Tag Archives: President Obama

BarackNRoll: Obama Hangs Out With Pittsburgh Band After They Serenade His Motorcade

comfort tech

Honestly, how cool is our POTUS?

PoliticusUSA

What do you do if President Obama and Vice President Biden roll into your town outside of Pittsburgh, to the Community College just a stones throw away from your house? If you’re the band Comfort Tech, you turn the driveway into a stage and play an original song, Lumberjack, as the POTUS motorcade rolls by and hope he notices.

He did.

Watch here:

Comfort Tech is comprised of “Sean Conner and Eric DiFiore on guitars and vocals, Kevin Stripp/ Dan Morgan on drums, and Brett White on bass and vocals”, per their FB page. In their video of the event, they were deeply appreciative of the courtesy extended to them, “Serenading Mr. President Obama as he arrives with his motorcade. Most appreciative of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their kind staff for their outstanding courtesy…”

Watch the Motorcade Serenade here:

Lexi Belculfine at the The Post Gazette reported:

When singer and guitarist Sean Conner, 24, realized POTUS and VPOTUS would be in their back yard, he said he knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But how to get the attention of the leaders of the free world?

They made a red, white and blue banner reading “Welcome Mr. President!” and hung it on their porch, above the driveway-turned-stage. The plan was to be respectful and not disruptive, he said.

It worked! The Secret Service wouldn’t let the President stop to hear the band, so Obama had the Secret Service ask the band to come and meet him, which they did. They noted on theirFacebook Page that they heard the President asking, “Where’s Comfort Tech?”

The President told them to send their CD over when it was done, and then offered to pose for a picture.

Bass player and singer Brett White told the Post Gazette, “I did not touch him until he put his arm around me.”

The band was then invited to stay for the speech, during which the President gave them a shout out. All in all, a tremendously cool outcome from their plan to serenade the motorcade.

The White House followed up, reminding the band to send over their next album:

It’s really difficult to imagine any previous Presidents other than Bill Clinton doing this, and certainly not getting praised for their courtesy.

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Filed under President Barack Obama, VP Joe Biden

10 things you need to know today: April 19, 2014

Protesters in Ukraine have ignored a tentative agreement between Washington and Moscow.

Protesters in Ukraine have ignored a tentative agreement between Washington and Moscow. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The Week

Pro-Russia militants stand their ground in Ukraine, the Obama administration delays a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, and more

1. Pro-Russia militants ignore agreement between Russia, Ukraine
Saying they do not take orders from Washington or Moscow, pro-Russia militants refused to end their occupation in eastern Ukraine on Friday. Russia, the European Union, Ukraine, and the United States signed an agreement in Geneva meant to help stabilize relations in the region, but the protesters said they would not abandon their mission while Ukraine’s current government remains in place. Tensions had already mounted again between Moscow and Washington on the deal’s language, with the U.S. ultimately deciding to deploy ground troops to Poland next week, as part of an expanded NATO presence in central and eastern Europe. [The Washington Post]

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2. U.S. State Department delays Keystone XL decision
The State Department announced on Friday that it is extending the amount of review time federal agencies have in regard to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The extension likely means President Obama, who effectively has the final call on whether the pipeline moves forward in development through Nebraska, will not have to issue a decision until after the midterm elections. That timing drew ire from Republicans, who noted the process has already dragged on for five years. But officials said they need more time to determine whether Nebraska’s legal wrangling could change Keystone’s route, affecting the assigned agencies. [The Associated PressThe New York Times]

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3. Captain of South Korean ferry charged, in custody
Cited for abandoning ship, negligence, causing bodily injury, not seeking rescue from other ships, and violating “seamen’s law,” Lee Joon Seok was taken into custody by South Korean police on Friday. If convicted, Seok could face as much as a life term in prison. Nearly 270 people are still missing from the sunken ferry, and divers who managed to enter the second deck on Friday were quickly forced back out by rough waters. “Absolutely, there could be areas in there where there is breathable air,” Mike Dean, the U.S. Navy deputy director for salvage and diving, said. “But the trouble right now is the temperature and getting people to them.” [CNN]

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4. Arts-and-crafts chain Michaels confirms security breach
Michaels, the nation’s largest arts-and-crafts chain, announced on Thursday that more than 2.6 million debit and credit cards used at its stores between May 8, 2013 and January 27 of this year had been compromised in a security breach. While the attack apparently did not breach personal information such as names and PIN numbers, compromised data did include payment numbers and expiration dates. Subsidiary chain Aaron Brothers was also attacked, with about 400,000 customers’ cards potentially compromised. [The Associated Press]

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5. Nigerian military admits abducted girls have not been freed
Nigerian authorities backtracked on a Wednesday statement that said most of the girls kidnapped from a northeast boarding school had been freed. Officials now believe nearly 100 girls are still missing, although some parents put the number closer to 150 or even 200 missing girls. It is thought the girls were abducted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which translates as “Western education is forbidden” — the group frequently attacks schools and other places of learning. The government’s security forces, vigilante groups, local hunters and parents are all searching for the girls, who were taken on Monday night. [BBC News]

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6. Four French journalists held captive in Syria freed
After nearly a year in captivity, an unknown group released four French journalists on Friday. President Francois Hollande’s office said he felt “immense relief,” and that the four men — Edourard Elias, Didier Francois, Nicolas Henin, and Pierre Torres — were in relatively good health, despite “very trying conditions.” A Turkish news agency said soldiers on a routine patrolthrough the southeast Sanliurfa province found the men blindfolded and cuffed there; they had been dropped near the Turkey-Syria border. [The Associated PressThe New York Times]

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7. Death toll at attacked South Sudan U.N. base rises to 58
A United Nations official said the death toll from a South Sudan attack on Thursday has risen to 58. Armed youths attacked a U.N. compound in the war-ravaged town of Bor. The mob killed 58 people and injured at least 100 more. Many of the people on the base are ethnic Nuers seeking shelter from fighting which has broken out across the country. [TIMEReuters]

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8. No injuries reported in strong Mexico earthquake
With tremors felt 165 miles away in Mexico City, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck near resort-town Acapulco on Friday morning. While officials patrolled the streets afterward checking for damage, no injuries were reported. “People started running out in the street. Street signs and street lights were waving back and forth,” reported NPR‘s Jasmine Garsd. “It lasted for quite a bit.” [NPR]

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9. Scientists discover cave-dwelling female bugs with penises
Researchers discovered cave-dwelling insects in Brazil, belonging to the rare Neotrogla genus, that possess sex-reversed genitalia. The females use an organ similar both structurally and functionally to a penis in order to penetrate the males’ vagina-like opening, which houses their sperm. Researchers looking at the copulating insects found the couples mated for an average of 50 hours. They believe the findings could be used to test different hypotheses about sexual selection and the evolution of genitalia. [National Geographic]

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10. Surgeons remove 12 gold bars from Indian man’s stomach
Surgeons called the three-hour operation to remove 12 gold bars from an Indian man’s stomach earlier this month “tedious.” Indeed: The 63-year-old businessman had told his doctor he swallowed a bottle cap out of anger, but when surgeons operated, they instead discovered the gold bars, weighing nearly a pound, total. India is the world’s largest gold consumer, and people try to smuggle the substance into the country because of the high duty costs. “Finding gold in a patient’s stomach was something unbelievable,” Dr. CS Ramachandran, a senior surgeon at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said. [BBC News]

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

Tensions remain high in Ukraine, despite Thursday's deal. 

Tensions remain high in Ukraine, despite Thursday’s deal. (AP Photo)

The Week

Russia and Ukraine strike a deal, an avalanche kills 12 on Mount Everest, and more

1. Russia agrees to deal on easing tensions in Ukraine
Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union struck a deal Thursday calling for pro-Russia separatists to surrender local government buildings they seized in eastern Ukraine. The agreement also spells out steps to defuse tensions. President Obama said the deal was promising but if it fizzles the U.S. still could impose more sanctions on Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to rule out sending troops if violence escalates. [The New York Times]

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2. Mount Everest avalanche kills at least 12
An avalanche killed at least 12 Nepalese Sherpa guides on Mount Everest early Friday. It was the deadliest disaster ever on the world’s highest mountain. Three other guides are still missing. The guides had set out early to fix ropes for other climbers below Camp 2. Hundreds of climbers, along with their guides and support crews, are gathered at the base camp to attempt to reach the 29,035-foot summit when weather permits next month. [The Associated Press]

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3. ObamaCare enrollments topped 8 million by Tuesday’s deadline
More than eight million people signed up for ObamaCare health plans by Tuesday’s enrollment deadline, President Obama announced Thursday. The tally exceeded the estimate administration officials made last summer by one million, despite terrible glitches when the health law’s online insurance exchanges launched last fall. The number of young people signing up fell short of White House hopes. Still, Obama said, “this thing is working.” [CNBC]

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4. South Korea ferry slips underwater as death toll climbs
The death toll from the South Korea ferry disaster reached 28 on Friday. Hopes for saving the 270 still missing dimmed as the ship became completely submerged in frigid Yellow Sea waters. Despite strong currents, two divers managed to enter the hull to search for trapped survivors. Anarrest warrant was issued for Captain Lee Joon Suk, and a vice principal who accompanied high school students on board hanged himself after being rescued. [CNNABC News]

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5. Texas seizes jailed polygamist Warren Jeffs’ ranch
Texas authorities have seized the secluded ranch of imprisoned polygamist Warren Jeffs, leader of the Utah-based Fundamentalist LDS Church. Only eight adults were still living at the compound. The FBI and police raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April 2008 to investigate allegations that underage girls there were being forced into polygamist marriages. Jeffs was convicted in 2011 of sexually assaulting two child brides. He is serving a life sentence. [The Associated Press]

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6. Scientists discover the most Earth-like planet ever seen
Researchers have discovered the first Earth-sized planet in another solar system’s habitable zone, meaning it is at the right distance from its star to allow it to hold liquid water and support life. The rocky planet, which has been named Kepler 186f, is 500 light years away. The find, made with the now defunct Kepler telescope, marked a leap forward in the hunt for life on another planet. “This is a historic discovery,” one astronomer said. [Popular Mechanics]

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7. Gunmen kill dozens at U.N. base in South Sudan
Armed youths, pretending to be peaceful protesters, attacked a United Nations compound in South Sudan on Thursday, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens more. Nearly 5,000 civiliansand U.N. personnel are being sheltered at the base in the war-ravaged town of Bor. The roughly 350 attackers reportedly broke the gate. “They came in and started shooting indiscriminately,” said Toby Lanzer, U.N. assistant secretary general in South Sudan. [BBC NewsReuters]

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8. Suspect arrested in Kansas City highway shootings
Kansas City police have arrested a man suspected in a series of apparently random freeway shootings that has left nine people injured since last month. Nobody has been killed, but the attacks have frightened motorists in and around the city, with many telling journalists they have altered their driving habits to stay safe. A neighbor said the suspect, who was not immediately charged, kept odd, late hours: “The dude was like a ghost.” [The Kansas City Star]

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9. Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton announces pregnancy
Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, are expecting their first child. “I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mom was to me,” said Clinton, 34, with her mother, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by her side. The baby is due in the fall. The surprise announcement comes as Hillary Clinton weighs a second run for the presidency in 2016. [The Washington Post]

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10. Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies
Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, master of the magical realism genre and winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, died Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87. His novelOne Hundred Years of Solitude was considered one of the great books of the 20th century. It helped establish Garcia Marquez as one of the rare writers, along with such icons as Dickens and Hemingway, who was embraced by critics and the public alike. [The New York Times]

 

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Top GOP Presidential Contender’s Political Experience Consists Of Insulting Obama

Current anti-Obama insults might still be viable for some GOP Presidential contenders in many of the red states and gerrymandered districts…

Liberaland

Dr. Ben Carson may be a very talented neurosurgeon. He’s likely saved lives. But he is a conservative hero with no political experience who is being boosted as a 2016 candidate for one reason only: He insulted President Obama at a most inappropriate occasion, during the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast.

A group encouraging retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to run for president raised $2.4 million in the first three months of this year, more than the group backing Hillary Clinton or those affiliated with Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and other potential candidates, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Carson, 62, has emerged as a prominent African-American conservative commentator. He appears regularly on Fox News and writes a weekly column for the conservative Washington Times newspaper.

Carson’s spokesman says he is not interested in running for president and he is not affiliated with the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee.

The money is a sign that conservative voters are looking beyond the usual political suspects for a presidential candidate, the head of the Ben Carson committee said.

It’s actually a sign that conservatives are desperate.

 

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The one sentence from President Obama’s press conference that Democrats should pay attention to

The Washington Post – Chris Cillizza

President Obama delivered a statement in the White House press briefing room touting the signup successes of the Affordable Care Act. He also took four questions from reporters — running the gamut from the situation in Ukraine to the ACA to the possibility of immigration reform. But, for Democrats running for office this November, there was one line in particular worth paying close attention to.

President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 17, 2014. The president spoke about health care overhaul and the situation in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 17, 2014. The president spoke about health care overhaul and the situation in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Asked by Politico’s Edward Isaac-Dovere whether he would advise Democrats to campaign on Obamacare this fall, the president, eventually, said this: “I think Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact….we’re helping because of something we did.”  He added that Republicans would have to defend their continued efforts to repeal the law and then quickly pivoted back to talking about the economy, which, he insisted, was the No. 1 priority for most Americans.

Parse those statements and you get this:

1. Democrats shouldn’t run from Obamacare because there is a positive story to tell (and, left unsaid, because they can’t run away from it anyway).

2. Democrats should make sure to focus voters’ attention on Republican efforts to repeal the law and ask questions about whether the GOP has its priorities mixed up.

3. The economy is the real issue and the one on which the midterms will be won or lost by Democrats.

Now, it’s not clear how many candidates will follow Obama’s strategic advice on handling the ACA — particularly given that so many of the seats up in the Senate (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina etc.) are in conservative leaning states where many likely voters probably don’t agree with the president’s assertion that “We can agree it’s well past time to move on as a country.”

But, make no mistake: This is President Obama laying out a strategic blueprint as to how he thinks Democrats can run and win in an electoral environment that, at least at the moment, doesn’t look great for them.

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Filed under Affordable Care Act

House GOP Leaders Take Up The Banner Of Obamacare Trutherism

China-currency-boehner

AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Anything to cast aspersion on the POTUS’ signature achievement.  Looks like a simple case of ACA envy to me…

TPM DC

“After two delays by the Administration, on March 31st Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges ended open enrollment with a purported 7.1 million signed up,” McCarthy’s release begins. “President Obama declared that ‘the debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.’ But this is hardly the end of the story.”

McCarthy’s office then outlined five data points it wanted to know about, alleging that the Obama administration “has refused to provide key information that would shed light on the true number of enrollees.” Those are:

  • How many effectuated enrollment (signed up and paid a premium)
  • How many paid their first month’s premium but not their second or third
  • How many were previously uninsured
  • How many young and healthy signed up (affecting rates)
  • How many received a subsidy (raising concerns about fraud)

At least two of those have been explicitly explained in the enrollment reports released by the Obama administration — and updated data will presumably be included in the March report expected Thursday.The February enrollment report included information on the last two: the demographics of enrollees and data on how many were eligible for financial assistance. First, 25 percent of the 4.2 million people who had enrolled through February were ages 18 to 34, the crucial “young and healthy” group. Second, 83 percent of those who signed up for a plan were eligible for financial help.

On the premium question, the administration has insisted that, because people pay insurance companies directly, only insurers have that information. Outside estimates have put the number at 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid. As for how many enrollees were previously uninsured, HealthCare.gov and most of the state websites didn’t collect that particular data point. Independent estimates put the number at one-third or so, although it seems that the uninsured comprised a bigger share of the late enrollment surge. They were also covered via Medicaid, which isn’t included in the 7 million number.

The question about whether people paid their second and third premiums appears new, and it’s unclear why that has now become a concern for the GOP.

Some of these questions are not wholly without basis. The demographics of Obamacare enrollees are important for the law’s long-term fiscal sustainability. People do need to pay their premiums for their coverage to take effect. One of the law’s stated goals was covering the uninsured.

But the framing of the House GOP’s release — “Debunking Obamacare’s 7 million Enrollees ‘Success’ Story”, insinuating that “the true number of enrollees” isn’t known — makes clear that its goal is to undermine the law’s unexpected patch of good news since open enrollment ended.

TPM raised these issues with McCarthy’s office, which still asserted that the administration “cannot let the American public know how many were previously uninsured, how many actually signed up for coverage they need, and how many weren’t kicked off of coverage they previously enjoyed.”

“Just because they gave us some data two months ago does not mean they gave us any clear and final data on enrollment when the President trumpeted the law as a success in the Rose Garden on live television,” Mike Long, a McCarthy spokesman, said in an email. “To proclaim ‘Mission Accomplished’ based solely on the number of clicks, without regard of knowing how those 7.1 million were affected, makes light of the seriousness that is health coverage of Americans.”

“House Republican leadership and various Committees have requested this information through hearings and by passing legislation. We’ve been stonewalled each time.”

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Snowden Calls Putin To Talk NSA…

No word from Edward Snowden regarding Putin’s invasion and takeover of Crimea or his Ukraine antics, yet he participates in a staged call-in show to embarrass the POTUS.  I don’t like the surveillance programs in this country either, but his “patriotism” for his “motherland” has diminished significantly.  Since his buddies who wrote about his story got Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, he seems to feel more empowered than ever, to pull off a stunt like this…

The Hill 

The exchange between Putin and Snowden appeared to be a piece of theater crafted by the Kremlin  and designed to embarrass the Obama administration amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine.

Edward Snowden called into a Russian state television program on Thursday and asked President Vladimir Putin about whether Moscow has surveillance programs similar to those exposed by the former government contractor.

The exchange between Putin and Snowden appeared to be a piece of theater crafted by the Kremlin  and designed to embarrass the Obama administration amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine.

“I’ve seen little public discussion of Russia’s own involvement in the policies of mass surveillance,” Snowden, a former government contractor facing espionage charges in the U.S., told Putin via video message.

“So I’d like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?”

In response, Putin said that bulk collection programs “cannot exist’ under Russian law.

“We don’t like a mass system of such interception,” Putin said, according to a translation from state-run broadcaster Russia Today.

“I hope we won’t do that, and we don’t have as much money as they have in the States and don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States,” he added. “Our special services, thanks God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law.”

The exchange was all the more remarkable given Snowden’s asylum in Russia, where he traveled after first fleeing the U.S. for Hong Kong.

Moscow has faced pressure from the U.S. to send Snowden back to Washington.

Snowden’s question to Putin took place a day after President Obama accused Putin of being behind uprisings in eastern Ukraine by Russian separatists. In a television interview, Obama also said Russia didn’t want a military confrontation with the U.S. because of the Pentagon’s superiority.

Snowden’s leaks about National Security Agency programs were turned into stories in the Washington Post and The Guardian that this week were awarded with the Pulitzer Prize. But the espionage charges against Snowden could put him behind bars for decades if he returns to the United States.

Snowden fled to Russia last year shortly after releasing documents showing that the NSA conducts wide surveillance efforts to track people’s phone calls and online activity, among other operations.

He has been sharply criticized for choosing Russia, where the government routinely cracks down on journalists. Opponents have claimed that Snowden is working with foreign powers or, at the least, has given secret U.S. documents to Russian spies. Supporters have denied the charge.

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

Ukrainian troops on their way to Kramatorsk, Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops on their way to Kramatorsk, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

The Week

1. Separatists attack Ukraine base as Geneva crisis talks begin
Pro-Russia separatists attacked a military base in east Ukraine on Thursday as diplomats gathered in Geneva for crisis talks. Three separatists were killed in the clash, making it the deadliest yet in the 10-day uprising. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Kiev’s attempt to crush the protests by force was pushing the country into an “abyss.” The White House threatened Russia with fresh sanctions if it doesn’t defuse tensions. [Reuters]

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2. Hope fades in search survivors on sunken South Korean ferry
Hundreds of people were feared to have died aboard a ferry boat that sank within sight of land just off South Korea’s southern coast. Nine people have been confirmed dead, but the toll is expected to rise sharply as crews continue to look for the nearly 300 passengers still missing a day after the vessel tipped over in cold water. Investigators are looking into reports by survivors that the crew told people to wait for rescuers instead of escaping. [USA TodayCNN]

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3. Canadian becomes the first arrested over the Heartbleed security bug
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 19-year-old Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes on Wednesday and accused him of hacking the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website last Friday. Solis-Reyes is the first person arrested in connection with the Heartbleed security vulnerability in popular online encryption systems. One hacker wrote that the arrest should “draw attention to how big a deal this is.” [The Toronto Star]

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4. Judge calls strict North Dakota abortion law unconstitutional
A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat law,” which effectively banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, was unconstitutional. The law was considered the nation’s most restrictive. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland wrote in his ruling that the Supreme Court “has unequivocally said no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability.” [The Associated Press]

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5. Obama unveils $600 million job-training push
President Obama announced a plan to spend $600 million on competitive grants to train Americans for jobs that will pay well, and help the nation maintain an edge in the global economy. “Not all of today’s good jobs require a four-year college degree,” Obama said Wednesday. “But I promise you, there’s not a job out there that’s going to pay a lot if you don’t have some specialized training.” [The Associated Press]

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6. Local politician speaks up for anti-Semitic-murder suspect
The mayor of a town near the home of white supremacist Frazier Glenn Cross (aka Frazier Glenn Miller), who has been charged with killing three people at Kansas City Jewish community facilities, said Wednesday that he shared some of Miller’s beliefs. “Kind of agreed with him on some things,” said Marionville, Mo., Mayor Dan Clevenger, “but I don’t like to express that too much.” Miller has been charged with murder and anti-Semitic hate crimes. [KSPR]

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7. Firetruck slams into California restaurant, injuring 15
Two firetrucks responding to an emergency collided at an intersection in a Los Angeles suburb, sending one of them crashing into a restaurant. Fifteen people, including six firefighters, were injured. Most suffered only minor injuries, but one person was sent to a hospital in critical condition. “There was a loud boom and a lot of shaking,” said Wendy Wu, a waitress. “I thought it was an earthquake.” [Fox News]

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8. Strong earnings push Alibaba’s valuation to $168 billion
Alibaba’s estimated valuation shot 9.8 percent higher this week after the Chinese e-commerce company reported record sales and earnings. Alibaba is preparing to make an initial public offering of stock later this year, and analysts polled by Bloomberg estimated its value at an average of $168 billion, up from $153 billion in February. Alibaba’s unexpectedly strong earnings lifted shares of Yahoo, which holds a 24 percent stake in the company. [BloombergThe Associated Press]

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9. Portland flushes water over possible contamination
The city of Portland, Oregon is dumping 38 million gallons of drinking water after a 19-year-old man was caught urinating in a reservoir. The 50-million-gallon reservoir was cut off following the incident, and results from tests looking for contamination are expected on Thursday. Still, the city plans to dump the reservoir and clean it. “That water goes directly into people’s homes,” David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau administrator, said. [Reuters]

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10. Biden joins the selfie bandwagon
Vice President Joe Biden opened an Instagram account on Wednesday, and promptly earned 22,000 likes for an exclusive photo. Biden posted a selfie he took, with a smiling President Obama at his side, in the back of the president’s armored limo. “Found a friend to join my first selfie on Instagram. Thanks for following and stay tuned.—VP” [The Telegraph]

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Racist hate mail targets baseball great Hank Aaron

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron waves to the crowd before the start of the Washington Nationals game at Miller Park on Aug. 2, 2013 in Milwaukee, Wisc.

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron waves to the crowd before the start of the Washington Nationals game at Miller Park on Aug. 2, 2013 in Milwaukee, Wisc. Tom Lynn/Getty

Rachel Maddow brought up a salient point on Tuesday night’s show.

She basically wanted to know why, when a Muslim commits horrendous crimes and shouts Allahu Akbar! the reaction from the media, politicians and Americans is outrage and anger.  Yet, when men like Frazier Glenn Cross commits a horrendous crime and yells Heil Hitler! from the back of a police car after his arrest, the same vociferous folks who rightfully express outrage over Muslim religious fanatics while staying silent about home-grown militia type groups who espouse white supremacy.

MSNBC

A slew of letters filled with racial epithets flooded the Atlanta Braves offices this week after baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron spoke out about racism and defended President Obama against his critics.

The Braves received hundreds of letters, e-mails and phone calls, USA TODAY reports, after Aaron spoke openly about the racially-charged vitriol he faced when he shattered Babe Ruth’s home run record 40 years ago, and how racism lingers today.

One email describes Aaron as “a scumbag piece of (expletive) (racial slur).” The rant includes the epithet five times in four sentences, USA TODAY reports.

The letter ends: “My old man instilled in my mind from a young age, the only good (racial slur) is a dead (racial slur).”

The hate mail comes as baseball fans this week celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, marking 67 years since Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.

But racially-charged letters are nothing new for Aaron. He opened up in his 1991 autobiography, I Had a Hammer, describing the years he received hundreds of letters of hate mail. The season he cracked 715 homeruns brought out the worst backlash, he said.

“Two years, ’73 and ’74, were perhaps the roughest years I had in professional sports because of the hate mail,” Aaron told NBC’s Bob Costas in an interview that year. “I received something like 930,000-some pieces of mail that year.”

Aaron said he keeps the hate letters sent to him during the height of his career to serve as a reminder that racial issues today aren’t far off from what he faced when he made baseball history.

“To remind myself that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record,”he told USA TODAY last week. “If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”

The 80-year-old baseball slugger paralleled the barriers he overcame to those President Obama continues to face as the nation’s first black president. What separates the two, Aaron said, was that in his day, he lived under the shadow of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s a different story today.

“We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated,” Aaron said.

“The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts,” he added.

Talk about race sets off a firestorm of hate (Video)

Racism reminiscent of the 1970′s  continues across America, as baseball legend Hank Aaron still falls subject to hate. Ed Schultz, Terence Moore and Bob Nightengale discuss.

 

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Fox News’ Brit Hume: Obama, Holder Use ‘Race’ To ‘Defend Themselves’ (VIDEO)

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TPM LiveWire

“To those two men, race has been both a shield and a sword that they have used effectively to defend themselves, and to attack others,” Hume said.

Fox News contributor George Will said that liberals haven’t had any new ideas in a few decades, so they accuse people of being racist.

“Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s syndrome these days. Just constantly saying the word ‘racism’ and ‘racist,’” he said. “There’s a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn’t had a new idea since the 1960s — except Obamacare — and the country doesn’t like it. Foreign policy is a shambles, from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the recovery is unprecedentedly bad.”

“So, what do you do? You say, ‘Anyone who criticizes us is a racist,” Will continued.

Watch the exchange via Raw Story:

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