News Round-Up 5/30/14: A Day Of Resignations

Sweet farewell — of sorts. The Blues & the News will momentarily be moving to weekends while the blog undergoes some life shifts and growing pains. We will see how this goes. Kickoff scheduled for next weekend as opposed to this upcoming one. Failure or success? We will seeeee!

cnn / driving through the white desert in egypt
cnn / driving through the white desert in egypt

Assorted Stand-Outs:

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Breaking: Jay Carney steps down as White House press secretary

It’s a day of resignations. Jay Carney is the second press secretary to leave the Obama administration. He will be replaced by Josh Earnest, his deputy. From WaPo and NBC:

 

President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance Friday to announce that his chief spokesman Jay Carney is leaving his post behind the podium.

Obama called Carney one of his closest advisers and friends at the White House in remarks to the press in the White House briefing room.

 

Deputy Josh Earnest will take over the job as the president’s press secretary.

“Today the flak jacket is officially passed to a new generation,” he said of Earnest.

Breaking: Shinseki resigns

The head of the VA is stepping down. Video and NYT:

 

Eric Shinseki resigned as secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department Friday after meeting face-to-face with President Obama about mounting evidence of widespread misconduct and mismanagement at the agency’s vast network of medical facilities.

In a statement Friday morning after the meeting, Mr. Obama said that Mr. Shinseki had offered his resignation from the post he has held since the beginning of the presidnet’s administration. “With regret, I accepted,” Mr. Obama said.

“He has worked hard to investigate and identify the problem,” the president said, adding that Mr. Shinseki told him that “the V.A. needs new leadership to address it. He does not want to be a distraction.”

Mr. Shinseki, 71, had said for weeks that he wanted to stay in his job to confront accusations that officials at the department’s hospitals had manipulated waiting lists to cover up long delays in scheduling appointments for thousands of veterans.

In a speech Friday morning to a veterans group, he apologized and described his agency as having “a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity.” He vowed to fix what he called a “breach of integrity” and said he had already initiated the firing of top managers at the V.A. medical center in Phoenix, where allegations of mismanagement first surfaced.

News Round-Up 5/29/14: Piketty, New Isolationism, & Inequality

Announcing some upcoming adjustments to the blog: Due to a change in your blogger’s professional life + daily routine, this blog may move to the weekends as opposed to weekdays, with the exception of breaking news updates. Though this is certainly not ideal, it may be necessary. Test-run will come next week and we will see how things shake out!

Spellers Charles Sirui Li (left) of Martinez, Georgia and Sumedh Garimella of Duluth, Georgia, watch as they wait for their turns during round two of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition National Harbor, Maryland. More than 250 spellers from the U.S. and seven other countries gathered to compete for the top honor in the annual spelling contest. | Getty Images
Spellers Charles Sirui Li (left) of Martinez, Georgia and Sumedh Garimella of Duluth, Georgia, watch as they wait for their turns during round two of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition National Harbor, Maryland. More than 250 spellers from the U.S. and seven other countries gathered to compete for the top honor in the annual spelling contest. | Getty Images

Assorted Stand-Outs:

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The Onion Targets the ICC

Justice in Conflict

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 12.47.55 PMInternational criminal justice and transitional justice are rarely funny. There are a few jokes. But outside of the hilarious, periodically knee-slapping pieces by Amanda and Kate at Wronging Rights, jokes about this stuff are few and far between.

Every now and then, though, international justice is made fun of. And it’s doubtful that anyone has done it better than The Onion. Their jokes are wickedly incisive. In their most recent gag, they take aim at the ICC’s record on sentencing:

Militia Leader Sentenced To 6 Months’ Probation For War Misdemeanors

THE HAGUE—Following his 15-minute appearance today before the Civil Ordinance division of the International Criminal Court, Mai Mai Kata Katanga militia leader Emile Kyenge was sentenced to six months’ probation for several war misdemeanors committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sources confirmed. “Mr. Kyenge’s crimes against the community, from trespassing on private land during nighttime raids to torching entire…

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News Round-Up 5/28/14: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou passed away this morning. If this blog had a flag, it would be at half-mast. Blessings and love to an incredible and extraordinary human. 

reuters / Family members hold hands as they mourn during the funeral of Belgium shooting victims, Israeli couple Emmanuel and Miriam Riva, at Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv
reuters / Family members hold hands as they mourn during the funeral of Belgium shooting victims, Israeli couple Emmanuel and Miriam Riva, at Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv
reuters / A bloodstained icon of Jesus is seen among blood soaked shattered glass atop a wrecked truck near the Donetsk airport
reuters / A bloodstained icon of Jesus is seen among blood soaked shattered glass atop a wrecked truck near the Donetsk airport

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Breaking: Maya Angelou has passed away

Incredibly sad news and a loss for everyone: Maya Angelou, author, poet, and activist, has passed away at 86. Rest in power.

reuters / U.S. poet Maya Angelou speaks during a ceremony to honor South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in Washington
reuters / U.S. poet Maya Angelou speaks during a ceremony to honor South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in Washington

Via NYT:

Maya Angelou, the memoirist and poet whose landmark book of 1969, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — which describes in lyrical, unsparing prose her childhood in the Jim Crow South — was among the first autobiographies by a 20th-century black woman to reach a wide general readership, died on Wednesday in her home. She was 86 and lived in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Her death was confirmed by her longtime literary agent, Helen Brann. No immediate cause of death had been determined, but Ms. Brann said Ms. Angelou had been in frail health for some time and had had heart problems.

As well known as she was for her memoirs, which eventually filled six volumes, Ms. Angelou very likely received her widest exposure on a chilly January day in 1993, when she delivered the inaugural poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” at the swearing-in of Bill Clinton, the nation’s 42nd president, who, like Ms. Angelou, had grown up poor in rural Arkansas.

Argentina Slams UN Security Council Over ICC Referral, Entrenching Selectivity

Justice in Conflict

Ambassador Perceval (right) with US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power (Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider) Ambassador Perceval (right) with US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power (Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider)

Some of the best responses to both failed and successful UN Security Council resolutions are seldom read or heard because they come from small or middle-power states and because they get lost in the fray of big-power rhetoric. Just one notable example is Brazil’s insistence, following both the Security Council’s referral of Darfur (2005) and Libya (2011) to the International Criminal Court (ICC), that exempting citizens of non-states parties fundamentally undermines the ICC as an institution and international criminal justice as a project.

Last week, in response to the failed referral of Syria to the ICC, Argentina’s Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador María Cristina Perceval lambasted the Security Council. But she did so not simply for its failure to refer Syria to the Court. Instead, Perceval slammed the Council for its insistence in propagating referrals…

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News Round-Up 5/27/14: Modi + Sharif & Misogyny + Guns

Things that failed to make my breaking news updates from both NYT and WaPo (I blame my phone) — the misogyny-fueled shooting rampage that took place in California this weekend. Tragic and devastating, though unlikely to shift the American mentality that gun control would be an impossible demand and a burden on our nation’s upstanding and rightly-minded gun owners. (Read: Sarcasm.)

Apart from that, I hope everyone (if based in the US/American/etc) enjoyed and reflected on their Memorial Day weekend. Happy Tuesday!

reuters / India's PM Modi is greeted by his Pakistani counterpart Sharif after Modi took the oath of office at the presidential palace in New Delhi
reuters / India’s PM Modi is greeted by his Pakistani counterpart Sharif after Modi took the oath of office at the presidential palace in New Delhi

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Breaking: SCOTUS rules for death row inmates regarding IQ tests

Via WaPo:

The Supreme Court says states must look beyond an intelligence test score in borderline cases of mental disability to determine whether a death row inmate is eligible to be executed.

The justices said in a 5-4 ruling Tuesday that Florida cannot rely solely on an IQ score above 70 to bar an inmate from claiming mental disability. Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court that IQ tests have a margin of error and that inmates whose scores fall within the margin must be allowed to present other evidence of mental disability.

A score of 70 is widely accepted as a marker of mental disability, but medical professionals say people who score as high as 75 can be considered intellectually disabled because of the test’s margin of error.