Shorter Question Everything
• Republican Congressman Says McCain Was Partly Responsible For The Benghazi Terror Attacks. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) accused Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Wednesday of being complicit in the terror attacks on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya last year and the deaths of four Americans, including the late Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right-wing conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney asked Gohmert on Gaffney’s radio show this week what he thought of McCain’s recent trip to Syria — which Gaffney described as McCain “hobnobbing with Jihadists” — and wondered whether “we’re going to get a proper investigation of the Benghazi-Gate scandal,” a “scandal” Gaffney said he believes “Sen. McCain’s bad advice got us into.” Gohmert agreed that McCain is to blame for Benghazi because McCain supported and advocated for the U.S. led war in Libya that ultimately helped Libyan rebels oust Muammar Qaddafi.
• CBS News corespondent Sharyl Attkisson broke the news that U.S. officials asked Libyan allies on the ground in Benghazi to list the name on Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ death certificate as “John Doe,” so as “to to avoid drawing undue attention to the importance of the victim.” Gregory Hicks, the number-two State Department officer in Libya, testified that the hospital Stevens was taken to was “controlled by Ansar Sharia,” the very same jihadi group that had launched the attack on the diplomatic post.
• Texas Man Being Questioned in Mail Threats to Obama, Bloomberg. The man is described as an Army veteran who is a contractor with the Department of Defense. He has connections to Shreveport, La., where the letters were postmarked, but is not considered a suspect at this time, several officials said. The interview with the man is just one possible lead in the case, and officials emphasize the development is still part of the early stages of their investigation.
• Ricin Suspect Grilled in Texas Was Turned in By Actress Wife. ‘Walking Dead’ actress reportedly called the cops after finding a suspicious substance in the family fridge. East Texas resident Nathaniel Richardson, identified by local media Friday as the primary person of interest in an FBI probe of three threatening letters mailed to gun control supporters, was reportedly turned in by his pregnant wife, an actress who appeared in “The Walking Dead” and “Vampire Diaries.” Letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his gun control advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns tested positive for the poison ricin, which is made from castor beans. It’s not yet clear if a similar letter addressed to President Barack Obama, first reported Thursday, has tested positive for ricin. Shannon Richardson, the person of interest’s wife, “called law enforcement after finding a suspicious substance in the couple’s refrigerator,” the Texarkana Gazette reports. She was escorted to a federal courthouse in Texarkana, Texas, Friday as investigators combed through the couple’s nearby New Boston home, the paper reports. Neighbors told KSLA-TV the Richardsons have five children who live in the home. The man works at the nearby Red River Army Depot, a co-worker told the station.
• The Fake Story About the IRS Commissioner and the White House. White House records show Douglas Shulman signed in for 11 visits, not 157, between 2009 and 2012. Of the 157 events Shulman was cleared to attend, White House records only provide time of arrival information — confirming that he actually went to them — for 11 events over the 2009-2012 period, and time of departure information for only six appointments. According to the White House records, Shulman signed in twice in 2009, five times in 2010, twice in 2011, and twice in 2012. That does not mean that he did not go to other meetings, only that the White House records do not show he went to the 157 meetings he was granted Secret Service clearance to attend.
• ‘Daily Caller’ story on IRS director’s many White House visits a bust. The Daily Caller story that kicked off the latest round of finger-pointing and blame in the IRS “scandal” currently gripping the right blogosphere and Fox News was actually based on erroneous information. According to the Atlantic, the editorial staff at the Caller overestimated the number of visits by now-former IRS director Douglas Shulman by 146, claiming that Shulman visited the Obama White House 157 times rather than the 11 visits he is confirmed to have actually made. The Daily Caller eagerly reported on Wednesday that Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee, visited President Barack Obama’s White House “at least 157 times during the Obama administration, more recorded visits than even the most trusted members of the president’s Cabinet.” The Tucker Carlson-run conservative website failed to make the distinction between the actual White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is covered by the Secret Service’s visitors’ log. Shulman was required to meet with administration officials about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” in the Eisenhower Building. The Secret Service log also covers the New Executive Building, which is located up 17th Street and off the White House grounds.
• Not ‘A Shred of Evidence’ to Support Reinhart and Rogoff. The Harvard professors who led much of the Western world into austerity with their 2010 paper “Growth in a Time of Debt,” debunked in April by a University of Massachusetts grad student, have taken another hit, this time from two economists with the University of Michigan. “Here is the bottom line,” wrote economics professor Miles Kimball and undergraduate student Yichuan Wang, in a paper that examined data pulled from Reinhart and Rogoff’s controversial study to determine whether large federal debts inevitably stunt economic growth, as the Harvard economists had claimed. “Based on economic theory, it would be surprising indeed if high levels of national debt didn’t have at least some slow, corrosive negative effect on economic growth. And we still worry about the effects of debt. But the two of us could not find even a shred of evidence in the Reinhart and Rogoff data for a negative effect of government debt on growth.”
• Top Links: GOP should visit Northern Ireland’s fake stores before proposing any more austerity. Top Story: Germany’s walk back from austerity leaves John Boehner and Republicans as its only true disciples. Just ask a Northern Ireland “shopkeeper.” How bad’s the economy in Europe? So bad that the Northern Irish town hosting next month’s G8 summit is putting up fake stores to make the place a little sunnier. Seriously, you have to check out these pictures: (Irish Times) Funny? For a second, and then you realize the horror that implies: After three-plus years of “austerity”, Europe now is suffering record unemployment. (Reuters) Even Germany is finally admitting that, maybe, Prussian-style austerity is killing southern Europe. (Der Spiegel) Of course, that’s because Germany’s austerity chickens are coming home to roost. (Bloomberg)
Boston Marathon Bombing
• On Thursday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed the swirl of questions around the shooting of Ibragim Todashev, an associate of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the two men charged with the bombing of the Boston Marathon. On Thursday, Todashev’s family held a press conference in Moscow, where they showed autopsie photos of their slain son. Ibragim Todashev was shot six times in the torso and once in the back of the head. “We have not been able to authenticate these photos,” said Maddow. “No one has.” But, she said, if they are genuine, “something weird is going on.”
• Wisconsin Republicans Push for State Access to Bank Accounts of Unemployed. The party of limited government is now pushing for legislation that would allow the government to sneak a peek at some people’s private bank accounts. Republican lawmakers in the Wisconsin legislature have proposed a bill that would permit the state to access bank accounts of the unemployed in order to recover any overpayment of jobless benefits.
• Forecasters warned that a tornado was heading for Oklahoma City on Friday evening. Terrifyingly, the massive storm system developed more than one vortex, and multiple twisters hit Oklahoma City, the suburb of Moore–which was devastated less than two weeks ago by an even more powerful storm–and the surrounding area. The wind changed direction so suddenly that even the experts were taken by surprise, and a Weather Channel car was tossed in the wind and crumpled.
• Canada’s opposition Liberals, flying high under new leader Justin Trudeau, would most likely win an election held now but would not get a majority, according to a new poll. The Ipsos Reid poll for CTV, released late on Thursday, said 36 percent of decided voters would choose the Liberals, up 1 percentage point from its survey last month. The Conservatives dropped 2 points to 30 percent, while the official opposition New Democrats rose two points to 27 percent. That result would be enough to give the Liberals a minority government, which means they would have to rely on other parties to push through their legislation.
• Palestinian victims of 1948 war found in mass grave. The remains of dozens of Palestinians killed by Israelis in fighting following the 1948 foundation of the Israeli state have been found in a mass grave in Tel Aviv’s Jaffa district. An official at the Muslim cemetery there told AFP that the grisly find occurred on Wednesday when ground subsided as workers carried out renovations, revealing six chambers full of skeletons.
• More than a dozen rockets and mortar rounds fired from Syria struck eastern Lebanon Saturday, security officials said, as tensions rise in the two countries’ borderlands where Hezbollah militants are playing a bigger role in Syria’s civil war.