As lawmakers fan out across the country for recess, world leaders are condemning Israel for its raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla. The president is mostly staying quiet on the Mediterranean melee, instead dialing up his rhetoric on another aquatic disaster, the Gulf oil spill. Al and Tipper Gore announced that they are splitting. Observers are shocked, citing the couple's tendency to wear costumes and kiss in public...then again, so did Sonny and Cher. In other romance news, Helena Andrews' new memoir claims Reggie Love is not quite the Lothario. Coming at you from the nation's capital and awkward love nest (apparently), this is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, June 1st, 2010:
PELOSI: COBRA, FMAP COMING BACK - In a conference call with progressive media, Nancy Pelosi said that the House would return to the provisions scuttled from the jobs bill, particularly subsidies for COBRA and FMAP, which states are counting on to fill gaps in their budgets. "We will pick up FMAP and hopefully we will be able to include COBRA in that," said Pelosi. The problem with COBRA subsidies, which help laid-off workers afford health coverage, is conflict between the have-littles and the have-less. "COBRA was the most controversial," she said. "The arguments that were used by some, and let me say, they were not confined to Blue Dogs, is that there are people who are working that don't have health insurance and there are people who are not working who have health insurance subsidized by the taxpayer and it's a hard sell for some people back home."
On why it was stripped down: "It was a package that was too large for members to digest...There's a changed climate in terms of the size of the spending/investment packages we're putting forth...If I had all the votes I needed in a non-Blue Dog world, I would not have had to make some of the changes I made to get some Blue Dog support.
The Israeli raid of the flotilla should be the subject of "a transparent and credible investigation," she said, but wouldn't call for an end to the Gaza blockade. "I know blockades have consequences," she said, arguing instead that a comprehensive two-state solution was needed, declining to condemn the blockade specifically.
Following the call, her office put out this statement: "I regret the loss of life and look forward to learning the facts from a credible and transparent investigation. This event underscores the urgent need for negotiations designed to achieve an enduring and comprehensive regional peace."
JUST IN - Obama talks with Turkish prime minister: "The President spoke today with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to express his deep condolences for the loss of life and injuries resulting from the Israeli military operation against the Turkish-flagged ship bound for Gaza. The President told Prime Minister Erdogan that the United States is working in close consultation with Israel to help achieve the release of the passengers, including those deceased and wounded, and the ships themselves. He also affirmed the United States position in support of a credible, impartial, and transparent investigation of the facts surrounding this tragedy. The President affirmed the importance of finding better ways to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza without undermining Israel's security. He underscored the importance of a comprehensive peace agreement which establishes an independent, contiguous, and viable Palestinian state as the way to resolve the overall situation and the United States' continuing commitment to achieving that goal by working closely with Turkey, Israel, and others with a stake in a more stable and secure Middle East."
PELOSI ON DADT: "THIS IS OVER." - Gay rights organizations are concerned that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell doesn't kick in unless certified by the administration and Pentagon, but Nancy Pelosi wants to be clear that the practice is over -- and that the military should immediately stop discharging gay and lesbian servicemembers. "I myself have been for a moratorium on discharges for a long time now and would hope that that would be the practice. But this is over, as far as we're concerned. This is over."
HOLDER: FEDS HAVE LAUNCHED CRIMINAL, CIVIL PROBES OF OIL SPILL - Bloomberg: "The Justice Department is investigating whether any criminal or civil laws were violated in the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the biggest U.S. spill on record, said Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder announced the investigation today at a news conference in New Orleans. 'We will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, anyone who has violated the law,' Holder said. 'We will prosecute anyone who has violated the law.'" http://bit.ly/9xyp6G
FEDS BRAINSTORMING OIL FIXES WITH JAMES CAMERON - The blockbuster machine responsible for "Avatar" and "Titanic" was among a group of scientists and other experts who met with EPA officials in order to brainstorm oil spill fixes. "The Canadian-born Cameron is considered an expert on underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies." We hope the RNC gets creative with the mailer they're bound to send out about this. http://huff.to/9HqqfA
Gulp. "Another video featuring U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois making false claims of being the U.S. Navy's intelligence officer of the year has surfaced as he campaigns for a seat once held by President Barack Obama." http://bit.ly/bIY1jL
HuffPost has video of Kirk here: http://huff.to/9hT5PB -- and for what it's worth, the Washington Post is getting all the credit for breaking this story but local bloggers were on the case over a week before the Post story ran. http://huff.to/cGsSMI
Hot damn! It's primary day in Alabama! - It appears that Rep. Artur Davis will probably win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Davis made a sharp right turn in the lead-up to the election, voting against health care reform and calling for fellow CBC member Charlie Rangel to step down as Ways and Means chairman. Many local civil rights group were so appalled by Davis' change of heart that they endorsed his white challenger, Ron Sparks. On the Republican side, former state senator Bradley Byrne is the presumed favorite over businessman Tim James and renown 10 Commandments enthusiast Roy Moore. The GOP contest has been marked by an escalating ad war with each candidate touting their evolution-hatin', family-protectin', librul-disdainin' bona fides. Slate's Alex Pareene with some of the best campaign spots: http://bit.ly/coIcxV
TONIGHT IN THE HILL - J. Taylor Rushing interviews Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who discusses his decision to leave the GOP and what has, and has not, surprised him since he made that decision.
The AFL-CIO's Eddie Vale tells HuffPost Hill about his union's plan to support Bill Halter as he looks to unseat Blanche Lincoln. "As during the primary election we believe that turnout and field is going to decide the runoff election and we are running an aggressive GOTV program of work site leafleting, phone banks and canvassing. From June 1 - June 7 we will be running an early voting program. Then switching to GOTV for election day itself night of the 7th through the 8th."
Two new Bill Halter ads here: http://bit.ly/bAoxSm
Exclusive Clip From New Documentary On How Mormons Raised Millions For Prop. 8 Campaign. Two years after the first gay marriages in California, "8: The Mormon Proposition" will open in theaters and Movies On Demand. Two weeks before it opens, HuffPost has an exclusive clip of this much-hyped documentary. Written and directed by journalist and former Mormon missionary Reed Cowan and narrated by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk), the film examines the Mormon Church's involvement in the promotion and passage of California's Proposition 8 and its ongoing campaign against same-sex marriage. The clip will be available tonight on HuffPost.
NATO CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF GAZA BOAT RAID - AP: "NATO on Tuesday joined calls for a 'prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation' into the raid. 'As a matter of urgency, I also request the immediate release of the detained civilians and ships held by Israel,' said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a statement after representatives of the alliance's 28 nations had met." http://huff.to/afSCCR
Reuters reports Israeli officials have agreed to release all foreigners detained aboard the Gaza flotilla. http://bit.ly/cKZRij
The U.S. has ended major relief operations in Haiti. Apparently, everything is fixed. http://bit.ly/dv7inS
Joe Biden says the May jobs report will be better than last month's, which indicated the economy added 290,000 jobs in April. http://bit.ly/95463J
Former Politico staffer Helena Andrews new book, "Bitch Is The New Black," recounts her time navigating the world of Washington, D.C. as a single, black woman. Andrews on Politico: "I hated everyone...'Why the hell is everybody so scared of me around here? Is it because I'm black?' 'No,' [her cubemate] said. 'It's because you're a bitch.'"
Get your copy here: http://amzn.to/9OpeRn
Speaking of: Politico announced several new hires today. Hemal Jhaveri has been named the new Assistant Managing Editor of Digital and Social Media. Tony Romm is moving from the Hill to cover technology (which was reported last week). Fishbowl DC: http://bit.ly/cLJgcq
RSVP NOW! "Meet Privately With Congressmen Negotiating Financial Reform" - From TPM's Brian Beutler: "A small Wall Street securities firm has teamed up with a lobbyist for the financial services industry to host an all-day event on June 15 -- right in the middle of the conference committee negotiations over the financial reform bill -- that will feature 'the KEY House and Senate Conferees and majority and minority Committee staff, as well as leading financial lobbyists covering interchange, banks and major non-banks affected by so-called Wall Street Reform bill,' according to an invitation obtained by TPM." http://bit.ly/9dn5y4s
Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to email@example.com
OBAMA CALLS FOR OIL SPILL INQUIRY - The president today said his administraiton will look into whether criminal charges can be filed in the wake of the oil slick devastating the Gulf Coast. After meeting with the co-chairs of his spill inquiry commission, President Obama said that, "If laws were broken, leading to death and destruction, my solemn pledge is we will bring those responsible to justice."
As BP scrambles to build a relief well that will siphon off the gushing oil, Jason Linkins asks the question: Why aren't oil rigs constructed with these things built in? http://huff.to/9kExK9
Greenpeace held a BP logo-redesign contest. It's tragically awesome: http://huff.to/bRSENw
AHOY-VEY, MATEYS: ISRAEL'S FLOTILLA RAID DRAWS IRE - Yesterday's violent confrontation between aid workers en route to the Gaza Strip and the Israeli navy continues to reverberate across the globe, sparking protests and condemnations. Rather than denounce the action outright, the U.N. Security Council this morning called for an investigation into the matter that would be a "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards."
Organizers of the first ship tell reporters that another aid ship, the "Rachel Corrie," will be hitting Gazan waters tomorrow. The Irish Times: "The vessel became separated from the main aid flotilla after being delayed for 48 hours in Cyprus due to logistical reasons. Nobel laureate Maireád Corrigan-Maguire, former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday, and husband and wife Derek and Jenny Graham are the Irish nationals on board. Speaking from the ship today, Mr Graham said the vessel was carrying educational materials, construction materials and some toys. 'Everything aboard has been inspected in Ireland,' he said. 'We would hope to have safe passage through.'" http://huff.to/dfaGUy
Israeli military officials tell the Jerusalem Post that the next boat will be met with even greater force than the first one. http://bit.ly/ay22kp
Jake Tapper reports that aside from some behind-the-scenes wrist slapping, the White House will go easy on Israel: "Regardless of the details of the flotilla incident, sources say President Obama is focused on what he sees as the longer term issue here: a successful Mideast peace process. 'The president has always said that it will be much easier for Israel to make peace if it feels secure,' a senior administration official tells ABC News. The suggestion is that US condemnation of Israel would further isolate that country, and make further peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians even more difficult." http://bit.ly/bprlkJ
HuffPost Hill translation: Israel will be better able to make peace if it is allowed to bash in the heads of aid workers. Good to know.
Anthony Weiner to Greg Sargent: "This was about instigating an altercation and they succeeded." http://bit.ly/cr5wo2
British PM David Cameron: "Unacceptable."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy: "...condemns the disproportionate use of force and sends his condolences to the families of the victims."
Turkey's PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan: A "massacre."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: "The loss of people is irretrievable and absolutely unjustified."
Reaction from American Jewish groups has been far from uniform. AIPAC accused several passengers of being "radicals-some with ties to terrorist organizations [who] attacked the Israeli soldiers with metal rods and knives." BBC reports that passengers dispute the claim: http://bit.ly/bS2beg
However JStreet, a moderate Israel group based in Washington, condemned the attack in a strongly-worded statement: "This shocking outcome of an effort to bring humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza is in part a consequence of the ongoing, counterproductive Israeli blockade of Gaza. J Street has been and continues to be opposed to the blockade - believing that there are better ways to ensure Israel's security and to prevent weapons smuggling than a complete closure of the Gaza Strip."
An in-depth Q&A on the Gaza blockade from Reuters here: http://bit.ly/bqUAQX
SUPREME COURT RULING WEAKENS MIRANDA RIGHTS - "The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that suspects must explicitly tell police they want to be silent to invoke Miranda protections during criminal interrogations, a decision one dissenting justice said turns defendants' rights 'upside down.' A right to remain silent and a right to a lawyer are the first of the Miranda rights warnings, which police recite to suspects during arrests and interrogations. But the justices said in a 5-4 decision that suspects must tell police they are going to remain silent to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer." http://huff.to/ciOYwM
Today's "awkward Billy Mays joke" award goes to... Politico's Jen DiMascio for her article on Don't Ask Don't Tell. Read it here: http://bit.ly/bL0GQc
AL AND TIPPER GORE TO SEPARATE - "In an 'Email from Al and Tipper Gore,' the couple said: 'We are announcing today that after a great deal of thought and discussion, we have decided to separate...This is very much a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration. We ask for respect for our privacy and that of our family, and we do not intend to comment further.'" Hat tip: Cupid for 40-plus years of romance. Hat tip: the corrosive nature of time for the split. Hat tip: Mike Allen for the scoop. http://politi.co/df0kpN
Time's Jay Newton-Small: "Gore followers may remember that Al & Tipper jointly are bestseller authors of two books, Joined at the Heart and The Spirit of Family. It is totally depressing to see the end of any 40-year marriage. But perhaps there are lessons to be learned here as well, especially since half of all American marriages end in divorce. Perhaps their next title: Finding Your Heart Apart?" http://bit.ly/aslxcF
In the rush to disseminate the story, CNN accidentally released Al Gore's e-mail address. No word if M.I.A. was involved. http://bit.ly/94cGI8
AMERICANS' VIEW OF BOTH PARTIES IN THE BASEMENT - From a USA Today/Gallup poll out today: "Americans' favorable ratings of the Democratic and Republican parties are near record lows for each. The current 36% favorable score for the Republican Party is five percentage points above the low established in December 1998 as the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Clinton. The Democratic Party's 43% is two points higher than its record low measured in March." http://bit.ly/colQi1
POLL: AMERICANS DON'T WANT HEALTH CARE REFORM SCRAPPED - Fixed, yes. Tweaked, if you will. AP: "[The] public seems willing to listen to candidates who would give the overhaul a chance and fix or improve it as needed. That's the signal from some surveys and a congressional race in a bellwether Pennsylvania district. It's a pragmatic, somewhat counterintuitive outlook. That could be a break for Democrats in the fall elections, since Republicans are campaigning hard for repeal of the health care law. 'Though most Americans still do not favor the law, they tend to be leaning toward candidates who would give it a chance and make some changes, rather than those who would repeal it and start over again,' said Robert Blendon, a Harvard public health school professor who follows opinion trends on health care." http://huff.to/bD73CW
NEWSWEEK GOES ON AUCTION BLOCK TOMORROW - Who's bidding? From Daily Intel: "So far Thompson Reuters, Allbritton (owners of Politico), Steven Rattner, Mort Zuckerman, and billionaire Haim Saban have been reported to be interested, though the Journal reports that Zuckerman and Reuters won't submit bids tomorrow. There are also rumors out of London that the Guardian might be interested. Ritchie Capital Management is likely to put in a bid. And according to Keith Kelly last week, TV Guide owner Open Gate Capital is also "definitely" bidding." http://bit.ly/9vGOxU
IMMIGRANTS: WORSE THAN COW FARTS? - The American Prospect's Jessica Weisberg today on an anti-immigration group's ad campaign to gain lefty support by highlighting the carbon footprint of... immigrants: "The ads displayed an environmental wasteland and suggested that immigrants were somehow the cause -- one showed an image of a congested highway with an adjoining paragraph about how immigration contributes to commuter traffic. The ads were purchased by a network of anti-immigration organizations, all of them with ties to a man named John Tanton. According to the Center for New Community, which monitors the white nationalist movement, Tanton has fostered over a dozen groups that work to reduce immigration." http://bit.ly/boWjd9
More from "Bitch Is The New Black." Andrews on her date with Reggie Love: "I got an 'I do it to white girls' vibe from him. In person he explained that he'd just had his first day off in months, which in and of itself speaks volumes for his work ethic and maybe his ability to commit. Check. Then he kept talking. Turns out he'd gotten so drunk with his buds back home that he'd passed out and missed his flight to Washington. If he got any points for being honest, they were immediately negated by his adolescence. I was missing Sex and the City reruns for this." Buy here: http://amzn.to/9OpeRn
- The four strangest mythical worms. Not sure if Terminix is equipped to handle the Mongolian death worm. http://bit.ly/c4P4za
- Vanity Fair is publishing Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's love letters. http://huff.to/9XnI8i
- A poll of Germans indicates Deutschland residences prefer the World Cup to sex. http://huff.to/cPLlL4
- Fluid excretion enthusiasts better hurry up: An Ontario eatery is being forced to remove its mouth-shaped urinals. http://bit.ly/d9iBp3
- Google is forcing its employees to no longer use the Windows operating system. Me-ow. http://huff.to/d4Ujur
- A Google Maps user is suing the tech giant for being hit by a car while on a walking route provided by the mapping service. http://bit.ly/aPEsha
- A set of moon rocks valued at $5 million have gone missing. http://bit.ly/aCHNbX
@MattBesser: Al-Qaida says its third-ranking leader has been killed in Pakistan. However he's ranked 4th in the coach's poll. http://bit.ly/azsdEA
@EdMorrissey: @benpolitico Honestly, I find the Gore split about as newsworthy as Sarah Palin's uterus. http://bit.ly/dBGWop
@richsanchezcnn: i'm kind of sad about al and tipper http://bit.ly/aL17mD
Wolf Blitzer had Admiral Thad Allen and Rep. Ed Markey on to discuss the oil spill. Eliot Spitzer subbed for Ratigan and discussed the oil spill with Niki Tsongas . Jon King speaks with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer about her state's harsh immigration law. Chris Matthews welcomes Louisiana state Senator Butch Gautreaux. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood weighs in on the spill on Ed Schultz. HuffPost contributor Robert Cavnar talks oil on Countdown.
The DC Jazz Festival kicks off today with a number of performances, both free and ticketed:
6:00 pm: Etienne Charles performs at the Kennedy Center. Free [Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 2700 F St NW].
9:00 pm: The Ben Young Quartet performs at AdMo jazz mainstay Columbia Station. Free [Columbia Station, 2325 18th Street NW].
10:00 pm: Jazz with some Caribbean flavor: Victor Provost performs at JoJo's on U Street [JoJo's Restaurant Bar, 1518 U Street NW].
11:30 am: If you happen to find yourself in the Philadelphia area and happen to have $1,000 burning a hole in your pocket, how about you tee up with Pat Meehan, the GOP candidate for the Pennsylvania 7th? [Aronimink Golf Club, 3600 St. Davids Road, Newtown Square, Pa.].
5:00 pm: A free home-brewing tutorial with a couple of reps from DC Brau, which claims to be D.C.'s first microbrew. T-shirts, stickers and a new skill set will be provided [Little Miss Whiskey's Golden Dollar, 1104 H Street NE].
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