Rachel Maddow reports new details of how President Obama negotiated directly with Cuba's President Castro to remake U.S./Cuba relations, the role of Pope Francis, secret meetings, and the American spy returned to the U.S. in the deal. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on how the United States is weighing its options as it pieces together clues that North Korea is behind the hack of Sony Pictures and the threats against movie theaters, mindful that North Korea would like to draw the U.S. into war. watch
Rachel Maddow alerts viewers to an upcoming special presentation of All In with Chris Hayes in which Hayes visits a shooting range to test out the one kind of gun the NRA does not want sold in America. watch
Rachel Maddow reports that the Arizona school board that was considering tearing pages out of honors biology textbooks over objections to the lesson on reproduction have changed their minds, leaving ArizonaHonorsBiology.com available. watch
Michael McFaul, former U.S ambassador to Russia, talks with Rachel Maddow about the dire economic circumstances President Putin has placed Russia in, the danger to the world economy of a Russian crash, and what options remain open for Putin to recover. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on how Jeb Bush, fresh off the starting line of a presidential bid, suffered embarrassment after grandstanding in support of the embargo of Cuba when it was revealed that he was being paid by a bank that violated that embargo. watch
Jason Healey, director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, talks with Rachel Maddow about the considerations the United States is taking into account as is plans a "proportional response" to North Korea's hacking and threats. watch
* ISIS: "Three leaders of ISIS have been killed by American airstrikes in Iraq in the past month and a half, U.S. defense officials said Thursday. They were identified as Haji Mutazz, a deputy to the ISIS leader; Abd al-Basit, the top military commander; and Radwin Talib, who is in control of ISIS in Iraq. They were described as mid- to high-level leaders."
* Nigeria: "More than 100 women and children were unaccounted for after gunmen stormed a northeastern Nigerian village in a deadly raid Sunday, a Nigerian military source told NBC News on Thursday. No group took responsibility for the attack in Gumsuri, but it bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which abducted more than 200 girls in April from a secondary school in nearby Chibok."
* Secret Service: "The Secret Service is overstretched and needs a 'culture change' from outside leadership, according to an independent review of the agency that found profound problems in the organization tasked with protecting the president and his family."
* Putin: "Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a press conference on Thursday to address the country's increasingly dire economic crisis, made an extended, bizarre reference to bears that is drawing a lot of attention, and rightly, because it makes him sound absolutely crazy."
* A lot of the early reporting on this was wrong: "How exactly the former Marine suspected in this week's killing spree in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, died is unclear after an examination by the county's coroner. Coroner Dr. Walter Hoffman tells NBC10's Deanna Durante there was no sign of trauma to Bradley Stone's center region, contradicting information released by prosecutors on Tuesday."
* DOJ: "Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department's position going forward in litigation will be that discrimination against transgender people is covered under the sex discrimination prohibition in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
* This will matter to several red-state policymakers from Plains states: "U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said reforms announced today by President Barack Obama will make it make easier to sell U.S. farm products to Cuba."
I'll concede that the entertainment industry is pretty far from my usual beat, but the story of North Korea, Sony, and "The Interview" is obviously no longer just a story about a movie.
And while there are obviously policy concerns related to national security and cyber-attacks, even at a surface level, it's hard not to notice the speed with which Hollywood is retreating, just over the last 24 hours.
Sony Pictures decided to pull its upcoming comedy "The Interview" from distribution Wednesday amid security concerns and news that the five largest movie theater chains in the U.S. had decided to hold off on screening the film.
A handful of theaters intended to respond to the developments by screening "Team America," a puppet movie that casts Kim Jung-il in a negative light, but apparently those plans are off, too.
Paramount Pictures ordered movie theaters planning to screen Team America: World Police to cancel the screenings.
If that weren't quite enough, it appears yet another film that might bother North Korea has now been scrapped before production could even begin.
According to Deadline.com, plans for a "paranoid thriller" set in North Korea and starring Steve Carell have been scrapped in the wake of a cyber attack against Sony Pictures that eventually led to the postponement of "The Interview." A source close to the project confirmed that production company New Regency had stopped development on the untitled film after Twentieth Century Fox pulled distribution plans.
I can think of instances in which various movies have been the subject of protests and boycotts, but is there any precedent for Hollywood fearing literal, physical violence from a foreign government and its allies?
Remember the 2012 presidential campaign? It was just two years ago that Mitt Romney boasted that if he were elected president, he'd "get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent, perhaps a little lower" by the end of his first term in 2016.
Americans decided to re-elect President Obama instead. The unemployment dropped below 6 percent in September 2014, about two years ahead of Romney's timeline.
It was around this time when Newt Gingrich vowed that if he were the president, he'd lower the price of gas to $2.50 a gallon. That was the threshold for success.
Which brings us to this morning's latest news from the energy sector.
This week's national average is $2.47 per gallon, also down by more than 14 cents from last week.
Triple-A analysts say prices could fall even further in the coming weeks, barring unforeseen circumstances.
You know, by the standards set by Republicans two years ago, Obama sure is looking like a great success, isn't he?
The Affordable Care Act covers an enormous amount of policy ground, and on every front, it's having considerable success. But the point of initiating the reform effort in the first place was to bring coverage to those who need it -- Americans, like residents of every other advanced democracy on the planet, should be able to receive affordable medical care when they need it.
And when it comes to extending coverage to those who've lacked it, the latest data is very encouraging. Time's Zeke Miller reported this morning:
New federal government data shows the percentage of Americans without health insurance was at or near historic lows this year following the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, and appears certain to fall to record levels next year.
The data released Thursday from the National Center for Health Statistics' National Health Interview Survey found that 11.3 percent of Americans were without coverage in the second quarter of 2014, down from 13.1 percent in the first quarter and 14.4 percent throughout 2013. An analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers finds the drop in the uninsured to be the largest in four decades, amounting to roughly 9.7 million Americans getting insurance, consistent with other Affordable Care Act estimates.
Note, as encouraging as this is, the figures do not include the recent data on new enrollments, which is also quite heartening at this point.
Miller's report flagged this new piece from White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman and CEA Senior Economist Matt Fiedler, who argued, "As this week's data confirm, 2014 has seen dramatic coverage gains, gains matched or exceeded only by those seen in the decade of rapid progress that followed the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Following this year's gains, we estimate that the Nation's uninsured rate is now at or near the lowest levels ever recorded across the 50 years for which we have data."
I'm sure the right doesn't want to hear this, but results like these are what success looks like. Those wedded to the idea that "Obamacare" is a "failure" simply have their heads in the sand.