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Saturday :: February 21, 2015

ISIS: Pass the Shock, Hold the Awe and Ground Troops

The photo above is from ISIS' latest atrocity video depicting Peshmerga soldiers captured in Kirkuk. They are put in individual cages, driven in a caravan through the streets of Kirkuk which are filled with excited onlookers, and then lined up for execution. The video doesn't actually show their final fate, leaving it to the viewer's imagination. While there is a flash image inserted of the burning Jordanian pilot and another of the beheaded Coptic Christians, all of the ISIS figures appear to be have guns drawn, not knives.

This post is not about them, or the video, but why we shouldn't let our reactions to these propaganda videos -- usally a mix of shock, disgust and fear --lead us into war. [More....]

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Indonesia Says Executions to Proceed Without Delay

Indonesia President Joko Wikodo says there will be no delay in the executions of Bali Nine members Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. Hopes were raised earlier this week when their transfer to the Nusakambangan island prison was delayed.

Boycott Bali. There are beautiful beaches all over the world. Visit the Seychelles, Mauritius, the Maldives or any other country that does not execute non-violent drug offenders. [More...]

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Thursday :: February 19, 2015

Rudy Giuliani Knows All About Love

Rudy Giuliani spoke at a private fundraiser last night. He said President Obama does not love America or Americans.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said Wednesday during a private group dinner in Manhattan, Politico reports. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

That Rudy Giuliani would even venture an opinion about love or how to raise a family is laughable. Ask his ex-wife and his children. More from the New York Times on that here. A blast from the past: This 2006 Salon article profiling Rudy as the authoritarian narcissist. [More....]

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Libya's Mystery Beach and the 21st Victim

Isn't it a little strange that with so much international press coverage of the beheading of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, no one has identified the beach in the video?

Everyone reports the Christians were kidnapped in Sirte. But when it comes to the beach, no one names it. It's mostly described as "a Libyan beach." Some think the beach is in western Libya near Tripoli. Others think it is in Sirte. (The video says Wilayat (province) of Tarabulus, which means Tripoli, but a province could encompass other towns in the region, including Sirte. Still, Sirte is 460 km from Tripoli, almost a 6 hour drive according to google maps.

One person tweeted it is 7 km west of Sirte, based on the lone palm tree in the background here: [More...]

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Wednesday :: February 18, 2015

What Causes Extremism?

I heard part of President Obama's speech on ISIS and extremism while driving today. The part I heard had to do with the causes of extremism. He said poverty, lack of options, and perceptions of mistreatment by those in power are big factors. He was careful to say not all poor youth become extremists, any more than all poor youth become criminals.

I think he was saying that being poor and not seeing any way out, along with feeling mistreated by those in power, makes one vulnerable to extremist ideology. I'd agree with that. [More...]

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Wednesday Open Thread

It's still extremely busy around here. I've been trying to follow events in Libya, as well as some domestic stuff, but I'm just too busy right now to write.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: February 17, 2015

Prosecutor Requests DSK Charges Be Dismissed

The prosecutor in the trial of Dominique Strauss-Kahn has asked that the charges of aggravated procurement be dismissed for lack of evidence. The women involved have dismissed their claims for damages against him.

Lille Prosecutor Frederic Fevre told the judges:

"Did Dominique Strauss-Kahn pay prostitutes? The answer is no. Did he p*mp prostitutes for others? The answer is no,"

The prosecutor originally recommended against the charges, but the investigating magistrate judges overruled him, saying that Strauss-Kahn was a key planner of the parties and knew that the women who attended them were prostitutes. But the evidence at trial failed to show DSK knew they were prostitutes and he testified and denied knowing they were paid. [More...]

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Monday :: February 16, 2015

"What ISIS Really Wants" : A Compelling Read

Graeme Wood has a very long but compelling article in The Atlantic What ISIS Really Wants. It is about ISIS' ideology and methodology. It's too long to hit all the key points, so I will just mention a few.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal. [More....]

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Would a public option have eliminated incentive for King v. Burwell?

There is no public option in the Affordable Care Act. On its own merits, as Wendell Potter explains, that's a shame. But there is another reason why no public option in ACA is a bad thing - if ACA included a public option, the challenge to tax credits and subsidies on the exchange, now before the the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell, would never have existed.

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Sunday :: February 15, 2015

Bali Nine Duo To Be Moved to Death Island

Indonesia has approved the transfer of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the Bali Nine duo scheduled for execution this month, to Nusakambangan, a prison island off central Java, where they will be taken to Batu Prison, known as “Indonesia’s Alcatraz” and then, within days, to a killing field, tied to a wooden cross and killed by a firing squad of police from Indonesia's BRIMOB. They will be shot through the heart (and if they don't die quickly, shot again behind the ear.)[More...]

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Saturday :: February 14, 2015

King v Burwell: Understanding Chevron Deference

In King v Burwell, the Fourth Circuit rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act that argued that the law does not permit subsidies and tax credits on the federal exchange. It did so by invoking what is known as Chevron deference, after the 1984 Supreme Court case of the same name. Here is what the Fourth Circuit opined on that point:

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Valentine's Day Open Thread

From our heart to yours, Happy Valentine's Day.

If you have a romantic event planned, feel free to share. If not, this is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: February 13, 2015

A Challenge To Clinton on Foreign Policy

For all the noise about challenging Hillary Clinton as a "corporatist Wall Street lover" (no, I don't agree with that assessment, but we can have that discussion another time), in the context of the 2016 Dem nomination process, I am hoping for more "noise" challenging Clinton on her foreign policy views. I wrote about this last August in a piece I titled Obama is right, Clinton wrong, on foreign policy. The crux of my thesis:

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Thursday :: February 12, 2015

ISIS Gets Close to Al Asad Airbase and U.S. Marines

Today ISIS took the town of al Baghdadi in Anbar today, which is just a few miles from the Al Asad air base where more than 300 marines and Danish military are staying as part of a six week training course for the Iraqi forces.

There are media reports ISIS is attacking al Asad Air base. Is the air base in danger? First, the base is very large -- it is the size of Boulder, Colorado. It's hard to see how the marines would be "trapped" as some reports claim. Second, the base has been reporting ISIS has been striking it for weeks, but the U.S. says their attacks are too limited and haphazard to cause any real damage.

ISIS is definitely close to the base as the military today said it bombed an ISIS mortar position "near the Al Asad air base." [More...]

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Thursday Open Thread

Busy day. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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