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Sudden, dramatic turn to chaos in Ferguson

Sudden, dramatic turn to chaos in Ferguson

08/19/14 12:00AM

Rachel Maddow reports live as protests in Ferguson take a sudden and dramatic turn as police use sound cannons, tear gas and more to disperse crowds in the streets even as protesters self-police to discourage agitators. watch

Sore lack of leadership hinders Ferguson

Sore lack of leadership hinders Ferguson

08/18/14 11:37PM

Lizz Brown, attorney and columnist for the St. Louis American, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether anyone in the Ferguson community has the leadership and authority to speak directly to protesters with a credible voice. watch

Ahead on the 8/18/14 Maddow show

08/18/14 08:47PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Charlie Dooley, County Executive for St. Louis County Missouri. He is asking the Missouri Attorney General to remove St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch from the investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown.
  • Anthony Gray, an attorney for Michael Brown's family
  • Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, live from Ferguson, Missouri
  • Lizz Brown, attorney and columnist for the St. Louis American

Don't forget! MSNBC is in extended live coverage of the events in Ferguson. Watch for Chris Hayes to be back live in the 11 p.m. ET hour.

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Monday's Mini-Report, 8.18.14

08/18/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* President Obama announced this afternoon that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder "will be travelling to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with the FBI agents and DOJ personnel conducting the federal criminal investigation and he will receive an update from them on their progress."
* Curfew lifted: "In the aftermath of yet another violent night in Ferguson, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday lifted a previously implemented midnight curfew for residents."
* Possible grand jury proceedings: "The office of the county prosecutor has said a grand jury could start hearing evidence Wednesday in the fatal shooting of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown by a white police officer on August 9. Ed Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, told the Associated Press that authorities aim to start presenting the case Wednesday, the grand jury's regular meeting date."
* Iraq: "Iraqi Kurdish forces said they recaptured Iraq's biggest dam from Islamist militants on Monday, as the United States launched air strikes to secure what has become a vital strategic objective in fighting that threatens to break up the country."
* Now they're happy: "Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) on Monday cheered President Obama's decision to expand airstrikes against Islamist militants to help Iraqi forces regain control of the country's biggest dam."
* Latest from Ukraine: "Separatists rebels on Monday attacked a caravan of cars carrying refugees trying to flee war-ravaged eastern Ukraine, killing 'dozens' of people in a devastating barrage of artillery fire, Ukrainian military officials said, though rebel leaders denied there had been any attack at all."
* The Washington Post, thankfully, is keeping up a great live-blog during the corruption trial for former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).
* I can only hope there's been some kind of mistake: "Time Inc. has fallen on hard times. Would you believe that this once-proud magazine publishing empire is now explicitly rating its editorial employees based on how friendly their writing is to advertisers?"
Voters wait in line to cast their vote at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on November 6, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.

'Twelve percent turnout is an insult to your children'

08/18/14 03:47PM

The Rev. Al Sharpton, host of msnbc's "Politics Nation," spoke at the Greater Grace Church's services yesterday, and addressed the crisis surrounding Michael Brown's death from a variety of angles. Of particular interest, though, was one of Sharpton's challenges to the community itself.
"Michael Brown is gonna change this town," he said, before criticizing the paltry voting record on the area. "You all have got to start voting and showing up. 12% turnout is an insult to your children."
That was not an exaggeration. The historical and institutional trends that created the current dynamic in Ferguson -- a largely African-American population led by a largely white local government -- are complex, but the fact that black voters haven't been politically engaged has contributed to the challenges facing the community. In the most recent elections, turnout really was just 12%.
Patricia Bynes, a black woman who is the Democratic committeewoman for the Ferguson area, told the New York Times that last week's developments may shake the complacency that too often shapes local politics. "I'm hoping that this is what it takes to get the pendulum to swing the other way," Bynes said.
To that end, Ferguson residents have had an enormous amount of work to do over the last several days -- mourn, grieve, protest, and recover, all while struggling through moments of violence -- but haven't forgotten about the importance of civic engagement in general, and voter registration in specific.
A Russian convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Ukraine travels along a road south of the city of Voronezh

The prospect of war looms over Ukraine, Russia

08/18/14 12:52PM

Zack Beauchamp and Max Fisher asked the sort of question on Friday that needs an answer: "Did Russia and Ukraine just start a war?" The answer probably isn't as obvious as it should be.
Wars often come with some kind of qualifier -- there are, among other things, hot wars, cold wars, open wars, and civil wars. Do any of these apply to developments in Ukraine? The answer obviously matters, but is surprisingly tough to nail down. From the Vox report:
On Friday, as a Russian "aid convoy" of 280 trucks neared the Ukrainian border, NATO said that a separate "incursion" of Russian military forces had crossed into Ukraine. The Russian forces are reportedly in eastern Ukrainian territory held by Russia-backed separatist rebels, according to NATO and Ukrainian government officials. Some reports suggest that there may be open fighting between Ukrainian military forces and the Russian incursion, but it's far from clear whether that's true or what precisely is happening on the ground.
So where's this "aid convoy" now? As of this morning, the trucks, with unknown contents, are stuck. There were talks over the weekend about Ukrainian border guards being able to inspect the trucks, "but negotiations on technicalities were continuing."
If the trucks are simply carrying aid supplies, it's not clear why negotiations would be necessary.
In the meantime, the New York Times reported yesterday that Ukrainian troops "moved into the heart of the separatist hub of Luhansk for the first time, officials said, chipping at one of the cornerstones of the pro-Russia rebels' disintegrating virtual state." The Ukrainian advance is "raising pressure" on Vladimir Putin, who sometimes tries to maintain the pretense that his government isn't backing the rebels.

Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.18.14

08/18/14 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:
* In Hawaii's U.S. Senate Democratic primary, appointed Sen. Brian Schatz actually saw his lead grow slightly larger over Rep. Colleen Hanabusa following Friday's voting. He'll be heavily favored to win the general election in November.
* In Montana, state Democrats nominated Amanda Curtis, a freshman state legislator and high-school math teacher, to run for the U.S. Senate this year. Curtis, just 34 years old, is the obvious underdog against Rep. Steve Daines (R), who's led this race throughout the cycle.
* This might get tricky in a hurry: "Florida's new congressional map can't be put into effect until May of next year at the earliest, the state's Republican secretary of state and the Florida Association of Supervisors told a circuit court on Friday."
* Alaska Republicans have been concerned that Republican Senate hopeful Joe Miller, if he loses his GOP primary, might run as an independent and split the right. Miller said Friday he will support his party's nominee.
* Just about every day, another Republican congressional candidate endorses the concept of presidential impeachment. The latest is Mark Walker, a Republican in North Carolina's 6th congressional district.
* In New Mexico, a new Albuquerque Journal poll shows incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez (R) up by nine over Gary King (D) in her re-election bid, 50% to 41%.
* Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), now running in New Hampshire, was on the campaign trail yesterday with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). A journalist with the local CBS affiliate took a photo that suggests voter turnout was a bit of a problem.
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position as they monitor the area from their front line position in Bashiqa, a town 13 kilometres north-east of Mosul on Aug. 16, 2014.

U.S. air campaign in Iraq intensifies

08/18/14 11:40AM

Congressional Republicans complaining that President Obama isn't "on the offensive" enough against ISIS have a little less to complain about this morning.
The White House sent a letter to Congress yesterday, notifying lawmakers of "targeted air strikes to support operations by Iraqi forces to recapture the Mosul Dam." The letter argued, among other things, that ISIS control of this key piece of infrastructure "could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace."
As of this morning, it appears the military operations have had the intended effect. NBC News reported earlier:
American warplanes helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces dislodge Islamist militants from a key dam in a fierce battle that stretched across at least 30 miles on Monday. U.S. jets roared overhead and pushed back Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) who have been threatening the Washington-backed government in Baghdad. Smoke billowed from three positions around the dam complex, and a village ten miles from it was shrouded in smoke. New explosions could be heard every few minutes.
Several of ISIS' vehicles were destroyed -- including at least one that had clearly been hit by an airstrike. A building at an ISIS checkpoint was also flattened. After Kurdish fighters fired four rockets, militants fired back three shells that landed about 80 yards from NBC News' position. While Kurdish fighters claimed they had taken control of the area around the dam, fighting continued as ISIS retreated.
The Hill added that yesterday's strikes saw the "first reported use of land-based bombers in the campaign, Previously, most of the strikes had been conducted by a mix of fighter jets and drones."
As for the authorization for all of this, The Hill also quoted a statement from the U.S. Central Command, which said the strikes were conducted "under authority to support humanitarian in Iraq, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces, who are working together to combat" ISIS.
And what about Congress?
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, watches President Barack Obama speak during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Boehner's contempt for Obama reaches tipping point

08/18/14 11:07AM

As a rule, those who ask House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) about his relationship with President Obama tend to hear the same answer: the two leaders "get along fine," the Ohio Republican likes to say.
But as Boehner's frustrations mount, his commitment to a respectful tone has disappeared. The Speaker sat down with KTGO in North Dakota on Friday and showed real contempt for the president with a tone that seemed unusually caustic for Boehner.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) blasted President Obama's domestic and foreign policies in a recent radio interview, saying Obama was "not prepared for the job." [...]
Boehner also blamed global tensions on Obama's "apology tour" five years ago.
In political science circles, there are often spirited debates about whether anyone is ever truly "prepared for the job" of the presidency, but the fact remains that Barack Obama has some of the most significant accomplishments of any president in a generation, even in the midst of crises few of his predecessors have had to endure. Boehner, on the other hand, is routinely ignored and bullied by his own members, struggles to complete even routine legislative tasks, and his most notable accomplishment as Speaker -- indeed, arguably his only accomplishment -- was a government shutdown with no apparent purpose.
One of these two leaders is probably "not prepared for the job," but it's not who Boehner thinks.
As for the Speaker's reliance on the "apology tour" talking point, it's a painfully dumb argument, but more importantly, it's beneath Boehner's office. We expect lazy, recycled rhetoric from random talking heads on Fox, not the Speaker of the House.
Wait, it gets worse.