Eric Cantor

10 things you need to know today: August 1, 2014

Palestinians walk through their heavily-bombed town.

Palestinians walk through their heavily-bombed town |AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

The Week

Violence shatters Gaza cease-fire, Tea Partiers block a House border security bill, and more

1. Violence shatters Gaza cease-fire hours after taking effect
Israel and Hamas agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire starting Friday, but the kidnapping of an Israeli solider and heavy exchanges of fire two hours after the truce took effect unraveled it. According to Israel, a unit clearing a Hamas tunnel was set upon by militants, who made off with one of the soldiers. “The cease-fire is over,” said an Israeli spokesperson, as Israel launched “extensive operations on the ground” to find the missing soldier. [The New York Times]

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2. GOP division blocks House immigration bill
House GOP leaders abandoned an effort to pass a bill to fund border security on Thursday, after a Tea Party revolt. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) lobbied against the bill because it didn’t reverse President Obama’s policy of suspending deportations of undocumented immigrants brought in as children by their parents. Republicans and some Democrats also blocked a Democratic border bill in the Senate. [Reuters, Politico]

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3. Brennan apologizes for CIA searches of Senate computers
An internal investigation found that CIA employees searched computers used by Senate staff members as they prepared a report on the CIA’s harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects. A summary of the CIA findings, released Thursday, said that 10 agency workers, including two lawyers, improperly searched Senate files and emails. CIA Director John Brennan apologized to lawmakers, but at least two Senate Democrats said he should resign. [The Washington Post]

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4. U.S. Ebola patients expected to return to the U.S. for treatment
Two American missionaries stricken with Ebola in Liberia are expected to be flown back to the U.S. Both patients — Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol — are in stable but grave condition. One will be treated at Emory University near the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. They would be the first Ebola patients in the U.S.; CDC officials said the outbreak could worsen in West Africa but is unlikely to threaten the U.S. [CNN, U.S. News & World Report]

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5. Stock indexes lose all of their July gains in one terrible day
U.S. stocks took their worst plunge in months on Thursday as rising labor costs triggered fear that the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates faster than many hoped. Argentina’s default on its debt a day earlier spooked investors further. The S&P 500 index lost all of its July gains, resulting in its first monthly decline since January. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 317 points, or 1.88 percent, erasing its 2014 gains. [The Washington Post]

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6. Investigation team finally gets to see Ukraine crash site
Investigators on Thursday reached the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet shot down in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. It was their first look at the July 17 crash site. Earlier attempts to survey the wreckage were blocked by pro-Russian separatists. The team — from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe — will do “initial reconnaissance,” searching for evidence and human remains not yet moved from the site. [Voice of America]

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7. Californians face just a 4.2 percent increase in ObamaCare premiums
California announced Thursday that the 1.2 million Californians insured through the state-run ObamaCare exchange will face just a 4.2 percent premium increase next year. Officials at Covered California, which negotiated the rates, said the deal will break the trend of double-digit rate hikes. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said this is “merely a pause” in the big annual premium increases. [Los Angeles Times]

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8. Colorado prepares tighter rules on edible pot
Colorado regulators are putting together emergency rules requiring makers of edible marijuana products to make it clear to buyers just how much pot they will be consuming. The new policy, which is aimed at reducing complaints of nausea and other bad experiences, will mandate that edible marijuana be sold in 10-milligram “servings” of THC, pot’s intoxicating ingredient. The result will be weaker pot brownies and cookies. [The Associated Press]

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9. Court upholds controversial Wisconsin union law
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a controversial 2011 law that limited collective bargaining for public workers. The law sparked massive protests, and a failed 2012 effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R). Walker, who is seeking reelection, called the decision vindication for a law that has saved taxpayers $3 billion. A Madison teachers union that challenged the law called the ruling “morally bankrupt.” [USA Today]

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10. Cantor announces he will resign early
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday that he would resign his seat on Aug. 18 so his district would “have a clear and strong voice during the consequential lame-duck session of Congress.” Cantor stepped down as House majority leader, effective Thursday, after suffering a stunning defeat to Tea Party-backed challenger David Brat. He announced his unexpected decision to give up the seat early in a Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed article. [The New York Times, Richmond Times-Dispatch]

The Crash and Churn of Lawrence O’Donnell

Lawrence O’Donnell | NBC

The Daily Beast

In an exclusive interview, the MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell reveals how he survived a head-on car crash, and why afterwards he cut himself off from the negative litany of the news cycle.

“What a stupid way to die,” Lawrence O’Donnell thought to himself.

A split-second earlier, the host of MSNBC’s 10 p.m. program, The Last Word, had been gazing down at a map on his iPhone, following the progress of his taxi, a Chevy van, as he and his older brother Michael rode to dinner on the resort island of Tortola. It was around 7:45 p.m., Saturday, April 12, the start of what promised to be a lovely vacation in the British Virgin Islands with his big brother, a Boston lawyer.

The vacation didn’t happen. Instead, O’Donnell, 62, underwent a life-altering crucible that he’s still trying to make sense of, while figuring out how to explain it to viewers when he returns to his show on Monday night after two-and-a-half months off the air.

A former Senate staffer who subscribes to the truism that politics ain’t beanbag while displaying a decidedly jaundiced view of America’s fearless leaders, O’Donnell has a well-earned reputation for bared fangs and sharp claws (just ask some of his on-camera victims, like Herman Cain, Eric Cantor or Anthony Weiner). But after his brush with death, O’Donnell describes himself as newly empathetic, freshly sensitized to the world around him, and determined, more than ever, to accentuate the positive.

“‘Lucky to be alive’—what does that mean? It’s a cliché,” he tells me.  “But because it’s a cliché, it is so profoundly true that it should rule most of the emotions of our day. Our day should begin with ‘Lucky to be alive.’ You should feel that feeling in the middle of the day, even after you have that argument with your boss. Guess what? You’re still lucky to be alive.”

It’s hard to see how O’Donnell could feel otherwise since the events of last April in Tortola. It was already very dark outside as the van threaded its way along a busy mountain road, the island’s main artery, doing 30 miles an hour. Michael O’Donnell was seated behind Lawrence in the third row of seats. Lawrence was right behind the driver. Neither man wore a seatbelt. Although Tortola observes British traffic rules, with vehicles driving in the left lane, their van was configured for American roads, with the steering column on the left-hand side.

O’Donnell barely had time to look up from his iPhone when they were hit head-on by an oncoming car.

“I have no idea what speed the other car was doing—he was probably the fastest driver on the island at that moment,” O’Donnell tells me in his first detailed interview about the incident. “He was out of control and jumped the lane…I was just overwhelmed by the noise of this crash, and all I could see was the light of the radio in the center of the dashboard, that was coming closer and closer—because the vehicle was getting crushed. It seemed like it was going on forever.”

Here O’Donnell pauses. At several points during his narrative, he has to stop to regain his composure. It’s as if he’s reliving his ordeal.

“When something happens that is such a shocking experience, your brain slows it down,” he continues. “Your brain tries to examine—What is this? What do I have to do? What is going on? And this crash felt like it went on for 20 seconds, which is impossible, but it might have gone on for a few.

“The vehicles hit and we continued to roll down the road, kind of Indianapolis 500-style. It felt like we were in a roll-over, but the van was upright when it was all done. Watching that radio come closer and closer and that dashboard get crushed, I had what seemed an extremely long time to think about dying in this taxicab, and to think about my daughter [20-year-old Elizabeth, from his former marriage to actress Kathryn Harrold]. Then suddenly the radio stopped moving.”

O’Donnell was wedged in, leaning on his right side and trapped by the driver’s seat, unable to extricate himself but apparently not seriously injured—at least that’s what he believed at first.

The taxi driver was miraculously unscathed, as was the driver of the other vehicle, a drunken islander who, because of superficial bleeding that he sustained when his airbag deployed, was rushed off to the hospital in the first ambulance to the scene. Lawrence attributes the drivers’ good luck to the fact that they were in American cars on British roads, with their seats on the outside edge of the collision, and thus spared the full brunt of the impact. Michael O’Donnell was not so fortunate.

“The second the noise stopped I saw that my brother had somehow been flipped ahead of me to the front,” Lawrence says. “He immediately and correctly self-diagnosed himself as having a broken femur. He was absolutely right and in a tremendous amount of pain.”

Lawrence, though immobile, quickly took charge, telling his brother to give him his wallet and his keys, thinking that he would be the aggressive patient advocate supervising Michael’s medical care once they got to the hospital.

Michael “is a very tough guy and a real stoic,” his brother says. “He’s a military veteran and was the tough guy of my neighborhood when I was growing up, so I was really worried about him. I didn’t know I was also injured. So when they leaned into the taxi and asked how many injured are there, I said, ‘One.’ ” O’Donnell softly cries at the memory.

The emergency medical technicians pulled Michael out of the van, cut off his trousers to assess the damage, and carried him on a stretcher to a second ambulance. “That’s when I tried to pull myself out of the taxicab, and I find that I’ve got something that’s really bad on my left hip,” Lawrence says. “I’ve got a real problem. After a couple of attempts, I realize, ‘Oh, I can’t move.’”

He had a broken hip, fractured in several places as he was crushed against the driver’s seat. He had also suffered several knife-like flesh wounds on his legs. But if he positioned himself a certain way, he found he could avoid excruciating agony.

“I think I need an ambulance, too,” he told one of Tortola’s first responders, who explained that he’d have to wait till one of the other ambulances returned; there were only two available on the island. It would likely be a long wait because the accident had caused an island-wide traffic jam. So O’Donnell looked around for the iPhone he’d just been holding; it had flown out of his hands on impact. He had to get in touch with his colleagues at MSNBC.

“It was so dark. I couldn’t see anything,” he says. “But then I looked down at my left foot and I happened to see an outline of an iPhone. For reasons I still don’t understand the floor was covered in about five inches of water, and the phone was under water. And I just reached down beside my left foot—which is something I cannot do to this day, by the way—picked up the phone, which was soaking wet, did that slide thing, punched in the code, and it was on.”

Within a few minutes, he was texting with various MSNBC producers, and within the hour—even before the ambulance arrived—MSNBC President Phil Griffin and Griffin’s boss, Patricia Fili-Krushel, chairman of the NBC Universal News Group, were arranging for separate private jets to medevac O’Donnell and his brother back to the United States—Lawrence to New York and Michael to Boston—and had lined up Dr. David Helfet, a renowned orthopedic trauma surgeon at Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery, to operate on Lawrence.

The brothers arrived at their respective destinations at midnight Sunday. Michael was in the OR the following morning and Lawrence went under the knife on Tuesday, April 15, for a meticulous repair of his shattered hip using surgical nails; the flesh wounds were more challenging to treat and didn’t close up and begin healing in earnest until last week, O’Donnell says.

He lived for two weeks on the ward, having never spent a single night in a hospital up until that time. After being released, he stayed for a month in New York, mostly indoors, trying to get used to his crutches. On May 20, he finally boarded a plane back home to Los Angeles, where he has been undergoing daily physical therapy and making incremental improvement—at a faster clip than his brother, who was more grievously injured and is several years his senior.

This past week, in what he describes as a “miraculous” development, O’Donnell started using only a single crutch, to prop up his left side, and his wounds have healed to the point where he can start relearning to walk in the swimming pool at his physical therapy center in Santa Monica.

Through it all, O’Donnell has noticed several profound changes in himself and the way he experiences daily life.

“When I left New York, I was in an SUV on the way to JFK, and as it emerged from the tunnel and got up to 50 miles per hour I was terrified, completely terrified, because I know that anything can happen at any minute,” he says. “I know it with a very intense and present sensation. It’s isn’t theoretical to me. It’s very real.”

In addition, for much of his recovery, O’Donnell discovered that it was best not to expose himself to newspapers or television, or media of any kind, lest he have to digest bad news that would set him back psychologically; he was a quivering mass of raw nerve endings and no longer possessed the ordinary human defense mechanisms that prevent most of us in the modern world from feeling too deeply the tragedies of others. That is, O’Donnell found that his optimal state was to live in the cultural equivalent of a sensory deprivation tank.

“I couldn’t bear any negative news,” he says. “When I started to hear some negative stuff about what was happening with my brother, I listened to it and went ‘OK’ and hung up and tried to get it out of my head. I just wanted to isolate myself completely from any negative information of any kind. So when I first turned on the TV after several weeks, I saw there was some crazy guy in Nevada and all these people aiming rifles at cops because they don’t want to pay for the land. I consumed about 39 seconds of that and I turned if off, because I didn’t want to consume all the ugliness.”

He adds: “I became one of those people who I’ve met from time to time who say they don’t watch the news. Too many bad stories. I never understood those people. Now I get them completely.”

O’Donnell acknowledges that his new aversion to negativity is not necessarily helpful to someone who anchors a nightly news and opinion program on cable television. “One thing I really want to do, as an experiment,” he says, “is have a segment every night that I will call ‘And now for the good news!’”

It might just work.

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

Obama announces the deployment of 300 military advisers to Iraq. 

Obama announces the deployment of 300 military advisers to Iraq. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Week

Obama sends 300 military advisers to Iraq, House Republicans pick Boehner ally as majority leader, and more

1. Obama sends 300 military advisers to help Iraq fight insurgents
President Obama announced Thursday that he was sending 300 military advisers to Iraq to help the embattled Shiite-led government fight off a rapid advance by extremist Sunni insurgents. “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq,” Obama said, “but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists.” Obama said the goal was preventing an escalating civil war that could destabilized the entire region. [CNN]

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2. McCarthy picked to replace Cantor as House majority leader
House Republicans chose Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as their majority leader on Thursday. He will replace Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who lost in a GOP primary to Tea Party-backed economics professor David Brat. McCarthy is a loyal lieutenant to Speaker John Boehner. Tea Partiers had wanted Cantor’s job for one of their own, but got McCarthy’s old spot — majority whip — which went to conservative Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. [The New York TimesThe Christian Science Monitor]

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3. White House announces sanctions over Uganda’s anti-gay law
The Obama administration announced Thursday that it was canceling a military exercise in Uganda and imposing sanctions in reaction to the country’s new anti-gay law. The U.S. is restricting visas for powerful Ugandans and cutting funding for a Ugandan police program, while avoiding directly impacting AIDS and food programs. The White House said the sanctions would help prevent abuses. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni blasted the move as “social imperialism.” [Reuters,The Washington Post]

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4. Men exonerated in Central Park jogger case settle with NYC for $40 million
The five men convicted and later exonerated in the 1989 beating and rape of a female jogger in Central Park have agreed to accept a $40 million settlement from New York City to end their civil rights lawsuit. The initial story — that the then-teens were “wilding” and attacked the 28-year-old investment banker — dissolved when the men said their incriminating statements had been coerced, and a convicted rapist and murderer confessed to the crime. [The New York Times]

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5. Marine who shielded comrade from grenade gets Medal of Honor
President Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor on retired Marine Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter, who lost most of his jaw and an eye when he shielded a fellow Marine from a grenade blast during a 2010 Afghanistan firefight. Carpenter, 24, was nearly given up for dead, had to be revived while being evacuated by helicopter, and was labeled dead on arrival at a field hospital. “The enemy killed me. I came back…” he said. “I won’t ever quit.” [CNN]

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6. Education Department proposes rules to track campus sexual assaults
The Department of Education is proposing rules requiring colleges to publish statistics on domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on campus. The plan, due to be published Friday, adds categories of crimes that schools receiving federal financial aid must report. The aim is to get schools to do more to reduce sexual assaults and protect victims. “Schools aren’t going to change unless they are pressured to,” one activist said. [The Christian Science Monitor]

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7. CDC says scientists might have been exposed to anthrax
Dozens of scientists at a federal lab in Atlanta might have been accidentally exposed to anthrax after researchers failed to adequately deactivate live samples, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. Up to 75 workers are being monitored for symptoms of the disease, the CDC says. None has shown any sign of illness so far. Investigators are looking into how the breach of protocol happened. [Reuters]

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8. Fighting continues in Ukraine a day after cease fire proposal
Ukrainian troops clashed with pro-Russian separatists for a second consecutive day on Friday, despite a unilateral cease fire proposed two days earlier by the country’s president, Petro Poroshenko. Government forces hammered villages near a railroad hub north of the eastern regional capital of Donetsk, denying supplies to blockaded separatists in Slavyansk. NATO said Russia had returned thousands of troops to the Ukraine border. [ReutersThe New York Times]

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9. Gov. Scott Walker accused of breaking election laws
Prosecutors say Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, wasinvolved in a “criminal scheme” to violate state election laws, according to court documents filed in December and unsealed on Thursday. Walker and members of his staff allegedly filed false campaign reports and illegally coordinated fundraising efforts with conservative groups during the 2011 and 2012 elections, prosecutors say in the documents. Walker said two judges already said they “did not buy those arguments.” [The Associated Press]

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10. Harley unveils its first electric motorcycle
Harley-Davidson unveiled its first electric motorcycle on Thursday. The iconic motorcycle manufacturer is launching a promotional tour next week that will give consumers a chance to see the new bike at 30 Harley dealerships across the country. The tour will move on to Canada and Europe in 2015. The sleek eco-hog, the LiveWire, can go from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds. Harley-Davidson isn’t saying yet how much it will cost, or when it will go on sale. [CNNDiscovery News]

10 things you need to know today: June 12, 2014

A militant in Tikrit. 

A militant in Tikrit. (AP Photo/Iraqi0Revolution via AP video)

The Week

Al Qaeda-linked fighters take another Iraqi city, Eric Cantor gives up his House leadership post, and more

1. Sunni insurgents seize another major Iraqi city
Al Qaeda-linked Sunni militants overran a second city in northern Iraq — Tikrit — on Wednesday, and vowed to push south to Baghdad. The rapid advance is being made easier by the crumbling of the Iraqi military. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government reportedly covertly asked the U.S. in May to use airstrikes against Sunni extremists, but President Obama declined to avoid getting the U.S. involved in Iraq again. [The New York Times]

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2. Eric Cantor gives up his leadership post after losing his GOP primary
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor confirmed Wednesday that he was resigning from his leadership post at the end of July. The announcement came a day after Cantor lost his Virginia Republican primary to Tea Party-backed economics professor David Brat. It was the first time a House majority leader had been defeated in a primary election since 1899, when the position was created. [The Boston Globe]

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3. Student reportedly hid guns in a guitar case before Oregon shooting
Jared Michael Padgett, the Oregon high-school student who police say killed a fellow student and then himself, arrived at school armed for a long rampage, investigators said Wednesday. Padgett rode the school bus as always, but carried a guitar case and a duffel bag loaded with an AR 15-style rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, and nine loaded magazines with hundreds of bullets. Police did not release any theories on a motive for the shooting. [USA Today]

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4. Ukraine’s new president offers to talk with pro-Russia rebels
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko indicated Wednesday that he would meet for talks with pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, but first, he said, “Terrorists must lay down their weapons.” The rebels have not signaled any interest in diplomacy, however. Poroshenko was inaugurated on Saturday and addressed the crisis immediately, meeting with Moscow’s envoy and with Russian President Vladimir Putin. [Reuters]

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5. Budget deficit decreases as the economy recovers
The federal deficit fell in May to $130 billion as a strengthening economy and rising employment boosted tax revenue. The U.S. has now had the smallest budget shortfall for the first eight months of any fiscal year since 2008. “Our fiscal position is rapidly normalizing as the economy recovers,” said Paul Edelstein, director of U.S. financial economics at IHS Global Insight Inc. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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6. Senate passes bill aiming to help veterans get health care faster
The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to help veterans facing long waits for health care get treated by private doctors. The vote was 93 to 3. The House passed a similar bill on Tuesday. President Obama has already come out in support of the Senate bill. “The cost of war does not end when the last shots are fired and the last missiles are launched,” said Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). [BBC News]

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7. U.S. resumes Pakistan drone strikes after Karachi airport attacks
The U.S. launched the first two drone strikes of the year against Taliban and other Islamist extremists in Pakistan on Wednesday, killing 16 militants. The strikes came after two attacks this week at Karachi’s international airport. Last Christmas, the U.S. stopped the strikes at the request of Pakistan’s government, which was then pursuing peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. [The New Age]

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8. Driver in Tracy Morgan crash pleads not guilty
Walmart driver Kevin Roper, whose truck slammed into a limousine carrying Tracy Morgan and several other comedians, pleaded not guilty to death and assault by auto charges on Wednesday. Prosecutors say Roper hadn’t slept in more than 24 hours and swerved to avoid slower traffic. The crash killed comic James McNair. Walmart says it believes Roper was in compliance with federal safety rules regarding rest time between shifts. [The Associated Press]

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9. Court gives Casey Kasem’s daughter the right to stop his feeding and hydration
A Los Angeles judge on Wednesday said the daughter of former American Top 40 host Casey Kasem had the right to decide to remove the ailing radio icon’s feeding and hydration tubes. The move angered Kasem’s wife, Jean, who has been feuding with his children from an earlier marriage to continue the feeding. Kasem’s daughter Kerri said the ruling would let Kasem’s children respect his “explicit wishes” not to be kept alive by artificial means. [Los Angeles TimesE!]

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10. Stadium safety concerns linger as Brazil starts World Cup play
Soccer’s World Cup kicks off Thursday with a match between the host country, Brazil, and Croatia. Play will begin with worries still looming over the safety and readiness of Itaquerao stadium, which is unfinished and will be accommodating a full-capacity crowd of 61,600 for the first time. “If that was me who had to run that event, I’d be extremely nervous,” said European stadium safety official John Beattie. [The Associated Press]

David Brat, the Libertarian Who Beat Eric Cantor, Doesn’t Believe in the “Common” Good

AP/P. Kevin Morely

This Tea Party clown couldn’t even answer serious questions from Chuck Todd this morning…

Mother Jones

Brat has called for slashing Social Security, Medicare, and education spending and says “rich” nations don’t have to fear climate change.

When tea party challenger David Brat sent Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, to the ash heap on Tuesday night, vanquishing the incumbent by more than 10 points in the primary race, the politerati were stunned. Political journalists scrambled to answer a question: who is this guy? The political pros knew that Brat had mounted a campaign largely based on two issues: bashing Cantor on immigration (that is, excoriating the congressman, who was quite hesitant about immigration reform, for not killing the possibility of any immigration legislation) and denouncing Cantor for supporting a debt ceiling deal that averted possible financial crisis. But not much else was widely known about this local professor who dispatched a Washington power broker.

A quick review of his public statements reveals a fellow who is about as tea party as can be. He appears to endorse slashing Medicare and Social Security payouts to seniors by two-thirds. He wants to dissolve the IRS. And he has called for drastic cuts to education funding, explaining, “My hero Socrates trained in Plato on a rock. How much did that cost? So the greatest minds in history became the greatest minds in history without spending a lot of money.”

An economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in central Virginia, Brat frequently has repeated the conservative canard that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae brought down the housing market by handling the vast majority of subprime mortgages. That is, he absolves Big Finance and the banks of responsibility for the financial crisis that triggered the recession, which hammered middle-class and low-income families across the country. (In fact, as the housing bubble grew, Freddie and Fannie shed their subprime holdings, while banks grabbed more.)

In his campaign speeches, Brat has pointed out that he isn’t worried about climate change because “rich countries solve their problems”:

If you let Americans do their thing, there is no scarcity, right?  They said we’re going to run out of food 200 years ago, that we’re goin’ to have a ice age. Now we’re heating up…Of course we care for the environment, but we’re not mad people. Over time, rich countries solve their problems. We get it right. It’s not all perfect, but we get it right.

Update: After Mother Jones published this piece, several videos referenced were set to private.

He did not say what might happen to not-so-rich countries due to climate change and the consequent rise in sea levels, droughts, and extreme weather.

Asked about cuts to Medicare, Brat replied that he supported drastic reductions in payouts:

I’ll give you my general answer. And my general answer is you have to do what’s fair. Right. So you put together a graph or a chart and you go out to the American people, you go to the podium, and you say, this is what you put in on average, this is what you get out on average. Currently, seniors are getting about three dollars out of all of the programs for every dollar they put in. So, in general, you’ve got to go to the American people and just be honest with them and say, “Here’s what fairness would look like.” Right. So, maybe the next ten years we have to grandfather some folks in, but basically we’re going to move them in a direct line toward fairness and we have to live within our means.

He frets about the state of morality in schools and about Beyoncé:

For the first 13 years of your kid’s life, we teach them no religion, no philosophy, and no ethics…Who is our great moral teachers these days? Every generation has always had great theologians or philosophers by the century that you can name. Who do we got right now? [Audience: Jay-Z] Right. Right. [Audience: Beyoncé] Right. Beyoncé. When you can’t name a serious philosopher, a national name, or a serious theologian, or a serious religious leader, at the national level, your culture’s got a major problem. We got a major problem.

Brat railed against Cantor for supporting a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. Brat called this a policy of “amnesty” and accused Cantor of “getting big paychecks” from groups like the Chamber of Commerce for his position:

If I misspoke and said “secretly,” he’s been pretty out in the open. He’s been in favor of the KIDS Act, the DREAM Act, the ENLIST Act [which Cantor blocked in May]…On the amnesty card, it’s a matter of motivation. I teach third-world economic development for the past 20 years, I love all people, I went to seminary before I did my economics, and so you look at the motivation. Why is Eric pushing amnesty? It’s not a big issue in our district, everyone’s opposed to it, and so why is he doing it? And the answer is, ’cause he’s got his eye on the speakership. He wants to be speaker, and big business, right? The Business Roundtable and the US Chamber of Commerce wants cheap labor. So he actually is selling out the people in our district. He’s not representing the district, the will of the people, and he’s getting big paychecks by doing so. So he’s very clear on amnesty.

Brat is, not surprisingly, no fan of the United Nations:

“Common-” anything I’m against. United Nations. Common everything. If you say common, by definition you’re saying it’s top-down. I’m going to force this on you. That’s what dictators do.

His view of who deploys a top-down approach, naturally, includes President Barack Obama:

The left does not believe in diversity. They believe in top-down, I’m going to force my way onto you. Obama is forcing un-diversity onto everybody. It’s not diversity. It’s top down, central planning, on everything.

As Mother Jones’s Timothy Murphy noted, Brat identifies as a libertarian but not a full Randian, and he doesn’t buy the idea that there’s anything dangerous about playing chicken with the debt ceiling. Bring it on, he says.

In November, Brat will face Democrat Jack Trammell, a fellow Randolph-Macon professor, in the general election in this Republican district.

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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

 

Chamber of Commerce Wants to Rein in GOP: No More ‘Fools,’ ‘Loser Candidates’

Michele Bachmann – [Image via Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons licensed]

Good luck with that COC…

The Raw Story

The GOP’s corporate allies have set a New Year’s resolution they hope will lead to electoral victory in the 2014 midterms: “No fools on our ticket.”

Republican House leaders are planning to impose discipline on unruly members to help avert the party squabbles that badly damaged the GOP brand, and major donors and advocacy groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads intend to develop and fund more centrist candidates.

“Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates,” said Scott Reed, the top political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the Wall Street Journal. “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.”

Presumably, Reed’s talking about candidates such as Mark JacobsBob Vander Plaats,  Chris McDaniel and David Barton.

Party leaders also plan to promote legislation, such as child tax credits and flextime for hourly workers, in hopes of appealing to working families.

“Working middle-class families are struggling to find a good-paying job, get ahead and keep more money in their pocket,” said Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “House Republicans will continue to offer conservative solutions that help create better conditions for them to succeed.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner signaled this shift earlier this month when he chided conservative activist groups that opposed the two-year budget compromise.

The Speaker’s deputies also worked behind the scenes to quiet internal dissent by warning committee chairmen that opposition to the deal could jeopardize their committee posts.

“The Speaker, and the entire leadership team, urged all House Republicans to support the [budget] agreement, which lowered the deficit without raising taxes,” said Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel.

Committee chairmen had helped derail a farm bill earlier this year and extended the federal government shutdown.

Party leaders will test their clout next month when Congress considers a bill to keep the federal government running and later in the spring when lawmakers consider whether to extend the debt ceiling.

The debt-ceiling debate will take place as Republican primaries start in early March, and the party’s business wing intends to advocate against Tea Party candidates.

The Chamber of Commerce plans to spend at least $50 million to promote business-friendly candidates who they think can win a Republican Senate majority, and they hope the GOP House might pass a farm bill and reform the immigration system.

But conservative activists groups say that won’t happen.

“Lawmakers do not have a monopoly on information, and we will continue to communicate directly with their constituents on important legislation as it moves through Congress,” said Michael Needham, chief executive of Heritage Action, part of the Heritage Foundation think tank. “(Lawmakers) will find it difficult to go back home and defend votes that increase spending, increase deficits and undermine the rule of law.”

Least Productive Congress EVER – House Only Working 8 More Days This Year

house calendar 2013

House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) | AP

The Huffington Post

Working during the holidays sucks. Luckily for members of the U.S. House of Representatives, they don’t have that much of it before the new year begins.

The House is only scheduled to work eight days between now and January 7, when members return for the second session of the 113th Congress.

The House had 239 days off scheduled during 2013, and they have even more off days scheduled for next year.

The 2014 calendar for the House, released in October by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), shows members will only work only 113 days. That’s down from 2013, when House lawmakers were scheduled to meet for 126 days. Only 107 days were scheduled in 2012.

As HuffPost reported in July, the 113th Congress is on pace to be the least productivein modern history. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been defensive of that report.

“We should not be judged on how many new laws we create,” Boehner told CBS News’ Bob Schieffer in July. “We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal. We’ve got more laws than the administration could ever enforce.”

REPUBLICANS BLAST OBAMA’S SUPPORT OF THEIR IDEA

boehner-cantor-580.jpg

Borowitz Report

Moments after President Obama said he would allow insurers to continue health plans that were to be cancelled under the Affordable Care Act, leading Republicans blasted the President for agreeing with an idea that they had supported.

“It’s true that we’ve been strongly in favor of Americans being allowed to keep their existing plans,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “But now that the President is for it, we’re convinced that it’s a horrible idea.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) went further in ripping the President, calling Mr. Obama’s tactic of adopting ideas proposed by him and fellow Republicans “beneath contempt.”

“The President should be aware that any future agreeing with us will be seen for what it is: a hostile act,” he said.

Minutes later, White House spokesman Jay Carney helmed a hastily called press conference, hoping to stem the quickly escalating coöperation scandal.

“The President understands that he has offended some Republicans in Congress by agreeing with them,” Mr. Carney said. “He wants to apologize for that.”

But far from putting an end to the controversy, the President’s apology drew a swift rebuke from another congressional Republican, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who called it a “blatant provocation.”

“If the President is going to continue agreeing with us and apologizing to us, he is playing with fire,” he warned.

House Reduces Workdays On 2014 Calendar After Working So Hard In 2013

house calendar 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 29: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) walks through the U.S. Capitol October 29, 2013 in Washington, DC. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, (R-VA) was headed to the weekly House Republican Conference. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) | Getty

These guys are beyond incompetent.  It’s no wonder their poll numbers are in the tank.  The sad part is that every maneuver they make is to undermine the president’s agenda at every turn.  Shame on them…

The Huffington Post

Who banks a $174,000 annual salary and works less than a third of the year?

Members of the House of Representatives, apparently.

The 2014 calendar for the House was released Thursday by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and shows members will only work only 113 days. That’s down from 2013, when House lawmakers were scheduled to meet for 126 days. Only 107 days were scheduled in 2012.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called attention to the House’s sparsely populated 2013 schedule in July 2013, highlighting the fact that the House had only nine workdays scheduled for September.

HuffPost reported in July that the 113th Congress was on pace to be the least productive in history. Many House members are running for reelection in the 2014 midterm elections and will spend part of their time campaigning.