Sunday, July 13, 2014

Colorado Gov: Obama’s a ‘Shark’ on the Pool Table

Colorado Gov: Obama’s a ‘Shark’ on the Pool Table

Colorado Gov: Obama’s a ‘Shark’ on the Pool Table

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 11:27 AM PDT

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper didn’t just get beat by President Barack Obama when they were shooting pool last week in Denver—he got beat twice.

Speaking to reporters at the National Governors Association meeting in Nashville Sunday, a week after the president visited his state to fundraise for Democratic candidates and deliver remarks on the economy, Hickenlooper, a former bar-owner, recounted his defeat, declaring the president a “shark.”

“You know I'll tell ya — the man is a shark,” he said. “I was up a few balls. I felt pretty good. I was actually wondering whether how hard should I—you can't beat the president of the United States. And then literally before my eyes he ran like four balls.”

So they played double or nothing.

“The second time I was playing as hard as I could possibly play and I still have four balls on the table when he nailed the 8-ball,” the Colorado Democrat said. “And he was making long shots with a difficult angle. I didn't know that people in Hawaii played that much pool. But evidently they do.”

The stakes? $10 for the first game, and then $20, but the President was out to exact a more significant prize.

“I gave him the $20 bill and he laughed,” Hickenlooper said. “And of course by that time the press corps had all left but there were still 100 people who were there with their cell phone cameras. So he said, ‘no, no, governor, come over here—hand it to me again.’ And he holds the $20 bill up so that everyone can get pictures of it. And I give it to him. And as he's getting into the car he shakes my hand, and in his handshake is a $20 bill and he says ‘find a good charity.’ Which is, like, very diminishing.”

“I'm not a bad pool player,” Hickenlooper continued, chalking up Obama’s victory to his focus. “When I was in the private sector I built five pretty good sized pool halls. A lot of our business meetings were around a pool table trying to think through problems. It's a great way to think, right. To have a discussion with someone you focus on the game, talk about the issue, then you focus on the game. Anybody who was trying to prepare for exams in college has done that once or twice, not always too good effect. But the fact that—he's good. He's good. Part of it is, and this is no surprise to anybody, is he's obviously got a remarkable focus. So he was when he was just kind of playing, we're talking and hanging out, he made some and lost some. But when he focused, he was really good.”

Governors Divided on How to Handle Border Crisis

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 10:29 AM PDT

The nation’s governors appeared united that Washington needs to act to deal with the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border illegally at a gathering of state chief executives over the weekend, but showed little consensus over what Washington should actually do to mitigate the situation.

The border crisis was front-and-center at the National Governor’s Association meeting in Nashville, Tenn., where Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell briefed governors on the situation Sunday morning, especially for those governors from states that have been asked to house the children in temporary shelters.

Throughout the weekend the governors expressed frustration over a lack of communication from Washington, worried about both the humanitarian situation and the potential costs to their states.

“It almost brings me to tears thinking about these children,” said Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker. “You think of the trauma these kids are going through to get here, and you think of the trauma before that. I put them on my own personal prayer list.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said Friday, “I can only imagine, as a father of four, the heartbreak that those parents must have felt in sending their children across a desert where they can be muled and trafficked or used or killed or tortured.”

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, raised public health and security concerns, asking about the risk to American citizens, saying there have been cases of chicken pox, scabies, and lice at Fort Sill, the army post where over 1,100 unaccompanied minors are being housed in her state.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, praised Burwell after the closed-press meeting. “We don't know what the cost to the states are going to be,” he said. “The bottom line for me was for there to be an open line of communication with the secretary on that issue. And she's assured me and all the governors that she will ensure that we're very well aware of what is going on with respect to states.”

Multiple governors described the meeting as “frank,” with Burwell challenged on the administration’s handling of the issue. Sandoval said it was too early to say whether governors are buying in to the administration’s proposed response.

But the evidence on display elsewhere at the NGA meeting suggested the governors are as deeply divided over the solution as policymakers in the nation's capital. "I think Congress needs to act, and I think the president needs to go down there and see it for himself like I did," Fallon said.

"Go down there," echoed Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, also a Republican. "Grab both sides of the issue and say we will solve this. We need to me more leadership out of the White House and we need to see more collaboration in Congress."

The number of unaccompanied child migrants attempting to cross the border has surged in recent months, mainly from Central America. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the number detained has risen by 92 percent from July last year. Last week, President Barack Obama requested $3.7 billion to ease the humanitarian crisis and increase border security, as the federal government is looking to move thousands of unaccompanied minors to temporary detention facilities in states away from the border.

On Sunday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was not at the governors conference, said he does not support the president’s request . "As I look at that piece of legislation, it is a very large amount of money, and as you analyze it, very little of it is for border security," the Republican said on Fox News Sunday.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who famously clashed with Obama at the Phoenix airport over immigration policy in 2012, said the children must be sent back. "They should be sent home," she said. "They are illegal. We have borders for a reason. And I'll say it again, you know, a country without borders is like a house without walls—it collapses. We are a nation of laws. We believe in the rule of law."

“People – our citizens already feel burdened by all kinds of challenges,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. “They don't want to see another burden coming into their state. So however we deal with the humanitarian aspects of this, we've got to do it in the most cost effective way possible."

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy called on the federal government to do more to solve the instability in Central America that is causing the influx of migrant children. But the Democrat emphasized the importance of increasing border security, saying the Washington must act "in the most human way possible, but respecting our laws.”

"There's a paucity of suggestions on how to deal with this from Republicans, other than to point fingers," he added.

O'Malley, who is preparing to run for president in 2016, broke publicly with Obama on Saturday, saying the children should be allowed to stay.

"It is contrary to everything we stand for to try to summarily send children back to death," the Democratic lawmaker told reporters. He also criticized the "kennels" in which those who have been detained are being kept and called for the children to be placed in "the least restrictive" locations, including foster homes or with family members in the U.S.

Walker, who is similarly mulling a presidential bid on the GOP side, said the federal government needs to be careful where they release the children. “If they go with people without legal status our concern is that these children will just suddenly be gone and we're not going to see them and that'll just encourage more kids to come,” he said.

Christopher Walken to Play Captain Hook in NBC’s Peter Pan

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 10:08 AM PDT

Get ready for “the first tap-dancing Captain Hook” you’ve ever seen: Christopher Walken will play the pirate villain in NBC’s upcoming live adaptation of the Peter Pan musical.

NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt announced the casting during his Sunday presentation at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills, according The Hollywood Reporter.

"[Walken] might really be a song and dance man at heart," Greenblatt said. "He's fearless as a comedic actor and always comes to play. I guarantee you he's going to bring his own spin to Captain Hook.”

NBC’s plans for Peter Pan follow the massive ratings (but mixed reviews) of last December’s The Sound of Music Live!, the network’s successful foray into live musical programming that starred country singer Carrie Underwood.

Peter Pan Live! will air Dec. 4. The previously announced adaptation of The Music Man is expected to follow.


Kerry Warns ‘Significant Gaps’ Remain on Nuclear Deal With Iran

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 09:50 AM PDT

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Vienna Sunday to participate in nuclear negotiations with Iran, and attempt to salvage a deal that officials say is not close at hand.

“We have some very significant gaps still, so we need to see if we can make some progress, and I really look forward to a very substantive and important set of meetings and dialogues,” said Kerry, who will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday, as well as officials from France, Germany and the U.K, according to a U.S. State Department official.

“It is vital to make certain that Iran is not going to develop a nuclear weapon, that their program is peaceful,” Kerry said.

An interim agreement last November between Iran and a group of powers known as the P5+1 (the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia) halted the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for eased sanctions. The deadline to reach a final agreement is July 20, a goal that Obama officials sounded hopeful about reaching earlier this year.

But the tone in Washington has recently turned more pessimistic, and many experts now expect a six-month extension of the deal as the two sides struggle to strike a longer-term bargain.

Iran is pushing for a much greater enrichment capability than the U.S. is interested in granting, a senior U.S. administration official said on Saturday. “On some key issues, Iran has not moved from their, from our perspective, unworkable and inadequate positions that would not in fact assure us that their program is exclusively peaceful,” said the official, who noted that Sunday’s meetings are not about discussing the extension.

“All you had to do is listen this week to the public comments coming from some in Iran’s leadership to see that we are still very far apart on some issues, and obviously, on enrichment capacity,” the official continued. “The numbers we’ve seen them putting out publicly go far beyond their current program, and we’ve been clear that in order to get an agreement, that their current program would have to be significantly reduced.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that his country “doesn’t see any benefit in Iran developing a nuclear weapon” and will continue to demonstrate its commitment to not developing a nuclear weapons program.

-With reporting by Michael Crowley

Israeli Raid in Gaza a Sign of Things to Come

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 09:38 AM PDT

If Israel had been planning to hit Hamas and its infrastructure only with air strikes, which the Israel Air Force can do from a comfortably safe distance, it wouldn't have called up 40,000 of its reserves last week. A country as small as Israel doesn't fight militants in a territory as tiny as Gaza with tens of thousands of soldiers unless they're planning to send them in the old-fashioned way, on foot and by tank.

This much-anticipated ground invasion began gradually on Sunday, when Israeli commandos entered the northern Gaza Strip and attacked a site apparently used for launching rockets. Later, with four soldiers lightly injured in an exchange of fire with Hamas gunmen, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) declared mission accomplished.

That particular mission, anyway. Sunday's minor foray of forces into the Gaza Strip looks certain to be the shape of things to come over the next week, with what is widely expected to be a rolling ground invasion aimed at the long-range rocket launchers in the hands of Hamas and other militant groups. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked tough following his weekly cabinet meeting Sunday and showed no interest in pursuing a cease-fire as the UN Security Council urged the two sides to do a day earlier – and neither did Hamas.

"We are striking Hamas with increasing strength. We are hitting commanders, militants, arsenals and command centers…but one must understand how our enemy operates. Who hides in mosques? Hamas. Who puts arsenals under hospitals? Hamas. Who puts command centers in residences or near kindergartens? Hamas. Hamas is using the residents of Gaza as human shields and it is bringing disaster to the civilians of Gaza; therefore, for any attack on Gaza civilians, which we regret, Hamas and its partners bear sole responsibility," Netanyahu said.

He added that the goal of the campaign, which Israel launched last Tuesday and named Operation Protective Edge, is "long-lasting quiet with a significant damage to Hamas and other terror organizations in Gaza Strip." He seemed to be preparing Israel's citizens, who have been scrambling into bomb shelters as Hamas has demonstrated an ability to fire off more rockets simultaneously than ever before, and most importantly, with a far longer range: rockets were fired at Haifa for the second time Sunday.

"We don't know when it will be over," Netanyahu said. "It might take a long time."

"A long time" in Israeli-Palestinian terms might be three weeks. That's about the length of the last little war that included a ground invasion, Operation Cast Lead, which ended in Jan. 2009. By the time the two sides reached a ceasefire, 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were dead. In 2012, there was a repeat of intense Israel-Hamas hostilities that lasted just over a week, dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense.

Sound annoyingly repetitive? It is for Israelis and Palestinians as well. The fact that tensions periodically escalate into these deadly mini-wars are what seems to be driving some in the Israeli security establishment to argue that rather than go into Gaza briefly and "mow the lawn" again, they need to "rip up the weeds"—or perhaps get out the bulldozers—to borrow from the language being bandied about on talk shows and in op-eds. But Brig. Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom, a former director of the Strategic Planning Division of the IDF, says he can't see a positive upshot to an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

"I am not so sure that there are good objectives to such an operation," Brom told TIME. To really hit at Hamas, he said, Israel would need to carry out a wide-scale operation taking control of large parts of the Gaza Strip. That would be costly, both financially and in terms of “collateral damage — civilian casualties,” he said. "And then it will mean also that we will have to continue to be in this area for at least several months, to look for the Hamas operatives, and that also may mull us into a complete re-occupation of the Gaza Strip.”

In other words, the quick cease-fire solution that makes so much sense virtually everywhere else in the world sounds to some Israelis like a recipe for endless rounds of lethal tit-for-tat. Unlike some of the hawks in his cabinet, however, Netanyahu tends to be cautious, Brom says, and is well aware that support for his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, dropped precipitously – both locally and internationally – after the war with Hizbollah in 2006 as well as Cast Lead in 2009.

Meanwhile, the IDF gave residents of the northern Gaza Strip, from where most of the rockets are launched, until midday Sunday to leave the area, causing thousands to flee south. The IDF told reporters in briefings that with most civilians out of the area, they could carry out an intensive campaign against Hamas infrastructure. Hamas has been ordering civilians to return to their homes, telling them to ignore the IDF's orders, according to an Israel Radio report. Even so, about 4,000 Palestinians left their homes in the north of the strip and are taking shelter in schools run by UNRWA, a United Nations agency. With a cease-fire nowhere in sight, the death toll in Gaza keeps rising – according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, on Sunday it hit 166.

Behold the Supermoon: Photos from Around the World

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 08:30 AM PDT

Bizarre Religious Group Flies Swastika Over New York City

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 08:26 AM PDT

A religious group that claims to have invented human cloning and believes scientists from another planet created life on Earth thousands of years ago has tried to “rehabilitate” the swastika with a stunt that has caused outrage in New York City communities.

The International Raelian Movement says it flew large swastika banners over New York, Miami and other cities on Saturday to close out a week-long, worldwide event dedicated to “reeducat[ing] about the truth” of the symbol’s peaceful association before it was used by the Nazis in the 1930s and ’40s.

"I was dumbfounded by it,” Loren Azimov told Brooklyn neighborhood blog, Sheepshead Bites. “My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and everyone [in Brighton Beach] knows someone whose family was affected by the Holocaust. The timing could not be worse with everything going on in Israel and Palestine.”

Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents some of the neighborhoods over which the plane flew, told the blog that he asked the police department to investigate the incident and has contacted the mayor’s office.

"It is absolutely disgusting and an egregious act of hate and intolerance,” said Treyger, who is the grandson of survivors of the Holocaust. “Whatever this hate group is, it's an unacceptable act.”

Joe Lhota, the Republican mayoral candidate for New York City in 2013, tweeted about the incident:

The International Raelian Movement has called it an act of religious freedom.

[Sheepshead Bites]

Australian Swimmer Ian Thorpe Comes Out as Gay

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 07:38 AM PDT

Australian swimmer and five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe announced he was gay this weekend after years of denials, in a tell-interview that aired in Australia Sunday night.

“I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man,” he told British interviewer Michael Parkinson on Australia’s Channel Ten, the ABC reports. “And I don’t want young people to feel the same way that I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.”

Thorpe, whose swimming success earned him the nickname “the Thorpedo,” had earlier denied being gay in his 2012 autobiography. “For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight,” he wrote.

Thorpe now says he had wanted to come out for a long time but “didn’t have the strength,” and was concerned about reactions from friends and family, who were surprised by his news but have been very supportive.

“I’m not straight, and this is only something that very recently — we’re talking in the past two weeks — I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that,” Thorpe said.

Thorpe said keeping his sexuality a secret contributed to the depression he battled, sometimes by abusing alcohol, since he was a teenager. He said he decided to come out because “the lie had become so big” and he “didn’t want people to question my integrity.”

“A part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay,” Thorpe said, The Guardian reports. “I am telling not only Australia, I’m telling the world that I am and I hope this makes it easier for others now.”

Report: Pope Francis Raises Idea of ‘Solutions’ to Clergy Celibacy

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 07:08 AM PDT

Pope Francis reportedly called the Catholic Church’s requirement that its clergy remain celibate a “problem” for which “there are solutions,” during a controversial interview with an Italian newspaper.

The Pope also allegedly said that one in 50 members of the clergy are pedophiles and that the Church’s sex abuse scandal is “a leprosy in our house.”

“The 2 percent of pedophiles are priests, and even bishops and cardinals,” the Pope reportedly said, according to a CBS News translation of an interview in La Repubblica. “And others, even more numerous, know about it but keep quiet. They punish without saying the reason why. I find this state of things untenable and it is my intention to confront it with the severity it requires.”

The Pope spoke with well-known atheist Eugenio Scalfari, the 90-year-old founder of La Repubblica, who relied on memory and did not record or take notes during their multiple conversations.

In response, the Vatican commended Scalfari for bringing out “the sense and spirit of the conversation” but noted that the interview was not a proper or accurate transcript and wondered if the article’s format was “forgetfulness or [an] explicit recognition that a manipulation is taking place for the more naive readers.”

[CBS News]

Texas Teen Who Survived Family Shooting Quotes Harry Potter at Memorial

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 06:39 AM PDT

Cassidy Stay, the 15-year-old who survived a shooting rampage that killed her parents and four siblings in the Houston area on Wednesday, said this weekend that her family is “in a much better place” and that she’ll “be able to see them again one day.”

"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light," said Stay, quoting a line from the Harry Potter series, at a Saturday “celebration of life” that drew more than 400 people, NBC News reports.

Stay’s family members were shot execution-style, allegedly by Ronald Lee Haskell, the former husband of Stay’s aunt. Stay played dead when she was injured by a bullet, but afterwards she was able to identify the shooter to police and warn that he might head to her grandparents’ home.

"We continue to be in awe of how she was able to save us," Roger Lyon, Stay’s maternal grandfather, said at the event. “Without her courage and quick thinking, we might be mourning the death of 20 … people today.”

Police have not said what specifically triggered the attack, but authorities have said it was related to a domestic dispute. Haskell has been charged with capital murder.




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