10 things you need to know today. May 26, 2015

(Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)


1.Cleveland reaches settlement over police practices
Cleveland reportedly has reached a settlement with the Justice Department over an alleged pattern of excessive force and civil rights violations by city police. The settlement came after weekend protests over the Saturdayacquittal of a white officer who fired the last 15 rounds of a 137-shot police barrage that killed two unarmed black suspects. The couple had been chased when their car’s backfiring was mistaken for gunshots. The case prompted an 18-month Justice Department investigation that ended with a scathing report requiring reforms.

Source: The New York Times, The Associated Press

2.Flash flood warnings spread as deadly storms continue
Recovery teams on Tuesday are resuming a search for 12 people who went missing when the vacation home they were staying in was swept away by floodwaters in central Texas. At least eight people have been killed since record rains began in Texas and Oklahoma on Saturday. A line of severe storms spawned tornadoes, and prompted flash-flood warnings in eight states. Unprecedented rains inundated Houston and left 80,000 without power. At least 13 people were killed when a tornado devastated the Mexican border town of Ciudad Acuna.

Source: The Associated Press, NBC News

3.Charter to acquire Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion
Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy Time Warner Cable for about $56.7 billion in cash and stock. If the deal clears antitrust scrutiny and is approved, Charter would pay about $195 a share for its much larger rival, which is about 14 percent more than Time Warner Cable’s closing stock price on Friday. The deal will make Charter a formidable rival of Comcast, the nation’s biggest cable operator. Comcast tried to buy Time Warner Cable last year for $45 billion.

Source: The New York Times

4.Airliners searched after anonymous threats
U.S. authorities scrambled fighter jets to escort an Air France plane into New York City on Monday after anonymous threats were made against six international flights. A caller had claimed that a chemical weapon was on board the Air France jet bound for New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport from Paris. The pilot of an American Airlines flight from Birmingham, England, was ordered to land and taxi away from the terminal. Two of the threatened planes were subjected to detailed searches. All were cleared.

Source: The Telegraph

5.China increases its military capabilities in the disputed South China Sea
China said Tuesday that it was boosting its naval capabilities in the disputed South China Sea. In a policy document, the communist nation’s cabinet said it was increasing its offensive resources to counter “provocative actions.” China recently criticized the U.S. for flying a surveillance drone near a reef where China was doing construction work. China claims most of the South China Sea, but the Philippines, Taiwan, and other countries also say they control parts of the disputed waters.

Source: Reuters

6.Iraq launches operation to drive ISIS from Anbar province
Iraq announced Tuesday that it was launching a military offensive to drive Islamic State militants out of western Anbar province. ISIS seized control of the provincial capital, Ramadi, earlier this month, marking the biggest setback for government forces since a U.S.-led coalition launched airstrikes against the advancing Islamist extremists last year. A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi countered U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s recent statement that Iraqi forces outnumbered insurgents but lacked the “will to fight” in Ramadi, saying he was misinformed.

Source: The Associated Press

7.Post reporter Jason Rezaian goes on trial in Tehran
Iran on Tuesday started the trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian on espionage charges, the country’s official news agency reported. Rezaian, the Post‘s Tehran bureau chief, was arrested last July along with his wife Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian national. She and a photojournalist went on trial alongside Rezaian, a California native who holds dual citizenship. The court proceedings were closed to the public.Post executive editor Marty Baron called Rezaian’s treatment “shameful.”

Source: The Washington Post

8.Malaysia exhumes suspected migrant remains from mass graves
Malaysia on Tuesday began exhuming the bodies of suspected migrants found in mass graves near the Thai border. Thousands of migrants have left Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat, and overland through Thailand and Malaysia. Many have been ferried by human traffickers. Malaysian authorities found 139 graves holding an undetermined number of bodies in abandoned jungle camps, where they believe traffickers held migrants for ransom — some of them in barbed-wire cages.

Source: BBC News

9. Bears release Ray McDonald after domestic violence charge
The Chicago Bears on Monday dropped defensive lineman Ray McDonald after his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence and child endangerment in California. Santa Clara police accused McDonald of assaulting a woman holding a baby outside his San Jose home. The Bears signed McDonald to a one-year, $1.5 million contract in March, giving him a second chance in the NFL after the 49ers released him over a string of legal troubles.

Source: Chicago Tribune

10.B.B. King’s daughters say their father was poisoned
Two of B.B. King’s daughters say the blues legend, who died this month in hospice care at age 89, was poisoned by close associates. Clark County, Nevada, Coroner John Fudenberg said preliminary autopsy results did not substantiate the allegations, but that his office was “taking them very seriously.” The daughters — Patty King and Karen Williams — pointed fingers at LaVerne Toney, King’s business manager, and Myron Johnson, his personal assistant. The attorney for King’s estate called the accusations “defamatory and libelous.”

Source: CNN

Harold Maass

10 things you need to know today: May 8, 2015

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth


1.David Cameron’s Conservatives shock rivals in British elections
Britain’s Conservative party won an unexpectedly decisive victory in Thursday’sparliamentary elections, giving Prime Minister David Cameron another five years in office. The Conservatives on Friday were projected to win a majority in Parliament’s 650-member lower house and govern alone for the first time since 1992. The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Ed Miliband, resigned. Cameron’s win means the U.K. will face a vote on whether to stay in the European Union.

Source: Reuters

2.Justice Department says it will investigate Baltimore’s police
The Justice Department will investigate Baltimore police tactics, law enforcement sources said Thursday. A day earlier, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the Justice Department to launch a review of the city’s Police Department. Six officers are facing criminal charges over the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody last month. Gray’s death sparked days of unrest. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he is “willing to do anything it takes” to regain the public’s trust.

Source: The New York Times

3.Court calls NSA collection of phone records illegal
A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the National Security Agency’s warrantless collection of millions of Americans’ phone records is not authorized under the Patriot Act and is therefore illegal. The program “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized,” the Second Circuit Court of Appeals wrote. The White House and defenders of the controversial program claimed Section 215 of the Patriot Act allowed for warrantless phone monitoring.

Source: CNN

4.Senate approves bill that would give Congress input on an Iran nuclear deal
The Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would give Congress the right to review any nuclear deal negotiated with Iran. The bipartisan compromise passed 98-to-1 after GOP leaders blocked efforts by some conservatives to amend it. The House is likely to approve its version next week. The deal would give Congress 30 days to review the final deal. The White House at first opposed the bill, but reversed course after Democrats secured changes making it more palatable to the Obama administration.

Source: The Washington Post

5.Ebola returns to doctor declared cured last year
A doctor declared cured of Ebola last year nearly lost his vision less than two months later when the virus was found to be lingering in his left eye, according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The patient, Dr. Ian Crozier, first fell sick when working as a World Health Organization volunteer in an Ebola treatment ward in Sierra Leone. He was released from Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital in October, but returned in December with fading eyesight and pain. His vision has improved with renewed treatment.

Source: The New York Times, The Washington Post

6.Stephen Colbert helps fund grants for South Carolina teachers
Comedian Stephen Colbert promised Thursday to fund all existing grant requests made by South Carolina public school teachers on the education crowdfunding site DonorsChoose.org. Colbert made the commitment in partnership with The Morgridge Family Foundation’s Share Fair Nation and ScanSource. Colbert and his allies will pay a total of $800,000 to fund nearly 1,000 projects proposed by more than 800 teachers at 375 schools. “Enjoy your learning, South Carolina,” Colbert said.

Source: The Greenville News

7.Senior leader of al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate reportedly killed in drone strike
A senior commander of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi, has been killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, a spokesman for the terrorist organization said in a video posted online. Al-Ansi appeared in a video in January claiming that the group was responsible for the attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 cartoonists and other magazine staffers were killed in revenge for the magazine’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Source: CNN

8.Russian spacecraft crashes back to Earth
Russia’s Progress spacecraft reentered Earth’s atmosphere on Friday after going out of control while carrying supplies to the International Space Station. The unmanned cargo craft was believed to have been burned up nearly completely from the friction of reentry. The ship was launched on April 28, and returned to Earth over the Pacific Ocean. The space station is not in danger of running out of supplies. Another supply ship is scheduled to be launched — by the U.S. company SpaceX — in June.

Source: The Associated Press

9. Alex Rodriguez passes Willie Mays on the all-time home-run list
New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez hit his 661st home run on Thursday to pass the legendary Willie Mays and take sole possession of fourth place on Major League Baseball’s all-time home-run list. Rodriguez was suspended for 2014 season over his use of performance-enhancing drugs. He said it was “a little awkward” to hear fans’ cheers. “I thought the reaction was incredible,” he said, “and it was very humbling.” The next slugger for Rodriguez to catch is Babe Ruth, who hit 714 career home runs.

Source: USA Today

10.Tom Brady says “deflategate” does not diminish Patriots’ accomplishments
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said the so-called deflategate scandal had “absolutely not” taken anything away from his team’s victory in the Super Bowl. He said the Patriots “earned and achieved everything we got this year.” Brady said he needed more time before commenting directly on a damning report released a day earlier that said he probably had been aware that game balls were being under-inflated during the rainy AFC championship game in January. Under-inflated balls can be easier to throw and catch in bad weather.

Source: NBC News

10 things you need to know today: May 7, 2015

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth


1.Britons vote in tight parliamentary election
British voters go to the polls on Thursday to end a bitter six-week battle for control of Parliament. Either Conservative incumbent David Cameron or Labor challenger EdMiliband will emerge from the vote as prime minister. The leading parties have been locked in a tight race for months, suggesting neither will win themajority necessary to rule without coalition partners. “This race is going to be the closest we have ever seen,”Miliband said on the eve of the vote. “It is going to go down to the wire.”Source: Reuters, The Washington Post
2.Baltimore mayor requests civil rights investigation of police department
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday asked the Justice Department to open a civil rights investigation into the practices of her city’s police department. The move came following unrest over the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who suffered a fatal injury in police custody. A Justice Department spokeswoman said that Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who visited the city a day earlier, “is actively considering that option” after speaking with police and community leaders.Source: Baltimore Sun
3.Investigators believe Texas attack was the work of lone wolf, not ISIS
The White House said Wednesday that the attack by two gunmen on a Texas cartoon contest featuring images of the Prophet Muhammad appeared to be the work of “lone wolf” terrorists, although it was too early to be sure. The self-proclaimedIslamic State has claimed credit for the attack, which left the two alleged gunmen dead. Investigators have found nohard evidence ISIS was directly involved. One of the alleged gunmen, Elton Simpson, did exchange Twitter messages with a member of an ISIS affiliate days before the attack.Source: Los Angeles Times
4.Hillary Clinton works with super PAC to compete with GOP fundraising
Hillary Clinton reportedly plans to personally cultivate donors for the top Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action. As a declared candidate, Clinton cannot ask donors for more than $5,000 for the super PAC, but under Federal Election Commission rules, she can attend events and talk to the audience. A Clinton campaign official said the move — a first for a declared Democratic candidate — is necessary to compete with GOP rivals who are “outsourcing their entire campaign to super PACs.”Source: The New York Times
5.Netanyahu strikes 11th-hour deal to form coalition
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday struck a deal to form a new coalition government just before a midnight deadline. Nearly two months after winning re-election to a fourth term, Netanyahu announced around 11 p.m.he had cobbled together at least the 61 seats necessary in parliament to form a new government after securing the support of the nationalist Jewish Home party. Netanyahu came from behind to win a tight election in March, and the thin margin complicated the task of forming a new government.Source: The New York Times, Reuters
6.Cluster of tornadoes slams Plains states
At least 50 tornadoes tore through the Plains states on Wednesday, injuring 12 people. No deaths were immediately reported. Tornadoes were spotted in at least three states — Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. Storms damaged dozens of homes, and caused flash floods in Oklahoma. Students at the University of Oklahoma in Norman had to take cover in dorms as a “large and extremely dangerous” twister was spotted over the city. Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City was evacuated twice as violent storms approached.Source: NBC News, Fox News
7.Chicago approves $5.5 million for torture victims
The Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved a $5.5 million in reparations for victims allegedly tortured by former police Cmdr. JonBurge. City lawmakers gave a standing ovation to some of the victims and their relatives, who were watching from the gallery. One of the aldermen,Proco “Joe” Moreno, said the day was “truly historic,” and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the move was an essential step in “removing a stain” on the city. Burge and his men allegedly tortured more than 100 people, most of themAfrican Americans, to extract confessions between 1972 and 1991.Source: Chicago Tribune
8.California adopts rules for seawater desalination plants
California water regulators on Wednesday approved rules for permitting seawater desalination projects. The Western Hemisphere’s biggest desalination plant is already under construction in Carlsbad, California. The plant will be able to produce 50 million gallons a day, meeting about 10 percent of San Diego County’s drinking-water demand. More such facilities are being proposed across the state as communities seek ways to supplement drinking water supplies during an historic drought.Source: Reuters
9. L.A. police chief questions officer’s fatal shooting of unarmed homeless man
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday that he had seen no evidence justifying the fatal shooting of an unarmed homeless man by a police officer late Tuesday. Beck said he was “very concerned” about the shooting near Venice Beach, but said the investigation was still underway. The union representing officers said it was premature and “completely irresponsible” for Beck to publicly question the officer “without havingall of the facts.”Source: NBC News
10.Report: Patriots QB Tom Brady probably knew about deflategate tampering
An NFL report made public Wednesday concluded that it was “more probable than not” that New England Patriots staffers deliberately deflated footballs contrary to league rules during the 2015 AFC championship game in January. The authors of the 243-page report, which includedinput from lawyers and physics experts, concluded that star Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — but not coach BillBelichick — was probably “at least generally aware” of the alleged cheating. Brady’s dad said he was framed.Source: The New York Times, New York Daily News

U.S. to tell Americans why they’re on no-fly list

Americans on the no-fly list can now get information about why they've been banned from flights.
Americans on the no-fly list can now get information about why they’ve been banned from flights | Attribution: none


Americans on the United States’ no-fly list will now be privy to information about why they have been banned from commercial flights and be given the opportunity to dispute their status, according to court documents filed by the Justice Department this week.

The revised policy comes in response to a June ruling by a federal judge that said the old process was in violation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process. The decision was part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit brought on behalf of 13 Americans on the list.

But the ACLU isn’t satisfied with the government’s new policy, outlined in documents filed Monday in federal courts in Oregon (PDF) and Virginia (PDF).

“After years of fighting in court for complete secrecy and losing, it’s good that the government is finally now going to tell people of their status on the No Fly List,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project and the lead attorney on the case, in a statement.

“Unfortunately, we’ve found that the government’s new redress process falls far short of constitutional requirements because it denies our clients meaningful notice, evidence, and a hearing. The government had an opportunity to come up with a fair process but failed, so we’re challenging it in court again.”

People on the no-fly list, managed by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, are prohibited from boarding a commercial flight for travel into or out of the United States.

The number of people on the list is classified. An official with knowledge of the government’s figures told CNN in 2012 that the list contained about 21,000 names, including about 500 Americans.

Before the change, American citizens and permanent residents who inquired with the government about being denied aircraft boarding received a letter that neither confirmed nor denied their inclusion on the no-fly list. Now, they’ll be made aware of their status if they apply for redress, with an option to request further information.

“The U.S. government is making enhancements to the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) to provide additional transparency and process for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been denied boarding on a commercial aircraft because they are on the No Fly List,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

In cases in which travelers included on the list request to receive or submit more information about their status, the government will provide a second, more detailed response, identifying “specific criterion under which the individual has been placed on the No Fly List,” according to the court documents.

An unclassified summary of that information will be provided “to the extent feasible, consistent with the national security and law enforcement interests at stake,” court papers said.

Those who appear on the no-fly list will then have further opportunity to dispute their status in writing, with supporting materials or exhibits, and will receive a final written decision from the Transportation Security Administration.

The 2014 ruling that prompted the policy changes had called for passengers on the list to be given the opportunity to dispute their status before a judge.

10 things you need to know today: March 11, 2015

(Yana Paskova/Getty Images)


1.Oklahoma students expelled over racist video
University of Oklahoma officials expelled two students on Tuesday, accusing them of playing a “leadership role” in a racist chant by Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members that was caught on video. President David Boren said the school was enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy for “threatening racist behavior.” The university has closed the fraternity house and boarded up its windows. One of the students in the video, Parker Rice, apologized for what he called “a horrible mistake” and vowed to “reject racism” in the future.

Source: CNN, NBC News

2.Hillary Clinton defends her use of a private email system at State Department
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday made her first response to criticism over her use of a private email account as secretary of state, saying she used the personal account because she “opted for convenience.” Clinton pushed back against suggestions she skirted record-keeping rules, and said she “went above and beyond” what was required of her. She said she gave the State Department “anything that could be possibly viewed as work-related,” but conceded it “would have been better” to use a second, government account.

Source: The Associated Press, NBC News

3.Ferguson’s city manager resigns after highly critical Justice Department report
Ferguson, Missouri, city manager John Shaw resigned Tuesday in the wake of a scathing Justice Department describing rampant racial discrimination by the city’s police department and municipal court system. The report named Shaw, the city’s most powerful official, as one of the people responsible for much of the unfair conduct of the police and courts. The announcement about Shaw’s resignation came during a City Council meeting a week after the release of the Justice Department report.

Source: The New York Times

4.Feud continues over GOP senators’ letter to Iran
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) pushed back Tuesday against White House criticism of a letter, signed by 47 GOP senators, that he wrote to Iran warning that Congress could reverse any nuclear deal Tehran negotiates with President Obama. Vice President Joe Biden said the letter was “beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.” Cotton shot back that Biden, “as Barack Obama’s own secretary of defense has said, has been wrong about nearly every foreign policy and national security decision in the last 40 years.”

Source: Mediaite

5.11 missing after military helicopter crash
An Army helicopter crashed during a routine training mission Tuesdaynight at Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola, Florida, leaving seven Marines and four National Guard soldiers missing. Debris from the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter was found on a remote government-owned beach early Wednesday. A search-and-rescue mission was underway. An Eglin spokesman could not say what went wrong with the helicopter, although there were “weather issues” at the time of the crash.

Source: NBC News

6.Iraqi government forces retake part of Tikrit
Iraqi forces, backed by Shiite militia, retook parts of Tikrit from Islamic State fighters on Tuesday. ISIS forces reportedly had begun retreating from the besieged, strategically important city. Government forces have been fighting for a week to take back Tikrit. The offensive involves more than 30,000 pro-government fighters, making it the largest Iraqi military operation yet against ISIS. A victory there would mark major progress toward reclaiming Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, from ISIS.

Source: The New York Times

7.Stocks plunge as interest rate hikes loom
U.S. stocks fell into the red for the year on Tuesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by 333 points, or 1.9 percent, on anxiety over the prospect of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. European stocks fared even worse, with Britain’s FTSE 100 plunging by 2.5 percent thanks to the euro’s declining value compared to the dollar. The euro his a 12-year low at 1.077 per dollar.

Source: USA Today

8.ISIS releases video showing child shooting and killing Israeli hostage
The Islamic State reportedly released a video on Tuesday showing a child shooting and killing a man identified by the terrorist group as an Israeli spy. The victim was identified as Mohamed Said Ismail Musallam, a 19-year-old Israeli of Arab descent. His father, Said Musallam, said the victim had no ties to the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, and that he had been recruited by ISIS. “Mohamed told me and his brother that ISIS took him,” Said Mussalam said.

Source: CNN

9. Teenage suicide bomber kills 34 in Nigeria
A teenage girl reportedly detonated a suicide bomb in a market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday, killing at least 34 people. Many more people were wounded. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the attack was similar to a series of others blamed on Boko Haram, an Islamist terror organization that recently declared its allegiance to the Islamic State. Boko Haram has been fighting for six years to impose Islamic law in Nigeria.

Source: The Associated Press

10.Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams told to pay $7.4 million in Blurred Lines suit
A federal jury in Los Angeles found Tuesday that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it Up when they created their 2013 hit Blurred Lines. The jury awarded Gaye’s children $7.4 million. Testimony in the trial described numerous similarities between the two songs, and focused on whether Blurred Lines was an homage to Gaye or a copy of his work. An attorney for Thicke and Williams said they remained “unwavering in their absolute conviction that they wrote this song independently.”

Source: MTV

10 things you need to know today: March 7, 2015

The Week

1.Sen. Robert Menendez will reportedly face criminal corruption charges
The Justice Department is reportedly preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), sources said on Friday. Menendez is accused of doing political favors for a Florida doctor, Salomon Melgen, a close friend and benefactor. CNN, which first broke the news, said the official announcement from prosecutors may come within weeks. Menendez’s office called the allegations a “smear campaign,” and denied any wrongdoing by the senator.Source: CNN, The New York Times
2.Russian officials arrest two men in connection with Boris Nemtsov murder
Russian authorities announced on Saturday that they had arrested two men in connection with the murder of political opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s federal security service, named the pair as Anzor Gubashev and Zaur Dadayev, both from the southern region of Caucasus. It was unclear whether authorities believe either detained man is suspected of actually killing Nemtsov, or just of being involved in the murder. Nemtsov, 55, was shot four times in the back while walking near the Kremlin on Feb. 27. Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the murder of his longtime opponent as a “provocation” and a “vile and cynical murder.”Source: The Guardian
3.Obama criticizes Ferguson for ‘systematic’ racial bias
President Barack Obama on Friday addressed the U.S. Justice Department’s report that cited “oppressive and abusive” actions against African Americans in Ferguson, Missouri. “What we saw was the the Ferguson Police Department, in conjunction with the municipality…systematically was biased against African Americans in that city who were stopped, harassed, mistreated, abused, called names, fined,” Obama said at a town hall-style meeting in South Carolina. The city of Ferguson is making efforts to reform its practices in order to reach a settlement with the Justice Department; Mayor James Knowles said on Fridaythat three municipal employees who had demonstrated “egregious racial bias” were no longer working for the city.Source: Reuters
4.Germany approves legal quotas for women to sit on company boards
Starting in 2016, German companies that include employee representation on supervisory boards will be required to allot 30 percent of their seats to women. The vote by Germany’s lower house of parliament on Friday was an “historic step” for equal rights, Family Affairs Minister Manuela Schwesig said. While Angela Merkel has led Germany since 2005, there is not one female chief executive among Germany’s 30 largest firms, and a recent survey found that 59 percent of mid-sized German companies do not include even one woman in a position of leadership.Source: Reuters
5.U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February
The latest report from the Bureau of Labor statistics found the U.S. economy generated 295,000 new jobs in February, while the unemployment rate decreased from 5.7 percent in January to 5.5 percent. Average hourly earnings for all workers also rose to $24.78, up from $24.75 in January. The February numbers beat out the expectations of Wall Street economists, who were anticipating 235,000 new jobs. This remains the longest stretch of sustained growth above 200,000 jobs per month since the early 1990s.Source: Fortune
6.NCAA suspends Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim for 9 games, pulls 12 basketball scholarships
The NCAA released its findings on Friday from an investigation into Syracuse University’s athletic programs, and it cited multiple infractions dating back to 2001, primarily by the men’s basketball program but also by the football program, including “academic misconduct, extra benefits, failure to follow its drug testing policy and impermissible booster activity.” The NCAA sanctioned Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim with a nine-ACC-game suspension, and the Orange will lose 12 scholarships over the next four years. Syracuse announced earlier this year that the basketball team would forego participation in the ACC and NCAA tournaments as a self-imposed punishment; the NCAA declared that sufficient and announced it will not impose more postseason bans, although both the basketball and football teams will be on probation for the next five years.Source: Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post
7.Apple replaces AT&T on the Down Jones industrial average
S&P Dow Jones Indices has added Apple Inc. to its Dow Jones industrial average, replacing AT&T. “It would be difficult to pick any 30 companies that would cover the entire economy, especially compared with the S&P 500, but it does give the Dow more credibility,” Richard Sichel, a chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co., said. AT&T had been part of the Dow for nearly a century, but investors have said that Apple now better reflects the role of communications and technology within the economy.Source: Reuters
8.Russian President Putin takes 10 percent salary cut
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that he is taking a 10 percent salary cut, effective March 1 through December 31, 2015. Putin’s signed decree also cuts the salaries of several other top government officials, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, and Alexander Bastrykin, president of Russia’s Investigative Committee. Moscow continues to deny any support of pro-Russia militants in neighboring Ukraine, but skeptical Western leaders have imposed sanctions on Russia in response, which have crippled the country’s economy in recent months.Source: Agence France Presse
9. NASA probe reaches orbit of dwarf planet Ceres
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft successfully entered orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres on Friday, eight years after scientists first launched the probe on its $473 million mission. Ceres lies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter; Dawn will spend 16 months exploring the dwarf planet, which scientists discovered more than 200 years ago. NASA hopes the new mission will reveal more about the previous Dawn images of Ceres, which show mysterious spots on its surface, that could be signs of ice or liquid water.Source: NBC News
10.Albert Maysles, Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelterdocumentarian, dies at 88
Legendary documentarian Albert Maysles died on Friday at 88 years old. Maysles’ 60-year career as a documentarian began with the short Psychiatry in Russia, in 1955. In the decades that followed — and often in collaboration with his brother David — he helmed acclaimed documentaries such as Salesman,Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens. Maysles’ final film, In Transit, debuts at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.Source: The Hollywood Reporter

10 things you need to know today: March 5, 2015

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The Week

1.U.S. ambassador to South Korea injured in knife attack
A leftist activist slashed U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert with a knife early Thursday during a breakfast seminar in Seoul. Lippert was rushed to a hospital bleeding profusely with wounds to his face and wrist. The alleged assailant, 55-year-old Kim Ki-Jong, was apprehended. Kim told reporters that he was angry over ongoing annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises. North Korea called the attack “righteous punishment” against the U.S.

Source: The Korea Herald, ABC News

2.Hillary Clinton asks the State Department to release her emails
Hillary Clinton said late Wednesday that she had asked the State Department to release her emails. “I want the public to see my email,” Clinton said via Twitter in her first public response to reports that she had used a private email address during her years as secretary of State. A State Department spokeswoman said the department “will undertake this review as quickly as possible. Given the sheer volume of the document set, this review will take some time to complete.”

Source: Fox News, Reuters

3.Senate Republicans fail to override Obama’s Keystone pipeline veto
The Republican-led Senate on Wednesday fell five votes short of the 67 needed to override President Obama’s veto of legislation to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The 1,179-mile pipeline would carry Canadian tar-sands oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Obama vetoed the bill over unanswered questions about its environmental impact. There also is a court challenge to the pipeline’s proposed route in Nebraska. Republicans say the project should go forward because the construction phase would create thousands of jobs.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

4.No civil rights charges against ex-Ferguson-cop Darren Wilson
The Justice Department reported Wednesday that it would not file federal civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teen Michael Brown last year. Prosecutors found no evidence countering Wilson’s assertion that he fired to protect himself. The case touched off months of protests of police treatment of African Americans. The Justice Department separately found that Ferguson needed to completely overhaul its approach to policing to correct discrimination that stoked racial tensions.

Source: CNN, The New York Times

5.High court hears arguments in ObamaCare challenge
Supreme Court justices heard arguments Wednesday in a legal challenge to President Obama’s health-care law, with the court’s conservative and liberal wings sharply divided. The conservative plaintiffs argued that the law says insurance subsidies are available to those buying coverage on exchanges “established by the state,” so people buying insurance on the federal exchange should lose their subsidies. Potential swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy said there was a “serious constitutional problem” with that logic.

Source: Reuters, The Washington Post

6.Liberia releases its last Ebola patient
Liberia released its final Ebola patient from a Chinese-built hospital in the capital, Monrovia, on Thursday, according to Tolbert Nyenswah, the head of the country’s Incidence Management System. The recovered patient is the last known case of Ebola in Liberia, and if no new cases emerge in the next 42 days, the country will be declared Ebola-free. Almost 10,000 people have died since the world’s worst Ebola outbreak started a year ago, and Liberia shouldered the highest number of deaths.

Source: The Associated Press

7.Sweet Briar supporters rally to keep the college from shutting down
Students and alumnae of Sweet Briar College in Virginia united on social mediaWednesday, vowing to keep the 114-year-old private women’s college open. The surge of support came after the school’s board of directors voted to close the 3,250-acre campus on Aug. 25, citing financial reasons. A website was launched aiming to raise $250 million to keep Sweet Briar alive. The remote school’s annual tuition is $47,000, but it has had to offer deep discounts to slow declining enrollment.

Source: The Associated Press

8.Alabama judges stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples after state high court order
Judges across Alabama stopped issuing marriage licenses to gay couples after the state’s Supreme Court ordered them to respect a state same-sex marriage ban. The Alabama high court’s ruling directly defied a federal court ruling overturning the ban. Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed, the first in the state to announce he would issue licenses to gay couples, said he was obliged to obey the state high court “whether I agree with it or not.” The U.S. Supreme Court could be called on to resolve the stand-off.

Source: Montgomery Advertiser

9. Possible GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson apologizes for comments on homosexuality
Potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson ignited controversyWednesday when he claimed that homosexuality is “absolutely” a choice, contrary to what the American Psychological Association and most of the medical community says. “A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight, and when they come out they’re gay,” the neurosurgeon told CNN. He said that “thwarts” the argument that being gay was not a choice. Carson later apologized for his “hurtful and divisive” words, saying he only meant that the science was not definitive.

Source: CNN

10.Scientists unearth jawbone of earliest known human
Scientists have found a fossilized jawbone they say belonged to one of the first humans, according to a pair of papers published Wednesday in the journalScience. The broken left mandible, with five intact teeth, was found in volcanic ash and sediment in an East African hillside. It is 2.8 million years old, about 400,000 years older than any previously known fossil from the human genus, Homo, closing the gap between the first humans and the more ape-like Australopithecus genus that included the 3 million year-old “Lucy.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

10 things you need to know today: March 4, 2015

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Week

1.Netanyahu warns of “bad deal” with Iran
Israeli Prime Minister told a joint session of Congress on Tuesday that President Obama was negotiating a “bad deal” with Iran to curb its nuclear program, which Tehran insists is peaceful but Netanyahu and other critics say is close to developing a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu said that Obama’s efforts would “all but guarantee” that Iran would obtain nuclear weapons, and could “threaten the survival of my country.” Obama said Netanyahu had said “nothing new” and offered no credible alternative strategy.

Source: The New York Times

2.House passes Homeland Security funding bill
The House approved a measure Tuesday funding the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the fiscal year, ending a three-month battle that had threatened to shut down the agency after funds ran out at the beginning of March. Conservatives opposed the funding bill because it had been stripped of provisions dismantling President Obama’s executive actions delaying the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants. Obama has said he would sign the bill into law.

Source: Reuters

3.High court hears ObamaCare challenge
The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a challenge to ObamaCare that could strip subsidies from millions of Americans who purchased health coverage in the 37 states that declined to set up their own insurance exchanges. The plaintiffs argue that the text of the law, which allows for subsidies on exchanges “established by the state,” does not cover the federal exchange. ObamaCare supporters say if the challengers win millions could lose insurance and premiums could rise for others.

Source: The Hill

4.Justice Department says Ferguson police discriminated against African Americans
The Justice Department released a report Tuesday accusing the Ferguson, Missouri, police department of using tactics that discriminated against African Americans. The conclusion renewed the anger of the department’s critics, who have demanded reforms since the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a white officer last year. The federal investigation found that blacks accounted for 93 percent of the city’s arrests from 2012 to 2014, although they make up 67 percent of the population.

Source: The Washington Post

5.Ex-CIA chief Petraeus to plead guilty to leaking secrets
David Petraeus will reportedly plead guilty as part of a deal with the Justice Department, The New York Times reports. The plea deal will allow Petraeus, a retired four-star general, to avoid an “embarrassing” trial over whether he gave classified information to his mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell, while he was director of the CIA. Petraeus, who has denied criminal wrongdoing, will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge for mishandling classified information.

Source: The New York Times, ABC News

6.Alabama high court halts same-sex marriages in the state
The Alabama Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a halt to gay marriages in the state. The move directly violated rulings by a federal judge in Mobile who told the local probate to start issuing same-sex couples marriage licenses last month. The state Supreme Court order said the U.S. Constitution could not override Alabama law, which “allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman.” The state high court gave probate judges five days to submit responses arguing they should be allowed to continue granting same-sex couples licenses.

Source: AL.com

7.Indonesia moves condemned foreign inmates to execution site
A group of death-row inmates known as the Bali nine were transferred under heavy military guard Tuesday to the island in Java where they are to be executed by firing squad. The condemned inmates include Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran of Australia. The Indonesian government has rejected pleas from international human rights activists and the Australian government to spare the prisoners, who were convicted of drug trafficking in 2005.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

8.Jury seated in Boston Marathon bombing case
After an arduous two-month selection process that included a request to move the case out of Boston, a 12-member jury was seated Tuesday in the trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The 21-year-old Tsarnaev faces 30 charges and a potential death sentence for allegedly detonating two bombs during the 2013 marathon that killed three people and injured more than 260 others. Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for Wednesday.

Source: The Associated Press, The Boston Globe

9. Snowden’s lawyer says he is considering returning to face charges for leaks
Edward Snowden’s lawyer says the former National Security Agency contractor is prepared to return to the United States from Russia to face trial for allegedly leaking secret documents. Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s Russian lawyer, said Snowden “is thinking about it,” but will only go home if he believes he will get a fair trial. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Snowden “absolutely can and should return” to face the charges, and that he would be treated fairly.

Source: CNN

10.Thousands evacuate as volcano erupts in Chile
The Villarrica volcano in southern Chile erupted on Tuesday, spewing lava and ash hundreds of yards into the air and sending rivers of lava down the 9,000-foot volcano’s sides. Authorities evacuated thousands of people. The heat melted snow, raising the danger of mudslides. “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” Australian tourist Travis Armstrong, 29, said in a telephone interview from Pucon. “Lightning was striking down at the volcano from the ash cloud that formed from the eruption.”

Source: The Associated Press

10 things you need to know today: February 19, 2015

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Week

1.Ukraine call for peacekeepers meets Russian opposition
Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, on Wednesday called for international peacekeepers to restore order to his country’s war-ravaged east, where pro-Russian separatists have continued fighting for a strategic rail hub despite a new ceasefire deal. Hours earlier, thousands of Ukrainian troops pulled out of the town, Debaltseve, where rebels continued fighting after the truce took effect on Sunday. Rebels and Russia, which could veto a peacekeeping proposal at the United Nations Security Council, said sending foreign troops would violate the peace deal.

Source: The Washington Post

2.Obama challenges mainstream Muslims and world leaders to counter extremists
President Obama on Wednesday called on leaders of more than 60 nations to join together to fight “violent extremism,” calling the effort to the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups a “generational challenge.” Obama, speaking on the second day of a three-day summit, called on governments, educators, and mainstream Muslims to “amplify the voices of peace and tolerance,” saying the U.S. is not at war with Islam, but with people who have “perverted Islam.”

Source: The New York Times

3.Obama administration weighs lawsuit against Ferguson police
The Justice Department is getting ready to sue Ferguson, Missouri, police over allegedly racially discriminatory tactics, CNN reported Wednesday. Attorney General Eric Holder said his department is likely this week to release investigators’ findings regarding the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, by a white police officer last year. The Justice Department is expected to say it won’t charge the officer, but will sue the Ferguson Police Department if it doesn’t change its tactics.

Source: CNN

4.Jeb Bush says he is his “own man” on foreign policy
In a speech former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) gave Wednesday before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the likely 2016 presidential candidate tackled the elephants in the room: His brother George W. Bush and father George H.W. Bush. Because they both “shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office” as president, “my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs — sometimes in contrast to theirs,” Jeb Bush said. “I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man.”

Source: The Washington Post

5.Obama taps Joseph Clancy to fix the Secret Service
President Obama has picked acting Secret Service chief Joseph Clancy to run the beleaguered agency long-term. Critics had called on Obama to pick an outsider to lead the Secret Service out of a period of embarrassing security lapses, such as a case last year when a knife-wielding man jumped a fence and managed to get into the White House before being caught. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama believed Clancy would “conduct a candid, clear-eyed assessment” of the agency’s problems.

Source: The Washington Times

6.Fed minutes show the central bank fears hiking interest rates too soon
Federal Reserve policy makers expressed concern in a meeting last month about the possibility of undermining the economic recovery by raising historically low interest rates too soon, according to meeting minutes released Wednesday. Members of the Federal Open Market Committee tried to reconcile conflicting signals from the U.S. economy, which is strengthening, and weak international markets. The central bank now appears to be looking to start raising rates in June.

Source: Reuters

7.Two die in superbug outbreak at UCLA
At least seven patients treated at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center between October and January have been infected by the drug-resistant superbug CRE. Two deaths have been linked to the outbreak. At least 180 people were potentially exposed, and the number could rise as more are tested. UCLA discovered the outbreak in late January, and began notifying patients this week. The superbug can stay on a specialized endoscope that is used to treat cancers and digestive system issues and is hard to disinfect.

Source: Los Angeles Times

8.Record cold pushes from the Midwest into the South
A blast of Arctic and Siberian air will hit parts of the Southeast withrecord cold on Thursday and Friday. Temperatures in Washington, D.C., could drop below zero for the first time since 1994, and areas from Tennessee to Virginia could see the lowest February temperatures on record. The frigid plume early Thursday pushed through the Midwest and Kentucky, which could get the worst of it with temperatures hitting 40 degrees below normal. Forecasters say the entire state will be below zero.

Source: The Washington Post

9. Greek government makes request for bailout extension
Greece on Thursday formally asked the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to extend its bailout by six months. Without the extension, the new government of leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will run out of cash within weeks. Tsipras, who has vowed to dismantle painful austerity measures demanded by creditors, offered concessions and promised not to unilaterally ditch the existing program’s fiscal targets. Eurozone finance ministers plan to consider the request in Brussels on Friday.

Source: Reuters

10.Oregon swears in nation’s first bisexual governor
Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) was sworn in on Wednesdayto replace John Kitzhaber, who resigned in an ethics scandal. Brown, 54, became the nation’s first openly bisexual governor. LGBT rights advocates cheered the news. Brown, 54, served 17 years in the state legislature. She is married to a man. “I don’t think anybody cares” that Brown is bisexual, Bob Moore, a Republican pollster, said. “The whole thing seems irrelevant to me. But what does it mean to be a bisexual and married? What does that mean?”

Source: Los Angeles Times

Scathing NYT Editorial on the NYPD

Daily Kos

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been in office barely a year, and already forces of entropy are roaming the streets, turning their backs on the law, defying civil authority and trying to unravel the social fabric.

So begins the brilliantly ironical NYT op-ed of today regarding the NY Petulance Department.  Or as the NYT characterizes it the Dept. of “sullen insubordination.”

No, not squeegee-men or turnstile-jumpers. We’re talking about the cops.


And they end ballsy:

If the Police Department’s current commanders cannot get the cops to do their jobs, Mr. de Blasio should consider replacing them.  He should invite the Justice Department to determine if the police are guilty of civil rights violations in withdrawing policing from minority communities.  He should remind the police that they are public employees, under oath to uphold city and state laws.

Ed. Note: The following graphic comes to mind:   

(Previously published on Seen on the Internet: 1-4-15)