SCOTUS Strikes Down Overall Political Donation Cap: Washington Post: "A split Supreme Court Wednesday struck down limits on the total amount of money an individual may spend on political candidates as a violation of free speech rights, a decision sure to increase the role of money in political campaigns. The 5 to 4 decision sparked a sharp dissent from liberal justices, who said the decision reflects a wrong-headed hostility to campaign finance laws that the court’s conservatives showed in Citizens United v. FEC , which allowed corporate spending on elections. 'If Citizens United opened a door,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said in reading his dissent from the bench, “today’s decision we fear will open a floodgate.'"
Citizens United, Part II: New York Times: "The decision ... was a sequel of sorts to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to affect the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties. Wednesday’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, addressed that second kind of regulation. It did not affect familiar base limits on contributions from individuals to candidates, currently $2,600 per candidate in primary and general elections. But it said that overall limits of $48,600 by individuals every two years for contributions to all federal candidates violated the First Amendment, as did separate aggregate limits on contributions to political party committees, currently $74,600."
Mudslide Update: Associated Press: "Officials have so far confirmed the deaths of 29 people, although only 22 have been officially identified in information released Wednesday morning by the Snohomish County medical examiner's office. They range in age from 4-month-old Sonoah Heustis to 71-year-old Lewis F. Vandenburg. A total of 20 people are missing. They range in age from 2-year-old Brooke Sillers to Bonnie J. Gullikson, 91. Some of the missing and dead are related. It is a grim step forward in the search for human remains at a mudslide that crushed a rural Washington community, but an important one: floodwaters at the site are receding, allowing crews to expand their search and yielding more human remains in areas that previously couldn't be reached. The views presented Tuesday on a media tour were chilling: shredded homes and twisted cars. More than 10 days after a large section of a rain-soaked hill crashed down on a neighborhood in the small community of Oso, teams with cadaver dogs are still sifting through debris and soil to determine exactly how many people died in the March 22 mudslide."
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U.S. Beefing Up Romania Forces: CBS News/AP: "The U.S. is sending additional Marines to Romania, but officials tell CBS News this was planned prior to the Ukrainian crisis. There are currently 265 Marines in Romania who have been there for years as part of the Black Sea Rotational Force, reports CBS News correspondent David MArtin. The U.S. is sending an additional 175 Marines as a forward element of a contingency force based in Spain that was established in the wake of Benghazi - i.e. quicker response to defend embassies. The decision to put 175 Marines in Romania was made late last year. The U.S. has asked permission to base up to 600 Marines in Romania just to give a little extra headroom for when the number goes up when troops rotate in an out. The Pentagon also announced this week it would be sending another warship into the Black Sea in the coming days to conduct exercises with 'our Black Sea partners.'"
Another Dead End: ABC News: "The FBI has completed of review of the in-home flight simulator that belonged to the captain of the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet and found 'nothing suspicious whatsoever.' It was the latest dead end in the investigation of the jetliner’s disappearance on March 8 with 239 people on board. The home-made flight simulator belong to the plane’s pilot Capt. Zaharie Shah. ... Officials looking for signs that the pilot may have practiced certain routes or maneuvers found that some files had been deleted from the simulator’s computer. The simulator was sent to the FBI’s lab in Quantico, Va. 'They (FBI analysts) have finished with the simulator. There is nothing suspicious whatsoever about what they found,' a senior U.S. official told ABC News. 'There’s nothing at all (criminal) about the pilot. Right now there is zero evidence of a criminal act by the flight crew,' the official said."
Enter Amazon: USA Today: "Amazon.com is officially entering the streaming video set-top box competition. The online retailer-turned tech company and content provider announced its new Amazon Fire TV product today at an event in New York. The $99 device is available for order now on Amazon.com. The 0.7-inch thin Wi-Fi-supporting set-top box streams 1080p high-definition broadcasts and connects to your TV via HDMI. It comes with a remote that lets you use voice to search for content; a $39.99 controller for playing video games is available separately. ... Amazon hopes Fire TV gives it an advantage over streaming competitor Netflix, which does not sell its own connected devices but is available on more than 1,000 devices, including smart TVs, Blu-ray Disc players and video game consoles. And it designed its new settop box to be more powerful than competing devices from Apple, Google and Roku."
That's all for today. See you back here on Thursday. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.
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