Posts Tagged ‘death penalty

17
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama hikes along the coastline in Acadia National Park, Maine, July 17, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

 11:20: President Obama departs the White House

12:15: Arrives Delaware

2:10: Delivers remarks on Infrastructure, Port of Wilmington, Wilmington

3:15: Departs Delaware

4:0: Arrives New York City

5:45: Attends a DNC fundraiser, private residence, New York City

7:30: Attends a fundraiser for House Democrats, private residence, New York City

9:15: Departs New York

10:30: Arrives White House

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Jelani Cobb: Talking Openly About Obama And Race

In September, 2009, just eight months into Barack Obama’s first term, when it was still possible for unsentimental observers to perceive the Tea Party’s riotous fulminations as a passing blip, Jimmy Carter remarked that opposition to the President’s agenda was driven, largely, by one thing: race. “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African-American,” Carter said. One hears it in the questioning of Obama’s American birth and legitimacy—the idea that he couldn’t really be President without trickery, that he has stolen something—and his presence in rooms where someone like him shouldn’t be.

Carter’s words are, if not conventional wisdom, then certainly one of those truths that most of us know but few are willing to admit. That reticence, along with a large dose of cynicism, explains the reaction to Eric Holder’s statement, in an interview with ABC News, that the opposition to the Administration (“You know, people talking about taking their country back”) is partly driven by racism. Holder’s assessment that “I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus” is, on the whole, more tempered than Carter’s words, and far less incendiary than Charlie Rangel’s dismissal of the Tea Party, in 2013, as “the same crackers who fought against civil rights.”

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Thank you Nath, for this perfect summation of America’s history

You know what, Kathleen, President Carter was spot on! For some of us with a little knowledge of history, the reaction to the election of President Obama was reminiscent of the reaction to the election of Black people to local, state and national offices, during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. Whites made sure that Reconstruction State governments, with substantial Black participation, failed. Black elected officials were routinely accused of ignorance and corruption. Even though those accusations were false. Eventually whites resorted to violence to finally force Blacks from political office. But they were able to accomplish that with the complicity of the media, the Congress and the two political parties. Beginning with the 1877 “Hayes Compromise” the Republican party–the party of Abraham Lincoln– began abandoning Black people. By the beginning of the 20th Century Black folks, especially in the South, had no where to go politically. Lilly white Republicans shunned them and Dixiecrat Democrats were hostile against them. The migration of Blacks from the South to Northern cities during the World War I era began to change the racial demographics of many of those cities. Blacks in Northern cities slowly gained political clout. In 1928, South side Chicago elected the firs black to Congress from the North. In the 1950s Chicago would be joined by other Northern cities like Detroit and New York in electing Blacks to the House of Representatives. Still, two or three members of House of Representatives were never considered a threat to white supremacy.

The situation changed dramatically when Blacks were able to form coalitions to elect mayors to some of the biggest cities in America. White supremacist reaction to the election of Black Mayors in major cities during the late 1960s to 1980s was comparable to white supremacist reaction during Reconstruction, and white supremacist reaction following the election of President Obama. White supremacists on city councils made absolutely sure to obstruct everything the Black Mayors proposed to do. In some cities, major businesses relocated to suburbs or other states so as to deprive cities ruled by Black mayors of tax revenues. The goal: to make cities ruled by black mayors so dysfunctional, and thus to consequently discredit the wisdom of electing Black mayors. This is exactly the playbook the GOP in Congress decided to follow from day one of President Obama’s presidency. Thankfully, in his first two years, the GOP playbook was thwarted by Democrats who controlled both houses of Congress. Then came the 2010 and Republicans gained a majority in the House of Representatives, and enough votes to use the filibuster to paralyze the U.S. Senate.

Basically, the GOP’s goal is the same as the white supremacists’ goal, advocated by Rush Limbaugh: Make sure that President Obama fails! GOP and Rush could care less if President Obama’s failure translates into a failure that affects the vast majority of Americans. Other than their idiotic followers who stand to suffer if President Obama’s policies are defeated, people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Rupert Murdoch and Fox, GOP members of Congress, and the billionaire Koch brothers, wouldn’t experience that much suffering and hardship. They are, however, certain that if President Obama fails, America will never again make a mistake of electing another Black person President.

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Emily Hauser: Incompetence Or Indifference?

As a peace advocate, I am forever confronted by Israeli and/or American Jews (and the occasional gentile) who take one look at any exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants and say: “Yes, sure, all civilian deaths are terrible — but for Israelis, they’re unintentional. The Palestinians actually target civilians.” And as one of those civilians who used to be targeted on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, I have no problem saying that intentionally targeting civilians is wrong — is, in fact, a war crime…. But I weary of the desperate clinging to the word “unintentional” on my side of this decades-long war.

From the end of September 2000 through the end of September 2012, Israel was responsible for the deaths of 3,034 Palestinian noncombatants, of whom well more than a third were minors: 1,338. And that’s not counting the noncombatants and children (including several toddlers and at least one pregnant woman) killed in the last week alone. But when I look at those numbers, when I see the pictures of tiny, broken bodies pulled from utter destruction, when I see the wailing of fathers and mothers, their dead children wrapped in white shrouds, never to feel their parents’ arms around them again—I no longer care. Incompetence or indifference, neither can be an excuse anymore. And in the meantime, more children die.

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Michael Grunwald: Lower Health Care Costs Brighten America’s Debt Outlook

Fiscal doom will be delayed thanks to lower health care inflation in recent years. But will Congress take notice? For years, America’s health care costs grew at an unsustainable rate. That was the main reason America’s long-term fiscal position looked unsustainable as well; Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs were spiraling out of control. But our health care cost inflation is no longer unsustainable. That’s huge news, because it means our long-term deficits should be manageable, too.

Republicans have spent the last five-and-a-half years griping about the budget deficit, and most of their gripes have been absurd. They were wrong to accuse President Obama of creating a record trillion-dollar deficit, which he actually inherited from President Bush. They were wrong to criticize Obama for increasing the deficit with his 2009 stimulus bill, which was an amazingly effective Keynesian response to an economic crisis; the budget-balancing austerity approach the GOP was advocating led to much slower recoveries and double-dip recessions in Europe. And they were wrong to accuse Obama of turning the U.S. into Greece; the deficit has shrunk by more than half during his presidency, dropping from 10 percent of GDP to less than 4 percent as the recovery has progressed.

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Edwin Lyngar: I was Poor, but A GOP Die-Hard: How I Finally Left The Politics Of Shame

I hated government – even as it was the only thing trying to save me. Here’s how, one day, I finally saw the light I was a 20-year-old college dropout with no more than $100 in the bank the day my son was born in 1994. I’d been in the Coast Guard just over six months. Joining the service was my solution to a lot of problems, not the least of which was being married to a pregnant, 19-year-old fellow dropout. We were poor, and my overwhelming response to poverty was a profound shame that drove me into the arms of the people least willing to help — conservatives. Looking around, I saw no other young servicemen. Coming from the white working class, I’d always been taught that food stamps were for the “others” — failures, drug addicts or immigrants, maybe — not for real Americans like me.

I felt my own poverty was a moral failure. To make up for my own failures, I voted to give rich people tax cuts, because somewhere deep inside, I knew they were better than me. They earned it. My support for conservative politics was atonement for the original sin of being white trash. I finally “got it.” In 2012, I shunned my self-destructive voting habits and supported Obama. The people who most support the Republicans and the Tea Party carry a secret burden. Many know that they are one medical emergency or broken down car away from ruin, and they blame the government. They vote against their own interests, often hurting themselves in concrete ways, in a vain attempt to deal with their own, misguided shame about being poor. They believe “freedom” is the answer, even though they live a form of wage indenture in a rigged system. I wish I could take the poorest, struggling conservatives and shake them. I would scream that their circumstances or failures or joblessness are not all their fault. They should wise up and vote themselves a break. Rich people vote their self-interest in every single election. Why don’t poor people?

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Variety: Michelle Obama Calls For Focus On The Arts In Grammy Museum Speech

First Lady Michelle Obama appeared in Los Angeles before a crowd of music professionals, educators and students on Wednesday, as she called for greater recognition of the value of arts education. “We cannot be satisfied until every child in America has some exposure to the arts,” Obama said. Obama’s address was part of the Grammy Museum’s Jane Ortner Education Award Luncheon, named in honor of the late public school teacher Jane Ortner, who promoted music education.Obama said that some 6 million school children have no music or arts classes in their schools, a problem exacerbated by cuts in public education.

She said that for many young people, “the arts are a way to channel that pain and frustration into something meaningful and productive and beautiful.” “For many young people and arts education is the only reason they get out of bed in the morning,” she said, her voice often passionate as she delivered her remarks. She also called on arts organizations across the country to adopt programs that include activities for students, as the Grammy Museum does. The museum participates in an educational component of the White House’s concert series, which airs on PBS as “In Performance at the White House.”

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Mark Thompson: Lawyer: Bergdahl ‘Deeply Grateful’ To Obama

No one’s heard anything yet from Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the former prisoner-of-war freed in a May 31 swap for five Taliban leaders after nearly five years as a Taliban prisoner. He hasn’t spoken to the press—by all accounts, he hasn’t even spoken to his parents. But, in typical American fashion, he has retained—and spoken to—an attorney. “Sergeant Bergdahl is deeply grateful to President Obama for having saved his life,” Eugene Fidell, retained a week ago by the soldier, told TIME on Wednesday.

Fidell has traveled to Texas—where Bergdahl has returned to active duty at a desk job in San Antonio following his “re-integration” back into the service—to discuss with his client the investigation into the circumstances leading up to Bergdahl’s abduction in 2009. The attorney declined to offer any insights into Bergdahl’s mood, legal defense, or relationship with his family. Bergdahl also has an Army lawyer.

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Anne Barnard: Boys Drawn to Gaza Beach, And Into Center Of Mideast Strife

The four Bakr boys were young cousins, the children of Gaza fishermen who had ordered them to stay indoors — and especially away from the beach. But cooped up for nine days during Israeli bombardments, the children defied their parents and went out Wednesday afternoon, the eldest shooing away his little brother, telling him it was too dangerous. As they played on and around a jetty in the late-afternoon sun, a blast hit a nearby shack. One boy was killed instantly. The others ran. There was a second blast, and three more bodies littered the sand. One was charred, missing a leg, and another lay motionless, his curly head intact, his legs splayed at unnatural angles.

The Israeli military acknowledged later that it had launched the strike, which it said was aimed at Hamas militants, and called the civilian deaths “a tragic outcome.” The four dead boys came quickly to symbolize how the Israeli aerial assaults in Gaza are inevitably killing innocents in this crowded, impoverished sliver of land along the Mediterranean Sea. They stood out because they were inarguably blameless, children who simply wanted to play on their favorite beach, near the fishing port where their large extended family keeps its boats.

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L.A. Times: Federal Judge Rules California Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional

A federal judge in Orange County ruled Wednesday that California’s death penalty violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, ruled on a petition by death row inmate Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to die nearly two decades ago. Carney said the state’s death penalty has created long delays and uncertainty for inmates, most of whom will never be executed. He noted that more than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978 but only 13 have been executed. “For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution,” Carney wrote.

Carney’s ruling can be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Carney, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, said the delays have created a “system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed,” Carney said. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in 1995 sentenced Jones to death for the 1992 rape and killing of Julia Miller, his girlfriend’s mother. Jones killed Miller 10 months after being paroled for a previous rape.

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Reuters: U.S. Retail Sales, Manufacturing Data Point At Firming Economy

A gauge of U.S. consumer spending rose solidly in June, in the latest indication that the economy ended the second quarter on a stronger footing. That momentum appeared to have carried into the third quarter, with another report on Tuesday showing factory activity in New York state expanded sharply in July. “This is not a fragile economy,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York. “The consumer continues to play their part in moving the economy forward.”

Core sales, which strip out automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, increased 0.6 percent last month after rising an upwardly revised 0.2 percent in May, the Commerce Department said. Core sales, which correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product, were previously reported as being flat in May. Economists had expected them to rise 0.5 percent in June. The report added to signs of the economy’s strengthening fundamentals, which could buoy optimism the recovery is on a self-sustaining path, after output contracted sharply in the first quarter.

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs six-time Grammy nominee singer Janelle Monae as they attend the Grammy Museum’s Jane Ortner Education Award luncheon honoring Monae and Southern California-based educator Sunshine Cavalluzzi July 16, 2014 in Los Angeles

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On This Day

President Barack Obama attends a bipartisan meeting of freshman House members in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on July 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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On a weekend trip to Acadia National Park in Maine, the President showed his daughters, Malia and Sasha, how to skip stones during a hike in the park.” July 17, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets tourists and hikers in Acadia National Park, Maine, July 17, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters Sasha and Malia watch the World Cup soccer game between the U.S. and Japan, from the Treaty Room office in the residence of the White House, Sunday, July 17, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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30
Apr
14

On the death penalty

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I will start by saying this.

There are times I read or hear about a case. Someone who, for example, rapes and murders a child. And my gut reaction is to say, “Kill him”. He doesn’t merely deserve to be removed from society, but to be denied of life for his abomination. It is a gut reaction, a cry of the heart, a revulsion at a crime so heinous that it defies understanding. And as humans, often what we don’t understand must be excised, like a cancer. I know if someone murdered a person I loved, my thirst for vengeance would be nigh unquenchable, sated only by the ending of his or her own life.

In Iran a few weeks ago, a young life was about to be extinguished in punishment for murder. The noose was around his neck. He was begging and pleading for his life. Then, the mother of the boy he killed ascended to the hangman’s platform. She slapped the convicted’s face. And then she told the executioner to remove the noose.

This happened in what many Americans consider to be a barbaric, retrograde state, a terrorist state, opposed to all we hold dear. A mother climbed onto the platform where her son’s murderer was about to be executed, and forgave him. No more blood would be spilled. The cycle would end then and there.

Yesterday, an execution in Oklahoma was botched due to an incorrect mixing of the lethal cocktail. This was an execution pushed for by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. She suspended the second—SECOND—execution scheduled for that day “pending further review”.

But we have much to learn from that courageous Iranian mother.

Continue reading ‘On the death penalty’

30
Apr
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk in the Green Room of the White House before being introduced at a Joining Forces initiative employment announcement for veterans and military spouses, April 30, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

1:0 Jay Carney briefs the press

3:10: President Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage

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Clyde Davis holds a sign before the NBA playoff game 5 between Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, April 29

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NPR: Obamacare Enrollees Emboldened To Leave Jobs, Start Businesses

Until recently, Mike Smith, 64, of Long Beach, Calif., worked 11 hours a day, Monday through Friday and then half a day on Saturday. He was a district manager for a national auto parts chain. He dreamed of retiring early, but it wasn’t an option for him because he and his wife relied on his the health insurance tied to his job. “At our age, with some pre-existing medical conditions, it would have been very costly to buy insurance on the open market — about $3,000 a month,” he says. But the Affordable Care Act changed that. Smith retired in January. So did his wife, Laura, also 64.

The couple now has a private health insurance policy that they bought through Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace. It costs them $200 a month. The coverage helped the Smiths make a major lifestyle change. A recent study by Georgetown University and the Urban Institute predicts the ACA will enable up to 1.5 million Americans to leave their jobs and become self-employed, start new businesses or retire early. It’s a finding that runs counter to forecasts by critics of the federal health law, who contend it will cost the nation jobs and cripple America’s small-business economy.

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Washington Post: Obamacare beneficiary: ‘You Wouldn’t Have Caught Me Dead Watching MSNBC’

The story of Dean Angstadt’s sudden embrace of Obamacare made MSNBC last night. Host Chris Hayes picked up on a heartwarming story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a 57-year-old logger of Boyertown, Pa., who’d resisted signing up for Obamacare coverage but finally relented under the urging of a friend.  what accounts for Angstadt’s resistance to Obamacare in the first place? He says that he “leans” Republican and essentially listened to what the GOP had to say about Obamacare, and not so much to what the Democrats had to say.

As for his media diet, Anstadt says he goes online for some of his news, but when it comes to television, “Fox News, of course, and that’s basically what I watch on TV” Asked if Fox News had molded his view of Obamacare, Angstadt responded, “Yeah, yeah — they get people fired up. You know what, I really do have a different outlook on it. It’s really wrong that people are making it into a political thing. To me, it is a life-and-death thing.” Of Obamacare’s namesake, Angstadt says, “I didn’t care for Obama. I can’t say nothing bad about him now because it was his plan that probably saved my life.”

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ThinkProgress: GOP Lawmakers Confronted By Constituents Demanding To Know Why They Won’t Expand Medicaid

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a right-wing group funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, has been aggressively pressuring states to reject Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion. Last fall, the organization launched a massive campaign that has focused mainly on Virginia. But the latest town hall meetings hosted by AFP in the state aren’t exactly going well. Over the past week, at several town halls intended to emphasize why Virginia shouldn’t expand Medicaid, GOP lawmakers have been confronted by constituents who are demanding to know why they’re denying health care from an estimated 400,000 low-income residents.

Last week, at an AFP-sponsored forum in Charlottesville featuring two GOP lawmakers who oppose the expansion, the event was packed with more than a hundred Medicaid supporters. Protesters gathered outside the building with signs encouraging passing cars to honk for Medicaid expansion, and a local outlet noted that the politicians faced a “hostile audience” inside, too. Then, on Monday, three Republicans were “deluged with questions” about their refusal to expand Medicaid at an AFP event in Ashburn

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Ari Berman: Federal Court Strikes Down Discriminatory Wisconsin Voter ID Law

At 2:17 pm EST today, ESPN announced that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling had been banned from the NBA for life for his racist remarks. Seven minutes later, at 2:24 pm, the ACLU tweeted that a Wisconsin judge had struck down the state’s voter ID law because it disproportionately burdened black and Hispanic voters. Both decisions were striking affirmations of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent last week, in a Michigan affirmative action case, that “race matters.” Sotomayor pointed to contemporary voter suppression efforts as an illustration of her defense. Wisconsin federal district court Judge Lynn Adelman ruled today that the state’s voter ID law, which was temporarily enjoined in 2012, violated the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The voter ID law had a clear discriminatory impact, the judge found. “The evidence adduced at trial demonstrates that this unique burden disproportionately impacts Black and Latino voters,” Adelman wrote. Data from the 2012 election “showed that African American voters in Wisconsin were 1.7 times as likely as white voters to lack a matching driver’s license or state ID and that Latino voters in Wisconsin were 2.6 times as likely as white voters to lack these forms of identification.” The judge found that Wisconsin’s ID law overwhelmingly impacted lower-income voters and that “Blacks and Latinos in Wisconsin are disproportionately likely to live in poverty…. The reason Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately likely to live in poverty, and therefore to lack a qualifying ID, is because they have suffered from, and continue to suffer from, the effects of discrimination.”

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Steve Benen: House GOP leaders Scramble After Accidentally Telling The Truth

With a tip of the hat to Michael Kinsley, it appears half the House Republican leadership committed gaffes in recent days by accidentally telling the truth. They’re now scrambling to reverse course.

Late last week, for example, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the chair of the House Republican Conference, conceded to her local newspaper that the Affordable Care Act is unlikely to be repealed. Though she wants to “look at reforming the exchanges,” the local report added that McMorris Rodgers “said the framework established by the law likely will persist and reforms should take place within its structure.”

This was a perfectly sensible position for a House GOP leader to take. Yesterday, the congresswoman’s office assured the right she has no use for such reasonableness.

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Washington Post: White House Opens Door To Tolls On Interstate Highways, Removing Long-Standing Prohibition

With pressure mounting to avert a transportation funding crisis this summer, the Obama administration Tuesday opened the door for states to collect tolls on interstate highways to raise revenue for roadway repairs. The proposal, contained in a four-year, $302 billion White House transportation bill, would reverse a long-standing federal prohibition on most interstate tolling. Though some older segments of the network — notably the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes and Interstate 95 in Maryland and Virginia — are toll roads, most of the 46,876-mile system has been toll-free. “We believe that this is an area where the states have to make their own decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We want to open the aperture, if you will, to allow more states to choose to make broader use of tolling, to have that option available.”

The question of how to pay to repair roadways and transit systems built in the heady era of post-World War II expansion is demanding center stage this spring, with projections that traditional funding can no longer meet the need. That source, the Highway Trust Fund, relies on the 18.4-cent federal gas tax, which has eroded steadily as vehicles have become more energy efficient. “The proposal comes at the crucial moment for transportation in the last several years,” Foxx said. “As soon as August, the Highway Trust Fund could run dry. States are already canceling or delaying projects because of the uncertainty.” While providing tolling as an option to states, the White House proposal relies on funding from a series of corporate tax reforms, most of them one-time revenue streams that would provide a four-year bridge to close the trust-fund deficit and permit $150 billion more in spending than the gas tax will bring in.

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Lindsey Bever: Botched Oklahoma Execution Reignites Death Penalty Debate

Tuesday night’s botched execution in Oklahoma, which resulted in an inmate’s writhing death from a heart attack 43 minutes after he received what was supposed to be a lethal injection, was just one in a series of bungled execution attempts the past few years. It’s prompting calls for a moratorium on capital punishment from death penalty opponents. The inmate, Clayton Lockett, was confirmed unconscious 10 minutes after the first dose in the state’s new three-drug protocol was administered. The first drug, midazolam, is intended to render a person unconscious. But three minutes later, he began breathing heavily, thrashing and straining to lift his head, media witnesses said. Reporters for Tulsa World and KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City said Lockett called out from the gurney, “man.”

The blinds were then lowered to prevent people in the viewing gallery from seeing inside the death chamber. Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton answered a ringing phone and left the room with a few officials. Patton told reporters Lockett’s vein line had “blown.” When asked what he meant, Patton said the vein had “exploded.” Executions have become increasingly difficult for states to carry out over the past two years because of similar incidents. Licensed physicians are now unwilling to have anything to do with them on ethical grounds. Pharmaceutical companies that market the most tested drugs have cut off supplies, forcing states to obtain compounds they refuse to describe from suppliers they refuse to identify. Now the battle concerns not who dies, but how they die, and the competence of states to carry out executions humanely.

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Charles Pierce: Another Win For Voting Rights

There is so little good news on the voter-suppression front these days that, when some actually rears its head, it catches you somewhat by surprise, even more so when it cites what everybody knows about these laws, but what many people have to pretend they can’t figure out.

…. There will be appeals. There also may be an attempt to push another, similar bill through the legislature by Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. But, for now, something resembling the state’s proud progressive history has prevailed.

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Mike Florio: Sterling’s Lifetime Ban Sends Clear Message To All Owners

By banning L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, Adam Silver has made the jobs a little easier for his colleagues in the Commissioners’ Club. Every owner of every major-league franchise, in the NBA or elsewhere, now knows that views like those espoused by Sterling will result in swift and decisive action.

How could Commissioner Roger Goodell do anything less with an NFL owner, now that Silver has set the precedent in a different sport? With Goodell developing in his seven-plus years on the job a reputation for aggressively enforcing all rules and policies against the league’s players, it would be virtually impossible for Goodell to not drop the hammer on an NFL owner who engages in similar conduct.

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Forbes: Here’s How Obama’s Russia Sanctions Will Destroy Vladimir Putin

The US Treasury Department announced further sanctions today on seven Russian officials and 17 Russian companies, including Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, several financial institutions and a number of firms connected to the energy sector.  These will include visa bans, asset freezes and further restrictions on trade.

When the first round of sanctions were imposed, the Russians largely laughed them off and critics of the administration pounced.  How could visa bans and asset freezes affect the calculus of Putin’s most ardent supporters?  What effect will it have on the ones don’t travel extensively the West or keep assets in foreign banks?

Yet this line of reasoning betrays a deep misunderstanding about the purpose and effects of the sanctions.  They are, in fact, a new breed of financial warfare that the Treasury department has been honing since 9/11, which rely on new legislation such as Section 311 of the Patriot Act and “know your customer” banking rules.

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Anthony Man: Looking For Complaints, Rick Scott Instead Finds Praise For Obamacare

Gov. Rick Scott visited a senior center Tuesday to warn about cuts he said Obamacare is forcing in a popular version of the Medicare health program and to collect their horror stories. What he found was a satisfied group with few complaints. The 20 seniors assembled for a roundtable with Scott at the Volen Center were largely content with their Medicare coverage and didn’t have negative stories to recount. And some praised Obamacare – a program that Scott frequently criticizes. “I’m completely satisfied,” Harvey Eisen, 92, a West Boca resident, told Scott. Eisen told the governor he wasn’t sure “if, as you say,” there are Obamacare-inspired cuts to Medicare. But even if there are, that would be OK. “I can’t expect that me as a senior citizen are going to get preferential treatment when other programs are also being cut.”

Ruthlyn Rubin, 66, of Boca Raton, told the governor that people who are too young for Medicare need the health coverage they get from Obamacare. If young people don’t have insurance, she said, everyone else ends up paying for their care when they get sick or injured and end up in the hospital. Eventually, Rubin said, Obamacare will become more popular. “People were appalled at Social Security. They were appalled at Medicare when it came out. I think these major changes take some people aback. But I think we have to be careful not to just rely on the fact that we’re seniors and have an entitlement to certain things,” she said. “We’re all just sitting here taking it for granted that because we have Medicare we don’t want to lose one part of it. That’s wrong to me. I think we have to spread it around. This is the United States of America. It’s not the United States of senior citizens,” Rubin said from her spot two seats away from the governor.

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Washington Post: Virginia Attorney General Declares ‘Dreamers ‘ Eligible For In-State Tuition

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring thrust himself and his state back into the national spotlight Tuesday by announcing that some illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as children can qualify for in-state college tuition under existing law. Herring made the announcement at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus just a few months after the legislature declined to enact the idea and on the heels of another brazen legal move in January, when he declared that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. “We should welcome these smart, talented, hard-working young people into our economy and society rather than putting a stop sign at the end of 12th grade,” Herring (D) said Tuesday to sustained applause and cheers from a room full of Latino students, immigration activists and education officials.

Announced in Spanish, Hindi, Vietnamese and Korean in addition to English, Herring’s move built upon President Obama’s decision to allow thousands of young illegal immigrants to remain in the country. Virginia students who are lawfully present in the United States as a result of Obama’s effort, which is known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, qualify for in-state tuition as long as they meet the state’s residency requirements, Herring said. Herring’s decision was far more than symbolic, instantly making college more affordable for more than 8,000 young illegal immigrants. The attorney general said state universities will immediately implement the policy, which comes just in time for high school seniors trying to make college plans for the fall.

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Suzanne Gamboa: Can You Trust Obama To Police Immigration? Report: Yes You Can

House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that moving ahead on immigration reform depends on the President showing he’s enforcing the law, which authors of an enforcement analysis said he has done. In his first news conference since Congress returned from a two-week break, Boehner said the biggest impediment on immigration reform is that Obama has “got to show the American people and the Congress he can implement the law the way it may be passed.” As Boehner made the statement, the Migration Policy Institute unveiled an analysis concluding Obama has built on enforcement policies of previous administrations and accelerated them, while trying to focus on border security and deportations of criminals.

In addition, some 250 evangelical pastors from 25 states also seemed reluctant to wait for more evidence on Obama’s trustworthiness. On Tuesday they were in Washington, D.C. visiting more than 100 members of Congress, mostly Republicans, and pushing for movement on immigration reform. Immigration hawks have criticized Obama’s record because of a drop in the number of immigrants apprehended in the interior of the U.S. Some have also opposed Obama’s decision to extend relief from deportation to young immigrants who are in the country illegally.“ If you are looking to critique the administration, you can find certain people are not crossing ICE’s radar and not being deported and that’s because the administration is focusing efforts mostly at the border,” said Rosenbaum, who served on Obama’s transition team on immigration.

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Coral Davenport: Justices Back Rule Limiting Coal Pollution

In a major victory for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the smog from coal plants that drifts across state lines from 28 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast. The 6-to-2 ruling bolsters the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda: a series of new regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants. Republicans and the coal industry have criticized the regulations, which use the Clean Air Act as their legal authority, as a “war on coal.” The industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules.

Legal experts said the decision, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, signals that the Obama administration’s efforts to use the Clean Air Act to fight global warming could withstand legal challenges. In June, the E.P.A. is expected to propose a sweeping new Clean Air Act regulation to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping greenhouse gas that scientists say is the chief cause of climate change. Coal plants are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

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Reuters: U.S. Consumer Confidence Rebounds To Pre-Crisis Levels In First Quarter

U.S. consumer sentiment rose sharply in the first quarter as optimism about the economic outlook improved, according to a global survey which also showed rising confidence in debt-laden euro zone countries. Globally, consumer confidence returned to pre-financial crisis levels in the first three months of this year, at its highest since the first quarter of 2007, the survey by global information and insights company Nielsen showed on Wednesday.

The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index rose 2 points in the first quarter to 96, according to the survey, conducted between February 17 and March 7. A reading below 100, however, signals still relatively low consumer morale. Consumer confidence in the United States hit the 100 mark, rising 6 points from the previous quarter, and 44 percent of respondents said they were putting spare cash into savings accounts, up from 39 percent in the previous quarter. “Recovery gained forward momentum in the U.S. as the world’s largest economy reported improving unemployment numbers and rising equity and home prices,” said Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen.

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First Lady Michelle Obama poses for a selfie with a member of the audience after participating in a Joining Forces initiative event with service members, military spouses, and employers at the Fort Campbell Veterans Jobs Summit and Career Forum at Fort Campbell, Ky., April 23, 2014 (Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

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On This Day

President Obama gets a hug from Angelica Guarino, whose fiance was one of the participants in the “White House to Light House” Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride that took place moments before on the South Lawn of the White House, April 30, 2009

President Obama shakes hands with Marines attending the “White House to Light House” Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride, April 30, 2009

President Obama, surrounded by members of Congress and Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of Ryan White (2nd R), signs the Ryan White HIV/AIDS treatment extension act of 2009 in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington on October 30, 2009. The act is the largest federally funded program for people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. It was named in honor of Ryan White, a teenager who contracted AIDS through a tainted hemophilia treatment in 1984 and became a well-known advocate for AIDS research and awareness, until his death on April 8, 1990

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First Lady Michelle Obama meets hostesses at the annual Congressional Club Luncheon at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama talks with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, following a health care meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, April 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama leans against the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, April, 30, 2010.(Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama looks through binoculars as he tours the Secret Service’s James J. Rowley Training Center in Beltsville, Md., April 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama disembarks Marine One after he arrived on the South Lawn of the White House, April 30, 2010

President Obama meets with Bono to discuss development policy in the Oval Office, April 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama laughs with, from left, Senior Advisor David Axelrod, Associate Director of Speechwriting Jonathan Lovett, and Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau, while reading a draft of his remarks for the White House Correspondents Association dinner, in the Outer Oval Office, April 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait backstage before being introduced at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, D.C., April 30, 2011. Press Lead Advance Brandon Lepow and Trip Director Marvin Nicholson, right, stand with the President and First Lady (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama chats with Seth Meyers at the White House Correspondents Association Gala, April 30, 2011

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President Obama and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan wait in the Green Room of the White House before the start of their press conference in the East Room, April 30, 2012 ( Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the Green Room of the White House at a Joining Forces initiative employment announcement for veterans and military spouses, April 30, 2013

President Obama during a press conference in the Brady Press Room at the White House, April 30, 2013

President Obama and Vice President Biden talk with advisors following a National Security Staff meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2013. Clockwise from the President are: Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; and Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Advisor (Photo by Pete Souza)

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