Daily Kos Recommended – 5-22-2015

From my Inbox:  Daily Kos Recommended

Montel Williams Goes Off on ‘Scumbag’ Josh Duggar: ‘Gay People Are the Danger to Kids?’


No one of the internet is more outraged over the revelations that Josh Duggar has publicly confessed to sexually molesting young girls and resigned from his prominent post at the conservative Christian Family Research Council than Montel Williams.

The former talk show has been tweeting up a storm and not holding anything back since the news broke Thursday evening:

10 things you need to know today: May 22, 2015

The Buddhist leader of South Asia says a prayer at the spot where Freddie Gray was arrested. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)


1.Grand jury indicts six Baltimore officers for Freddie Gray’s death
A grand jury has indicted six Baltimore police officers for the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died after being injured while in police custody in April, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announcedThursday. The indictments were similar to the charges Mosby filed earlier this month. The driver of the police van in which Gray was injured faced the most serious charge, the equivalent of second-degree murder. Gray’s death touched off both peaceful protests and riots. The officers are free on bail and will be arraigned July 2.

Source: Baltimore Sun, NPR

2.Boy Scouts president calls for ending blanket ban on gay leaders
Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates on Thursday urged the organization to end its blanket ban on openly gay leaders. Gates, a former defense secretary, oversaw the end of the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay members of the armed services. He said at the Boy Scouts’ national annual meeting that the courts would likely force the organization to change the longstanding blanket ban if the group does not do it first. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it would be,” Gates said.

Source: The Washington Post

3.Obama’s fast-track trade bill clears a Senate filibuster
The Senate on Thursday cleared a procedural hurdle on a proposal to grant President Obama “fast track” authority to push through a massive trade bill. Senators voted 62-38 to break a filibuster and end debate on the measure. Earlier this month, Democrats blocked the bill, demanding greater protections for U.S. workers. After voting on amendments, the Senate could pass the final bill as early as Friday. The legislation would let Obama send Congress a trade deal with 11 Pacific nations for an up or down vote with no amendments.

Source: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal

4.Suspect in Washington, D.C., quadruple murder arrested
Police on Thursday arrested a Maryland man, Daron Dylon Wint, for a quadruple murder in a Washington, D.C., mansion. Businessman Savvas Savopoulos, 46, his wife, Amy, 47, their son, Phillip, 10, and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, 57, were found dead in the multi-million dollar house — in a neighborhood near Vice President Joe Biden’s official residence — after a fire police called “very suspicious.” Wint, 34, was identified as a suspect after his DNA was found on the crust of a Domino’s pizza delivered to the house.

Source: Reuters, ABC News

5.Josh Duggar apologizes after molestation accusations surface
Reality TV star Josh Duggar, 27, resigned Thursday from the Family Research Council, a Christian lobbying group, after reports surfaced that he had been investigated for allegedly inappropriately touching young girls when he was 14. Duggar, the eldest son on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, issued a statement apologizing. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret…” he said. “I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged.”

Source: The Washington Post

6.Ireland holds referendum on gay marriage
Polls opened in Ireland on Friday in a potentially historic referendum on whether to allow gay marriage. The Catholic country was among the last countries in Europe to decriminalize homosexuality. A “yes” vote — though not assured — would make it the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by a popular vote. Voters in Slovenia and Croatia recently rejected similar proposals. Dozens of U.S. states and other countries, including Brazil, France, and Britain, recognize same-sex marriages, but they did not do so based on referendums.

Source: NBC News, The New York Times

7.At least 53 sickened by salmonella tentatively blamed on tuna sushi
A salmonella outbreak possibly linked to raw tuna in sushi has sickened at least 53 people in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration saidThursday. Thirty-one of the patients have been in California. Ten were in Arizona and six in New Mexico. So far, 10 people have been hospitalized in the outbreak, but no one has died. The FDA offered no specific steps for consumers to take to protect themselves, but said that in general pregnant women and young children should not eat raw or partially cooked fish.

Source: Reuters

8.Judge again rules against Alabama gay marriage ban
A federal judge in Alabama ruled on Thursday that same-sex couples have the right to marry everywhere in the state, but she stayed enforcement of her ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a decision on gay marriage. The judge, Callie V.S. Granade, ruled the ban unconstitutional in January, and same-sex couples were able to get married for three weeks until the state Supreme Court ordered local probate judges to stop issuing licenses. Granade’s latest ruling came after same-sex couples filed a class-action lawsuit.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

9. ISIS drives Syrian forces out of last Iraq border crossing
Islamic State fighters have seized the last government-controlled border crossing from Syria into Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said Thursday. The border crossing — known as al-Waleed in Iraq and al-Tanf in Syria — is in Homs province, where the Islamist militants on Wednesday drove government forces out of the historic city of Palmyra. ISIS has declared a caliphate in territory it holds in Iraq and Syria, where it now controls half of the country.

Source: Al-Arabiya, Reuters

10.Judge drops domestic assault charge against Ray Rice
A judge on Thursday dismissed a domestic-violence charge against former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice after a video surfaced showing Rice knocking out his wife Janay — then his fiancee — in an elevator last year. He was reinstated after an arbitrator ruled the punishment “arbitrary.” Judge Michael Donio in Atlantic City dismissed the charge after Rice completed a pretrial intervention program requiring him to undergo anger-management counseling.

Source: The Associated Press

~Harold Maass

Is Obama weighing a Cuba visit sometime soon?


President Obama could visit Cuba before the end of his term in office, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.

“I know there’s one person particularly that hopes President Obama will be in Havana at some point in the — at some point in the relatively recent future, and that’s President Obama himself,” Earnest said when asked by a Cuban reporter if the president had plans to visit Havana prior to leaving the White House in 2016.

Cuban officials met with their state department counterparts here Thursday in the fourth round of talks on reestablishing diplomatic relations and opening embassies in their respective capitals.

Late in the day, in an indication that progress may have been made, the State Department said negotiations would continue Friday, and both delegations scheduled morning news conferences.

One of the main sticking point in the negotiations has been whether U.S. diplomats will be able to move about the country without seeking prior government permission and meet with Cubans “who may not be a part of or even supportive of the Cuban government,” Earnest said.

Neither U.S. nor Cuban negotiators provided initial details on the outcome of Thursday’s talks, although both sides had expressed optimism as they began and confidence that embassy access issues eventually would be worked out.

Earnest’s suggestion that Obama might visit Cuba follows the president’s historic meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro last month in Panama.

In the past Obama had played down the possibility that he might visit before leaving office. “With respect to Cuba, we’re not at a stage here where me visiting Cuba or President Castro coming to the United States is in the cards,” Obama told reporters in December. The president’s comments came shortly after he announced the first major change in Cuban policy in more than 50 years.

The president noted at the time that he was still “a fairly young man” and suggested that he might visit the island nation after he leaves office.

“There’s nothing specific where we’re trying to target some sort of visit on my part,” he said at the time.

It’s unlikely that Obama would visit Cuba until diplomatic ties had been reestablished and embassies were reopened. Obama would have to inform Congress at least 15 days before opening an embassy in Cuba, but a State Department official suggested that could be done even before a final embassy agreement is reached.

The ultimate “normalization” of relations — ending the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba — requires congressional action and could still be years away. Asked Thursday whether he favored lifting the embargo, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he had met this week with “members who were interested in stopping this progression toward normal relations with Cuba, until such time as the [Cubans] begin to make serious changes in terms of the way they run their country.” The administration, Boehner said, “keeps giving and giving and giving. But the Castro brothers . . . are doing nothing.”

Boehner’s remarks echoed those of lawmakers — primarily those of Cuban heritage — at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing Wednesday, including Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who expressed “deep concern that . . . the administration continues to entertain unilateral concessions without in return getting agreement on fundamental issues that are in our national interest and those of the Cuban people.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that allowing more U.S. citizens to visit the island — one of the executive actions Obama has already taken — would only fill the pockets of state-owned businesses controlled by the Cuban military.

Despite their meeting with Boehner, lawmakers who object to the opening have been unsuccessful in promoting legislation that would halt or limit the initiative.

~Greg Jaffe and Karen DeYoung

Six Baltimore officers indicted in death of Freddie Gray

Mugshots of the Baltimore Police officers who killed Freddie Gray

Mugshots of the Baltimore Police officers who killed Freddie Gray | attribution: Baltimore Police Department


Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has announced that a grand jury has returned indictments for six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray. The officers are Lt. Brian W. Rice, Officer Edward M. Nero, Officer Garrett E. Miller, Sgt. Alicia D. White, Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., and Officer William G. Porter.

All face charges ranging from assault and involuntary manslaughter to, in the case of Goodson, “Second degree depraved heart murder.” The officers are to be arraigned on July 2nd.


Obama Fires Back At GOPers Who Blame Him For Iraq War Failures


AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster


“I’m very clear on the lessons of Iraq. I think it was a mistake for us to go in in the first place, despite the incredible efforts that were made by our men and women in uniform,” Obama responded. “Despite that error, those sacrifices allowed the Iraqis to take back their country. That opportunity was squandered by Prime Minister Maliki and the unwillingness to reach out effectively to the Sunni and Kurdish populations.”

Obama then pivoted to the current situation in Iraq and responded to Republicans, includingSen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who blamed Obama for the current instability in Iraq.

“I know that there are some in Republican quarters who have suggested that I’ve overlearned the mistake of Iraq, and that, in fact, just because the 2003 invasion did not go well doesn’t argue that we shouldn’t go back in,” Obama said. “And one lesson that I think is important to draw from what happened is that if the Iraqis themselves are not willing or capable to arrive at the political accommodations necessary to govern, if they are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them. We can be effective allies.”

Obama said he is committed to assisting Iraqi security forces to help them secure and stabilize the country.

“But we can’t do it for them, and one of the central flaws I think of the decision back in 2003 was the sense that if we simply went in and deposed a dictator, or simply went in and cleared out the bad guys, that somehow peace and prosperity would automatically emerge, and that lesson we should have learned a long time ago,” he told The Atlantic.

Earlier in the interview, Obama said that he does not believe the U.S. is losing the war against the Islamic State, but said that ISIL’s ability to take Iraqi city of Ramadi was a “tactical setback.”


Chris Christie Goes Into Profane Rant


The New Jersey governor thrilled a compliant crowd going after the press in an expletive-filled rant.

Christie gave an expletive-laced speech at an annual New Jersey media roast Wednesday, taking aim at reporters who had mocked him for the George Washington Bridge scandal, his travels and the state’s finances.

“We don’t give a s— about this or any of you,” Christie, a 52-year-old Republican who is considering a run for president, said to laughter and applause from about 350 people at a Hamilton banquet hall. He told one journalist to “open your eyes” and “clean the s— out of your ears.”

“This is a guy who says he doesn’t know what I’m doing every day,” Christie said of the New Jersey Legislative Correspondents Club president. “Then just get the f— away from me then if you don’t know what I’m doing.”

Rick Perry: If I Were President, There Wouldn’t Be Fears Of A Texas Takeover


AP Photo | Nati Harnik


During an interview on Glenn Beck’s radio show, the potential 2016 presidential candidate discussed Jade Helm 15, a military training program that has roused conspiracy theorists. From fears that closed Wal-Marts are secret bases for a military takeover to alleged sightings of the gear that will be used to implement the assault, conspiracy theorists have been worked into a frenzy over the training program.

Beck said that distrust among people who are usually “waving the flag” and are typically “very pro-America and pro-government” is unsettling.

“We had Operation Jade Helm and, you know, I mean that took law abiding, normal citizens, a lot of people saying ‘Wait a minute, what’s going on? Is the government gonna try to take over Texas,’” Beck said. “I mean some crazy things are happening now because we don’t trust each other.”

“Let’s say that I were to become the President of the United States,” Perry responded. “I think there will be a clearly changed attitude towards that office, what comes out of that office, the messaging that comes out of that office.”

“I hope people always question government,” Perry continued, “but don’t question your military. Don’t question the men and women who have put their hands up and sworn this oath to our Constitution and defended this country.”

Watch the video below, from Right Wing Watch:

Buchanan: Immigrants ‘Will Bury The GOP’


Pat Buchanan believes immigrants and their children will be the end of the Republican Party.

We did urge a “moratorium” on legal immigration, such as America had from 1924 to 1965, to assimilate and Americanize the millions who had come. The Journal Republicans called that xenophobia.

Since then, tens of millions of immigrants, here legally and illegally, mostly from the Third World, have arrived. Economically, they consume more in tax dollars than they contribute.

Politically, most belong to ethnic groups that vote between 70 and 90 percent Democratic. Their children will bury the GOP.

Consider California, which voted for Nixon all five times he was on a national ticket and for Reagan in landslides all four times he ran.

Since 1988, California has not gone Republican in a single presidential election. No Republican holds statewide office. Both U.S. Senators are Democrats. Democrats have 39 of 53 U.S. House seats. Republican state legislators are outnumbered 2-to-1.

Americans of European descent, who provide the GOP with 90 percent of its presidential vote, are down to 63 percent of the nation and falling.

By 2042, they will be a minority. And there goes the GOP.


10 things you need to know today: May 21, 2015

(Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via AP)


1.David Letterman says goodbye after 33 years of late-night TV
David Letterman signed off Wednesday night with his last Late Showbroadcast, ending 33 years in late-night television. “It’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get the Tonight show,” Letterman joked. A long line of celebrities appeared to offer tributes and deliver Letterman’s final Top 10 list. Letterman’s favorite band, Foo Fighters, played Letterman’s favorite song after he said goodbye. “That’s pretty much all I got,” he said. “The only thing I have left to do, for the last time on a television program: Thank you and good night.”

Source: The New York Times

2.ISIS takes over Syrian city known for ancient ruins
Islamic State militants seized the desert city of Palmyra in central Syria on Wednesday. The town is home to a complex of 2,000-year-old ruins that are considered one of the most splendid historical sites in the world. The city of 50,000 also is a strategic prize. It straddles a network of roads crossing Syria’s central desert, flanked by oil and gas fields. A monitoring group said ISIS now controls half of Syria. The victory came just days after ISIS fighters seized the Iraqi provincial capital of Ramadi.

Source: Reuters, The New York Times

3.Five banks to pay $5.4 billion in fines for currency manipulation
The Justice Department announced Wednesday that Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and the Royal Bank of Scotland are pleading guilty to violating antitrust laws and other crimes. A fifth bank, UBS, said it would plead guilty to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), and pay $545 million in fines. Together, the five banks will pay $5.4 billion in fines. The case involved a group of traders who referred to themselves as “the cartel” and rigged the market to manipulate interest rates and foreign currencies.

Source: CNN

4.Bin Laden contemplated changing hiding places before raid
Osama bin Laden wrote a letter speculating that it was time for him to move just months before he was killed in a raid on his Pakistan hideout by U.S. special forces.  The document was released by the Director of National Intelligence on Wednesday, along with other English-language papers seized at bin Laden’s Abottobad, Pakistan, hideout. His digital library included think-tank papers, computer manuals, and conspiracy theory books. One was on the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Source: The Washington Post

5.Nebraska legislature passes bill ending state’s death penalty 
Nebraska lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill abolishing the death penalty in their state. The bill passed the state Senate 32-15 — a wide enough margin to override a promised veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts (R). If the bill does become law, Nebraska would become the first conservative state to repeal capital punishment since it was reinstated nationally in 1973. Nebraska has not held an execution since 1997.

Source: NBC

6.Rand Paul relinquishes the Senate floor 11-hour speech against Patriot Act
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) relinquished the Senate floor Wednesday night after railing against government surveillance programs and the renewal of the Patriot Act for nearly 11 hours.  Paul had vowed to keep talking “so long as my legs can stand,” and took just a few breaks to let colleagues speak. He called the Patriot Act “the most unpatriotic of acts,” and called for ending the bulk collection of surveillance it allows. He had taken the floor during debate on a trade bill, but did not have the votes to filibuster the Patriot Act renewal.

Source: The Washington Post, Politico

7.Third suspect charged in Holly Bobo murder case
A third person has been indicted on murder charges connected to the killing of a 20-year-old Tennessee woman named Holly Bobo. She was kidnapped from her home in 2011, but her partial remains were not found until September. The third suspect was identified as John Dylan Adams. He is the younger brother of Zach Adams, who was indicted last year on murder and kidnapping charges along with Jason Wayne Autry. Both have pleaded not guilty in the nursing student’s death.

Source: USA Today

8.State of emergency declared over California oil spill
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declared a state of emergency lateWednesday for a stretch of southern California coast where an onshore pipeline burst, sending up to 105,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean. The oil blackened beaches threatened wildlife on a nine-mile stretch of scenic coastline 20 miles from Santa Barbara. The affected area has been closed indefinitely as crews rush to clean up the oil and protect wildlife.

Source: The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times

9. Study ties dolphin deaths to BP oil spill
Research links the deaths of hundreds of bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico to the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLos ONE. More than 1,300 bottlenose dolphins have stranded themselves on beaches in the area since the time of the explosion of the BP drilling rig — an unusually high mortality rate. Many of the dead dolphins had lesions in their lungs and adrenal glands that could have been caused by exposure to petroleum compounds.

Source: Nature

10.Janice Dickinson files defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby
Model Janice Dickinson filed a defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby on Wednesday, saying the comedian’s representatives falsely called her a liar after she claimed Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1982. “Janice Dickinson, like over three dozen other Cosby victims, recently publicly disclosed that she was drugged and raped by Bill Cosby,” Dickinson’s lawyer said in the complaint. “In retaliation, Cosby, through an attorney, publicly branded her a liar.”  Cosby, 77, denies assaulting Dickinson, 60, and the other accusers.

Source: People