John Oliver: US prisons are full because ‘our drug laws are a little draconian, and a lot racist’

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The Raw Story

On an extended segment on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver tackled the subject of America’s prison system — from high incarceration rates due to “draconian” drug laws to prison rape and privatization.

Oliver began by pointing out that America has more prisoners than any other country in the world, with nearly one in every 100 adults in America incarcerated.

“That’s true. We have over 2 million behind bars right now,” Oliver explained. “We have more prisoners at the moment than China. Than China. We don’t have more anything than China other than, of course, debt to China.”

Pointing out that America’s prison population has expanded eight-fold since 1970, Oliver stated, “The only other thing that has grown at that rate, since the seventies, is varieties of Cheerios. F*ck you, Fruity Cheerios, you’re trumped up Froot Loops, and you know it!”

Noting that over 50 percent of America’s prison population is incarcerated on drug charges, Oliver said “Our drug laws are a little draconian, and a lot racist.”

“While white people and African-Americans use drugs at about the same amount, a study has shown that African-Americans have been sent to prison for drug offenses at up to ten times the rate for some utterly known reason,” Olver said, drawing laughter from the audience.

“It reminds me of a joke. Black people who commit drug offenses, they go to jail like this,” Oliver said, miming hand held together with handcuffs. “Whereas white people … don’t go to jail at all.”

Oliver pointed out that so many people are incarcerated in America that Sesame Street is forced to to explain prison to children.

“Just think about that,” Oliver asked. “We now need adorable singing puppets to explain prison to children in the same way they explain the number seven or what the moon is.”

Addressing prison rape, calling it the “most horrifying things that can potentially happen,” Oliver shared a collection of clips from popular TV shows and movies — including children’s cartoon Spongebob Squarepants — making light of rape.

Oliver continued on, discussing the privatization of prisons leading to inadequate medical care, increased prison deaths, maggots in food served by outside vendors, and for-profit publicly-traded companies that run prisons pitching investors on growth opportunities due to the lure of high recidivism rates.

Watch the video from Last Week Tonight HERE…

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

Palestinians flee their homes in Gaza's Shijaiyah neighborhood.

Palestinians flee their homes in Gaza’s Shijaiyah neighborhood. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The Week

Israel and Hamas see their deadliest clashes yet, Tehran eliminates sensitive nuclear fuel, and more

1. Fighting intensifies in Gaza
Israel and Hamas on Sunday experienced their deadliest day of fighting since clashes began last week. Ninety-six Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers, including two U.S. citizens, were killed as Israel fought to shut down tunnels in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. In an emergency meeting, the United Nations Security Council called for an immediate ceasefire. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Egypt on Monday to push for peace. [The Wall Street JournalThe New York Times]

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2. Tehran moves to eliminate sensitive nuclear material
Iran has started getting rid of its most sensitive stockpile of enriched uranium gas under a 2013 nuclear deal with six world powers, according to a monthly report by the International Atomic Energy Agency obtained by Reuters. The interim accord was due to expire on Sunday but has been extended by another four months. Iran argues that its cooperation has earned it some relief from international sanctions. [Reuters]

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3. Security Council meets to discuss downing of jet in Ukraine
The United Nations Security Council has scheduled a Monday vote on a resolution condemning the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet with 298 people on board over territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Russia engaged in negotiations with other nations on the 15-member Security Council, although it was unclear Sunday whether Moscow intended to support the resolution. [Reuters]

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4. Judges delay Arizona execution
A U.S. appeals court has halted the execution of an Arizona man, Joseph Wood, until the state gives him more details on the lethal injection it plans to use. The three-judge panel ruled that Wood, who was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and her father in 1989, had a right to the information, and could suffer “irreparable harm” if he were put to death before obtaining it. [Al Jazeera America]

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5. Emergency responders put on limited duty after chokehold death
New York City officials have placed four emergency workers on desk duty in the latest fallout from the death of Eric Garner, a sidewalk cigarette vendor, in police custody. A cellphone video of Garner’s arrest shows paramedics appearing to violate department protocol by arriving without equipment like an oxygen bag, and failing to put Garner on a stretcher. The officer who used the apparent choke hold, Daniel Pantaleo, has also been placed on desk duty. [The New York Times]

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6. Yum Brands and McDonald’s dump Chinese supplier
Yum Brands and McDonald’s announced Sunday that they had suspended meat purchases in China from a supplier under investigation for allegedly selling expired chicken and beef. The supplier, Shanghai Husi Food Co., had been selling meat to Yum for its KFC and Pizza Hut outlets in China. McDonald’s said it had stopped using the supplier over safety concerns. [MarketWatch]

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7. The Patriot actress Skye McCole Bartusiak dies at 21
Actress Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson’s youngest daughter in The Patriotdied Saturday in Houston. She was 21. Authorities could not immediately determine the cause of death, but Bartusiak’s mother, Helen McCole Bartusiak, said her daughter had recently suffered epileptic seizures. After The Patriot in 2000, Bartusiak went on to appear in The Cider House Rules andDon’t Say a Word. [CNN]

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8. Two plane crashes kill six in Arizona
Six people died in two small-plane crashes in Arizona on Sunday. The first aircraft, a single-engine plane, went down in rugged terrain near the resort town of Sedona, sparking a wildfire that quickly spread over 25 acres in Fay Canyon. The Federal Aviation Administration said the second plane crashed near the Utah border “under unknown circumstances” a few hours later. [Fox News]

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9. Nation’s first Arab-American governor dies at 91
Victor “Vic” Atiyeh, the nation’s first Arab-American governor, died Sunday night from renal failure. He was 91. Atiyeh, a Republican and son of Syrian immigrants, served three terms in the Oregon House of Representatives starting in 1958, and two and a half terms in the state Senate before being elected governor. He served two terms, from 1979 to 1987. [Statesman Journal]

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10. McIlroy makes history with British Open win
Rory McIlroy won the British Open on Sunday, becoming the youngest pro golfer behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods to win three different major championships. “I’m immensely proud of myself,” McIlroy, 25, said after a two-shot victory. As a bonus, McIlroy’s father stood to win $171,000 on a bet he placed a decade ago that his son would win the tournament in the next 10 years. [The Associated PressThe Washington Post]

DON’T BLAME ME

The Huffington Post

Cruz: It’s Not Me Who’s Holding Migrant Kids Ransom

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had two people to blame on Sunday for the surge of child migrants detained by U.S. border security this year: President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

“Ill tell you who is holding these kids ransom — [it] is Harry Reid and the president because their view is, ‘Don’t do anything to fix the problem,’” Cruz said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Cruz was responding to Reid’s earlier claim that “Republicans would rather hold these kids ransom” than consider bipartisan immigration reform legislation.

“He mentions comprehensive immigration reform,” Cruz said. “The Gang of Eight billis one of the causes of this problem. What the kids are saying is they are coming because they believe they will get amnesty. Part of the Gang of Eight bill promising amnesty.”

Cruz chiefly blamed Obama’s 2012 executive action, which deferred deportation for some undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, for enticing migrants with a promise of amnesty.

The Texas Republican is pushing legislation that would undo the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

Interviewer Chris Wallace asked Cruz whether his opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, which pairs increased border security with a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, would ultimately prevent Republicans from getting the increased border security they want.

“What I’m interested in is fixing the problem,” Cruz said. “It’s only Washington. All of the proposals being floated are missing the cause of the problem.”

Wallace pressed Cruz on how stopping Obama’s deferred action would help the kids who are already here, having fled violence in central America.

“Continuing this regime where tens of thousands of kids are being brutalized by drug dealers is not humane, is not compassionate,” Cruz said, not directly answering the question. “That’s what Democrats and Harry Reid want to do.”

A View From The Border: Signs From A Surprising Rally In Texas

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

Think Progress

MCALLEN, TX — At least 60 advocates braved sauna-like conditions near the Texas border on Saturday to rally across the street from the McAllen Borer Patrol Station, showing their support for the influx of unaccompanied Latin American children being apprehended there.

About 57,000 children, mostly from Central America, have been detained this fiscal year by Border Patrol agents, many in Texas’s Rio Grand Valley towns, like McAllen. Studies show that — at least since 2009 — children have been leaving the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala in droves because of increasing violence and grinding poverty, taking dangerous journeys to the U.S. to seek refuge.

The rally, which was also an interfaith prayer vigil, was meant to counter hundreds of planned “anti-amnesty” protests across the country over the Obama administration’s handling of the surge. Only three people showed up nearby as part of the national anti-immigrant protests. They said they expected others to arrive, but also speculated they may have “gotten the wrong address.”

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

Attendees at the rally in support of the children brought messages of love, compassion, and sympathy for children for whom they feared a return to Latin America could mean certain death.

Here are the top ten signs that advocates brought to the rally:

1. Some alluded to the tragic maltreatment of minors crossing the border, such as incidentswhere Tea Party protestors have berated children as they are bused to processing centers.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE AND JACK JENKINS

2. America: A nation of immigrants.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

3. A little Texas hospitality goes a long way, y’all.

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

4. “USA: Defined by how we treat immigrants.”

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE AND JACK JENKINS

5. One of the core reasons for the recent surge of child immigrants is the sharp uptick in gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Sending children back to broken communities in these countries puts them at great risk of injury, rape, and even death.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

6. Paddington Bear has something to say about immigration as well.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

7. The vigil included representatives from several religious traditions, including Catholics, Unitarians, Presbyterians, and Muslims. Faith groups have been at the forefront of efforts to offer relief to the unaccompanied minors, and Pope Francis recently called for the international community to work together to address the crisis. A regional atheist group was also present at the rally to express support for the kids.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

8. “Believe in the value and the dignity of each person = protect refugees.”

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

9. The Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE) Act, recently introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), seeks to expedite the process of trying unaccompanied minors by making the federal government deport Central American children just as quickly as they already do with Mexican children. However, the act would deny many of these children the fair trial they deserve, and would probably only hurt those it claims to protect.

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

10. Some 2,000 people have died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border over the past 10 years. That number could increase as more and more Central Americans flee horrific violence and poverty in their home countries.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

Linda Yanez, a former state judge, told ThinkProgress that these children should be given the right to plead their cases in front of an immigration judge, and that any proposed legislation would actually harm their ability to do so. “I’m not against the Border Patrol, they’re just doing their jobs,” Yanez said. “It’s about our policy lawmakers and about what they tell our Border Patrol to do. I’m here to support due process.”

“The fact that gangs and drug lords have the biggest influence is something we can’t ignore,” Yanez added. “It’s a life and death situation… It’s a Sophie choice. If these are my choices, I’m going to take the one that gives my child some chance at survival.”

10 things you need to know today: July 20, 2014

A man picks through the wreckage of Flight 17

A man picks through the wreckage of Flight 17 Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

The Week

Ukrainian rebels recover Flight 17′s black boxes, Israel ups its offensive in Gaza, and more.

1. Ukrainian rebels recover downed plane’s black boxes

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine collected the flight recorders from downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. A separatist spokesman, Alexander Borodai, said Sunday the rebels would turn the recorders over to international aviation experts. Armed militiamen also reportedly seized the remains of nearly 200 victims from the crash and loaded them on to refrigerated train cars bound for a rebel-held city, prompting complaints from Western leaders that the rebels were hampering recovery and investigative efforts. [Associated PressThe New York Times]

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2. Gaza death toll climbs above 400

Israeli forces ramped up their offensive in Gaza Sunday, moving armored vehicles into densely-populated areas and killing more than 50 while injuring around 200 more. It was the most intense fighting in the now two-week-long campaign aimed at crippling Hamas. An estimated 400 Palestinians have now died in the conflict, some 75 percent of whom were civilians, according to the United Nations. [Los Angeles TimesBBC]

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3. 22 shot in 12 hours in Chicago

A spate of shootings from Friday night into Saturday morning left one dead and more than 20 others injured in Chicago. Eleven-year-old Shamiya Adams was killed during a sleepover at her best friend’s house when a stray bullet flew through the wall and struck her in the head. [Chicago Tribune]

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4. R.J. Reynolds hit with $23 billion verdict

A Florida jury on Friday awarded a widowed woman a record $23 billion in her lawsuit against tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds. It was the single biggest legal payout in a wrongful death case in Florida history. The plaintiff, Cynthia Robinson, sued in 2008 claiming that the cigarette company hid the dangers of smoking and was thus culpable for her husband’s death, in 1996, at 36 years of age. [USA TodayReuters]

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5. Russia bans 13 in retaliation for sanctions

Moscow announced Saturday it was banning 13 Americans from entering the country in response to the new U.S. sanctions, announced last week, against Russian companies. Those barred from entry include Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.) as well as several military officials linked to the Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons scandals. [The New York TimesThe Washington Post]

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6. Vikings suspend coach over anti-gay remarks

The Minnesota Vikings have suspended special teams coordinator Mike Priefer three games after an internal investigation determined he’d made homophobic remarks while on the clock. The investigation came after former punter Chris Kluwe — who is an outspoken LGBT advocate, and who claimed the team fired him for that advocacy — alleged Priefer taunted him with anti-gay remarks during practices. Kluwe has said he plans to sue the team if they do not make the full report on the investigation public. [Minneapolis Star TribuneESPN]

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7. Actor James Garner dead at 86

Legendary actor James Garner, best known for his role on the 1950s Western show The Maverick,passed away Saturday night at his home in Los Angeles. He was 86 years old. Police said Garner died of natural causes. [BBC]

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8. Massive wildfire spreads in Washington

Spurred on by extreme winds and dry weather, a sprawling wildfire in Washington state continued to grow over the weekend. Dubbed the Carlton Complex fire, the disaster had spread to cover more than 330 square miles as of Saturday, up from 260 square miles one day prior. The fire already destroyed about 100 homes late last week. [Associated Press]

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9. Rory McIlroy chases history at British Open

The final round of the British Open tees of Sunday with Rory McIlroy sitting comfortably in the lead. After three rounds, McIlroy finished at 16 under par, giving him a six-shot lead over Rickie Fowler. If he holds on to win, McIlroy will join Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers ever to win three majors by age 25. [ESPN]

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10. Moon landing celebrates 45th anniversary

Forty-five years ago today, Apollo 11 safely deposited the first humans on the surface of the moon. Though Neil Armstrong’s iconic remark about taking a “small step” on to the lunar surface may be a slight misquote, the statement and the landing itself remain defining, historic moments for the U.S. space program. [NBC]

Joan Walsh On John McCain: ‘Cowardly’ Is Putting Palin A ‘Heartbeat Away’ from Presidency

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Joan Walsh |Screenshot

I’m not an Al Sharpton fan but I am a Joan Walsh fan.  Joan had some critical words for Sen. John McCain when she appeared on Sharpton’s MSNBC show…

Liberaland

On MSNBC’s Politics Nation with host Al Sharpton, Salon columnist Joan Walsh addressed Sen. John McCain’s (R) claims in which he said,, “It’s just been cowardly. It’s a cowardly administration that we failed to give the Ukrainians weapons with which to defend themselves.”

“You don’t say that about the commander-in-chief,” Walsh said.

Walsh went on to say, “This is a man, I respect him for his service, but if we’re going to talk cowardly, somebody tried to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency so that he hoped to hold onto his right-wing base.” Walsh added, “I mean, somebody that has a lot to atone for and a lot to think about and shouldn’t be tossing around words like cowardly.”

Walsh also slammed McCain for calling the President AWOL, saying, “You know what they do to people who are AWOL. This is, again, the extremism of this rhetoric.”

 

More from Liberaland:

Scandal taints Georgia’s GOP governor as Democratic challenger surges in polls

nathan deal himself

Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) | No attribution

President Jimmy Carter’s grandson, Jason Carter  is the Democratic challenger and I could think of nothing better than to see this crook, Nathan Deal get knocked down from his “throne” by a young Democrat…

The Raw Story

Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is caught in an ever-deepening ethics mess as his popularity with Republicans dwindles and a rising Democratic superstar takes the lead in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Raw Story spoke with Bryan Long, director of the progressive group Better Georgia, who said the governor has run out of ways to skirt the corruption charges that have dogged him literallysince the day he was sworn in. Particularly, Long said, now that Deal’s own hand-picked “ethics investigator” has turned against him.

“Gov. Deal’s web of lies is collapsing,” said Long. “He’s trying to create distraction and a smoke screen. He wants the voters to think that this is so complicated that it’s not worth their thinking about it.”

“But what he’s done is get caught in lie after lie,” he explained.

Deal rode the wave of Tea Party fervor into office in January of 2011, but the Deal for Governor 2010 campaign was charged with financial irregularities. The state appointed an ethics commission to investigate, headed by Stacey Kalberman and deputy investigator Sherilyn Streicker.

When Deal’s office learned in June of 2011 that Kalberman and the ethics committee were about to issue subpoenas for Deal staff and the governor himself, Deal gutted the ethics commission’s funding, fired Streicker and cut Kalberman’s salary by $35,000.

Deal replaced Kalberman with attorney Holly LaBerge in September of 2011, who bragged to staffers that she was going to make Deal’s ethics problems “go away.”

Within less than a year, however, LaBerge found herself being hounded by staffers from the governor’s office and threatened with the same type of treatment afforded to previous investigators if she didn’t negate her own committee’s findings and reduce the fines levied against Deal for Governor, which LaBerge had already managed to whittle down to $3,350 from a possible $70,000.

She filed a memo with the state officials detailing the campaign of harassment Deal staffers employed, calling and texting her multiple times while she and her family tried to enjoy a vacation in Florida.

“Deal’s taxpayer-funded staffers were calling the person leading the investigation into his campaign while she was on vacation,” said Long. “That is a huge breach of the public trust.”

Deal has tried to defend himself, shifting his story as he travels from one media outlet to another. He told Atlanta’s Channel 11 that LaBerge is a “self-serving” attention-seeker out to discredit him by fabricating stories about his staff’s conduct.

In a softball interview with RedState.com founder and erstwhile CNN contributor Erick Erickson, Deal said, “There was no communication from me and my staff to the commission members. Holly LaBerge is sort of like a prosecutor in the case…The commission members are the judges — and when it finally got to them, they found it lacked merit.”

Long said this is far from the truth, and fellow Republicans know it, which is why so few of them are stepping up to defend Deal against the charges.

“No elected Republican has come out to support Gov. Deal,” he noted. “He’s on an island. His house of cards if falling.”

One reason, Long said, is because “they don’t know which of his many stories to tell. The governor’s story is shifting so quickly that people in his own party are scared to tell the story because they’ll contradict whatever the governor is saying from one day to the next.”

A real mark of Deal’s mounting difficulties, however, is the fact that Democratic challenger State Sen. Jason Carter — grandson of former President Jimmy Carter — is beating Deal in the polls by a steadily widening margin.

Conservative pollsters Landmark Polling found that “Carter received 48.7 percent in the poll and Deal received 41.3 percent. Libertarian Andrew Hunt received 4 percent of the vote in the poll. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.”

If he wins in November, Carter would be the first Democratic Georgia governor since Gov. Roy Barnes, who left office more than a decade ago in 2003.

Furthermore, said Long, Deal has already cost taxpayers more than $3 million in settlements and damages.

“There was a $1.15 million jury verdict,” he said. “After that, the state settled all the other whistleblower cases. And now, more are coming.”

“The governor is costing Georgia taxpayers every day he’s in office,” Long concluded

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

Control of the MH17 crash site remains in flux.

Control of the MH17 crash site remains in flux. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

The Week

Ukraine reports insurgents are tampering with the MH17 crash site, the U.S. Sentencing Commission votes to reduce drug offenders’ sentences, and more

1. Ukraine blames insurgents for blocking access to MH17 crash site
Ukraine’s government released a statement this morning accusing Russian-backed insurgents of blocking access to and tampering with evidence at the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site. Ukrainian officials had planned to take the bodies of the 298 victims to a laboratory in Kharkiv, but they say that 38 bodies have instead been taken by insurgents to a morgue in Donetsk. “We have limited information and limited ability to obtain formal information,” Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Defense and Security Council, said. “The people who are working from our side… they are under control of the terrorists. They are taking out all the evidence.” [The New York Times]

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2. Sentencing Commission votes to reduce drug offenders’ terms
The U.S. Sentencing Commission unanimously voted to reduce the terms of drug traffickers who are already in prison on Friday. That means more than 46,000 drug offenders could be eligible for early release, as most sentences will be reduced by more than two years. Congress could move to stop the plan before Nov. 1, but otherwise, offenders may begin petitioning federal judges for early release, which could begin in November of 2015. “The magnitude of the change, both collectively and for individual offenders, is significant,” Judge Patti Saris, a U.S. district judge who chairs the commission, said. [NPR]

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3. Thai junta issues effective media gag
The Thai military government further tightened its control on the country on Friday, issuing an order banning members of the media from criticizing the junta’s operations. Officials warned that any reporters found to be reporting on the group in an unflattering light would face broadcast or publication suspension. “This is basically a gag order, and it’s not just a gag order on the press, it’s extending to anyone in Thailand, especially now that a lot of Thai people use social media to express opinions,” Sarinee Achavanuntakul, an online media freedom advocate, said. “To me, it signals that the coup makers may not have a clear idea of who the enemies are.” [The Associated Press]

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4. IRS says it destroyed hard drive containing lost emails
Court rulings on Friday confirmed that the IRS destroyed Lois Lerner’s computer hard drive nearly three years ago, ending any chance of retrieving lost emails related to applications for tax-exemption. Lerner headed the division that handles tax exemptions at that time, and she has become a central figure in congressional investigations into how the government body addressed applications by Tea Party and other conservative groups. [The Associated Press]

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5. Putin’s approval rating in Russia matches record high
Despite reports that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by rebels using a Russian-made missile, President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating among Russians is at its highest in years. A Gallup poll published on Friday noted that 83 percent of Russians approve of their president; the last time his approval rating was that high was in 2008. And while 78 percent of Russians also express confidence in their own military, those polled put approval ratings of U.S. and EU leadership in the single digits. [TheWeek.comGallup World]

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6. Federal appeals court strikes down Oklahoma’s gay-marriage ban
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined on Friday that Oklahoma must allow gay couples to wed, upholding lower rulings which had found the state’s voter-approved gay marriage ban unconstitutional. The three-judge panel also struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage in June; the court is putting Friday’s 2-1 ruling on hold pending an appeal, though, which means that same-sex couples cannot yet legally marry in Oklahoma. “(Friday’s) ruling is another instance of federal courts ignoring the will of the people and trampling on the right of states to govern themselves,” said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. [The Associated Press]

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7. Italian court acquits former Premier Berlusconi in sex-for-hire case
An Italian appeals court acquitted former Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday in his infamous sex-for-hire case. The decision reversed a conviction that could have sent Berlusconi to prison for seven years, in addition to banning him from holding political office for life. The court ruled that Berlusconi, 77, committed no crimes, which his lawyer said “goes beyond the rosiest predictions.” Berlusconi is still on trial in Naples for “political corruption,” under investigation in Milan for “witness-tampering” in the sex-for hire trial, and serving a community service sentence for a separate tax-fraud conviction. [The Associated Press]

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8. Forbes family plans to sell majority stake in media empire
The Forbes family announced on Friday that it will sell a controlling stake in its media dynasty to Hong Kong-based Integrated Whale Media Investments. Forbes Media, which includes Forbes magazine and Forbes.com, is nearly a century old. The company said current management will remain in place and that the deal is intended to expand Forbes’ international reach. No sales prices were disclosed, but the deal is expected to be completed later this year. [Los Angeles Times]

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9. New study says eye movement reveals love versus lust
A husband-and-wife team of researchers at the University of Chicago released a study on Thursday showing eye movements may reveal whether a person is in lust or in love. The results, based on study participants at the University of Geneva, show that both males and females fixate more on the face when they feel love, but expand their gaze to the entire body when focused on sexual desire. “Little is currently known about the science of love at first sight,” Stephanie Cacioppo, the study’s lead author, said. But, “these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings.” [Time]

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10. Amazon launches Kindle Unlimited, the ‘Netflix for books’
Amazon unveiled Kindle Unlimited on Friday, an e-book and audiobook subscription servicealready being billed as “Netflix for books.” The service offers “unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks” for $9.99 per month, and Amazon is offering a 30-day-free trial. [Amazon.comABC News]

John McCain Finds a Way to Blame ‘Cowardly’ Obama for MH17 Crash

Sen. John McCain | Screenshot

This simply sounds like sour grapes directed toward Obama supporters, but McCain and his ilk are not saying these things to upset Obama’s base.  Right-wing politicians are trying to stir up their Obama-hating base so they will come to the polls in 2014.  They’ll worry about 2016 after the mid-term elections.

Mediaite

When he appeared on MSNBC and CNN Thursday afternoon, shortly after news broke of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that had been shot down over Ukraine, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) warned that if Russia turned out to be responsible, there would be “hell to pay.” But by the time he joinedSean Hannity on Fox News last night, he had turned his outrage directly at President Barack Obama.

“It’s just been cowardly,” McCain said. “It’s a cowardly administration that we failed to give the Ukrainians weapons with which to defend themselves.” He speculated that the Russian separatists who allegedly shot down the plane “may not even have occupied and had access to these weapons, which apparently they got at an airfield,” if the U.S. had intervened earlier in the Ukrainian conflict with Russia.

McCain then told Hannity what he would do in response to the deadly crash:

“First, give the Ukrainians weapons to defend themselves and regain their territory. Second of all, move some of our troops in to areas that are being threatened by Vladimir Putin, in other countries like the Baltics and others. Move missile defense into the places where we got out of, like the Czech Republic and Poland and other places. And impose the harshest possible sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russia. And that’s just for openers.”

And just like that, the likely accidental shooting down of a Malaysian plane carrying mostly Dutch passengers by Russian separatists in Ukraine is President Obama’s fault.

Watch video below, via Fox News:

Farewell, John (Time Magazine Retrospective)

JFK Jr. TIME Cover

Time Magazine

Read TIME’s special cover story on JFK Jr., who died 15 years ago today: A nation and a family mourn and wonder what might have been

To be a Kennedy is to lead two lives–the official one the family seeks with bright idealism and ruthless ambition, and the private one it tries to preserve behind the hedges of a seaside estate. But to be a Kennedy is also to understand how those two worlds can reinforce each other. Camelot stands not just for the elegant touches of the Kennedy presidency–an exhortation at the Berlin Wall, a journey into the hollows of Appalachia–but also for the carefully selected moments of the family at play. John F. Kennedy Jr. was urban royalty with a public conscience, a black-tie aristocrat who took the subway.

Last week, when he again stepped up to a pulpit, this time to eulogize his nephew behind the closed doors of the Church of St. Thomas More in New York City, we could not hear the quiver in his voice. And we didn’t have to. It was there in the practiced cadences, the defiant wit, the stubborn Catholicism that insists on seeing all the way to the gates of heaven. “He and his bride have gone to be with his mother and father, where there will never be an end to love,” Kennedy said. And he promised that this family, at least, this old and bruised and sturdy family, would stand by in an eternal wake. “He was lost on that troubled night, but we will always wake for him, so that his time, which was not doubled but cut in half, will live forever in our memory and in our beguiled and broken hearts.”

But there is one thing he did not promise, and that’s what separated this day of mourning for the Kennedys from all the others. There was no rhetoric of the kind Ted Kennedy used at the 1980 Democratic Convention, when he said, “The dream shall never die.” A Kennedy friend who was there told TIME, “I’ve seen this family in other sad circumstances, and I’m telling you, this was different. This gang is shell-shocked, blown away. This wasn’t, ‘Let’s have 10 family members get up and say the torch is passed, time for a new generation.’ None of that. This was a funeral.”

On the day that he would help launch a frantic search for his nephew, Ted was leading a fight in the Senate for a more expansive Patients’ Bill of Rights. But by nightfall on that Friday, when no one in Hyannis Port had heard from John and Carolyn, it was Ted who called John in Manhattan, hoping he had not left. But he got only the voice of a friend whose air conditioning had broken down and who, at John’s invitation, was staying in his Tribeca apartment. Yes, John had left. No, he had not been heard from. The Senator reached Hyannis Port the next day and began the vigil. On Sunday, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Richard Larrabee switched to a search-and-recovery effort. This put an end to the hope that anyone would be found alive. Ted issued a statement of the family’s “unspeakable grief,” lowered the flag to half-staff and then went to the side of the person he knew would be suffering most.

He flew by helicopter to Caroline’s country house in Bridgehampton, N.Y., to comfort the niece he treats like a daughter over the loss of her brother, whom he loved like a son. There was a torch being passed after all. In the ’60s, Ted Kennedy’s generation orchestrated the death rituals. Now the old Senator was going to let Caroline, a member of the new generation, take charge. There were terrible decisions to be made, but not before Uncle Ted shot baskets with Caroline’s kids until they could be heard squealing with delight behind the hedge.

On Wednesday he climbed back into a helicopter for the return to Hyannis Port, where he took his two sons Teddy Jr. and Patrick, a Congressman, on a gruesome chore. Seven miles from shore, they boarded the salvage ship Grasp and then watched as three bodies were raised from 116 ft. under water. The cameras were far away, and Ted wore his dark glasses, but one picture captured the crumpled grief on his face. He had never looked so old.

Back in Bridgehampton, Caroline was calling the shots. She remembered how happy John had been to have engineered his wedding on Cumberland Island in Georgia in near total secrecy, and she wanted to make sure the ceremony marking his death would be no less private. So, with Ted’s help, she arranged to have John buried even farther from the mainland, his ashes and those of Carolyn and Lauren Bessette committed to the deep from the deck of an American warship. Seventeen relatives arrived at Woods Hole at 9 a.m. to be taken by the cutter Sanibel to the U.S.S. Briscoe, which had steamed up from Virginia overnight by special request of the Secretary of Defense. The only things those left onshore could see were the bright whites of the officials, the black of the mourners and a puff of smoke as the Briscoe motored out to the point at which the most powerful telephoto lenses could register just the silhouettes of the mourners. The family bore their loved ones’ ashes, three wreaths and three American flags. Caroline held her husband’s hand as he clutched a canvas bag. Red, white and yellow blossoms trailed the ship as it headed back to shore.

It seemed entirely right that the young boy with the salute should be buried by the Navy at sea, not far from the beach of Hyannis, where he and his father had built sand castles, and just west of the rocky shore of Martha’s Vineyard, where he had spent quiet summers after his father was gone. It would have been too much for the country to watch Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis bury her son, but she was there, nonetheless, in her daughter Caroline. “It was as if Jackie were orchestrating these ceremonies,” said Kennedy social secretary Letitia Baldrige.

Caroline was five years old when she clung to Jackie’s gloved hand at her father’s funeral. Jackie had known that her black veil and a riderless horse were right for the slain President. So when it came time to think about how to lay her brother to rest, Caroline sensed that she should take her brother to sea, not to a plot at Arlington National Cemetery, and not to a cemetery that might be transformed overnight into another Graceland.

She was also determined to keep the family’s deliberations–and its sorrow–out of view. When she found out that someone from the family was offering reporters details of life inside the compound, she asked Ted to shut that down. One of John’s closest friends, former Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, said he “paid dearly” for appearing on TV. Though he’d already booked a flight from New Orleans to New York for the memorial service, he pointedly wasn’t invited.

Some reports said Ted, as curator of the Kennedy political legacy, had urged a service that would satisfy the public need to say goodbye–something in a cavernous cathedral befitting cardinals and Presidents–even if the sad truth was that a piece of the dream had died for him this time. “You could just see this was a father-son relationship,” said Senator Alan Simpson. “I’m sure it’s ripped the very fabric of Ted’s life.” John was the little boy Ted imagined could grow up to be President. He’d taken John under his wing from the moment his father was killed, staying in the White House after the Kings and Prime Ministers and generals had left, to celebrate John’s third birthday. He had led the singing of Heart of My Heart late into the night.

Caroline chose St. Thomas More, a small, neighborhood Roman Catholic church a few blocks from their mother’s Fifth Avenue apartment, where she and John had gone to Mass as children. Despite reports of family friction over the choice of venue, a source familiar with the arrangements told TIME, “From Day One, it was always going to be at this church.” The church, with its English pastoral, beige-stone sanctuary, is plain, and for the ceremony it was furnished simply. Two white hydrangea flower arrangements sat on either side of the altar on the floor. To gain access, almost every guest–from Senators to George magazine staff members to Kennedy White House veterans–had to show an invitation about the size of an index card with the guest’s name printed on it. The family was so set on privacy that not even the church staff could attend the service.

On Thursday the Senator stayed up past midnight working on his eulogy and, after flying from Hyannis Port to New York, polished it at his sister Pat Lawford’s apartment. Plans were so last-minute that when staff members turned in for the night, it was still unclear whether Caroline would speak; the program was not printed until 1 a.m. It was her decision to ask Ted to deliver the eulogy. But even if she didn’t eulogize John, it was she and her children who became the emotional center of the service. She reminded the mourners about the love of literature that her mother had bestowed on her and John, and then read Prospero’s speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a play in which he had performed. It was an acknowledgment that her brother had lived on a big stage but had understood that its “insubstantial pageant” would fade. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” she quoted, “and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” There were muffled sobs as Caroline’s husband Edwin and her children Rose, 11, Tatiana, 9, and John, 6, lit candles and hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean sang, “It was time for me to go home/ And I’ll be smiling in paradise,” from the Jimmy Cliff reggae song Many Rivers to Cross.

There were also tears down mourners’ faces when fashion-industry executive Hamilton South, in his eulogy for Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, praised “her graceful bearing, her special allure” as “a physical expression of an inner fact.”

But Caroline was the focus of the service’s most wrenching moment. Ted came close to breaking down when he reached the part in his eulogy that celebrated the closeness between her and John, the brother who, even as a grownup, would reach out naturally to grab his sister’s hand. “He especially cherished his sister Caroline,” Ted said in his eulogy, his voice trembling, “celebrated her brilliance and took strength and joy from their lifelong mutual-admiration society.” Caroline stood up to hug her uncle as he descended from the pulpit.

The memorial service was a somber reminder that for patriarch Ted, the grandest unseen achievement has been in finding a way to be a genuinely loving presence in the hearts of so many Kennedy children left fatherless. Weddings, graduations, birthdays, christenings–Teddy is always there with his booming voice, his animal imitations, his begging anyone who can pick out a tune at the piano to keep the music going. He gave Caroline away at her marriage to Edwin Schlossberg in 1986, and when it was all over, Jackie hugged him on the steps outside Our Lady of Victory on Cape Cod and beamed, as if to say what a job we have done. He toasted John at his intimate island wedding in 1996. He took John and Caroline on rafting trips. He kept vigil with them at the bedside of their mother, who succumbed to cancer at 64, and gave a eulogy at that funeral.

With such a large family, it has been a miracle that he could be so many places at once. On the day he gave away in marriage his brother Bobby’s daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, he went to the hospital where his eldest son Edward had had a cancerous leg amputated. Soon after, the Senator went skiing with young Teddy, who quickly took to the slopes on one leg. When Teddy beat him to the bottom of the hill, the Senator made a fast turn to spray the boy with snow while wiping away tears. Last Friday, at the reception following the memorial service, it was Kennedy again who helped lift the spirits of those around him. He told stories and jokes, and found his voice to sing the hymn Just a Closer Walk with Thee.

As he rose to the occasion one more time, Ted became the public man his elder brothers would have been proud of and the private one that untimely deaths in his family have required. Whether from too much tragedy or too little character, for a while every good thing Ted did was erased by a bad one like Chappaquiddick. But when he married Victoria Reggie in 1992, he found a partner who would change his life.

He now drinks club soda and runs off during the Senate’s official dinner window to be with his stepchildren Curran, 16, and Caroline, 13. He’s a constant presence at their plays and sporting events, and has even been known to get personally involved in pulling a loose tooth.

If his private life is shaped by his love for children and stepchildren, his public one is still shaped by his concern for the little guy, the one who parks your car, rings the cash register at the convenience store, catches the early bus. As he left town he was trying to expand health care, and when he comes back from burying his nephew, he will be fighting to raise the minimum wage. Leaving the Coast Guard cutter that brought the family and friends back to Woods Hole after the burial, he shook hands formally with the officers in their dress whites but gave the crewmen in working blues a slap on the back. It was a gesture that surely would have made his nephew smile.

With reporting by Melissa August and Ann Blackman/Washington