Links for 6-27-2016

  • The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5–3 to overturn aspects of a Texas abortion law, stating that requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital amounts to an “undue burden.” Of course the court decided this case in its capacity as National Medical Board, one of eight points in Clarence Thomas’ dissent called out by Bre Payton. The most important point in Thomas’ dissent comes at the end:

    Today’s decision will prompt some to claim victory, just as it will stiffen opponents’ will to object. But the entire Nation has lost something essential. The majority’s embrace of a jurisprudence of rights-specific exceptions and balancing tests is “a regrettable concession of defeat—an acknowledgement that we have passed the point where ‘law,’ properly speaking, has any further application.”

    In Kevin Williamson’s less elevated language, it’s all Calvinball – the left wing of the court wanted a particular outcome and spewed words onto paper to arrive at that outcome, the law (or logic) be damned. Given this, it’s stupid for right wingers to consider whether a conservative nominee to the Supreme Court would be an originalist – if you want to win decisions, you need an unthinking right wing legal zombie to counterweight an unthinking left wing legal zombie. And when all the zombies balance out, we can burn the whole thing down because the rule of law doesn’t matter anymore.

  • Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis is overjoyed at the prospect of killing more babies.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the corruption convictions of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Prosecutors may choose to try McDonnell again.

  • The New York Times reported that a group of officers within Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate stole weapons shipments from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels and sold the weapons on the black market. The Jordanian officers were fired, but weren’t otherwise punished:

    After the Americans and Saudis complained about the theft, investigators at the G.I.D. arrested several dozen officers involved in the scheme, among them a lieutenant colonel running the operation. They were ultimately released from detention and fired from the service, but were allowed to keep their pensions and money they gained from the scheme, according to Jordanian officials.

    Some of the stolen weapons were used to kill two Americans working at a police training facility in Amman back in November.

  • Donald Trump doesn’t want Ted Cruz or John Kasich to speak at the Republican National Convention if they continue to refuse to endorse him. Trump may not have a choice, depending on what happens with the convention rules:

    But the speaking arrangements may not be entirely up to Mr. Trump. Because Mr. Cruz won a majority of delegates in at least eight states, he would probably be able to have his name entered into nomination, guaranteeing him a speech under party rules.

  • Russian intelligence agents are harassing U.S. diplomatic personnel all over Europe:

    But many of the recent acts of intimidation by Russian security services have crossed the line into apparent criminality. In a series of secret memos sent back to Washington, described to me by several current and former U.S. officials who have written or read them, diplomats reported that Russian intruders had broken into their homes late at night, only to rearrange the furniture or turn on all the lights and televisions, and then leave. One diplomat reported that an intruder had defecated on his living room carpet.

    In Moscow, where the harassment is most pervasive, diplomats reported slashed tires and regular harassment by traffic police. Former ambassador Michael McFaul was hounded by government-paid protesters, and intelligence personnel followed his children to school. The harassment is not new; in the first term of the Obama administration, Russian intelligence personnel broke into the house of the U.S. defense attache in Moscow and killed his dog, according to multiple former officials who read the intelligence reports.

    Given the way Putin works, the only sure way to stop this is for some of the Russian agents to experience unfortunate accidents.

  • There are signs of an insurrection against ISIS in Mosul. ISIS executed four of its top commanders in the city after they were convicted of treason.

  • Iran shelled Iraqi Kurdistan, claiming they were targeting terrorists.

  • Israel and Turkey will restore diplomatic relations. Israel agreed to pay $20 million to compensate the families of nine Turkish civilians who were killed by Israeli commandos as they tried to run the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip back in 2010.