Rand Paul

Ebola Scare-Mongerer Rand Paul Wants You to Think You’re Going to Die

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky)

The Daily Beast

What’s with the Kentucky Senator’s ceaseless fear-mongering around the Ebola scare? Because to the GOP, scaring voters is good for business.

Although Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil, has now died of the disease, American public health officials remain confident in our nation’s ability to prevent a widespread epidemic. “The bottom line here is we know how to stop it,” CDC director Tom Frieden told NBC News this weekend. “It’s not going to spread widely in the U.S., for two basic reasons. We can do infection control in hospitals, and we can do public health interventions that can stop it in its tracks.”

His wasn’t the only voice that sought to reassure. “I know there’s a lot of reason to be concerned. It is a serious problem, but in my lifetime, when we have been frightened by this so-called coming epidemic—most of it has never materialized,” said Mr. Paul. Ron Paul, that is, Rand’s dad. “I think sometimes overreaction can become very dangerous as well,” said the elder Paul. Indeed.

Sir, please call your son and tell him that.

Rand Paul, Republican Senator from Kentucky, recently told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that Ebola “could get beyond our control” and speculated: “Can you imagine if a whole ship full of our soldiers catch Ebola?”

Saying “it’s a real mistake to underplay the danger of a worldwide pandemic,” Paul, doing his level best to overplay the danger, told Glenn Beck: “I think I said this the last time I was on your show a couple weeks ago, I said that I’m concerned that political correctness has caused us to underplay the threat of Ebola.” Er, um, because the people dying of Ebola in West Africa are black? I’m confused… Anyway, I thought the reason not to let panic spread was because, you know, panic is bad and we should have a rational and informed public rather than an irrationally fearful one. But speaking of informed…

“It’s an incredibly transmissible disease that everyone is downplaying, saying it’s hard to catch,” Rand said to Beck. “Well, we have physicians and health workers who are catching it who are completely gloved down and taking every precaution and they’re still getting it. So, yes, I’m very concerned about this.” Rand Paul, mind you, is a doctor and should know better than to spread skepticism or downright misinformation about public health issues. But instead, he is using Ebola to not only attack President Obama (as are other Republicans, natch) but to push his extremist anti-government agenda that goes beyond healthy skepticism to tin-foil hat conspiracy land

Though here it’s worth noting Rand’s hypocrisy—the health workers who are contracting Ebola don’t have adequate protective gear, something the United States might be able to help with if we would actually fund public health and foreign aid instead of slashing it. Meanwhile, Rand Paul actually wants to end all U.S. foreign aid. Think of how much worse Ebola would be in West Africa without America’s help.

Paul isn’t alone in panic-mongering. Other Republicans have joined in, including Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, who mysteriously also blamed “political correctness” for why the United States is sending troops to help in West Africa, troops Gohmert asserts will “get Ebola that they can bring back.

And the former head of the Republican Party in South Carolina recently tweetedthat anyone in the United States who has Ebola should be euthanized immediately, adding a lynch mob dimension to the panic

Why? Partly, it’s the “any excuse to criticize anything on Obama’s watch” mindset. But also just as the news media plays to or even inflames such fears to drive ratings, Republicans stoke fear to drive votes. Simply put, when voters fear for their safety, they vote more Republican. Scaring voters, whether about ISIS or Ebola, is good for the GOP.

As fear about ISIS grew among Americans, so did support for Republican leadership on foreign policy. An October 6 poll found that just 11 percent of Americans are “very worried” they will be exposed to Ebola. If Republican panic hyping continues, aided and abetted by media coverage, look for that number to rise—along with the electoral outlook for Republicans next month

And meanwhile, look for Rand Paul to carve out his own corner of this advantage by stoking anti-government sentiment as well—the same October 6 poll found that 42 percent of independent voters are not confident in government’s ability to handle any Ebola outbreak. As that number grows, so does the potential voting block for a anti-government libertarian Rand Paul presidency.

“Could we have a worldwide pandemic?” Rand Paul asked in another interview. “The Spanish flu in 1918 killed 21 million people, the plague in the 14th century killed 25 million people; I’m not saying that’s going to happen, I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Actually, Rand Paul, despite every reasonable and responsible fact to the contrary, you not only implying a mass pandemic might happen but clearly encouraging the American people to panic.

Your own dad said that’s dangerous. Take his advice.

John Oliver presents: The enduring influence of Ayn Rand, ‘selfish *sshole’

Ayn Rand via Last Week Tonight (YouTube)

The Raw Story

On HBO’s Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver presented an informational segment on the enduring influence of libertarian writer Ayn Rand on politicians and captains of industry, asking, ‘Ayn Rand: How is she still a thing?”

Noting that Rand is popular with conservatives, despite the inability by many of them to pronounce her name correctly, the narrator explains that Rand became famous for her philosophy of objectivism, “which is a nice way of saying, ‘being a selfish asshole’.”

Rand is shown in interview saying, “Why is it good to want others to be happy? You can make others happy and when and if those others mean something to you selfishly.”

Rand is noted for her two novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Foutainhead, “Stories about rapey heroes complaining about how no one appreciates their true genius.”

“Ayn Rand has always been popular with teenagers,” we are informed. “But she is supposed to be something you grow out of, like ska music or handjobs.”

The segment notes that Rand is still popular with “a certain type of adult,” using tech billionaire Mark Cuban as an example, pointing out Cuban’s “287-foot yacht is named ‘Fountainhead,’ because sometimes having a 287-foot yacht just isn’t enough to warn people you’re a douchebag.”

Partucular attention is paid to Rand’s popularity with conservative politicians and commentators such as former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and TV host Glenn Beck, noting that her views on subjects near and dear to conservative hearts — such as abortion, atheism, and love of Ronald Reagan — are in direct conflict with mainstream conservative thinking.

The segment concludes by wondering why people still love Rand when there are so many “other advocates for selfishness they could choose, like Donald Trump, or Drake, and basically anyone on Bravo.”

Watch the video below, via Crooks & Liars:

http://embed.crooksandliars.com/embed/8z054InY

Must-see morning clip: Jon Stewart wants Rand Paul to pick an opinion and stick with it

Must-see morning clip: Jon Stewart wants Rand Paul to pick an opinion and stick with it

Screenshot from The Daily Show

 Salon

“You took a position, you should stand by it!” Stewart exclaimed

If Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is to become the GOP’s presidential candidate in 2016, he’s going to have to stick to his opinions, said Jon Stewart on Thursday night. While Paul has sought to end funding to Israel, he has since backtracked on his unpopular opinion. Stewart criticized Paul for flip-flopping on his foreign aid stance, exclaiming, “You took a position, you should stand by it!” Now Paul is off to the Iowa, where he’ll probably say many more unpopular things.

One Congressman’s Very Awkward Confrontation With DREAMers: ‘You Are Very Good At English’

Undocumented activist Erika Andiola (left) confronts Rep. Steve King (R-IA) | CREDIT: DRM ACTION COALITION

Think Progress

During an awkward confrontation Monday, two undocumented activists approached Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in a restaurant in Okoboji, Iowa, to tell them that they are undocumented. After shaking hands, undocumented activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas told King that they did not want him to kill an executive action that grants temporary legal presence to DREAMers, a colloquial term used to describe some undocumented immigrants illegally brought to the country as children, like themselves.

Andiola asked King to rip up her employment authorization card, a work authorization document issued after she had been approved for a presidential initiative known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But King refused and instead said that their families were not abiding by the laws of the country. When she charged that he had said that undocumented immigrants like her have “cantaloupe calves,” alluding to a characterization he had made on the House floor last year, he said, “You can understand the English language.”

ANDIOLA: I’m actually a DREAMer. I’m originally from Mexico, but I was raised here. I graduated from Arizona State University. I know you want to get rid of DACA. And I wanted to give you the opportunity, if you really want to get rid of DACA, just rip mine. You can go ahead and do that. You take my DACA, you will literally take away everything.

KING: This is not what I do. [...] I don’t call you names–

ANDIOLA: I mean, cantaloupe calves?

KING: That’s drug smugglers. You’re very good at English. [Grabs Andiola's arm] You know what I’m saying. So you can understand the English language. You’re saying something that’s not true. I spoke of drug smugglers… Your ears work too, I was speaking of drug smugglers only.

ANDIOLA: You’re the one who’s trying to get rid of DACA.

KING: And you heard why. I told you why. The president has no constitutional authority to do what he has done.

ANDIOLA: Yes he does. [She turns to Vargas] He’s actually an attorney, he’s a DREAMer. He graduated from law school.

KING: Oh and that makes you an authority. [...] You keep your card. I don’t do individual policy. I do national policy for everyone. It troubles me a great deal that you have such disrespect for the laws of the United States of America. You’re telling me that you don’t have to abide by the laws.”

 

For his part, Paul — still masticating on a hamburger — assessed the situation early on and left the table with his aide Sergio Gor. Gor later told the National Journal, “Senator Paul had a media avail after the event and that’s where we had to be. CNN, Buzzfeed, Wall Street Journal and several local outlets attended the media avail.”

In the nearly eight minute clip provided by the advocacy group DRM Action Coalition, King went on to accuse Andiola and Vargas for “not abiding by our laws.” Even after Vargas explained that he wanted to serve in the military and that there wasn’t a system for him to be able to become legal, King kept pushing the claim that President Obama had violated constitutional law and eroded the rule of law. King said, “I don’t want to build a country with people who disrespect the law.” When Andiola explained that her mother had escaped domestic violence, King egged her on saying, “she’s illegally in the United States.” Deep in their uncomfortable argument, a man shouted “Go home! Take care of your own.”

Andiola’s confrontation is not the first, and it is not likely to be the last. Late last year, two teenagers approached House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in a Washington, D.C.-area diner to ask him to stop deportations. Another time, former- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) brushed off a young girl who asked him to help her undocumented father. Activists have also held candlelight vigils at Boehner’s home and have been arrested for holding civil disobedience sit-ins in House Republican offices.

Before they left for August recess, House Republicans voted through two measures that would gut legal protections for DREAMers and unaccompanied Latin American children who are coming across the southern border. They have approved measures in the past that would make it easier to bring civil lawsuits against the executive branch for failing to execute federal law and requiring the attorney general to explain the constitutionality of all enforcement decisions made by federal agencies. The Senate will likely not take up any of these bills and the President has already promised to veto the measures.

Rand Paul To MSNBC: When Your Network Stops Lying, Then We Can Chat

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MSNBC Screenshot

Most GOP lawmakers avoid MSNBC like the plague.

I have my issues with MSNBC in general but Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow represent the best of that network.  Notice that Rand Paul went on a program from MSNBC’s afternoon lineup which happens to include several anchors one of which is the daughter of a former GOP politico.

Therefore, I suspect Rand Paul means Hayes, Maddow and O’Donnell.  Those three have a “no holds barred” approach to their network broadcasts.  By the way, it’s a known fact that virtually all GOPers stay away from anything resembling “truth”.   Just sayin’…

TPM LiveWire

In the interview on “The Cycle,” host Ari Melber probed Paul to discuss his apparent change of heart on the Civil Rights Act. Melber brought up the senator’s comments from 2010 in which he said he would have modified the act’s rules for private businesses. Paul responded to Melber by saying that he had always been in support of the act and that MSNBC had treated him unfairly.

“I learned my lesson: To come on MSNBC and have a philosophical discussion, the liberals will come out of the woodwork and go crazy and say you’re against the Civil Rights Act, and you’re some terrible racist. And I take great objection to that,” Paul said.

Paul went on to say he took “great offense” to people skewing his viewpoint, saying he was the biggest advocate in Congress for getting back people’s voting rights and “mak[ing] the criminal justice system fair.”

“The honest discussion of it would be that I never was opposed to the Civil Rights Act,” Paul interrupted as Melber continued to push for discussion on the senator’s past comments. “And when your network does 24-hour news telling the truth, then maybe we can get somewhere with the discussion.”

Watch the interview via MSNBC here…

Sunday Talk: The daddy party – 07-27-2014

ALT TEXT

Daily Kos

If, as is widely expected, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz should both decide toseek the GOP nomination for president in 2016, the race will be a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican party.

And, more importantly, it will deliver themost epic campaign surrogate match-up in American history.

Rand, a self-certified ophthalmologist, is the son of conspiracy theorist/Russiaapologist Ron Paul, MD—himself a two-time primary loser.

The good doctor’s experience with direct mail would certainly be a boon to Rand’sminority outreach efforts; and he’d need all the help he can get on that front.

After all, Ted’s outspoken father, Rev. Rafael Cruz, hails from Cuba (and later Canada), which makes Ted a bona fide minority—unlike Rand, who just plays a minority in urban settings.

 

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Chris Gunness (United Nations Relief and Works Agency); Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI); Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY); Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); Roundtable: Judy Woodruff (PBS), David Brooks (New York Times), Nia-Malika Henderson (Washington Post) and Ruth Marcus (Washington Post).

Face The Nation: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin; Roundtable: David Leonhardt (New York Times), Amy Walter (Cook Political Report), Anthony Salvanto and John Dickerson (CBS News).

This Week: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX); Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX); Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), S.E. Cupp (CNN) and Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich

Fox News Sunday: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA); Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi; Roundtable: Brit Hume(Fox News), Kirsten Powers (USA Today), George Will (Washington Post) and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Sen. Lindsey Graham(R-SC); Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley; Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA); Julia Ioffe (The New Republic).

 

Elsewhere:

A Florida state senator was so impressed by convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza’s latest “documentary” that he wants it shown in every school statewide.

Republican Alan Hays, inspired after seeing the movie in theaters, said he now plans on introducing a one-page bill in November which wouldrequire all 1,700 Florida high schools and middle schools to show the movie to their students, unless their parents choose to opt them out. The documentary film is a conservative-spin on American history focusing on elevating the “essential goodness of America” while discrediting criticisms about American’s checkered history with civil rights and social justice. It’s not completely inconceivable for the bill to pass the Republican-controlled Florida legislature and be signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Scott.”I saw the movie and walked out of the theater and said, ‘Wow, our students need to see this.’ And it’s my plan to show it to my colleagues in the legislature, too, before they’re asked to vote on the bill,” Hays said.

 

GOP’s ’16 consolation vanishes: Suddenly, Democrats have the deep bench!

GOP's '16 consolation vanishes: Suddenly, Democrats have the deep bench!

Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz (Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts/AP)

Salon

After Romney’s 2012 loss, pundits raved about the GOP’s new leaders. But two years later, Democrats have the edge

In the wake of President Obama’s re-election in 2012, reporters found one soothing source of solace for the GOP. “One race the Republicans appear to be winning is the one for the deepest bench of rising stars,” wrote the Washington Post, and plenty of folks followed up. Democrats, meanwhile, had nobody on the bench but Hillary Clinton – a formidable candidate if she were to run, but that wasn’t even certain.

Beyond Clinton, there seemed to be a wasteland populated by ambitious governors no one had ever heard of (Martin O’Malley), some who were well known but not widely liked (Andrew Cuomo). Oh, and Brian Schweitzer.

The Republican list, meanwhile, seemed almost infinite: blue and purple state governors like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Ohio’s John Kasich and Virginia’s Bob McConnell, and Tea Party senators like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Romney’s ambitious, “wonky” running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, had his fans, as did former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Even Texas Gov. Rick Perry, recovered from back surgery and sporting hot new glasses, could have another life in 2016.

But in two years, the situation has almost reversed itself. Promising GOP governors – McDonnell, Christie, Walker – find themselves dogged by scandal. The Tea Party trio of Paul, Cruz and Rubio still vies for media attention and right wing adoration, but Rubio’s immigration reform work doomed him on the right. Unbelievably, Paul is widely labeled the frontrunner (but don’t tell that to Cruz), while the party establishment and neocon hawks search for an alternative. Despite all that impressive talent, Mitt Romney leads the pack in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, in what’s widely being reported as trouble for Hillary Clinton, because that’s the narrative the media know best, it turns out there are a bunch of popular and maybe even formidable Democrats. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren wowed the crowd at Netroots Nation. (Check out this great New Yorker Biden profile if you want to know how the VP is keeping his options open). The Netroots buzz inspired the Washington Post’s Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa to survey the landscape of Democrats who’ve put a toe or more in the water for 2016.

We learned that Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is visiting Iowa (it is only one state away), while New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has a book coming out. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is said to be huddling with donors, believing the party could use a dose of red state common sense.

This is all framed as mildly ominous news for Hillary Clinton – the headline is “With liberals pining for a Clinton challenger, ambitious Democrats get in position” — but Klobuchar, Gillibrand and Nixon have all endorsed Clinton, and Warren has encouraged Clinton to run while insisting she won’t do so herself. The only Democrats listed who may still run even if Clinton does too are O’Malley and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

Regardless of the intent of the framing, the Rucker-Costa story actually pointed up the vitality in the Democratic Party, where lively debates over income inequality and foreign policy have so far fallen short of creating bitter divisions and factions, at least so far. Again, contrast that with the GOP, where Ted Cruz seems to be staking his 2016 hopes on his ability to humiliate every party leader and make sure Republicans will never make inroads with the Latino population. He’s blocking bipartisan emergency legislation to deal with the border crisis, and pushing to reverse President Obama’s deferred action on deportation for young people brought here by their parents.

Meanwhile Warren, the progressive elected the same time as Cruz, is touring the country campaigning for Democratic Senate candidates, even some who are more centrist than she is, like Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes and West Virginia’s Natalie Tennant.  She’s focused on growing the Democratic Party, not cutting down colleagues who are less progressive.

So: the GOP’s right wing firebrand is a loose cannon who is completely out for himself, while the Democrats’ left wing firebrand is working amiably with party leaders and deflecting talk of a primary challenge to Clinton. In the end, the rising number of possible alternatives to Hillary Clinton is a sign of Democratic strength, even if the media tends to bill it as weakness.

‘Unimaginable’: Rachel Maddow catches Rand Paul flip-flopping on the Civil Rights Act

Rachel Maddow 070214 [MSNBC] | Screenshot

The Raw Story

Four years after awkwardly skirting questions about the Civil Rights Act, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was suddenly happy to honor its 50th anniversary.

“Here’s Rand Paul, celebrating that law that he says, eh, he’s not sure he could have voted for,” Maddow said, displaying a statement posted on Paul’s website. “Today he says, ‘It is simply unimaginable to think what modern America would be like if not for’ that law to which he used to admit he was opposed. Now he’s its biggest champion. The word ‘unimaginable’ is exactly the right word here.”

The statement, Maddow said, was released in conjunction with Paul’s appearance at an event in Shelbyville, Kentucky, honoring a family of local activists, during which he “sang the praises” of not only people involved in the Civil Rights Movement, but the legislation itself.

“I don’t mean to be raining on the parade,” Maddow said. “But I have to point out that this does mark something of a shift in Rand Paul’s position on this legislation.”

Specifically, Maddow brought up their May 2010 interview, during which Paul — at that point still a senatorial candidate — said that while he agreed with nine of the ten provisions of the law, he would have tried to modify Title II, which prohibited private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.

“What it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says ‘well no, we don’t want to have guns in here,’ the bar says ‘we don’t want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other,’” Paul said at the time. “Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion.”

“Well, it was pretty practical to the people who had the life nearly beaten out of them trying to desegregate Walgreen’s lunch counters despite these esoteric debates about what it means about ownership,” Maddow responded. “This is not a hypothetical, Dr. Paul.”

As the Washington Post reported last year, Paul has subsequently argued that it was a “mischaracterization” of his position to say he questioned the Civil Rights Act, an argument Maddow has rebuked.

Watch Maddow’s commentary, as aired on Wednesday, HERE

Rand Paul: Trade Hillary Clinton To The Taliban, Not Guantanamo Detainees

Sen. Rand Paul (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Whatever happened to political correctness and decor?  The Tea Party, in my opinion has destroyed any semblance of comity(courtesy and considerate behavior toward others)  in politics.  The GOP as a whole has sanctioned this sort of thing and can’t speak out due to censure and blacklisting.   Not to mention the rich donors who would cut them off in a heartbeat.

It’s a strange world we live in…

The Huffington post

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered some red meat to the Texas GOP convention on Friday, suggesting that, instead of Guantanamo Bay detainees, President Barack Obama should use Democrats such as Hillary Clinton as a bargaining chip in any future dealings with the Taliban.

“Mr. President, you love to trade people,” he told a supportive crowd in Fort Worth, according to Politico.

“Why don’t we set up a trade? But this time, instead of five Taliban, how about five Democrats?” he joked. “I’m thinking John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi …”

The Kentucky Republican, who is making moves toward a presidential run in 2016, also criticized the administration for failing to properly notify Congress before the trade for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on Saturday.

“I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been a little bit annoyed with the president,” he added. “Releasing five Taliban senior officials is not only against the law, it’s illegal and wrong and he should never have done it.”

Paul skipped a classified briefing held by administration officials this week detailing the exchange and the reasons for the secrecy.

H/t: Ted

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

Kerry said Russia was making a "grave mistake."

Kerry said Russia was making a “grave mistake.” | (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Week

Kerry warns Russia over Ukraine, conservatives condemn Nevada rancher, and more

1. Kerry warns Russia it’s running out of time in Ukraine
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia that it would be making a “grave mistake” if it failed to comply with an accord requiring it to reduce tensions between Ukraine and pro-Russia separatists. Meanwhile, Russia launched military exercises near the border. A U.S. official said Russian leaders could face new economic sanctions as soon as Friday if Moscow does not stop threatening force. “The window to change course is closing, Kerry said. [The New York Times]

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2. Conservatives rush to slam rancher’s remarks on slavery
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy became a libertarian hero for his fight to graze his cattle on federal land, but his supporters rushed to denounce him Thursday for asking at a press conference if African Americans were “better off as slaves.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky.), one of Bundy’s most influential supporters, called the comments “offensive.” Fox News pundit Sean Hannity called them “ignorant” and “racist.” [Los Angeles Times]

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3. Israel ends peace talks over Palestinian unity deal
Israel suspended peace talks with the Palestinians on Thursday after President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction agreed to form a unity government with its rivals Hamas. The U.S., which sponsored the talks, had been trying to extend them beyond an April 29 deadline for a deal. Israel’s security cabinet said the country would not negotiated with Hamas, “a terror organization that calls for Israel’s destruction.” [Reuters]

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4. Obama promises South Korea support as North Korean nuclear test looms
President Obama promised South Koreans on Friday that the U.S. would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with them against the prospect of a nuclear-armed North Korea. Obama, visiting South Korea on an Asia tour, said North Korea would only isolate itself further by pursuing nukes. The remarks came as North Korea reportedly prepared for its latest nuclear weapons test. Obama also offered condolences for South Korea’s deadly ferry disaster. [The Associated PressCNN]

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5. Eleven middle-school students and driver injured in bus crash
Twelve people were injured, three critically, when a bus carrying middle-school students slammed into trees and a lamp post in California on Thursday. The driver appeared to have suffered the most severe injuries. Rescuers had to cut him from the bus and pull him out through the broken windshield. A student said the bus went off the road in a turn. A California Highway Patrol spokesman said the driver might not have hit the brakes. [The Associated Press]

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6. Disorderly passenger triggers a hijacking false alarm
A drunk passenger caused a hijacking scare on Thursday when he tried to enter the cockpit of a Virgin Australia flight. The jet’s crew stopped him, handcuffed him, and put him into a seat in the rear of the Boeing 737-800. The plane landed safely and the passenger was arrested after Indonesian authorities initially interpreted the incident as a hijacking and briefly closed Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport. [The Age]

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7. Measles cases hit a 19-year high
The number of measles cases in the U.S. jumped to a 19-year high in 2014, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control. Measles was officially declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, but the CDC said 129 cases had been reported so far this year. Most involved unvaccinated people who were infected abroad. Among those unvaccinated, 68 percent had “personal belief” exemptions from school vaccination requirements. [WLTZUSA Today]

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8. Buffalo Bills cheerleaders suspend operations over lawsuit
The company that manages the Buffalo Bills’ cheerleading squad — the Buffalo Jills — has halted operations through next season, after five cheerleaders filed a lawsuit claiming they had to work hundreds of hours without pay and endured groping. The suit also says the company president — Stephanie Mateczun of Stejon Productions Corp. — made them take a “jiggle test.” Stejon is hiring lawyers and declined to comment. [The Associated Press]

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9. X-Men director Bryan Singer publicly denies sexual abuse allegation
X-Men: Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer on Thursday made his first public statement about a lawsuit in which 31-year-old Michael Egan accuses Singer of drugging and raping him as a teenager, calling the allegations a “sick twisted shakedown.” He also said he was dropping out of an X-Men promotional campaign to avoid diverting attention from the film. [The WrapStar-Ledger]

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10. Ex-justice Stevens joins the majority favoring legal pot
Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens said Thursday that the federal government shouldlegalize marijuana. The “distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction,” Stevens told NPR. The general consensus is that prohibition against alcohol nearly a century “was not worth the cost,” Stevens said, and most Americans will eventually reach the same conclusion about pot. More than half already favor legalization. [NPR]