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10 things you need to know today: August 17, 2014

A man throws a gas cannister back at police in Ferguson, Mo.

A man throws a gas cannister back at police in Ferguson, Mo. Joe Raedie / Getty Images

The Week

Unrest returns to Ferguson, pro-Russian rebels down a Ukrainian jet, and more.

1. One shot, seven arrested in Ferguson, Mo.
One man was left in critical condition Sunday after being shot in Ferguson, Missouri, as protests continued over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In addition, seven people were arrested for failing to comply with a new midnight-to-five a.m. curfew intended to quell the unrest that has percolated since an officer shot to death Brown last Saturday. After a brief period of relative calm settled in following a few days of clashes between police and protesters, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency, and police late Saturday again fired waves of tear gas and smoke canisters to clear the streets. [Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal]

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2. Pro-Russian rebels shoot down Ukrainian fighter jet
Separatist forces on Sunday downed a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet as clashes continued in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine. The plane was carrying out a mission against the entrenched pro-Russian rebels when it was shot down, according to Kiev. Also Sunday, Ukraine said it made significant progress toward reclaiming control of Luhansk, an eastern city that has for weeks been under rebel control. [AFP, Associated Press]

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3. Germany spied on John Kerry, Hillary Clinton
Germany’s intelligence agency eavesdropped on Secretary of State John Kerry’s and his predecessor, Hillary Clinton’s, private phone calls, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel. The agency allegedly collected conversations in 2012 and 2013, but did so “accidentally” while snooping for terror suspects. The revelation could further strain relations between Germany and the U.S. that have already been tested amid allegations that Washington spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. [Associated Press]

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4. Montana Democrats pick new Senate nominee
In the wake of a plagiarism scandal that upended the Montana Senate race, Democrats on Saturday nominated state lawmaker Amanda Curtis as their new nominee. The little-known 34-year-old replaces incumbent Sen. John Walsh, who ended his campaign after The New York Times revealed he’d widely plagiarized material for a college paper. Republicans were already heavily favored to win the seat before Walsh’s scandal, and the race now seems like a surefire GOP pickup. [The New York Times]

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5. Rick Perry rejects indictment as ‘outrageous’
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Saturday shrugged off the criminal charges filed against him for alleged abuse of power, calling the claims “outrageous.” A grand jury on Friday indicted Perry — the outgoing governor and potential 2016 candidate — for making good on a threat to veto funding for a state oversight agency following a district attorney’s arrest for drunk driving. “We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry said. [Associated Press]

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6. One dead, dozens found hidden in shipping container
Authorities found 35 people, one of them dead, trapped inside a shipping container that arrived in England on Saturday. Police said the immigrants are suspected to have come from the Indian subcontinent, and that the lone death is being investigated as a homicide. Workers unloading the ship found the trapped people when they heard “screaming and banging” coming from inside the container. [BBC, The Guardian]

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7. Liberia establishes ‘plague villages’ to contain Ebola
Faced with the worst Ebola outbreak in history, Liberia has closed off some villages believed to be at the center of the crisis, drawing comparisons to medieval “plague villages.” To contain the outbreak, the country has imposed medical roadblocks and deployed troops to keep infected people from fleeing and coming into contact with uninfected areas. As of Friday, the death toll from the outbreak had risen to 1,145, according to the World Health Organization. [Reuters]

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8. 15 missing after Indonesian tourist boat sinks
An Indonesian boat carrying a small group of tourists sank Saturday, leaving 15 people missing. Amid bad weather, the boat reportedly struck a reef shortly after midnight. Ten people were pulled from the water Saturday, according to rescue workers, and at least four boats were searching for the remaining passengers and crew. [Associated Press, BBC]

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9. Dozens overdose on synthetic marijuana in New Hampshire
At least 44 people in New Hampshire have accidentally overdosed on synthetic marijuana in the past week, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency. Twenty victims have been hospitalized though no one has died after ingesting the pseudo-pot, which is cleverly — and legally — sold as “incense.” By declaring a state of emergency, New Hampshire authorities were able to quarantine the alleged culprit: The “Bubblegum Flavor” of “Smacked!” [Boston Globe, New York Daily News]

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10. 99-year-old claims to set sprint record
A 99-year-old great-great-grandmother last week clocked what she believes is the fastest ever 100-meter time for anyone her age. Ida Keeling ran the race in 59.8 seconds at the Gay Games in Akron, Ohio, last week, with her daughter hailing it as the fastest time for a near-centenarian in an internationally-certified event. “I’m running from old age and arthritis,” Keeling joked. [Akron Beacon Journal, The Independent]

10 things you need to know today: July 5, 2014

Brazil's Neymar goes down with an unfortunate fracture

Brazil’s Neymar goes down with an unfortunate fracture Jamie McDonald / Getty Images

The Week

A German man is accused of spying for the U.S., Brazil loses its star forward for the World Cup, and more.

1. German man accused of spying for U.S.
A German man was arrested this week and accused of passing along classified documents to another nation, which is believed to be the United States. The man, employed by Germany’s intelligence service, was allegedly gathering information on a parliamentary investigation into claims of U.S. espionage. The arrest comes after a year of strained relations between Germany and the U.S. over allegations that the NSA spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. [The New York TimesBBC]

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2. Brazil’s Neymar to miss remainder of World Cup
Brazilian forward Neymar will miss the rest of the World Cup after fracturing a vertebra in his back during Friday’s 2-1 win over Colombia. The 22-year-old took a knee to the back from Colombia defender Juan Zuniga late in the second half and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. Brazil will face Germany, who dispatched France 1-0 on Friday, in the semifinals. [Los Angeles Times]

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3. Maliki vows to continue bid for third term
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Friday rejected calls that he end his bid for a third term as the nation battles an insurgent uprising. “I’ll never give up on being the candidate for the premiership,” he said in a statement. “Nobody has the right to stand against this.” Maliki has faced mounting criticism for his handling of the crisis, and thus mounting calls that he step aside. Though his State of Law party won the April elections, they did not capture enough seats for an outright majority, and parliament has so far failed to form a new government. [BloombergReuters]

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4. Palestinian boy likely burned alive
A Palestinian boy who was kidnapped and murdered last week had soot in his lungs at the time of death, suggesting he was burned alive, an autopsy revealed. The 16-year-old boy, Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, was snatched early Wednesday morning while waiting to pray and stuffed into a gray Hyundai, according to security camera footage. Though police have yet to identify the assailants, the attack was widely considered retaliation for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens last month. [The New York Times]

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5. Arthur downgraded to tropical storm
Tropical Storm Arthur weakened as it spun up the east coast and back out to sea Friday night and into Saturday morning. The storm was downgraded from a hurricane early Saturday after battering North Carolina and brushing past parts of the Northeast. The storm knocked out power to tens of thousands in North Carolina and caused heavy rainfall up the coast, but left little serious damage in its wake. [The Boston GlobeUSA Today]

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6. Ukrainian troops retake key eastern city
Ukrainian forces recaptured the rebel stronghold of Slovyansk on Saturday, serving a strategic and symbolic blow to separatist militants. Pro-Russian rebels had controlled the city since April as they battled the fledgling government in Kiev. President Petro Poroshenko said separatists fled the city after overnight fighting, and he ordered the Ukrainian flag to be raised above the city. [CNN,Associated Press]

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7. McDaniel to challenge Miss. election results
Chris McDaniel, the Republican candidate who lost a divisive Mississippi GOP primary to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran last month, said on Friday that he will contest the election’s results. McDaniel won the initial round of voting, but fell short in the runoff by about 6,800 votes. The Cochran campaign encouraged black Democrats to cross over and vote for the incumbent in the runoff, triggering accusations from the McDaniel camp that Cochran “race-baited” his way to victory. Cochran staffers said they have found 5,000 voting “irregularities,” hence the legal challenge. [CBSCNN]

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8. Taliban destroy NATO oil tankers in Afghanistan
Taliban militants attacked and destroyed around 200 oil tankers parked outside Kabul on Friday. Insurgents struck the idling tankers — which were reportedly carrying fuel for NATO vehicles — with rockets, setting them ablaze. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the attack. [The GuardianBBC]

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9. 101st Tour de France begins in England
Cycling’s most prestigious event, the Tour de France, began Saturday morning in Leeds, England. The 198 riders will race 2,277 miles over the next three weeks before crossing the finish line in Paris. Chris Froome is favored to repeat as champion. [Associated Press]

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10. SiriusXM fires ‘Opie & Anthony’ host for Twitter rant
SiriusXm on Friday fired Anthony Cumia, co-host of the satellite radio network’s Opie & Anthonyshow, after he went on a racially-charged Twitter rant. Cumia tweeted a string of graphic messages Tuesday about being punched by a woman in Times Square, remarks the network called “abhorrent.” [Variety]

10 things you need to know today: June 27, 2014

A Syrian rebel shows off his guns.

A Syrian rebel shows off his guns. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

The Week

Obama makes his first request to train and equip Syrian rebels, the U.S. advances in the World Cup, and more

1. Obama requests $500 million in military aid for Syrian rebels
President Obama on Thursday asked Congress for $500 million to “train and equip” Syrian opposition fighters — his first request for such direct military aid to rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Opposition groups receiving the aid will be vetted to make sure they have no ties to Islamist militants, and no decision has been made on specific weapons rebels will get if Congress approves the aid. [Los Angeles Times]

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2. U.S. loses to Germany but still advances in World Cup
The U.S. men’s soccer team lost 1-0 to Germany on Thursday, but still advanced to the second round of the World Cup, thanks to Portugal’s 2-1 victory over Ghana. The results left the U.S. tied with Portugal at four points apiece, but the U.S. had the edge in goal differentials. Skeptics had doubted the U.S. would survive round one in a group with Germany and Portugal — both ranked in the world’s top four. Next the U.S. faces Belgium on Tuesday. [Star-Ledger]

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3. Justices call Massachusetts abortion-clinic buffer zone unconstitutional
The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law setting a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, saying it violated protesters’ constitutional right to free speech. Massachusetts argued that the buffer zone allowed anti-abortion protesters to have their say while keeping patients and clinic staff safer. Chief Justice John Roberts said the zones “burden substantially more speech than necessary.” [MSNBC]

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4. Ukraine and two other former Soviet republics sign trade pacts with Europe
Ukraine, along with fellow ex-Soviet republics Georgia and Moldova, signed historic free-trade agreements with the European Union on Friday. The deals tied the countries’ economic fortunes to the 28-nation bloc and risked widening a rift with Russia, which has demanded talks before any agreement between Europe and Ukraine. It previously vowed to respond if any deal threatened its economy, as it said this pact would. [Bloomberg]

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5. High court slams Obama over recess appointments
The Supreme Court scolded President Obama on Thursday over his recess appointments during brief Senate breaks. The justices said Obama violated the Constitution in 2012 by using recess appointments to fill spots on the National Labor Relations Board even though the chamber was holding brief pro forma sessions every three days. The justices said such appointments were only justified during breaks of 10 or more days. [The New York Times]

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6. Judge upholds Colorado gun laws
A federal judge on Thursday upheld gun laws Colorado’s Democratic-controlled legislature passed in 2013 following deadly shooting rampages. Sheriffs and gun-rights advocates sued to block the measures, which banned magazines with more than 15 rounds and required more background checks, calling them unconstitutional. U.S. District Chief Judge Marcia Krieger said civilians never fire more than 15 shots in self-defense. [Reuters]

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7. U.S. drones hunt for insurgents as Iraqi leaders discuss a new government
Armed U.S. drones began flying over Iraq on Thursday as the Shiite-led government held meetings on who should head a new government and tackle a Sunni extremist insurgency. For the first time, even members of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s party are suggesting he should be replaced. Shiites are taking up arms across Iraq in a bid to halt advances by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. [The New York Times]

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8. Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins picked first in NBA draft
The Cleveland Cavaliers snapped up Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins as the first pick in the NBA draft Thursday night. It was the second year in a row the Cavs got first choice, and the second year in a row they picked a Canadian-born player (last year it was Anthony Bennett). The Milwaukee Bucks took Duke forward Jabari Parker as the No. 2 pick, and the Philadelphia 76ers chose Kansas center Joel Embiid at No. 3. [Los Angeles Times]

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9. ABC fires two stars of The View
ABC executives cleaned house on the network’s morning talk show, The View, leaving co-host Whoopi Goldberg as the lone holdover. Network management gave co-host Sherri Shepherd the boot in an afternoon meeting. Sources also said that former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, who replaced Elisabeth Hasselbeck in July but never clicked with viewers, is also out, as is executive producer Bill Geddie. [New York Daily News]

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10. Former Senate leader Howard Baker dies at 88
Former Senate majority leader Howard Baker — a key player in the Watergate hearings and once Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff — died on Thursday at age 88. The Tennessee Republican’s wife, former senator Nancy Kassebaum, and two children from his first marriage said this was a “time of sorrow and also a time for the celebration of a remarkable life.” President Obama said Baker’s role as the “Great Conciliator” won him admirers across party lines. [CNN]

Huckabee Stokes Fear With Nazi Gun Control Comparison

512px-Gov-Huckabee-001

This story is a few days old, but in light of the persistent fear tactics from the Right to crash and burn any and all attempts at gun safety legislation, it’s still relevant…

The National Memo

Pastor-politician Mike Huckabee continues to stoke fear and paranoia regarding the sensible gun safety measures proposed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that killed 20 children and six adults, the latest gun-related massacre that occurred because of what many consider to be lax gun laws in America, compared to other developed nations.

On his radio show Wednesday afternoon, Huckabee responded to a caller who repeated the lie that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis turned Germany from a democracy into a dictatorship by registering and collecting guns, by saying:

“When you bring that up there are people that get crazy on us. They’ll start saying, ‘oh there you go, comparing to the Nazis.’ And I understand the reaction. But it’s the truth. You cannot take people’s rights away if they are resisting and have the means to resist. But once they’re disarmed and the people who are trying to take over have all the power — not just political, not just financial — but they have the physical power to domesticate us and to subjugate us to their will, there’s not a whole lot we can do about it, other than just plan to die in the course of resistance…in every society and culture where dictators take over, one of the things they have to do is get control of the military and police and ultimately all the citizens and make sure the citizens are disarmed and can’t fight in the streets. Gosh I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Besides making a slippery-slope argument that modest gun reform will somehow lead to weapon confiscation and a Nazi-style dictatorship, Huckabee and the caller display a dangerously ignorant reading of history regarding gun laws in Nazi Germany. Mother JonesSalon, and other publications have refuted the oft-repeated assertion among gun rights absolutists that gun control allowed Hitler’s rise to power and made the Holocaust possible.

First, it is worth noting that other developed, democratic nations with stronger gun laws, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and others, did not see a dictator rise to power and “domesticate” and “subjugate” their people when they enacted new gun measures. In fact, their democracies are still intact with the people still deciding important issues peacefully through the ballot box. What these countries have done is made their societies safer by decreasing gun violence.

Now back to the right wing’s seemingly favorite comparison when discussing anything President Obama has proposed to help the American people — Nazis.

There he goes again.  Mike Huckabee is just one of many politicians playing the fear card against President Obama and gun control in general…

The National Memo

The reality is that the Weimar Republic following World War I actually had tougher gun laws than the Nazi regime, in part to disarm the violent extremists causing havoc, like the paramilitary SA brownshirts. The Nazi Weapon Law of 1938 actually loosened gun restrictions, except for Jews and other persecuted minorities.

But there were only 214,000 Jews living in Germany when World War II started and between 160,000 and 180,000 were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. That is a small fraction of the six million Jews from other countries who were murdered and who wouldn’t have been subject to the Nazi gun laws. The mighty Russian army lost more than 10 million soldiers fighting the Wermacht on the Eastern Front, so it is unrealistic to think that a Jewish armed uprising in Eastern Europe would have beaten back the German military machine. That is why many say a strong Israeli army is so important to preventing another holocaust, the reasoning being that a Jewish state with a modern military is the only match for a genocidal force like the Nazis.

In reality, it is the Tea Party “patriots” intimidating people with loaded assault rifles, Republican efforts to suppress the vote, and right-wing radio hosts like Huckabee stoking fear and paranoia that more closely resemble the tactics used by Hitler’s Nazis to gain power.

Gun control and Second Amendment-analysis website GunCite concludes the following in a story titled “The Myth of Nazi Gun Control”: “There are no lessons about the efficacy of gun control to be learned from the Germany of the first half of [the 20th] century. It is all too easy to forget the seductive allure that fascism presented to all the West, bogged down in economic and social morass. What must be remembered is that the Nazis were master manipulators of popular emotion and sentiment, and were disdainful of people thinking for themselves. There is the danger to which we should pay great heed. Not fanciful stories about Nazis seizing guns.”

Fox News Claims Solar Won’t Work in America Because It’s Not Sunny Like Germany

“It’s always sunny in Germany”

Can they really be that dense over at Fox News or are they just playing to their low-information base?

Slate

Thanks to Fox News and its expert commentators, millions of Americans now understand the real, hidden reason why Germany’s solar-energy industry is so much further along than ours. Turns out it has nothing to do with the fact that Germany’s government has long supported the industry far more generously, with policies like feed-in tariffs that stimulate investment in green technologies. No, the real reason is much simpler, explained a trio of journalists on Fox & Friends: It’s always sunny in Germany!

“The industry’s future looks dim,” intoned host Gretchen Carlson at the beginning of the segment, which was preserved for posterity by the liberal blog Media Matters for America.  She and her co-host went on to ridicule Obama’s “failed” solar subsidies, adding, “The United States simply hasn’t figured out how to do solar cheaply and effectively. You look at the country of Germany, it’s working out great for them.” Near the end of the segment, it occurred to Carlson to ask her expert guest, Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi, why it might be that Germany’s solar-power sector is doing so much better. “What was Germany doing correct? Are they just a smaller country, and that made it more feasible?” Carlson asked.

Joshi’s jaw-dropping response: “They’re a smaller country, and they’ve got lots of sun. Right? They’ve got a lot more sun than we do.” In case that wasn’t clear enough for some viewers, Joshi went on: “The problem is it’s a cloudy day and it’s raining, you’re not gonna have it.” Sure, California might get sun now and then, Joshi conceded, “but here on the East Coast, it’s just not going to work.”

Gosh, why hasn’t anyone thought of that before? Wouldn’t you think that some scientist, somewhere, would have noticed that the East Coast is far less sunny than Central Europe and therefore incapable of producing solar power on the same scale?

You would—if it were true. As Media Matters’ Max Greenberg notes, it isn’t. Not even remotely. According to maps put out by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, virtually the entirety of the continental United States gets more sun than even the sunniest part of Germany. In fact, NREL senior scientist Sarah Kurtz said via email, “Germany’s solar resource is akin to Alaska’s,” the U.S. state with by far the lowest annual average of direct solar energy.

Solar resources: United States, Germany, Spain

I look forward to Fox News’ correction. Meanwhile, enjoy toggling between the video above and the map below and shaking your head.

 

Fox’s Nazi fetish: Beck, O’Reilly, others repeatedly invoke Nazi imagery

Media Matters  reports: 

Led by Glenn Beck — who was once condemned by the Anti-Defamation League for saying Al Gore used “the same tactic” as Adolf Hitler — Fox News personalities have frequently invoked Nazi Germany in their political commentary, often comparing progressives to Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and the Nazi “brownshirts.”

Beck regularly invokes Nazis, Hitler, Goebbels, other Nazi imagery

Beck: Obama advisers show “the kind of thinking that … eventually led to the Holocaust.” On his October 5 radio show, Beck said that statements by Obama advisers John Holdren, Ezekiel Emanuel and Cass Sunstein indicate “the kind of thinking that led to … the extermination program that eventually led to the Holocaust.”

Beck likened reporting about him to “what Goebbels did.” Complaining on the August 27 edition of his radio show that ABC reported a statement by Beck that blacks don’t own Martin Luther King without also noting that he also said whites don’t own Abraham Lincoln, Beck said: “You know what? I’m gonna get a lot of heat for this, but stand in line. That’s what [Nazi propagandist Joseph] Goebbels did. That’s what Goebbels did. The truth didn’t matter.”

Beck equates children singing about Obama with “Hitler Youth.” On the June 17 edition of his radio show, Beck said that children singing about Obama was “the playbook of the progressives from … the former regime in Germany, the Third Reich.” Beck added, “This is Hitler Youth.”

Beck: Putting “the common good” first “exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany.” Attacking criticism of him by Jewish Funds for Justice’s Simon Greer, Beck asserted on his May 28 radio show that Greer’s comments about putting “human kind and the common good” first “is exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany,” adding, “[a] Jew, of all people, should know that.”

Beck: “frightening similarities” between Sunstein, Goebbels. On the May 27 edition of his radio show, Beck claimed there were “frightening similarities” between Cass Sunstein and Goebbels.

Beck: “You can’t just change the law” to raise BP’s liability cap; “Is that what we fought the Nazis for?” On his May 4 radio show, discussing a reported proposal to retroactively increase liability limits to cover the costs of the Gulf oil spill, Beck responded: “Did we go and fight Germany for this? Is that what we fought the Nazis for? Is that why those millions of people died?”

Beck: Progressives use “democratic elections” to push dictators — “Hitler, ‘democratically elected.’ “ On the April 28 edition of his Fox News show, Beck stated that progressives use “democratic elections” to push dictators, then stated, “You’ll hear this when they talk about the ‘democratically elected’ leader of Iran; the democratic leader Chavez, ‘democratically elected,’ you know; Castro, ‘democratically elected’; Hitler – ‘democratically elected.’ “

Beck: “Progressives build the structure that a communist, a Marxist, a Nazi would love to have.” On the April 22 edition of his radio show, Beck stated that “[p]rogressives build the structure that a communist, a Marxist, a Nazi would love to have.”

Beck invoked “first they came for the Jews” poem to respond to ad boycotts. On the April 8 edition of his Fox News show, Beck portrayed ad boycotts of his show as being orchestrated by the Obama White House in order to “destroy” his “career” and “silence” him, adding: “Is there absolutely no chance whatsoever that you might be a target at some point in the future? What’s that poem? First they came for the Jews, and I stayed silent?”

Beck invokes Nazis to attack worker ID cards: “It was only one of the first things that Hitler did.” On the March 9 edition of his radio show, Beck discussed a proposal by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) to implement national ID cards for workers and said, “It was only one of the first things that Hitler did.”

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