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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 39,389

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS

Members of al Qaeda’s branch in Syria have a surprising advocate in the corridors of American power: retired Army general and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

The former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly, told The Daily Beast.

The heart of the idea stems from Petraeus’s experience in Iraq in 2007, when as part of a broader strategy to defeat an Islamist insurgency the U.S. persuaded Sunni militias to stop fighting with al Qaeda and to work with the American military.

The tactic worked, at least temporarily. But al Qaeda in Iraq was later reborn as ISIS, and has become the sworn enemy of its parent organization. Now, Petraeus is returning to his old play, advocating a strategy of co-opting rank-and-file members of al Nusra, particularly those who don’t necessarily share all of core al Qaeda’s Islamist philosophy.



U.S. Judge Rules Sexual Trafficking Is Not a Violent Crime

While Congress and the Department of Justice have both said that victims of sexual trafficking are likely to be treated violently, a U.S. judge has inexplicably ruled otherwise.
Sex trafficking is not a crime of violence.

At least that is the conclusion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which tossed out this August (PDF) a pimp’s conviction for “possession and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.” The crime of violence in question was sex trafficking.

Unfortunately, the statute defining that firearm crime, known as section 924(c), has been criticized as one of federal law’s most enigmatic thanks to its “bramble of prepositional phrases.” Senior Judge Andre Davis, who wrote the ruling, must have gotten stuck in the bramble. He overlooked that sex trafficking is a violent trespass on human beings’ bodies, particularly women’s bodies.

The court, Judge Davis wrote, was “not persuaded that the ordinary case of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion involves a substantial risk that the defendant will use physical force as a means to commit the offense.”


Tuesday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest


The Issue



Labor Day


Tuesday Toon Roundup 2:GOP

Tuesday Toon Roundup 1- Denali

Homes For The Homeless

by Susie Cagle

San Francisco’s homeless are harangued and despised while conservative Utah has a radically humane approach

David Hogue isn’t sure that he should tell me his name. He sits in a back office in the shelter where he has lived for the past 18 months, hands folded neatly in his lap. It isn’t that he doesn’t want to talk. He tells me about how he’s had trouble finding work. He tells me about how he’s bounced between homes for years. He tells me about how his brother dropped him off here the day after New Year’s.

But to identify himself as homeless – this is new.

The condition of homelessness is fluid, and so is our definition of it. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) placed the homeless population in January 2014 at 578,424, but advocacy groups such as the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness say that more than 3 million Americans experience an episode of homelessness each year: a night, a week or a month in a motel, in a recreation vehicle or on a friend’s couch might not make you ‘homeless’ in the eyes of the federal government, but they certainly define your lived experience.

The US has always had many shades of destitute, but this particular era of homelessness marks a new chapter in the country’s history. The causes of this crisis are no great mystery. Real median household income has plateaued since the 1960s. Adjusted for inflation, minimum wage has fallen since the 1970s. After the manufacturing industry contracted and unemployment grew in the 1980s, the homeless populations in US cities rose precipitously. For the first time since Hooverville – the shanty town built by homeless people during the Great Depression of the 1930s – American poverty was laid bare in its parks and on its streets. Since then, about 600,000 people have lived without a home on any given night in the US.



Slowpoke Toon: Bosom Baddies

Supreme Court rejects Ky. gay marriage case, forcing Rowan Co. clerk to issue licenses

Source: WDRB/AP

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a Kentucky gay marriage case, meaning Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis must issue licenses despite religion.

Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses, citing her Christian faith and constitutional right to religious liberty, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning had already ordered Davis to issue marriage licenses two weeks ago. He later delayed that ruling until Aug. 31 or until the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling.

Davis was one of a handful of local elected officials across the country that stopped issuing marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June. She said issuing a marriage license to a gay couple would violate her Christian beliefs and argued the U.S. Constitution protected her religious freedoms.

Read more: http://www.wdrb.com/story/29927097/supreme-court-rejects-ky-gay-marriage-case-forcing-rowan-co-clerk-to-issue-licenses

Will Scott Walker's Canadian Wall Keep the Teachers Out, Too?


Hold all calls. We have a winner.

There was no reason for the judges even to consider either This Week With The Clinton Guy Shocked By Blowjobs, or Face The Nation, where John Dickerson is ably filling the greaves of former Laeodician war correspondent Bob Schieffer. The House Cup this week went almost instantly into the dark, mysterious halls of broadcasting's Hotel Overlook at NBC, where my man Chuck Todd always has been the caretaker. He was joined this week by Scott Walker, the thrice-elected goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, and Walker did everything except drop his drawers and dance the hootchie-koo. There is neither a box of rocks nor a bag of hammers big enough to analogize to this guy. Dunces look at him and think, Jesus, maybe I should look into a career in astrophysics after all. In villages all over Europe, idiots look at Scott Walker and get out of the business. Look, I achieved the degree Scott Walker never quite caught up with, and I'm not exactly Stephen Hawking here.

Let's start with the single most hilarious thing said by any candidate in the current field. Asked about the possibility of building a fence, not along the country's southern border, but along the nearly 4000-mile border that separates the United States and Canada, this is what Walker told my man Chuck Todd.

"Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire…They have raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that's a legitimate issue for us to look at."

There is some ensuing flubdubbery about "securing the homeland" and about "counterintellig…er…ah…wubba…wubba…counterterrorism" in there, too, but consider the vast and staggering vista of stupidity opened up by the idea of building a fence from upper Maine to the shores of the Pacific. Leave aside the basic impracticality of the entire idea – What the hell are you going to do about that part of the border that runs through Lake Superior? Submarine nets? Sonar? Volunteer muskie fishermen with AK's in their boats? Yikes. Forget I said that last part. – and concentrate solely on the fact that, what Walker believes makes this a "legitimate issue for us to look at" is the fact that "some people" at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire brought it up to him. I will pay anyone a shiny buffalo nickel if they will show up at a future town hall meeting in New Hampshire and ask Scott Walker if we should fire sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads into synchronous low earth orbit to prevent undocumented immigrants from Zontar from entering the country. It probably would be declared a "legitimate issue for us to look at."

(And this is not even to mention the fact that, apparently, Walker is opposed to people crossing our Canadian border but has no problem at all with the world's dirtiest fossil fuel being pumped across that same border and through the richest farmland in the United States. Tar sands don't kill people. People kill people.)



So who wants to roll back the New Deal?

By Greg Sargent

Brian Beutler has an important piece in which he raises an unsettling question: Could the next Republican president nominate one or more Supreme Court justices who would seek to restore a pre-New Deal judicial conception of liberty of contract, with the goal of undermining much of the regulatory state that many Americans take for granted today?

Beutler reports on a movement among legal-minded libertarians to rehabilitate the Lochner decision, the notorious 1905 Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a state law limiting the working hours of bakers, giving its name to the “Lochner era” of Supreme Court rulings in which economic regulations established by popularly elected officials were struck down as unconstitutional. The Lochner era is widely seen to have ended during the New Deal, when the Court upheld (among many other things) a state minimum wage law, concluding that liberty of contract is not an “absolute” right.

Sam Bagenstos, a liberal constitutional scholar at the University of Michigan, tells Beutler that “a full fledged return to Lochner” could ultimately undermine a whole host of economic regulations, including minimum wage, overtime, and worker safety laws and even possibly laws protecting customers from discrimination based on race.

One leading libertarian lawyer tells Beutler frankly that the goal is to invalidate much social welfare legislation “at the federal level,” though I would add that a Lochner restoration might invalidate a fair amount of it at the state level as well. Libertarians are frustrated with the Roberts court for its rulings preserving Obamacare — decisions that have been widely interpreted as a sign of Roberts’ judicial restraint and deference to the elected branches — and the hope is that a Republican president will appoint more unabashedly activist judges when it comes to placing limits on federal power to regulate the economy



The Beutler article:

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