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Archive for June 13th, 2014

North Carolina Nearly Nuked by Accident in 1961

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

North Carolina Nearly Nuked by Accident in 1961
On a January night in 1961, a U.S. Air Force bomber broke in half while flying over eastern North Carolina. From the belly of the B-52 fell two bombs — two nuclear bombs that hit the ground near the city of Goldsboro. A disaster worse than the devastation wrought in Hiroshima and Nagasaki could have befallen the United States that night. But it didn’t, thanks to a series of fortunate missteps. Declassified documents that the National Security Archive released this week offered new details about the incident. The blaring headline read: “Multi-Megaton Bomb Was Virtually ‘Armed’ When It Crashed to Earth.”


Thai junta lifts curfew throughout country

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Thai junta lifts curfew throughout country
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s military government has fully lifted a curfew it imposed nationwide after seizing power last month, saying there is no threat of violence.

Former Taliban Captive Bowe Bergdahl Returns to the U.S.
The former Taliban prisoner is back on home soil, but he may not find a hero’s welcome.

Romney: All US fought for in Iraq could vanish
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of foreign policy, telling financial backers at his annual conference Friday that everything the nation fought for during the lengthy Iraq war could vanish.


Hillary says “Clinton fatigue” won’t factor in her decision to run

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Hillary says “Clinton fatigue” won’t factor in her decision to run
In interview to air on “Sunday Morning,” former secretary of state says presidential race isn’t a contest of looks, quips or fundraising, but of who has best vision of America

IRS lost Lois Lerner’s emails in tea party probe
Gone are an untold number of emails from the former IRS official under fire for targeting tea party and other conservative groups


How NPR’s Terry Gross Created A False Impression That Hillary Clinton Stonewalled On Marriage Equality

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

How NPR’s Terry Gross Created A False Impression That Hillary Clinton Stonewalled On Marriage Equality

By repeatedly asking the same question, NPR correspondent Terry Gross created the false impression that Hillary Clinton was stonewalling and dodging over the issue of marriage equality, despite the fact that Clinton consistently and repeatedly answered Gross’ question.

As a senator and during her 2008 presidential run, Clinton supported civil unions for same-sex couples and opposed marriage equality. In a March 2013 statement, she announced that “I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law.” She explained that her travels as secretary of state and her daughter’s wedding had been key to her changing her opinion on the issue. 

Gross’ central question was whether Clinton changed her publicly stated position and supported gay marriage out of political expedience, a question she asked seven separate times during an NPR interview. Clinton consistently rejected Gross’ characterization throughout the interview, instead saying that her views on the issue changed over time.


Maliki and Iraq’s Disaster

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Maliki and Iraq’s Disaster
David Ignatius, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — The stunning gains this week by Iraq’s Sunni insurgents carry a crucial political message: Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister of Iraq, is a polarizing sectarian politician who has lost the confidence of his army and nation. He cannot put a splintered Iraq together again, no matter how many weapons the Obama administration sends him. Maliki’s failure has been increasingly obvious since the elections of 2010, when the Iraqi people in their wisdom elected a broader, less-sectarian coalition. But the Obama administration, bizarrely working in tandem with Iran, brokered a…


Rival Scots industry visions set out

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Rival Scots industry visions set out
The campaigns for and against Scottish independence set out their plans on boosting industry.

VIDEO: ‘Miliband and Clegg should apologise’
Lord Storey says Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg should apologise to Liverpool for backing a Sun newspaper campaign.

VIDEO: European week in 60 seconds
Giles Dilnot’s 60 second review of a European political week where Jean-Claude Juncker dominated the headlines from Strasbourg and Brussels.


Rep. Labrador jumps into race

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Rep. Labrador jumps into race
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will have a challenger for House majority leader after all.


Philadelphia Commuter Rail Workers Strike Sparked Over Failed Contract Deal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Philadelphia Commuter Rail Workers Strike Sparked Over Failed Contract Deal
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Four hundred workers at a Philadelphia-area regional rail system went on strike Saturday morning, shutting down 13 train lines that carry commuters to the suburbs and Philadelphia International Airport.

The strike began after negotiations between the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and two unions failed to reach a new contract deal. Subways, trolleys and buses operated by SEPTA will continue to run.

The transit agency said that its offer to keep a previously announced wage increase in effect during an extended two-week cooling off period was rejected by the unions.

“Asking for extension in time, without any movement toward closure is really pointless. It would be an extension for the sake of extension,” said Stephen Bruno, vice president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

Bruno said that there were no discussions in Friday’s negotiations regarding “the actual issues in dispute.” He said they are seeking raises of at least 14.5 percent over five years — or about 3 percentage points more than SEPTA has offered.

The last regional rail strike, in 1983, lasted more than three months.

Workers, employers and travelers in the Philadelphia area were making contingency plans to deal with the rail strike that could add to the region’s summer transportation woes if it continues into the work week.

The strike will affect hospital, airport and retail workers, although the full effect would not be felt until Monday’s rush hour.

Philadelphia International Airport was trying to help employees and travelers make contingency plans, including bus options and carpools.

“We can’t foresee who needs what assistance, but we certainly have reached out to people,” spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said. “We’re certainly hoping that everything is resolved and there isn’t a strike.”

The labor conflict came to a head this week after SEPTA announced it would impose a deal beginning Sunday. Terms include raising electrical workers’ pay immediately by an average of about $3 per hour; the top wage rate for locomotive engineers would rise by $2.64 per hour.

Gov. Tom Corbett is counting on negotiators to reach an agreement and keep the trains running, spokesman Jay Pagni said.

President Obama could also appoint a Presidential Emergency Board to intervene in the negotiations and prevent a strike for up to 240 days.

SEPTA, meanwhile, is planning to have extra subway cars and trolleys in service.

The strike adds to commuting headaches in the region, where major construction projects are making it more difficult than usual to get around.

The lines carrying PATCO commuter trains between Philadelphia and southern New Jersey are being replaced over the Ben Franklin Bridge, affecting not only the train schedule but also car traffic on the busy bridge.

Emergency work on a bridge on Interstate 495 in Delaware is expected to keep a stretch of that thoroughfare closed at least through the summer, and is forcing additional traffic onto I-95. Additionally, work is scheduled to begin next week on I-95 just north of downtown Philadelphia.

The commuting difficulties could be reduced a little as summer vacation season ramps up. But that could create problems for another group.

“Along with the effects to commuting, summer travelers also have to adjust their plans,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Jenny Robinson.

___

Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg and Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia contributed to this report.


World Briefing: Greece: Huge Heroin Shipment Seized

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

World Briefing: Greece: Huge Heroin Shipment Seized
Greek officials said Friday that a record 1.1 tons of heroin were seized and 11 people arrested east of Athens in a joint operation with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.



Iraqi Shiite Cleric Issues Call to Arms
The specter of sectarian war and partition of Iraq grew as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani told his followers to take up arms against an insurgent army of marauding Sunni militants.



World Briefing: Tunisia: Deal Paves Way for Elections
Tunisian politicians announced Friday that they had resolved a longstanding dispute and had agreed to hold parliamentary elections before the country’s presidential vote.



Mayor of Venice Resigns Amid Corruption Scandal
Mayor Giorgio Orsoni had been arrested last week and charged with receiving illegal campaign donations believed to be linked to a project intended to save Venice from flooding.




Two Democratic Senators Push ‘Pro-Life,’ ‘Pro-Gun,’ Anti-Obamacare Lawmaker For The Federal Bench

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 13th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Two Democratic Senators Push ‘Pro-Life,’ ‘Pro-Gun,’ Anti-Obamacare Lawmaker For The Federal Bench

Ward Armstrong, a former Democratic Virginia lawmaker that Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) recommended to the White House for a federal judgeship, has a lengthy conservative voting record from his time as a lawmaker.

The post Two Democratic Senators Push ‘Pro-Life,’ ‘Pro-Gun,’ Anti-Obamacare Lawmaker For The Federal Bench appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Former Virginia House Minority Leader and potential judicial nominee Ward Armstrong

Former Virginia House Minority Leader and potential judicial nominee Ward Armstrong

CREDIT: AP Photo/Steve Helber

Ward Armstrong, a former Democratic Virginia lawmaker that Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) recommended to the White House for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench, is “pro-life and pro-gun” — and those are his own words from a campaign ad he ran in 2011. His campaign website touted his “‘A’ Rating from the NRA.” Meanwhile, he had a 0% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009. Armstrong voted for unconstitutional legislation purporting to nullify Obamacare. And he ran a campaign ad attacking his opponent for “comparing me to Barack Obama.” The same ad touted his opposition to “the Cap and Trade Bill.”

Armstrong, who served as a state lawmaker when Warner was Virginia governor and as state House Minority Leader during Kaine’s time in the governor’s mansion, is one of two names the senators submitted to the White House for a judgeship on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The White House typically defers to recommendations from home-state senators regarding federal district court nominations, especially when those recommendations come from President Obama’s fellow Democrats, so Armstrong has a strong chance of becoming the president’s nominee.

The former Virginia lawmaker’s voting record, however, puts him very much at odds with President Obama’s policies. Armstrong, for example, voted for TRAP legislation classifying abortion clinics as “a category of ‘hospital.’” This legislation led the state Board of Health to “require existing clinics to meet the same strict building standards as new hospital construction,” an expensive new requirement that often forces clinics to close because they cannot afford the added expense.

On guns, Armstrong supported a bill allowing concealed handguns to be carried in restaurants and bars that serve alcohol, although the bill did also prohibit people with concealed firearms from drinking alcohol at these establishments. On immigration, he voted for legislation “prohibiting the enrollment of an individual determined to be not lawfully present in the United States” in state schools. On health care, he backed a state law claiming to nullify parts of the Affordable Care Act. A year later, a federal appeals court held that this law “reflects no exercise of ‘sovereign power,’ for Virginia lacks the sovereign authority to nullify federal law.”

Armstrong also cast anti-gay votes during his time as a state lawmaker, although he has since recanted many of his past views on gay rights and come out in favor of marriage equality. Prior to this evolution, however, Armstrong backed a state constitutional amendment restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples. He also supported legislation providing that state “single-family mortgage loans may be made to more than one person only if the persons to whom the loan is to be made are related by blood, marriage or adoption.” Had this legislation become law, it would have prevented gay couples from obtaining such loans together.

Beyond his legislative record, Armstrong made a sexual joke about a fellow lawmaker in 1998 while speaking on the house floor. During a playful discussion of a basketball game between lawmakers, Armstrong quipped that Del. Jeannemarie Devolites, then a freshman Republican lawmaker, was “coming over to my place later” to “go over the playbook.’ At a post-game party, Armstrong reportedly added that Devoiltes was “‘no Monica Lewinsky,’ but that she had potential.” He later apologized for these comments, saying that “to the extent that some members may have been offended by my remarks, I wish to extend an apology. … I was merely trying to bring a little levity to the process.”

Should Obama choose to nominate Armstrong, it is likely that he will face opposition from many of his traditional allies. Late last year, the president nominated Judge Michael Boggs, a conservative Georgia judge and former lawmaker, as part of a deal with Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. Like Armstrong, Boggs cast several votes targeting abortion rights and opposing gay rights while he was a state lawmaker. Boggs’ nomination is opposed by several prominent liberal groups, as well as by a list of Democratic senators that includes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Boggs, however, was recommended by Georgia’s two Republican senators, and they were able to pressure Obama into nominating this conservative judge due to a Senate Judiciary Committee practice that allows home-state senators to veto anyone nominated to a federal judgeship in their state. Both of the Virginia senators who recommended Armstrong, by contrast, are Democrats.

Update

Warner and Kaine’s offices sent a joint statement, which is copied below:

Senator Warner and Senator Kaine recommended two distinguished attorneys, Elizabeth Dillon and Ward Armstrong, who both received the highest ratings from the Virginia Bar Association. Ward Armstrong has the support of Virginia NARAL and Planned Parenthood, the Virginia AFL-CIO, and Democrats and Republicans all over the state. They look forward to supporting both of these nominees as the process moves forward.

The post Two Democratic Senators Push ‘Pro-Life,’ ‘Pro-Gun,’ Anti-Obamacare Lawmaker For The Federal Bench appeared first on ThinkProgress.