First Lady Michelle Obama arrives at the Hamad Airport in Doha, Qatar. She’ll visit the al-Udeid air base with comedian Conan O’Brien. She is also scheduled to give a speech Wednesday on her Let Girls Learn initiative at the 2015 World Innovation Summit for Education
No mincing words. Killing the #IranDeal is a vote for war with Iran. Listen Bibi & Schumer: War with Iran erases the single obstacle to the total conquest of the Middle East by ISIS Sunni Extremists. How do we know this? One word, Iraq. If we think it’s bad enough that Iraq today is overrun by ISIS that we toil at great expense to reclaim; it will be a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade compared to what the region will look like if we get embroiled in war with Iran.
We will in effect be acting as ISIS’ turbocharged cavalry and bombardiers. I repeat. We will be fighting ISIS’ war for them by demolishing their arch Shia enemy. More than a decade ago, America’s dangerous stupidity in waging the Iraq War created the vacuum that led directly to the rise of our worst nightmare; ISIS/ISIL. Now we will be both their cannonballs and fodder.
But our tunnel vision predated GWB’s Mid-East blunder in the maniacal miscalculations we made in backing Saddam Hussein against Iran during the Iran/Iraq War all because our fee fees were hurt about the ouster of the Shah in 1979 (not to mention the horror we committed in 1953). As surely as there exists the law of gravity, we nuked ourselves in the foot each and every time we dabbled in the Middle East by creating cancerous power vacuums as we zoomed in and out detonating blowback ordnance on our own heels.
The NeoCon cabal, their Military Industrial Complex puppetmasters, plus their myopic Democratic Party bedfellows may satisfy their immediate greed, but America will be crippled and isolated permanently in its hubris.
President Barack Obama meets with bicameral congressional leaders and the chairs and ranking members of congressional national security committees to consult with them about ongoing U.S. efforts to respond to the conflicts in Ukraine, Iraq, Gaza, Syria, and other issues, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. July 31, 2014. Photo by Pete Souza
All Times Eastern
10:00AM: President Barack Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
1:00PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
President Barack Obama greets four of the nine 2014 Kavli Prize laureates with representatives from the Kavli Foundation and other guests in the Oval Office. July 31, 2014 Photo by Pete Souza
Bradley Burston: I Live In Israel, In Iran’s Shadow. I Voted For Obama. I’m Glad I Did
I live in Israel. I live in the shadow of Iran. I hold American citizenship as well as Israeli. I pay taxes to both countries. I vote in the elections of each. In 2008 and 2012, I voted for Barack Obama. I’m glad I did. I’m glad not only because of landmark changes to America on his watch, not only because of moments of inspiration, of unexpected hope, of enfranchisement, of movement on issues long dismissed as immutable. I’m glad because I believe that no one but this president would have tried, and succeeded, to land a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons.
I believe that Barack Obama is making the best effort that anyone is, to keep my family safe from the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon. And what about Benjamin Netanyahu? Don’t I trust him? Don’t I trust him to keep us safe, to safeguard Israel’s vital interests, to keep war at bay? No. Not at all. Absolutely not. Barack Obama could have taken the easy way out, and ducked the most difficult foreign policy challenge of his presidency – a nuclear Iran. Instead, against all odds, against some of the most stringent pressures American politics can dish out, he has driven forward. Thank you, Mr. President, for this deal.
You doves think that a nuclear deal will empower reformers in Iran and turn it once more into the pro-American and pro-Israeli power it was under the shah. But sanctions relief may just give this regime a new lease on life. Iran’s people are perhaps the most pro-American and secular of those of any country I’ve been to in the Middle East. (On my last trip to Iran, I took two of my kids along, and Iranians bought them meals and ice cream, and served them illegal mojitos.) The public weariness with the regime’s corruption, oppression and economic failings is manifest. I would guess that after the supreme leader dies, Iran will begin a process of change like that in China after Mao died.
Look, even you admit that this is a flawed deal. So why risk it? As Rick Perry says, “No deal is better and safer than a bad deal.” We have a glimpse of what might happen. In 2003, Iran seemingly offered a comprehensive “grand bargain” to resolve relations with the United States, but George W. Bush’s administration dismissed it. Since then, Iran has gone from a tiny number of centrifuges to 19,000, getting within two months of “breakout” to a nuclear weapon. The point: Fulmination is not a substitute for policy, and a multilateral international agreement achieves far more protection than finger-wagging.
Michael McLaughlin: Officers Involved In Samuel DuBose Shooting Were Sued In Earlier Death Of Unarmed Black Man
Two University of Cincinnati police officers involved in a colleague’s recent fatal shooting of Samuel DuBose also were on hand for a 2010 struggle with a psychiatric patient who later died. Officers Eric Weibel and Phillip Kidd were among seven University of Cincinnati police officers and other officials named in a lawsuit alleging the wrongful death of Kelly Brinson, a 45-year-old mentally ill university hospital patient. Hospital staff summoned officers to help subdue Brinson, who became agitated when put in seclusion, according to court documents first reported by The Guardian. Kidd and Weibel gave written statements that they restrained Brinson, while another officer used a Taser stun gun on him.
Brinson went into cardiac arrest and died days later, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. The Hamilton County coroner ruled Brinson died from natural causes. His family settled the lawsuit for $638,000. Both officers also were involved in the July 19 traffic stop that led to the death of DuBose. Kidd gave statements to investigators that he saw DuBose, 43, drive away and drag Officer Ray Tensing before Tensing shot the motorist. Weibel wrote in a report that Tensing’s uniform looked like he’d been dragged. Footage from Tensing’s body camera, however, appeared to show that DuBose wasn’t driving away when the officer shot him, as Tensing and Kidd had claimed.
Zeba Blay: How White People Sound When They Argue About Racism
On July 27, the Black Girl Dangerous Twitter account shared some hilarious — but also painfully accurate — examples of what white people sound like when they dismiss the experiences of people of color. Mia McKenzie, creator of the Black Girl Dangerous organization was behind the series of tweets, prefaced by noting, “I’ve been saying publicly for like four years that IDGAF what you think about shit you don’t experience.” She then described a series of ridiculous scenarios in which people speak about or disagree with experiences that they have no first-hand knowledge of.
House Democratic Leaders Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., and Steny Hoyer, D-Md., present a birthday cake to President Barack Obama during a meeting with the House Democratic Caucus at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., July 31, 2013. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama meets with from left: Rob Nabors, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy; Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President; Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in the Rose Garden of the White House, July 31, 2013. Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama greets HUD staff following remarks at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., July 31, 2014. Photo by Pete Souza
President Obama shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in the Oval Office. The Saudi delegation is meeting with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as part of this week’s meetings with delegations from the Gulf Cooperation Council
You are sent into a situation where a naked man is acting weird. He is clearly unarmed. It should be apparent to you that he might be mentally ill. You have a taser. You don’t use it. Instead you use your gun and kill him. You kill a man who served his country and just needed some help
Rolling Stone: The Obama Hope And Change Index: 6 Years Of Progress, By The Numbers
Peak unemployment, October 2009: 10 percent
Unemployment rate now: 5.9 percent
Consecutive private sector job growth: 55 months
Private sector jobs created: 10.3 million
Federal deficit, 2009: 9.8 percent of GDP
Deficit in 2013: 4.1 percent of GDP
Average tax rate for highest earners 2008: 28.1 percent
Average tax rate for highest earners 2013: 33.6 percent
Banks regulated as too big to fail, 2009: 0
Banks regulated as “systemically important financial institutions” — a.k.a. too big to fail — 2014: 29
Billions returned to consumers by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enforcement: $4.6 billion
Americans compensated for being swindled by banks, lenders and credit card companies: 15 million
Dow Jones close, inauguration day 2009: 7,949
Dow Jones yesterday: 16,719
Required MPG (miles per gallon) for cars when Obama took office: 27.5
Required MPG for light trucks/SUVs when Obama took office: 23
MPG requirement by 2016 for cars, light trucks/SUVs: 35.5
MPG required by 2025: 54.5
Gigawatts of wind power installed when Obama took office: 25
Gigawatts of wind power installed through end of 2013: 61
Peak summertime solar power generation June 2008: 128 gigawatt hours
Peak summertime solar power generation June 2014: 2,061 gigawatt hours
Coal burned in electrical generation 2008: 1 billion short tons
Coal burned in electrical generation 2013: 858 million short tons
Reduction: 14.2 percent
EPA-proposed CO2 reductions for power sector by 2030: 30 percent
Pell grant funding 2008-2009: $18 billion
Pell grant funding 2013-2014: $33 billion
Adults gaining insurance under first year of Obamacare: 10.3 million
As a percentage of the uninsured: 26
Annual cost for birth control prior to Obamacare: Up to $600
Annual cost for birth control under Obamacare-compliant policies: $0
Prescriptions now required to obtain emergency contraception: 0
2009 projection for Medicare going broke: 2017
2014 projection for Medicare going broke: 2030
Troops in Iraq, inauguration day 2009: 144,000
Troops in Iraq today: 1,600
Osama bin Ladens alive 2009: 1
Osama bin Ladens alive 2014: 0
Troops in Afghanistan, day, 2009: 34,400
Troops pledged in Afghanistan by end of 2014: 9,800
Guantánamo detainees inauguration day 2009: 242
Gitmo detainees today: 149
Crack vs. Powder cocaine-crime sentencing disparity when Obama took office: 100:1
Crack vs. Powder disparity today: 18:1
Drug offenders eligible to seek early release under new sentencing guidelines: 46,000
How the constant chorus of ‘do something’ Obama foreign policy critics gets it wrong
There is a fun foreign policy game making all the rounds in Washington D.C. this summer: Pin the tail on Barack Obama.
Its appeal is not hard to understand; it’s so easy to play.
Step 1: Pick a foreign crisis that touches even slightly on U.S. national security interests. This shouldn’t be hard, because the United States defines practically everything in the world as being an American interest.
Step 2: Make clear that this is no garden-variety problem but rather “the defining crisis of [OBAMA’S] presidency”……
….. Step 6: Publish your condemnation in a major newspaper or news outlet. Wait for a phone call from a booker with a Sunday morning talk show.
There are no points for understanding how international relations work, how U.S. power is actually utilized or how other countries interpret their own interests. There’s no space on the board for tracking the real-life impact of your recommendations.
Foreign policy stewardship would be easy if it were as simple as playing this game. If, as President Obama joked recently, America “control(led) everything around the world,” there wouldn’t be much to decide at all.
President Obama Talks to Thomas L. Friedman About Iraq, Putin and Israel
President Obama’s hair is definitely grayer these days, and no doubt trying to manage foreign policy in a world of increasing disorder accounts for at least half of those gray hairs. (The Tea Party can claim the other half.) But having had a chance to spend an hour touring the horizon with him in the White House Map Room late Friday afternoon, it’s clear that the president has a take on the world, born of many lessons over the last six years, and he has feisty answers for all his foreign policy critics.
Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished. The United States is not going to be the air force of Iraqi Shiites or any other faction. Despite Western sanctions, he cautioned, President Vladimir Putin of Russia “could invade” Ukraine at any time, and, if he does, “trying to find our way back to a cooperative functioning relationship with Russia during the remainder of my term will be much more difficult.” Intervening in Libya to prevent a massacre was the right thing to do, Obama argued, but doing it without sufficient follow-up on the ground to manage Libya’s transition to more democratic politics is probably his biggest foreign policy regret.
This made me smile – Knoller has been getting epic push-back on Twitter in recent days for his shilling, and his obsession with the President’s vacation. So much so, he now has an army of Teabaggers following him (just check any of the comments under his tweets). So, maybe the pressure actually left him feeling obliged to tweet at least one bit of honesty:
Pete Souza: “The President, in the process of saluting, participates in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer of U.S. and Afghan personnel who died in Afghanistan a few days earlier. Many family members and friends of the special forces who died in this incident requested a copy of the photograph and later wrote me how much it meant to them.” Aug. 9, 2011
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On This Day – Pete Souza: “We were walking through a locker room at the University of Texas when White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson stopped to weigh himself on a scale. Unbeknownst to him, the President was stepping on the back of the scale, as Marvin continued to slide the scale lever. Everyone but Marvin was in on the joke.” Aug. 9, 2010
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MoooOOOooorning everyone! Another rushed R&S, will try to catch up through the day.
Last night President Barack Obama announced that he had ordered airstrikes against ISIL positions in northern Iraq.
He didn’t do this to secure oil fields. He didn’t do this to project US power in the Middle East. He didn’t do this in some sort of misplaced revenge.
He did this, as he stated quite clearly, to prevent a genocide.
The Yazidi community—descendants of the Zoroastrians who used to rule the area—has come under attack by the militants of ISIL. ISIL’s intent is clear: wipe out the community. Whether it be starvation in the mountains or slaughter on the plains is of no matter to them. (Although I think those brainwashed fundamentalists would love nothing more than to mow down unarmed men, women, and children.)
Of course, ISIL is a direct result of the chaos unleashed by former president George W. Bush in 2003 with his invasion of Iraq. No, I’m not carrying water for Saddam Hussein. He was a murderous, psychopathic dictator. However, he maintained a level of stability via his terror. The Bush Administration had no plan for what would replace Saddam, Donald Rumsfeld famously saying that US troops would be out of Iraq within six months. Six months turned into seven years, while Mr. Bush’s best and brightest were found out to be the worst and dullest, fumbling around for one solution after another which never worked out. The solution finally decided upon—the regime of Nouri Al-Maliki and his Shi’ite maximalists—was probably the worst possible choice. Replacing a Sunni dictatorship with a Shi’a dictatorship proved not only hypocritical, but suicidal. Mr. al-Maliki, for all his venality, hasn’t been able to project the terror which Saddam did to keep the various sects in line. And the Iraq invasion unleashed all sorts of ethnic and confessional demands. But most importantly, al Qaeda, which had never been in Iraq or the greater Middle East before 2003, suddenly found purchase amidst the chaos. Mr. Bush’s lie that the US invaded Iraq to fight AQ became true after the hornet’s nest he stirred up. ISIL is a direct descendant of those first AQ cadres. So, as with our support of Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s leading to the formation of al Qaeda, our invasion of Iraq has led to predictable blowback in the form of ISIL.
Every time Mr. Bush had the chance to do the right thing in response to the 9/11 attacks, he chose to fulfill neo-conservative wet dreams of remaking the Middle East in America’s image, and subservient to US interests. And he never seemed to be bothered by the thousands of people—Americans and Iraqis—he sent to death.
We’re not all terrorists, we’re not “cockroaches,” and we’re certainly not an “invented” people. What you don’t know about Palestinians.
Palestine. My late father, Abdul Musa Obeidallah, was born there in the 1930s. When I say Palestine, that’s not a political statement. It’s just a statement of fact. When he was born, there was no state of Israel. There was no Hamas. No PLO. There were just people of different faiths living together on the same small piece of land called Palestine.
….. Most of my Palestinian ancestors lived and died within a few miles of where they were born. That would likely have been my father’s path as well. But as we are all keenly aware, fate had far different plans.
I share this story because I think that lost in the current Gaza conflict is the story of the Palestinians as a people. Instead, they’ve been continually defined as being the “bad” part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They’ve been broadly labeled as terrorists or seen as acceptable losses. Some Israeli leaders have alleged Palestinians don’t exist, or called them “cockroaches,” “crocodiles,” or a “cancer.”….
….. when I was about 9 years old in the late 1970s, my teacher [in New Jersey] asked about the ethnicity of each student so she could pin it on a map of the world. When she came to me, she was stumped—she didn’t know much about Palestinians, and of course she couldn’t find it on the map since it wasn’t there….
Later that night, I relayed that story to my father and asked him: “Where is Palestine?” He paused for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. He then touched his heart and head and responded: “In here.”….
A couple of articles I thought were worth posting, the one above is as poignant and beautiful as I’ve ever read about Palestine, its history and its people – Obeidallah’s memory of his teacher not being able to find Palestine on the map, and his father’s reaction, beyond heartbreaking.
Times Colonist: Obama To Sign Executive Order Cracking Down On Labor Violations By Federal Contractors
President Barack Obama is preparing to sign an executive order cracking down on labour violations by companies that contract with the federal government, the White House said Wednesday. Obama’s order will require companies seeking federal contracts valued at more than $500,000 to make public any labour law violations in the last three years, a step the Obama administration hopes will incentivize companies to resolve labour disputes such as back wage claims.
Federal agencies will be given more guidance on how labour violations should factor into their decision-making as they award lucrative contracts, officials said, with an eye toward pushing the most egregious violators into remediation agreements before new contracts are granted. Under the order, workers will also be given information each pay period to allow them to determine whether their paychecks are accurate.
The economy grew at a strong 4% rate in the second quarter of 2014, outpacing analyst estimates by almost a full point. The news that is even more encouraging than the topline GDP growth number is where it came from: consumer spending, business investment, and exports. Consumer spending growth doubled since the first quarter, business investment growth grew by more than a factor of 3, and exports saw a near-20-point swing. The reason these particular numbers are so encouraging is that they all point to strong jobs growth.
In an economy that is 2/3rds consumer spending, growth in that area is the predominant factor in creating demand, and therefore, jobs. We have come here in less than six short years after the greatest economic calamity this country has ever seen, save for one. We have arrived here not only without creating a war bubble but while actually deflating the war bubble by ending wars. This is because while nearly everyone else has been busy trying to generate clicks, the President has worked day and night to generate jobs. This is because while the media has been busy looking for poutrage, this president has used his blood, sweat and tears to look for solutions.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that “all available evidence” suggested that Israeli artillery had hit a United Nations school in Gaza full of civilians who thought they were in a safe zone. “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” the secretary general told reporters in San Jose, Costa Rica, according to a transcript provided by his office.
It was Mr. Ban’s strongest comments to date on attacks on United Nations installations in Gaza, where Palestinians have been taking shelter. Six United Nations staff members have been killed in the current conflict so far. United Nations officials said that they had informed Israel 17 times of the precise location of the school and that there were civilians sheltering there, including once at 8:50 p.m., just hours before the attack on Wednesday.
Justin Wolfers: What Debate? Economists Agree The Stimulus Lifted The Economy
Here’s a simple case study making the point that our political debates about economics have become largely unhinged from those among actual economists. Take the Obama stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. If you took your cues from the political rhetoric in Washington — or even from the occasional virulent debate in the economics blogosphere — you would think the whole question of fiscal stimulus is highly contested. But it’s not. There’s widespread agreement among economists that the stimulus act has helped boost the economy. The Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago — hardly a hotbed of liberal or Keynesian thought — regularly surveys a number of the leading American economists about a variety of policy issues.
Recently each of these eminent economists was asked whether the unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus bill. Of the 44 economists surveyed, 37 responded, yielding a healthy response rate of 84 percent. Among those who responded, 36 agreed that the stimulus bill had lowered the unemployment rate, while one disagreed. That lone disagreeing economist, Harvard’s Alberto Alesina (who was one of my thesis advisers), has been a virulent opponent of the stimulus, although the research that he’s based this upon has come under sustained criticism, particularly from the International Monetary Fund, which views the study as flawed.
Sahil Kapur: House Votes To Sue President For The First Time In History
House Republicans officially gave Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) their seal of approval on Wednesday to sue President Barack Obama, marking the first time in U.S. history that a chamber of Congress has endorsed a lawsuit against a president. The House adopted the resolution by a vote of 225-201. Five Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic conference to vote against the measure. They were Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Walter Jones (R-NC), Paul Broun (R-GA), Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Scott Garrett (R-NJ). The resolution authorizes Boehner to challenge Obama in court for exceeding his authority by unilaterally delaying deadlines under Obamacare.
Although he has said he’ll target the one-year delay of the health care reform law’s employer mandate penalties, the text of the GOP resolution gives the Speaker room to legally challenge implementation tweaks to other provisions of the law. It’s a politically awkward one for his party given that Republicans despise the employer mandate, and have voted to eliminate and delay it. “Republicans want to sue the president for not enforcing a law they want to repeal,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “It is wrong. It is a waste of time. It is a waste of money. It is a distraction from the important issues so important to our people. This lawsuit is nothing more than a partisan bill to rally the Republican base.”
The bombs continue falling, more and more people are running for their lives with fewer places to go and as the screams from beneath the wreckage of Israel’s assault become more frequent, a generation of Gaza’s children are being shaped by what they see. And yet, as kids often do, they can still surprise you. Inside a Gaza City UNRWA school that’s been turned into a shelter, children pack the courtyard. Ten-year-old Yasmine al Attar stares at me from under her dark curled bangs. Yasmine’s aunt, Hula al Attar, tells me her son can’t sleep amid the nightly air strikes. Instead he howls and shakes.
“My 11-year-old son saw bodies in the street in the  war and he still can’t forget those images,” says the veiled 29-year-old mother. Yasmine speaks up. She tells me she can’t sleep either, and waits out the attacks by clinging to her mother in a corner classroom. I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. “I don’t know if I will live,” she says flatly. When pressed for what she would like to be if she does survive, she becomes excited thinking about the possibilities. “I’ll be a doctor,” she says at first. Then she changes her mind. “I’ll be a journalist,” she says, pulling on her brown curls. “I just want to do something that helps people and tells the world what’s happening.”
The chart illustrates a pattern that most of us probably do not find surprising. But the sheer chasm separating single white men from Black and Hispanic single women is still shocking to see visualized so clearly. Single white men have 438 times the assets as single Black women and 365 times that of single Hispanic women. As we can see, marriage is a huge determinant of wealth – but mainly if you’re not white, and especially if you’re a woman.
As the report notes, owning a car is an important way to access more employment opportunities among other things. But that wealth is not easily accessible in dollar terms, which is highly relevant for the following reason. Great disparities of wealth not only have a huge impact on life opportunities and the prospects for wealth accumulation. They are hugely important factor in the precariousness of economic life experienced by different demographic groups.
On This Day: President Obama reacts to a picture presented to him of a younger Robert Gibbs, who played soccer at North Carolina State, following a town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C. on July 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
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Today (All Times Eastern)
11:15: The President meets with a group of House Democrats on economic issues, Roosevelt Room
12:0: White House press briefing
3:0: The President departs White House
3:25: Meets with wounded service members, Walter Reed Hospital
Reuters: Table For Five: Obama To Dine With Kansas City Penpals
Valerie, a single mom from Kansas City, Missouri, who owns a small business, wrote to President Barack Obama last week “in the middle of the night,” describing just how hard she works.
On Tuesday, she will get the chance to tell Obama in person as one of four people the president dines with in a visit to the midwestern city – part of a summertime White House campaign to rouse Democratic voters ahead of November midterm elections.
“Are you serious?” said Valerie – whose last name was not provided – to Josh Earnest, Obama’s press secretary, who phoned her to invite her to the dinner.
“Oh my God! I would love it!” she told Earnest in a video made by the White House.
Jesse Rosenfeld: Israel Creates ‘No Man’s Land’ In Gaza, Shrinking Strip By 40 Percent
To protect itself from Hamas rockets and tunnels, Israel is forcing tens of thousands of people out of their homes, turning their old neighborhoods into a no-man’s land.
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza — This narrow strip of land that used to be called “the Gaza Strip,” already one of the more densely populated places on earth, is growing dramatically smaller. The Israeli military, relentlessly and methodically, is driving people out of the three-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the buffer zone eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.
What that means on the ground is scenes of extraordinary devastation in places like the Al Shajaya district approaching Gaza’s eastern frontier, and Beit Hanoun in the north. These were crowded neighborhoods less than three weeks ago. Now they have been literally depopulated, the residents joining more than 160,000 internally displaced people in refuges and makeshift shelters. Apartment blocks are fields of rubble, and as I move through this hostile landscape the phrase that keeps ringing in my head is “scorched earth.”
Michael Hiltzik: Here’s The Single Best Analysis Of The Halbig Anti-Obamacare Ruling
Northwestern University law and political science professor Andrew Koppelman moves past the absurd legal theory underlying the Halbig ruling on the Affordable Care Act — in which a federal appeals court invalidated subsidies provided to insurance buyers on federal, as opposed to state, insurance exchanges — to ask why the lawsuit’s backers brought the case in the first place. We know the consequences of the ruling: If it stands, about 4.8 million Americans will lose their subsidies and likely their health insurance, since it would be rendered unaffordable; there are residents of as many as 36 states that let the federal government establish their exchanges.
Are 4.8 million Americans losing their health insurance ‘collateral damage’? The Halbig lawyers don’t care: http://t.co/49zRzXG8YZ
But is that what the plaintiffs and their backers really desired? And if not, what was their real goal? Koppelman’s conclusion is that the lawsuit is a product of the “moral dysfunction” infecting the fight over Obamacare. “The opponents of Obamacare,” he writes in the New Republic, “have from the beginning found themselves driven by the logic of their position to make arguments that are increasingly morally repulsive.” In this case and others aimed at overturning the ACA, he writes, the argument is that “if you get sick and you can’t pay for it, that’s your tough luck.” Koppelman doesn’t think the plaintiffs really believe that. He thinks they’re merely out to make a narrow ideological point about government responsibility, and the 4.8 million possible victims of their campaign are merely collateral damage.
Business Insider: Israel Grants First Golan Heights Oil Drilling License To Dick Cheney-Linked Company
Israel has granted a U.S. company the first license to explore for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights, John Reed of the Financial Times reports.
A local subsidiary of the New York-listed company Genie Energy — which is advised by former vice president Dick Cheney and whose shareholders include Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — will now have exclusive rights to a 153-square mile radius in the southern part of the Golan Heights.
That geographic location will likely prove controversial. Israel seized the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. Its administration of the area — which is not recognized by international law — has been mostly peaceful until the Syrian civil war broke out 23 months ago.
Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional on Monday in the first such decision by a federal appellate court in the South. “We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws,” Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote. The 2-1 ruling applies throughout the circuit that also includes West Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas, where the attorneys general split Monday on what they’ll do next. Virginians voted 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006 to amend their constitution to ban gay marriage.
Virginia laws prohibit recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. Floyd said such measures “impermissibly infringe on its citizens’ fundamental right to marry.” The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond is the second federal appellate court to overturn gay marriage bans, and the first to affect the South, a region where the rising tide of rulings favoring marriage equality is testing concepts of states’ rights that have long held sway. Gay marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. Most are still under appeal. More than 70 cases have been filed in all 31 states that prohibit same-sex marriage. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow such marriages.
CNBC: US Confidence Jumps In July As Consumers See Better Days Ahead
Consumers grew more confident about the economy in July, The Conference Board reported on Tuesday, with stock markets perched near record highs and expectations building for the recovery. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 90.9, higher than expectations and above the prior month’s showing of 86.4. That was the component’s highest since October 2007.
President Obama eats a peach following a town hall meeting at Kroger’s Supermarket in Bristol, Va. on July 29, 2009. Seconds later, the President handed a dollar bill to the CEO of Kroger’s, who attended the event (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama listens to a question at a town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C. on July 29, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
The hands of U.S. Secret Service agents as President Obama shakes hands along a rope line following a health care town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C on July 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
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Crime victim Lisa Marie Iyotte gets emotional while introducing President Obama before he signed the Tribal Law and Order Act during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House, on July 29, 2010
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First Lady Michelle Obama greets U.S. military families at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, July 29, 2012
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President Obama greets former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Outer Oval Office, July 29, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama has lunch with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the patio outside the Oval Office, July 29, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama meets with Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office, July 29, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Trevor LaFauci (The People’s View): Looking Back: An American History Lesson from the year 2034
“Today’s topic: The Obama Years. First off, let’s generate some background information from you, the students. What are some things that you’ve heard or that your parents might have experienced during Barack Obama’s presidency? Call them out and we’ll make a list on the board.”
“He helped my Dad get home from Iraq!”
“He helped my grandparents regain their lost savings!”
“He helped my mom make more money from her job!”
“He helped give rights to my Dads!”
“He helped my parents save money with their health care!”…..
“Good, so the themes I have listed here on the board are jobs, rights, health care, money, and family. Based on your own personal responses, how do you think the country as a whole felt about President Obama? Call out some words that you think people used when they talked about our 44th President.”
AP: President Barack Obama to rename Young Africans program for Nelson Mandela
A program designed to foster a new generation of young African leaders will be renamed after former South African President Nelson Mandela.
President Barack Obama, who has said he was one of the untold millions of people around the world who were inspired by Mandela’s life, is set to announce the name change at a town hall-style event Monday in Washington with several hundred young leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa.
The youngsters are participating in the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, part of the broader Young African Leaders Initiative that Obama launched in 2010 to support a new generation of leadership there.
“Africa’s future belongs to its young people… We need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen not only in their own countries but around the world… We want this to be the beginning of a new partnership and create networks that will promote opportunities for years to come.”
–President Barack Obama
South Africa, June 2013
The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. Fellowships provide outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. university, and with support for professional development after they return home.
Israelis and Palestinians are imprisoned in what seems increasingly like a hermetically sealed bubble. Over the years, inside this bubble, each side has evolved sophisticated justifications for every act it commits.
Israel can rightly claim that no country in the world would abstain from responding to incessant attacks like those of Hamas, or to the threat posed by the tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Hamas, conversely, justifies its attacks on Israel by arguing that the Palestinians are still under occupation and that residents of Gaza are withering away under the blockade enforced by Israel.
Inside the bubble, who can fault Israelis for expecting their government to do everything it can to save children on the Nahal Oz kibbutz, or any of the other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip, from a Hamas unit that might emerge from a hole in the ground? And what is the response to Gazans who say that the tunnels and rockets are their only remaining weapons against a powerful Israel? In this cruel and desperate bubble, both sides are right. They both obey the law of the bubble — the law of violence and war, revenge and hatred.
But the big question, as war rages on, is not about the horrors occurring every day inside the bubble, but rather it is this: How on earth can it be that we have been suffocating together inside this bubble for over a century? This question, for me, is the crux of the latest bloody cycle.
Steve Benen: Congress reaches preliminary deal on veterans’ aid
As of Thursday, a pending bill to expand veterans’ benefits appeared to be just about dead. What had been a bipartisan issue had turned into yet another partisan food fight, with House Republicans rejecting multiple compromise offers and walking away from the negotiating table. The Senate Democratic caucus, led in this fight by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was apoplectic, blasting House GOP lawmakers for killing legislation that should be approved easily.
If the goal of the Democratic outrage was to force House Republicans to reconsider, the apoplexy worked. GOP lawmakers, reluctant to get blamed for killing another veterans-aid package, were shamed into renewing talks, and last night, negotiators struck a deal.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, center, holds the autographed basketball given to him by President Obama following their Oval Office meeting Tuesday, July 28, 2009, to discuss the outcomes of the first U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Looking on at left is Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama bids farewell to Chinese Ministers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House after the first U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue on July 28, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
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President Obama picks up his sub after meeting with five small business owners at Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, N.J., July 28, 2010. The President visited Edison to discuss the economy and urge Congress to pass support for small businesses (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama records an episode of The View at ABC Studios in New York, N.Y., July 28, 2010. Pictured, from left, are Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck (Photo by Pete Souza)
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First Lady Michelle Obama watches the swimming finals and medal ceremonies at the Olympic Park Aquatics Center during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England, July 28, 2012 (Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
First Lady Michelle Obama watches the women’s singles tennis match between Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic of Serbia at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympics Games, July 28, 2012
.. with Venus Williams and former gymnast Dominique Dawes
Serena Williams gives a thumbs up gesture toward her sister Venus and First Lady Michelle Obama after she defeated Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic