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Archive for September 8th, 2014

Video: NYPD Beats Man for Questioning Search

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Video: NYPD Beats Man for Questioning Search
An officer in New York responded to a noise complaint in the Bronx last month stopped and searched Santiago Hernandez. Hernandez said that when he questioned the reason he was searched, he was arrested and then beaten by half a dozen officers with nightsticks. The charges against him were subsequently dropped and newly revealed video raises the question of whether the charges were ever legitimate. “She just was telling me to put my hands behind my back, but ‘I’m like trying to understand what are you are arresting me for. Can you please tell me?'” he told TV station ABC7. “I’m a person to ask questions. If I didn’t do nothing wrong, I’m trying to understand the reason, what they are thinking of me, or what was the reason at all to arrest me.”


Marine, Iraq vet aims to oust House Democrat

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Marine, Iraq vet aims to oust House Democrat
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nine-term Democratic Rep. John Tierney is a political survivor, but he’s facing his toughest primary test Tuesday.


Bill Clinton: George W. Bush “benefited from being underestimated”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Bill Clinton: George W. Bush “benefited from being underestimated”
The two former presidents traded praise about their respective leadership styles while helping to launch a new presidential scholars program in Washington, D.C.

Will Congress avoid another government shutdown?
This close to the midterm elections, a shutdown would cause political pain for both parties, experts say

Democrat: Obama should have been harsher on ISIS for dead Americans
Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger says it was a “mistake” not to condemn the militants more severely


Downplaying Republican Obstructionism, CNN Suggests Obama Is To Blame On Immigration Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Downplaying Republican Obstructionism, CNN Suggests Obama Is To Blame On Immigration Reform

CNN’s Candy Crowley and John King portrayed President Obama as having failed to generate significant progress on immigration reform because the White House has said that it will delay executive action on the issue until after the midterm elections. But this analysis ignores the reality that House Republicans refused to vote on a bipartisan Senate immigration bill and threatened to impeach Obama over plans to take executive action on immigration.

House Republicans Refused To Act On Immigration, So Obama Said He Would Take Executive Action

Senate Passed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill With Bipartisan Support. In 2013, the Senate passed an immigration bill that included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as the Huffington Post reported:

The Senate passed a politically fraught immigration reform bill on Thursday that would give a path to citizenship to some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., bringing them out of the shadows and preventing continued record deportations that have separated hundreds of thousands of families.

The bill passed 68 to 32, picking up all Democrats and 14 Republicans. [Huffington Post, 6/27/13]

After House Speaker Refused To Act On Senate-Passed Bill For A Year, Obama Said He Would Take Executive Action. In June, Obama announced that House Speaker John Boehner had informed him that House Republicans would not hold a vote on immigration reform, and because of that, he would take executive action:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: [F]or more than a year, Republicans in the House of Representatives have refused to allow an up-or-down vote on that Senate bill or any legislation to fix our broken immigration system. And I held off on pressuring them for a long time to give Speaker Boehner the space he needed to get his fellow Republicans on board. 

[…]

I believe Speaker Boehner when he says he wants to pass an immigration bill. I think he genuinely wants to get something done. But last week, he informed me that Republicans will continue to block a vote on immigration reform at least for the remainder of this year. Some in the House Republican Caucus are using the situation with unaccompanied children as their newest excuse to do nothing. Now, I want everybody to think about that. Their argument seems to be that because the system is broken, we shouldn’t make an effort to fix it. It makes no sense. It’s not on the level. It’s just politics, plain and simple.

I don’t prefer taking administrative action. I’d rather see permanent fixes to the issue we face. Certainly that’s true on immigration. I’ve made that clear multiple times. I would love nothing more than bipartisan legislation to pass the House, the Senate, land on my desk so I can sign it. That’s true about immigration, that’s true about the minimum wage, it’s true about equal pay. There are a whole bunch of things where I would greatly prefer Congress actually do something. I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing. And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future. 

So while I will continue to push House Republicans to drop the excuses and act — and I hope their constituents will too — America cannot wait forever for them to act. And that’s why, today, I’m beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress. [WhiteHouse.gov, 6/30/14 (emphasis added)]

Immigration Reform Had Broad Public Support When Obama Announced Executive Action. In June, The Washington Post reported on a study from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution which found that a majority of Americans surveyed supported a legal pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the country:

The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, found that 62 percent of Americans favor allowing illegal immigrants a way to become citizens, compared with 63 percent a year ago. An additional 17 percent said in the new poll that illegal immigrants should be able to become legal residents but not full citizens. Nineteen percent said they should be deported. [The Washington Post6/10/14]

Republicans Threatened Impeachment Over Possible Executive Action

USA Today: Rep. Steve King Said House GOP Should Consider Impeachment If Obama Takes Executive Action On Immigration. USA Today reported that in August, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said House Republicans should consider impeaching Obama if he issues an executive order on deferred action on undocumented immigrants.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, helped inspire a new round of chatter Sunday by saying that House Republicans should consider impeachment if President Obama issues an executive order that defers deportation of millions of people already in the country illegally.

“None of us want to do the thing that’s left for us as an alternative,” King said on Fox News Sunday. “But if the president has decided that he simply is not going to enforce any immigration law … I think Congress has to sit down and have a serious look at the rest of this Constitution and that includes that “I” word that we don’t want to say.” [USA Today,8/4/14]

LA Times: White House Aide: Republicans Might Seek To Impeach Obama If He Takes Executive Action on Immigration. The Los Angeles Times reported in July that White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters Obama’s proposal to take “broad-ranging executive action” on immigration could lead Republicans to call for impeachment:

That move is certain to “increase the angry reaction from Republicans” who already accuse Obama of exceeding his executive authority, Pfeiffer said, highlighting recent statements by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in which she backed an impeachment move.

“I would not discount the possibility” that Republicans would seek to impeach Obama, he said, adding that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has “opened the door to impeachment” by his plans to sue Obama for allegedly exceeding his executive authority. [Los Angeles Times7/25/14]

In Turn, Obama Announced He Would Delay Executive Action On Immigration

Obama Delayed Executive Action Until After 2014 Midterm Elections. On September 6, the White House announced that given “Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue,” any executive action on immigration reform would be delayed until after the 2014 midterm elections. As administration officials explained in an email to The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent, “the President believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections. Because he wants to do this in a way that’s sustainable, the President will take action on immigration before the end of the year.” [The Washington Post, Plum Line, 9/6/14]

Nevertheless, CNN Framed Obama As Being At Fault For Lack Of Action On Immigration Reform

State Of The Union‘s Crowley Wondered If Obama Would “Cooperate With Congress And Come Up With An Immigration Bill.” On the September 7 edition of CNN’s State Of The Union, host Candy Crowley asked  Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, whether the delay meant Obama might work with Congress to “come up with an immigration bill,” despite the fact that Obama supports the bipartisan Senate bill, which Boehner refuses to hold a vote on (emphasis added):

CROWLEY: So the president has delayed this executive order that he indicated in June would happen at the end of the summer. Why’d he do that?

ROGERS: Well, I think he’s being prudent about it. When you look at a) this is such an emotional issue all across America, I think that was wise. He needs to work with Congress on this. It’s not just about the immigration problem of the illegals who are in the United States and what their status might be. That southern border has become a national security issue, a public health issue for the United States, and certainly a local security issue. All of those thing, I think, need to be addressed. The best way to do that  is do it in a cooperate effort with Congress. I think you’ll get a much better product, a secure border ,and we can move forward.

CROWLEY: Let me just intervene here and tell you that the president says he’s going to do this executive action right after the midterms. So, you don’t see this as a political action on the president’s part? You think it means he’s going to cooperate with Congress and come up with an immigration bill?

ROGERS: Well, I clearly think that it’s political, in the sense that he understands how unpopular that decision would be with Americans. And it’s probably not the right decision — as a matter of fact, not probably, it isn’t and would not be the right decision for him to do that. I hope he doesn’t do it after the election. I think at least he postponed it at this point. Again, people rushing to do this, there are lots of implications here for national security, local security, public health security, costs of education. [CNN, State Of The Union9/7/14]

Inside Politics’ King Suggested Obama Is Playing Politics And Failing Latino Community By Delaying Executive Action. On the September 7 edition of CNN’s Inside Politics, host John King said (emphasis added):

KING: We know this morning that President Obama’s “soon” means after the November elections. Trying to protect the Democratic majority in the Senate now trumps taking executive action on immigration, despite the president’s own repeated promises to do so and his repeated assertion that every day that passed without action was bad for America’s security and bad for its economy.

[…]

[H]ow could it be that in June he was adamant he would act, that he promised the Latino community he could act. Just Friday, he had to know he wasn’t going to act but he says “soon.” Now they say after the elections, and the president says, “Oh, no, no, no, it’s not about protecting the Democratic majority, it’s the American people need more time to understand this.” 

[…]

And so what do the Republicans do now? They secretly wanted the president to act, even though they said it would be unconstitutional, they said it would be an overreach, they wanted him to act so that they could fire up their base.

[…]

You would think, if you study demographics, if you look at the last two presidential elections, you might think Republicans would say, ‘What an opening the president has given us, that he has decided not to act.’ Why don’t we step forward and tell this very disappointed, disgruntled, angry Latino community, ‘Look at us. Look what we’ll do.’ But they don’t want to touch this either. [CNN, Inside Politics9/7/14]


Bombs, Boots and Bluster Won’t Work

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Bombs, Boots and Bluster Won’t Work
Eugene Robinson, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — President Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State may be hard to pin down — maddeningly so, some complain — but it is likely to work far better than anything his bellicose critics advocate. Perhaps the president will eliminate any confusion when he addresses the nation Wednesday, but I doubt it. Based on what he told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” there may be no way to reduce Obama’s fluid and perhaps deliberately ambiguous thinking to a black-or-white, all-or-nothing dichotomy. “This is not going to be an announcement about U.S. ground troops. This is not the…

Success or Failure?
Thomas Sowell, RealClearPolitics
Those people who say that President Obama has no clear vision and no clear strategy for dealing with the ISIS terrorists in the Middle East may be mistaken. It seems to me that he has a very clear and very consistent strategy. And a vision behind that strategy. First the strategy — which is to get each crisis off the front pages and off television news programs as quickly as he can, in whatever way he can, at the lowest political cost. Calling ISIS a junior varsity months ago accomplished that goal. Saying before the 2012 elections that “bin Laden is dead” and that terrorism was defeated…

Time for an All-Out Attack on ISIS, Says Kissinger
Toby Harnden, RealClearPolitics
NEW YORK — If there were any doubts about whether Henry Kissinger, at the age of 91 and having undergone heart surgery in July, has kept his edge, he dispatches them almost as soon as he sinks into a sofa in his high-rise corner office in midtown Manhattan. News that a second American journalist has been beheaded in Syria has just broken. But the former US secretary of state — who helped to bring the Vietnam War to an end, initiated a rapprochement with China and led the policy of detente with the Soviet Union — is already clear about what should be done. “We should launch…

Will Justice Do Justice in Ferguson?
Mona Charen, RealClearPolitics
It has been over a month since Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo., and we have yet to hear the police officer’s version of events. Was Officer Darren Wilson badly injured in his scuffle with Brown? Did Brown attempt to seize the officer’s weapon? Did Wilson have reason to fear for his own life? None of these answers has been forthcoming, which is odd and, frankly, suspicious. There are many possible explanations for the tragic death of Brown ranging from justifiable self-defense by Wilson to bad judgment by both parties and all the way to racially motivated murder. But the…


Rotherham chief quits over abuse

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Rotherham chief quits over abuse
The chief executive of Rotherham Council is to step down following a report exposing the scale of child sexual exploitation in the town.

Urgent debate call over council cuts
Council leaders sign a joint letter calling for an urgent debate on budget cuts, claiming the country faces a “growing financial crisis”.

Boost adult basic skills, urge MPs
The adults who struggle most with literacy and numeracy are not getting the help they need, say MPs.


Senate moves forward with amendment to the Constitution on elections

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Senate moves forward with amendment to the Constitution on elections
The amendment on campaign finance spending is almost certain to fail.


U.S. Delegation Is to Visit Moscow to Review Claims of a Missile Violation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

U.S. Delegation Is to Visit Moscow to Review Claims of a Missile Violation
United States officials believe Russia may have tested a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the 1987 Soviet-American treaty.



Brushing Off Threats, E.U. Votes to Toughen Its Sanctions on Russia
European leaders on Monday endorsed an expansion of economic sanctions against Russia, but backed off putting the new measures into effect immediately.



Zumpango Journal: They Built It. People Came. Now They Go.
A government program to solve Mexico’s chronic housing shortage produced huge developments without jobs or supporting services, forcing thousands of new owners to abandon their homes.



Iraqi Lawmakers Approve Cabinet, as New Premier Pledges an Inclusive Government
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi leads a government with two security posts not filled, which could lead to a political debate.



Obama Hosts Foreign Policy Experts, Laying Groundwork for Speech on ISIS
The president invited opinion makers to a dinner, where he spoke about his plans for confronting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.




REPORT: Peacekeepers Sexually Exploited And Abused Women And Girls In Somalia

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

REPORT: Peacekeepers Sexually Exploited And Abused Women And Girls In Somalia

An alarming Human Rights Watch report details acts of sexual violence by African troops who are meant to protect the very women and girls they’re abusing.

The post REPORT: Peacekeepers Sexually Exploited And Abused Women And Girls In Somalia appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Somalia Violence

CREDIT: AP Images

Multiple women and girls were sexually abused and exploited by United Nations-backed troops with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), according to a new Human Rights Watch report issued Monday morning.

HRW found 21 cases of “sexual exploitation and abuse” by AMISOM soldiers between 2013 and 2014 alone, including instances of gang rape. Most acts of sexual violence occurred when women and girls sought out “medicine or humanitarian services” at an AMISOM base in Mogadishu staffed by soldiers from Burundi. In many instances, soldiers offered food or money to make sexual encounters appear transactional, and all of the attacks happened when Somali intermediaries, acting as interpreters, brought girls to base camps or camp hospitals for soldiers stationed there:

In January 2014, Ayanna S., a displaced person, went to the Burundian X-Control base on a Monday to get medicine for her sick baby. A Somali interpreter working at the base told her to come back alone without her baby. When she returned the next day that the outpatient clinic was opened to the public, the same Somali man called her and three other young women over to a fenced area next to some sandbags. There, six uniformed Burundian men were waiting. Ayanna S. said the soldiers held them at gunpoint, dragged them into a bunker area, and threatened them. The Burundian soldiers then beat and raped the women, badly injuring one.

AMISOM first began its mission in Somalia in 2007, when the African Union Peace and Security Council sent a peacekeeping force consisting of troops from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Djibouti, and Sierra Leone. Its presence has grown tremendously over the past seven years as its role has shifted from helping push back against a group known as the Islamic Courts Union, which controlled parts of the country, to countering the threat from al-Shabaab. The terrorist group, which has declared its allegiance to al-Qaeda, has waned and ebbed in the amount of territory it controls, but continues to launch attacks into neighboring Kenya, as well as detonating suicide bombs and coordinating assaults against Somali government institutions and civilians.

The peacekeepers assigned to care for the civilian population aren’t alone in taking advantage of the chaotic situation on the ground in Somalia. Gender-based violence is a prevalent issue throughout Somalia, where women and girls are frequently attacked by state-backed security forces that “sexually assault, rape, beat, shoot, and stab” those in and around displacement camps. A substantial portion of the 369,000 displaced persons in the capital city of Mogadishu, the primary focus of the latest HRW report, are women and girls. Broken community structures, families, and patriarchal values render women and girls particularly susceptible to violence, HRW has argued.

AMISOM soldiers are legally prohibited from committing sexually exploitative or abuse acts, according to the African Union Commission Code of Conduct. But according to reports from on the ground, women and girls having sex with soldiers in exchange for goods is widespread. Oftentimes, they do so in order to provide for their families in the displacement camps.

The presence of Somalis in refugee and displacement camps has been prevalent since 1991, when the country’s president, Siad Barre, was overthrown. The resulting civil war and rise of competing warlords plunged the nation into a failed-state status that it is only just beginning to emerge from. In 2012, an internationally approved formal parliament was established, and countries like the United States have finally begun to send diplomatic support back into Mogadishu. But the havoc wreaked on Somali citizens in the period of lawlessness and chaos, during which Somalis suffered from famine, natural disasters, and large-scale violence, displaced citizens and led to one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world — one which continues today.

Update

The African Union released a response to HRW’s report, claiming the “allegations will be thoroughly investigated, and appropriate measures will be taken if they are found to be true, through the relevant mechanisms that have been developed by the AU to prevent and respond to issues of misconduct and abuse in peace support operations, in accordance with the AU’s zero-tolerance policy on this matter.” The AU also pushed back on what it referred to as the “imbalance, inaccuracies and partial view” contained in the report and emphasized the reforms already put into place to prevent soldier’s misconduct in the field.

The post REPORT: Peacekeepers Sexually Exploited And Abused Women And Girls In Somalia appeared first on ThinkProgress.


The Revictimizing of Janay Rice

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 8th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Revictimizing of Janay Rice
From: Dave Zirin

The lack of concern for Janay Rice now that the video of Ray Rice knocking her unconscious has been released is truly troubling.

Hate To Say We Told You So: NATO Expansion Edition
From: Back Issues

The whole spat between Russia and the West could easily have been avoided.

Will Congress Finally Put a Dent in the $4.3 Billion in Surplus Military Equipment Going to Police Departments?
From: Zoë Carpenter

Senator Claire McCaskill will convene a hearing on Tuesday before a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee.

Why Immigration Reform Has to Go Hand-in-Hand With Stronger Labor Rights
From: Michelle Chen

The workers awaiting immigration reform need the ability to work legally, but they also need to be empowered at work.