Shorter Question Everything
Just a note: That Obama is black and this has driven every racist – closet and otherwise – around the bend is not the same thing as Obama somehow ‘dividing the country on race’. You know what divides the country on race? Racists. Maybe some folks were just a lot more comfortable when they didn’t have to look their racism in the face and could pretend everything was just fine and dandy. It doesn’t make it so.
• ‘He’s 47 percent Negro’: Anti-Obama Arizona protest turns racist: A protest against an appearance by President Barack Obama in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday was marked by several instances of racist language directed at Obama, the Arizona Republic reported. “He’s 47 percent Negro,” 77-year-old Ron Enderle shouted at one point, later telling the Republic that he was “ashamed” to have Obama as Commander-in-Chief. According to the Republic, at one point critics of Obama sang “Bye Bye Black Sheep” and at least one sign in the crowd read “Impeach the Half-White Muslim.”
While we’re talking about racism…
• George Zimmerman’s Biggest Defender: A Racist With a Criminal Past: Frank Taaffe, Zimmerman’s unofficial media emissary, is a convicted criminal who recently appeared on The White Voice, a virulently racist podcast. Taaffe was hardly the ideal person to be weighing in on a case suffused with racial angst—or commenting on criminal-justice matters, period. A Mother Jones investigation has found that the 56-year-old New York native has a lengthy criminal record that includes charges of domestic violence and burglary, and a history of airing virulently racist views. Just last Sunday, he appeared on The White Voice, a weekly podcast hosted by a man named Joe Adams, who has deep, long-standing ties to white-power groups and has authored a manual called Save The White People Handbook. (Sample quote: “A mutt makes a great pet and a mulatto makes a great slave.”) [PDF]
• 10 Reasons Lawyers Say Florida’s Law Enforcement Threw Away George Zimmerman’s Case: Florida law enforcement, from the local police to the special prosecutor overseeing the Trayvon Martin case, did not want to see George Zimmerman convicted of murder and deliberately threw away the case, allowing their prosecution to crumble. A growing chorus of attorneys and analysts who know jury trials and courtroom procedure say this is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the parade of otherwise incoherent missteps by George Zimmerman’s prosecutors.
• Mostly-White Ohio Suburb Fighting To Prevent Mostly-Black Bus-Riders From Entering Community: The showdown began in 2010 when the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority proposed adding three new bus stops in Beavercreek, a largely white suburb 15 minutes east of Dayton. These new stops would give Dayton bus-riders access to Beavercreek’s major shopping mall and nearby businesses, as well as a medical clinic and Wright State University. Many in the area argue that their opposition boils down to a simple reason: race. According to the 2010 census, 9 in 10 Beavercreek residents are white, but 73 percent of those who ride the Dayton RTA buses are minorities. “I can’t see anything else but it being a racial thing,” Sam Gresham, state chair of Common Cause Ohio, a public interest advocacy group, told ThinkProgress. “They don’t want African Americans going on a consistent basis to Beavercreek.”
• JPMorgan: We’re Being Investigated By DOJ Over Mortgages. JPMorgan Chase said Wednesday it’s under federal criminal investigation over its sale of mortgage securities, potentially making the biggest U.S. bank by assets the first large financial institution to face criminal sanctions over securitization practices that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.
• Republicans’ Desperate Plan to Hide Its Clowns: The entire Republican primary system is broken, and embarrassing debates really number among the least of their problems, but it is easier for Priebus to preemptively cancel embarrassing debates than it is for him to fundamentally alter the makeup of the Republican primary electorate. Preibus wants there to be fewer debates, because the debates are hugely embarrassing to the party and damaging to the eventual nominee. The candidates, though, need the debates, because there is nothing so precious as free airtime, and saying stupid things on television and then losing elections is a surprisingly lucrative career move these days.
• Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign allegedly bought Iowa endorsement: Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign allegedly offered financial compensation to a Republican Iowa state senator in exchange for his endorsement and support. Documents obtained by TheIowaRepublican.com and OpenSecrets.org showed a representative of state Sen. Kent Sorenson told the Paul campaign the senator would ditch Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign if they provided him with $8,000 per month in salary, $5,000 per month in salary to his Senate clerk Chris Dorr, and $100,000 in contributions his newly created PAC.
• IRS secretly used DEA surveillance database to launch investigations: Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years. A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA’s Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files. The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and was removed in early 2007. The IRS is among two dozen arms of the government working with the Special Operations Division, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
• US-Russia ‘reset’? Not likely, and cancelled Obama-Putin summit is just latest sign of tension: President Barack Obama’s five-year effort to reboot U.S.-Russian relations finally crashed Wednesday, as the White House abruptly cancelled his planned face-to-face summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
• Russian journalist Andrei Soldatov says Edward Snowden is not in control of his own fate. “Does he have independent sources of information and communication? My impression is that he has none, which means he’s not his own master,” Soldatov said. “We are all perfectly aware that Snowden, who has just received asylum, does not face any danger in Russia,” Soldatov said. “American intelligence does not kidnap or assassinate people in Russia, that’s a fact. This is a just a pretext.” One of the reasons for keeping Snowden isolated may be to prevent him from speaking about the people he met and what really happened to him during the 39 days he spent in the airport’s transit zone, Soldatov said. For the same reason, Soldatov said he expected Russian authorities to find a job for Snowden that will prevent him from having contacts with journalists.
• The railway whose runaway train killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, last month filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada and the United States on Wednesday as it faces mounting pressure from authorities to pay for the disaster cleanup. Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Ltd (MMA) filed for bankruptcy in both countries to preserve the value of its assets for a potential sale, according to court documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Maine.
• Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway says it is about to resume running trains through Lac Megantic, Quebec. But the railroad says it will no longer carry crude oil, the cargo that caused the July 6 disaster that devastated the town. The transport of crude oil has been a major factor in the railroad’s improving financial prospects over the last couple of years.
• Costa Rica Will Stop Sending Cocaine to Miami: Costa Rica will no longer send cocaine or other controlled substances to the United States, at least for the time being. The announcement comes in the wake of news reports about nearly 24 tons of cocaine transported by the U.S. Air Force to Miami on Saturday, July 27th 2013. …Before a Boeing C-17 Globemaster from the U.S. Air Force landed at the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR) in late July to transport pallets upon pallets of cocaine to Miami, the OIJ evidence warehouse in San Joaquin de Flores, province of Heredia, was ready to burst from all the drugs contained therein… Even the identification of the C-17 from the U.S. Air Force remained a mystery until recently. CRHoy obtained a series of documents related to the ongoing investigation, which apparently include a letter signed on July 10th by a U.S. Coast Guard Commander named B.J. Ripkey requesting permission for a military aircraft from the U.S. to land in Costa Rica with 12 individuals aboard. According to that letter, the aircraft would not fly directly to Miami after takeoff: it would first stop in Nicaragua and later in Honduras while carrying all that cocaine.
• Dead birds fall ‘like raindrops’ in Winnipeg’s North End: Animal experts are trying to figure out what may have killed dozens of black birds that fell from the sky in Winnipeg’s North End on Wednesday. Conservation officers have picked up more than 50 dead birds near the intersection of King Street and Dufferin Avenue, while the Winnipeg Humane Society took in 11 birds that were still alive. Erika Anseeuw, the humane society’s director of animal health, said all the living birds were reasonably bright and active, although they cannot stand or fly. The birds will be euthanized and sent to a pathology lab for autopsies. Anseeuw would not speculate on what exactly may have killed the birds, but she suspects they may have accidentally gotten into something. “My suspicion is this is what it’s going to be rather than any kind of apocalyptic foretelling of birds falling from the sky,” she said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Up to Speed program. Possible factors may include exposure to disease or toxins, Anseeuw said.
• Bird Flu Researchers Push To Make Virus More Contagious: In a letter published today in the nation’s two most prestigious scientific journals — Science and Nature — bird flu researchers say they need to perform research on the H7N9 virus that would make it more dangerous. The researchers say that’s necessary in order to prepare for its possible spread between humans, perhaps as early as this winter.
• Plane From Ireland Lands in Philly After “Unsubstantiated” Threat: A plane from Ireland landed in Philadelphia after an “unsubstantiated” threat, according to Philadelphia police. But after investigating, federal agents and local police said the threat was unfounded. As a precaution, the plane was taken to a remote area of the airport so that Philadelphia police and Homeland Security could search passengers and luggage. “Once we landed, all of a sudden we saw all these cop cars,” said Molly Cross, one of the passengers. “An FBI agent got on the plane and told us that someone made a bomb threat or something like that.” A bomb threat was called in to the Philadelphia Airport by an unknown male, according to sources close to the investigation who did not want to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
• One of the suspects in an alleged terrorism plot to bomb the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day has been “certified” under mental-health laws and transferred to a forensic hospital, raising the possibility he could argue he is not criminally responsible, his lawyer said Wednesday. John Nuttall was charged last month along with his girlfriend, Amanda Korody, in what the RCMP described as an al Qaeda-inspired plan to use pressure cooker bombs to target holiday festivities in Victoria.
• Assad appears on Syria TV unharmed after rebels claim to attack his convoy. Syrian rebels report firing rockets that hit the Syrian president’s motorcade as he was heading to attend the prayers at Anas bin Malek Mosque in the Malki district, where his residence is located. He was not injured.
• Two arrested in Rehtaeh Parsons case: RCMP said officers arrested two males at their homes in Halifax. They are being questioned and no charges have been laid. Initially, the RCMP had closed its investigation without any charges, but national outcry and new evidence prompted investigators to reopen the case in April. The provincial government has said it plans to have out-of-province experts conduct an independent review of the police response in the Parsons case.
• Chuck Hagel drafts military sex assault policies: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has drafted a series of new policies to stem sexual assault in the military, internal documents indicate. An internal memo reveals six executive actions meant to address the problem of sexual assault in the military, Politco reported Wednesday. The policies could be sent to Capitol Hill as soon as this week. The policies include a rule requiring consistency across all branches of the military on what constitutes an inappropriate relationship between trainers and trainees and recruiters and recruits, a policy regarding the transfer or reassignment of those accused of sexual assault and a mandate requiring judge advocates to serve as investigating officers in preliminary hearings. Another policy would expand legal advice to victims throughout the military justice process. That service already exists in the Air Force, Politico reported. Hagel is also considering a policy that would allow victims to weigh in during the post-trial phase of military courts martial, Politico said.