10 things you need to know today: July 30, 2015

GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Investigators try to confirm debris is from missing Malaysia Airlines plane
French authorities are studying a piece of plane debris that washed up on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean to determine whether it came from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. The airliner vanished without a trace last year after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing with 239 passengers and crew members on board. Investigators could not immediately confirm that the debris came from the missing flight, although they were nearly certain it was from the same kind of plane — a Boeing 777.

Source: Reuters

2. University of Cincinnati cop indicted for killing of unarmed black man
A white University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge for the fatal July 19 shooting of an unarmed black man, Samuel Dubose, during a minor traffic stop. Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters released a video taken by the body camera of the officer, Ray Tensing, showing that he had not been dragged behind Dubose’s car as he claimed. “It was a senseless, asinine shooting,” Deters said.

Source: TIME, The New York Times

3. India hangs Yakub Memon for 1993 Mumbai bombings
India hanged Yakub Memon on Thursday for his role in a series of 1993 bombings in Mumbai that killed 257 people. The country’s high court rejected a last-minute plea from Memon’s lawyers for a 14-day stay of his execution to give him time to prepare and say goodbye to his relatives. The carefully coordinated bombings devastated several neighborhoods and left more than 700 people wounded. Prosecutors said Memon helped finance and arrange logistics for the bombings.

Source: The New York Times

4. Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah indicted on corruption charges
Federal prosecutors on Wednesday accused Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.) and four associates on a barrage of criminal charges stemming from an investigation of his failed 2007 Philadelphia mayoral bid. The 11-term congressman was charged with channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign and charities he controlled to pay off an illegal campaign loan and his son’s college debts. Fattah denied any wrongdoing, saying he was a victim of overzealous prosecutors.

Source: The Inquirer, Politico

5. UVa grads sue Rolling Stone over debunked rape article
Three Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brothers from the University of Virginiafiled a lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine on Wednesday for a now-retracted December 2014 article they said implicated them in an alleged gang rape. The three graduates — George Elias IV, Stephen Hadford, and Ross Fowler — asked a New York federal court for more than $75,000 for “mental anguish and severe emotional distress.” Will Dana, Rolling Stone‘s managing editor, announced Wednesday he would leave the magazine in August.

Source: The Washington Post, The New York Times

6. Hunter charged in Zimbabwe for helping U.S. dentist kill lion
A court in Zimbabwe on Wednesday charged a professional hunter, Theo Bronkhorst, with failing to prevent an American bow hunter — Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer — from killing a prized, protected lion known as Cecil. Palmer, who has left Zimbabwe, admitted to killing the animal but said he believed the hunt was legal and covered by all necessary permits. Palmer’s dental practice has temporarily shut down as he has faced intense criticism.

Source: Reuters

7. Royal Dutch Shell lays off 6,500 as low oil prices erode profits
Royal Dutch Shell announced Thursday that it was laying off 6,500 of its 94,000 employees worldwide as lower oil and gas prices reduced its profits. The company said its adjusted second-quarter earnings were $3.8 billion, compared to $6.1 billion for the same period last year. Shell said it was bracing for low oil prices to continue for an extended period, further squeezing its ability to invest in exploration and production.

Source: BBC News

8. Fed suggests economy will be ready for interest rate hike in September
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday indicated that it was cautiously optimistic that the U.S. economy was getting back on track, suggesting that it would be ready to raise interest rates from near zero in September. “The labor market continued to improve, with solid job gains and declining unemployment,” the Fed statement said. The government on Thursday releases the first of three estimates on second-quarter economic growth, which experts expect to be around a solid 2.7 percent.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

9. Planned Parenthood website hit by “extremists”
Planned Parenthood said “an attack by extremists” brought down its website on Wednesday. The news came as the organization faces fallout over the release of several undercover videos by an anti-abortion group in which Planned Parenthood officials discuss the sale of fetal tissue for medical research, which is legal unless done for profit. Also on Wednesday, a California court barred the anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, from releasing video of leaders of a California company that provides fetal tissue to researchers.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

10. Pollution threatens swimming and boating events in 2016 Rio Olympics
Waters where athletes will compete in swimming and boating events in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics have dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from sewage, according to an Associated Pressinvestigation. At Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, which was thought to have been cleaned up, tests showed 14 million to 1.7 billion adenoviruses per liter. Counts of 1,000 per liter cause alarm in Southern California. “What you have there is basically raw sewage,” marine biologist John Griffith said.

Source: The Associated Press

Harold Maass

“Sharing A Video On The Subject of Gun Violence”

Good afternoon TFC friends.  I got the following letter from someone and wanted to share it in its entirety:

Hi Sheila —

I first came across your blog from the posting: “The best thing to happen to gun safety in years snuck right under the noses of the NRA.”  And I thought you might enjoy this . . . it’s a music video which I think aligns with your values.  So, I thought you would appreciate its message, at the very least . . . and that you might feel compelled to share it with your readers on your blog, or through your social networks.
I’m a songwriter from Austin, TX . . . and this project is a collaboration with videographer, Paul Curreri.  It’s a photo montage of powerful images set to the song, Guns & The Crazy Ones.  The project was inspired by my own emotional fatigue at seeing gun violence stories leading the news day after day after day.  And my hope with the video is threefold:
– to stir up the viewers emotions, by humanizing the victims (and perpetrators) of gun violence, and by personalizing the debate
– to make it overwhelmingly obvious to anyone on either side of the debate that there’s an undeniable problem that needs addressing
– to create a shared cathartic moment from our collective exasperation
I feel as though there’s a certain ground swell of momentum that’s building right now, moving us towards some basic gun sense regulation.  And I’d like to do anything I can to contribute to that momentum.
I would be honored if you would be willing to give the video a peek.  And if you think it might touch the emotions of your readership, anything you might be willing to write about it, or share with your social media networks, would be most appreciated.  Here’s the link:
Guns & The Crazy Ones – https://youtu.be/l4Lcv5KKTK4
The video begins with the horror of the headlines and then moves through to the sorrow of those touched by the incidences.
Thanks so much for your time.  And thanks so much for all the work that you’ve done to raise people’s consciousness, and to fight the good fight, gently.
All the best —
Danny
As most of you know from my postings on the issue…I am for sensible gun control starting with “background checks”.
I explained to Danny that my activist days are pretty much over but I can certainly advocate a worthy issue.
So check out Danny’s message on You Tube.  I’m sure he’d appreciate it.  ks

The Supreme Court Is Less Popular Than It Has Been In Decades

THE HUFFINGTON POST

Don’t let the cheering crowds outside the Supreme Court fool you. The largest share of Americans in 30 years has a negative view of the Supreme Court, according to a July survey by the Pew Research Center.

The Pew survey, released Thursday, found that 43 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the Supreme Court, compared with 48 percent of Americans who have a favorable opinion of it.

Supreme Court’s Image Declines

The increase in unfavorable views of the Supreme Court was driven by a rise in unfavorable views among Republicans. The percentage of Republicans who said they have an unfavorable opinion of the court went from 40 percent in March to 61 percent in the new survey. 

The Pew survey results could have been driven by dissatisfaction with recent Supreme Court decisions. The Supreme Court issued rulings in late June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide and upholding the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for buying insurance on state-run exchanges, both of which rankled conservatives. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents opposed to same-sex marriage, and 58 percent of respondents opposed to the Affordable Care Act, have an unfavorable opinion of the Supreme Court.

Views of the Supreme Court Strongly Linked to Opinions about SSM, ACA

Support for the court increased among Democrats over the same period, however. From March to July, the percentage of Democrats with a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court went from 54 percent to 62 percent.

The survey results will come as no surprise to Republican presidential candidates, who have elicited applause for attacking the Supreme Court in their stump speeches. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has gone furthest in his criticism, arguing that the Supreme Court justices should be elected.

Pew surveyed 2,002 adults between July 14 and 20, using live interviewers to reach both landlines and cell phones.

DanielMarans

“I don’t strive to be offensive”: Trevor Noah tells Salon how his “Daily Show” will be different from — and similar to — Jon Stewart’s

"I don't strive to be offensive": Trevor Noah tells Salon how his "Daily Show" will be different from -- and similar to -- Jon Stewart's

Trevor Noah (Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

SALON

Trevor Noah is comfortable talking—and laughing—about race. How will that shape the future of “The Daily Show”?

When I asked Trevor Noah what he thought about the fact that his show, along with “The Nightly Show” with Larry Wilmore, would make an hour of black men hosting the news, the 31-year-old South African—surrounded by reporters, fresh off of one of his first stand-up sets as Comedy Central’s heir presumptive to Jon Stewart’s chair on “The Daily Show”—went for a quip: “Well, I think I’m half-white.” The dimpled comedian is quick to smile, even in the face of at least a dozen reporters with recording equipment waving in his face.

It’s an aside that demonstrates how much the comedian is defined by—saturated with, really–the constant and unavoidable issue of race. He performed an hour of stand-up in Santa Monica, California, for his official unveiling by Comedy Central to the Television Critics Association and a small subsection of the adoring public, and from the get-go homed in on race. The first 20 minutes or so focused on police brutality in America, repeating an observation that was less a joke and more, as the bit went on, a refrain, an appeal, a spoken-word lament: “I don’t know how not to die.” He was able to manage the tone of literal murder through mourning, humor and sharp commentary. “You know there’s a chance as a black person you may go to jail. It may be by mistake. It could be the neighborhood you live in, it could be your history with the police. It could just be the fact that those sketch artists make all black people look the same.”

And in order to make everything stick, Noah relies on a tool that Stewart also constantly relies on—self-deprecation. Every comedian has to use it at some point, to ingratiate themselves with the audience. With Noah, it’s even more important than just jokes, though. He’s lecturing on race to an audience that will span the nation and will, through the Internet, go global; in targeting himself, he’s both anticipating the first volley of attacks against him and creating his primary line of defense. Noah’s eager to communicate and reach out to viewers, yes—as he told me, “If you laugh with somebody, then you know you share something.” But my metaphors are martial for a reason; this is a comedic combat zone. Jon Stewart proved the efficacy of comedy as a political tool in his 16 years on “The Daily Show.” Now Noah is wading into the thicket of identity politics, one that has bubbled up in the form of enthusiasm, outrage and commentary around comedians like Amy Schumer, Hannibal Buress, Lena Dunham and more. Except he’s doing so in what has become the seat of the “satirist-in-chief,” around a man who became liberal America’s rallying point. Trevor Noah is facing the gauntlet between impossible expectations and thorny subject matter, and he knows it. What likely makes him the right person for the job is the fact that this unenviable challenge seems to excite him.

Trevor Noah is not Jon Stewart—as he said after the set, “You cannot replace Jon Stewart.” But what they do share, based on his remarks, is an enormous sense of mission—and as I discussed last week about Stewart, an inability, at times, to wholly live up to it. Noah’s now most well-known not for being Stewart’s successor, but for being that suddenly famous newcomer who had made several off-color jokes on Twitter from 2009 to 2012.

Indeed, the Trevor Noah Twitter Controversy, such as it was, is in fact a story at the nexus of a few things “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” will likely spend a long time taking apart: comedy, race and the online outrage machine. Where Jon Stewart’s target of choice was 24-hour cable news, Noah’s mandate is my own industry: online journalism. “We are in an era of full outrage,” he observed. “We live in the Internet age. Everyone wants clicks. Clicks are what sells. News doesn’t so much anymore. So now you work for what used to be considered a news agency, but now you’re really an advertising platform.” He attributed the blow-up over his years-old remarks to the foibles of online news: “People need clickbait. They need to get you clicking. And it doesn’t help to say, here’s a balanced argument. A balanced headline doesn’t sell. Sell the extreme, go all out, label people, and that’s the best way to get a reaction. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in now.”

I noted that although Noah was happy to explain the situation and admitted wrongdoing, he rarely, if ever, went so far as to apologize for the remarks. He did not try to justify them, either. In a profile at GQ, he cops to regret and past idiocy; last night, he started a sentence about the dust-up with “What I think is unfair is—” and then cut himself off. These tiny verbal cues might seem trivial, but it appears to be crucial; this is how Trevor Noah refuses to engage with the way the American media typically handles racism. For example, when a reporter asked about his take on Hulk Hogan, he responded:

The thing with Hulk Hogan is—he says he’s racist in the video. We can’t judge you and say, “You’re racist”­—that would have been a different story. … But he says, “I’m racist!” So now we’re going, “Oh, you’re racist.” … I don’t think Hulk Hogan is a bad person. I don’t think racists, for the most part, are bad people. I think they suffer from something. … I think there’s a better way to handle it. We can’t just—to cut people off, it’s not sustainable. And it doesn’t heal anything. We don’t move forward from that.”

Continue reading here>>>

“Without question a murder”: campus cop indicted for shooting

Ugh

A still from the body camera footage of DuBose’s death. (Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters)

 VOX

Bill O’Reilly freaks out: #BlackLivesMatter ‘wants to tear down the country’

'O'Reilly Factor' host Bill O'Reilly on July 28, 2015. [YouTube]

‘O’Reilly Factor’ host Bill O’Reilly on July 28, 2015. [YouTube]

RAW STORY

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly accused Black Lives Matter organizers again on Tuesday of being more political operatives than demonstrators, while also scoffing at Jay-Z and Beyoncé for donating money to groups affiliated with the movement.

“Do you think they know that [they are] giving money to an anarchistic group like this that wants to tear down the country and is talking about genocide, and really really extreme things,” O’Reilly told Washington Times reporter Kelly Riddell. “You think they have any idea what they’re doing?”

As he did last December, O’Reilly accused the demonstrations of being orchestrated by “agitators,” noting a remark by co-founder Patrisse Cullors over the weekend that they would stage protests at next year’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“I don’t know whether this crew, Black Lives Matter, have any constituency other than the radical left, the real fringe nuts that run around the country saying crazy things,” O’Reilly said.

Riddell told the host that the demonstrators should be taken seriously in the wake of their protest during the Netroots Nation conference earlier this month, which prompted an apology from Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley for using the phrase “all lives matter” — typically seen as a way to downplay police violence against black Americans.

“He didn’t have to issue an apology,” O’Reilly said of the former Maryland governor. “He chose to. But that’s O’Malley’s fault for even going to the Netroots convention.”

“I mean, Hillary Clinton has been there before,” she replied. “A lot of liberal activists go to this on a yearly basis.”

Riddell also referred back to her report this past January stating that groups affiliated with the movement had received donations either directly from progressive billionaire George Soros’ Open Sources Foundation, or affiliated groups.

According to her, a number of organizations under the #BlackLivesMatter “umbrella” benefitted from the funding, and followed narratives set out by “think tanks.”

“They believe fundamentally that it’s social policy and ‘The Man’ and the professional political class that is out to get them with unjust policies,” she said. “That basically all of their social woes, all their economic woes can be based on unfair policies.”

Watch the segment, as posted online on Tuesday, below.

Jimmy Kimmel eviscerates “a-hole dentist who wants a lion’s head over the fireplace in his man cave,” proving he’s late night’s true hero

Jimmy Kimmel eviscerates "a-hole dentist who wants a lion's head over the fireplace in his man cave," proving he's late night's true hero

Jimmy Kimmel (Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

I saw the tragic story of Cecil the lion on television last night and was literally heart-broken…

SALON

The host speaks up about Cecil the Lion, and proves again why he’s the king

Had you suggested fifteen years ago that the cohost of “The Man Show,” a guy who gained fame alongside human disaster Adam Carolla, would evolve into one of the sanest, sharpest voices on television, let’s just say it would have been a hard sell. But on Tuesday night, when he used his platform to speak up about a roiling hunting controversy, Jimmy Kimmel proved himself the late night voice of reason. Again.

In what’s become the latest chapter in an ongoing intense public debate this year, a Minnesota dentist found himself in the spotlight this week when it was revealed he’d allegedly paid at least $50,000 to kill a lion in Zimbabwe. Walter Palmer now says he thought the “hunt” — if that’s what you want to call luring out a resident of a national park with bait, shooting him with an arrow, and then letting him suffer for another 40 hours before finishing him off with a gun — was entirely aboveboard. But it turns out that the lion, Cecil, was a beloved local fixture. And the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says that the animal was “skinned and beheaded, and the hunters tried to destroy the GPS collar that Cecil was wearing as part of research backed by Oxford University.”

The revelation of the hunt and the questions about its legality have unleashed a heap of outrage. And it comes in the wake of similar headline-making hunts: In April, Ricky Gervais tweeted his disgust after hunter Rebecca Francis posted a cheerful photo of herself next to the carcass of the giraffe she killed, and in May, he went after Texas rich guy Corey Knowlton’s expensive, and ultimately successful, quest to bag a black rhino.

But the designated explainer for this newest incident is Kimmel, who, in a potent and often funny nearly five minute monologue Tuesday discussed the story in a manner both impassioned and compassionate. “The big question is, why are you shooting a lion in the first place?… How is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things?” But he also strenuously noted that “I’m not against hunting… but if you’re some a-hole dentist who wants a lion’s head over the fireplace in his man cave so his douchebag buddies can gather around it and drink scotch and tell him how awesome he is, that’s just vomitous.” And he added, importantly, “I don’t think the answer is to start a witch hunt for the guy,” before making a pitch for “some good” to come out the story and directing his viewers to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, which had been tracking Cecil before he was killed.

It was easily Kimmel’s finest moment since last March, when he went on a righteous rant against the anti-vaccine moment, telling his audience, “I would expect you totake medical advice from almost every doctor in the world” over that of people who “learn about the human body from their friends’ Facebook page.” And he ran a PSA from real doctors, who asked, “Remember that time you got polio? No, you don’t, because your parents got you f—king vaccinated.”

Kimmel is no doubt aware that taking a stance — any stance, on anything — makes one a target for the vocal and angry, who, to be fair, also watch television. The joy of Kimmel is that when it comes to an issue he feels strongly about, he doesn’t care. He didn’t care eight years ago, when he was among the very first to excoriate Gawker’s dirty tricks. And if you want to be mean on Twitter, he will actively laugh at you. Imagine Jimmy Fallon, America’s most successful corporate retreat leader, having that kind of swagger. And while we’re used to the reliable righteous anger of the Comedy Central fake news circuit, it’s something else to see someone who talks to movie stars for a living so willing to regularly break form and call out the “vomitous.” It’s awesome. So keep late night ticked off, Jimmy Kimmel. Because we need what you’re saying, all day long.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Feds Smack Congressman With Corruption Charges

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AP Photo | Matt Rourke

TPM LIVEWIRE

Fattah was charged with bribery, fraud, and money laundering, among other crimes, in a 29-count indictment. Fattah’s congressional District Director Bonnie Bowser, his former aide Karen Nicholas, campaign contributor Robert Brand and lobbyist Herbert Vederman were also charged in the indictment.

“Congressman Fattah and his associates embarked on a wide-ranging conspiracy involving bribery, concealment of unlawful campaign contributions and theft of charitable and federal funds to advance their own personal interests,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in a news release from the Justice Department. “When elected officials betray the trust and confidence placed in them by the public, the department will do everything we can to ensure that they are held accountable.”

Some of the charges stem from Fattah’s failed 2007 campaign for mayor in Philadelphia. The indictment alleged that Fattah and his associates created sham contracts and falsified records in order to conceal a $1 million contribution to that campaign and then repay the donor after he lost, according to the DOJ release. The indictment also alleged that Fattah promised a $15 million federal grant to a consultant to whom he owed $130,000 in campaign debt in exchange for the forgiveness of that debt, according to the release.

In addition, the indictment alleged that Fattah misappropriated funds from both his mayoral and congressional campaigns to repay $23,000 of his son’s student loan debt and had taken bribes from Vederman, the lobbyist, in exchange for pushing to get him an ambassadorship or an appointment to the U.S. Trade Commission, according to the release.

Fattah addressed the allegations in the indictment just after noon outside his Capitol Hill office.

“I’ll stand by my previous statement that I’ve never been involved in any wrongdoing, any unlawful activity and any misappropriation of federal funds,” he told NBC News’ Luke Russert.

The congressman noted that the indictment appeared just now after what he said was a years-long investigation, making a reference to scandal surrounding deflated footballs that’s currently rocking the New England Patriots.

“This is not Deflategate,” he said. “This is a normal issue of which there are allegations after a very long running, eight-year investigation… if you look back in the records, there have been press reports on this and subpoenas flying for at least eight years. So we now have actual allegations. We’ll have a chance to respond.”

Fattah added that he planned to to recuse himself from his leadership position on the House Appropriations Committee while he fights the charges.

Read the indictment HERE>>>

CATHERINE THOMPSON

10 things you need to know today: July 29, 2015

Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Spy Jonathan Pollard to be released on parole
The United States Parole Commission announced Tuesday that Jonathan Pollard, who has served 30 years of a life sentence for spying for Israel, will be released before Thanksgiving. Pollard, who was a Navy intelligence analyst, was convicted of passing classified materials to Israel. The government for the first time did not oppose his parole. “Thank God,” Pollard, 60, said, according to one of his lawyers. “Right now, after many, many years of hoping for this day, we are going to sit back and celebrate.”

Source: The New York Times

2. Taliban leader Mullah Omar is reportedly dead
Afghan officials said Wednesday that Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is dead. The reclusive leader, who has not been seen in public since the U.S. and its allies ousted the Taliban government following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, died two or three years ago, according to Afghan and intelligence sources. There have been several previous reports of his death, but this is the first confirmed by top government sources. A source told Pakistan’s Express Tribune the cause of death was tuberculosis. The official line from the Afghan government is that they are still investigating claims of Omar’s death.

Source: BBC News, The Express Tribune

3. Migrant dies as 1,500 try to rush into Eurotunnel to Britain
A Sudanese man died Tuesday as 1,500 migrants tried to illegally enter the French side of the Eurotunnel to hop freight trains into Britain. A record 2,100 people made the attempt Monday. Thirty-seven people have been blocked from entering the tunnel illegally this year; eight have died since mid-June. About 10,000 migrants from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Syria, Sudan, and North Africa are camped near the French city of Calais hoping to make the crossing to get housing and apply for asylum.

Source: Voice of America

4. Hunter says he thought lion hunt was legal
Zimbabwean police are seeking an American bow hunter — Walter James Palmer of Eden Prairie, Minnesota — for allegedly killing a protected lion named Cecil, officials in Zimbabwe said Tuesday. Cecil, who was 13, was popular with visitors to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. He was allegedly lured out of the park with bait by two guides Palmer paid $50,000 for the kill. The guides have been arrested on poaching charges. Palmer said he did everything he could to make sure the hunt was legal.

Source: CNN

5. GOP representative launches bid to oust Boehner as speaker
A Republican congressman, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, filed a bid to oust House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday. If successful, the “motion to vacate the chair” would force the election of a new speaker. Meadows’ move is a longshot. Such a challenge has only worked once, more than a century ago. The matter now goes to the Rules Committee, which is chaired by Boehner ally Pete Sessions (R-Texas). Meadows said his real goal was starting “a conversation on making this place work.”

Source: The Hill

6. Turkey continues new push against Kurds
Turkish jets pounded Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq overnight as tensions continued to mount, threatening a peace process with the separatist group. Turkey’s opposition pro-Kurdish party called for ending the strikes and resuming peace efforts. Turkey began attacking Kurdish positions in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey just as it agreed to President Obama’s pleas to fight the Islamic State more aggressively. The Kurds are key U.S. allies in the war against ISIS.

Source: The Associated Press

7. Texas releases new jail video to dispel Sandra Bland rumors 
Texas officials on Tuesday released new video of Sandra Bland showing her being booked into Waller County Jail after her controversial arrest over a tense traffic stop. The clip reportedly was shown to prove that Bland was alive when she entered jail, contrary to social media rumors that she was fatally injured before being placed in a cell. Bland, who was black, was found dead three days later. A coroner concluded she committed suicide by hanging, but her family disputes that.

Source: Los Angeles Times

8. Trump aide apologizes for rape remark
Donald Trump’s personal aide Michael Cohen apologized on Tuesdayfor telling a Daily Beast reporter that “You cannot rape your spouse.” Cohen attributed the remark to “shock and anger” over a Daily Beastexposé claiming that Trump’s ex-wife Ivana had used the word “rape” to describe an incident between the couple while they were married. Ivana Trump has since said the story was “totally without merit,” and that her comments were made during a time of “very high tension.”

Source: The New York Times

9. New York prison worker makes plea deal in escape case
Former New York prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell, 51, pleaded guiltyTuesday to bringing tools into Clinton Correctional Facility to help two convicted murderers, David Sweat and Richard Matt, break out. Under a plea deal, Mitchell will be prosecuted for an alleged plot to kill her husband, or for having sexual contact with Matt, who was killed after the escape. Mitchell will be sentenced in September. She faces up to seven years in prison for the felony contraband charge.

Source: NBC News

10. NFL upholds Tom Brady’s suspension for “Deflategate”
The NFL announced Tuesday that Commissioner Roger Goodell hadupheld the four-game suspension of New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady over the so-called Deflategate scandal. Brady was suspended — and his team fined $1 million, and docked two draft picks — after an investigation concluded that Patriots staff had underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game last season, presumably to make the ball easier to handle in bad weather. Brady had appealed; the team did not.

Source: The Dallas Morning News

Harold Maass

Obama held secret meetings with Jon Stewart

Obama Held Secret Meetings With Jon Stewart

'Daily Show' host Jon Stewart interviews President Barack Obama for the last time on July 21, 2015. [The Daily Show]

Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart interviews President Barack Obama for the last time on July 21, 2015. [The Daily Show]

RAW STORY

President Barack Obama summoned television host Jon Stewart to the White House on several occasions before he made major announcements, according to a Politico article that revealed the secret connection between “The Daily Show” host and the president. News of the private meetings surfaced Tuesday as Stewart prepares to end his tenure as host on Aug. 6.

Some have questioned Stewart’s ethics because he did not disclose his connection to Obama. “The summoning of Stewart to the White House validates the belief that the comedian is more influential on the public discourse than any journalist,” said a Minnesota Public Radio article Tuesday. “But do the rules of journalism apply to a comedian who doesn’t consider himself a journalist even as the people watching consider him one?”

While still at the White House, former Obama advisor David Axelrod kept in touch with the host by phone and email. In an interview, Axelrod said Stewart was “a useful prod” for the administration. “I can’t say that because Jon Stewart was unhappy, policy changed. But I can say that he had forceful arguments, they were arguments that we knew would be heard and deserved to be answered,” said Axelrod, who also makes appearances on “The Daily Show.”

Stewart visited the Oval Office to meet with Obama privately on at least two occasions, one of which was in fall of 2011 while the administration dealt with heated budget negotiations. “The president wanted to counter his critics on the left and lay the groundwork for his 2012 re-election campaign,” former Obama aide Austan Goolsbee said to Politico.

As the Ukraine crisis broke out, the president met with Stewart in Feb. 2014 before a significant announcement. Later that day, Obama went on air to say that “there will be costs” if Russia continued its aggression towards Ukraine.

Obama frequently appears on the “The Daily Show,” and he visited most recently last Tuesday, close to Stewart’s departure date. He used the segment to discuss topics such as the Iran nuclear deal. Three of the seven times Obama has been on the show have been when he was in office.