White House

Fence Jumper Entered White House

CNN News: 9/19/2014 As it unfolded…

 

The Huffington Post

A man who jumped the White House fence on Friday evening prompting an evacuation was able to enter the North Portico doors of the White House, the Secret Service said.

He was apprehended just inside the doorways, and has been identified by the U.S. Secret Service as Omar J. Gonzalez. A law enforcement official said that the man’s breach of the premises was unacceptable and that the incident was under investigation, according to NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker.

ABC posted video of the intruder on the White House lawn.

More from the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — WASHINGTON (AP) — A man jumped over the fence of the White House on Friday and made it into the presidential residence before officers managed to apprehend him, the U.S. Secret Service said. President Barack Obama and his family were not at home at the time.

Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, was taken into custody just inside the North Portico doors, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said. He was placed under arrest and was transported to a Washington hospital after complaining of chest pain.

Donovan said the suspect appeared to be unarmed to officers who spotted him jumping the fence, and a search of the suspect turned up no weapons.

The incident prompted a rare evacuation of much of the campus. White House staffers and Associated Press journalists inside the West Wing were evacuated by Secret Service officers, some with their weapons drawn.

Stupid Right Wing Tweets: Chuck Woolery Edition

Stupid Right Wing Tweets: Chuck Woolery Edition

Well, what do you know… another far right “Christian” calling Obama a “Muslim”…

Crooks & Liars

Game show hack Chuck Woolery thinks ‘we have a Muslim problem in the White House.’

What is it with game show hosts? They’re all hucksters and idiots. Pat Sajak is a screaming teabagger and so is Chuck Woolery. But his latest series of tweets may be the stupidest right wing tweets of all.

Via LGF:

Yeah, reluctant my ass. You and your Breitbot pals love this stuff. By any chance are you pals with Breitbart’s father-in-law, Orson Bean?

Zzzzzzzt! You LOSE, Mr. Woolery. You have absolutely no education with which to make such a guess. Next contestant, please.

Now wait a minute. If they’re in the White House, why are you worrying about them coming to a town near you?

There’s a reason the president said ISIS isn’t Muslim. It’s not enough to claim one is Muslim without actually practicing the tenets of the religion. Sort of the same thing as the faux Christians who pretend they’re Christians while judging everyone around them and sticking their middle fingers in the faces of the poor.

As for the President being Muslim, so what if he is? There’s nothing shameful about anyone practicing their chosen religion in a principled way. It happens that he’s not. He can’t have a Reverend Wright problem and be a secret Muslim. It doesn’t work like that, not even in game show land.

I know many Muslims and none of them cause fear in me. The ones who make me afraid are the fundamental “Christians” who think it’s their God-given right to be the American Taliban, telling women what they can and cannot do while oppressing poor people.

Put Chuck in the same category as the rest of the rich Hollywood wingnuts who choose to live in Fantasyland instead of reality.

10 things you need to know today: September 15, 2014

Just another backyard barbeque in Iowa.

Just another backyard barbeque in Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Week

Arab states offer to launch airstrikes against ISIS, Hillary Clinton triggers more 2016 talk, and more

1. Arab nations offer to hit ISIS with airstrikes
Several Arab governments have committed to carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Obama administration officials said Sunday. The offers came during Secretary of State John Kerry’s week-long trip to the Middle East to drum up support for the expanded fight against the Sunni extremist group. British Prime Minister David Cameron, calling ISIS militants “monsters” for beheading a British aid worker, pledged to support the U.S. effort against ISIS. [The New York Times]

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2. Hillary Clinton’s Iowa trip jumpstarts campaign talk
Hillary Clinton returned to Iowa — a crucial early primary-season prize — on Sunday, renewing speculation about the possibility that she plans to make a second run for president. The former secretary of State’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, joined her at an annual steak fry fundraiser held by Sen. Tom Harkin, the state’s powerful Democratic senator, who is retiring after four decades in Congress. “I’m back!” Hillary told supporters. “It’s true. I am thinking about it.” [The Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times]

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3. White House says it didn’t threaten to prosecute slain journalists’ families
The White House on Sunday denied threatening to prosecute the families of two murdered journalists if they paid ransom to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to win their freedom. U.S. law prohibits ransom payments to terrorists. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on Fox News Sunday that officials merely “made it clear what the law was.” Relatives of the murdered journalists — James Foley and Steven Sotloff — said officials threatened legal action if they tried to free them on their own. [USA Today]

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4. Post-truce fighting intensifies in Ukraine
Clashes between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatist rebels killed six people in the contested city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. It was the heaviest fighting since a long-term truce took effect 10 days earlier. “It’s not a cease-fire, it’s full-on fighting,” a rebel fighter said. The two sides have shelled each other daily since the cease-fire started, but the exchanges of fire have been far less intense than earlier battles. Each side has blamed the other for violating the peace deal. [The New York Times]

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5. European agency picks spot where Rosetta probe will land on comet
The European Space Agency on Monday announced the spot where the Philae lander from its Rosetta spacecraft will put down on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 250 million miles from Earth. The site was picked from a list of five sites deemed to be suitable for the risky Nov. 11 landing. Rosetta reached the three-mile-wide “ice mountain” after a 10-year journey. Its spider-like Philae robot will harpoon the surface and lower itself down slowly on a mission to learn more about comets. [BBC News]

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6. Sweden’s prime minister quits after election loss
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced Sunday that he would resign after his center-right coalition lost a parliamentary election to opposition Social Democrats. With nearly all of the votes counted, the left-leaning bloc led by Social Democrat Stefan Lofven was ahead with 44 percent of the vote, compared to 39 percent for Reinfeldt’s coalition, which had been in power for eight years. [The Associated Press]

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7. Hurricane Odile slams into Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas
Hurricane Odile hit Mexico’s southern Baja California peninsula overnight with top sustained winds of 125 mph. The storm, which weakened over the Pacific before landfall, made a direct hit on the resort city of Cabo San Lucas, dumping more than six months’ rain in one hour. Authorities evacuated coastal areas, moving people into 18 hotels set up as shelters for 30,000 tourists and locals. California storm chaser Josh Morgerman said his hotel’s lobby “exploded in a heap of rubble.” [NBC News]

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8. Liberia sacks 10 officials for not returning home to fight Ebola
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has fired 10 senior officials — including six assistant ministers and two deputy ministers — for failing to return from abroad to help with the government’s efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak that has killed at least 1,100 people in the West African nation. The officials had been ordered to return in August. In Sierra Leone, a fourth top doctor died on Saturday. She was the 135th health-care worker in the region to die after being stricken while treating Ebola patients. [The Washington Post, Reuters]

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9. Actress detained after police allegedly mistake her for a prostitute
Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts, who is African-American, posted on Facebook that Los Angeles police officers briefly handcuffed her after they mistook her for a prostitute because she had kissed her white boyfriend, celebrity chef Brian James Lucas, in public. A police spokesman said Sunday the officers were responding to a complaint that a white man and a black woman were engaged in a sex act in a Mercedes near the gate of the CBS Studio Center in Studio City. Watts said she and Lucas were just “showing affection, fully clothed.” [CNN]

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10. U.S. basketball team wins world basketball championship… again
The U.S. men’s basketball team trounced Serbia on Sunday, 129-92, to defend its Basketball World Cup title. The U.S. team, playing without NBA superstars such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, won their games through the tournament by an average 32.5 points. Their closest game was a 21-point win over Turkey. The U.S. team now has won 63 straight games — including 45 in tournament play — qualifying for an automatic spot in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. [The Associated Press]

Sunday Talk: … for John McCain! #GreatNews

attribution: none specified

John McCain (AS SEEN ON TV) might have lost the battle for the White House, but he’s definitely winning the “War onWar.” #TehSurgeIsWorking

If all goes according to plan—and why wouldn’t it?the U.S. could be operatingin Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere for another hundred… or thousand… or even 1 million years! #NeverGonnaGiveYouUp

And better there than here. #amirite

President B. Hussein Obama won’t say it, but there are some really scary dudes (Mooslims) out there hatin’ America—just because we’re beautiful. #2Sexy4Sharia

History has shown us time and again thatthose people can’t be reasoned with, nor can they be appeased; the only winning move is to bomb them back to the Stone Age. #PaintItBlack

Nevar forget; the fundamentals of this strategy are strong. #ReaganSmash

 

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Former Secretary of State James Baker; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Roundtable: Nia-Malika Henderson(Washington Post), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Republican Strategist Mike Murphy and Jim VandeHei (Politico).

Face The Nation: Secretary of State John Kerry; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX); “The Roosevelts” Roundtable: Filmmaker Ken Burns, Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and Author Geoffrey Ward.

This Week: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA); Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Donna Brazileand Republican Strategist Matthew Dowd.

Fox News Sunday: Former CIA/NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI); Roundtable: Brit Hume (Fox News), Kristen Powers  (USA Today), Republican Strategist Karl Rove and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.); Lieutenant General James Dubik (Ret.); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Rep. John Conyers (D-MI); Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA); Roundtable: Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Republican Strategist Lanhee Chen, S.E. Cupp (CNN) and LZ Granderson (ESPN).

 

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: a report on severe shortcomings in the state of mental health care for young people (preview); a report on the FBI’s 16-year hunt for Boston gangster Whitey Bulger and his girlfriend (preview); and, an interview with University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban (preview).

Obama vs. Bush: Who Took More Presidential Vacations?

Just an FYI for holiday family gathering discussions…

The Huffington Post via FactCheck.org

Q: Is it true that George W. Bush took more vacation days than Barack Obama?

A: Yes. Before his two-week trip to Martha’s Vineyard in August, Obama’s count was 125 full or partial days and Bush’s total at the same point in his presidency was 407.

FULL ANSWER

Our inbox is chock full of questions about who took more vacation days, Obama or Bush. (The short answer: Bush. The long answer: There’s no such thing as a true non-working vacation for the president.)

The recent barrage from our readers coincides with Obama’s 15-day family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard — he returned to the White House on Aug. 24 – which occurred during major news events including the beheading of a U.S. journalist by Islamic militants and protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black man. The vacation also occurred during the funeral of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the only general officer killed in Afghanistan.

Obama faced criticism for being on vacation during these times, but those types of complaints are nothing new — either to Obama or presidents in general.

Readers may recall the criticism directed at Bush for the August weeks spent at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Others may remember Democrats chastising President Dwight Eisenhower for spending time on the golf course.

We last dealt with the who-took-more-vacation question in January 2010, at which point Obama had spent 26 days on “vacation” during his first year in office, fewer than the first year totals for Presidents Bush, George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan. Our numbers are all courtesy of CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, who has covered every president since Gerald Ford and tracks the commander in chief’s travel.

But, as we noted then, presidents never fully escape from the job. Knoller told us he doesn’t consider these days away from the White House real “vacation” days. He said then in an email: “I have long held the view that a US president is never really on vacation. The job — and its awesome powers and responsibilities — is his wherever he is and whatever he’s doing.”

Bush officials called the Crawford ranch the “Western White House” to emphasize the days there involved plenty of official business, and Obama’s recent Martha’s Vineyard break included several presidential statements and two days spent back at the White House in the middle of the “vacation.” Presidents may clear brush or hit the links, but they are never actually off the clock.

Still, much is made of these presidential vacation days — and how to count them. Knoller doesn’t include visits to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland often used to host foreign leaders. On Aug. 8, the day before Obama left for Martha’s Vineyard, Knoller tweeted that Obama had spent 125 full or partial days on vacation, and at the same point in Bush’s president, he had spent 381 days at his Texas ranch plus 26 days at his parents’ home in Kennebunkport, Maine, for a total of 407.

When we emailed Knoller on Aug. 26, Obama was up to 140 days by his count. Bush’s total for his two terms in office is 533 days, which includes 490 at the ranch and the rest at Kennebunkport. For comparison’s sake, President Bill Clinton’s total is 174 days, and Reagan hit 390 (349 at his ranch and 41 in Palm Springs), according to Knoller.

Adding in Camp David visits would bring Obama’s total to date to 223 (that’s 83 days at Camp David) and Bush’s total for his entire time in office to 1,024 (491 days at the presidential retreat). Note that Obama still has more than two years in office to narrow the gap.

Deciding how to count these “vacation” days can create some confusion. CNN recently listed a count of 879 days for Bush and 150 for Obama, numbers that came from a Washington Post “Outlook” piece on “Five myths on presidential vacations.”(Myth No. 1: “Presidents get vacations.”) The 879 figure, it turns out, is from March 3, 2008, at which point Bush had spent that many days at the ranch and Camp David (but it doesn’t include days in Kennebunkport). The numbers are in a 2008Washington Post piece and attributed to Knoller.

If readers want to make an apples-to-apples comparison, the best solution is to use Knoller’s figures as of August 8, cited above: Bush, 407; Obama, 125. But the numbers say more about how many days the presidents spent away from the White House than they do about how much time the presidents spent not working.

Obama Will Attend MSNBC Host Alex Wagner’s Wedding

Alex Wagner | Screenshot MSNBC

Well, how cool is that?

Mediaite

The city of New Rochelle, N.Y., will soon play host to the wedding of MSNBC host Alex Wagner and White House special advisor/chef Sam Kass,Vogue Magazine’s official political “It-Couple.” And according to Politico, President Barack Obamawill be in attendance.

Obama first hired Kass in 2008 as his family’s personal chef, eventually bringing him to the White House and tapping him as an advisor for nutrition policy and the executive director for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. Insiders say that the president considers Kass as family, and that the two have a long-standing golf/basketball/every-sport-ever rivalry.

The New Rochelle Talk, which broke the news of the Obamas’ visit, added that he would also attend two fundraising dinners, tickets to which cost $32,000 each.

The wedding itself will take place at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a renowned restaurant/farm run by Dan Barber and a favorite of the Obamas. If you are a follower of celebrity chef culture, this choice of wedding venue is not a surprise.

[h/t Politico]

10 things you need to know today: August 13, 2014

An American flag flies while Yazidi Iraqis escape into Syria.

An American flag flies while Yazidi Iraqis escape into Syria. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

The Week

White House sends 130 more advisers to Iraq, Ukraine vows to stop Russian-supply convoy, and more

1. White House sends 130 more advisers to Iraq
The U.S. has deployed 130 Marines and Special Operations forces to northern Iraq to help assess ways to rescue thousands of members of the Yazidi religious group taking refuge on Mount Sinjar, U.S. officials said late Tuesday. Those military advisers will not have a combat role, but the Defense Department left open the possibility that U.S. troops could help create a safe passage for the Yazidi off Mount Sinjar. That would likely put U.S. troops in direct combat with the ISIS militants trying to kill the Yazidi — a proposition President Obama has not signed off on, but one the military advisers are exploring. [CBS, The New York Times]

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2. Ukraine vows to stop Russian-supply convoy unless conditions are met
Wary that the Russians may be trying to move military supplies into their country to aid pro-Moscow separatists, Ukrainian officials said they would not allow a convoy of 280 Russian trucks to cross the border unless the Red Cross took over the delivery. The cargo, which Russia insists is humanitarian aid, must be loaded onto other vehicles by the Red Cross, Ukraine says. It will take the trucks about two days to make the 620 mile trip from Moscow to eastern Ukraine. [Reuters]

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3. Iran endorses Maliki’s replacement
The U.S. and Iran don’t agree on much, but it appears the two countries are backing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s replacement, Haider al-Abadi. Iran’s endorsement on Tuesday means that Maliki, who has indicated he won’t go quietly, will have an even harder time holding onto his position. The United States and its allies hope that replacing Maliki, who alienated the Sunnis of Iraq, will undermine support for the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). [The Washington Post]

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4. Lauren Bacall dies at the age of 89
Lauren Bacall, a star from the golden age of Hollywood, died on Tuesday at her home in New York at the age of 89. Her career spanned seven decades and included several classic films like Murder on the Orient Express, How to Marry a Millionaire, and The Big Sleep. Bacall earned a honorary Oscar, two Tonys, and a National Book Award for her autobiography. [The Guardian]

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5. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo rebuffs Palestinian invitation
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is heading to Israel on an official state delegation, but the politician, who is said to be mulling a 2016 run at the White House, declined an invitation to meet with Palestinian leaders. Cuomo and a handful of New York lawmakers are calling their trip a unity mission to express solidarity with Israel. “Our message is simple and is clear,” the governor said. “We stand with Israel, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself in this conflict.” [The New York Times]

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6. Former Microsoft CEO officially buys the LA Clippers
Steve Ballmer, the former chief executive officer of Microsoft, officially purchased the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday for the tidy sum of $2 billion. The team went up for sale after its previous owner, Donald Sterling, was recorded making racist comments to a companion. Sterling, who bought the team for $12 million in 1981, lost a lawsuit to retain possession of the team and has been banned from the NBA for life. [CNN]

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7. Details of Robin Williams’ death emerge
Marin County officials announced on Tuesday that Robin Williams‘ death was a suicide by hanging. The Oscar-winning actor was found by his assistant who became concerned about him after he didn’t respond to her knocking on his door. Williams also had a few shallow cuts on his left wrist, according to authorities. [USA Today]

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8. Maryam Mirzakhani becomes the first woman to win major math prize
A woman has won the prestigious Fields Medal for the first time. Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford University, won the award, which has been described as the Nobel Prize for Mathematics, for her contributions to “the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.”

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9. Toxic algae threatens the Florida coast
Microscopic toxic algea are blooming near the coast of Florida, creating a red tide effect that is threatening local wildlife. Though it is still 20 miles off the coast, the size of the tide — 60 miles wide, by 90 miles long, by 100 feet deep — has authorities concerned that it could kill off millions of fish and potentially disrupt the lucrative tourist season. Officials say they haven’t seem a bloom this large in nine years. [NBC]

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10. Haiti captures high-profile fugitive Clifford Brandt
Haitian authorities captured Clifford Brandt, a notorious fugitive who admitted to kidnapping the children of a rival businessman, Haiti’s Prime Minister announced on Tuesday. Brandt broke freewith 328 other inmates on Sunday when a gang attacked the jail where he was incarcerated. He was found trying to cross the border into the Dominican Republic. [Miami Herald]

10 things you need to know today: July 12, 2014

James is headed home.

James is headed home. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Week

LeBron James announces return to Cleveland, White House answers new NSA revelations, and more

1. LeBron James announces return to Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in an exclusive essay for Sports Illustrated on Friday. “I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when,” James wrote. “I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland…I’m coming home.” James’ free agency fueled weeks of rumors, but a return to Cleveland began to seem more likely when Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert flew down to Florida last weekend, and the team subsequently made a cap-clearing trade on Wednesday. “In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given,” James added. “I’m ready to accept the challenge.” [Sports Illustrated]

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2. White House knew of British government’s plans to destroy NSA data
Newly declassified documents show that the Obama administration was made aware in advance of Britain’s plans to force The Guardian newspaper to destroy data it had obtained on leaked National Security Agency documents. The White House had previously said it would be “very difficult to imagine a scenario in which that would be appropriate” in regard to performing a similar operation on an American media outlet. On Thursday, Obama administration officials said that while the White House had been aware of the plans after all, it had not assisted the British government in forcing the newspaper to destroy the computer data. [The Associated Press]

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3. CDC improperly sent pathogens at least five times in past decade
Anthrax, lethal botulism bacteria, and deadly bird flu virus pathogens all may have wound up in laboratories via improper shipment procedures over the past decade, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Friday. “These events should never have happened,” Tom Frieden, CDC director, said in a conference call. “Frankly, I’m angry about it.” The report was released following last month’s safety lapse, in which more than 80 workers may have been exposed to live anthrax after other employees mistakenly sent samples of the bacteria to a different CDC lab. [The Washington Post]

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4. U.S. on track for lowest annual deficit since 2008
The Treasury Department announced a $71 billion total June surplus on Friday afternoon, putting the U.S. on track for its lowest annual deficit since 2008. The deficit totals $366 billion in the first nine months of this budget year, down 28 percent from the same amount of time in 2013. Currently, the Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a total deficit of $492 billion, although the actual number will not be realized until the end of the full budget year, on Sept. 30. [ABC News]

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5. Dutch Supreme Court blocks U.S. extradition of Al-Qaeda suspect
The Dutch Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Sabir Ali Khan could not be extradited to the United States to face charges of conspiracy to commit murder in support of al-Qaeda. Khan has citizenship in the Netherlands thanks to his mother, who was Dutch. He was arrested by Pakistani forces in 2010, allegedly at the request of the U.S., and he says he was subsequently tortured. When he was released to Dutch officials, the U.S. began trying to arrange an extradition. Khan currently lives freely in the Netherlands, although he told Time in January that he believes he is under constant surveillance. [Time]

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6. Border Patrol stops migrant flights to San Diego
Following two weeks of protests from activists on both sides of the national immigration debate, the Border Patrol halted transfers of Central American migrants from Texas to San Diego on Thursday. San Diego’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency had stepped in to handle an influx of immigrants arriving at the Texas border who required processing. But, a spokesman for the Border Patrol said the Texas backlog had been reduced and that location could “handle their own processing on site.” [San Diego Union-Tribune]

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7. Kurdish forces seize Iraq oil fields as ministers halt government roles
Kurdish forces seized two more oil fields on Friday, in northern Iraq, prompting Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government to threaten “dire consequences” if the Kurds did not withdraw. Meanwhile, Kurdish politicians halted their roles in Baghdad’s government, although they plan to still attend parliament. “The country is now divided literally into three states,” Hoshiyar Zebari, a Kurd and Iraq’s current foreign minister, said. “Kurdish, a black state (ISIL) and Baghdad.” [Reuters]

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8. Death toll rises past 120 in Gaza Strip fighting
More than 120 Palestinians have been killed in fighting between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian sources. The United Nations estimates that more than three-quarters of the dead are civilians. Israel has promised to continue its operations, which are targeting militant and militant facilities housing senior operatives. “The objective is to restore quiet to the cities of Israel, and I intend to achieve this objective,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. [BBC News]

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9. Seattle’s only legal marijuana shop runs out of pot after three days
Seattle’s Cannabis City, the first legal marijuana shop in Washington’s largest city, sold out of its pot stock just three days into its state-approved license. While 24 other stores across Washington were also given state approval to retail marijuana this week, Cannabis City was the first in Seattle to begin selling, and its 11 pounds on hand did not last long. Shop owners blamed the shortage on the plants’ maturation process, which takes three to four months (pot growers and processors were only issued licenses last week). “We knew it was coming,” Cannabis City owner James Lathrop said. “We didn’t have any guaranteed additional deliveries.” [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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10. Last living member of the Ramones dies at 65
Tommy Ramone, a co-founder of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band the Ramones, died on Friday at age 65, according to a business associate. Tommy Ramone, born Erdelyi Tamas in Hungary, started the band in 1974 with singer Jeff Hyman (Joey Ramone), Douglas Colvin (Dee Dee Ramone), and John Cummings (Johnny Ramone). While the Ramones struggled to gain commercial success, the punk group influenced a number of other artists, including Green Day, Nirvana, and even Bruce Springsteen. They are best remembered for classics such as Blitzkrieg Bop. [CBS News]

The Survivor: How Eric Holder outlasted his (many) critics.

Obama has resisted calls from inside and outside the administration to dismiss Holder. | Paul J. Richards/ AFP/Getty Images

Politico Magazine

Why the hell is Eric Holder still around? That’s a question many of Barack Obama’s political advisers have asked at various points throughout Holder’s tumultuous five years at the helm of the Justice Department.

For most of Obama’s presidency, in fact, if there’s been controversy, Holder was likely to be in the middle of it, from the failed efforts to close Guantánamo Bay and to prosecute alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a Manhattan court to his inability to send Wall Street executives involved in the mortgage meltdown to jail. His detractors in the West Wing of the White House, and there have been many, have seen the attorney general as a never-ending source of questionable decisions, tin-eared political missteps and off-the-reservation remarks. “If it was coming out of the Justice Department,” a former top adviser to Obama recalled to me, “it was bad news.”

Congress has it in for Holder, too: House Republicans howled for his scalp after voting him in contempt of Congress two years ago in a dispute over a gun investigation gone awry, making Holder the first Cabinet member ever to be sanctioned. And at least one Hill Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, suggested Holder step down after it was revealed the department had secretly obtained journalists’ phone records as part of leak investigations involving the Associated Press and Fox News. “Whenever you feel that you have lost your effectiveness … to the detriment of the job that you do,” Manchin told Bloomberg, “decisions have to be made.”

And yet Holder, an affable, ambitious and stubborn 63-year-old career prosecutor, has not only weathered these attacks but emerged, improbably, with greater leverage and more access to Obama than ever. How did he do it? To start, it helps that he is one of the few administration figures to cross the threshold from employee to friend of the famously reserved president. Holder, in fact, is one of the only Cabinet members Obama routinely invites over for dinner and drinks (Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a hoops buddy from Chicago, is another) and the only one who times his summer vacation to hang out with the president on Martha’s Vineyard. Their wives are even closer, and Michelle Obama is a not infrequent drop-in guest for Friday pizza night at Holder’s house. Besides, the attorney general is nothing if not a loyalist, an increasingly valuable commodity to a second-term president rattled by accelerating congressional investigations. Obama clearly respects Holder’s four decades of experience as an attorney and judge and supports Holder’s positions on LGBT rights and racial profiling, often telling his staff he recognizes it’s not all Holder’s fault: The job of attorney general is a “shit magnet” for the most intractable controversies.

But there’s another explanation, and according to the two dozen current and former Obama administration officials and confidants of both men I’ve spoken with in recent weeks, it may well be the main reason the first black president of the United States has stood so firmly behind the first black attorney general of the United States: Holder has been willing to say the things Obama couldn’t or wouldn’t say about race.

“He’s a race man,” says Charles Ogletree, a longtime friend of Holder’s who taught and mentored Obama and his wife, Michelle, as Harvard Law School students in the 1980s. “He’s gone farther and deeper into some issues of race than the White House would like, but I know he has the president’s well-wishes. It’s clear [Obama and Holder] believe in the same things.”

Holder himself recently told another African-American friend that he feels part of his job is “to talk about things the president can’t talk about as easily.” Asked to describe Holder’s role, one of his former top aides described him as “Obama’s heat shield.”

There’s no question that Obama has resisted calls, from inside and outside the administration, to dump Holder, including quiet rumblings by some aides who wanted Obama to ease him out after the 2012 reelection.

But the president brushed off such talk, as he has done repeatedly with those who have tried and failed to come between him and his AG. From the start, the White House staff has been at odds with Holder—a conflict that, my sources told me, has been one of the longest-running hidden dramas of this White House. “He says he’s on Team Obama, but he’s really on Team Holder,” one top Obama aide told me.

The bad blood goes all the way back to a month into Obama’s first term—as the West Wing staff was working 18-hour days to keep the economy from collapsing—when Holder jolted Obama’s team seemingly out of nowhere. Tellingly, the subject was race. Holder informed the White House he planned to deliver a Black History Month speech but never got around to telling Obama’s aides what he would actually say, a habit that would infuriate the White House time and again over the years—and underscore Holder’s special standing in Obama’s world.

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder declared to a gathering of Justice Department employees—a bombshell assertion that caused the predictable rage among Obama’s attackers on the right, who accused him of playing the race card.

Obama’s top political aides—white liberals to a man, and they were all men—didn’t necessarily disagree with Holder’s sentiment; they just thought it was a dumb way of saying it and dangerously ill-timed to boot. Obama was ticked off, too, and did nothing to stop his top advisers David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs and Jim Messina from severely restricting Holder’s public utterances and imposing a ban on Sunday show appearances that stands to this day.

But the president’s anger only went so far, and Holder takes no small satisfaction in outlasting those early rivals. In interviews, many of the officials I spoke with offered a blunt explanation for his bond with Obama: For all the president’s success at breaking barriers, Obama is often the only black person in the room when a major decision is being made—unless Holder, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett or National Security Adviser Susan Rice is present. This isn’t just about skin pigment, and it’s not a phenomenon unique to Obama; all presidents draw close to them people who share common personal experiences and their deepest priorities, people they trust, who provide the elusive “comfort level” they seek in times of extreme stress. John F. Kennedy had his “Irish Mafia,” Ronald Reagan had his California buddies, Bill Clinton surrounded himself with pals from Arkansas.

Balanced against such bonds, Holder’s scraps with Congress, his battles with a press corps furious over the most leak prosecutions of any administration in history and the opposition of Obama’s palace guard—who view him as politically clueless—just can’t quite compete.

Ed. Note:  This is a very long magazine article…

Continue reading here…

The White House Is Exhausted

The National Journal

The past week has not been kind to Obama. But could it be a turning point for his presidency?

Day 1,956 of his presidency was not too kind to President Obama. Having to announce within a four-hour span that he had lost both an embattled Cabinet secretary and his chief spokesman, Obama looked Friday like a man gamely trying to get a stalled administration back on track. He entered the week still stuck with low approval ratings and facing fierce criticism of his policies both at home and abroad. On Wednesday, he tried to chart a new course internationally with a West Point speech setting out a new foreign policy. On Thursday, he dealt with widespread criticism of the speech. On Friday, he tried to dig himself out of a troubling Veterans Administration scandal by jettisoning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, a man he thought was being unfairly blamed for the problems. Then he accepted the resignation of press secretary Jay Carney, the longtime public face of his White House. It is a cliché to note the aging of our presidents, to count the gray hairs sprouting with each passing day in the Oval Office. But Obama does look weary. And he is at a point in his administration when his agenda seems tired and many of his appointees are exhausted. In that regard, he is no different than every second-term president since World War II. For all of them, the sixth year was troubled and filled with administration scandals, political challenges and executive turnover. A second-term president has to figure out how to govern effectively without his original band of hardy loyalists. Most of them have fled government at this point. When Obama looks around his White House these days, he sees Valerie Jarrett and Dan Pfeiffer and only a handful of other aides who were with him on that frigid day in 2007 in Springfield when he announced his long-shot candidacy. Only three of Obama’s original 16 Cabinet officers remain—Eric Holder at Justice, Tom Vilsack at Agriculture, and Arne Duncan at Education. He is on his fourth budget director, his fifth chief of staff, and, soon, his third press secretary.
The turnover at press secretary is the least surprising. Few appreciate what a tough job that is. Marlin Fitzwater, who served Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said that the biggest shock to him when he became press secretary was how hard he had to dig to get the facts and to make sure what he said publicly was accurate. As Carney was later to learn, most of that work is done off-camera, fighting to be included in the inner circle. The two-term presidents since Dwight Eisenhower have all worn out their press secretaries. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush each had four, and Ronald Reagan had three. Lyndon Johnson, who served less than two full terms, had four. Each had to struggle with the reality that the public starts to tune out a president in his second term. This is a highly personal office. A president is the only politician whom voters, in effect, invite into their homes and watch on television every night. But in a sixth year, people tend to believe they have pretty much heard it all from the president and about all they hear seems to be bad news. In making his announcements on Shinseki and Carney, the president did all the things expected of him in the circumstances, projecting determination and even smiling bravely. But what he didn’t do was signal convincingly that he knows how to provide a way forward for the 966 days he has left in the White House. How he responds now will determine whether this week is regarded as a low point or a critical turning point for his presidency.