President Barack Obama

10 things you need to know today: October 25, 2014

A woman cries during a vigil for those affected by the Friday shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

A woman cries during a vigil for those affected by the Friday shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Week

Two dead in Seattle-area high school shooting, Dallas nurse declared Ebola-free, and more

1. Two dead, including gunman, in Seattle-area high school shooting
A student shot five people, killing one of them, at Marysville Pilchuck High School on Friday morning. Police confirmed that the gunman, identified as Jaylen Fryberg, also died of a self-inflicted gunshot. Several students told media affiliates that the shooting began in the high school’s cafeteria. Three of the shooting victims are reportedly in critical condition, while a fourth has non-life-threatening injuries. [CNN, The Washington Post]

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2. Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola declared ‘virus free’
Nina Pham, one of two Dallas nurses who contracted the Ebola virus while caring for Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, was declared “virus free” by officials at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on Friday. Later in the day, Pham met and hugged President Barack Obama at the White House. “I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” Pham said in a statement. A second nurse, Amber Vinson, is still being held at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where officials say she is “making good progress.” [The Washington Post]

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3. Iran executes woman who allegedly killed her attempted rapist
Iran executed Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, on Saturday. Jabbari was sentenced to death in 2007 following a “flawed investigation and unfair trial,” according to Amnesty International. Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, allegedly hired Jabbari for an interior design project, but Jabbari told officials that Sarbandi tried to sexually assault her while she was in the home, at which point she stabbed him. Amnesty International says Jabbari was subsequently placed in solitary confinement for two months, during which time she was tortured and denied access to an attorney. [CNN]

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4. Police arrest suspect in shooting of three California deputies
Police arrested a suspected gunman who shot and killed two California sheriff’s deputies, and wounded one more deputy along with a civilian motorist, during a shooting spree on Friday in Sacramento. Marcelo Marquez allegedly first shot and killed Sacramento Deputy Danny Oliver when he approached the car Marquez and a female companion were in on Friday morning. The suspects then fled, carjacking at least two vehicles, shooting the driver of one who refused to give up his keys, and also shooting two Placer County sheriff’s deputies who joined the search for the pair. One, Homicide Detective Michael David Davis Jr., died later Friday from his injuries. [The Sacramento Bee]

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5. Surgeons perform first successful ‘dead heart’ transplant
A team at St. Vincent’s hospital in Sydney, Australia, announced on Friday that they had successfully transplanted hearts which had stopped beating for 20 minutes into three patients. Two of the patients have reportedly recovered well, while a third is still in intensive care. The procedure was made possible thanks to the development of a solution that keeps the submerged hearts preserved, and a circuit that attaches to the organs to keep them beating and warm. The procedure could save the lives of 30 percent more heart transplant patients. [The Guardian]

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6. Amazon writes off $170 million on underselling Fire Phone
While Amazon did not include its Fire Phone’s writedown in its third-quarter earnings statement, chief financial officer Tom Szkutak said in a Thursday earnings call that the “consolidated segment operating loss includes charges of approximately $170 million, primarily related to the Fire Phone inventory evaluation and supplier commitment cost.” Amazon launched the device as a competitor to the iPhone and other high-end smartphones in June, but poor user reviews hampered the Fire Phone’s success. The company may have as many as 300,000 unsold Fire Phone units in its warehouses. [The Guardian]

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7. DHS reportedly relying on expired Ebola prevention materials
The Department of Homeland Security promised that it is “satisfied” with its store of Ebola prevention materials on Friday, but testimony from Inspector General John Roth suggests otherwise. Roth appeared at a House oversight hearing on Ebola, and he said, “much of (the DHS’) material has a ‘finite shelf life’ — including thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer, some up to four years expired, and 200,000 respirators that are beyond their five-year usability guarantee.” DHS has spent millions of dollars in recent years on pandemic protective equipment and antiviral drugs for emergency workers. [Fox News]

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8. Stock market closes out best week in nearly two years
Boosted by strong quarterly earnings from large U.S. companies such as Microsoft, the stock marketclosed out on Friday with its best week since January 2013, as the S&P 500 rose 4.1 percent. Companies are also reporting their quarterly results right now, which means Wall Street is able to focus on “earnings expectations and corporate fundamentals,” Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors, said. [The Associated Press]

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9. Kansas City Royals win Game 3, take 2-1 World Series lead
After losing Game 1, the Kansas City Royals have come roaring back, winning Wednesday’s Game 2 and now Friday’s Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead over the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Kansas City won 3-2 on Friday; the teams face off again in San Francisco tonight. [ESPN]

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10. Queen Elizabeth sends her first tweet
Queen Elizabeth had never sent a tweet from the royal family’s official Twitter account — until Friday. Up popped a tweet reading, “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.” The account sent a followup message confirming that Queen Elizabeth had indeed typed the lines, and it even added a hashtag for other users to pick up: #TheQueenTweets. [TheWeek.com]

10 things you need to know today: October 18, 2014

Staff from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, in Dallas, hold signs of support for Ebola patient Nina Pham.

Staff from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, in Dallas, hold signs of support for Ebola patient Nina Pham. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Week

President Obama appoints Ron Klain ‘Ebola czar,’ the Supreme Court rules that Texas can enforce its voter ID law, and more

1. President Obama names Ron Klain ‘Ebola czar’
President Barack Obama appointed Ron Klain the administration’s “Ebola czar” on Friday. Klain will be responsible for ensuring the government response to any threat of a U.S.-based Ebola outbreak is handled correctly. Formerly chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, Klain also helped Obama prepare for presidential debates. He is president of Case Holdings and general counsel for Revolution, an investment firm. [CNN]

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2. Supreme Court rules that Texas can enforce voter ID law
The Supreme Court ruled early Saturday morning that Texas can go ahead with S.B. 14, its voter ID law that has been called one of the toughest in the United States. A federal judge had found the law to be unconstitutional, but a lower appeals court put that ruling on hold. Echoing three other voter ID cases (Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin) on which it has ruled in past months, the Supreme Court did not offer a reasoning behind the ruling. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, along with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. [The Washington Post]

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3. Nigeria brokers ceasefire with Boko Haram extremists
A top Nigerian military official announced on Friday that the government had reached a ceasefire with Boko Haram’s Islamic extremists, to begin immediately. Air Marshall Alex Badeh, Nigeria’s chief of defense staff, said the ceasefire would “end five years of insurgency that has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless.” Another government official said the hope was that negotiations for the release of 219 schoolgirls who were kidnapped in April and still being held by Boko Haram could begin this week. [The Associated Press]

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4. Federal judge strikes down Arizona’s ban on gay marriage
A federal judge ruled on Friday that Arizona’s ban on same-sex unions is unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick wrote in his brief explaining the decision that a recent appeals court ruled “that substantially identical provisions of Nevada and Idaho law that prohibit same-sex marriages are invalid,” and Arizona would thus follow suit. [The Arizona Republic]

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5. Michael Dunn, the ‘loud music killer,’ sentenced to life in prison
Michael Dunn, who was found guilty of killing unarmed black teenager Jordan Davis in November 2012, was sentenced to life in prison without parole — life plus 105 years — on Friday. Dunn shot Davis, who was 17 at the time, at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station following an argument about the volume of music emanating from an SUV in which Davis and his friends were sitting. [First Coast News]

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6. NASA discovers one of the farthest galaxies away ever seen
NASA announced on Thursday that it had discovered “one of the faintest galaxies ever seen,” as part of its three-year program to investigate the universe’s formative years. The faint galaxy is about 13 billion light-years away, and it is five hundred times small than the Milky Way, and still evolving. NASA scientists said the discovery was important because it would help inform how galaxies and the universe have evolved over time. [NASA]

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7. Two tourists allegedly snuck onto White House grounds in 2008
In the midst of a deluge of poor publicity for the Secret Service, a new report claims that in the summer of 2008, a pair of German tourists entered the White House grounds after peeling off from a legitimate tour group, only being noticed and then apprehended when they began using unauthorized cameras to take pictures near the White House’s North Portico. The Secret Service subsequently installed “a serpentine bike rack to make it more difficult to enter the White House grounds.” [The Washington Examiner]

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8. Israel has begun construction on vertical cemeteries
Israel has given cemeteries the go-ahead to build vertical burial grounds, even getting approval from rabbis who declared the practice kosher and “effective…in an era when most of the cemeteries in major population centers are packed full.” Yarkon Cemetery, outside Tel Aviv, has begun construction of the vertical plots; now cemeteries in other high-population countries such as Brazil and Japan are following suit. [The Associated Press]

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9. Study: Exercising three times a week lowers risk of depression
A new study published this week in JAMA Psychiatry shows that research subjects who exercised three times per week reduced their risk of depression by 19 percent. And, each additional workout session on top of the base three further reduced the subjects’ depression risk by another six percent. “Importantly, this effect was seen across the whole population, and not just in those at high risk of clinical depression,” Christine Power, a senior author on the study and professor of epidemiology and public health at the Institute of Child Health at UCL, said. [Medical News Today]

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10. Bono reveals the reason for his sunglasses is he has glaucoma
U2 frontman Bono is rarely seen without his signature shades, but he revealed during a taping of BBC One’s Graham Norton Show that the reason for his sunglasses is not fashion-based, but medically necessitated. “I’ve had glaucoma for the last 20 years,” Bono said. “I have good treatments and am going to be fine.” Those who suffer from glaucoma are often sensitive to light, and they wear dark glasses to alleviate the pain. [The Telegraph]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Citizens United Was The Current Supreme Court’s Worst Ruling

RUTH BADER GINSBURG | (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images) | The Washington Post via Getty Images

Ya think…?

The Huffington Post

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed her extreme regret over several of the current Court’s rulings in a wide-ranging interview published in The New Republic Sunday evening, including their rejecting the commerce clause of President Barack Obama’s health care law, and issuing a huge blow to the Voting Rights Act in their Shelby County v. Holder decision.

But the first Supreme Court ruling Ginsburg would send to the guillotine would be the Court’s decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, giving corporations and unions the green light to give and spend unlimited sums of money on independent political activity. “If there was one decision I would overrule,” Ginsburg told The New Republic, it would be Citizens United.

“I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be,” she said.

 Ginsburg said that the Court, in CItizens United as well as in the case of Shelby County, “should have respected the legislative judgment.”

“Legislators know much more about elections than the Court does. … I think members of the legislature, people who have to run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed.”

According to Ginsburg, things may have played out differently had Justice Sandra Day O’Connor not retired so soon. She told The New Republic that O’Connor would have sided with the minority on Citizens United, Shelby County, as well as the Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

“I think she must be concerned about some of the court’s rulings, those that veer away from opinions she wrote,” Ginsburg said.

Read the full interview here.

Chris Matthews Draws Parallel Between ISIS Terrorists and Poor Black Kids

HuH?

Mediaite

Chris Matthews joined his MSNBC colleague José Díaz-Balart Wednesday morning to discuss President Barack Obama’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly. And towards the end of his analysis, Matthews drew a curious parallel between extremist terrorists in the Middle East and African-American teenagers who turn to dealing drugs.

Matthews praised Obama’s “tough” language regarding people who turn to religious extremism because they can’t build anything else. “I thought that was pretty tough,” he said, “because you think about these guys sitting around all day planning revolution and killing people and cutting their heads off, what are they actually doing for the world?”

“Why do they want to be suicide bombers?” Matthews asked of Muslim extremists. “What a hopeless career move, I mean, to be blunt about it.”

RELATED: Obama Invokes Ferguson at U.N.: ‘We Have Our Own Racial and Ethnic Tensions’

When Díaz-Balart echoed the president by saying these people “see no other future” for themselves, it led Matthews to draw his analogy to some people in this country.

“Unfortunately there’s a parallel with the African-American kid in a North Philly situation, where you grow up in a row house where there’s more factories around, there’s no more jobs around, there’s no more blue collar options and the only deal being offered to you is from the drug dealer,” Matthews said. “We have this problem at home and I’m glad he brought it up.”

Watch video below, via MSNBC:

Rachel Maddow Is Repulsed At Congress For Taking A Bajillion Days Off While New War Is Launched

MSNBC Screenshot 9-18-2014

All the more reason the leaders (and party) of this fiasco should be voted out of office…

The Huffington Post

Rachel Maddow has already teared into Congress over its handling of the conflict in Iraq and Syria, but a new move by the House and Senate has pushed the MSNBC host over the edge.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama made a speech praising Congress for quickly passing new legislation that will support his plan to arm and train Syrian rebels. That very same day, the House announced that members of Congress would be taking their five-week recess a week early, and would most likely not return until after congressional elections in November.

Maddow was visibly appalled by this, calling it the reason Americans find Congress so repulsive and “repellent.”

“Sixteen-hundred US military families have gotten the call that they’ve had their loved ones deployed to Iraq, they’re flying those missions right now,” Maddow said. “But Congress? Heading home for another seven week break, because they can’t be bothered to think about that right now. They’ve got more important business to tend to they’ve gotta get re-elected. Because that’s the most important thing they do, right?”

Watch the video for the full clip on MSNBC.

(h/t: Raw Story)

Senator: ‘We All Get Killed Back Here At Home’ If Obama Doesn’t Send Combat Troops Back Into Iraq

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) | CREDIT: SUSAN WALSH/AP IMAGES

Senate war mongers John McCain and Lindsay Graham have never met a war they didn’t like.  This article focuses on Graham…

Think Progress

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blasted President Barack Obama’s plan to defeat ISIS during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, calling the commander-in-chief “disingenuous and delusional” and warning that Americans will be “killed here at home” unless he sends ground troops into Iraq and Syria to defeat the terrorist threat.

Comparing the estimated 30,000 ISIS fighters to the Nazis, Graham warned that “this idea we’ll never had any boots to defeat them in Syria is fantasy.” He argued that given the growth of the “radical Islamic army” and its control of territory in northern Iraq and Syria, “it’s going to take an army to beat a army.” “This is ISIL versus mankind,” he said.

“To destroy ISIL, you have to kill or capture their leaders, take back their territory, cut off the finances and destroy the capability to regenerate. This is a war we’re fights not a counter terrorism operation,” Graham continued. “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.” The Unites States has approximately 1,600 soldiers in Iraq advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces, conducting intelligence operations and surveillance and reconnaissance flights.

Graham’s comments come just hours after the terrorist group released another videopurportedly showing the beheading of British aid worker David Haines, marking the third time the organization has beheaded a western hostage.

In announcing his strategy on Wednesday, Obama promised to build a global coalition to confront the ISIS threat, step-up air strikes across ISIS strongholds, and asked Congress to authorize $500 million for the training of moderate forces in Syria. But the president ruled out sending ground forces in a combat capacity back into Iraq. “Everybody believes there has to be some ground force on the ground taking the fight to ISIL,” White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough said during an interview on Fox. “If it’s not the Syrian opposition trained by the United States, authorized by the president and the Congress, it will have to be U.S. troops. The president has made a decision on that we’re not going to do that.”

EX-NSA Director Hayden Compares ISIS Airstrikes To ‘Casual Sex’

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Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden | AP Photo / Roger Askew/REX

Ouch!

Apparently General Hayden is starting to display his disdain for the POTUS more and more.  I’m not saying he’s right or wrong on this issue, just saying his comment was rather “audacious” for an ex member of the President’s cabinet.

TPM LiveWire

“The reliance on air power has all of the attraction of casual sex: It seems to offer gratification but with very little commitment,” Hayden said according to US News & World Report. “We need to be wary of a strategy that puts emphasis on air power and air power alone.”

Hayden’s comments come two days after President Barack Obama in a prime time speech vowed“a steady, relentless effort” to battle ISIS, the group that recently publicized beheading two U.S. journalists.

Hayden stressed that just using air power against ISIS might not be enough to fully defeat it.

“We need to be wary of a strategy that puts emphasis on air power and air power alone,” Hayden said. “The sooner we take the fight into Syria against [ISIS], the better of we’ll be.”

(H/t: The Hill)

Sunday Talk: We’re not in Kansas anymore… or are we?

Daily Kos

With only two months remaining until the 2014 midterm elections, and Republicans predicting a GOP wave, Democrats are in a state of panic!!!!President Obama—who doesn’t possess the heart, brain, or courage of his predecessor—is not expected togrant illegal immigrants voting rightsbefore the elections, leaving Democrats a few Mexicans short of a fiesta.

Increasingly desperate to retain their majority in the Senate (so as to prevent Obama’s impeachment), they’re now trying something that’s so crazy it just might worknot running candidates.

Then again, it might not.

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: President Barack Obama; Others TBD.Face The Nation: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD); War Criminal Henry Kissinger; Roundtable: Peggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal), David Ignatius (Washington Post) and Peter Baker (New York Times)

This Week: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); Rep. Peter King (R-NY); Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA);Roundtable: William Kristol (Weekly Standard), Matt Bai (Yahoo News), Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile and Jonathan Karl (ABC News).

Fox News Sunday: 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney; Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX); Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Roundtable: Brit Hume (Fox News),Julie Pace (Associated Press), George Will (Washington Post) and Bob Woodward(Washington Post).

State of the Union: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Rep.Tony Cárdenas (D-CA); 9/11 Anniversary Roundtable: Philadelphia, PA Mayor Michael Nutter (D), Boston, MA Mayor Marty Walsh (D) and San Diego, CA Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R); Political Roundtable: Former House Speaker New Gingrich (R-GA), S.E. Cupp (CNN), LZ Granderson (ESPN) and Democratic Strategist Maria Cardona.

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: a report on BP’s complaints over the way its agreement to compensate victims of its Gulf oil spill is being interpreted (preview); a report on Briton Nicholas Winton, who helped save hundreds of mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of the war (preview); and, an interview with “Quarterback Guru” Steve Clarkson (preview).

GOP Rep on ISIS: ‘A Bunch of Guys Wearing Pajamas Pushing Up Logs’

Screenshot

 

From the comment section of this article:

This appears to be a guy who wants to treat ISIS rationally, rather than a cudgel to bash Obama with.

I wish more Republicans would act in such a way.

Mediaite

On Fox News’s The Kelly File Tuesday, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter dismissed the Islamic terrorist group ISIS as a major threat to the U.S.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the recent on-video beheading of American journalist James Foley.

“ISIS in Iraq and Syria is not an existential threat to us,” Hunter said. “They’re not going to harm the United States. They’re bad guys, yes, if you’re there but a bunch of guys wearing pajamas pushing up logs, they’re not an existential threat to us like North Korea is, like Iran is, like Pakistan is. They are not like that.”

He said ISIS only becomes a threat if they can “get people back in the United States and do harm to us here and commit acts of terror.”

President Barack Obama has authorized military air strikes against ISIS in Iraq.

Watch via Fox News:

WORLD LEADERS NOMINATED TO TAKE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE

No attribution

When the entire world latches on to a cause via social media…anything is possible.

The Huffington Post

All across social media, celebrities and regular citizens seem to be dumping ice water on their heads to raise money for and awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In fact, the vast majority of Americans have avoided the ice bucket challenge so far, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows, though they’re willing to suggest other individuals get wet.

Sixty percent of Americans said they had “heard a lot” about the challenge. Far fewer said they had actually participated: Just 4 percent said they had donated money, and a mere 3 percent said they had dumped ice water on their heads. Another 2 percent said they’d done both.

Knowledge about ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, remains limited as well. Only 21 percent of Americans said they are “very familiar” with ALS, while another 49 percent said they’re “somewhat familiar.” Twenty percent were “not very familiar” with the disease, and 10 percent were “not at all familiar.”

According to the ALS Association, as many as 30,000 Americans have the progressive neurodegenerative disease at any given time. New cases are diagnosed at a rate of about 15 a day.

Recently, the ice bucket challenge has been criticized by some observers as frivolous if the real point is to raise money for research. After all, by the terms of the challenge, dumping cold water on your head is a way out of donating.

But the survey shows most Americans aren’t buying the bad rap. Sixty-one percent said the ice bucket challenge is “a fun and effective way to raise money and awareness of ALS,” while only 28 percent said that “it’s silly and it would be better if people just donated money.”

Many public figures have posted videos of their cold showers already. Others face limits on their participation. Members of the House of Representatives and the military have been warned that government rules prohibit the use of official resources to promote or references to current military service in ice bucket videos. High-profile State Department diplomats have been barred from participating.

Those rules don’t bar us, however, from asking Americans which politicians they’d most like to see doused with ice cold water.

Asked to pick from a list of potential 2016 presidential candidates who they’d most like to see take the ice bucket challenge, Americans made former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the runaway winner, with 51 percent choosing her. Sixteen percent opted for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), 15 percent for Vice President Joe Biden, 8 percent for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), 6 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), and 5 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Support for Clinton didn’t vary much along party lines, though the motives may have differed widely. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats chose Clinton as the potential candidate they’d most like to see dump freezing water over her head.

Asked separately to pick a world leader for an international edition of the challenge, a 35 percent plurality of Americans rallied behind President Barack Obama, including 34 percent of both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately for them, Obama hasalready declined to dump ice water on his head, opting instead to give money.

Second and third place went to the leaders of countries with which the U.S. already suffers icy relations: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, with 24 percent, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, with 19 percent. Queen Elizabeth II was fourth with 17 percent, narrowly missing a challenge from America, since three nominations are the usual limit. (Both Putin and the queen have been challenged by others, though neither has responded.)

Germany’s Angela Merkel and Cuba’s Raul Castro took just 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, in the HuffPost poll.

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