Selma anniversary resonates in shadow of Ferguson

UPDATE: 4.30PM ET SAT – President Obama delivered a remarkable speech – one that some observers said the best of his Presidency – at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Saturday afternoon. It was, one commentator said, a love letter to America and to the next generation.

(The Daily Conversation)

 

MIDNIGHT FRI:

selmaanniversary(image: Spider Martin – Two Minute Warning) NPR: Photographer Helped Expose Brutality of Selma’s Bloody Sunday 

Saturday sees the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police viciously attacked protest marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

selma50(image: Selma50)

In the New York Times, Gay Talese returns to the scene he covered as a reporter in 1965 and writes how the town still “defies neat storylines.”

CBS’s Bill Plante was also there that day, and, fifty years later, spoke to other witnesses to this “watershed moment in the civil rights movement.” NBC talks with the day’s youngest marcher.

One of the leaders of the march, Georgia Congressman John Lewis told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell recently: “We were prepared to die for what we believed in.”

MSNBC looks at how events that day changed America forever, while the Washington Post considers how far the nation has still to go, particularly in the wake of this week’s Justice Department report into racial discrimination in Ferguson, Missouri.

Politico hosts a discussion on race and justice in the millennial age, and asks: is Ferguson the new Selma?

The events of Bloody Sunday proved to be a catalyst for the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but as Aamer Madhani writes in USA Today: “in moves that activists call sweeping erosions of voting rights that disproportionately affect minority communities, several states have passed more stringent voter ID rules after the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a key provision of the landmark legislation that was birthed with the blood and sweat of the Selma protesters.”

In Echoes of Selma at CNN John Blake looks at whether Martin Luther King’s greatest victory is being undone.

President Obama will travel to Alabama to mark the anniversary, where he is expected to lay out what he sees as the next steps in Americans’ fight for equality. Civil rights is an “unfinished project” the President said on Friday. Don Gonyea at NPR writes:

It’s the kind of moment rich with history — a moment to reflect on a searing date in the civil rights struggle, and to do so with the nation’s first African-American president taking center stage at the memorial ceremonies. It’s a time and place to reflect on where we have been and where we have come as a nation. But also to ponder the future for Barack Obama and whether the discussion of race and inequality will become major themes of his post-presidency, which begins in less than two years.

Senior Republican politicians had drawn criticism by plans to skip the event, before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a friend of Rep Lewis, said he would attend.

And, finally;

UN to vote as Syria fighting worsens

Fighting is escalating in the Syrian city of Aleppo, with more deadly attacks on both sides,  even as there seem to be fresh moves towards peace talks in a conflict that has claimed more than 200,000 lives – half of them civilians.

The UN is set to vote on Friday on a US resolution over the alleged use of toxic chemicals.

Meanwhile, the jihadist al-Nusra Front group – one of the most powerful groups fighting to overthrow President Bashir al-Assad  – was killed in an air strike along with three other leaders, the group said on social media. The group was thought to be involved in an attack on the Syrian Air Force Intelligence Headquarters in Aleppo.

AFPSyria(image: AFP)

The Russian government said it would host talks between the Assad regime and opposition groups in April. A UN envoy is also attempting to broker a humanitarian pause in fighting to allow for urgent relief to the city, despite such a plan having been already rejected in principle by the rebels.

Dominique Soguel at the Christian Science Monitor looks at what’s at stake and what might happen next.

***

* WORLD * ISIS forces set fire to oil wells in an effort to slow the assault on the Iraqi city of Tikrit and to hide from military helicopters, Reuters reports. The operation to retake the city is entering its fifth day, and so far is thought to have displaced around 30,000 people.

The second day of the Boston marathon bombing trial heard some heartrending,  emotional testimony from victims. The Boston Globe reports:

Jane Richard lost her left leg in the blast and had numerous pieces of shrapnel removed. Denise Richard suffered head injuries and lost sight in one eye. Henry Richard suffered cuts, scrapes, and temporary hearing loss. Bill Richard had a piece of metal lodged in his leg and suffered hearing loss after his two eardrums were perforated.

“But I can still hear you, I can still hear music, I can still hear the beautiful voices of my family,” he said.

The trial is expected to last anything up to four months. Full coverage of the proceedings from the Globe is here.

A freight train carrying oil derailed and partially caught fire in rural Illinois. The Chicago Tribune reports:

The derailment comes amid increased public concern about the safety of shipping crude by train. Since 2008, derailments of oil trains in the U.S. and Canada have seen 70,000-gallon tank cars break open and ignite on multiple occasions, resulting in huge fires. A train carrying Bakken-formation crude from North Dakota crashed in a Quebec town in 2013, killing 47 people.

Severe weather again battered several US states from the south, through the mid-Atlantic, to the northeast. It even snowed in Hawaii. Thousands of flights were cancelled, and New York’s LaGuardia airport was temporarily closed after a Delta flight from Atlanta skidded off the runway on landing. No-one was seriously injured.

amberreid:AP(image: passenger Amber Reid via AP / USAToday)

***

* POLITICS * With a State Department official saying the review of Hillary Clinton’s emails could take months, the controversy over her personal communications while Secretary of State doesn’t look like going away anytime soon.

Josh Gerstein writes at Politico that the private email account “violated ‘clear-cut’ State Dept rules,” while the Chicago Tribune says she has been “playing fast and loose with emails and democracy.” 

Fox News wonders “are we watching a cheap spy movie or a presidential campaign?”

The Washington Post has “six questions Hillary Clinton must answer.”

What we have now is a rather absurd situation, in which everyone’s trying to figure out how this all worked and what the implications are, but the one person who could answer most of the questions hasn’t yet given an interview about it. But eventually, she’ll have to.

On the GOP side, another-still-possibly-Presidential-candidate, Chris Christie, has raised the ire of officials in New Jersey after the state’s chief counsel agreed to settle – for “roughly three cents on the dollar” – a legal fight with Exxon Mobil over damages for environmental impact.  The Washington Post writes:

It’s one thing to be pro-business, the environment be damned. But it’s quite another to trade billions of dollars tomorrow for a tiny fraction of that today and still call yourself a fiscal conservative. This is the very definition of penny-wise, pound-foolish. But remember that Christie gets credit for those pennies today, whereas pounds forfeited tomorrow will be the next governor’s problem.

***

* BUSINESS * The February US jobs report is released on Friday morning. Here’s what to watch for. The Wall Street Journal reports that economists forecast employers added 240,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell to 5.6% from January’s 5.7%.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apparently has just one hiring rule.

As trademark infringement cases go, this one is pretty crunchy.

haulin   (image: Early Bird)

***

* MEDIA * The BBC was at the eye of a social media storm over “India’s Daughter” a documentary in its Storyville series, about a 2012 gang rape in New Delhi. An Indian court blocked the broadcast, and India said it would take action against the BBC for showing it in Britain.

Where does BuzzFeed source its content from? An analysis by Priceonomics has some clues, finding that “just 25 sources made up 62% of BuzzFeed’s content. While the Internet is a huge place, Internet Culture is birthed in just a few areas.”

A new report from the Tow Center at Columbia University looks at Who Retweets Whom? – How Digital and Legacy Journalists Interact on Twitter. Benjamin Mullin at Poynter breaks it down:

The big takeaway: Journalists at The New York Times were much more likely to retweet journalists at other traditional media organizations, and reporters from BuzzFeed were more likely to retweet journalists from other digital news organizations.

And, talking of sharing stories on Twitter, this one seems to have a pretty specific SEO signature.

The ONA’s Mobile conference in London happens tomorrow at Reuters. Here’s the line-up and you can follow using the hashtag #ONALondon.

In cable news, the Bill O’Reilly fabrication/exaggeration story rumbles on. Eric Alterman at The Nation writes on Why Nobody Seems to Mind That Bill O’Reilly is a Total Fraud.

Even Rachel Maddow on her show on Wednesday night said she had reached out for a Fox response. TPM Livewire writes:

Maddow noted that she had reached out to Fox News about the stories, but was given an interesting response: Information on Bill O’Reilly’s “great” ratings. Maddow burst out laughing. “Your ratings are great! I’ve seen your ratings shoot my ratings right in the head,” Maddow said. “Well, I’ve seen pictures of that, I should say.”

Erik Wemple in the Washington Post calls out the Fox host on “the importance of trust,” while Jeb Lund at Rolling Stone goes just a little bit further.

***

* SPORTS * Friday sees the kick off of MLS 20th season after the settlement of a collective bargaining agreement averted a possible players’ strike. But the deal isn’t to everyone’s liking. SI’s panel of experts look ahead with some predictions.

With Spring Training in full swing, even if you’re not a sports fan, or a baseball fan, this beautifully-turned ESPN article by Eli Saslow about the Blue Jays’ Daniel Norris,  “the most interesting pitcher in baseball” is definitely well worth your time. A flavor:

It unsettled him in those first months to see so many zeros on his bank account balance — “Who am I to deserve that?” he wondered. “What have I really done?” — so he hired financial advisers and asked them to stash the money in conservative investments where Norris wouldn’t have to think about it. His advisers deposit $800 a month into his checking account — or about half as much as he would earn working full time for minimum wage. It’s enough to live in a van, but just barely.

***

* CULTURE * Actor Harrison Ford was in hospital Thursday night after crash-landing his single-engine vintage plane on a golf course just after taking off from Santa Monica airport. His son said he was “battered” but OK, while his fellow celebrities took to Twitter to pass on good wishes.

Ringling Brothers said it would phase out performing elephants in its circus, with the last retiring in 2018.

It’s the end of another era in New York on Friday, as the last classical sheet music store in the city closes its doors.

“We went from seeing 15 to 20 people per day to seeing two or three,” [owner Heidi] Rogers said. “I went from feeling like I was at the center of the world to feeling invisible.” The store, on West 54th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, opened in 1937 and provided the city’s musicians scores from the standard— Bach, Beethoven —to the arcane. Ms. Rogers bought it in 1978.

Finally – finally – according to AdWeek, Pornhub is getting into wearable tech with the Wankband. Yes, the Wankband.

And they really are looking for beata testers. Here’s the pitch. Make of it what you will:

 

 

 

‘Searing’ report slams justice in Ferguson

A “searing” Justice Department civil rights report into the police and court system in Ferguson, Missouri found that the city “had engaged in so many constitutional violations that they could be corrected only by abandoning its entire approach to policing, retraining its employees and establishing new oversight,” according to the New York Times.

Here are some of the most shocking elements, via CNN.

AP:Guardian(image: AP/The GuardianReport details shocking set of racist emails sent by law enforcement)

Jamelle Bouie writes at Slate on Ferguson’s True Criminals:

In Ferguson, if you are black, you live in the shadow of lawlessness and plunder, directed by city officials and enforced by the police. You work, and you pay taxes, and those taxes go to fund a system that stops you, arrests you, and steals from you.

The Huffington Post reported that Attorney General Eric Holder said it was “time for Ferguson’s leaders to take immediate, wholesale and structural corrective action” to address the problems in the report. Whether the city continues to operate its own police department could now be in doubt.

Separately, the DOJ also said that it would not prosecute Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson police officer, for his role in the death of an unarmed black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, which sparked protests in the city and elsewhere in the country.

“Michael Brown’s death, though tragic, did not involve prosecutable conduct by Officer Wilson,” Holder said. “These findings may not be consistent with some people’s expectations.”…

“Members of the community may not have been responding to a single isolated confrontation but also to a pervasive, coercive and deep lack of trust,” he said. “Some of those protesters were right.”

***

* POLITICS * After a day of swirling fallout from stories about control of her communications while Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said she wants the public to see her email. Late on Wednesday, she tweeted:

Earlier, the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks issued subpoenas for Mrs Clinton’s emails related to Libya. The Washington Post says her use of private email “reflects poor judgment about a public trust.”

The Senate failed in an effort to override President Obama’s veto of the bill authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline.

It appeared difficult to get a steer on how the Supreme Court might be leaning after hearing oral arguments in King v Burwell, which could curtail Obamacare. There was, though, maybe one clue…

A transcript of the arguments is here, via Vox.com.

***

* WORLD * One of the most heavily-anticipated trials of recent years got off to a stunning start, as the Boston Globe reports:

After thousands of pages of legal briefs and nearly two years of hearings, a lawyer for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court Wednesday, the first day of the long-awaited Marathon bombing trial, and made a startling simple declaration: “It was him.”

In New York, a Pakistani man arrested in Britain in 2009 and extradited to the US was convicted of a terror plot targeting the subway system.

The US Ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was injured in an apparent knife attack in Seoul on Thursday morning. The ambassador was injured in the face and wrist by a man yelling political slogans. He was taken to hospital and his wounds are not life-threatening. His assailant, who is reportedly known to police, was arrested.

Iran’s foreign minister told NBC News that he believed a nuclear deal may be “very close.”

(YouTube/NBCNews)

China’s National People’s Congress got under way on Thursday, amid a lowering of the country’s economic growth forecast. CNBC finds that the gathering is attracting an increasing number of the country’s wealthiest individuals. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that more than 76,000 Chinese millionaires “emigrated or acquired citizenship of another country” in the tens years to 2013.

Another strong storm is headed for the US northeast in the next 24 hours, bringing frigid conditions from New Mexico to Massachusetts.

(CBS Evening News)

* BUSINESS * In something of a surprise in pharma M&A late on Wednesday, AbbVie agreed to buy Pharmacyclics for $21billion, seemingly under the nose of Johnson & Johnson. AbbVie will give more details in a conference call at 9am ET on Thursday.

Craft marketplace Etsy filed for an IPO, and will be listed on the Nasdaq under the symbol ETSY. Says Bloomberg:

Etsy, founded a decade ago as a niche website where artists could sell their creations, offers everything from crochet chickens to Soviet-era souvenir pens, making revenue through commissions and listing fees charged to sellers. Revenue last year surged 56 percent to $196 million, the filing shows. Still, the company’s losses widened, to $15.2 million for the 12 months through Dec. 31 from $796,000 a year earlier.

Meanwhile, hip eyewear outlet Warby Parker could be the latest start-up to join the $1billion club, Bloomberg reports.

Unemployment fell in every US state and Washington DC last year, a Labor Department report showed – the first time that has happened since 1984.

There’s a campaign to put a woman on the twenty dollar bill. Vauhini Vara at the New Yorker writes:

It wouldn’t require a vote in Congress or Presidential approval to get a woman on the twenty-dollar bill. The Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for the designs that appear on paper notes, including the portraits. Nor do the people depicted on bills have to meet particularly stringent standards; according to U.S. law, they just have to be dead. Even so, the appearance of U.S. banknotes was hardly modified during the twentieth century; according to historians, this was partly to keep the bills recognizable and partly due to the American public’s resistance to change.

 

***

* MEDIA * Gawker has a fascinating insider’s account of a year “Ripping off the Web with the Daily Mail Online.”

This interactive feature in the Los Angeles Times on inmates at San Quentin State Prison who composed their own obituaries as part of a creative writing assignment is a moving look at roads not taken.

Salman Rushdie is to join NYU’s Journalism Institute in September as the school’s Distinguished Writer in Residence.

Meanwhile, another distinguished writer is offering to teach you all about Superheroes.

(Youtube/EdX)

***

* CULTURE * Bruce Willis is to make his Broadway debut this fall in an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Misery. The adaptation by William Goldman – who also adapted the movie version in 1990 – had its world premiere at the Bucks County Playhouse in 2012.

***

* SPORTS * There are reports that Major League Soccer and its players’ union had agreed in principle to a five-year labor agreement, heading off a possible strike ahead of the weekend’s opening to its landmark 20th season.

Fifa President Sepp Blatter “will not be playing ball” with proposals for a televised debate between candidates vying to unseat him. Candidate Luis Figo has backed the idea and FA chairman Greg Dyke has offered to host such a debate at Wembley, but Blatter – the overwhelming favorite to win a fifth term in May – has the final say.

Champion flat jockey Richard Hughes announced he would retire at the end of the 2015 season. Hughes, 42, who will take up a career as a trainer, has been champion jockey in each of the last three seasons. He joins 19-time champion jump jockey Tony McCoy, who also announced his retirement this year.

Des Bieler at the Washington Post writes about Winnipeg Jets’ goalie Ondrej Pavelec and his really rather awesome mask by artist David Gunnarsson.

winnipeg   (image: DaveArt.com/TheHockeyNews)

 

Supreme Court to hear Obamacare challenge

vox

(image: Vox.comThe case that could gut Obamacare, explained)

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in the case of King vs Burwell, which challenges the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how six words landed Obamacare back in the lap of the highest court in the land.

The Washington Post writes on what you need to know about the case, and how a reversal could potentially derail the legislation.

Eric Posner at Slate explains how the Court’s “motivated reasoning could destroy Obamacare.”

“Statutes are often ambiguous. They contain conflicting provisions, omit words, and use the same words differently. This happens because human beings write the statutes, and often rewrite them under intense pressure as elected officials do deals that require earlier drafts to be modified on the fly. It’s often hard to reconstruct what the relevant members of Congress sought to accomplish. We rely on courts to interpret statutes in an impartial way.

Unfortunately, courts don’t always oblige.”

David Catron writes at The American Spectator that the case is about the separation of powers and is “an attempt to prevent the President from doing further violence to the Constitution.”

“The Constitution grants the power to tax and spend to Congress alone. Yet the executive branch, under the Obama administration, has brazenly arrogated the power to spend with its IRS rule authorizing the distribution of subsidies through federal exchanges. The original cert petition filed with the Court on behalf of the plaintiffs phrases it as follows: “If the ACA means what it says… the IRS is illegally spending billions of taxpayer dollars every month without congressional authority.”

But, as MSNBC‘s Benjy Sarlin points out, the case “creates an unwelcome risk for Republican 2016 candidates just as they’re getting their campaigns off the ground, potentially placing them between voters who are benefiting from the subsidies and a fired up conservative base demanding full repeal. Making matters worse, the list of states whose residents are most threatened by the case include presidential battlegrounds Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, and North Carolina.”

Argument starts at 10am ET. You can follow Wednesday’s developments at the always excellent SCOTUSblog here.

***

* WORLD * Reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress ran the gamut, as might be expected. In Washington, it was largely along party lines. The New York Times found it “unconvincing”; Bloomberg called it “Tough, Fair, Unconstructive”; while Fox News thinks it might give Netanyahu a boost in his domestic election campaign.

Here’s what he left out. And here’s the reaction on the streets of Tehran; and from Jerusalem.

Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was laid to rest in Moscow.

(YouTube/CBS News)

Writing in the Washington Post, J. Paul Goode says “the question to ask about the murder  is not who, but why?”

China said its defense budget would rise by about 10 per cent this year.

Former Gen David Petraeus reached a plea deal with the Justice Department and admitted sharing classified information with his mistress while he was Director of the CIA.

A jury will hear opening statements on Wednesday in the trial of accused Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Meanwhile, ABC News reported that the widow of Tsarnaev’s brother and alleged co-conspirator is “under active investigation and could face charges” in connection with the blast.

***

* POLITICS * A Justice Department civil rights report report into the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department and the city’s municipal court has found “systematic discriminatory practices” against African-Americans. The New York Times says that the report – set for official release on Wednesday – “will most likely force Ferguson officials to either negotiate a settlement with the Justice Department or face being sued by it on charges of violating the Constitution.”

What if the City of Los Angeles had an election and no-one turned up?

Congress sent a bill to the President funding the Department of Homeland Security without any of the immigration add-ons some Republicans had demanded. The AP reported that “There have been suggestions that [House Speaker John] Boehner would face an insurrection by tea party-backed conservatives if he brought a “clean” DHS bill to the floor. But Boehner’s opponents seemed resigned, and there was little sign of a brewing coup.”

That Hillary email scandal? Not so fast, writes Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast. 

A key question would seem to be this: When did the new regulations go into effect? If 2007 or 2008, then Clinton would appear to be in direct violation of them, depending on what precisely they said. If later, it gets a little murkier. Oddly, the Times article doesn’t say. It doesn’t pin the new regs down to a specific date or even year.

But, he says:

Clinton still has some questions to answer, two that I can think of: Why did she not take a state.gov address? And is the Times accurate in writing that “her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act”? If she can’t put forward persuasive answers to these two questions, then there may still be something here.

***

* BUSINESS * Wanting to move from New York to Pennsylvania is perfectly understandable. But secession because of FOMO?

econPA

The Economist reports that residents of some small towns in upstate New York are thinking of seceding to the Keystone State for fear of missing out on revenues from fracking.

While it’s “not illegal,” the Bank of Canada would probably prefer Star Trek fans to stop “Spocking” their five dollar bills.

spockbill(image: Canadian Design Resource/BBC)

***

* MEDIA * The opening day of the trial in London’s high court over alleged celebrity phone hacking at Mirror titles was told the activity took place on “an industrial scale.”

Former NBC News President Andrew Lack is thought to be in talks to return to NBCUniversal’s news division, according to Variety.

So, the guys at Gawker want to buy the New York Daily News.

Harvard’s Shorenstein Center announced the winners of this year’s Goldsmith Awards, with the Miami Herald taking the prize for investigative reporting.

John Dick posts at PBS Idea Lab on the relationship between sponsored content and objective journalism, concluding that Consumers Want it Both Ways: Free Content with No Tracking.

People have made two things crystal clear: They care about the future of objective professional journalism and the most desired (or at least tolerable) revenue model for content publishers to preserve it, quite simply, is advertising. For all of this to work, publishers and consumers need to find common ground.

***

* SPORTS * Ahead of Friday’s scheduled season opener, Major League Soccer and the league’s players’ union are still negotiating over free agency. A federal mediator is facilitating the process, but the union is threatening to strike if a new collective bargaining agreement does not include a form of free agency.

In baseball, Tuesday saw the first day of spring training games. Here are 10 things to watch for as the pre-season unfolds.

bleach(image: USA Today/Bleacher Report2015 Spring Training predictions)

***

* CULTURE * With the opening day of shooting on Oliver Stone’s biopic of Edward Snowden, to be played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the fugitive former security contractor’s Russian lawyer says he might be ready to come back to USReuters quotes a Justice Department spokesman as saying:

“It remains our position that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States and face the charges filed against him. If he does, he will be accorded full due process and protections.” The U.S. position is that “Snowden is not a whistleblower. He is accused of leaking classified information and there is no question his actions have inflicted serious harms on our national security,”

Wednesday night sees the broadcast of Conan in Cuba, a show filmed on location in Havana over the President’s Day weekend.

Finally, a promoter at Oberlin College decided that a musical combo called Viet Cong has a name that’s just too offensive.  Guess he won’t be booking Jello Biafra and his band anytime soon then…

Obama seeks ten-year freeze for Iran nuclear deal

As Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to address Congress on Tuesday morning, President Obama told Reuters that Iran must commit to a verifiable freeze on nuclear activity for ten years to reach a landmark deal.

In a speech to AIPAC on Monday, Netanyahu said “Reports of the demise of the Israeli-US relations are not only premature, they’re just wrong,” but warned that a deal would threaten Israel’s security.

netanyahu(image: Yahoo/AFP)

The President stressed there was a “substantial disagreement” with Netanyahu over their approaches to the issue, while US Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned against undercutting diplomatic efforts by revealing “selective details of ongoing negotiations.”

In his Reuters interview, the President also criticized plans for additional sanctions on Iran if no deal is reached by June 30.

“I’m less concerned, frankly, with Prime Minster Netanyahu’s commentary than I’m with Congress taking actions that might undermine the talks before they’re completed.”

The Christian Science Monitor looks at how “hyper-partisanship has invaded foreign policy.”

***

* WORLD * Meanwhile, talks towards the deal in question are proceeding in Switzerland between US and Iranian officials.

The global picture is also clouded somewhat by the fact that Iran is backing a major offensive launched by the Iraqis to retake the Sunni city of Tikrit from ISIS. Australia said it was sending another 300 troops to Iraq in training roles, but PM Tony Abbott said the move was not “mission creep.”

The funeral will be held in Moscow on Tuesday of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered near the Kremlin on Friday

“Partly the opposition’s bad fortunes are due to the fact that it is practically blocked from national TV networks, which provide news and views for 90% of Russians. As the taxi driver that took me to the march casually observed: ‘If you are not on TV, you do not exist.'”

***

* POLITICS * The New York Times reported that Hillary Clinton “exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as Secretary of State” which may be in violation of rules covering official correspondence.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the “letter and spirit of the rules.” Under federal law, however, letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials.

Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski announced she would not seek re-election next year, setting off something of a scramble among Democrats, at least in speculation on who might succeed the longest-serving woman in Congress.

Artist Nelson Shanks told the Philadelphia Daily News about a hidden secret in his portrait of former President Bill Clinton, unveiled in 2006. The Atlantic asks:

More to the point, is what Shanks did inappropriate? It’s not as if the painting was a private commission for the Clintons that Shanks sabotaged: It’s a bequest to the nation and to the National Portrait Gallery. (The portrait was commissioned by the gallery and paid for with private donations.)

***

* MEDIA * The competition between Facebook and Twitter for the audience in real-time event coverage is heightening, according to AdWeek.

Google confirmed that it planned to launch a “small-scale” US wireless service – but said it did not intend to compete with the four big national carriers.

With Rebekah Brooks poised to take over at News Corp’s Storyful arm, The Financial Times looks at her digital learning curve.

Also in News Corp world, it turns out Fox’s Bill O’Reilly isn’t “different from the other bloviators” after all, but it probably won’t make any difference in the grand scheme of things.

The editor of the Herald-Times in Bloomington Indiana got a call from an eight year-old reader about some changes to the comics page. He posted the voicemail. (via Romenesko)

***

* BUSINESS * Bloomberg‘s latest calculation of their Misery index  – “It’s a simple equation: unemployment rate + change in the consumer price index = misery” – shows the 15 most miserable economies in the world. Venezuela is the runaway winner. Or loser.

Singapore is the world’s most expensive city for a second straight year, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Forbes‘s latest list of the world’s richest individuals shows a record 1,826 billionaires worldwide, with an aggregate net worth of $7.05 trillion.

Bloomberg has details of how billionaires in London use secret luxury homes to hide assets.

***

* CULTURE * Tickets sold out quickly for the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary concerts in Chicago this summer. The Wall Street Journal writes:

“Many fans took to cyberspace to assail online resellers, who didn’t exist when the Grateful Dead played Soldier Field 20 years ago. Traditionally, Deadheads have frowned on reselling tickets for more than face value. On Saturday, they aired less-than-flattering opinions of Ticketmaster and online resellers such as StubHub, as well as ticket scalpers, on the Grateful Dead’s Facebook page.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter the cast for the upcoming Sharknado 3 movie expanded by two. Mark Cuban will apparently play the President and Ann Coulter the vice-president, in the movie, which according to Syfy “will cause mass destruction in the nation’s capital before it roars down the Eastern Seaboard.”

Did Homer Simpson discover the Higgs Boson particle 14 years before CERN?

fox(image: Fox/Huffington Post)

***

* SPORTS * Monday was NHL trade deadline day. Here’s a round-up of the comings and goings, but maybe the day’s best story involved a veteran defenseman who was traded from Columbus to Minnesota.

Sunderland’s Adam Johnson was suspended by his club pending a police investigation.

Finally, Scottish footballer Dave Mackay, one of the toughest competitors to play the game, and a legend north and south of the border, died aged 80.

mackay

 

 

Netanyahu arrives for showdown speech

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the US for his controversial speech to Congress condemning a nuclear deal with Iran. His visit is apparently also widening political divisions at home ahead of the March 17 election, and drawing criticism from some Israeli military and intelligence officials.

Secretary of State John Kerry says the administration doesn’t want Tuesday’s speech to become “a political football.” But there has already been some pretty hefty kicking going on.

Former Rep Mike Rogers and Michael Doran write at Politico on why the speech should be heard, arguing it will “touch off a needed debate on the Iran deal.” The Los Angeles Times editorial board agrees:

[But].. hearing out Netanyahu doesn’t mean taking everything he says at face value or abdicating to Israel this country’s decision about whether it’s possible to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran without making a fateful decision to use military force.

Anne Gearan at the Washington Post, meanwhile, writes about the “long and sometimes fraught relationship” between Netanyahu and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Netanyahu’s first speaking engagement of the trip is on Monday at the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee – or AIPAC – in Washington DC.

* WORLD * An estimated 30,000 marchers took to the streets in Moscow on Sunday in honor of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

People hold flags and posters during march to commemorate Kremlin critic Nemtsov in central Moscow(image: Reuters)

A Wall Street Journal profile at the weekend explains how Nemtsov’s career “traces the arc of Russia’s dimmed hopes for democracy.”

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, senior US General Ray Odierno says Britain‘s defense cuts are eroding his country’s confidence in the commitment to global security.

“We have a bilateral agreement between our two countries to work together. It is about having a partner that has very close values and the same goals as we do,” explained Gen Ordorno at the New America Foundation’s “Future of War” conference. “What has changed, though, is the level of capability. In the past we would have a British Army division working alongside an American army division.” The cuts mean that the US military is now working on the basis that in future Britain will contribute only half that amount, if not less.

North Korea apparently fired two short-range missiles into the sea, coinciding with the start of annual US-South Korean military drills, which Pyongyang usually describes as a rehearsal for war.

Nina Pham, the nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for the first person in the US diagnosed with the disease, told the Dallas Morning News she will file a lawsuit on Monday against the hospital’s parent company, alleging that the hospital’s lack of training and proper equipment and violations of her privacy made her “a symbol of corporate neglect — a casualty of a hospital system’s failure to prepare for a known and impending medical crisis.”

* POLITICS * Ken Vogel at Politico looks at the recent goings on at the Clinton Foundation and what it all means for a possible Hillary Clinton candidacy.

“In many ways, what played out over the last two years at the foundation was the story of Chelsea Clinton’s rise. Her power now at the foundation cannot be overstated, according to sources with knowledge of its workings, who say no major decisions occur without her input. Now 35 and with the official title of vice chair at the foundation, Chelsea Clinton is expected to be a key adviser to her mother in the presidential campaign.”

* MEDIA * The Mobile World Congress gets under way in Barcelona on Monday but visitors at press day got an early look at the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge phones as well as some other innovative new products – CNet has a rundown of what was unveiled, while Engadget will also have live coverage for the rest of the week.

Lord Hall, BBC Director-General, will appeal on Monday for an extension of the license fee, after MPs last week concluded that the £145.50 ($224) annual fee was becoming harder to justify. The FT reports that one of the key proposals is for increased personalization.

“The potential is huge to let our audience become schedulers,” Lord Hall will say. “This is the start of a real transformation — the ‘my BBC’ revolution.”

* BUSINESS * China’s central bank cut its benchmark one-year lending rate by 25 basis points to 5.35 per cent. It was the second cut in three months.

Pope Francis launched a fresh attack on economic injustice at the weekend. Meanwhile, in an excellent cover story in the latest New Republic, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig looks at how the Pope is working to  modernize the church and the opposition he is encountering from American conservatives.

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Frustrated Iranian airline passengers have taken to spontaneous on-board sit-ins, in protest at what they see as declining levels of service.

* SPORTS * Finally, Minnie Minoso, the “Cuban Comet,” and the first black Latin player in Major League Baseball, died, aged 90. The Chicago White Sox legend is one of only two players to appear in a major league game in five different decades; yet was passed over by the Hall of FameCBS Sports‘ Dayn Perry remembers “a towering figure for Hispanic ballplayers in the post-Jackie Robinson era.”

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(image: Baseball Almanac)

“For Minnie, every day was a reason to smile, and he would want us all to remember him that way, smiling at a ballgame,” Minoso’s family said in a statement released by the team. “As he so often said, ‘God Bless you, my friends.’”