U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: June 30, 2016

(REUTERS/Murad Sezer)


1. Turkey detains at least 13 in anti-ISIS raids after airport attack
Turkish police detained at least 13 people in raids on suspected Islamic State hideouts after the nation’s leaders blamed the terror group for this week’s triple suicide bombing attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport. Turkey observed a national day of mourning as the death toll reached at least 42 on Wednesday, with another 239 injured. The three attackers reportedly arrived at a security checkpoint in a taxi and opened fire with guns, then blew themselves up. CIA Director John Brennan said the attack “bears the hallmarks” of ISIS.

Source: The Washington Post, CNN

2. U.S. airstrikes reportedly kill 250 ISIS fighters near Fallujah
Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition killed at least 250 suspected Islamic State fighters near the Iraqi city of Fallujah on Wednesday, U.S. officials said. The strikes reportedly hit an ISIS convoy leaving a neighborhood on the southern outskirts of Fallujah, days after Iraqi forces regained control of the city from ISIS. If the death toll is confirmed, the attack was one of the deadliest ever against the Islamist extremist group, which has suffered a string of battlefield losses recently.

Source: Reuters, Fox News

3. Nate Silver puts Clinton odds of beating Trump near 80 percent
Statistics guru Nate Silver said Wednesday on his FiveThirtyEightwebsite that Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite in the November presidential election, with up to an 80 percent chance of winning. Donald Trump has just a 19 percent chance to be elected, based on polls, Silver said. Factoring in economic conditions and other variables along with polls gives the presumptive Republican nominee a 26 percent chance. Silver predicted every state correctly in 2012, but he gave Trump just a 2 percent chance of winning the GOP nomination last August.

Source: FiveThirtyEight

4. Senate passes Puerto Rico debt-relief bill
The Senate passed the Puerto Rico debt relief bill 68-30 on Wednesday, sending it to President Obama ahead of a July 1 deadline for the island’s next big bond payment. Obama is expected to sign it before the Fridaydeadline. The legislation would create a board to oversee the island’s finances and allow for the restructuring of its $70 billion in debt. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the bill addresses Puerto Rico’s crisis while avoiding a taxpayer bailout. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the legislation enabled the U.S. territory’s unsustainable spending.

Source: USA Today

5. Taliban bombers kill 27 near Kabul
Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 27 people Thursday in an attack on a bus carrying recently graduated police cadets. The first of two apparent suicide bombers targeted three buses as they approached the outskirts of the capital, Kabul. A second bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into the vehicles of rescuers who responded to the first blast. The attacks came just over a week before a Warsaw summit where NATO leaders are to discuss whether to maintain support for the Afghan government.

Source: Reuters, BBC News

6. British man indicted over gun incident at Trump rally
A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted a 20-year-old British man, Michael Steven Sandford, on weapons charges for allegedly trying to take a police officer’s gun at a Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas two weeks ago. Sandford also was charged with disrupting the officer’s work. Sandford told police he wanted to shoot Trump, but the indictment does not mention any plot to kill the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Sandford faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of the charges.

Source: The Guardian, Reuters

7. Black box and other evidence support theory of fire on crashed EgyptAir jet
Black box data and other evidence from a crashed EgyptAir jetlinerconfirmed reports that a fire broke out before the Airbus A320 crashed in the Mediterranean in May, killing all 66 people on board. The flight data recorder indicated that smoke alarms had sounded on the plane. Soot and other heat damage was found in wreckage from the front of the plane. Investigators earlier said the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System also sent signals saying smoke alarms sounded before the crash.

Source: Agence France Presse

8. Two Democrats become first openly transgender candidates to win major primaries
Two Democrats — Senate hopeful Misty Snow in Utah, and House candidate Misty Plowright in Colorado — have become the first openly transgender candidates to win major-party primaries. Bob Witeck, a Washington-based LGBT advocate, said the Tuesday victories were “even more breathtaking considering the political climate today.” Transgender advocate Dana Beyer questioned the significance of the news, because both were in conservative areas where Democrats are likely to lose.

Source: The Washington Post

9. Michael Phelps qualifies for fifth Olympics
Michael Phelps on Wednesday night became the first male U.S. swimmer to qualify for five Olympics. The 22-time Olympic medal winner earned a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in this year’s Summer Games in Rio by finishing first in the 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. swimming trials. Phelps had declared the 2012 London games to be his last, then launched a comeback that was interrupted by a second drunken driving arrest. Qualifying for Rio put Phelps, 31, a step closer to ending his career on a high note. “Getting on this team is what I wanted to do,” he said.

Source: The Associated Press

10. Academy sends invitations to its most diverse class ever
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesdayinvited 683 movie professionals to join, including Idris Elba, John Boyega, and Alicia Vikander, in what the organization said was its largest and most diverse new class in its nearly 90-year history. Forty-six percent of this year’s group of actors, directors, and other movie professionals are women, and 41 percent are people of color. At the start of the year, 92 percent of the Academy’s voting members were white, and it has faced mounting calls for greater diversity.

Source: Los Angeles Times

U.S. Politics



(Associated Press)

41 Dead, 239 Injured In Airport Suicide Bombing…  Among The Busiest Airports In The World…  Surveillance Video Captures Moment Of Explosion… Istanbul’s Fifth Major Bomb Attack This Year…  Islamic State Group Suspected…  اقرأ المزيد علي هافينغتون بوست عربي

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: June 29, 2016

(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


1. 41 killed in triple suicide bombing at Istanbul airport
At least 41 people were killed when three suicide bombers attacked Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport on Tuesday. At least 239 others were injured. Two of the terrorists opened fire with automatic weapons at a security checkpoint outside the airport before detonating their explosives. The third blew himself up in a parking lot. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the Islamic State appeared to have been behind the attack based on early indications, although nobody immediately claimed responsibility.

Source: Reuters, NBC News

2. EU leaders warn U.K. that Brexit will be costly
European leaders in Brussels on Tuesday warned British Prime Minister David Cameron that the U.K. would not be able to hold onto the benefits of European Union membership once it leaves the trading bloc. Before the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her Parliament that British leaders would not be allowed to “cherry-pick” what they like about EU membership and discard the rest. Cameron called for the “closest possible relationship” with Europe when the U.K. negotiates the terms of its departure after last week’s Brexit vote. EU leaders are meeting again on Wednesday, without Cameron.

Source: The New York Times, The Guardian

3. Benghazi report criticizes Clinton and Obama administration
The GOP-led House Select Committee on Benghazi’s issued its final report on Tuesday, concluding that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The committee, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), still leveled harsh criticism at an internal State Department investigation, and said the Obama administration did not do enough to protect diplomats at the outpost ahead of the 2012 attacks, which left ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. Democrats a day earlier called the two-year GOP-led investigation a “partisan sham.”

Source: The New York Times, The Select Committee on Benghazi

4. Trump says he will revise or quit trade deals
Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to renegotiate international trade deals and scrap them if he does not think they are in America’s best interest. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee singled out the pending 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership as an example of a pact from which he would withdraw, calling it a “continuing rape of our country” and saying it would be “the death blow for American manufacturing.” He also said he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, and dump it if he is not satisfied with a new deal.

Source: Reuters, Politico

5. Labour leader Corbyn loses no-confidence vote
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn lost a no-confidence vote on Tuesday after a rebellion in his shadow cabinet over last week’s Brexit vote. Only 40 members backed Corbyn in the secret balloting, while 172 said they had no confidence in him. Corbyn’s Labour colleagues in Parliament turned against him after Britons voted to leave the EU. The party officially backed the “Remain” camp, but Corbyn faced criticism for failing to campaign actively against leaving. Corbyn said he would not step down because he was democratically chosen to lead the party.

Source: The Washington Post

6. Canada and Mexico strike deal as Obama heads to summit
Canada and Mexico on Tuesday announced a deal to ease trade and travel restrictions ahead of Wednesday’s annual North American Leaders Summit, which is expected to focus on fighting climate change. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Nieto unveiled the deal, which will end restrictions on Mexican travelers and open Mexico’s market to Canadian beef. Pena Nieto said he, Trudeau, and President Obama stand united in support of open economies and borders despite protectionist and anti-immigration sentiment seen in the U.K.’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Source: Bloomberg

7. New poll shows Clinton barely ahead of Trump
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by just two percentage points nationally, clashing with other recent polls putting her ahead by up to 12 percentage points. In a one-on-one matchup, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Clinton leads her Republican rival 42 percent to 40 percent. When third-party candidates are added to the mix, Clinton leads 39 percent to 37 percent, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson trailing at 8 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 4 percent.

Source: CNN

8. Democrats block Senate Zika funding bill
Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a proposal to fund the fight against the Zika virus, saying Republicans had inserted “poison pills” into the legislation. Republicans proposed providing $1.1 billion in Zika funding, but the legislation also included measures taking away money for birth control, veterans, and fighting Ebola. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) called Democrats “sore losers,” and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of “playing political games” with people’s health.

Source: Bloomberg

9. Three crew members missing after two freight trains collide in Texas
Two BNSF Railway freight trains collided head-on in Texas on Tuesdayand burst into flames. Each had an engineer and a conductor on board. One crew member jumped from one of the trains just before the crash, and was taken to a hospital in stable condition. The other three crew members remained missing as the fire delayed a search of the wreckage.

Source: Amarillo Globe-News

10. Hall of Fame guitarist Scotty Moore dies at 84
Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley’s first guitarist, died Tuesday in his Nashville home. He was 84. Moore was a local session musician when producer Sam Phillips of Sun Records asked him to play on Presley’s first single, “That’s All Right (Mama).” He went on to form the Blue Moon Boys along with bassist Bill Black and drummer D.J. Fontana, and they backed Presley on such hits as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “Jailhouse Rock.” Moore later worked with and inspired a generation of musicians, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

Source: The Associated Press

U.S. Politics

Seven key findings in the Benghazi report

Getty Images


The House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report about the 2012 terrorist attacks contains new information about the events in Washington and on the ground in Libya.

Here are seven takeaways from the report.

Stevens wanted to make the Benghazi facility permanent

Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed along with three other Americans in Benghazi, was in the country with an eye on making the temporary diplomatic facility a permanent outpost, according to the report.

“In his exit interview with Secretary Clinton, she expressed the hope that we could make the special mission in Benghazi a permanent constituent post,” deputy chief of mission Gregory Hicks said. “And Chris said that one of the first things he intended to do after his arrival was develop a proposal to move forward on that project.”

Hillary Clinton was considering visiting Libya in October, the report determined, and officials had hoped to be able to announce the permanent post during her time in the country.

The military never got moving

Not a single one of the U.S. military forces in the region met its deadline for deployment, and none of them ever moved toward Benghazi despite orders from President Obama and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

“[N]o asset was ever ordered to respond to Benghazi and the decisions made — and not made — coupled with a lack of urgency in Washington D.C. delayed the response even, in some instances, with an ambassador missing,” the report said.

Troops changed clothes four times

As they were waiting at a base in Spain, U.S. Marines were ordered to change in and out of their uniforms four separate times.

At the time, the State Department appeared to be concerned about the image that would be sent by having uniformed troops marching through Benghazi.

The State Department denied that the confusing order about clothing had delayed the deployment of troops.

YouTube video dominated White House meeting

During the course of the attack, the White House convened a two-hour meeting to discuss how to proceed.

That meeting yielded a list of 10 action items, of which half related to an anti-Muslim video on YouTube that had sparked protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

But that video was ultimately proved not to have been a contributing factor to the Benghazi violence.

Americans were transported by Gadhafi loyalists

The Libyan militia that eventually evacuated Americans from the CIA annex to the airport in Benghazi had not been previously allied with U.S. officials.

In fact, it was a group of former loyalists to deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi, whom Washington had sought to oust months earlier.

“Some of the very individuals the United States had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution were the only Libyans that came to the assistance of the United States on the night of the Benghazi attack,” the report said.

Clinton blamed terrorists in private

In public, Clinton appeared to continue blaming the Benghazi violence on the YouTube video that was stirring up tensions in many Muslim cities.

But in private, she appeared to pin the blame on Islamic terrorists, telling the prime minister of Egypt the next day that it “had nothing to do with the film.”

Republicans jumped on the apparent discrepancy, which they claimed was proof of her intention to deceive the American people.

Rice went ‘off the reservation’

Then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice has for years been criticized for her appearances on Sunday talk shows after the attack, during which she called the assaults spontaneous.

But the comments also rankled officials inside the State Department, who were not a part of her preparation. Rice’s remarks, officials said, appeared to be divorced from reality.

“I think Rice was off the reservation on this one,” a senior Libya desk officer wrote in an email.

“Off the reservation on five networks!” responded another State Department official.

“[White House] very worried about the politics. This was all their doing,” said a third.

By Julian Hattem

U.S. Politics

5 winners and 4 losers from this Supreme Court term

Pro-choice and pro-life activists demonstrate on the steps of the United States Supreme Court on June 27, 2016, in Washington, DC. | Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

VOX  Policy & Politics

This year’s Supreme Court term was unsettling. Following the sudden death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year — and Senate Republicans’ refusal to fill the seat — it initially seemed the Court might take a more reserved approach.

And the justices did punt in a few areas, including birth control access, and made more convoluted decisions in other cases, but they didn’t back away from all major decisions, particularly in high-profile cases. A few clear winners and losers emerged: The Court decided on the first major abortion rights case in a generation, and essentially put an end to the Obama administration’s sweeping deferred deportation plans for undocumented immigrants.

Here’s who came out ahead this term and who may be traumatized by the sound of a gavel in the future.

Winner 1: Texas

Yeah, there were 26 states involved in suing the Obama administration over its 2014 executive actions allowing millions of immigrants to apply for “deferred action” — actions that the Supreme Court all but killed at the end of the 2016 term, when a 4-4 deadlockleft the injunction against them in place. But there’s a reason the case was called United States v. Texas: The Lone Star State was the star of the show.

Texas was the only reason the states didn’t get laughed out of court. While all the states suing the administration claimed they’d be harmed by the president’s actions, thereby giving them legal grounds to sue, Texas was the state that actually estimated the cost of expanded driver’s license access.

Because the courts don’t allow states to sue over federal policies just because they don’t like them, that made all the difference. A state-based lawsuit against Obama’s 2012 “deferred action” grants went nowhere because the states couldn’t show harm; in 2016, half the Supreme Court was willing to grant that some extra driver’s license costs in one state justified a halt to the policy in 50 of them.

Though 4-4 deadlocks don’t make precedent, the conclusion is clear: The door for states to sue the federal government over policies might be wider than it used to be, and it might depend on whether the policies are liberal or conservative. Republicans might have a hard time winning the White House in the medium term, but if deep-red states like Texas get to keep challenging policies from a Democratic White House, that’s a big win. —Dara Lind

Winner 2: Evidence

When the Supreme Court sided with abortion rights advocates in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, it also sided with medical evidence. It’s a bit worrisome that “siding against medical evidence” was a legitimate possible outcome in this case, but it’s true.

In Whole Woman’s Health, the Court struck down two Texas anti-abortion laws that were supposed to make abortion safer for women. Doctors and just about every major medical association you could think of said the laws actually did nothing to preserve women’s health and only served to shut down quality clinics.

But reproductive rights supporters had good reason to worry that it wouldn’t matter how strong the evidence for their case was. That’s because of precedent set in the last major abortion case heard by the Supreme Court, 2007’s Gonzales v. Carhart, which struck down so-called “partial-birth abortion.” Carhart found that lawmakers have “wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty.”

The question was: What counts as “uncertainty”? Can state legislatures pass laws based on junk science without facing any legal repercussions by claiming the science is “uncertain”? That’s what the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals argued when it upheld the Texas laws, citing Carhart to claim that “medical uncertainty underlying a statute is for resolution by legislatures, not the courts.”

Justice Stephen Breyer wasn’t buying it, though. He said that when it comes to the constitutionality of abortion regulations, the Court “has placed considerable weight upon evidence and argument presented in judicial proceedings.” He pointed out that Carhartalso found that the Court “retains an independent constitutional duty to review factual findings where constitutional rights are at stake.” Then he proceeded to rattle off a wealth of evidence from earlier judicial proceedings that demolished Texas’s claims that the laws benefited women’s health.

This new precedent arguably puts anti-abortion advocates in a much weaker position to restrict abortion at the state level than before Texas passed HB 2. Abortion opponents will undoubtedly keep trying other tactics to impose restrictions — but they will have a harder time convincing a court that these tactics serve a legitimate purpose other than unconstitutionally making it harder for women to get an abortion. —Emily Crockett

Winner 3: Affirmative action

The University of Texas Austin was Abigail Fisher’s dream school. But when the university rejected her application for admission in 2008, Fisher refused to take no for an answer. Rather than accept that she simply didn’t make the cut, she began a crusade arguing that the university gave her spot to an unworthy person of color because of race.

She advocated that a race-neutral, merit-based policy was necessary. Yet Fisher, who had the advantage of applying as a legacy admit, simply didn’t stand out in an especially competitive admissions cycle with her test scores, grades, and extracurricular activities,court documents showed. Additionally, 42 out of 47 students who were offered provisional slots with lower scores than Fisher were other white students.

More broadly, the Court’s decision that UT Austin’s use of race in its admissions policy is constitutional shows race-conscious admissions are here to stay — for now. Private and public universities alike are heralding the decision as a clear indication that racial and ethnic diversity remains necessary in higher education.

But as Justice Anthony Kennedy cautioned in the opinion, schools still need to seek other ways to achieve racial parity in admissions by diligently reevaluating and updating their admissions policies without tokenizing students for their racial backgrounds. This was key to UT’s admissions policy and the Court’s decision to rule in its favor. Other schools like Harvard University that are facing similar lawsuits that were stalled pending the Fisher decision will have to prove the same if they want the same outcome. —Victoria Massie

Bob McDonnell at Supreme Court

(Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell leaves the Supreme Court in April | Getty Images)

Winner 4: Politicians

The specifics of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s corruption convictions looked ugly. He and his family accepted $175,000 worth of loans and gifts — including a Rolex watch for McDonnell — from a businessman who wanted the Virginia government to help out his supplement company.

But accepting those gifts was perfectly legal in Virginia, so McDonnell instead was prosecuted for what he did in return for them. The problem, some argued, was that he didn’t actually do all that much. He contacted some state officials on the company’s behalf, set up some meetings, and arranged some events. No state money ever changed hands, and no policy was ever altered.

So many members of both parties’ legal establishments were quite troubled by his prosecution, saying it amounted to a “breathtaking expansion of public-corruption law” that “would likely chill federal officials’ interactions with the people they serve and thus damage their ability effectively to perform their duties.’” They feared that the ordinary, day-to-day work of politicians could become criminalized.

Now a unanimous Supreme Court has agreed with their objections, overturning McDonnell’s convictions — and politicians all over the country are likely breathing sighs of relief. —Andrew Prokop

Winner 5: Tribal courts

There are 175 tribal courts in the US, but there’s been little clarity on their jurisdiction outside of tribal lands. Because the lines are unclear, Dollar General has been able to evade facing a civil lawsuit filed against the company in 2005 after an employee was accused of molesting a 13-year-old Choctaw boy at a store on a Choctaw reservation two years prior.

The retailer’s argument in Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians? Recent Supreme Court cases had limited tribal courts’ inherent sovereignty, so it should also apply in this case.

In 1978’s Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, the Supreme Court ruled that tribal courts were prohibited from reviewing criminal offenses committed by nonmembers. In 1981’sMontana v. United States, the Court ruled that native tribes generally do not have inherent sovereignty over nonmembers on their reservations with two exceptions: if nonmembers enter into “consensual relations with the tribe or its members,” and if a nonmember’s conduct threatens the tribe’s “political integrity, economic security, or health or welfare.”

The burden was on Dollar General to prove Montana didn’t apply, while also arguing theOliphant decision would apply to civil suits.

With a 4-4 non-decision, the discount retailer still may have to face its day in tribal court. But more importantly, the case is a small step toward affirming tribal courts’ authority — even if it’s based on the Supreme Court not deciding one way or the other to take more rights away. —Victoria Massie

Sonia Sotomayor

Getty Images | Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Loser 1: The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment has been a loser for basically every Supreme Court session of the past 20 years. The Court hasn’t had a former criminal defense lawyer as a member in a quarter-century — perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s been much more deferential to police than “suspects.”

Arguably, this term wasn’t even as bad for the Fourth Amendment as it could have been: Last week the Court did hold that police couldn’t conduct warrantless blood tests on drivers suspected of DUI, though it maintained that warrantless breathalyzer tests were kosher.

Killing the driver, though, is apparently okay: In an 8-1 decision granting legal immunity to a police officer who shot and killed a driver as he was fleeing, the Court said it has “never found the use of deadly force in connection with a dangerous car chase to violate the Fourth Amendment.” (Justice Sotomayor called the decision a license to “shoot first and ask questions later.”)

And even if an officer acted unconstitutionally, suspects can still be out of luck. The “exclusionary rule” is supposed to prevent evidence gathered unconstitutionally from being used at trial, but the Supreme Court has been chipping away at it for years, and struck it another blow at the end of this term. In Utah v. Strieff, the Court found that even though a driver had been stopped unconstitutionally, the drugs seized during the unconstitutional stop were still admissible — because the officer had discovered an outstanding warrant afterward, offering retroactive validation.

Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in Strieff got deserved attention; what got less attention was that (thanks to Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg) she wasn’t alone in dissenting, as she’s often been in Fourth Amendment cases on this Court. Maybe that’s a good sign. But a three-justice dissent is still a dissent. —Dara Lind

Loser 2: Merrick Garland

Yes, President Obama’s choice to replace the late Justice Scalia lost in one obvious way — he still hasn’t been confirmed to the Court and hasn’t even gotten a Senate hearing. But in addition to that, the argument that he should be speedily confirmed because the Supreme Court would be completely dysfunctional with only eight justices took a bit of a hit — because just 6.9 percent of cases since Scalia have ended up as 4-4 ties, according to CNBC.

Now, these deadlocks do include a few major cases — on unions, immigration, and tribal jurisdiction. So the confirmation of Garland or another justice would still matter a great deal. But the Court was relatively functional without Scalia, all things considered, so Democrats lost one potential argument they could make in favor of a speedy confirmation of Garland. —Andrew Prokop

Loser 3: Texas

Texas lawmakers worked really hard to pass the anti-abortion bill HB 2 in 2013. Gov. Rick Perry called a special legislative session to pass it, and succeeded despite a filibuster from Wendy Davis and a state capitol full of pro-choice protesters.

Parts of HB 2 still stand, but its biggest anti-abortion tools — the two provisions that closed about half of the state’s clinics — are now constitutional toast.

What’s more, as outlined in the “evidence” entry above, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a much stronger abortion rights decision than the last one the Court handed down in 2007’s Gonzales v. Carhart.

It’s too soon to tell how far-reaching Whole Woman’s Health will be when it comes to the many, many other anti-abortion laws that states have passed. And anti-abortion lobbyists are nothing if not creative when it comes to inventing new model legislation to try out in the states.

But it looks like Texas has singlehandedly made it a lot harder for the pro-life movement to carry out its long-term plan of regulating abortion out of existence at the state level. —Emily Crockett

Loser 4: Puerto Rico

Hopes of Puerto Rico becoming a self-determining entity were squashed this Supreme Court cycle.

Right now Puerto Rico’s economy is in a “death spiral.” The small Caribbean island is facing a $72 billion debt crisis it cannot pay. And although Puerto Rico is a primarily self-governing body, as a US territory its power depends on Congress, which offers little relief.

In 1984, Congress passed a federal bankruptcy law denying the island (and Washington, DC) any semblance of statehood status that, by extension, barred it from filing Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

However, in Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust, Puerto Rico appealed to the Supreme Court to see if it would grant the island the freedom to attempt independently restructuring its debt. Instead, the Court ruled against it, further solidifying Congress’s power to micromanage the island.

Puerto Rico’s hands are tied. The island faces the possibility of defaulting on a $2 billion payment for major utilities like electricity and water sewage in July. But without the prospect of statehood, the Supreme Court ruling only exacerbates the extreme difficulties Puerto Rico is facing. —Victoria Massie

U.S. Politics

Brexit’s Cautionary Tale for Trump Supporters

More than 13 million people voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential primary, the most votes ever for a Republican primary candidate. (via Gage Skidmore / CC 2.0


By Eugene Robinson

Here is the real lesson from the stunning Brexit vote: Throwing a tantrum at the polls is not liberating; it is self-defeating. Those tempted to vote for Donald Trump should pay very close attention.

Brexit was a big deal, but it is not the end of the world. Reeling financial markets should recover from the shock, which has been nowhere near as serious as the 2008 meltdown. There will be some political turmoil in Europe, but I believe it will abate as everyone sees the extent to which British voters were defrauded.

It is already clear that those who chose to leave the European Union will not reap the benefits they were promised. Great Britain, or what’s left of it, will become a little poorer, less dynamic and less important. That’s about it.

The working-class Britons who bought the Brexit snake oil likely will not see their incomes rise or their prospects brighten. Nor will they see their multicultural society become monocultural again. The whole thing was a fantasy, cynically concocted by ambitious politicians who apparently never thought the nation would take them seriously.

Boris Johnson, the former London mayor and one-time journalist who became the face of the Leave campaign, had the nerve to write an unctuous newspaper op-ed, published Monday, in which he counseled everyone to remain calm. Britain “is part of Europe, and always will be,” wrote the man who did all he could to divorce his island nation from the continent.

Johnson was booed by onlookers as he left his home the morning after the vote. “We who are part of this narrow majority must do everything we can to reassure the Remainers,” he wrote in his op-ed. Translation: Please don’t throw things at me.

It turns out that the Leave proponents maybe didn’t really want to leave—that they still want the benefits of EU membership, but without the responsibilities. Britons will still be able to live and work throughout Europe, Johnson promised, and “there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market.” This all may turn out to be true—but to keep these benefits, Britain will have to agree to most or all of the EU regulations that Brexit proponents deemed so suffocating.

Meanwhile, the other leading Brexiteer, U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, admitted that Britain won’t actually see a savings of hundreds of millions of pounds that could be used to improve the National Health Service. Claims to that effect were a “mistake,” he said. Sorry, old chap.

Some European leaders are calling for Britain to quickly take the formal steps that would begin the Brexit process. But Johnson maintains there is no hurry—an odd stance, given how wonderful he told voters their lives would be as soon as they slipped the EU’s oppressive yoke. Could he be experiencing seller’s remorse, fearing the reaction when Britons realize the shiny new Rolex he sold them is a fake?

I hope U.S. voters are paying attention. The Brexit solution is pure counterfeit but the underlying issues are real. In Britain as in this country, working-class incomes are stagnant and immigration, to some, seems out of control. Globalization seems to benefit the well-off and well-educated at the expense of everyone else. The temptation is to take refuge in nationalism—forget the rest of the world, take care of our own, fend for ourselves. Build a wall.

That is Trump’s message. But the gap between what he promises and what he can possibly deliver is even wider than in the Brexit example.

It is a cliche to say that we live in an interconnected world, but that is the truth. Globalization is a fact and cannot be repealed by referendum—or, for that matter, by slogans printed on baseball caps. Nor can technological progress be reversed by any amount of ranting and raving.

Most of the manufacturing jobs that have disappeared from developed countries are gone forever, shipped off to places where labor is cheaper or eliminated by the use of robots. Borders are necessarily porous because goods, services and people have to cross them. What we need are policy initiatives that seek to address the economic malaise in places like the north of England and the American Rust Belt. What we do not need are simplistic, jingoistic “solutions” that don’t solve anything.

Brexit could end up breaking Britain into pieces—without addressing any of the problems it was supposed to solve. I hope Trump supporters pay attention. Catharsis is not a plan.

U.S. Politics

Here are notable commissions, reviews that are far shorter and more significant than Benghazi probes

House Benghazi Committee Chairman, Trey Gowdy (R-SC), with fellow Committee Republicans discuss reports on U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others that were killed during an attack on a U.S. outpost and CIA annex in Libya on September 11, 2012.

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)


The U.S. Select Committee on Benghazi took longer than a slew of commissions, reviews and trials that have been far more significant than the Benghazi probes.

Members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi held its third public hearing to investigate the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where a violent mob killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

(Members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi held its third public hearing to investigate the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where a violent mob killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens | J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP)

U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi

Created: May 2 , 2014

Issued findings: June 28, 2016

Benghazi attack report brings no bombshells on Clinton’s role

Length: one year, seven months, 25 days

Witnesses are sworn in before the start of the last two-day public hearing of the 9-11 Commission on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 in Washington.

(Witnesses are sworn in before the start of the last two-day public hearing of the 9-11 Commission on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 in Washington | EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS)


(President Ronald Reagan holds up a copy of the Tower Commission report on the Iran-Contra affair. Reagan said he was “mad as a hornet” about damage to his administration from the Iran-Contra affair | RON EDMONDS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

9/11 Commission

Created: Nov. 27, 2002

Issued findings: July 22, 2004

Length: one year, seven months, 25 days


(Members of the Tower Commission presented the report to President Reagan shortly before the briefing. Panel members from left are: Edmund Muskie; Chairman of the commissioner John Tower; and Brent Scowcroft | (BOB DAUGHERTY/AP)

Tower Commission (Iran-Contra Scandal)

Created: Dec. 1, 1986

Issued findings: Feb. 26, 1987

Length: two months, 25 days

NOV. 22, 1963 FILE PHOTO.

President John F. Kennedy riding in motorcade with first lady Jacqueline Kennedy before he was shot in Dallas, Texas. 9/11 is the only thing that came close to viewership increase since President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and its aftermath in 1963, but that was only for the people aged 55 and over who experienced the events as they happened instead of replayed as an historical artifact. | (AP)

A AUG. 14, 1964, PHOTO;R54661;;R54661;

(The bipartisan presidential commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy sits for an official picture, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars office on Capitol Hill in Washington. 500 pages of the FBI’s large file on Ford. | ANONYMOUS/AP)

Warren Commission (JFK Assassination)

Created: Nov. 29, 1963

Issued findings: Sept. 24, 1964

Length: nine months, 26 days


(Lyndon Johnson established panel to probe strife. | WX/AP)

Kerner Commission (1967 race riots)

Created: July 28, 1967

Issued findings: Feb. 29, 1968

Length: seven months, 1 day

No Licensing in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. dpaarchive

(The Nuremberg trial was the shortest trial held when compared to the above events. This trial determined the fate of captured Nazis who participated in the genocide or extermination of the Jews | DPA/DPA/PICTURE-ALLIANCE/DPA/AP IMAG)

Nuremberg Trials

Opened: Nov. 19, 1945

Concluded: Oct. 1, 1946

Length: 10 months, 12 days

U.S. Politics

Bernie Sanders Says Brexit Should ‘Sound an Alarm’ Against Donald Trump


A new oped by the Democratic candidate blasts Trump’s policies

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wrote in the New York Times that the socioeconomic struggles that mobilized British citizens to vote for their nation to exit the European Union—shocking their largely wealthier, pro-EU compatriots—live in America, too. He writes in what amounts to a warning to all Americans, but particularly politicians, who discount the importance and realities of those struggling today:

Nearly 47 million Americans live in poverty. An estimated28 million have no health insurance, while many others are underinsured. Millions of people are struggling with outrageous levels of student debt. … Meanwhile, in our country the top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Fifty-eight percentof all new income is going to the top 1 percent. Wall Street and billionaires, through their “super PACs,” are able to buy elections.

Sanders then details what Americans have seen in recent decades: the decline in available factory jobs, that median wages are less than they were not long ago (for women in particular), widespread poverty and healthcare under-coverage, mounting student debt, and shorter lifespans for the impoverished because of “despair, drugs and alcohol.” Meanwhile, Sanders writes, “Fifty-eight percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. Wall Street billionaires, through their ‘super PACs,’ are able to buy elections.”

Sanders warns more specifically specifically against likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whose campaign he compares to the U.K.’s Leave campaign, splotched with “demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment.”

The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.

On the day the Brexit news hit, Sanders told MSNBC he will vote for Hillary Clinton; in this column he says “a new Democratic president” can be a bridge-builder for the troubled country.

U.S. Politics

36 Confirmed Dead After Terrorists Open Fire, Detonate Bombs at Istanbul Atatürk Airport

36 Confirmed Dead After Terrorists Open Fire, Detonate Bombs at Istanbul Atatürk Airport

(Image Credit: AP)


At least 36 and possibly more are dead, and a minimum of 147 others are wounded following an attack on Turkey’s Istanbul Atatürk Airport on Tuesday. Authorities said up to three men, at least one of whom may have been armed with an AK-47, assaulted the airport entrance, shooting at civilians and security personnel and throwing grenades. They then detonated explosive devices, killing themselves and others.

A Turkish official told news agencies on Tuesday that almost 50 people may have been killed; however, by late Tuesday night EST, only 36 have been confirmed by authorities. It was not immediately clear if the death toll included the terrorists, all of whom reportedly died during the attack.

The total number of confirmed injuries stood at 147 Tuesday night.

Turkish officials initially said they suspect the perpetrators are linked to the Islamic State group, the infamous terror organization which has seized control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria, launched large-scale terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium and Paris, and reportedly inspired a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month.

However, New York Times al-Qaeda and ISIS correspondent Rukmini Callimachi noted the group has not formally claimed credit for the assault, and noted scant signs of the group taking responsibility.


U.S. Politics



Attack at Istanbul Airport

Suspected Islamic State group extremists have hit the international terminal of Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, killing dozens of people and wounding many others, Turkish officials said. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said 36 people were killed in the attack, but the death toll was expected to rise