The House voted Tuesday to fund the Department of Homeland Security, ending a months-long impasse and averting a weekend shutdown at the agency. The vote highlighted the rift in the GOP over the measure, as all of the 167 no votes came from Republicans -- more than twice as many as the 75 who supported the bill. It cleared the House on a 257-167 vote only because of the unanimous support of the House's Democrats. The vote allows Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to finally turn the page on an ugly chapter in his leadership that consumed the opening months of the new Republican-controlled Congress.
As Iraq launches a new military operation to retake the city of Tikrit from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, thousands of Iraqi forces and militia fighters have converged in the city Samarra to strike nearby ISIS strongholds. The United States is expected to provide air support as part of its continued bombing campaign. The offensive comes as the Iraqi military prepares for a major U.S.-backed operation to retake Mosul from ISIS in the coming weeks. ISIS "is one of the results of the United States hitting a very vulnerable society with a sledgehammer, which elicited sectarian conflicts that had not existed," says Noam Chomsky. "It is hard to see how Iraq can even be held together at this point. It has been devastated by U.S. sanctions, the war, the atrocities that followed from it. The current policy, whatever it is, is not very likely to even patch up or even put band-aids on a cancer." read more
Jon Perr, Crooks and Liars: On Tuesday, the American people will be subjected to the unprecedented spectacle of a foreign leader, at the invitation of one political party, addressing the United States Congress with the express purpose of sabotaging the foreign policy of the President of the United States. Imagine if, as Robert Kagan of all people put it, "a Democratic-controlled Congress in 2003 -- called French President Jacques Chirac to oppose President George W. Bush's impending war in Iraq." In his Monday interview with Reuters, President Obama posed a similar scenario: "I think those who offered the invitation and some of the commentators who have said this is the right thing to do, it's worth asking them whether, when George W. Bush had initiated the war in Iraq and Democrats were controlling Congress, if they had invited let's say the president of France to appear before Congress to criticize or to air those disagreements, I think most people would say, well, that wouldn't be the right thing to do."
Video shows a dad in China lighting a firecracker on a manhole cover in front of his son and nephew, an act that ignited sewage gas below the manhole and knocked him and the cover flying. The man was struck by the cover and seriously injured, but the kids were unhurt. "The blast, which took place on January 29 in Hunan province in China, was so powerful that his jacket was torn off his back," the Daily Mail reports. read more
Decorated war veteran and former CIA director David Petraeus has entered into an agreement with federal prosecutors in which he would plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge for mishandling classified information. The charge stems, in part, from documents the former director allegedly provided to his mistress. Following the agreement, the Justice Department issued a statement: "Three documents -- a criminal information, a plea agreement and a statement of facts -- were filed today in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina's Charlotte Division in the case of United States v. David Howell Petraeus. The criminal information charges the defendant with one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. ... The plea agreement and corresponding statement of facts, both signed by the defendant, indicate that he will plead guilty to the one-count criminal Information."
Matt Apuzzo, The New York Times: Police officers in Ferguson, Mo., have routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city's black residents, the Justice Department has concluded in a scathing report that accuses the officers of using excessive force and making unjustified traffic stops for years. The Justice Department, which opened its investigation after a white Ferguson police officer shot and killed a black teen last summer, says the discrimination was fueled in part by racial stereotypes held by city officials. Investigators say the officials made racist jokes about blacks on their city email accounts. read more
A homeless man being subdued and tasered by four Los Angeles police officers was shot and killed Sunday during the incident after cops said he reached for one of their firearms. Video shows the man struggle with police near the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles' Skid Row. Surveillance video shows him assault another man before police arrive. Witness Yolanda Young told KTLA of the incident, "He was down, but then he jumped up, like he was juiced up, and then he started swinging at the police and they were fighting him back. ... They shot him five times." read more
Edward Snowden, the fugitive whistleblower who has been given refuge in Russia, is willing to return to the United States if he is given a fair trial, his lawyer said Tuesday. "He is thinking about it. He has a desire to return and we are doing everything we can to make it happen," Anatoly Kucherena, the Russian lawyer who represents the former National Security Agency contractor, told a news conference. The lawyer said Snowden had so far only received a guarantee from the US Attorney General that he will not face the death penalty.
Pew Research: Support for legalizing marijuana has rapidly outpaced opposition, with a slim majority (52%) favoring its legal use as of October 2014. That trend is driven largely by the Millennial generation, who support marijuana at much higher rates than their elders. Six-in-ten (63%) GOP Millennials say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 35% say it should be illegal, according to our February 2014 survey. Democrats overall are more enthusiastic supporters, with three-in-four (77%) Democratic Millennials favoring legal marijuana use, as well as 66% of Boomers, 61% of Gen Xers and 44% of the Silent generation inside the party.
Hillary Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department, the New York Times reports. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act. It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Clinton's advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary's post in early 2013. read more
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel heads to Capitol Hill on Tuesday morning to issue a high-profile warning against what he considers an ill-advised nuclear deal with Iran. In an implicit challenge to President Barack Obama, Netanyahu plans to address a joint meeting of Congress at 11 a.m. Eastern to outline his case for a tougher strategy to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and to dissect the flaws of an agreement that has been emerging from American-led negotiations. read more
A federal judge on Monday ruled Nebraska's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional in a decision that could allow same-sex couples to marry in the state within a week. U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon issued a preliminary injunction in the case brought by seven same-sex couples in the state, calling Nebraska's ban an "unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens." The state's Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts spoke out against the decision, saying, "an activist judge should not substitute his personal political preferences for the will of the people." read more
Tea Party radio host Andrea Shea King argued recently that Democratic lawmakers -- and specifically members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- should be put to death by hanging if they boycotted Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Tuesday speech to Congress "Obama doesn't have to run for re-election again, a lot of these guys do," King said in a clip of her radio show that was published by Right Wing Watch on Monday. "Listen, I would like to think that these guys could pay with their lives, hanging from a noose in front of the U.S. Capitol Building. ... Because what they are doing is they are putting their own interests above that of America. And to me, that is criminal. Criminal!" King noted that "most of those members who are opting out of attending the speech are members of the Congressional Black Caucus."
Hillary Clinton and her close advisers are telling Democratic donors that she will enter the presidential race sooner than expected, likely in April, a move that would allay uncertainties within her party and allow her to rev up fundraising. Clinton aides have spoken of the earlier timetable in private meetings, according to people engaged in recent discussions about the presumed Democratic front-runner's emerging 2016 campaign. At this point in the 2008 cycle, Mrs. Clinton already was a candidate. "If I were taking this on, seeing what candidates went through last time around, I read more
The official painting of President Bill Clinton that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery includes a nod to Monica Lewinsky's blue dress, the artist revealed in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News. "If you look at the left-hand side of it there's a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there," painter Nelson Shanks said. He claimed that Bill and Hillary Clinton now know the symbolism is there. "And so the Clintons hate the portrait," he said.