Author: kstreet607

Politics! Politics! I love politics! Unapologetic Barack Obama enthusiast.

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

Hong Kong police in riot gear monitor protesters

Hong Kong police in riot gear monitor protesters Chris McGrath / Getty Images

The Week

North and South Korea exchange gunfire, police find human remains believed to be those of missing student Hannah Graham, and more.

1. North Korea and South Korea trade gunfire
North Korean and South Korean soldiers briefly exchanged gunfire on Sunday across the heavily-fortified border between the two nations. It was the second such shootout between the two sides in the past 10 days. The incident began when about 10 North Korean troops approached the boundary line between the two nations and disregarded warnings to turn back. Troops from the South then fired warning shots, leading to a 10-minute volley of gunfire that did not result in any reported casualties or injuries. [The Associated Press, Reuters]

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2. Human remains believed to belong to missing Virginia woman found
Investigators searching for a missing University of Virginia student uncovered what they believe to be her remains. Police on Saturday said they’d found remains near Charlottesville, Virginia, and that a medical examiner would soon test whether they did indeed belong to 18-year-old Hannah Graham, who went missing last month. Police have charged Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. in Graham’s disappearance, and linked him to the disappearance of another Virginia woman in 2009. [The New York Times]

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3. Violent clashes continue in Hong Kong
Police on Sunday squared off with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong for a second-straight day ahead of planned talks to deescalate the tense situation there. Thousands of demonstrators recaptured streets over the weekend after being pushed out from their encampments on Friday, resulting in dozens of injuries and at least four arrests, according to police. The government and demonstration leaders are scheduled to hold talks Tuesday, though China insists it will not soften restrictions it placed on the 2017 election to name Hong Kong’s new chief executive. [The New York Times, Reuters]

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4. Bishops nix proposal to welcome gay Catholics
A historic proposal for the Vatican to soften its stance toward gays failed to make it into a final report on the direction of the Catholic Church. A draft report from the synod said gays “must be welcomed with respect and sensitivity,” though it failed to receive backing from at least two-thirds of the bishops in attendance. The Vatican said the language could still be discussed at a meeting of bishops next October. [The Guardian, The Associated Press]

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5. Germany blames pro-Russian rebels for MH17 downing
Germany has concluded that pro-Russian separatists mistakenly brought down a commercial airliner over Ukraine in July, making it the first European nation to explicitly blame the rebels. Gerhard Schindler, president of Germany’s BND intelligence agency, said in a closed-door meeting earlier this month that rebels struck Malaysia Airline flight MH17 with a Russian Buk missile, according to Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. “It was pro-Russian separatists,” he said. [Reuters]

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6. Health worker on cruise ship cleared in Ebola scare
A nautical Ebola nightmare is over after officials cleared a health care worker linked to the virus who had been quarantined aboard a luxury cruise ship. The unidentified woman works at the Dallas hospital where patient Thomas Eric Duncan died of Ebola earlier this month, and it was feared she may have contracted the virus, too. The woman sequestered herself onboard until the ship returned to Texas Sunday, at which point a blood sample revealed she was not infected. [CNN]

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7. New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival descends into chaos
Police in riot gear used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse thousands of people who ran amok Saturday at the annual Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire. Police said a large crowd composed mainly of students tore up street signs, threw bottles, and flipped at least one car at parties held in conjunction with the event, which attracts tourists from all over the region. “There were about 4,000 kids in this backyard, and it almost felt like a war zone,” Ellery Murray, a Keene State student, told The Boston Globe. [The Boston Globe]

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8. Russian tennis official suspended for remarks about Williams sisters
The Women’s Tennis Association has fined and suspended Shamil Tarpischev, the head of the Russian Tennis Association, for disparaging remarks he made about Venus and Serena Williams. Last week, Tarpischev referred to the two tennis stars as the “Williams brothers” and said they were “frightening.” In response, the WTA hit Tarpischev with a maximum $25,000 fine and suspended him for one year. In a statement Serena supported the punishment, calling the remarks “sexist as well as racist.” [ESPN]

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9. Endangered white rhino dies
An extremely rare northern white rhinoceros died Friday at a wildlife conservancy in Kenya, leaving only six of the animals alive in the world. Poachers have driven the species nearly to extinction, and the 34-year-old Suni was one of only two breeding males left. “The species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race,” the Ol Pejeta Conservancy said in a statement. [The Guardian]

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10. American Idol alum dead at 32
Joanne Borgella, a former American Idol contestant who went public with her battle against cancer, has died. She was 32 years old. Borgella was one of the final 24 contestants on the reality TV show’s seventh season, and she regularly updated fans on social media about her treatment for endometrial cancer. [People]

Republicans want you scared of ISIS. Democrats want you scared of the GOP.

Don't let fear dictate your vote.

Don’t let fear dictate your vote. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Week

But in truth, we have nothing to fear but fear itself

Fear is a powerful emotion. It’s not a great guide when you’re making a decision, but in an election year like 2014 — in which the main voter sentiments seem to be disenchantment and disgust — politicians apparently think it’s their best bet. Republican campaign ads and debate talking points aren’t all that subtle on this point. Democrats are only a little more indirect.

“Republicans believe they have found the sentiment that will tie congressional races together with a single national theme,” says Jeremy W. Peters at The New York Times. The theme is that things are really bad right now — Ebola, ISIS, even years worth of mishaps at the Secret Service — and that it’s mostly President Obama’s fault. And since Obama isn’t on the ballot, all Democrats running for Congress are Obama’s “lieutenants,” as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus explained to The New York Times.

The Democrats’ big perceived soft spot is ISIS. Congress — after quickly and bipartisanly agreeing to Obama’s request for money to train anti-ISIS Syrian fighters — opted to go home and campaign rather than to debate what, if anything, Obama should be doing differently in Iraq and Syria. But the long-term plan Obama laid out to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS without U.S. ground troops hasn’t stopped ISIS from gaining some new territory, so Republicans are calling it a dangerous failure.

“ISIS is just one of the things leading to a crisis mentality among voters,” Joe Pounder, president of the GOP opposition-research company America Rising LLC, tells The Daily Beast‘s Josh Rogin. “And when you don’t have much new in the way of the economy going on, this is the new issue.”

This isn’t a dumb strategy on the GOP’s part. The American electorate cares about ISIS. “The situation with Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria” was voters’ No. 4 concern in a Gallup analysisreleased Monday, with 78 percent saying it is extremely or very important to their vote — and voters trust Republicans more than Democrats to deal with the situation. Tellingly, ISIS was the No. 2 issue for Republican respondents, with 85 percent calling it really important to their vote.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday, Obama’s approval rating on ISIS had plunged 15 percentage points in two weeks, to 35 percent; 51 percent disapproved.

The Republicans don’t have to have a better plan, or really any plan, to dispatch ISIS — if they disagree with Obama about anything, it’s mostly to plug sending in U.S. ground troops, hardly a popular suggestion. They just need to not control the White House.

Presidents normally want to exude sunny optimism on their watch, with varying degrees of success. But in a pinch, the party in power will be happy to paint the other side as dangerous and slightly unhinged.

Democrats can read polls, too, of course. They want you to be afraid of Republicans — or at least they want dispirited and unenthusiastic Democrats to be afraid enough that they’ll vote. In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, for example, Democrats actually lead Republicans in voter preference for House races, 46 percent to 44 percent — but Republicans take a 50 percent to 43 percent lead when it comes to likely voters.

Republicans are less popular nationally than Democrats — 33 percent favorability to 39 percent, per ABC News/Washington Post — and Democrats would like this to be an election about the minority party. It usually doesn’t work that way.

To get Democrats worried or angry enough to vote, Democrats are focusing on the points where voters in general, and Democrats in particular, rate the GOP poorly. In the latest Gallup poll, the Democrats’ No. 2 issue is equal pay for women, which 87 percent of Democrats say is extremely or very important to their vote. Abortion and contraception access is the No. 12 concern for Democrats, but 60 percent of them still call the issue very important (versus 43 percent of Republicans). Democratic ads and talking points reflect those priorities.

But in the favorite words of a man many American politicians cite as their hero: Don’t be afraid. It’s a lousy way to live, and a terrible basis for voting. If you’re afraid, there’s a good chance somebody is trying to pull your strings.

You’re almost certainly not going to get Ebola or even personally know anyone who does. ISIS isn’t going to invade across America’s southern border (which is much more guarded that it was in 2001). Republicans won’t win enough seats to get anything done — at least not for two years. If they win the Senate, we’ll probably get deeper gridlock, which should feel pretty familiar about now.

Fear is also pretty good for the news media. But on Wednesday, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith went a little off-script. “Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and the television, or read the fear-provoking words online,” he said of Ebola. “You have to remember,” he adds — going “big picture” — “that there is politics in the mix.”

With midterm elections coming, the party in charge needs to appear to be effectively leading. The party out of power needs to show that there is a lack of leadership. So the president has canceled a fundraising trip and is holding meetings, and his political opponents are accusing his administration of poor leadership. For the purpose of this fact-dissemination exercise, those matters are immaterial. [Fox News]


He could be discussing just about any big issue of this election.

By all means, vote on Nov. 4 (or earlier, if applicable). There are big policy issues at stake, as well as judicial appointments and other things that may very well have a real impact on your life. But vote for the party or candidate whose ideas you think are better, not the one that scares you the least.

Ebola Panic Reaches New Heights As Maine Teacher Is Put On Leave Because She Visited Dallas

ebolafinal

Screenshot: Credit – WAPT

I’m pretty sure that this is the result of some folks watching the Fox News Scare Fest every day…

Think Progress

An elementary school teacher in Maine has been placed on leave for 21 days, the incubation period of Ebola, after she visited Dallas to attend an educational conference. The teacher did not come into contact with anybody who had tested positive for the virus, but did stay at a hotel “exactly 9.5 miles away from Texas Health Presbyterian,” where Ebola patients have been treated.

The school district attributed its decision to “parents’ concerns,” presumably about the teacher transmitting Ebola to their children. But if the school board’s criteria for leave were applied to everyone, the entire city of Dallas would have to stay home from work. About 5 million people within the United States travel to or through Dallas each month.

Fears about Ebola, often without any medical justification, are impacting people across the country. Middle school students were pulled out of school in Mississippi after the principal visited Zambia, a country about 3,000 miles from the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Michel du Cille, a photographer for the Washington Post, was “disinvited by Syracuse University from participation in a journalism workshop.” The decision was made because he visited Liberia a few weeks ago, despite the fact that he did not develop any symptoms of Ebola in the 21-day maximum incubation period.

Sunday Talk: Now is the time to panic!

Daily Kos

The end (of the election season) is near(or maybe not), and the world is going to hell in a hand-basket.There’s a perfect storm heading toward America’s border, determined to kill us all in a show of solidarity with Africa.Its name is “Obama’s Katrina“—you may remember it from such scandals as: the IRS targeting of conservative groups,#Benghazi, and the latte salute.

Not to take anything away from them, but the threats posed by those scandals pale in comparison to this one, which has gone viral.

You don’t need to be a self-certified ophthalmologist like Rand Paul to see it—it’s all there, black and white, clear as crystal.

You have no chance to survive; make your time.

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: Dr. Anthony Fauci (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases); Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA); Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO); Others TBD.Face The Nation: Dr. Anthony Fauci (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases); Richard Umbdenstock (American Hospital Association); Dr. Robert Wah (American Medical Association); Jean Ross (National Nurses United); Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN); Roundtable: Gerald Seib(Wall Street Journal), Susan Glasser(Politico Magazine) and Michael O’Hanlon (Brookings Institution).

This Week: Dr. Anthony Fauci (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases); Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins; Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan;Roundtable: Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard), Republican Strategist Mary Matalin, Stephanie Schriock (EMILY’s List) and TV/Radio Host Tavis Smiley.

Fox News Sunday: Dr. Anthony Fauci (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases); Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA); Michael Osterholm (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota); RNC Chair Reince Priebus; DNC Chair/Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL);  Roundtable: Brit Hume (Fox News),George Will (Washington Post), Neera Tanden (Center for American Progress) and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: Dr. Anthony Fauci (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases); Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); Roundtable: Republican Strategist Kevin Madden, Republican Strategist Ana Navarro, LZ Granderson (ESPN) and Democratic Strategist Penny Lee.

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: a report on Barbara Mancini, who was arrested and accused of helping her dying father kill himself (preview); a report on efforts to restore the Coliseum (preview); and, a report on the Yukon gold rush (preview).

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pens Scathing Dissent On Texas Voter ID Law

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, celebrating her 20th anniversary on the bench, is photographed in the West conference room at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, August 30, 2013. | The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Huffington Post

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent early Saturday morning, blasting the court’s decision to allow Texas to use its new voter ID law in the November elections. She was joined in the dissent by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

“The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” Ginsburg wrote.

Ginsburg disputed the Fifth Circuit court of appeals’ argument that it was too close to the November election to stop the law. Early voting begins on Monday in Texas.

“In any event, there is little risk that the District Court’s injunction will in fact disrupt Texas’ electoral process,” she wrote. “Texas need only reinstate the voter identification procedures it employed for ten years (from 2003 to 2013) and in five federal general elections.”

Ginsburg argued that the Fifth Circuit was remiss to ignore the findings of a full trial in district court, which found that the law was “enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose and would yield a prohibited disriminatory result.”

District Court Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos struck down the law earlier this month on the grounds that it would serve as a deterrent to a large number of registered voters, most of them black or Hispanic. “Based on the testimony and numerous statistical analyses provided at trial, this Court finds that approximately 608,470 registered voters in Texas, representing approximately 4.5% of all registered voters, lack qualified SB 14 ID and of these, 534,512 voters do not qualify for a disability exemption,” Gonzalez Ramos wrote.

Ginsburg echoed these findings in her dissent. “The potential magnitude of racially discriminatory voter disenfranchisement counseled hesitation before disturbing the District Court’s findings and final judgment,” Ginsburg wrote. “Senate Bill 14 may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification. A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic.”

Texas officials have argued that these numbers are meaningless, on the grounds that all registered voters are able to obtain ID. Ginsburg also took aim at this assertion in her dissent, arguing that the cost of obtaining the required ID constitutes an unconstitutional barrier to voting. “Even at $2, the toll is at odds with this Court’s precedent,” she wrote. “And for some voters, the imposition is not small. A voter whose birth certificate lists her maiden name or misstates her date of birth may be charged $37 for the amended certificate she needs to obtain a qualifying ID. Texas voters born in other States may be required to pay substantially more than that.”

Ginsburg pointedly added that “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact. To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970.”

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

A letter to Gov. Nikki Haley: Time to take down the confederate flag in South Carolina

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY – Screenshot

MSNBC – Melissa Harris-Perry

The midterms are only weeks away and the drama of local and state elections are reaching a fevered pitch. One of my favorite moments this week happened in South Carolina when Democratic gubernatorial challenger Vincent Sheheen suggested it was time to retire the Confederate flag that flies in front South Carolina state house, saying

“I believe it’s time that we retire the confederate flag to a place of respect, where the history of this great state can be told, and we all rally together under a flag that unites us all – the American flag – that looks towards the future, not the past.”

This is how incumbent Governor, Republican Nikki Haley responded:

“What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”

Then she continued with this:

“But we really kind of fixed all that when you elected the first Indian-American female governor. When we appointed the first African-American U.S. senator, that sent a huge message.”

That’s why my letter this week is to the Republican governor of South Carolina.

 

Dear Governor Haley,

It’s me, Melissa.

This is a fascinating moment in American history. As you highlighted in your debate this week, you are a woman, and a first-generation Indian-American.

And you appointed Senator Tim Scott, the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.

And, Scott’s opponent in next month’s election is also black, meaning that one of them will be the first African American to win a statewide office in South Carolina in 142 years.

Those facts are meaningful.

But they have little to do with whether the Confederate flag should fly on government land or whether we have “fixed all that.”

I am a Southern girl. I grew up with the Confederate flag prominently displayed all around me. I love Dukes of Hazard and the General Lee. And just last week I took the kids to the “Dixie Classic Fair.” Yeah, Nerdland, I know. I know.

But black Americans are, by and large, Southerners. Our roots, our stories, our lives, our struggles, our joys have a distinctly Southern flavor. Slavery and Jim Crow are part of our experience, but so are church picnics, HBCU football games and jazz music. There is no Black American history that is not deeply intertwined with Southern history. And as Southerners we have a complicated relationship to the ’ol stars and bars. We rarely paint it on our pick-ups but we do not automatically flinch and recoil when we see it.

But Governor Haley, you are not just a Southerner; you are a duly elected Governor in the United States of America.

And while those who served the Confederacy may have been honorable men and good soldiers doing the best they could with the choices they faced, the reality is the Confederate Flag, represents the ultimate act of treason. On December 20, 1860, your state, became the first to secede from the Union.

In April 1861, the attack on Fort Sumpter, in your state, ignited the Civil War that sought to tear this country apart.

Your state was the first to nullify – not only the law – but the very tie that binds us as Americans. Had your state prevailed we would no longer be a single nation, but just a great experiment dashed on the shores of slavery and states’ rights.  If your state had won, the Confederate flag would rightly fly over the state house and Jefferson Davis would be on your dollar bill.

But this is not what happened.  Four bloody years of struggle and loss and brutality ultimately ensured that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, did not perish from the earth.

And so to remember that we are one nation-indivisible – we fly the flag of our union. We display our fifty stars as a reminder that each state is woven into the fabric of our country.

To display the confederate flag is to suggest honor upon an act of treason and to suggest that it might have been just as well if our nation was rent apart.

And we haven’t fixed all that, yet, Governor. Indeed, some in your party have spent much of the past six years attempting to nullify federal law through resistance to the Affordable Care Act.

Governor Haley, it is extraordinary to see you, as a Southern woman of color, holding the highest office in South Carolina. But that flag is not solely or even mostly about race, it is about our collective history of struggle to remain united.

Even as you seek to hold onto office in your state it is worth remembering that you are a governor, in these United States. Stand under our flag. It is time to take the other one down.

Sincerely,

Melissa.

10 things you need to know today: October 18, 2014

Staff from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, in Dallas, hold signs of support for Ebola patient Nina Pham.

Staff from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, in Dallas, hold signs of support for Ebola patient Nina Pham. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Week

President Obama appoints Ron Klain ‘Ebola czar,’ the Supreme Court rules that Texas can enforce its voter ID law, and more

1. President Obama names Ron Klain ‘Ebola czar’
President Barack Obama appointed Ron Klain the administration’s “Ebola czar” on Friday. Klain will be responsible for ensuring the government response to any threat of a U.S.-based Ebola outbreak is handled correctly. Formerly chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, Klain also helped Obama prepare for presidential debates. He is president of Case Holdings and general counsel for Revolution, an investment firm. [CNN]

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2. Supreme Court rules that Texas can enforce voter ID law
The Supreme Court ruled early Saturday morning that Texas can go ahead with S.B. 14, its voter ID law that has been called one of the toughest in the United States. A federal judge had found the law to be unconstitutional, but a lower appeals court put that ruling on hold. Echoing three other voter ID cases (Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin) on which it has ruled in past months, the Supreme Court did not offer a reasoning behind the ruling. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, along with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. [The Washington Post]

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3. Nigeria brokers ceasefire with Boko Haram extremists
A top Nigerian military official announced on Friday that the government had reached a ceasefire with Boko Haram’s Islamic extremists, to begin immediately. Air Marshall Alex Badeh, Nigeria’s chief of defense staff, said the ceasefire would “end five years of insurgency that has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless.” Another government official said the hope was that negotiations for the release of 219 schoolgirls who were kidnapped in April and still being held by Boko Haram could begin this week. [The Associated Press]

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4. Federal judge strikes down Arizona’s ban on gay marriage
A federal judge ruled on Friday that Arizona’s ban on same-sex unions is unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick wrote in his brief explaining the decision that a recent appeals court ruled “that substantially identical provisions of Nevada and Idaho law that prohibit same-sex marriages are invalid,” and Arizona would thus follow suit. [The Arizona Republic]

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5. Michael Dunn, the ‘loud music killer,’ sentenced to life in prison
Michael Dunn, who was found guilty of killing unarmed black teenager Jordan Davis in November 2012, was sentenced to life in prison without parole — life plus 105 years — on Friday. Dunn shot Davis, who was 17 at the time, at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station following an argument about the volume of music emanating from an SUV in which Davis and his friends were sitting. [First Coast News]

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6. NASA discovers one of the farthest galaxies away ever seen
NASA announced on Thursday that it had discovered “one of the faintest galaxies ever seen,” as part of its three-year program to investigate the universe’s formative years. The faint galaxy is about 13 billion light-years away, and it is five hundred times small than the Milky Way, and still evolving. NASA scientists said the discovery was important because it would help inform how galaxies and the universe have evolved over time. [NASA]

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7. Two tourists allegedly snuck onto White House grounds in 2008
In the midst of a deluge of poor publicity for the Secret Service, a new report claims that in the summer of 2008, a pair of German tourists entered the White House grounds after peeling off from a legitimate tour group, only being noticed and then apprehended when they began using unauthorized cameras to take pictures near the White House’s North Portico. The Secret Service subsequently installed “a serpentine bike rack to make it more difficult to enter the White House grounds.” [The Washington Examiner]

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8. Israel has begun construction on vertical cemeteries
Israel has given cemeteries the go-ahead to build vertical burial grounds, even getting approval from rabbis who declared the practice kosher and “effective…in an era when most of the cemeteries in major population centers are packed full.” Yarkon Cemetery, outside Tel Aviv, has begun construction of the vertical plots; now cemeteries in other high-population countries such as Brazil and Japan are following suit. [The Associated Press]

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9. Study: Exercising three times a week lowers risk of depression
A new study published this week in JAMA Psychiatry shows that research subjects who exercised three times per week reduced their risk of depression by 19 percent. And, each additional workout session on top of the base three further reduced the subjects’ depression risk by another six percent. “Importantly, this effect was seen across the whole population, and not just in those at high risk of clinical depression,” Christine Power, a senior author on the study and professor of epidemiology and public health at the Institute of Child Health at UCL, said. [Medical News Today]

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10. Bono reveals the reason for his sunglasses is he has glaucoma
U2 frontman Bono is rarely seen without his signature shades, but he revealed during a taping of BBC One’s Graham Norton Show that the reason for his sunglasses is not fashion-based, but medically necessitated. “I’ve had glaucoma for the last 20 years,” Bono said. “I have good treatments and am going to be fine.” Those who suffer from glaucoma are often sensitive to light, and they wear dark glasses to alleviate the pain. [The Telegraph]

Chuck Todd Takes A Beating In Facebook Chat

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NBC’s Chuck Todd | AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

Just deserts is a good  description of what Todd got in these exchanges…

TPM LiveWire

Equipped with that knowledge, NBC’s new “Meet the Press” moderator waded into a Facebook Q&A on Friday ready to swat down any such hostility that came his way.

When one user asked him why he is “always trying to win the midterm for the Republican Party,” Todd was prepared.

“I think folks mistake analysis of political reality with cheerleading,” he said.

But that accusation of bias was tame compared to what followed.

“Was false equivalence your dream or did it come to you over time?” another user asked.

According to Todd, that guy was on the wrong social media platform for that kind of sarcasm.

“Happy to answer any serious questions. If you want to snark, do it on Twitter,” Todd said.

Todd responded similarly when he was taken to task for not investigating “GOP Voter Discrimination or the Sequester to Blocking everything Obama wants.”

“Why didn’t you ask me when I stopped beating my wife? Come on,” Todd said. “Ask a serious question and I’ll give you a serious answer. There’s always more nuance to the facts that partisans, left and right, want to admit.”

One user called Todd an “a$$ clown” for his suggestion that Alison Lundergan Grimes had “disqualified herself” for refusing to say whether she had voted for President Obama.

“I understand you have to be mad at someone, so why not a member of the press,” Todd responded. “That’s why God invented social media.”

South Carolina Prosecutors Say Stand Your Ground Doesn’t Apply To Victims Of Domestic Violence

domestic abuse

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

Think Progress

South Carolina is one of more than 20 states that has passed an expansive Stand Your Ground law authorizing individuals to use deadly force in self-defense. The law has been used to protect a man who killed an innocent bystander while pointing his gun at several teens he called “women thugs.” But prosecutors in Charleston are drawing the line at domestic violence.

In the cases of women who claim they feared for their lives when confronted with violent intimate abusers, prosecutors say the Stand Your Ground law shouldn’t apply.

“(The Legislature’s) intent … was to provide law-abiding citizens greater protections from external threats in the form of intruders and attackers,” prosecutor Culver Kidd told the Post and Courier. “We believe that applying the statute so that its reach into our homes and personal relationships is inconsistent with (its) wording and intent.”

Most recently, Kidd raised this argument in vigorously pursuing a murder case against Whitlee Jones, whose screams for help as her boyfriend pulled her down the street by her hair prompted a neighbor to call the cops during a 2012 altercation. When the officer arrived that night, the argument had already ended and Jones had fled the scene. While she was out, Jones decided to leave her boyfriend, Eric Lee, and went back to the house to pack up her things. She didn’t even know the police officer had been there earlier that night, her lawyer Mary Ford explained. She packed a knife to protect herself, and as she exited the house, she says Lee attacked her and she stabbed Lee once in defense. He died, although Jones says she did not intend to kill him.

On October 3, Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson sided with Jones and granted her Stand Your Ground immunity, meaning she is exempt from trial on the charge. In response to Kidd’s argument that individuals could not invoke Stand Your Ground to defend against violence in their own homes, Nicholson said that dynamic would create the “nonsensical result” that a victim of domestic abuse could defend against an attacker outside of the home, but not inside the home – where the most vicious domestic violence is likely to occur.

Kidd is unsatisfied with this reasoning, and is appealing the case to argue that Jones and other defendants like her can’t invoke the Stand Your Ground law so long as they are in their home. The Post and Courier reports that there are two other similar cases coming up the pike that are being pursued by the same prosecutor’s office. In one, a judge who dismissed a murder charge against a women who stabbed a roommate attacking her called the charge “appalling.” In another, the defendant’s attorney plans to ask for a Stand Your Ground hearing.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, the top prosecutor for that office, is also siding with Kidd. Wilson and Kidd do have a legal basis for their arguments. South Carolina is one of several states that has two self-defense provisions. One known as the Castle Doctrine authorizes occupants to use deadly force against intruders. Recently, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that this provision could not apply to fellow occupants of the home, in a case involving roommates, although that ruling was since withdrawn and the case is being re-heard this week. The Stand Your Ground law contains a separate provision that authorizes deadly force in self-defense against grave bodily harm or death in another place “where he has a right to be.” Prosecutors are arguing that neither of these laws permit one occupant of a home to use deadly force against another. But as Nicholson points out, this interpretation would yield the perverse result that both self-defense provisions explicitly exempt domestic abusers when they perpetrate violence within their own home.

The Post and Courier, which originally reported prosecutors’ position, has been doing a series on domestic violence over the past few months, in which it found that women are dying at a rate of one every 12 days from domestic abuse in South Carolina, a state “awash in guns, saddled with ineffective laws and lacking enough shelters for the battered … a state where the deck is stacked against women trapped in the cycle of abuse.” More than 70 percent of those who kill their spouse had “multiple prior arrests on those charges” and the majority spent just days in jail.

It is in that context that the Post and Courier gave front page treatment to another strike against domestic victims in Stand Your Ground laws, even as those who engage in what many consider vigilante killings are protected by the law. The man granted immunity for killing an innocent bystander, Shannon Anthony Scott, reportedly had a sign posted in his window that read, “Fight Crime – Shoot First.”

Lee, the victim in Jones’ case, had previously been arrested when “a woman said he smashed her flower pot and shattered her bedroom window with a rock during a fit of rage” and had a prior conviction for property a property crime.

Jones said she feared for her life. And those like her who defend themselves against domestic abuse shouldn’t need Stand Your Ground laws to raise a claim of self-defense. Most states, including South Carolina, have longstanding court precedent that permits individuals to raise claims of self-defense in cases where their life is threatened. And those common law claims are one of the reasons many opponents argue that the expansive protection of Stand Your Ground laws is not needed, and gives those who turn to force too much legal cover. But one of the demonstrated flaws of Stand Your Ground laws is that their imposition has been arbitrary, and allowed immunity in many more cases involving white shooters and black victims. In cases in which women have invoked Stand Your Ground laws, an MSNBC analysis found that women invoking the Stand Your Ground defense against white men succeeded in only about 2.6 percent of cases (2.9 percent of the woman was also white). The disparity of Stand Your Ground cases came to national attention with the case of Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for firing a warning shot against her alleged abuser. She was denied Stand Your Ground immunity.

Scott Brown has the dumbest Ebola take yet: We wouldn’t have to worry about it if Mitt were president!

Scott Brown has the dumbest Ebola take yet: We wouldn't have to worry about it if Mitt were president!

Scott Brown (Credit: AP/Alex Brandon)

Keeping up with our tagline: Sorting out the crazies, we present to you…irrelevant SCOTT BROWN, our dumbest politician of the week.

Salon

The last time Scott Brown was wading into the Ebola conversation, earlier this week, he was fanning fears that Ebola-infected terrorists could soon come across the U.S.-Mexico border to wreak havoc upon the country. Now, the former Massachusetts senator and current New Hampshire Senate hopeful has offered us another hot take: Ebola wouldn’t be a problem if American voters had had the wisdom to elect Willard Mitt Romney in 2012!

Speaking with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade on his radio program Friday, Brown asked listeners to envision a world with President Romney. Just think — economic prosperity would be unleashed,  Russia would know its place, and “we would not be worrying about Ebola”!

“Gosh can you imagine if Mitt was the president right now?” Brown asked. “He was right on Russia, he was right on Obamacare, he was right on the economy. And I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now and, you know, worrying about our foreign policy screw ups.”

Brown, who’s supposed to be one of the more “moderate” of the GOP bunch, has run a particularly dopey campaign against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen — blasting “amnesty” for unauthorized immigrants, fearmongering about ISIS and Ebola, and waging unhinged attacks on health reform. Most forecasters think Shaheen is a slight favorite in the race, but lest you invest too much hope in our midterm electorate, recent polls show the race tightening, with Brown taking a one-point lead in the latest survey.

Listen to Brown pine for President Romney below, courtesy of BuzzFeed: