rights Groups Condemn Bid to Quash Goldstone Report

International human rights groups have raised concern over a proposed non-binding resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives which would call on the White House to oppose any future endorsement or consideration of Judge Richard Goldstone's "Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict".

US-MIDEAST: J Street Meet Draws Foreign Policy Heavyweights

J Street, the relatively new "pro-Israel, pro-Peace" advocacy group, exceeded expectations for its inaugural conference here in Washington with over 1,500 participants attending the four-day event.

SRI LANKA: U.S. Govt Report Adds to Pressure for War Crimes Probe

The U.S. State Department released a report Thursday detailing possible violations of the laws of war in Sri Lanka during the first half of 2009, adding to pressure for an independent, international investigation into alleged atrocities committed by government forces and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatists.

HEALTH: One in Five Infants Still Lacks Essential Vaccines

A record 106 million infants were vaccinated in 2008 - the highest rate of immunisation ever - according to a report released Wednesday in Washington, but NGOs are calling for an increase in funding to fill the gap affecting the world's poorest nations and communities.

POLITICS-US: Pro-Israel Group’s Money Trail Veers Hard Right

StandWithUs - an "organization that ensures that Israel's side of the story is told" - has become increasingly aggressive in challenging the "pro-Israel" credentials of moderate Jewish-American groups, going so far as to suggest that receiving money from Arab donors and supporters of Human Rights Watch undermines a group's commitment to Israel and peace.

A child eats a World Food Programme nutritional biscuit. This year, WFP will help feed more than 100 million people. Credit: WFP/Shehzad Noorani

DEVELOPMENT: More Than a Billion Going Hungry

The global economic crisis has led to an historic increase in hunger and undernourishment in the world's poorest countries, with broad consequences for political security and stability, according to two reports released for World Food Day, observed Friday.

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