The Senate reached a deal on granting the president a fast track for trade authority; Americans should send the State Department their jobs' dimensions so they can be put in an appropriately sized crate, loaded into a giant cargo liner, and sent overseas. “I’ve ridden that train before” is the second-worst form of Amtrak sympathy, right after “Baltimore looks so poor from the Acela.” And Jeb Bush prematurely said "I'm running for president in 2016." Asked if he would have done that differently, he simply replied, "I love my brother." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 13th, 2015:
SENATE REACHES TPA AGREEMENT - The Senate proves that the Senate works… at making sure the Senate has as little to do with major trade legislation as possible. Mike McAuliff and Jessica Schulberg: "Senate leaders reached a deal Wednesday to push ahead with votes on President Barack Obama's trade deals. The agreement came after Democrats blew up an earlier agreement Tuesday over fears that key measures they have sponsored would fail, or never get votes. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Wednesday afternoon that leaders had found a way around the impasse by agreeing to let Democrats have votes on key trade enforcement measures before holding votes on the fast-track authority that Obama needs to finish new massive trade deals with Pacific Rim countries and Europe…Under the agreement, the Senate will vote Thursday on an African trade deal, and then a customs and enforcement measure that includes many of the trade protections Democrats feared would be lost, including a provision that targets currency manipulation by China and trading partners." [HuffPost]
People have been trying to outsource John Boehner's job from Ohio for years, so he's used to this: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he is 'still optimistic' Congress has the votes to give the president authority to fast-track international trade deals. Boehner said that no matter what, the House will figure out how to deal with the trade legislation once it hits the floor... 'It’s a bump in the road. At the end of the day I think there is a majority in the House and Senate for giving the president trade promotion authority,' Boehner told reporters on Wednesday. 'I’m hopeful the Senate will act soon, and when the Senate does, I expect we will act shortly thereafter.'" [HuffPost's Laura Barron-Lopez]
@ReutersZengerle: Before Senate trade deal announced, Sen Hatch said he was "about ready to kill somebody," and that when he kills someone they stay dead.
LIBERALS NOT JUMPING INTO OBAMA-WARREN 'SEXIST' FIGHT - Evan McMorris-Santoro: "The progressives urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president want no part of the claim that President Obama was being sexist when he critiqued Warren in a recent interview. Sen. Sherrod Brown said the president’s use of her first name, Elizabeth, was sexist. The president of the National Organization for Women said his criticism was done 'in a sexist way.'" [BuzzFeed]
BONKERS FOR BOLTON: FORMER UN AMBASSADOR TO MAKE 2016 'ANNOUNCEMENT' TOMORROW - If he chooses not to run, he's going to play kingmaker in deciding whether Peter King or Lindsey Graham finishes 11th in the Iowa Caucus. Ben Schreckinger: "John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations, will announce Thursday around noon whether he will run for president. Bolton plans to reveal his intentions in a video to be posted to Facebook and will then hold a conference call with media, according to a spokesman for John Bolton PAC. Bolton has been active on the Republican pre-presidential campaign circuit – speaking at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January, the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, and last month’s First in the Nation Summit in New Hampshire – but has attracted little attention in a crowded primary field." [Politico]
It's not official unless spoken in front of a carefully assembled group of diverse people: "Republican Jeb Bush appears to have unintentionally announced his candidacy for president in 2016 in a conversation with reporters on Wednesday that was caught on video. Speaking in Nevada, the former Florida governor seemed to acknowledge he was a candidate but right afterward indicated he had not made up his mind. 'I'm running for president in 2016, and the focus is going to be about how we, if I run, how do you create high sustained economic growth,' Jeb Bush said in the video posted on the NBC News website." [Reuters]
Jeb can't stop boofing easy questions about Iraq.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Nathan Strout: "A new study conducted by two Cornell University economists suggests that higher cigarette taxes increase the likelihood that smokers will enroll in SNAP benefits, or food stamps." [TheMaineWire.com]
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YOU PEOPLE HAVE SUCH TERRIBLE TASTE WHEN IT COMES TO CORRUPTION - Jeez, if you're going to trade-in your reputation at the pawn shop of souls that is K Street, at least do so with a trip to Paris. Scott Higham, Steven Rich and Alice Crites: "The state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan secretly funded an all-expenses-paid trip to a conference at Baku on the Caspian Sea in 2013 for 10 members of Congress and 32 staff members, according to a confidential ethics report obtained by The Washington Post. Three former top aides to President Obama appeared as speakers at the conference. Lawmakers and their staff members received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of travel expenses, silk scarves, crystal tea sets and Azerbaijani rugs valued at $2,500 to $10,000, according to the ethics report. Airfare for the lawmakers and some of their spouses cost $112,899, travel invoices show. The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, known as SOCAR, allegedly funneled $750,000 through nonprofit corporations based in the United States to conceal the source of the funding for the conference in the former Soviet nation, according to the 70-page report by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative arm of the House." [WaPo]
The New York Times put on its safari hat for another adventure in Washington, D.C.
TRAIN WAS GOING TOO FAST - "An Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night had been going at least 100 mph before the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board announced on Wednesday -- more than twice the legal speed limit." [HuffPost]
CONGRESS VOTES TO CUT AMTRAK FUNDING, POLITICAL CAPITAL - Mike Simpson's retort should be placed alongside "Kiss my ass. This is a holy site for the Polish people" in the Pantheon of self-serving tut-tutting. Jeremy Diamond and Eric Bradner: "A House panel approved a measure Wednesday that cuts funding for Amtrak, less than a day after a train derailment left at least seven people dead and many more injured. The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee voted 30-21 to reduce grants to Amtrak by $252 million -- a drop of about 15% from last year's level. The cut would apply only to Amtrak's capital spending and wouldn't touch funding levels for safety and operations. The measure still needs to clear the full House and Senate before it would go into effect in October. Democrats on the panel fought unsuccessfully to boost Amtrak funding by $1 billion, to $2.4 billion. But Republicans argued that such a spending increase would need to be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget, and they admonished Democrats for pointing to the derailment in an effort to increase funding for the passenger rail service. 'Don't use this tragedy in that way. It was beneath you,' Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said to Democrats." [CNN]
TRAINS ACTUALLY GETTING SAFER - If a tree falls in the forest, and that forest is on the I-95 corridor, will anyone NOT hear it, much less read media criticism about coverage of the tree? Dana Liebelson: "The [Federal Railroad Administration], responsible for administering federal grants to Amtrak, said there were 1,755 train accidents in 2014, 42 percent fewer than the approximately 3,000 in 2006. Derailments plunged to 1,241 from 2,197 during the period. For Amtrak and commuter railroads, derailments dropped to 54 from 76 over that eight-year period. The number of accidents dropped to 130 from 204. Train-related deaths have not followed the overall decline. In 2014, trains killed 813 people, including 226 on Amtrak and commuter railroads. Those numbers include, for example, people who were hit by trains while trespassing and motorists crashing into trains. 'Trespassing and highway-rail grade crossing incidents account for 96 percent of all rail-related fatalities,' the the FRA said last year." [HuffPost]
GATOR BOOTS DON'T PAY FOR THEMSELVES - Such hypocrisy. This is like the time we found out Max Baucus gave to charity. Adam C. Smith: "U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.. incorporated a couple hedge funds in the Cayman Islands so investors could avoid taxes. Grayson Fund Ltd. and Grayson Master Fund were incorporated in 2011 in the Cayman Islands, a well known tax Haven that Romney used as well, records show.. That was the same year he wrote in the Huffington Post that the IRS should audit every Fortune 500 company because so many appear to be "evading taxes through transfer pricing and offshore tax havens." In a phone interview Wednesday, Grayson said the funds were incorporated in Grand Cayman at the advice of an attorney he declined to name. It was a vehicle for foreign investors to invest in his funds while limiting their tax liabilities, he said, but no money had been invested in them yet." [Tampa Bay Times]
Public service: "Text messages obtained by The Star reveal a sexually charged relationship between House Speaker John Diehl and a college freshman in a Missouri Capitol internship program that shut down abruptly last month. The conversations unveil a flirty rapport and suggest an intimacy between arguably the state’s most influential lawmaker and a young woman taking some pleasure in a secret association." [Kansas City Star's Jason Hancock]
COOLEST JUDGE EVER RULES AGAINST ABSTINENCE-ONLY EDUCATION - Judge also buy America's teens a six-pack if you they don't leave the house. Mollie Reilly: "A judge in Fresno County, California, has ruled against an abstinence-only sex education program, saying a school district violated state law by failing to provide adequate instruction on sexual health and HIV prevention. Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black said a lawsuit against Clovis Unified School District was justified because the district failed to offer 'comprehensive, medically accurate, objective and bias-free' education, in violation of the California Comprehensive Sexual Health & HIV/AIDS Prevention Act, adopted in 2003. The law requires public schools to 'provide a pupil with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect his or her sexual and reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and STDs.'" [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a dog who hates baths.
CONGRESSMAN GRIPS AND GRINS WITH PIG - Amber Ferguson: "Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) went a little hog wild for a selfie with a special congressional guest on Wednesday. Flake crawled on the floor and chased an adorably dressed pig named Faye in an attempt to get a selfie, and it was all caught on video. The congressman, along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), came together for Citizens Against Government Waste’s annual release of its “Congressional Pig Book.” The report highlights what the group considers to be the year’s most egregious federal expenditures, which this year included $21 million for a National Exercise Program, $1 million for an embryo adoption awareness campaign and $5 million for abstinence education. Flake has yet to share the selfie, blaming the pig." [HuffPost]
- How to get Nicki Minaj to perform at your kid's bar mitzvah.
- Super trippy in-browser physics simulator
- Puck Buddys, our favorite gay ice hockey blog, has a drinking game for Caps-Rangers game 7 tonight.
@sfiegerman: RT if this is the golden age of online journalism, fav if we're all doomed to be pawns to larger companies
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