Thomas Ferraro & Richard Cowan of Reuters: "U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy on Tuesday proposed a gay rights amendment to the Senate's immigration bill, prompting one of the measure's Republican sponsors to repeat his prediction that it could sink the legislation. 'It'll kill the bill,' Florida Senator Marco Rubio said in a brief interview. 'There is a coalition of groups who are supporting immigration reform who will not support it if that's in there.'"
Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "The Obama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.... The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III..., since 2010 has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders."
Mark Landler & David Sanger of the New York Times: "President Obama offered an endorsement Tuesday of South Korea's new president, Park Geun-hye, and her blueprint for defusing tensions with North Korea, but warned that the first move was up to the erratic, often belligerent young leader in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un." ...
... Here's video of the news conference, where Obama also discussed sexual assault in the military, among other topics, in answer to reporters' questions:
Craig Wheeler of the Washington Post: "The estimated number of military personnel victimized by sexual assault and related crimes has surged by about 35 percent over the past two years, the Pentagon reported Tuesday, as the White House and lawmakers expressed anger with the military's handling of the problem. The sobering statistics, along with several recent sexual-abuse scandals in the armed services, prompted President Obama to bluntly warn the Defense Department that he expected its leaders to take tougher action against sex offenders and redouble their efforts to prevent such crimes. 'The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this,' Obama told reporters. 'If we find out somebody's engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged -- period.'" ...
... New York Times Editors: "The most promising proposal [to rectify the military's appalling mishandling of sexual assault cases] comes from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York. She plans to introduce legislation next week that ... would replace the current system of adjudicating sexual assault by taking the cases outside a victim's chain of command. It would end the power of senior officers with no legal training but lots of conflicts of interest to decide whether courts-martial can be brought against subordinates and to toss out a jury verdict once it is rendered. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel favors eliminating the power of senior officers to overturn jury findings in the most serious cases, but, so far, he has not endorsed the Gillibrand bill, which would move the authority both to investigate and prosecute offenses to impartial military prosecutors. His reluctance is troubling. It is his job to fix the situation. Halfway reform won’t do." The editors suggest presidential leadership is needed. CW: here, they're right. ...
... ** Blame the Victim, Ctd. Maureen Dowd Redeems Herself (Again): Air Force sexual assault prevention program top gun Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski's arrest on sexual assault charges (for an incident occurring just after he had completed his sexual assault victim training) "was a fox-in-the-henhouse echo of Clarence Thomas, who Anita Hill said sexually harassed her when he was the nation’s top enforcer of laws against workplace sexual harassment." Senators "just didn't get it" then, & 22 years later, military brass still "don't get it." "Gen. Mark Welsh, the chief of staff for the Air Force, shocked the women on the Senate Armed Services Committee when he testified that part of the problem ... is that young women who enter the military have been raised in a society with a 'hook-up mentality.' ... The Senate looks very different than it did during the Thomas-Hill hearings. Three of the six Senate Armed Services subcommittees are now led by women."
You're disadvantaging young people, African-Americans, the poor... that's the policy of the Obama administration? -- District Judge Edward Korman, to Obama administration lawyers ...
... Hizzonor Is Not Amused. Reuters (via the New York Times): "A federal judge on Tuesday criticized the Food and Drug Administration over its refusal to make emergency contraception available to girls of all ages without a prescription, saying the agency's move to restrict distribution to those 15 and older was not realistic. Judge Edward R. Korman of the Eastern District of New York, who last month ordered the agency to lift age restrictions on the morning-after pill, said at a hearing in Brooklyn that he would rule this week on its request to stay the order. The F.D.A. has appealed the ruling, and said it would allow girls as young as 15 to buy the pill without a prescription. Judge Korman called the decision 'a lot of nonsense' and questioned its timing, made one day before the F.D.A. filed its notice of appeal." (Korman is a Reagan appointee!) ...
... ** Irin Carmon of Salon has a great report on the hearing. Here's a sample: "Korman repeatedly slammed his hand down on the table for emphasis, interrupting the government counsel's every other sentence with assertions like, 'You're just playing games here,' 'You're making an intellectually dishonest argument,' 'You're basically lying,' 'This whole thing is a charade,' 'I'm entitled to say this is a lot of nonsense, am I not?' and 'Contrary to the baloney you were giving me....' He also accused the administration of hypocrisy for opposing voter ID laws but being engaged in the 'suppression of the rights of women' with the ID requirement for the drug."
AP: "One of the CIA's highest-ranking women, who once ran a CIA prison in Thailand where terror suspects were waterboarded, has been bypassed for the agency's top spy job.... She also ... helped ... the CIA destroy its waterboarding videos. The officer, who remains undercover, was a finalist for the job and would have become the first female chief of clandestine operations.... Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, has criticized the interrogation program and personally urged CIA Director John Brennan not to promote the woman, according to a former senior intelligence official briefed on the call.... CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said the assertion that the officer was passed over because of her involvement in the interrogation program was 'absolutely not true.'" CW: So, um, waterboarding & destroying evidence is not a career-buster. But, hey, it doesn't guarantee a promotion, either. Great.
** Jeet Heer writes a brilliant piece (IMHO) in the American Prospect on the relationship between sex & economics. Akhilleus, this is a reading assignment for you. ...
... BTW, the Ferguson Apologetic Moment is so over: "What the self-appointed speech police of the blogosphere forget is that to err occasionally is an integral part of the learning process. And one of the things I learnt from my stupidity last week is that those who seek to demonize error, rather than forgive it, are among the most insidious enemies of academic freedom." Shorter Ferguson: "I must criticize you, but you cannot criticize me." Shorter yet: "I am an accredited sociopath."
So, Penmanship. Martin Crutsinger of the AP: " Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew may not have succeeded yet in getting a grand budget bargain with Congress, but at least his handwriting is improving. And it is expected to be even better when the time comes for him to affix his 'Jacob Lew' to the nation's currency."
Greg Sargent takes a look at the Massachusetts race to fill John Kerry's Senate seat. Big surprise: the Republican candidate, Gabriel Gomez, is a thoughtless, inarticulate dope. But he could beat Democrat Ed Markey.
Rick Klein, et al., of ABC News: The Koch-backed astroturf Tea Party organization FreedomWorks threatens primary challenges against Sen. Lindsey Graham & any other Members of Congress who occasionally accidentally attempt to do their jobs.
NEW. I missed this ... Danielle Dreilinger of the New Orleans Times-Picayune: "The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that the current method of funding the statewide school voucher program is unconstitutional. Act 2, part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's 2012 package of education reforms, diverts money from each student's per-pupil allocation to cover the cost of private or parochial school tuition. ...
... BUT Charles Pierce didn't. "You can't use public money to support religious schools. Period. It is the most preposterously obvious violation of the Establishment clause of the First Amendment this side of the outright attempt by the newly insane state of North Carolina to establish Christianity as an official religion."
Doug Denison of the Delaware News Journal: "Delaware became the 11th state today to legalize same-sex marriage after a lengthy debate in the state Senate and the surprise votes of two lawmakers who could have tipped the tally the other way. A half-hour after the 12-9 Senate vote, Gov. Jack Markell signed the legislation into law on the main stairs in the lobby of Legislative Hall."
Judith Dianis, co-director of the civil rights Advancement Project, writes a letter to the New York Times saying the Florida legislature's "election reform" bill "falls woefully short of achieving the kind of election reform that Florida citizens need." As Dianis noted, the Times story on the bill, linked here May 4, "paints a sunny picture" of the bill.
New York Times: "... investigators are looking into a range of suspected contacts [Tamerlan] Tsarnaev made in Dagestan, from days he might have spent in a mosque in Makhachkala, the capital, to time spent outside the city with a relative who is a prominent Islamist leader recently taken into custody by Russian authorities."
AP: " The Obama administration is providing $100 million in new Syria aid, U.S. officials said Wednesday, but the money is for humanitarian purposes only and not linked to any decision on arming Syrian rebels. The announcement will be made by Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday in Rome...."
AP: "Kidnapping and rape charges were filed Wednesday against a man arrested after three women missing for about a decade were found alive at his home. Homeowner Ariel Castro was charged while his brothers, Pedro and Onil Castro, were held but faced no immediate charges."
AP: "The Air Force stripped an unprecedented 17 officers of their authority to control -- and, if necessary, launch -- nuclear missiles after a string of unpublicized failings, including a remarkably dim review of their unit's launch skills. The group's deputy commander said it is suffering 'rot' within its ranks. 'We are, in fact, in a crisis right now,' the commander, Lt. Col. Jay Folds, wrote in an internal email obtained by The Associated Press and confirmed by the Air Force."
AP: "The vast majority of the $1 million reward offered in the manhunt for rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner will go to a couple who he tied up in their Big Bear cabin, police said Tuesday.... [A panel of judges] decided that about $800,000 will go to James and Karen Reynolds. Daniel McGowan, who found Dorner's burning truck in the Big Bear area where he eventually was discovered, will get $150,000, and $50,000 will go to tow truck driver R.L. McDaniel, who reported spotting Dorner at a gas station earlier in the manhunt."
Reuters: Russian "President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday Russia must strengthen its defenses in the south and work with Central Asian allies to protect itself against the threat of extremist violence emerging from Afghanistan."