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E.g., 8/20/2014
E.g., 8/20/2014

A 'turning point' in Ferguson?

08/20/14 08:00AM

Around 2 a.m. local time, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told reporters that Ferguson had reached a "turning point." There were several dozen arrests last night, but the police did not use tear gas or fire a shot.
And as msnbc's Amanda Sakuma and Zachary Roth reported from the scene, the result was an evening that was less dangerous than the night before.
As midnight arrived on the 10th evening of demonstrations here, a small group of people protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown began throwing plastic bottles in actions eerily similar to what set off confrontations with police the previous night. Peacemakers formed a line around the instigators, and officers called for groups to disperse and for media to return to the staging area. Multiple people were restrained with their arms tied behind their backs and placed in a St. Louis County Police van.
The flurry of activity came on the heels of what seemed to be the first calm night after a series of chaotic run-ins between protesters and police.
Attention has also turned to St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's office and calls from many in the community for a special prosecutor in the Brown case, removing local officials from the process. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), citing the need to avoid "legal uncertainty," has rejected those calls and decided to stick with McCulloch's office.
That will not, however, be the only investigation. The Justice Department launched a probe of the Brown shoot last week -- FBI officials have been on the ground, interviewing witnesses -- and there's new reason to believe the federal investigation may be even broader than first believed.

Holder to Missouri and other headlines

08/20/14 07:47AM

47 arrested overnight in Ferguson. (KSDK)

Grand jury probe starts today. (Bloomberg)

From Eric Holder: a message to the people of Ferguson. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Holder and Obama differ in approach to underlying issues of Missouri unrest. (NY Times)

Victim of a shooting after a Michael Brown rally last week wants to know what happened to the bullet taken from her head. (Riverfront Times)

Fmr. Alaska A.G. Dan Sullivan wins the state's Republican Senate primary. (USA Today)

Virginia prepares for the possibility of gay marriage. (AP)

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Ahead on the 8/19/14 Maddow show

08/19/14 08:45PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Antonio French, alderman for the City of St. Louis
  • Anthony Gray, an attorney for Michael Brown's family
  • Patricia Bynes, Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township

And here's executive producer Bill Wolff with a preview and some thoughts on St. Louis:

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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 8.19.14

08/19/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, just a few minutes ago, published an op-ed from Attorney General Eric Holder: "A message to the people of Ferguson."
* A broken cease-fire: "Another Gaza cease-fire collapsed on Tuesday when Palestinian militants fired rockets into southern Israel, drawing retaliatory airstrikes from Israel and prompting the Israeli government to withdraw its delegation from Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo for an agreement to end the latest conflict."
* Ukraine: "Ukrainian forces pushed deeper into territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels on Tuesday, fighting street battles in the besieged city of Luhansk and pressuring the outer defenses of Donetsk in a further blow to the separatists' crumbling virtual state."
* Patience: "It could take months before the officer responsible for the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown is arrested, Capt. Ron Johnson said Tuesday."
* Ferguson: "A funeral and public memorial for Michael Brown will take place Monday morning, according to family attorney Anthony Gray."
* She's not alone: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Tuesday joined the chorus of national lawmakers calling for a review of the federal program that transfers military gear to local police, amid ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Mo."
* Iraq: "The last time the United States pushed Iraqis to choose a new prime minister who could unite the country to confront a sectarian civil war was in 2006, and the Iraqis chose Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The result was another civil war. This time, with the country again on the edge of collapse, they have chosen Haider al-Abadi."
* There has to be a story in there somewhere: "President Obama went back to his vacation on Martha's Vineyard Tuesday evening following less than 48 hours in Washington, leaving people puzzled over why he came back in the first place."

Another fatal shooting incident unfolds in St. Louis

08/19/14 04:45PM

As if tensions in the area weren't already running at a dangerously high level, there was another incident this afternoon in St. Louis, not far from last week's shooting in nearby Ferguson. MSNBC's Zachary Roth and Amanda Sakuma reported from the scene.
Two St. Louis policemen shot and killed a 23-year-old black man Tuesday just three miles south of Ferguson, Missouri, the scene of more than a week of violence and protests in the wake of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, being killed by Darren Wilson, a white local police officer on Aug. 9.
According to St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, the unidentified male initially entered a convenience store carrying two energy drinks. After exiting, he re-entered and allegedly took a package of pastries without paying for them. When he was confronted by the store's owner he tossed the food into the street and began to walk around "erratically", according to St. Louis police.
Another business owner contacted authorities and when officers arrived the man allegedly pulled a knife out of his waste-band in a threatening manner, and told police, "Shoot me now, kill me now, shoot me."
While many of the details surrounding Michael Brown's death remain unclear, there's quite a bit of information available about today's incident. According to Dotson, the suspect ignored repeated calls to stop and police only fired when the suspect came within a few feet of the officers with a knife.
Though it's unclear if there are any videos of the incident -- the police have urged anyone with cell-phone footage to please come forward -- there were multiple witnesses, including a local alderwoman.
Dotson's press conference, which went into even more detail, is below.
President Barack Obama delivers a statement to provide an update on Iraq and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, August 18, 2014.

Damned if he does; damned if he doesn't

08/19/14 04:31PM

After President Obama carefully avoided any provocative comments yesterday about developments in Ferguson, many on the left wondered, "Why couldn't he go further?"
And at the same time, in response to the same tepid, cautious comments, many on the right wondered, "Why did he go too far?"
On August 18, Obama delivered remarks on the progress of airstrikes in Iraq and violence in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who was allegedly shot by a St. Louis County police officer.
On August 19, Rove condemned Obama's remarks on Fox's Happening Now, claiming that the president failed to draw a strict line between the "peaceful protesters" and the "outside agitators" in Ferguson. Rove also accused Obama of creating a "moral equivalency" by placing the police and violent protesters on "the same level," concluding that Obama's statements were "not worthy of the president."
Got that? While many were disappointed that the president was being too careful to avoid anything controversial -- some reporters relied on an old standby, comparing Obama to Spock -- there's Karl Rove, saying the president's comments were too extreme and un-presidential.
Of course, in this case, Rove seems to have condemned remarks he hadn't actually heard.
A supporter holds a sign promoting a movement to raise the minimum wage in San Diego, California, March 12, 2014.

San Diego moves forward on minimum-wage increase

08/19/14 03:11PM

The fight to approve a federal minimum-wage increase is dead, at least this year. Polls show broad public support for an increase, but opposition from congressional Republicans is inflexible: GOP senators have already filibustered a Democratic plan and the GOP-led House has said the idea will not be considered.
But action away from Congress continues.
The San Diego City Council voted Monday to override the mayor's veto of a minimum wage increase -- setting the stage for another high-profile political fight between the Democrat-controlled council versus the Republican mayor and the business establishment.
All six Democrats on the council voted to override the veto by Mayor Kevin Faulconer; the two votes against the override were Republicans. A third Republican on the council was absent.... Under the council action, the minimum wage will increase in stages to $11.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2017. Statewide, the minimum wage rose to $9 an hour on July 1.
The change is not yet certain. Almost immediately after the vote, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce announced a plan to put the issue on the citywide ballot through a petition drive. According to the L.A. Times report, opponents of the policy will have 30 days to collect 34,000 signatures.
Keep in mind, San Diego is no mid-size city. On the contrary, San Diego is by some measures the nation's eighth-largest city -- with a population over 1.3 million, this municipality is larger than nine states.
In other words, when a city of this size pushes its minimum wage to $11.50, it's a big deal.
President Barack Obama participates in an event on immigration reform in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 25, 2013.

The politics of executive action on immigration

08/19/14 12:44PM

The question is not whether President Obama is preparing to act on his own on immigration policy; the questions are how far he intends to go and when we'll hear the announcement. Julie Hirschfeld Davis reported yesterday that the White House is working its way through a deliberate process, launched in June after Obama said he had no choice but to work around a do-nothing Congress.
When the president vowed in the Rose Garden in June to "fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own," immigration activists were ready with their list of potential executive actions. They range from giving certain categories of undocumented immigrants temporary "parole in place" status to stay in the United States, to essentially legalizing millions more by expanding a 2012 directive issued by Mr. Obama that grants work permits and deportation deferments to young immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children.
The requests did not stop there. Cecilia Munoz, Mr. Obama's top immigration adviser and the domestic policy chief, has led meetings attended by White House political aides and lawyers to hear from interest groups, individual companies and business groups about what executive actions they believe the president should take on immigration.
To be sure, under the traditional approach to policymaking, these discussions would also be held on Capitol Hill. But as has become clear, House Republicans will not consider immigration legislation, so the talks have moved to the White House.
It's a reminder that when the legislative branch is paralyzed, it doesn't necessarily stop the policymaking process, so much as it redirects policymaking efforts elsewhere.
Assuming that we'll hear more about the president's plans in the near future, it's not too early to consider the political repercussions.  On the surface, it's tempting to think the fallout will benefit Obama and his Democratic allies -- immigration reform is popular and voters tend to prefer action to inaction.
But for red-state Democrats with the prevailing political winds in their faces, it's not quite that simple.

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.19.14

08/19/14 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
* It's primary day in Alaska and Wyoming today. Arguably the most competitive race in either state is Alaska's U.S. Senate Republican primary.
* In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott (R) was forced to pull his latest campaign ad because its star -- Maikel Duarte-Torres, who gives Scott a hug in the commercial -- was convicted on human smuggling charges four years ago.
* Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will headline Sen. Tom Harkin's (D) annual steak fry next month in Iowa. It will be her first visit to the Hawkeye State since 2008.
* In Montana, Amanda Curtis' (D) U.S. Senate bid already faces long odds, but it doesn't help that she won't be able to use any of the money Sen. John Walsh (D) raised for the campaign. [corrected]
* In Ohio's gubernatorial race, Ed FitzGerald (D) has struggled to close the gap against Gov. John Kasich (R), and today the Democratic nominee shook up his campaign team, replacing both his campaign manager and communications director.
* Former Providence mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci's comeback bid hit another hurdle this week. His pasta-sauce company promises to donate proceeds to a scholarship fund, but there's evidence the company hasn't exactly kept that promise.