This legal tactic can keep neo-Nazi protests out of your city

Many of their members wore matching uniforms, marched in military-style formations, openly chanted white-supremacist slogans, and invited confrontation with counterprotesters and law enforcement. In some cases, their gear and maneuvers imitated those used by armies of the past, and their weapons, whether firearms or cruder instruments such as shields, bats, batons and flagpoles, were deployed in coordination to intimidate and signal that they were, as they put it, “ready to crack skulls.” The day’s fateful events culminated in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, for which one marcher has been charged with first-degree murder and two federal hate crimes.

.. Most states have constitutional language, criminal statutes or both barring unauthorized paramilitary activity. Every state except New York and Georgia has a constitutional provision, akin to Virginia’s, requiring that “in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” In other words, private armies are proscribed in 48 states. You can’t legally organize with others into battalions to fight those with whom you disagree.

.. 28 states have criminal statutes that prohibit individuals from forming rogue military units and parading or drilling publicly with firearms, while 25 states have criminal statutes that bar two or more people from engaging in “paramilitary” activity, including using firearms or other “techniques” capable of causing injury or death in a civil disorder.

.. By restricting paramilitary activity and the usurpation of military and police powers by private groups, the court orders sought by the lawsuit would restore the long-standing public-private equilibrium disrupted by those who descended on Charlottesville last August.

Behind Iran’s protests, anger over lost life savings and tightfisted budgets

The unnamed woman is one of countless Iranians who say their savings have been wiped out by the collapse of fraudulent businesses and unlicensed credit institutions in recent years. Economists are now pointing to the abrupt closure of these poorly regulated institutions as laying the foundation for the unrest that struck Iran starting in late December.

.. “Banks are shutting down without any kind of notice, and it’s creating a huge political and economic backlash at a local level,” said Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow on Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution.

.. it seems to have tapped into a deep sense of alienation and frustration, that people aren’t just demonstrating for better working conditions or pay, but insisting on wholesale rejection of the system itself.”

.. the average budget of Iranian households declined by 15 percent from 2007 — when the U.N. Security Council adopted some of its toughest sanctions on Iran — to 2016.

.. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who was reelected to a second term in May, has carried out a program of fiscal austerity. It has brought down inflation but hurt job growth

.. Rouhani has also imposed what Salehi-Isfahani called “regressive policies,” such as raising energy prices while shrinking cash transfers that the poor use to pay for essential items.

.. Other new policies have favored businesses and the middle class, whose members predominantly reside in the capital, Tehran

.. Iran has seen a “divergence in living standards (measured by per capita expenditures) between Tehran on one side and the rest of the country on the other

.. The budget envisioned steep cuts for cash subsidies to the poor, while increasing fees for things like vehicle registration and traveling abroad.

.. Rouhani’s budget was also notable because it was the first time the government made public the funds allocated to Iran’s wealthy religious foundations — as well as its powerful military and paramilitary forces.

.. The disclosure of an $8 billion budget for the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most influential security body, prompted sharp criticism from protesters who objected to government spending on Iranian involvement in regional wars, including in Iraq and Syria.

.. Religious foundations, many of which are tax exempt, also got a boost in the new budget, including, for example, a 20 percent increase for representatives of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, posted at Iran’s universities.

.. Rouhani sold the nuclear deal to Iranians as crucial for reviving the ailing economy. Iranians have been disappointed that growth has not been faster, including 74 percent who said in July that there had been no economic improvement as a result of the deal

Trump Gave CIA Power to Launch Drone Strikes

New authority departs from Obama-era policy under which only the Pentagon conducted the operations

The new authority, which hadn’t been previously disclosed, represents a significant departure from a cooperative approach that had become standard practice by the end of former President Barack Obama’s tenure: The CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike.
.. The Obama administration put the military in charge of pulling the trigger to promote transparency and accountability. The CIA, which operates under covert authorities, wasn’t required to disclose the number of suspected terrorists or civilian bystanders it killed in drone strikes.
.. Mr. Trump’s action specifically applied to the CIA’s ability to operate in Syria, it means the agency eventually could become empowered under Mr. Trump to once again conduct covert strikes in other places where the U.S. is targeting militants in Yemen, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere.
.. “The CIA should be a foreign intelligence gathering and analysis organization—not a paramilitary one.”
.. Some members of Congress also resisted the effort to move drone operations into the sunlight.
.. Members of the intelligence committees, for example, generally favor a paramilitary CIA role, and believe they are best positioned to conduct oversight of secret operations, while members of the armed services committees argue the military should control the mission.
.. When it comes to vetting targets, the CIA uses a higher, or “near certainty,” standard, while the Defense Department relies on “reasonable certainty” in war zones, though it adheres to the higher standard when operating elsewhere.