Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is often touted as “the next Ron Paul.” Endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus and Young Americans for Liberty, the 33-year-old Amash has made waves by explaining all of his votes on social media, a practice he began during his single term as a Michigan state legislator. He has earned a 100 percent rating from the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, and has taken up where Ron Paul left off on civil liberties.
In March, Reason.com Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie interviewed Amash in his office, where the walls are adorned with likenesses of Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Carl Menger, Murray Rothbard, and Ayn Rand, and the conversation ranged across topics including economics, foreign policy, and abortion.View this article
Count the overwrought responses to this incident. Enloe High School in Raleigh, N.C., called police out due to what appears to be a water balloon fight (overwrought response number one). Police arrested seven of the students (overwrought response number two) and threw a teen apparently not involved at all to the ground, necessitating medical treatment (overwrought response number three).
WRAL television reports:
The mother of an Enloe High School student has filed a complaint with the Raleigh Police Department after an officer threw her son to the ground Thursday as police responded to a water balloon battle at the school.
Seven students and a parent were arrested.
Sophomore Jahbriel Morris wasn't among those charged, but he had to be treated at WakeMed for a cut above his eyebrow, a bruised shoulder, a scraped knee and a sore neck and back.
Morris, 15, said he was injured when a police officer grabbed him outside the school, knocked him down and drove his head into the ground at least twice.
"How he was taken down was the most disturbing because they took him down by his neck and slammed him," Kevin Hines, a parent who witnessed the incident as he was picking up his children after school, said Friday.
Hines went to complain to the principal about the excessive force he witnessed. He was arrested for trespassing (overwrought response number four).
(Hat tip to Swarley for the lead)
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To paraprhase John Lennon, "Drug War is Over (If You Want It)."
But even as a majority of Americans believe pot should be treated like booze and beer, Colorado and Washington state move forward with full legalization, and Illinois prepares to become the 19th state to approve medical marijuana, people's lives are still being wrecked by stupid, ineffective, and anti-freedom drug laws.
Watch the video above for a case in point. It details how law enforcement in California (the first state in the nation to OK medical marijuana) has taken kids away from their mother - all in the name of the drug war.
Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning, the video originally aired on May 16 (go here for more links, resources, and downloadable versions). Here's the writeup:
As her children were being taken away from her, Daisy Bram screamed, "My babies! My babies!"
In 2011, Daisy Bram and Jayme Walsh lived with their two small children, Thor and Zeus, in Butte County, California. Like so many other people in northern California, Bram and Walsh had medical marijuana recommendations and a small cannabis garden in their back yard. In September, their home was raided by Butte County sheriffs. Bram and Walsh were charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession with intent to sell, and child endangerment. Thor and Zeus were taken by Child Protective Services and placed in foster care for four months.
A year later, Bram gave birth to their third son, Invictus. With their Butte County cases still unresolved, Bram and Walsh decided to move their family to neighboring Tehama County.
In January of 2013, Tehama County sheriffs raided Bram and Walsh's new home. This time they found a cannabis garden in a locked room off the back of the house. Child Protective Services once again seized Bram and Walsh's children and placed them in foster care, where they remain to this day. On January 30, Tehama County officers seized Bram's car. Walsh is currently in jail with bail set at one million dollars. Bram is out on bail awaiting future court dates.
"There is nothing worse that someone can be accused of than doing something to harm their own children. If someone from the government is going to come after someone and make that accusation, they better have the ammunition ready to go," said Michael Levinsohn, Daisy Bram's attorney.
Approximately 7.5 minutes.
Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.
noted that the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which shrank the penalty gap between the snorted and smoked forms of cocaine, does not apply retroactively. Later that same day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said that aspect of the law is unconstitutional, violating the Fifth Amendment's implicit guarantee of equal protection. According to the three-judge panel that heard U.S. v. Blewett, "The Act should apply to all defendants, including those sentenced prior to its passage." (Last year the U.S. Supreme Court addressed a similar but distinct issue, ruling in Dorsey v. United States that the Fair Sentencing Act applies to defendants who committed their offenses before the law took effect but were sentenced afterward.)Last Friday I
The 6th Circuit's decision hinges on the racially skewed impact of crack sentencing rules, which prior to the 2010 law treated one gram of crack as equivalent to 100 grams of cocaine powder. (The Fair Sentencing Act reduced that ratio, making it 18 to 1 rather than 100 to 1.) Because federal crack defendants are overwhelmingly black, the upshot of extra heavy penalties for that form of cocaine has been that dark-skinned cocaine offenders are punished more severely than light-skinned cocaine defendants. Now that Congress has acknowledged and sought to correct that problem, the 6th Circuit says, forcing crack offenders sentenced under the old rules to complete their terms amounts to unconstitutional racial discrimination. I agree that it's crazy to make thousands of crack offenders finish sentences that Congress almost unanimously declared excessively long. (Although President Obama has the power to address that obvious injustice through commutations, so far he has shortened just one sentence.) But the 6th Circuit's legal reasoning seems like a stretch.MORE »
Three members of the California Innocence Project are walking 600 miles from San Diego to Sacramento to draw attention to the “California 12”—a dozen inmates in California jails for whom there is powerful evidence of innocence. Brian Banks, a former high school football star falsely accused of rape who spent five years in jail before being exonerated, joined the Innocence March last week. Banks recently signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
The California 12 are:
- Kiera Newsome, who has spent 12 years in prison for murder despite testimony from teachers that she was 13 miles away, in school, when the shooting occurred.
- JoAnn Parks has spent 19 years in prison for murder, convicted of starting a fire in her home that killed her three children. The science on the behavior of fire has advanced since her conviction and experts believe the prosecution’s theory—that points to arson rather than an accidental electrical fire—is untenable.
- William Richards has spent 15 years in jail for murdering his wife despite DNA evidence exonerating him and serious incompetence by the police and medical examiner. He has cancer and may die while he waits for the California Supreme Court to decide if it will review his case.
- Ed Contreras has spent 15 years in jail for murder despite the recantation of the prosecution’s key witness and other exculpatory evidence.
- Kimberly Long has spent three years in jail for the murder of her boyfriend despite serious weaknesses in the case against her, including evidence from the crime scene that hasn’t been tested for DNA.
- Alan Gimenez has spent 20 years in jail for murder by shaken baby syndrome despite incorrect testimony by the medical examiner at trial and advances in medical science disproving the prosecution's theory. Gimenez refuses to admit his “guilt” to a parole board, which might have otherwise released him by now.
As this demonstrates, once government undertakes to tax income, it acquires even more power through its authority to define “income,” “taxable income,” subsidiary terms, and the rules of exemption. There is no escape, writes Sheldon Richman, from arbitrariness and caprice.View this article
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Obama battles AP, Benghazi, IRS scandals and...killer robots? Reason TV's guide to the president's toughest seven days yet!
"West Wing Weak" (based on an actual White House video series) is the latest video from Reason TV.
Watch by clicking above or click below to read the full story with links, downloadable versions, and other resources.View this article
For a half-hour beginning at 4:30 pm eastern time, I will be part of the "braintrust" panel on MSNBC talking about the various government scandals swirling around Washington.
IRS management has painted a picture of misguided underlings who acted “inappropriately” by writing up watch lists, targeting conservative agencies, and stalling their applications for tax-exempt status. But as M.D. Kittle reports, the scandal is far bigger than just that.View this article
On May 8, I appeared on Fox News' Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld to talk about President Obama's pitch to college grads that they should trust the government more, what 3D-printed guns mean for centralized power, whether Facebook is creating a generation of psychotics, and much more. Other guests included novelist and commentator Imogen Weber and Maxim editor Dan Bova, along with regulars Bill Schulz and Andy Levy.
About 40 minutes. Watch by clicking above. Click below to go to full article page for downloadable versions, more vids, and links.View this article
losing track of terrorism suspects. With competence an open question, how legit are their other terrorism busts, such as that of a Russian-speaking truck driver in Idaho? And, while the feds are eager to gather up plenty of data for the national security state, what in hell can they do with all of that information once their hard drives are stuffed fuller than President Obama's box o' woes?We know the feds are perfectly capable of
Discussion of that last point made it through the editing process and into video posted online. Check me out at about the 2:45 mark as I suggest that massive databases are more trouble than they're worth, and that maintaining an open society requires that we take a few risks.
In case you were wondering what’s happening in New London, Connecticut, proud home to the nation's most famous dump, the answer is still a whole lot of nothing. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed New London officials to seize an entire neighborhood via eminent domain on the basis that the city had a "carefully considered" plan to boost economic development.
After the initial plan—a corporate campus with hotels, condos, and office space—fell apart, officials selected a new developer to build an apartment complex on a portion of the razed neighborhood, Fort Trumbull, in 2010. Yesterday, the developer missed a second deadline to show they had secured financing.
David Collins at The Day has details on the deal:
On deck to take the land for free, and then not pay taxes on it, is a father-and-son development team from Fairfield County and New York City, Irwin and Robert Stillman.
In return for the free land, the Stillmans, according to the development agreement they signed 2½ years ago, are supposed to prove they are going to build a big apartment complex and have the financing to finish it.
That proof was lacking, so officials axed Monday's planned groundbreaking.
More from David Collins:
In opening the annual meeting of the New London Development Corp. [last month], agency President Michael Joplin made what seemed intended as a joke, saying people might have seen him earlier down on his knees in front of the mayor….
No one laughed.
In fact, I saw a lot of puzzled faces and nervous squirming in the room, as people seemed to wonder if they had heard right.
One possible scenario Joplin was suggesting is that he was down on his knees begging the mayor to let him stay on as NLDC president. But he needn't have bothered.
The mayor, who vigorously campaigned on the promise that he would abolish the much-hated NLDC, which famously destroyed a city neighborhood after taking the homes by eminent domain, simply changed the name instead last year and said Joplin would go as president.
Well, Joplin was re-elected president ... in a strange meeting in which other principal officers were also returned to office, even though some of them didn't bother to attend.
Laws meant to crack down on farm whistleblowers, commonly referred to as “ag gag” laws, have been drawing fire around the country from various quarters—from animal rights activists to free speech advocates. Detractors often refer to “ag gag” laws as such because these laws serve to gag or stifle the speech of persons who cry foul over some facets of animal agriculture. While momentum appeared to favor ag gag laws this past autumn, writes Baylen Linnekin, two recent decisions have dealt a serious blow to that support.View this article
The IRS scandal around targeting tax-status applications for Tea Party groups is centered around the actions of the Cincinnati branch office. So what's local news saying? Here's a report from the local Fox 19 station.
What about those local employees? Remember, [outgoing acting IRS director] Steven Miller claims that the targeting of conservative groups happened at the hands of low level Cincinnati employees who had gone "rogue" and were "off the reservation" and have already been "disciplined."
Have any of these four IRS agents, Mitchell Steele, Carly Young, Joseph Herr or Stephen Seok been disciplined? We don't know. But each one of these IRS employees could possibly face federal charges according to Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Boehner spoke to reporters Thursday stating that federal law on this issue is clear.
"Section 7214 of the title 26 of the U.S. code states very clearly, 'any officer or employee of the united states acting in connection with any revenue law of the united states who is guilty of extortion or willful oppression under the color of law shall be dismissed from office and if convicted be fined up to 10,000 dollars and spend five years in jail'. said Speaker Boehner.
A source tells Fox 19 that these agents say they were only doing what they were told. If they face 5 years in prison, how long might it be before they say who was reportedly giving them orders?
As it turns out, a fifth employee has been added to the list and all will be interviewed in a closed-door meeting of the Oversight Committee in D.C.
Note that the word coming out of Cincinnati is directly at odds with what came out of yesterday's IRS hearings, where the Washington players continued to blame locals. From Politico:
The hearing put a harsh spotlight on a plot twist that was already uncovered in the inspector general report: The Cincinnati crew had to be told to change their screening terms not once, but twice.
In January 2012, the report found, the Cincinnati employees changed their search terms again — without telling management — after Lerner reined them in. This time, the search terms weren’t as specific as “tea party” and “9/12,” but they still focused on political positions like “limiting/expanding government” and “social economic reform/movement.”
Once again, top IRS officials had to step in and broaden the screening terms — and this time, the employees got a memo saying any other changes had better be approved by IRS management.
[Republican Michigan Rep. Sander] Levin used much of his questioning time to emphasize that lower level IRS employees actually went out of their way to continue targeting conservative groups — even after their superiors told them their searches were unacceptable.
“[Lerner] ordered they be changed, is that correct?” Levin asked Miller, noting that the inspector general report says the head director of exempt organizations told them to scratch the words like “tea party” and “Patriot” from their searches as soon as she learned they were being used in July 2011.
Miller responded yes.
“This change was again made without executive approval. Is that correct?” Levin continued. Miller again answered yes.
The inspector general report says the specialists reinstated, and even expanded, the politically sensitive criteria to target conservative groups in January 2012 without approval from their bosses because “they believed the July 2011 criteria were too broad.”
With the threat of jail time hanging over their heads, it's likely the Cinncinnati people will either cough up names or be forced to admit that they were indeed freelancing. Neither outcome changes the fact that the IRS was abusing its power, though if it was a local operation, that obviously limits the political damage for the Obama administration.
If you've ever dreamed of flying in space - and have about $95,000 in mad money stashed away - you've got a ticket to ride.
On May 16, Reason's Brian Doherty talked with XCOR co-founder Doug Jones about the future of spaceflight in the latest Reason webcast streamed live from our Los Angeles studios.
Click above to watch now or click below to go to the full article page, featuring links, downloadable versions of videos, and a full playlist of past Reason TV webcasts featuring the likes of former MTV VJ Kennedy, underground artist Chris Cooper (Art of COOP), Reason Foundation's Adrian Moore, Lisa Snell, and Carl DeMaio, and more.
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Public contracts should always be subjected to stiff scrutiny. Without public scrutiny and oversight, spending other people’s money is too easy.
But a new Assembly bill would not only increase the amount of money California’s public universities and colleges could spend without adhering to the competitive bid process, but would also exempt state employees from felony charges of corruption.
What AB 173 would do is allow colleges to award contracts for goods or services to small businesses or “disabled veteran” businesses for up to $250,000 without having to turn to a bidding process. After the bill made it through a committee, sponsor Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) then amended the bill to exempt University of California employees from the state’s corruption laws in connection with these contract agreements, including the part of the California code that states, “Any officer or employee of the University of California who corruptly performs any official act under this chapter to the injury of the university is guilty of a felony.”
Grimes reported she was unable to get an explanation from Weber’s office for this change. On Wednesday, the bill went before the Assembly Appropriations Committee:
Fortunately this time, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, asked Weber about the amendment, and why it was made. Before Harkey could even complete her question, Weber interjected that she was removing the amendment. “We were asked to include it, as a request,” Weber told the Committee. “It is going to be eliminated.”
But Weber did not say who asked her to put the amendment in AB 173 which would have exempted state college and university employees from corruption prosecution under the California Public Contracts Code.
And as far as Grimes can tell (and I have to agree), the exemption is still in the legislation. It’s even noted in italics in the legislative counsel’s digest.
The House in the State of Illinois approved a four-year pilot program to allow medical marijuana in April. Today it passed the state’s Senate. Now it goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has not yet said whether he’ll sign it or veto it or what. The Associated Press reports:
The proposal has been touted as the strictest in the nation among states that have legalized medical marijuana. It authorizes physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients with whom they have an existing relationship and who has at least one of more than 30 medical conditions listed on the measure.
Lawmakers voted 35-21 to send the measure to the Democratic governor. Quinn has declined to say whether he will support the bill, saying he's "open-minded" on the issue. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, a former prosecutor, said she is in favor after meeting with patients, including veterans.
Quinn truly is one exasperating governor, isn’t he? Does he need to start another web site to get people to tell him what to do?
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Most news stories of police shootings of dogs tend to be reported in a vacuum. Even when reporters interview outraged witnesses and discover that the offending pooches — almost invariably described as "pit bulls" — seem to attack officers lightning-fast, under improbably circumstances, after years of restrained behavior, the shootings are usually treated as isolated incidents. ButScott Noll of KHOU did something a bit different by asking the Houston Police Department how often its officers felt compelled to shoot dogs, and what the outcome was in those cases. The answer? Well, Houston cops shoot a lot of dogs, and they never make mistakes.
In fact, the department said it has ruled all 187 officer-involved shootings of dogs since January 1, 2010 as justified.
According to departmental records, 121 of those dogs died.
HPD declined to talk about the cases on camera, citing a pending lawsuit arising from one of the shootings.
However, a police spokesman said departmental policy authorizes officers to use any force necessary to protect someone in imminent danger of an attack.
But the 11 News I-Team found a trail of heartbroken dog-owners that stretches beyond city limits.
A review of cases from across the Houston-area revealed at least 228 dogs shot by police and deputies since 2010.
Out of that number, 142 dogs died.
All of the cases were justified? KHOU quotes Sgt. Joseph Guerra of the Precinct 6 Constable’s Department expressing a little skepticism of the clean bill of health the department and its neighbors give themselves. “We need to get those officers involved in some mandated training in how to defend before going to deadly force,” says Guerra, who demonstrates non-lethal techniques for distracting dogs.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is officially very down on police justifications for what has been a wave of shootings of dogs in recent years:
Policies that require only that an officer “feel” threatened set a very low threshold for justifying the killing of dogs. In virtually all cases we have examined, internal reviews of dog shootings have ruled them to be justifiable under existing policies, even though several cases have resulted in substantial civil judgments against police departments for wrongful destruction. Such incidents not only jeopardize the lives of companion animals, but also undermine the reputation of law enforcement agencies in the community.
Police rarely receive any training that would allow them to rapidly and realistically assess the degree of danger posed by a dog; nor are they routinely informed about or trained to use any of the wide variety of non-lethal tools and techniques available to them as alternatives to shooting.
And yes, police shootings of dogs have been a sufficient trend to elicit a formal report from the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services last summer. The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters pointed out that "A recent poll revealed that approximately 53.5 percent of owners consider their dogs family members, another 45.1 percent view them as companions or pets, and less than 1.5 percent consider them mere property" on the way to emphasizing that Americans like their dogs and so killing them as a matter of casusl policy upsets people. The report also emphasized that serious dog bites are rare, and no particular breed is especially dangerous, so police have little reason to feel fear out of hand when encountering your average canine. The report even offers some examples for interpreting doggy body language. It ultimately concludes that, dogs being an important part of American life, police might consider taking the time to learn how to deal with them.
Shooting a dog should always be the option of last resort. The safety of fellow officers and bystanders is put at risk in such situations, and when a law enforcement officer shoots a dog that does not constitute a serious threat, community trust is eroded and the department is opened to potential lawsuits and other legal action.
Somebody send a copy of that report to the Houston Police Department.
- Readers who are looking forward to taking a dip in their local public pool this summer may want to reconsider given that the CDC found traces of feces 58 percent of the public pools they tested.
- France’s constitutional high court has upheld legislation passed by both the Senate and the National Assembly that allows gay couples to marry and adopt children.
- Four members of the LulzSec hacking group have been sentenced to between two and two-and-a-half years in prison in England.
- A federal judge has temporarily blocked the enforcement of a new law in Arkansas that bans abortions after 12 weeks of a pregnancy.
- The Air Force chief of staff has recommended removing the authority to prosecute military personnel accused of sexual misconduct from the chain of command.
- Former presidential candidate John Edwards has reactivated his license to practice law. The first step of a potential comeback perhaps.
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David Freddoso makes some sharp points about the unfolding IRS scandal:
Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee focused like a laser on the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision as the true culprit for this targeting. But there are a few problems with this explanation.
First of all, this excuse blames the victims and turns the perpetrator--the IRS--into some kind of victim of their constitutional rights. It's one thing if Democrats don't like what the law or the Constitution or the Supreme Court has to say about free speech--they are welcome to attempt to change it. But that doesn't justify the singling out of conservative groups, who were not given any special status above and beyond their liberal peers. At best, it's a separate issue.
Second, the data show that there was no surge in 501c(4) applications by Spring 2010, around which time the IRS decided to target conservative applicants--in fact, the number of applications declined sharply between fiscal 2009 and 2010. So the idea that a sudden surge of Citizens United-inspired non-profit applications created the need for this extra scrutiny is a completely false one....
Third, the groups that were targeted mostly do not even remotely fit the profile [of] huge "dark money" actors that Democrats associate with Citizens United. The Associated Press studied tax returns for 93 of them only to find that they had little money and were genuinely grassroots groups--their median income (mostly from fundraising) was $16,700 per year, and their median expenses were just $12,770--not even enough for a typical campaign ad buy.
Only a very small number of big players have used 501c(4) money for mass-scale electioneering, and none of them seem to have been targeted.
Read the rest here.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Republicans are using scandals coming out of the White House to undermine President Barack Obama out of "fear," because he is “such a great president.”
“They make so much of these issues, because this president is such a great president,” Pelosi said during a press conference on Capitol Hill, ending a week filled with new revelations about scandals involving the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting conservative groups, and the Justice Department seizing phone records of reporters at the Associated Press.
“He’s a visionary—you’ve heard me say this so many times,” Pelosi said of Obama.
In other words, she can’t hear you.
National Police Misconduct Reporting Project comes word of Jerry Koch, a New York anarchist who may be jailed for doing what most people assume you have a right to do: remaining silent in court. Federal prosecutors want him to testify in the matter of a midnight bombing of a military recruitment center in Manhattan in which nobody was injured. Koch is not a target, but the feds still want to hear from him.Courtesy of the
From the New York Times:
A 24-year-old self-described Brooklyn anarchist may be headed to jail after refusing on Thursday for the second time to testify before a grand jury believed to be examining the explosion of a homemade bomb that damaged an armed-forces recruitment center in Times Square in 2008.
A lawyer for the man, Gerald Koch, said she believed that prosecutors would ask a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan to cite him for contempt during an appearance scheduled for next week, an action that could result in Mr. Koch’s being jailed.
“I anticipate that the government will seek an order from the court holding Jerry in civil contempt,” said the lawyer, Susan V. Tipograph, adding that her client had refused to testify as “a matter of principle” and because “he has no knowledge whatsoever” about the bombing or who caused it.
Ms. Tipograph said Mr. Koch was not a target of the investigation and had been granted immunity.
That grant of immunity is likely the key to the inquisition, since it can be interpreted to make the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination moot. But Koch objects that he's already made it clear in the years since the bombing that he knows nothing, and he believes the feds want to put him on the stand to extract information that's irrelevant to the case, but that piques their interest.
From Jerry Resists:
Given that I publically made clear that I had no knowledge of this alleged event in 2009, the fact that I am being subpoenaed once again suggests that the FBI does not actually believe that I possess any information about the 2008 bombing, but rather that they are engaged in a ‘fishing expedition’ to gain information concerning my personal beliefs and political associations.
Rather than answer questions when last called to court, Koch confirmed his name, age and address. On his Website, he says he thinks prosecutors really want to use the grand jury "to gain information about my friends, loved ones, and activists for whom I have done legal support."
Originally intended to prevent prosecutors — government employees — from wielding their powers arbitrarily, grand juries have instead turned into powerful tools of the state. New York Judge Sol Wachtler famously quipped that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. In 2003, W. Thomas Dillard, Stephen R. Johnson, and Timothy Lynch wrote a cautionary paper (PDF) about grand juries, which were then being further empowered as part of the "war on terror," for the Cato Institute:
While most people are generally familiar with the function of the police officer, the prosecutor, the defense lawyer, the judge, and the trialjury, few have any idea about what the grand jury is supposed to do and its day-to-day operation. That ignorance largely explains how some overreaching prosecutors have been able to pervert the grand jury, whose original purpose was to check prosecutorial power, into an inquisitorial bulldozer that enhances the power of government and now runs roughshod over the constitutional rights of citizens.
Koch is next scheduled to appear at the federal court house at 500 Pearl Street, in New York City, on May 21. He's inviting supporters to pack the venue to witness what will likely be a grand jury doing whatever it's told to do.
playing a significant role in the conflict. Jabhat Al Nusra was labeled as a terrorist organization by the American government six months ago.One of the main reasons that an intervention in Syria has not begun is that politicians, diplomats, and intelligence officials are rightly concerned about the influence of jihadist fighters within Assad’s opposition. One group in particular, Jabhat Al Nusra, has received quite a bit of attention not only because of the jihadist beliefs that motivate its members but also because it has been
As worrying as Jabhat Al Nusra is it has recently been reported that Al Qaeda in Iraq is becoming increasingly involved in the Syrian civil war, and is beginning to overshadowing Jabhat Al Nusra.
It might initially seem that another jihadist group getting more involved in the fight against Assad does not change much. However, it appears that Al Qaeda in Iraq have goals that would have a significant impact on the region if the rebels succeed in overthrowing Assad.
Al Qaeda's Iraq-based wing, which nurtured Nusra in the early stages of the rebellion against Assad, has moved in and sidelined the organization, Nusra sources and other rebels say.
Al Qaeda in Iraq includes thousands of foreign fighters whose ultimate goal is not toppling Assad but the anti-Western jihad of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri - a shift which could extend Syria's conflict well beyond any political accord between Assad and his foes. The fighting has already cost 90,000 lives.
With Assad gone it will be easier for Al Qaeda in Iraq to use Syria and the surrounding region as a base for future operations, which will not only be of concern to Syria’s neighbors (perhaps most notably Israel), but also Europe and the U.S.
The rebels are not the only belligerents in the conflict that have terrorists within their ranks. Hezbollah, which enjoys support from Iran, has been fighting on the side of Assad's regime.
Unfortunately for those that favor humanitarian intervention the conflict in Syria includes unpleasant elements on both sides.
What may happen is that the dilemmas involved in arming the Syrian rebels and the urge to intervene will prompt countries like the U.S., France, and the U.K. to intervene more directly. While the deployment of western troops on the ground in Syria remains unlikely it should not be surprising if some countries decide to execute an operation similar to what was seen in Libya, where a no-fly zone was put in place and NATO members carried out airstrikes.
G.O.P., Energized, Weighs How Far to Take Inquiries
WASHINGTON — The investigations ensnaring the White House have unified the Republican Party, energized a political base shattered by election losses and given common purpose to lawmakers divided over a legislative agenda.
The most pressing question for Congressional Republicans is no longer how to finesse changes to immigration law or gun control, but how far they can push their cases against President Obama without inciting a backlash of the sort that has left them staggering in the past.
White House mired in scandal! Republicans hardest hit!
In case you didn't get the message, check out the NYT's lead editorial:
When politicians want to turn scandals into metaphors, actual details of wrongdoing or incompetence no longer matter. In fact, the details of the troubles swirling around the White House this week are bluntly contradicting Republicans who want to combine them into a seamless narrative of tyrannical government on the rampage.
Exactly who is demonstrating that "actual details of wrongdoing or incompetence no longer matter," again?
A pro-tip for those people who share the NYT worldview: When government screws up and/or abuses power, the most important thing is not the hyperbolic rhetoric of partisans from the opposition party. Particularly if your goal is journalism, or embracing a watchdog role on power, or simply exhibiting a little of the ol' civic duty. Or to put it in language even a media Boomer might understand, just because some Nixon-haters sympathized with the Weather Underground, doesn't mean Richard Milhous didn't grossly abuse power.