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Archive for June 4th, 2014

A Bulletproof Blanket for Your Kids!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

A Bulletproof Blanket for Your Kids!
One way to curb mass shootings in America’s schools would be for Congress to pass gun control legislation. But since that plan failed miserably, an enterprising father in Oklahoma is offering another solution — equipping children with bulletproof blankets. The Bodyguard Blanket was developed by Steve Walker, a father of two elementary school students who was horrified by the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead. In the fourteen months following Newtown, there were at least 44 school shootings. “We wanted our children to have a layer of protection immediately,” Walker told NBC-afilliated Oklahoma news station, KFOR. They can be stored in the classroom, and, when seconds count, they can be easily applied.”

Claim 6 Soldiers Died for Bergdahl Questioned
Did the search for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl cost the lives of American soldiers? A number of the men who served with him have called him a deserter. Some have gone further, blaming him for the deaths of six to eight soldiers. But a review of casualty reports and contemporaneous military logs from the Afghanistan war shows that the facts surrounding the eight deaths are far murkier than definitive — even as critics of Sergeant Bergdahl contend that every American combat death in Paktika Province in the months after he disappeared, from July to September 2009, was his fault.

Wal-Mart to expand online savings tool nationwide

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Wal-Mart to expand online savings tool nationwide
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is upping the ante on price matching.

A new ‘Destiny’ for non-sequel video games at E3
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Don’t call it a comeback.

Taliban video shows Bowe Bergdahl handover to U.S. troops

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Taliban video shows Bowe Bergdahl handover to U.S. troops
In video posted online, U.S. Army Sgt. held for 5 years by militants is seen being taken out of pickup truck and handed over to American troops who arrive in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Hillary Clinton on 2016: “I have a decision to make”
The former secretary of state weighs in on everything from “House of Cards” to Monica Lewinsky

Bill O’Reilly’s Dangerous Parenting Advice For Transgender Kids

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Bill O’Reilly’s Dangerous Parenting Advice For Transgender Kids

On a network notorious for its problematic coverage of transgender issues, Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor stands out as an especially egregious forum for transphobia, with host Bill O’Reilly using his perch to dispense bigoted and dangerous advice for parents raising transgender children.

During the June 3 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly invited The Five co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle and Fox contributor Lisa Weihl to discuss six-year-old Ryland Whittington, whose parents Jeff and Hillary posted a YouTube video – now viewed nearly 5 million times – describing Ryland’s discovery of his gender identity and their acceptance of his gender transition.

Throughout his discussion of Whittington’s story, O’Reilly misgendered him as a girl, stating that he wouldn’t have allowed Ryland to identify as a boy if he was his parent:

O’REILLY:  I always put myself in the shoes, I wouldn’t do it. Would you do it? I wouldn’t do it. 

WEIHL:  If my child was saying this is how I identify myself – 


WEIHL: And all the experts are saying let him or her be –

O’REILLY: And you let the she be a boy? Would you do it? 


O’REILLY: We know you are touchy-feely. I don’t think five-year-olds make those kinds of decisions. 


O’REILLY: If she wants to play football, I’d let her, but she is still a girl. [emphasis added]

Hillary’s New Benghazi Cover-Up

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Hillary’s New Benghazi Cover-Up
Dick Morris, RealClearPolitics
When Hillary Clinton sat down to pen “Hard Choices,” her memoir that comes out next week, she had a simple explanation for her repeated insistence that the Benghazi raid was motivated by a “hateful video” rather than a terrorist attack. All she had to say was that we relied on the best intelligence available at the time. True, the CIA talking points did not mention a video and, true, Mike Morrell, the former deputy director of the CIA, told Congress that he was surprised to hear U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, while on the Sunday talk shows after the attack, blame the video. “That’s not something…

Ernst Coasts in Iowa Senate Primary, Avoids GOP Convention
Scott Conroy, RealClearPolitics
State Sen. Joni Ernst took a giant step forward in her bid to become Iowa’s first woman ever elected to federal office, winning Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary by an unexpectedly comfortable margin. With 76 percent of precincts reporting, Ernst had 55.7 percent of the vote, easily surpassing the 35 percent threshold required to avoid a June 14 state party convention that would have determined the GOP nominee. College professor and talk radio host Sam Clovis was in a distant second place with 18 percent of the vote, while businessman Mark Jacobs was close behind in third with 17.3…

Four Key Questions on Primary Day in Iowa
Scott Conroy, RealClearPolitics
An open U.S. Senate seat in Iowa is a rare and precious commodity. After all, Republican Chuck Grassley has won re-election by at least a 30-point margin since he was first voted into office as part of the 1980 Reagan wave. And while Democrat Tom Harkin has had some closer shaves, he will have held his seat as the state’s junior senator for three decades by the time he retires at the end of his term in January. Among the Republicans aiming to succeed Harkin, there are four credible — but still largely unknown — candidates vying for their party’s nomination in Tuesday’s…

Voters go to polls in Newark contest

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Voters go to polls in Newark contest
Voters are set to go to the polls on Thursday in the Newark by-election, which was triggered by the resignation of MP Patrick Mercer.

Anti-slavery powers in Queen’s Speech
Courts in England and Wales are set to get new powers to help protect victims of slavery in a new bill featuring in the Queen’s Speech.

Voters ‘duped over recall bill’
Plans in the Queen’s Speech to give voters the power to recall MPs are branded “meaningless” by Tory MP Zac Goldsmith.

Vladimir Putin Calls Hillary Clinton A ‘Weak’ Woman

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Vladimir Putin Calls Hillary Clinton A ‘Weak’ Woman
Russian President Vladimir Putin had some choice words for Hillary Clinton during an interview this week, calling the former Secretary of State a “weak” person who’s “never been too graceful in her statements.”

Putin’s comments Tuesday came in response to questions posed by French journalists regarding remarks Clinton reportedly made earlier this year in which she compared the Russian leader’s aggression in Ukraine to Adolf Hitler’s tactics in the 1930s.

“It’s better not to argue with women,” Putin said, per a transcript of the interview posted online by the Kremlin. “But Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements. Still, we always met afterwards and had cordial conversations at various international events. I think even in this case we could reach an agreement. When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”

The interview, the Kremlin writes on its website, was conducted on Jun. 3 in Sochi.

Clinton, a potential Democratic 2016 presidential contender, hasn’t been the only person who’s been skewered by Putin for comparing him to Hitler. Last month, Reuters reported that the Russian president had accused Prince Charles of unroyal and unacceptable behavior after the royal allegedly compared him to the Nazi dictator.

Mississippi Runoff Tests Veteran Senator’s Value To His State
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The man wearing an orange polo shirt frowned just slightly when I asked if he had a few moments to talk.

Arnold Jackson, a 67-year old supporter of state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s candidacy for U.S. Senate, retired from the oil exploration business years ago. When I stopped him in the halls of the Hattiesburg Lake Terrace convention center on Tuesday, the evening was young and returns from the Senate primary were just starting to come in.

He initially looked impatient. I thought perhaps I may be in for a hostile response to my questions, given the distaste among many conservative grassroots supporters for the press. But Jackson was happy to talk, and revealed himself during our conversation to be well-spoken, thoughtful, and reasonable. I asked why he supported McDaniel’s tea party challenge against Sen. Thad Cochran, since McDaniel seemed focused on national issues like the national debt and Obamacare almost to the total exclusion of state-specific issues. Cochran has made a career of securing federal funding for Mississippi projects and needs.

Jackson, unlike other McDaniel supporters I spoke with, acknowledged that there is a role for members of Congress to look out for their state’s interests in Washington.

“Funds that help the state can be useful,” Jackson said. “However there is a balance to that.”

He argued that the nation’s $17 trillion debt has grown so large, and the federal budget so bloated, that it threatens America’s fiscal health and national security — a point of view shared, by the way, by the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen.

“When you’re $400 billion in debt years and years ago, that’s a different time,” Jackson said. “It’s a time now when we have to be fiscally responsible.”

Securing funding for Mississippi, Jackson said, is “admirable.” “It’s what we send them up there to take a look at. But the bottom line is that my children are $58,000 in debt, in addition to Obamacare,” he said.

The concern over America’s debt, deficits, spending and regulation were concerns that came up again and again in conversations with McDaniel supporters Tuesday night. These issues are a significant and important part of why many conservatives, even Cochran supporters, are so frustrated with Washington.

Other McDaniel supporters were dismissive, however, of what Cochran has done for his home state during 36 years in the Senate (McDaniel likes to call him a “42-year incumbent” because he spent six years in the House as well).

As Cochran and McDaniel head for a three-week runoff campaign following their photo-finish draw in Tuesday’s primary, the value of Cochran’s service to the state will be hotly debated, in part because it figures to be a central part of the Cochran campaign’s message to Mississippi voters.

For the moment, the Cochran campaign is drawing attention to a senior aide on the McDaniel campaign who was found locked into the Hinds County courthouse in the wee hours of Wednesday after entering it with two other tea party activists. That episode is guaranteed to provide some unwelcome headlines for McDaniel, and local law enforcement is investigating why the McDaniel aide was there. But it’s not yet clear what it will amount to, beyond another example of amateurish behavior by McDaniel supporters.

Regardless of how that story evolves, however, the Cochran campaign will likely hold as many events as possible in front of major infrastructure, military, research and university projects that owe their existence to Cochran’s work in Congress and on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“He really needs to ramp up the message that he has devoted his life and career to service of the nation and the state. I’d have him standing in front of the Biloxi Bay Bridge, that was repaired in record time after Katrina, and the Bay St. Louis Bridge,” said Andy Taggart, an attorney and veteran of state Republican politics, who has endorsed Cochran. “Both were rebuilt directly as a result of federal appropriations that Senator Cochran helped direct.”

Taggart ticked off a list of other Cochran projects: Infrastructure in support of the Toyota factory in Blue Springs, the Polymer Institute at Southern Mississippi, an agricultural research center in the Delta. “Those are just a few off the top of my head,” he said. There are a large number of military bases and installations in the state, not to mention the Ingalls shipbuilding yard on the Gulf Coast that supports 11,000 jobs and relies on federal contracts to build ships for the U.S. Navy.

“I’d just have him demonstrating to the people of Mississippi that because of his service, the quality of life in Mississippi is better,” Taggart said. “And there are people who will vote against him because of that. That’s a philosophical thing that the campaign can’t change. But they ought to just make it a referendum on that.”

In addition to philosophically opposing federal largesse at the state level, McDaniel supporters said all the money that the 76-year old senator has brought home hasn’t really helped the state after all.

“If what he was gonna do for Mississippi was gonna make Mississippi better, it wouldn’t still be last in all these things. I’m sure it’s done some things for Mississippi, but it hasn’t moved us up. You don’t just throw money at the problem,” said Todd Stokely, a 46-year old family physician from Waynesboro.

Beau Johnson, a 33-year old substitute teacher at Presbyterian Christian High School in Hattiesburg, was even more dismissive of Cochran’s work in the Senate.

“Mississippi is pretty much last in everything except for the stuff you don’t want to be last in,” Johnson said. “We’ve had a sen up there for 42 years. All that money — is it doing any good?”

He answered his own question: “It hasn’t done any good,” he said.

The Magnolia State has lagged behind in education, health and poverty for many years.

Yet it’s an odd thing to say that the state would be better off without its bridges being rebuilt, or with its military bases moving to other states, or with fewer ships being built at Ingalls. And to be fair, the most thoughtful of McDaniel’s supporters, like Jackson, recognize this and support the tea party candidate because his emphasis is on cutting spending and the size of government.

But McDaniel could be put on the defensive if the Cochran campaign is able to focus the runoff, day by day, on specific projects that Cochran helped fund.

McDaniel told a crowd at the University of Mississippi earlier this year, “I’m not going to do anything for you. I’m going to get the government off your back, then I’m gonna let you do it for yourself.”

Even so, it is still a hard road ahead for Cochran, even if his campaign hits maximum effectiveness in driving the message that a Cochran loss would endanger the state’s ability to secure federal money when it needs it. The frustration among the conservative grassroots that turned out in big numbers for McDaniel Tuesday is high-intensity.

“There’s a fire everybody mentality,” Taggart said.

Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter, a Democrat who gave Cochran his last serious challenge for the Senate seat in 1984, said in an interview that Cochran is “so much better qualified to serve Mississippi than the other fellow.

“I hope that Cochran can pull it out, but I’m afraid the psychology of the race is against him now,” Winter said.

Inquiry Urged on Site Called Mass Grave of Irish Babies

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Inquiry Urged on Site Called Mass Grave of Irish Babies
Ireland’s minister for Children and Youth Affairs called the discovery of an unmarked grave “a shocking reminder of a darker past in Ireland when our children were not cherished as they should have been.”

Scholars’ Bid to Criticize Israel’s Actions Is Rejected
Most members of the Modern Language Association declined to vote on a measure asking the State Department to pressure Israel not to erect obstacles to Americans’ teaching at Palestinian universities.

Behind P.O.W.’s Release: Urgency and Opportunity
An Obama administration divided over a prisoner swap that would free five Taliban commanders swept those issues aside in the rush to secure Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Mary Soames, Daughter of Churchill and Chronicler of History, Dies at 91
After wartime service in uniform and as an aide to her father, Lady Soames became an acclaimed writer of books about her family.

China Financier Defends Companies’ Deals
Xiao Jianhua said the company he co-founded was helping the family of China’s president dispose of assets when the company bought a stake that the family held in an investment firm.

Candidates Who Signed An Anti-Immigration Pledge Are Losing Their Primaries

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Candidates Who Signed An Anti-Immigration Pledge Are Losing Their Primaries

Republicans against immigration reform are finding out that taking such a harsh stance may be a bad idea.

The post Candidates Who Signed An Anti-Immigration Pledge Are Losing Their Primaries appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Immigration reform protesters cheer during a rally in 2006.

Immigration reform protesters cheer during a rally in 2006.

CREDIT: Matt Slocum/ AP

More Republicans than ever are touting their anti-immigration positions, but Congressional candidates are learning the hard way that taking on such harsh rhetoric does little to win support in this election cycle. In the primary elections held Tuesday and the contests held two weeks ago, candidates who signed a pledge to vow to oppose “amnesty” have not fared well at all against candidates who did not sign this pledge.

In April, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham and the immigration-restrictionist group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) collaborated to pressure Republican primary candidates to sign a “no-amnesty pledge,” which asks candidates to promise to oppose legislation that would grant any form of work authorization to undocumented immigrants and to oppose legislation that increases the overall number of immigrants and guest workers.

Recent primary results gathered by the Center for New Community suggest that supporting an anti-immigration stance does not readily rile up Republican voters as it had in 2010, when state-wide immigration enforcement efforts in Alabama and Arizona were welcomed. Sam Clovis, a Republican Senate candidate from Iowa, signed the FAIR pledge two weeks ago and criticized the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill for offering amnesty, but he lost the primary election Tuesday night to another Republican candidate Joni Ernst who did not sign the pledge. Other FAIR pledge signers who lost to non-signers include Mississippi House candidate Ron Vincent who lost to Steve Palazzo, Montana House candidate Drew Turiano who trailed far behind Ryan Zinke, and Gerard McManus — the only New Jersey House candidate from the 1st District to sign the pledge– who lost to Garry Cobb.

The list of pledge signers who lost to non-signers also extends beyond Tuesday night’s election. Nebraska Senate candidate Shane Osborn signed the pledge and lost to non-pledge signer Ben Sasse who was criticized as “weak on immigration.” As Imagine 2050 pointed out, North Carolina House candidate Frank Roche signed the FAIR pledge, but lost to incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) who has openly emphasized “her support for some reform measures.” Imagine 2050 also has an interactive graphic that charts the anti-immigrant movement’s targeting of Ellmers, who “took the race by seventeen points.”

Though there are some races, particularly in Georgia, where pledge signers only ran against other pledge signers or where a pledge signer ran unopposed, in races that pitted a signer against a non-signer, supporters of the pledge lost nearly every primary race. In total*, 21 FAIR pledge signers lost to non-signers. Only two pledge signers have won so far in races where they were pitted against a non-signer.

One notable candidate who did perform well Tuesday night despite his support for the pledge is Mississippi Republican Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, who appears to have forced incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) into a runoff for his party’s nomination. There are also other ways that Republicans are showing that they’re tough on immigration without signing the pledge. Although he has not signed the pledge, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been sending out mailers to residents in his district touting his anti-immigration position. His opponent David Brat (R) has signed the pledge.

Nevertheless, national polls indicate that there is broad bipartisan support among Americans for an immigration reform bill that provides an eventual pathway to citizenship. According to FWD.us, six in ten Americans support a pathway to citizenship — despite some overlap, 51 percent of Republicans support citizenship, while 56 percent of Republicans support legal status. FWD.us also found that 81 percent of Republicans also support creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. During the release of a new poll Tuesday, America Voice’s director Frank Sharry said on a press call with reporters Tuesday, “it seems that the GOP brand will go from tarnished to finished” if the Republican party does not act on immigration reform — deemed by pollsters to be a “gateway” issue for Latino voters.

*Four of the five FAIR pledge signers in California lost their primaries to non-pledge signers; four of the 14 pledge signers in signers in Georgia lost to non-pledge signers; four of the five pledge signers in North Carolina lost to non-pledge signers; six of the seven pledge signers in New Jersey lost to non-pledge signers; two of the three pledge signers in Oregon lost to non-pledge signers; one of two pledge signers in Pennsylvania lost to a non-pledge signer.

The post Candidates Who Signed An Anti-Immigration Pledge Are Losing Their Primaries appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The Roberts Court’s Stealth Campaign Against a Free Press

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Roberts Court’s Stealth Campaign Against a Free Press
From: Eric Alterman

Eric with the latest reviews and Reed on the media. 

Right-Wing Media Frenzy Over Bergdahl: The New ‘Benghazi’
From: Greg Mitchell

It was nice to see Jake Tapper hit Senator John McCain on this. 

Why 200 Black Men Raised Concerns About Obama’s Initiative Targeting Men and Boys of Color
From: Dani McClain

A conversation among black men challenges the assumptions at the heart of My Brother’s Keeper.