House Tea Partiers to the World: Burn, Baby, Burn…

Ron Sachs/Zuma; Amanda Lewis/iStock


Chaos, chaos, and chaos. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s withdrawal from the speaker’s racehas caused disarray—that is, greater disarray—within the House GOP conference. Hours after McCarthy’s announcement, there was no word of what comes next. Who might jump in? Would a caretaker candidate emerge? How long could Speaker John Boehner stay in the job? And, it seemed, the House tea partiers who had somewhat caused this crisis—they had succeeded in driving Boehner from the job and had deemed McCarthy insufficiently conservative—were yearning for more chaos. The House Freedom Caucus, the tea party GOPers, put out this statement:

Note that last sentence: “The next Speaker needs to yield back power to the membership for the sake of both the institution and the country.” In other words, we don’t want a speaker who is going to try to govern in a time of divided government; we don’t want a speaker who will endeavor to forge a compromise on behalf of the GOP conference and make the system work; and, as a government shutdown looms and a possible debt ceiling crisis approaches, we want a speaker who will step to the side and let the chaos reign. This is the congressional equivalent of “burn, baby, burn.”

The Pope’s Visit Couldn’t Come at a More Critical Time in American Politics


Pope Francis’ six-day tour of the eastern United States could not have come at a more critical moment. He has metwith President Barack Obama at the White House, addressed a joint session of Congress and will preside over massive audiences across three cities. Millions of Americans are watching the pope as he delivers a message of equality at a time of raised public concern over broad problems like homelessness, climate change, income inequality, tribal sovereignty and anti-black racism, all coming amid a presidential election cycle.

Some contenders in the current race to the White House are not sheepish regarding their religious affiliations. Republican candidates like Rick SantorumBobby Jindal and Dr. Ben Carson, among others, have spoken publicly about matters of faith. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, for example, told the Huffington Post “God is much more real to me than the clouds.” These candidates, as well as American voters, say their faith informs their stances on issues as far ranging as same-sex marriage to women’s reproductive rights.

Faith can be dangerous when used to wrest freedom from the public, but as the pope — a contested symbol of moral and religious authority — illustrates, it can also produce visions of a more just society. So how can faith make an impact when it comes to transforming this country for the better?

Pope Francis's Visit Couldn't Come at a More Critical Time in American Politics

Source: Filippo Monteforte/Getty Images

Faith matters. The ways faith is wielded in the public sphere is equally important. Religious convictions can ultimately shape how the public votes in elections, the policies accepted or admonished within government, as well as the formation of social relationships in any given society. It is possible, however, to publicly profess religious belief without brandishing it as a weapon.

In an extensive 2004 interview by Cathleen Falsani, former Chicago Sun-Times religion reporter, republished bySojourners in 2012, then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama said, “I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God’s mandate. I think there is this tendency that I don’t think is healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism or dialogue with people who disagree with them.”

But should public policy be determined by faith, or should it be guided by a principled commitment to equity and the public good? Faith can, in fact, inspire both politicians and the voting public to embrace justice and equity.

“As a religious leader, I know my tradition — reformed Christianity — offers an alternative vision of a good society,” the Rev. Duane Bidwell — associate professor of practical theology, spiritual care and counseling at Claremont School of Theology in California — told Mic. “That vision serves as a critical utopia or measure for how we live our public life together in the United States. It’s the bar we are trying to reach.”

Yet, there are some who fail to make a distinction between the state and church. Recently, for example, Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis made national headlines after being held in contempt of court and jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses because of her religious convictions. She was lambasted by progressive critics and heralded the Rosa Parks of this cause by some Republicans.

Pope Francis's Visit Couldn't Come at a More Critical Time in American Politics

Kim DavisSource | Ty Wright/Getty Images

Beyond the obvious outrage stemming from the negative impact Davis’ actions have had on LGBTQ constituents in her municipality, her faith-inspired act ultimately revealed Christianity is not a monolithic religion. Not all Christians believe that same-sex marriage is wrong. In fact, some Christians view Davis’ actions as antithetical to Christian teachings.

“As a Palestinian-American Christian, who practices Quakerism, I refuse to allow the religious right in the U.S. to have a monopoly on Christianity,” Sa’ed Atshan, visiting assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College told Mic. “For instance, I see deep faith and ethics based on compassion, not in the homophobia of Davis, but in the countless Christian leaders across the country helping young LGBT people reconcile their faith and sexuality.”

“Do no harm” is an ethic that should ultimately guide the ways faith is exerted in the public domain. Furthering inequality by failing to adhere to laws that protect vulnerable populations because of one’s selective reading of religious texts, like Davis did, is the wrong way to use faith, especially among elected officials.

As the Rev. Valerie Bridgeman, associate professor of homiletics and Hebrew Bible at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, told Mic, “The Bible does not ‘trump’ the constitution in this democracy. The state is not the church.”

Religious plurality is necessary and religious liberty is equally crucial. Protection from the power of religious influence on legislation advancing equality is vital too. Vulnerable members of the American public should not have to seek legal intervention because public servants caused harm based on claims of religious liberty and exemption. That is an example of faith gone wrong — a type of faith practice that the public should be wary about.

And yet, “nearly 3/4 of the public (72%) now thinks religion is losing influence in American life,” the Pew Research Center reported based on results from a 2014 survey it conducted on religion and politics. The most shocking finding, however, was Pew’s conclusion that “most people who say religion’s influence is waning see this as a bad thing.”

The sudden diminishing of religious influence in the U.S. may or may not be named a “bad thing” depending on those offering their assessments. The fundamentally religious, like presidential candidate Carson — who opposes same-sex marriage and has made has made Islamophobic statements — may identify the waning of religious influence as a troublesome trend. Groups for whom religious belief has been cited as a rationale for their inequitable treatment in the U.S. might view this trend positively, however.

Ravi Perry, associate professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, said to Mic, “From Kim Davis’ illegal insistence on a right to express her faith even when it conflicts with the law of the government for whom she works, to Dr. Ben Carson’s belief that Muslims should not be president, to conservatives lamenting Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States, the trampling of actual religious liberty in favor of right-wing conservative Christianity is rampant right now.” But there is more than one way to be Christian and express one’s belief.

Faith and politics in the U.S. are deeply enmeshed and have always been. Because of the confluence of faith and politics throughout U.S. history, the line that separates the church and state is often blurred. Aspects of American life that might otherwise be considered matters of faith are often politicized as a result.

Even the Pope’s visit has raised the ire of both the conservative right and liberal left. On one hand “Francis is [viewed] as a change agent who has deemphasized traditional concerns like contraception, abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research” to the chagrin of conservatives, including the six Republican presidential candidates who are Catholic, according to the Washington Post.

And yet, as CNN’s Carol Costello wrote, “[W]hile the Pope has talked in a more merciful way about moral issues, the church still opposes same-sex marriage, women priests, married priests, divorce, birth control and abortion.” 

The answer to the question of which side is right must begin with an assessment of whether or not one’s faith is exercised with care or disregard for the public. The moral authority will always be on the side of those advancing the vision of a beloved community. As the Pope shared during his presentation to the U.S. Congress on Thursday, politics is “an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good….”

His visit presents an opportunity to see where the U.S. and the Vatican fall along those lines. 

Darnell L. Moore

Congress Passes First Major Rollback Of Post-9/11 Surveillance


AP Photo / Charles Dharapak


The vote in the Senate Tuesday was 67-32. The House already has passed the bill, and President Barack Obama plans to sign it quickly.

The legislation will phase out, over six months, the once-secret National Security Agency bulk phone records collection program made public two years ago by agency contractor Edward Snowden.

It will be replaced by a program that keeps the records with phone companies but allows the government to search them with a warrant.

Senate Republican leaders opposed the House bill but were forced to accept it unchanged after senators rejected last-ditch attempts to amend it.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Antonin Scalia lives in a fairy-tale world: His delusional Obamacare theories will make people die

Antonin Scalia lives in a fairy-tale world: His delusional Obamacare theories will make people die

Antonin Scalia (Credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


“Intellectual” justice thinks Congress will fix ACA. Really? If exchanges fall apart, people will lose coverage

By now the nine justices on the Supreme Court have reached their decision on the King v. Burwell lawsuit. It remains a secret until the court hands down its opinion in June.

The plaintiffs are four Virginia residents who have challenged the provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a Federal Health Care Insurance Exchange as a fallback for states that elected not to establish state exchanges.

If they prevail, an estimated 9 million Americans in 34 states that did not set up exchanges—in most cases because their governments objected to the ACA itself—lose the federal subsidies that make insurance coverage purchased on the federal exchange affordable.

The litigation’s perverse contradictions begin with the plaintiffs. To get standing to sue, their incomes had to be low enough to qualify for IRS tax subsidies provided through the ACA. Although they qualify, they do not want subsidies. Refusing subsidies, they claim they are illegally “coerced” into paying a small ($95) tax penalty for not buying insurance they cannot afford without subsidies.

Again, perverse.

If they prevail, more than 319,000 of their fellow Virginians will lose subsidies they currently receive. Absent the subsidies, they will probably be unable to afford health care coverage.

Another perverse contradiction. There is no state exchange in Virginia, because the GOP majority in the General Assembly refused to establish one, leaving those 319,000 Virginians to purchase health care coverage on the federal exchange. One logical resolution to the impending insurance crisis would be to allow voters in Virginia—and in the other states that have refused to set up exchanges—to go to the ballot box and oust the legislators who rejected a state exchange.

But the crisis is not political. It is actuarial. It is immediate. And it is much larger than Virginia.

“[A ruling for the plaintiffs] precipitates the insurance market death spirals that the statutory findings specifically say the statute was designed to avoid,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor during oral arguments.

The “death spiral” begins with the mass cancellation of subsidized policies that will follow a ruling against the federal exchange. Only the sickest individuals, who dare not risk going uncovered, will remain insured. The departure of healthy individuals will drive premiums higher, which will encourage more and more people to pay the tax penalty rather than pay soaring insurance premiums.

The loss of an anticipated 9 million healthier individuals who purchased coverage through the federal exchange will reverberate through all the states until the entire insurance system is no longer viable.

Yet another contradiction was articulated by Justice Antonin Scalia. His questions in printed transcripts are always unequivocal. What one misses by not sitting in the courtroom is his anger, contempt for counsel with whom he disagrees, and rank sarcasm.

“What about, what about Congress?” Scalia asked. “You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all of these disastrous consequences ensue … Congress adjusts, enacts a statute that takes care of the problem. It happens all the time. Why is it not going to happen here?”

When Solicitor General Donald Verrilli responded, “Well, this Congress, Your Honor,” Scalia cut him off.

“I don’t care what Congress you’re talking about. If the consequences are as disastrous as you say, so many million people without insurance and what not, yes, I think this Congress would act.”

Justice Clarence Thomas claims he never reads a newspaper. (He also hasn’t asked a question from the bench since February 22, 2006.) Antonin Scalia is worldly, informed and engaged.

He was probably aware that exactly 29 days before the Court heard arguments on King v. Burwell on March 4, the Republican-controlled House voted to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act. If he missed that 239-186 vote, he must know something about the 59 House votes since 2011 that would have repealed part or all of the Affordable Care Act.

Even if the House were to decide to “fix” the ACA, which would require changing one dependent clause in a 2,700-page statute, it could not do so.

One week before oral arguments, House Speaker John Boehner was embarrassed by his own caucus when a bill he brought to the floor to fund the Department of Homeland Security for one week failed for lack of Republican support.

The Supreme Court decision that comes down at the end of next month is decisive and of enormous consequence. If a majority of the justices rule against the ACA, neither the Congress nor the 34 state legislatures that refused to create state exchanges can act in time to save the health care system.

Subsidies will end immediately.

And the death spiral will begin in July.

Paul Ryan Went On Fox News To Defend Amtrak Safety Funding. It Didn’t Go Well.

Paul Ryan on Fox News Channel

Paul Ryan on Fox News Channel | CREDIT: FOX NEWS


At least seven people died and 200 were injured in Tuesday’s Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia — even though technology exists that could have prevented the tragedy. A day after his Republican colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to cut about one-fifth of Amtrak’s budget, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) incorrectly claimed that Congress had already funded implementing the safety system it mandated in 2008.

Positive Train Control (PTC) would allow railroads to use GPS to stop or slow trains in cases of driver emergencies, switches left in the wrong position, hijacking, natural disasters, or other human error. Seven years ago, Congress enacted the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which required the nation’s busiest railroad operators to have these technologies fully in place by December 2015. Though Amtrak’s president has called PTC “the most important rail safety advancement of our time,” the chronicallycash-strapped Amtrak has struggled to put in place its Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) PTC technology system on the timetable it planned and the section of track where Tuesday’s accident occurred lacks it. The train was reportedly traveling at more than 100 miles per hour in a 50 MPH zone. Robert Sumwalt, the National Transportation Safety Board official leading the investigation into Tuesday’s crash, made clear on Wednesday, “Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”

Paul Ryan, who has made budget cuts a top priority, warned in a Fox News interview on Thursday that Congress cannot “rush to judgment and try doubling the size of government programs” in response to what he believes was “human error.”

Ryan noted that Congress had already “authorized and mandated the sort of speed control systems to be put in place,” though he noted “it wasn’t put in place here at this time.” Asked by Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade whether Congress had actually funded those systems, Ryan claimed that they had.

“Yes!” Ryan responded, “Yeah, we already passed an Amtrak funding, an authorization bill earlier this year. And the appropriations process is working its way through right now.”

Ryan did not note that this appropriation would be well below Amtrak’s request which had included millions for PTC — and below even the past several years’ funding levels. And if Congress had provided the necessary funds to install PTC across the country, there would be no need for a Senate bill filed just weeks ago to delay the implementation deadline from December 2015 to 2020.

Watch the video:

Ryan said he hoped “cooler heads can prevail” and “people won’t seize on political opportunities out of tragedies like this” to spend more money. Asked whether he thought rebuilding America’s infrastructure should be a priority, Ryan noted that the Highway Trust Fund goes bankrupt later this month but that he would not back tax increases for infrastructure improvement as “we can do better by saving more money [and] being more efficient.”

James Dobson: Gay Marriage Will Lead To Civil War


Probably not, Mr. Dobson…

 Right Wing Watch

James Dobson, the founder of the Religious Right behemoth Focus on the Family, warned in a recent conference call with fellow anti-gay activists that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality could lead to a full-blown civil war.

After Janet Porter, the creator of a new “documentary” about how the gay rights movement will outlaw Christianity, discussed her “restraining order” campaign to convince Congress to strip the Supreme Court of its authority to rule on marriage cases, Dobson said that his fellow activists “need to be realistic about what we’re up against here.”

He said that the gay rights issue has reached an unprecedented “level of intensity” and put the country on the brink of conflict: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”

Dobson also claimed that marriage equality will lead to the collapse of the nation: “The country can be no stronger than its families. I really believe if what the Supreme Court is about to do is carried through with, and it looks like it will be, then we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two. I just am convinced of that. So we need to do everything we can to try to hold it back and to preserve the institution of marriage.”

He added that a “discouraged” congressman — whom he later identified as Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp — told him that his colleagues in Congress are “scared to death” about coming out against marriage equality. “We don’t have support really anywhere in government,” Dobson lamented.

“I agree with [Home School Legal Defense Association founder] Michael Farris that the only thing we can do is to have a state constitutional convention to re-examine the Constitution,” Dobson said. “I wish I could say I believe pouring a lot of opposition, which may not even be there now, onto the Supreme Court is going to make a big difference.”

Other activists appearing on the conference call included Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, Rick Scarborough of Vision America and Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality.

Ted Cruz is Trying and Failing to Weasel Out of His Obamacare Duplicity


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) | Attribution: none

Note: As other GOP Presidential candidates announce their intention to run, TFC will have less news on Ted Cruz.

Sen. Ted Cruz was the first candidate to announce his intention to run for the presidency, hence the incessant coverage from all news outlets…

Daily Banter

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is a master at what Al Franken used to call “weasel words” — talking points that are carefully constructed to sound legitimate but really aren’t at all. Come to think of it, Stephen Colbert famously referred to this sort of thing as “truthiness.” Cruz is especially on his game when the topic of the complicated Affordable Care Act comes up because even top-shelf reporters don’t quite grasp all of the ins and outs of Obamacare and, frankly, the administration hasn’t been very strong at educating the public about what the law covers. And Cruz is exploiting every square mile of this supercolossal Obamacare ignorance gap.

For the last two days or so, Ted Cruz has repeatedly said that 1) as a member of the Senate, he’s required to have an Obamacare policy, 2) in spite of this requirement he was on his wife’s insurance policy until just recently, and 3) Congress is exempt from Obamacare because of an illegal move by the president. So, Obamacare is mandatory now, but it wasn’t before, and it’s actually not any more because of the allegedly “illegal” Obama exemption.

On Wednesday, Cruz sat down with a reporter from an outfit called The Daily Signal and delivered this troika of nonsense once again.

1) First, Cruz again described how for two years he’s been on his wife’s insurance — not an apparently mandatory congressional Obamacare plan.

When I announced the campaign, my wife also decided to take an unpaid leave of absence from her job. We have been for the past couple of years covered on my wife’s health insurance. When she took an unpaid leave of absence, it means that she’s also losing her benefits. And so we’re gonna do what anyone else would do, which is take their health insurance from their employer. So, in all likelihood, we’ll go on the exchange.

2) After discussing so-called “Obama subsidies,” Cruz then described why Obamacare is a requirement for members of Congress.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley introduced an amendment to Obamacare that said members of Congress have to be on the exchanges with no subsidies just like millions of Americans.

So, the “amendment” stipulates that members “have to be on the exchanges with no subsidies.” When he first mentioned this to CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday, he said it was “one of the great things about Obamacare.” Then why is he still not on the exchange? It’s because members of Congress really don’t “have to” use Obamacare — unless they choose employer-based health insurance from the government. If they do, the government’s plan is now the exchange rather than the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. If members and staffers don’t want employer coverage, they can buy a plan directly from a provider or go without insurance. On top of all that, there’s absolutely nothing in the Affordable Care Act that says Congress isn’t permitted to receive subsidies or premium-sharing. Nothing. Cruz lied.

3) Next, even though he said he plans to follow the law (he hasn’t for two years now, but okay) which he claims features an Obamacare requirement, he goes on to say that Congress doesn’t have to use Obamacare after all because the White House carved out an exemption for Congress.

Now, Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats when this passed were horrified. They didn’t wanna be under Obamacare. They went to Obama and said, “Give us a special exemption.” And Barack Obama did, and his administration ignored the plain text of the statute and created an illegal exemption. I have no intention of using that illegal exemption. I’m gonna follow the law.

Inexplicably, he wants viewers to think Congress is no longer mandated to be on Obamacare (it never was) — that Congress has an “illegal” waiver to get around Grassley’s amendment. In fact, the spirit of Grassley’s language is still intact and in effect. The “exemption” is, in reality, the Office of Personnel Management’s decision to continue to cover 72 percent of the premium costs for Congress and its staffers — just like both the government and private businesses alike always have. There was no “plain text of the statute” to ignore because, to repeat, there’s nothing in the law that says Congress can’t have a premium sharing employer benefit.

While we’re here, let’s get to the bottom of who lobbied the administration for this so-called “exemption.” Politico reported that it was a collaboration between Harry Reid and Senate Democrat John Boehner. Wait. Boehner’s not a Senate Democrat like Cruz said. He’s the Republican Speaker of the House. It was a completely bipartisan move that included both the White House and congressional leaders. Let’s clear another thing up. Grassley merely proposed an amendment that failed. The Democrats later resurrected and adapted the idea and wrote it into the body of the law. Grassley only deserves partial credit for the rule, since it was ultimately a Democratic decision.

More weasel words from Cruz:

So suddenly the media goes, “Hahahaha! Gotcha!” Because Cruz is now signing up for Obamacare. Listen, I have zero intention of take any government subsidy or Obama subsidy. Rather, what I’m gonna do is pay on the marketplace for health insurance for my family, just like millions of Americans.

Well, he won’t get a subsidy because he earns significantly more than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level — the upper limit to receive premium subsidies. Notice, though, that he didn’t say “premium sharing” or “cost sharing” or “employer contribution.” He said “subsidy.” Why would he go on the Obamacare exchange, a politically dangerous move, other than for the better deal: comparable benefits and continued employer premium sharing, just like his wife’s old plan? If he intends, on the other hand, to pay his premium dues entirely out-of-pocket without any premium sharing, why didn’t he just enroll in COBRA through Goldman Sachs or buy insurance directly from a provider, sidestepping the political mess he’s in? Obviously because he wants the premium sharing, which technically isn’t a subsidy but rather a employee benefit — just like millions of Americans receive through their employers.

It’s one thing to abide by a law you don’t like, which happens all the time, but it’s another thing entirely to abide by a law you don’t like even though you have numerous alternative options to choose from. Instead, he chose Obamacare, which he hates, and, worse, he clearly plans to accept the premium sharing “exemption” that he keeps saying was an illegal plot by the Senate Democrats. Why is he doing this? Because it’s a fantastic deal and, financially, he’d be insane not to take it. Politically, however, it was a massive blunder. You know why the press is saying “gotcha!” right now? Because Cruz just blindly derped his way into a gigantic bear trap — an unforced error — and now he’s trying to weasel out of it.

10 things you need to know today: March 3, 2015

Getty Images

The Week

1.Netanyahu says he means no disrespect to Obama with speech
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his Tuesday speech to Congress was not intended to be a show of disrespect to President Obama, but that he felt a “moral obligation” to speak out against Obama’s efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu was invited by Republican leaders who control Congress, not by Obama, in what the White House has called a breach of diplomatic protocol. The president has said he will not meet with Netanyahu during the trip, because that could be seen as interference in Israel’s looming elections.

Source: Reuters

2.Hillary Clinton used only her personal email account at State Department
During her four years as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton used only her personal email account, rather than a government one, The New York Timesreports. This may have violated the Federal Records Act, which requires preserving officials’ emails on department servers so Congress, journalists, and historians can find them, with some exceptions for sensitive material. Clinton’s advisers gave 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department two months ago, and a spokesman said she is adhering to the “letter and spirit of the rules.”

Source: The New York Times

3.Sen. Barbara Mikulski announces her retirement
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) announced Monday that she would not seek reelection in 2016, ending a congressional career that has spanned 10 years in the House and 30 years in the Senate. Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, rose to the powerful position of Senate Appropriations Committee chair before losing the position when Republicans took over control of the Senate this year.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

4.Judge rules Nebraska’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional
A federal judge on Monday struck down Nebraska’s same-sex marriage ban, calling it unconstitutional. The state’s voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment to the state’s constitution to outlaw gay marriage in 2000. U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon ruled in favor of several plaintiffs who challenged the ban, but he put his decision on hold pending the hearing of an appeal Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson (R) filed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which already has similar cases in Missouri, Arkansas, and South Dakota before it.

Source: The Washington Post

5.Georgia delays woman’s execution
Georgia halted the execution of the state’s only female death-row inmate on Monday, due to problems with the lethal combination of drugs with which she was to be injected. Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 46, was condemned to die for plotting with her boyfriend, Gregory Owen, to murder her husband in 1997. She was scheduled to become the first woman to be executed in Georgia since 1945. The Georgia Supreme Court turned down her request for a stay, but prison officials delayed the execution because the drugs appeared cloudy.

Source: Reuters

6.Thieves steal $4 million in gold from truck in N.C.
Three men stole three barrels of gold valued at $4 million from a truck in North Carolina, authorities said Monday. The truck’s two security guards, who worked for the Miami firm Transvalue, said they pulled over on Interstate 95 due to mechanical trouble on the way from Miami to Massachusetts. The three armed men pulled up in a white van and made the guards lie down, then bound their hands behind their backs and left them in the woods. The robbers then took the gold and fled.

Source: NBC News

7.ISIS threatens Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey
Islamic State militants on Monday threatened to kill Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey because the microblogging service has blocked ISIS-linked accounts. A message posted online also threatened Twitter with “real war.” The threat was posted on Pastebin and attributed to ISIS, although its authenticity could not be immediately confirmed. Twitter said it had contacted authorities and that its security team was investigating the threats.

Source: PC Magazine

8.Mommy blogger Lacey Spears convicted in her son’s death
Parenting blogger Lacey Spears was convicted Monday of second degree murder in the death of her 5-year-old son, Garnett. The child died in January 2014 after high levels of sodium in his system led to swelling of his brain. Prosecutors said Garnett poisoned her son by injecting salt through a feeding tube, calling it “torture” she did for attention as she blogged about his health problems. Defense attorneys said there was no evidence against Spears, 27. She faces 15 years to life in prison when she is sentenced in April.

Source: The Journal News

9. Clinton’s portrait included reference to Monica Lewinsky scandal, artist says
The artist who painted President Clinton’s portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., told that the work includes a reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The painter, Nelson Shanks, said he included a shadow in the image meant to have been cast by Lewinsky’s infamous blue dress. Shanks said it was “a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him,” cast by Clinton’s affair with his then-intern.

Source:, U

10.Google confirms plan to start small wireless service
Google plans to offer a small-scale wireless service, but it is designed to show off technological innovations rather than compete with the nation’s leading carriers, Google Android executive Sundar Pichai said at an industry conference in Barcelona. The move could complicate Google’s relationship with the big carriers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Google counts on them to promote Android phones, but its efforts to improve connections by tapping WiFi networks could reduce data traffic — and income — for carriers.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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

(Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)

The Week

1.Netanyahu arrives ahead of controversial address to Congress
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to the United States on Sunday ahead of a Tuesday address to Congress on Iran. Netanyahu was invited by GOP leaders in Congress who share his opposition to the Obama administration’s attempt to negotiate a deal with Iran to curb its controversial nuclear program. National Security Adviser Susan Rice has called Netanyahu’s address “destructive,” but Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that Netanyahu was “welcome” and that U.S.-Israel security ties remained close.

Source: Reuters

2.Shooting of homeless man by L.A. police caught on video
Dozens of people gathered Sunday night at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles to protest the shooting death of a man in the city’s skid row area earlier in the day. The shooting was caught on camera by a witness, and posted to Facebook. Police said officers responding to a 911 call about a possible robbery approached the man, and he “began fighting and physically resisting.” There was a struggle over an officer’s weapon, police said, before two officers and a sergeant shot the man.

Source: Los Angeles Times

3.Boston braces for another winter record
Another snowstorm barreled toward Boston overnight on Sunday, adding to record snowfall in the month of February. The city has already weathered its second snowiest season every with 102 inches, just 5.6 inches below the record 1995-1996 season. The latest storm is expected to pile on as much as another six inches by early Monday, which would make this the city’s snowiest winter. This winter blast should be brief, though. Forecasters expect the storm to clear out of the Northeast by late morning.

Source: ABC News

4.DOJ report to detail alleged racial bias in Ferguson traffic stops
A nearly complete Justice Department report will accuse Ferguson, Missouri, police of discriminating against African Americans in traffic stops, according to law enforcement officials. The disproportionate ticketing and arrests of black drivers allegedly contributed to racial tensions that led up to last year’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, by a white officer. The report is expected to be released as early as this week. Ferguson officials will either have to negotiate a settlement or face a civil rights lawsuit.

Source: The New York Times

5.Iraq launches offensive to retake Tikrit from ISIS
A large-scale military operation by Iraqi government forces to take back Tikrit from ISIS is underway, Iraqi state television reports. They are backed by artillery and airstrikes by Iraqi fighter jets, and militants are said to have been forced out of some areas outside of the city 80 miles north of Baghdad. Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, fell to ISIS last summer, and before the operation, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told Sunni fighters that if they left ISIS, they would be pardoned.

Source: The Associated Press

6.Astronauts take third spacewalk to prepare for new crew capsules
Astronauts conducted their third spacewalk in a week on Sunday to install 400 feet of power and data cable, and two antennas at the International Space Station. The equipment is needed for docking ports to accommodate new crew capsules being built for NASA by Boeing and SpaceX. Two docking ports will be flown to the station later this year, and the capsules are expected to start flying up with astronauts on board in 2017. NASA has not had such a busy flurry of spacewalks since it retired the space shuttle fleet in 2011.

Source: Fox News

7.Man identified as “Jihadi John” described as cold loner
Details continue to emerge about Mohammed Emwazi, the London-raised man identified as the masked killer shown in Islamic State videos of the beheadings of Western hostages in Syria. A former teacher said that before Emwazi, 26, became known as “Jihadi John” he was a “hard-working, aspirational” student who was once bullied by classmates. A former ISIS militant described Emwazi as a cold loner who kept to himself. “He didn’t talk much,” the man, Abu Ayman, said. “He wouldn’t join us in prayer.”

Source: BBC News

8.Bangladesh police arrest suspect in U.S. blogger’s murder
Authorities in Bangladesh have arrested a suspect in last week’s gruesome murder of Avijit Roy, an American atheist blogger who has been an outspoken critic of Islamist extremists. The suspect, Farabi Shafiur Rahman, is a Muslim blogger who has denounced atheism and threatened Roy on Facebook. In one post, a police spokesman said, Rahman wrote, “Avijit Roy lives in America, so it’s not possible to kill him right now. But he will be killed when he comes back.”

Source: The Associated Press

9. North Korea fires missiles ahead of U.S.-South Korea drills
North Korea fired two short-range Scud ballistic missiles into the sea to protest annual South Korea-U.S. military drills that start Monday. South Korea called the launches “foolhardy and provocative,” saying they violated United Nations Security Council resolutions against North Korean missile programs. North Korea has called for the U.S. and South Korea to cancel the drills, calling them a rehearsal for a “nuclear war of invasion.” The allies say the drills are necessary for South Korea’s defense.

Source: The Korea Herald

10.White Sox legend Minnie Minoso dies at age 90
Former Chicago White Sox star Minnie Minoso — the city’s first black Major League Baseball player — died Sunday at age 90. Minoso had attended a friend’s birthday party and apparently fell ill. He was found unresponsive in the driver’s seat of his car at a gas station. Minoso, who was born in Cuba, hit a two-run homer in his first at bat when he joined the team in 1951 after two seasons in Cleveland. President Obama expressed his condolences to the family in a statement, saying Minoso “will always be ‘Mr. White Sox.'”

Source: ESPN