Sunday, August 31, 2014

U.S. Urges Israel To Reverse Planned West Bank Land Appropriation –

This criticism of Israel seizure of another 1,000 acres of Palestinian farm land is  presumably a pro forma statement by the U.S. which will put no muscle behind it.  I remember when I was a Mondale-appointed member of the Democratic National Platform Committee in 1984.  There was a contested vote calling for an end to building settlements.  Congressman Stephen Solarz spoke against it.  Like other Mondale delegates I voted for it as consistent with the Camp David accords.  Then-Congressman Charles Schumer sat behind me.  Voting by state I raised my hand to vote for the measure.  When I looked back to see how the New York delegates were voting Schumer began berating me.  With the Gaza war in suspense I expect I would get similar reactions from friends if I raised my hand again. - gwc
U.S. Urges Israel To Reverse Planned West Bank Land Appropriation –

Reuters) — The United States sees Israel’s announcement on Sunday of a land appropriation for possible settlement construction in the occupied West Bank as “counterproductive” to peace efforts and urges the Israeli government to reverse the decision, a State Department official said.

Israel laid claim to nearly a thousand acres (400 hectares) in the Etzion settlement bloc near Bethlehem, a move which an anti-settlement group termed the biggest appropriation in 30 years and a Palestinian official said would cause only more friction after the Gaza war.

“We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,” the U.S. official said. “This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve and construction tender they issue is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians.”

“We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” the official said in Washington.

Read more:

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Universal suffrage but no free election for Hong Kong Chief Executive

Hong Kong City Hall - lower block
The National Peoples Congress Standing Committee has announced the protocol for election of the new Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2017.  Sufrage shall be universal but only two or three candidates will be allowed.  They shall be chosen by an appointed nominating committee.  Only candidates endorsed by a majority of the committee members will appear on the ballot.  Candidates must "love the country and love Hong Kong".  China retains sovereignty but permits a capitalist economy in Hong Kong - exemplified by the slogan `one country two systems'.

Freedom summer 1964 - They heard the Call of Freedom // Boston Globe

A police officer took a photograph of a group, including Linda Wetmore (plaid dress, holding “Register to Vote” sign), standing outside of the Leflore County Courthouse in Greenwood, Miss., on July 16, 1964.

What became known as Mississippi Freedom Summer was a project of SNCC - the Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee.  Three of those volunteers were murdered: Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney. The Freedom Summer workers sought to build on the momentum of the civil rights movement which had spurred the 1964 Civil rights Act  Their objective was to create "freedom schools" which would encourage Black Mississippians to stand up for their rights.  That summer three civil rights workers were killed, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party lost its fight to represent the state at the Democratic National Convention and the southern civil rights movement reached a peak.  The next year the Voting Rights Act would pass and much of the attention shift north and west to the large cities. - gwc
Summer of 1964 - They Heard the Call of Freedom
by Eric Moskowitz // Boston Globe
They were idealists taking on the nation’s shame, students who stood with brave, black Mississippians denied a most basic civil right: the vote

Friday, August 29, 2014

What the Pundits Got Wrong About the Rick Perry Indictment

What the Pundits Got Wrong About the Rick Perry Indictment:
by Forest Wilder // Texas Observer August 18, 2014
The Travis County DA is no different, in almost every respect, than the more than 300 local elected prosecutors in Texas. She is locally elected and is a servant of the jurisdiction she represents. The only thing unique about the Travis County DA’s office is that it contains the Public Integrity Unit, which polices corruption in state government. Practically speaking, this anti-corruption unit is one of the few checks on the power and influence Perry has accumulated over 14 years in office.

The Public Integrity Unit is largely funded by the Texas Legislature. That money isn’t earmarked for Rosemary Lehmberg; it’s earmarked for the oversight function of the Travis County DA’s Public Integrity Unit. It is that money that Perry threatened to line-item veto if Lehmberg did not resign. When she did not, and Travis County opted not to remove her, Perry then yanked the funding. Afterwards, he continued to make offers to restore the funding in exchange for Lehmberg’s resignation, according to media reports. One account says he signaled that he would find Lehmberg another well-paying job within the DA’s office. Had she resigned, Perry would have appointed her successor.

The criminal case against Perry centers on his “coercion” of a local elected official using threats and promises. It is not premised—as has been repeatedly misreported—on the veto itself. Craig McDonald, the head of Texans for Public Justice and the original complainant, has said as much. As McDonald told CNN:

“The governor is doing a pretty good job to try to make this about [Lehmberg] and her DWI conviction. But this has never been about his veto of her budget and about her. This is about his abuse of power and his coercion trying to get another public citizen to give up their job.”

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Mervyn Susser, 92, Dies - Studied Illness and Society - NY Times

Mervyn Susser and his wife Dr. Zena Stein
Mervyn Susser, 92, Dies; Studied Illness and Society -

Mervyn Susser has died.  The physician, epidemiologist, and philosopher of science was 92 when he passed at home in Hastings on Hudson.  The former editor of the American Journal of Public Health, he was a South African-born progressive, who collaborated with his wife Zena Stein.  I had just began to seriously look at the problem of how to prove causation of disease in occupational illness cases where no exact mechanism  of injury could be identified. Susser gave me direction as I represented the Trial Lawyers Association  in the asbestos-related disease case Landrigan v. Celotex, a landmark guide in the use of scientific evidence.

When I was in graduate school at B.U. Howard Zinn’s syllabus on method included Karl Popper, the positivist philosopher of science and anti-communist polemicist.  Popper was a skeptic who asserted that propositions could not be proven, only falsified.  On that foundation he built a vision of science that ironically saw it as the brick by brick construction of certainty.  In the culture of science that view was embraced as a strong attachment to the null hypothesis and an extreme attachment to calculations of probabilities.

Mervyn Susser, like the great progressive epidemiologists Irving Selikoff  and Sir Austin Bradford Hill, was motivated by the fight against disease and the need to identify causal relationships.  The epidemics of heart and lung disease associated with tobacco and asbestos motivated Selikoff and Hill. Susser, a pioneer of community medicine, worked in a clinic treating Black citizens in Johannesburg. In the progressives view causal inference was to be achieved neither by idolatry of formal tests of statistical significance nor by anecdotal snapshots.  Rather the public health called for a socially aware observational perspective informed by clinical methods, pathology, and biostatistics.  No single factor was decisive.  The health of patients called for effective strategies, not skepticism.

Susser's was always the approach of a physician concerned for his patients.  He wanted to help and that required rejection of skepticism, magic, and authoritarianism:

"The philosophy of causal inference reaches deep into abstractions. Applied in clinical (practice), however, it yields some practical benefits. For clinicians, inference is a constant and every day activity. In going about their business of diagnosis and treatment, clinicians are constantly making logical inferences, that is to say, drawing conclusions from a set of facts and premises...This logic (of causal inference) enables the contemporary clinician, in dealings with patients, to shift from charismatic priest-like authority to the authority of tried knowledge and of rational predictions founded on explicit models of causal relationships."  
This approach offered guidance for judges and lawyers who seek to achieve a just result for those who suffer from illness, and for those who would act to prevent illness.  Dr. Susser explained that scientific skepticism is to be doubted.  “We have to practice believing”.  He wrote:

In the end, a quality which lawyers should understand better than any- judiciousness- matters more than any.  Scientists use both deductive and inductive inference to sustain the momentum of a continuing process of research.  The courts of law, and the courts of application, use inference to reach decisions about what action to take. Those decisions often cannot rest on certitudes, most especially when population risks are converted into individual risks. It is my firm belief, nonetheless, that practical decisions that draw sustenance from scientific inference will be better decisions than those that do not.  


George W. Conk
Against the Odds: Proving Causation of Disease with Epidemiological Evidence, 3 Shepard's Expert and Sci. Evidence Q. 103 (1995)

Mervyn Susser
Causal thinking in the health sciences: concepts and strategies of epidemiology (1973)

`Causal Thinking in Practice: Strengths and Weaknesses of the Clinical Vantage Point', Pediatrics 74:842-849 (1984)

 `The Logic of Sir Karl Popper and the Practice of Epidemiology', American Journal of Epidemiology 124:711-718 (1986)

`Rules of Inference in Epidemiology', Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 6:116-128, 116 (1986)

Susser, Epidemiology, Health and Society, Selected Papers, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987.

`What is a Cause and How Do We Know One?  A Grammar for Pragmatic Epidemiology', American Journal of Epidemiology 133:635-648 (1991)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How I Know Israel Won the Gaza War – Forward Thinking –

Israel won the war, of course, but...Hamas survived adn will not disappear. They are part of the equation looking ahed; Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authoirty won too. They will ahve a stronger role going forwad - partucularly by policing the Gaza border. - gwc

How I Know Israel Won the Gaza War – Forward Thinking –

by Brent Salsey

"...four things stand out for the immediate future. First, it is clear that Israel has won the war. Much of Hamas’s military capabilities have been degraded or used up, its regional allies are few and far between (and themselves bereft of much regional influence), and none of its efforts to achieve a tactical victory over Israel succeeded. In addition, the United States and many European governments are now talking about demilitarizing Gaza (essentially, disarming Hamas and the smaller jihadist groups) as part of a longer-term process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All of these tilt the balance of power in Israel’s favor.

Read more:"

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Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Is ACA reducing SS Disability rolls?

This makes sense.  After two years on ssd you get Medicare.  Get off ssd you lose it.  But if you can afford health insurance you'll keep working because you have to stop working to get on ssd.  And there is a five month waiting period.  And the approval process is slow.  How would you pay even your subsidized ACA  premiun if you quit work?

Jon Stewart Slams Fox News Ferguson Coverage

U.S. Allies Behead ISIS fighters in Syria -

Guillotining f King Louis XVI

The impulse to attack ISIS after the savage beheading of American photojournalist James Foley was strong.  But this story reminds one that such savagery is not an ISIS monopoly, as "our bastards" do the same thing.  And I suppose one should remember the French Revolution and the execution by guillotine of King Louis XVI. - gwc
American Fighting for ISIS Is Killed in Syria -
WASHINGTON — Like many teenage boys who grew up in the Midwest in the 1990s, Douglas McAuthur McCain was a fan of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and loved to play basketball.
But as he grew older, he lost interest in basketball as he shuttled between two suburban Minneapolis high schools. He never graduated, and in his late teens, he began to have run-ins with the law. In the decade that followed, he was arrested or cited nine times on charges including theft, marijuana possession and driving without a license.
Mr. McCain moved back and forth from Minneapolis to San Diego and then abroad. Officials now know he ended up in Syria, where three days ago, Mr. McCain became the first American to die while fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He was 33.
The rebels who killed him were fighting for the Free Syrian Army, a rival group backed by the United States, and they went on to behead six ISIS fighters — but not Mr. McCain — and then posted the photographs on Facebook.
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The U.S.-Israel Relationship Arrives at a Moment of Reckoning

The U.S.-Israel Relationship Arrives at a Moment of Reckoning:
FP Interview with Martin Indyk (former U.S. mid-east Ambassador)
 "one can, in a sense, look at the long arc of the relationship and say everything's going to be all right. But where it won't be all right is for Israel itself, because as nice as it is to have strategic alignments, none of that solves Israel's existential problem: What is it going to do about the 2.6 million Palestinians it has responsibility for now? And if it doesn't find a way to resolve that issue, that existential dilemma, if Israel continues to control 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank, it's going to have to decide sooner rather than later whether it's a democracy or a Jewish state, but it won't be able to be both.
I witnessed it during these negotiations. The younger generation of Palestinians who have grown up knowing nothing but Israeli occupation don't believe in a two-state solution, don't believe there will ever be an independent Palestinian state. They want equal rights in Israel. And that's where this is heading. And then Israel will find itself in a really serious dilemma. It's only a matter of time. And no matter how strong the relationship is between the United States and Israel, it's not going to help solve that dilemma unless Israelis decide that they want to resolve it"
"David Rothkopf: How has what happened in Gaza altered the dynamics of the peace process?
Martin Indyk: I think it's made it a lot more difficult -- as if it wasn't difficult enough already -- because it has deepened the antipathy between the two sides. The Israelis look at Gaza and what's happened there and understandably say, "We cannot allow such a thing to happen in the West Bank." And therefore, today there's a lot more credibility to the argument that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have to stay in the West Bank, otherwise Israelis fear there will be tunnels into Tel Aviv and there will be rockets on Ben Gurion Airport, and Hamas will take over and they'll face a disaster in the "belly" of Israel. 
There are security answers to all of that, but I just think the Israeli public attitude is going to be far more concerned about any kind of Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank. At the same time, the Palestinian attitude will be even stronger that there has to be an end to the occupation, which means a complete Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank. And the process of negotiating peace does not have any credibility with them unless they have a date certain for when the occupation is going to end, and basically the Israeli attitude will likely be that the occupation is not going to end if that means a complete withdrawal of the IDF. 
So beyond all of the antagonism that conflict generates this Gaza war may have put another nail in the coffin of the two-state solution. 
So beyond all of the antagonism that conflict generates this Gaza war may have put another nail in the coffin of the two-state solution. 
On the positive side, I think that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], the Palestinian leader, has gained some credibility in some quarters in Israel by the way in which he had his security forces cooperate with Israeli security forces during the Gaza crisis and the way in which he prevented a third intifada from breaking out in the West Bank. But whatever he may have gained on the Israeli side, I fear he's lost on the Palestinian side because they see Hamas resisting Israel and they see ISIS [the Islamic State] using violence to establish its Islamic State over in Iraq, and all Abu Mazen has to offer is negotiations as the way to achieve Palestinian statehood. And negotiations don't have any credibility anymore, 20 years after Oslo and with over 300,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and settlement growth continuing and the collapse of the latest effort. So I think that too has also made it more difficult. And now Abu Mazen is responding to his need for "street cred" by threatening to go the international route to unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, which will generate an Israeli counter-reaction.
And once the dust settles, we may have a politically weakened [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu as well. There was already the problem of distrust between the people and the leadership -- I'm afraid that's just going to be compounded by what's happened [in Gaza]. "

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Governor Cuomo’s Failure on Ethics Reform Hinders an Endorsement -

Zephyr Teachout
 Running against a moderate Democrat - Andrew Cuomo - a man with great pedigree and experience as a Cabinet member - Secretary of HUD - my Fordham colleague - Professor Zephyr Teachout - has launched what would ordinarily be dismissed as fools errand of a campaign for Governor of New York State.   But her intelligence, seriousness, and engaging persona have attracted attention.  Now the New York Times has declined to endorse Governor Cuomo.  Staying out of the Democratic primary race they laud Teachout while citing her lack of experience as disqualifying. - gwc
Governor Cuomo’s Failure on Ethics Reform Hinders an Endorsement -
"Ms. Teachout brings a refreshing seriousness to the job of cleaning up state government, making a strong case for the urgency of rescuing politics from unchecked corporate power. The centerpiece of her platform is a campaign finance system modeled on the matching funds program that has proved successful in New York City."

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Monday, August 25, 2014

The Last And First Temptation Of Israel « The Dish

Hyperbole is the first step off the rails of reasoned argument.  Friends find it easy to accuse Hamas of desiring to kill every Jew, etc. which seems to flow from its being a declared enemy of the Zionist state.  But that's not a logical step.  Of course savagery is both product and cause of wartime passions.  So to balance the ledger, here is Andrew Sullivan on deplorable statements by Israeli leaders - who have more ability to carry out their worst impulses than do those of Hamas. - gwc
The Last And First Temptation Of Israel « The Dish: "What is one to make of the fact that the deputy speaker of the Knesset has called for ethnic cleansing in Gaza?"

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Rand Paul explains why he's against civil rights laws.

I think I get it now.  Rand Paul studied opthalmology but he missed the class about astigmatism, so everything is blurry. He can't figure out the difference between Fairness and Freedom.  They both start with the Big F but the letters after that get blurry. - gwc
"The hard part--and this is the hard part about believing in freedom--is that if you believe in the first amendment, for example, you have to, for example, most believers in the first amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things. We're here at the bastion of newspaperdom. I'm sure you believe in the first amendment. You understand that people can say bad things. It's the same way with other behaviors. In a free society we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior, but if we are civilized people we publicly criticize that and don't belong to those groups or don't associate with those people..." Rand Paul 

Mowing the Grass and Taking out the Trash //

War is politics.  Hamas is a political movement with adversaries on the right and left.  It wants to prevail.  It won the 2005 elections in Gaza.  It wants to govern effectively - and it knows that - rhetoric aside - it will not destroy Israel.  Netanyahu knows that - rhetoric aside - Hamas is not an existential threat to Israel, and that it will never be.  He wants to govern Israel in peace, not to govern Gaza.  Therein lies the basis for a sustainable armistice, which could pave the road to something better than that.  Daniel Byman at Foreign Policy explains. - gwc
Mowing the Grass and Taking out the Trash
by Daniel Byman
"If Hamas cannot be fully defeated, and if isolating it politically and economically makes it more likely to lash out, then the Israeli goal should be to use deterrence as part of a broader strategy to transform Hamas. Because Hamas cares about governing Gaza as well as defeating Israel, it should be given a stark choice: If it ends its own violence and launches a full crackdown on other militant groups in Gaza, the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza will be eased. Palestinian moderates, working with the international community and Israel's neighbors, would control crossings to prevent the smuggling of arms. If not, the blockade will remain, and Israel will strike Hamas leaders and at times conduct more massive military campaigns: In other words, the suffering will continue.
Under such a deal, Hamas will be given a true chance to govern -- but the price of that legitimacy is an end to violence. With this approach, Israel and its backers should change their policy toward Hamas's feud with Fatah. They should want Hamas to be tied to more moderate elements, and thus be part of a technocratic Palestinian unity government. Indeed, if Hamas is implicitly part of such a government, it strengthens Hamas's acceptance of peace and helps the Palestinian Authority regain its influence in Gaza. It also strengthens Palestinian moderates, showing that a peaceful path can lead to progress.
The good news is that negotiations underway in Cairo have all the elements of such a broader deal -- but politics on both sides stands in the way. Israel doesn't want to reward Hamas for the latest round of violence and, in general, is skeptical that Hamas will ever transform into a more peaceful movement. Hamas, for its part, wants to retain the legitimacy it gains from the occasional use of violence and believes that only the threat of force will move Israel. The result, unfortunately, is that both the parties are only thinking of a short-term stopgap measure.
Mediators need to describe what a sustainable solution would look like, laying out specifics about Hamas's responsibilities to stop the violence and the extent and nature of the easing of the blockade of Gaza. Such an offer will lead to a crisis in Hamas from which Israel can only benefit. If Hamas rejects such terms, it will anger Gazans who want an end to violence, alienate any international support for the group, and legitimize a strong Israeli response. If Hamas accepts the offer, however, then it is implicitly accepting Israel's right to live in peace and moving away from violence. It would also compel the group to crack down on more violent groups in Gaza.
The transformation of Hamas will not occur overnight, and Israel may have to mow the grass again. But the stark choice should remain, allowing both Israelis and Palestinians a real chance for peace."

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8-Point Guide To Criticizing Israel the Right Way – Forward Thinking –

They're pretty obvious, but worth being reminded. I would add not lumping together all Muslims or all Arabs, just as we recognize that Jews should not be lumped together as if one's failings applies to all - the classic expression of bigotry.- gwc
8-Point Guide To Criticizing Israel the Right Way – Forward Thinking –
by Abraham Gutman
As an Israeli who lives in New York, I know that I can sometimes be unfair. On the one hand, I often get defensive when people criticize Israel. On the other, I can also get upset when people seem to blindly support Israel. Criticizing Israel is allowed, and even important for Israel’s wellbeing, but there is a right and a wrong way to do it. In that spirit, here are eight ground rules that I believe can help make the Israel debate more productive.

Read more:

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China Lawmakers to Expand Right to Sue Government Agencies // xinhuanet

BEIJING, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- A bill that would make it easier for citizens to bring court cases against the government went up for a second review on Monday.

An amendment that would broaden actionable cases against the government beyond the current restriction of "specific administrative acts" was put forth before the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the first day of their bimonthly review meeting.

The draft amendment was put forth to officials involved with Administrative Procedure Law.

Currently, citizens, companies and other organizations can only file suits against "specific administrative acts" by administrative agencies or personnel which they believe to have infringed their rights.

As Articles 11 and 12 explicitly list which kind of acts that are actionable, the amendment removes the word "specific," which sometimes is used by courts to throw out cases.

The extra restriction is one of the biggest roadblocks for citizens to sue the government.

According to a survey by Xiu Fujin, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, only 35.19 percent of cases filed against government agencies were accepted by courts in 2012.

Jiang Ming'an, professor of the Peking University, advised further easing of restrictions for such lawsuits.

Currently, courts can only punish an administrative act when it is deemed illegal. The draft allows acts that are "evidently unreasonable".

The draft also compels representatives of the administrations concerned to personally appear before the court. Currently, most defendants simply ask their lawyers to represent them in court, which often does little to help settle the dispute.

"Having them appear in court will also effectively promote the officials' awareness of the rule of law," Jiang said.

Another suggested change will see broadened responsibility, with the original department in question and the administration that reviewed the case listed as joint defendants. According to current law, an administrative agency that reviews another agency's actions will only be listed as a defendant if they change their original decision.

In the past, such stipulations have resulted in a reluctance to change controversial decisions to avoid being dragged into legal battles. In some situations, it has rendered the administrative review system ineffective.

The draft also extends time limits for hearings and how long plaintiffs have before filing suits.

The 1990 Administrative Procedure Law is a major guarantee for the citizens' right to pursue the government through the courts.

Because using administrative power in accordance with law is a key requirement in the rule of law, the draft amendment, which streamlines the administrative litigation procedures, is also expected to promote it, Jiang said.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Israel’s Move to the Right Challenges Diaspora Jews -

I am deeply skeptical of tribalist movements.  Wherever I have encountered them it has been ugly - from the Jim Crow south to American "official English" campaigns, anti-Muslim rampages in India, Maratha nationalism when I lived just outside Bombay, and the Irish vote against birthright citizenship.  The Jewish state is a special problem - because after the Nazi Holocaust Zionism was a perfectly understandable exodus and nation-building movement.  But it wasn't the Palestinians who had been the oppressors, so they experienced it as a settler invasion.  And that continues with a tribal ideology that justifies taking more Arab land.
Liberal Zionism seeks accommodation with Palestinians while insisting that a single state on all Israeli controlled territory threatens the Jewish majority.  Palestinians, it is said, must remain a minority in Israel and citizenship remain full only for those who meet the sort of tribal criteria that we find unacceptable here as a violation of 14th Amendment equal protection principles.  The most prominent defector among the intelligentsia, the late historian Tony Judt abandoned his youthful Zionism.  The current Gaza war seems certain to harden lines.  The "obvious and inevitable" two-state compromise seems to have lost its traction.  And the single democratic state is a non-starter among Israelis, precisely because to Palestinians it looks like a path to Arab majority rule.  - gwc
Israel’s Move to the Right Challenges Diaspora Jews -
by Antony Lerman

"[I]t’s not just Gaza, and the latest episode of “shock and awe” militarism. The romantic Zionist ideal, to which Jewish liberals — and I was one, once — subscribed for so many decades, has been tarnished by the reality of modern Israel. The attacks on freedom of speech and human rights organizations in Israel, the land-grabbing settler movement, a growing strain of anti-Arab and anti-immigrant racism, extremist politics, and a powerful, intolerant religious right — this mixture has pushed liberal Zionism to the brink. In the United States, trenchant and incisive criticism of Israeli policies by commentators like Peter Beinart, one of liberal Zionism’s most articulate and prolific voices, is now common. But the critics go only so far — not least to avoid giving succor to anti-Semites, who use the crisis as cover for openly expressing hatred of Jews."

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Muslims are coming from Mexico to murder you | GOPLifer

Texas Governor Rick Perry
Muslims are coming from Mexico to murder you | GOPLifer:
by Chris Ladd
"Kent Brockman: Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside? 
Professor: Mmm, yes I would, Kent. 
The Simpsons, Season 5, Episode 11 
In advance of his next big campaign, Texas Governor Rick Perry is learning from his 2012 mistakes and working to perfect his mastery of the paranoid style in American politics. Look closely at Perry’s remarks at the Heritage Institute this week and you’ll see a perfectly formed appeal to the modern Republican primary base. Sure, the delivery was wobbly and he had trouble pronouncing some of the words, but whoever built that speech understood exactly what a Republican politician needs to say to win. Perry attempted to tie the immigration debate to terrorism with the bizarre suggestion that Iraqi terrorists may be infiltrating the US along the fortified shores of the Rio Grande.
Here’s the relevant portion of his remarks from the video of the event (starts at 1:25:20):
 “Certainly there is great concern that the border between the United States and Mexico is unsecure and we don’t know who’s using that. What I will share with you that we’ve seen historic high levels of individuals from countries with terrorist ties. “Over the course of the last months. I’ll give you one anecdotal picture of what’s happening. Three Ukrainian individuals were apprehended at a ranch in far West Texas within the last 60 days. So, I think there is the obvious great concern that because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be, and I think there is a very real possibility that they may have already used that. “We have no clear evidence of that, but your common sense tells you when we’ve seen the number of criminal activities that have occurred, and I’m talking about the assaults, the rapes, the murders, by individuals who have come into this country illegally over the last five years, the idea that they would not be looking at and managing any of those types of attacks from that region is not a good place to be.”"

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Israeli Teens Gripped by Virulent Racism –

Ethnic prejudice and contempt is especially likely to flourish among conquerors and conquered.  The Israel-Palestine conflict meets tat description. - gwc

Israeli Teens Gripped by Virulent Racism – "(Haaretz) —

by Or Kashti

“For me, personally, Arabs are something I can’t look at and can’t stand,” a 10th-grade girl from a high school in the central part of the country says in abominable Hebrew. “I am tremendously racist. I come from a racist home. If I get the chance in the army to shoot one of them, I won’t think twice. I’m ready to kill someone with my hands, and it’s an Arab. In my education I learned that … their education is to be terrorists, and there is no belief in them. I live in an area of Arabs, and every day I see these Ishmaelites, who pass by the [bus] station and whistle. I wish them death.”

The student’s comments appear in a chapter devoted to ethnicity and racism among youth from a forthcoming book, “Scenes from School Life” (in Hebrew) by Idan Yaron and Yoram Harpaz. The book is based on anthropological observations made by Dr. Yaron, a sociologist, over the course of three years in a six-year, secular high school in the Israeli heartland – “the most average school we could find,” says Harpaz, a professor of education.

The book is nothing short of a page-turner, especially now, following the overt displays of racism and hatred of the Other that have been revealed in the country in the past month or so. Maybe “revealed” isn’t the right word, as it suggests surprise at the intensity of the phenomenon. But Yaron’s descriptions of what he saw at the school show that such hatred is a basic everyday element among youth, and a key component of their identity.

Yaron portrays the hatred without rose-colored glasses or any attempt to present it as a sign of social “unity.” What he observed is unfiltered hatred. One conclusion that arises from the text is how little the education system is able – or wants – to deal with the racism problem.

Not all educators are indifferent or ineffective. There are, of course, teachers and others in the realm of education who adopt a different approach, who dare to try and take on the system. But they are a minority. The system’s internal logic operates differently.

Much of the chapter on racism revolves around the Bible lessons in a ninth-grade class, whose theme was revenge. “The class starts, and the students’ suggestions of examples of revenge are written on the blackboard,” the teacher told Yaron. A student named Yoav “insists that revenge is an important emotion. He utilizes the material being studied to hammer home his semi-covert message: All the Arabs should be killed. The class goes into an uproar. Five students agree with Yoav and say openly: The Arabs should be killed.”"

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Legal Ethics Forum: Kentucky Supremes strike down pleas with waivers of IAC claims

The U.S. Department of Justice sometimes conditions plea bargains on waiver by the defendant of any later claim that he/she did not have effective counsel.  An Ethics Opinion in Kentucky found that created an intolerable conflict of interest between attorney and client.  The Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed.  We await the U.S. next move. - gwc
Legal Ethics Forum: Kentucky Supremes strike down pleas with waivers of IAC claims:

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Full text of the last email the Islamic State sent to the Foley family | GlobalPost

Full text of the last email the Islamic State sent to the Foley family | GlobalPost: "HOW LONG WILL THE SHEEP FOLLOW THE BLIND SHEPPARD? A message to the American government and their sheep like citizens: We have left you alone since your disgraceful defeat in Iraq. We did not interfere in your country or attack your citizens while they were safe in their homes despite our capability to do so! As for the scum of your society who are held prisoner by us, THEY DARED TO ENTER THE LION’S DEN AND WHERE EATEN! You were given many chances to negotiate the release of your people via cash transactions as other governments have accepted, We have also offered prisoner exchanges to free the Muslims currently in your detention like our sister Dr Afia Sidiqqi, however you proved very quickly to us that this is NOT what you are interested in. You have no motivation to deal with the Muslims except with the language of force, a language you were given in “Arabic translation” when you attempted to occupy the land of Iraq! Now you return to bomb the Muslims of Iraq once again, this time resorting to Arial attacks and “proxy armies”, all the while cowardly shying away from a face-to-face confrontation! Today our swords are unsheathed towards you, GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENS ALIKE! AND WE WILL NOT STOP UNTILL WE QUENCH OUR THIRST FOR YOUR BLOOD. You do not spare our weak, elderly, women or children so we will NOT spare yours! You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings! The first of which being the blood of the American citizen, James Foley! He will be executed as a DIRECT result of your transgressions towards us!"

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Israeli Novelist's Cry for Peace. A Rabbi's Reply – J.J. Goldberg –

David Grossman at peace rally
An Israeli Novelist's Cry for Peace. A Rabbi's Reply – J.J. Goldberg –
David Grossman mustered his usual eloquence at a Peace Now rally in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv on Sunday, just before the latest round of now-failed negotiations. J.J. Goldberg translates, followed by remarks by liberal Orthodox Rabbi Yuval Sherlow's open letter reply.   Goldberg says Sherlow "concedes many of Grossman’s sharpest critiques, but insists that Grossman fails to acknowledge “the other sides of the coin” — the still-vital humanity within the Israeli public, the implacability often facing Israel from its enemies — and so alienates a large audience that Sherlow wishes the novelist could reach."  Frankly I think Sherlow is blowing smoke.  The courage that is needed is by Zionists to reject the ideology that justifies continuing to take Palestinian land without compensation, and the courage to see Palestinian oppression and to make a political settlement with their enemies. - GWC
Rabbi Yuval Sherlow
David Grossman (excerpt)
 "But what must change this time, after this war, is the spirit of things. To my mind this is one of the main reasons we’ve come and gathered here this evening. To remind those who negotiate in our name with the Palestinians in Cairo that even if the people of Gaza are enemies today, they will always be our neighbors, and that is the spirit of things. We will always live beside one another, and this fact has meaning, because my neighbor’s downfall is not necessarily my victory, and my neighbor’s welfare is in the end my welfare. But above all we have gathered here this evening to voice a demand that the central provision in the agreement they are trying to draft in Cairo will say the following: that after the cease-fire is stabilized, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as represented by the Palestinian unity government, will open direct talks whose goal is to bring peace between the two peoples. That’s how it has to be, without hesitation, without stammering, without grieving, perhaps without clear, sharp declarations of intention by the two sides. Because if after a war like this, after its terrors, after its results, Israel does not initiate such a step, there will be only one explanation: that Israel prefers the certainty of repeated wars over the risks involved in the compromises that bring peace. And we will know that Israel’s current leader is not prepared, does not dare to go down the path of peace because he is afraid to pay the price, especially the price of withdrawing from the West Bank and evacuating the settlements. Friends, this moment of decision might come tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, or perhaps in a month, but it could be that we will suddenly discover that it is very near and it will be a sort of acid test that will tell us in the clearest fashion whether or not Israel is trying with all its might to reach peace or whether it chooses another war."

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In which Clinton slams Obama by articulating his "organizing principle" | xpostfactoid

In which Clinton slams Obama by articulating his "organizing principle" | xpostfactoid
by Andrew Sprung
"A typical account of Hillary Clinton's assessment of Obama's foreign policy in the Goldberg interview ran like this one in the New York Times:
"Her blunt public criticism of the president’s foreign policy in The Atlantic this week touched off frustration among Mr. Obama’s advisers and supporters, especially her suggestion that under Mr. Obama, the United States lacked an “organizing principle” in its approach to international relations. “ ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Mrs. Clinton said."
 Three things to note about this takeaway:
 1. Clinton didn't say that "don't do stupid stuff" is Obama's organizing principle, or that he lacks one. In fact she said the opposite.
 2.  The "organizing principle" that Clinton articulated, when pressed, is indistinguishable from Obama's, and, just like Obama's, incorporates "don't do stupid shit" but doesn't end there  (though the particulars of her favored policies on specific issues may quite different, in disturbing ways -- more on this at bottom).
 3. Obama has articulated that principle continually since his first year in office.

Point 1: Here is the full text of what Clinton said with respect to the "don't do stupid stuff" mantra:.... "

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What Happens in Israel Doesn’t Stay in Israel –

What Happens in Israel Doesn’t Stay in Israel –
by J.J. Goldberg - Jewish Daily Forward

"The lesson, as we’ll see, was that there’s a difference between what’s traditionally known as anti-Semitism and the recent wave of hostility toward Jews on various continents. The old anti-Semitism was a hatred of Jews because of myths and fantasies disconnected from reality like drinking Christians’ blood or killing God. The new anti-Semitism includes some of that, but it starts with something else: an anger at Jews over something that actually happened. Israel was created on land that Muslims, like it or not, considered part of their sacred waqf, the indivisible House of Islam. Many Muslims haven’t gotten over it. Hey, Osama bin Laden wanted Spain back. Moreover, thousands of Palestinians were displaced, which generates its own anger. And many more Muslims get angry when they see large numbers of fellow Muslims getting killed, as happens periodically. There may be good reasons why those deaths happened, but not everyone is open to reason. Some hotheads will look for a target to vent their anger. Some thugs might blow up a bus in Haifa. Others might attack Israel’s best friends in, say, Paris. This doesn’t excuse, it explains. Explaining is the first step toward solving. Rage at Israel can lead to actions that are thuggish, sometimes criminal, occasionally murderous. But it’s not necessarily the same as the world’s oldest hatred. It’s a fine distinction, but an important one. If someone hates you because of a delusion, there’s nothing you can do. If a person is angry with you because of something that actually happened, you have choices."

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

‘Ending the siege is not a Hamas demand – it is a Palestinian one’ | +972 Magazine

There is a debate among international law experts about whether Israel is an occupying power in Gaza.  If not, then it has no obligation to supply water and electricity. If yes then it has affirmative duties toward the population.  The central fact to me is that Israel's restrictions on Gaza, and perhaps Egypt's! are acts of war which justify resistance by force.  The Palestinian dilemma is that neither non-violent nor violent intifada seems to work. - gwc
‘Ending the siege is not a Hamas demand – it is a Palestinian one’ | +972 Magazine:

Ending the siege is not a “Hamas demand.” It is the people’s demand. Gaza is still under occupation—it is an open jail. Israel always says, “We withdrew, we gave them land to control…” I am always shocked when I hear this line repeated by someone on CNN. The borders are completely controlled by Israel, the sea is completely controlled by Israel. The airspace is completely controlled by Israel. The crossings are completely controlled by Israel, aside from one crossing, controlled by Egypt—and this is now closed as well.
Taghreed al-Khodary, formerly the Gaza correspondent for the New York Times and currently an editor at

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The foolish gamble behind the Perry indictments | GOPLifer

The foolish gamble behind the Perry indictments | GOPLifer:
by Chris Ladd
"By trying to take Perry down on the tenuous grounds of “abuse of power,” the Travis County DA is unintentionally obscuring a far more important investigation.  Her reasoning, probably, was that this was the only way to rescue the Public Integrity Unit’s inquiry into the Governor’s other activities. Unfortunately, Lehmberg is up against two miserable problems.
The first problem is that she is utterly compromised. The only lasting images likely to emerge from this complex mess are the pictures of her making an ass of herself during her arrest. The larger problem is that prosecuting public corruption in Texas is nearly impossible because of the shape of the legal and political landscape.
By playing this desperate gambit, Lehmberg is not only likely to lose. Her actions may finish off Travis County’s public integrity unit, effectively snuffing out what little light of scrutiny still shines on the art of Texas political corruption. Trying to take down Rick Perry on a such a trivial, clearly political matter is an embarrassment. This is a guy who let a major campaign donor, Bob Perry, write his own regulatory scheme to regulate his own industry. The Governor then appointed Bob Perry to head the “watchdog” agency that the legislation created.
Perry appointed the head of one of Texas’ most powerful payday lenders to head the agency that regulates payday lending. He presides over a half-billion dollar “investment fund” fueled by state money which he hands out to well connected friends with no oversight.
And the best that the Travis County DA’s Office can do is indict him for hounding a prosecutor with a criminal record? Ultimately, why is Perry being charged with something so seemingly trivial? Just as in the DeLay case, it is very difficult to find a form of public corruption in Texas that actually breaks a law. The core of the problem is that virtually nothing that passes for public corruption elsewhere in the western world is illegal in Texas. Under Perry’s influence and with little legislation or oversight to stand in the way, Texas has become America’s champion of blatant, unapologetic, and remarkably uncreative public corruption. No one ever goes to prison for it, not even Tom DeLay. Perry is unlikely to be an exception.
Texas has an unpaid Legislature. Think that over for a minute. Just as every new prisoner supposedly must fight for his life or become someone’s bitch, each new Legislator has to immediately decide which collection of donors and lobbyists is going to pay his rent in Austin. How do you prosecute public corruption in a system built on those rules? The Travis County courts can do whatever they will. It doesn’t matter. Just as in the DeLay case, Perry would appeal any conviction into a system of Appellate Judges he constructed. Many of them he hand-picked across his record 15 years in office. The rest of them owe their livelihood to the Texas Republican machine.
The charges against Perry might be a minor factor in his Presidential ambitions, but no one was going to take him seriously at that level anyway. It will cost Perry some of the money which has been donated by the people he takes care of. It is unlikely to force him to dip into the millions in wealth God has granted him over the course of his public service career. You can bet that appearances at a few prayer breakfasts will shake loose whatever cash he needs to earn vindication. This indictment is little more than a frustrated prosecutor spitting defiantly in the wind. She should have passed on this. By doubling down on a compromised investigation she is gambling the future of Texas’ only major institution for public integrity on a very bad hand."

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Cairo Truce Hopes Fading As Sides Stiffen Terms – J.J. Goldberg –

Cairo Truce Hopes Fading As Sides Stiffen Terms – J.J. Goldberg – "Indications are mounting that the indirect Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire talks in Cairo could be heading for failure, possibly resulting in renewed fighting when the current 5-day truce expires Monday night. Early reports were that the two sides were close to agreement on an Egyptian compromise proposal for a long-term cease-fire. On Friday and Saturday, however, declarations on both sides indicated that positions were hardening as fierce internal divisions emerged, pulling the leaderships on both sides away from the center.
The Palestinian side appears to be stymied by the refusal of the organization’s Qatar-based political secretary, Khaled Meshaal, and the head of its military wing, Mohammed Deif, to go along with the compromise proposals laid out by the Egyptians and mostly accepted by both delegations.
On the Israeli side, meanwhile, chaos appears to be reigning. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who rode a wave of popularity during the military operation, has been facing a tsunami of criticism over the past week from the left, the right, the residents of Gaza-adjacent communities and his top coalition ministers. Two of his senior coalition partners, foreign minister Avigdor Liberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and economics minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party, have repeatedly attacked the prime minister’s management of the Gaza conflict from the right, demanding a continuing assault until Gaza has been taken over and Hamas disarmed or dismantled. Broad circles on the right accuse him of giving away the store (i.e. lifting the blockade) in return for “nothing” (i.e. Hamas-Jihad agreement not to shoot, bombard or tunnel).
 The other coalition partners, justice minister Tzipi Livni of Hatnuah and finance minister Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, have been pressing Netanyahu from the left, demanding that he seek to end the fighting by convening an international Middle East peace conference in cooperation with the Arab League. The goal of the conference would be to negotiate an agreement for an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Netanyahu hasn’t said no to either minister, by some accounts because he’ll need their votes in the cabinet for the limited cease-fire he’s aiming to obtain in Cairo"

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

`Hands Up, Don't shoot"Police Riot - Ferguson, Missouri - the iconic image

Armed police confront a protester in Ferguson, Missouri
`Hands Up, Don't shoot' - Ferguson. Missouri   Scott Olson//Getty Images

Baghdadi Denial Syndrome

An image made available on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin on June 11, 2014 shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) posing with the trademark Jihadists flag after they allegedly seized an Iraqi army checkpoint in the northern Iraqi province of Salahuddin. Jihadists are pushing toward Baghdad on June 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/HO/Welayat Salahuddin)
Militants of ISIL, formerly known as al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
Baghdadi Denial Syndrome
by Hussein Ibish
"One of the most alarming features of Arab responses to the rise of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq is a persistent pattern of neurotic denial in the form of conspiracy theories and other escapist fantasies. But running away from the truth will only complicate the ability of Arab states and societies to comprehend where the IS came from, how it has unexpectedly managed to surge into so much power so quickly, and how it can be effectively countered.
 One of the most persistent and widespread delusions is that the IS did not, in fact, emerge from Sunni Muslim communities in Iraq and Syria over the course of the wars there in the past decade. Instead, it is increasingly asserted, the IS is a creature of, and was established by, intelligence services such as the CIA or the Israeli Mossad. An extraordinarily large number of Arabs, Muslims and others appear to have taken refuge in these conspiracy theories. Call it Baghdadi Denial Syndrome. The most outlandish version circulating online holds that IS leader and "caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is, in fact, a Jewish actor named Elliot Shimon, or some such plausibly-Jewish name. Shimon, it's laughably alleged, was trained for a year by the Mossad in various skills, including theology and rhetoric."

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The Bridgegate Dodge from the Port Authority

Jim Dwyer, the outstanding New York Times reporter, has been trying for months to get information from the Port Authority about Bridgegate.  HERE is his open letter

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When Religious Freedom Clashes with Access to Care — NEJM

When Religious Freedom Clashes with Access to Care — NEJM
I. Glenn Cohen, J.D., Holly Fernandez Lynch, J.D., M.Bioethics, and Gregory D. Curfman, M.D.
N Engl J Med 2014; 371:596-599August 14, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1407965

Audio interview with Prof. George Annas, Harvard Medical School

At the tail end of this year's Supreme Court term, religious freedom came into sharp conflict with the government's interest in providing affordable access to health care. In a consolidated opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores andConestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell (collectively known as Hobby Lobby) delivered on June 30, the Court sided with religious freedom, highlighting the limitations of our employment-based health insurance system.***


In 2000, concerned about clashes between antiabortion protesters and women seeking abortions, the Massachusetts legislature established an 18-ft radius around the entrances and driveways of facilities providing abortions and specified that within that area, no person could, without consent, approach within 6 ft of another person (a so-called “bubble zone”) for the purpose of protesting, leafleting, counseling, or education. In 2007, the legislature concluded that law was not effective enough and increased its stringency, imposing a 35-ft fixed buffer zone with few exceptions. The law was challenged on free-speech grounds in a case called McCullen v. Coakley, and on June 26, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck it down as unconstitutional.
The lead opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by four other justices, noted that sidewalks and public ways hold a “special position in terms of First Amendment protection because of their historic role as sites for discussion and debate.” Although it was abortion that had motivated the statute, the Court held that the law was content- and viewpoint-neutral: it did not focus on what was said but on where it was said, and it burdened all speech, not merely disfavored speech. On this point, the four remaining justices disagreed. Nevertheless, the Court held that the statute failed the second part of the relevant constitutional test because it was not “narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest.” In particular, though the Court recognized that the buffer zones furthered the state's interests in “ensuring public safety” on streets and sidewalks and in “preserving access to adjacent healthcare facilities,” it determined that the law problematically criminalized not only protests, but also sidewalk counseling, which could not be done at a distance of 35 ft. It also found that the buffer zones burdened “substantially more speech than necessary to achieve” the state's interest and suggested a plethora of less intrusive means the state could have used instead, some of which are used in other states.
Although the decision deals another blow to abortion rights, that blow is not as substantial as some had feared: the finding that the law was content- and viewpoint-neutral allows for the possibility that Massachusetts and other states could pass similar but narrower laws. Moreover, the Court left open the future of the floating “bubble zone” around women approaching clinics for abortions — the strategy that Massachusetts had used from 2000 to 2007 and one that the Court upheld in a Colorado case in 2000. Several justices, however, indicated a willingness to revisit that decision in future litigation.

New Jersey State Bar to Christie, Legislators: Fill Judicial Vacancies

New Jersey's judiciary - roiled by years of conflict as Governor Chris Christie tried to reverse longstanding affordable housing and school equity precedents - is shorthanded.  The 420 member Superior Court bench has over 50 vacancies and another dozen looming.  Meanwhile the Supreme Court must decide whether the mandatory retirement age of seventy bars the forty year legislatively sanctioned practice of recalling senior retired judges.  They have been the finger in the dike but a dissent in the Appellate Division forces them to decide if the state constitution bars the remedial measure.

Paris Eliades the State Bar President has issued a distress call.  But neither the recall issue nor the proposal to fix the constitution, perhaps by extending the retirement age to seventy five, is mentioned.  - GWC

Dear Governor Christie, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senate Minority Leader Kean:
New Jersey's judiciary is facing a crisis.
With 52 vacancies and another 12 looming, our judges are stretched beyond reason. They are struggling to meet the justifiable needs of the citizens of this state who have every right to look to their courts to settle their grievances in the manner contemplated by the constitution and our democracy.
As a result of these unprecedented numbers, judges are carrying staggering caseloads and court officials are turning to desperate measures, leading to delays and hardships for people seeking divorces, the resolution of business disputes and many other cases.
In recent years, these measures have forced Assignment Judges in Essex and Union county to halt the consideration of certain cases and just last week Bergen County imposed limitations on family and civil trials. The staggering number of vacancies means that such measures are likely to increase if immediate relief is not provided.
As Bergen County Assignment Judge Peter E. Doyne said last week in published reports: "I have asked everyone to work harder, but there is only so much to be done."
The solution lies in your capable hands.***

Paris P. Eliades, President
New Jersey State Bar Association
August 13, 2014