Sunday, April 01, 2012

On NDAA

A group of political activists and journalists has launched a legal challenge to stop an American law they say allows the US military to arrest civilians anywhere in the world and detain them without trial as accused supporters of terrorism.

The seven figures, who include ex-New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, professor Noam Chomsky and Icelandic politician and WikiLeaks campaigner Birgitta Jonsdottir, testified to a Manhattan judge that the law – dubbed the NDAA or Homeland Battlefield Bill – would cripple free speech around the world.

They said that various provisions written into the National Defense Authorization Bill, which was signed by President Barack Obama at the end of 2011, effectively broadened the definition of "supporter of terrorism" to include peaceful activists, authors, academics and even journalists interviewing members of radical groups.

Controversy centres on the loose definition of key words in the bill, in particular who might be "associated forces" of the law's named terrorist groups al-Qaida and the Taliban and what "substantial support" to those groups might get defined as. Whereas White House officials have denied the wording extends any sort of blanket coverage to civilians, rather than active enemy combatants, or actions involved in free speech, some civil rights experts have said the lack of precise definition leaves it open to massive potential abuse.
More

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

AMERICANS, Y U NO TAKE UR COUNTRY BACK?

Freddie Starr said...

Anonymous ate my hamster!

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Does anyone have a link to this law?

Sorry, Zeyad, but Noam Chomsky's opninion is not one I would automatically agree with.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "Does anyone have a link to this law?"

PDF file here

Anonymous said...

Email and web use 'to be monitored' under new laws

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

Were you perhaps under the impression that they weren't being monitored already?

Buster said...

Americans have become so pacified that it doesn't matter anymore. You can send their kids off to war, steal all their money and bankrupt them, even take away all their civil liberties. Just as long as you protect them from the big bad Muslims.

Petes said...

[Lynnette, from previous]: "Are you saying Ireland has never had a property tax before?"

No, there was a property tax of sorts until 1977, when it was scrapped. All attempts to reintroduce anything of its ilk since have been widely protested. A new "household charge" which is seen as a precursor to a property tax was introduced this year and the deadline for payment was last Saturday. It is levied at a paltry flat rate of 100 euro, but will be replaced by a valuation-based rate next year. Fifty percent of the population did not pay by the deadline.

Although, like in the US, the property tax is supposed to pay for local government, here all taxes go into central coffers and are disbursed to local authorities. The widely held belief is that the new household charge is simply going into the same pot from which our massive banking debt is being repaid. The deadline for the property tax roughly coincides with the repayment of a promissory note of 3 bn euro, representing about 10% of the debts of one of our banks.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      " Just as long as you protect them from the big
      bad Muslims.
"

You misunderstand the dynamics of the newest revisions to the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act).  This was actually supposed to protect us from the big bad Democrats.  This was purely for domestic consumption; although, it didn't work out for them as they'd hoped.

The Republicans are still in a state of shock, and no small measure of denial, over the loss of what's been a traditional political advantage for them, the issue of national defense.  For decades the Republicans have been perceived as ‘tougher’ on that issue than are the Democrats, and if they could get it to be an issue in the elections it garnered them some certain percentage of votes from among the perennially paranoid.  However they no longer enjoy that perception among the American public in general.  Obama got Osama, not to mention Anwar Awlaki and a couple dozen other top tier al Qaeda leaders.  In the wake of that, the Republicans have lost the perennial political advantage they had on the issue ‘national security’.  In an attempt to get that back they tried to pick a fight with the Obama administration over some of their more radical notions on the subject, this by attaching some fairly odious provisions to a ‘must pass’ piece of legislation (reauthorization of the NDAA, which contained some critical defense financing provisions).
Rather than get into the fight the Republicans wanted to have (they wanted to take to the cameras in front of the Capital Building and denounce the Democrats for being ‘soft’ on our enemies), the Obama administration took a more passive/aggressive approach and Obama issued a 'signing statement’ when he signed the law which basically stated that Obama had no intention of enforcing the provisions of the law that he found odious.  (Including the provisions being challenged in the case that Zeyad has mentioned).  Problem ‘solved’ to the Democrats' thinking, for the time being anyway.
They'll almost certainly revisit this when the authorization comes up again next year.  And the domestic political dynamics will be different then, whether Obama wins or loses the next election, the dynamics will be different.  In the meantime, most Americans are totally unaware of the dispute; it just did not make the news threshold.  And that's what Obama wanted.  He didn't want to have this fight in the middle of his re-election campaign; he thinks he's got enough on his plate already.  The Republicans did want to have the fight, but they didn't get their moment in front of the cameras, and now the moment has passed, and Obama still isn't enforcing the more odious provisions.  (Which is why there's a ‘standing’ issue being decided right now.  Do the complaining parties even have a valid (legally valid, not politically valid) complaint in the first place against a law that's not even being enforced?)
It will be interesting to see of the Obama administration even bothers to defend the law against this challenge, if the courts lets the challenge proceed.  There's no guarantee they will; they might just blow it off.  Then the Republicans in Congress who voted for the bill will have to hire their own attorney (probably paid for by the national Republican Party) to defend the law.

So far this is all pretty much a tempest in a teapot.  It was intended for domestic political advantage, and it just didn't work out that way for ‘em.  But, radicals on both sides are still strenuously trying to inflate it into a real tempest.  So far without much luck.  But, there's always a chance…  We shall have to wait and see if they manage to get it out of the teapot after all.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Lee,

Interesting analysis.

I checked out your link...565 pages! Oh my God, how could I have forgotten how wordy those things can be? Anyway, I have printed out the first 20 pages and will look through it to try to find any relevant portions.

However, my first reaction, given who is bringing the lawsuit, is that it is indeed a tempest in a teapot.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Anonymous,

I checked out your link.

But Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary David Davis said it would make it easier for the government "to eavesdrop on vast numbers of people".

Only legally speaking. I don't think the logistics of sorting through a vast amount of data are as easy. This appears to be designed to allow for quicker action in on ongoing investigation where time can be critical. So I don't think the average citizen would be affected.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

PeteS,

The widely held belief is that the new household charge is simply going into the same pot from which our massive banking debt is being repaid.

And that's probably right. If a government needs more money, it just imposes a tax.

Petes said...

Lynnette: "I don't think the logistics of sorting through a vast amount of data are as easy.

That's why intelligence agencies are among the biggest users of super computers. You might be surprised at how quickly they can crunch through e-mails, given that they are already processing much more complicated data to do facial recognition from surveillance cameras. That stuff passed from the realms of science fiction into reality quite some time ago.

Bruno said...

The Americans are just formalising what has been a fact for many years now. Does anybody think that they DIDN'T abduct, capture or kill people, civilians or otherwise, that they found inconvenient? Although I personally am glad that they've finally gathered the balls and come out to admit to what they are.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
Apparently your reading skills have failed you yet again.  Quoting from the post from Zeyad:

      "White House officials have denied the wording
      extends any sort of blanket coverage to civilians,
      rather than active enemy combatants…
"

JG said...

@ Pete$

From previous:


I'd be surprised if you were planning to pay it though (assuming you're liable). Wouldn't go with the left wing leanings, and yer left wing muckers in Dáil Éireann are, of course, expressing solidarity with you.


I'm not liable but if I was they wouldn't get it in a million years. And yes it's great that there are five principled TDs in there fighting for working people.


It's a topsy turvy world when the left wingers are resisting a tax on property owners.


Not really. The tax is flat which any left-winger would be against. Also they intend increasing it significantly in the coming years. I simply do not trust their pledge that it will become a progressive tax at some point in the future.

This is a great fightback by ordinary people.

Bridget said...

Who knows, maybe Russia will be the next frontier, once the US has thoroughly trashed itself...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgoapkOo4vg

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

   
More re:  American politics

The final holdouts among the Republican 'establishment’ appear to be settling on the notion that Romney is going to be the nominee (or, at least, that they don't want a floor fight at their convention; they want it over before that happens; and, given the choices they have, he's an ‘acceptable’ choice for their nominee).
Conventional wisdom has it that Romney needs to swing back towards more moderate political ground for the general election, having banked way right, rhetorically, during this primary fight.

Assuming the conventional wisdom is correct here…  Quaere then:
What does the Republican base do when Romney ‘shows his cards’, when he abandons his tack towards the right-wing, abandons the right-wing rhetoric even before the convention?
Do they suck it up and vote for him anyway?  Or do they feel betrayed and disgusted and sit this one out, just not bother to go to the polls?
Conventional wisdom is that they suck it up and go to the polls anyway, to ‘defeat Obama’, so great is their distaste for Obama.
But, then again…

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[PeteS] That's why intelligence agencies are among the biggest users of super computers.

Really? Interesting. However, results taken from a computer are only as good as the filters that are in place.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[Bruno] Does anybody think that they DIDN'T abduct, capture or kill people, civilians or otherwise, that they found inconvenient?

But, but, Bruno, you are still here! Of course, I haven't seen Rachel/Indigo for a while now...

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Lee,

I glanced through the table of contents I printed out yesterday. I noticed they even have a prohibition against contracting with the enemy. Okaaaaaayyyyy. Why would I have thought that would have been obvious? *shrug* Oh well, back to printing out what might have been a relevant part to the discussion...

Marcus said...

Lynnette:

"Really? Interesting. However, results taken from a computer are only as good as the filters that are in place."

Was that news to you? I thought it was common knowledge that the NSA commands the bigggest computing power in the world by far. Acres of underground facilities jammed with computing powers and digital storage facilities. That's not even a secret, that's common knowledge.

Now, you do have a point in that a computerised screening system is only good for so much. Your nitwit radicals who write in plain speech or in simple code will inevitably be picked up - and they are the majority of loonies.

But lone wolves will not necessarily appear. I read up on Breivik in Norway and he was quite careful during his buildup to his attacks with what he put online until he went operational, and even took great precaution when doing web-searches before that. Such as searching for his bomb-making formulas from anonymous laptops on public wifi-networks and then scrapping the computers and storing the material on USB memories. Hard to protect against that.

The there are the oldshool one time encryption keys. As long as dicipline is kept and no keys get out (and the keys are long enough and random) they are in fact unbreakable, no matter the interceptors computing power. In that case it doesen't matter if you intercept or how much computer power or humint you throw at each message - it's intelligigable.

The problem with that approach is that the use is limiited to few parties and few messages. It wouldn't work for say armies in wartime. But for small terrorist-cells who need only to communicate a few times and can change protocol for each cell it's a probleatic threat. In those cases the signint is more valuable in establishing that a suspicious message was sent/received and from what locations, because the message itself will be unknown.

Anonymous said...

intelligigable unintelligigable

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "I glanced through the table of contents I printed
      out yesterday.
"

You should be able to find a section where they tried to prohibit bringing charges in federal criminal court, all captives/detainees being under the exclusive jurisdiction of ‘military tribunals’ (which, by the way, have a horrible conviction rate compared to what they've been accomplishing in the federal criminal courts, but that's another matter in itself)
Obama really didn't like that provision.

Bruno said...

[lee] "White House officials have denied the wording extends any sort of blanket coverage to civilians"

I'm sure that murkin fantasyland spin must be of great comfort to, say, Anwar Al-Awlaki.

Good to see Lee is still imbibing the koolaid.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
First you claim that:

        "…they've finally gathered the balls and come out
        to admit to what they are.
"

And I point out that, in fact, they deny what you claim they've admitted.
And your response to that is non-responsive, i.e:

      "I'm sure that murkin fantasyland spin must be of
      great comfort to, say, Anwar Al-Awlaki.
"

The matter in dispute was whether they admitted what you claimed they'd admitted.  Somehow you seem to have missed that, and gone straight on to another point; i.e. your implied claim the denial is merely ‘spin’.
But, there's no reason for anybody to suspect that your analytical abilities are any better than your reading comprehension.

Got anything else?  Something that might actually either bolster or follow from your initial assertion of some sort of ‘admission’ from the American administration?  Or are we just going to get random blather from you going forward?

Bruno said...

[lee] "your implied claim the denial is merely ‘spin’."

Al Qaeda claims that they never targetted "innocents". Gee, they must be telling the truth then.

:/

(The ol' codger's reasoning skills ain't improved none)

Bruno said...

But the simian can have it his own way, I guess. If he wants to insist that the murkins are continuing with their old tricks ... ie - doing something while fatuously claiming not to be doing it - he's welcome to that interpretation.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "Gee, [al Qaeda] must be telling the truth then."

That doesn't follow from anything that came before.  I shall have to conclude that you cannot yet figure out a way to string two thoughts together here.  (Your demotion, bumped to night-shift, taking a toll on your mental abilities perhaps?  Well you should adjust after a few months, some anyway, some folks never adjust fully.  In any case, you're just wasting my time now.)

So, ciao for now.

Bruno said...

Easiest demolition of Lee I ever undertook. I'm guessing that one flew right over his head.

(Not going to explain it, though. I witnessed PeteS trying to take him through 1+1 and that was excruciatingly embarrassing enough.)

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
Returning to the subject of American politics then…

I notice that Obama is wasting no time jumping on Romney's endorsement of the Ryan budget proposal (Paul Ryan, Republican Chairman of the House Budget Committee; Ryan endorsed Romney after Romney embraced his (Ryan's) budget outline).
I gotta think that's a good move politically.  Tying Romney firmly to that proposal is likely gonna have significant benefits to the Obama campaign as the proposed Ryan/Romney budget gets raked over in the coming months.  And one may be sure that the Obama campaign will be calling it the Ryan/Romney budget.

Petes said...

@JG$:

Taxation based on ability to pay won't get far in Ireland, seeing as we're collectively broke.

Bruno said...

So, returning to the subject of Iraq, on this Iraqi blog:

"“So the oil producers in the north, which is actually the easiest oil to extract in the country, are not getting paid. The southern oil fields, which are still in disarray after the US/UK invasion, need hundreds of billions of [British] pounds of infrastructure improvements to be able to extract that readily. That doesn’t seem to be forthcoming from the Western oil companies like BP, like Chevron, like Total, that have got contracts in there,” Raddie said.

“The deal was they would get the contracts and they would build the infrastructure. None of the infrastructure, as it happens, would actually benefit the Iraqi people in any case, but the Iraqi people will be left with the bill,” he continued.

Holding the fifth-largest oil exports in the world, Iraq has issued 15 energy licenses since 2003, and global oil giants are preparing for a new licensing round come May.

Raddie argues that it is this competition for access to the country’s resources that has led to “the chaos which is the post-war plan for Iraq.”"

http://rt.com/news/iraq-kurds-oil-dispute-177/

JG said...

Pete$€

Bull. There is plenty of wealth in Ireland. A wealth tax would be a start.

Anti-household charge campaign is only the beginning

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
Just when I begin to think that things have gotten as politicize as possible, somebody figures out a way to ratchet things up another notch. 
In what strikes me as a totally unprecedented move, a panel for the 5th Circuit Federal Appeals Court has interrupted proceedings in a case on appeal before the court, and demanded that the Justice Department lawyers provide a single spaced, three page, explanation of Obama's remarks, made in response to a question during in a joint news conference on Monday at the White House.  The media event was scheduled as a joint appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon Monday at the White House.  During which Obama got a question on the ObamaCare litigation.  Obama's remarks to the press:

      "Ultimately, I'm confident that the Supreme Court will
      not take what would be an unprecedented extra-
      ordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by
      a strong majority of a democratically elected
      congress.
      "And I would like to remind conservative comment-
      ators that for years what we have heard is that the
      biggest problem is judicial activism and that an
      unelected group of people would somehow overturn a
      duly constituted and passed law.
"

That was an egregious overstatement, of course; the Supreme Court has struck down hundreds of laws as unconstitutional, and the Obama administration has had to issue a follow up explanation indicating that Obama meant the ‘unprecedented’ adjective to apply only to a constriction of the federal ‘Commerce Clause’ powers in a matter clearly implicating interstate commerce.  Be that as it may…
The Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has demanded that the Justice Department explain, in writing, Obama's remarks made during a news conference at the White House.  I've never heard of such a thing happening before.  We may now have something truly unprecedented goin’ down.
It may be worth noting that all three judges on the panel are Republican appointees.  And the 5th Circuit covers the largely staunchly Republican Southern States.
Still, damnedest thing I've seen in quite awhile.
I would not be at all surprised if the Justice Department defies the Court order and refuses to give them the explanation of Obama's press conferences.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "I would not be at all surprised if…"

The Justice Department has said that they ‘will respond’ to the appellate court's order.  That doesn't particularly surprise me either; although, if I'd have had to bet, I'd have bet the other side.  (Would have demanded odds though, wasn't gonna bet that one straight up.)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Marcus,

I thought it was common knowledge that the NSA commands the bigggest computing power in the world by far.

I really don't pay much attention to what the NSA is doing. As to computing power, I thought I read somewhere that the Chinese recently took the honor of having the fastest computer? At this time, my guess is you are probably right about who has the greatest number of computers. But, no doubt, the Chinese will surpass us in that as well. Or at least so the speculation goes.

Call me old fashioned, but when it comes to gathering intelligence, as with other things, I would think human leg work is essential. Technology is not infallable. As you pointed out.

Oh dear, my comment seems to be sprawling outside the preview box. Strange.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Okay, I finally found the section that Zeyad posted about. I'll see if I can copy it here...

(b) COVERED PERSONS.—A covered person under this section
is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided
the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001,
or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported
al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged
in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners,
including any person who has committed a belligerent act or
has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy
forces.


Well, 1 is clear enough. 2 seems to be what Zeyad is posting about. What really is the definition of "substantial" in this case? Interviewing someone who is a member of a terrorist organization, in the case of a journalist? I would think not. Sure you give them "air time", but you also give our intelligence people an insight into their thinking. Scratch that one. Peaceful activists? Well, if they are really peaceful activists then they would be speaking out against terrorism anyway, so scratch that one. Authors and academics? In what capacity? By writing a how to guide on how to make a bomb? Weeellll, probably not the wisest thing to be writing about. But, unfortunately, I think that horse has escaped the barn already. By conducting a training camp? Sorry, not a good look there. By conducting a class on the roots of terrorism? I'd give that one a pass.

All kidding aside, how about those who comment on blogs about "little presents"? If that's all they do, I would write them off as fruitcakes. Especially as I know for a fact that their "spydar" is so faulty.

Yes, Bruno, I would even give you a pass too, if all you do is run off at the mouth...er... fingers?

Petes said...

[JG$]: "Bull. There is plenty of wealth in Ireland. A wealth tax would be a start."

Classic JG$. So you want to tax the assets of people who have already paid tax on them while:

* The top 0.5% of earners (less than 12,000 people) already pay 18% of all income tax in Ireland.
* the average millionaire pays 6 times the average income tax rate (not amount) of the median earner

While these are 2009 figures, and things have changed somewhat since, Irish income tax for middle earners is still ridiculously low.

Also, how come you are in favour of a wealth tax and you don't seem to consider privately owned dwellings as "wealth".

Quite apart from all that, good luck trying to raise substantial taxes from the literal handful of people who earn over a quarter of a million euro per year in this country, while ignoring that yer hated FF "right wingers" gave the shop away to the huddled masses who now contribute a lot less than their fair share to the state coffers.

(And btw, I paid an amount of income tax that would make your toes curl last year -- if yer commie friends want to come and try to tax it on the double I'll be staging my own protests).

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "2 seems to be what Zeyad is posting about. What
      really is the definition of 'substantial'…?
"

Wrong question at this phase of the game.  The plaintiffs have not been charged nor even investigated. 
So, the question, at this stage of the game, is whether the plaintiffs can reasonably claim to have been subjected to a "chilling effect" to self-censorship, in fear of the new law being overbroadly applied and maybe they'll be subject to charges in the future.  It's the government's position that those same terms have been included in the authorization to use force against al-Qaeda and the Taliban that was passed after 9/11, and nobody's been confused by it yet.  In answer to that question of whether or not they have a reasonable fear of prosecution for future journalism or advocacy, as per the fed's lawyers in this case:

      "'Plaintiffs claim to fear that their expressive
      activities will be considered “substantial support”
      provided to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or an “associated
      force[ ]” of al-Qaeda or the Taliban under section
      1021,' the memo states, referring to a section that
      they say 'reaffirms' an earlier Authorization to Use
      Military Force.
"'As established above, those terms (or broader ones)
      have been in place for years, and plaintiffs have not
    identified a single instance where an individual was
      detained for engaging in journalism or advocacy of the
      sort described in plaintiffs' affidavits - notwithstanding
      that plaintiffs have for years engaged in such
      activities.'
"

Simply put, when Obama issued the signing statement when he signed the 2012 annual military budget authorization he said that he already had all the powers he needed under the initail authorization to use force and the new language added nothing.  (And, left unsaid was that they weren't going to be bringing charges under the new language anyway ‘cause Obama doesn't agree with the exclusive military tribunal jurisdiction part.)

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "I really don't pay much attention to what the NSA
      is doing.
"

What they're doing is intercepting, recording, and storing way more electronic data than they'll ever have time to look at, or interpreters to interpret, or analyists to analyze.  Bunches of stuff going into storage that's never gonna get looked at.

Petes said...

Bruno, that article you linked from Russia Today makes even less sense than is normal for that bastion of Soviet-style propaganda.

"The southern oil fields, which are still in disarray after the US/UK invasion, need hundreds of billions of [British] pounds of infrastructure improvements to be able to extract that readily. That doesn’t seem to be forthcoming from the Western oil companies like BP, like Chevron, like Total, that have got contracts in there,” Raddie said."

Eh, what? Infrastructural improvements in southern oil fields are being done via services contracts. Remember the hullballoo about PSAs (from Bruno and his ilk). Well they didn't hand them out. So asking why the oil companies are not paying for infrastructural improvements is like asking a street-sweeper why he's not paying to build new roads.

"“The deal was they would get the contracts and they would build the infrastructure."

Eh, no, it wasn't. And even the companies working on services contracts to improve infrastructure claim that homegrown Iraqi bureaucracy and corruption is stifling their efforts.

"anti-war activist Mike Raddie says the chaos is ‘all part of the plan.’"

Fine piece of journalism there. Quote some random anarchist without a shred of supporting evidence.

"Holding the fifth-largest oil exports in the world, Iraq has issued 15 energy licenses since 2003, and global oil giants are preparing for a new licensing round come May."

Is 15 supposed to be a large number?

"Raddie argues that it is this competition for access to the country’s resources that has led to “the chaos which is the post-war plan for Iraq.”

Oh, now I've got it. The plan was to ransack Iraq for its resources, and to create chaos so the resources couldn't be accessed. Seriously, WTF is this idiot talking about?

I'd stick to antiwar.com if I were you. rt.com makes it look like the Times of London by comparison.

Petes said...

"What they're doing is intercepting, recording, and storing way more electronic data than they'll ever have time to look at, or interpreters to interpret, or analyists to analyze. Bunches of stuff going into storage that's never gonna get looked at."

That's what the computers are for.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "That's what the computers are for."

The computers are for sorting out stuff that should be looked at by people.  They're gettin’ way more than to look at than they got people to do the lookin’.

Um Ayad said...

Shiites, Sunnis in post-US Iraq: separate, unequal

BAGHDAD (AP) — Now that U.S. forces are gone, Iraq's ruling Shiites are moving quickly to keep the two Muslim sects separate — and unequal.

Sunnis are locked out of key jobs at universities and in government, their leaders banned from Cabinet meetings or even marked as fugitives. Sunnis cannot get help finding the body of loved ones killed in the war. And Shiite banners are everywhere in Baghdad.

http://news.yahoo.com/shiites-sunnis-post-us-iraq-separate-unequal-172912676.html

Anonymous said...

Smite her, oh Lord. Amen.

Praise Jesus!

Petes said...

"The computers are for sorting out stuff that should be looked at by people. They're gettin’ way more than to look at than they got people to do the lookin’."

Well, DUH! The sensitivity can be turned up and down, so you're always gonna get more than y'all can handle -- point is, they can be prioritised.

Also, computers can do stuff that people can't do at all, or can do it better. Like accurate face recognition -- ten years ago it was a complete flop; now if you walk down certain US streets your face will be automatically matched against a list of known terrorists in near real time.

Bridget said...

"That was an egregious overstatement, of course"

Wasn't sure which one of the egregious overstatements you were referring to, since there were several.

You missed the one about the law being passed by a "strong majority of a democratically elected congress.". It fact, it barely passed the House. And don't even get me started on the skullduggery it took to muster a bare majority in the Senate.

And then there is our President's novel redefinition of "judicial activism". T'was so outlandish as to send me in search of information regarding his alleged credentials as a constitutional scholar. An interesting bit of research.

Bridget said...

Anyway, Obama's got a pretty hard sell on the mandate, and he's floundering on his own. He could use some help from whoever spun legitimate concerns about forcing the Catholic Church to provide free birth control into hysteria that women were going to be forced back into the kitchen, barefot and pregnant.

Bruno said...

PeteS, if you don't understand the articles I post, then don't read them.

Bruno said...

Meanwhile, back to news about Iraq:

Service in Iraq sets one up for cushy jobs back home:

"U.S. Army Private Brandon Click was driving a 68-ton Abrams tank in Iraq on March 25, 2008, when a roadside bomb melted his eyelashes and peppered the left side of his body with shrapnel. Now back home in the Cincinnati (BEESOH) suburbs, the 26-year-old Army veteran says he’s been delivering Papa John’s pizza at night in his 2002 Pontiac Sunfire for a little more than $31,000 a year to help support his infant son while he searches for a job. “It gets the bills paid, but barely,” said Click, who crossed the Ohio River to Kentucky last week for a job fair intended to help returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans."

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-05/iraq-veteran-delivers-pizza-during-two-year-job-search

Service in Iraq is good for the health:

"A military contractor knew an Iraqi water treatment plant's lax environmental standards let a toxic chemical contaminate the area, but never disclosed it to Oregon National Guard soldiers who were sickened, the soldiers said in a complaint filed Wednesday.

The complaint in U.S. District Court in Oregon alleges Kellogg, Brown and Root knew about the presence of sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant months before the date they originally gave in testimony and depositions. A message left Wednesday for KBR Inc. was not immediately returned.

Sodium dichromate is an anticorrosive compound that can cause skin and breathing problems and cancer. The soldiers, suffering from myriad respiratory problems, migraines and lung issues, sued KBR in June 2009."

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-04/D9TU8FM80.htm

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "[Y]ou're always gonna get more than y'all can
      handle -- point is, they can be prioritised.


Yeah, ‘prioritized’, that's kinda what I's talkin’ ‘bout when I mentioned the ‘sorting’.  Kinda figured I'd dealt with that part. 
But, if ‘you're always gonna get more than ya can handle’ that would seem to indicate that you're adjusting your perception of the threat (the size of the mesh in the filters) to the size of the workforce available rather than adjusting the workforce to deal with the magnitude of the perceived threat.
(Although, this is certainly not a new phenomenon, and certainly not restricted to the NSA.  But that raises other issues.  I do remember reading a study that correlated quite accurately the number of people who were discovered to have mental health issues with the number of people who'd recently been graduated with degrees in the mental health fields.  Seems the more shrink degrees graduated, the more crazy people they found who needed their help, and when they ran low on enough crazy people they began finding new and broader definitions of who they thought was crazy ‘nuff to need their help.)
My point was that the NSA has been grabbin’ more stuff than they got people to deal with.  Whether the proper response to that situation would be to grab less stuff or to get more people is a whole 'nother question.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

     
      "Wasn't sure which one of the egregious
      overstatements you were referring to, since there
      were several.


Yeah, well, some politicking is to be expected during the politicking season I'd reckon.  However, having an appellate court judge, on his own initiative, interrupt court proceedings with the demand that the government lawyers address news conferences of politicians (even the president) is a new one on me.  I don't recall ever seein’ that one before.
 
             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
      "And then there is our President's novel redefinition
      of ‘judicial activism’.
"

Hardly novel.  I've noticed that our hard right-wingers’ definition of what is or is not ‘judicial activism’ tends to vary according to the needs of the moment for the right-wingers doin’ the defining.  No doubt you can find definitions to suit the needs of this moment, as you perceive those needs.  But, they'll hardly be novel.
The outburst of Appellate Judge Jerry Smith from the 5th Circuit, on the other hand…
 
             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
‘Skullduggery’?

      Merriam-Webster
      "skullduggery ― noun
      "Definition of SKULDUGGERY
      : underhanded or unscrupulous behavior; also : a
      devious device or trick
"

‘Fraid I don't follow. 

             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
      "[Obama] could use some help from whoever spun
      legitimate concerns about forcing the Catholic Church
      to provide free birth control…
"

I believe that insurance boards in 29 of the 50 states already impose just that sort of requirement and have for quite some time.  And yet the Catholic bishops have managed to not notice this ‘attack on religion’ until after the Pope addressed the bishops' conference and mentioned the need to resist the secular humanism of the Obama Administration.  (Which need, by the way, was discovered well before HHS issued the original order, which happened to track laws already on the books in 29 of the 50 states which had not raised their ire.)  They were just waitin’ for somethin’ to bitch ‘bout is what that is.  Picked this.
 
             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
      "Meanwhile, back to news about Iraq: ***
      "U.S. Army Private Brandon Click was driving a
      68-ton Abrams tank in Iraq on March 25, 2008…
"

2008?  This is news?  This is about Iraq?  Don't think so, on either count.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
And, just by the way, it is statistically true that providing contraception services lowers overall group medical costs, and should, logically, lower group premiums.  So, the Catholic Church wouldn't actually be providing ‘free birth control’.  Assuming the premiums reflect the savings enjoyed from some sinful women who pay for their own birth control, the Catholic Church would, in fact, be pocketing the profits off of those women who paid their own way.
I'm sure that there's some sort of Catholic dogma that rationalizes the Church profiting from sin.  Ain't seen a preacher yet that couldn't rationalize profit to the Church, Catholic or otherwise.  Perhaps Petes will explain to us the Catholic take on how it's good that they pocket the profits?

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

     
I see that Romney is overtaking Santorum in Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania.  PPP shows Romney up by 5 points.  RCP--05 Apr '12
Reckon Bridget shall soon have her champion selected.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
And, just by the way, I been following the odds on intrade.  The closer Romney gets to lockin’ up the nomination, the higher the traders rate Obama's chances.  Just today, for the first time, I notice that they got Obama favored at 61% (rounded up--60.6% as of this moment in time)  First time I've seen Obama crack the 60% odds-on-favorite mark.

Wonder how long that'll last?

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

   
      "Perhaps Petes will explain to us the Catholic take
      on how it's good that they pocket the profits?
"

I would re-phrase that to read ‘pocket the savings’.  On account of Petes is likely to quibble ‘bout the semantics if I leave it as it was and never get to the underlying issue if he can avoid it.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
And, in closing, I notice a new Republican talking point taking hold.  The Republicans are starting to claim that the Obama campaign is gonna hit Romney on his religion (the Mormonism as cult argument).  The Democrats deny any intention of doing any such thing, and indeed, they've not done any of that so far.  Only folks who've hit on that so far are the evangelical right-wing, and they're pretty much all Republicans, save for ones who are too far to the right to even find the Republicans acceptable.
Figure maybe it's just paranoia, but more likely it's a calculated effort to shame their own evangelicals into shuttin’ up ‘bout that by claiming that their own evangelicals are ‘sounding like Democrats’  (This in spite of the fact that the Democrats ain't been makin’ no such sounds.)
Might work; these guys can be made to believe some goofy things.  Might not work though, might backfire by too often reminding the evangelicals that Romney's a Mormon.

Petes said...

Judgement day looms for Chinese property sector

Petes said...

[Bruno]: "PeteS, if you don't understand the articles I post, then don't read them."

Be sure to take a nice rest now, Bruno, to recover from all that hard work you put into answering my specific criticisms. You really shouldn't work yourself so hard, when it would be so easy to just fling out random links to propaganda pieces.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[Lee] The plaintiffs have not been charged nor even investigated.

Well then, much ado about nothing.

[PeteS] ...now if you walk down certain US streets your face will be automatically matched against a list of known terrorists in near real time.

I can see where that could prove useful near sensitive areas. An overall blanketing of cities would be rather expensive, I should think.

There are certainly things that computers can do very well. But human input is critical. I am not talking about intelligence operatives, but simply your average citizen. Reporting a suspicious vehicle, or behavior of an individual, can make a huge difference in the outcome of a situation. A very alert customs agent helped stop a bombing at an airport in California for instance.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

   
      "Well then, much ado about nothing."

Speaking of which…
I see that the Justice Department has now officially responded to 5th Circuit Appellate Court Judge Jerry Smith's demand for an explanation of the government position on judicial review.  Politico.com tell us that Attorney General Eric Holder signed it himself.  They describe the tone of the letter as ‘brusque and note that, although the judge demanded that the response be a minimum of three pages, single spaced, Holder's response came in "noticeably short of that, coming in at about 2 and a half pages’ including the space taken up by the closing and signature.
Further, while the 5th Circuit demanded that the response specifically address Obama's comments at the press conference, Holder barely even touched on that point.  Virtually nothing about that beyond noting that:

      "The President's remarks were fully consistent
      with the principles described herein.
"

The 5th Circuit must now decide whether to double down or back off.

Bridget said...

"  The Republicans are starting to claim that the Obama campaign is gonna hit Romney on his religion (the Mormonism as cult argument"

An erstwhile devotee of Jeremiah Wright and Black Liberation Theology might want to be careful about hitting anybody else on their religion.

Bridget said...

"I believe that insurance boards in 29 of the 50 states already impose just that sort of requirement and have for quite some time"

I believe I'd like some authority for that.

Bridget said...

"And, just by the way, it is statistically true that providing contraception services lowers overall group medical costs, and should, logically, lower group premiums.  So, the Catholic Church wouldn't actually be providing ‘free birth control’.  Assuming the premiums reflect the savings enjoyed from some sinful women who pay for their own birth control, the Catholic Church would, in fact, be pocketing the profits off of those women who paid their own way."

The Catholic Church should not be forced to provide free, subsidized, or any other form of birth control to anybody, be they male or be they female. It really doesn't matter how the economics of the situation work out, statistically speaking. But that line of argument illustrates all the reasons why this really ugly Obamacare baby needs to be strangled in it's cradle.

Birth control pills and IUD's are both possible abortifacients. Although I am pro choice, on the issue of abortion and abortifacients, the Catholic Church has an entirely moral and defensible position. And even though the Church's position on barrier forms of birth control seems entirely daft to me, I still find the administration's position to be totalitarian and scary.

Bridget said...

http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_ICC.pdf

There are 28 states that require insurance policies that cover prescription drugs to include contraceptives. But there is no requirement that they offer either one. And many of those states also offer religious exemptions.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "An erstwhile devotee of Jeremiah Wright and
      Black Liberation Theology might want to be careful
      about hitting anybody else on their religion.
"

While I think the evidence is rather sparse (read as ‘non-existant’) for an accusation that Obama was a ‘devotee’ of either one; nevertheless, I tend to agree.  Given the attacks Obama has taken on both fronts (not to mention the still whispered accusations that he secretly follows the Muslim faith) it's absurd to jump to the conclusion that he's intending to go after Romney on the issue of his religion.  That's why I tend to discount the ‘just paranoia’ theory, and figured there's got to be a more credible answer for our Republican friends having dreamed this one up pretty much out of whole cloth.
 
             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
        "I believe I'd like some authority for that."

I generally require a person asking for ‘some authority’ to first deny the premise, or, at least, to openly assert that they do not believe it, before I entertain a demand for ‘some authority’.  However that seems to be a moot point now; to wit:

        "There are 28 states that require… and etc."

So, it's 28 and not 29?  That's what I get for not checking my recollection first I guess.  Not a big deal I don't reckon.  I'll call that close enough for government work.
 
             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
      "And many of those states also offer religious
      exemptions.
"

As did the initial (and the modified) rule from HHS.  The Obama administration offered a religious exemption from the very beginning.  Quoting from page one of your PDF file from Guttenmacher:

      "The agency as also proposed an exemption for
      some religious employers, similar to the exemption
      included in several state laws.
"

I should probably point out that the ObamaCare legislation (as passed by the Congress) requires the coverage of ‘contraceptive counseling and services and all FDA-approved methods without out-of-pocket costs to patients.’  This is mandated in the legislation itself; this is not a requirement tacked on by the Obama administration.  Rather, it was the Obama administration that added the religious exemption.  (Get no credit for that though, do they?)

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      "The Catholic Church should not be forced to
      provide free, subsidized, or any other form of birth
      control to anybody…
"

I don't think you want to go there.  I'm gonna do you a favor and let you off the hook this time, and just blow this one off for now.

Bridget said...

"So, it's 28 and not 29"

No. It's 28 that require plans that include prescription drugs to include contraception. Quite a different thing entirely than your statement that 29 impose a requirement that the Catholic Church provide free birth control. They do no such thing. The Catholic Church is perfectly free to not provide prescription drug coverage and not provide free contraception.

And, of course, if the Church could purchase coverage across state lines...well, then. LOL

Bridget said...

I do want to go there. The Catholic Church should not be forced to provide birth control pills, condoms, diaphragms, IUDs, or any form of birth control to anybody. Period. Nor should they be forced to subsidize it. Period.

A person who works for a Catholic organization who wishes to use birth control can buy their own or get it free from other sources. It's very easy to do.

Bridget said...

"  Rather, it was the Obama administration that added the religious exemption.  (Get no credit for that though, do they?)"

Somebody ought to 'splain to Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services that the Obama administration position is that the Catholic Church has an exemption. Maybe Joe Biden could be dispatched to do the job. Because either she is totally off the reservation, or the Obama administration is talking out of both sides of it's mouth. Or either it didn't read the 2700 pages, still hasn't read the 2700 pages, and has no clue what's all lurking in there.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "Quite a different thing entirely than your
      statement that 29 impose a requirement that the
      Catholic Church provide free birth control.


That wasn't my point.  Rather my point was that 29 (or 28 or whatever) of the state plans require no-deductible, zero co-pay contraceptive coverage, but most offer an exemption for religious institutions with a religious objection, and that those exemptions don't expand beyond the religious institutions themselves so's to also exemp ‘affilitated’ organizations (hospitals, universities, and the like).
 
             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
      "I do want to go there. The Catholic Church should
      not be forced to provide birth control pills, condoms,
      diaphragms, IUDs, or any form of birth control to
      anybody. Period. Nor should they be forced to
      subsidize it. Period.
"

Okay, once again then.  The exemption for the Catholic Church was included by the Obama administration from the first rattle out of the box.  Nobody ever expected the Church to cover contraceptive services!  You are simply misinformed on this.

On more basic level.
Contraceptive coverage actually pays for itself, and then some extra.  The statistics are fairly clear and unequivocal.  Contraception is cheaper than pregnancy.  Costs to the insurer are lower across the group on account of the use of contraception.  There are no higher costs to be subsidized.  There are savings instead.  So the question becomes:  Who pockets the savings?  The question is not who subsidizes the coverage.

      "Or either it didn't read the 2700 pages, still hasn't
      read the 2700 pages, and has no clue what's all
      lurking in there.
"

Apparently, you are the one who has no clue.  You don't seem to know what you're talking about.
I'll go over this again, slowly. 
  1.  The legislation itself requires the coverage of contraception. 
  2.  The exemption was being drafted by HHS.  From the very beginning it was anticipated that the Catholic Church (and other religious organizations) would get an exemption.
  3.  The first version of the exemption offered just such an exemption to religious organizations, including the Catholic Church.  The Catholic bishops and the Republicans then promptly went nuts because affiliated organizations were not also covered.  Example:  The University of Notre Dame is creature of the state.  It's chartered by the State of Indiana.  It's closely affiliated to the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church donates a lot of money there, but it's not owned by the Church; it's not chartered by the Church.  It's a creature of the state. 
  4.  Notre Dame would not have been covered by the original exemption.  That's what the fuss was all about.

   Lee C.  ―  U.S.A.    said...

 
      "…then promptly went nuts because affiliated
      organizations were not also covered.
"

Actually, the went nuts ‘cause they were tired of waiting for something to go nuts about, and seem to have decided that this was good ‘nuff to go with.  Given that the Republicans have since taken quite a beating in their standing with female voters, I'd suggest that they probably should have waited for a better topic.

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