Good morning! Also: happy Friday, and a happy 62nd birthday to John Goodman.
Here are some of the stories we’re reading as we head toward the weekend…
Stat of the day: 51.2 million — the number of people “living as refugees from war or persecution,” according to the UN. The BBC reports that it’s the highest figure since World War II.
A tough week for tough-talking Republican governors –> Patrick Marley, Daniel Bice and Bill Glauber report for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that prosecutors say Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker “was at the center” of a nationwide “criminal scheme” to “illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups.” ALSO: At Esquire, Scott Raab and Lisa Brennan write that several of Chris Christie’s top aides “face near-certain indictment and are being pressed to hand up Christie, as is the governor’s former chief counsel, Charlie McKenna.”
So that’s the plan? –> David Ignatius reports for WaPo that the Obama administration thinks deposing Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi PM we helped install a few years ago, will heal the country. AND: Completing a circle back to 2003, Rebecca Shabad reports for The Hill that US officials have met with Ahmed Chalabi, among other potential replacements. ALSO: Mansoor Moaddel does some myth-busting by citing survey data showing that “neither the Shia nor the Sunnis would be interested in the partition of Iraq or in the implementation of a religious state, and the current sectarian struggle is for political supremacy rather than division.”
Whom should we bomb? –> At FP, Ali Khedery writes that in Iraq, “all factions have blood-soaked hands,” and issues a challenge to “Americans calling for immediate military action: who do you wanna bomb?”
“Insane” –> That’s how Vox explainer-in-chief Ezra Klein characterizes the fact that California is facing a whooping cough epidemic in 2014.
Limited legalization –> After putting up a lot of resistance, NY Gov Andrew Cuomo struck a deal to legalize medical marijuana in the Empire State. If it gets through the state Senate, New York will become the 23rd state to do so, and the rules will be the strictest in the nation. Erica Orden reports for the WSJ.
Not out of the woods yet –> Former House Speaker Tom Delay’s 2010 conviction for money-laundering and scheming to influence Texas lawmakers was vacated last year, but prosecutors are appealing the case and hope to get the conviction reinstated. Laylan Copelin reports for the Austin American-Statesman.
We need a raise –> Katie Little reports for CNBC that the IMF’s annual review of the US economy described our “minimum wage as low by both historical and international standards.” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde also said that the agency reduced its growth forecast for the US due in part to extreme weather, which has occurred “much more frequently in the last 20 years than… in the previous century.” Lagarde added: “I think that’s a valid reason to wonder about climate change, and how to deal with it.”
“A diverse choir of ‘traditional marriage’ supporters” –> The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi attended the “March for Marriage” and wrote about the experience so the rest of us wouldn’t have to.
Center-left nation? –> Robert Borosage writes at The Nation that “the irony of American politics is that the right is far weaker than it appears and the left far stronger than it asserts.”
What a cheery thought –> TNR’s Alice Robb wonders whether “overpopulation and resource scarcity would eventually drive hungry humans to cannibalism.” There’s some interesting history behind the question.
Innovation –> Harley Davidson is set to roll out its first electric motorcycle next week. It’s won’t be the first ever, as ThinkProgress’ headline suggests — there’s the Zero Motorcycle — but it will be the first electric bike to be mass-produced.