Friday

Greta Van Susteren Slams Media’s ‘Bad Questions’ For Obama

Is hell about to freeze over?  A Fox News commentator defending our President?

The Huffington Post

Greta van Susteren said on Sunday that President Barack Obama’s end-of-the-year press conference Friday provided further evidence of why his approval ratings have dropped so low and how the media are not helping.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” the Fox News anchor criticized reporters’ treatment of the president and the questions they asked at the press conference.

“The media beat up on him,” Susteren said. “The media had bad questions. They kept punching him.”

At Friday’s press conference, Obama was asked several times to reflect on what some are calling the worst year of his presidency. Most notable were the question from Fox News’ Ed Henry on the NSA scandal and the question from NBC’s Chuck Todd regarding the failures of the Obamacare website.

Susteren said that Obama’s presence on Friday was “depressing” and “pathetic,” concluding that the president has lost his greatest strength: “his ability to inspire.”

“He sucked the oxygen out of the room,” she said. “He ends the year where you just want to slit your throat almost because it was so depressing.”

Watch the video for the full clip.

10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2013

Remembering a president.

Remembering a president. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Week

The nation mourns JFK, the world moves closer to a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, and more

1. America honors JFK
Thousands gathered in Dallas, the site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, to pay tribute to the former president on Friday. The ceremony, honoring the 50th anniversary of the president’s death, featured historian David McCullough, who read excerpts from Kennedy’s speeches. Many other observances were held across the nation, too. [New York Times]

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2. Iran nuclear deal appears imminent
Things are looking up in Geneva, where negotiators from a half dozen world powers and Iran are coming closer to a deal that would curb Iran’s nuclear program. The key sticking points, largely centering on Iran’s enrichment of uranium and one particular partially built reactor, seemed to have largely been overcome. Any deal would largely just be a first step on the road to a longer-lasting comprehensive agreement that is still likely months away. [Los Angeles Times]

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3. ObamaCare signup delayed
The Department of Health and Human Services will delay open enrollment in ObamaCare in 2015. The signup start date will be pushed back to November 15, from October 15, and the enrollment period will be extended to eight weeks instead of seven. Health officials hope the extra time will allow insurance companies and consumers to avoid the glitches from the first rollout. The White House insists it’s not about pushing the deadline until after the midterm elections. [CNN]

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4. Islamist factions in Syria unite to create massive rebel army
The six major Islamist groups in Syria merged to form the Islamist Front under common leadership. The newly united rebel army poses a serious threat to Western-backed military forces. The head of the Islamic Front told Al Jazeera their goal is “to topple the Assad regime completely and build an Islamic state.” [Reuters]

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5. Iraq is rocked by bombings, again
Bombings and shootings broke out in Iraq on Friday, killing at least 23 people. The violence is part of a wave of sectarian attacks throughout the country. The attacks have not been claimed by any one organization, but the Iraqi government is blaming Sunni militant groups, including al Qaeda. [Reuters]

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6. 100-million-year-old ocean discovered under Chesapeake Bay
Researchers discovered the remains of an ancient saltwater ocean trapped a half-mile underground. An asteroid that smashed into the area around 35 million years ago created a crater that preserved about 3 trillion gallons of seawater. According to government hydrologists, the find is “the oldest large body of ancient seawater in the world.”[USA Today]

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7. Afghanistan rejects call to sign a security pact with the U.S.
A representative for Afghan President Hamid Karzai rejected a U.S. plea to sign a security agreement by the end of the year. Karzai suggested sealing the Bilateral Security Agreement in April 2014, which the U.S. also rejected. If no agreement is reached, the U.S. could pull the majority of its troops by the end of next year. [Reuters]

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8. Google patents robot to help people manage their social media
The software learns users’ social media patterns to mimic their response to updates and messages on social media. The program still needs refinement, but Google hopes it will help manage the deluge of virtual connections.[BBC]

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9. Comcast mulls a bid for Time Warner
Comcast shareholders are urging management to consider bidding on Time Warner Cable Inc, according to CNBC. The report said Time Warner prefers Comcast to buy it, but earlier this monthReuters reported Charter Communications is also interested. [Reuters]

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10. Bitcoin accepted in space voyages
Virgin Galactic announced it will accept Bitcoin as currency in future trips into space. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, wrote in a blog post Friday, “Bitcoin, the virtual currency, has really captured the imagination recently as one of the world’s most innovative businesses looking to the future.” [Forbes]

Homeowner Who Shot Girl Seeking Help At His Door Charged With Murder

man gun

Think Progress

A Detroit-area homeowner who shot in the face a 19-year-old girl at his door will be charged with murder, Wayne County prosecutors announced Thursday. The charges include murder in the second degree, which carries a term of up to life in prison; a manslaughter charge with a maximum term of 15 years in prison; and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony or attempted commission, which carries a term of two years in prison.

In the two weeks since Renisha McBride was shot dead outside the Dearborn Heights home, protests have escalated around the country to charge the homeowner, suggesting comparisons to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The shooter was white and McBride is African American. While the homeowner, now identified as Theodore P. Wafer, age 54, initially told police he discharged the gun by accident, his lawyer since told the press the shooting was “justified”and “reasonable,” invoking language from Michigan’s “Shoot First” laws that allow immunity for some self-defense shootings. At a press conference Friday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said her office determined that Wafer “did not act in lawful self-defense.”

It is now clear that Michigan’s Stand Your Ground-like laws did not stop prosecutors from charging Wafer. Wafer may, however, still seek immunity from charges at trial.

Here’s what we know:

  • Police believe McBride was in a car accident and knocked on the door of the home for help. Worthy reported Friday that McBride, was bloodied, confused, and disoriented. Toxicology reports also show that her blood alcohol level was above the legal limit.
  • The shooter didn’t know McBride. In audio released by the police, the homeowner told the dispatcher he shot someone he didn’t know.
  • The homeowner’s lawyer is calling the shooting “justified.” The homeowner initially said he accidentally discharged the gun, but when his lawyer, Cheryl Carpenter, spoke to the press, she said the shooting was “justified” and invoked the language of Michigan’s “Shoot First” laws that could immunize the homeowner from prosecution if he was acting in self-defense. Carpenter also told NPR that the knocking sounded like a lot of banging, rather than a knock.
  • There were no signs forced entry into the home. Prosecutor Worthy said during the press conference Friday that McBride had not attempted to forcibly enter the home. For Wafer to successfully invoke immunity under what is known as the “Castle Doctrine,” which authorizes deadly force without a duty to retreat in one’s home, he would have to show that McBride was “in the process of breaking and entering a dwelling.” He could also use the state’s Stand Your Ground law to show that he reasonably believed force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

 

10 things you need to know today: November 9, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Not on board.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Not on board. (REUTERS/Debbie Hill)

The Week

1. U.S. economy shows healthy job growth despite government shutdown
Employers added 204,000 jobs in October, beating expectations from analysts, who had predicted a gain of around 120,000. The unemployment rate jumped from 7.2 percent to 7.3 percent, mostly due to federal employees who were forced to miss 16 days of work because of the government shutdown. [Bloomberg]
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2. Kerry: “Important gaps remain” in nuclear talks with Iran
Secretary of State John Kerry said that “important gaps remain” in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program after meeting with world leaders in Geneva on Friday. Talks have centered around easing some of Iran’s economic sanctions in exchange for a freeze on the country’s nuclear activities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “utterly rejects” any deal that doesn’t involve Iran completely abandoning its nuclear program. [CBS News]
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3. Obama administration will require expanded mental health coverage
Insurance companies will be required to treat mental illnesses the same as physical illnesses, thanks to measures taken by the White House to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, signed into law in 2008 by George W. Bush. Officials say insurers were finding ways to deny payments to patients and avoid covering people with conditions like deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression. [CNN]
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4. Philippines deals with aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan
Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the central Philippines on Friday with sustained winds of 145 m.p.h., took down power lines, created landslides, and flooded streets before moving toward Vietnam early Saturday morning. So far, at least 100 have been reported dead. [ReutersThe Guardian]
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5. Benghazi story retracted by 60 Minutes
An interview on 60 Minutes with a man who claimed to have been at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, on the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack has been retracted. CBS News correspondent Lara Logan claimed that she was “misled” by supposed eyewitness Dylan Davies and that the network was “wrong to put him on air.” [Washington Post]
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6. Credit agency downgrades France
Standard & Poor’s cut France’s credit rating to AA from AA+ due to concerns that the French government’s recent efforts to get its economy back on track were insufficient. It also cited France’s high unemployment, which it said was “weakening support for further significant fiscal and structural policy measures.” [New York Times]
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7. Chilean officials say poet Pablo Neruda was not poisoned
Suspicions that famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was assassinated by the regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1973 were put to rest on Friday after officials claimed that it was prostate cancer, not poison, that killed the Nobel Prize-winning writer. His body had been exhumed this spring after claims of foul play had been raised by his family. [NPR]
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8. Edward Snowden persuaded NSA workers to share passwords
NSA contractor Edward Snowden reportedly gained access to tens of thousands of classified documents by asking between 20 and 25 of his coworkers to give him their passwords, according to unnamed government sources. They were reportedly convinced that he needed them in his role as a computer systems administrator. [Reuters]
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9. Pinkberry co-founder found guilty of beating homeless man
Young Lee, the 48-year-old co-founder of popular frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry, was found guilty in a Los Angeles court of beating a homeless man with a tire iron as he was panhandling in Hollywood. The man reportedly angered Lee by flashing a tattoo of stick figures having sex while Lee was driving by in his car. He faces a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. Lionsgate considering Hunger Games theme park
The film studio that released The Hunger Games, which grossed $690 million last year, is considering turning its lucrative movie franchise into a theme park. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer didn’t give any details about where such a theme park would be built. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the film’s sequel, comes out in theaters on Nov. 22. [Variety]

10 things you need to know today: November 8, 2013

The super typhoon hitting the Philippines is one of the strongest storms ever recorded. 

The super typhoon hitting the Philippines is one of the strongest storms ever recorded. (AP Photos/Nelson Salting)

The Week

The strongest storm of the year hits the Philippines, Twitter shares soar in their debut, and more

1. Historic typhoon slams into the Philippines
Super Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm of 2013, struck the central Philippines early Friday, killing at least four people. More than 700,000 people evacuated their homes. Weather stations put its top sustained winds at 124 miles per hour, although it had sustained winds of 195 mph as it approached land. “There aren’t too many buildings constructed that can withstand that kind of wind,” said Jeff Masters of Weather Underground. [Associated Press]
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2. Obama says he is sorry some people will have to change health coverage
President Obama apologized Thursday to Americans who will lose their current health-insurance plans and have to get new policies because of the Affordable Care Act. Obama had repeatedly said those happy with their policies could keep them, but some people whose coverage doesn’t meet ObamaCare’s standards will have to change. “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said. [New York Daily News]
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3. Twitter shares skyrocket on their first day of trading
Twitter shares soared Thursday in their debut on the New York Stock Exchange, rising as high as $50 from an opening price of $26 a share, before closing at $44.90. The surge, on a day when financial markets overall sank, proved that investors were excited about the microblogging site’s IPO — the tech industry’s biggest since Facebook’s in May 2012. Facebook raised $18 billion in the biggest internet IPO ever; Twitter raised $1.8 billion. [CBS News]
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4. Kerry joins Iran nuclear talks as optimism grows
Secretary of State John Kerry is flying to Geneva on Friday to help resolve sticking points in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, as hope for a deal rises. Kerry’s French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, is also joining the talks. The news came after Iran’s foreign minister and chief negotiator, Javad Zarif, said “an understanding or an agreement” might be possible by the time the two days of meetings end Friday night. [CNN]
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5. Senate approves bill to ban workplace discrimination against gays
The Senate on Thursday passed a bill discriminating against workers over their sexual preference or gender identity. Ten Republicans joined the Senate’s Democrats in a 64-32 vote that signaled how sharply views on gay rights have shifted in recent years. The bill faces strong opposition, though, in the GOP-controlled House, where Speaker John Boehner says he won’t even bring the legislation to the floor. [San Francisco Chronicle]
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6. Evangelist Billy Graham speaks out on his 95th birthday
Billy Graham delivered what was billed as his final sermon Thursday night at a party to celebrate his 95th birthday. The evangelist addressed hundreds of well-wishers in an Asheville, N.C., ballroom through a video that was recorded over the past year, in which he said the country is following the wrong path. “There have been times that I’ve wept as I’ve gone from city to city,” he said, “and I’ve seen how far people have wandered from God.” [USA Today]
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7. October jobs numbers are expected to show effects of shutdown
Economists expect the October employment report, which will be released Friday morning, to show that the unemployment rate rose from 7.2 percent to 7.3 percent, the first increase since May. Forecasters say employers probably added 122,000 jobs during the month, down from 148,000 in September and far below the average of 180,000 in the first nine months of the year. Many economists blame the anticipated decline on the two-week government shutdown, and expect a reversal in November. (UPDATE: 8:36 a.m.: The report shows the economy added 204,000 jobs in October, far more than expected.) [Associated Press]
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8. Video shows Toronto’s embattled mayor in a violent rant
Two days after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted he had smoked crack in a drunken stupor, theToronto Star posted a video online showing Ford, slurring his words and saying he was going to rip someone’s “f—ing throat out.” Someone apparently secretly videotaped the rant using a cellphone camera. Ford promptly apologized. “It’s extremely embarrassing…” he said. “Obviously, I was extremely, extremely inebriated.” [Toronto Star]
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9. The FDA proposes ridding the food supply of trans fats
The Food and Drug Administration is proposing standards to effectively ban artificial trans fatsfrom American diets. The FDA plan, unveiled Thursday, would prevent companies from using partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats, in food products, such as microwave popcorn and frozen pizzas, unless they can prove it poses no health threat. The move could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths a year, the FDA said. [New York Times]
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10. The Sochi Olympic torch makes history in space
Crew members on the International Space Station are preparing to take the torch for the 2014 Winter Olympics on a space walk Saturday. The torch has been in space before — aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in 1996 — but this is its first trip outside an orbiting spacecraft. The torch won’t be lit during its four days at the space station — that would be dangerous — but it will be part of the longest (39,000 miles) torch relay in history. [Irish Independent]

 

10 things you need to know today: October 26, 2013

President Obama puts the pressure on his tech team with a deadline.

The Week

1. White House sets November deadline for ObamaCare fixes
The Obama administration on Friday announced it would have the health care exchange website fully functional for the “vast majority” of users by the end of November. The massive structural flaws with the site, Healthcare.gov, have been an embarrassment for the White House, sparking a political backlash and threatening to undermine the law should the problems take too long to fix. The uninsured have until the end of March to obtain coverage or face the individual mandate’s penalty. [Los Angeles Times]
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2. Saudi women protest driving ban
Women in Saudi Arabia will get behind the wheel on Saturday to protest the nation’s de facto prohibition on female drivers. Though there is technically no law against women driving there, the government does not issue driver’s licenses to women. The protest is the latest in a series of demonstrations aimed at drawing attention to and ultimately ending the ban. [Washington Post]
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3. New documents released in JonBenet Ramsey case
A grand jury considered indicting the parents of JonBenet Ramsey back in 1999 for the murder of the child beauty queen, according to newly released court documents. The documents, totaling just four pages, were released at the behest of a reporter and open information group. DNA testing has cleared Ramsey’s parents, and the nearly two-decade-old case remains unsolved. [CNN]
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4. FDA proposes new regulations for animal food
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed new rules that would for the first time regulate animal feed and pet food. The announcement comes days after the FDA announced nearly 600 pets had mysteriously died since 2007 after consuming tainted Chinese jerky treats. [New York Times]
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5. Massive earthquake strikes off Japanese coast
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck east of the Fukushima region of Japan Friday, raising the specter of the deadly disaster that devastated the country in 2011, killing nearly 16,000 people and crippling a nuclear plant. The Japan Meteorological Agency initially issued a tsunami alert for the area, though that was later lifted, and no major damage was reported. [BBC]

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6. Study shows marijuana compounds can fight cancer
New research into the medical benefits of marijuana has found that a handful of cannabinoids can have a “profound” impact on killing and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. The findings, published in the journal Anticancer Research, showed that six non-psychoactive ingredients in marijuana — meaning compounds other than the well-known THC — were able to reduce the viability of leukaemic cells. The study’s author, Wai Liu, said he hoped to turn his findings into medication that could be available within the next year and a half. [Seattle Post Intelligencer]
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7. Firefox releases new privacy tool
Mozilla on Friday unveiled a new privacy extension for its popular Firefox web browser that allows users to see who’s tracking their online activity. By enabling the free extension, called Lightbeam, users can see which third-party companies are tracking their movements, a service the company said it hopes will “illuminate the inner workings of the web.” [Mashable]
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8. NBA Hall of Famer Bill Sharman dies at 87
Basketball great Bill Sharman died Friday at the age of 87, one week after suffering a stroke. Sharman won four championships as a player with the Boston Celtics, and another as the coach of Los Angeles Lakers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. [Sports Illustrated]
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9. S&P 500 closes Friday at another record high
Buoyed by strong earnings reports from both Microsoft and Amazon, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended Friday at an all-time high of 1,760. It was the third-straight week of gains for the index. Microsoft shares rose by 6.6 percent on the day after a better-than-expected earnings report, while shares of Amazon leapt nearly 10 percent. [Reuters]
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10. MTV pre-releases entire series via mobile app
Embracing the “binge-watching” movement, MTV on Friday released the full season of an upcoming series through a free proprietary app one week before the show is to air on television. The program, a docu-drama about a high school football team, is named, somewhat ironically, “Wait ‘Till Next Year.” [Associated Press]

10 things you need to know today: October 19, 2013

Jeh Johnson (center), President Obama’s Homeland Security nominee, on Oct. 18. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Week

President Obama nominates a new Homeland Security chief, a court rules for gay marriage in New Jersey, and more

1. President Obama nominates new Homeland Security chief
The White House officially nominated Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon’s former top lawyer, to replace Janet Napolitano as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. The president said Johnson was instrumental in dismantling al Qaeda’s core operations overseas and repealing the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. His nomination requires confirmation from the Senate. [Associated Press]
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2. Gay marriages to begin Monday in New Jersey
The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a decision by a lower court to allow gay marriage in New Jersey, despite objections from Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who favors civil unions. The court’s decision makes New Jersey the 14th state to allow same-sex marriage, which will be legal starting on Monday. [NBC News]
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3. Former House Speaker Tom Foley dies at 84
Former House Speaker Tom Foley, a Democrat who served 30 years in Congress, died on Friday in his home in Washington, D.C., his wife announced on Friday. He was 84. Foley spent 1989 to 1995 as speaker of the House, and later became the U.S. ambassador to Japan until 2001. [CNN]
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4. Norwegian man investigated for connection to Kenya mall shooting
Norway’s intelligence agency is investigating a 23-year-old Norwegian citizen’s connection to the hostage situation at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The al Qaeda-affiliated group al Shabab claimed responsibility for the September attack, which resulted in 67 deaths. The man reportedly left Norway for his birthplace of Somalia, where al Shabab is based, in 2009. [BBC]
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5. First major Taliban attack in months rocks Kabul
Taliban gunmen attacked a convoy of foreign vehicles in Kabul on Friday, killing two Afghan civilians and injuring four more. The attack, which occurred near the Green Village, home to many foreign military and civilian contractors, was the first significant attack in the Afghan capital since July. [Reuters]
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6. Inmates escape Florida prison with forged documents
Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker, both 34, were let out of a Florida prison after it received forged documents calling for their immediate release. The papers featured the fake signature of Chief Justice Belvin Perry, best known for presiding over the Casey Anthony trial in 2011. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has called for a statewide manhunt to find them. [CBS News]
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7. Morgan Stanley beats expectations with $1 billion quarter
Morgan Stanley was the big winner on Wall Street on Friday after it reported $1 billion in third-quarter profits, beating analyst estimates, as well as $7.9 billion in revenue, a significant increase from $5.3 billion a year ago. The company attributed the healthy quarter to keeping compensation costs down and a recovering commercial real estate market. [USA Today]
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8. Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) dies at 82
Rep. Bill Young, one of the longest serving members of the House, died Friday at age 82. Young had already decided not to seek another term in Florida’s 13th congressional district. The congressman, who assumed office in 1971, was the longest-serving Republican in the House, and tied with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) as the third longest-serving member overall. [NBC]

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9. National Zoo reopens after government shutdown ends
Visitors were finally allowed back into the National Zoo, which is funded by the Smithsonian Institute, in Washington, D.C, on Friday. The zoo was closed for 17 days because of the government shutdown. The National Zoo also switched its Panda Cam back on, which follows its unnamed 8-week-old giant panda cub. [Washington Post]
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10. CBS orders full seasons for three new comedies
The Crazy Ones, starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar, has been picked up for a full season by CBS, along with two of the network’s other new comedies, Mom and The Millers. As for other networks, ABC picked up Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., while Fox did the same with supernatural thriller Sleepy Hollow. [E! Online]

College student calls Ted Cruz out for lying about him in anti-Obamacare speech

Rutgers Univ. student calls Ted Cruz out for lying about him [MSNBC]


The Raw Story

A Rutgers University student who found himself being cited by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as a cautionary tale told MSNBC host Ed Schultz on Friday that Cruz distorted his story for the purposes of arguing against the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s kind of shameful for him to act as if he is acting in the best interest of young folks, while pushing for his own agenda,” John Connelly said of Cruz.

Connelly told Schultz he has never met nor spoken to Cruz or his staff. But during a 21-hour speech earlier this week, Cruz argued Connelly — who was quoted in a Sept. 14 Wall Street Journalarticle about unemployment among Americans under the age of 25 — was a victim of the new law.

“John Connelly thought he was on the right track in life. The son of a New Jersey auto mechanic, he was the first in his family to go to college when he enrolled in Rutgers in 2009,” Cruz said on the Senate floor. “Four years later, the 22-year-old found himself $21,000 in debt, without a permanent job and sleeping on friends’ couches in New Jersey and Brooklyn.”

But as Connelly said to Schultz, those problems weren’t caused by the new law, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”

“It seems kind of bizarre that he’s blaming a law that was passed in 2010 on trends that go back well past 2007,” Connelly explained, adding that little more than half of Americans in his age bracket have full-time jobs, while battling dwindling pay and rising housing and tuition debt.

“It was almost as if he told his office to go out and find the worst example of the point he was trying to quote,” Connelly said, adding that not only has he benefitted personally from the law, but that it allows his younger sister to seek medical treatment despite having pre-existing conditions, something that a “free market dystopia” Cruz seeks would not have permitted.

Watch Connelly describe being a political anecdote, as aired by MSNBC.

10 things you need to know today: September 14, 2013

Residents look over a road washed out by a torrent of water near Left Hand Canyon, south of Lyons, Colo.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

 

The Week

The U.S. and Russia reach a deal on Syria’s chemical weapons, Colorado floods rage on, and more

1. U.S., Russia reach deal on Syria’s chemical weapons
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov announced Saturday that they had reached an agreement on Syria turning its chemical weapons over to international control. The deal reportedly calls for Bashar al-Assad to turn over all details of his chemical weapons arsenal within a week. Meanwhile, U.N. inspectors are expected to file their report on the alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus sometime this weekend. [CBS News]
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2. Floods continue to wreak havoc in Colorado
The worst flooding Colorado has seen in three decades continued as the National Guard rescued an entire town of 1,600 people. Emergency vehicles drove through floodwaters that reached three feet high as storms continued to rage across the state. At least four people are dead and 172 unaccounted for. [Chicago Tribune,Reuters]
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3. Bomb rocks area near U.S. consulate in Afghanistan
Taliban forces claimed responsibility for a car bomb that went off near the U.S. consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, on Friday. The bomb exploded as militants exchanged gunfire with Afghan security forces, damaging the front gate of the consulate but resulting in no U.S. casualties. [CNN]
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4. Friends of accused Boston Marathon bomber plead not guilty
Dias Kadyrbayev, Robel Phillipos, and Azamat Tazhayakov, who are all accused of concealing and destroying evidence belonging to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, all pleaded not guilty in federal court on Friday. Kadyrbayev faces the most serious charges — two counts of obstruction of justice and conspiracy — which could result in 25 years in prison. [Boston Herald]
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5. UNICEF reports that millions of children are still dying of preventable diseases
In a report released Friday, UNICEF said that 35 million children will die between 2015 and 2028 of preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. The mortality rate has actually improved over the last few decades, from 90 deaths per 1,000 children in 1990 to 48 deaths per 1,000 in 2012. [CBS News]
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6. Teenagers plead not guilty to the murder of 88-year-old WWII vet
Demetruis Glenn and Kenan Adams-Kinard, both 16, pleaded not guilty in Spokane, Wash., to charges of first-degree murder and robbery in connection with the death of 88-year-old Delbert Belton. The World War II veteran was allegedly beaten to death while waiting for a friend in front of an Eagles Lodge. [The Spokesman-Review]
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7. Fire in Russian psychiatric hospital kills 37 people
A fire broke out early Friday morning in a psychiatric hospital in northwestern Russia, killing 37 people, including patients and at least one nurse. A similar incident killed 38 people in April, raising concerns about the poor maintenance of some of Russia’s state-run institutions. [New York Times]
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8. Tropical storm heads towards Texas
Tropical Storm Ingrid formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, creating fears that eastern Mexico might experience floods and mudslides in the next few days. The storm, which had winds of 45 m.p.h., could hit south Texas sometime early next week. [USA Today]
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9. Man fails to cross the Atlantic Ocean with helium balloons
Balloonist Jonathan Trappe was forced to land in a remote part of Newfoundland on Friday after attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a small boat lifted by 300 helium balloons. He was rescued by the crew of a helicopter commissioned by the CBC after taking off from Maine on Thursday. [CBC]
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10. Oklahoma State possibly used sex to woo football recruits
More than a dozen former football players at Oklahoma State told Sports Illustrated that female hostesses had sex with them when they visited the campus as recruits. The 10-month investigation also found evidence of players being paid in violation of NCAA rules, academic misconduct, and even drug dealing. [Sports Illustrated]

10 things you need to know today: September 13, 2013

Twitter is ready to cash in on that whole IPO thing.

The Week

Syria signs a treaty banning chemical weapons, Twitter files for its IPO, and more

1. Talks continue as Syria agrees to observe a global treaty banning chemical arms
Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, appeared upbeat early Friday as they began their second day of talks on taking control of Syria’s chemical weapons. Syria on Thursday formally signed onto a global anti-chemical-weapons treaty, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he would only comply if the U.S. drops the threat of military strikes. Kerry said force remained an option until Assad disclosed and surrendered his stockpile. [New York TimesABC News]
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2. Twitter files for its IPO
Twitter announced Thursday — in fewer than 140 characters on Twitter — that it had filed confidential paperwork for its initial public offering of stock. The 7-year-old microblogging service, worth an estimated $10 billion, didn’t reveal whether it’s profitable. The filing was done under a new law allowing small companies to prepare for their IPOs without opening their books. Analysts expect the IPO in late 2013 or early 2014. [Wall Street Journal]
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3. Fire consumes New Jersey boardwalk rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy
A fire that started in an ice cream shop on Thursday engulfed a boardwalk and destroyed 50 buildings in Seaside Park, N.J., one of the towns that had to be rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy. The flames consumed four blocks of the boardwalk, which was repaired after the superstorm ravaged the Jersey Shore a year ago. “I feel like I want to throw up,” said Gov. Chris Christie. “To see this going on… is just unthinkable.” [CNN]
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4. Apple starts sales of its new iPhone 5C
Apple began taking orders for its iPhone 5C at 12:01 a.m. (Pacific Time) Friday. Deliveries are due September 20. The new smartphone is essentially a re-branded iPhone 5, but Apple is counting on its low cost (it starts at $99 with a two-year contract) and five bright color options to boost sales, which have slowed in the face of stiffening competition. Apple isn’t offering pre-orders for its other new model, the faster, high-end iPhone 5S. [CNET]
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5. Deadly floods worsen as record rains drench Boulder, Colo.
Flooding that killed three people worsened in Colorado overnight as record rains caused flash flooding in and around Boulder. The rare late-summer downpours forced thousands of people to evacuate. Boulder Creek overflowed its banks, inundating downtown, and the remote town of Lyons north of Boulder was cut off when rushing waters washed out U.S. Route 36, forcing National Guard troops to shuttle in emergency supplies. [Reuters]
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6. Al Qaeda leader urges extremists to attack
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a speech marking the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks, called for small-scale terrorist strikes in the U.S. to “bleed America economically” by forcing it to spend heavily on security, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. He also called for Muslims to boycott goods made by the U.S. and its allies. The 72-minute speech was posted in online forums on Thursday. [Agence France Presse]
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7. California legislature backs $10 minimum wage
California lawmakers passed a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour — the highest in the nation — by 2016. The California Chamber of Commerce said such a big hike from the current minimum of $8 an hour would be a “job killer.” The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo, said it would “provide relief for hard-working families.” The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has said he would sign it. [Los Angeles Times]
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8. Taliban fighters attack a U.S. consulate in Afghanistan
Afghan Taliban insurgents attacked the U.S. Consulate in the southwestern Afghanistan city of Herat early Friday, killing at least two Afghan police officers and a security guard. U.S. and Afghan security officers fought off the attack, which began with a suicide truck bombing followed by an assault by several gunmen. The violence in Herat, long considered safe, was the latest sign of instability as foreign troops prepare to withdraw in 2014. [BBC News]
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9. Four men sentenced to hang for India gang rape and murder
A judge in India on Friday sentenced four men to death for the December gang rape and murder of a young New Delhi woman. The brutal attack triggered protests that pushed officials to toughen rape laws. “In these times, when crime against women is on the rise, the courts cannot turn a blind eye toward such gruesome crimes,” Judge Yogesh Khanna said. The victim’s father said, “I am very happy our girl has got justice.” [Associated Press]
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10. Voyager 1 has left the solar system
NASA confirmed Thursday that the Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, had become the first human-made object to leave the solar system and enter interstellar space. The probe, originally intended for a four-year mission including fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn, is now 11.7 billion miles from Earth. “It’s hard even for scientists to comprehend,” said Donald A. Gurnett, co-author of a paper in the journal Science about the feat. [New York Times]
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