Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has accused House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of inappropriately intervening in an ongoing Federal Trade Commission case against a company being represented by a legal group run by a former Issa staffer. Last month, Issa sent a letter to the FTC questioning testimony the agency had gathered for the case, which targets a medical testing company called LabMD. The firm allegedly exposed the personal data of almost 10,000 people. On Thursday morning, Issa's committee held a hearing that featured LabMD CEO Michael Daugherty and focused on whether the FTC has overstepped its bounds by investigating companies that experience data breaches.
"You [are] using heavy-handed, bullying tactics to undermine due process and to inappropriately assist the defendant LabMD," Rockefeller wrote in a recent letter to Issa, which was obtained by Mother Jones. "The inappropriate timing and nature of your investigation are buttressed by the revelation that LabMD is being represented by a former member of your committee staff." Rockefeller was referring to Daniel Epstein, who from January 2009 to August 2011 served as an oversight committee counsel. Epstein now heads a nonprofit legal advocacy group called Cause of Action, which is representing LabMD in the FTC matter.
This isn't the first time Anonymous has zeroed in on Israel; the collective has been launching cyber-attacks against the country for several years, with mixed results. "As a collective 'Anonymous' does not hate Israel, it hates that Israel's government is committing genocide & slaughtering unarmed people in Gaza to obtain more land at the border," an Anonymous spokesperson, using the Twitter handle @YourAnonCentral, tells Mother Jones. The spokesperson notes that there has never been any Anonymous action taken against Palestinian targets, including Hamas, the outfit governing Gaza and launching rocket attacks against Israel.
This week, a Kentucky lawkicks in that aims to protect domestic violence victims—not by taking away guns from their abusers, but by making it easier for victims to carry guns.
Kentucky has some of the most lax gun restrictions for domestic violence perps in the nation, and between 2003 and 2012, a greater percentage of intimate-partner homicides in Kentucky were committed with guns than anywhere else in the country. A number of states prohibit certain domestic abusers from possessing guns with laws that bar convicted stalkers, people subject to temporary restraining orders, or dating partners convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. Kentucky does none of that. For the chart above, Mother Jones looked at eight gun restrictions related to domestic violence that states have enacted; Kentucky had zero. (In the chart, Kentucky is in the upper right-hand corner.)
The new Kentucky law, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, doesn't stop abusers from possessing a firearm. But it makes it easier for victims to carry a weapon. Under the law, anyone granted an emergency protective order or who obtains a domestic violence order can apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, temporarily waiving the requirement to complete firearms training. (The person still has to complete a background check.) This means a victim (or someone threatened with domestic violence) can obtain a concealed carry permit in as little as 24 hours.
Here's how that might play out in real life. Last year, Alisha Waters obtainedan emergency protective order in Kentucky against her estranged husband, who was allegedly stalking her. Under Kentucky law, an emergency protective order does not bar the target of the order from possessing or purchasing firearms. (A new federal bill seeks to change that.) Her husband came to her workplace in Fort Thomas and shot her multiple times with a legally-obtained gun—rendering her a quadriplegic—before killing himself.
If the new Kentucky law had been in place, Waters' husband would still have been allowed to purchase guns. But Waters would have been able to get an expedited concealed carry permit. She spoke to WLWT News 5 on Tuesday about the law, noting, "I don't know that it's a good idea."
The new law is based on an argument long pushed by gun rights advocates: women are safer when they are toting guns. But researchers have questioned this notion. A study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that 20 percent of women killed in California were murdered by an intimate partner using a gun. But among the female victims who had purchased handguns, that number jumped to 45 percent.
"In America, on average, 46 women are shot to death by a current or former husband or boyfriend each month," says Stacey Radnor, a spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety. "This latest move in Kentucky is a distraction from what we should really be focusing on: saving women's lives by keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers."
Video puporting to show smoke from the site of the crash
On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines lost contact with Flight MH17, and, according to media reports, it crashed in Ukraine's embattled Donetsk region. The flight was carrying 295 passengers and crew and heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. An unconfirmed report from Interfax says MH17 was shot down.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's minister of the interior, wrote on his Facebook page that the plane was hit by a missile fired from a Buk missile system, according to the AP. But there was no immediate confirmation. A defense official with the Ukrainian separatists denied that the rebels were involved in downing the plane.
Passenger jets have been shot down in the past. Below is a list of five previous episodes.
Siberian Airlines Flight SB 1812 October 4, 2001 78 Dead Shot down by Ukraine
A Tupolev Tu-154, the type of plane flown on Flight SB 1812 Wikimedia
Siberian Airlines Flight SB 1812, flying from Tel Aviv over the Black Sea, was shot down by a missile, killing all 78 people on board. Yevhen Marchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Security Council, acknowledged that a missile shot down the plane. "The reason for the crash could be an unintentional hit by an S-200 missile during the Ukrainian air defense exercises," he said.
Iran Air Flight 655 July 3, 1988 290 Dead Shot down by the United States
Iranians demonstrate against the US at a mass protest for Flight 655 victims. Canadian Press/AP
Iran Air Flight 655, flying over the Persian Gulf and bound for Dubai, was shot down by an American naval warship, killing all 290 people on board. According to Navy officials, the ship, which had been exchanging fire with Iranian vessels, fired missiles at the plane because the crew mistook it for a F-14 fighter jet. The government in Tehran didn't see the shooting as an accident, and the incident caused political ramifications that resonate to this day.
Korean Air Lines Flight 007 September 1, 1983 269 Dead Shot down by the Soviet Union
Family of a Flight 007 passenger break down as South Korea confirms the crash. Kim Chon-Kil/AP
Headed from New York to Seoul, KAL Flight 007 was shot down by the Soviet Union near Moneron Island. After leaving Anchorage to make the last leg of its journey, the plane drifted slightly off course and edged into Soviet airspace. The Boeing 747 didn’t look too different on radar from the RC-135s that the US government used for surveillance in the area, prompting the Russians to scramble a fighter jet that fired two missiles at Flight 007, killing all 269 passengers and crew members onboard. Afterward, the Soviets claimed that the flight was on a spying mission for the United States. Soviet leader Yuri Andropov called the flight a "sophisticated provocation masterminded by the US special services with the use of a South Korean plane." Lt. Colonel Gennadi Osipovich, the Soviet pilot who fired the missiles that brought down the plane, continued to insist long after the incident that "it was a spy plane." But when the Cold War ended the Russians recanted, with Russian leader Boris Yeltsin turning over flight data and recordings to the president of South Korea.
Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870 June 27, 1980 80 Dead Shot down by an unidentified warplane
The reassembled Itavia plane displayed at the Museum for the Memory of Ustica. Luca Ghedini/Wikimedia
Itavia Flight 870 was flying from Bologna, Italy, to Palermo, Sicily, when it crashed, killing 80 people on board. In 2013, Italy's highest court "implicitly acknowledged the most widely accepted theory behind the crash: that a missile fired by a warplane" hit the aircraft, the New York Times reported. But Italian officials did not confirm where the warplane came from.
Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 February 21, 1973 108 Dead Shot down by Israel
The Libyan Arab Airlines plane that would later be shot down by Israel. Piergiuliano Chesi/Wikimedia
The aircraft was shot down by Israel after instrument failure and bad weather caused the flight to veer off course. The Boeing 727 departed from Tripoli, Libya, and was on its way to Cairo, Eygpt. But after a short stop in Benghazi, it ran into a sandstorm and headed into the Sinai desert, controlled by the Israeli government after the Six Day War. The Israeli Defense Forces, on alert due to regional tensions that would soon cause the Yom Kippur War, sent two Phantom fighter jets after the Libyan flight. When the plane did not follow commands, the Israeli jets fired on the aircraft. It crashed in an emergency landing that killed 108 of the 113 passengers.
You might not have heard of Jack Antonoff, the mastermind of the indie-pop project, Bleachers, but he's definitely made you dance. The 30-year-old, best known as the lead guitarist of Fun (and Lena Dunham's boo) has co-written a number of addictive hits, including Fun's Grammy-winning "We Are Young" and Sara Bareilles' "Brave." Now he's turning his attention to his solo project, Bleachers, with the aim of making you dance and cry at the same time. "I lost my sister when I was 18, and I felt it was the monumental thing that happened in my life," Antonoff told me. "Now I'm 30, I write from that time, in the perspective of how it's affected me now." He tries to "find ways to move about the world and not feel broken all the time."
Antonoff says he wrote Strange Desire—his new album out this week—while driving alone at night, up and down the New Jersey Turnpike. His listeners, he believes, are excited when they get to hear, "more intense concepts than what might be going in the radio." On that note, he takes pains to attend to his fans. He announced the album through a Craigslist ad, asking people to do their own remixes of one of the singles. He later unveiled the album art by delivering it on a chocolate birthday cake to a group of fans. "What fanbases don't need is another obnoxious hash-tag campaign," he jokes.
On the surface, Strange Desire is a dance-party album, but it's the kind of party you're having alone, in your room, after everyone has gone home and your crush is making out with someone else. On the song "I Wanna Get Better," Antonoff sings, "Standing on the overpass screaming at cars / Hey, I wanna get better!" My favorite track is "Rollercoaster," a love song soaked in regret.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Antonoff likes Swedish pop star Robyn, of "Dancing on My Own" fame. More generally, he's a fan of songs that feel "epic and larger than life" while also making "you want to curl up and die." (He cites Bruce Springsteen, ABBA, Tom Waits, and Neil Young as artists who can fall into that category.) His album title, Antonoff says, comes from the feeling that he's "motivated by a strange desire. It pushes you, it fulfills you in a strange way. But it kind of kills you at the same time."