10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2014

New York City police

New York City police Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The Week

A gunman kills two NYC police officers, Obama says the Sony hack is not an act of war, and more.

1. Gunman kills two NYC cops in ambush shooting
A lone gunman on Saturday shot and killed two New York City police officers in Brooklyn before taking his own life in an armed standoff. The shooter, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, is believed to have killed his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore earlier Saturday before heading north and vowing on social media to kill police officers, too. Police said Brinsley killed officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos while they sat in a parked squad car, and then fled into a nearby subway station where he shot himself. Police Commissioner William Bratton called the attack an assassination, saying the officers were “targeted for their uniform and for the responsibility they embraced to keep the people of this city safe.” [The New York Times]

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2. Obama: North Korean cyber attack on Sony not an act of war
President Obama on Sunday said the U.S. would weigh whether to add North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terror, though he stopped short of calling the Sony Pictures cyber attack an act of war. “I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive,” Obama said on CNN’s State of the Union. The federal government last week confirmed speculation that North Korea was behind the attack. [The Associated Press]

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3. Castro says Cuba won’t abandon communism
Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday insisted that the island nation would not move away from communism despite a thawed relationship with the U.S. “We must not expect that in order for relations with the United States to improve, Cuba will abandon the ideas that it has struggled for,” he said in a speech. The Obama administration announced last week it was renewing full diplomatic ties with Cuba that had been severed for more than 50 years. [The Washington Post]

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4. Rahm Emanuel’s son robbed in Chicago
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s son was robbed Friday night near the family’s home, police confirmed Saturday. Zach Emanuel was talking on his phone just a few doors down the street from the house when two men assaulted him and made off with his phone. A spokesperson for Emanuel confirmed the incident Saturday and said Zach was not seriously harmed. [The Chicago Tribune]

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5. Kurdish fighters take key town from ISIS
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on Saturday reclaimed control over the Iraqi town of Sinjar, which had been under ISIS control since last summer. ISIS’s siege on Sinjar forced the town’s Yazidi population to flee into the mountains, and prompted the U.S. to step in with airdrops to aid the refugees. [Reuters, CNN]

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6. Boko Haram releases video purporting to show civilian massacre
The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram on Saturday released a video appearing to show gunmen slaughtering civilians in a dorm. “We have made sure the floor of this hall is turned red with blood, and this is how it is going to be in all future attacks and arrests of infidels,” a man says in the video. Last month, Boko Haram denied reports it was nearing a truce with the Nigerian government, claiming instead that it had married off hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls. [The Associated Press]

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7. Protesters shut down parts of Mall of America
Demonstrators protesting recent police killings of unarmed black civilians temporarily shut down parts of the sprawling Mall of America in Minnesota on Saturday. Chanting protesters clogged the mall’s rotunda and ignored a warning from mall officials to disperse, leading some business to close their gates. Rows of police in riot gear cleared the demonstration and made about two dozen arrests. [USA Today]

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8. Al Qaeda condemns Taliban massacre of Pakistani children
A regional Al Qaeda branch on Sunday condemned the Taliban’s slaughter last week of 149 Pakistanis at a school in Peshawar. “Our hearts are bursting with pain and grief over this incident,” Osama Mehmood,  a spokesman for the group’s South Asia chapter, said. While reaffirming its opposition to the U.S. and Pakistan, the group added that the attack — which resulted in the death of 132 students — had “crossed the limit.” [AFP]

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9. Elton John marries longtime partner
Famed musical entertainer Elton John on Sunday formally tied the knot with his partner, David Furnish. The two joined in a civil partnership nine years ago. “That’s the legal bit done,” John wrote in an Instagram post. “Now on to the ceremony!” [The Guardian]

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10. Final Hobbit film cleans up at box office
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies raked in $16.6 million Friday in the U.S., and it’s headed toward a likely haul of $88 million by the end of its opening weekend. The third and final film in the Hobbit franchise blew away the competition over the pre-Christmas weekend, and its release slightly outperformed the debuts for the last two installments in the series. [Variety]

Kos’ Sunday Talk – December 21, 2014

Daily Kos

Meet The Press: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Others TBD.

Face The Nation: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic).

This Week: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Roundtable: Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D), Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard), Republican Strategist Ana Navarro and Cokie Roberts (ABC News).

Fox News Sunday: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)'; Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Roundtable: George Will (Washington Post), Judy Woodruff (PBS), Sociopath Liz Cheney and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: President Barack Obama; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

GOP State Rep Who Performed Exorcism on Obama Wants to Replace Obamacare With Jesuscare (VIDEO)

This is an example of the type of people Right-Wingers elected because the majority of Dems stayed home.  My polling place in suburban Atlanta was virtually empty with the exception of a sprinkling of people of color and a majority of senior citizens.  My county is strictly GOP based…

Addicting Info

Newly-elected Colorado GOP State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt has a revolutionary idea for health care — just replace the Affordable Care Act with faith in Jesus!

Klingenschmitt, who once tried to exorcise demons from President Barack Obama’s dark, filthy soul and was discharged from the Navy after he disobeyed orders and politicked in uniform, said on his Pray in Jesus’ Name show that people should rely on God for their health care:

We ought to look to the Lord for our health care. He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’

“Isn’t that inspiring? I personally prefer to look to almighty God as my healer and not to the government as a substitute god or substitute healer,” Klingenschmitt said, before praying for those who support the Affordable Care Act.

“Will you pray with me? Let’s pray. Father in Heaven, we turn away from the idolatry that so many have in their hearts, that they think government is a better healer than Jesus. But, Jesus, we know you are the healer.

Klingenschmitt lated added in his prayer:

Lord, we repent of worshiping President Obama as if he is a god, and he is not, or depending entirely upon the government as if it is our provider, and it is not.

Klingenschmitt believes President Obama is filled with a number of demons, including “death,” “murder,” “child-murder,” “sexual abuse,” “genocide,” “paganism,” “witchcraft,” “homosexual lust,” and “anti-Christian oppression.”

According to Klingenschmitt, Obama is using his health care agenda to give Americans cancer. A rabid anti-LGBT warrior, Klingenschmitt claims that President Obama wants to force Christians to engage in anal sex. Recently, he also pushed an entirely unfounded bit of dumbf*ckery that gay soldiers are a liability because their horrible sodomy has forced them to wear diapers, which they must take breaks to change on the battlefield.

Obviously, Klingenschmitt is qualified to make suggestions on our health care system. Watch the clip below:

40 Interesting Facts about the 2014 Election

This is not a pretty picture for Dems.  The truth might hurt but this reminder informs Dems that they must do better in 2016

Cook Political Report

The votes have been tallied and all recounts completed. Congress even managed to adjourn sine die. That means it really is time to close the books on the 2014 election cycle. It also means that we are going to take some time off to recharge for the 2016 election. We’ll be back the week of January 12, 2015. In the meantime, here are 40 interesting facts about the 2014 election to hold you over while we are away. Happy holidays.

1. There were two magic numbers in 2014: 86 and 1928

- Democrats now have the lowest number of U.S. House seats they have held in 86 years, or since 1928.

- Democrats are tied for the lowest number of U.S. Senate seats they have held in 86 years, or since 1928.

- Democrats now hold fewer state legislative seats than they have in 86 years, or since 1928.

2. Republicans picked up nine seats to win the majority in the U.S. Senate. The GOP hasn’t won more than six Senate seats in a single cycle since 1994 when they picked up 10 seats.

3. Republicans didn’t lose a single incumbent Senator in a primary or in the general election for the first time since 2004.

4. Republicans defeated five Senate incumbents; Mark Begich (AK), Mark Pryor (AR), Mark Udall (CO), Mary Landrieu (LA), and Kay Hagan (NC). The last time Republicans defeated more than two Democratic incumbents in a cycle was in 1980. Also, it was a bad year to be a Democratic Senator named Mark.

5. The 114th Congress will convene with 53 U.S. Senators who previously served in the U.S. House. This is more than in any Congress dating back to at least 1899 (courtesy University of Minnesota’s SmartPolitics).

6. Despite the closing CW that Obamacare had faded as an issue, the President’s healthcare law nevertheless was the #2 most-used issue in GOP-sponsored U.S. Senate general election broadcast spots, at 16.6%, after healthcare generally (20.6%, which includes anti-Obamacare spots) but well ahead of jobs (12.1%) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

7. 58 percent of all Republican general election broadcast spots in U.S. Senate races were anti-Obama (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

8. 10 percent of all Republican general election broadcast spots in U.S. Senate races focused on immigration (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

9. The Senate race with the highest number of unique general election advertisers was Iowa, with 40 (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

10. 47 percent of all Democratic general election spots in the Colorado Senate race focused on abortion (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

11. The Senate race in which anti-Koch spots accounted for the highest percentage of Democratic spots was Michigan, at 35 percent (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

12. The three Republican outside group advertisers who were most active in Senate races (by number of races) were U.S. Chamber of Commerce (12), Americans for Prosperity (9), Crossroads GPS (9) (all elections) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

13. The three Democratic outside group advertisers who were most active in Senate races (by number of races) were Senate Majority PAC (9), Patriot Majority USA (6), Vote Vets Action Fund (6) (all elections) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

14. Number of Senate races with Democratic Spanish-language advertising: 5 (CO, GA, NC, NM, TX) versus the number of Senate races with Republican Spanish-language advertising: 2 (CO, TX) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

15. Republicans won 57% of all U.S. House districts in 2014, up from 54% in 2012. But measured by land area, House Republicans will represent an astonishing 86% of the nation, up from 80% after 2012.

16. In 2010, House Republicans won 6.61% more votes than House Democrats, and won 33 more seats than Democrats. In 2014, House Republicans won just 5.71% more votes than House Democrats, but won 59 more seats than Democrats. Nationally, we estimate Democrats would have needed to win 9.73% more votes than Republicans in 2014 just to break even in the House.

17. After the 2006 election, there were 57 Democrats who sat in districts carried by George W. Bush. After the 2014 election, there are just 5 Democrats who sit in a district carried by Mitt Romney.

18. Not since Harry Truman has one party lost as many U.S. House seats in mid-term elections as have Democrats in 2010 and 2014. During Truman’s two mid-term elections, Democrats lost 83 seats. Under Obama, Democrats have lost 76 House seats.

19. There are no longer any Democrats in the U.S. House who represent rural Appalachia nor are there any white Democrats from the Deep South.

20. Of the 43 Republican House freshman, 35 (81%) are white men. Of the 17 Democratic House freshmen, just six (35%) are white men. Overall, 87% of House Republicans will be white men in 2015, compared to just 43% of House Democrats.

21. Of the 118 districts where less than 50% of residents are non-Hispanic whites, Democrats will hold 98 (83%). Of the 114 districts where over 80% of residents are non-Hispanic whites, Republicans will hold 97 (85%).

22. In the 24 states with competitive Senate or gubernatorial races, votes cast in the average House race declined by 30% versus 2012. But in the 26 “orphan” states with no competitive Senate or gubernatorial election, votes cast in the average House race declined by 43%.

23. The closest House race in the country was in Arizona’s 2nd CD, where Republican Martha McSally defeated Democratic Rep. Ron Barber by just 167 votes. In 2012, Barber had defeated McSally by 2,454 votes.

24. In California, there were eight House races decided by 5% or less. Democrats won all of them. Incredibly, Republicans haven’t picked up a House seat in California since 1998, despite two mid-term waves in 2010 and 2014.

25. In U.S. House races, although one side may have emphasized an issue more than the other, Democrats and Republicans both leaned on budget/government spending, healthcare, and taxes, at 1-2-3, in their broadcast TV ads. Democrats’ 4-point lead over Republicans in mentioning taxes no doubt was due to their charges of GOP support for tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

26. 18 percent of all Republican general election spots in U.S. House races featured Nancy Pelosi (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

27. 8 percent of all Republican general election spots in U.S. House races focused on immigration (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

28. The House race with the highest number of unique general election advertisers was CA-52, with 16 (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

29. Among competitive House races, the contest in which anti-Koch spots accounted for the highest percentage of Democratic spots was WV-03, at 33 percent with 14,607 total spots and 4,797 anti-Koch spots (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

30. The three Republican outside group advertisers who were most active in House races U.S. Chamber of Commerce (17), American Action Network (12), and Congressional Leadership Fund (11) (all elections) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

31. The three Democratic outside group advertisers who were most active in House races (by number of races) were House Majority PAC (35), Patriot Majority USA (7), and Center Forward (6) (all elections) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

32. And because we can’t help ourselves from looking ahead … Democrats would need to pick up 30 Republican-held House seats to take back the chamber in 2016, but only 16 of 247 House Republicans won their elections by less than 10% in 2014. By contrast, in 2010, 42 of 242 House Republicans won by less than 10%.

33. Republicans now have 31 governorships, which is the most they have held since 1998.

34. Democrats now have 18 governorships, which is the least they have held since 1999.

35. Four incumbent Governors were defeated for re-election in 2014; Republicans Govs. Tom Corbett (PA) and Sean Parnell (AK), and Democratic Govs. Pat Quinn (IL) and Neil Abercrombie (HI). The last time four or more incumbent Governors lost re-election was 2002.

36. In 2014 governors’ races, Democratic and Republican advertisers both emphasized budget/government spending and taxes as their #2 and #3 most-mentioned issues in broadcast TV spots, but Democrats made education #1 (by a hair) while Republicans championed jobs (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

37. Republicans won 320 seats in state legislatures across the country in 2014, giving them 56.5% of all state legislative seats. This is the most the GOP has held since 1928 (courtesy NCSL.org).

38. Republicans now control 69 of 99 state legislative chambers. They control both chambers in 30 states, and control the legislature and the Governor’s office in 23 states.

39. Democrats have majorities in both legislative chambers in just 11 states; the fewest in 150 years (courtesy NCSL.org).

40. Finally, because the 2016 election is just 690 short days away … Hillary Clinton is much better positioned two years out from the 2016 election than she was two years out from the 2008 campaign. A Washington Post/ABC poll of Democratic voters taken in December of 2006 found her leading the field with just 39 percent of the vote. The most recent McClatchy/Marist poll showed her ahead of the pack with a whopping 62% of the vote.

Obama Only Takes Female Reporters’ Questions In Last Press Conference Of The Year

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama | Credit: AP

Think Progress

In his annual end-of the-year press conference on Friday, Obama took questions from eight women and no men— a move that did not go unnoticed by journalists and others listening to his remarks.

The president started the conference by joking that White House Press Secretary “Josh [Earnest] gave me the list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice,” and then proceeded to call on eight women from various news organizations. CBS News’ White House correspondent Mark Knoller said on Twitter that TV reporters were advised in advance that Earnest wanted “other reporters not regularly called on to get to question the [president].” The strategy resulted in the likely unprecedented female question sweep in addition to leaving out the major news networks.

On Fox News, White House correspondent Ed Henry joked that he was “outraged for men everywhere” but then admitted seriously that he was not pleased with the questions the women asked.

“Frankly some of the questions just didn’t press him,” he said. “There’s so much going on right now and the questions were trailing off. The president was almost like, let me remember what you asked because it was so unmemorable.”

Watch it:

The eight female journalists asked Obama about Sony’s decision to pull The Interviewfollowing threats by North Korea, the deal to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, the state of race relations in the country and the Keystone XL pipeline, which incoming majority leader Mitch McConnell said will be the first matter up for a vote when the new Congress returns from the recess. Notably missing were any questions about the CIA torture report released last week.

While Obama only formally called on women, two men were able to yell out their own questions during the conference. “Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?” one asked, while a reporter called after Obama as he left the room. “Will you smoke a cigar Mr. President?”

Ferguson Prosecutor: I Knew Witnesses Lied To The Grand Jury

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St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch | AP Photo

TPM LiveWire

In an interview flagged by BuzzFeed, McCulloch told radio station KTRS that he allowed the witnesses to testify because he wanted to present as much testimony as possible.

The grand jury eventually decided not to indict white Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

“I thought it was much more important to present everything and everybody, and some that, yes, clearly were not telling the truth,” McCulloch told the radio station. “No question about it.”

McCulloch returned to the point several times, describing at least one witness who “clearly wasn’t present when this occurred.”

“Witness 40″ submitted diary entries containing racist remarks that later appeared to have been fabricated after the fact. There is evidence the person lied about witnessing the shooting by piecing together information based on the officer’s already-published account, according to a report by The Smoking Gun.

McCulloch said he had no plans to pursue perjury charges against the witnesses, however.

“There were people who came in and yes, absolutely lied under oath,” he said. “Some lied to the FBI. Even though they’re not under oath, that’s another potential offense — a federal offense.”

“I thought it was much more important to present the entire picture and say, ‘Listen, this is what this witness says he saw,'” he added.

Before he announced the decision on Nov. 24, McCulloch faced scrutiny and some criticismfrom the Brown family and former prosecutors, both for his personal history and approach toward presenting evidence to the grand jury.

 

Fox News Hosts Ruthlessly Attack Elizabeth Warren – VIDEO

Fox-Hosts

Fox News Screenshot

Well the good news is that Fox knows Elizabeth Warren is the most viable threat to implementing true corporate reform.  Hence the attacks.  If Elizabeth Warren were to run, I suspect that like Obama in 2008, she may start off slow but once people get to know her agenda and how she is for a revival of the middle class in America, they just might understand her message as opposed to Hillary’s pro corporate stance.

Liberals Unite

Fox News hosts held a hate-fest on Tuesday’s edition of Outnumbered, mercilessly lashing out at Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a segment discussing a possible Warren run for president in 2016.

In the segment, Fox Business host Melissa Francis predicting that Wall Street would do their vest to crush Warren as they believed she was “actually the devil.”

Co-host Kennedy Montgomery elaborated, stating that:

I can tell you from talking to people in the financial industry, in banking, on Wall Street, they think she is actually the devil. I mean, without question, Elizabeth Warren is the devil. So, they’re going to put any money they have behind Hillary Clinton, which should be a help.

After debating back and forth for a few moments about Warren’s populist message, guest host Bernard McGuirk  attacked Warren as a “radical leftist” who “probably has posters” of a Mumai Abu-Jamal, a convicted cop-killer, “plastered all over her bedroom.”

Speaking of Warren, McGuirk stated:

When they shine a light on this lady, you don’t rise to the top at Harvard by being some moderate wallflower. She’s a radical leftist and you’re going to find out stuff about her that’s not palatable for her to run. So, I hope she runs.

She probably has posters of Mumai Abu-Jamal plastered all over her bedroom. I mean, she’s academia, Harvard, radical left.

President Obama Outplayed Republicans Again – So Stop Complaining

Barack Obama, John Boehner | The White House

PoliticusUSA

It is a safe bet that everyone, at some point in their lives, has jumped to a conclusion based on errant information or, worse, failure to see beyond their own biases. On more than one occasion, President Obama has been the recipient of unfair criticism from the left and members of his own party simply because they failed to comprehend he was thinking several steps ahead of them. Republicans have still not learned this lesson and despite outrage from the left, the so-called CRomnibus passed and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell now understand that the President just punked them again; he also won some major victories in getting the funding bill passed. In fact, as a former anonymous congressional staffer remarked, Obama deftly manipulated Republicans into what is a “Total public repudiation of their ultra-right wing nullification caucus they had planned for the rest of his term.”

First, John Boehner never intended for Congress to pass the CRomnibus. His deceitful plan was to insert what he thought were a couple of poison pills Democrats would rail against so Republicans could pass a very short-term funding bill. In fact, House leadership promised to pull the CRomnibus for lack of votes and replace it with a short-term continuing resolution that would push the entire funding debate into early next year when Republicans could enact their “Obama nullification” agenda for the Koch brothers.

Now, a Republican-controlled Congress has lost its “power of the purse” to eviscerate several federal agencies in 2015. Remember, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already promised the Koch brothers last June that when Republicans controlled the House and Senate, they would “go after the federal government, all of it” in 2015 by threatening to shut down the government unless Obama caved. It was an ill-advised plan that President Obama anticipated and thwarted.

The Republican leadership intended to use a rash of short term government funding emergencies, and a series of shutdown crises, to force Obama’s hand on several issues including repealing Dodd-Frank in its entirety, eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency, reverse the President’s immigration action, and repeal the health law. It is important to remember, that Republicans were not too concerned about blowback from shutting down the government because they did not suffer any negative repercussions from the October 2013 shutdown as evidenced by their midterm victories last month.

Indeed, there is still a relatively large contingent of Republicans and conservative voters who support using the shutdown threat to blackmail the President to enact a “purely conservative agenda.” That threat is now non-existent because Obama eliminated Republican’s promised plan to use funding the government as leverage to advance the Koch brothers’ agenda for the rest of the President’s term. Republicans cannot use the shutdown threat throughout 2015 and they certainly will not try it going into the 2016 presidential primaries.

There was, and still is, outrage among progressives and liberals alike about the so-called end of the 2010 financial reform law (Dodd-Frank), but the provision inserted into the CRomnibus is relatively insignificant. The lion’s share of the 2010 financial reform law is completely intact, and since the President prevented a Republican Congress from using funding the government to repeal the entire law, it is safe. There is an easy to understand explanation of why the “push-out” rule governing “some” commodities is the least important aspect of Dodd-Frankhere. Not only does the provision in the CRomnibus not affect all derivative swaps, it has no impact on most of them and leaves the highly effective financial reform law intact and Republicans have no leverage to repeal or gut the successful law.

One has to give Republicans credit for creativity in devising so-called poison pills to kill the funding bill such as allegedly eliminating the Clean Water Act’s enforcement power. The provision in the CRomnibus prohibited the EPA from using the CWA to regulate backyard and agricultural ponds and ditches, a provision that was already firmly entrenched in the law. However, without investigating exactly what the Republican rider actually said, the idea drew outrage from environmentalists concerned the CWA was finished; including this column.

Even though the idea of cutting retirement benefits is abominable, the rider in the CRomnibus was supported by unions and multi-company plan administrators because some badly-managed pension funds are on the verge of insolvency; and soon. The director of the National Coordinating Committee for Multi-employer Plans saidThis bipartisan agreement gives pension trustees the tools they need to maintain plan solvency, preserves benefits for the long haul, and protects the 10.5 million multi-employer participants. With time, and money, running out on the retirement security of millions of Americans, moving this bipartisan proposal forward now is not only timely, but necessary.” The danger, however, is allowing the Koch brothers’ State Policy Network and American Legislative Exchange Council use the threat of insolvency to go after other pension plans, including public sector plans that are very healthy due to Wall Street’s growth thanks to President Obama’s handling of the economy. But now that Republicans cannot use funding the government as a hostage, their promise to the Koch brothers will go unfulfilled.

Once again, President Obama has out-maneuvered Republican plans to further wreak havoc on the nation, and although a clean funding bill would have been ideal, it was never going to happen because Republicans. Boehner once again miscalculated the President’s ability to see through a dirty devious plan to hold the country hostage every 60 days with government funding crises that were certain to last throughout the rest of the President’s term. With no shutdown threats to extract concessions the people would regret in the short and long term, the President not only saved the people a world of misery, he outplayed Republicans and eliminated their ability to use the budget process to enact the Koch brothers’ agenda.

10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2014

An airstrike hits an ISIS position. 

An airstrike hits an ISIS position. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The Week

1. Stocks surge for a second day after soothing words from the Fed
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped by 421 points on Thursday — its biggest one-day increase in more than three years. The gains capped Wall Street’s biggest two-day advance since late 2011. The surge were triggered by reassuring comments by the Federal Reserve, which said in a statement following its latest policy meeting that although the economy was improving, policymakers would be “patient” in raising interest rates. Investors interpreted that as a signal that the central bank would not raise interest rates until next summer or later. [CNN]

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2. Airstrikes kill three ISIS leaders in Iraq
Three top Islamic State leaders were killed by airstrikes in Iraq between mid-November and early December, a senior Defense Department official said Thursday. The deaths of the ISIS leaders, who included the Islamist group’s Iraq military emir and ISIS chief Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s administrative deputy, has damaged the organization’s ability to control its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. official said. U.S.-led airstrikes also helped Kurdish fighters on Thursday retake a large swath of Iraqi territory from ISIS. [Voice of America, The New York Times]

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3. Movie studio pulls another film critical of North Korea from theaters
Paramount Pictures halted screenings of its 2004 film Team America: World Police on Thursday, a day after Sony Pictures canceled the Christmas Day release of the new film The Interview. Both movies are comedies mocking the reclusive communist leaders of North Korea. Sony’s decision came after an anonymous group of hackers threatened violence against moviegoers in theaters that showed The Interview, in which James Franco and Seth Rogen play TV journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. [Los Angeles Times]

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4. Top Sierra Leone doctor dies of Ebola
Sierra Leone’s leading Ebola doctor, Victor Willoughby, died of the virus on Thursday. He was the 11th physician to die out of 12 who have contracted the virus in the West African nation, which accounts for more than half of the 18,603 confirmed Ebola cases. Willoughby, a virologist frequently called on to help colleagues, died hours after doses of an experimental drug that could have been administered to him arrived in the country. [Reuters]

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5. Insurgents kidnap 200 in deadly raid on Nigerian village
Suspected Boko Haram militants killed at least 33 people and kidnapped 200 in a raid on the village of Gumsuri in northeastern Nigeria, witnesses said Thursday. “After killing our youths, the insurgents have taken away our wives and daughters,” a Gumsuri resident said. The attack took place on Sunday but news only spread after survivors reached a nearby city. Meanwhile, the army in neighboring Cameroon said it killed 116 Nigerian militants who attacked one of its bases. [BBC News]

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6. Putin tells Russians to brace for $40-per-barrel oil
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned in an overnight address that his constituents should brace for the price of oil — a pillar of Russia’s economy — to tumble to $40 per barrel. Russia is falling into a recession already after crude oil declined by 40 percent this year to around $60 per barrel, triggering the worse financial crisis since Putin came to power in 2000. Still, Putin insisted the country could handle the shock. “The economy will structure itself accordingly,” he said, “however much is necessary.” [Sydney Morning Herald]

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7. Eight children found dead in Australia home
Eight children were found dead in a Cairns, Australia, home on Friday in what Prime Minister Tony Abbott called an “unspeakable crime.” The children’s ages ranged from 18 months to 15 years. “They’re only babies,” a relative said. The mother of seven of the children was being treated for stab wounds. Abbott noted that the tragedy struck as the nation was still shaken by a siege in a Sydney cafe that left two hostages and a gunman dead this week. “These are trying days for our country,” Abbott said. [NBC News]

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8. Neighboring states sue Colorado over its law legalizing pot sale
Nebraska and Oklahoma on Thursday filed the first major court challenge against Colorado’s lawlegalizing marijuana sales. The attorneys general of the two neighboring states said that Colorado’s shops selling state-regulated recreational marijuana were aiding in the trafficking of drugs into states where the drug remains illegal. “Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states,” the suit says, “draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems.” [The New York Times]

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9. Tsarnaev returns to court weeks before his trial’s scheduled start
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared in court on Thursday for the first time since he was formally charged in July 2013, three months after the deadly attack. Outside the packed Boston courthouse a survivor argued with a small group of protesters holding up signs saying Tsarnaev was innocent. In what was to be Tsarnaev’s final pre-trial conference, one of his lawyers said he planned to file a request to delay the trial, now scheduled to start with jury selection on Jan. 5. [ABC News]

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10. Researchers say Dr. Oz’s medical advice is usually wrong
Syndicated talk-show host Mehmet Oz — known by some as “America’s doctor” — has been criticized recently by members of Congress who say his reports on “miracles” and medical breakthroughs have given millions of viewers false hopes. This week researchers published a study in the British Medical Journal saying that medical research either didn’t support or directly contradicted more than half of Dr. Oz’s recommendations. “The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows,” the article said. [The Washington Post]