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The Associated Press is reporting the results of an investigation of Department of Homeland Security data about deportations of undocumented immigrants. The bottom line number: there will be fewer deportations this year (edit) than there have been since 2007.

The Homeland Security Department is on pace to remove the fewest number of immigrants since 2007, according to an analysis of its data by The Associated Press.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for deportations, sent home 258,608 immigrants between the start of the budget year last Oct. 1 and July 28 this summer, a decrease of nearly 20 percent from the same period in 2013, when 320,167 people were removed.

Over 10 months in 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 344,624 people, some 25 percent more than this year, according to federal figures obtained by the AP.

Follow me below the squiggle to learn why shouldn't take bottom-line numbers of deportations as your guide to President Obama's immigration policy.
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AP:

Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, the voice of fiery al-Qaida propaganda videotapes after the Sept. 11 attacks, was convicted Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans for his role as the terror group's spokesman.
Well, chalk one up for the military prosecutors at Guantanamo Bay for...oh, wait:
On Monday, during closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan underscored the importance of Abu Ghaith's post-9/11 status...The jury returned a guilty verdict on three charges: conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiring to provide support to al-Qaida and providing support to al-Qaida...Captured in Jordan last year and brought to New York, Abu Ghaith has actively participated in his trial. He listened to testimony and arguments through headphones linked to an Arabic translator.
Assistant U.S. Attorney? Jury? New York?!?
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In the interest of discerning just where, exactly, the membership of this community stands, I thought I'd put out a poll. Please select the answer below that best fits your political orientation and your opinion of Barack Obama's performance in office.

Poll

Do you approve or disapprove of Barack Obama's performance as President?

11%43 votes
43%158 votes
13%50 votes
14%53 votes
9%35 votes
7%27 votes

| 366 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:40 PM PDT

World War I Poetry

by joe from Lowell

At the end of World War I, after years of witnessing the worst of industrial slaughter - machine guns, air raids, massive artillery barrages, fire weapons - the world reacted with unique horror and disgust to a weapon that had caused about 1% of war deaths: poison gas. In 1925, the Geneva Protocol was ratified, banning "the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices."

Why? And why not sign similar treaties forbidding the use of automatic-fire weapons, or explosive shells, or air raids? Does it matter whether you are killed by a bullet or poison gas?

Wilfred Owen, a British veteran of the war, is recognized as England's greatest poet of World War I. This was a man who saw men around him die in a greater variety of violent ways than just about anyone reading this ever will. Below are his thoughts on the subject.

(I considered putting a trigger warning in this intro, but it occurs to me that we are fortunate in the times we live in, and none is necessary.)

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When reports of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government began emerging late last week, they were met with skepticism. Among the questions raised was why Syrian President Bashir al-Assad would do such a thing. Syrian government forces had been making battlefield gains, and were not in the sort of desperate position that would explain such a dramatic action. Such a massacre - Doctors Without Borders reported 355 dead men, women, and children, killed by a neurotoxin, and over 3000 injured - would be a highly provocative act that brought with it the possibility of armed intervention by the West. What motive could they have for such an act?

Join me below the calligraphy dp for one possible explanation.

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It appears that the alleged chemical weapons of the Bahir Assad regime are not so alleged anymore.
Syria says will use chemical weapons if attacked - AP

Jihad Makdissi, a spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry, while giving a press conference, states that Syria would use its chemical weapons in case of foreign attack.  FWIW, he insisted that the regime would never use them against the uprising his goverment is having so much trouble putting down.

Three thoughts occur to me:

1. I hope this is all over soon.  The human suffering in Syria is tragic, and enormous.

2. It looks like the world is about to get another lesson in the efficacy of a chemical weapons inventory as a deterrent.

3. The Assad regime is acting like it's desperate.  Hopefully, this will bring us back to Point #1.

Discuss

The November jobs report from the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) came out today, and it included some surprising news.  The unemployment rate, listed last month at 9.0%, is down to 8.6%.  And yet, the net number of jobs added in the country, according to this report, is about 120,000 - just about enough to keep up with the growth of the labor force.  (This replacement number is lower than it used to be, owing to slower immigration reducing the rate of labor force growth).  So, what are we to make of these disparate number?  Some explanations below.

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I assume everyone here is familiar with the Move Your Money Project, an effort to convince people to close their accounts with big, national banks and switch their banking to local banks and credit unions.  The Move Your Money web site includes a great tool for finding such institutions in your home town.  It's a great idea, which helps to take down the Too Big To Fail banks a notch, and steer funds towards local institutions that are more responsible with their loans and services.  But let's not forget, individuals are not the only ones who use banking services.  So does your local government, and chances are, they have a lot more money in the bank than you do.

Below the orange squiggle thing - is it supposed to be a d and a p? - find a story about how the City of Lowell, Massachusetts is doing exactly that.

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I'm so white I carry a fire extinguisher instead of sunscreen.  I'm so white that drivers flash their high beams as they approach me walking on the sidewalk.  I'm so white that I broke my leg and the ambulance took me to a dentist.

But I know what's going on here, because it's happened to me, too.  I left a comment in the thread below the infamous "Minstrel" cartoon, and others in the diary that followed, and I found myself on the receiving end of what this site's contingent of African-American diarists are complaining about - a more limited dose, no doubt, but enough to get the flavor.

Even though I explained that I felt certain the cartoonist had absolutely no racist intent - that he just did not notice the unintended racial overtones in his image - I was accused of calling him a bigot.

I was accused of making the whole thing up for factional reasons - of being dishonest by saying I had a concern about a racial issue.  You know, "playing the race card," as if expressing concern about the racial implications of someone's words or images is some shady activity to be filed away under a dismissive heading.

I was told that the cartoon in question couldn't possibly have a racial overtone, because the intended message was a legitimate one.  As if having a message other than "I look down on black people" means that the way you express that message can't possibly have a racial implication, even an unintended one.

As if agreeing with that message means that you should overlook a problem someone raises with how it is expressed.

I was bombarded with excuses - bogus ones, clearly coming from people who'd never even heard of minstrel shows the day before - about how the cartoon did not actually resemble a minstrel in any way, even after linking to pictures in which the similarity could not be denied.

I was pestered with the old faux-colorblindness, as if feigning ignorance that race is a relevant context that influences meaning is a legitimate way to understand words and images.  From self-proclaimed progressives, this is coming.

In short, I saw a whole lot of white people - people who conceive of themselves as not just progressive, but as much more progressive than thou - who decided that they were simply not going to listen to anyone, including African-Americans, who reported that the site was an uncomfortable place for non-white people.  Because they know better, apparently.

Well, let me say something to my fellow white people: if you frequently find yourself insisting to black people, when they complain that they don't feel comfortable, that they don't really feel the way they're telling you they feel - YOU'RE PROBABLY WRONG!

And now, I come here and discover that such productive contributors as Adept2U and This Is My Time have been banned for complaining too loudly about this state of affairs?  I find that the Great Purge has targeted African-Americans at ten times their actual numbers?  Nah, that's not going to cut it.

I want this place to feel safe and open for all Democrats.  It doesn't, and there are too many people here who don't give a crap.

See you in a week.

Discuss

Just as I was a mother-stabber before; I must be a baby-stomper now, since:

I like to go outside when it's nice out.

I still think ice cream is yummy.

I still think death is sad.

I still support motherhood.

I still believe violent crime is bad.

I still don't want broken glass rubbed in my eyes.

I still like apple pie.

I still think "Young Frankenstein" was a damn funny movie.

I still think nuclear war is, on balance, a bad thing, especially for children.

I still think that guy who shot Gabrielle Giffords was way out of line.

I still don't think that pipe bombs belong in elementary schools.

(Hold on a minute.  I need to bask in my own awesomeness and bravery for a moment.  Can you believe I'm willing to lay it on the line like this?  That's just how I roll.  You got a problem with the truth?  Bring it!)

OK, I'm back.

I still feel reasonably confident when I say that George W. Bush did not do a very good job as President.

I still maintain that we could have handled that whole Vietnam thing better.

I still think Rachel Maddow puts together a fine program.  Way better than Chevy Chase.

I still oppose childhood cancer.

I still support clean water.

I still think Martin Luther King was a heck of a guy.

I can still use big words as well as any of you.  Establishment.  Immiseration.  Overton Window.  Mise-en-scene, biatch.

I still oppose including heroin rations in federally-funded school lunch programs.

I still support recycling over the dumping of municipal solid waste in public water supplies.

I still don't like child abuse.  Not one bit.

I still consider the policy prescriptions of the left to be better than those of the right.

I still think you should stop, or at least slow down, when people are crossing the street.

So yes, I suppose I must still be a troll if that's what it takes.

Ahhhhhh, man was that awesome.  I need a cigarette.

Discuss

This is not a diary about the merits of the deal that was struck to raise the debt ceiling.  Rather, this is a diary about the question of Barack Obama's strategy during the negotiations, and what they indicate about his political ideology.  I think we can finally answer that question definitively.

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been alternate descriptions of the statements and leaks from the White House about entitlement cuts as part of the negotiations about the debt ceiling.  As word came out that the President said he'd consider changing the formula by which Social Security calculated inflation in order to provide Cost of Living Allowance increases, or raising the age at which people qualified for Medicare coverage, observers here and across the political landscape tried to explain why Obama would stake out positions so at odds with the fundamental Democratic position on protecting entitlements.  On the one hand, we had people who took the President's word at face value and stated that he was genuinely making these offers in good faith, either because he thought it necessary in  order to get a deal, or because he thought cuts to entitlements had to happen for budget reasons or, most extreme of all, because he was a "disaster capitalist" seeking to use the situation as a pretext to eliminate programs he opposed for ideological reasons.

On the opposing side, we had people like Lawrence O'Donnell, arguing that these offers were always a feint, made in bad faith in order to produce the appearance that he was working hard to hammer out a deal, but that his constant pairing of them with demands for revenue increases demonstrated that he was merely posturing to make the Republicans look bad for not accepting his "generous" offers, but that his demands for tax hikes were insurance that these offers would never be accepted.  Well, we now have our answer: it is clear that Obama was using the offers of entitlement cuts as a political strategy.

Poll

Would the White House single out from inclusion in the trigger programs it wanted to cut?

16%3 votes
61%11 votes
5%1 votes
16%3 votes

| 18 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Jul 11, 2011 at 05:08 PM PDT

Gay-Bashing is Terrorism

by joe from Lowell

I was moved to write this diary by wyldraven's diary here, about a Texas inmate who is being paroled after serving time for the mob murder of a gay man.  The little thugs would drive around, ask random strangers if they knew where a particular bar was located, and then beat and stab them if they gave them directions.

We live in a country where terrorism, and comparisons to terrorism, and the use of the word "terrorism" in order to give an extra emotional punch to a political statement, is far too common.  So while I don't wish to contribute to this unfortunate tendency, it's important to recognize that there such a thing as the opposite problem: the failure to recognize terrorist acts and tactics for what they are.  That's what I'm going to address here.

I'm not saying that gay-bashing is like terrorism.  I'm not saying that gay-bashing is bad and violent, kinda sorta like terrorism.  I'm not using terrorism as a metaphor.  I'm saying that gay-bashing, in its effect and in its intent, is and must be recognized to be actual, non-metaphorical terrorism.

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