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Racial Attitudes, 50 Years On
A week before the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, there are lots of ways to measure racial attitudes in America. There's Maine Gov. Paul LePage telling Republicans at a fundraiser that President Obama "hates white people" (he denies saying it, but two GOP lawmakers say they heard it). There's the spoofy take in the conservative Daily Caller: "With the addition of Sunny, the Obamas now have two black Portuguese water dogs. The Obamas do not have any white dogs."
Then there's the Missouri rodeo clown in an Obama mask, a broomstick in his rear, someone playing with his lips, as announcers talked about bulls running him down. Much ado about nothing, conservatives grumbled amid the ensuing uproar. Rep. Steve Stockman invited the clown to his Texas district. Some said Obama should invite him to the White House.
Clown defenders say we poke fun at all our presidents, and we do. But let's not willfully ignore a history that runs from minstrel shows and other humiliations to slavery, murder, and the Abner Louima police-brutality case. The man who videotaped the rodeo episode said it felt like a Klan rally. That's not fun. That's scary.
EGYPTIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LEADER. The Egyptian police arrested Mohamed Badie, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, on Tuesday just hours after a court ordered the release of former President Hosni Mubarak, The New York Times reports. Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, are undercutting U.S. policy by encouraging Egypt's military to crack down on the Brotherhood rather than advocating reconciliation. Saudi Arabia pledged Monday to replace any aid the U.S. and Western countries might withdraw in response to the turmoil in Egypt. U.S. officials are continuing to weigh suspension of aid, including scheduled deliveries later this month of weapons including Apache attack helicopters. Read more
- One of the most troubling aspects of the crisis in Egypt is that each of the country's major groups has committed some "totally horrible" acts in recent weeks, Peter Schwartzstein writes for The Atlantic. Read more
STRIKING FAMILIAR CHORD, OBAMA PUSHES FOR WALL STREET REFORM. Conveying a "sense of urgency," President Obama told top financial regulators Monday to do what they can to quickly finish writing rules designed to prevent another financial crisis five years after the 2008 meltdown that sent the country into recession, the Associated Press reports. In a private meeting, Obama told Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and seven other independent agency heads to push ahead on comprehensive new rules intended to rein in risky Wall Street bets. The 2010 law that overhauled Wall Street regulations is a signature of Obama's presidency, but its implementation remains behind schedule, and many regulations remain unwritten. Read more
PAKISTAN'S MUSHARRAF INDICTED IN BHUTTO ASSASSINATION PLOT. A Pakistani court indicted former President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday in connection with the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, The New York Times reports. The court filed three charges including conspiracy to murder against Musharraf, 70, who pleaded not guilty. The Times reports that the charges could mark a turning point for Pakistan, but Reuters reports that the indictment could merely be symbolic and is unlikely to lead to a conviction. Musharraf, who seized power following a coup, has been under house arrest since April for other cases concerning his ruling of the country from 1999 to 2008. Read more
THE GUARDIAN: BRITAIN ORDERED DESTRUCTION OF SNOWDEN MATERIAL. The Guardian, the British newspaper which published many of the revelations concerning the National Security Agency's domestic and international surveillance programs, said Monday that British authorities forced it to destroy material leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Reuters reports. The paper's editor wrote that a government official told him, "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back," and that later two security experts visited to ensure that computer hard drives were destroyed. Meanwhile, David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, is taking legal action against the British government following his detention at London's Heathrow airport and the confiscation of electronic equipment. Read more
- According to an unnamed FBI counterterrorism official, Miranda does not meet the "very rigorous criteria" for inclusion on any U.S. government terrorism watch lists, BuzzFeed reports. The official declined to comment on whether Miranda was on any such lists. Read more
SENTENCING FOR MANNING TO COME WEDNESDAY. Pfc. Bradley Manning will learn at 10 a.m. Wednesday how many years he will spend in a military prison, Reuters reports. Judge Denise Lind, who began deliberating Tuesday, will issue a sentence that could send Manning to prison for up to 90 years. Prosecutors have asked for 60 years for Manning, while the defense requested leniency "that allows him to have a life." Manning, 25, was convicted last month on 20 counts, including espionage and theft—but found not guilty of aiding the enemy—for his role in leaking 700,000 diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Read more
HAWAII COULD BE NEXT TO SAY 'ALOHA' TO GAY MARRIAGE. Hawaii could be the next state to legalize same-sex marriage, The Washington Post reports. Democratic leaders, including Gov. Neil Abercrombie, are expressing confidence that a special session will be called this fall to vote on gay marriage. "I think we can put together something that can achieve a solid majority, that will give us the opportunity to establish marriage equity in the state of Hawaii commensurate with the recent Supreme Court decisions, and will satisfy and resolve the issues that are presently before the appeals court on the mainland," Abercrombie said. Legislative leadership is confident they have the votes necessary, as Democrats control overwhelming majorities in both chambers. Read more
STATES LEADING CHARGE ON TAX REFORM. The federal government is struggling to tackle a host of issues, including tax reform, but state legislatures are taking action, The Washington Post reports. "We have definitely seen a number of states attempt to move and in some cases move some very divergent tax policy," said Nick Johnson of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Forty-six state legislatures are controlled by a single party (and even when the governor is included, 38 states maintain single-party status). Additionally, a greater sense of urgency and a more receptive political climate are potential factors contributing to the implementation of real tax change. Read more
OBAMACARE COULD GET BACKING FROM THREE MORE RED STATES. GOP-led statehouses inVirginia, Ohio, and Michigan are still trying to work out deals to expand Medicaid next year as prescribed under the Affordable Care Act, Talking Points Memo reports. The large states' adoption of the law's provision expanding Medicaid would be a huge boon for the White House, which has struggled, with few exceptions, to gain the cooperation of Republican-controlled statehouses since the Supreme Court's ruling last summer that rendered states' participation optional. The Congressional Budget Office estimated after the ruling that the court's decision could leave 3 million people uninsured due to states opting out of expansion. Read more
WHY MLK'S 'DREAM' IS SO HARD TO FIND ONLINE. As Washington gears up to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic "I Have a Dream" speech later this month, one thing might be missing from the celebrations: the speech itself, National Journal's Dustin Volz reports. A full, unedited video clip of the speech is tougher to find than you might think, because of copyright disputes that date back almost as far as the speech itself. Read more
THE FUTURE OF DEFENSE. Government Executive Media Group will hold a briefing on "Leveraging Defense Community Resources for the Next Generation of Threats," focusing on the defense industrial base in light of defense budget cuts at 7:30 a.m. at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Scott Bousum, senior manager of national security policy at TechAmerica, and Aliya Sternstein, senior correspondent at Nextgov, will participate.
EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON THE NATION'S ECONOMY. The National Press Club Newsmaker Program will hold a news conference, "Rejuvenating America's Economy: Financial Experts to Discuss State of Economy," at 9 a.m. at 529 14th Street NW. Participants include Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive and chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co.; Sheila Bair, senior adviser to the Pew Charitable Trusts, chairwoman of the Systemic Risk Council, and former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; and John Taylor, professor of economics at Stanford University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
THE PATH FORWARD ON INEQUALITY. Change to Win will hold a discussion on "MLK's Dream Unfulfilled: Addressing Economic Inequality in America" at 6 p.m. at 529 14th Street NW. Scheduled participants include civil rights and labor leader Bill Lucy; columnist Clarence Page; national radio commentator Joe Madison, host of "The Black Eagle"; civil rights attorney Moshe Marvit; Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee activist Larry Rubin; Alvin Turner, retired sanitation worker who participated in the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike; and low wage workers striking for a livable wage.
"I wouldn't want Larry Summers to mow my yard." Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., on the possible nomination of former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers to serve as Federal Reserve chairman (Wichita Eagle)
IT'S A BIRD. IT'S A PLANE. IT'S A … LOON? Google's Project Loon, which could help bring the Internet to parts of the world where it's currently inaccessible, sounds well-intentioned enough, The Atlantic's Will Butler reports, but the details of the project underscore some regulatory grey areas. It is designed around unmanned balloons that float 12 miles above Earth, in the stratosphere, and are operated by Google Mission Control. But, Butler writes, "the very mechanics of Project Loon highlight serious legal, diplomatic, and government tensions, which Google is either ignoring, unaware of, or operating in spite of." Still, even if a government did not want a Loon balloon hovering above its territory, Douglas Marshall, who advises the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee on drone laws, said that because of its height, there's little a country could do to bring it down. Read more
ISSA IS THE WEALTHIEST MEMBER OF CONGRESS. The Hill has released its list of the 50 wealthiest members of Congress, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., claimed the top spot. Issa, who made his fortune through the sale of the Viper automobile security system, saw his net worth rise to at least $355 million in 2012, surpassing that of previous leader Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, whose holdings total at least $101 million. Members of the House hold 37 of the top 50 spots, and 29 of the wealthiest members are Republicans, compared with 21 Democrats. Read more
TODAY'S PHOTO GALLERY
IT'S A GIRL! The White House revealed Monday night that the Obama family has adopted a new puppy named Sunny. Just over one year old and hailing from Michigan, Sunny, a girl, joins Bo as the second Portuguese Water Dog of the Obama family. (The Obamas like the breed in part because of allergies in the family.) Described as "full of energy and very affectionate," Sunny's name was chosen because of her "cheerful personality." At least two White House Twitter accounts noted Sunny's adventures with Bo today out on the South Lawn. See photos here