Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rep. Sander Levin backs Iran Accord

One Congressman’s Iran

Chief Justice Bev Lake and the Search for Justice

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Meet David Bruck's Defender // The Marshall Project

David Bruck - an exemplary lawyer. -gwc

Meet Dylann Roof’s Defender | The Marshall Project

Representing an avowed racist, a champion of racial justice.

Officials in Washington and South Carolina are still figuring out who will try Dylann Roof first for the Charleston church shooting on June 17. Local prosecutors quickly brought capital murder charges against the self-proclaimed white supremacist, and the Justice Department announced last week that it would bring a broad capital case against Roof centered around the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the federal hate crime law.

The South Carolina case likely will go to trial first — the feds typically defer to local prosecutors except when terror-related charges are involved (and, pointedly, none were brought against Roof). But with this case, the federal trial judge and the first-chair federal defense attorney have already been determined. David Bruck, a 66-year-old, Canadian-born capital expert, who graduated from the University of South Carolina law school, will return to the Palmetto State to tackle yet another challenging assignment representing a high-profile defendant.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cop/Law Prof: Sandra Bland's Arrest Lawful But Not Good Policing


Cop Expert: Why Sandra Bland's Arrest Was Legal But Not Good Policing

by Prof. Seth Stoughton

As the video of Sandra Bland’s arrest makes its way into homes and offices around the country, people are aghast that the failure to use a turn signal led to a woman’s arrest and, ultimately, her death by what officials have identified as suicide. People want to know if the officer’s actions—asking that Bland put out her cigarette and demanding that she step out of her car—were legal. But that’s the wrong question. Instead, we should be asking whether it was good policing.

As a former police officer, and now as a legal scholar who studies policing, I know the law is not a moral compass. An officer’s actions can be entirely lawful, and yet fail to meet the high standards that we should expect from our law enforcement professionals, our community guardians. When we focus on whether the police acted lawfully, we are missing the chance to ask whether they acted appropriately. As I watch the dash camera video of the traffic stop, I can’t help but think of the distinction between lawful policing and rightful policing.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Shifting Vaccination Politics — The End of Personal-Belief Exemptions in California — NEJM

Shifting Vaccination Politics — The End of Personal-Belief Exemptions in California — NEJM
by Michelle Mello, David Studdert, Wendy Parmet

It's not often that California, West Virginia, and Mississippi are politically aligned, but that unlikely trio formed on June 25, 2015, when California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 277, substantially narrowing exceptions to school-entry vaccination mandates. With that law, California becomes the third state to disallow exemptions based on both religious and philosophical beliefs; only medical exemptions remain. The move represents a stunning victory for public health that affects not only California schoolchildren but also the prospects for strengthening vaccination requirements nationwide.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Samuel Alito - Conversations with Bill Kristol

It's a very slippery slope....
Samuel Alito on Conversations with Bill Kristol

ISIS Transforming Into Functioning State That Uses Terror as Tool - The New York Times

ISIS police cars
The vacuity of American rhetoric about ISIS grows more apparent every day.  The disutility of terrorist as an adjective ever plainer.  The Islamic State is, in fact, a state, as I discussed HERE.  It is Poli Sci 101.  They control territory.  They have law.  They have a treasury and an army - a good one, in fact.  If war is the continuation of politics by other means then we must not neglect the politics.  What is their appeal?  Objectives? Can they be defeated?  Contained? How? By whom?  Why?

Certainly not by the tribe we installed in Baghdad.  But maybe by their friends in Iran to whom we gave the gift of dislodging Saddam Hussein.  Maybe it is just time to admit that we decisively tilted to Iran in 2003.  Now that Iran has backed off its nuclear ambitions useful open alliances can be attempted.  - gwc
ISIS Transforming Into Functioning State That Uses Terror as Tool - The New York Times
by Tim Arango
ISTANBUL — The Islamic State uses terror to force obedience and frighten enemies. It has seized territory, destroyed antiquities, slaughtered minorities, forced women into sexual slavery and turned children into killers.
But its officials are apparently resistant to bribes, and in that way, at least, it has outdone the corrupt Syrian and Iraqi governments it routed, residents and experts say.
“You can travel from Raqqa to Mosul and no one will dare to stop you even if you carry $1 million,” said Bilal, who lives in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, and insisted out of fear on being identified only by his first name. “No one would dare to take even one dollar.”
Keep reading

Update on the contraception coverage regulations and litigation Lederman // Balkinization:

This is a long, thorough update on post `Hobby Lobby' regulations and cases. - gwc
Balkinization: Update on the contraception coverage regulations and litigation
by Marty Lederman

It's been almost a year since my last series of posts on the fallout from Hobby Lobby--in particular, on the challenges by nonprofit organizations to the government's augmented religious accommodation. (See my posts of July 18, July 24 and August 22 at this link.)

A lot has happened since then, and further Supreme Court review is now a distinct possibility (although hardly inevitable). And so, here's a post devoted to catching up, in three parts. First, a quick note on the government's new final rules regarding the religious accommodation (including its extension to some for-profit employers such as Hobby Lobby, Inc.). Second, a summary of the courts of appeals' treatment of the nonprofit challenges. And third, I'll discuss the handful of cert. petitions that already have been filed in the nonprofit cases--with particular emphasis on the theories of complicity that those petitions allege in support of the argument that the accommodation imposes a "substantial burden" on the plaintiffs' religious exercise.

Before getting to all of that, here's one other noteworthy development: In October, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study indicating that teenagers' cost-free access to long-acting, reversible contraceptive methods, including intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, can have a dramatic impact on the rates of unwanted pregnancies, births and abortions.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Netanyahu's Triumph // Josh Marshall // Talking Points Memo

Israel is a tribal state.  It is a democracy for Jews.  Nothing unites tribes like fear of the other.  In the case of Israel that fear could be called post-Holocaust stress disorder.  Benjamin Netanyahu has mobilized the country around that fear.  I think he has set the country on the road to further isolation.  But he dominates the discourse there.  We and they will be paying the price for that for years to come. - gwc

Netanyahu's Epic Triumph
by Josh Marshall

I don't doubt that Netanyahu believes what he says about the Iran deal, though I think the intensity of the reaction is about fears about the U.S. role in the Middle East more than a possible Iranian nuclear weapon. However that may be, Netanyahu is a fundamentally political animal. He's a man of the Israeli political right certainly. But he's a political survivor and defender of his own hold on power more than anything. And it's not just his personal hold on power.

Netanyahu stumbled back into power bruised and brutalized this spring. Yes, his party had staged a massive come-from-behind victory. But when it came to forming a government, he had the narrowest of majorities with only a single center-right party to leaven the hard right coalition he formed. His standing was sullied internationally and even among some domestic supporters because of the nature of his victory. Now he has the entire political nation to the right of the MKs from the Arab Parties united behind him on this issue. That doesn't just make his own personal longevity in office look longer, it also signals a continuing governing majority for the rejectionism that he has embodied and which has served Israel so poorly in recent years.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Confederate General’s Final Stand Divides Memphis - The New York Times

In 1905 - one of the darkest post Civil War periods for African Americans - the white citizens of Memphis created a park, re-interred the remains, and commissioned a heroic statute of the slave trader and Confederate general Nathan Forrest.  In 2013 Tennessee created a law prohibiting changes in historical monuments.  Now the City Council of Memphis has asked the Historical Commission for permission to remove Forest's remains and the statue.  Seems only fair.  But isn't the statue important historical evidence of the deeply racist history of Tennessee?
The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis marks the spot where Rev. Martin Luther King was murdered.  But that is a Black initiative.  What Tennessee needs - and America needs - is for white people to acknowledge the African American experience and practice humility.  - gwc
A Confederate General’s Final Stand Divides Memphis - The New York Times
by Emily Yellin
MEMPHIS — What people see when they look up at the towering statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in a park near downtown Memphis usually depends on their deepest beliefs, their memories, their loyalties and maybe even their DNA.
Many see a Memphis slave trader, the original grand wizard of theKu Klux Klan and a war criminal who led a gruesome Confederate massacre of surrendered black and white Union troops at nearby Fort Pillow in 1864.
Others see a gallant but misunderstood Civil War general, a military genius and a hero who made a speech calling for racial reconciliation in 1875. And some passers-by have little or no idea who the guy on the horse is, and do not much care.

But this month, the Memphis City Council voted unanimously to begin an intricate process of removing the brass statue from the park — along with the remains of Forrest and his wife, encased since 1905 in its marble base. This effort joins a national wave of casting off Confederate icons since the massacre last month at a church in Charleston, S.C.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Obama on the Hoofbeats of History

In a momentous week the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage nationwide, turned back an attack on the Affordable Care Act, and the massacre at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston changed the national conversation about race.  Josh Marshall captures the importance of the events. - gwc

Obama on the Hoofbeats of History

by Josh Marshall //Talking Points Memo

We all remember that week last month when the country seemed to be marching with history. The Court upheld the Affordable Care Act against what is likely its last serious legal challenge, effectively embedding it deeply into the structure of American social policy. The Court then (in what was unfortunately a weakly argued majority decision) made marriage equality the law of the land nationwide. Then on the heels of these events came the President's speech (transcript here) in Charleston, South Carolina - actually a eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims of the Emmanuel Church massacre on June 17 but in fact a commemoration and meditation on the meaning of the whole event. (James Fallows' is one of the best appreciations and treatmentsof it.)

It was a momentous week. I had wanted to write something about it at the time. But I couldn't quite form my views on it. It seemed more like something to take in than to talk about. In one short string of events so much of the President's legacy which had been up for grabs, contingent and uncertain, was suddenly confirmed and driven home in ways that allowed little doubt. Not all of these wins were Obama's of course. He did not even support marriage equality in 2008 let alone run on it. The Court's decision and the sea change in public opinion which made it possible and perhaps inevitable were the products of decades of activism stretching back into years when no one had ever even heard the President's name. But we're talking here not about a single person or political leader but of the aspirations of those who elected him. And judged through this prism, the rush of events in late June come together as a unified picture.

President Obama goes where none have gone before him: a federal prison

Unlike Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, Barack Obama did not sing.  But he was the first President to visit a federal prison.  - gwc

Obama, in Oklahoma, Takes Reform Message to the Prison Cell Block - The New York Times

by Peter Baker

EL RENO, Okla. — They opened the door to Cell 123, and President Obama stared inside. In the space of 9 feet by 10 feet, he saw three bunks, a toilet with no seat, a night table with books, a small sink, prison clothes on a hook, some metal cabinets and the life he might have had.
In becoming the first occupant of his high office to visit a federal correctional facility, Mr. Obama could not help reflecting on what might have been. After all, as a young man, he smoked marijuana and tried cocaine. But he did not end up with a prison term lasting decades like some of the men who have occupied Cell 123.
As it turns out, Mr. Obama noted, there is a fine line between president and prisoner. “There but for the grace of God,” he said somberly after his tour. “And that, I think, is something that we all have to think about.”

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Door to Iran Opens - Roger Cohen // The New York Times

The Door to Iran Opens - The New York Times
by Roger Cohen
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel calls it a “historic mistake” that permits Iran “a sure path to nuclear weapons.” A minister in his government, unable to resist outrageous hyperbole, calls it “one of the darkest days in world history.” Jeb Bush, doing the tired Chamberlain-Obama number, dismisses it as “appeasement.”
So what do the critics, from Republican presidential hopefuls to the Israeli government, seek in place of the deal with Iran that verifiably blocks Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapon for at least the next 10 to 15 years? Presumably, they want what would have happened if negotiations had collapsed. That would be renewed war talk as an unconstrained Iran installs sophisticated centrifuges, its stockpile of enriched uranium grows, Russia and China abandon the sanctions regime, moderates in Iran like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are sidelined, and a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic draws closer.
To favor such peril, when a constructive alternative exists that engages one of the most highly educated societies in the Middle East, amounts to foolishness dressed up as machismo.

Why Israel's Military Supports Iran Deal — Despite Bibi's Bluster - Opinion –

Why Israel's Military Supports Iran Deal — Despite Bibi's Bluster - Opinion –
J.J. Goldberg //

There is no ideal world, and there are no ideal agreements,” says Ami Ayalon, a former director of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service. “And let me add that there is no ideal Middle East.”
Given the imperfections in the world at large and the Middle East in particular, the imperfect nuclear agreement that was concluded with Iran this week in Vienna is “the best possible alternative from Israel’s point of view, given the other available alternatives,” Ayalon told me in a telephone interview. He finds the agreement “hard to defend,” but he defends it anyway.
His views are worth listening to because they represent the mainstream of Israel’s security establishment. A decorated commando, onetime commander of Israel’s navy, former cabinet minister and sometime peace activist, he’s often been a bellwether, staking out positions early on that other security chiefs are thinking but haven’t yet said.
And precisely because his views on the nuclear agreement are so at odds with those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s important to listen and find out what the mainstream Israeli defense professionals — in and out of uniform — are thinking right now.

Read more:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Getting tough" Myths on The Iran Nuclear Deal//Josh Marshall //Talking Points Memo

More Thoughts on The Iran Nuclear Deal
by Josh Marshall

As Brendan Gilfillian observes here at TPM...

"The uncomfortable (and unpopular) subtext of many opponents’ public statements is clear: Despite the immense amount of blood and treasure spent in Iraq, some have still not learned the lesson that wars in the Middle East fought in the name of nuclear non-proliferation are best avoided if there is a better option."
Most of the critiques of the President's diplomacy come down to a reemergence of "Romney Strength" from the 2012 election. Why won't jihadists attack our consulates and diplomatic compounds under Mitt Romney? Because of Romney Strength. He's just a strong guy and they'll see his strength and so they'll fall in line. In part this is just wishful thinking, the privilege of not being in the White House: you can paint your alternative canvas on a totally blank canvas. The sky is the limit. But it's also a worldview: with enough certainty, force and perseverance, America can always get what it wants. It can dictate outcomes.

That really is the mindset that got us the Iraq War. It's the mindset that wanted us to "roll back" communism in Eastern Europe rather than opt for containment. It's the mindset that dictates endless future wars in the Middle East, what President Obama was elected to end and is trying to pull the country back from.

Obama, at NAACP, highlights harshness, racial disparities in criminal justice

For many years `lockemup and throwawaythekey' was the refrain of everyone who sought electoral office.  There has been a shift - left and right - as we realize the tragedy we have created: the world's most punitive society.  Being one of the most racist societies in history has created a culture that generates violence and perpetrates it, that creates a harsh attitude toward criminal justice.  Barack Obama, the first President to visit a prison(!) discusses the issues at the NAACP annual meeting. - gwc
Remarks by the President at the NAACP Conference |
***And the good news -- and this is truly good news -- is that good people of all political persuasions are starting to think we need to do something about this.

So let’s look at the statistics. The United States is home to 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Think about that. Our incarceration rate is four times higher than China’s. We keep more people behind bars than the top 35 European countries combined. And it hasn’t always been the case -- this huge explosion in incarceration rates. In 1980, there were 500,000 people behind bars in America -- half a million people in 1980. I was in college in 1980. Many of you were not born in 1980 -- that’s okay. (Laughter.) I remember 1980 -- 500,000. Today there are 2.2 million. It has quadrupled since 1980. Our prison population has doubled in the last two decades alone.

Now, we need to be honest. There are a lot of folks who belong in prison. (Applause.) If we’re going to deal with this problem and the inequities involved then we also have to speak honestly. There are some folks who need to be in jail. They may have had terrible things happen to them in their lives. We hold out the hope for redemption, but they’ve done some bad things.
Murderers, predators, rapists, gang leaders, drug kingpins -- we need some of those folks behind bars. Our communities are safer, thanks to brave police officers and hardworking prosecutors who put those violent criminals in jail. (Applause.)

And the studies show that up to a certain point, tougher prosecutors and stiffer sentences for these violent offenders contributed to the decline in violent crime over the last few decades. Although the science also indicates that you get a point of diminishing returns. But it is important for us to recognize that violence in our communities is serious and that historically, in fact, the African American community oftentimes was under-policed rather than over-policed. Folks were very interested in containing the African American community so it couldn’t leave segregated areas, but within those areas there wasn’t enough police presence.

But here’s the thing: Over the last few decades, we’ve also locked up more and more nonviolent drug offenders than ever before, for longer than ever before. (Applause.) And that is the real reason our prison population is so high. In far too many cases, the punishment simply does not fit the crime. (Applause.) If you’re a low-level drug dealer, or you violate your parole, you owe some debt to society. You have to be held accountable and make amends. But you don’t owe 20 years. You don’t owe a life sentence. (Applause.) That's disproportionate to the price that should be paid.

And by the way, the taxpayers are picking up the tab for that price. (Applause.) Every year, we spend $80 billion to keep folks incarcerated -- $80 billion. Now, just to put that in perspective, for $80 billion, we could have universal preschool for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old in America. (Applause.) That's what $80 billion buys. (Applause.) For $80 billion, we could double the salary of every high school teacher in America. (Applause.) For $80 billion, we could finance new roads and new bridges and new airports, job training programs, research and development. (Applause.) We're about to get in a big budget debate in Washington -- what I couldn’t do with $80 billion. (Laughter.) It’s a lot of money. For what we spend to keep everyone locked up for one year, we could eliminate tuition at every single one of our public colleges and universities. (Applause.)

As Republican Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul has said -- (laughter) -- no, and to his credit, he’s been consistent on this issue -- imprisoning large numbers of nonviolent drug offenders for long periods of time, “costs the taxpayers money, without making them any safer.”

U.S. Program Will Connect Public Housing Residents to Web - The New York Times

Why doesn't everyone have and email address ending in@usps,com?
We have a constitutional right to postal service: the United States took on that duty. In June 1788, the ninth state ratified the Constitution, which gave Congress the power “To establish Post Offices and post Roads” in Article I, Section 8. A year later, the Act of September 22, 1789 (1 Stat. 70), continued the Post Office and made the Postmaster General subject to the direction of the President. Four days later, President Washington appointed Samuel Osgood as the first Postmaster General under the Constitution. A population of almost four million was served by 75 Post Offices and about 2,400 miles of post roads.

The Post Office received two one-year extensions by the Acts of August 4, 1790 (1 Stat. 178), and March 3, 1791 (1 Stat. 218). The Act of February 20, 1792 (1 Stat. 232), continued the Post Office for another two years and formally admitted newspapers to the mails, gave Congress the power to establish post routes, and prohibited postal officials from opening letters. Later legislation enlarged the duties of the Post Office, strengthened and unified its organization, and provided rules for its development. The Act of May 8, 1794 (1 Stat. 354), continued the Post Office indefinitely.
U.S. Program Will Connect Public Housing Residents to Web - The New York Times
The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a program to connect thousands of public housing residents across the nation to the Internet at low prices or free, part of a broader effort to close the so-called digital divide and help low-income Americans succeed in a technology-driven society.
Appearing at a school in Durant, Okla., in the heart of the Choctaw Nation, where 32 percent of children live in poverty, Mr. Obama said it was unacceptable for young people not to have access to the same technological resources in their homes that their wealthier counterparts do. Among them could be “the next Mark Zuckerberg, the next Bill Gates,” he said.
“If we don’t get these young people the access to what they need to achieve their potential, then it’s our loss; it’s not just their loss,” Mr. Obama told an audience of 900 at Durant High School that included women in colorful dresses and children with paper headdresses.

“They’ve got big dreams,” he added. “We’ve got to have an interest in making sure they can achieve those dreams.”
Over all, 275,000 households, including 200,000 children, will be eligible for free Internet connections or, in some areas, broadband hookups that cost as little as $9.95 a month.
Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council at the White House, called the program a major step in the president’s effort to provide every community in the nation with affordable Internet access.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Study Finds No Advantages to Defensive Gun Use

New Study Finds No Advantages to Defensive Gun Use
ecent study published in The Journal of Preventative Medicine offers new support for the argument that owning a gun does not make you safer. The study, led by David Hemenway, Ph.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, examines data from the National Crime Victimization Survey — an annual survey of 90,000 households — and shows not only that so-called “defensive gun use” (DGU) rarely protects a person from harm, but also that such incidents are much more rare than gun advocates claim.
A 2014 Gallup poll suggests that Americans increasingly perceive owning firearms as an effective means of self-defense — having a gun makes one less likely to become a victim of a crime. But as Hemenway’s study demonstrates, this belief is not supported by crime statistics. Contrary to what many gun advocates argue, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data reveals that having a gun provides no statistically significant benefit to a would-be victim during a criminal confrontation.
The study found that in incidents where a victim used a gun in self-defense, the likelihood of suffering an injury was 10.9 percent. Had the victim taken no action at all, the risk of injury was virtually identical: 11 percent. Having a gun also didn’t reduce the likelihood of losing property: 38.5 percent of those who used a gun in self-defense had property taken from them, compared to 34.9 percent of victims who used another type of weapon, such as a knife or baseball bat.

Why Benjamin Netanyahu Should Claim Credit for Better-Than-Expected Deal With Iran - Opinion –

Why Benjamin Netanyahu Should Claim Credit for Better-Than-Expected Deal With Iran - Opinion –
by J.J.Goldberg
As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu girds for battle against the newly concluded Iran nuclear agreement, he faces a steeper uphill climb than anyone expected. To be blunt, the deal concluded in Vienna isn’t half as bad as he predicted. Now he’s got to explain to his dwindling coterie of allies just what all the fuss was about.
Through months of grueling negotiations, Netanyahu and his allies have been complaining that America and the other five powers were making one concession after another while Iran wasn’t giving up a thing. The emerging deal was painted as a historic mistake that would put Israel and the whole world in mortal danger.
The disagreement became an ugly personal feud between Netanyahu and President Obama. In his effort to block the deal and keep the heat on Iran, the Israeli leader joined forces with the opposition Republican party in a bitterly divided Washington, infuriating the president and betraying the tradition of bipartisan support for Israel. Some were openly besmirching Obama’s character. U.S.-Israel relations hit what many said was their lowest point in decades.
Now that the deal is done, it turns out Iran gave up plenty. The six powers got most of what they were aiming for. Israel’s warnings appear largely misplaced.

Read more:

Paul Lioy, Scientist Who Analyzed 9/11 Dust and Its Health Effects, Dies at 68 - The New York Times

 A hero of public health has died. - gwc

Paul Lioy, Scientist Who Analyzed 9/11 Dust and Its Health Effects, Dies at 68 - The New York Times

by Margalit Fox

Paul J. Lioy, an environmental scientist widely known for his analysis of the dust spawned by the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and for his studies of its health effects over time, died on Wednesday after collapsing at Newark Liberty International Airport. He was 68.
The cause had not been determined, his wife, Jean Lioy, said.
Dr. Lioy (pronounced LEE-oy) was an internationally renowned authority on exposure science, a field concerned chiefly with pollutants and toxins that straddles environmental science and occupational health. He was the author of “Dust: The Inside Story of Its Role in the September 11th Aftermath,” a book for a general readership published in 2010.
At his death he was a professor of environmental and occupational health of the Rutgers University School of Public Health, in Piscataway, N.J., as well as the department’s deputy director for government relations.
From his home in Cranford, N.J., Dr. Lioy could see the plumes of dust that rose from the ruins of the trade center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. A million tons of dust would rain down on Lower Manhattan.


Dr. Paul Lioy.CreditNick Romanenko/Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Once his initial horror at the spectacle subsided, the scientist in him began to wonder just what was in that dust.
“It was unprecedented in terms of the complex characteristics of the materials released,” Dr. Lioy toldThe Asbury Park Press in 2011.
He was one of the first scientists to gather samples from the scene, arriving to find a fluffy gray dust so profuse, The New York Times reported, that he and his colleagues simply scooped it from the windshields of nearby cars and secured it in Teflon bags.
“It had a weird texture and color to it,” Dr. Lioy told The Times in 2005.
The samples were dispatched for laboratory analysis. The results indicated the presence of elements that included chromium, aluminum, barium, titanium, mercury and lead; jet-fuel components; cellulose from paper and cotton; particles of wood, plastic, glass, asbestos and concrete; and organic matter that Professor Lioy, with circumspection and great tenderness, described as containing “everything we hold dear.”
The findings allayed a potential health concern — asbestos-related illnesses — while illuminating an actual one: the persistent cough and other respiratory symptoms developed by some police officers, firefighters, construction workers and residents.
“In the first 48 hours, the government was concerned about asbestos being the primary threat,” Dr. Lioy explained a decade after the attacks in an interview on the Rutgers website. “But it was not. Asbestos exposure is a long-term problem. Once the ‘World Trade Center cough’ started appearing, we realized it wasn’t caused by asbestos.”


Dr. Lioy's book about Sept. 11 residue.

Three things, he continued, caused the cough.
“First, cement dust was very alkaline — the pH was above 10,” he said. “That irritated the linings of the lungs. Second, glass fibers got stuck in people’s upper airways, like wooden logs in a narrow stream. That trapped the cement particles and enhanced the irritation. And there were very coarse particles that comprised the vast quantity of the dust mass.”
Paul James Lioy was born on May 27, 1947, in Passaic, N.J. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Montclair State College, as it was then known, followed by a master’s degree in the field from Auburn University in Alabama and master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental science from Rutgers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pomp & Circumstances | Commonweal Magazine

Equal protection would have been a clearer basis for compelling states to allow same sex marriage; the vague due process rationale does not help insured compliance rather than resistance; nor does it clarify who can be compelled to do things to which they object on conscience grounds either bake a cake or conduct a marriage ceremony. - gwc
Pomp & Circumstances | Commonweal Magazine
by Prof. Paul Horwitz (University of Alabama)

For those of us who believe in equal rights under the law for gays and lesbians, and who also favor legal same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges is a victory. One could rest there and say no more. Before we analyze victories, first we celebrate them. The joy and tears of millions of gay and straight Americans over the past two weeks is testament that many had cause to celebrate.

In our culture wars, however, each milestone is just the prelude to the next conflict. There is rarely time to reflect calmly on the various meanings of such events. Too many commentators immediately seek to fix the “real” meaning of the case and secure the strategic high ground for the next battle. That’s too bad. Despite some positive aspects, Obergefell raises many questions and contains some serious flaws.

For those who support same-sex marriage, Obergefell is definitely a victory. But the victory is not primarily one for the Supreme Court—or for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the opinion. The decision is largely about a change in social consensus. As demonstrated by the opinion’s lengthy list of state laws and judicial decisions allowing same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court was hardly the prime mover in making marriage equality a legal reality. Indeed, the Court spent years avoiding the fundamental question of same-sex marriage’s constitutionality, waiting for public opinion to shift until its decision was virtually preordained. There are heroes in this story; some are even lawyers. But not necessarily the ones who sit on the Court. The real heroes are the many men and women whose public “coming out,” often at risk of disparagement, disinheritance, and even physical harm, transformed national sentiment. The Court’s role was secondary.

The Court certainly plays a role in turning social change into legal fact. But that role is less romantic than anything in Kennedy’s opinion suggests. He hints at this point when he recounts the history of the gay rights movement, writing that “questions about the rights of gays and lesbians soon reached the courts, where the issue could be discussed in the formal discourse of the law.”

Substitute “must” for “could”—an important change—and you have a description of the Court’s proper role. Constitutional phrases like “equal protection of the laws” are not self-explanatory. They require judicial elaboration. And Supreme Court decisions have to be applied by a vast number of lower court judges and government officials. Its decisions must strive for clarity and predictability. Judges and officials should be able to apply them easily and consistently, rather than having to anticipate the mood of particular sitting justices.

U.S. and Iran Reach Historic Nuclear Deal | Foreign Policy

U.S. and Iran Reach Historic Nuclear Deal | Foreign Policy
Iran and six world powers agreed to a historic deal Tuesday that will impose limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for relief from punishing economic sanctions, marking the culmination of more than a decade of diplomacy and confrontation.
After 18 days of exhausting negotiations in Vienna, diplomats announced they had clinched the accord, and President Barack Obama hailed it as a breakthrough that would defuse long-running tensions over Iran’s disputed nuclear project.
“Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” Obama said in a televised speech from the White House.
The international community, he added, “will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon” — an assertion immediately questioned by critics of the deal, who said the agreement doesn’t allow for the so-called “anytime, anywhere” inspections needed to fully ensure Iranian compliance.
The accord between the P5+1 –the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany — and Iran included provisions hammered out in the final hours that will lift a U.N. conventional arms embargo on Tehran within five years and restrictions on ballistic missile imports within eight years.
The agreement, the product of 20 months of intense diplomacy, runs to more than 100 pages, including highly-technical language on specific dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work.
Under the terms of the deal, Tehran agreed to remove two-thirds of its centrifuges, reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium to a fraction of what would be needed to make a bomb, halt the use of advanced centrifuges for 10 years, and allow UN inspectors round-the-clock access to nuclear sites.

The Historic Deal that Will Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon | The White House

Under the framework for an Iran nuclear deal Iran's uranium enrichment pathway to a weapon will be shut down
The Historic Deal that Will Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon | The White House

Gelb: The Real Reason Obama Did The Iran Deal - The Daily Beast

Taking the long view.  - gwc

The Real Reason Obama Did The Iran Deal - The Daily Beast

by Leslie  H. Gelb (President Emeritus Council on Foreign Relations)

The U.S. allows Tehran to keep its nuclear program with the secret hope that America's foe will become a friend.

Both Iran and the United States essentially got what they wanted from the 159-page nuclear deal agreed Tuesday in Vienna.
The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s gains were more tangible than President Barack Obama’s. The Supreme Leader got significant sanctions relief for his ailing economy, the launch pad for Iran to become a more formidable Mideast power. Mr. Obama stretched Iran’s nuclear breakout time from a few months to over a year with strengthened inspection rights. But according to top administration officials, Mr. Obama has always been after something much bigger than capping Iran’s nuclear program, and he got it—the strategic opportunity to begin converting Iran from foe to “friend.”
Iranian negotiators understood well what’s been driving the U.S. president, and they have used the prospect of becoming “a friend” as their best bargaining card. For over a year now in small private conversations and strolls, they have been painting rosy pictures of Iranian-American cooperation.
The Iranian list of possibilities goes to most of Washington’s principal worries about the broad Middle East. They would step up their fighting alongside Iraqi troops to combat the so-called Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in central Iraq. And they would do much more in Syria to go after the headquarters and main forces that ISIS has there. They spoke of finding “solutions” to the civil war in Yemen between Sunnis and Iran-backed Shiites. They raised hopes of forging better relations with America’s “partners” in the Gulf. They pressed the idea of  renewing the cooperation they once had with the U.S. fighting the Taliban at the beginning of the Afghan war.
However, they said little or nothing about Lebanon, so as not to jeopardize the strong position there of their Hezbollah allies, or about their backing of Hamas in Gaza. And U.S. diplomats couldn’t get anything positive from them about Israel, the country that feels greatly threatened by Iran and fervently opposes any nuclear agreement with Tehran. But neither did Iranian diplomats close these doors.
If the past is prologue, few legislators will actually read the long and complex document. Instead they will rely on like-minded staffers and experts to reinforce their own prejudices. (And fortunately for them, the press won’t ask them hard questions to reveal their ignorance.) 
Here will be the main lines of opposition:
 First, the White House originally promised it would totally eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Essentially true. But it was a dumb promise. There was no chance Iran would agree to this—none—then or now. And notice that virtually all those who wanted Iran to give up all nukes never made remotely similar demands when it came to North Korea’s nuclear program and mostly just bit their tongues as Pakistan crossed the nuclear threshold on its way to building almost 150 nuclear weapons today. It has to be asked, who is more likely to use nukes—North Korea, Pakistan, or Iran? Most experts pick Pakistan first, then North Korea.
Second, critics will argue that Iran continues its support of terrorists and efforts to overthrow Israel and the Gulf states. Also true. Of course, Iran continues to damage American interests, but these talks are about slowing its climb toward nuclear weapons, not instantly settling steamy Mideast problems.
Third, the critics say the U.S. could have had its way with the mullahs had Mr. Obama only strangled the Iranian economy with more sanctions. There are only a couple of problems with this argument. One is that no nation, including those far weaker economically than Iran, has ever capitulated after economic sanctions. Notice Russia, Cuba, and North Korea. And two, while Iran’s economy is hurting, almost all experts agree that it is nowhere near crumbling. Recent studies by conservative outlets such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and The Economist demonstrate just that.