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Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 09:55 AM PDT

Ceasefire In Gaza

by Justanothernyer

An indefinite ceasefire has apparently been agreed to by Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Under the terms of the reported agreement, Israel and Egypt will agree to open the closed border crossings and Israel will agree to expand the permitted fishing zone  off the Gaza coast and to allow rebuilding of Gaza.  

Other issues will be the subject of talks in about a month.  

I've not found further details on the agreement and note that some of the terms may be subject to differing interpretations, which eventually could lead to a resumption of the conflict.  The Guardian has as much detail as I've found:

Gaza ceasefire: Israel and Palestinians agree to halt weeks of fighting

Broadly, this appears to return the situation to about what it was after the last bout of conflict involving Gaza.


After rejecting an extension of the existing ceasefire on Friday, there are reports that Hamas will accept another 72 hour ceasefire, starting today.  Hamas agrees to new Gaza ceasefire but Israel-Palestinian talks falter

Of course, there are also voices on both sides seeking other outcomes:

(a)  Hamas yesterday threatened to massively increase rocket fire Hamas threatens major escalation in rocket strikes on Israel

(b)  The Foreign Minister of Israel and (perhaps more significantly) the Interior Minister of Israel (who is a member of Likud, the Prime Minister's party) called for escalation to defeat Hamas. Hamas agrees to new Gaza ceasefire but Israel-Palestinian talks falter

Actions speak louder than words and so far, though there is no ceasefire in place,  attacks from both sides have been relatively limited.   Hopefully, another, and perhaps longer, ceasefire can be put in place.

Update The reports of a new 72 hour ceasefire have been confirmed.Israel, Palestinians agree new Gaza truce  


Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 10:06 AM PDT

Defending Israel

by Justanothernyer

If someone started firing rockets on Manhattan or Peoria, I would expect the United States to take military action to stop them and the United States would be completely justified in doing so.   This would be true whether or not the rockets were successful at killing many Americans.   It would, in almost all circumstances, not matter why these attacks were being launched.  For example, the fact that they might be launched by groups with significant legitimate past or present grievances against the United States would make no difference.

Hamas attacked Israel with multiple rockets.  The rockets were fired from Gaza, an area under the effective control of Hamas. Rockets are not rocks thrown by teenagers; multiple rocket attacks are an act of war.   An Israeli military response to destroy Hamas and/or its ability to attack Israel was appropriate and justified.  

So far, this issue should be an easy one.  In fact, if someone disagreed with the foregoing, I would have to conclude that they are either disconnected from reality or an apologist for Hamas.

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The FAA has announced that they will not be renewing the 24-hour ban on flights to Ben Gurion. The European Aviation Safety Agency has also withdrawn its recommendation not to fly to Ben Gurion.  

United Airlines and a number of European carriers have already announced a resumption of flights.

U.S. ends ban on flights into Israel's Ben Gurion Airport


The minimum wage hasn't been raised in several years and isn't enough to support more than one person above the poverty level.  As more than one quarter of those paid the minimum wage have children, Economic Policy Institute -Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to 10.10, that is a significant problem.  Fortunately, proposals to raise the minimum wage are gaining traction.

Leaving aside those who have philosophical objections to government, the argument against raising the minimum wage is that (i) raising the minimum wage harms poor people by destroying their jobs  ("Raising The Minimum Wage Is A Job-Killer) and (ii) most of those who earn minimum wage are not in fact poor so raising the minimum wage doesn't help the poor ("People Who Make Minimum Wage Aren't Poor").

These arguments are somewhat contradictory; it is possible, however, for both arguments to be true so both arguments should be addressed, even if those who make these arguments are insincere.

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       One way to look at the preliminary deal concluded with between the major powers and Iran is whether it is good for the participants, which in this case are effectively the United States and Iran.  (The other major powers either have interests that are substantially similar to that of the US (Britain, France, Germany) or have interests that are a mix of US interests and a desire for a peaceful resolution which does not involve the US taking military action (Russia, China).)

        "Good" in this case is an objective question the answer to which is determined by whether the agreement advances the relevant country's interest.  It has nothing to do with fairness, law or the international community.

        With that framework in place let's go below the fold and discuss American and Iranian interests.

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I'm out of the country visiting family and friends, so I've been a bit less immersed in the shutdown than I might have been had I been home.  However, most people I've spoken with here have asked me about the shutdown and find the shutdown somewhat hard to understand.  As a result I've still had to think about this a bit.

From a governmental point of view, the shutdown is more embarrassing then damaging - at least if it is resolved relatively quickly - say in under a month.  Now that is not to say that this will not cause some people, such as lower paid federal workers, real pain - but on a national level this is not going to cause serious damage.  (Screwing with the debt ceiling on the other hand has the potential to be rapidly and irretrievably catastrophic.)  It seems fairly clear that the Republicans have overreached and sometime later in October will pass a continuing resolution which is either clean or contains some kind of concession Democrats can live with such as repealing the medical device tax.  

While that will resolve the immediate crisis, this doesn't resolve the fundamental problem.   More below the fold.....

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With the likelihood that the House will vote not to authorize the use of military force in Syria it seems appropriate to consider the consequences that will flow from America's choice not to act.

In addition, one good way of thinking about the strength of the case for American military intervention is to consider what happens if that intervention doesn't occur.

The first order consequences are relatively clear:

(1)  Assad will be free to use chemical weapons without fear of external consequences;
(2)  Assad will use more chemical weapons;
(3)  The United States will not incur the costs of intervening in Syria (probably a few billion dollars and a chance of a small number of casualties);
(4)  The United States will not be morally responsible for directly killing some number of Syrian civilians;
(5)  The United States will be morally responsible for failing to prevent the deaths of other Syrians; and
(6)  The number of Syrians killed as a result of the Syrian civil war will probably increase if we don't intervene.

There are, of course, broader consequences to a decision of this magnitude:

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Congressmember Barbara Lee, who opposes American military intervention in Syria, believes that Congressional approval is a prerequisite to such intervention.

In advocating this view, the Congressmember is making it harder for America to advance our interest in deterring the use of chemical weapons.

Although I believe that the Congressmember is wrong on the merits of intervening in Syria, I think she is 100% right in requiring Congressional approval as a prerequisite to doing so.  

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Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 09:12 AM PDT

Ignorant Liberals Reading List

by Justanothernyer

There is a recent troll diary suggesting that ignorant liberals read the Gulag Archipelago, the New Testament, and a book I've never heard of before (and expect I'll never hear of again) called Liberal Fascism.

As liberals, we recognize that the world is complex and we therefore are necessarily ignorant of some of it.  I thought it might be interesting to list some of the reading that has made me less ignorant and, incidentally(?) more liberal.

I'd be curious to see what reading others might list.

My list (which is partial) is below the fold.

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The Syrian government appears to have used chemical weapons in its civil war.  The BBC has seen video and eyewitness testimony that appears to corroborate allegations of chemical weapons' use in the Syrian town of Saraqeb.  The United States has seen sufficient evidence of the use of chemical weapons to be convinced as well, though that may be less persuasive to some.  As the Guardian reports, Medecins Sans Frontieres also corroborates the allegations.  

(Although there have been suggestions that the rebel groups would be motivated to employ chemical weapons, there is less independent evidence that any of the rebel groups opposing Assad possess such weapons. Moreover, the use of chemical weapons by one or more rebel groups doesn't rule out use by Assad and vice versa. Welcome to the civil war.)

The use of chemical weapons is a clear violation of one of the few widely respected tenets of international law. International law is only as strong as the willingness of the strongest supporters of international law to enforce it.  Currently, those supporters are  the United States and to a lesser extent the UK and France.  So, either we act against Syria or the international law against the use of chemical weapons is weakened.

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Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 02:30 PM PDT

Judge, Jury and Executioner

by Justanothernyer

The President of the United States recently directed the execution of Anwar al-Awlaki. Mr. Al-Awlaki, an American citizen, had never been charged with a crime, let alone tried and convicted before an impartial judge or jury.  This idea that the executive can unilaterally determine the guilt of a citizen and impose sentence is, to put it mildly, a regression to not even the 19th century that Republicans seems to love, but to approximately the 13th century.

On the other hand,  Mr. Al-Awlaki, was an active, committed supporter of an organization that remained committed to harming America by killing Americans.  The United States government claims he was actively engaged in terrorism and he had put himself beyond the reach of the American judicial system.  If the United States is right and you believe Obama's action was illegal, what, if any, is the alternative course of action that would have been both legal and effective? Perhaps more importantly, what are the lines which limit the unilateral executive death warrant?

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