Posted Saturday, May 18, 2013, at 3:05 PM
Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the IRS scandal is “simply un-American"
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is the latest Republican to suggest that the IRS officials who targeted conservative political organizations for scrutiny should serve time behind bars. “You cannot take the freedom of law-abiding Americans, whether you disagree with them or not, and keep your own freedom,” Jindal will tell delegates at a GOP convention, according to remarks seen by Politico. “When you do that, you go to jail.” The call comes a few days after House Speaker John Boehner asked: “My question isn’t about who’s going to resign, my question is who’s going to jail over this scandal?”
It’s likely no one will go to jail as a result of the IRS scandal, points out the Washington Post. Still, the calls for jail time illustrate how Republicans will keep pushing the issue, particularly considering it can be tied with other questions about government accountability, such as the Benghazi controversy. While increasingly engulfed by scandals, President Obama wants to change the subject. The White House will try to focus on legislation that it thinks Congress might pass and executive actions that don’t require lawmakers, points out the New York Times. The administration wants to intensify existing efforts to, among other things, reform immigration laws and implement the health care law. It is also getting ready to push an initiative to keep student loan rates low.
Even as Republicans focus on how the IRS admitted to inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups, the real scandal may lie elsewhere. While it took a close look at smaller tea party organizations, the IRS pretty much ignored the much larger organizations that played an influential role in the election, reports the Associated Press. "The IRS goes AWOL when wealthy and powerful forces want to break the law in order to hide their wrongful efforts and secret political influence," said Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat. Now a small group of campaign finance reform advocates are worried the recent revelations regarding the IRS will make it even less likely that regulators will seek to scrutinize the bigger, more powerful groups.
Posted Saturday, May 18, 2013, at 2:31 PM
A Connecticut state investigator examines the scene of Friday's Metro-North train collision
Photo by Michael Graae/Getty Images
It was lucky no one died. That was the message from officials who inspected the damage Saturday caused by a two two-train collision in Connecticut that injured dozens Friday. A total of 72 people were sent to the hospital, with two still in critical condition. "The damage is absolutely staggering," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said, according to the Associated Press. "I feel that we are fortunate that even more injuries were not the result of this very tragic and unfortunate accident." For his part, Sen. Chris Murphy said it was “frankly amazing” no one was killed.
There were around 700 people aboard the Metro-North trains when one that was heading from New York City to New Haven derailed outside Bridgeport and collided with a train on an adjacent track. The crash caused “extensive damage” to the track and there is no official estimate of how long the investigation and repairs will take, points out NBC News. Meanwhile, commuters will have to find alternatives. The 30-mile stretch between New Haven and South Norwalk, Conn. will remain shut down indefinitely, as will Amtrak service between New York and New Haven, reports CNN. "I think this is going to be with us for a number of days," Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said.
Posted Saturday, May 18, 2013, at 12:57 PM
Two men hold a French national flag and a rainbow flag as they gather for a demonstration in Paris earlier this year
Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
After lots of controversy, marriage equality is finally the law of the land in France. French President Francois Hollande signed a bill legalizing not only marriage between members of the same sex, but also adoption by gay and lesbian couples. Marriage equality became law after the Constitutional Council shot down a challenge by the right-wing opposition, ruling on Friday the measure does not “run contrary to any constitutional principles” and would not violate “basic rights or liberties or national sovereignty,” reports the BBC. The first wedding could take place before the end of the month.
Hollande has turned marriage equality into a rallying cry for his administration, but the right to marry and adopt for all sexual orientations “has triggered the biggest conservative and rightwing street protests in 30 years, with more than 200 arrests,” points out the Guardian. Another protest has been called for May 26, two days before the first same-sex couples could walk down the aisle. The protest “could easily be another monster-manif, like the ones earlier this year,” writes the BBC’s Hugh Schofield. “This is because opposition to gay marriage has become conflated with all sorts of other anti-government grievances coming from the right. And the atmosphere in the country is particularly volatile.”
Posted Saturday, May 18, 2013, at 12:49 PM
This undated picture, released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 13, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju (2nd L), enjoying a performance given by the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Korean People's Internal Security Forces
Photo by KNS/AFP/Getty Images
North Korea fired three short-range missiles into its eastern waters Saturday, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry. So far, the purpose of the launch remains unknown. Although testing short-range missiles isn’t really that uncommon for Pyongyang, these latest tests come at a time when a tentative calm had emerged in the region after a period of heightened tension, points out the Washington Post.
The move comes two months after North Korea apparently launched two missiles off its eastern coast. Tied with this latest launch, the move could support speculation that the country is trying to improve the range and accuracy of its arsenal, points out the Associated Press. Even though South Korea vowed to remain alert, the latest missile launch can be seen as relative good news considering “the move was much less provocative than what had been feared in the tense weeks after the country’s nuclear test in February,” points out the New York Times. Some feared North Korea would seek to back up its recent bluster with a test of longer-range missiles.
“With the short-range missile tests, North Korea is reminding the United States and South Korea that it can escalate tensions again and follow up with more serious steps if things do not go in the direction it wants,” a North Korea analyst tells the Times.
Posted Friday, May 17, 2013, at 3:59 PM
Outgoing IRS Commissioner Steve Miller arrives to testify before a full House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Friday
Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
The IRS's "Horrible Customer Service": Washington Post: "A House committee grilled the outgoing acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service on Friday about the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, eliciting an admission that the agency 'provided horrible customer service' but denials that it was politically motivated. In nearly four hours of often testy exchanges with Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, Steven T. Miller, whose resignation was demanded and accepted by President Obama this week in connection with the controversy, said groups were not 'targeted' in reviews of their applications for tax-exempt status because they were conservative but merely 'listed' because they were engaged in political activity. ... The testimony came in the first of several hearings in which lawmakers are summoning current and former officials to be grilled about the screening of applications for tax-exempt status."
Advanced Warning: New York Times: "The Treasury Department’s inspector general told senior Treasury officials in June 2012 he was investigating allegations that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted conservative groups, disclosing for the first time on Friday that Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year. ... J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel of his investigation on June 4, and Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin 'shortly thereafter.' The new information came as part of a routine briefing of the investigations that the inspector general would be conducting in the coming year, and he did not tell the officials of his conclusions that the targeting had been improper, he said. Still, Mr. George’s testimony will most likely fuel efforts by Congressional Republicans to show that Obama administration officials knew of efforts to single out conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny, but did not reveal that knowledge during President Obama’s re-election campaign."
Good Luck With That: Wall Street Journal: "Anger wasn't limited to Republicans. The top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, called for the resignation of another official, Lois Lerner, who runs the exempt-organizations unit at the IRS. But he also cautioned Republicans against using the inquiry for partisan gain. 'We must seek the truth, not political gain,' Mr. Levin cautioned. ... Seeking to restore order at the agency, President Barack Obama on Thursday named a new acting IRS commissioner, a day after sacking Mr. Miller. Mr. Obama chose Daniel Werfel, the controller of the Office of Management and Budget, equivalent to the government's chief financial officer. His appointment is effective Wednesday, and Mr. Werfel has agreed to serve through the end of fiscal year on Sept. 30."Read More »
Posted Friday, May 17, 2013, at 12:49 PM
Screenshot from YouTube video
As we told you this morning, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is having a rough day north of the border amid reports that he was caught on camera smoking crack that he bought from a group of Somali drug dealers. The mayor is denying the allegations, but both Gawker and the Toronto Star say their reporters got a firsthand look at the smartphone footage and have no doubt that the man in the video is the Canadian in question. The reports are serious enough that local police are keeping tabs on the whole affair.
Ford may be a relative unknown for most Americans, but his profile is quite a bit larger in the land of Tim Horton's, where he is the once-nearly-fired mayor of Canada's largest city, and on YouTube, where there are a whole slew of videos capturing him offering up racist remarks, clashing with reporters and legislators, and walking face first into a camera. Here's a small but accurate sampling. Oh, face!Read More »
Posted Friday, May 17, 2013, at 11:29 AM
Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images
Officials still don't know what caused last month's massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, despite weeks of collecting evidence—300,000 pounds of corn were sifted through by hand—and a $1-million investigation.
The blast, which killed 14 people and injured over 200 on April 17, was triggered by a fire that was reported 20 minutes before the explosion. Though four causes for the blaze were quickly ruled out at the beginning of the investigation, state and federal officials haven't made much progress since then. As of Thursday, the cause of the fire was officially ruled "undetermined"—with foul play still a possibility. However, authorities are hesitant to make any bold statements one way or the other.
Posted Friday, May 17, 2013, at 11:06 AM
File photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images
Rob Ford, Toronto's conservative mayor, has been caught on camera smoking what appears by all accounts to be crack cocaine, according to a Gawker editor and two Toronto Star reporters who claim to have seen the cellphone footage. Neither outlet has published the video for one simple reason: The man who took it is hoping to secure himself a six-figure payday for its release, a total that neither the American website nor the Canadian newspaper say they are willing to pony up. Regardless, both outlets make it clear they have no doubt about what they saw on the tape. Gawker's John Cook went live with his story first, so we'll give him the honors:Read More »
Posted Thursday, May 16, 2013, at 5:06 PM
Fans watch during action in the Bud Shootout at the NASCAR Nextel Cup Daytona 500 on February 12, 2005 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida
Photo By Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Retired NASCAR driver Richard “Dick” Trickle, 71, died Thursday from an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound.
The incident occurred at 12:02 p.m. at Forest Lawn Cemetery on Highway 150 East in Boger City. The Lincoln County Communications Center received a call apparently from the victim that “there would be a dead body and it would be his.“ Communications Center workers tried to place a return call to the number but did not get an answer.
Trickle never won on NASCAR's premier circut—now called the Sprint Cup Series—but he nonetheless became a favorite among casual racing fans in no small part because his name becoming a running gag on SportsCenter during its glory days with Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann. The race results when read by the then-ESPN anchors would sound something like this: "Dale Jarrett captured the checkered flag. Dick Trickle finished 43rd." Trickle grew to love the running joke, which only enhanced his cult status that much more.
Posted Thursday, May 16, 2013, at 2:40 PM
A general view of the runners during the 2008 Boston Marathon on April 21,2008 in Hopkinton, Mass.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Thousands of runners who didn't get a chance to finish the Boston Marathon this year because of the twin bombings that rocked the city will get another chance to do so next year. Here's the official statement from race organizors:
"The opportunity to run down Boylston Street and to cross the finish line amid thousands of spectators is a significant part of the entire Boston Marathon experience," said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director. "With the opportunity to return and participate in 2014, we look forward to inviting back these athletes and we expect that most will renew their marathon training commitment. Boston spectators are known for their impassioned support and unbridled enthusiasm, and they will give these returning athletes some of the loudest cheers at next year's race. We want to thank our participants for their patience as we continue to work through the details of arranging this accommodation for them, and we ask for continued patience from the running community as we plan the 2014 Boston Marathon next April."
To be eligible to run next year without having to re-qualify, runners need to have started the race and crossed the half-way point at this year's race. In all, that means roughly 5,600 will get the invite, according to race officials. While the runners will still need to pay an as-yet undecided fee, the announcement removes the largest hurdle for most runners: the need to hit the impressive qualifying times normally needed to run the iconic race. To qualify for this year's race, for example, a male runner aged 18 to 34 had to complete another sanctioned marathon in 3:05 or less.