Tag Archives: New York Times

Lara Logan’s Husband Was a Propagandist for the U.S. Military

Photo credit: White Deer Preserve, Getty Images

Why hasn’t CBS fired this woman?  Not because of what her husband’s job was in Iraq, but for her sloppy journalism, period.  If a similar charge of incompetence was bad enough for CBS to fire Dan Rather, then Logan should have been in CBS’ crosshairs as well.

Gawker

Everyone wants to know: Why did CBS correspondent Lara Logan trust Dylan Davies, the now-discredited security contractor, and the story he told 60 Minutesabout the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya? It’s truly mystifying—unless, that is, you know about her last significant lapse in professional judgement involving a security contractor.

Many people know that in 2008 Logan married Joseph W. Burkett, a defense contractor she met while stationed in Baghdad to cover the Iraq War for CBS News. Logan and Burkett were both married to other people when they became involved, and the story of their war-zone love affair—complete with reports of a brawl between Burkett and CNN’s Michael Ware, another rival for Logan’s affections—lit up the tabloids at the time.

What most people don’t know, however, is the nature of Burkett’s work in Iraq. He was an employee of the Lincoln Group, a now-shuttered “strategic communications and public relations firm” hired by the Department of Defense in 2005 to plant positive stories written by American soldiers in Baghdad newspapers during the Iraq War.

“He did information operations,” one former colleague of Burkett’s told Gawker. “It was really spooky stuff. We worked with one of those special spooky IO outfits that didn’t even have a unit patch.” It’s the kind of work for which a close relationship with an American network correspondent might come in handy.

And it paid handsomely. Under an “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract,” the Pentagon promised the Lincoln Group up to $100,000,000 to assist the military’s Joint Psychological Operations with controlling local media coverage of the American occupation. The Lincoln Group later became the target of congressional and Defense Department investigators over its handling of U.S. cash and its propaganda tactics.

CBS News never saw fit to disclose that one of its star war correspondents became romantically involved with a man who was paid by the U.S. government to manipulate civilian public opinion about the disastrous war in Iraq. Nor has Burkett’s background ever been reported in much detail. Most recently The New York Times described him as a “work-at-home Congressional liaison,” without noting his employer.

Before working at The Lincoln Group, which would eventually be acquired by an Arlington firm called Strategic Social, Burkett served in the Texas Army National Guard for nine years, according to military records maintained by Nexis. (Oddly, Bill Burkett, the retired Army colonel who in 2004 supplied 60 Minutes with fabricated memos about George W. Bush’s military service, also served in the Texas Army National Guard. There’s no evidence the men are related, which would be pretty wild.)

Logan and Burkett did not respond to requests for comment. CBS declined to comment on the record.

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10 things you need to know today: November 7, 2013

#TwitterIPO

#TwitterIPO (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The Week

Twitter stock goes on sale, a top HealthCare.gov official retires, and more

1. Twitter boosts its shares’ price before its IPO
Twitter priced its initial public offering of stock at $26 a share, giving the microblogging site a value of $14.4 billion. The 70 million shares begin trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. Despite years of negative cash flow, the company boosted the price at the last minute from an earlier range of $23 to $25. The deal is set to raise as much as $2.1 billion, making it the biggest tech IPO since Facebook’s last year. [Wall Street Journal]
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2. The top HealthCare.gov tech official retires
The chief information officer of the agency responsible for the botched rollout of the ObamaCare website is leaving the government at the end of next week, according to an internal memo reported Wednesday. The official, Tony Trenkle, was in charge of Deputy CIO Henry Chao, the point person on the launch of HealthCare.gov for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS declined to respond to questions about whether Trenkle was forced out. [Washington Post]
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3. Swiss investigators say Arafat was probably poisoned
A Swiss forensics team found high levels of radioactive polonium in the remains of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004, supporting the theory that he was poisoned, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday. Officially, the cause of death is listed as a stroke resulting from a blood disorder, but Arafat’s body was exhumed after Palestinians insisted he had been murdered. Israel said the investigation was “more soap opera than science.” [Los Angeles Times]
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4. Justices question a town board’s public prayers
The Supreme Court, wading into the controversial topic of public prayer, considered arguments Wednesday on the constitutionality of a New York town board’s practice of opening its meetings with prayers. Two people — one an atheist, the other Jewish — sued. The town said members of all faiths were welcome. A lower court ruled that since most of the prayers were Christian the practice amounted to an endorsement of a particular religion. [New York Times]
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5. Super typhoon hammers Pacific islands
With sustained winds topping out at 175 mph, super typhoon Haiyan barreled toward the Philippines early Thursday, after blowing through Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia. The storm could hit Manila, which has 12 million people, by late Friday or early Saturday. Thousands of villagers have fled their homes. Weather Channel lead meteorologist Michael Palmer said Haiyan could cause “a significant loss of life.” [USA TodayNBC News]
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6. Greek police remove occupiers from shuttered state TV station
Greek riot police raided former state broadcaster ERT’s headquarters on Thursday and removed 50 former employees who had been occupying the building since the government closed it down over wasteful spending. A replacement for ERT — Nerit — is scheduled to launch next spring. The raid prompted fresh protests outside the building by opponents of the debt-plagued government’s attempts to slash spending in exchange for a foreign bailout. [New York Times]
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7. Diplomats begin a second round of nuclear talks with Iran
The U.S. and five other world powers started two days of talks with Iran over its controversial nuclear program on Thursday. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a deal was possible “if everyone tries their best.” European diplomats said they were cautiously optimistic. The meeting, in Geneva, marks the second round of talks since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected in June and began pushing for better ties with the West. [ReutersBBC News]
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8. A 1980s hijacker returns from Cuba to face justice
A former Black Panther militant who hijacked a plane to Cuba in 1984 returned to the U.S. on Wednesday, seeking “closure.” William Potts, now 56, had expected the Cuban government to train him for guerrilla warfare; instead, it jailed him for 13 years for piracy. He later settled in Havana. Now he says he’s ready to face the U.S. justice system. He hopes for leniency, and plans to return to Cuba once the case is settled. [BBC News]
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9. Blockbuster is closing its stores and focusing on video streaming
The parent company of Blockbuster announced that the once dominant video rental business isshutting down its 300 remaining stores. Leaders of DISH Network, which bought Blockbuster in 2011, said the move was necessary because consumers now want to download or stream videos — not rent them on DVDs. Blockbuster will continue its Blockbuster On Demand streaming service and Blockbuster @Home on DISH. Fifty independent stores might also remain open. [CNN]
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10. George Strait takes top honors at the Country Music Awards
Country legend George Strait, who is in the middle of a farewell tour, won entertainer of the year at Wednesday night’s 47th Annual Country Music Awards in Nashville. The night’s other big winners included Taylor Swift, who won the Pinnacle award, and newcomers Florida Georgia Line, who took the prize for vocal duo of the year, and single of the year for their hit “Cruise.” [Boston Globe]

 

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10 things you need to know today: November 1, 2013

A Hillary nod wouldn’t have provided enough of a poll boost to warrant ditching Joe, campaign advisors concluded. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Week

Only six people were reportedly able to enroll on HealthCare.gov during its first 24 hours, a new book says Obama considered replacing Biden, and more

1. Just six people reportedly enrolled on HealthCare.gov on first day
Documents released by the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee say that just six people managed to enroll for insurance on HealthCare.gov in its first 24 hours online, and just 248 people had managed to by the second day. The revelation, included in notes prepared for the “war room” of an agency managing the botched rollout of the ObamaCare website, came a day after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress she could not provide reliable data on enrollment yet. [USA Today]
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2. Obama advisers said to have considered replacing Biden with Clinton
President Obama’s top aides secretly conducted polls and focus groups to determine whether it would be a good idea to replace Vice President Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton on the 2012 ticket, journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann say in their new book, Double Down, which is a sequel to Game Change. Then–chief of staff William Daley pushed the radical option, they say, but it was dropped because it didn’t offer Obama a big-enough boost. [The New York Times]
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3. Court revives Texas abortion restriction, for now
A federal appeals court on Thursday lifted an injunction blocking a key part of Texas’s new abortion restrictions requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The decision means that the rule can take effect immediately, leaving at least 12 of the state’s 32 clinics unable to perform abortions as soon as Friday. A lower court had blocked the restriction on Monday, calling it unconstitutional. [Associated Press]
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4. FAA eases electronics restrictions in flight
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that it will lift restrictions on the use of electronic devices to listen to music, read, and play games, because it has determined that they are safe during all phases of flight. An advisory committee recommended the change a month ago. It probably will take effect by the end of the year, but the ban on making cellphone calls and sending texts will remain in effect. [The New York Times]
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5. Food stamp cuts take effect
On Friday, $5 billion in cuts to food stamp benefits are taking effect as a federal economic stimulus program expires. The average household benefit of about $275 will drop by $36, which amounts to 21 fewer meals a month for a family of four. A near-record 47.6 million Americans are receiving benefits, and budget hawks are trying to impose further cuts. “Our members are panicking,” says Margaret Purvis, president of Food Bank for New York City. [Time]
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6. Booker takes his seat in the Senate
Former Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker was sworn into the Senate on Thursday, continuing his rise to stardom in the Democratic Party. Booker is the first black senator from his state, and the first elected anywhere in the country since Barack Obama’s 2004 election in Illinois. Booker immediately cast his first vote — for a procedural move allowing a vote on Obama’s Federal Housing Finance Agency nominee Mel Watt. [USA Today]
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7. Israeli airstrikes target missiles on Syrian bases
Israel this week launched airstrikes on Syrian military bases — one near Damascus and another near the port city of Latakia — Obama administration officials told CNN and CBS News on Thursday. The presumed targets were missiles Israel believed could be sent to the Lebanon-based Islamist group Hezbollah, which is helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad battle rebels. Israel hit missile shipments twice earlier this year. [CNNCBS News]
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8. Appeals court blocks reforms for New York’s stop-and-frisk policy
In a surprise twist to a long battle over police tactics in New York City, a federal appeals court on Thursday halted changes to the New York Police Department’s practice of stopping and frisking people on the street. Trial Judge Shira A. Scheindlin said stop and frisk violated the rights of minorities, but the appeals court said she had failed to maintain the appearance of impartiality and removed her from the case. [The New York Times]
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9. Six tech giants call for restraints on the NSA
Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL sent a letter to Senate leaders Thursday supporting a proposal to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of the phone records of millions of Americans. The bill also would create a privacy advocate within the secretive surveillance court that oversees the NSA. Long wary of Washington politics, the tech industry is getting more active as revelations on NSA snooping pile up. [The Washington Post]
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10. Toronto police dig up video of mayor allegedly smoking crack
Toronto police say they have found a video, taken in a surveillance operation targeting an alleged drug dealer, showing the city’s mayor, Rob Ford, appearing to smoke from a crack pipe. The tape’s existence was first reported in May, but police say it was deleted from a hard drive and they only recently recovered it. The news intensified calls on Ford, who has denied the tape existed, to resign, but he said Thursday he has no reason to quit. [Associated Press]

 

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Obama Team Insists It Never Considered Dropping Biden For Clinton

Obama-syria--2

AP Photo / Evan Vucci

TPM LiveWire

Members of President Barack Obama’s team worked to push back against a juicy story that surfaced Thursday, insisting that Vice President Joe Biden was never seriously at risk of being shoved off the 2012 ticket and replaced by Hillary Clinton.

The detail, which will appear in the forthcoming book “Double Down” by Mark Halperin and John Heileman, was reported by the New York Times. Former White House chief of staff William Daley acknowledged that he signed off on research into the switch in late 2011, but said it was simply a case of Obama’s re-election team performing its “due dilligence.”

“I was vocal about looking into a whole bunch of things, and this was one of them,” Daley told the Times. “You have to remember, at that point the president was in awful shape, so we were like, ‘Holy Christ, what do we do?’”

Daley went even further on Friday, telling “CBS This Morning” that they never considered replacing Biden with the former secretary of state.

“Not for a moment,” Daley said, noting that there was research done on a number of different individuals and issues.

Former Obama adviser David Plouffe said on Twitter Thursday that the idea was never “entertained” by Obama or “most of us.”

 

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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]

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Ted Cruz Gets His Health Insurance Through Goldman Sachs, His Wife Confirms

This is the guy that wants to take away the chance for millions of working Americans to have affordable health care…

The Huffington Post

The wife of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) confirmed in an interview with The New York Times what the tea party star’s opponents have insinuated gleefully for weeks: The most vocal opponent of Obamacare enjoys a high-priced health plan through investment bank Goldman Sachs.

“Ted is on my health care plan,” Heidi Nelson Cruz, who has worked in the firm’s management division for eight years, told the paper in a story published Wednesday.

Cruz’s plan through Goldman appeared to be an uncomfortable fact for the conservative senator as he lambasted the health care reform law and helped drive what would become a two-week government shutdown. In an exchange during Cruz’s 20-hour anti-Obamacare marathon on the Senate floor in September, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) tried unsuccessfully to get Cruz to admit where he gets his own coverage.

“Will the senator from Texas for the record tell us now — and those who watched this debate — whether he is protected and his family’s protected?” Durbin asked.

Cruz deflected the discussion toward an uninsured diabetic woman that Durbin had been talking about earlier.

A spokeswoman for Cruz confirmed to the Times that the senator gets his coverage through Goldman. The Wall Street bank told the paper the coverage is worth at least $20,000 a year. “The senator is on his wife’s plan, which comes at no cost to the taxpayer and reflects a personal decision about what works best for their family,” the spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, said.

As a HuffPost reader noted, it’s debatable whether such a plan comes at no cost to the taxpayer. Employer-sponsored health plans are generally tax-deductible for companies, so the Cruz family’s expensive health plan presumably reduces Goldman’s tax liability.

“Ted is very much a visionary,” Heidi Cruz Nelson told the Times. “He is very strategic, and he’s very practical, and he does what needs to be done, not what everybody wants him to do.”

In interviews with the Times, friends of Heidi Nelson Cruz described her as “less ideological” than her husband, who, recent polls have shown, is still adored by tea party adherents and loathed by liberals and many independents after the shutdown. Before her time at Goldman, she held several posts in the George W. Bush administration, including in the Treasury Department and the National Security Agency.

“Nothing in her background remotely approached Ted’s Scalia-like conservatism,” one friend said, referring to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

 

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10 things you need to know today: October 22, 2013

A parent consoles his child after a shooting at a nearby school left two dead and two wounded. (David Calvert/Getty Images)

The Week

A slain Nevada teacher is hailed as a hero, Obama vows to fix health care website, and more

1. Obama vows to fix health care website
President Obama acknowledged Monday that glitches on HealthCare.gov have hampered the rollout of his signature health care law’s insurance exchanges. “No one is madder than me,” he said. Republicans have called the problems with the website evidence of basic flaws with ObamaCare, but the president urged Americans to be patient and call toll-free numbers for health insurance if they can’t enroll online. [New York Times]
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2. Nevada student reportedly kills a teacher, then himself
A 12-year-old shot and killed a math teacher with a semi-automatic pistol, and wounded two fellow students at a Nevada middle school on Monday, police said. The child with the gun then reportedly shot himself and died. Police called the teacher, identified as former Marine Michael Landsberry, a hero, saying he died trying to protect his students. “He could have ducked and hid, but he didn’t,” a relative said. “That’s not who he is.” [ReutersReno Gazette-Journal]
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3. The government releases jobs numbers delayed by the shutdown
The Labor Department is releasing the September jobs report on Tuesday after a two-week delay caused by the government shutdown, and economists expect it to show that the economy added 185,000 jobs, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 7.3 percent. Analysts will be watching the report closely to see if the economy gained steam in September; recent economic data have been inconclusive. (UPDATE, 8:40 a.m.: The numbers are out, and the economy added 148,000 jobs; unemployment remained basically the same at 7.2 percent.) [New York TimesMarketWatch]
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4. Human rights groups say drone strikes kill many civilians
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch will officially release a report Tuesday saying thatdrone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen are killing more civilians than the U.S. admits. Human Rights Watch selected six airstrikes to investigate in Yemen, and found that 57 of the 82 people killed were civilians. The United Nations estimated Friday that 2,200 people have died in drones strikes in Pakistan over the last decade. The White House declined to comment. [Washington Post]
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5. Netflix pushes ahead of HBO in U.S. customers
Netflix announced Monday evening that it reached 30 million domestic subscribers in the third quarter, putting it ahead of HBO — which had just under 29 million at last count — for the first time. A year ago, Netflix had 25 million subscribers. Its executives attributed the growth to the cable movie rental and streaming video company’s original programming, such as the Emmy-winning House of Cards and the popular Orange is the New Black. [Engadget]
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6. Christie drops his challenge to gay marriage
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) abandoned his fight against gay marriage on Monday, hours after mayors in several cities performed the state’s first same-sex weddings. New Jersey is the 14th state to permit gay marriage. Leaders of the conservative National Organization for Marriage said they were “extremely disappointed” at Christie for “throwing in the towel on marriage.” [Washington Post]
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7. Apple prepares to show off its latest iPad updates
Apple is expected to unveil new versions of its iPad tablet on Tuesday, in what is becoming a pre-holiday-shopping tradition. Tech experts anticipate an iPad Mini with the high-resolution retina display of last year’s full-size iPads. The fifth-generation iPad is expected to be getting a design makeover that will make it slimmer and a tad lighter, and both devices should have faster processors. [CNN]
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8. Suicide bomber kills six in Russia
At least six people were killed Monday when a suicide bomber attacked a bus in the Russian city of Volgograd. The bombing appeared to have been carried out by a 30-year-old woman, Naida Asiyalova, from Russia’s republic of Dagestan, in the North Caucasus, the scene of two decades of unrest. The blast came despite government efforts to eliminate terrorist threats ahead of next year’s Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi. [Ria Novosti]
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9. BART and its unions negotiate an end to rail strike
Commuter trains are scheduled to start running again Tuesday morning in and around San Francisco, after Bay Area Rapid Transit management and union leaders reached a deal to end a four-day strike. The unexpected compromise, which increases pay and ends a travel nightmare for 400,000 commuters, came hours after investigators said that an out-of-service train that struck and killed two BART workers on Saturday was driven by an “operator trainee.” [Los Angeles Times]
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10. Corey Feldman tells of child abuse in Hollywood
Former child star Corey Feldman says in his new book, Coreyography, that he and his late friend and co-star, Corey Haim, were molested by older men in Hollywood. A man convinced Haim “it was perfectly normal for older men and younger boys in the business to have sexual relations” while on the set of the 1986 film Lucas. Feldman says one of his healthiest relationships was his strictly platonic friendship with Michael Jackson. [Cinemablend]

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10 things you need to know today: October 16, 2013

This is getting scary...

This is getting scary… (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Week

Senators resume debt talks after a House plan unravels, Fitch warns it could downgrade America’s credit rating, and more

1. Senators renew debt talks after House scraps vote
Senate leaders resumed their negotiations on ending the government shutdown and extending the debt limit, after House GOP leaders late Tuesday scrapped a vote on their proposal because they couldn’t muster enough conservative votes to pass it. Senate leaders are optimistic they can pass a bipartisan deal, but it will be hard to do before the government hits the debt ceiling on Thursday, raising the threat of a potentially disastrous default. [The New York Times]
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2. Fitch warns it could downgrade the government’s credit rating
Fitch Ratings warned Tuesday that it might strip the federal government of its sterling AAA credit rating because of the partisan bickering over the debt limit. Fitch said it believed that Republicans and Democrats would raise the borrowing limit in time to prevent the government from defaulting on any of its debts, but that the political brinkmanship over paying America’s bills was damaging the government’s credit worthiness. [Reuters]
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3. Talks on Iran’s nuclear program begin in Geneva
Iran presented its plan for resolving the dispute over its nuclear ambitions as two days of talks with the U.S. and other world powers got underway in Geneva on Tuesday. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a PowerPoint presentation that Iran would accept constraints to its nuclear program in exchange for the right to enrich uranium for energy purposes and the lifting of economic sanctions. In a fresh sign of progress, U.S. and Iranian officials later held a rare one-on-one meeting. [The New York Times]
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4. Two Florida girls charged in bullying case
Two girls, ages 12 and 14, were charged with felony stalking linked to the suicide of Rebecca Sedwick, 12, in September, a Florida sheriff said Tuesday. The arrests came after the elder girl posted on Facebook “Yes IK I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don't give a (expletive)].” Rebecca jumped to her death from a cement factory tower after enduring a year of bullying over a boy she and her tormentor both dated. [CNN]
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5. Ex–San Diego mayor Filner pleads guilty
Former San Diego mayor Bob Filner pleaded guilty Tuesday to false imprisonment — a felony — and two misdemeanor charges of battery against three women. Under a plea deal, he will serve three months of home confinement but no jail time. The Democrat, who served nearly two decades in Congress, stepped down as mayor in August under a sexual harassment lawsuit settlement after 18 women accused him of unwanted advances and touching. [The Washington Post]
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6. Former Army captain receives the Medal of Honor
President Obama awarded ex–Army captain William Swenson the Medal of Honor on Tuesday for saving comrades during a battle with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan in 2009. Swenson, 34, was the second survivor of the fight to win the military’s highest honor, just the second time that has happened in 50 years. Swenson, the most decorated Army officer since Vietnam, has been unemployed since leaving the Army in 2011, and wants to re-enlist. [Time]
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7. Baggage handler charged with LAX dry ice explosions
Police arrested a baggage handler, Dicarlo Bennett, on Tuesday for allegedly planting two dry ice bombs that exploded in secure areas at Los Angeles International Airport this week. Bennett, a 28-year-old employee of ground handling company Servisair, was charged with possession of a destructive device near an aircraft, and is being held on $1 million bail. Police have said they don’t believe the minor explosions were an act of terrorism. [Associated Press]
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8. Hillary Clinton sets off fresh 2016 speculation
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set off fresh 2016 presidential speculation on Tuesday when she reportedly said at an off-the-record gathering in Georgia that she backed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden — but her potential rival in 2016, Vice President Joe Biden, didn’t. “I know she’s running for president now,” Georgia state Rep. Tom Taylor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Without turning the knife too deeply, she put it to Biden.” [Politico]
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9. Rare 18-foot oarfish carcass found in California
An instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute in California found a dead, 18-foot-long oarfish while snorkeling in 20 feet of water, the institute said in a news release reported by news outlets on Tuesday. The institute hailed it as a “discovery of a lifetime,” because the slender, deep-sea fish are seldom seen, dead or alive. Some think they are the real-life inspiration for sea serpent myths. It took more than 15 people to haul the beast to shore. [ABC News]
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10. Kutcher is TV’s highest-paid actor
Ashton Kutcher topped Forbes’s annual list of the best paid actors on television. The magazine estimated that Kutcher made $24 million from June 2012 to June 2013. His co-star on the popular CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Jon Cryer, came in second with $21 million. Both stand to make even more, as the show is entering syndication with no signs it will be canceled any time soon. [TodayForbes]

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Scalia: Constitution doesn’t protect ‘only the blacks’

Justice Antonin Scalia has previously called for an end to “racial entitlements“.  Now he  has doubled down by saying that the 14th Amendment is for everyone, not only “the Blacks”.  Which is actually true on its face.  But, in 2011 he argued that the Constitution  does not protect gays or women.

Thus, Scalia has some explaining to do.  Just who does he think is protected by the 14th amendment and who is not?  Inquiring minds want to know…

The Huffington Post

During oral arguments on an affirmative action case on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said the 14th Amendment protects everyone, not “only the blacks.”

The quote was tweeted by the New York Times’ David Leonhardt:

The high court debated Tuesday whether voters can ban affirmative action programs through a referendum. The case is centered around a 2006 Michigan vote that approved a ballot initiative amending the state’s constitution to ban affirmative action programs in higher education.

Scalia has brought race into previous arguments. In February 2013, Scalia suggested that the continuation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act represented the “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” saying that lawmakers had only voted to renew the act in 2006 because there wasn’t anything to be gained politically from voting against it.

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

Meetings between Senate leaders have yet to result in a deal to end the government shutdown and avoid a federal default. 

Meetings between Senate leaders have yet to result in a deal to end the government shutdown and avoid a federal default. 

The Week

Shutdown talks stall in the Senate, gunmen kidnap Red Cross workers in Syria, and more

1. Senate shutdown talks fall short
Senate Republicans and Democrats failed on Sunday to break an impasse on a stopgap spending measure to end the two-week-old government shutdown. Congress also must raise the government’s borrowing limit by Thursday or risk defaulting on some of the nation’s debts. The two sides couldn’t agree on spending levels, but Republicans, who are suffering in the polls, also accused Democrats of “moving the goal posts” to humiliate the GOP. [CNNNew York Times]
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2. Demonstrators protest closing of the World War II Memorial
Conservatives, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, rallied on Washington’s National Mall on Sunday, blaming President Obama for the government shutdown that closed the World War II Memorial there. Demonstrators pushed past barriers and sang God Bless America. Some waved Confederate flags and called for impeaching Obama. [Associated PressNew York TimesCNN]
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3. Red Cross volunteers are kidnapped in Syria
Gunmen abducted seven Red Cross volunteers in Syria on Sunday, underscoring dangers faced by aid workers in the country’s civil war. The Red Cross team was traveling in a convoy through essentially lawless territory in northern Syria that is mostly controlled by anti-government insurgents. It was the latest in a series of kidnappings in the area, where some armed groups use ransoms to help bankroll their fighters. [Los Angeles Times]
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4. Mambo Kings author Hijuelos dies
Cuban-American author Oscar Hijuelos, the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, died in Manhattan over the weekend, The New York Times reported Sunday. He was 62. Hijuelos won his Pulitzer for the 1989 novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, about two Cuban brothers who emigrate and try to make it as musicians in New York. [New York Times]
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5. Social Security increases will be unusually small next year
Social Security cost-of-living increases in 2014 will be the among the smallest since 1975, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press. The bump will be around 1.5 percent, the news agency calculated. That amounts to an extra $17 for the average recipient, who gets $1,162 a month. The exact amount will be determined after the Labor Department releases its September inflation report, which has been delayed by the government shutdown. [Associated Press]
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6. Pilgrims die in a stampede in India
At least 109 people were killed when pilgrims visiting a temple for a popular Hindu festival in India stampeded because of a rumor that the bridge they were crossing was about to collapse, authorities said Monday. Some of the victims were crushed, and others died after falling or jumping into the Sindh River below. Authorities fear that the death toll could rise because some bodies may have been carried down river. [Wall Street Journal]
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7. U.S. economists win a Nobel prize
Professors Eugene Fama and Lars Hansen of the University of Chicago, and Robert Shiller of Yale won the Nobel Prize in Economics on Monday for their work on asset pricing. While prices of stocks, bonds, and other assets are impossible to predict in the short term, the Nobel committee said, these economists have shown that “it is quite possible to foresee the broad course of these prices over longer periods, such as the next three to five years.” [Business Insider]
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8. Authorities find tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel
The Israeli army said on Sunday that it had discovered a mile-long tunnel into Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Military officials said the tunnel came up near a kibbutz, and could have been used to stage attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli civilians. Israel responded by cutting off deliveries of construction materials into Gaza. [BBC News]
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9. India gets battered by Cyclone Phailin
A mass evacuation is being credited with saving thousands of lives in India after Cyclone Phailin, the country’s most powerful storm in 14 years, buffeted the coast with 125 mph winds. The death toll in the eastern state of Odisha stood at 15 on Sunday — the last major storm to hit the state, in 1999, killed 10,000 people. Aid workers said a million could need help, though, because the storm tore apart tens of thousands of homes. [Reuters]
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10. Brady lifts Patriots over previously unbeaten Saints
Quarterback Tom Brady threw a 17-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left to give the New England Patriots a 30-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints, dashing the Saints’ effort to remain unbeaten in week six of the National Football League’s season. The TD capped a 68-second, 70-yard drive — with no timeouts — after half of the crowd had already gone home. [USA Today]

 

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