Obama

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

Peter Kassig delivered supplies to Syrian refugees before his abduction.

Peter Kassig delivered supplies to Syrian refugees before his abduction. (AP Photo/Courtesy Kassig Family, File)

The Week

Obama confirms ISIS beheaded Kassig, homelessness spikes among U.S. children, and more

1. Obama calls Kassig’s beheading “pure evil”
President Obama confirmed Sunday that the self-proclaimed Islamic State had beheaded American aid worker Peter Kassig, a former Army Ranger kidnapped more than a year ago in Syria. Obama called the murder of Kassig — the fifth Western hostage killed by ISIS — “an act of pure evil by a terrorist group.” Kassig adopted the name Abdul-Rahman after converting to Islam in captivity. The video of his death was not as slickly produced as previous ones, suggesting sustained U.S. attacks are taking a toll on ISIS, analysts said. [The Dallas Morning News]

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2. Number of homeless children spikes to record
The number of homeless children in the U.S. jumped by 8 percent in one year to an all-time high in 2013, according to a report released Monday. Nearly 2.5 million American kids — about one child in 30 — were homeless for at least part of the year, the investigation by the National Center on Family Homelessness concluded. The group compounded data from the Department of Education, which estimates there are 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, and estimates of pre-school children from other sources. [Aljazeera America]

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3. Obama denies ObamaCare design was deceptive
President Obama on Sunday pushed back against a former adviser’s claim that parts of ObamaCare were sugarcoated to take advantage of the “stupidity” of voters. “I think it’s fair to say there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated,” Obama said. Despite denying the controversial claims made by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, Obama acknowledged making some regrettable statements, such as insisting Americans happy with their health coverage could keep it, when in fact plans deemed inadequate under the law were canceled. [Politico]

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4. Nearly 200 stricken with norovirus on cruise ship
An outbreak of norovirus aboard the Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess has infected 172 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The ship docked in Los Angeles on Sunday after sailing to Hawaii and Tahiti on a 28-day cruise. The number of cases of the illness, commonly called stomach flu, increased in the last few days before the ship returned to port. [CNN]

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5. Japan tax plans on hold as country enters recession
Japan slipped into a recession in the last quarter, according to fresh economic data. The unexpected news appears likely to prompt Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to announce that he will dissolve the House of Representatives, possibly as early as Wednesday, and hold a snap election. Abe also is expected to delay a plan to raise a consumption tax from 8 percent to 10 percent. The tax was just increased from 5 percent in April. [Bloomberg, The Japan Times]

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6. Politician survives suicide bombing in Afghanistan
Shukria Barakzai, a prominent Afghan women’s rights advocate, survived a suicide bombing on her convoy in Kabul on Sunday. The attacker rammed a car into one of the vehicles in the convoy and detonated explosives, killing three civilians and wounding others. Barakzai, who was lightly injured, is an ally of the country’s newly installed president, Ashraf Ghani. The attack came a week after another suicide bomber got inside a heavily fortified area and attacked the offices of Kabul’s police chief. [BBC News]

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7. Okinawa voters pick governor opposed to U.S. base plans
Voters on the Japanese island of Okinawa on Sunday overwhelmingly elected a governor opposed to a U.S. Marine base there. The winner, Takeshi Onaga, promptly said he would fight construction of a new U.S. airfield, stating flatly, “The new military base will not be built.” Tokyo, which had backed the incumbent, Kirokazu Nakaima, and the U.S. had been hoping the vote would show signs that resentment over the large U.S. presence had begun to fade. [The New York Times]

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8. Romania’s prime minister suffers stunning defeat in presidential election
Underdog Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German former mayor, defeated Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta in a presidential runoff on Sunday. Iohannis, who finished a distant second in the first round, promised thousands of cheering supporters “a deep change” in Romania, one of Europe’s poorest countries. Ponta conceded defeat but said he wouldn’t quit as prime minister, vowing that his Social Democrat alliance would stay in power at least until 2016 parliamentary elections. [Reuters]

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9. State Department becomes fourth federal agency targeted by hackers
The State Department announced Sunday that its computer systems had been hacked. It was the fourth government agency to confirm it had been targeted in a cyberattack over recent weeks. State Department officials said they were forced to temporarily shut down public websites and an unclassified email system. Investigators could not immediately confirm whether the security breach at State was related to recent cyberattacks on the White House, the U.S. Postal Service, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [The New York Times]

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10. Chocolate makers warn of coming shortages
The planet could be headed for a major shortage of something many people can’t do without — chocolate — according to two of the world’s biggest chocolate makers, Mars Inc. and Barry Callebaut. The reason: Consumption is rising while production is stumbling due to a fungal disease called frosty pod that has destroyed 30 to 40 percent of global cocoa production. Last year, people ate 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than was produced, and the deficit could reach two million metric tons by 2030. [The Washington Post]

Fox Revs Up Impeachment Lunacy, With Krauthammer at the Wheel

Fox revs up impeachment lunacy, with Krauthammer at the wheel

Megyn Kelly, Charles Krauthammer | (Credit: Fox News)

Salon ~ Joan Walsh

GOP pundit who said Dems invented impeachment threat now says Obama’s about to commit “impeachable offense.” Huh?

And so it begins, again. “I believe this is an impeachable offense,” Charles Krauthammer told Fox host Megyn Kelly Thursday night, discussing President Obama’s planned executive action on illegal immigration. “It is very clear that what he’s doing now […] is a flagrant assault on the Constitution, on the separation of powers.”

Impeachment carnival barker Andrew McCarthy jumped on Twitter with Krauthammer’s pronouncement. So did the excitable and feeble-minded folks at Breitbart. GOP Congress members are likely to follow.

Of course you’ll recall that, back in July, it was Krauthammer who claimed talk of the president’s possible impeachment was “a concoction of Democrats,” as he denied any serious Republicans were interested in such a move. “They know that in 1998 the party was saved, the sixth year of an administration, it was saved by impeachment, overreaching on impeachment by Republicans, and this is a good issue, it’s a good way to raise money,” he said then.

Now he’s telling Kelly, one of Fox’s most reliable impeachment trolls, that Obama is about to commit “an impeachable offense.”

It was Kelly, back in January, who asked then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell if he would consider impeaching the president. (McConnell ducked the question.) Late in the summer, though, top Republicans put out the word that impeachment was an overreach likely to rev up the Democratic base and cost the party its coming midterm landslide, so she settled down.

But Kelly brought the charge back election eve, suggesting that any Obama executive action deferring deportation might be designed to “offend” Republicans into impeaching him. Those poor impetuous creatures are slaves to emotion, the Fox host seemed to suggest, and can’t be blamed if they’re baited into political overreach by our amoral, conniving president.

In fact, Kelly’s doing the baiting herself. On Wednesday she asked Sen. Jeff Sessions if he thought Obama’s coming immigration move was an “impeachable offense.” He said he thought Republicans had enough “tools” to push back – and as new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, he suggested he’d look at defunding the Justice Department or other agencies if Obama moved.

Interestingly, on Thursday night, in the same segment where he branded executive action “an impeachable offense,” Krauthammer warned Republicans not to use the budget to shut down the government — just one day after Sessions told Kelly he’d consider using his new budgetary powers to stop such a move. So he’s trying to restrain newly empowered Republicans at the same time he’s riling them up?

To be fair, back when he blamed Democrats for the impeachment talk, Krauthammer also told Bret Baier that any executive action on immigration would indeed be “an impeachable offense” – but one that he would be “100 percent against.” Krauthammer may still oppose impeachment, too, as political overreach that will damage his party.

And yet Thursday night he threw kindling on a fire that had seemed to burn itself out. Will he get away again with claiming this was all the Democrats’ idea? Probably. Fox will play both sides of the fence as long as it entertains its Obama-hating audience. Krauthammer will try to steer the impeachment clown car, but he may find it takes him over a cliff.

10 things you need to know today: November 11, 2014

It's picture day at the APEC Summit.

It’s picture day at the APEC Summit. (AP Images/Ng Han Guan)

The Week

Obama makes a deal with China, hackers attack the U.S. Postal Service, and more

1. Obama emphasizes cooperation with China on first stop in Asia tour
On the first leg of a three-country Asia tour, President Obama announced today a trade deal with China that could be worth $1 trillion. In a deal struck by Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing, both countries agreed to drop tariffs on technologies ranging from semiconductors to MRI machines. “This is encouraging news for the U.S.-China relationship,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said. [The Wall Street Journal]

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2. Hackers get into database with Postal Service employees’ personal data
The U.S. Postal Service on Monday told its 800,000 workers that hackers had “potentially compromised” databases containing their names, birthdays, addresses, and Social Security numbers. Cyber security experts said the cyberattack was consistent with the work of Chinese hackers. An attack on White House computers several weeks ago was assumed to have been executed by Russians. [The New York Times]

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3. New York City doctor declared free of Ebola
New York doctor Craig Spencer has been cleared to leave Bellevue hospital Tuesday morning after being successfully treated for Ebola. Spencer, 33, was diagnosed with the disease last month several days after returning from Guinea, where he had treated Ebola patients. He was placed under isolation on Oct. 23. Spencer was the first Ebola patient diagnosed in New York, and the last active case in the U.S. [ABC News]

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4. Obama urges the FCC to adopt the toughest proposed net-neutrality rules
President Obama on Monday urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt the toughest proposed net-neutrality rules on internet service providers, essentially regulating web traffic like a utility. Tight rules would prevent providers offering an internet fast-lane to those who pay more. “We cannot allow internet service providers to restrict the best access,” Obama said. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) criticized the plan by calling it “ObamaCare for the internet.” [Los Angeles Times]

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5. Captain sentenced to 36 years over South Korean ferry disaster
The captain of the South Korean ferry that sank in April, killing more than 300 people, was convicted for gross negligence and sentenced to 36 years in prison on Monday. The captain, Lee Joon-seok, was one of 15 crew members facing trial over the disaster. Lee, who is in his 60s, said he knew he would spend the rest of his life in prison, and apologized for leaving the doomed ship, the Sewol, with passengers still trapped inside. [BBC News]

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6. Supreme Court delays same-sex marriage in Kansas
The U.S. Supreme Court put same-sex marriages on hold in Kansas on Monday. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, acting alone, gave opponents until 5 p.m. Tuesday to respond after a federal judge last week ordered the state to start granting gay couples marriage licenses. An appeals court in Denver had denied a request by the state to put the ruling on hold, and state Attorney General took the case to the Supreme Court late Monday. [NBC News]

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7. Kaci Hickox officially Ebola-free as quarantine ends
Maine nurse Kaci Hickox was officially declared free of the Ebola virus on Monday at the end of an isolation that lasted 21 days after her last contact with an Ebola patient in West Africa. Hickox, who strongly criticized New Jersey’s and Maine’s quarantines on returning medical workers, said she and her boyfriend might move out of their Maine town, but she would return to West Africa “in a heartbeat.”
[The Associated Press]

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8. Hikers found after going missing overnight in California mountains
Fifteen California hikers were found on a damp slope in the San Gabriel Mountains on Monday after going missing overnight. A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter spotted them in an area covered with trees. The hikers, equipped with climbing gear and ranging in age from 14 to 36, were hoisted into the helicopter one by one. All of them appeared to be uninjured. [Los Angeles Times]

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9. Lava scorches its first house in a small Hawaiian town
A slow-moving lava flow consumed its first house in the tiny village of Pahoa on Hawaii’s Big Island on Monday. The residents of the house had evacuated long before the molten rock arrived, sending the building up in flames. The lava from the Kilauea volcano started its slow-motion assault in June, when it emerged and began flowing toward dozens of homes in Pahoa. [USA Today]

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10. Judge orders oil magnate to pay $995 million divorce settlement, one of biggest ever
An Oklahoma judge on Monday ordered Harold Hamm, CEO of oil company Continental Resources, to pay his ex-wife nearly $1 billion in one of America’s biggest divorce settlements. The ruling is subject to appeal. If both sides agree to it, it would make Sue Ann Hamm, 58, one of the 100 richest women in the U.S., according to Forbes. Harold Hamm’s stake in the company is valued at roughly $13.9 billion. [Reuters]

The Obama Opposition

No attribution

The New York Times ~ Charles M. Blow

The president came to Washington thinking he could change Washington, make it better, unite it and the nation. He was wrong. As he ascended, the tone of political discourse descended, as much because of who he was as what he did.

When Obama introduced Joe Biden as his vice-presidential running mate in Springfield, Ill., he expressed his confidence that Biden could “help me turn the page on the ugly partisanship in Washington, so we can bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass an agenda that works for the American people.”

In his first Inaugural Address, Obama said:

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

He underestimated the degree to which his very presence for some would feel more like a thorn than a salve. The president seemed to think that winning was the thing. It wasn’t. Stamina was the thing. The ability to nurse a grievance was the thing.

The president’s first “I won” moment came shortly after his inauguration. It was in an hourlong, bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders about the stimulus package. ABC News reported an exchange the president had with Eric Cantor this way:

“Obama told Cantor this morning that ‘on some of these issues we’re just going to have ideological differences.’ The president added, ‘I won. So I think on that one, I trump you.’ ”

Then, in a 2010 meeting with members of Congress about the Affordable Care Act, a visibly agitated president quipped to John McCain (who was raising concerns about the bill): “We’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.”

And in 2013, appearing even more agitated following the government shutdown, the president chastised his opponents across the aisle: “You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election.”

This idea that Republicans would honor the fact that he was elected — twice — almost seems quaint. It angered; it didn’t assuage.

And in addition to some people being ideologically opposed to Democratic principles in general, others are endlessly irritated by a personal attitude and persona that seem impervious to chastisement or humbling.

Even the president himself has come around to giving voice to this in public. Last year he told The New York Times: “There’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency.”

Gall here is an interesting word, and a purposeful one I think. It is in line with all the other adjectives used to describe this president’s not kowtowing and supplicating himself before traditional power structures.

Arrogant is another word that gets regular usage by his opponents, like Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and Chris Christie. Some even connect Obama and supposed arrogance to anything and everything he does.

10 things you need to know today: November 10, 2014

Smoke rises after an airstrike hits an ISIS position in Kobani, Syria. 

Smoke rises after an airstrike hits an ISIS position in Kobani, Syria. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The Week

An airstrike wounds ISIS’ leader, an Alaskan storm sends record cold south, and more

1. ISIS leader reportedly wounded in airstrike
An airstrike on a meeting of Islamic State militants in western Iraq wounded the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Iraq’s Defense and Interior ministries reported Sunday. Iraqi officials said they did not know the extent of Baghdadi’s injuries. President Obama said in an interview broadcast by CBS on Sunday that the battle against ISIS was entering a “new phase” with the addition of 1,500 U.S. troops to help train Iraqi security forces battling the Islamist group. [The Associated Press, CNN]

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2. Alaskan storm sends first winter blast to lower 48
A massive storm that hit parts of Alaska with hurricane-force winds drove arctic air eastward on Sunday, sending the first harsh winter blast toward two-thirds of the U.S. Montana and the Dakotas were the first Western states hit with heavy snow on Sunday. Forecasters said the storm would gain strength and dump as much as 18 inches of snow in the Great Lakes region on Monday, with parts of the nation due for record low temperatures. [NBC News]

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3. Obama says failure to sell Democrats’ policies led to midterm loss
President Obama took the blame for Democrats’ loss in last week’s midterm elections, saying in an interview broadcast by CBS on Sunday that his administration failed to sell voters on the benefits of his policies. “It’s not enough just to build a better mousetrap,” Obama said in the interview, aired as he was leaving for a high-stakes three-country Asia tour. “We’ve got to sell it.” Sizing up Tuesday’s results, which returned the House to GOP control, Obama said, “we got beat.” [The New York Times]

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4. George W. Bush says brother Jeb is torn on whether to run for president
Former president George W. Bush told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday that his brother, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, was “still wrestling with the decision” on whether to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. “I think it’s 50-50,” the former president said. “He knows exactly, you know, the ramifications on family, for example. He’s seen his dad and his brother go through the presidency. I’d give it a tossup.” [The Associated Press]

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5. American Airlines flight attendants narrowly turn down contract
American Airlines and US Airways flight attendant crews rejected a joint labor contract on Sunday by just 16 votes out of 16,376 cast. American Airlines said it was “disappointed” in the result, which would have marked the first joint contract for the two companies’ workers since the merger in December 2013. The stewards will work under their old contracts while the two sides enter binding arbitration. [Reuters]

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6. Suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber kills 47 in Nigerian school
A suicide bomber attacked a school assembly in northern Nigeria on Monday, killing at least 47 people and wounding 79. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but police suspect Boko Haram, an Islamist group that has declared Western-style education a sin. The attack took place at 7:50 a.m., local time, outside the principal’s office, where students were awaiting a daily speech. [CNN]

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7. Germans celebrate 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Berlin on Sunday to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A nine-mile string of 8,000 illuminated helium balloons traced the footprint of the former barrier, which divided Germany and served as a symbol of the Cold War. The balloons were released into the night sky one at a time, symbolizing the moments when crowds first breached the Wall in 1989. [BBC News]

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8. Pastor and motivational speaker Myles Munroe killed in Bahamas plane crash
Bahamian evangelical minister Myles Munroe, an internationally known motivational speaker, and his wife, Ruth, were among nine passengers killed Sunday when their Lear jet crashed while trying to land at Grand Bahamas International airport. The group was traveling to Monday’s Global Leadership Forum, hosted by an organization Munroe, 60, founded, Bahamas Faith Ministries. Munroe wrote more than 100 best-selling inspirational books. [The Washington Post]

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9. Catalan voters back independence in symbolic referendum
Voters in the Spanish region of Catalonia overwhelmingly backed breaking away from Spain in a non-binding — and, according to the government, illegal — referendum held Sunday. Eighty percent of the two million casting ballots were in favor of secession, although turnout was low. Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala called the vote “useless,” while Catalan leader Artur Mas said it was a great success. [BBC News]

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10. Britons applaud Queen Elizabeth after foiled terror plot
British crowds greeted Queen Elizabeth II with applause on Sunday as she left her residence in central London to lead Remembrance Day ceremonies honoring the nation’s war dead. The spontaneous demonstration of appreciation on a day traditionally marked with silence came days after London police, in overnight raids on Thursday, foiled an alleged plot by Islamist terrorists to attack the queen on Remembrance Sunday. [Daily Mail, CTV News]

10 things you need to know today: November 6, 2014

The midterms were...

The midterms were… (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Week

Republicans lay out their legislative agenda, Obama assesses the damage, and more

1. Republicans lay out their legislative agenda
A day after retaking the Senate and adding to their majority in the House, the GOP leadership is letting Americans in on their plan for the next two years. Chief among their priorities is balancing the budget, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and revising or repealing the Affordable Care Act. Republican lawmakers are also expected to use their new-found control of the Senate to work towards large-scale revisions to the tax code. [The New York Times]

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2. Obama assesses the midterms
President Obama on Wednesday assessed his party’s resounding defeat in the midterm elections, saying the clear message from voters was that Washington needs to scrap the dysfunction and finally “get stuff done.” Obama said he would work with Republicans on issues where there is broad bipartisan agreement, and take executive action when he is compelled to act alone. “Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I’ll take some actions Congress won’t like.” [Time]

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3. Judge overturns Missouri’s same-sex marriage ban
St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison struck down Missouri’s ban on gay marriage. In June, St. Louis officials handed out four marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of the state’s 10-year-old constitutional amendment that prohibits gay marriage. The move was designed to set up a show down in the courts over the ban in the hopes of overturning it. Missouri’s attorney general, Chris Koster, announced that he would not appeal the ruling because he wanted Missouri’s future to “be one of inclusion, not exclusion.” [CBS]

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4. Russia snubs 2016 nuclear arms summit
Russian officials have decided to skip a 2016 nuclear security summit being held in Chicago, according to the U.S. State Department. Russia will instead attend a symposium hosted by the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency. The move comes at a time when the relationship between Washington and Moscow has been severely strained thanks to the crisis in Ukraine. In March, both Russia and the United State attended the last nuclear summit, which took place in The Hague. [Reuters]

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5. Deadly attack in Jerusalem fuels tension
Two people were killed in Jerusalem when a driver rammed into a line of commuters waiting for a train. The authorities killed the assailant but not before he got out of his car and assaulted a group of bystanders with a metal bar. The attack was the latest deadly incident in a city that has seen mounting tension over the past few months. [Time]

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6. Kerry pushes for deal with Iranians over their nuclear program
Secretary of State John Kerry said that he is hoping to finalize a deal with Iran over its nuclear capacity before a Nov. 24 deadline for negotiations. “I want to get this done,” said Kerry, who added that Iran has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. The U.S. and five other countries have been in talks with Iran for months to convince the rogue nation to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions. [The Washington Post]

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7. Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola is released from hospital
Teresa Romero Ramos, the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa, left the hospital after a month of treatment. The Spanish nurse was still weak, but called her recovery a “miracle” from God. Doctors said Ramos is no longer contagious and that they learned several lessons about treating Ebola patients from her case. [CNN]

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8. Tesla beats third quarter expectations
Tesla, the manufacturer behind the all-electric Model S car, reported a modest, third-quarter profit of $3 million. The company delivered a record-setting 7,785 sedans, which boosted its sales to $932 million. Analysts had expected the company to report lower revenues. [Forbes]

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9. Van Gogh painting sells for $61.8 million
Vincent van Gogh’s “Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies” fetched $61.8 million at auction — almost $12 million more than its estimated value. The painting, which van Gogh created at his doctor’s house just a few months before his death, was purchased by a private collector from Asia. The still life was one of the few canvases van Gogh was able to sell before he passed away in 1890. [BBC]

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10. Public outcry prompts Starbucks to bring back Eggnog Latte
Starbucks is bringing back its seasonal — and apparently very popular — Eggnog Latte after an outpouring on social media. The company had decided to take it off the menu to streamline its offerings but decided that was the wrong move. “We made a mistake,” says spokeswoman Linda Mills. “We are very sorry.” [USA Today]

Morning Maddow – 11-3-2014

 

The Rachel Maddow Blog

World Trade Center reopens for business. (AP)

 

Pres. Obama: ‘Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote.’ (Politico)

 

Independent candidate drops out of Connecticut governor’s race, endorses Republican. (Hartford Courant)

 

Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox on why she felt she had to fight Govs. Christie and LePage. (Portland Press Herald)

 

The armed security guard on a CDC elevator with Pres. Obama was not a convicted felon. (Washington Post)

 

Iraqis prepare ISIS offensive with U.S. help. (NY Times)

 

U.S.-backed Syrian rebels routed by fighters linked to al Qaeda. (Washington Post)

 

Thieves steal the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate from Germany’s Dachau concentration camp. (NBC News)

OOPS- Mike Jones to Obama while voting: Mr. President, Don’t Touch My Girlfriend

obama

CNN Screenshot

This president is the coolest POTUS ever…

BuzzFeed

Bold move. Yesterday President Obama was casting his ballot in Chicago for the upcoming mid-term election. Casting his vote bext to Aia Cooper, her fiancé Mike Jones wisecracked to the president to not touch his girlfriend.

“I really wasn’t planning on it,” Obama shot back. He then called Jones “an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason.” It’s a moment of good fun that will bring a smile to even the most adamant Benghazi conspiracy theorist’s face.

Blackwater Founder Wants to Fight Ebola, ISIS, and for the GOP to ‘Get Off Their Ass’

Blackwater founder Erik Prince | Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty

I have no kind words for war profiteer and founder of “BlackWater Security“, Erik Prince and his band of merry thugs so I’ll just re-post the article…

The Daily Beast

Erik Prince says his old private army could have dealt with the Islamic State militants on their own—and that Republicans need to start fighting ‘like we pay them to.’
Erik Prince has a message for ISIS: You’re lucky Blackwater is gone.

On Friday night, the controversial founder of the private military company had plenty to say about what the organization he once ran could be doing in the fight against the so-called Islamic State—and also why Republicans need to stop being such losers.

“It’s a shame the [Obama] administration crushed my old business, because as a private organization, we could’ve solved the boots-on-the-ground issue, we could have had contracts from people that want to go there as contractors; you don’t have the argument of U.S. active duty going back in there,” Prince said in an on-stage discussion featuring retired four-star Gen. James Conway. “[They could have] gone in there and done it, and be done, and not have a long, protracted political mess that I predict will ensue.”

Prince was speaking at a dinner event for donors to the Maverick PAC, a conservative group with ties to the Bush dynasty, at the Capital Hilton just blocks from the White House.

His private military company (since rebranded as Academi) courted more than its fair share of trouble during the Bush years, in large part due to Blackwater guards gunning down 17 civilians in Baghdad. The Obama administration severed most ties with Blackwater, and Prince sold the company and uprooted to Abu Dhabi, where he continued doing sketchy work with security forces. Feeling betrayed by the Obama administration, he has since said that his days working for the U.S. government are over.

But on the subject of the federal government that he no longer wishes to work with, Prince has a rough message for the Republican Party: Get off your asses, guys. (Prince is a libertarian, staunchly Catholic conservative.)

“I want you to tell your congressman that we pay them to fight,” Prince told the crowd. “They are hired to fight for our values, for what you sent them there to do… I am sick and tired of Republicans getting rolled—having a lousy, weak leadership that gets rolled every time by the Democratic Party. We’re like… Charlie Browntrying to kick the football every time and they keep taking it away… I encourage the Republican Party to get off their ass and fight like we pay them to.”

This was the big applause line of the evening, but another one of Prince’s crowd-pleasers came when the conversation turned to Iran. He, of course, had nothing but unkind words for the regime in Tehran, but praised the young, liberal population of the Islamic Republic.

“Most Iranians… are just like you guys,” he said. “They want to be able to drink a beer when they want, travel where they want, have their wife or girlfriend drive a car or wear a short shirt and wear high heels. I’m all in favor of it.”

Roughly 70 percent of the country’s population is under the age of 30 and has no memory of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, so the Prince characterization is… sort of on the money.

But what—beside perhaps killing ISIS members—could The Artist Formerly Known As Blackwater do for the world today? Prince has said that one thing that inspired him to create Blackwater was his disgust at the international community’s failure to stop the Rwandan genocide.

“Who can watch the movie Hotel Rwanda and not wish it had a different outcome?” he told Charlie Rose in 2007. “Who didn’t wish that the UN would have sent troops or yanked those Belgian commandos back there, to secure that hotel and to provide some safe havens? I mean, you let almost a million people in a country about the size of Maryland get killed by farm tools over four months.”

So I asked him what he sees in terms of the humanitarian potential for something like Blackwater in the world today. He pointed to the NOAAS McArthur (S 330), an American survey ship once bought by Blackwater for the stated purpose of humanitarian missions.

“Now, that’s the sort of thing that could help fight Ebola,” Prince tells me.

A family tree to explain how President Obama and Milton Wolf are related

The Washington Post – The Fix

Stories about Milton Wolf, the conservative physician aiming to unseat Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) on Tuesday, always include one particularly interesting detail: The guy running to the right of the incumbent Republican senator is also a second cousin to the president of the United States.

What’s not usually articulated is precisely how the two are related. In short, Wolf’s mother was cousins with Obama’s grandmother. But the story is a bit more interesting than that.

We pieced together the family tree from a number of sources: a tombstone database, online genealogy sites, old newspapers. Giving us this family tree, with the Obama branch at left and the Wolf branch at right. It’s explained below.

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The common ancestors are Thomas McCurry and Margaret Belle Wright. (We know about their lives and children thanks to this overview of Obama’s history.) But we get a little more detail from a 2009 interview with Wolf’s mother, Anna McCurry Wolf. Her father’s family, she said, “migrated into Kentucky, and Illinois is where my grandfather lived; Alten, Illinois.” That’s Thomas. “And he, at age three, shook President Lincoln’s hand … he was on my grandfather’s shoulders, and this is Thomas Creekmore McCurry, and Lincoln just came over and shook his hand way up there. And I thought well, isn’t that strange?”

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McCurry and Wright had seven kids, among whom were Leona Belle McCurry — who Anna McCurry knew as Aunt Lee — and Franklin Wright McCurry. We tracked Frank McCurry (as he was known) down thanks to a mention in that same interview with his daughter, Anna, in which she noted that he was a vice president for Derby Oil. That detail allowed us to trace him to a 1949 newspaper article mentioning that he had a model oil refinery in his bedroom.

Leona McMurry and her husband Rolla Payne had three kids, including Madelyn Payne, Obama’s grandmother. Frank and Mabel had the aforementioned Anna McCurry. Anna McCurry married Curtis Wolf, who was also a physician. They had Milton.

Madelyn Payne married Stanley Dunham, and they had a daughter, Stanley Ann Dunham. She married a man from Kenya named Barack Hussein Obama. You know the rest of the story.

Perhaps the most charming part of the interview with Anna McCurry is her obvious excitement about being related to the president. She’d heard that the family was related to a black man from Chicago, and then saw his 2004 convention speech. When she heard him refer to a white grandmother from Kansas at some point, she told her second husband, Gene Colle, “that kid has to have the same DNA I have. That has to be Stanley Ann’s son.” It was. She traveled to D.C. with a group from Kansas, and met Obama, who gave her an autographed copy of his book. Then, the group ran into him in the Capitol.

Before he noticed me he shook everybody’s hand in our group, and he said, “I understand you’re all from Kansas,” and gave them all greetings. Then he gave me a hug and he said to them, “Now, you guys take care of my cousin.” So that was a really special time for me.

If her son has his way, he’ll soon be walking the halls of the Capitol himself — but probably not with as generous an assessment of his distant relative.

See video here…