Saturday, March 30, 2013

Random Friday video:Metal Gear Solid 5 The Phantom Pain Official Trailer

MSNBC's Maddow: Fox News Is "Worried Enough" About Gun Safety Ad To "Lie" To Its Audience

From Media Matters For America:
From the March 28 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:

GOP minority outreach derails by congressman racial slur

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Sharpton: right wing orgs should be ashamed

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North Carolina governor’s latest moves alienate Latino and LGBT communities

By Arturo Garcia/Raw Story
Members of both the LGBT and Latino communities in North Carolina were taken aback by recent decisions by Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) that are seemingly hostile to them.
McClatchy Newspapers reported on Friday that McCrory shuttered the state office for Latino affairs, saying through a spokesperson that his administration would rely on an advisory council to handle issues related to the state’s Latino population.
“We are committed to serving the needs of all of North Carolina’s citizens,” spokesperson Thomas Stith said. “We don’t segment our constituents by race or cultural background any more than we separate them by age or gender.”
McCrory shuttering the office comes on the heels of his recent attempt to brand drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants with a pink stripe and the phrase “NO LEGAL STATUS,” which immigration advocates took as a sign McCrory wanted to perpetuate a stigma against immigrants, even those participating in the government’s Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, which grants qualified immigrants two-year work visas.
Latino advocates pointed out that McCrory closed the office at a time when the Republican party has expressed more interest in reaching out to Latino communities.
“To close the office of Hispanic affairs only goes to confirm what many people suspect in our state,” said Jess George, executive director of the Charlotte-based Latin American Coalition.“Which is that, despite movement with the Republican Party at the national level towards more bipartisan solutions around comprehensive immigration reform, North Carolina conservatives don’t seem to have gotten the same memo.”
According to The Huffington Post, McCrory also nominated attorney A. L. “Buddy” Collins, who has a record of opposing legislation that would protect LGBT students from bullying, to the state board of education. Collins is currently a member of the board of education for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
“Buddy Collins has always been a retrograde voice, inimical to the interests of youth, on the school board,” said Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
In February 2002, Collins opposed efforts by GLSEN to have sexual orientation be covered under the county board’s non-discrimination policy.
“I think it has everything to do with whether people who are gay and lesbian have some sort of special right that everybody else doesn’t,” Collins said at the time. “This request could have been made by people with overweight children or kids with glasses or any other thing that children pick on other children for.”
In an April 2002 column for the Winston-Salem Journal, the Post reported, Collins also accused GLSEN of using public schools “as a place to seek acceptance of its sexual practices” and of using public workshops to expose children to “dangerous homosexual sex acts.”
Collins must still be approved by the state’s Republican-dominated General Assembly.

Dana Loesch shouts at Piers Morgan: A spoon ‘can be qualified as an assault weapon!

By David Edwards/Raw Story
Conservative radio host Dana Loesch on Thursday argued that classifying certain guns as assault rifles was silly because “if you stab someone with a spoon it can be qualified as an assault weapon.”
Following Thursday’s revelations that Newtown shooter Adam Lanza had fired over 150 rounds with an AR-15 in less than five minutes, Loesch appeared on CNN to argue that it was a “false premise” that Lanza had used an assault weapon.
“We are talking about semi-automatic weapons,” the former Breitbart editor explained. “I do not own a military-style assault weapon. Just because, what, a firearm looks scary then you call it military assault? Do you realize that one of my children has a BB gun that looks like an AR-15? Is that going to be considered a military-style assault weapon? It sounds silly and uneducated.”
CNN host Piers Morgan noted that Lanza had “in the space of 300 seconds using an AR-15, killed 26 people. He had magazines with 30 bullets.”
“Anyone can reload!” Loesch shouted.
“Are you telling me that doesn’t qualify as an assault weapon?” Morgan asked.
“By the technical definition, no, Piers,” Loesch shot back. “Oh, anything can be qualified as an assault weapon. If you stab someone with a spoon, it can be qualified as an assault weapon.”
“So you’re equating stabbing someone with a spoon with shooting dead 26 people?” Morgan wondered.
Liberal CNN contributor Van Jones said that Loesch’s argument was part of the “conscious strategy on the part of the pro-gun folks to constantly bring things back around to things that don’t make any sense.”
“You’re talking about people stabbing people with spoons,” Jones observed. “If that were the problem that we had in America — stabbing people with spoons — we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. What we’re talking about is funeral after funeral after funeral. What we’re talking about is children being gunned down. And what we’re talking about is common-sense measures, not confiscating guns.”
Watch this video from CNN, broadcast March 28, 2013.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Libertarians name North Dakota “most free” state

BY /Salon
The Mercatus Center, a libertarian-oriented — and Koch brothers-affiliated — think tank based out of George Mason University (a public university, for whatever that’s worth), regularly releases its ranking of American states in terms of “Freedom.” Their definition of “freedom” largely adheres to the standard American libertarian conception of “liberty,” which is to say it is oriented almost entirely around private property ownership and low taxation. As a result,America’s freest state this year turns out to be North Dakota.
North Dakota has also been in the news for another reason recently. What was it, again? Oh, right, it passed the most restrictive antiabortion laws in the country. Including a law specifically aimed at shutting down the state’s lone abortion provider. It passed this law knowing it was unconstitutional.
The data Mercatus used, as far as I can tell, are largely from 2011. But these laws wouldn’t do a thing to change’s North Dakota’s ranking, because Mercatus doesn’t take reproductive rights into account at all. In fact, no issues specifically related to women’s rights are taken into account. Same-sex marriage is included, but not housing employment anti-discrimination rules. They do weigh “‘smoker protection’ in employment,” though. (I think they are in favor of laws barring companies from firing smokers. Isn’t that the government interfering with the employer’s Freedoms?) There is also a list ranking the states in terms of friendliness to Bachelor Parties.
[UPDATE: Mercatus opposes "smoker protection laws" and a state's rank fell if it had them. I apologize for getting that wrong, and assuming the Institute had an inconsistent position. Thank you to Radley Balko, whose work I've always sincerely admired, for correcting me and then calling me a hack.
I'd still note that in the report's scoring system, "Tobacco Freedom," which is mainly about smoking bans and cigarette taxes, makes up 4.1 percent of a state's "freedom ranking." "Marriage Freedom" is 2.1 percent. Freedom from "Asset Forfeiture" -- a frequently abusedpolice outgrowth of the drug war -- is 0.1 percent, which would seem to indicate that it's included mainly to say that it was included.]
“Economic freedom” is of course their most important freedom, and so it is weighted the heaviest, with fiscal and regulatory matters making up a bit more than two-thirds of each state’s score. Which is how their No. 1 freest state is ranked 39th on the “Civil Liberties” list. Though that list is fairly useless, as their definition of “civil liberties” is “unrelated policies, such as fireworks laws, prostitution laws, and trans-fat bans.” On the list taking into account “incarceration rates, non-drug crime arrests, and drug enforcement,” Freest State North Dakota is at 24. (Second-freest state South Dakota is 48.) And Arizona has climbed to No. 11 on the overall list, because at no point are the rights of immigrants or people whom the police may suspect are immigrants taken into account.
Also fun is their “Right to Work” list, where every single state is either tied for first or tied for last. (It should be noted that many libertarians think there’s nothing particularly libertarian about Right to Work laws, which are strictly pro-business, not pro-”market.”)
And they made a cartoon.
So this is how the Mercatus Center defines freedom: the right of people with money to keep it all, and for everyone else to fuck off. Almost any Liberty issue that wouldn’t concern a straight, white, male capitalist is wholly ignored.
The Mercatus Center, coincidentally, is run in large part with money from Koch Industries. Charles Koch sits on its board, along with another high-ranking Koch Industries executive. Mercatus is effectively the in-house think tank for the Kochs, providing reports and research that support the ideological aims of the notorious brothers, and their ideological aims usually also support the long-term goal of the Kochs to make as much money for themselves as possible without anyone telling them to “pollute a bit less” or “pay taxes.”
Looking at the list, it’s clear that most Americans have “voted with their feet” and chosen to live primarily in our least free states. Bottoming out the list are California, the second-least free and most populous state, and New York, third in population and dead last in liberty.
I called North Dakota a “fucking shithole” on Twitter earlier, which was unfair of me, because while it is unreasonably, inhospitably freezing cold in much of the state for much of the year (and I say this as someone who grew up one state away) it is, on the whole, a reasonably pretty part of the country full of decent people (unless you are openly gay or transgendered or in need of an abortion obviously). I can more easily figure out why people, indigenous and immigrant, settled there than, say, Phoenix. But there is a reason that fewer people live in all of North Dakota than in Detroit, and there is a reason why the population of North Dakota slowly declined from the 1920s through the end of the 20th century: Not that many people want to live there. People are moving there now because of a natural resources boom (and those always last forever andalways create permanent, stable communities, right?) not because North Dakota suddenly became a much nicer place to live, on account of freedom.
New York and California, though, are both super-nice, even though we confiscate more money than North Dakota, and spend it on things like mass transportation (freedom from having to own cars!) and helping people without means get food and healthcare (freedom from dying!). Koch industries co-owner David Koch, for the record, lives in New York City. Though I imagine he and his brother will soon pack up and relocate to sunny, free Grand Forks.
It is a very obvious observation but it is still the case that Americans — and people everywhere else — have generally decided that they don’t mind a bit of taxation in exchange for a more humane and fairer society. This Mercatus Study, with its limited, self-serving definition of “freedom,” is like a mean-spirited parody of the sort of “libertarianism” that’s just a front for the interests of the wealthy and powerful.

Oklahoma Latest Republican State To Push Tax Cuts For The Rich

By Travis Waldron/Think Progress
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is the latest Republican governor pushing for cuts to the state income tax, and like the plans from other states, Fallin’s would give most of its benefits to the state’s wealthiest residents. The proposal isgaining steam in the state legislature, where it has passed the House and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.
Fallin’s plan reduces the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, and while it is modest compared to tax cuts other Republican states are pursuing, it would still cost the state roughly $100 million a year. And according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, more than 40 percent of its tax cuts would go to the state’s richest 5 percent of residents while the bottom 60 percent would see just 9 percent of the benefits. The poorest fifth of Oklahoma residents would see no tax cut at all:
Oklahoma’s tax code is already skewed toward the wealthy: the poorest Oklahomans pay an average of 10.3 percent of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest 1 percent pay just 4.6 percent of theirs, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. And while Fallin is cutting taxes and reducing state revenues, Oklahoma will spend less this fiscal year on education than it did last year and is still spending 10.7 percent less on higher education than it did before the recession.
Republican governors across the country are pitching tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, and like Fallin, they sell them as a way to boost their economies. A recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, however, found that after a similar round of tax cuts in the 1990s, states that cut taxes saw slower economic and job growth than states that did not. (HT Citizens for Tax Justice)

Without Medicaid Expansion, Poor Americans In The South Are Less Likely To Get Medical Care

By Tara Culp-Ressler/Think Progress
Low-income Americans in the South, where states impose some of the nation’s most restrictive Medicaid eligibility requirements, are being forced to put off the medical care they need because they can’t afford it. According to a new study from the New England Journal of Medicine, the American adults who don’t qualify for Medicaid assistance in their states are simply forgoing care — an issue that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which seeks to extend public health insurance to the low-income people who can’t currently qualify for it, can help address.
Obamacare’s expansion seeks to standardize Medicaid eligibility levels throughout the country, since there’s currently a huge range of different Medicaid eligibility rates across different states. Some states define Medicaid eligibility so narrowly that families of three making just $5,000 per year aren’t considered poor enough to access public health insurance. Researchers used county-level data to confirm — predictably — that the low-income people in those states are less likely to get medical care. The problem was the worst in Florida and Texas, which have the greatest prevalence of residents delaying their health care services:
As the map shows, the county-level prevalence of delayed care has huge ranges across the country. Just 6.5 percent of the people in Norfolk, MA, are putting off their medical treatment, compared to a staggering 40.6 percent of the people who live in Hidalgo, TX.
Those numbers are directly related to whether states are defining their Medicaid pools by Obamacare’s expanded definition, and allowing people with annual incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line to access coverage. In states that have set their Medicaid eligibility levels at or above 133 percent of the federal poverty line, fewer people are delaying care. If every state accepted the health law’s expansion of the program, each Medicaid program would be set at that level, and the map above wouldn’t have nearly as much variation.

Unfortunately, Florida and Texas residents may not see their situations improve because the stubborn lawmakers in their states are blocking Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is one of the handful of GOP governors who continues to maintain his politicized opposition to cooperating with health reform, even at the expense of his uninsured constituents. And even though Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) conceded that expanding Medicaid under Obamacare was the right thing to do, his Republican colleagues in the state legislatureblocked his expansion proposal.

GOP Congressman Refuses To Apologize For Calling Latinos ‘Wetbacks’

By Annie-Rose Strasser/Think Progress
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) on Thursday night stood by his use of a racial slur to describe Latinos, saying that he “meant no disrespect” when he told an Alaska radio interviewer, “We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes”:
“During a sit down interview with Ketchikan Public Radio this week, I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California,” Young said in the statement. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”
As the Alaska Daily News notes, Young “stopped short of apologizing.”
Listen to the interview:
The term “wetbacks” is meant to refer to undocumented immigrants who crossed from Mexico into the United States via the Rio Grande river. And the president of the Hispanic Affairs Council of Alaska, Alaska Daily News that she feels his cavalier use of the term points to bigger problems. “He didn’t even pause. It’s like that’s just what he calls migrant farm workers,” she said.
When it comes to immigration issues, Young’s focus is largely on preventing illegal border crossings. He has also voted to end birthright citizenship.
Young’s comments come just days after the Republican National Committee released its “autopsy” of the 2012 election, in which it said the party must work hard to be more inclusive of people of color. Such outreach has had little success so far, and the GOP is still plagued by racial inhospitality.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is condemning Young, according to Fox News’ Chad Pergram:

By Friday afternoon, Young had issued a full apology:
“I apologize for the insensitive term I used during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska. There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend; it was a poor choice of words. That word, and the negative attitudes that come with it, should be left in the 20th century, and I’m sorry that this has shifted our focus away from comprehensive immigration reform.”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dick Morris Says He Is Working On An RNC Ad Aimed At Latinos

JOE STRUPP/Media Matters For America

Dick Morris is working with Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus on a new television advertisement that will include Preibus seeking to attract Latino voters, Morris revealed during an appearance in New York City Thursday.
Speaking at the Poli Conference, a political consulting event for Latin American campaign professionals, Morris said the ad will feature Priebus reaching out to "those Latin Americans who've come to the United States to help us build our country, to help harvest our food, to help make our economy work and [Priebus'] message is 'welcome, we need you, you're making our country younger, more prosperous, harder working and we need you for the future.'"
According to Morris, the ad will make use of "that concept of reflecting back to people their own value and their own worth. In the advertisement he [Priebus] says, 'we honor our ancestors who took covered wagons to settle the west and brave the Indians, but you are the new pioneers, you are the new people in America doing that.' And I think that is a very, very interesting thing to do in a campaign."
Republican Party Spokesman Ryan Mahoney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ad. Asked about when it might run or where, Morris declined to offer more details.
Morris' work with the Republican National Committee is noteworthy given the implosion of Morris' stature and credibility following the 2012 election and his now infamous prediction of a "landslide" victory for Republican Mitt Romney. After the election Morris was effectively banned from appearing on Fox News, where he worked as an on-air contributor until the network declined to renew his contract in early February. Morris also brings with him a host of ethics problems -- Morris' group Super PAC for America reportedly spent significant amounts of money renting Morris' own email list in the months before the election, allowing him to simply pocket money raised by the group.
In response to another question, from Media Matters, about the negative impact on Latino voters from conservative media who oppose immigration reform, Morris agreed it hurts the party.
"I think that many of them do and they do hurt, but I think that they are increasingly having to backtrack because they see the changes in their own constituency," Morris said of conservative media voices. "So what they're saying now is, not 'I'm against immigration reform,' they're saying 'I'm for it. I just want a higher wall.' You know, at the border. And Latinos in the U.S. don't really care how high the wall is, they just want the people who are here not to be deported."
He also noted that he sees a major Republican shift on the issue that is affecting the conservative media.
"There has been a total transformation in the Republican Party in the United States since the Obama re-election," he said. "The Republicans, including me, were confident that Romney would win and then we did not win, we looked at the demographics of the electorate with new eyes."
He said many Republicans wrongly assumed voter turnout among Latinos and other minorities would not be as high as it was.
"In the last three months, I've never seen a change in any political party in the United States as dramatic as the change in the Republican Party away from immigration toward immigration reform," Morris said. "And even among the conservative right-wing base, they believe in immigration reform. I believe immigration reform is going to pass in the United States."
Morris made the comments after an hour-long talk about political consulting and campaigns in foreign countries, during which he stressed the overriding importance of polling in elections: "You have got to make sure through your polling that the message is going to work."
He also told the audience that negative campaigning may be on the way out: "It is working less and less because people have seen more and more of it. You have to be very careful in the way that you use it. There is always a dynamic in the election that negative advertising relates to."

Sharpton files lawsuit against Emergency Manger law

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Kansas bill calls for HIV positive people to be quarantined

BY JOE MORGAN/GayStarNews(yeah that's a actual news source)
A proposed bill in Kansas is calling for people with HIV or AIDS to be quarantined.
Lawmakers are close to passing a new law discriminating against those who have HIV or AIDS, forcing them to be isolated or have their movements restricted.
Kansas House Bill 2183, which has passed in the Kansas Senate, will update the state’s public health statute by allowing quarantine of Kansans with ‘infectious diseases.’
Senator Marci Francisco attempted to restore an amendment providing an exclusion for people living with HIV/AIDS, saying the disease is not spread through casual contact and the bill could permit discrimination.
Cody Patton, Executive Director of sexual health charity Positive Directions, said: ‘We live in a very conservative state and I’m afraid there are still many people, especially in rural Kansas, that have inadequate education and understanding concerning HIV/AIDS.
‘My fear would not be the state uses the law as some way to move all people living with HIV/AIDS into an isolated community, but that this law could allow some county employee to use this law to justify their religious beliefs over their professional responsibilities and discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS.’
The law was originally intended to remove the need for a firefighter or a paramedic who would have to get the necessary court order to get a victim’s blood tested for infectious diseases if they had become exposed to it.
In 1988, Kansas banned quarantining those with AIDS. If the law is passed, many are fearing health officials will begin intimidating those with HIV or AIDS with the threat they could be isolated from the general population.
Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said by including HIV and AIDS in this updated law, Kansas legislators are harkening back to the ‘earliest, darkest days’ of the AIDS epidemic.
He said: ‘At best, it is short-sighted of Kansas legislators to reject Senator Francisco’s amendment. It either shows how little they understand about HIV and how it is transmitted – it is not spread through casual contact such as TB or other airborne communicable diseases – or it shows that they want the ability to quarantine people, and/or discriminate against them in other ways as they see fit.
‘For the senators, either choice shows a real lack of understanding about public health and safety—one of the most basic services that is government’s role to ensure.’
Lawmakers in both the House and Senate are currently working to get this law passed, meaning it will likely be voted on and passed in the next few weeks.

Republican official: Facebook post about ‘filthy’ homosexuals was ‘worth sharing’

By David Edwards/Raw Story

A Michigan committeeman with the Republican Party says that he posted an article on Facebook about the “filthy lifestyle” of LGBT people because it was “worth sharing.”
Slate’s Dave Weigel on Wednesday reported that Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema had used his Facebook page to promote an article by Dr. Frank Joseph titled “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuals.”
Joseph warns parents that children are “being indoctrinated that homosexuality is just another normal alternative lifestyle.”
Included in his so-called “statistics,” are claims that “homosexual sexual encounters occur while drunk, high on drugs, or in an orgy setting,… Homosexuals account for half the murders in large cities” and “50% of suicides can be attributed to homosexuals.”
“Part of the homosexual agenda is to get the public to affirm their filthy lifestyle,” Joseph writes. “Homosexuals aren’t discriminated against in employment, so why should they be a protected class?”
Grand Traverse County Republican precinct delegate Dennis Lennox and 20 other Michigan Republicans called for Agema resign in a statement on Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“This isn’t about what we believe either politically or as women and men of faith,” the group said. “This is about common decency and realizing that you cannot win an election by insulting a wide swath of the electorate, whose votes our Republican Party needs to once again form a national majority.”
In an email to the Free Press on Thursday, Agema accused “liberal Republicans” of casting Joseph’s words as his own.
“I think it was a piece worth sharing given the debate over gay marriage that is happening in the Supreme Court,” Agema insisted.
“I strongly maintain my position in support of marriage between a man and a woman and I will not back down from my core beliefs in support of strengthening the family,” he added.
Zack Pohl, executive director of the liberal group Progress Michigan, released a statement calling Agema “a prime example of a politician sorely out of touch with reality.”
“Nobody should have to endure hatred or discrimination based on their sexual orientiaton,” Pohl said.
According to the Republican National Committee website, “Agema was elected as the National Committeeman from Michigan in May 2012. He has served as a State Representative in the 74th District of Michigan since 2007 and will serve until the end of 2012.”
“He is the President of Sabath House Ministries, a faith-based literacy organization, and a member of the NRA, and the Allied Pilots Association.”

What The Newly Released Newtown Massacre Documents Tell Us About Adam Lanza

By Zack Beauchamp/Think Progress
Thursday morning, local police released previously embargoed police records about the Newtown, Connecticut shooter, Adam Lanza. The records disclosed that, in five minutes, Lanza was able to fire 155 shots, partly as a consequence of the numerous 30 round high-capacity magazines he was carrying.
Most of the released documents were search warrants for Lanza’s car and home, which he shared with his gun-collecting mother (the weapons used at Newtown were taken from his mother’s stockpile). Put together, the findings in these warrants paint a disturbing picture of the arsenal available to Lanza:
– 1 NRA certificate for Adam Lanza and 1 NRA training book. Police investigators found a National Rifle Association certificate in Adam Lanza’s name, though the nature of the certificate was unspecified. Police also found a book titled “NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting,” a book that’s commonly given out as part of NRA pistol training courses. Graduates of these courses are given certificates.
– 3 new guns. In addition the newly-identified shotgun in his parked car outside (it was a Saiga 12), a search of the Lanza home found an Enfield Albian bolt action rifle and a Savage Mark II .22 rifle. The latter contained live ammunition.
– 4 high capacity magazines, 2 of which were brought loaded to the crime scene. There were two high-capacity shotgun shell magazines for his shotgun at the crime scene, containing a combined 70 extra rounds for the fortunately-unused shotgun. Police also found two 20-round magazines at the Lanza residence.
– Over 1700 rounds of ammunition. These covered a variety of different calibers and gun types, and would have stocked 170 standard 10-round magazines or 56 of the 30-round high capacity magazines Lanza used to such deadly effect in the school.
– 13 types of bladed weapons. The Lanzas didn’t just collect guns; they also had a variety of knives, samurai swords, and one “six foot ten inch wood handled two sided pole with a blade on one side and a spear on the other.”
Though public outcry after the Newtown shooting generated more political momentum for effective gun law regulations than any other time in the past decade, the political effort is in danger of stalling out in the Senate.
The NRA released a statement in response to the findings denying that either Adam Lanza or his mother Nancy were members: “There is no record of a member relationship between Newtown killer Adam Lanza, nor between Nancy Lanza, A. Lanza or N. Lanza with the National Rifle Association. Reporting to the contrary is reckless, false and defamatory.” Individuals who enroll in an NRA Basic Pistol Training are not required to be NRA members in all cases.

Men With Loaded Rifles Intimidate Moms Gathered At Gun Safety Rally

By Igor Volsky/Think Progress
Several men with assault rifles and hand guns crashed a Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns National Day to Demand Action event in Indianapolis, Indiana on Thursday and stood silently as the state chapter of Moms Demand Action held a rally in favor of limiting the availability of military style weapons and universal background checks.
At least two or three men showed up at the rally site before the event began and engaged in a discussion about gun regulations with the group, two participants in the action told ThinkProgress. The armed men — who were later joined by another man carrying a hand gun and a woman who runs Indiana Moms Against Gun Control — insisted that they had a right to carry the loaded weapons:
Watch local news coverage of the event:
A member of Moms Demand Action said that she felt unsettled by their presence and said that the organizers would have to think twice before holding another event, particularly one where children could be present.
Members of Moms Demand Action also attended an event at the White House today, during which President Obama called on Congress to pass sensible gun regulations and urged the nation to remember the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Republican Congressman Attacks Sasha And Malia Obama

By Scott Keyes/Think Progress

This week, Breitbart News broke a long-standing security protocol and published a story detailing the precise location where President Obama’s daughters are vacationing this week. On Wednesday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) used the report to attack the First Daughters for taking a vacation.
King’s comments came during an appearance on Mickelson in the Morning, an Iowa-based radio show. A caller, Carla, brought up sequestration and proceeded to criticize the Michelle Obama and her daughters for taking a vacation in the Bahamas. King agreed — “Carla, you’re on point and on the mark all the way through” — before criticizing them for also taking a vacation last year in Mexico. “That was at our expense, too,” King bemoaned.
CALLER: When I see the First Lady and the beautiful girls going off to the Bahamas waving goodbye to us, it’s really hard to stomach. When we’re tightening our belts, either all of us should do it or none of us should do it. This, I am pretty tolerant, I always have been, I usually shut my mouth. This is not acceptable.
KING: Carla, you’re on point and on the mark all the way through. […] You’re right on the president. He needs to show some austerity himself. Instead he wanted to tell America how bad it was going to be. […] We’ve got the president doing these things. He sent the daughters to spring break in Mexico a year ago. That was at our expense, too. And now to the Bahamas at one of the most expensive places there. That is the wrong image to be coming out of the White House.
Listen to it:
This notion that the Obamas are living a life of excess is beginning to take hold among conservative members of Congress. At the CPAC conference earlier this month, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) smeared Obama for enjoying “the perks and the excess of the $1.4 billion presidency,” a charge that “fail[s] on the facts in simple fairness,” according to CNN.
King is strongly considering running for Iowa’s open Senate seat in 2014. His potential candidacy is already causing consternation among establishment Republicans who worry that he will be a Todd Akin-redux, appealing only to far-right conservatives and turning off everyone else.