10 things you need to know today: July 2, 2015

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis answers questions from the media. AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza

THE WEEK

1. Tsipras reverses after suggesting he would accept bailout concessions
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday urged his constituents to reject a bailout deal in a Sunday referendum. His remarks came less than 24 hours after he wrote creditors a letter seeming to agree to financial reforms in exchange for more help. Tsipras said Greece was being “blackmailed.” A day earlier, Greece became the first developed economy to default on International Monetary Fund debt. European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that “Europe wants to help Greece. But cannot help anyone against their own will.”

Source: Reuters

2. Episcopal church decides to let same-sex couples marry in church
Episcopalians voted Wednesday to allow religious weddings for gay couples. Some bishops already permitted priests to officiate in civil wedding ceremonies. The decision was approved overwhelmingly at the Episcopal General Convention in Salt Lake City days after the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry nationwide. The Rev. Brian Baker of Sacramento said the change came after decades of discussions.

Source: The Associated Press

3. Hillary Clinton sets fundraising record in campaign’s first quarter
Hillary Clinton is on track to raise a record $45 million in the first quarter of her presidential campaign, outpacing President Obama’s previous high mark of $41.9 million set in the first three months of his re-election campaign. Clinton has raised an average of $555,000 daily since officially launching her campaign for the Democratic nomination in April. Ninety-one percent of Clinton’s funds came from donations of $100 or less.

Source: Bloomberg Business

4. Feds investigate suspected airline fare-price fixing
The Justice Department is investigating major airlines on suspicion ofcolluding to keep fares high, officials with knowledge of the case saidWednesday. A Justice Department spokesperson confirmed that an investigation was underway but declined to name the airlines. Delta, Southwest, American, and United airlines said they were among the carriers being examined. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said consumers were suffering because of “possible misuse” of the big carriers’ market power.

Source: The Washington Post

5. Macy’s dumps Trump’s clothing line over immigration remarks
Macy’s on Wednesday dropped Donald Trump’s clothing line over the real estate magnate and Republican presidential candidate’s recent derogatory remarks about Mexican immigrants. He said many were criminals. Macy’s said Trump’s statements did not “portray an accurate picture” of Mexican immigrants. Trump said he was the one who ended the relationship to defend his principles against pressure critics were aiming at Macy’s. Despite the controversy, Trump has shot to second in recent GOP polls.

Source: New York Post, The Washington Post

6. Man attacked by shark off North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island
A man in his 60s was attacked by a shark off North Carolina on Wednesday. The attack was the seventh in the state this year, and the latest in a string over the last two weeks. The man was swimming just beyond the first breaking waves off of Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks. Witnesses said the six- to seven-foot shark pulled the man under water, biting him in the rib cage, hip, lower leg, and both hands. “There was a big trail of blood from the water to the sand,” one witness said.

Source: CNN

7. TV Land dumps Dukes of Hazzard over rebel flag on car
TV Land has pulled re-runs of the 1980s show Dukes of Hazzard over the Confederate battle flag emblazoned on the Dodge Charger driven by the Duke boys. A national debate broke out over displaying the controversial flag in public places after a white gunman murdered nine black people in Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church. Supporters say the flag represents Southern heritage. President Obama, at the funeral of one of the shooting victims, said removing the flag acknowledges that the cause Confederate soldiers fought for — slavery — was wrong.

Source: TIME

8. Polygamist applies to legally marry his second wife
Polygamist Nathan Collier, who has appeared on the TLC reality showSister Wives, announced Wednesday that he had applied for a marriage license with his second wife, Christine, saying he was inspired by last week’s Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. The reality TV star and his wives Victoria and Christine applied in Billings, Montana. Collier said he would sue if the application is turned down. “It’s about marriage equality,” he said. “You can’t have this without polygamy.”

Source: The Washington Times

9. Japan earns spot in women’s World Cup final against the U.S.
Japan’s women’s soccer team beat England 2-1 on Wednesday to advance to the Women’s World Cup final against the United States. The winning goal was not scored by one of Japan’s players, but by England defender Laura Bassett, who tried to clear a ball but accidentally sent it into the net. Japan, the defending champion, will meet the U.S. on Sunday in a rematch of the 2011 final, which Japan won in a shootout.

Source: CNN

10. “Britain’s Schindler” Nicholas Winton dies at age 106
Nicholas Winton, a British man who almost single-handedly saved more than 650 Jewish children from the Holocaust, died Wednesday in a hospital near his hometown of Maidenhead, west of London. He was 106. Winton, dubbed “Britain’s Schindler” by admirers, overcame bureaucracy at home and abroad and arranged trains to carry children from Nazi-occupied Prague to Britain. He kept his achievements quiet for decades after World War II.

Source: NBC News

Harold Maass

US church burnings: A ‘long and dark’ history that never really stopped

Charlotte, North Carolina church fire (Screenshot/ABC News)

Charlotte, North Carolina church fire (Screenshot/ABC News)

The Raw Story

Sometime after 8pm on Tuesday evening, Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina went up in flames. Located 60 miles north of Charleston, the building’s torched roof lit up the night sky. It was similar to the six other predominantly black southern churches that have burned in the two weeks since the slaughter of nine black men and women inside a historic Charleston church on 17 June.

Federal investigators, finding no evidence to suggest arson, believe a lightning strike may have sparked the blaze. Local officials, urging patience until their investigation is complete, have yet to determine an exact cause. With only the red brick walls left standing, residents of the tiny town and across the nation have slowly grown suspicious that the seemingly isolated church fires may be connected.

The latest string of church fires has led to at least three confirmed arsons in Charlotte, North Carolina, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Macon, Georgia. In all, more than a half-dozen churches have burned since the mass shooting.

As the Federal Bureau of Investigation looks at whether any of the fires classify as hate crimes, recent church fires like the one in Greeleyville, a house of worship that KKK members torched two decades ago, have resuscitated memories of high-profile arsons dating back to before the US Civil War.

“There are no other institutions as central to African American life as the church,” says Laurie Maffly-Kipp, a University of Washington in St Louis professor who studies religion and American history. “If you want to go after a really potent symbol, that’s the place you go. It’s sort of like burning the cross. You could say the cross is just a couple pieces of word put together. But that symbolism means something very important.”

People have set fire to black churches since the early 19th century, a time when houses of worship largely operated as underground places, offering glimmers of hope and freedom for enslaved black men and women. During Reconstruction, black ministers founded churches for emancipated slaves where they could pray, learn to read and participate in a larger community. As the number of black churches grew over time, Maffly-Kipp says, arson became one of a number of terrorist tactics such as bombings and threats against ministers, used to deter black community members from regularly meeting.

“The history is long and deep and dark,” Southern Poverty Law Center Senior fellow Mark Potok says. “Churches were burned as a matter of suppressing people, trying to keep black people ‘in their place.’”

Between 1954 and 1968, Potok says, arsons and bombings struck nearly 100 black churches, many of which provided space for activists to organize their Civil Rights Movement efforts. The most infamous church attack, the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, resulted in the deaths of four young black girls. The four KKK members who plotted the attack never faced charges.

Christopher Strain, a Florida Atlantic University American studies professor and author of Burning Faith: Church Arson in the American South, says the pattern reemerged in the mid-90s, when a rash of church fires prompted then-US President Bill Clinton to form the National Church Arson Task Force (NCATF) and Congress to pass legislation doubling the penalties for future church arsons. Between January 1995 and September 1998, the NCATF opened investigations into 670 arsons, bombings, and attempted bombings at houses of worship.

In June 1995, Mount Zion AME Church burned down for the first time in its history. Ku Klux Klan recruits Christopher Cox and Timothy Welch doused the church’s pews and pulpit with accelerants before setting the century-old house of worship ablaze. Cox and Welch later confessed to the arson and were sentenced to nearly two decades in prison. According to Potok, a South Carolina jury ordered the Christian Knights of the KKK and several individual Klansmen to pay a $37.8 million civil judgment for their conspiring roles in the crime — which a judge later reduced to $21.5 million.

Since then, church fires have continued to occur at a high rate, despite fading from the national news. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 280 houses of worship, including those practicing all different faiths, were intentionally torched between 2007 and 2011. A recent Associated Press analysis found only 16% of all church fires were ruled to be arson.

“People are now saying here we go again, but they never really stopped,” Strain says. “The church burnings got national press in the 1960s and 1990s. They have never really gone away.”

Strain says many church blazes now happen due to a number other factors — old wooden buildings, faulty electrical wiring, unintentional homeless fires, or angst-filled teens — largely unrelated to hate crimes. However, Strain notes, the reoccurrence of arsons after the recent Confederate flag debate warrants the heightened vigilance. Though it may be coincidence, he says, the track record of church burnings in Southern states is hard to ever ignore.

Mount Zion AME Church is a rare exception for a church burning down twice. But in cities like Knoxville, black churches have seen history repeat itself in recent weeks. College Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church, one of the three churches where fire investigators have confirmed arson, suffered about $50,000 in damages to the building and a church van on 21 June.

Nearly two decades before the recent arson, Inner City Baptist Church, located about five miles away, burned down thanks to a mix of Molotov cocktails, gunpowder, and kerosene. Racial slurs marked the charred sanctuary walls where former NFL Defensive End Reggie White once preached.

College Hill pastor Cleveland Hodby III, who nearly six months ago joined the 280-member congregation, says enough of his church has survived to continue holding regular services. However, he says, the toughest thing to fix won’t be the damage to the burnt property or torched van. It’ll be recovering the sense of safety his house of worship held for his congregation.

“There’s a feeling of a need for safety,” Hodby III says. “Church has always been a safe place. The aura of church being a safe place has been taken. I have to restore that.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015

Donald Trump has some enthusiastic new admirers: White supremacists

Donald Trump speaks to Fox News (screen grab)

RAW STORY

The Donald” may have lost millions in high profile contracts after major television networks cut ties with him over racist remarks about Mexicans. But he gained some new fans: the Nazis and other racists.

While announcing his 2016 run for the presidency two weeks ago, billionaire and reality television mogul Donald Trump took the moment to say immigrants from Mexico are rapists and drug runners, While rejected by many, white supremacists say he’s speaking their language, according to Vocativ.

After a firestorm of criticism that saw his television shows – including Celebrity Apprentice and Miss America pageant – cancelled on NBC and Univision, he doubled down on the comments yesterday, calling them “totally accurate,” according to MSNBC.

And now he has some new fans.

“I do not believe he would solve all or even most of the problems we are facing, but he is absolutely the only candidate who is even talking about anything at all that matters,” gushed Andrew Anglin, blogger for the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer. Trump is “willing to call them out as criminal rapists, murderers and drug dealers.”

Anglin affectionately refers to Trump as “The Don.”

Trump also has the support of white supremacist Kyle Rogers, who is a member of Council of Conservative Citizens, the group credited by Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof for radicalizing him. Activist Shaun King says Rogers deleted his Twitter account after the June 17 massacre at historic Emanuel AME left nine dead, but a screenshot shows Rogers hawking “Donald Trump 2016″ tee shirts to his nearly-40,000 Twitter followers the day before.

White supremacist and nationalist group “White History Month” showed their admiration for Trump, posting a link to a story lauding him for “refusing to back down.” The group regularly posts about supporting the Klan and wanting to create a separatist white society.

Trump may have hit a chord with hate groups because his claims that Mexicans as a group are more prone to crime echo those of white supremacist sites like Council of Conservative Citizens in that they misrepresent or manufacture facts with the purpose of creating fear and hate. The Council of Conservative Citizens’ website collects headlines re-written to stoke hatred and fear of blacks, mostly, while sites like the Daily Stormer heavily target Jewish people.

Several Southern Black Churches Have Caught Fire. The Latest One Was Once Burned by the KKK.

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The racially motivated mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17 left nine dead.

SLATE

In the two weeks since the deadly racist shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, at least six black churches in the South have been hit by a string of raging fires. The most recent fire broke out late Tuesday night in Greeleyville, South Carolina, just 65 miles north of Charleston. This is not the first time that the church, Mount Zion AME, has burned—its original structure was set on fire by members of the Ku Klux Klan 20 years ago.

Firefighters spent more than two hours putting out the flames, which destroyed the roof and interior of the building, leaving only a few charred brick walls, CNN reports. Police officials say it is too early to determine the cause of the fire, but the blaze has attracted attention from local police, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and the FBI. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is also involved in the ongoing investigation.

The cause of two of the other recent black church fires—one in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the other in Knoxville, Tennessee—has been ruled as arson. However, investigators said there is no evidence that the fires were hate crimes, or that they were connected. Rather, officials say that they appear to be unrelated acts of vandalism. Church fires last week in South Carolina and Georgia are still under investigation.
Whether the blaze in Greeleyville on Tuesday was caused by arson or not, former South Carolina Rep. Bakari Sellers told CNN that the fire serves as “another punch to the gut” to a local community that has already seen tremendous pain. The Charleston shooting on June 17—allegedly instigated by a 21-year-old who publicly announced his desire to start a race war—killed nine people and launched a heated national debate about Confederate symbols. And the 1985 burning of the same church in Greeleyville by the KKK was part of a series of more than two dozen fires that hit black churches at the time. According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association, the number of fires at religious sites was twice as high in 1980 as in 2011.
The NAACP issued a tweet on Tuesday afternoon—before the outbreak of the Greeleyville fire—warning black churches to be careful and hinting that history may be in danger of repeating itself.

Amy X. Wang

Macy’s Bails On Trump And Dumps His Menswear Line Over ‘Rapists’ Remarks

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AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast

TPM LIVEWIRE

The company emailed a statement to TPM:

Macy’s is a company that stands for diversity and inclusion. We have no tolerance for discrimination in any form. We welcome all customers, and respect for the dignity of all people is a cornerstone of our culture. We are disappointed and distressed by recent remarks about immigrants from Mexico.We do not believe the disparaging characterizations portray an accurate picture of the many Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Latinos who have made so many valuable contributions to the success of our nation. In light of statements made by Donald Trump, which are inconsistent with Macy’s values, we have decided to discontinue our business relationship with Mr. Trump and will phase-out the Trump menswear collection, which has been sold at Macy’s since 2004.

Macy’s followed NBC Universal, Univision, and Televisa in ditching Trump after his remarks disparaging immigrants during his presidential announcement.

Trump shot back with a statement, reported by Newsweek’s Polly Mosendz, saying that it was in fact he who decided to “terminate” the relationship:

BRENDAN JAMES

Neil deGrasse Tyson Defends Pope And Destroys Religious Climate Denial In One Tweet

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Twitter pic…

ADDICTING INFO

If there’s one person who understands science, it’s world-renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. And if there’s one person who has proven to be an ardent supporter of science, it’s Pope Francis. So, it should come as no surprise to see Tyson stand up and defend Pope Francis against people who refuse to acknowledge science, specifically about climate change, and more specifically, the Republicans doing the science denial. People who typically like to believe they are more religious than the Pope (yes, the Pope).

Besides Tyson thoroughly enjoying and sharing the fact that the Vatican employs a dozen astrophysicists…

… is another tweet where he completely lays the truth out on the table and makes one of the most solid points surrounding climate denial and religion.

Tyson is referring to Pope Francis’ stance on Climate Change and how he has continually spoken about how we need to take the issue of a warming planet very seriously.

These “Christian” conservative Climate Change deniers, who claim to be holier than Thou- who often seem to claim to understand the Bible better than the Pope himself- honestly also see themselves as “supreme holy figures.” And if Pope Francis can acknowledge the science of 97% of scientists surrounding Climate Change, than one would think, so could these Republicans.

The truth of the matter is- being a purveyor of the Bible and having a love for the planet should be going hand in hand. For it is the Bible itself that calls for people to be stewards of the Earth and care for all living things. Denying Climate Change doesn’t make you more religious or a better follower of the Bible, or understand Christianity and how the world works at a higher understanding — it makes you stupid, because the data and evidence is all there in front of your face.

Let’s put it this way — if 97% of chefs told you a piece of food was poison, would you still eat it? Likely not.

Well, 97% of scientists are telling us that we are poisoning the planet and forcing it to warm at a rate that is not natural, and by the time it really starts affecting the day-to-day life of people, it will be far too late to begin giving a damn.

The real question is — why are these Climate Change deniers actually denying the science? And to get to the bottom of that, you need look no further than the closest energy lobby who has their hands very deep in these politicians pockets to make sure energy policies and regulations don’t change — even if those changes are crucial to combating a quickly warming planet.

To put it simply, Tyson is correct — you can indeed be religious while at the same time acknowledge Climate Change and the science behind it.

GOP’S BAFFLING TRUMP COWARDICE

GOP's baffling Trump cowardice: A party too timid to denounce a bigoted gasbag

Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz (Credit: AP/Scott Bauer/Richard Drew/J. Scott Applewhite/Photo montage by Salon)

SALON

Condemning Donald Trump’s obvious racism would be the easiest thing a Republican could do, but no one’s doing it

Just about every second of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, such as it is, has been a disaster. He kicked off his campaign two weeks ago with a speech calling Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists,” and he’s been dealing with the blowback ever since. Those comments prompted NBC – which had tolerated his bigoted nonsense for years while airing his reality show – to finally cut ties with Trump, who responded by calling NBC “weak” and “foolish.” Univision announced that it would not carry Trump’s Miss USA pageant, prompting Trump to threaten to sue the network. Mexico announced that it would not send a representative to Trump’s Miss Universe pageant because of his “racist” remarks. If there’s a positive to be found in any of this, it’s that Trump’s vanity run for president is backfiring and has helped tear down some of the other garish and pathetically self-congratulatory monuments he’s erected to himself.

But what I find curious about the reaction to Trump’s blatant racism and anti-immigrant posturing is that not one Republican has stood up and done literally the easiest, least controversial, most politically buzzy thing one could do in this situation: denounce Donald Trump.

Seriously, it’s utterly baffling. Let’s think about this for a moment. The Republican Party is painfully aware that it has a major problem appealing to voter demographics outside its core coalition of old white people and religious white people. This problem is especially acute in presidential election cycles — like the one we’re in now. Recognizing how toxic this alienation of minority groups was in the 2012 presidential race, the Republican National Committee put out a big report explicitly recommending that the party’s candidates and committees do more to reach out to and engage with Latino voters and make them feel less like the GOP actively despises them. “If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation),” the report counseled, “they will not pay attention to our next sentence.”

In this light, Trump’s comments should have been a big, fat, hanging curve for an enterprising Republican 2016 candidate to swing hard at. What he said was bigoted; there’s no disagreement on that. As far as adversaries go, you could do worse than Trump – he is a semi-sentient pile of hair and sadness, he has no feelings to hurt, and by being on the opposite side of him you win the argument by default. And what he said has nothing to do with immigration policy. By weighing in on it you wouldn’t be taking any dangerous positions you’d later have to defend. And the media would eat that mess up.

All you’d have to do is just stand up and say Trump is wrong and a racist, and that undocumented immigrants are not all rapists. It would be a small step toward demonstrating that Republicans recognize the basic humanity of the people at the center of a controversial policy fight and don’t view them merely as criminals or some sort of invasive species.

But no one did that.

The most outrage the RNC could muster came from its communications director, who said on CNN that “painting Mexican Americans with that kind of a brush, I think that’s probably something that is not helpful to the cause.” And as far as I can tell, the only candidate who has responded with any sort of criticism to Trump is Jeb Bush, who offered a mild Spanish-language rebuke of The Donald:

But on Saturday, Mr. Bush did address comments Mr. Trump made in his campaign launch speech about the Mexican border, in which he said people coming to the U.S. from Mexico are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

At a Saturday event in Nevada, Mr. Bush said in Spanish, “I do not agree with his words. They do not represent the values of the Republican Party and they do not represent my values,” according to a campaign aide.

As for the rest, they’ve either kept their mouths shut or, remarkably, agreed with Trump’s assessment of the immigrant community. “I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific, I think he’s brash, I think he speaks the truth,” Ted Cruz said on Fox Newsyesterday. I’m sure Republicans would much rather that Cruz and Trump be viewed as pariahs and extremists on this issue. By clamming up, though, they’re letting those two speak for the party. And this whole business with Trump being a flaming bigot won’t just go away. He’s Donald Trump – he doesn’t stop talking. The longer he’s out there saying racist garbage while running for the Republican nomination, the more awkward it becomes that no one is challenging him on it.

Again, I’m not saying that denouncing Trump would accomplish much of anything or solve any problems. The GOP has issues with Latino voters that go well beyond the bigotry of one rich white guy. But that’s why the silence on Trump is so strange to me. The party clearly has little intention of implementing policy changes to help broaden its appeal (border security now, border security forever!) so it would at least make some sense to go for the superficial outreach efforts. “Sure, we’re still going to deport you and your families and otherwise treat you like criminals, but hey – we don’t assume you’re rapists!” But apparently even that is too much to ask.

10 things you need to know today: July 1, 2015

Greek pensioners try to get into a bank in Athens. AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza

THE WEEK

1. Greece signals readiness for concessions after defaulting on IMF debt
Greece missed a Tuesday deadline to make a $1.8 billion loan payment to the International Monetary Fund, becoming the first developed country to default on a debt to the IMF. Hours earlier European ministers rejected the Greek government’s request for an extension on its bailout. European finance ministers, who are demanding tax hikes and social spending cuts in exchange for new financing, are meetingWednesday to discuss a new bailout proposal from Greece, after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras signaled he was willing to make most of thebig concessions demanded by creditors.

Source: The Washington Post, The Associated Press

2. U.S. and Cuba to reopen embassies 
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that the U.S. and Cuba have reached a deal to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals. The initiative is the biggest step President Obama can make toward restoring normal ties with America’s neighbor and former Cold War rival. It also is the most decisive move Obama can make on his own. Only Congress can lift the economic embargo against Cuba, which the communist Caribbean nation’s leaders say must be part of any rapprochement.

Source: Los Angeles Times

3. Chris Christie launches bid for GOP presidential nomination
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie formally announced Tuesday that he would run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. “I am now ready to fight for the people of the United States of America,” the straight-talking second-term governor said in the gymnasium of his old high school in Livingston, New Jersey. Christie criticized Congress and President Obama as dysfunctional, and said the country needs his “strong leadership and decisiveness.”

Source: The New York Times

4. Death toll from Indonesia crash reaches 142
The death toll from the crash of an Indonesian military transport plane into a residential neighborhood has risen to 142, a police official saidWednesday. The C-130 Hercules aircraft slammed into a densely populated area on the island of Sumatra and exploded. Authorities said 122 people were on the plane, including 12 crew members. Search crews do not expect to find any survivors. The rest of the victims were on the ground when the plane hit.

Source: Time

5. Iran nuclear talks extended until July 7 as deadline passes
Nuclear talks with Iran have been extended to July 7 as a June 30 deadline passed without a deal. The announcement coincided with the return of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the talks, boosting hopes that an agreement can be reached to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for world powers lifting economic sanctions against the country. The Obama administration has until July 9 to send any agreement to Congress, which would then have 30 days to review the deal.

Source: ABC News

6. Seventh Southern church burns
A fire on Tuesday destroyed a South Carolina church that was torched by the Ku Klux Klan in 1995. The church, Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, was the seventh predominantly African-American church to burn since a white gunman shot and killed nine people during a Bible study at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. Investigators could not immediately say what caused the blaze.

Source: The Post and Courier

7. Oregon law legalizing recreational marijuana takes effect
A law legalizing the smoking and growing of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use took effect in Oregon on Wednesday. Voters approved the measure in November. Pot is expected to become available in shops in the state by next year. Oregon became the latest in a string of states on the West Coast to make recreational marijuana use legal. Alaska and Washington state already have put similar laws into force.

Source: Reuters

8. Misty Copeland becomes first black top-ranked dancer at American Ballet Theater
Misty Copeland, one of the country’s most famous ballerinas, was promoted to become the first African-American female principal dancer ever in the American Ballet Theater. Copeland has been performing with the 75-year-old company for more than 14 years — eight of them as a soloist. Copeland has said becoming the first black woman to be named as a principal dancer at the prestigious company was one of her goals.

Source: The New York Times

9. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner call it quits
After 10 years of marriage, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are calling it quits. “After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce,” the pair told People in a joint statement. “We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children.” The celebrity power couple originally met on the set of 2001’s Pearl Harbor, and became involved two years later when they were costars in 2003’s Daredevil. They have three children together.

Source: People

10. U.S. women beat Germany to advance to World Cup final
The U.S. women’s soccer team upset top-ranked Germany 2-0 on Tuesday to advance to the finals of the World Cup. The U.S. on Sunday will play the winner of a match between England and reigning champion Japan. The U.S. will be making its second appearance in the Women’s World Cup final in four years. Midfielder Carli Lloyd led the U.S. squad with a goal and an assist. “I’ve just been training my tail off for the last 12 years,” Lloyd said after the match. “These are the moments that I live for.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Harold Maass

Who thought that an #AskBobby Jindal Twitter dialogue would be a good idea?

Who thought that an #AskBobby Jindal Twitter dialogue would be a good idea?

Bobby Jindal (Credit: Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

SALON

“When you disband the Supreme Court for disagreeing with you, will the Koch brothers buy you another?”

Someone on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s campaign staff had the brilliant idea of opening up a discussion between the Republican hopeful and Twitter. The result was a terrible idea, poorly executed.

The first, and possibly most important, set of questions for the candidate:

Yes — he most certainly was. Not that people didn’t have more serious questions:

Continue reading the hilarious Tweets HERE

KKK to hold pro-Confederate flag rally at South Carolina’s statehouse

Armed Klansman in Ohio, circa 1948

Because heritage n’ stuff | attribution: Wikicommons

DAILY KOS

Sure, why not.

The Ku Klux Klan plans to hold a rally at the South Carolina Statehouse next month to protest renewed efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.The Loyal White Knights out of Pelham, N.C. requested the rally from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on July 18 at the north grounds of the Statehouse.

I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate what the Confederate flag means to southern “heritage” than to have a white supremacist group with a long American history of vicious murders march around yelling and waving it at people. By all means, you do that.