Feed aggregator

Officer Shot Near Ferguson Protests [UPDATE]

Huffingon Post Politics - Tue, 2014-11-25 01:24
An officer with the University City Police Department in St. Louis was shot as protests in nearby Ferguson intensified Monday night, several media outlets reported.

The officer was transported to a nearby hospital, with a bullet wound to the arm, according to the St. Louis County Police Department. He's expected to make a full recovery. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said in a press conference that the shooting "was totally unrelated to any events here in Ferguson."

The shooting occurred after 11 p.m. at Canton and Lamb avenues in the University City section of St. Louis, about five miles southwest from the crowds in Ferguson. Police were reportedly looking for a suspect early Tuesday.

U. City officer was shot in the arm. He is expected to be okay. Shooting may not be related to #Ferguson unrest.

— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) November 25, 2014




Ferguson Erupts In Protests After Darren Wilson Grand Jury Announcement

Huffingon Post Politics - Tue, 2014-11-25 01:20
FERGUSON, Mo. -- Protests, gunshots, fires and tear gas enveloped this small city on Monday night after St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that a grand jury had returned no indictment for Police Officer Darren Wilson.

Anger erupted outside the police department headquarters when what was long feared by many Ferguson residents was made official: There would be no charges against Wilson, the 28-year-old officer who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown, Jr. to death in August after a confrontation.

Around a thousand protesters gathered on Ferguson's main street, and they were noticeably shaken even before the announcement when Brown’s mother called out in agony for her son while on top of the roof of a car.


Protestors stand in front of a burning police car in Ferguson, MO. (saiynabashirphoto/instagram)

“Y’all know y’all wrong,” Lesley McSpadden shouted at police.

The Brown family had called for peaceful protests in a statement -- but not everyone assembled would heed their wishes. McCulloch’s long, combative announcement and its references to Brown’s alleged theft of cigarillos inflamed tensions. Within minutes of the news that there would be no indictment, some protesters had smashed the windows out of a police car. Others threw bricks at police guarding the station.

Law enforcement officers responded with orders to disperse. At the same time as President Barack Obama addressed the nation, the police filled the air filled with teargas, sickening protesters and journalists.


A vandolized police car burns in Ferguson, MO. (saiynabashirphoto/instagram)

Two police cars were soon burning -- the popping sound of exploding ammunition rounds filling the air.

Across the town’s railroad tracks on West Florissant Avenue, a street much closer to where Brown was shot that became the focal point of protests in August, police briefly ordered protesters off the streets. As the police left, a handful of protesters smashed the windows of a McDonald’s. A beauty supply store was one of the first businesses to go up in flames.

Police responded in full riot gear and in armored vehicles. “They look like they’re getting ready to roll into Fallujah,” one protester told the Wall Street Journal.

Gunshots filled the air on West Florissant. The situation became so intense that some airplanes were even diverted by the Federal Aviation Administration from the Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, miles away.

“Officers are obligated to protect life and property,” the St. Louis County Police Department tweeted from its official account, which throughout the night sent out updates about looting, fires and gunfire.

”I've had police point guns at me twice tonight,” tweeted St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, a frequent presence at protests for the last few months. “I pray we get through this night without anyone getting hurt.”

Store Owned By Man Who Had Faith In Ferguson Demonstrations Is Broken Into

Huffingon Post Politics - Tue, 2014-11-25 01:11
Looters on Monday broke into the Ferguson store of a man who had refused to board up his shop windows because he thought “good will would prevail.”

Looters broke into STL Cordless, a store owned by Sonny Dayan, during protests that followed the Aug. 9 police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Last week, Dayan told The Huffington Post that he didn’t think it would happen again.

“I’ve got so much support and so much faith in the good of Ferguson that I’m not going to give up just because there’s some criminal elements,” Dayan said. “We created awareness that wasn’t here into our neighborhood before, and now it’s nationwide.”

But on Monday, Dayan’s store was broken into again after a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer.

Windows of STL Cordless smashed #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/X0PelxZsk2

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) November 25, 2014


Looters also broke into a Ferguson liquor store during the protests on Monday.

#Ferguson Market & Liquor has been broken into pic.twitter.com/Tg08KO1YbT

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) November 25, 2014


As well as a McDonald's restaurant.

McDonald's windows being smashed #ferguson https://t.co/Yhv3VUpDXt

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) November 25, 2014


Last week, Dayan said he was confident that the protests after the grand jury announcement would be different than those in August.

“I’m almost certain that good will overcome,” Dayan told HuffPost. “Ain’t no doubt in my mind.”

In August, The Washington Post reported that the protests in Ferguson had been populated by distinct groups, with varying motives and methods. Among them were what the Post called “the militants,” including opportunistic looters who had traveled to the St. Louis suburb with the intent of capitalizing on chaos.

It’s unclear how the dynamic among the demonstrators has changed since August.

Nick Wing contributed reporting.

Below, more coverage of the Ferguson protests:

FAA Issues Flight Restrictions Over Ferguson

Huffingon Post Politics - Tue, 2014-11-25 01:06
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration is restricting the path of some flights into Lambert-St. Louis International Airport amid the unrest in Ferguson following a grand jury's decision not to indict the white police officer who fatally shot a black 18-year-old.

According to an advisory posted late Monday, planes were being rerouted out of an at least 3-mile area near Ferguson. The reason cited was "to provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities." An FAA spokesman didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press.

The airport posted on Twitter that only inbound planes, not departures, are affected, though it wasn't clear how many. The facility remains open.

For two weeks after the August shooting, the FAA restricted flights on 37 square miles of airspace, including for news helicopters.

Michael Brown's Family Reacts To Grand Jury Decision

Huffingon Post Politics - Tue, 2014-11-25 00:46
The family of Michael Brown released a statement Monday evening in response to a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Brown in August.

The statement, like that of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, urged peaceful protest from their supporters.

We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.

While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.

Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.

We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.

Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference.

Notable members of the black community have taken to social media to voice their reactions to the grand jury's decision, as have countless concerned citizens.

Michael Brown Shooting Witness Admitted Racism In Journal Entry

Huffingon Post Politics - Tue, 2014-11-25 00:41
WASHINGTON -- One of the witnesses to the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown admitted to holding racist views about African-Americans in a journal entry written on the same day of the shooting, according to documents released by St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch's office Monday.

On Aug. 9, the day Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the witness wrote in his or her journal: "Well I'm gonna take my random drive to Florissant. Need to understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks Niggers and Start calling them People."

On Monday night, McCulloch announced that a grand jury would not indict Wilson in the killing, arguing in a long, defensive opening statement that the shooting could be ruled justified because witnesses claimed that Brown had made movements toward the officer before the fatal shots were fired. The press conference set off another round of protests in Ferguson and across the country.

In a subsequent entry that same day following the shooting, the same witness wrote in his or her journal about seeing the shooting incident: "The cop got out left hand on face Right hand on gun. The Cop Screamed but I could not understand. Everyone was Screaming ... The big kid turned around had his arms out with attitude. The cop just stood there dang if that kid didn't start running right at the cop like a foot ball player Head down. I heard 3 bangs but the big kid wouldn't Stop ... Cop took a couple steps forward then backwards and the gun went off 2 more times. The last one on the top of the kids head. OMG the blood."

Notably, McCulloch said at his press conference Monday night that all of the witnesses who said they saw Brown charge at Wilson were black. That seems undercut by the diary.

"All the ones that I mentioned specifically were all African-Americans, were the ones who came at him in a full charge," he said in response to a question about the race of the witnesses saying that Brown had charged. "So the others who had very consistent stories -- not just with each other, not just their stories or their testimony throughout -- but they were consistent with the others, several others. They're all African-American."

This post has been updated with a quote from McCulloch's press conference.

Follow HuffPost's liveblog below for more Ferguson updates

Protect your fertility with underwear that shields your manly bits from EMF radiation

TreeHugger Science-Tech - Mon, 2014-11-24 15:39
Could that smartphone in your pocket, and the computer on your lap, be lowering your fertility? These EMF-shielding underwear might be the answer.

Is Text Neck really a thing?

TreeHugger Science-Tech - Mon, 2014-11-24 10:07
is looking down at your phone really like putting an aardvark on your head?

I Applaud Hillary For Visiting Ferguson and Meeting Al Sharpton. Oh Wait, That Was Rand Paul.

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-11-24 03:32














Before the Hillary machine steamrolls towards the Democratic nomination, it isn't sacrilege to question the sincerity of our 2016 frontrunner. At least one nanosecond of thought should be placed to see if she's the right choice for president, or... gasp...if someone in another political party could be a better choice. If you think it won't be Hillary Clinton against the eventual GOP challenger for president in 2016, then you probably don't know that since 1999, Clinton has raised $328,742,879. That money didn't help in 2008, but she did become Secretary of State and the hundreds of millions will handily defeat someone like Elizabeth Warren with less momentum, money, and publicity.

That being said, I urge Democrats everywhere to demand honesty of the Clinton campaign. This much needed sincerity doesn't mean "evolving" on gay marriage when it's convenient or being outright against decriminalization of marijuana. Marriage equality and marijuana legalization could have progressed far sooner had Hillary Clinton worked towards these causes when they weren't popular, rather than hoard as much precious political capital as possible, as if it were Frodo's ring.

It makes little sense to simply assume that Hillary will toe the party line on issues that grass roots organizations like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and GLAAD have worked on for years to bring to everyone's attention. Mind you, gay rights groups could have used the support of Hillary Clinton when Karl Rove was pushing the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2004; a successful political stunt that catered to the GOP's anti-gay element and cemented Bush's eventual victory. Clinton's voice back then would have been epic, but would have cost votes even within the Democratic Party, so Hillary's Machiavellian silence worked well enough to make the words on this page seem blasphemous to many readers.

But of course, let's never bring this up, lest we be accused of having a nefarious "agenda" (the tweet mentioned was a reference to Ralph Nader hating Hillary, not me). Truth be told, if a Democrat has to "evolve" on issues that have always been popular among liberals, then political expediency is the reason, not a set value system. On the topic of domestic spying, The Nation published an article this year titled, On the NSA, Hillary Clinton is Either a Fool or a Liar. So, I'd appreciate an end to any accusation that I have a personal "agenda" against Hillary, especially when one of the most progressive publications on the planet writes that type of headline.

Sorry, even Dick Cheney "evolved" on gay marriage and giving Clinton a free pass on this issue makes us only a tiny bit better than the GOP. Waiting for the public to side with you on cherished values before combating conservatives to defend those values makes one an opportunist, not a liberal icon. Speaking of Dick Cheney, both Hillary Clinton and Cheney share similar views on war and foreign policy, but alas, progressives today have parted ways with the Vietnam protesters of the 60's.

I've heard the phrase, "You'd vote for Rand Paul just because of war?" enough times to make me question my faith in humanity. Read Why We Lost if you think perpetual wars are good for America. It's almost as if nobody cares that the president just sent over 3,000 soldiers back to Iraq, even after close to 7,000 have died in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and close to one million Americans were injured in both wars. For today's liberals, the 2016 vote for president is unfortunately tied to many social issues that Hillary Clinton once opposed or stayed silent on; issues that can't be addressed unilaterally by a president.

Or, we act upon fears promoted by a media that lumps good candidates alongside extremists within their party, which is why voting for Rand Paul is heretical to most Democrats. For a quick civics lesson, only Congress, state legislatures, courts and public opinion polls move legislation and social issues, not unilateral decisions by the man or woman in the White House. Yes, President Obama rightfully acted on immigration, but he had a public mandate to do so and the political will was evident in recent years. There's no public mandate, or widespread agreement among most Americans that the EPA should be abolished, or that civil rights laws be rolled back, or any other irrational fear linked to voting for Rand over Hillary.

Rand over Hillary? I must be a gullible, naïve, fool. Perhaps, but at least I took a stand on the issue of Ferguson, even though I have zero influence in the political arena. I wrote about the issue of killing unarmed black men and claiming self-defense, what would have taken place had Trayvon, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown been white, and the economics behind Ferguson. No, I didn't wait 19 days to make a statement, I raised my tiny, little voice when it mattered. Had Clinton raised her $328,742,879 voice during the Ferguson protests, the world would have noticed.

The fact is that only one of the candidates for president in 2016 (not Hillary, Jeb, or anyone else) visited Ferguson and discussed the issues of race and militarized police. It should have been Hillary Clinton, but it was Rand Paul who visited Ferguson, and his actions speak louder than any assumption that Clinton is automatically a better choice on civil rights. Before the indignant Twitter barrages and emails to this lowly writer, please ask yourself why Hillary Clinton has not once visited Ferguson, or why it took 19 days for her to make her first statement?

Regarding Clinton's later than expected commentary on Ferguson, Marc Lamont Hill stated, "Hillary Clinton's statement reflects careful triangulation and calculation driven by political interest rather than genuine feeling." Doesn't this sentiment warrant further discussion? The Morehouse College professor and CNN commentator also stated another important point, which was, "Hillary Clinton offers a statement on Michael Brown and Ferguson. 19 days later...Next she'll offer her thoughts on Rodney King and Vietnam."

In addition, Al Sharpton made the following assessment of Hillary Clinton's initial silence on Ferguson, in the following MSNBC article titled Hillary Clinton finally speaks out on Ferguson:

Clinton has come under fire from civil rights leaders and others for remaining silent on Ferguson. "Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, don't get laryngitis on this issue," the Rev. Al Sharpton, who hosts an msnbc show in addition to leading the National Action Network, said at a rally. Despite the calls, a Clinton spokesperson declined several requests for comment from msnbc, and Clinton herself dodged reporters' questions on Ferguson at a book signing last weekend.

Therefore, I think it's fair to ask if Hillary is taking the same approach she initially took on gay marriage with the issues surrounding Ferguson.

So you'd vote for Rand Paul, a Republican who doesn't share our values on civil rights, simply because the Clinton campaign is hypocritical, or slow to act because of political reasons?

Well, yes, specifically because I think actions speak louder than a weird interview about his libertarian views on business. Rand Paul's words and actions on the subject of militarized police and Michael Brown's shooting speak volumes. In a Time op-ed titled We Must Demilitarize the Police, Sen. Paul writes about the dangers of a highly armed police force, and how this frightening reality affected Ferguson:

If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn't have expected to be shot...

When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury--national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture--we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands...

Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.

Is there serious contender for president in 2016 speaking about "racial disparities in our criminal justice system" or the sentiment that many African-Americans feel pertaining to being targeted by police? These are poignant words and they speak to me. They speak to my concept of justice and where this country is going, and I don't care if they were written by a Republican.

The fact that Paul wrote, "I might have smarted off...But, I wouldn't have expected to be shot" is something Clinton would never have touched, in a million years, with even a one hundred foot pole. This sentence actually touches upon the heart of the Ferguson issue by highlighting how police forces in this day and age aren't only militarized, but also fast to pull the trigger. All one has to do is read about the tragedy of the latest unarmed man shot by police to realize the severity of this issue. As a result, Paul's Time article is an enormous distancing from the mainstream GOP view of Ferguson and represents such a wide chasm in sentiment that even Hillary Clinton took 19 days to craft a measured response.

But Paul's faking it, just to get the black community to vote for him!

Alright, then Hillary Clinton should do the same, instead of expecting 93% of the black vote, emboldening her to remain silent about a topic the entire country was debating. Politicians taking a voting block for granted is dangerous and doesn't help anyone. Simply expecting Hillary Clinton to defend the interests of African-Americans, when Rand Paul is addressing issues like reforming criminal justice with Sen. Cory Booker and visiting a polarizing spot like Ferguson is something that should be noticed, not simply dismissed as publicity stunts.

Does Paul share my views on immigration? No, but President Obama's recent order, even though I vehemently support his latest executive action on immigration, is only temporary. Congress will ultimately decide on immigration reform. The separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches is one reason that a Paul presidency doesn't frighten me the way it might most other liberals who think he'd do this to government programs. I also respect the fact he met with Al Sharpton to discuss crime issues, as highlighted in a recent POLITICO article:

"We talked about his position on dealing with some criminal justice issues that I am concerned about," Sharpton said in a statement from the National Action Network, where he serves as president.

"We also discussed mandatory sentencing that he and Senator Cory Booker are proposing," the statement continued. "It was a very candid and courteous conversation."

It would have been nice if Hillary Clinton also met with Al Sharpton, but she was busy with other matters.

But global warming will kill more people than American military adventures in the Middle East!

True, but Paul stated the following to Bill Maher:

And I'm not against regulation. I think the environment has been cleaned up dramatically through regulations on emissions as well as clean water over the last 40 or 50 years.

Also, the sun isn't going to send your grandkids into a war against the fifth rebranding of al-Qaeda; that hooded man in 2045 who beheads an American to lure us into our 5th Iraq War. Ending perpetual wars in the Middle East, the war on drugs, domestic spying (before the gleeful accusations, Rand Paul recently voted against a Ted Cruz co-sponsored bill that would have extended the PATRIOT Act until 2017), militarized police, corporate welfare, and reforming criminal justice should be atop anyone's priority list, but apparently I'm in the minority on this interpretation of progressive politics. Paul isn't a pacifist, but he's spoken repeatedly about ending prolonged and unsuccessful American wars in the Middle East. He's spoken so much about ending such conflicts that he now has to prove he's not an isolationist to GOP war hawks.

If Hillary Clinton had championed issues that directly correlate to presidential authority, like ending perpetual wars or curtailing domestic spying, I probably wouldn't be considering Rand Paul in 2016. Then again, had she visited Ferguson, she would have potentially alienated possible swing voters in 2016, so like gay marriage, Clinton has placed calculated strategy above bold stances. If people like Ralph Nader and Bill Maher are open to voting for Rand Paul, it's not blasphemy to consider a Republican for president. Sen. Paul urging Congress to declare war against ISIS, a move that would force the president to defer to Congress on this matter and force a genuine debate on the issue of war in the Middle East, is another reason to like the Kentucky Senator.

Remember Benghazi?

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 23:32
Remember the Benghazi tragedy?

Of course you do.

But do you remember the other tragedy?

The one where Republicans attempted to "turn the Benghazi tragedy into a political scandal."


The one where Republicans tried their darndest to discredit -- destroy is a better word -- the President and, especially, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The one where Republicans squandered millions of taxpayer dollars in two years of investigation after investigation, committee hearing after committee hearing, report after report -- seven of them, count them -- while accusing the administration of dark conspiracies, cover-ups, intelligence failures, malfeasance, and worse.

The one where Republicans accused the Obama administration of ordering CIA operatives to "stand down," in effect nixing a military mission to rescue the four Americans at the Consulate in Benghazi, allegedly causing the tragic deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other brave Americans.

The one where Republicans accused the Obama administration of intimidating CIA employees from testifying, of manipulating and cooking up phony talking points for political reasons, of acting in bad faith, of lying and intentionally misleading the American people.

Well, as Republicans quietly slipped out of town late Friday for their long Thanksgiving break, they released "with little fanfare" a report -- the sixth one -- that, according to the New York Times:



...left Republicans in the same position they have been in for two years: with little evidence to support their most damning critiques of how the Obama administration, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, responded to the attacks.

Similar to five other government reports, the one released by the House Intelligence Committee on Friday said that the administration had not intentionally misled the public about what occurred during the attacks in talking points it created for officials to use in television appearances that turned out to be inaccurate.



Late Friday, the New York Times, under the title "New Benghazi Investigation Finds No Fault in Response," summarized the report as follows:


A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the C.I.A. and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a C.I.A. rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the C.I.A. was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then American ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found.

The report did not conclude that Ms. Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people. The attacks in Benghazi killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two C.I.A. contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. A Libyan extremist, Ahmed Abu Khatalla, is facing trial on murder charges after he was captured in Libya and taken to the United States.



But do you think this report will end the Republican witch-hunt?

Hell no!

The Christian Science Monitor:



The report released Friday does not end the controversy over how the Obama administration and the agencies it oversees conducted themselves during the period surrounding the Benghazi attack. The House Select Committee on Benghazi has yet to complete its investigation.

"The Select Committee on Benghazi received the Intelligence committee's report on the Benghazi terrorist attack, and has reviewed it along with other committee reports and materials as the investigation proceeds," spokesman Jamal Ware said in a statement. "It will aid the Select Committee's comprehensive investigation to determine the full facts of what happened in Benghazi, Libya before, during and after the attack and contribute toward our final, definitive accounting of the attack on behalf of Congress."

If this is not an indication that Republicans intend to continue their political witch hunt, just listen to what the Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, said today on CNN's "State of the Union." Graham called the report, put together by his own Republican colleagues and Democrats, "full of crap."


Four Americans killed, seven investigations that have asserted no wrongdoing by the Obama administration and all Mr. Graham can talk is "talking points" -- 11 times in the span of about four minutes-- and claim the report "full of crap" and what his own Intel Committee has found, "absolute garbage."

'Homeland' Season 4, Episode 9 Recap: There's Something Else Going On

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 22:00
After the hot mess that was last week's episode, Saul is still being held tight in the Taliban's (re: Haqqani's) grasp and the embassy is going through with Haqqani's trade. Five imprisoned members of Haqqani's guard are being given over in exchange for Saul and everyone is less than enthused. Aggravated by it all, Lockhart is fuming at Carrie when she keeps mentioning an alternate plan that she has yet to flesh out. In addition, Lockhart highly doubts the veracity of Aasar Khan's claims that Dennis Boyd is the embassy leak. All I know is that someone needs to wring Dennis' neck soon because that guy is awful -- in every facet of his life.

In the first attempt to get Dennis to admit his treason, Redmond gets him into the office under the guise of asking him a personal question. Redmond quickly jumps into talking about Sandy, illegal transfers of information, and how the information has been sourced back to Martha's, the ambassador, computer. He gives Dennis ample opportunity to come clean and presses him ever so gently to come out with it, but Dennis refuses to take the bait. As Carrie says after the meeting, he knows their evidence is weak so he's stonewalling them. Carrie is determined, as she always is, and I'm just hoping she doesn't crash and burn on this effort like she did in trying to save Saul last week.



Speaking of Saul, he's recovering from a pretty bad beating after his escape attempt. An unknown amount of days after his recapture, Haqqani's men have a young woman clean Saul up and they throw him in the back of a van. They drag Saul to a room equipped with bright lights and a camera, the latter of which they put him in front of while he is bound and gagged. Haqqani's men film Haqqani next to Saul as he discusses what he plans to do when he's reunited with his once-imprisoned comrades. He talks about "taking back" Kabul and his men all cheer as he speaks. Saul starts crying amidst the chatter and I just want to hug the poor man. He doesn't deserve this.

Carrie's second attempt to crack Dennis goes straight up interrogation-style. She throws all the incriminating information she knows about Dennis at him and he looks at her stoically and incredulously. Dennis gives no indication that he's going to relent and doesn't even show moderate emotion when Carrie says she could have died from the drug swap he enacted. At this point, yeah, I'm thoroughly frustrated with Dennis, but I'm also frustrated with the CIA and how they're handling this. In all actuality, do they really think someone who is working with ISI and double-crossing the U.S. is going to come clean without any assurance that he'll be provided safe house? I'm just saying, they're not really giving Dennis much incentive to break free of his clutches because he knows he's screwed regardless. You've got to give the guy an inch to get a mile, Carrie, even if he is a sociopathic scumbag. Anyway, Dennis releases no intel and Carrie locks him in the interrogation room overnight. #SorryCarriesNotSorry



After leaving Dennis, Carrie gets a call from Saul's wife, Mira. Her character has become much more likable in later seasons because she's so incredibly human. In this call with Carrie, Mira reminds her that Saul is not just a part in this large puzzle that the CIA is trying to solve. That he is a man, with a family and a home and a life all his own outside the CIA walls. Mira knows Carrie's erratic behavior and ability to constantly look at the larger picture. It's a tender moment and you know that both of these women care about Saul very deeply. I'm glad Mira made the call, but I don't know if it was immediately necessary. As much as Carrie can be rather irrational with her snap judgments, I think that when it comes down to it she wouldn't let Saul die. Or, at least, I hope.

Back in the interrogation room, Carrie subjects Dennis to the video of Sandy being beaten, trying to get him to crack. Dennis looks a bit more worn this time around than he did the first time, but he's still sticking with the "I can't say what I don't know" routine. Carrie gets extremely heated and starts threatening Dennis with what she'll throw at him if he doesn't comply with her or tell her what he knows. Just when Carrie says her last word and you think she's done, the door swings open and the ambassador comes sweeping in. Infuriated at Carrie for doing this without consulting her (I mean ... rightfully so. It wouldn't have gone so well, Martha, if Carrie had gone in to your office and said "I'm interrogating your husband because we think he's treasonous, okay, bye!"). The ambassador grabs Dennis and leaves the room, but not before forcefully telling Carrie that she's "done here."

In the ambassador's office, Martha and Dennis discuss what happened. Martha is fuming at Carrie and asks Dennis what could've prompted this and Dennis, yet again, denies knowing anything. She leaves him to go to a briefing about Saul's release and tells him to stay put. Then, in perhaps one of the greatest twists-you-probably-didn't-see-coming, she enters a room with Carrie and Lockhart and just when you think she's going to rip Carrie's head off, she instead sits down and very calmly tells them that Dennis didn't say anything. She'd been working with them the whole time and the whole explosion in the interrogation room was a ruse. It's finally nice to see that Martha isn't dealing with her husband's antics anymore. Well played, Martha, you're a total badass.

Quinn attempts to convince Carrie that he should go with her to the exchange for Saul, but Carrie pushes back and says no. She insists she needs Saul watching on standby because she has the feeling that "there's something else going on." Clearly, they're not going to give Haqqani his men back and Carrie's concerned that they may kill Saul. Her sixth sense is tingling.

Carrie and Redmond meet with the ISI to discuss the exchange with Saul, with an unsurprising icy reception from Tasneem. Mid-briefing, Carrie feigns a call from Lockhart and calls Aasar Khan from across the room. She knows that the whole exchange process feels weird and wants to know why it feels off. Carrie asks Aasar Khan what's going to happen during the exchange and we don't hear his answer. To add further alarm to the already worrying situation, the next scene is a young boy gearing up with a bomb vest and getting into a van with Saul. The van heads to the exchange.

Equipped with a bag of clothes, money and his passport, Dennis attempts to leave his house under the guise of going to his office to grade papers. He's stopped by the guards around the house who insist it's no safe for him to leave. As he argues with one guard, Martha arrives and it all comes out: she knows he's a massive liar and she's not letting him get away with it. Unrelenting, Dennis acts like he doesn't understand where this is coming from. Upset and aggravated, Martha has the guard take Dennis to a cell so he cannot leave.



The exchange begins with more tension than can possibly be measured. Redmond and Carrie run everything on the embassy's side of things and have a team controlling the prisoners. In the ISI corner, Tasneem has taken the reigns and is communicating all movements with Carrie via walkie-talkie. The prisoners have been shown to ISI, who is communicating with Haqqani, and Saul has been forcefully removed from the van to be shown to Carrie and Redmond. Carrie insists that the van leave before they start walking the prisoners toward the ISI members. The van drives away but leaves the boy with Saul. Carrie flips out when she sees the vest and refuses to let the prisoners go until the boy is out of Saul's reach. Saul, exasperated and exhausted, sits down and refuses to move, putting his head in his hands. He wants to die so that the Taliban doesn't reclaim the five prisoners. It's a noble cause, there's no disputing that, but Saul is too much like Carrie in the sense that he sometimes lets the bigger picture cloud his judgment. They wouldn't just let him die and he needs to grasp that. Anyway, Tasneem is infuriated by Saul's behavior and allows Carrie, alone, to go over and talk with him so that the exchange can come to fruition. Carrie and Saul share an emotional moment and eventually, Saul relents and they walk off together. The prisoners are released to ISI and the exchange is complete. Ugh.

The ambassador goes to the cell Dennis has been kept in during the exchange to get Saul back. She tells him how it went, much like most couples discuss how their days went, and then calmly asks him how they got here. Their marriage has fully deteriorated at this point and even now, when everything is past the point of being up in flames, Dennis can still not take responsibility for his actions.

Post-exchange, Redmond, Carrie and Saul sit silent in a car back to the embassy. Redmond's phone rings and it's Mira. It takes a few moments for Saul to regain composure, but in the second that he does and he grabs the phone, there's a massive explosion. The convoy has been hit. Several seconds later, there is another explosion. There are flames and no sign of Carrie, Redmond or Saul. To quote Lockhart after he hears the news of this: "WHAT THE F--KING F--K?!" News of the convoy hit travels fast, as the explosion happened mere blocks from the embassy. Lockhart deploys all the Marines to the explosion site. One Marine goes down to the cell Dennis and Martha are in to tell Martha what has happened and as she goes to leave, Dennis asks if all the Marines have been deployed and, FINALLY, out it comes: Tasneem is his ISI connection. He tells Martha that he's also told her about the hidden passageway under the embassy.

In the last, and most chilling scene, Haqqani and his fully armed men break into the passageway underneath the embassy. Under flickering basement lights, we see the menacing face of Haqqani as his full-fledged attack on the embassy is about to begin.

Did anyone else find themselves nearly out of breath after this episode or was that just me?


Keep up with "Homeland" recaps here every week. "Homeland" airs on Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET on Showtime.

Obama Defends Immigration Executive Order

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 20:38
HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — President Barack Obama is shrugging off Republican criticism of his actions to lift the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Obama said it was important that he act unilaterally to prioritize the deportation of criminals and recent arrivals and spare those who have lived here illegally for at least five years and have roots, including children who are American citizens. "Why we would prefer a system in which they're in the shadows, potentially taking advantage of living here but not contributing?" Obama said in the interview, which was taped Friday in Las Vegas after Obama delivered an immigration speech there.

The president pointed to executive orders issued by Democratic and Republican predecessors and said presidents exercise "prosecutorial discretion all the time."

Obama's executive actions, which he announced Thursday, have drawn a withering response from Republicans, but also has laid bare divisions within the GOP over how to deal with immigration.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, rejected Obama's claim of prosecutorial discretion. "Essentially he's gotten in the job of counterfeiting immigration papers, because there's no legal authority to do what he's doing," Cruz said on "Fox News Sunday."

A second Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said his party shares the blame for failing to get an immigration bill through the House of Representatives.

"Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that is national security, it's cultural and it's economic. The Senate has done this three times," Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Indeed, Obama cast his decision as the result of the Republican-led House's failure to act on a comprehensive immigration bill the Senate passed with bipartisan support in June 2013, or advance legislation of its own.

He said Republicans still could pass an immigration bill.

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said he had pressed the Republican leadership to start passing legislation two weeks ago on the immigration issue.

"We are going to pass legislation, but it is not going to be the legislation the president is asking for," Labrador said. "We as Republicans don't believe you should give amnesty first and talk about security later, which is what the Senate bill did." Labrador spoke on "Face the Nation" on CBS.

Obama spent the weekend in Nevada, mostly playing golf, after the speech and returned to the White House on Sunday evening.

___

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

Wall Street Leading Washington Yet Again: What Was Obama Thinking?

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 20:06
If you want to understand what makes Elizabeth Warren so special in American politics, consider her nervy leadership of the campaign to block President Obama's foolish nomination of one Antonio Weiss to be the top Treasury official in charge of the domestic financial system, including enforcement of the Dodd-Frank Act.

For most of his Wall Street career, Weiss has epitomized everything that reeks about financial abuses. As chief of international mergers and acquisitions for Lazard, Weiss orchestrated what are delicately known as "corporate inversions," in which a domestic corporation moves its nominal headquarters offshore, to avoid its U.S. taxes. It's hard to improve on Sen. Warren's description of this play, in her Huffington Post blog of last Wednesday:

Basically, a bunch of companies have decided that all the regular tax loopholes they get to exploit aren't enough, so they have begun taking advantage of an even bigger loophole that allows them to maintain their operations in America but claim foreign citizenship and cut their U.S. taxes even more. No one is fooled by the bland words "corporate inversion." These companies renounce their American citizenship and turn their backs on this country simply to boost their profits.

And that's only the beginning. Many of the other deals orchestrated by Weiss resulted in operating companies being bought and sold by giant conglomerates, where the "savings" and "increased efficiency" came mainly from tax breaks and reduced worker compensation.
Weiss, who was paid $15.4 million by Lazard over the past 23 months, will receive another $21.2 million as an early retirement payment if he is confirmed for the Treasury job.

But that may not happen. With Warren's courageous public declaration, other leading senators have announced their opposition, including Dick Durban of Illinois, who is number two in the Senate leadership structure and very close to Obama. And more will follow.

On the Republican side, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, which will vet Weiss, said last week, "This nomination shows the continued hypocrisy of the Obama administration in this area," referring to the Administration's declared opposition to tax-evading corporate inversions. Grassley added, "Ironically, this nominee might be especially well-equipped to advise the Obama administration on inversion policy."

So what's going on here?

In the past few weeks, Obama has demonstrated that he can challenge powerful interests when a little courage seems politically opportune. He has embraced net neutrality, over the opposition of the most powerful companies in the telecom and cable industries and that of his own Federal Commission Chairman, Tom Wheeler.

He had also issued used his executive powers to spare four to five million undocumented U.S. residents from deportation, a move that enraged Republicans, heartened Hispanics, and enabled the president to sound almost like the Obama of 2007 and 2008 who raised such hopes among progressives.

On these issues, you could say that Obama is looking to the next generation of voters, or looking to his legacy; or that these two moves were astute politics. Younger Americans overwhelmingly favor net neutrality, and his executive moves to suspend deportation handily split the Republicans.

However, when it comes to coddling Wall Street, President Obama manages to clumsily out-flank Republicans -- to the right. As Warren reminds us, for Obama this is business as usual (or if you like, it's business -- as usual.)

One top Treasury and financial official after another comes from Wall Street -- a record that would make even a Republican blush. As Warren wrote:

Starting with former Citigroup CEO Robert Rubin, three of the last four Treasury secretaries under Democratic presidents held high-paying jobs at Citigroup either before or after serving at Treasury -- and the fourth was offered, but declined, Citigroup's CEO position. Directors of the National Economic Council and Office of Management and Budget, the current Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. trade representative, also pulled in millions from Citigroup.

Scores of lesser officials, from heads of regulatory officials to sub-cabinet officers at cabinet agencies, came from other top Wall Street banks and investment banks.

In contrast to its occasional populist moves like those on net neutrality and deportations, when it comes to letting Wall Street have its way with the rest of us the administration is basically on auto-pilot. The bankers rule. The idea of naming Weiss just bubbled up from the usual suspects, and there was no real counterweight inside the Obama White House.

If the last election teaches anything, it shows that Democrats need to demonstrate that they are on the side of regular working Americans. When Democrats are the party of Wall Street, it allows the Tea Parties to tap the resentment against Washington and Wall Street that ordinary working Americans rightly feel.

Imagine the confirmation hearing. On one side, the Finance Committee's progressive Democrats will be challenging Weiss and embarrassing Obama. On the other side, Republicans will have a rare chance to identify against Wall Street.

President Obama doesn't need this. He doesn't need to divide his party, and he doesn't need one more emblem of his coziness with the bankers.

Last year, when Obama sought to name his former top economic adviser, Larry Summers, to chair the Federal Reserve, he similarly divided Democrats. Obama let Summers twist slowly in the wind for several weeks as opposition built, embarrassing himself, his party, and Summers, before Summers finally withdrew.

This time, Obama would do well to abbreviate rather than prolong the agony and invite Weiss to withdraw sooner rather than later. The White House should pull the plug, and fast. Weiss can decide that he needs to spend more time with his family.

Elizabeth Warren's bold leadership opposing the Weiss nomination is one more reminder of the vivid contrast not just between Warren and Obama but between Warren and the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton.

Clinton's set of advisers and policy views on finance are right out of the playbook of Obama, and that of her husband, Bill: Raise a ton of money from Wall Street and then appoint top regulatory officials congenial to Wall Street.

If Democrats in 2016 are to stand for something other than the Wall Street-Washington axis, they will need to do a lot better.

Robert Kuttner's latest book is Debtors' Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. He is co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and a senior Fellow at Demos.

Like Robert Kuttner on Facebook.

Living Nightmare for Detained Immigrants in Georgia

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 19:46
Reports are mounting of a living nightmare in Lumpkin, Georgia, at Stewart, a 1,750-bed detention facility housing immigrants facing potential deportation.

According to multiple interviews with detained immigrants at Stewart, they are dealing with maggots in food, improper medical care, sweltering temperatures, and in many cases no communication with staff due to no translators on site. The Corrections Corporation of America operates the facility for profit, adding fuel to an already roaring fire of opposition.

While President Obama's expanded deportation relief is a welcome move -- the truth is that without addressing immigration detention, immigrants will continue to suffer horrifying conditions in detention centers.

Current U.S. legislation is read by some members of Congress to require that at least 34,000 immigrants be held in detention beds at all times at a cost of $2 billion annually. This would mean that tens of thousands of immigrants will continue to be detained every year even if others are granted reprieve from deportation.

That's why executive action by the president on deportations should be accompanied by closing inhumane facilities like Stewart and ending the bed quota once and for all. Alternatives to detention are effective, much less costly, and far more humane than institutional detention.

Resistance inside Stewart has grown at the same time as external pressure to close the facility has mounted.

This past summer, dozens of detained immigrants there participated in a hunger strike. When a group of detained immigrants organized to bring concerns forward, things got ugly. There was a facility-wide, 24-hour lockdown in response, and participating units were shut down longer. Pepper spray was reportedly used against hunger strikers.

This retaliatory desire to shut down opposition in the face of gross human rights concerns is unacceptable.

Ismael, an immigrant detained at Stewart, had a stroke on March 9, 2014, and passed out in his unit. After being released from the hospital back into ICE's custody, he received no further treatment, follow-up, or even a lower bunk. After a second stroke a month later, the detention center allowed him pain pills for resulting headaches, but no treatment or rehabilitation. Finally, before even reaching his hearing, Ismael decided under duress to sign his deportation papers and leave behind his life in the U.S. to avoid further suffering.

Alcides became a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. in 1996. He proudly served his country in Iraq, and is now a disabled veteran and wheelchair-bound. At Stewart, he was made to stand, causing him severe pain, and he has since lost feeling in his legs altogether. He went three and a half weeks without showering due to lack of assistance. After use of pepper spray at the facility in response to the hunger strike, he suffered seizures and was not provided with the correct medication upon return to the facility from the hospital. He joined the hunger strike in an attempt to get access to his prescribed medication.

This treatment is inhumane, un-American, and do recall, it is also for profit.

In a 2012 report by the ACLU of Georgia, "Prisoners of Profit: Immigrants and Detention in Georgia," we found that Stewart has consistently failed to provide basic medical care, hygienic conditions, or edible and adequate food for those in detention. Detained men who spoke up suffered retaliation: a commonly used tactic was placing them in solitary. Stewart has been ranked by watchdogs like the Detention Watch Network as one of the worst facilities in the country.

Despite years of advocacy by detained immigrants, their family members, and human rights organizations, conditions have worsened.

This coming weekend, hundreds of people from across the country will converge at the gates of Stewart to once again call for closure of this facility.

The time has come for the Obama administration and ICE to shut Stewart down, and for this painful chapter in the American treatment of immigrants to close.

This article originally appeared in The Hill.

Anxiety Mounts In Ferguson As City Waits On Grand Jury

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 19:38
DAVID A. LIEB & ANDALE GROSS, Associated Press

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Despite preparations for a weekend decision in the Ferguson shooting case, the grand jurors apparently need more time to deliberate, and the uncertainty just seemed to feed the anxiety and speculation Sunday in a city already on edge.

More than 3½ months have passed since police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, killed unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown after a confrontation in the middle of a street in the St. Louis suburb. The shooting triggered riots and looting, and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.

Many in the area thought a grand jury decision on whether to charge Wilson with a crime would be announced Sunday, based partly on a stepped-up police presence in the preceding days, including the setting up of barricades around the building where the panel was meeting.

The grand jurors met Friday but apparently didn't reach a decision, and they were widely expected to reconvene on Monday, though there was no official confirmation of that.

Protesting on Sunday night, Reggie Cunningham said he doubted Wilson will be indicted and it seemed authorities were delaying an announcement "to spin this in the most positive way possible."

"The more that they drag this out, the angrier people are going to be," said Cunningham, 30, of St. Louis.

During church services, some pastors encouraged their flocks not to fret.

A choir sang, "We need you Lord right now" at the predominantly black Greater Grace Church in Ferguson. The pastor, Bishop L.O. Jones, referred to the pending grand jury decision briefly.

"Everybody stand to your feet and tell somebody, 'Don't be afraid. God is still in control,'" Jones said as church members repeated after him.

The Rev. Freddy Clark of Shalom Church in nearby Florissant told the mostly black interdenominational congregation that "justice will be served" whichever way the decision goes, because God will take care of it.

"None of us are pleased about what happened," said parishioner James Tatum. "Whatever the verdict is, we have to understand that's the verdict."

As they wait, some people have continued daily protests, while speculation has grown that the delays are intentional.

"People feel like it's been engineered, so that the results wouldn't come out until after the election and until the weather got cold, and it would be more difficult to protest," said Susan McGraugh, supervisor of the Criminal Defense Clinic at the Saint Louis University School of Law. "It's really adding fuel to the fire."

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch had said he expected a grand jury decision by mid-to-late November. But that's not ultimately in his control.

The 12-person grand jury deliberates in secret, without McCulloch, and sets its own schedule depending upon when the members are available.

It's not uncommon for deliberations to take a while in complex cases when, such as in the Brown shooting, self-defense is alleged or there are two widely conflicting versions of events, said Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson, who is not involved in the Ferguson case.

Downtown STL Inc., a St. Louis civic group that promotes downtown businesses, told members in an email Saturday that the grand jury will reconvene Monday to continue deliberating. The email did not explain how the group knew that, and McCulloch's office has not commented on the grand jury's schedule.

If jurors meet Monday, there is no guarantee they will reach a decision that day, or even this week.

"In the course of their deliberations, if one grand juror convinces the others that 'Look, we need to hear from an additional witness,' and they all agree, the prosecutor's got a duty to bring that witness in," Richardson said.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown's family, said they are frustrated the prosecutor didn't charge Wilson himself, or at least suggest a charge to grand jurors.

As it is, "you don't have any direction, you're just putting all the evidence out there and you're going to let them figure it out and they can make up their own minds," Crump said. "You know, it just boggles the mind why he thinks this is fair."

When the panel reaches a decision, it will be up to McCulloch to publicize it.

Sunday would have been an opportune time to minimize disruptions from protests, since schools and governments are planning on only a partial work week because of Thanksgiving, said Peter Joy, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He said Monday or Tuesday would still make sense.

But "my belief is that with the holiday, releasing it on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday would produce a negative reaction," Joy said.

___

Lieb reported from Jefferson City. Associated Press reporter Alex Sanz contributed to this report from St. Louis. Follow David A. Lieb at: https://twitter.com/DavidALieb


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bye Bye 'Bystander': Obama Goes on Offense with Immigration/ACA/Climate

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 19:28


LISTEN HERE:



By Mark Green

Vanden Heuvel and Lowry debate 'Bamnesty' and 'Obamacare'. Perhaps the best Left-Right framing of big reforms is FDR in 1936 comparing governments imperfectly reforming to status quo-ers kvetching from the sidelines. Or as Gypsies say, "Dogs bark but the caravan moves on."

*Immigration EO: Obama a Democrat or Autocrat? Isn't stopping the separation of children from their parents a good thing for immigrant families? Rich says that would be good once there is a deal in place that first takes care of the enforcement piece of immigration - border crossings and employer hiring - but not by a unilateral executive order. "You're not gonna be happy when President Cruz uses this precedent."

Katrina responds "18 months! It's been 18 months since the Senate passed a bipartisan, path-to-citizenship bill with 68 votes but Boehner won't allow a floor vote even though it would pass!" She lauds Obama for responding to grassroots lobbying and trying to fix a dysfunctional system since Tea Party types won't let the GOP do that. "If you want to enact a law," counters Rich, "then elect a new Speaker, which means electing a new Congress," which the Democrats failed to do in the recent election.

Host: Actually, Democrats carried a majority of the vote in the 2012 congressional races but didn't get to appoint a new Speaker because of gerrymandering. And there's now no floor vote because of the Hastert Rule (not law, but rule) by which GOP Speakers wait until there's a majority of the Caucus before going to the floor, a rule Hastert and Boehner sometimes violate though not in this case. So Boehner is flexing his power to stall or stop immigration reform... and Obama is using his with an Executive Order.

Katrina, could this be an inflection/legacy moment? Could Obama's almost 'Reaganesque' framing of stories involving children taken from deported parents move some moderate and even Republican voters?
"It's moved the Conference of Catholic Bishops and, now that the president is not the 'deporter-in-chief' but the 'decider-in-chief', others will follow." Rich scoffs, distinguishing between Reagan's and the Bushes' executive orders based on enacted laws or congressional sentiment and Obama's. Katrina argues that shrieks about impeachment and shut-downs are ridiculous and that the "prosecutorial discretion" precedent underpinning Obama's EO will prevail in any court challenge, as it has already in the Roberts Court.

What about RNC's Reince Priebus saying that Republicans had to revaluate their position on immigration or risk losing more presidential elections? Katrina sounds the warning that a party offending a growing percentage of a rising electorate is looking for trouble. Rich thinks that "Priebus was wrong" because his party does and should oppose the Senate bill.

Host: We'll know precisely more in two years whether Obama's bet on the future by allowing more Hispanics to stay in the U.S. as united families has locked up a growing share of a growing electorate or not.

But at the least, the Krauthammers who have been belittling Obama for "leading from behind" and being a weak "bystander" should now cease and desist since that's completely at odds with their new meme that he's a "dictator" or "emperor." Fact is, Republicans attack Obama whether he's leading from the front or behind since their goal is to stymie his popularity no matter what. This Friday, a House Committee released its report that "Benghazi" was a tragedy, not a scandal. Has Fox, McCain, Issa etc. apologized for demonizing Obama and Rice? They have not, perhaps because it was never a serious charge but rather a political smear that served its purpose of distracting anxious voters.

So Benghazi ends up not as Obama's Watergate but his Whitewater... as, presumably, more current coordinated attacks on his "lawlessness" will prove to be. They too will evaporate in time after serving their purpose since they're hit-jobs and not about jobs.


*Is Obamacare Working? We ask Deanne Friedholm of Consumer's Union for a report on the law during this week's second enrollment period. She concludes that the 7 million who have signed up and paid up is pretty good... though it looks like it'll be somewhat less than what the CBO expected by the end of this enrollment. Happily, costs, premiums and deficits are slowing due to lowered Medicaid outlays. And what would she re-do in the law... assuming that were possible in the next Congress? "It would be to establish a baseline package for all plans so consumers could more easily compare premiums, deductibles, co-insurance and coverage."

Rich, do you agree that none of the hypothetical horribles of death panels, death spirals, job-lock, few enrollees and higher costs have materialized? He argues that the ACA is not working as well as advertised "because the $2 trillion cost over 10 years should ideally be covering more people. And many of the signups are to Medicaid which entails very poor quality coverage."

Katrina counters that if a GOP president had nationally implemented Romneycare in 2009, they'd be now jumping for joy. Sure the law is imperfect, "like how Social Security omitted migrants and many people of color" (i.e., domestic help), but that still was a great advance, as is the ACA.

Question: Doesn't this debate mirror FDR's 1936 convention address when he concluded that it's better to pursue change, warts and all, rather than remain complacent in icy indifference? Rich complains that at least his publication has been proposing a market-based alternative to health care that wouldn't be linked to employment (which happened in the late 1940s when conservatives attacked anything else as "socialized medicine.")

Will Obamacare be like marriage equality, which becomes more and more popular as friends, family, neighbors see real examples of who it's helping? Katrina: "Yes!" Rich: "No... though we've been hearing about this promised popularity from the beginning."

*Quick Takes: Consensus on 3 for 3. There's across-the-aisle agreement on Bill Cosby, The New Republic and Uber.

Katrina and Rich believe that, given the dozen or so women who have publicly come forward and Cosby's refusal to respond, it's pretty hard to believe they're all lying. And unlike due process in a legal proceeding, it's hard to blame an NBC or Netflix for canceling projects that rely on ratings and sponsors. They both welcome TNR's 100 birthday soiree because "the more successful opinion magazines are, the better for democracy."

As for Uber executives telling media moguls they were hiring investigators to expose media critics of this uber-valued startup, it was not a very smart PR move. "Since when is J. Edgar Hoover vindictiveness ok when done by the media?", asks Katrina. Rich agrees though the subject of public retaliation for private conduct is "murky."

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

Send all comments to Bothsidesradio.com, where you can also listen to prior shows.






Both Sides Now is available
Sat. 5-6 PM EST From Lifestyle TalkRadio Network
& Sun. 8-9 AM EST from Business RadioTalk Network.





North Carolina Could Be The Newest Legal Battleground For Uber and Lyft

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 18:05
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina has become an attractive market for smartphone-based car services such as Uber and Lyft, which are drawn to the state's mid-sized cities that have college students and young professionals but lack extensive mass transit. It's also one of many states where little regulation exists outside of traditional cab and limo services.

Uber currently offers rides in 10 cities in North Carolina, ranging from Wilmington and Asheville to the larger Raleigh and Charlotte. The company says that's more than any other state but California. Six of those cities have populations greater than 200,000, and all are home to universities. The companies' expansion has legislators in North Carolina and elsewhere scrambling to study their business models ahead of sessions in 2015 when they could address insurance, car inspections or criminal background checks. Throw in concerns from traditional taxi companies and insurance lobbyists, and Uber and Lyft's public policy staffs should stay busy.

At a meeting this week of North Carolina's Revenue Laws Study Committee, co-chairwoman Rep. Julia C. Howard said she anticipated someone would introduce a bill, but she wasn't aware of a specific proposal yet.

"We're getting into some tall weeds here," Howard said, referring to the nuances involved after a colleague asked about pricing differences between Uber, Lyft and taxis.

Lyft and Uber use a smartphone app to link customers with drivers selling rides in typically noncommercial cars or SUVs, allowing people with little or no professional driving experience to make money. Uber also works with licensed limo drivers in some markets. Both services make drivers undergo criminal and traffic background checks, and drivers are rated by customers. Uber and Lyft say they also provide commercial auto insurance in North Carolina that kicks in when rides are ordered.

At least 20 legislatures are likely to take up legislation on such services in 2015 after several passed laws this year, said transportation analyst Douglas Shinkle of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"This is definitely the most fast-moving, from kind of zero to 60, policy issue ... that I've worked on since I've worked at NCSL," said Shinkle, who's been with the organization since 2005.

At the North Carolina meeting, Uber and Lyft touted their insurance coverage and background checks — two key areas considered by legislatures in 2014. While several of those bills failed, Colorado passed a law to regulate the companies, and California lawmakers set insurance standards.

"We're seeing all over the country that cities and states are taking interest in companies like Uber because what we're seeing is that consumers are flocking to these new technologies," Rachel Holt, Uber's Regional General Manager for the East Coast, told North Carolina lawmakers. "We're very supportive of reasonable, commonsense regulations."

However, Uber and Lyft have faced several lawsuits in the past year across the U.S., claiming the companies operate in violation of state and local laws governing taxis.

Michael Solomon, president of the Taxi Taxi cab service in the Raleigh area, said Uber and Lyft drivers should obtain commercial license plates and have more extensive commercial insurance, just as traditional cab services are required to do.

"Any person who collects a passenger for a fee, no matter how it's collected, should be held to the same standard," he said.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America told North Carolina lawmakers that Uber and Lyft should offer more coverage for drivers any time they are logged into the app and available to drive. While the companies offer commercial coverage when drivers are on their way to pick up a customer or have them in the vehicle, PCI attorney Oyango Snell said there's a significant gap during the period when drivers are waiting to line up a fare.

During that period, Uber and Lyft drivers in the state rely on a combination of their personal policies and contingent liability coverage provided by the companies.

A North Carolina-based scholar on entrepreneurship said regulation for Uber and Lyft must strike a balance "between the 'Wild West' and the very strict rules that apply to old economy players."

"I don't think the answer lies in applying the same framework to this new player," said Arvind Malhotra, a professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. "New rules and regulations have to be crafted to make it a level playing field."

The on-demand, GPS-based car services aren't just appealing to riders — the flexibility is also drawing drivers who never worked in the industry. Jeremy Collins, 31, began driving his 2011 Honda Accord for Uber in July, a few weeks after it launched in Durham. He planned to drive part-time to earn extra money while his wife completes a graduate nursing program at Duke, but he ended up quitting his job as a waiter. He says he never drives more than 35 hours a week, but can make $1,300 in that time.

He lives in an apartment building near campus that's home to a lot of graduate students, so he can sit on his balcony with a coffee and wait for the app to match him with riders. He typically ferries students and others in the Duke community, and he's worked out a rhythm where he says he rarely works a late night.

"I'm able to keep us afloat with our Uber pay," he said. "I don't have a boss, and I work when I want. ... It's worked out really well for us."

On A Night Of Peaceful Protests In Ferguson, One Reporter's Arrest Breaks The Calm

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 17:53
FERGUSON, Mo. -- Police officers arrested a journalist during peaceful protests in Ferguson on Saturday night, amid widespread speculation that tensions could boil over in advance of a grand jury's ruling about the police officer who shot Michael Brown in August.

That arrest marred what was otherwise a professional and noncontroversial police response to demonstrations under the temporary leadership of Lt. Jerry Lohr of the St. Louis County Police Department. The department is sending officers to manage the police response to the protests on a rotational basis, and Lohr was on duty Saturday night. Lohr has been commended for regularly engaging in conversations with protesters gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department and for de-escalating situations that would likely have resulted in an aggressive police response on other nights.

Despite Lohr's conciliatory attitude, his colleague Lt. James Vollmer, the commanding officer who ordered the journalist's arrest, took a more aggressive approach.

Demonstrators assembled once again outside the Ferguson Police Department on Saturday night as they waited to hear whether a grand jury will indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot 18-year-old Brown on Aug. 9. Earlier in the evening, demonstrators had gathered at the location of the teenager's death, where Brown's mother urged calm.

The arrest of the D.C.-based journalist, Trey Yingst of News2Share, took place down the street from the police station, where Lohr and Vollmer were stationed for most of the night. At the time, a few demonstrators were temporarily blocking the flow of traffic on the street. A number of officers emerged from behind a building, first ordering everyone out of the street, and then saying that people gathered on a sidewalk had to cross the street and assemble on the opposite sidewalk.

Yingst was standing on the initial sidewalk, wearing media credentials and a camera around his neck. Within seconds of encountering him, the commanding officer ordered that the journalist be taken into custody.

The St. Louis County Police Department stated in a tweet posted Saturday night that Yingst, 21, had been standing in the road and was arrested for "failure to disperse." However, as this reporter and a multitude of other witnesses saw firsthand -- and as was captured on video -- Yingst was not in the street. A subsequent statement by the department on Sunday morning claimed that Yingst had been standing not in the street but, rather, in "the area," this time saying that he would be charged with unlawful assembly.

Later, a spokesman said the department "is looking into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Yingst's arrest."

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Yingst said he was shocked that he was taken into custody. Before he was locked up, he pointed out, he had actually been composing a tweet about the "fantastic restraint" that Lohr was showing in the handling of the demonstrations.

"Once they took me behind the fire station, I asked what was I doing wrong, as I was standing on the sidewalk," Yingst told HuffPost shortly after he was released from jail early Sunday morning. "The guy said, 'Look, I don't always agree with it, but I was following orders.'"

Another reporter, who was covering the demonstrations for Reason magazine, suggested to Lohr in a joint interview conducted by Reason and HuffPost that the officer who had Yingst taken into custody "was being a jackass, and you're being extremely polite." Lohr responded "I know." When asked whether it should be him dealing with the protesters instead of the other lieutenant, Lohr smiled and changed the subject.

"I mean, ultimately the deal is, is, my approach may be different than his, but we're trying to accomplish the same goal," Lohr said.

Vollmer was wearing a name plate, but the St. Louis County Police Department later provided the officer's full name in response to a request from HuffPost.

Yingst's arrest came after a federal judge ordered several area law enforcement agencies to stop cracking down on journalists. The court order theoretically bars police from "interfering with individuals who are photographing or recording at public places but who are not threatening the safety of others or physically interfering with the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties."

The American Civil Liberties Union is looking into Yingst's arrest, and said it was "unclear what legal authority police officers would have had to order him to disperse."

“We are deeply troubled that the First Amendment rights of the media are still being violated in spite of the recent court order we secured against such action by the County of St. Louis,” Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU's Missouri chapter, said in a statement Sunday. “We will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary swiftly pursue aggressive action to ensure that unlawful interference with the press comes to an end.”

The police made one other arrest in Ferguson on Saturday, though the circumstances were significantly different. David Rodriguez, a 26-year-old from Illinois, was taken into custody as he stood in front of cars in the middle of the street while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. (The mask is known as a trademark symbol for the activist group Anonymous.) After Rodriguez refused to comply with orders to leave the street, Lohr lead a group of officers wearing normal uniforms into the street and took the protester into custody without using force.

"It's fine, it's fine," Lohr said, calming the crowd as Rodriguez was taken away.



This story has been updated to include the identity of Lt. James Vollmer.

What's Wrong With This Picture? For U.S. Fight Against ISIS, Everything

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-11-23 16:53
WASHINGTON -- The Islamic Republic of Iran would like to make one thing clear: We've got this.

Up until June 10, Iranian officials had been content to shape events in Iraq quietly through their hold on local Shiite militias and the prime minister at the time, Nouri al-Maliki.

Then the Iraqi government lost Mosul, the nation's second-largest city, to the growing Sunni extremist force now known as the Islamic State, or ISIS. The U.S. eventually responded: It forced a new government to take power, sent in airpower and military advisers, and launched an international effort against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.

But months before the U.S. showed that it was willing to invest heavily in the region again, Iran decided the rise of ISIS gave it the chance to stop being coy about its control of the Iraqi government.

The Iranian influence has only grown more visible now that the U.S. is embroiled in Iraq again. Control of the critical Interior Ministry was awarded last month to a representative of the Badr militia, one of the top Iranian proxies in Iraq.

The picture above shows Badr's leader, Hadi al-Amiri, chuckling with General Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Iran's internationally oriented paramilitary Quds Force. The publication of the photograph is a signal from Iran of just how powerful it is in Iraq, a high-ranking U.S. official said. Iran is embracing the Iraqi government and the Shiite militias.

Gen. #Soleimani commander of the #Qods_Force and commander of the #Badr Corps in #Iraq pic.twitter.com/LfxAVdF6Iy

— Hossein Dalirian (@Hosseindalirian) November 5, 2014

A reporter for Iran's semi-official Tasnim News Agency helped spread the photograph on Twitter.



The U.S., meanwhile, is still developing its policy against ISIS -- and it knows, according to administration officials, Syrian opposition figures and outside analysts interviewed by The Huffington Post, that as a latecomer to the game, it has entered an arena in which Tehran's rules dominate.

Suleimani, a favorite of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, plays a big part in setting those rules. He was given the star treatment in The New Yorker last year for his activities in Syria. Once reclusive, Suleimani has become increasingly visible in Iranian reports of triumph against ISIS, potentially to reaffirm his stature at home in the face of regional chaos.

Iran was ready to face down ISIS with the help of allies it has cultivated for years: the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, supplemented by the Iranian-aided Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah and the intensely brutal Shiite militias of Iraq.


Suleimani at a meeting with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran in 2013. (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader, File.)

While the U.S. worked slowly after the ISIS takeover of Mosul in June, Suleimani and his government wasted no time.

Within 48 hours, Iran had sent senior advisers, weapons, ammunition and critical intelligence to the beleaguered Baghdad government, Iraqi government officials recently told the Financial Times.

"We had to defend ourselves,” Gen. Qassem Atta, the head of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service said, noting that his government had sought U.S. aid but had been rebuffed. "We had no choice ... but to go to Iran."

In a surreal turn of events for two countries that have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, the U.S. and Iran are seeing their interests align: Both support the central Iraqi government and the Kurds in the north, and both hope to eradicate ISIS.

Kurdish peshmerga forces and Shiite Badr militia fighters take positions against ISIS 55 miles south of Kirkuk, Iraq, on Oct. 30. (Ali Mukarrem Garip/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

But for Iran, the U.S. may be the enemy of its enemy, but it is no friend. Until just a few years ago, Iraqi Shiite militias under the influence of Iran were routinely shelling Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone.

The area was and remains home to the largest U.S. embassy in the world and to much of the Iraqi government.

On Oct. 1, four mortars landed in the Green Zone. Their source was unknown, and the Islamic State was quick to claim that it was behind the attack. But to U.S. officials, the incident seemed eerily familiar.

The possibility that those four shells could become 400 or 4,000 is at the forefront of U.S. policymakers' minds as they craft strategy in Iraq and Syria, administration officials have told The Huffington Post. The shells are a significant threat in themselves, but they also represent the broader fear Iran will use the militias to harm U.S. troops now being sent to Iraq as advisers.

Because of the Shiite militias' effectiveness against ISIS -- they have been instrumental in the Iraqi government's efforts to retake territory -- and the risk that they will turn on the U.S., the administration is loath to confront them or their Iranian backers directly.

This is why the purest expression of the dilemma facing the U.S. strategy is contained in the Suleimani-al-Amiri photo. An administration official told The Huffington Post it was taken just after Shiite militias, some Iraqi military personnel and Iranian fighters swept through southern Baghdad, demolishing houses and bringing the hammer down in Sunni areas. It was a good day for Iran and its Iraqi partners -- and not such a good day for Sunni-Shiite relations.

The Suleimani photo illustrates how the two major goals of the U.S. -- militarily defeating the Islamic State and bringing political reconciliation among Sunnis and Shiites -- require distinct strategies that run counter to each other.

In order to roll back ISIS, a Sunni militant group, the U.S. is essentially working alongside Iranian-backed Shiite militias. The only way those militias can win is ugly, as Amnesty International has documented and U.S. officials know -- and their behavior undermines any chance at reconciliation with Iraq's Sunnis.

Winning those Sunnis over from ISIS is key, U.S. officials say. The Sunnis provided critical support for the extremist group earlier this year, helping it overwhelm the Iraqi army because of their own dissatisfaction with the Shiite-run central government.


A video that purports to show Suleimani, the Iranian general, celebrating a victory against ISIS with Shiite militia fighters in Iraq. The video went viral within the State Department, according to sources there.

Analysts and officials have indicated recently that Iranian influence on U.S. policy has grown because the Obama administration wants to keep Tehran happy so it can reach a deal on its nuclear program. Former Obama Syria adviser Frederic Hof, now a fellow at the Atlantic Council, suggested in a blog post Wednesday that this concern may be behind "the virtual erasure of Syria" from the administration's latest rhetoric about the ISIS fight. Hof told The Huffington Post in an email that the administration started to see Iran, rather than Russia, as the key player in Syria just last year. Now, he said, "Iran's support for the regime is critical" for Assad's survival.

Keen to undermine ISIS in Iraq and Syria and to present a final resolution to the global panic over a potential Iranian nuclear weapon as negotiators seek a deal before a Nov. 24 deadline, the White House reportedly has assured Iran it will respect its interests in both countries where the U.S. is currently bombing ISIS -- defining the broad lines of the U.S. involvement in ways acceptable to Iran.

In Iraq, that means accepting the power of the Shiite militias and, according to administration officials quoted in the Wall Street Journal, passing messages to Tehran through Baghdad.

In Syria, that means promising not to bomb Assad's forces to ensure that no harm comes to the Iranian officers aiding them, the WSJ heard from officials. The administration is therefore in the difficult position of explaining to U.S.-backed Syrian moderate rebels that it is unlikely to help them against Assad, who they see as their main foe.

Congressional staffers were briefed this week on a new report about Iran's aggressive role in Syria, The Huffington Post has learned. Iran skeptics on Capitol Hill may use the report to demand that the administration get tougher on Tehran.

The White House has publicly denied any cooperation with Iran in the ISIS fight. But Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this month that the two countries had discussed their respective battles against the group.

"We won't share intelligence with them, but their interest in this outcome is something that's been widely commented upon and something that on a couple of occasions has been discussed on the sidelines of other conversations," Earnest said, after the WSJ revealed that Obama had sent a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in October that tied the nuclear negotiations to the Islamic State fight.


Secretary of State John Kerry (R) with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) on Sept. 26 in New York City. Along with representatives from Russia, China and the European Union, Kerry is leading the international community's negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The current deadline for a final deal is Nov. 24. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, noted that Iraq remains a sovereign country and that Iranian influence there should not be overstated.

The relationship between the U.S. and the Iraqi government "speaks for itself, and is not one we calibrate in response or reaction to Iraq’s relationship with other regional actors," Baskey said in an email to The Huffington Post.

"As for Iran’s activities in Iraq, it is Iran’s choice as to whether it will step up and play a constructive role in the region, which we and the international community have consistently urged," he continued. "Alternatively, Iran’s leaders can choose to continue to contribute to the current instability by backing illegal militias in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, actions that have contributed significantly to the sectarian conflict that helped make Iraq so vulnerable over the past several years."

Of course, that group of "illegal militias" includes the one that dominates Iraq's Interior Ministry.

#Iraq Wonder who's back! New set of pics of H. Qassem Soleimani with Hadi Al Amiri (Badr SG) and Sh. Adnan Shahmani 1 pic.twitter.com/34pj1Lsipo

— Green lemon (@green_lemonnn) October 25, 2014

More photographs claiming to show Suleimani, the Iranian general, with al-Amiri of the Badr militia, which runs Iraq's Interior Ministry, and Adnan Shahmani, a parliamentarian linked to a militia associated with the Tayyar al-Rasuli political party.



Some foreign policy experts suggest the U.S. could just embrace Iran as a partner in this fight.

"Now is not the time for false virtue or moral absolutism. The working principle now has to be first threats first. And the first threat to American interests today is ISIS and its cohorts," Lesie Gelb, the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote last month in a Daily Beast essay supporting U.S. cooperation with Iran and Assad.

But strategic and diplomatic concerns -- chiefly the fact that Iran is the biggest security concern for most traditional U.S. allies in the Middle East, from Israel to the Sunni states helping fight ISIS -- mean that cooperation with Iran simply is not feasible, analysts told The Huffington Post.

Iran itself has no interest in serving U.S. purposes in the region. It still sees Washington as a rival with excessive regional influence that is more dangerous than ISIS. The role it played in helping eject the U.S. from Iraq earlier this decade is among its proudest achievements, and not one it wants to see rolled back with increased U.S. troop presences.

"What you have is a very temporary arrangement of convenience, and it is one where the longer-term objectives are fundamentally different," said Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said the administration faces "the strange dichotomy" of dealing with ISIS alongside Iran at one end of the Middle East, and protecting its Arab allies from an Iranian military build-up in the Persian Gulf at the other.

Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the founder of the Syria Comment blog, said the U.S. dilemma is particularly complex because compromise with Iran's regional allies to focus on the ISIS threat means different things in different arenas.

"In Iraq, the United States has a partner, because it's not ashamed, it's not afraid to work with the sectarian Shiite government, because 60 percent [of Iraq] is Shiite," Landis told The Huffington Post. "Even if they're as brutal as Assad, America can say they're the majority. In Syria, they can't. They've demonized Assad and there's been such a bloody civil war, so they can't back him up."

Landis added that he believes this is why the administration has pursued what it describes as an "Iraq first" policy.

Speaking at the G-20 summit earlier this month, Obama underscored his opposition to Assad but said the administration is not presently discussing ways to remove him.


Two Syrian women who live in Iran hold their country's flag and a picture of Syrian President Bashar Assad after casting their votes for their country's presidential election at the Syrian Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 28. Though he has been blasted by the international community, Assad retains support among some Syrians, particularly those who belong to the same Alawite sect of Shiite Islam. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)



Analysts and Syrian opposition figures warn against a conciliatory approach toward Iran, even if it might be the most pragmatic option given the looming deadline for a nuclear deal. They say the U.S. may end up doing Tehran's dirty work for it: If Washington does not plan for what it wants left behind after ISIS, it could simply be removing the most powerful Sunni rival to Iran's proxies.

Iran's established influence in the region could therefore guarantee its ability to hold sway -- including in ways that could feed further Sunni extremism -- long after the U.S. loses interest in the fight there, according to Joseph Bahout, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former French government adviser.

Tehran's thinking, Bahout told The Huffington Post, is likely that "Syria has become such a mess and we have enough cards among these sectarian militias, Iraqi and Lebanese, that we can transform [the region] into a quagmire of open low-intensity fighting for years…[and] sink our adversaries."

And that might be just fine for Suleimani and the forces he leads. His Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps is heavily involved in the Iranian economy -- and for them, reconciliation with the West and the subsequent opening of the Iranian economy would be bad for business.

Type in your email below to get Ryan's newsletter, Bad News, in your inbox

center;">

Enter your email address: