10 things you need to know today: April 15, 2014

Snowden at SXSW in March. 

Snowden at SXSW in March. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP)

The Week

Snowden coverage wins a Pulitzer, Ukraine makes a move against pro-Russia separatists, and more

1. The Post and The Guardian win a Pulitzer for Snowden stories
The Washington Post and The Guardian were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service for their articles on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, Columbia University announced Monday. The articles resulted in a review of the NSA’s mining of telephone and internet communications data, and sparked a debate on balancing privacy rights with the need to thwart terrorists. [The New York Times]

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2. Ukraine moves against pro-Russia separatists
Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, told the country’s lawmakers Tuesday that an “anti-terrorist operation” was underway against pro-Russia separatists occupying state buildings in the eastern Donetsk region. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev said Ukraine was “on the brink of civil war.” President Obama, by phone, urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate tensions. Putin said he wasn’t meddling in Ukraine. [ReutersThe Associated Press]

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3. Tax day arrives
Midnight Tuesday is the deadline for filing 2013 federal income tax returns. One in four Americans waited as long as possible, according to a McClatchy-Marist Poll released Monday. Most who filed early were expecting a refund, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Those who have to write another check for their tax bill are more likely to wait until the last minute,” said Miringoff. [McClatchy DC]

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4. Former Klan leader accused of Kansas City murders will face hate-crime charges
Federal prosecutors intend to file hate-crime charges against a 73-year-old former Ku Klux Klan leader, Frazier Glenn Cross (aka Frazier Glenn Miller), who has been accused of gunning down three people outside two Kansas City Jewish community facilities. All three of the people killed were Christian, but prosecutors only have to prove that the crime was motivated by an offender’s bias. [The Washington PostCNN]

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5. Underwater drone cuts short a dive to search for missing airliner
The U.S. Navy’s Bluefin 21 robotic submarine aborted its first deep dive to look for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 because the target area in the Indian Ocean was deeper than its 15,000-foot limit, leaders of the search effort said Tuesday. The underwater drone reached its maximum depth just six hours into a 16-hour mission, and its safety mechanisms sent it back to the surface. Another dive was planned for later in the day. [USA Today]

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6. Judge tells Ohio to recognize gay marriages performed in other states
A federal judge in Cincinnati ruled Monday that Ohio must recognize valid same-gender marriages conducted in other states. Judge Timothy S. Black said Ohio’s gay-marriage recognition ban amounted to “arbitrary discrimination” and was therefore unconstitutional. The decision, which Black had announced was coming earlier this month, does not require Ohio to authorize the performance of gay marriages in-state. [The Daily Record]

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7. Deficit projection shrinks due to reduced ObamaCare subsidy costs
Federal deficits will be lower than previously forecast over the coming decade, largely because ObamaCare health insurance subsidies won’t cost quite as much as was once predicted, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Monday. In February, the 2015 through 2024 deficit was forecast at $7.62 trillion, but now the CBO estimates the cumulative shortfall for the period will be $286 billion less. About $100 billion in savings comes from reduced subsidy costs. [Reuters]

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8. Teachers and students ordered to provide DNA in French rape investigation
A French prosecutor has ordered all male students and staff at a French school to provide DNA samples in an effort to catch the person who raped a 16-year-old girl in a school bathroom. As of Monday afternoon samples had been provided by 142 of the 527 boys and men who were at the private Catholic high school in La Rochelle at the time of the September attack. The move raised privacy concerns, but the prosecutor said DNA was all she had to go on. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

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9. Blood moon appears over the U.S.
The moon turned a coppery red early Tuesday as it slipped into Earth’s shadow. The so-calledblood moon was visible in different phases from 2 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Eastern time. Thousands showed up to watch at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. “Everyone is always looking down at their phones, their iPads,” astronomy teacher Gene Ireland said. “We want them looking up.” This was the first in a series of four lunar eclipses. The next will occur October 8. [CNN]

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10. Phelps fuels talk of an Olympic comeback
Michael Phelps is coming out of retirement to swim with fellow Olympian Ryan Lochte at a meet in Arizona next week, USA Swimming announced Monday. The news fueled expectations that the 28-year-old Phelps, who with 22 medals is the most decorated Olympic swimmer in history, would attempt to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Coach Bob Bowman said Phelps thought racing “would be fun,” but wouldn’t confirm what he planned next. [Reuters]

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Very Bad News For Obamacare Opponents In The Government’s Latest Report

shutterstock_obamacare money

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

Think Progress

Premiums for health care insurance in the Affordable Care Act are lower than the federal government had anticipated, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Monday when it revised its cost estimate for the health care law. The nonpartisan office now believes that the ACA will cost the government $5 billion less than projected in 2014 and $104 billion less for the 2015-2024 period. It also found “no clear evidence” that premiums will surge in 2015, noting that “enrollees in the future will be healthier, on average, than the smaller number of people who are obtaining such coverage in 2014.” The agency estimated that the national average premium for individual silver policy plans would increase by $100 that year.

The CBO attributes the additional savings to government, relative to the CBO’s last assessment from February 2014, to lower-than expected premiums, which in turn lowered the cost for exchange subsidies, and higher-than expected revenues from the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans.

“Despite projecting that slightly more people will receive insurance coverage through exchanges over the 2015–2024 period than they had anticipated previously,” the report says. “CBO and JCT project that costs for exchange subsidies and related spending will be $164 billion (or 14 percent) below the previous projection, mainly because of the downward revision to expected exchange premiums.” The office also predicted that plans offered in the exchanges will provide wider provider networks and higher reimbursement rates to providers as enrollment increases. “That pattern will put upward pressure on exchange premiums over the next couple of years, although CBO and JCT anticipate that the plans’ characteristics will stabilize after 2016,” it found.

The office also concluded that the law’s so-called shock absorbers — reinsurance payments that are distributed to insurers that attract high-cost enrollees — “reduced exchange premiums this year by approximately 10 percent” and will “reduce premiums by smaller amounts in 2015 and 2016.” CBO found additional savings in Medicaid, revising downward government spending per adult enrolled in the program.

Ultimately, 12 million more nonelderly people will have health insurance in 2014 as a result of the law. Twenty-six million more “will be insured each year from 2017 through 2024 than would have been the case without the ACA,” the CBO concluded.

 

UPDATE

This post initially suggested that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) supports repealing the ACA’s reinsurance program. A spokesperson for the senator notes that the senator’s bill only targets the risk corridor provision of the law. Rubio has voted to repeal the ACA in its entirety, however, which would include the reinsurance provision. We regret the error.

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Paul Krugman slams Wall Street for “undermining our economy and our society”

Paul Krugman slams Wall Street for "undermining our economy and our society"

Paul Krugman (Credit: AP/Lai Seng Sin)

I know this is the second consecutive Salon article, but economist, Paul Krugman has something to say and I wanted to share it…

Salon

The New York Times columnist argues that America’s large financial sector has done more harm than good

In his latest column for the New York Times, best-selling author and award-winning economist Paul Krugman argues that the financial sector of the American economy is not only outsized but that it’s hurting the economy and making Americans’ lives worse.

Citing journalist Michael Lewis’ new book on high-frequency trading — which opens with a story about an expensive tunnel being drilled for fiber-optic cable to cut down the communication time between Chicago’s futures markets and the stock market in NYC by three milliseconds — Krugman argues that American public policy has become overly influenced by high finance, with inequality and economic instability as a result. “[American] society,” Krugman writes, “is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return.”

After claiming that the large financial sector in the U.S. doesn’t increase overall prosperity and doesn’t promote economic stability, Krugman writes that its primary function seems to be to prey off of less powerful economic actors. “[Wall Street's] playing small investors for suckers,” Krugman says, “causing them to waste huge sums in a vain effort to beat the market.” The result, Krugman posits, is a select few Wall Street players making a lot of private profits while contributing little to the overall public.

Krugman continues:



In short, we’re giving huge sums to the financial industry while receiving little or nothing — maybe less than nothing — in return. [NYU Professor Thomas] Philippon puts the waste at 2 percent of G.D.P. Yet even that figure, I’d argue, understates the true cost of our bloated financial industry. For there is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and America’s return to Gilded Age levels of inequality.

So never mind the debate about exactly how much damage high-frequency trading does. It’s the whole financial industry, not just that piece, that’s undermining our economy and our society.

 

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7 worst right-wing moments of the week — Stephen Colbert is destroying America, apparently

7 worst right-wing moments of the week — Stephen Colbert is destroying America, apparently

Stephen Colbert, Bill O’Reilly (Credit: AP/Alex Brandon/Kathy Willens)

Salon

Conservatives lose their minds over last week’s late-night shakeup, while a GOP candidate talks incest

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

1. Various conservative clowns: Stephen Colbert will single-handedly destroy America.

The hysteria on the right about Stephen Colbert’s elevation to CBS’s Late Night post has been nothing short of hilarious. Even before news hit that Colbert would replace David Letterman when he retires, Bill O’Reilly frantically declared that Colbert is responsible for the “destruction of America.” That’s quite a distinction, when there are so many other things vying for the title of “America’s Top Destroyer.” (Wait, reality contest show idea: “Who will be America’s Next Top Destroyer?”)

More than failing infrastructure, abject refusal to deal with the coming climate catastrophe, rampant, spiraling inequality to rival the Gilded Age, near daily mass shootings, the criminalization of poverty; or deportation of millions of legions of innocent undocumented immigrants [insert your favorite scourge here], it is Stephen Colbert who is ushering in the decline of this great nation. In addition, O’Reilly also said, Colbert is an “ideological fanatic,” a “deceiver” and responsible for the mayhem following UConn’s March Madness win.

No, we don’t really get that last one either.

Rush Limbaugh sputtered that Colbert’s promotion was “an assault on the heartland of America,” prompting millions of heartlanders to scurry to their bomb shelters with multiple firearms, canned goods and bottled water. He also said it represented a “redefinition of comedy,” a “redefinition of what’s funny.” This is true, Rush. Comedy has been redefined to mean something that makes actual people laugh.

And, after numerous attempts to identify the full extent of the outrage, Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro finally landed on this metaphor: In making a career out of pitch-perfect conservative pundit mockery, Stephen Colbert was guilty of no less than the moral equivalent of “vile political blackface.” Clever wordsmith Shapiro called this “Conservativeface,” a neologism that seems destined to catch on.

No word on whether Colbert is the Anti-Christ.Although a few years back a little outfit called Christfire implied as much, calling Colbert Stalinesque, Hitleresque and a bigger threat to America than Islamic terrorism.



All right ye liberals! You’ve been warned! Laugh your way straight into Satan’s clutches.

2. Advisor to Texas GOP gubernatorial hopeful: (OK, it’s Charles Murray): There’s no evidence women are significant thinkers.

It’s pretty well known that American Enterprise Institute “scholar” Charles Murray is a colossally dishonest thinker who shrouds claims of white intellectual superiority in pseudo-science. But he has proven himself offensive and wrongheaded on other topics as well. This week at a talk at University of Texas, he stood by his claim that women have not contributed much significant thought to the field of philosophy. But don’t feel too bad, gals, because Murray did allow that some of you are very good in literature.

Murray’s enlightened views on women naturally include his oppositions to equal pay laws. He argues that such laws would hurt women by discouraging companies from hiring them, and anyway he doesn’t even believe in pay discrimination—it’s a myth invented by liberals. “Women prefer to stay home with their children,” he says. And they also choose lower-paying jobs.

Who cares what Charles Murray says, you ask? Well, Texas GOP hopeful Gregg Abbott does. He takes some of his cues on education from Murray and specifically cited Murray’s work in his argument against universal pre-K. Of course, Abbott keeps some pretty questionable company in general. He’s also appeared with Ted Nugent, whose enlightened views on women and blacks are fairly well known.

h/t: RawStory

3. Virginia GOP candidate Bob Marshall: No incest exception for abortion because sometimes people want to have incest.

The good people of Virginia have themselves a real prize in Republican Bob Marshall, who is running to represent them in Congress. In fact, his views are so extreme on things like abortion and same-sex marriage that even his fellow Virginia Republicans can’t stand him. And that is saying something. He’s the one who introduced the bill requiring women who want abortions to have an ultrasound first, which helped make Virginia the butt of late-night jokes.

Still, he does have a following among other crazy social conservatives who could carry him to a congressional seat, where he could continue to embarrass his state. Marshall is anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage and anti-Planned Parenthood. He has some pretty bizarre religious ideas, too. Remarks of his that came to light this week include his opposition to abortions even in the case of incest, because, “How do you know it’s not voluntary? Sometimes it is.”

He has also said that disabled children are punishment for women having abortions. Here is his very science-based assertion: “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” he said.

No clue as to what his source for this bizarre claim is. Voices in his head, perhaps.

h/t: RawStory and: RightWingWatch

4. Reince Priebus: There should be no caps on campaign donations at all!

The chairman of the Republican National Party, Reince Priebus, echoed the words of his master Charles Koch this week when he came out for removing all caps on campaign donations. He also suggested that donors should not even have to be disclosed. Well, theoretically, he thinks disclosure might be okay, but….

“I mean, you want to be for disclosure,” Preibus said. “But when you start to see some of the cases out there where people are targeted, and businesses are targeted and picketed and threatened for political contributions, then now you’re suppressing free speech through disclosure. So I mean, even things that I want to agree with are getting to be very difficult.”

So to summarize, money is speech and should therefore not be limited in any way (particularly when it is flowing into Republican coffers). But unlike actual speech, money should be spoken in secret and not be open to scrutiny or criticism.

Because that hurts money’s feelings.

5. Detroit columnist Nolan Finley: Woman candidate is “milking the vagina business.”

Detroit News’ editorial page editor and columnist Nolan Finley displayed his ability to keep it real classy this week. Notoriously anti-Democratic and pro-corporate, he has long been using his perch to rabidly oppose the candidacy of Democrats, most recently Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and his running mate, Lisa Brown. This week Finley wrote:

[Brown’s] confrontational style will give the ticket the spunk the colorless Schauer lacks, but won’t broaden his appeal. Brown could help bring in campaign cash, however. She’s still milking the vagina business, and is a minor celebrity among feminists.

Wait, there’s a vagina business that can be milked? How come we did not know that?

What that curious term means to Finley is that Lisa Brown favors reproductive rights for women, which in his world (roughly the 1950s) makes her an extreme left-wing liberal.

Milking the vagina business.

What will the Republican woman haters club come up with next?

6. Minnesota GOPer: I’m running for Congress because no child should be exposed to science.

Aaron Miller loves to tell the story of how his daughter came home in tears from school on the day when she learned about evolution. That’s not what her daddy taught her. Determined that his daughter and other innocent children should never again be exposed to science that might be upsetting to them, Miller was galvanized to run for Congress. The government has obviously declared “war on our values,” he thought. Well, he was just going to declare war right back at them.

Miller has already gotten endorsements from other creationists in government, like Minnesota State Rep. Allen Quist, who has  argued that it is only reasonable people and dinosaurs coexisted and that the Book of Job offers science lessons.

He also joins a GOP field full of anti-science deep thinkers, like Paul Broun of Georgia who knows that  evolution is a lie “straight from the pit of hell.” In Texas, all four GOP candidates competing for the lieutenant governorship in Texas are  pushing to teach creationism in public schools. Even more plentiful are the climate science deniers. They even get to head up congressional science committees.

Because the GOP is determined that every child should grow up in blissful ignorance.

h/t: ThinkProgress

7. Florida Rep: Floridians can’t vote on solar ballot measure.  

Solar energy is increasingly popular among Floridians, which is why a Republican representative is hellbent on keeping the issue out of the polls. As we all learned in high school civics class, democracy means not letting people vote on things you don’t want them to vote on. A Senate committee in the Sunshine State approved an amendment for the November ballot that would give tax breaks to businesses that install solar panels. But Ritch Workman is using his power as the chairman of the House Finance and Tax Committee to prevent that from happening. His lame excuse?

“I just don’t see the need to continue to expand the incentives and underwriting of solar,’’ Workman said. “Solar is coming a long way and eventually it’s going to be able to stand on its own two feet. But right now it doesn’t.”

More likely, say proponents of the bill, Workman is under the sway of Florida’s electric utilities, which adamantly oppose rooftop solar energy because it will end their monopoly.

Ah well, it’s not as if there’s some big hurry to convert to clean energy or anything. It’s not as if climate change and global warming are some big urgent problem that the whole country needs to immediately address in no uncertain terms in order to avert what is certain to be catastrophic climate events, the likes of which we are only just beginning to see. No, no, no.

Anyway, we all know the sun is for frying your skin, not heating your home or running your appliances. Silly.

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10 things you need to know today: April 14, 2014

Overland Park chief of police John Douglass speaks to reporters after the shooting.  

Overland Park chief of police John Douglass speaks to reporters after the shooting. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

The Week

1. Three die in shootings at Jewish community centers in Kansas
Three people, including 14-year-old Reat Griffin Underwood and his grandfather William Lewis Corporon, were shot to death at two Jewish community facilities outside Kansas City on Sunday. The suspect — Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Frazier Glenn Miller — shouted, “Heil, Hitler!” as he was arrested. The Southern Poverty Law Center described him as a “raging anti-Semite” with past ties in the Klu Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups. [CNN]

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2. Bubba Watson takes his second Masters title
Bubba Watson won the Masters golf championship on Sunday, surging to a three-shot victory on the final day of the tournament. It was Watson’s second Masters win. He won his first green jacket two years ago in his first major tournament victory. He started the day even with Jordan Spieth, a 20-year-old Texan who was playing in his first Masters and trying to become the storied tournament’s youngest winner ever. [Los Angeles Times]

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3. U.N. climate report suggests ways to halt warming
World leaders must take action by 2020 to stop the most severe effects of rising global temperatures, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a report released Sunday. The mitigation report includes 1,200 scenarios in which damage from global warming could be contained by 2100 through such measures as growing forests to pull carbon out of the air and painting roofs so they absorb less heat. [National Geographic]

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4. Ukraine threatens military action against separatists
Ukrainian President Oleksander Turchinov on Monday threatened military action to thwart pro-Russian separatists who ignored an ultimatum to leave occupied local government buildings. Another group of about 100 separatists attacked a police headquarters in the city of Horlivka on Monday. The tensions and weekend violence dropped Russia’s currency, the ruble, to its lowest level in three weeks. [ReutersBloomberg Businessweek]

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5. Robotic sub dispatched to hunt for missing plane
The six-week search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 enters a new phase Monday, as an underwater drone is deployed to scour the bottom of the southern Indian Ocean. The Bluefin 21 autonomous underwater vehicle will search the area where four signals were detected from the plane’s black-box recorders, which have since probably run out of battery power. “It is time to go underwater,” said Angus Houston, head of the search effort. [ReutersNBC News]

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6. Sebelius concedes date for launching HealthCare.gov was “flat-out wrong”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defended ObamaCare on Sunday in her first interview since announcing her resignation, saying that President Obama’s signature health-care law gave millions of Americans their first “competitive choices” in the insurance market. She repeated admissions that the ObamaCare website’s rollout was “terribly flawed,” saying the judgment that it was ready to launch on Oct. 1 was “flat-out wrong.”

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7. Woman arrested after babies bodies found in her former home
A woman was arrested over the weekend in Utah after police found the bodies of seven infants packed in cardboard boxes in a Utah home where she used to live. The suspect, Megan Huntsman, was charged with six counts of murder. Authorities said they believed Huntsman gave birth to the babies between 1996 and 2006 and killed them. A family member called police after discovering the first body while cleaning out the garage. [ABC News]

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8. Death toll rises in Chile fire
The death toll from a massive fire in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso rose to 12 on Sunday. The blaze, fanned by Pacific coast winds, destroyed 2,000 houses as it consumed 1,700 acres of forest and residential neighborhoods. Crews battled the fire on Sunday, a day after it started, by dropping water from planes and helicopters. “We are looking for something to remember our home by,” one resident said, “but there’s nothing.” [Reuters]

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9. Libyan prime minister quits days after being picked
Libya’s newly appointed interim prime minister, Abdullah al-Thinni, abruptly stepped down on Sunday, less than a week after being named to the post. Al-Thinni said he and his family had been victims of a “cowardly” shooting on Saturday that “terrified people in a residential area and endangered the lives of some.” He said he couldn’t “accept a single drop of Libyan blood be shed” over him, and apologized for leaving the job. [CNN]

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10. Hunger Games takes top prizes at MTV Movie Awards
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire took the top award — movie of the year — at the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night. The film’s stars, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcheson, also won the prizes for top female and male performers. Jared Leto won for best on-screen transformation in his Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club role, and Mila Kunis, the wicked witch in Oz the Great and Powerful, took home the golden popcorn trophy for best villain. [USA Today]

 

 

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Fox News’ Brit Hume: Obama, Holder Use ‘Race’ To ‘Defend Themselves’ (VIDEO)

Qdog4pacaokvvu1hffg1

TPM LiveWire

“To those two men, race has been both a shield and a sword that they have used effectively to defend themselves, and to attack others,” Hume said.

Fox News contributor George Will said that liberals haven’t had any new ideas in a few decades, so they accuse people of being racist.

“Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s syndrome these days. Just constantly saying the word ‘racism’ and ‘racist,’” he said. “There’s a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn’t had a new idea since the 1960s — except Obamacare — and the country doesn’t like it. Foreign policy is a shambles, from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the recovery is unprecedentedly bad.”

“So, what do you do? You say, ‘Anyone who criticizes us is a racist,” Will continued.

Watch the exchange via Raw Story:

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10 things you need to know today: April 13, 2014

A barricade outside the offices of the Ukrainian Security Service in eastern Ukraine

A barricade outside the offices of the Ukrainian Security Service in eastern Ukraine Pochuyev Mikhail/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis

The Week

The UN says catastrophic climate change can still be affordably averted, Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces engage in deadly clashes, and more.

1. IPCC: Worst-case climate change can still be avoided
The worst-case scenarios of global climate change can still be averted in an affordable manner, according to a United Nations report released Sunday. The report, the third and final installment from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded that a concerted effort to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy would trim global economic output by a slim 0.06 percent. The IPCC called on world leaders to work together, with IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer saying, “Climate policy isn’t a free lunch, but could be lunch that’s worthwhile to buy.” [The GuardianWall Street Journal]

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2. Pro-Russian gunmen, Ukrainian security forces engage in deadly clashes
Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces on Sunday battled for control of a police compound in eastern Ukraine in what Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called an “anti-terrorist” operation. One Ukrainian security officer was killed and five others wounded, with Avakov claiming there were an “unidentifiable number” of casualties among the separatists as well. The fighting came after pro-Russian gunmen stormed the police headquarters and occupied other buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city, stoking fears among U.S. officials that Mwscow was inciting violence to ultimately annex more territory. [ReutersWashington Post]

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3. Chilean wildfire kills 7, burns hundreds of homes
An enormous wildfire scorched the Chilean city of Valparaiso over the weekend, burning more than 500 homes and killing at least four. Chile’s National Emergency Office said the fire has already burned more than 660 acres, with strong winds fanning the flames and making it difficult for the hundreds of firefighters who are battling the blaze to keep it contained. “It’s been one of the worst fires in history,” Vina del Mar Fire Superintendent Fernando Reseio told CNN. [CNN]

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4. Early returns in Afghan election show close race
One week after Afghan voters went to the polls in a historic presidential election, the first official returns showed former opposition leader and foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah with a slim lead. With about 10 percent of the vote tabulated, Abdullah had 41.9 percent of the vote, according to the Independent Election Commission, with Ashraf Ghani close behind at 37.6 percent. If neither candidate wins a majority, there will be a runoff in late May or June. [ReutersLos Angeles Times]

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5. NSA allowed to exploit web bugs for national security
President Obama permits the National Security Agency to take advantage of web coding failures if there is a “clear national security or law enforcement need,” according to The New York Times. Though the NSA is in most cases supposed to report such bugs so they can be fixed, the White House reportedly permits the agency to use those gaps for its own cyberattacks. The Times story comes on the heels of the administration categorically denying another report that it had prior knowledge of and possibly exploited the Heartbleed bug. [New York Times]

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6. Large earthquakes strike Solomon Islands
Two powerful earthquakes shook the Solomon Islands on Sunday, triggering a tsunami warning in the area. The United States Geological Survey estimated the quakes both took place about 200 miles offshore, registering magnitudes of 7.6 and 7.5, respectively. There were no immediate reports of damage. [New York TimesAssociated Press]

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7. Missing plane’s black box may have died
A little more than a week after search crews first heard encouraging pings possibly emitted by missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the batteries on the plane’s black box may have died. The batteries on flight recorders are supposed to last about 30 days, an aviation official told theAssociated Press. The plane has been missing for 37 days now, and searchers haven’t detected a pulse signal since Tuesday. [Associated Press]

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8. Pope Francis delivers Palm Sunday remarks
Speaking to an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis commemorated Palm Sunday by speaking of the last days of Jesus’ life and exhorting followers to evaluate how they were living their own lives. “Has my life fallen asleep.” he asked. “Where is my heart?” Pope Francis followed up the service by mingling with attendees and posing for selfies. [Associated PressNPR]

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9. Union College wins NCAA hockey title
The Union College Dutchmen defeated top-seeded Minnesota 7-4 Saturday night in the Frozen Four to claim the school’s first ever college hockey title. The Gophers, with 14 NHL draft picks to Union’s lone pro prospect, were favored to win, and they pulled within a goal with minutes remaining. Yet Union answered with another goal of their own, and tacked on an empty-netter in the waning seconds to seal the victory. Disgruntled fans back in Minneapolis rioted, leading police to arrest 19 people. [Sports Illustrated]

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10. Conan O’Brien to host MTV Movie Awards Sunday
Late night comedian Conan O’Brien will host the 2014 MTV Movie Awards on Sunday. The host of TBS’ Conan hinted that there would be plenty of flames and skin at the light-hearted awards show, which features such categories as “Best Shirtless Performance.” And O’Brien joked that he may even flaunt his own pallid physique, saying, “My body is in incredible shape, and you might be seeing some of that on the show.” [Associated Press]

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CORRECTION…

UDATE: 8:28 PM

As it turns out, the source of the article in question, TOPNEWS is a fake news site.

—-

Regarding a recent re-post entitled  Oklahoma Protesters Threaten to “Secdee” From Union if Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos is not Cancelled a commenter emailed me this note:

ThIs article does not represent oklahoma – you can find a handful of people like this anywhere.

I must admit I ignored this initial comment as “sour grapes”.   However a few days later the commenter sent a follow-up note with proof that the article was a hoax:

Although it doesn’t say anything about protesters…
http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/cosmos.asp

Therefore I apologize to the commenter and my TFC friends for not investigating the article further when I saw the photo.

Thank you mshl, I stand corrected.  I plan to be more diligent before reposting in the future.

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Rupert Murdoch Admits That “Fair And Balanced” Fox News Is A Shill That “Saved” The GOP

Fox News Has Saved The GOP, Murdoch Proclaims

In an interview with Fortune Magazine, Rupert Murdoch claimed he saved the Republican Party ‘absolutely’ – Fox News just another branch of the GOP.

Addicting Info

Can Fox News please stop with their oxymoron catch phrase “fair and balanced?” In an interview with Patricia Sellers for Fortune Magazine, while responding to the question on whether he believed Fox News’ polarizing rhetoric for GOP has harmed America’s leading conservative party, Murdoch pushed back, saying, “I think it has absolutely saved it.”

The exchange:

Fortune: “Does it bother you at all, Rupert, that there is a view that Fox News has contributed in a big way to the political discontent in the U.S., degraded the political process, and maybe, in spotlighting the Tea Party, even hurt the Republican Party?”

Murdoch: “It has certainly given voice and hope to people who didn’t like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN. I think it has absolutely saved it. It has certainly given voice and hope to people who didn’t like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN. “

Murdoch also had some strong words about Fox News’s role on the Tea Party;

“By the way, we don’t promote the Tea Party. That’s bullshit. We recognize their existence.”

Murdoch’s claims are not so far fetched. According to a Gallup Poll , sixty six percent of Fox News viewers are over the age of 50. Sixty nine percent of those who are over the age of 50 are married. Furthermore, Fox News viewers are more likely than CNN/MSNBC viewers to be white, Protestant, and male who attend church weekly, and earn an income over $75,000 a year. A staggering 66% ofcore Fox News viewers identified themselves as Republicans, and 94% of overall Fox viewers identified or leaned Republican.

Look back at the 2012 election results as compared to Fox News viewership:

  • 52% of men voted for Mitt Romney versus 48% voted for John McCain
  • 56% of people 65+ voted for Mitt Romney versus 53% voted for John McCain
  • 59% of white people voted for Mitt Romney (between 59-61 percent of whites between the ages of 18-65+ voted for Republican Mitt Romney) versus 55% voted for John McCain
  • 58% of people who attended church weekly voted for Mitt Romney

Over the next four years, as Fox’s ratings have gotten higher (with the exception of a drop in 2013 of 5%), their targeted audience has gotten more Republican.

Here’s also the kicker: when it comes to measuring President Obama’s approval rating based on the viewership of Fox and CNN, 97% of Fox News Viewers disapprove of the president, and only 1% approve. On the other hand, with CNN, 40% disapprove, whereas 57% approve. That survey, from the same Gallup Poll, was conducted in June 2013.

The gap between disapproval and approval is much wider in Fox than it is with the “liberal” CNN. Maybe that’s a hint that CNN allows their viewers a more open and honest dialogue in the political discourse in our country. But Murdoch is right when he says Fox News has saved the Republican Party. Without their fanatical anti-Obama, anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric, Republicans would be running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to scrape together support.

According to a Pew Center report, respondents feel that opinion fills 85% of MSNBC’s time slot, whereas only 55% occupies Fox News’s time slot.

MSNBC does usher in their opinion, but they make no secret of it. Nor do they claim to be “fair and balanced.” They don’t make up their facts, either. Nor do they discard facts that don’t fit into their philosophy.

Rupert Murdoch claims Fox News “saved” the GOP, because, according to their viewers, only white, protestant old men can save the GOP now.

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Filed under Fox News, Rupert Murdock

It could have been a perfect storm for a failed presidency…

This Facebook article was in my inbox yesterday evening..  When I read it I immediately knew I needed to share this with my TFC friends…(H/t: DB)

The Knowledge Movement

I vehemently defend President Obama because he walked into the worst deal any president ever has. He is subjected to a level of disrespect, treachery and betrayal from within that no other president has ever experienced. He faces impossible and unprecedented challenges everyday but constantly finds ways to surmount the insurmountable, dodge the traps and achieve his goals, most of which are making peoples lives better.

Coming in the door he was burdened with the second largest financial collapse in the nation’s history, coupled with the single most obstructive Congress in history. It could have been a perfect storm for a failed presidency. The fact that it wasn’t gives testament to his political genius.

Fixing the second largest economic calamity in history would be a very hard situation to fix even with the full brunt of Congress falling in line to help – But virtually impossible if the Republicans made it their sole objective not to rebuild the economy that [they] collapsed but to do everything in their power to ensure it remained broken. They vowed to, “undermine all Obama’s economic initiatives.” And publicly stated during Obama’s first term, in the midst of massive housing foreclosures and near-record unemployment, that their number one goal, with everything else going on and with all the people suffering, was to “make Obama a one term president.” They followed through with their pact to undermine his economic initiatives and goal of stopping a second Obama presidency by submitting more filibusters [by far] than any Congress in American history. Obviously and astonishingly, their plan didn’t work. The economy is no longer in ruins and Obama is well into his second term.

One would think that since they were unsuccessful at stopping the stabilization of the economy, preventing Obama’s second term and repealing Obamacare, etc…that at some point they’d fall in line, do their jobs, support their president and help him move the country forward. But they’ve made it clear that’s never going to happen.

They cannot beat him so they publicly disrespect him. Unlike with every president that preceded Obama, the discord the opposing party has against the president doesn’t stop at our borders. Republicans have such a demented and psychotic hate for Obama that they publicly support foreign leaders, even enemy leaders, that this country is at odds with, over their own president, which is unprecedented.

The Commie hating Republicans are now enamored with Vladamir Putin of Russia. Ironically, Republicans love to project a false Communist caricature onto Obama for the benefit of their blind and ignorant minions, as a reason to hate him. However, the Russian president that they are swooning over is a [real] Communist – the head Communist. But because this traditional enemy of America, Democracy and Capitalism is at odds with Obama, their own president, these Republicans now adore Russia, Communism and their leader. They now support Russia’s anti-gay policies, but before Obama they classified such bigoted treatment of Russian citizens as human rights violations.

Mainstream media ignores the orchestrated Republican obstruction and pretend the resulting gridlock is bipartisan.

Rightwing media incessantly floats their own lies about the President while echoing bogus and debunked scandals concocted by the same Republicans that vowed to “undermine all Obama’s economic initiatives.”

Obama endures racism and double standards from both sides of the aisle. The far Left watched him sign more Progressive legislation into law, supporting the middle class and poor, than any president since FDR, but because he accomplished 90% of what they wanted instead of 100%, many won’t support him – But curiously, a majority of them support Clinton, who signed far less Progressive legislation into law than Obama while signing much more legislation deemed Conservative.

Democrats who were supposed to have his back ofttimes end up being silent, shiftless, cowards. Some were more moved to support Bush in his illegal invasion of Iraq than they are to support the leader of their own party.

No one is saying Obama has received no help at all. But he hasn’t received as nearly as much assistance as he should have, and certainly not as much as he would have were his father the same race as his mother.

Obama is no Messiah, but he has worked wonders. It’s perplexing to quantify all he’s accomplished versus all that’s stood in his way.

To the detractors I say: name someone who could do as good a job or better. Identify their accomplishments and the various antagonists who stood in their way, and the extents the antagonists went to to stop them, and how they circumvented the antagonist’s efforts and became successful. Show where it remotely compares to Obama and his achievements. Do that, or else please, kindly, don’t say anything at all.

Post by The Knowledge Movement.

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Filed under U.S. Politics