The GOP clown show has begun. Last night House Republicans voted to gut the House ethics committee as part of a rules package agreed to by Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Also in the rules package, they approved a new subcommittee under the Judiciary Committee headed by Rep. Jim Jordan that will supposedly investigate the “weaponization” of the federal government. In the first bill taken up by the new House, they voted to eliminate funding for new IRS agents that was included in the Inflation Reduction Act.
House Republicans moved to pre-emptively kill any investigations against its members as it curtailed the power of an independent ethics office just as it was weighing whether to open inquiries into lawmakers who defied subpoenas issued by the House January 6 select committee last year.
The incoming Republican majority also paved the way for a new special subcommittee with a wide mandate to investigate the US justice department and intelligence agencies, which could include reviewing the criminal investigations into Donald Trump and a Republican congressman caught up in the Capitol attack inquiry.
The measures took effect as House Republicans narrowly passed the new rules package that included the changes for the next Congress, 220-213, setting the stage for politically charged fights with the Biden administration over access to classified materials and details of criminal investigations.
Seeking to protect itself, the rules package first undercut the ability of the office of congressional ethics (OCE) to function, with changes that struck at its principal vulnerabilities to defang its investigative powers for at least the next two years, according to sources familiar with its operation.
The changes to the OCE are twofold: reintroducing term limits for members of the bipartisan board, which would force out three of four Democratic-appointed members, and restricting its ability to hire professional staff to the first 30 days of the new congressional session.
The issue with the changes, the Guardian previously reported, is that the OCE requires board approval to open new investigations, while new hires are typically approved by the board. The term limits would mean Democrats need to find new board members, which can take months – far longer than the 30-day hiring period.
In essence, the changes mean that by the time the OCE has a board, it may have run out of time to hire staff, leaving it with one counsel to do possible investigations into the new House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, and other Republican lawmakers who defied January 6 select committee subpoenas.
House Republicans are declaring what amounts to an investigative war on the Biden administration, pledging to probe “ongoing criminal investigations” at the Justice Department.
Veterans of some of Congress’ recent major probes, and the department itself, predict that they’ll be told to pound sand.
Evil Clown vs Smiley, by Herr Karl
GOP lawmakers are dramatically escalating their standoff with the administration by launching a wide-ranging investigative panel to probe what they call the “weaponization of government.” It’s a broad mandate that will allow the party to look into any government agency or program that it views as suspect, including the FBI, IRS and the intelligence community — making good on a key demand of a band of hardline conservatives who opposed Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the gavel.
And it’s an opening salvo that promises to escalate quickly. The Justice Department is certain to fiercely protect its most sensitive investigative files and prosecutors are simply not going to hand over information on open criminal probes, legal experts say. The resulting conflict promises to erode the already strained relationship between DOJ and congressional Republicans.
“This will be a separation of powers hornets’ nest,” said former House General Counsel Stan Brand, who represented witnesses before the Jan. 6 select committee, including Dan Scavino, a top adviser to former President Donald Trump. “In order to insulate the process from taint, [DOJ] will have to draw clearer ‘lines in the sand’ over what they will provide.”
The genesis of the proposed select panel — which would operate underneath the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — has exacerbated concerns among DOJ allies about how GOP lawmakers will use their broad directive.
Notably, those seeking to access ongoing criminal matters are among the staunchest political allies of the former president whose efforts to overturn the 2020 election are the subject of a special counsel investigation. Several GOP members of Congress — including House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Va.) — allied closely with Trump, prompting the department to scrutinize their actions.
Both Perry and Jordan were subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 select committee to testify about events surrounding the Capitol attack by a mob of the former president’s supporters. Both declined to comply with the subpoena.
Though GOP leaders have not yet announced any members of the new investigative panel, McCarthy has indicated to House Republicans that he anticipates Jordan will lead it. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), who pushed for the investigative body for months, is viewed as a likely member. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has also said publicly he expects to participate.
There’s much more on the plans for the new subcommittee at the link. I can’t imagine these bozos will pry anything from the DOJ. There’s obviously a serious separation of powers issue there.
House Republicans on Monday commissioned a special investigative panel focused on the coronavirus pandemic, hoping to leverage their new, powerful majority to press scientists and federal officials about the origin of the public health crisis and the government’s response to it.
Lovely Clown, by Leonid Afrenov
Party lawmakers officially chartered the new effort in a sprawling package setting the chamber’s rules for the next two years, awarding it a sweeping mandate — from looking into vaccine development, school closures and other mitigation measures to examining the roughly $5 trillion in emergency federal aid approved since early 2020.
Republicans have long derided Democrats, public health experts and others who advocated for an aggressive government response to covid-19, which has claimed millions of lives globally. At the center of GOP criticism is the suspicion that the coronavirus originated out of laboratory experiments in Wuhan, China, potentially backed by U.S. money — a view at odds with peer-reviewed scientific papers pointing to a more likely origin in a Wuhan market.
In the process, Republican lawmakers also have clashed with scientists and doctors on a wide array of policies meant to arrest the spread of the virus — opposing vaccine mandates, blasting in-person capacity limits and rejecting new federal funding for tests, treatments and other tools.
With new control of the House, however, the GOP aims to surface those concerns in a more prominent setting, questioning a wide array of current and former government officials, potentially including Anthony S. Fauci, the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The panel, officially named as the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, essentially replaces a Democrat-led legislative body that had focused its work on monitoring emergency coronavirus aid for fraud. Under Republicans, it does not yet have a leader, but it is expected to hold its first hearing in February.
A private document that only some House Republicans have seen and others refuse to talk about could play an outsized role in the governance of the chamber over the next two years.
Why it matters: The document contains concessions — not included in the rules package passed on Monday night — that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made to rebellious Freedom Caucus members to secure the speaker’s gavel.
— Those members have threatened to kill McCarthy’s speakership as swiftly as they acquiesced to it if he reneges on their handshake agreements.
Driving the news: The existence of a “secret three-page addendum” containing “the most controversial concessions” that McCarthy made in order to get elected was first reported by Punchbowl News on Monday and confirmed to Axios by multiple GOP aides and members.
— One of those concessions is three seats set aside for conservatives on the Rules Committee, as well as representation for them on the powerful Appropriations Committee.
— Other McCarthy giveaways include votes on congressional term limits and a select committee on the weaponization of the federal government, a debt limit strategy and a more open amendment process on appropriations bills.
— One thing the document doesn’t contain, according to NRCC Chair Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), who said he’s seen it, is promised committee chairmanships for specific members: “No names, just representation [on panels].”
The bill was passed Monday evening on a straight party line vote of 221 to 210 to reverse much of the $80 billion in extra funding set aside for the agency by 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act. need of reform.” [….]
The claim from countless Republicans, from Speaker McCarthy on down, is that the influx of money will lead to a flood of 87,000 new IRS agents who will then turn and harass everyday Americans. Some critics of the agency go even further and claim these new agents will be armed.
The viral claims are “absolutely false,” Rettig wrote at the time, adding his agency “is often perceived as an easy target for mischaracterizations,” but he promised the new money will not lead to increased audit scrutiny on households making under $400,000.
The plan is instead for much of the money to go toward wealthy tax cheats. IRS estimates of the so-called “tax gap” — the difference between what taxes are owed to the government and what is actually paid — is hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
Much of the $80 billion will be focused on taking a bite out of the gap, focusing on wealthy tax payers. The investment is projected to pay for itself and then bring in over $100 billion in increased tax revenue over the coming decade.
Fortunately, this bill will most likely die in the Senate, and if it somehow gets to Biden’s desk, he will veto it.
In other news, Republicans are gleeful, because a small number of classified documents were found while lawyers were cleaning out an office used by Joe Biden before he became president. The lawyers immediately contacted the National Archives and turned over the documents, and the DOJ is now looking into what happened. There’s no comparison between this and Donald Trump’s stealing of hundreds of classified documents and refusing to return them, but Republicans will have a field day anyway. One hopes the press will recognize the differences.
After serving as Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years, Joe Biden did what high-profile former politicians so often do: He set up a think tank at a prominent university.
Biden’s was called the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, headquartered at the University of Pennsylvania. But unlike other elected officials and other such institutions, Biden’s engagement with the Penn Biden Center was soon back-burnered. By April 2019, he was a candidate for the presidency.
In November, almost exactly two years after Biden’s election, attorneys for the president were emptying an office at the center when, according to their account, they discovered about 10 documents bearing classification markings. The next day, the documents were turned over to the National Archives. The Justice Department is now reviewing them.
In its most concise distillation — documents with classification markings found in president’s office — the scenario seems like a mirror of the controversy that swirled around Donald Trump for much of last year, including the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago property. Trump and his allies have, predictably, tried to draw this comparison, looping in funding that Penn (broadly; not the Biden center) has received from China.
355 days with this clown, by Ylli Haru
“When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?” Trump fumed on the social media platform he owns. “These documents were definitely not declassified.”
But, just as the fundamental issue with the Trump documents is not whether they were classified, the situations with the two presidents are not obviously comparable in the way that Trump suggests.
At this point, we don’t know much about the Biden documents beyond what his team has made public, which is certainly an important caveat. According to the Biden team’s statement, the documents were found in a locked closet and quickly turned over to the government. What they contain is unclear, as is their current classification level or status. (There are, of course, numerous existing documents that are no longer classified but which may nonetheless still carry classification markings.) One person, tongue presumably in cheek, told CBS News that the documents did not contain nuclear secrets.
Obvious differences are that Biden didn’t take the documents deliberately and his attorney turned them over to the National Archives as soon as they discovered them. Read the rest at the WaPo.
The US justice department is intensifying its investigation of Donald Trump’s unauthorized retention of national security materials as it prepares to question the people who searched the former president’s properties at the end of last year and found more documents with classified markings.
The department was given a general explanation from Trump’s lawyers at the time about who conducted the search – a company said to be known to Trump with experience handling classified records cases – when the new documents marked as classified were returned to the government around Thanksgiving last year.
But the department, unsatisfied with that accounting, last week convinced a federal judge in a sealed hearing to force Trump’s lawyers to give the names of the people who retrieved the documents with an intent to question them directly, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The pattern of prosecutors now seeking judicial intervention at every turn signals an aggressive posture from the special counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the investigation after being appointed to insulate the department from accusations of political conflicts with Trump, who is now a 2024 presidential candidate.
The justice department told Trump’s legal team in October that it suspected the former president was still in possession of additional documents with classified markings even after the FBI seized hundreds of sensitive materials when agents searched his Mar-a-Lago property on 8 August.
After initially resisting suggestions to retain an outside firm to search his properties for any classified documents, Trump retained people to search his other properties including Trump Tower in New York, Trump Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, Mar-a-Lago, and a storage unit in Florida.
The search, carried out by a company described as being a known entity to the former president, turned up at the storage unit at least two more documents with classified markings that Trump’s lawyers then hurriedly turned over to prosecutors on the documents case.
That’s it for me today. What else is happening? What stories are you following?
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As Daknikat wrote yesterday, it looks as if Republicans will win enough seats to control the House with a very small majority. But they won’t be able to do much. I suppose they’ll spend their time and energy investigating Hunter Biden and any other crackpot problem they can dream up. The good news is than Lauren Bobert’s seat is still undecided for now.
Two threatened U.S. House Republicans in California triumphed over Democratic challengers Monday, helping move the GOP within a seat of seizing control of the chamber while a string of congressional races in the state remained in play.
In a bitter fight southeast of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Michelle Steel defeated Democrat Jay Chen in a district that was specifically drawn to give Asian Americans, who comprise the largest group in the district, a stronger voice on Capitol Hill. It includes the nation’s largest Vietnamese community.
East of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Ken Calvert notched a win over Democrat Will Rollins. With 80% of the votes tallied, Calvert, the longest serving Republican in the California congressional delegation, established a nearly 5,500-vote edge in the contest.
Ten races in the state remained undecided as vote-counting continued, though only a handful were seen as tight enough to break either way.
It takes 218 seats to control the House. Republicans have locked down 217 seats so far, with Democrats claiming 205.
Should Democrats fail to protect their fragile majority, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield would be in line to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.
Read about the remaining undecided races at the link.
“Waiting this long for election results is going to make firing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House that much sweeter,” she wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Automat, Edward Hopper
Republicans are just one seat away from control of the House of Representatives, with the balance of power potentially hinging on th eoutcome of Ms Boebert’s race among serveral others that have not yet been decided.
Ms Boebert’s race is still too close to call and it is unlikely that the outcome will be known until the end of the week – at the soonest.
The far-right Republican is currently leading Democratic challenger Adam Frisch by just 1,122 votes in what has shaped up to be an unexpectedly close race. The race could be headed for an automatic recount if neither candidate fails to win by a margin of more than 0.5 per cent.
The race for Colorado’s third congressional district remains too close to be called, as Trump-endorsed Rep. Lauren Boebert is currently only slightly ahead of her rival, Democrat Adam Frisch.
But the incumbent congresswoman’s narrow lead could once again be overturned if thousands of likely rejected votes in favor of her challenger were to be “cured”, as a recount looms over the Colorado race.
Every year in Colorado, thousands of ballots are reportedly rejected for issues related to signature verification, such as a missing signature or a discrepancy in the signature. Local officials then alert voters of the issue, giving them a week to fix the problem and make their vote count. The process, which is done in 23 other state besides Colorado, is called “ballot curing.”
Boebert was widely projected to win the midterms, with polling website FiveThirtyEight giving her a 97 in 100 chance of victory in the days ahead of the vote.
As of November 14 and with nearly all of the ballots being counted, Boebert is leading with 50.1 percent of the vote (162,040 votes) against Frisch’s 49.8 percent (160,918 votes).
A recount could be called if the final margin between Boebert and Frisch is less than or equal to 0.5 percent of the leading candidate’s vote total. At the moment, the gap between the two candidates is 0.38 percent.
Frisch could still oust the Republican incumbent, an election denier and one of Donald Trump‘s most ardent supporters, if thousands of votes likely rejected for signature verification were cast in support of the Democratic nominee.
Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic election chief who built a national profile by standing up to false claims about the 2020 presidential election, has won the state’s race for governor.
The Associated Press, NBC News and CNN called the race for Hobbs shortly after 7 p.m. Monday, following a nail-biter week of election returns that highlighted the competitiveness of politics in the state.
The Lonely Ones, by Edvard Munch, 1935
“Democracy is worth the wait,” Hobbs posted on social media before issuing a statement thanking her family, volunteers and staff for their work.
“This was not just about an election — it was about moving this state forward and facing the challenges of our generation,” the statement read, ending: “Let’s get to work.”
Late-in-the-race polling showed her Republican opponent Kari Lake, the former television news anchor, with the momentum as Nov. 8 neared. Instead, voters offered a stunning rebuke of Lake, who was one of the nation’s most prominent election deniers.
With Hobbs’ win, Arizonans followed voters in other battleground states who rejected gubernatorial candidates who pushed false claims about election results.
As Arizona’s 24th governor, Hobbs will be the fifth female to hold the top elected office, more than in any other state.
That’s amazing. We just finally got our first female governor here in Massachusetts.
…Jonathan Swan is a good reporter. Indeed, his move to the NYT, which frees him to write like a human being rather than a McKinsey consultant (AKA Axios style), will likely be a significant improvement on his coverage of DC politics.
But it is downright insane that, at a time the GOP and Fox News are at least making noise about ditching Trump, the NYT pitched this hire — and their own political reporting — in terms of Trump.
Our insightful, authoritative and addictive coverage of the election this year drove home an essential truth: The Times’s political team is simply the best in the business.
Take our coverage of Republicans and Donald J. Trump.
We have Maggie Haberman, the dominant reporter of the Trump era, whose prolific, revealing and exclusive coverage has become indispensable to millions of readers. We have Michael Bender, whom Maggie admired as her “fierce competitor” from his days at The Wall Street Journal, and who has delivered exclusives on everything from the former president’s plans to buy Greenland to examinations of how Trumpism remade the Republican party.
And today we are thrilled to tell you that Jonathan Swan, a gifted, dogged and high-impact reporter, will be joining The Times. Jonathan, a national political reporter at Axios, is one of the biggest news breakers and best-sourced reporters in Washington.
Even if you have never met Jonathan, you know his stories. He first reported that Trump would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate deal, that Steve Bannon would be fired and that Paul Ryan would retire from Congress.
Or perhaps you watched his riveting interview with then-President Trump in 2020, which won Jonathan an Emmy (and made his facial expressions famous.) Ben Smith, the former media columnist for The Times, wrote at the time that it was “perhaps the best interview of Mr. Trump’s term.’’
Jonathan’s nine-part written series on the final days of the Trump administration won broad acclaim, and the podcast on which it was based rose to No. 1 on the Apple charts. [my emphasis]
Particularly accompanied as it is by Maggie’s multiple efforts to suggest Trump is still The One, the pitch of Swan as a Trump-whisperer — rather than simply as a very good reporter of right wing politics — this announcement commits to keeping Trump (as a politician, rather than, for example, a criminal suspect, something none of these three are very good at reporting) the center of attention.
The US has intelligence that Russia may have delayed announcing its withdrawal from the Ukrainian city of Kherson in part to avoid giving the Biden administration a political win ahead of the midterm elections, according to four people familiar with the intelligence.
Senior Russian officials discussed the US midterms as a factor during deliberations about the withdrawal announcement, one person familiar with the intelligence said. Waiting until after the US election was always a “pre-planned condition” of Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson, a second person familiar with the intelligence told CNN.
Still, the election was far from the only consideration in Russia’s retreat, officials said. Military analysts say Russia had few other operational options and had been preparing to pull back for weeks, leading US officials to wonder when the Russians would officially acknowledge the withdrawal.
While the intelligence is not a formal assessment of Russia’s intentions, it is a sign that Russia has a continued interest in influencing the US political landscape — although the sources said Russia probably miscalculated the impact such an announcement would actually have on the elections.
“I doubt Americans would really have noticed,” said another source familiar with western intelligence.
President Joe Biden last week appeared to hint that the US believed that the timing of Russia’s announcement was more than mere coincidence.
“I find it interesting they waited until after the election to make that judgement, which we knew for some time they were going to be doing, and it’s evidence of the fact that they have some real problems – the Russian military,” Biden said at a press conference last Wednesday.
One girl, a 14-year-old, was incarcerated in an adult prison alongside drug offenders. A 16-year-old boy had his nose broken in detention after a beating by security officers. A 13-year-old girl was physically attacked by plainclothes militia who raided her school.
A brutal crackdown by the authorities in Iran trying to halt protests calling for social freedom and political change that have convulsed the country for the past two months has exacted a terrible toll on the nation’s youth, according to lawyers in Iran and rights activists familiar with the cases.
Young people, including teenage girls and boys, have been at the center of the demonstrations and clashes with security forces on the streets and university campuses and at high schools. Iranian officials have said the average age of protesters is 15.
Some have been beaten and detained, others have been shot and killed on the streets, or beaten in the custody of security services, and the lives of countless others have been disrupted as the authorities raid schools in an effort to crack down on dissent.
The authorities are targeting thousands of minors, under the age of 18, for participating in the protests, according to interviews with two dozen people, including lawyers in Iran involved in cases and rights activists, as well as parents, relatives and teenagers living in the country. Rights groups say that at least 50 minors have been killed.
The lawyers and many of the individuals interviewed for this article asked not to be named for fear of retribution.
The targeting of young people comes amid a broader crackdown on protesters in which 14,000 people have been arrested, according to the United Nations. On Sunday, state media said an unidentified person had been sentenced to death for setting fire to a government building.
There’s much more at the link. Sorry to hit you with this horrifying story, but I thought it was urgent. What can the U.S. do about this? The U.N.?
Please share your thoughts and any other stories that interest you in the comment thread.
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Regulators froze a Swiss account at Goldman Sachs on Friday after unearthing activities suggestive of insider trading in the $23 billion acquisition of H. J. Heinz, taking an abrupt action after one of the biggest deals in recent years.
The action, by the Securities and Exchange Commission, illustrates the temptation that such big takeovers may present. Despite a number of prominent crackdowns on insider trading, regulators continue to uncover cases involving traders who spin confidential tidbits into illicit profits ahead of deals.
“See, not even an Academy Award can stop a Black man from being criminalized…”
God almighty, if it’s not the police it’s shopkeepers shaking down The Scary Black Man. And apparently it doesn’t matter if you’re an Academy Award winning actor. Forest Whitaker was on the Upper East Side and deigned to step into Milano Market. NewsOne:
TMZ reports that Whitaker said he was falsely accused of lifting an item off the store’s shelf and subsequently frisked by an employee. An eyewitness told the entertainment site that the Academy Award winner was frisked in plain view of everyone.
Of course, the shake down produced nothing belonging to the store and Whitaker left the establishment angry and embarrassed.
“This was an upsetting incident given the fact that Forest did nothing more than walk into the deli. What is most unfortunate about this situation is the inappropriate way store employees are treating patrons of their establishment. Frisking individuals without proof/evidence is a violation of rights.”
“Forest did not call the authorities at the request of the worker who was in fear of losing his employment. Forest asked that, in the future, the store change their behavior and treat the public in a fair and just manner.”
In a shockingly horrible column, the president of Emory University held up the “Three-Fifths Compromise” — the deal between Northern and Southern states which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person — as a shining example of political compromise at its best.
In his “from the president” column — titled “As American as … Compromise” — in the winter issue of Emory magazine, president James Wagner writes about the fiscal cliff and the importance of keeping one’s mind open to other points of view. All standard president’s letter dullness so far, right?
Then comes this:
One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. As the price for achieving the ultimate aim of the Constitution—“to form a more perfect union”—the two sides compromised on this immediate issue of how to count slaves in the new nation. Pragmatic half-victories kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together.
Some might suggest that the constitutional compromise reached for the lowest common denominator—for the barest minimum value on which both sides could agree. I rather think something different happened. Both sides found a way to temper ideology and continue working toward the highest aspiration they both shared—the aspiration to form a more perfect union. They set their sights higher, not lower, in order to identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.
So under Wagner’s formulation, one of the basest and demeaning political deals of American history, if not the basest, is an example of working toward a “highest aspiration.” Counting slaves as three-fifths of a person becomes an example of American politicians setting their sights high!
Wagner is no history professor…his specialty is Electrical Engineering. I’ve got a couple of takes on Wagner’s position:
As stated in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution, the agreement mandated that, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”
The White House is circulating a draft immigration bill that would create a new visa for illegal immigrants living in the United States and allow them to become legal permanent residents within eight years, according to a report published online Saturday by USA Today.President Barack Obama’s bill would create a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. The bill includes more security funding and requires business owners to adopt a system for verifying the immigration status of new hires within four years, the newspaper said.
USA Today reported that the bill would require that immigrants pass a criminal background check, submit biometric information and pay fees to qualify for the new visa. Immigrants who served more than a year in prison for a criminal conviction or were convicted of three or more crimes and were sentenced to a total of 90 days in jail would not be eligible. Crimes committed in other countries that would bar immigrants from legally entering the country would also be ineligible.
Those immigrants who pass the requirements can apply for a visa, and work on getting their green card within eight years.
107 House Democrats, a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives, wrote President Obama today, urging him to reject any proposals to cut benefits millions of American families depend upon through Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The letter was led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL),Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and Rep Donna Edwards (D-MD).
The Members specifically singled out “Chained CPI”—a proposal to reduce Social Security benefits by changing the way inflation is calculated—and raising the Medicare retirement age as policies they oppose.
“A commitment to keeping the middle-class strong and reducing poverty requires a commitment to keeping Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid strong,” the Members said in the letter. “We urge you to reject any proposals to cut benefits, and we look forward to working with you to enact approaches that instead rely on economic growth and more fair revenue-raising policies to solve our fiscal problems.”
Full letter to Obama can be found at the above link. At least someone is making a case for their constituents…
A Kansas City-area man was arrested Saturday in the killings of two prostitutes whose bodies were found posed on the sides of rural Missouri roads nearly a year apart.
At a news conference Saturday night, authorities said Derek Richardson, 27, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of abandonment of a corpse. His bail is set at $2 million. It wasn’t immediately known whether he has an attorney.
“We absolutely stopped a person who was going to kill again,” said Kansas City police Sgt. Doug Niemeier, adding that authorities will search across the United States to ensure there weren’t other victims.
Police say they know Richardson has traveled around the US, they are now investigating other crimes that may be connected.
For decades, scientists have been on the lookout for killer objects from outer space that could devastate the planet. But warnings that they lacked the tools to detect the most serious threats were largely ignored, even as skeptics mocked the worriers as Chicken Littles.
Well, the sky was literally falling in the outskirts of the Ural Mountains…
No more. The meteor that rattled Siberia on Friday, injuring hundreds of people and traumatizing thousands, has suddenly brought new life to efforts to deploy adequate detection tools, in particular a space telescope that would scan the solar system for dangers.
A group of young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who helped build thriving companies like eBay, Google and Facebook has already put millions of dollars into the effort and saw Friday’s shock wave as a turning point in raising hundreds of millions more.
“Wouldn’t it be silly if we got wiped out because we weren’t looking?” said Edward Lu, a former NASA astronaut and Google executive who leads the detection effort. “This is a wake-up call from space. We’ve got to pay attention to what’s out there.”
Hot rocks falling from the heavens are not the only thing out there in the darkness of space, there is a cloud bursting with color relatively near us that holds something dark indeed. Cotton Candy Cloud Hides Baby Black Hole
Composite image of supernova remnant W49B
This looks like the explosion of a cotton candy Death Star (run by evil space clowns, perhaps?) but it is the remains of a star’s death. This colorful cloud is a supernova remnant, seen in infrared, radio, and x-ray light… and at its center may hide one of the galaxy’s youngest black holes.
Located 26,000 light-years away in the northern constellation Aquila, W49B is a snapshot of the shockwaves from a star that went supernova an estimated 1,000 years ago (not including the time it took for its light to reach us). Several observation methods and instruments were used to create the technicolor image above – X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shown in blue and green, radio data from the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array in pink, and infrared and optical data from the Palomar Observatory in orange and yellow — but put all together, one feature becomes glaringly obvious.
This thing is a mess.
Typically supernova remnants have a roughly circular or shell-like shape, generally seen as a ring of bright material surrounding the dense burnt-out core of a star. The ring is bright because it’s composed of interstellar gas and dust that’s being violently ionized by the spreading force of the supernova. Ionized material gives off many forms of radiation, detectable in various wavelengths by observatories on the ground as well as in space.
W49B isn’t a ring, though. It’s a sloppy barrel shape that indicates an uneven, asymmetrical eruption, hinting that the original star didn’t go peacefully into this good night.
That Discover article calls this star corpse a black hole, and if that turns out to be the case,
…would be the galaxy’s newest black hole — at least as far as what’s been discovered so far. A mere thousand years old, an alleged black hole at the heart of W49B would have just been born in the night sky around the same time that Vikings were first setting foot on North American shores.
Good Morning news junkies! I’m filling in for WonktheVote today. She is taking a little break from blogging, so Dakinikat, Minkoff Minx, and I are going to take turns doing the Saturday Reads for a little while. So what’s in the news today? Let’s see…
After his blow-up-the-economy plan passed the House yesterday, John Boehner gave a very defensive-sounding speech to justify his treasonous behavior.
A defiant House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) late Friday defended his debt-ceiling plan by saying it is the only viable plan on paper so far….
“I’ve offered ideas, I’ve negotiated,” Boehner said in closing debate on his bill. “Not one time, not one time did the administration ever put any plan on the table. All they would do is criticize what I put out there.
“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States,” Boehner continued to grumbling among Democrats. “Hey, I put revenues on the table in order to try to come to an agreement in order to avert us being where we are. But a lot of people in this town can never say yes.”
He also defended including the ridiculous balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in his bill.
“It’s time for this to happen,” he said. “It enjoys support from both houses of this Congress, and it enjoys bipartisan and widespread support across our country.”
Despite a day of frenzied legislative maneuvering and another attempt by President Obama to rally public opinion behind some kind of compromise, the two parties made no visible progress in finding common ground, leaving Washington, Wall Street and much of the nation watching the clock toward a deadline of midnight Tuesday.
Reid has made some changes in his plan, hoping to appeal to Senate Republicans. The NYT didn’t elaborate on what these changes are. At Huffpo, Michael McAuliff and Sam Stein say Reid’s plan is now a lot like Mitch McConnell’s. But whatever its contents, Republicans in the House plan to hold a “symbolic vote” on it today in order to “send a message” that whatever the Senate agrees on will not pass the House.
The seemingly unbridgeable impasse between the two parties as the deadline for raising the nation’s debt limit approaches has Tom Daschle losing sleep, as he never did when he was a Senate Democratic leader in the mid-1990s and Congressional Republicans forced government shutdowns rather than compromise on spending cuts.
“That was nothing compared to this. That was a shutdown of the government; this could be, really, a shutdown of the entire economy,” Mr. Daschle said. “You can’t be too hyperbolic about the ramifications of all this.”
Democrats and Republicans with legislative experience agree that even if both sides decided Saturday to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling and to reduce future annual deficits, it would be extremely difficult for the compromise measure to wend its way through Congress before Tuesday’s deadline, given Congressional legislative procedures.
But all signs point to August 2 passing with no budget bill. As we all know, President Obama could end the struggle at any time with an executive order, but then he’d have to put off gutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for a little bit longer. He can’t allow that, now can he?
There has been a disturbing string of sexual assaults on women in Ann Arbor, Michigan over the past two weeks. the assaults have taken place near the University of Michigan campus. There have been six attacks, two of which were rapes. In the others, women were grabbed and fondled, but managed to escape.
The agency will be assisting Ann Arbor police at the city’s request, said FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold. She did not provide any details about the agency’s role.
The six attacks occurred between July 15 and 26, and between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. The victims were traumatized, said police spokeswoman Lt. Renee Bush.
Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones said he did not know if the attacks were linked. He warned in a letter to university staff, faculty and students that there was a “predator or predators operating in our community.”
On last night’s The Big Picture with progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann, author Neil Howe discussed how he and William Strauss came to accurately predict today’s political crisis in their 1997 book “The Fourth Turning,” and offered speculation as to what might happen next….
Speaking of the generational differences between today’s new guard and the retiring baby boomers, Howe said that cultural forces have essentially forced this crisis, with “culture warriors” and “values voters” in direct contention with “gen x” for control of the national budget.
“Are we on the verge of another ‘fourth turning’ — another major crash leading to a world war and a world-wide depression?” Hartmann asked.
“No,” Howe said. “I hope it won’t be bad. I hope the destructive will be avoided to the furthest extent possible and the constructive, which always comes out of a fourth turning… will be maximized.”
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth granted a request by historian Stanley Kutler, who has written several books about Nixon and Watergate, and others to unseal the testimony given on June 23 and 24 in 1975.
Nixon was questioned about the political scandal during the 1970s that resulted from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington….
Lamberth ruled in the 15-page opinion that the special circumstances, especially the undisputed historical interest in Nixon’s testimony, far outweighed the need to keep the records secret. Grand jury proceedings typically remain secret.
The Obama administration opposed the release of Nixon’s testimony. It figures, doesn’t it?
In a rare interview with the National Geographic Channel, Bush reflects on what was going through his mind at the most dramatic moment of his presidency when he was informed that a second passenger jet had hit New York’s World Trade Center.
Bush was visiting a Florida classroom and the incident, which was caught on TV film, and has often been used by critics to ridicule his apparently blank face.
But Bush claims he deliberately decided to stay in his seat so as not to alarm the children and to “project a sense of calm.”
“I had been in enough crises to know that the first thing a leader has to do is to project calm,” he added.
I wonder what “crises” he’s talking about? Just about the only thing he did as Governor of Texas was execute people. Let’s watch Bush’s demeanor on 9/11/2001 and see how well he projected “a sense of calm.”
Here’s what one of the children who was in the classroom that day had to say about it:
“The president he just sat there, and his face — he just went dead,” says Jaimie, who was among the second graders in the classroom where President Bush learned of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Jamie’s one of the kids featured in Nickelodeon’s Linda Ellerbee news special, “What Happened?: The story of September 11, 2001,” which debuts Sept. 1.
That’s all the news I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
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After being mercilessly hounded by the media and his Democratic colleagues for what feels like a month, Anthony Weiner finally resigned from the House of Representatives today. After the recent remarks President Obama made suggesting Weiner should resign, you’d think he would have had the decency to just stay silent after the resignation. But no, Obama felt the need to deliver a patronizing and humiliating lecture to the already shamed former Congressman:
“I wish Rep. Weiner and his lovely wife well,” Obama said in a brief clip from an interview with ABC News that aired Thursday night on “World News.”
“Obviously, it’s been a tough incident for him. But I’m confident that they’ll refocus, he’ll refocus, and and he’ll end up being able to bounce back,” Obama said
What a nasty, condescending a-hole our President is! Nothing like rubbing salt in someone’s wounds. It seems President Obama never cared much for Weiner anyway:
Weiner and Obama did not always have a cordial relationship. As Obama’s health care bill was working its way through Congress, Weiner was critical of the president’s role in negotiations. “We started out from the place that the White House said, ‘We’ll accept anything. If you get 60 votes, we’ll take anything,’” Weiner said early last year. “There was a basic decision made to let the Senate write this bill in any way they thought they could to get 60 votes without any true, muscular leadership on the part of the White House.”
Kick ’em when they’re down: it must be the Chicago Way.
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.