News & Notes

Morning Reads: Kiev Is Burning; Kansas Pols Are Pro-Child Beating

Good morning — and a happy 74th birthday to Smokey Robinson! Here are some of the stories we’re reading this morning…

Kiev on fire –> The Ukraine Ministry of Health reports 25 dead, including police officers and a journalist, in continuing street violence. At Mother Jones, Eric Wuestewald offers an explainer that has all the background you need.

CBO lobs another grenade –> The Congressional Budget Office projected that hiking the minimum wage to $10.10 would raise incomes for 25 million people, but cost 500,000 jobs. The Nation’s George Zornick reports that CBO’s projected job-losses fall outside the mainstream of economic research. And Matt Yglesias writes at Slate that if zero jobs were lost it would only show that the raise was too small.

Here, have one free pizza –> Last week, there was a massive explosion at a fracking well in Bobtown, Penn., which burned for five days and left one resident missing and presumed dead. But it’s OK, because Chevron apologized and offered town residents coupons for a free pizza. Via Lindsay Abrams at Salon. 

Details, details –> Rosalind S. Helderman reports for The Washington Post that two criminal investigations may “complicate” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s presidential ambitions.

More profits from prisoners –> Truthout’s Maya Schenwar on the for-profit prison phone call racket.

Problems intersect –> First-time homebuyers are hard to find, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says one reason there are so few is that young people are burdened with so much student debt. Ashlee Kieler has the story at Consumerist.

Rand Paul’s wrong –> So writes John Nichols in The Nation, arguing that the US doesn’t need a new GOP, it needs the old, pre-radicalized version.

Seriously, what’s the matter with Kansas? –> Under current law, Kansas schoolchildren can be spanked as long as it’s not hard enough to leave a mark, but now Sunflower State lawmakers want to change the law to “allow up to 10 strikes of the hand and smacks hard enough to leave redness and bruising,” according to local KCTV News.

Take that, Vlad –> Openly gay and bisexual women are doing great at Sochi, according to Patricia Nell Warren at OutSports.

We’ll believe when we see it –> At National Memo, Jason Sattler argues that seniors are turning on the GOP, and says it may prove to be a game changer in the midterms.

Who do you represent? –> The Ohio Department of Public Resources developed a plan to promote fracking and marginalize environmental activists. Katie Valentine reports for ThinkProgress.

No progress for you! –> Lisa Rein reports for The Washington Post that the paper industry has created a “consumer group” that’s lobbying the federal government to slow down its transition to electronic records.

Creepiest impact of global warming? –> In Italy, a thawing glacier is gradually revealing the mummified remains of soldiers killed during the highest battle of World War I. Via: Motherboard.

Morning Reads: US Has More Solar Workers Than Coal Miners; Pussy Riot Arrested in Sochi

Good morning! Here are our Morning Reads…

Stopping “the black snake” –> Rob Hotakainen reports for McClatchy that native American tribes are preparing to physically block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline if it is approved.

Benign plutocracy –> Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner profiles venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, who’s leading the fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage in Seattle. ALSO: Tom Steyer plans to spend $100 million pushing for action to combat climate change during the midterms, according to the NYT.

Not so subtle –> Members of Pussy Riot, recently released from prison, were arrested in Sochi for allegedly stealing from their hotel before they could perform a performance piece critical of Vladimir Putin. Julia Ioffe has the story for TNR.

Tricky Dick –> At Salon, historian Robert Slayton writes that Richard Nixon is ultimately responsible for making the GOP beholden to its white, Southern base.

Lessons from Tennessee –> Rich Yeselson offers some lessons from the UAW’s failed union drive at VW’s Chattanooga plant for Jacobin.

Under wraps –> A New York Republican operative has asked a court to delay his corruption trial until after November because “key GOP campaign strategies could be ‘exposed’ before this year’s gubernatorial and legislative races,” reports Rich Calder for the NY Post.

Green power –> Juan Cole notes that there are more workers in the American solar industry than there are coal miners — and adds that solar doesn’t pollute our drinking water. ALSO: According to CNN, the Obama administration is set to increase fuel efficiency standards for the nation’s truck fleet, as they did for cars during their first term.

Double standard –> Rebecca Traister reviews recent attacks on Wendy Davis and Hillary Clinton for TNR and concludes that it’s still the case that only women politicians have to answer for their family lives.

Not sharing the wealth –> Nick Summers reports for Bloomberg Businessweek that while the stock market — and billionaire’s wealth — has recovered, the philanthropy of the wealthiest Americans hasn’t rebounded.

The lure of a decent wage –> Kirk Johnson reported over the weekend for the NYT that workers in states with low minimum wages are either moving or making long commutes for higher-paying jobs in neighboring states.

Devil’s in the details –> George Jahn reports for the AP on the “huge hurdles” ahead for a final deal with Iran.

Scarcity and floppy shoes –> NY Daily News headline says it all: “National clown shortage may be approaching, trade organizations fear.”

This Is What it Looks Like When 100,000 Gallons of Coal Waste Spill into a West Virginia Stream

This post originally appeared at ThinkProgress.

CREDIT: FOO CONNER/@IWASAROUND

CREDIT: FOO CONNER/@IWASAROUND

A pipe break at a Patriot Coal preparation site spewed more than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry into a waterway near Charleston, WV on Tuesday.

“When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out,” said Randy Huffman, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Tuesday’s spill did not occur near a drinking water intake, an area of particular concern for nearby residents as the safety of their water supply remains a concern more than one month after a massive chemical spill contaminated the water for 300,000 West Virginians. Coal slurry contains a range of toxic substances, including chemicals used to wash the coal and heavy metals, like iron, manganese, aluminum and selenium.

Here are some images from the spill:

CREDIT: FOO CONNER/@IWASAROUND

CREDIT: FOO CONNER/@IWASAROUND

CREDIT: FOO CONNER/@IWASAROUND

CREDIT: FOO CONNER/@IWASAROUND

CREDIT: FOO CONNER/@IWASAROUND

Kiley Kroh is co-editor of Climate Progress. You can follow her on twitter @kileykrow

Morning Reads: Anti-Debt Group Deep in Debt; Environmental Damage of V-Day

Good morning — and happy Valentine’s Day! Here are some of the stories we’re reading as we push toward the weekend…

Slackers –> One fifth of Obamacare enrollees haven’t paid their first month’s premiums. Robert Pear reports for the NYT.

Progress is bumpy –> In Kansas, lawmakers are advancing a “gay segregation bill” that would not only allow private companies to discriminate based on sexual preference but also give public employees the right to refuse service to LGBT Americans. Mark Joseph Stern has the details at Slate. YET: A federal judge also struck down Virginia’s same sex marriage ban yesterday — just days after a provision of Kentucky’s ban was ruled unconstitutional.

Criminals in the state house –> Peter Beck, a powerful Ohio state lawmaker, has been charged with 69 felonies in a bizarre money-laundering and fraud scheme related to a church that prosecutors describe as a “cult.” Chrissie Thompson reports for The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Schadenfreude alert –> Salon’s Alex Pareene on the “sad fake ‘millennial’ anti-debt group” that’s now mired in debt.

Shameless plutocracy –> Having recently warned of a “progressive Kristallnacht,” billionaire Tom Perkins says wealthy people should get more votes than the rest of us. Apparently, he ignored our advice to shut up.

Veritas –> Gotcha videographer James O’Keefe sued for defamation and wrongful termination. Dave Weigel with the details for Slate.

We’re exhausted –> Upworthy’s Carolyn Silveira has some snappy graphics that show how overworked Americans are — and why we should take every Friday off.

“Giant evil” –> Church of England considering divestment from fossil fuels to fight the “giant evil” of climate change, reports Ari Phillips for ThinkProgress.

Failing upward –> At The Nation, Rick Perlstein eviscerates Democratic Leadership Council founder Al From’s revisionist history of the business-friendly Democratic group.

Time for a raise –> Jacob Fischler reports for Buzzfeed that House Democrats are trying to get enough signatures on a discharge petition to force a vote on a minimum wage hike.

Maybe he’s not a romantic –> At TNR, Jeffrey Ball writes that Valentine’s Day is an “environmental travesty.”

Morning Reads: Meet the Other Koch Bros; US Ranks 46th in Press Freedom

Good morning! And a happy 91st birthday to Chuck Yeager, whose drawl is emulated by pilots worldwide. Here are some of the stories we’re reading in the middle of a blizzard here in NYC… 

Stat of the day: 68 percent — share of Seattle voters who support a $15-per-hour minimum wage according to a recent poll.

Meet the Wilks –> While the Koch brothers have become a magnet for controversy, Dan and Farris Wilks have largely flown under the radar. The brothers made their fortune in fracking, and are now spending a chunk of it to fund a network of right-wing advocacy groups. Karoli runs down some of their activities for Crooks and Liars. 

Ag-gag –> Bill that would severely punish people who expose animal abuse at factory farms advances in Idaho. The AP’s John Miller has the details.

We’re! Number!… 46?!? –> US not doing so well on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.

Head-scratcher –> Jennifer Bendery reports for HuffPo that Obama’s nomination of a socially conservative judge with a dubious civil rights record is causing an “all-out revolt” among his supporters.

They’re not just worried about primaries –> Members of Congress use closely-held private email addresses. Someone has been sending Republicans bizarre threats about this week’s vote to raise the debt limit, and some think it may be one of their own — “probably one of the crazy ones,” according to one lawmaker. John Stanton reports for Buzzfeed.

Hunger strike –> A federal appeals court dismissed three Guantanamo detainees’ demand that they no longer be subjected to force-feeding. AFP via The Raw Story.

For-profit prisons –> An audit of a private prison in Idaho found that guards were working shifts of up to 48 hours, and now Corrections Corporation of America is fighting to get the report changed. Rebecca Boone reports for the AP.

Back to the 1990s –> Mother Jones’ David Corn on Rand Paul’s strategy of using the Monica Lewinsky scandal to attack Democrats in 2014.

Sanity and the drug war –> The federal government classifies marijuana as being just as dangerous as heroin, but according to Washington state’s NBC affiliate, 18 members of Congress are now trying to change that.

There’s no war on religion –> At The Washington Monthly, Ed Kilgore explains what’s really going on in a society in which social mores are changing.

Points for effort –> A 10-year-old Norwegian boy loaded his baby sister into the family car and drove off to visit their grandparents. After he ran off the road, he told authorities that he was a dwarf who had left his license at home. (Nobody was hurt.)

Morning Reads: Keystone to Create Only 35 Perm Jobs; Putin’s Conservative Fans

Good morning! Abraham Lincoln was born on this day in 1809, but you’ll have to wait until Monday for a holiday. In the meantime, here are some of the stories we’re reading today…

Stat of the day: 0.000 — Time separating the downhill runs of Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland in the first tie for gold in the history of Olympic alpine skiing.

That was quick –> Yesterday, Speaker John Boehner brought a clean debt limit hike to the floor, where it passed with mostly Democratic votes. Daniel Strauss reports for TPM that the hard-right Senate Conservatives Fund is already calling for his ouster as speaker.

Vestige of Jim Crow –> In the wake of Eric Holder’s call for Southern states to let former felons vote, The Daily Beast’s Jamelle Bouie reminds us that felon disenfranchisement is a relic of a particularly ugly era in the South’s history. ALSO: Robert Bentley, the Republican governor of Alabama, says he agrees with Holder.

A little civility –> Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has suspended the death penalty in the Evergreen State. John Bacon reports for USA Today.

Mad as Hell –> Residents of a Chinese village that’s been polluted for years by a local factory went on a rampage when the factory’s owners refused to meet with them, according to the AP.

Really messed that one up –> Eli Lake reports for The Daily Beast that while the American Israel Public Affairs Committee usually enjoys broad bipartisan support, it managed to alienate virtually everyone with its recent push for new sanctions against Iran over the objections of the White House — and even the Israeli government.

BENGHAZI!!! –> At The Progressive, Stephen Webster argues that a report issued by the GOP-chaired House Armed Services Committee pretty much kills off those Benghazi conspiracy theories. BUT: Sahil Kapur reports for TPM that the findings won’t deter a GOP-linked group reminiscent of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth from using the nontroversy to go after Hillary Clinton as we approach 2016.

Dreamy –> Slate’s Dave Weigel on why some conservatives have developed a “crush” for Vladimir Putin.

Fact-check –> Will Keystone XL create only 35 permanent jobs, as Van Jones claimed last week? Politifact says: “True!”

23 years –> Alan Greenblatt reports for NPR that tipped service workers haven’t seen a hike in their federal minimum wage for over two decades.

Zombie myths never die –> At the WaPo, Harold Meyerson writes, again, that there is no law anywhere requiring businesses to “maximize shareholder returns.”

Incoherent –> At Salon, Christian and Calvin Exoo take a skeptical look at Rand Paul’s claim that marriage provides a way out of poverty.

Long-ago stroll –> Scientists discovered the oldest evidence of our human ancestors outside of Africa in the form of 800,000 year-old footprints on a British beach. Sudeshna Chowdhury has the story for the Christian Science Monitor.

Report: US Officials ‘Debating’ Whether to Kill a Fifth American by Drone

In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Details are scarce in this New York Times article by Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt:

The Obama administration is debating whether to authorize a lethal strike against an American citizen living in Pakistan who some believe is actively plotting terrorist attacks, according to current and former government officials.

It is the first time American officials have actively discussed killing an American citizen overseas since President Obama imposed new restrictions on drone operations last May.

The officials would not confirm the identity of the suspect, or provide any information about what evidence they have amassed about the suspect’s involvement in attacks against Americans. The debate about whether to put the individual on a kill list was first reported on Monday by The Associated Press. MORE

Morning Reads: OWS Activist, Beaten by Police, Faces Jail; TN Targets VW

Good morning! Twenty-four years ago today, Nelson Mandela was released after a 27-year stay in a South African prison — four years later, he became president. In newer news, here are our Morning Reads…

Snatched –> The WaPo obtained closed circuit TV footage of a US special forces team abducting an alleged former associate of Osama bin Laden in Libya. Adam Goldman has the story.

Greasing the wheels –> A prominent lobbying firm has agreed to a record fine for lavishing California lawmakers — including Gov Jerry Brown — with improper gifts, according to Patrick McGreevey at the LAT.

Just a tad suspicious –> A black man married to a white woman was found dead in a Texas forrest with his throat slit, and the local sheriff concluded he’d died of a drug overdose. Family members say he had no history of drug use. Yvette Caslin reports for Rolling Out.

Today’s outrage=no biggie –> At TNR, Jonatha Cohn writes that despite some political drama over the Obama administration’s decision to delay a mandate that large employers have to provide their workers with insurance coverage, the real-world impact of the decision should be minor.

Mas –> TAP’s Paul Waldman blasts employers who falsely claim that Obamacare is forcing them to cut employees benefits. ALSO: CBO Director Doug Elmendorf answers questions about what his agency’s recent report really said about the ACA and employment.

Parched –> Alex Park and Julia Lurie report for MoJo that California’s drought may be the worst in 500 years.

So much for freedom of contract –> Brent Snavely reports for the Detroit Free Press that “the crusade by anti-union forces in Tennessee, including the state’s governor and senior senator, is now as much a fight with Volkswagen management as with the UAW.” ALSO: At TAP, Harold Meyerson says a pro-union vote would make history in two ways.

Beacon of peace and democracy –> In Iraq, a suicide bombing instructor — who knew they existed? — accidentally killed himself and most of his students, reports Duraid Adnan for the NYT.

Civil war –> Jeremy Peters reports for the NYT on the ongoing efforts by the business establishment to marginalize fringe Republican congressional candidates who might cost the GOP winnable seats.

Justice? -> Aviva Shen’s headline at ThinkProgress sums up an Occupy Wall Street story: “Activist Allegedly Beaten Into Unconsciousness By Police Faces 7 Years In Prison For Elbowing Cop.”

R.I.P. –> Shirley Temple Black died in her home at age 85. Enjoy a classic scene with Temple dancing and singing with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson from the 1935 film, “The Littlest Rebel.”

Very awkward –> An interview with Samuel L. Jackson went awry when a TV entertainment critic confused him with Laurence Fishburne. Sarah Gray has a write-up — and video — for Salon.

15 Photos From the Massive Progressive Protest You Didn’t Hear About This Weekend

This post first appeared on ThinkProgress.

Moral March on Raleigh
Kathy Jones reacts during the closing remarks by Rev. William Barber at the Moral March on Raleigh on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh, NC, on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Robert Willett)

Somewhere between 80 to 100,000 people from 32 states turned out to protest four years of drastic state Republican initiatives in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday.

The “Moral March on Raleigh,” organized by Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), marched from Shaw University to the state capitol to push back against the “immoral and unconstitutional policies” of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory during the 2013 NC General Assembly session. Since North Carolina Republicans took over both legislative chambers in 2010, legislators have eliminated a host of programs and raised taxes on the bottom 80 percentrepealed a tax credit for 900,000 working families, enforced voter suppression effortsblocked Medicaid coverage, cut pre-Kindergarten funding, cut federal unemployment benefits and gave itself the authority to intervene in abortion lawsuits.
MORE

Morning Reads: NSA’s Role in Assassinations Exposed; “Crybabies of the 1 Percent”

Good morning! Today is National Clean Out Your Computer day, but we all know it’s not going to happen. Here are some of the stories we’re reading as we kick off a new week…

Stat of the day: Chicago police are ten times more likely to shoot black residents than white ones.

A first look –> Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill report on the NSA’s role in the US-targeted assassination program for The Intercept.

More democracy ahead? –> Alexander Bolton reports for The Hill that Harry Reid is considering another round of filibuster reform as the Senate remains blocked.

Real people –> Last week, we mentioned that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong cited the costs of “two distressed babies” to justify cutting his employees’ benefits. Deanna Fei is the mother of one of those children and over at Slate, she has a few words for Armstrong.

Crybabies of the 1 percent” –> That’s the title of a strong essay about wealth and privilege by Paul Campos in Salon.

Spay and neuter your animals –> The Copenhagen Zoo’s decision to shoot a young giraffe — in front of children — and then feed him to the lions because his genes weren’t necessary for Europe’s captive breeding program has sparked global outrage.

Indentured servitude? –> TPM’s Josh Marshall writes about conservatives’ reaction to news that Obamacare will allow some Americans to work less.

Big –> Ari Berman reports on the huge Moral March held in North Carolina over the weekend for The Nation.

They feel the Earth move –> According to NPR, there’s been a surge of earthquakes in the US which scientists have linked “the boom in oil and gas activity.”

Immigration roadblock –> Sen. Chuck Schumer tried — but likely failed — to call House Republicans’ bluff on immigration reform, according to Reuters.

Fukushima –> A class action suit has been filed against Tokyo Electric Power on behalf of US Navy personnel who took part in a relief operation off of the coast of Japan in 2011 and are now facing health problems. Harvey Wasserman has the story for EcoWatch.

Well, he was a crime dog –> Actor who played McGruff, the crime dog, sentenced to prison for growing marijuana and stockpiling weapons, including a grenade launcher.

Turning Up Heat on Banks Funding Fossil Fuels

As environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben tells Bill Moyers on this week’s Moyers & Company about the student movement for colleges and universities to divest themselves of stock from companies that produce or burn oil, gas and coal, The Wall Street Journal reports another front in the fight against climate-changing fossil fuels: the banking industry.

Investors “have filed nonbinding shareholder resolutions urging at least four banks to shed more light on loans they make to oil, gas, coal and other companies whose practices create carbon emissions. They are also pressing the banks to develop strategies to address climate-change risks…”

The pressure on banks gained traction after a Securities and Exchange Commission decision last year allowed shareholders to advance a climate-change resolution at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. Agency staff denied PNC’s request to ignore a proposal that sought to shed light on the Pittsburgh-based bank’s role as a lender to the coal industry in Appalachia, saying the resolution “focuses on the significant policy issue of climate change.” The nonbinding resolution garnered support from 22.8% of the bank’s shareholders at its April annual meeting—above last year’s 18.1% average for climate and energy-related proposals tracked by proxy adviser Glass, Lewis & Co.—but wasn’t adopted by the bank.

According to the Journal, the PNC resolution has been resubmitted and the campaign has been expanded to include Bank of America and Capital One: “The investors say banks haven’t adequately grappled with climate issues, particularly emissions stemming from loans to oil and gas companies. Regulators released guidance four years ago encouraging all public companies to disclose the effects of climate change on their businesses, but the investors say it hasn’t led to an increase in the quality or quantity of the disclosures.”

The Journal article comes almost three months after publication of Banking on Coal, a report to the United Nations released by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), among other environmental groups, at last year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland. The report revealed, RAN noted, “the finance industry’s central role in coal mining and found that in the past eight years, 89 commercial banks provided $158 billion in financing to mining companies. Seventy-one percent of the full amount, or $112 billion, was provided by only 20 banks.

The top three banks ranked in the report are Citigroup ($9.76 billion), Morgan Stanley ($9.69 billion) and Bank of America ($8.79 billion). Among the top 20 are also Swiss, German, Chinese, British, French and Japanese banks. The authors investigated commercial lending and investment banking services provided to 70 coal-mining companies, which collectively account for 53 percent of global coal production.

According to the report to the UN, financial institutions from the United States, the United Kingdom and China have provided 57 percent of coal financing: “Since 2005 — the year the Kyoto Protocol came into force — banks’ financing for coal mining companies increased by 397 percent.”

Heffa Schücking, director of the German environmental and human rights organization urgewald and lead author of the report, said, “It’s mind-boggling to see that less than two dozen banks from a handful of countries are putting us on a highway to hell when it comes to climate change. Big banks already showed that they can mess up the real economy. Now we’re seeing that they can also push our climate over the brink.”

You can read the complete report here: (PDF)

Morning Reads: Putin Cronies Cash in on Sochi; Catch-22 and the No-Fly List

Good morning — and happy Friday! Here are some of the stories we’re reading as the week winds down…

Stat of the day: $7 billion — The total value of the 21 Olympic contracts awarded to two childhood friends of Vladimir Putin.

“Anemic” –> Good way to describe today’s disappointing jobs report. Via: ABC News. BUT: Economist Dean Baker says a rise in labor participation is good news.

What a sweetheart –> AOL chief blames Obamacare and two “distressed babies” for his decision to cut 401(k) benefits for the company’s workforce. Jia Lynn Yang reports for the WaPo.

Midterm slump –> Ed Kilgore reports for Washington Monthly that senate Dems are trying a new strategy to avoid the historic fall-off in midterm voting among younger people and people of color.

What happened to the free market? –> Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam continues to campaign against Volkswagen’s plan to allow its workers to vote on union membership. Joey Garrison has the story for The Tennessean.

Progressive alliance fraying –> Cole Stangler reports for In These Times that AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka is pushing for approval of Keystone XL and new gas terminals. ALSO: Truthout’s William Rivers Pitt offers a bleak survey of our many environmental catastrophes.

Catch-22 –> The FBI admitted that an agent checked the wrong box on a form, accidentally putting a college student on the no-fly list, but then the agency fought her efforts to get her name removed for seven years in the courts, according to David Kravets at Wired.

Oppressed majority –> At AlterNet, Amanda Marcotte looks at the Christian right’s “bizarre delusions of persecution.”

Radio silence –> At Common Dreams, Jon Queally writes that despite rising opposition, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is getting almost no coverage from mainstream news outlets.

Elections have consequences –> Virginia Democrats are trying to repeal some abortion restrictions passed when Republicans controlled the legislature – including the controversial trans-vaginal ultrasound requirement. Via: AP.

Big Brother gets the gold! –> That’s the title of Andrew Leonard’s report for Salon about Sochi’s “totalitarian” security measures. PLUS: a bit of humor from The Borowitz Report: “Sochi Hotel Guests Complain About Topless Portraits Of Putin In Rooms.”

Worse than a sharknado! –> Slate’s Phil Plait has video of volcanic twisters caused by the Sinabung eruption in Indonesia.

Bill McKibben on Why the White House Wants to Approve Keystone

Bill Moyers asked environmental activist Bill McKibben why the State Department concluded in a long-anticipated report delivered last week that the proposed 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline would basically have no impact on climate change. Like so many issues in politics today, McKibben says the answer basically comes down to money and power. “The American Petroleum Institute told the president two years ago, ‘you do what we say on Keystone or there’ll be political trouble,’” McKibben tells Moyers. “We’ll find out how scared he was.”

Watch: Brief Music Video Offers Everything You Need to Know About Fracking

You’ve heard about “fracking” — hydraulic fracturing — but perhaps you’ve wondered how it actually works. The video below offers a quick and entertaining explanation of the process. It was produced in partnership with ProPublica by David Holmes and his fellow journalism students at Jay Rosen’s Studio 20 at NYU.

For more info on fracking, its lack of regulation and potential environmental impacts, check out ProPublica’s three-year running investigation.

Morning Reads: 26 Kids Killed in ‘Stand Your Ground’ Cases; Obama Establishes ‘Climate Hubs’

Good morning! Babe Ruth, Bob Marley and Ronald Reagan were all born on this day. Here are some of the stories we’re reading this a.m….

Working out great –> 26 Florida children or teenagers have been killed in “stand your ground”-related cases, reports Nicole Flatow for TP.

Pen, phone –> Coral Davenport reports for the NYT that Obama’s next executive action will be the creation of “regional climate hubs” to help people prepare for extreme weather events.

Corrections –> WaPo’s Erik Wemple looks at all the media outlets that changed their headlines or offered corrections after botching reports on the CBO’s new Obamacare projections.

Oops –> The Koch brothers left a list of VIP donors at a hotel. MoJo’s Andy Kroll and Daniel Schulman report its significance.

Bizarre case –> A disgruntled former Mormon has convinced a British court to hear his suit charging that the church is a fraudulent operation because it makes theological claims that aren’t demonstrably true. Scott Kaufman runs down the details for The Raw Story.

Tacky, corrupt –> Western journalists arriving in Sochi for the Olympic games are finding the accommodations rough and wondering where the $51 billion Russia spent to give the city a facelift actually went. Justin Peters reports for Slate. ALSO: US authorities warned Russia-bound airlines to be on the lookout for explosives contained in toothpaste tubes. Brian Ries recalls the history of toothpaste bombs for the Daily Beast.

Has DC’s deficit fever broken? –> At TNR, Ryan Cooper says it has, but the question is whether that will translate into policy.

Tough gig –> At FP, Gordon Lubold introduces us to the man tasked with fighting off contractors and members of congress in order to cut the Pentagon’s bloated budget.

Just say no –> The title of Mark Bittman’s NYT op-ed urging Obama to kill Keystone and veto the awful farm bill.

Rolling back the 20th century –> NPR’s Alan Greenblatt looks at the quixotic tea party campaign to repeal the 17th Amendment, which empowered citizens to elect their senators directly.

OK, we give up –> Washington Monthly’s Ed Kilgore is left speechless by news that John Boehner is now considering a demand for more spending in order to lift the debt limit. ALSO: At TAP, Paul Waldman argues that the GOP isn’t choosing its hostages wisely when it messes with the debt limit.

Big bill, horrible band –> Steve Hsieh reports for The Nation that the industrial rock band Skinny Puppy billed the Pentagon $666,000 in royalties for using its music to torture prisoners at Gitmo without permission.

Smoking gun –> Scientists think they’ve determined the exact mechanism for the extinction of woolly rhinos, mammoths and other extinct ice age mammals. Via: Science Daily.

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