Challengers Emerge to Face Clinton

With the emergence of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail and Clinton Foundation scandals during her time as Secretary of State, Democrats are searching for a viable alternative to represent their party in 2016. Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (D), aged 52, is a potential contender. O’Malley is attempting to persuade voters of the need for a generational change in leadership. Clinton is 67. According to aides, O’Malley’s main challenges will be achieving name recognition and a fundraising base. Don Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee said, “If Hillary runs, I don’t see any realistic path for anyone.”

Other potential contenders include former Senator James Webb (D-VA) and Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT).

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SCOTUS Justices Divided on Obamacare Subsidies

Supreme Court justices heard arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act and health insurance subsidies on Wednesday. The last time the SCOTUS ruled on Obamacare in 2012, the case questioned the inherent constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. In King v. Burwell, the issue is the whether tax credits can be used to help individuals pay for coverage in states where the federal government oversees the health insurance marketplace. The conservative justices seem to agree with the challengers in this case, maintaining that providing subsidies for health insurance purchased on the federal exchange is illegal.

However it was unclear what Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy thought of the arguments, based on their comments and questions. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy are considered the swing votes in this case.

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Justice Department Concludes Policing in Ferguson is Racially Biased

The Justice Department’s civil rights division has released a report showing evidence of systemic racial bias in policing in Ferguson, MO. The killing of unarmed 18-year old African-American Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson last year led to national protests against anti-black discrimination by police departments. The report concludes that such bias was definitely present at Ferguson, where blacks make up 67% of the population but account for 93% of all arrests between 2012 and 2014. Blacks were also substantially more likely to be stopped by police while driving than whites, yet less likely to be found with any incriminating items, and more likely to be targeted by police in general — not only in law enforcement and prosecution, but even in racist e-mails sent throughout the police department referred to in the report.  Read More

Hillary Clinton Failed to Use Government Email as Secretary of State

On Monday it was revealed that Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, did not use a government issued email address in her time serving the White House. The State Department expressed its fears yesterday that Clinton’s use of her personal email for government correspondence during her four years as Secretary of State may have breached security and broken the requirement that emails be saved under the Federal Records Act. The House Committee investigating Benghazi uncovered the personal email use. Aides of Clinton have turned over some 55,000 pages worth of emails in 2013, but it is unclear how the process was conducted and what the aides considered to be emails related to Clinton’s governmental capacity.

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Israeli PM Flies to U.S. to Speak Before Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in America to give a speech to the U.S. Congress ahead of tightly contested Israeli elections. The speech, which is scheduled for Tuesday,  will argue that President Obama’s proposed nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran will not do enough to keep Israel safe. President Obama and his allies, meanwhile, have objected to the  speech, which was organized by House Speaker John Boehner without the involvement of the White House.  Read More

Rand Paul Favorite in CPAC Straw Poll

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won in yesterday’s straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference. More than 3,000 conference attendees voted in the poll: Senator Paul also won the straw poll in 2013 and 2014.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came in second place this year, drawing 21.4% of the vote. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came in third place followed by neurosurgeon Ben Carson in fourth. The CPAC straw poll is not thought to reflect preferences of the broader GOP electorate. CPAC is a forum for potential candidates to convene and give speeches on key issues. This year, for the first time, CPAC organizers structured the conference so that the audience could ask questions of candidates.

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House Fails to Approve Funding for Homeland Security

Friday, the House failed to approve a bill that would provide three weeks of funding to the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS will be forced shutdown, although many employees will be required to still work. The bill failed with a vote of 224 to 203. This failure is a result of a disagreement over Obama’s executive action that sought legal stauts for millions of immigrants. The Senate has passed a bill that approves funding for the DHS for a year, but requires the House’s approval to become official.  Read More

CPAC 2015 Begins & Contenders Take the Stage

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) began yesterday at the Gaylord National Resort in Washington D.C., featuring the Republican party’s most competitive contenders for the presidency in 2016. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was a controversial stand-out, mentioning labor union protests in his state  and calling on any future President to ensure that radical Islamists do not enter America. Walker said that if he could “take on 100,000 protestors, [he] can do the same around the world.” Chris Christie targeted Jeb Bush, calling him the selection of “the elites in Washington who make backroom deals.” He also made attacks on Walker for flip-flopping on issues. Other speakers included Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, and Mike Lee. Also discussed were plans to reform the U.S. on issues from health care to criminal justice.  Read More

FCC Votes In Favor of Net Neutrality Act

In a historic vote, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the implementation of new, stronger regulations on Internet speed and access. More commonly known as net neutrality, the rules will require Internet service providers to yield the same transmission speeds across all sites and entities, while preventing providers from arbitrarily blocking content. The Internet will also now be classified as a utility, like electricity and water. The changes will be published in the Federal Register sometime in the next few weeks, and will become effective 60 days after publication. The ruling will likely lead to lawsuits by opponents to challenge the regulations; AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon have all voiced their opposition.

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