** Steve Coll of the New Yorker on Congress's dangerous gamesmanship, as it applies to foreign policy.
American "Justice," Ctd. Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country's largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison...."
Al Baker of the New York Times explores police unions' role when suspected or evident issues of police brutality, racism, & other bad conduct arise: "... amid a rising tide of anger and resentment directed at the police and, perhaps more important, vivid video documentation debunking or calling into question the accounts of officers, police union officials around the country are rethinking how best to get their message out."
Elahe Izadi of the Washington Post: "When George Lucas tried to expand his production company studios in California's wealthy Marin County, the community pushed back. Then the 'Star Wars' creator wanted to sell the land to a developer who would build affordable housing.... Now, two years after that project stalled, Lucas has decided to build the affordable housing and pay for it all himself. 'We've got enough millionaires here. What we need is some houses for regular working people,' Lucas said through his lawyer...."
... the moment the politicians start saying they are in denial of what the scientists are telling them, of what the consensus of scientific experiments demonstrates, that is the beginning of the end of an informed democracy. -- Astrophysicist Neil Tyson
... Bad Science. Elahe Izadi: Some doctors associated with universities have written to "Columbia's dean of medicine, Lee Goldman, calling for [quack Dr. Mehmet] Oz's dismissal from the school. His position at 'a prestigious medical institution,' the doctors wrote, is 'unacceptable.'... Oz is ... a cardiothoracic surgeon who holds the surgery department vice chairmanship at Columbia University's medical school." ...
... Ignorant, Lying, Certified Economist. Ahiza Garcia of TPM: During a radio interview, "Rep. David Brat (R-VA) on Thursday ... blamed Obamacare for moving America away from a free market system and making the country more like North Korea. During the conversation, Brat responded to a PolitiFact article, which took issue with a statement he'd made on March 17. Brat had said repealing Obamacare would save America more than $2 trillion, a statement that PolitiFact, a fact-checking project run by the Tampa Bay Times, disputed and said was false." CW: Congratulations, Richmond, Virginia, for replacing Eric Cantor with this loon.
Noah Barkin of Reuters: "Thousands of people marched in Berlin, Munich and other German cities on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they fear will erode food, labor and environmental standards.Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is particularly high in Germany, in part due to rising anti-American sentiment linked to revelations of U.S. spying and fears of digital domination by firms like Google."
Yo, Marco, Juanito, et al. David Gibson of Religion News Service: "The U.S. Catholic bishops have welcomed the Obama administration's tentative agreement aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear ambitions, and their top spokesman on international affairs bluntly warned Congress against doing anything to undermine it. The bishops 'oppose efforts that seek to undermine the negotiation process or make a responsible multi-party agreement more difficult to achieve and implement,' Bishop Oscar Cantu, chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace Committee, wrote to House and Senate lawmakers on Monday. 'The alternative to an agreement leads toward armed conflict, an outcome of profound concern to the Church,' said Cantu."
David Gibson: "The Vatican is set to host a major conference on climate change this month that will feature leading researchers on global warming and an opening address by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The meeting, which the Vatican detailed on its website late Tuesday (April 14), is another sign of Pope Francis' 'green agenda' and another potential red flag for conservatives who are already alarmed over an expected papal teaching document on the environment that is scheduled for release this summer."
Dave Boucher of the Tennessean: "The Bible will not become the official book of Tennessee this year. Bolstered by opposition from Republican leadership, the Senate voted 22-9 to send the Bible to committee, effectively killing the bill a day after it was adopted by the House.... Gov. Bill Haslam and Attorney General Herbert Slatery oppose the bill; Slatery recently announced he thinks the bill violates the state and federal constitutions." ...
... MEANWHILE in Oklahoma.... Andrea Eger of the Tulsa World: "Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has sent a letter to public school superintendents across the state vowing to defend religious freedom amid 'veiled legal threats' over the distribution of Bibles on campus.... [Andrew] Seidel [of the Freedom from Religion Foundation] told the Tulsa World his organization wrote to 26 Oklahoma school districts in February after receiving complaints that Jamison Faught, the adult son of state Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, had been working with Gideons International to distribute Bibles to public school students in numerous districts." ...
... Steve Benen: "... it's quite unusual for a state Attorney General to directly intervene with dubious and unsolicited advice.... Perhaps most importantly, this is hardly a question of 'religious liberty.'" ...
... CW: This is such a no-brainer than even someone like Pruitt should be able to figure out that distributing religious materials to school children is foolish at best. I'll take a wild guess that Pruitt is Christian; does he want yahoos wandering into Oklahoma schools giving the kiddies copies of the Koran or books promoting atheism? If the answer is no, then it should be obvious to him that distributing Christian bibles to the kids is not an exercise of religious freedom but a coercive act to impose a particular religious dogma on vulnerable children. Pruitt's job requires him to know the Constitution. He doesn't. BTW, Jesus wouldn't like it either: "... whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." -- Matthew 7:12.
Nicky Woolf of the Guardian: "In the sprawling, opulent Crowne Plaza hotel on the outskirts of the town of Nashua, almost the entire prospective Republican field gathered for the First in the Nation summit. All the big contenders are here; they have to be. In the audience are the people who can make or break their chances at the nomination. Most important are the donors, who can usually be spotted by their swagger and the strong smell of cigar-smoke. They are shopping for the best place for their money. There are the vendors, direct-mail advertisers and website and poster designers, who have set up shop in the lobby, next to stalls advertising third-party support for third-tier candidates like Ben Carson, who couldn't even get on the roster." ...
... Patrick Healy & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "During a Republican gathering in the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza hotel here, the first high-profile political event since Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her Democratic bid for the White House last Sunday, an energized, confident bench of 19 presidential candidates and potential contenders took turns taking apart Mrs. Clinton or competing with her on policy ideas." ...
... Politico's story, by Eli Stokols, is here. ...
... AND Maureen Dowd is here to aid & abet: "In her Iowa round tables, [Hillary Clinton] acted as though she were following dating tips from 1950s advice columnists to women trying to 'trap' a husband: listen a lot, nod a lot, widen your eyes, and act fascinated with everything that's said." But MoDo is rooting for Hillary: "Let's hope that the hokey Chipotle Granny will give way to the cool Tumblr Chick in time to teach her Republican rivals -- who are coming after her with every condescending, misogynist, distorted thing they've got -- that bitch is still the new black."
Rory Ross of Newsweek: "... one of the biggest benefactors to the Clinton Foundation has been trading with Iran and may be in breach of US sanctions imposed on the country. Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, 54, has courted the Clintons for at least nine years -- in the United States, the Alps and Ukraine. Earlier this year, he was confirmed as the largest individual contributor to the Clinton Foundation.... The fourth richest man in Ukraine, Pinchuk owns Interpipe Group, a Cyprus-incorporated manufacturer of seamless pipes used in oil and gas sectors." ...
... Mark Hensch of the Hill: "Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) says she's still planning for primary debates, in expectation of a challenge to presidential contender Hillary Clinton. 'I expect the voters who believe we should have a Democratic primary will get their wish,' Wasserman Schultz told C-SPAN's 'Newsmakers' during a video interview from Manchester, N.H. Party officials were thus mapping out a 'series of sanctioned debates that we expect our presidential candidates to participate in,' she added."
Danny Vinik of the New Republic: "Speaking at Harvard University on Thursday night, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley cranked up the pressure on Hillary Clinton by calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage and voicing his opposition to President Barack Obama's massive trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership.... Now that O'Malley has shined the spotlight on these issues, Clinton needs to take positions on them."
Beyond the Beltway
Terrence McCoy: The conservative state of Utah has nearly eliminated homelessness by providing homes for the chronically-homeless. What a concept! And it's cost-effective.
AP: "Former President Bill Clinton, who was president when the attack occurred [on Oklahoma City's federal building], spoke at Sunday's service at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood. Memorial officials estimated that 2,500 people attended the observance."
New York Times: "The Islamic State released a video on Sunday that appears to show fighters from affiliates in southern and eastern Libya executing dozens of Ethiopian Christians, some by beheading and others by shooting."
Guardian: "A major rescue operation is under way in the Mediterranean after as many as 700 migrants are feared to have drowned just outside Libyan waters, in what could prove to be the worst disaster yet involving migrants being smuggled to Europe." ...
... AP Update: A survivor "said about 300 people were in the hold, locked in there by the smugglers, when the vessel set out. He said that of the 950 who set out aboard the doomed boat, some 200 were women and several dozen were children."