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The threat to the rule of law

the economistVie, 08/08/2014 - 19:12

ROSS DOUTHAT has been arguing for the past week that Barack Obama's unilateral immigration-policy changes pose a threat of "presidential caesarism". The power grab Mr Douthat is most vexed about involves the so-called DACA ("Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals") policy, whereby the president has directed authorities to postpone action against undocumented immigrants who arrived as children. 

Opinions as to whether this oversteps the president’s authority mainly break down along political lines. Defending Mr Obama's actions, Ezra...Continue reading

A time to act

the economistVie, 08/08/2014 - 16:07

OVERCOMING his deep wariness of overseas entanglements, President Barack Obama has authorised American generals to launch air strikes in Iraq against the fanatical jihadists of the Islamic State (IS). The first strike was carried out on August 8th within 12 hours of the president’s announcement, and involved the bombing of a mobile IS artillery piece near Erbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in the country’s north.

Seeking to reassure a war-weary public, the president described two tightly defined missions that would trigger air attacks. First, the president told his public in a late-night address from the White House, warplanes would strike convoys of IS fighters if they threaten either American diplomats and troops stationed in Erbil or Baghdad.

Second, air strikes might be used to break an IS siege of thousands of civilians from the minority Yazidi sect, who have been trapped in mountains near the city of Sinjar without food and water, facing threats of mass slaughter from IS forces waiting below.

American transport planes dropped bundles of food and water onto the Sinjar mountains, with Kurdish...Continue reading

Girl trouble

the economistVie, 08/08/2014 - 02:37

JUSTICE Ruth Bader Ginsburg told Katie Couric last week that the Supreme Court has a “blind spot” when it comes to women’s issues. In contrast to the strides it has made in protecting the rights of gays and lesbians—overturning anti-sodomy laws a decade ago and gutting the Defence of Marriage Act last year, with more same-sex marriage litigation on the horizon—the Court has made little progress in protecting equality for women. Adam Liptak of the New York Times reports that in a recent talk, Justice Ginsburg said the court fails to recognise...Continue reading

Finishing the job

the economistJue, 07/08/2014 - 16:35

IN MARCH 1981, desperate to prove himself worthy of Jody Foster's love, John Hinckley junior tried to kill President Ronald Reagan with a handgun outside a hotel in Washington, DC. Reagan survived, but Mr Hinckley managed to shoot James Brady, then the White House press secretary, in the head, leaving him partially paralysed—and politically radicalised.

Thanks to Mr Hinckley, Mr Brady and his wife, Sarah, became staunch gun-control advocates. They founded Handgun Control Inc—an advocacy organisation now known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence—and spearheaded the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established a system of federal background checks for Americans wishing to purchase firearms, which Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993. This system of background checks is the principal legacy of Mr Hinckley's irrepressible victim, James Brady, who died Monday at the age of 73.

Mr Brady's passing provides a natural occasion to examine the effects of his tireless efforts on behalf of...Continue reading

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