Type-A bureaucrat who professionally pushes papers in the Middle East. History nerd, linguistic geek, and devoted news junkie.
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Area Developers Putting Bar Codes On Workers To Avoid Construction Delays

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Area Developers Putting Bar Codes On Workers To Avoid Construction Delays For about 20 current projects, WBJ reports. [ more › ]
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hannahdraper
22 hours ago
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Jesus.
Washington, DC
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What's The Link Between Peak Bloom And D.C. Sales Tax?

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What's The Link Between Peak Bloom And D.C. Sales Tax? District, Measured takes a look. [ more › ]
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hannahdraper
22 hours ago
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Washington, DC
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“Oh, Come On,” Says Chief Justice

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I can assure you, this is not something you want to hear from any judge, probably ever, let alone just after you have said words in court. But according to the New York Times, that’s what the Solicitor General heard from the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

I haven’t read the transcript, but the article quotes similar statements by five other justices. That doesn’t mean the Administration will lose the case, necessarily, but there may be at least six votes in favor of making fun of it.

The case is Maslenjak v. United States, and involves the Administration’s argument that it can revoke the citizenship of a naturalized U.S. citizen if he or she made even the most trivial misstatements in the naturalization proceedings. No matter how minor, the Administration says, or how long ago, if the statement is false then it can revoke that person’s citizenship and deport him or her if it wants to. Taking extreme positions like this is asking for trouble, of course, because any competent lawyer can come up with lots of examples that make you look dumb. And the justices are pretty competent lawyers.

Not least the Chief Justice, who had a question about speeding.

“Some time ago, outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone,” the chief justice said, adding that he had not been caught.

The form that people seeking American citizenship must complete, he added, asks whether the applicant had ever committed a criminal offense, however minor, even if there was no arrest.

“If I answer that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, ‘Guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all’?” Chief Justice Roberts asked.

Robert A. Parker, a Justice Department lawyer, said the offense had to be disclosed. Chief Justice Roberts seemed shocked. “Oh, come on,” he said.

Justice Kennedy had a similar reaction, and apparently such a strong one that he completely forgot that the Chief Justice of the United States had just confessed to a crime. “Your argument is demeaning the priceless value of citizenship,” he said, and it didn’t get better from there.

Justice Sotomayor wanted to know whether a person could be stripped of citizenship and deported for failing to disclose an embarrassing childhood nickname, while Justice Kagan said she was a “little bit horrified to know that every time I lie about my weight it [might have] those kinds of consequences.” Parker was adamant: no matter how trivial, out you go. Or out you could go; he seems to have tried to assure the skeptical judges that the government would exercise its discretion appropriately in such cases, and I assume appropriately raucous laughter then broke out in the courtroom.

Oddly enough, it is possible to get treated like this at argument and still win the case, and that might ultimately be the case here. According to SCOTUSblog, the plaintiff said at the time she immigrated that she and her family left Serbia because her husband wanted to avoid being drafted into the Bosnian Serb militia. But it turned out that not only had he served, he was in a unit implicated in war crimes. Some of the same justices who made fun of the Solicitor General’s extreme position on the standard asked Maslenjak’s attorney why that lie wasn’t “obviously material.” The question on appeal, though, is whether the lower court applied the right standard when it accepted the government’s position that any lie is material. Given the open mockery of that position on Wednesday, it sounds like the government will lose on appeal, but it could still win at trial.

On a related note, I gave a presentation in Kansas City yesterday on legal ethics and other much more ridiculous things, and the presentation was held in the ceremonial courtroom of the District Court for the District of Kansas. So several judges laughed at me in court this week, too, but I was trying to get them to do that.

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hannahdraper
1 day ago
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Washington, DC
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JimB
1 day ago
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Judge admits speeding

Say It Ain't So, Gorka! Controversial Trump Adviser Reportedly On The Way Out

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Sebastian Gorka’s days at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may be numbered. Three senior Trump administration officials who spoke to the Daily Beast said that discussions are underway on when and how to remove the scandal-plagued national security aide from his post.

Gorka, a deputy assistant to the President, came to the White House from a post as national security editor for Breitbart News and a string of gigs teaching and giving talks on counterterrorism at military universities and small think tanks.

Two officials told the publication that the White House was searching for a new role for him that did not require a security clearance, which BuzzFeed reported he had not obtained as recently as last month.

Given that Gorka is tasked with working on highly sensitive subjects including cybersecurity and counterterrorism, this lack of clearance is unusual and prompts questions about what other agency he could be assigned to. Gorka was also denied a security clearance in Hungary in 2002, multiple sources told TPM in February. This denial kept him off of a governmental panel investigating the then-prime minister, who was found to have worked for the Hungarian secret service during the Soviet era.

U.S. counterterrorism experts told TPM they had little awareness of Gorka’s professional work and derided his hardline views about Islam, inability to speak Arabic, and insistence on being addressed as “Doctor.”

During his tenure in the White House, Gorka has become known for defending Trump’s foreign policy in frequent bombastic Fox News interviews and for his association with a Hungarian knightly order originally founded by a Nazi collaborator.

He has denied belonging to the Order of Vitez, but acknowledged that his late father was a member of an offshoot group that formed after World War II and that he sometimes wore a medal associated with the group in commemoration.

Gorka stormed out of a Georgetown University panel on cybersecurity this week after he was pressed by undergraduate students about his affiliation with the Order of Vitez and his harsh rhetoric about Muslims.

Anonymous officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations have heaped scorn on Gorka in interviews with the press.

A former Obama administration defense official told BuzzFeed this week that Gorka had little influence on policy and “basically sits in the White House canteen drinking coffee between Fox News live hits.”

Another source told the Daily Beast he was a “pain in the ass.”

Despite this stream of negative reports, it’s too early to predict the end for Gorka. When White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was removed from the National Security Council in early April, political observers took it as a sign he’d soon be fired. But both he and Gorka remain in the White House—for now.

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hannahdraper
1 day ago
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Looking For The Lebanons In USA, And The Stories They Hold: Fadi BouKaram’s Homesick Journey Across America

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Make sure you download this blog’s iOS app to stay up to date! (Link). 

Less than 7 months ago, Lebanese photographer Fadi BouKaram decided to embark on the journey of visiting the cities and towns across the United States of America whose name was that of his home country, Lebanon.

The origin of those town’s name is the fact that Lebanon was mentioned in the bible over 70 times. He announced his journey in his blogpost: Welcome to Lebanon, USA. That post was published a few days after Fadi had visited his first Lebanon, in the Northwestern state Oregon. He has since finished his journey, which led to a beautiful Foreign Policy feature that you can read here.

In total, the United States has over 50 Lebanons, many of which are no longer active towns or communities. Of those 50, 28 are still active locations today where many Americans from all sides of the spectrum call home. Fadi visited them all, and photographed 24, in this order:

1. Lebanon, Oregon; Oct. 19, 2016

2. Lebanon Township, North Dakota; Oct. 30, 2016.

3. Lebanon, South Dakota; Nov. 1, 2016

4. Lebanon, Nebraska; Nov. 6, 2016

5. Lebanon, Kansas; Nov. 9, 2016

6. Lebanon, Wisconsin (Dodge County); Nov. 14, 2016

7. Lebanon, Wisconsin (Waupaca County); Nov. 17, 2016

8. Lebanon Township, Michigan; Nov. 20, 2016

9. Lebanon, Maine; Nov. 26, 2016

10. Lebanon, New Hampshire; Nov. 29, 2016

11. New Lebanon, New York; Dec. 6, 2016

12. Mount Lebanon, New York; Dec. 8, 2016

13. Lebanon, Connecticut; Dec. 12, 2016

14. Lebanon, New Jersey; Dec. 21, 2016

15. Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Dec. 24, 2016 

16. Lebanon, Kentucky; Jan. 1, 2017

17. Lebanon Junction, Kentucky; Jan. 4, 2017

18. Lebanon, Tennessee; Jan. 6, 2017

19. Lebanon, Virginia Jan. 14, 2017; 

20. Lebanon, Ohio; Jan. 25, 2017

21. Lebanon, Indiana; Jan. 30, 2017

22. Lebanon, Illinois; Feb. 3, 2017

23. Lebanon, Missouri; Feb. 6, 2017

24. Lebanon, Oklahoma; Feb. 8, 2017

His quest, as per his blog and the Foreign Policy feature, was to find a taste of home in the country where he was setting roots, especially that it was prompted by a Google Maps search for Lebanon in one of his homesick moments, which led him to discover the existence of those Lebanons when the search results pointed to them, instead of his home country.

So for months, Fadi Boukaram drove across the U.S. He had his rental RV stolen in Albuquerque, New Mexico but was lucky enough that the police was able to recover it without causing hiccups on his journey. As someone who’s considered from the “coastal elite,” or typical democrat demographics, he surprised many of his friends by undertaking this journey. Many of his fellow Americans had never been to the States he was visiting, and many were afraid that his ethnicity would cause him trouble.

The only time he got into trouble for being from Lebanon was at a bar in Nebraska where a man approached him, asked him where he’s from, then interrogated him about he’d feel if he came to his town like that. That man was promptly kicked out of the bar, with every single person there apologizing to BouKaram for what he just went through.

The bartender also paid for Boukaram’s drink. I’ve always spoken fondly of American hospitality and kindness, especially once you penetrate political barriers, and this is the biggest testament of that. She also left him a post-it note on his car: “There’s a lot of hatred in this world, and I’m sorry for that.… I hope you meet more good souls than bad on your journey. Safe travels, Alissa.”

Part of his Lebanon, USA journey was also to find 7 Cedar Trees that former president Camille Chamoun had given mayors of 7 Lebanons in the USA who were invited to visit Lebanon a long time ago. Only one of those trees survived, and it’s currently growing in Lebanon, Ohio.

The America that is present in a lot of those Lebanons, according to Karam, is an America that is forgotten often and is skipped over in a lot of what gets discussed. The term is flyover nation. Coming from a bustling San Francisco, he found a land that was a long way removed from the way of life or economical advances that he was used to.

Instead, he was faced with foreclosure signs, for sale signs, and signs of economic despair. This changed his perspective to these towns and their people. Politics in the context of where they come from and what they know becomes entirely different when you’re exposed to their conditions.

I would love to do the trip that Fadi Boukaram did one day. I’ve had the chance to pass through Lebanon, NJ and Lebanon, PA on a couple of drives I had in the Northeast during my two latest visits in the U.S. and there’s always a sense of pride, mixed with joy once you see those signs announcing those towns coming up in a few miles. More importantly, I hope to one day get the chance to have such a life-altering experience that exposes me to so many different people, and helps me change my perspective, just like Fadi.

Welcome to Lebanon, USA.

Here are some pictures taken by Fadi. You can check out more on his Instagram page and Blog, as well as in the previously linked Foreign Policy Feature.


Filed under: Lebanon Tagged: America, Cedar, Fadi Boukaram, Lebanon, United States, USA



















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hannahdraper
2 days ago
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Washington, DC
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Zenebech Injera reopening in Adams Morgan in Two Months!!!

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old zenebech

And so it is written – the Zenebech Injera to Adams Morgan is no dream:

“Good news! We’re opening in Adams Morgan at 2420 18th NW. We plan to be open within 2 months”

zenebech
2420 18th Street, NW

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hannahdraper
3 days ago
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Our long national nightmare is over!!!
Washington, DC
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