72-Hour Cease-Fire Announced in Gaza - NYTimes.com: "he United States and the United Nations announced a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza conflict early Friday, a diplomatic bolt-from-the-blue that will suspend the bloody 24-day military campaign and set the stage for arduous negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a more lasting truce."
House GOP Border Plan Vote Postponed - Business Insider: "House Republican leadership abruptly postponed and then ultimately pulled a vote on its plan to deal with the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, after a conservative revolt left leadership short of the votes needed to pass the bill.
Soon after House leaders pulled the bill, however, a 3 p.m. ET Republican conference meeting was scheduled in an apparent attempt to revive the bill. Members were advised that additional votes were still possible.
The original pulling of the bill served as a remarkable setback for House Speaker John Boehner and the incoming House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who had whipped support for the border bill."
House Republican leaders abruptly changed their plan to deal with the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border late Wednesday night, after they were not able to muster enough votes to pass the legislation before Congress leaves Friday for a five-week recess.
... The Republican dissent was led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the conservative freshman firebrand who has miffed House leadership before by meddling in the House's affairs (most notably, last year, ahead of the government shutdown).'via Blog this'
The latest blow came Thursday in what has become predictable fashion: chaos in the House. Amid fractious infighting, House leaders abruptly pulled their alternative to President Obama’s bill to deal with the influx of Central American children crossing the border. What was said to be a national crisis turned into one more problem facing deferral. But there was more over the week that could contribute to the deteriorated brand called the Republican Party."'via Blog this'
And so, we decided to see if you could do exactly that. We took ten bizarre or interesting details from the ongoing trial and paired them with equally interesting fictional details. Can you identify the weirdness we made up from the weirdness that is now public record in a Richmond courtroom? Give it a shot.
Deadly Israeli strikes hit UN school, market area - US News: "Israeli artillery shells tore through the walls of a U.N. school crowded with sleeping war refugees and back-to-back explosions rocked a market filled with shoppers Wednesday as Israel's stepped up campaign against Gaza's Hamas rulers claimed at least 116 Palestinian lives.
After the strikes near the shopping area in Gaza City, bodies lay scattered in the streets as the wounded screamed for help. "Where is the ambulance?" one man moaned as he lay on the blood-soaked ground.
Some 3,300 Gazans seeking refuge from the fighting had been crammed into the U.N. school at the Jebaliya refugee camp when a series of Israeli artillery shells hit before daybreak, turning a classroom where families had been sleeping into a tragic scene of bloodied clothing, bedding and debris."
Last week, House Republicans huddled in a Capitol conference room to figure out what kind of emergency immigration bill they might be able to pass. In his telling, Florida Rep. Ted Yoho wanted the party to jam the White House, to pack the bill with new border security measures and threaten to impeach Obama if he ignored them.
“He either enforces the laws on the books—as he was hired and elected to do—or he leaves Congress no option,”crowed Yoho to Breitbart.com. “This is not our choice, this is the president’s choice and I would advise him to uphold the law on the books.”
That wasn’t out of character for Yoho; for most of the past 12 months, he’d been calling on his party to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder. In 2011, beforehe was even elected to Congress, he delineated six reasons to impeach the president, from “the unconstitutional Nationalization of GM and Chrysler” to taking “commands from the U.N. or NATO.”'via Blog this'
GOP Rank-and-File Discusses Ways to Take on Obama Over Amnesty, Including Impeachment: "The proposals included trying to prevent a future executive amnesty by Obama, telling the president what he should do to enforce the law in a non-binding resolution, and even putting impeachment on the table.
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) told colleagues that the House should pass legislation with new steps to secure the border, and tell Obama if he didn't implement it, they would impeach him."
That figure is dramatically lower than the $3.7 billion that President Barack Obama originally requested from Capitol Hill to respond to the influx of unaccompanied children, primarily from Central America, at the Texas border."
The legislation, which was announced Monday afternoon, will give the VA secretary broad new authority to fire or demote senior officials accused of mismanagement and will create a system where veterans can seek private care if VA doctors are unable to treat the patients within 14 days.
The deal will allocate $5 billion to hire new doctors and nurses and removes bureaucratic barriers that slowed hiring so the VA can more quickly fill medical vacancies. 'via Blog this'
In a new note to clients, Goldman Sachs' David Kostin remembers another time Obama talked about stocks. From the note:
Some investors may remember Obama’s previous equity valuation comment from March 3, 2009 when the S&P 500 traded at 696: ”On the other hand, what you're now seeing is profit and earnings ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you've got a long-term perspective on it.” Since his observation, the S&P 500 has soared by 185% and this week reached a new all-time high of 1988.
March 3 was six days before the S&P 500 hit an intraday low of 666.
Obama: Buying Stocks May Be a 'Good Deal' - NYTimes.com: "“Profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal,” Mr. Obama said, “if you’ve got a long-term perspective on it.” ...As his words were broadcast on cable networks shortly after noon on Tuesday, the indicator at the bottom of the television screen showed that the Dow Jones industrial average was down once again. On Monday, the Dow closed below 7,000 for the first time since 1997."
Smith & Wesson employees made improper payments from 2007 to 2010 to secure business with militaries and police departments, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in an administrative order filed today. The gunmaker settled the claims without admitting or denying the allegations."
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Wife Set for Corruption Trial - WSJ: "Jury selection is expected to begin Monday in the corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, who are accused of accepting more than $160,000 in jewelry, cash, clothing and trips in exchange for promoting a wealthy backer's dietary-supplement business."
The move comes a day after Oklahoma botched the execution of Clayton D. Lockett. As we reported, after a long legal and political battle, the state proceeded with Lockett's execution using a novel combination of drugs."
Gov Brewer Orders Review After Joseph Wood Botched Execution | Mediaite: "Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued a statement tonight on the botched execution that left a death-row inmate reportedly gasping for air for almost two hours before he finally died. Brewer ordered a full review of the execution process in reaction to these reports of Joseph Wood‘s execution.
Brewer said, “I am concerned by the length of time it took for the administered drug protocol to complete the lawful execution of the convicted double murderer, Joseph Wood.”"
The longtime Republican lawmaker, who experienced years of torture while being held in captivity by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, called the drawn-out lethal injection execution of Joseph Wood on Wednesday “terrible.”" 'via Blog this'
A Prolonged Execution in Arizona Leads to a Temporary Halt - NYTimes.com: "PHOENIX — The Arizona attorney general on Thursday called a temporary halt to executions in the state, a day after the convicted killer Joseph R. Wood III died one hour and 57 minutes after his execution began. Death penalty experts said it was one of the longest times it has taken in the United States for drugs to kill a condemned man."
Israeli fire hits U.N. school in Gaza, killing 15 - CBS News: " Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside, Palestinian officials said, as Israel pressed forward with its 17-day war against the territory's Hamas rulers."
Fire breaks out at West Texas refinery - Oil & Gas Journal: "Western Refining Inc. has extinguished a fire that occurred early on July 23 in a boiler at its 128,000-b/d refinery at El Paso, Tex.
Valves controlling the crude oil supply to the boiler quickly were isolated, and the fire, which broke out about 8:30 a.m. CST at a boiler in the proximity of other structures on the property, was brought under control and extinguished by Western Refining’s on-site fire and emergency personnel just after 9:00 a.m. CST, according to El Paso Fire Department postings to Twitter."
Israel Insulted Over FAA Ban - Business Insider: "The Federal Aviation Administration put a 24-hour ban on American flights to and from Israel's Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday, after a rocket landed a mile away from the airport, and extended the ban an additional 24-hours through Thursday earlier today.
Israel's Transportation Ministry stated on Tuesday that Ben Gurion, the main international airport in the country located a few miles outside Tel Aviv, “is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize,” according to Roll Call."
With Historically Black Colleges and Universities literally hurting for money, survival instincts cut in: who wouldn’t take a $25 million check to stop the hemorrhaging? That question got a bit more complicated when the nefarious Koch Brothers – typically caricatured as ultra-conservative evil twins on a world domination binge – dropped that stunning amount on a hungry United Negro College Fund desperate for a save.
The UNCF, a longtime reliable fundraising funnel for HBCUs, definitely grit its teeth when accepting the Koch donation, but ends justify the means. As they apparently did when the Los Angeles-area NAACP was called out for accepting annual donations from the notorious Donald Sterling.
But, HBCUs are between a heavy rock and a hard place these days: on one hand, their very survival threatened by everything from lack of academic and irrelevance to precipitous drops in federal financial aid. They face competition from mainstream or predominantly White public and private schools because Black students can go anywhere they want now. Then sudden and draconian Obama administration changes in Parent PLUS loan cut financial lifelines to 28,000 HBCU students who couldn’t meet tuition deadlines – not to mention the schools that, as a result, lost $160 million in cheese (see WashingtonPost graph below).'via Blog this'
The seashore casino is one of the poorest performers in Atlantic City, which began the year with 12 casinos. Trump Plaza booked less than half its rooms in the first quarter of 2014, and had the lowest gaming revenue of any of the city's casinos in May, according to state documents.
“The primary factor that drives these young people,” Farrell said. “The one thing that comes out all of the time is that they are running away from the tremendous violence, drug wars that go on in their own places.”
Farrell says it’s not a political issue, it’s a humanitarian issue. "
Cuba is now different from 1958, no automatic asylum for Cubans??
Rubio: U.S. Cannot Admit All Children Seeking Asylum : The Two-Way : NPR: "Rubio said that even the law regarding Cuban immigrants needs to be modernized in order to reflect changing times. He'd like to see more migrants granted legal status based on job skills, as opposed to giving preference more often to those who have family ties or who are seeking asylum.
"I fully recognize that's how my parents came in 1956, but the country and the economy is fundamentally different than it was 60 years ago," he said, "and our immigration laws have to reflect this.""
What!! That's the second republican to do this. What' going on!!
Ron Paul Defends Russia After Malaysian Plane Crash - Business Insider: "Former Congressman Ron Paul defended the Russian government on Sunday and slammed Western leaders for spreading "propaganda" after a Malaysian Airlines plane was allegedly shot down by Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine.
"Western politicians and media joined together to gain the maximum propaganda value from the disaster. It had to be Russia; it had to be Putin, they said," the former presidential candidate wrote. "While western media outlets rush to repeat government propaganda on the event, there are a few things they will not report.""
UK Wants To Hit Russia With Sanctions That Will Actually Bite - Business Insider: "Britain will push for EU sanctions targeting whole sectors of the Russian economy in the wake of the Ukraine plane disaster even if it means taking a short-term "hit" to the economy, its ministers said on Monday.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said "the time has now come for sanctions to be tightened further", and stressed that inaction so far over the Ukraine crisis had "not served us well"."
Obama okays sonic cannons for offshore oil exploration - CSMonitor.com: "Opening the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil exploration for the first time in decades, the Obama administration on Friday approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles.
The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's approval of this technology is the first step toward identifying new oil and gas deposits in federal waters from Florida to Delaware."
“This is a piece of legislation we’re very proud to sign,” a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, told reporters on Dec. 23, 2008, as the president put his pen to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, named for a 19th-century British abolitionist. “This program has been very effective around the world in trying to stop trafficking in persons.”" 'via Blog this'
On Wednesday a Pew Center poll found 53 percent of Americans support accelerating the legal deportation process while 38 percent want to stay with the current policy. There are nearly 9,000 illegal immigrant children in U.S. custody waiting for a hearing on whether they can stay.
Those children were part of a surge of 57,000 unaccompanied minors who have come from Central America since last October."
Family members of the four boys were distraught on Wednesday after identifying their bodies at the hospital in Gaza City.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times
Boys Drawn to Gaza Beach, and Into Center of Mideast Strife - NYTimes.com: "The four Bakr boys were young cousins, the children of Gaza fishermen who had ordered them to stay indoors — and especially away from the beach. But cooped up for nine days during Israeli bombardments, the children defied their parents and went out Wednesday afternoon, the eldest shooing away his little brother, telling him it was too dangerous.
As they played on and around a jetty in the late-afternoon sun, a blast hit a nearby shack. One boy was killed instantly. The others ran. There was a second blast, and three more bodies littered the sand. One was charred, missing a leg, and another lay motionless, his curly head intact, his legs splayed at unnatural angles."
The ratings agency slightly lowered the state’s credit rating because of mounting financial pressure on the Kansas state budget, partly from massive income tax cuts that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law in 2012 and 2013.
... Brownback blames the national economic climate and President Obama’s policies for the shortfall. 'via Blog this'
It was the third ratings cut this year for New Jersey, the sixth downgrade since Gov. Chris Christie took office, and the latest sign that the Garden State’s ailing fiscal condition is taking a turn for the worse."
6 Israelis Held Over the Killing of Palestinian - NYTimes.com: "An Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said there was a “strong possibility” that the motive for the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, was “nationalistic,” indicating that it was a revenge attack by right-wing Jewish extremists for the recent kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Muhammad’s body was discovered on Wednesday, about an hour after he was forced into a car in East Jerusalem, a few yards from his home."
Citigroup Fine - Business Insider: "As expected, Citigroup has announced a $7 billion fine and settlement over investigation into pre-crisis mortgage practices." Under the terms of the settlement, Citigroup will pay a total of $4.5 billion in cash and provide $2.5 billion in consumer relief. The cash portion consists of a $4 billion civil monetary payment to the DOJ and $500 million in compensatory payments to the State AGs and the FDIC. The consumer relief will be in the form of financing provided for the construction and preservation of affordable multifamily rental housing, principal reduction and forbearance for residential loans, as well as other direct consumer benefits from various relief programs. Citigroup has agreed to provide the consumer relief by the end of 2018.
Judge tosses Florida congressional map - POLITICO.com Print View: "Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis blasted the GOP-controlled state Legislature for working with political consultants to make a “mockery” of Florida’s Fair Districts amendments — passed by voters in 2010 — that call for the decennial redistricting process to be conducted without taking into account partisan makeup or incumbent advantage.
“Republican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process,” Lewis writes in the opinion. “They made a mockery of the Legislature’s proclaimed transparency and open process of redistricting by doing all of this in the shadow of that process, utilizing the access it gave them to the decision makers, but going to great lengths to conceal from the public their plan and their participation in it.”"
The evidence is pretty overwhelming at this point that Obamacare has driven down the uninsured rate. Data from Gallup, the Commonwealth Fund, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Urban Institute, RAND Corporation and the Kaiser Family Foundation all have similar findings. Namely, that millions more people have insurance than before Obamacare's insurance expansion."
Boehner releases his plan to sue President Obama - Vox: "On Thursday, Speaker John Boehner released a draft resolution authorizing the House of Representatives to sue President Obama over the delay of Obamacare's employer mandate. Is there any precedent for this suit? How would it proceed? We answer your questions below."
The suspected killer, still armed and reportedly an uncle of some of the victims, held officers at bay for hours in a cul-de-sac some three miles from the Spring, Texas crime scene. He surrendered around 10 p.m. local time as police closed in."