Sunday, March 29, 2015

Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction June 20 1866 < 1851-1875 < Documents < American History From Revolution To Reconstruction and beyond

The little noted Congressional Joint Committee on Reconstruction, reporting six months after ratification of the 13th Amendment, laid the foundation for the 14th Amendment. That history was told masterfully by Eric Foner [Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution (1988)] and recently by Gerard N. Magliocca in his fine biography of its principal architect -American Founding Son - John Bingham and the Invention of the 14th AmendmentThe project remains America's unfinished revolution, as recent reports - such as the Justice Department's on Ferguson, Missouri, demonstrate. - gwc.

Torts Today: Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction June 20 1866 < 1851-1875 < Documents < American History From Revolution To Reconstruction and beyond

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Celebrating John F. Burns, War Reporter and Witness to Era-Defining Events -

The legendary reporter John Burns is "retiring" from the Times where he was rarely seen.  We'll see how that works out. The last word has not been written. - gwc
Celebrating John F. Burns, War Reporter and Witness to Era-Defining Events -
"For many Americans, the indelible image of John Burns is that unruly shock of gray curls, seemingly at odds with the stream of perfectly formed sentences illuminating the war in Iraq. His television appearances guaranteed he would be recognized by ordinary New Yorkers when he made his infrequent forays to headquarters — a place he spent most of his 40 years at The New York Times managing to avoid.
 For his editors, though, John Burns was most himself when invisible — the full force of his talent and personality revealed in his matchless dispatches from around the world, and even more in his signature memos. These were peerless works of artistry, eloquence and guile — making a case for the front page, painting a scene of the reporting rigors he was undergoing, explaining why he could not and should not do something his editors had requested, apologizing for the invariable lateness of the elegant prose hurtling toward New York as deadlines came and went.

John cared about the right things, and cared about them deeply. He wanted to get the story, and tell it with the full force of history and moral conviction. Rules were secondary, and like most great reporters, he knew when to break them. Whether he was embarking on a 1,000-mile motorcycle trip through closed areas of China or in hiding from Iraqi government agents when American bombs were falling on Baghdad, John pushed boundaries in the service of truth. Who can forget his portrait of the Sarajevo cellist who unfolded his plastic chair and played Albinoni’s Adagio in the rubble of the decimated capital? The Afghan couple awaiting their stoning death at the hands of the Taliban, and the woman’s weeping son checking to see if she was still alive after the first hail of stones?

 It was John’s eye and heart that would not allow his readers to forget the suffering of people so far away, so seemingly unconnected to them. For 40 years at The Times, John Burns reported from bases in Johannesburg, Moscow, China, Bosnia, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and London — not to mention the countless other datelines he accumulated in the more than 3,000 stories he wrote. He witnessed some of the greatest events in our time — apartheid in South Africa, the increasing stagnation of Communism in the Soviet Union, the deliberate stoking of ethnic war in the former Yugoslavia, the tyranny of Taliban rule, Saddam Hussein’s brutality toward his own people and the ravages of America’s war in Iraq."

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Number Of Palestinian Civilians Killed By Israelis Reaches Nearly 50-Year High | ThinkProgress

Palestinian children walk between the rubble of buildings which were destroyed during the summer 2014 Israel-Hamas war, in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip on Feb. 23, 2015.
Number Of Palestinian Civilians Killed By Israelis Reaches Nearly 50-Year High | ThinkProgress
by Beenish Ahmed
 "Israel killed 2,314 Palestinians in 2014, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. That’s more than any year since 1967 when Israel defeated pro-Palestinian forces to wrest control of all of Jerusalem and other land then held by Arab countries. Many of the deaths last year were a result of an Israeli military operation in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip, which left at least 11,000 injured and 500,000 internally displaced.
“Israel, the occupying power, must fulfill its primary obligations to protect the Palestinian civilian population, and ensure that people’s basic needs and human rights are met,” the U.N. stated in a report documenting Israeli treatment of Palestinians. “This would include taking action to secure the physical protection of Palestinian civilians, cease their displacement, ensure accountability for violence and abuse, and lift restrictions on the movement of people and goods, as well as on access to land and resources.” Israeli military officials have said that so Palestinian civilians were killed, in part, because they were used as human shields by Hamas. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said the bombing of a U.N. school “a true tragedy” but that Palestinian forces hid munitions in schools and hospitals. The U.N. maintained nonetheless that Israel violated international law, the international organization isn’t very likely to hold Israel accountable for its failures to protect — or even kill — Palestinian civilians.
 Even if U.N. officials themselves are at the forefront of the call for justice. “[W]e cannot allow impunity, we cannot allow this lack of accountability to go on,” Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in July after claiming that Israel’s attacks on homes, schools, and hospitals in Gaza pointed appeared to be at odds with the rules of war outlined by the Geneva Convention. Palestine received overwhelming approval to become a non-member state of the U.N. in 2012, and in his appeal to the assembly even then, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the the international community faced a “last chance” to “issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine.” That birth certificate was blocked by the U.N. in December when the U.N. Security Council voted down Abbas’ appeal after facing the threat of a veto from the U.S. In a remarkable shift to unwavering American support of Israel, President Barack Obama said last week that he would “reassess” aspects of the U.S.-Israeli relationship after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced support for a one-state solution, and then walked back that claim after he was re-elected. Netanyahu’s controversial speech before Congress further degraded his relationship with Obama. That means that recognition of a Palestinian state — and accountability from Israel for human rights violations — may be closer than ever before.
On Friday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that they will call for a resolution to recognize a Palestinian state in the coming weeks. “Today nothing has moved forward, still development of settlements, the Palestinians are in a more and more difficult situation and we cannot stay like that,” he said."

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sodomite Suppression Act - Is California lawyer subject to discipline for his proposal?

California lawyer Matthew McLaughlin has proposed an Initiative in California.  He seeks to place on the ballot the Sodomite Suppression Act. It provides, in part:
Penal Code section 39
a) The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy, is a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha.
b) Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God's just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating-wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method. 
I don't see anything in the California Rules of Professional Conduct  to sanction such a preposterous effort.  But maybe the ABA's RPC 8.4 (d) Misconduct provides a hook:
Maintaining The Integrity Of The ProfessionRule 8.4 MisconductIt is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:(a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;(e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; or(f) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.

Why White People Freak Out When They're Called Out About Race | Alternet

Why White People Freak Out When They're Called Out About Race | Alternet:

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More cartoonish propaganda from the House Judiciary Committee

1. Right now, one single person – the President of the United States – can turn off the enforcement of our immigration laws unilaterally. For real.

House GOP - abandon all hope

All hope of dignity.  This cartoonish "press release" by Speaker John Boehner features (unlicensed - perhaps fair use) Taylor Swift clips to ridicule President Obama's proposal that junior college be made universal and free, just like high school. - GWC

12 Taylor Swift GIFs for you

Cohen: Executions, Doctors, The U.S. Supreme Court, And The Breath Of Kings – Health Affairs Blog

Executions, Doctors, The U.S. Supreme Court, And The Breath Of Kings – Health Affairs Blog 
by I. Glenn Cohen
"The relationship between medicine and capital punishment has been a persistent feature of this past year in health law, both at the level of medical ethics and Supreme Court review. Our story starts in Oklahoma, where the execution of Clayton Lockett was botched on April 28, 2014. National Institutes of Health (NIH) bioethicist Seema Shah described the events in question: 
Oklahoma was administering a new execution protocol that used the drug midazolam, a sedative that is often used in combination with other anesthetic agents. Oklahoma had never used this drug in executions before; in fact, only a few states had experience with using the drug in lethal injection. Florida had previously used this drug in lethal injections, but with a dose five times higher than what was indicated in Oklahoma’s protocol. If the execution had gone as planned, Clayton Lockett would have first received midazolam; been declared unconscious, then received vecuronium bromide (a paralytic/neuromuscular blocking agent that would restrict his movements), and finally received potassium chloride (the drug likely to end his life). A few minutes after officially being declared unconscious, Lockett mumbled statements including the word, “Man.” He “began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.” 
Prison officials prevented the witnesses from seeing the rest of the proceedings by closing the curtains. The Department of Corrections then called off the execution and unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate Lockett, and Lockett eventually died of a heart attack more than 45 minutes after the execution began. Although a Department of Corrections official stated that Lockett’s veins “exploded,” an autopsy examination performed by a forensic pathologist hired by death row inmates appears to contradict official reports. This report concluded that even though prison officials decided to inject the drugs into Lockett’s femoral vein (which is a more difficult and risky procedure), Lockett’s surface and deep veins had “excellent integrity.” 
Another execution that was scheduled to occur that same night has now been stayed for six months, pending an investigation into Mr. Lockett’s execution. On July 23, 2014, Arizona encountered a problem with the same drug in the execution of Joseph Wood, wherein the condemned inmate allegedly gasped for almost two hours before dying. The executions have prompted two important but different kinds of responses. In this post I write about the role of medical ethics and the U.S. Supreme Court’s response. Medical Ethics In an opinion from 1994, dissenting from the denial of certiorari in the death penalty case of Callins v. Collins, Justice Harry Blackmun famously wrote, “From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death,” and concluded that he was instead “obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed.” 
Two decades later, in May 2014, shortly after the botched Oklahoma execution, Bob Truog, Mark Rockoff, and I argued in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that physicians should take a similar position: that they should no longer tinker with the machinery of death and avoid participation in executions altogether. Our argument received significant discussion in the media, on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, and elsewhere. We hope it will prompt further changes. 
In our article, we advance several reasons why physician involvement in execution is problematic. This involvement co-opts the medical profession in a problematic way: “History is replete with examples of efforts by governments to co-opt the power and status of the medical profession for state purposes that are not aligned with the goals of medicine. For example, physicians have engaged in interrogations involving torture, at least in part because the skills and knowledge of these professionals enables them to maximize the prisoner’s temporary pain and suffering while minimizing the risk of permanent disability or death.” It also medicalizes retribution. That is, “[e]xecution is, intrinsically, the involuntary taking of the life of another human being, an act that can never be aligned with the goals of medicine. Regardless of whether execution is justified—and there are those who contend that in some circumstances capital punishment may be—it must never be perceived as a medical procedure. By playing on the imagery of a scene that is almost indistinguishable from the everyday practice of anesthesiologists when they ‘put a patient to sleep,’ there is an attempt to cover the procedure with a patina of respectability and compassion that is associated with the practice of medicine.” In this respect (and now I am speaking only for myself not my co-authors), this is a kind of kabuki theater. It would be far better to go to what we instinctively view as more barbaric methods, for example, the firing squad, that are decidedly non-medical, if we could ensure painless death. The patina of medicine helps us avoid confrontation with the barbarism of what we are doing, killing someone against their protestation."

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Supreme Court Justices Blast The Corrections System | ThinkProgress

Supreme Court Justices Blast The Corrections System | ThinkProgress
bu Nicole Flatow
"The prisons are one of the most misunderstood institutions of government. Solitary confinement drives individuals insane. And mandatory minimum sentences are a bad idea. These were the assertions of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer in testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee Monday afternoon."***
Kennedy, traditionally considered the swing vote among the current set of justices, recalled a recent case before the U.S. Supreme Court in which the defendant had been in solitary confinement for 25 years, and “lost his mind.”
“Solitary confinement literally drives men mad,” he said. He pointed out that European countries group difficult prisoners in cells of three or four where they have human contact, which “seems to work much better.” He added that “we haven’t given nearly the study, nearly enough thought, nearly enough investigative resources to looking at our correction system.”
Kennedy’s comments come just weeks after a federal review of U.S. solitary confinement policy also found that the United States holds more inmates in solitary confinement than any other developed nation. Confinement typically involves isolation in an often windowless cell with a steel door for 23 hours a day, with almost no human contact. The treatment has been found to have a psychological impactin as many as a few days, though, as Justice Kennedy pointed out, many are held for decades. In the wake of the new report, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) called upon the Federal Bureau of Prisons to alter its practices.

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Another Likud Republican: Jeb Bush Pledges “Unwavering” Support for Bibi « LobeLog

Another Likud Republican: Jeb Bush Pledges “Unwavering” Support for Bibi « LobeLog: "Another Likud Republican: Jeb Bush Pledges “Unwavering” Support for Bibi by Jim Lobe More evidence that multi-billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has effectively gained control of the Republican Party leadership came today with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s assertion that his “support for Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu is unwavering…” (Emphasis added) This truly remarkable affirmation, which came through a spokeswoman, was part of a longer written statement in which he denounced remarks delivered Monday night by former Secretary of State (and Republican hero Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff) James Baker to the concluding dinner of the annual J Street conference. As noted in the neocon Weekly Standard, Baker had criticized Bibi for “diplomatic missteps and political gamesmanship.” He also expressed support for a nuclear deal with Iran—a framework agreement for which could be announced this weekend, according to well-informed sources—as well as a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a baseline position for both J Street and the Obama administration. “Governor Bush consults a wide range of advisors on foreign policy,” Bush spokeswoman Kristi Campbell said. “While he respects Secretary Baker, he disagrees with the sentiments he expressed last night and opposes J Street’s advocacy.” The statement then went on to pledge the putative candidate’s “unwavering” support for both Israel and Bibi as if, presumably, Bibi somehow represents the very embodiment of Israel."

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How The NYCLA’s Ethics Opinion 748 on LinkedIn Forces Lawyers To Act Deceptively And Violate Linked In’s User Agreement. - My Shingle

Stop the Madness: How The NYCLA’s Ethics Opinion on LinkedIn Forces Lawyers To Act Deceptively And Violate Linked In’s User Agreement. - My Shingle
 By Carolyn Elefant On March 24, 2015
  By now, in 2015, most of the general public over the age of 21 have been using Google, Facebook and LinkedIn for nearly a decade. During that time, they’ve acclimated to the culture of each of these online universes, and grown as adept in distinguishing casual informational websites and biographical profiles and chatty personal exchanges from paid advertising as a seasoned world traveler in recognizing an American tourist.
 Yet while the majority of online users with an IQ over 80 understand the prevailing online social order, apparently bar regulators do not. So like imperialists swooping in to “civilize” native colonies, comes now the 100-year old  New York County Bar Association (NYCLA) to inflict its ethics rules on LinkedIn through the March 10 issuance of Formal Opinion 748 . As summarized by Allison Shields and Nicole Black, Formal Opinion 748 purports to offer lawyers guidance on when a LinkedIn profile constitutes advertising and when it doesn’t.
 Not surprisingly, this devolves into an exercise in hair-splitting: pure biographical information consisting only of one’s education and employment history isn’t advertising, but a description of practice areas, skills, endorsements – and even a detailed description of work performed for a former employer is.  And of course, as we all know, once the regulators classify something as advertising, we can’t disseminate it to the public without first marking it with a big scarlet A, er – disclaimer. And therein lies the problem. Because slapping the phrase “this constitutes lawyer advertising” in the context of the LinkedIn universe causes MORE confusion for the public. When potential clients see a scarlet “A” on a lawyer profile, they’re going to assume that the lawyer paid for the ad and that it’s inherently less truthful than the other non-advertorial profiles on LinkedIn. Worse, users are likely to draw inaccurate conclusions – either that the lawyer is doing well enough to pay for a spendy ad on LinkedIn, or is so desperate that he can’t find clients without paying for social media exposure. Either way, requiring lawyers to include an advertising disclaimer on an otherwise ordinary LinkedIn listing has the effect of “misleading by creating a false appearance” and therefore, is deceptive.  
 Because an advertising disclaimer makes lawyers look worse on LinkedIn, some might not recognize it as deception. After all, we ordinarily associate deceptive or misleading conduct with puffery or exaggerated claims of expertise designed to attract rather than repel clients. But deception is deception whether it conveys a false positive or negative impression. Not only does NYCLA’s Formal Opinion cause confusion for the public, but there’s an argument to be made it would force lawyers to violate LinkedIn’s User Agreement as well, which forbids users from posting “unsolicited advertising.”  Of course, LinkedIn doesn’t consider user profiles to be advertising – but if NYCLA forces lawyers to characterize profiles as ads, then posting a profile labeled as advertising would be inconsistent with LinkedIn’s user agreement."

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When whacko birds come home to roost | GOPLifer

When whacko birds come home to roost | GOPLifer:
by Chris Ladd
"People have learned to assume that a Republican candidate is winking when he speaks on certain subjects. No, Jeb Bush is not actually going to repeal the minimum wage. He is not going to roll back equal rights for gay and lesbian couples. Enough voters understand a Republican candidate’s need to appease religious radicals that the candidates can remain credible despite some very dubious public positions.
For twenty years Republican candidates for Federal offices have survived on a kind of built-in duplicity. Victory depends on pandering to people who believe all those bullshit forwarded emails and Facebook posts. Electability in this context has a very special meaning. A Republican candidate becomes “electable” by appeasing base voters while convincing general election voters that he didn’t mean what he said. Needless to say, this institutionalized liar’s game has created tensions in the Republican Party. Ted Cruz is threatening to break the game.
The Tea Party was the first successful attempt by religious extremists and Neo-Confederates to start electing Republicans who share their wildest delusions. Mitt Romney was pandering. Characters like Joni Ernst, Rand Paul and Mike Lee actually believewhat they are spouting. With the Presidential campaign of Ted Cruz, the whacko birds are coming home to roost.
Cruz has the potential to destroy the Republican Liar’s Game. If he does, the party alignments we have lived under since the Reagan Era will become unsustainable. No one but Ted Cruz is going to win the Republican nomination in 2016 by claiming to be the most conservative candidate. There is nothing to the right of Ted Cruz other than armed sedition. His campaign represents the end of the road in our race toward extremes. The party will have to either embrace its looniest ideas publicly, from top bottom, or explore a different approach to politics for the first time in a generation.
Political experts have largely dismissed the Cruz campaign as a stunt, placing him in a category with other Republican performance artists like Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain, and Pat Robertson. You can be certain that the Bush campaign isn’t making this mistake.
Cruz is a deadly serious candidate for two reasons. First, he is far more intelligent and capable than any of the party’s previous extremist candidates. Second, and more importantly, for the first time in more than fifty years we’re in a campaign cycle that favors grassroots appeal over insider organization."
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Obama Accuses Netanyahu Of Blowing A Hole In The Peace Process | ThinkProgress

Barack Obama
This is a grim statement.  The silver lining is that for the first time the United States is speaking candidly about the obstacles that the Israeli leadership presents for the already thin  hope of Palestinian-Israeli peace. - gwc
Obama Accuses Netanyahu Of Blowing A Hole In The Peace Process | 
Barack Obama, March 24, 2015
“I am required to evaluate honestly how we manage Israeli-Palestinian relations over the next several years,” Obama said. “Because up until this point, the premise has been both under Republican and Democratic administrations that as difficult as it was, as challenging as it was, the possibility of two states living side by side in peace and security could marginalize more extreme elements, bring together folks at the center and with some common sense and we could resolve what has been a vexing issue and one that is ultimately a threat to Israel as well. And that possibility seems very dim.”

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Monday, March 23, 2015

SCOTUS declines to discipline Foley lawyer who filed oddly worded petition //Legal Ethics Forum

Legal Ethics Forum: SCOTUS declines to discipline Foley lawyer who filed oddly worded petition
by John Steele
"News here. The order is here. In comments following my initial posts, I had suggested that there was no ethics violation but that the court should just strike the brief for not being a "plain statement" or something like that, and it looks as if that's the basis for the court's reminder to all attorneys about their responsibilities. The text of the order: A response having been filed, the Order to Show Cause, dated December 8, 2014, is discharged. All Members of the Bar are reminded, however, that they are responsible—as Officers of the Court—for compliance with the requirement of Supreme Court Rule 14.3 that petitions for certiorari be stated “in plain terms,” and may not delegate that responsibility to the client. "

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Slavery ~forced migration and torture~Salon

Me & Ted - by Josh Marshall

I have noticed that Ted Cruz - an accomplished college debater - has mastered slur by innuendo - as in "we don't know if he has ties to terrorists...." But now that he is a declared candidate for President it is worth recalling the memories of his classmates, who largely say "brilliant...major A#hole".  Josh Marshall of Talking Points memo had the story a couple of years back. - gwc
Me & Ted
By Josh Marshall
first Published September 23, 2013 
You may have noticed I don't particularly like Ted Cruz. That's not because of his politics, which probably obviously I disagree with in almost every particular. It's him. I've wanted to do a post about this because it turns out Ted and I have a history, though one I didn't even know about (or perhaps remember) until after he was elected. Last year, I heard there was a Tea Party guy running for Senate in Texas named Ted Cruz. I didn't think a lot about it (since it wasn't a competitive race in the general) or have any sense I had any connection to him. But then after he was elected I started noticing and thinking, wow, this guy seems like a royal jerk. And at some point my wife said, "You don't remember?""***
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Israel: The Stark Truth by David Shulman | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Israel: The Stark Truth by David Shulman | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books:
by David Shulman (Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an activist 
in Ta’ayush, Arab-Jewish Partnership)
"Benjamin Netanyahu has won again. He will have no difficulty putting together a solid right-wing coalition. But the naked numbers may be deceptive. What really counts is the fact that the Israeli electorate is still dominated by hypernationalist, in some cases proto-fascist, figures. It is in no way inclined to make peace. It has given a clear mandate for policies that preclude any possibility of moving toward a settlement with the Palestinians and that will further deepen Israel’s colonial venture in the Palestinian territories, probably irreversibly.
****First, the notion that there will someday be two states in historic Palestine has been savagely undermined. We have Netanyahu’s word for it. If he has his way—and why shouldn’t he?—Palestinians are destined for the foreseeable future to remain subject to a regime of state terror, including the remorseless loss of their lands and homes and, in many cases, their very lives; they will continue to be, as they are now, disenfranchised, without even minimal legal recourse, hemmed into small discontinuous enclaves, and deprived of elementary human rights."
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why We Need Law Schools - Noah Feldman - Bloomberg View

Why We Need Law Schools - Bloomberg View
By Noah Feldman

Who needs law school? For centuries, the answer in the English-speaking world was: no one. You prepared for the bar by serving as an apprentice or an intern alongside practicing lawyers. Sure, you had to read a lot of cases. At first, they probably made no sense. But over time, you learned by watching and doing to connect the decisions in the books with real cases and real clients.
 Today there’s renewed talk of returning to a world where you could join the bar after extended internships rather than formal legal study. I’m a law professor, so you’d expect me to defend the current system.
Before I do, however, let me make a big admission: Law school isn’t really necessary for lawyers or their clients. Practicing lawyers could, if they had the time and inclination, train interns to become excellent practitioners who fulfilled their obligations to their clients more than adequately. In fact, at big law firms in big cities, and smaller firms everywhere, partners and senior associates still do spend a lot of time informally training junior associates. If they didn’t, the junior lawyers wouldn’t be very good.
Graduating from law school, even having learned everything the professors have to teach, doesn’t prepare you to practice at a high level. Lawyering is an art, not a science. And the only way to learn an art well is by doing it. Yet law school is absolutely essential -- not for lawyers with clients, but for our society as a whole. The reason has everything to do with what makes law distinct as a social phenomenon."
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H&R Block shuts down immigrant service program

H&R Block Immigrant Service Program Shut Down

From Richard Granat, H&R Block Forced to Shut Down Immigrant Document Service by the Bar | eLawyering Blog
H&R Block launched an experimental and innovative service in Texas in January to assist immigrants in completing INS forms. The forms were powered by software and H&R Block’s role was to provide a service to assist users in completing the forms within their offices– , but no legal advice was to be provided.
It didn’t take long for the organized immigration bar to shut this service down.
More details here:

As Women Get More Power, Rightwing Pundits Get More Sexist

This is the group of women who said they are annoyed when they don't attract cat-calls.  Is there anyplace other than Fox News where women would say that?  or go to work dressed like that?  I guess all you can say is "that's showbiz for ya".
As Women Get More Power, Rightwing Pundits Get More Sexist
by Amanda Marcotte
"Gov. Rick Perry’s political action committee, RickPAC, grabbed headlines this week by hiring Jamie Johnson as senior director. It’s a surprising choice, because Johnson is a sexist. Not the usual kind that swears up and down he’s not a sexist while talking down to women or minimizing the impact of sexism, either. Johnson, who previously worked for Iowa Right to Life and the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, is bluntly sexist. In 2012, an email Johnson wrote surfaced in which he wrote, “The question then comes, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will…to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?’”"

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The 47 Republican Ronin Take on Iran « LobeLog

Image result for tom cotton army
The 47 Republican Ronin Take on Iran « LobeLog
by John Feffer (Institute for Policy Studies)

 In traditional Japanese culture, a samurai without a master is known as a ronin. The most popular tale featuring these leaderless samurai is the 18th-century Chusingura. It tells of a feudal lord who must commit ritual suicide after assaulting the court official who had insulted him. Of the lord’s several hundred retainers, 47 loyal samurai plot their revenge on the haughty court official. After two years of scheming and subterfuge, they put their plan into motion. They surround the court official’s mansion, kill a number of his guards, locate the wretched man, and cut off his head. Revenge complete: a head for a head.
But since the shogun had ruled out revenge in this case, the 47 ronin had knowingly defied the government. They’d felt a need to obey a much deeper tradition in Japanese culture: to honor their former master. They also knew that they’d have to pay a price for discharging this debt of obligation. Except for the messenger who delivered the news of the court official’s murder, the ronin are all ordered to follow the example of their master. They, too, commit ritual suicide.
Their graves at the Senkaku temple in the heart of Tokyo are even today a destination for pilgrims. The Chusingura has taught generations of Japanese that obligation must always trump political expediency. This venerable Japanese tale of treachery, honor, and revenge has been performed many times on stage, both with puppets (bunraku) and with actors (kabuki). But a new production, modernized and updated, has now been remounted here in Washington, DC.
Even though the show has gotten some terrible reviews, I feel obligated to add my own critical voice. In this new American production of the Japanese classic, 47 Republican senators play the roles of the 47 ronin. They too deliberately defy the shogun, played with equanimity by President Obama. But the American ronin are out to kill a policy, not a person. Led by upstart Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, who earned his samurai sword on the field of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 47 Republican ronin send a letter to the distant shogunate of Iran. The epistle, which comes at a critical moment in the negotiations to roll back Iran’s nuclear program, offers two arguments. President Obama doesn’t really have the authority to make a binding nuclear deal, the ronin maintain. And even if such a deal were concluded, a future president or a future Congress could quickly undo it.
 These rogue senators are not interested in obeying the letter of the law: They prefer the law of their letter. Nor do they feel any need to show deference to their commander-in-chief. Like their Japanese counterparts, they too believe that they’re acting toward some greater purpose. But unlike the Chusingura, they have no desire to pay the political cost for this treachery — the loss not of their heads but of their offices. But it may well come to that. This is no laughing matter. Still, as Marx once said, history repeats — first as tragedy and then as farce. So, what does the farce of the 47 Republican ronin teach us about Capitol Hill politics today?"
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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Wilentz: Bibi Offers Israel Troubled Sleep — and No Hope – The Sisterhood –

Novelist and essayist Amy Wilentz recalls the 1990's, a time of war, peace, and hope in Israel. -gwc
Bibi Offers Israel Troubled Sleep — and No Hope – The Sisterhood –
by Amy Wilentz

....From around the globe, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews (then entirely exempt from army service) were flooding to Jerusalem and had built and were building - over generations - a large and powerful fundamentalist voting bloc that was anathema, culturally, to the Zionists who had fought for independence in the 1940s.
God was becoming a major player in Israeli politics. While those religious families lived in near-penury in Jerusalem, wealthy and secular Silicon Wadi was about to emerge in Tel Aviv.
Israelis were stressed out. The costs of occupation were obvious in people’s tense faces and in their notorious lack of politesse. I remember laughing at myself because only a Jerusalemite could breathe a sigh of relief the way I did when I visited my family in Manhattan.
Compared to Jerusalem, New York seemed laid back. A very tough, war-hardened man was prime minister. Yitzhak Rabin, known as “Bone-Breaker” because of his early attitudes about handling the Palestinians, was leading the country toward peace. He was letting us continue to believe that Israel was sane.
Then a religious Israeli extremist killed Rabin. What seemed in those days like a blip in an arrow-straight timeline, an anomaly of some kind, is now an event that itself reads as inevitable and logical. Of course a moderate consensus builder was assassinated by an extremist.
As conservative Israelis like to say about their neighbors: Welcome to the Middle East. We don’t live in Scandinavia, they like to say.
But Israel itself, it turns out, is also very much a part of the contemporary Middle East. Not because of “the neighborhood,” but internally. A fundamentalist killed the prime minister, just to begin. In spite of this (and because of it), Jewish fundamentalism is on the rise politically and demographically.
The secular population is frightened about the future. The country is its own ghetto, surrounded by walls and barriers. It’s a weird place now whose culture seems, more and more, to have been invented in reaction to its enemies, rather than created by its founders.
Historically, the way to a better world has never been painless. But it’s easier to say that a future peace is better than a present security when you’re sitting on the other side of the globe, as I am now.
In the end, I think, many Israeli voters this week just lost courage. Though so many are tired of Netanyahu’s racially tinged, repetitive, reactionary fear-mongering, no one wanted to vote for Bougie and then lose a child in the first bus-bombing after the peace process starts up again.
In the aftermath of this dispiriting election, Israel will continue to be a harsh, militaristic place without hope - but with a great beach and lots of start-ups. That’s how Likud has transformed the country under Netanyahu’s stewardship.
The Jewish dream of Zionism was always a nightmare for the Palestinian population of the region. The way it has now played out finds the Israelis themselves in a troubled sleep from which they don’t seem able to awaken.
A sleep troubled by God, and monsters.
Amy Wilentz served as the Jerusalem correspondent for “The New Yorker.” She is the author of “Martyrs’ Crossing: A Novel,” set in Israel and the West Bank, and several non-fiction books, including “Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti.”

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Willingham Prosecutor Accused of Misconduct // The Marshall Project

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The Marshall Project (in collaboration with The Washington Post.)

In a major turn in one of the country's most-noted death penalty cases, the State Bar of Texas has filed a formal accusation of misconduct against the county prosecutor who convicted Cameron Todd Willingham, a Texas man executed in 2004 for the arson murder of his three young daughters.

Following a preliminary inquiry that began last summer, the bar this month filed a disciplinary petition in Navarro County District Court accusing the former prosecutor, John H. Jackson, of obstruction of justice, making false statements and concealing evidence favorable to Willingham's defense.

"Before, during, and after the 1992 trial, [Jackson] knew of the existence of evidence that tended to negate the guilt of Willingham and failed to disclose that evidence to defense counsel," the bar investigators charged.

The bar action was filed March 5 without any public announcement. It accuses Jackson of having intervened repeatedly to help a jailhouse informant, Johnny E. Webb, in return for his testimony that Willingham confessed the murders to him while they were both jailed in Corsicana, the Navarro county seat.
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