Wall Street Journal

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

Yazidi refugees cross the Iraq-Syria border. 

Yazidi refugees cross the Iraq-Syria border. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

The Week

A new cease-fire begins in Gaza, Kurdish forces retake two towns from ISIS, and more

1. Israelis and Palestinians agree to new, 72-hour cease-fire
A new 72-hour cease-fire went into effect at 12:01 Monday morning after Egypt worked with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to end the hostilities yet again. Both sides agreed to continue working on a long-term peace agreement, but it’s not clear whether any progress has been made. The last cease-fire expired on Friday, opening the door for Hamas to launch dozens of rockets at Israel. Israel responded with airstrikes. [The New York Times]

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2. Kurdish forces retake two towns from ISIS
After days of intense fighting, Kurdish fighters said they have reclaimed two areas from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as U.S. warplanes continued airstrikes against the militant group for the third day. The Makhmur District, just north of Kirkuk, and the town of Gwair are now said to be under Kurdish control. [Wall Street Journal]

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3. New report says Keystone XL pipeline would be worse for the environment than previously thought
A new study has revealed that constructing the Keystone XL pipeline would create four times the carbon dioxide than the government originally estimated. Designed to move tar sands oil from Canada to Texas, the pipeline would increase carbon output by 121 million tons a year, according to a report published in Nature Climate Change. The State Department had estimated the pipeline would increase carbon emission by 30 million tons worldwide. [Los Angeles Times]

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4. Erdogan wins Turkey’s presidential election
The Turkish news media has declared former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan the winner of the country’s first presidential election. Though the official results won’t be reported for several days, Erdogan took 52 percent of the vote and vowed in his victory speech to bring “societal reconciliation” to the country of 77 million. Erdogan had been barred by party regulations from running for a fourth term for prime minister. [The New York Times]

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5. Hawaii governor loses in a historic primary race
In a historic loss, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie lost the Democratic primary to challenger David Ige. Abercrombie, the first sitting governor to lose a primary in the Aloha State, lost by more than 30 points. Ige, a state senator, will face Republican Duke Aiona, a former lieutenant governor, and Mufi Hannemann, a former Democrat who is running as a third party candidate. [The Washington Post, CNN]

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6. McIlroy wins PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship, beating out Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in the last nine holes of the tournament. With the win, McIlroy became only the fourth player to win four major titles before turning 26. That esteemed list includes Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Bobby Jones. [ESPN]

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7. Researchers find new, massive penguin fossils in Antarctica
New penguin fossils have been found on Antarctica’s Seymour Island. The species, Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, lived about 40 million years ago, weighed 250 pounds, and were six-feet, seven-inches tall, according to researchers. That makes them potentially the biggest penguins ever to roam the Earth. [USA Today]

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8. Plane crash in Iran kills 39
Thirty-nine people were killed and nine were injured when a regional passenger jet crashed shortly after taking off from from Mehrabad airport in Tehran. The plane, a twin-engine turbo prop, reportedly had engine trouble before going down in a residential neighborhood. [Wall Street Journal]

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9. Lightning strikes worsen California wildfire
California officials are warning that lightning strikes could exacerbate a wildfire in Mendocino County that has already subsumed 8,500 acres and forced the evacuation of 60 homes. The fire, which began on July 31, is only one of 10 blazes wreaking havoc on northern California. Two thousand firefighters have been combating the fire but the steep and rocky terrain has made it difficult to contain. [Los Angeles Times]

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10. Candid Camera returns to the air tonight
Sixty-six years after it first debuted, Candid Camera is coming back to television for a 10-episode run. The show, which is set to air on the TV Land channel, will be hosted by Mayim Bialik, who currently stars in The Big Bang Theory, and Peter Funt. Funt’s dad, Allen Funt, was the original creator and host of the show. [ABC]

Carney destroys Cheney and Bushies: “Which president was he talking about?”

Outgoing Press Secretary Jay Carney | Pool via Getty Images

Daily Kos

Writing from an alternate reality in the Wall Street Journal, liar, war criminal, and all around not-nice-person Dick Cheney had this to say about President Barack Obama’s strategy in Iraq, apparently without a hint of irony or self-awareness:

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.

Ah, yes.  The Bush Administration’s rank incompetence and the consequencesthereof are rare indeed, but that’s not what Cheney was talking about.This fact was not lost on White House press secretary Jay Carney, who, at his last press briefing before stepping down, answered a question from ABC’s resident rightwing troll, Jonathan Karl.

Video is here, credit Tommy Christopher.  (Not sure how to embed DailyMotion videos, but I will if someone tells me how.)

KARL:  I wonder if you’ve had the chance to see this op-ed piece that former vice president Dick Cheney has written in the Wall Street Journal that has a rather critical tone to it toward the White House.  He says, “rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at theexpense of so many,” talking about the situation in Iraq and in the Middle East generally.CARNEY:  Which president was he talking about?

[laughter]

That’ll leave a mark.How nice of Carney to shove that quote back in Dick’s face during his last day as press secretary.  Oh, and rightwing troll and Benghazi fraudster Jonathan Karl as well.  They both got what they deserved.

Now if Cheney would just crawl back into his undisclosed location and shut up, we’d all be better off.

Kos’ Sunday Talk: Without qualification

Daily Kos’ Sunday Talk

In 1965, Bob Dylan famously said: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

Perhaps that was true at the time he said it, but the Timesthey have a-changed since then.

What hasn’t changed is the climate.

You don’t have to take my word for it; just ask Marco Rubio—he’s not a scientistman.

He’s also not a serious presidential contenderman—but that’s completely beside the point.

The point being, expertise is overrated.

I mean, Rush Limbaugh’s tenuous grasp of history didn’t prevent him from writing award-winning historical fanfiction.

And despite his lack of medical credentials, Karl Rove was able to diagnose Hillary Clinton with a traumatic brain injury (and not, as many suspected, the Benghazi flu).

Sometimes, the truth hurts.

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO); RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; Rep.Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept); Former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK).Face The Nation: Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I);  Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner;  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R);  White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; National Commander of the American Legion Dan Delinger;  RoundtableJackie Calmes (New York Times), Jerry Seib (Wall Street Journal), Katrina Vanden Huevel (The Nation) and John Dickerson (CBS News).

This Week: Tribute to Barbara Walters; Reddit Co-Founder Alexis OhanianBerin Szoka (Tech Freedom); Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard), Peggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D).

Fox News Sunday: Former Vice President Dick Cheney and His Lovely Wife Lynne;   RoundtableBrit Hume (Fox News), Kirsten Powers (USA Today), Republican StrategistKarl Rove and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D); Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Roundtable:  Former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Amy Walter (Cook Political Report).

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: a report from inside Iran as the prospect of a nuclear deal with world powers looms on the horizon (preview); a report on the 150-year history of the Capitol Dome (preview); and, a report on an orchestra in Paraguay that fashions musical instruments from refuse scavenged at a dump (preview).

 

Charles Koch Is Sick Of ‘Collectivists’ Calling Him ‘Un-American’

Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries

Koch needs to stop whining.  “If the shoe fits...”

It’s ironic how he uses the derogatory term collectivists while decrying people calling him the equally derogatory term “un-American“.  It appears his premise is simply “I can call you names but how dare you call me names.”

The Huffington Post

Charles Koch has apparently had enough of “collectivists” criticizing his “un-American” ways.

In an opinion piece published online Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, the billionaire backer of conservative candidates and causes came to his own defense, claiming he only seeks to uphold the principles of “dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom,” which he said he believes “are under attack by the nation’s own government.” He defined collectivists as “those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives.”

Koch and his brother, David Koch, are under increasing attack by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and others have taken to the Senate floor and other platforms to accuse the brothers of trying to “buy America.”

Koch claimed his critics “strive to discredit and intimidate opponents.”

Rather than try to understand my vision for a free society or accurately report the facts about Koch Industries, our critics would have you believe we’re “un-American” and trying to “rig the system,” that we’re against “environmental protection” or eager to “end workplace safety standards.”

Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs — even when we benefit from them. I believe that cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished.

The Koch brothers have backed multi-million dollar attack blitzes slamming Democratic candidates and President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation. In the wake of Reid’s recent criticism, the brothers are funding a group in Nevada to run attack ads against the Senate majority leader.

Reid and his backers show no signs of retreat.

“There have been times in my life I’ve been a little afraid,” Reid said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “But I’m not afraid of them.”

Read the full op-ed at The Wall Street Journal.

Chamber of Commerce Wants to Rein in GOP: No More ‘Fools,’ ‘Loser Candidates’

Michele Bachmann – [Image via Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons licensed]

Good luck with that COC…

The Raw Story

The GOP’s corporate allies have set a New Year’s resolution they hope will lead to electoral victory in the 2014 midterms: “No fools on our ticket.”

Republican House leaders are planning to impose discipline on unruly members to help avert the party squabbles that badly damaged the GOP brand, and major donors and advocacy groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads intend to develop and fund more centrist candidates.

“Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates,” said Scott Reed, the top political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the Wall Street Journal. “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.”

Presumably, Reed’s talking about candidates such as Mark JacobsBob Vander Plaats,  Chris McDaniel and David Barton.

Party leaders also plan to promote legislation, such as child tax credits and flextime for hourly workers, in hopes of appealing to working families.

“Working middle-class families are struggling to find a good-paying job, get ahead and keep more money in their pocket,” said Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “House Republicans will continue to offer conservative solutions that help create better conditions for them to succeed.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner signaled this shift earlier this month when he chided conservative activist groups that opposed the two-year budget compromise.

The Speaker’s deputies also worked behind the scenes to quiet internal dissent by warning committee chairmen that opposition to the deal could jeopardize their committee posts.

“The Speaker, and the entire leadership team, urged all House Republicans to support the [budget] agreement, which lowered the deficit without raising taxes,” said Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel.

Committee chairmen had helped derail a farm bill earlier this year and extended the federal government shutdown.

Party leaders will test their clout next month when Congress considers a bill to keep the federal government running and later in the spring when lawmakers consider whether to extend the debt ceiling.

The debt-ceiling debate will take place as Republican primaries start in early March, and the party’s business wing intends to advocate against Tea Party candidates.

The Chamber of Commerce plans to spend at least $50 million to promote business-friendly candidates who they think can win a Republican Senate majority, and they hope the GOP House might pass a farm bill and reform the immigration system.

But conservative activists groups say that won’t happen.

“Lawmakers do not have a monopoly on information, and we will continue to communicate directly with their constituents on important legislation as it moves through Congress,” said Michael Needham, chief executive of Heritage Action, part of the Heritage Foundation think tank. “(Lawmakers) will find it difficult to go back home and defend votes that increase spending, increase deficits and undermine the rule of law.”

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Bemoans The End Of White Rule In The United States

Joseph Epstein – (Provocateur)

Shocked…but what did I expect from a Rupert Murdock publication, Kumbaya?  

Think Progress

There are a lot of problems in Washington, D.C these days, but not many solutions to them. Inefficiency, an allergy to cooperation, and stiff resistance to pragmatism have all ground the federal government to a stand-still. But one op-ed contributor to the Wall Street Journal knows what the real problem is: not enough rich, white men.

In Saturday’s paper and online, author Joseph Epstein mourns the collapse of what he describes as the “genuine ruling class, drawn from what came to be known as the WASP establishment,” (WASP, the commonly-held acronym for White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant). Instead, he argues, we are living in a meritocracy, governed not by an elite subset of the uppermost crust of society but rather by a group of people who overcame some kind of adversity and achieved success thanks to their own merits, not based on what family they were born into. This, according to Epstein, is a tragedy.

Epstein’s embrace of white privilege (or is it power?) is almost too transparent, resembling something closer to satire than to outright racism. And yet he gives no reason to believe that he isn’t completely serious when he argues that modern day “corruption, scandal and incompetence” are hallmarks exclusive to this new era of non-white rule. Or when he memorializes the virtues of keeping those not born into the “WASPocracy” away from the halls of power. Or when he faults the leadership of the country’s top colleges for its role in ending white rule by “lessening the number of legacies automatically admitted, and using racial preferences to encourage the enrollment of blacks.”

Instead, Epstein argues, we should return to an era of WASP rule. Why? Because rich, white men born into rich, white christian families would never lead the country astray:

A financier I know who grew up under the WASP standard not long ago told me that he thought that the subprime real estate collapse and the continuing hedge-fund scandals have been brought on directly by men and women who are little more than “greedy pigs” (his words) without a shred of character or concern for their clients or country. Naturally, he added, they all have master’s degrees from the putatively best business schools in the nation.

Thus far in their history, meritocrats, those earnest good students, appear to be about little more than getting on, getting ahead and (above all) getting their own. The WASP leadership, for all that may be said in criticism of it, was better than that.

Epstein’s contempt for minorities — namely, that they don’t belong anywhere near positions of authority — isn’t reserved simply for race. Back in the 1970s, Epstein penned a story for Harper’s Magazine in which he expressed his desire to “wish homosexuality off the face of this earth.” He added, of his four sons, “nothing they could ever do would make me sadder than if any of them were to become homosexual.” Those comments led to sit-ins and protests outside of Harper’s offices, and Epstein has never apologized (and in fact dismissed his critics, some 30 years later, as simply incapable of understanding his own “textured thought”).

Perhaps that explains why Epstein reserves so little space (50 of his 2200+ word essay) to the shortcomings of WASP rule: he simply doesn’t care that many of the leaders from his idyllic “WASPocracy” looked the other way on issues of racism, homophobia, poverty and inequality when they were in power.

And while the U.S. Senate — historically the wealthier and less diverse of the two chambers — may not be sufficiently white for Epstein’s liking (only 95 percent of U.S. Senators are caucasian), they still do a very good job of tending to the needs of their fellow rich people instead of the needs of middle class and low-income families.

IN A JAM…Chris Christie Administration In A Jam Over Charges Of Using Busiest U.S. Bridge In Political Payback

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R)

Rachel Maddow had a magnificent opening segment about the content of the following article last night courtesy of MSNBC.  Stay tuned to this story, something tells me this is just the tip of the iceberg…

The Huffington Post

The George Washington Bridge connecting Manhattan to Fort Lee, N.J., is the busiest in the country. So it was no small matter when in September, two of the three access lanes to the bridge were shut down, creating significant traffic problems on the New Jersey side.

The shutdown was ordered by a political appointee of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Christie’s administration said the closure was justified due to a traffic study, while Democrats questioned whether it was political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, who weeks before had refused to endorse Christie’s reelection.

But on Monday, the top Port Authority official threw cold water on the Christie administration’s claim, testifying at a state Assembly hearing that he didn’t know about any traffic study. The Christie ally who ordered the closure, David Wildstein, resigned on Friday, reigniting questions about whether the traffic snarl created by the closure was all just political payback — allegations that the Christie administration has dismissed as “crazy.”

Christie brought Wildstein into his administration as a top Port Authority official in 2010. But the two go back much further. Wildstein, who founded the political websitePolitickerNJ, and Christie were just a year apart in high school. A 2012 profile of Wildstein in The Record newspaper said figured “prominently” in Christie’s effort to change the Port Authority.

“Longtime employees … privately describe a man intent on carrying out a political agenda rather than one built on reform or improving the region’s transportation system,” wrote the paper.

Wildstein ordered the closures on Sunday, Sept. 8, according to The Wall Street Journal. The move created a “horror story” of traffic jams in Fort Lee the next day — the first day of school in the borough — with cars backed up into local streets. The access lanes reopened on Sept. 13, upon the orders of the Port Authority’s executive director, Patrick Foye, an appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, wrote on Sept. 12 to Christie’s top appointee at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, saying he believed Wildstein’s actions were “punitive,” although he has since backed off that accusation.

Just two weeks earlier, Sokolich had declined to endorse Christie’s reelection bid.

In late November, Baroni told state lawmakers that a traffic study was the reason for the closures. He asked why so many lanes needed to be dedicated to Fort Lee traffic.

Several Democrats said at the time they were unhappy with his testimony

“While it was nice for him to come, his appearance was somewhat clownish,” Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) told The Record. “He smirked through most of the hearing, changed the direction of the hearing as many times as possible to the point where he was asking the committee if we agreed with the policy call the Port Authority made.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that the closures were ordered without notifying police, emergency officials or officials on the New York side of the Port Authority’s leadership.

Christie, meanwhile, has been going after Democrats for being “obsessed” with the issue, arguing that they were the ones playing politics.

Christie also defended Baroni’s charge that Fort Lee perhaps had too many bridge lanes, telling reporters early this month, “We should look at this policy because I don’t know why one town gets three lanes. One lane maybe; three lanes?”

When asked if he had anything to do with the lane closures, he sarcastically replied, “I moved the cones, actually unbeknownst to everybody.”

On Friday, just days before a legislative hearing on the closures, Wildstein announced that he will resign on Jan. 1 because the investigation had become a “distraction.” He continues to collect his six-figure paycheck in the meantime. Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak called him “a tireless advocate for New Jersey’s interests at the Port Authority.”

Foye testified before a New Jersey state Assembly committee on Monday that he would have fired Wildstein, but did not have the authority. Other Port Authority officials said Wildstein directed them not to tell Foye about the bridge closures.

When asked if he knew about a traffic study, Foye replied, “I don’t.”

“I’m not aware of any traffic study,” Foye said. “I don’t know why it was done.”

Christie’s office has declined further comment after Monday’s hearings, according to The Wall Street Journal, and his office did not immediately return a call to The Huffington Post. Democratic lawmakers are now calling for the firing of Baroni.

 

Paul Ryan Wants To Use Debt Ceiling To Deny Women Access To Birth Control

paul ryan thumbnail

Someone tell me if I’m wrong in saying that the GOP tactics regarding the debt ceiling and a passing a clean continuing resolution are tantamount to terrorism…

Think Progress

Since negotiations to avert a national default on the debt have shifted from the House to the Senate, Republicans in the lower chamber are still hoping to use the talks as “leverage” to limit women’s access to contraception.

According to the Washington Post, in a private meeting with House Republicans Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — who earlier this weak floated a compromise that would raise the debt ceiling in exchange for cuts to entitlement programs — railed against emerging Senate proposals and argued that the “House could not accept either a debt-limit bill or a government-funding measure that would delay the next fight until the new year”:

According to two Republicans familiar with the exchange, Ryan argued that the House would need those deadlines as “leverage” for delaying the health-care law’s individual mandate and adding a “conscience clause” — allowing employers and insurers to opt out of birth-control coverage if they find it objectionable on moral or religious grounds — and mentioned tax and entitlement goals Ryan had focused on in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Ryan’s speech appeared only to further rile up the conservative wing of the GOP conference, which has been agitating the shutdown strategy to try to tear apart the health-care law.

The Affordable Care Act stipulates that employers and insurers must provide no-cost contraception coverage as part of their health care plans and exempts churches and religious nonprofits that primarily employ people of the same faith from the requirement. In a compromise between Catholic groups and the White House, religiously affiliated colleges, universities, and hospitals that wish to avoid providing birth control can also opt out of offering the benefits, while their employees receive contraception coverage at no additional cost sharing directly from the insurer.

Republicans, however, are not satisfied with the accommodation and have tried to expand the so-called conscience clause, permitting any employer or insurance plan to exclude health services, no matter how essential, from coverage if they morally object to it.

In the last week of budget negotiations, some in the GOP have walked back their demand to fully defund the Affordable Care Act and have instead offered relatively small changes to the Affordable Care Act. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who is now leading the negotiations with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the White House, insists that changes to the health care law are off the table. Reid is asking for new revenues and spending levels above the sequester-imposed caps.

(HT: The Plum Line)

 

Why The Tea Party Really Hates Obamacare

The National MemoGene Lyons

First they lie to you, and then they ask you for money.

That’s the essence of the great Tea Party/Ted Cruz crusade to “defund” Obamacare, a political and constitutional impossibility. The question was settled, probably for good, when President Obama won re-election in 2012 and Democrats kept control of the Senate.

Instead, it’s about TV face-time and harvesting donations from gullible voters misled both about the Affordable Care Act itself and Sen. Cruz’s nonexistent chances of ending it.

Amid all the melodramatic TV chatter, the estimable blogger Digby puts it in terms everybody should understand. She has a friend in the insurance industry whose company has been getting thousands of calls from frightened policyholders who fear that the hullabaloo in Washington could result in their losing health coverage.

“I asked her what calmed people down,” Digby writes “and she says she tells everyone to think about their high school civics class and remember that laws have to be passed by both houses and signed into law by the president. Without proselytizing at all, everyone immediately realizes what an absurd exercise in futility all this nonsense really is.”

A narrow Republican majority in the House can’t void the Affordable Care Act any more than 54 Senate Democrats can force everybody in Oklahoma to eat broccoli. Anybody who tells you differently is a flim-flam artist.

Such as Newt Gingrich. The presiding genius of the 1996 GOP government shutdown went on ABC’s This Week to deliver pseudo-historical profundity: “Under our constitutional system going all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215, the people’s house is allowed to say to the king we ain’t giving you money.”

Actually, the U.S. Constitution of 1789 makes no provision for a king. Neither, as former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich has reminded Gingrich, does it “allow a majority of the House of Representatives to repeal the law of the land by defunding it. If that were the case, no law [would be] safe.”

No federal court could rule otherwise. It’s a separation of powers issue. These principles are so fundamental to American governance that even the Wall Street Journal reminds GOP hotheads that for all the three-ring thrills provided by Sen. Cruz and his allies, “the only real way to repeal the law is to win elections.”

Continue reading on Page 2

10 things you need to know today: September 6, 2013

This is a good week to have Peyton Manning on your fantasy football team.

The Week

The U.S. and Russia clash over Syria, Peyton Manning ties the single-game TD record, and more

1. G-20 leaders split over attacking Syria
World leaders at the G-20 summit remain split on President Obama’s push to launch a military strike against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons. On Thursday night, Russian officials, backed by China and the E.U., said attacking without United Nations approval would violate international law. At the U.N., U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia was blocking the Security Council from holding Syria accountable for war crimes. [BBC News]
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2. Report: Iran orders Baghdad attacks if the U.S. strikes Syria
U.S. intelligence officials say they have intercepted an order from Iran telling militants in Iraq to attack Americans in Baghdad if President Obama launches a military strike against Syria. The U.S. embassy is considered a likely target, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. As Obama urges Congress to authorize a strike, the State Department urged Americans to avoid all but “essential” travel to Iraq. [Reuters,Wall Street Journal]
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3. NSA used a secret program to outsmart online privacy tools
The National Security Agency has reportedly cracked codes used to encrypt online banking systems, medical records, and email. Starting in 2000, the NSA spent billions of dollars on the highly classified program — code-named Bullrun — to preserve its snooping abilities as encryption tools spread across the web, according to documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. [New York Times]
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4. Egyptian military calls the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group after bombing
Egyptian military officials on Thursday called an assassination attempt against the interim government’s interior minister the beginning of a wave of terrorism, raising expectations for a renewed crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters of ousted former President Mohamed Morsi. Brotherhood leaders said they renounced violence, but an Interior Ministry spokesman said the attack showed the world “they are a terrorist group.” [The Wall Street Journal]
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5. Activists report abuses at Apple supplier in China
Apple is examining claims of labor abuses at a Jabil Circuit Inc. factory in China that worker advocates say is making a component for a new, less-expensive iPhone. China Labor Watch says in a new report that the violations include excessive working hours and forcing women to take pregnancy tests before they are hired. The case is the latest in a string of complaints of conditions at Apple’s overseas suppliers. [Bloomberg]
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6. Hunter’s fire caused massive Yosemite blaze
Investigators have determined that a hunter’s illegal campfire got out of control and caused the massive Rim Fire burning in and around Yosemite National Park. No charges have been filed. The blaze has burned 370 square miles since Aug. 17, making it the third largest in California history, but is now 80 percent contained. Earlier reports had suggested that the Rim Fire was started by a secret marijuana growing operation. [Los Angeles Times]
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7. Indian author killed by Taliban militants
The Afghan Taliban killed an Indian-born author, Sushmita Banerjee, known for a 1995 memoir about her dramatic escape from the Taliban, police said Thursday. Banerjee married an Afghan businessman in 1989 and moved to Kabul. She became an advocate for women, running a small pharmacy from her home. She fled after the Taliban harassed her for her work. Her story was turned into a 2003 Bollywood movie. She had only recently returned to Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times]
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8. Court faults Dutch peacekeepers for Srebrenica deaths
The Dutch supreme court has ruled that the Netherlands was responsible for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslim men killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, because Dutch peacekeepers ordered the victims to leave a U.N. compound being overrun by Bosnian Serb forces. The ruling marked the first time Dutch soldiers had been found liable for failings in a peacekeeping mission, and could open the door to a wave of compensation claims. [BBC News]
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9. George Zimmerman’s wife files for divorce
George Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, filed for divorce on Thursday, her attorney said. The decision came less than two months after his acquittal on murder charges for the killing of Trayvon Martin, and a week after Shellie pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge for lying about the family’s finances in a bail hearing. Last week, she said the scrutiny from the case forced them to “live like gypsies” and strained their marriage. [Associated Press]
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10. Manning ties NFL record with 7 touchdown passes
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning tied an NFL record by throwing seven touchdown passes in a single game on Thursday night. The feat helped the Broncos demolish the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, 49-27, in the NFL season opener. Manning is the sixth player in history to throw for that many TDs in a game. The last was Joe Kapp on Sept. 28, 1969. [USA Today]

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