Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton to attend S.C. funeral service for Rev. Pinckney

FLORISSANT, MO - JUNE 23:  Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters on June 23, 2015 at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri. Clinton's visit to the St. Louis suburb neighboring Ferguson, Missouri focused on racial issues.  (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)

Clinton joins dozens of lawmakers, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. | Getty

POLITICO

Hillary Clinton will attend the Charleston, S.C. funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney — a state senator who was killed in the church shooting last week — on Friday, a campaign aide confirmed to POLITICO.

The Democratic presidential front-runner will join dozens of lawmakers, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, at the service, which she was initially slated to miss. She canceled a campaign fundraising event in Philadelphia in order to make the funeral.

Clinton was in Charleston on the day of the shooting, which killed nine African-American churchgoers on June 17, though she left the state earlier in the evening after a pair of campaign stops and a fundraiser in town.

Obama is scheduled to deliver Pinckney’s eulogy on Friday, and multiple members of the congressional leadership teams are expected to be in attendance.

New Poll Shows Hillary Clinton Is Destroying Everyone In The Race

(AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

ADDICTING INFO

If today’s polling is any indication, there isn’t a single Republican that stands a chance of becoming president. Hillary Clinton beats every single candidate, including the GOP frontrunners and (unfortunately, perhaps, in the eyes of some progressives) Bernie Sanders.

Compared to the massive Republican presidential field, the Democratic field is very small and not very competitive. According to theNBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Clinton is winning in a potential primary vote by 75 percent. Bernie Sanders is currently sitting at 15 percent, despite articles like this claiming that Hillary will lose.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Bernie Sanders and I think he would make a great president. He also has momentum on his side, while Hillary’s support could remain relative stagnant because she’s so well-known. But he has an uphill battle if he’s going to seriously challenge Clinton. Therefore to make it a “Bernie or go home” election on the part of Democrats would be a big mistake and will guarantee a Republican president and god knows how many more years of a conservative Supreme Court.

Looking at the general election things get a little bit closer when Hillary is matched up against the top GOP candidates, but she’s still winning. By a lot. Jeb Bush comes the closest and he loses to Hillary by 8 percent (48-40) among registered voters. The difference is even more dramatic for Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, 51-37 percent and 50-40 percent respectively.

This is not to count Bernie, or any of the Republican candidates out. Obviously we’re still over a year away from Election Day and at this time in 2007, Barack Obama was an unknown. Bernie draws large crowds and his polls are only going up.

Unfortunately for Bernie, the “Red Scare” of the Cold War has left the majority of Americans terrified of the word “socialist” which hurts his chances, even though with Bernie’s vision of socialism would address people’s most basic needs while they are allowed to pursue happiness.

10 things you need to know today: June 14, 2015

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

THE WEEK

1.New report: No one heard cop warn Tamir Rice before fatal shooting
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office released a new report Saturday revealing new details in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy waving a toy gun, by a police officer in November. The investigation says although Cleveland police insisted officer Tim Loehmann warned Rice before shooting him, no witnesses heard, The New York Times reports. The report did not make a recommendation as to whether Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, should be charged with any crimes.

Source: The New York Times

2.Hillary Clinton kicks off campaign with rousing populist speech
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton gave her first big campaign speech Saturday to a crowd of thousands on New York’s Roosevelt Island. She drew on her mother’s history as the inspiration for her campaign’s vision. “My mother taught me that everybody needs a chance and a champion,” Clinton said, describing how her mom worked as a maid starting at age 14. She expressed support for environmental reform, women’s reproductive rights, gay rights, and lessening student debt, universal preschool and childcare, universal healthcare, automatic voter registration, and paid sick days.

Source: NBC News

3.Gunman who fired on Dallas police headquarters dies
The gunman who opened fire on the Dallas police headquarters from an armored van early Saturday morning is dead, the Dallas Police Department confirmed Saturday. Authorities say a SWAT sniper shot the gunman, who identified himself as James Boulware, around 5 a.m.Saturday. No police officers or civilians were injured. Authorities originally believed multiple gunmen were involved, but later confirmed it was one man firing from various locations.

Source: The Washington Post

4.Pentagon may put heavy weaponry in Eastern Europe
The Pentagon may put heavy weaponry along Russian borders as a deterrent to the country’s possible aggression, officials told The New York Times on Saturday. It would be enough tanks and infantry vehicles to equip about 5,000 soldiers. Possible sites include Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The proposal would need approval from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and the White House.

Source: The New York Times

5.European Space Agency makes contact with comet lander
The European Space Agency made contact with comet lander Philae for the first time since its November 15 shutdown, their blog post says. The communication lasted 85 seconds. Project manager Stephan Ulamec deemed it ready for operations. Scientists found historical data from Philae that suggests it had been “awake” even earlier, but unable to make contact via orbiter Rosetta.

Source: European Space Agency

6.Nuclear deal ‘within reach,’ Iran president says
As the June 30 deadline for a final nuclear deal between Iran and world powers nears, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday an agreement was “within reach.” Rouhani will allow inspections of Iran nuclear facilities, he said at a news conference, The Associated Press reports, but won’t allow international powers to find his nation’s “secrets.” Iran has been negotiating with the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany. They hope to curtail Rouhani’s nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions enforced in Iran.

Source: The Associated Press

7.South Korean hospital at center of MERS outbreak suspends service
A South Korean hospital stopped most services Sunday after being identified as the epicenter of the deadly respiratory disease spreading through the country. In the past few weeks, 15 South Koreans have died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. There are 145 known cases in the country. The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday about the largest MERS outbreak outside of Saudi Arabia.

Source: Reuters

8.Doctors Without Borders: World still not equipped to handle Ebola
Health authorities aren’t much better equipped to handle an Ebola flare-up than they were a year ago, international medical charity Doctors Without Borders claimed Saturday. “The reality today is if Ebola were to hit on scale it did in August and September, we would hardly do much better than we did the last time around,” organization president Joanne Liu said. She expressed disappointment over recent vague resolutions to combat the epidemic made by the World Health Assembly and the G7.

Source: Reuters

9. Zoo animals escape in deadly Georgian flood
Animals including lions, bears, tigers, jaguars, wolves and a hippopotamus escaped Tbilisi Zoo and were roaming around Georgia’s capital Sunday after a flood killed at least 10 people, including two zoo workers. Some animals also died, while others were shot with tranquilizer darts. Officials called it the worst natural disaster to hit the country in recent memory.

Source: The Washington Post

10.Chicago Blackhawks have Stanley Cup within reach after 2-1 victory
Antoine Vermette scored the tie-breaking goal in the third period for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, putting them ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in the Stanley Cup finals. The 2-1 Game 5 victory in Tampa means the Hawks will take a stab at claiming the championship title on home ice. Game 6 is Monday night.

Source: ESPN

Julie Kliegman

10 things you need to know today 6-13-2015

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

THE WEEK

1.House cripples Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership deal in landslide vote
The House voted 302-126 against the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill, a key worker-related measure included in President Obama’s 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal Friday, severely imperiling the future of the deal that Obama hoped would be a part of his legacy. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) stand against the bill and the resulting landslide vote were a major blow to the president, likely torpedoing Obama’s larger push to gain “fast track” authority for the TPP, and possibly even sinking the entire trade deal.

Source: The Hill

2.New survey reports one in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college
A poll jointly conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one in five women have been sexually assaulted on a college campus. Five percent of men reported experiencing a sexual assault while in college. The poll found a high potential risk factor in the use of alcohol. Fifty-eight percent of male respondents said they believe the number of women sexually assaulted on their college campus is less than 1 in 5.

Source: The Washington Post

3.Local NAACP leader maintains she is black amid media scrutiny
Rachel Dolezal, 37, the president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP and a part-time professor of Africana Studies, is insisting she is black in response to claims from her estranged Caucasian parents she is white. “I do consider myself to be black,” she told local station KREM-TV on Friday. Ruthanne Dolezal hasdescribed her daughter’s ethnic background Thursday as German, Czech, and Swedish, with “faint traces” of Native American mixed in.

Source: KREM-TV, The Spokesman-Review

4.California announces sharp water cuts for agriculture
As the state of California faces a historic drought, state officials announced Friday that nearly 300 farmers with water rights in the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds and delta will face sharp cutbacks, their first since 1977. Further curtailments will be announced weekly. Governor Jerry Brown (D) has faced intense criticism after he issued mandatory regulations on urban water use but initially left agriculture, which uses about 80 percent of water consumed in the state, unregulated.

Source: The New York Times

5.Gunmen fire on officers outside Dallas police headquarters
Multiple gunmen fired on Dallas police officers outside their headquarters early Saturday. The suspects fired from an armored van parked outside the building and are now in a standoff with officers at a nearby Jack in the Box parking lot. Police also found two explosives in the area, one of which detonated. No injuries have been reported. Nearby residents were evacuated as a precaution. Authorities have not determined the exact number of suspects, but it could be as many as four, based on witness accounts.

Source: The Associated Press

6.Clinton set to host first official campaign rally
Hillary Clinton is hosting her first official campaign rally Saturday on New York’s Roosevelt Island. She declared her candidacy in April but is expected to give a speech today extensively laying the direction of her campaign. Thousands of people are expected to attend her rally, which precedes her five-day tour through the early voting states.

Source: ABC News

7.Iowa GOP officially cancels the Iowa Straw Poll
The Iowa Straw Poll, the carnival-like fundraising event for the Republican Party of Iowa that has been a presidential campaign tradition since 1979, is officially no more, after the Iowa Republican Party voted unanimously Thursday to cancel the event scheduled forAug. 8, citing high costs to candidates and a lack of interest. The poll, which usually takes place the summer before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, has recently been cast as increasingly irrelevant to the presidential race, as some say it tends to favor fringe candidates.

Source: Politico, Bloomberg

8.All chimpanzees are now considered endangered
On Friday, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that all chimpanzees will now be considered endangered. Previously, there was a distinction in the treatment of captive chimps, which were listed as “threatened,” whereas wild chimps have been labeled “endangered” for decades. In the ’90s, about a million chimpanzees existed in the wild, but that number has dwindled to somewhere between 172,000 and 300,000, according to the Jane Goodall Institute.

Source: The New York Times

9. ‘Full House’ actor John Stamos arrested for DUI
John Stamos, who played Uncle Jesse on Full House, was arrestedFriday night for driving under the influence, the Beverly Hills Police Department confirmed to Variety. Police pulled over the actor, who was alone in the car, after they received complaints of erratic driving in the area. Stamos was hospitalized due to a possible medical condition.

Source: Variety

10.U.S., Sweden play to scoreless draw in Women’s World Cup
The U.S. and Sweden tied at zero in their Women’s World Cup Group D match Friday night. The second-ranked U.S. team leads the group with four points, following a win over Australia earlier this week. The U.S. women would secure a spot in the round of 16 with either a victory or a draw against Nigeria on Tuesday.

Source: ESPN

The Fake Clinton Scandals Are Back

AP Photo.

POLITICO

The right’s newest crusade has an old fake villain

Has Washington learned nothing from Whitewater? The Clintons have spent their entire political lives in the capital dogged by one fake scandal after another. And, as we’ve been reminded this week, the fake villain in many of their fake scandals always seems to be the same: Sidney Blumenthal.

By leaking emails between Blumenthal and Hillary Clinton to the New York Times, the House Select Committee on Benghazi majority staff evidently aimed to frame Blumenthal into a sinister narrative of Libyan intrigue, encouraging dark suspicions about his work for the Clinton Foundation and his relationship with the former Secretary of State. The fact that Blumenthalwas paid some $10,000 a month for working at the Clinton Foundation doesn’t change anything: This remains a fake scandal that will fail to turn up any real wrongdoing.

Having known Sid for nearly 40 years, I feel confident predicting that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the committee chair, will find nothing to substantiate the fantasies marketed by his staff to the Times, which set the stage for Blumenthal’s subpoena and deposition in a political show trial that will unfold sometime in the coming weeks. Sid passed along information that he thought might be useful to his friend, the secretary of state—someone he has known for nearly 30 years and with whom he worked closely in the Clinton administration.

As the emails illegally purloined from his computer by the Romanian hacker called “Guccifer” indicate, he kept that role separate from discussions about a Libyan relief project, which was intended to provide hospital beds and medicine. That project never got beyond the concept phase and remained entirely distinct from Blumenthal’s job at the foundation, which involved several projects—mostly concerned with President Clinton’s legacy. Certainly it was no crime for the foundation to pay him for that work.

Unfortunately, the Washington press corps tends toward exaggeration and worse when the subject is Sid—and, come to think of it, often when the subject is the Clintons, too. It was no surprise to see Karen Tumulty declare in The Washington Post that “Blumenthal had business interests in Libya,” as if he was making money there—when the reality is that he was never paid a penny and never asked the secretary for anything.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page went even further, demanding a Justice Department investigation of those alleged “business interests,” complete with a far-fetched theory that his emails to her were somehow “in violation of State rules,” while noting darkly that both “used private email addresses.”

The Journal editorialists, whose style harks back to their page’s decade-long Whitewater obsession, don’t specify what kind of email address Blumenthal, who is after all a private citizen, should have used. (Whether Hillary Clinton should have imitated her predecessors in using private email is a separate question that she has already addressed—and again, Blumenthal can’t be blamed for that.) But the Journal’s sinister, heavy-breathing tone, like so much coverage and commentary, remains unsupported by anything but speculation.

Meanwhile, nobody asks why the Republican Congressional leadership should feel entitled to squander millions of tax dollars on yet another Benghazi inquisition—despite last year’s exhaustive 2014 report by the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence, which effectively dismissed all the crackpot conjecture about cover-ups and conspiracies, following several other lengthy official investigations. Rather than any perfidy on the part of Blumenthal or Clinton, this episode demonstrates how little the Washington press corps has learned over the past two decades from pursuing bogus scandals like Whitewater.

It is telling when reporters suggest, for instance, that Blumenthal represents a “paranoid” streak in Hillary Clinton’s thinking—as if the years of conniving against her and her husband by a network of right-wing adversaries never occurred.

The media appears to have forgotten how, during Blumenthal’s first summer working in the White House, ideological refugee David Brock told him about wealthy conservatives, notably Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, who were spending millions of dollars on a secretive scheme known as the “Arkansas Project” to destroy Clinton’s presidency—and how those same figures lurked behind the Whitewater investigation, Kenneth Starr’s Office of Independent Counsel and the media campaign to smear the Clintons as somehow culpable in the 1993 suicide of White House lawyer Vince Foster.

Sid recounted this partisan offensive in The Clinton Wars, his account of the Clinton administration’s struggle against Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and the entire constellation of forces determined to bring down a Democratic president they considered illegitimate. In that struggle, he served as a loyal partisan, defending Bill and Hillary Clinton and, as he and others in the White House believed, the Constitution of the United States.

When Bill Clinton first invited Blumenthal to join the White House staff, the newly re-elected president wasn’t hiring a hatchet man. Over the preceding decade, they had established a friendship based not on common animosities, but a shared interest in how to renew the Democratic Party and progressive politics. Blumenthal had introduced Clinton to Tony Blair, then the new leader of Britain’s Labor Party and future Prime Minister, whose outlook was strikingly similar. Bringing together social democratic leaders across Europe with the U.S. president in what became known as “the Third Way” movement was a substantial part of Sid’s portfolio as a special assistant to Clinton.

But Blumenthal’s years of reporting on the American right had prepared him for a less uplifting mission—to confront the ongoing plot against Clinton by right-wing lawyers, operatives, and financiers, which already was building toward a climax by then. When the unfolding crisis finally concluded in Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial, Sid became the target of House and Senate Republicans (and his old friend Christopher Hitchens), who tried to set him up for a perjury trap.

In the process he was “demonized” in the Washington media, later writing: “To the right wing, I was the focus of evil in the White House. To the scandal-beat press, as a former journalist, I was a traitor, a Lucifer-like figure who had leaped from grace to serve the devil.” He had committed no offense, but left public service with over $300,000 in legal bills.

Not everyone was pleased by impeachment’s denouement—and many still suffer from Clinton Derangement Syndrome. So Sid has emerged again as an almost fetishistic object of spite (and a convenient surrogate for attacks on Hillary Clinton). He evokes turbulent emotion on the editorial pages of the Journal, the New York Post, and kindred outlets, which depict him as a ruthless, manipulative schemer, constantly immersed in skullduggery on behalf of his powerful patrons.

Rather than a perpetrator of dirty tricks, however, Sid has been a victim—and not just of Guccifer. On the first day that he went to work in the White House in the summer of 1997, the Drudge Report gleefully published a false, defamatory, anonymously sourced post that accused him of abusing his wife Jackie, to whom he remains happily married after 39 years. (The main suspect in that ugly episode was, not incidentally, a political columnist for the Journal.)

While his critics and enemies never succeeded in bringing Blumenthal down, they have concocted an image of him that is strangely flat and clichéd. Blinded by animus, they have no realistic sense of who he is, what he has done, or why the Clintons might continue to value his friendship. He’s a bit more interesting and complicated than their imaginary hobgoblin.

A talented and industrious writer, Sid has authored several significant books on American politics and co-produced two movies, including Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning documentary on the Bush administration’s torture policies, Taxi to the Dark Side. (Currently he is working on a four-volume series for Simon & Schuster about the political life of Abraham Lincoln.) Unafraid to dissent from the Clinton-bashing consensus among Washington elites, he indeed became a dedicated ally to Hillary and Bill, but not only to them—he has developed a substantial network of friends and contacts around the world. Familiar as he is with practical politics, what drives him is a commitment to liberal values and ideas.

“Sidney Blumenthal was not as billed,” acknowledged the late Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter in his 2000 memoir, recalling the day he deposed the presidential aide and longtime journalist in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. Specter, then a Republican, evidently intended a gruff compliment. Expecting a tense and combative witness—the “Sid Vicious” of tabloid headlines—he was surprised instead to find the White House aide and longtime journalist to be cooperative and even cordial.

Today it still seems rather simple-minded to define Sid, in the words of that Journal editorial, as an “opposition hit man.” And it is absurd to suggest, absent any evidence, that he committed some legal or ethical offense.

With another Clinton seeking the White House, an epidemic of derangement was sadly inevitable. Before November 2016, there will surely be more to come. But if there is indeed any scandal in this affair, it lies in the partisan abuse of power by Congressional Republicans, trying desperately to sustain a Benghazi investigation that should have ended many months ago.

Like the effort to frame Blumenthal during the impeachment trial, this too shall pass—and then fizzle away.

Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo

CIA’s #2 Debunks Fox News And The Benghazisteria Once And For All

FOX NEWS BENGHAZI

Images from the May 14, 2013, episode of Fox News program “Hannity.” | Fox News

ADDICTING INFO

Benghazisteria has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? For going on three years now, Fox News and the minions of madness the right-wing adores have been harping on a single incident in Libya to keep the low-information voters that are their base focused on anything but Republican policies.

Michael Morell, former deputy director and one-time acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has finally come forward to school the ill-informed on the realities of how the intelligence community works and why the hype over Benghazi is just that: Hype.

In a scathing article for Politico, Morell takes the Benghazi boneheads to the woodshed, offering the real-world view of what so many have distorted for political gain:

“Like clockwork, every several weeks, someone discovers a new document that, to their minds, “proves” that what the administration and the intelligence community have been saying about Benghazi is a bunch of lies. But time and again these documents don’t add up. They don’t show what the pundits think they show—and the Benghazi broadsides miss their mark anew.”

Morell’s opening paragraph is a preview into what reasonable people have understood from the beginning of the FBI/CIA investigation and what conservatives refuse to acknowledge in their mission to discredit Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election:

Intelligence reports are just that, reports. When information comes in, a report is generated. That report is vetted, cross-referenced and added to other relevant reports. The end result is a conclusion, which in the Benghazi case, don’t EVER support the Fox News propaganda and speculation.

Morell gives an excellent example:

“Here is a recent example: Earlier last week a handful of number of news organizations, including Fox News, breathlessly reported that they had just gotten their hands on a Defense Intelligence Agency report—acquired through a FOIA request by Judicial Watch—that they say proves that the government knew very soon after the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11/12 that they had been planned ten or more days in advance. These news organizations suggest that this document puts the lie to what I and other current and former intelligence officials have been saying—that there was little planning before the attacks.”

So…they lied. How unusual. Typically Fox News is so very trustworthy.

The Benghazi “outrage has built on three main points: The administration knew it was terrorism and blamed a video, they could have saved the four men who died and instead ignored them, and that Susan Rice engaged in some sort of “cover up” to hide the truth that Hillary Clinton was aware of the threat long before it happened.

All three of those points have been debunked, numerous times, including by GOP House and Senate reports. That doesn’t hinder the right from spreading more lies, every time a new “report” comes out that they can speculate on, in an attempt to take votes from Hillary’s upcoming presidential bid.

Morell again debunks the Susan Rice conspiracy theory in his article:

“They say DIA’s report was issued on September 16th—the same day that former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday talk shows, so she must have known before she went on the air, right? Wrong. The DIA report was issued hours after her final TV appearance that day. Some accounts, including the first piece written on the DIA report by Judicial Watch, erroneously say that the report was issued on September 12th, four days before Rice was on national television. They simply misread the report.”

That on bit of truth in and of itself takes most of the wind out of the conservative sails. How about the YouTube video?

While there are no shortage of new arguments on this old subject, there are also some old ones that resurface on a regular basis. One is the debate on whether an anti-Islam YouTube video played any role in sparking the Benghazi attacks. The short answer is that we still don’t know with absolute certainty. Intelligence community analysts in the days immediately after the attack said that the attackers were probably motivated by an attack that happened in Cairo earlier in the day. We know that that attack was motivated at least in part by the video. However the analysts also said that the attack in Libya might have been motivated by Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri’s call just two days before the Benghazi attack for avenging the death of the terrorist Abu Yaya al-Libi earlier in the summer.

The most strident voices on Benghazi ridicule the notion that a video might have played any role. But among those who have argued that the video may have been a factor include the FBI, who told the House Intelligence Committee in February 2014 that the attacks were ordered in response the YouTube video and to Zawahiri’s call for avenging the death of al-Libi. You can read that on page 18 of the House Intelligence Committee’s report on Benghazi.

So the administration citing the YouTube video as a possible cause wasn’t some sort of cover up, it was the information they were given, information that to this day is still considered valid.

In one beautiful article, with nothing but logic, reason and fact, Michael Morell, who also says Bush and Cheney lied about nukes and Al Qaeda in Iraq, puts the Benghazi conspiracy to bed.

Will that be the end of it?

Of course not. In some dark basement as we speak some conservative dimwit is pasting a picture of Hillary Clinton dragging the lifeless body of Ambassador Stevens through the streets of Benghazi.

Because they care so much about his sacrifice.

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

(AP Photo)

THE WEEK

1.Takata makes recall largest in U.S. automotive history
Japanese airbag maker Takata announced Tuesday that it was doubling its recalls in the United States to cover 33.8 million vehicles, making it the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. Takata airbag inflaters can explode upon deployment, spraying shrapnel. The airbags have been linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries. The company made the announcement with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulators. Administrator Mark Rosekind said the safety agency’s goal is “a safe airbag in every vehicle.”

Source: The New York Times

2.Los Angeles council tentatively approves $15 an hour minimum wage
The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday preliminarily approved an ordinance raising the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour by 2020, up from the current $9 an hour. The vote was 14 to 1. Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle have adopted similar laws, but Los Angeles, if the proposal receives final approval, will be the largest city to mandate such a large wage hike. The L.A. ordinance would affect as many as 800,000 workers, marking a major victory for worker advocates.

Source: Los Angeles Times

3.Judge tells State Department to release Hillary Clinton’s emails faster
A federal judge on Tuesday told the State Department to speed up the schedule for releasing thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state. The State Department had said a day earlier that its review would delay the public release of the 55,000 pages of emails, in bulk, until January 2016. U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras gave the State Department a week to produce a plan for a rolling release of the emails. Clinton, now running for president, said she wants the emails released as soon as possible.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Politico

4.North Korea claims it can miniaturize nuclear warheads
North Korea said Wednesday that it had developed the technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads so that they would be small enough to be mounted on missiles. A top U.S. military officer had said a day earlier that the rogue communist nation was years away from developing such missiles. Just weeks ago, Pyongyang released photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un allegedly observing the testing of a submarine-launched missile that could carry such a warhead. Experts suggested the photos had been doctored.

Source: CNN

5.Malaysia and Indonesia offer to take in migrants
Indonesia and Malaysia agreed Wednesday to temporarily shelter 7,000 migrants stranded at sea. The announcement signaled what could be a breakthrough in a humanitarian crisis that has plagued Southeast Asia for weeks as governments in the region declined to take responsibility for the migrants. Some of the migrants are Bangladeshis fleeing poverty, but most are members of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority. Under the agreement, the international community must resettle and repatriate the migrants within a year.

Source: The Associated Press

6.House panel backs limit on ex-presidents’ spending
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesdaybacked a proposal to limit spending of taxpayer money on travel and other expenses run up by former presidents who make more than $400,000 a year. The bill for the four living ex-presidents’ pensions and benefits came to $3.5 million last year. George W. Bush’s tab came to $1.3 million last year. Clinton’s was $950,000. Most of the money paid for their offices — Bush’s in Dallas, and Clinton’s in New York. Former presidents can earn millions a year in speaking fees alone; since leaving office, Clinton has reportedly collected $127 million.

Source: Politico

7.Estimated 21,000 gallons of oil leak off the California coast
A ruptured pipeline is estimated to have leaked 21,000 gallons of oil into the ocean off California’s Santa Barbara County coast on Tuesday. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Anderson said that by 3:45 p.m., the leak had left a four-mile long sheen of oil along Refugio State Beach in Goleta. The leak was first spotted at noon, and it was stopped by coast guard crews by 3 p.m. The pipeline is operated by Plains All America Pipeline, L.P., and runs along the coast near Highway 101.

Source: Los Angeles Times

8.Regulators accuse cancer charities of “sham”
The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday accused four cancer philanthropies of bilking donors out of $187 million. The FTC called the activities of the charities — the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society — a “sham.” The accusations cover the period from 2008 to 2012. The charities are all run by James Reynolds Sr., his ex-wife, Rose Perkins, or his son, James Reynolds Jr.

Source: The Washington Post

9. Israel launches, then suspends, plan to segregate West Bank buses
Israel suspended a trial of new rules separating Palestinian and Jewish passengers on buses traveling to the West Bank early Wednesday, hours after introducing them in what was to be a three-month trial. About 500,000 people live in Jewish settlements built since Israel occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967. Jewish settler groups are calling for segregated travel on security grounds, but human rights groups said the plan was racist. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “unacceptable.”

Source: BBC News

10.Patriots decide not to challenge team’s Deflategate punishment
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Tuesday said his team would not appeal its punishment for under-inflating balls in last season’s AFC Championship game. The NFL imposed a $1 million fine and docked the team two draft picks. Kraft said sanctions were unfair, but that fighting the punishment them would only extend the Deflategate scandal and hurt the league. Quarterback Tom Brady, who was suspended four games for his involvement, is appealing his punishment with the support of the players’ union.

Source: Yahoo Sports

 

10 things you need to know today: May 19, 2015

(AP Photo, Jerry Larson)

THE WEEK

1.Investigators say fight over parking space ignited deadly Waco biker battle
Police said Monday that a dispute over a restaurant parking space appeared to have touched off the gunfight among rival motorcycle gangs in Waco, Texas. The battle left nine dead. Four of them might have been hit police gunfire, and police braced for possible retaliation by bikers. A judge set bail at $1 million for about 170 bikers arrested and charged with engaging in organized crime related to a capital murder. The gun battle was the latest clash in a feud between the Bandidos and Cossacks gangs.Source: The Dallas Morning News, CNN
2.State Department says it can’t release Clinton emails until early 2016
The State Department said in court documents filed Monday that it wouldneed until January 2016 to review 55,000 pages of emails from Hillary Clinton’s years as secretary of state. Clinton, facing criticism over her use of a private email account, asked the State Department to release her emails. The State Department, responding to a Freedom of Information lawsuit by Vice News, said the volume and sensitive nature of the emails would push the public release of redacted versions into early next year.Source: USA Today, CNN
3.EU authorizes military force to stop migrant smugglers
The European Union on Monday approved using military force against migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean. European leaders have been under increasing pressure to take decisive action to crack down on smugglers ferrying immigrants from North Africa to Europe, often in unsafe, overcrowded boats. At least 1,800 migrants have died trying to make the crossing this year. The EU hopes to destroy the smugglers’ boats before the migrants board.Source: The Washington Post
4.Prince Charles to meet Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams in Ireland
Britain’s Prince Charles plans to shake hands with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in Galway, Ireland, on Tuesday. It will be the first meeting between Adams and a member of the British royal family, and the first royal visit with Sinn Féin leaders in the Republic of Ireland. The encounter is the latest part of a push for reconciliation after decades of conflict between Irish republicans and unionists backed by Britain. Charles also will visit the scenic spot where his great uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979.Source: BBC News, The Guardian
5.Mudslide kills 52 in Colombia
A massive mudslide triggered by heavy rains killed at least 52 people in a western Colombian mountain town on Monday. The avalanche of water, mud, and debris roared through town before dawn, when many people were still in bed. “It was rocks and tree trunks everywhere,” construction worker Diego Agudelo told The Associated Press. “The river took out everything in its path,” he said. President Juan Manuel Santos traveled to the area and promised to rebuild the homes of the roughly 500 people affected.Source: The Associated Press
6.U.S. pledges to help Iraq retake Ramadi
The Obama administration promised on Monday that it would help Iraq retake Ramadi from the Islamic State. The U.S. said the city — the provincial capital of Anbar province — was a temporary setback, and that Iraqi forces could take it back with the help of airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition. Experts, including former U.S. ambassadorial adviser Ali Khedery, said the claim that Ramadi could soon be retaken was not realistic. “Delusional, really, is the better word,” Khedery said.Source: Voice of America, McClatchy
7.U.S. stocks hit record close
The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 rose to record highs on Monday. Several factors fueled the gains. One was a 1.1 percent rise for Apple shares after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, a top 10 Apple shareholder, said the stock was “still dramatically undervalued.” Lukewarm economic data also helped, because it suggested the Federal Reserve might delay hiking interest rates to give the recovery more time. The U.S. gains boosted global stocks early Tuesday.Source: Reuters
8.Jindal announces committee to explore presidential bid
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Monday announced he is forming a presidential exploratory committee to weigh a potential 2016 White House run. “If I run, my candidacy will be based on the idea that the American people are ready to try a dramatically different direction,” Jindal said in a statement. A second-term governor, Jindal built a reputation as a staunch conservative with a penchant for symbolically sparring with the Obama administration. Early 2016 polls show him running in the low single digits.Source: Politico, The Associated Press
9. Afghan police officers sentenced over lynching
A judge in Afghanistan on Tuesday sentenced 11 police officers to one year in jail for failing to prevent a Kabul mob from killing a woman falsely accused of burning a Koran. Judge Safiullah Mujadidi freed eight other officers, citing a lack of evidence that they failed to carry out their duties. The same judge sentenced four men to death for the March murder of the 27-year-old woman, named Farkhunda. Her death sparked angry demonstrations.Source: Reuters
10.Cartoonist Luz leaving Charlie Hebdo
Celebrated Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Renald “Luz” Luzier said in an interview published Monday that he would leave the French satirical newspaper in September. Luz drew the cover illustration after Islamist extremists stormed the publication’s Paris offices in January and killed 12 people. The cover portrayed the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign saying, “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). “Each issue is torture because the others are gone,” he said.Source: France24

~Harold Maass

10 things you need to know today: May 7, 2015

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

 THE WEEK

1.Britons vote in tight parliamentary election
British voters go to the polls on Thursday to end a bitter six-week battle for control of Parliament. Either Conservative incumbent David Cameron or Labor challenger EdMiliband will emerge from the vote as prime minister. The leading parties have been locked in a tight race for months, suggesting neither will win themajority necessary to rule without coalition partners. “This race is going to be the closest we have ever seen,”Miliband said on the eve of the vote. “It is going to go down to the wire.”Source: Reuters, The Washington Post
2.Baltimore mayor requests civil rights investigation of police department
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday asked the Justice Department to open a civil rights investigation into the practices of her city’s police department. The move came following unrest over the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who suffered a fatal injury in police custody. A Justice Department spokeswoman said that Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who visited the city a day earlier, “is actively considering that option” after speaking with police and community leaders.Source: Baltimore Sun
3.Investigators believe Texas attack was the work of lone wolf, not ISIS
The White House said Wednesday that the attack by two gunmen on a Texas cartoon contest featuring images of the Prophet Muhammad appeared to be the work of “lone wolf” terrorists, although it was too early to be sure. The self-proclaimedIslamic State has claimed credit for the attack, which left the two alleged gunmen dead. Investigators have found nohard evidence ISIS was directly involved. One of the alleged gunmen, Elton Simpson, did exchange Twitter messages with a member of an ISIS affiliate days before the attack.Source: Los Angeles Times
4.Hillary Clinton works with super PAC to compete with GOP fundraising
Hillary Clinton reportedly plans to personally cultivate donors for the top Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action. As a declared candidate, Clinton cannot ask donors for more than $5,000 for the super PAC, but under Federal Election Commission rules, she can attend events and talk to the audience. A Clinton campaign official said the move — a first for a declared Democratic candidate — is necessary to compete with GOP rivals who are “outsourcing their entire campaign to super PACs.”Source: The New York Times
5.Netanyahu strikes 11th-hour deal to form coalition
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday struck a deal to form a new coalition government just before a midnight deadline. Nearly two months after winning re-election to a fourth term, Netanyahu announced around 11 p.m.he had cobbled together at least the 61 seats necessary in parliament to form a new government after securing the support of the nationalist Jewish Home party. Netanyahu came from behind to win a tight election in March, and the thin margin complicated the task of forming a new government.Source: The New York Times, Reuters
6.Cluster of tornadoes slams Plains states
At least 50 tornadoes tore through the Plains states on Wednesday, injuring 12 people. No deaths were immediately reported. Tornadoes were spotted in at least three states — Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. Storms damaged dozens of homes, and caused flash floods in Oklahoma. Students at the University of Oklahoma in Norman had to take cover in dorms as a “large and extremely dangerous” twister was spotted over the city. Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City was evacuated twice as violent storms approached.Source: NBC News, Fox News
7.Chicago approves $5.5 million for torture victims
The Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved a $5.5 million in reparations for victims allegedly tortured by former police Cmdr. JonBurge. City lawmakers gave a standing ovation to some of the victims and their relatives, who were watching from the gallery. One of the aldermen,Proco “Joe” Moreno, said the day was “truly historic,” and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the move was an essential step in “removing a stain” on the city. Burge and his men allegedly tortured more than 100 people, most of themAfrican Americans, to extract confessions between 1972 and 1991.Source: Chicago Tribune
8.California adopts rules for seawater desalination plants
California water regulators on Wednesday approved rules for permitting seawater desalination projects. The Western Hemisphere’s biggest desalination plant is already under construction in Carlsbad, California. The plant will be able to produce 50 million gallons a day, meeting about 10 percent of San Diego County’s drinking-water demand. More such facilities are being proposed across the state as communities seek ways to supplement drinking water supplies during an historic drought.Source: Reuters
9. L.A. police chief questions officer’s fatal shooting of unarmed homeless man
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday that he had seen no evidence justifying the fatal shooting of an unarmed homeless man by a police officer late Tuesday. Beck said he was “very concerned” about the shooting near Venice Beach, but said the investigation was still underway. The union representing officers said it was premature and “completely irresponsible” for Beck to publicly question the officer “without havingall of the facts.”Source: NBC News
10.Report: Patriots QB Tom Brady probably knew about deflategate tampering
An NFL report made public Wednesday concluded that it was “more probable than not” that New England Patriots staffers deliberately deflated footballs contrary to league rules during the 2015 AFC championship game in January. The authors of the 243-page report, which includedinput from lawyers and physics experts, concluded that star Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — but not coach BillBelichick — was probably “at least generally aware” of the alleged cheating. Brady’s dad said he was framed.Source: The New York Times, New York Daily News

SCARBOROUGH’S SAD “APOLOGY”

MSNBC Screen Capture

SALON

Morning Joe’s namesake is a very busy and important man who can’t be bothered to get things right the first time

Last week, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough went on TV and said something false. Reacting to the inflammatory (and often dubious) allegations in Peter Schweizer’s new book, Clinton Cash, Scarborough posited that the government of Algeria made donations to the Clinton Foundation as a way to buy its way off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. “The Clinton Foundation takes the check, and then just, out of nowhere the State Department then decides, well, they are going to take Algeria off the list,” Scarborough said. As Politifact and (my former employer) Media Matters pointed out, such an arrangement would have been impossible, given that Algeria has never been on the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors.

So Scarborough was wrong. And today on Morning Joe, he offered a sneering, sarcastic “apology” to Politifact for having the temerity to point out how wrong he was.

I’m struggling to recall an instance in which a pundit has so self-indulgently wallowed in his own arrogance and sense of entitlement. Everyone gets something wrong every now and then, and the proper thing to do when those things happen is to correct the record, apologize, and move on. For Scarborough, though, the act of correction is an assault on the misbegotten pride he feels in hosting a low-rated and unwatchable morning news program.

First things first: Joe Scarborough seems to believe that because he puts on an “ad-libbed” show that lasts many hours, he enjoys some leeway when it comes to just making shit up. “Last week, in the course of this three-hour, ad-libbed show, I suggested Algeria may have been giving unreported donations to the Clinton Foundation in an effort to change their status on the State Department’s terror list.” Here’s a thought: maybe put a little more planning into what you say on cable news every day. “I do a long show that I put little to no forethought into” is not a justification for getting things wrong: it’s an admission that your show’s format is bad and should be changed to minimize these sorts of errors.

Scarborough also faulted Politifact for not noting that before he launched into this made-up nonsense about Algeria, he offered a disclaimer that he didn’t know what he was talking about. “Now, never mind that I prefaced my statement by saying that all the specifics may not be perfectly lined up. These are the realities, after all, of all of us doing a three-hour rolling conversation without teleprompters or scripts, the very things that every other news show in America is chained to but we aren’t. But still I prefaced my remark, but that prefaced remark mattered little to the Clinton arm of Politifact.” Yes, how dare Politifact not do Joe Scarborough the courtesy of highlighting his admission that he was talking out his ass.

Having begged off any sort of responsibility for the things he says on his own program, Scarborough then lashed out at Politifact, claiming that they were just picking nits (which, of course, absolves Scarborough from any blame).

VIDEO

SCARBOROUGH: So Politifact, let me get this straight. The Clinton Foundation was taking the money, hold on, not to get off the terror list. They were throwing them money at the same time they wanted to the State Department to get them off a list for their gross human rights abuses towards women. I hope I’ve cleared that up. Because I’ve got more. Have I cleared that part up? Because I don’t want to get it wrong! And any time Politifact calls me out on a footnote, I promise I’m going to come out here and let you know that instead of talking about the Clinton Foundation getting money to possibly get Algeria off the terror list, it would possibly be to whitewash gross human rights violations against women. I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Politifact actually noted all of that in their correction of Scarborough – they had a whole section of the fact-check headlined “Human rights violations hamper relations.” But this isn’t a dispute over a “footnote,” as Scarborough’s weaselly, sarcastic rebuttal put it. Inclusion on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror is not a small thing. Once the U.S. government identifies a country as a sponsor of terrorism, they’re immediately subject to a whole host of economic sanctions. If, as Scarborough had posited, the Clinton Foundation had been part of a quid pro quo scheme to let Algeria buy its way off that list and out of those sanctions, that would have been a massive scandal.

But whatever, Scarborough was just “ad-libbing,” so it’s no big deal. It’s not Joe Scarborough’s responsibility to be right the first time; it’s Politifact’s responsibility to cut him as much slack as he needs because “Morning Joe” isn’t about facts, it’s about “conversation.”

And that leads to the most important question: why does “Morning Joe” still exist? Scarborough is clearly very proud of the ad-libbed, thrown-together format that permits him and his pundit pals to make stuff up in a consequence-free environment, but nobody actually watches the show. Its ratings are abysmal, and yet it soldiers on as a monument to Joe Scarborough’s insufferable arrogance.

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