Bernie Sanders

OUR BERNIE SANDERS MOMENT: This July 4, remember only true independence and revolution ever brings change

Our Bernie Sanders moment: This July 4, remember only true independence and revolution ever brings change

Bernie Sanders (Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin/Salon)


Tectonic change comes when people are hopeful and sense something new is possible. Here’s how we build on victories

One of the things progressives often get wrong has to do with how fundamental change comes about. The standard reasoning is that people are stirred when they hit the bottom of the bottom—a condition of diminished expectations. It takes an economic depression, or a lot of political repression, to prompt people to rise. We need things to get worse before they get better. Let the suffering come.

This appears to be an entirely logical dialectic. But politics as desperation, as we might call the thought, rarely, if ever, proves out. Almost always it turns out to be an error.

Follow this line, and you want the Kochs to smash what remains of the political process to smithereens. You want the Supreme Court handing down ever more irrational judgments, you want more cops-in-camo shooting African-Americans, you want more unemployment and more reckless ambition among the foreign policy cliques. Then, you declare, people will be stirred out of the stupefied apathy that grips this nation.

We ought to ask ourselves this July 4 the extent to which we are given to this argument. Speaking only for myself, I made the mistake too many times too many years ago not to have learned how wrong it is.

Those who, in another time, made revolution their work knew better. It is amid rising expectations, not falling, that people are most likely to exert themselves in pursuit of authentic change.

The key to this truth, I have always thought, lies in a people’s consciousness of themselves. It is when they get some worthy things done, and so realize the power they possess, that they use it to effect change with true dedication. Nineteenth century Europe offers many examples making the point. If I have my history right, the Russian revolution is a classic case. (And so is the Berlin Wall’s fall.)

But there is no need to go further than the event we now celebrate, thoughtfully or thoughtlessly as the case may be, to find an irrefutable demonstration of the point.

Let’s ask ourselves this July 4: What exactly was on the minds of the signers gathered in Philadelphia 239 summers ago this weekend? Was George III’s boot on the colonists’ necks the primary sensation? The Declaration was the original American case of politics as desperation? It was all about the Stamp Act, the taxes on tea, the Boston Massacre?

Wrong read, obviously. The Declaration was a statement of principle reflecting the confidence of people who had the Boston Tea Party, the First Continental Congress, the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress and Bunker Hill immediately behind them. In Jefferson’s handwriting they read of a future that they understood would belong to them. The document exudes determination in its very cadences.

I mention this for a reason that may be plain by now. As anyone who pays attention knows, we have just witnessed at least two very significant political advances and probably a third. Suddenly, the expectations of many millions are rising.

The gay marriage and health care decisions, handed down by the worst, most corruptly biased Supreme Court to sit in my lifetime, suggest that those judges who are nothing more than creatures of conservative ideology and corporate interests recognized that they would risk a national revolt had they ruled the other way on these questions. This is my read.

What will come of the Charleston murders is still to be determined. But we have already seen an extraordinary display of solidarity and restraint as a forms of power among South Carolina blacks close to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and it looks like this could eventually drive the worst of Old Dixie down.

The point not to be missed: We reach this national day with the wind at last at our backs and the road coming up to meet us, as the Irish say. I see a momentum in the cause of a progressive redefinition of what it means to be American that seemed little more than delusion or a faded memory but a few years ago, so thoroughly did the American right appear to triumph in the name of a perverse notion of patriotism.

Expectations rise. Returning to my original thought, a chance to get still more done, created by way of a lot of sacrifice and hard work, presents itself. What will people do with it? This is our question—not least because the 2016 election draws near, and I will return to these.

A little autobiography here. In many years abroad I often looked back and thought I saw some salutary impulse to resist the marketization of the political process and the commodification of all culture at the hands of corporations possessed of a conscienceless greed. It seemed just under the surface, waiting to break through.

Then I would return on home leave and find everyone kicking the dirt. Talk about diminished expectations. An assumption of powerlessness was everywhere I looked. I found it hard to be around. I had to put what I thought I saw from afar down to illusion, or an incurable streak of optimism wholly in the American grain.

What about Obama’s victory in 2008, you ask. Yes, it seemed at the time a confirmation of the perceptions I describe. I have said this before in this space: I wept tears of joy when McCain capitulated—11 in the morning where I was. But soon enough, the cold, hard judgment rendered by the late, estimable Alex Cockburn seemed more the case: The junior senator was too pretty for his own good, Cockburn wrote before the election, and would never get his hands dirty.

A revised, altogether complicated take on Obama will have to get written, given how things have just turned, but it no longer seems I was so wrong as all that. What I thought I saw now takes form. The events of the past couple of weeks have been crystallizing in this respect.

I leave the foreign side out of this, you will note. It is the dark side of Obama’s moon by any reasonable reckoning.

At writing, there are one and a half exceptions.  Yes, the opening to Cuba is a triumphant stroke. (I wept the morning that was announced, too, half a century’s suffering at American hands finally ended.) Iran may come good, depending on how Secretary of State Kerry does in the final days of negotiations on a deal governing the Iranian nuclear program.

But Cuba is as nothing next to the truly strategic blunders—Russia, Ukraine, Iraq redux, a god-awful misinterpretation of China and its intent and now NATO unbound. By the same token, any Iran deal will be purposely shorn of its proper significance: An agreement with Tehran should open out to a broad rapprochement, so altering numerous dysfunctional relationships, not least Washington’s with Israel. But the White House is already clear that no such potential is to be explored. What Obama wants is primarily to assuage the Israeli right wing, and that is the wrong ambition. It has already cost Egyptians their first attempt at democratic government.

So the Cold War ends in Cuba and begins again on Russia’s western border and across the Pacific. Status quo in the Middle East. This is the Obama record on the foreign side. I count it an appalling legacy.

I do not think we can forget this when celebrating the past couple of weeks’ good news at home. In this there is a lesson in the Obama presidency, and I will return to it shortly.

For now, a couple of things that should be considered next to the crystallizing events of the past couple of weeks.

One is the unexpected (at least among many of us) success of Bernie Sanders since the Vermont senator announced he would run for the Democratic nomination. The other, of considerable importance if of somewhat lesser magnitude, was a remarkable piece published recently on this site called “Hillary Clinton is going to lose: She doesn’t even see the frustrated progressive wave that will nominate Bernie Sanders.”

Numerous students of American politics argue now that Sanders cannot win the nomination and is even further from carrying the election next year; he is important because he shows how weak Hillary is. As of now, both of these judgments seem right.

But I hold to “as of now.” One, Sanders trails Clinton by a startlingly small margin in one poll after another. Two, you do not want to underestimate the power of rising expectations. Think again of the signers in Philadelphia and the events that propelled them there over a very short period. Political landscapes can change very quickly.

Listen to what Sanders has to say. To me it is perfectly clear, and I doubt he would be so shy of the language as American politicians customarily are: He is talking about a social democratic America, which is not a new idea. It is a 19th century idea buried and made “un-American” by very bad Americans posing as patriots.

In terms deployed previously in this space and in the books noted at this column’s end, Sanders is talking about a demythologized America, a nation free of its exceptionalist tradition, one wherein we understand ourselves and what we do in historical terms. Myth or history: In my view, absolutely no distinction is more important now. At bottom, it is putting this question in front of us, if only implicitly, that makes Sanders important.

As to the Salon piece just noted, it is remarkable not only for its argument but also for who makes it. Read it here. Bill Curry was an adviser to Bill Clinton and twice ran for governor on the Democratic ticket in Connecticut. And here he is asserting, “There’s a rumbling out there, but most Democrats are a long way from hearing it, let alone joining in.”

Continue reading here>>>

Bernie Sanders: ‘I’m not a great fan’ of Benjamin Netanyahu

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (screenshot/youtube)


Earlier this week, NPR host Diane Rehm asked Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is competing for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, whether he is an Israeli-American dual citizen (he isn’t). What was less noticed was the dialoguebetween Rehm and Sanders afterward, where they discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sanders went on to explain his views on Netanyahu:

REHM: Tell me your feeling about whether there should be a two-state solution should Palestine be given statehood?

SANDERS: Absolutely. What you have in that part of the world is an unspeakable tragedy. And it seems like it’s never-ending and it seems like it every year gets worse and worse and more killing and more bombings and everything else. And again, Diane, if I had the magical solution to that problem I would be in the president’s office today giving it. I don’t have it. But clearly the goals are two-fold: number one the Palestinian people, in my view, deserve a state of their own, they deserve an economy of their own, they deserve economic support from the people of this country. And Israel needs to be able to live in security without terrorist attacks. Those are the goals of I think any sensible foreign policy in that region.

REHM: How do you believe President Obama’s relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu has affected our relationship with Israel?

SANDERS: Well, I gotta tell you, I am not a great fan of President Netanyahu I did not attend the speech that he gave before the joint session of Congress. I think it was opportunistic. I think he was using it as part of his campaign for re-election. I think he was being used or did use the Republicans to go behind the President’s back. And I think in that region sadly on both sides I don’t think we have the kind of leadership that we need. And so you know I think the President is trying to do the best that he can in enormously difficult circumstances.

Sanders did not call for ending the sizable diplomatic, military and economic support that Israel receives from the United States. He didn’t match the position of his brother, Larry Sanders, who ran for Parliament in Britain under the Green Party ticket in calling for boycotts against Israel.

But it is unusual for a major party candidate seeking the presidency of the United States to criticize Israel’s government during the campaign. Hillary Clinton strongly defended Netanyahu during a summer 2014 interview with the Atlantic and never offered any criticism of his attempt to sink the Iran negotiations. One of her biggest backers is the pro-Israel tycoon Haim Saban, who is working with Sheldon Adelson to crack down on Palestinian activism on American campuses.

Bernie Sanders’ Momentum Is Growing As He Gets 41% Support In Wisconsin Straw Poll


attribution: None


The growing momentum surrounding the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign took another step forward over the weekend. In a display of strength, Sanders got 41% of support in the Wisconsin Democratic Party straw poll to 49% for Hillary Clinton.

Rick Klein of ABC News reported, “Straw polls don’t count for anything, and second place is, well, second place. But how many of these before it will become something? Hillary Clinton captured 49 percent of the vote at the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s convention over the weekend, in a straw poll conducted by The story, though, was second place: Bernie Sanders got 41 percent, just eight points behind Clinton and far ahead of his low-single-digits rivals. It’s the latest sign that Sanders is poised to inherit at least a solid portion of the Ready-for-Warren energy. And it speaks to a longstanding contention that if Clinton is vulnerable, it’s on her left.”

Straw polls are only measures of support by those in attendance. They are not representative samples, so it would be inaccurate to suggest that the result in Wisconsin will translate to the broader electorate. The attendees at events like the state Democratic convention are the dedicated activists. These people are most likely to be drawn to the grassroots activist campaign of Sen. Sanders.

Forner Sec. of State Clinton has tried to reach out to the activist left, but the popularity of Bernie Sanders demonstrates that she still has a lot of work to do in this area. The anti-Hillary activists on the left are galvanizing around Sanders. This is bad news for Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chaffee. O’Malley seems to have been caught completely by surprise by Sanders’ popularity. In a field where there is room for one challenger to Hillary Clinton, O’Malley’s candidacy appears to be redundant and unnecessary.

The segment of the left that thinks Hillary Clinton is too moderate is flocking to Bernie Sanders. As has been shown in previous elections, the activist left is a very small portion of the Democratic Party. The vast majority of Democrats are Obama/Clinton Democrats, but what can’t be denied is that there is real momentum behind the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.

Straw polls are meaningless, but the results in Wisconsin do suggest that the support for Bernie Sanders is very real and that Democrats could be treated to a real primary campaign focused on the issues.

Jason Easley

Poll Finds 80% Of REPUBLICANS Agree With Bernie Sanders On Citizens United


Screen Capture – MSNBC


Sen. Bernie Sanders is often characterized by the media as an out of the mainstream presidential candidate, but a new CBS/New York Times poll revealed that 80% of Republicans agree with Sanders on the issue of getting money out of politics.

The CBS/NYT poll found that:

– 80% of Republicans believe that money has too much influence in our politics.

– 54% believed that most of the time candidates directly help those who gave money to them.

– 81% of Republicans felt that the campaign finance system needed fundamental changes (45%) or a complete rebuild (36%).

– 64% are pessimistic that changes will be made to reform the campaign finance system.

– 71% want to limit the amount that individuals can give to campaigns.

– 73% felt that super PAC spending should be limited by law.

– 76% thought that superPACs should be required to disclose their donors.

All of these positions are held by Bernie Sanders, and the opinion of the majority on each question is the exact opposite of the reasoning used by the majority of the Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision.

Where Republicans differ from the rest of the country is that a substantial number (48%) believe that money is free speech, and they believe that both parties benefit equally (62%), but among those who picked a party that benefitted more, they felt that Democrats (24%) benefitted more from the current campaign finance system than Republicans (6%). Fifty-five percent of Independents and 53% of Democrats felt that money is not free speech. Fifty-two percent of Democrats believe that Republicans benefit more from the current system.

In 2012, Sen. Sanders laid out why Citizens United is the threat to our representative democracy:

This is unprecedented and it is the most savage attack against American democracy, and the concept of one person, one vote that we have seen in our lifetime, and what it is is saying if you are a billionaire, you can buy elections. You can by politicians, and by the way, on the floor of the Senate, on the floor of the House, you can intimidate members, because you will be saying to them if you are going to vote against Wall Street, or the insurance companies, or the military industrial complex, you just do that, and we’re going to have millions of dollars in thirty-second ads in your state this weekend.”

So this whole effort to put huge unprecedented unbelievable amounts of money is the one percent saying look, we’re not content that the top one percent owns forty percent of the wealth. We want more. We want more. We want more, and we’re going to buy the political process to get what we want. So this is the worst assault on the basic democratic traditions which have made our country great that you and I have seen in our lifetimes, and what it means, we have to overturn Citizens United. We have to pass a disclose bill, disclosure legislation next month, which at the very least forces these CEOs to get on television when they do a negative ad, and say I approve this message, and it forces us to know who is contributing.

Overall, 84% of Americans agree with Bernie Sanders that money has too much influence in U.S. politics. Seventy-five percent favor donor disclosure and 77% favor limiting contributions.

Hillary Clinton and President Obama also favor getting the money out of politics, but both of them have been forced to raise huge sums of money in order to be competitive.

Bernie Sanders isn’t as far out of the mainstream as the media likes to believe, and it is also clear that mainstream America wants their country back from the billionaires who are attempting to take it over.

Jason Easley

Bernie Sanders wants to debate GOP candidates now to expose their unpopular ‘reactionary agenda’

Bernie Sanders (MSNBC)

Bernie Sanders (MSNBC)


Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to debate Republican presidential candidates right away so he can expose what their unpopular “reactionary agenda.”

The Democratic presidential candidate appeared Tuesday night on The Rachel Maddow Show, where he said the media’s focus on triviality allows GOP candidates to “get away with murder,” reported Mediaite.

Sanders said Republican candidates want to offset “huge tax breaks for billionaires” with “massive cuts” to programs that help millions of American, including Medicare, Medicaid, and – in the case of likely candidates Jeb Bush and Chris Christie – Social Security.

“They get away with that stuff because a lot of people don’t know what they are talking about,” he said.

Sanders said he would like a debate between Democrats and Republicans during the primary season so he could “confront them honestly and say to their face” what voters should know about their governing intentions.

“When so many seniors are struggling right now, how in God’s name are you talking about cutting Social Security when we should expand it?” Sanders said he would ask. “When kids can’t afford to go to college now, why are you talking about cutting Pell Grants by $90 billion? Why are you on the payroll of the Koch brothers and other billionaires rather than addressing the needs of working families?”

He said a debate would help cut through the horse race-style coverage the media seem to prefer at this point in the presidential campaign.

“If we can confront them and debate issues rather than allow the media to get into political gossip and polling and fundraising, but talk about the issues, I think their agenda does not reflect more than 15 or 20 percent of the American people,” Sanders said.

10 things you need to know today: May 27, 2015

Fifa head Sepp Blatter in 2013 (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)


1.FIFA officials arrested on corruption charges
Swiss authorities arrested several six top soccer officials on Wednesdayso they could be sent to the U.S. to face corruption charges. Plain-clothed officers made the arrests in Zurich as officials were gathering for the annual meeting of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body. Investigators suspect FIFA officials of widespread corruption, including more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks involving World Cup bids, and media deals dating back to the early 1990s. FIFA’s controversial president, Sepp Blatter, is not named in the indictment.

Source: The New York Times, USA Today

2.Cleveland accepts restrictions on police use of force
Cleveland has agreed to let an independent monitor oversee its police and to subject its officers to new restrictions on the use of force under a settlement with the Justice Department announced Tuesday. A federal investigation found a “pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force” by Cleveland police. The announcement came three days after 71 people were arrested protesting the acquittal of a white officer charged with manslaughter in the killing of two unarmed black suspects.

Source: The Washington Post

3.At least 19 confirmed dead after floods hit Texas and Oklahoma
The death toll from unprecedented rains and flooding in Texas and Oklahoma rose to at least 19 on Tuesday. Another 14 remain missing in Texas, including eight members of two families who were in a vacation home swept off by a “wall of water” on the Blanco River. Four died in Houston, which was already flooded when another foot of rain fell on Tuesday. Drivers in the city abandoned at least 2,500 vehicles to seek dry ground. Another 13 people were killed in northern Mexico by a tornado produced by the same storm system.

Source: NBC News, CNN

4.Rick Santorum to announce second bid for the White House
Former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is expected to formally announce Wednesday that he is joining the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Santorum was the runner-up behind nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, but he is polling at around 2 percent, far behind his likely rivals. A devout Catholic staunchly opposed to gay marriage and abortion, he even trailed among evangelical Christians in Iowa. “I’m really going to have an uphill battle ahead of me,” Santorum said in a fundraising email ahead of his announcement.

Source: The Washington Times

5.Appeals court rejects request to lift hold on Obama’s immigration plan
A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied a White House request to lift a ban on President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Obama’s plan, which he unveiled in November, would shield as many as five million immigrants from deportation — including people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Twenty-six states sued to block the order, and a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction in February to keep the plan from being implemented until the lawsuit is settled.

Source: The Associated Press, Fox News

6.Nebraska governor vetoes bill to abolish capital punishment
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) on Tuesday vetoed a bipartisan bill to abolish the death penalty in the state. Ricketts said his action was “a matter of public safety” and giving prosecutors “the tools they need to put these dangerous hardened criminals behind bars.” Lawmakers scheduled aWednesday vote to override the veto. The bill would make Nebraska the first conservative state to scrap capital punishment. It passed with two votes more than needed to override a veto, but at least one “yes” vote has publicly changed his mind.

Source: The New York Times

7.Hackers access 100,000 taxpayers’ old IRS returns
Cyber thieves stole tax return information for more than 100,000 taxpayers this year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said on Tuesday. The criminals used the agency’s “Get Transcript” online service to download old tax returns. About half of their 200,000 attempts to get information were successful. The IRS is investigating. “We’re confident these are not amateurs,” Koskinen said. “These are actually organized crime syndicates that not only we but everyone in the financial industry are dealing with.”

Source: Reuters

8.Extreme heat kills 1,100 in southern India
A heatwave has killed more than 1,100 people in India, as temperatures rose above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Authorities said Tuesday that most of the victims were elderly, homeless, or construction workers in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The deadly heat reportedly has melted roads in the capital, New Delhi. Weather forecasters said the deadly temperatures, would continue through the week, with no relief until a monsoon hits the Indian mainland around May 31.

Source: Hindustan Times

9. Sanders launches bid for the presidency
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially launched his campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday. Sanders promised to make fighting income inequality his priority as he appealed to the party’s progressive wing in a longshot attempt to beat frontrunner Hillary Clinton. He said there was “something profoundly wrong” when the nation’s richest 1 percent have so much while others struggle. “This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about,” he said.

Source: USA Today

10.Lebron James is headed back to the NBA Finals
The Cleveland Cavaliers routed the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night 118-88 on their way to another shot at the NBA Championship. It will be the second appearance for Cleveland in the league’s premier event, and the sixth for star Lebron James. In sweeping the Hawks in four games, Lebron became the first player in NBA history to average 30 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — a hair short of the a triple double — in a playoff series. The Cavaliers will next play the winner of the Golden State-Houston series on June 4 in the first game of the NBA Finals.

Source: ESPN

Harold Maass

Daily Kos Recommended

From my INBOX – 5-18-2015:


















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

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The Week

1.Police and soldiers swarm Baltimore to prevent further rioting
Thousands of police and National Guard troops patrolled Baltimore to enforce an overnight curfew to prevent further rioting over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a fatal injury in police custody. Police arrested 10 people, but said the curfew was working. On Monday, 20 officers were injured, and more than 250 people were arrested. President Obama said there was “no excuse” for the violence and looting, which he said distracted from the message of peaceful protesters.

Source: Reuters, ABC News

2.Justices split sharply over gay marriage
The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments on whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married. Liberal and conservative justices appeared sharply divided — Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked whether groups of four people should have the right to marry, and Justice Stephen Breyer said marriage was a fundamental freedom for all couples. Justice Anthony Kennedy asked lawyers on both sides tough questions. A ruling is expected in late June or early July.

Source: The New York Times, Detroit Free Press

3.Bali Nine executed in Indonesia despite clemency pleas
Australia withdrew its ambassador in protest after Indonesia executed eight convicted drug traffickers from several countries early Wednesdaydespite calls for clemency from around the world. Two Australians identified as leaders of the so-called Bali Nine — Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan — were among the inmates shot dead by firing squad, punishment Indonesia justifies as crucial to its drug war. The execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a Philippine woman caught in 2010 carrying heroin in her suitcase, was delayed.

Source: Reuters, Voice of America

4.Man pulled from rubble in Nepal after 80 hours
Rescuers pulled a 28-year-old man out of a collapsed apartment building in the Nepalese capital of Katmandu on Tuesday, after he spent 80 hours trapped in the rubble after Saturday’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake. “It seems he survived by sheer willpower,” said Akhilesh Shrestha, a doctor who treated him. The death toll has risen past 5,000 in Nepal — with about 100 more dead in India and China — but storms are hampering search and rescue crews. Nepalese government officials have said the death toll could reach 10,000.

Source: Daily Mail, CNN

5.Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders reportedly plans run for president as Democrat
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plans to run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, according to multiple reports. The news was first reported by Vermont Public Radio. Sanders, 73, is technically an independent, but caucuses with the Democrats. He had previously hinted at a presidential run and is expected to make a formal announcementThursday. If he does, he will become the second official Democratic candidate in the 2016 race, after Hillary Clinton.

Source: NBC News, Vermont Public Radio

6.Missing schoolgirls not among girls rescued from Boko Haram camp
The Nigerian army rescued about 200 girls and 93 women from Boko Haram militants on Tuesday, but said none of the more than 200 girls abducted in April 2014 from a school in Chibok were among them. The rescue took place at a Boko Haram camp in the Sambisa Forest, a stronghold of the Islamist extremist group in northeastern Nigeria not far from Chibok. The plight of the Chibok schoolgirls has attracted worldwide attention. Dozens escaped but 219 are still missing.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

7.NFL drops its tax-exempt status
The NFL is dropping its tax-exempt status, which critics in Congress had said was depriving the government of millions in annual taxes. Houston Texans owner Robert McNair, chair of the league’s finance committee, said in a Tuesday statement that the league’s 32 football teams have always paid taxes, and the league office’s status had become a “distraction.” One result of paying taxes is that the NFL will no longer have to reveal Commissioner Roger Goodell’s compensation, which has exceeded $30 million in recent years.

Source: USA Today

8.Gov. Jerry Brown pushes $10,000 fine for California’s worst water wasters
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said Tuesday that he wants to hike the maximum penalty for the most egregious cases of wasting water from $500 to $10,000 as the state tries to conserve water in a historic drought. The recommendation is part of a proposal to expand enforcement of water restrictions aiming to slash water consumption by as much as 36 percent. “We’ve done a lot. We have a long way to go,” Brown said after a meeting with mayors from 14 cities.

Source: Los Angeles Times

9. Jack Ely, Kingsmen lead singer who made Louie, Louie famous, dies at 71
Jack Ely, who sang the iconic 1963 hit Louie, Louie, died Tuesday at his home in Oregon. He was 71. Ely was just 20 years old when, as lead singer of The Kingsmen, he crowded into a Portland recording studio with his bandmates and shouted the unintelligible lyrics of the Richard Barry song, which would make such a mark that bands from the Beach Boys to Nirvana would record their own versions. The FBI investigated complaints of lewd words in Ely’s version, but concluded it was “unintelligible at any speed.”

Source: The Associated Press

10.An American in Paris and Fun Home lead Tony nominations
An American in Paris and Fun Home led this year’s Tony Award nominations, which were released Tuesday. An American in Paris is a dance-driven adaptation of the 1951 Oscar-winning movie; Fun Home is a chamber musical based on Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical novel. Both got 12 Tony nods. Something Rotten, a satire about the world’s first musical, set in Elizabethan England, was not far behind with 11 nominations. All three are in the running for the coveted award for best new musical, the prize with the biggest impact on box office sales.

Source: The Washington Post, The New York Times

10 things you need to know today: March 20, 2015

(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The Week

1.ISIS claims responsibility for Tunisian museum massacre
The Islamic State on Thursday claimed responsibility for a Wednesday attack on a Tunisian museum that left 20 foreign tourists and three Tunisians dead. ISIS called the attack “the first drop of rain” in the northern African nation, although there was no proof of its involvement. Tunisia said it had arrested nine people in connection with the attack, and that it would deploy soldiers to major cities to ramp up security against terrorists. The foreign victims came from Japan, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.

Source: Reuters

2.Obama uses video greeting to urge Iranians to support nuclear deal
President Obama made a direct appeal to young Iranians to pressure their leaders into accepting a proposed agreement to curtail the country’s controversial nuclear program. “A nuclear deal now can open the door to a brighter future for you, the Iranian people,” Obama said. The message was included in Obama’s greeting to Iranians for Nowruz, the Persian New Year celebration. The message came two weeks after Senate Republicans sent a letter to Iranian leaders warning that any deal with Obama could be unraveled after his term ends.

Source: The New York Times

3.Netanyahu backs down after ruling out Palestinian state
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fresh off a parliamentary electionupset victory, backed away Thursday from a late campaign promise to block the establishment of a Palestinian state as long as he remained in office. He saidThursday that he still supported creating a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes Israel, but that circumstances would have to change for a two-state solution to work. In a sign of how far relations between the two leaders had deteriorated, U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly told Netanyahu directly that his campaign comments had forced the United States to “re-assess” its options on the two-state solution.

Source: MSNBC, Haaretz

4.Arctic sea ice levels reach record winter lows
Arctic sea ice reached record lows for winter this year, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced Thursday. The levels fluctuate from year to year — summer ice levels hit record lows in 2012, then rebounded some in the next two years. Another recent study, however, found Arctic sea ice had thinned dramatically in recent decades as global temperatures have risen, thinning ice in the Arctic by 65 percent between 1975 and 2012.

Source: BBC News, Vox

5.Congressional Republicans advance budget plans
The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee on Thursday signed off on a budget proposal calling for cutting Medicaid and other social programs, and repealing ObamaCare. The plan promises $5 trillion in deficit reduction over a decade, largely due to those cuts. The proposal advanced on a 22-13 party-line vote. Senate Republicans are trying to advance their version, which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said gave the rich tax breaks while cutting programs for “some of the most vulnerable” Americans.

Source: The Associated Press

6.Judge blocks release of grand jury testimony in Eric Garner chokehold death
A New York judge refused Thursday to release testimony heard by the grand jury in the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer put him in a chokehold. The grand jury decision not to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, sparked protests. Civil rights groups tried to make the evidence from the hearing public, but District Attorney Daniel Donovan argued that would “damage the credibility of prosecutors” guaranteeing witnesses and jurors confidentiality.

Source: The Associated Press

7.Police investigate hanging death of black man found in Mississippi
A black man was found dead, hanging by a bed sheet from a tree in Mississippion Thursday. The man was believed to be 54-year-old Otis Byrd, who had not been seen since March 2 and was reported missing March 8. The tree was just over a quarter mile from a house belonging to Byrd’s family. It is too early to say “what happened out there, if it is a suicide, a homicide,” said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack. The man’s arms were not bound.

Source: CNN

8.Google announces development of smartwatch
Google announced Thursday that it was entering the smartwatch war. The internet search giant is teaming up with Intel and watchmaker TAG Heuer to create a luxury smartwatch using Intel hardware and Google’s Android Wear operating system. The announcement suggested Apple’s newly unveiled Apple Watch, which goes on sale April 24 for $349, could be in for stiff competition. Google did not provide details on the pricing or features of its device.

Source: Bloomberg

9. Nigeria makes gains against Boko Haram ahead of election
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is up for reelection next week, said in an interview aired Friday that soldiers could retake all of the towns seized by the ISIS-linked group Boko Haram within a month. At the start of the year, Boko Haram controlled an area the size of Belgium, with 20 local government districts. Now it has just three, thanks to a regional offensive by Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Nigeria, the Nigerian army says.

Source: The Guardian (Nigeria), Reuters

10.March Madness kicks off with two upsets
Two No. 3 seeds fell in the first full day of the NCCA men’s basketball tournament on Thursday. First, No. 14 seed U.A.B. beat Iowa State, a No. 3 seed ranked the ninth best team in the country, by a score of 60-59; then, No. 14 Georgia State upset Baylor, 87-86, on a late 3-point shot. Another of the four No. 3 seeds, Notre Dame, held off a surprisingly strong challenge, beating No. 14 seed Northeastern, 69-65.

Source: The Associated Press, The Plain Dealer

10 things you need to know today: June 11, 2014

A stunning defeat. 

A stunning defeat. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Week

Eric Cantor suffers a stunning primary defeat, insurgents take over Iraq’s No. 2 city, and more

1. Tea Party-backed challenger upsets Eric Cantor in GOP primary
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) suffered a stunning primary defeat Tuesday at the hands of David Brat, a Tea Party-backed economics professor. Brat defeated the No. 2 House Republican soundly after criticizing him for not being conservative enough. Brat also called Cantor soft on immigration. The upset was one of the biggest yet in the battle for control of the Republican Party. [The New York Times]


2. Iraq’s second largest city falls to insurgents
Al Qaeda-linked insurgents took over Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, on Tuesday, marking a major setback two years after U.S. troops left the country. A half million people fled the city after a five-day outbreak of violence in oil-rich northern Iraq increased fears that the military was caving to the insurgents. White House spokesman Josh Earnest condemned the violence, calling the situation “extremely serious.” [Fox News]


3. Student dies in Oregon school shooting
A teen with a rifle entered Reynolds High school in suburban Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday and opened fire, killing a student — Emilio Hoffman, 14 — and injuring a teacher. The gunman was killed, too, police said. It appeared that he shot himself, although police did not confirm it. The group Everytown for Gun Safety said the shooting was the 74th incident involving guns since the deadly 2012 Newtown, Conn., rampage. [Los Angeles TimesThe Oregonian]


4. Obama calls for “soul-searching” over gun violence
President Obama on Tuesday said that Americans “should be ashamed” that even the mildest restrictions on guns can’t pass Congress despite the nation’s “off the charts” gun violence. The comments came after a flurry of high-profile shootings, including the murder of two Las Vegas police officers and a civilian on Monday, and a Portland school shooting on Tuesday. “The country has to do some soul-searching about this,” Obama said. [BBC News]


5. California court throws out rules on public school teacher tenure
A Los Angeles County judge on Tuesday struck down California rules on tenure for teachers. The plaintiffs argued that the rules made it too hard to fire ineffective public school teachers. Judge Rolf Treu concluded that tenure did have a negative effect on the education of children, primarily black and Latino students, saying it violated “students’ fundamental right to equality of education” under the state’s constitution. [The Christian Science Monitor]


6. VA scandal sparks rare bipartisanship in Congress
The scandal surrounding Veterans Affairs health-care waiting lists appears to have brought bitterly divided Republicans and Democrats together. After an audit released this week revealed that the problem was worse than previously believed, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and left-leaning-independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) quickly found common ground on a proposal to give rural veterans vouchers to see private doctors if VA physicians can’t see them promptly. [Arizona Republic]


7. FAA approves first commercial drone flights over land
The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that it had granted permission for the first commercial drone flights over U.S. soil. The FAA authorized oil giant BP and drone-maker AeroVironment to use a hand-launched Puma drone to survey pipelines and other facilities in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. The first flight was Sunday. The approval marked the FAA’s latest attempt to loosen restrictions on unmanned aircraft. [The Washington Post]


8. Ireland launches investigation of mass grave at home for unwed mothers
Ireland’s government announced on Tuesday that it would investigate high mortality rates and evidence of abuse at homes for unmarried mothers decades ago. Researcher Catherine Corless concluded recently that 796 children, most of them infants, had died of malnutrition, pneumonia, and other causes at a home run by a Catholic religious order between 1925 and 1962. The babies were buried in an unused septic tank. [The Associated Press]


9. Ted Cruz formally ditches Canadian citizenship
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has received notice from Canada, the country of his birth, that hisrenunciation of his Canadian citizenship has officially taken effect. Cruz’s American mother and Cuban father, who later gained U.S. citizenship, lived in Alberta when he was born, giving him dual citizenship. Cruz is a potential 2016 presidential candidate, and the move could preempt questions about his eligibility. [The Dallas Morning News]


10. Women’s moles might hint at breast cancer risk
The number of moles a woman has on her skin might be an indicator of breast cancer risk, according to two new studies. American and French scientists have found that women with more moles are at higher risk — 35 percent higher than women with no moles, one study found, if they have 15 or more moles on a single arm. Still, researchers say more research is necessary to explain the link. [CBS News]