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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Massachusetts
Home country: United States
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 60,536

Journal Archives

Kerry Cites Progress In Gaza Cease-Fire Talks


By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published JULY 23, 2014, 6:27 AM EDT

JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says negotiations toward a cease-fire agreement in the Gaza Strip are making some progress after days of a deadly impasse between Israel and Hamas militants.

Kerry was not specific Wednesday in describing what he called steps forward in the negotiations as he met for a second time this week with United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon.

Both Kerry and Ban are in the Mideast trying to broker a new truce between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza. More than 630 Palestinians and about 30 Israelis have been killed in most recent round of violence that began July 8.

Kerry flew into Israel's main airport Wednesday despite a Federal Aviation Administration ban put in place a day earlier after a Hamas rocket landed nearby.


Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/john-kerry-israel-gaza-cease-fire-talks

Gov’t arrests 192 on immigrant smuggling charges


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Homeland Security Department says it has seized more than $625,000 and arrested 192 people in a crackdown on human smuggling along the Mexican border in South Texas.

The government’s crackdown, called “Operation Coyote,” is another front in the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to slow the flood of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and families caught crossing the border illegally in South Texas this year. The operation took place over the last month.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement says 501 immigrants in the country illegally have also been taken into custody as part of a 90-day operation targeting smuggling groups. ICE says the money was seized from 228 bank accounts held by suspected human- and drug-smuggling groups.


Read more: http://www.salon.com/2014/07/22/govt_arrests_192_on_immigrant_smuggling_charges/

New arrest linked to gun used after Boston attacks


BOSTON (AP) — A man believed to have provided the gun used by Boston Marathon bombing suspects to kill a college police officer has been arrested on drug and weapon charges.

Stephen Silva made an initial appearance in federal court Tuesday on charges related to heroin trafficking and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number.

Two people with knowledge of the investigation say the gun is the one that was used to kill Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier during the manhunt for bombing suspects Dzhokhar (joh-HAHR’) and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Silva is a friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School with him in 2011. An attorney for Silva, Jonathan Shapiro, said Tuesday evening that he received the case only a few hours earlier and was not in a position to comment.


Read more: http://www.salon.com/2014/07/22/new_arrest_linked_to_gun_used_after_boston_attacks/

TMZ: Palin Explains Speeding Ticket: 'I Wasn't Speeding, I Was Qualifying'

By DYLAN SCOTT Published JULY 22, 2014, 5:51 PM EDT

Gossip website TMZ reported on Tuesday that former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was ticketed for speeding in Alaska last week.

She was going 63 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone in her Toyota Tundra, according to TMZ, and will pay a $154 fine.

Her explanation to the site was simple. She said she was listening to Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55" song at the time.

"I wasn't speeding," she told TMZ. "I was qualifying."



Issa’s surprising new enemies: Why Republicans are mad at him now, too

GOP Oversight Committee chair's colleagues in the House are starting to speak out – and it isn't pretty


There are times when I almost feel sympathy for Darrell Issa. When you look around Capitol Hill these days, there aren’t many people voicing their respect and admiration for the House Oversight Committee chairman. You can understand the Democratic antipathy towards Issa; under his command the committee has returned to the bad old days of the Clinton administration when every scandalous allegation – no matter how far-fetched or lacking in evidence – was enthusiastically investigated by the Republicans on the committee out of partisan spite. But Issa is also taking fire from Republicans, which seems unfair given that he’s arguably been, for the GOP, an ideal Oversight Committee chair.

I should explain that “ideal” in this sense means that Issa’s tenure has tracked perfectly with the governing strategy Republicans have pursued ever since they took control of the House in 2010 – he’s made a lot of noise at the expense of accomplishing anything of substance beyond shredding public faith in the competence of the federal government.

Issa, for all his subpoenaing and bloviating and promises of bombshell revelations, hasn’t actually gotten anything to stick to the White House. He launched a probe into Solyndra, a solar power company that received federal loan guarantees before going bankrupt, and it ended up going nowhere. He initiated an investigation into the failed gun-walking program known as “Fast and Furious” that turned up zero evidence of White House corruption, though he did convince John Boehner to let the House vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding documents. His storied handling of the Benghazi investigations, spanning many hearings over several months, never turned up proof of the cover-up conspiracy that everyone knew was there.


Border Sheriffs Perplexed by Rick Perry's Plan to Send 1,000 Troops to Stare at Mexico

Why would you spend millions of dollars sending troops to the border who can't actually detain anyone? That's what some Texas sheriffs of border towns are asking in the wake of Gov. Rick Perry's plan to send 1,000 National Guards members to the Texas/Mexico border in the next month, according to the Dallas Morning News. For them, it would be more useful to spend the money on hiring more deputies and police, aka people who are allowed to detain migrants.

“I don’t know what good they can do,” Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio told the Dallas Morning News. “You just can’t come out here and be a police officer.” Lucio and other sheriffs said they weren't consulted before Perry's announcement and, in Lucio's opinion, the police and Border Patrol agents were handling the small uptick in crime. "At this time, a lot of people do things for political reasons. I don’t know that it helps,” Lucio said.

This isn't the first time people have questioned the wisdom of sending National Guard troops to the border. In 2010, President Obama sent over 1,000 troops to the border. They weren't allowed to pursue or detain immigrants, "or investigate crimes, make arrests, stop and search vehicles, or seize drugs," The Washington Post reported in 2011. "Nor do they check Mexico-bound vehicles for bulk cash or smuggled weapons headed to the drug cartels." Basically, they keep watch and radio in any suspicious activity. Critics also argued that the National Guard's help cost an estimated $6,271 per person caught. But defenders of sending the guard argue they are a deterrent. In the upcoming deployment, guard officials said they would have some medical training and be supplied with water. Still, the most immediate reward is political, and as The New York Times noted, Perry stands the most to gain for being tough on the border.

In 2012, one of his major gaffes was calling people "heartless" for panning his plan to give undocumented students in-state tuition. This time around he won't make the same mistake. “Drug cartels, human traffickers and individual criminals are exploiting this tragedy for their own criminal opportunities,” Perry said Monday. “I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault, and little children from Central America are detained in squalor.”



Missouri Governor Jay Nixon To Visit Iowa

Ben Jacobs

Jay Nixon, the two-term Democratic governor of Missouri, is visiting Iowa Tuesday. Does this mean there's yet another Democratic contender in 2016?

With his scheduled visit to an ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa on Tuesday, did Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signal his interest in running for President in 2016? Probably not.

While Nixon has long been considered a potential Democratic candidate if Hillary Clinton decides not to run , the two-term governor's visit to Iowa seems to be driven entirely by local political concerns. Nixon is visiting Project Liberty, a brand new ethanol plant that processes cellulosic ethanol, which is made from the waste parts of corn like the husk and the cob. In contrast, traditional ethanol is made from the actual corn kernels.

Poet, the company which operates the plant, has several plants in Missouri and Nixon is apparently going to promote the new process and encourage similar plants to be built in his home state. The trip is his only stop in the Hawkeye State and the event is closed to the public, meaning that Nixon will not to get to meet any potential caucus goers.

Iowa has witnessed a dearth of visits from Democratic hopefuls this cycle, with only Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders making appearances so far. The limited nature of this trip means that the Missouri governor, who has mentioned the need for a 2016 Democratic candidate from the heartland in the past, can't be added to this list.

But, then again, no politician visits Iowa by accident.


The Supreme Court’s Coming Paralysis

Jeff Greenfield

Why there’s really no chance President Obama will be able to appoint another Justice to the bench, regardless of what happens in November.

It’s a question that’s roiled the liberal universe for years: Why won’t 81-year old supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg resign from the Supreme Court and give President Obama the chance to pick her successor, in case the Senate turns Republican after the mid-terms?

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, one of the left’s jurisprudential heroes, had a ready answer to that question when it was posed to him at the University of California Santa Barbara late last month. There is, he said, not a chance in hell that this Senate would confirm her successor, no matter who he or she might be—not the way the process works today. And therein lies a tale abut just how drastically the “advise and consent” process has changed, and why the smart bet would be on a paralyzed process, and perhaps even a Court with fewer than nine Justices, no matter what happens in November.

Once upon a time, the Senate took that “advise and consent” phrase of the Constitution literally: they sometimes advised, but almost always consented, to a President’s choice. From 1894 to 1967, only one Supreme Court nominee was rejected. (It was 1930, and as the Great Depression deepened, Judge John Parker’s alleged anti-labor and anti-civil rights rulings were deemed disqualifying). There were other controversial picks—lawyer Louis Brandeis was assailed as a dangerous radical when President Wilson named him to the bench in 1913 (and there was more than a hint of anti-Semitism in the opposition); Alabama Senator Hugo Black had to go on national radio to explain his membership in the Ku Klux after FDR named him in 1937.

But it wasn’t until 1968 that a President found his Supreme Court pick blocked. When Lyndon Johnson sought to elevate Justice Abe Fortas to the Chief Justice post to replace Earl Warren, a coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans, angered by his liberal votes on civil liberties, his continued political counseling of LBJ, and some dicey financial dealings, successfully filibustered the nomination. (Republicans also hoped to stall the nomination, hoping their nominee could capture the White House in November. That strategy not only worked, but those financial dealings were to force Fortas off the Court a year later).


An Iraqi Group Helping Women and Gays Is Receiving Death Threats

Jacob Siegel

Religious groups are threatening to kill the members one of the few Iraqi organizations dedicated to helping women and gays.

BAGHDAD — A little girl toddles around shopping bags brimming with relief supplies that are heading for Iraqi refugees and into the arms of Dalal Jumaa, who heads this office of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Jumaa hugs the little girl and lets her go, then turns to me. “Today I am very scared,” she says in a low voice. “This morning they called and said if you do not move from this house we will kill you.”

It was the police who phoned the organization Sunday morning, Jumaa said. They told her they had heard she harbored gay men and runaway girls. But the threat, which the police were relaying, came from Asaib Ahl al Haq, a powerful and notoriously brutal Shia militia in Baghdad. “I cannot stop Asaib Ahl al Haq,” the policeman told her, “they received this information and will kill you if you don’t leave.”

The Organization, as everyone calls it, stood accused of pimping out the young women in its shelters, which Jumaa said is a lie commonly used to slander Iraqi groups advocating for women’s rights. She convinced the policeman of her innocence but the militia wouldn’t be waiting to hear her out. Asaib Ahl al Haq is the group believed to have slaughtered 29 women alleged to be prostitutes last week in the upscale neighborhood of Zayouna.

Advocating for women’s rights has never been safe work in Iraq but as the war empowers radical religious groups, it’s growing more dangerous. In an earlier conversation, Hanaa Edwar, who heads the Iraqi Al-Amal Association, another NGO in Baghdad that works on women’s rights issues, warned about the rise of the militias’ power. “The militias try to replace the rule of the law,” she said. “The armed groups are trying to replace the security forces. This is a horrible thing for the country.”


Georgia seeks same-sex marriage lawsuit dismissal


ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s attorney general is asking a judge to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed by a gay rights group challenging the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit in April on behalf of seven people. Attorney General Sam Olens, representing the state registrar, said in a filing Monday that the suit takes away Georgia residents’ right to define marriage.

Olens’ brief acknowledges a movement in some states to recognize same-sex marriage and public opinion polls that support those changes.

“But judicially imposing such a result now would merely wrest a potentially unifying popular victory from the hands of supporters and replace it instead with the stale conformity of compulsion,” the brief says. “This Court should reject Plaintiffs’ invitation to disregard controlling precedent, decline to anticipate a future ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, and dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims in their entirety.”


Read more: http://www.salon.com/2014/07/21/georgia_seeks_same_sex_marriage_lawsuit_dismissal/
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