Shorter Question Everything
Remember the rightwing freakout about the Obama admin supposedly creating a massive database of gun owners – that it specifically outlawed the creation of? Guess who already has one of those? That’s right, the NRA. And it was done without gun owners’ consent. Where’s the outrage now?
• How The NRA Built A Massive Secret Database Of Gun Owners: While the National Rifle Association publicly fights against a national gun registry, the organization has gone to incredible lengths to compile information on “tens of millions” of gun owners — without their consent. The National Rifle Association has rallied gun-owners — and raised tens of millions of dollars — campaigning against the threat of a national database of firearms or their owners. But in fact, the sort of vast, secret database the NRA often warns of already exists, despite having been assembled largely without the knowledge or consent of gun owners. It is housed in the Virginia offices of the NRA itself. The country’s largest privately held database of current, former, and prospective gun owners is one of the powerful lobby’s secret weapons, expanding its influence well beyond its estimated 3 million members and bolstering its political supremacy. That database has been built through years of acquiring gun permit registration lists from state and county offices, gathering names of new owners from the thousands of gun-safety classes taught by NRA-certified instructors and by buying lists of attendees of gun shows, subscribers to gun magazines and more, BuzzFeed has learned.
Speaking of gun fetishists…
• Georgia: A man walked into an Atlanta-area elementary school, ordered a school employee to call a local TV station and fired multiple shots at police Tuesday. No one was injured in the shooting at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in unincorporated DeKalb County outside Atlanta, county Police Chief Cedric Alexander said Tuesday afternoon. A county schools spokesman told NBC station WXIA of Atlanta that all pupils had been accounted for. The suspect, identified as Michael Brandon Hill, 20, was wearing black and was armed with an AK-47 assault-style rifle when he fired about six shots at police before surrendering peacefully when they returned fire, officials said.
The IRS non-scandal
Wouldn’t it be something if, in freaking out over this issue, the teabaggers actually did some good for a change and this law reverted to its original intent? And they ALL lost the ability to raise money for dubious political aims?
• IRS targeted ACORN too: Just Tea Party groups? Nope. More evidence out today shows the IRS scandal was based on bogus information. We already know that the IRS targeted progressive groups in addition to Tea Party ones, but new information released today adds further details, showing that the tax agency also targeted “ACORN successors” and left-leaning “Emerge” groups. Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine and Emerge Massachusetts were the only groups to have their applications actually denied 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. Conservative groups had their applications delayed, in some cases for over a year, but not rejected outright.
• The IRS ‘scandal’: Now, a lawsuit: Rep. Chris Van Hollen is preparing to file a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service over the agency’s interpretation of the 501(c)(4) law that determines tax-exempt status for social welfare organizations. Hoping to force the agency to clarify its rules, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee said Tuesday that he will serve as lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. “What we’re asking the court to do is to instruct the IRS to apply the law as it was written,” the Maryland congressman said on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. “The way the law was written – it was never intended that the IRS would be in the business of trying to determine whether an organization that was seeking this special 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status, whether it’s primarily engaged in political activities or primarily engaged in social welfare activities.” The original Revenue Act of 1913 states that organizations must engage “exclusively” for the promotion of social welfare, but IRS rules say that organizations can qualify if they are “primarily engaged” in social welfare purposes.
Wait another 24 hrs
• The Guardian’s Computer Smash-Up Story Grows Increasingly Bizarre & Ridiculous: In keeping with the 24 Hour Rule, Tuesday brought to light a series of new details and raised more questions about how a British intelligence goon squad forced staffers from The Guardian to destroy one or more computers containing Snowden-related documents. First and foremost, and contrary to what was implied in editor Alan Rusbridger’s think-piece, it turns out that the British GCHQ officials didn’t force The Guardian staffers to destroy the computers. On July 20, 2013, without any photographs or video to document any of it (inside a newsroom no less) three employees under the direction of Rusbridger voluntarily destroyed the computer(s). “Rusbridger took the decision that if the government was determined to stop UK-based reporting on the Snowden files, the best option was destroy the London copy and to continue to edit and report from America and Brazil.” The destruction was overseen by two agents allegedly from the GCHQ, the U.K.’s counterpart to NSA. Three staffers destroyed the computers using “angle grinders and drills.” No, the GCHQ guys didn’t raid The Guardian‘s office. They didn’t force anyone to destroy anything.
• Britain defends detention of journalist’s partner: The British government, accused of abusing media freedom, said on Tuesday police were right to detain a journalist’s partner if they thought lives might be at risk from data he was carrying from fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Facing legal and diplomatic complaints after police held Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian partner for nine hours on Sunday – and accused by the newspaper of forcing it to trash computers holding copies of Snowden’s data – the interior minister said officers were entitled to take security measures.
• Tesla‘s Model S: The best car ever made? Tesla’s Model S electric car scores a perfect score from the government agency charged with crash tests. A car so safe, and so well made — could this be the ticket to a zero-emissions future?
• Tesla still rewriting American auto industry
• Activists and rebel fighters accused Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces of killing hundreds of civilians – including many women and children – in chemical weapons attacks on Wednesday.
• Scientists plan controversial lab-made bird flu: Scientists who sparked an outcry by creating easier-to-spread versions of the bird flu for research purposes want to try such experiments again using a worrisome new strain. This time around, the U.S. government is promising extra scrutiny of such high-stakes research up front. Since it broke out in China in March, the H7N9 bird flu has infected more than 130 people and killed 43. Some of the world’s leading flu researchers argue that genetically altering that virus in high-security labs is key to studying how it might mutate in the wild to become a bigger threat to people, maybe even the next pandemic.
• Japan’s nuclear crisis escalated to its worst level since a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant more than two years ago, with the country’s nuclear watchdog saying it feared more storage tanks were leaking contaminated water. The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday it viewed the situation at Fukushima “seriously” and was ready to help if called upon, while nearby China said it was “shocked” to hear contaminated water was still leaking from the plant, and urged Japan to provide information “in a timely, thorough and accurate way”.
Another sort of toxic
• Ron Paul to headline September ‘anti-Semitic conference’: Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is being billed as the keynote speaker at a September conference sponsored by the Fatima Center, which one civil rights organization calls “the single largest group of hard-core anti-Semites in North America. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog noted on Tuesday that Paul had reportedly accepted the speaking engagement at the Fatima Center’s September “Fatima: The Path to Peace” conference in Canada. Other speakers at the conference will include John Birch Society President John F. McManus, which has been accused of contributing to anti-Semitism for decades.
• Senator Cruz may have to wait eight months to stop being Canadian: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, who says he recently discovered he is likely a Canadian, must win security clearance from Canada’s spy agency, fill out a four-page form and then wait up to eight months to sever his ties to America’s northern neighbor.
In other news
• Winter warfare centre in Nunavut quietly unveiled by Harper government: The Resolute Bay facility, first announced in 2007 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is a year-round centre shared with Natural Resources Canada that will serve as the army’s command post during operations in the Far North. The government announcement, issued today with little fanfare, comes as the prime minister prepares to head north for his annual visit to the region. Small contingents of up to 100 soldiers will be expected to train at the Resolute Bay centre for cold weather operations.
• The Nixon Library and the National Archives on Wednesday are releasing the final 340 hours of the White House tapes President Nixon recorded for his own use, providing Nixon’s uncensored perspective of a tumultuous period in history.
• Wall Street should brace for “significant” civil or criminal charges from the Department of Justice (DOJ), according to Attorney General Eric Holder. The promise comes amid intensifying criticism of the DOJ’s financial enforcement decisions.