Trending In Our News Feeds – North Korea dials down tensions with U.S. In a sign of decreasing tensions between the U.S. and Pyongyang, North Korea has removed two medium-range Musudan missiles from its eastern coast, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. The missiles had been prepared for a possible strike against Japan or U.S. bases in the Pacific.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Park Geun-hye will meet with President Obama today to discuss North Korea and mark 60 years of U.S.-South Korean cooperation. In an interview ahead of her U.S. trip, Geun-hye promised to respond firmly to military provocations from Pyongyang, saying, “We’ll make them pay.” However, The New York Times reports the two leaders may not make much progress, because we know less about North Korea’s military operations than we used to. Intelligence experts wrongly predicted that Kim Jong-un would focus on economic reform, and we do not know if North Korea’s military can enrich uranium. On a lighter note, PolicyMic’s Andrea Ayres-Deets rounds up 10 gut-wrenchingly funny facts you didn’t know about North Korea.
Whistleblowers accuse government of Benghazi cover-up. Two new “whistleblowers” have critiqued the Obama administration’s response to the attacks in Benghazi ahead of a hearing on the issue in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday. Mark Thompson, the deputy coordinator for operations in the State Department’s counterterrorism bureau, will testify that Hillary Clinton and a high-level aide cut the counterterrorism bureau out of the decision-making process on the night of the attack. He says the State Department’s Accountability Review Board suppressed his account of the events. The deputy head of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, Gregory Hicks, claims the Pentagon told Special Operations forces to stand down during the attack. He argues they could have made a difference in the strike. In a partial transcript of Hick’s testimony released ahead of the hearing he says, “My jaw hit the floor as I watched [U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speak]... I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day... I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate.”
The whistleblowers’ testimony has reignited the debate over the White House’s response to the Benghazi attack. The Washington Post showcases opinions on both sides of the debate. Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein argues the government’s critics have never been able to articulate what the White House was actually trying to cover up. On the other side of the debate, columnist Marc Thiessen writes the new testimony confirms that the government’s response to Benghazi warrants an investigation.
Immigration reform to face GOP challenge in Senate. The Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill will face its toughest challenge yet at a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee that begins on Thursday. The New York Times reports the hearing will last at least three weeks and give opponents the opportunity to propose hundreds of amendments. Senator Jeff Sessions (R–Ala.), a vocal opponent of the bill, says, “The longer this legislation is available for public review, the worse it’s going to be perceived. The longer it lays out there, the worse it’s going to smell. The tide is going to turn.”
The hearing comes on the heels of a Heritage Foundation report which argues that creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would cost the U.S. $6.3 trillion over 50 years, eating up over $9 trillion in benefits, while contributing only $3 trillion in taxes. Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour critiqued the report, saying it should not be taken as serious analysis.
South Carolina heads to the polls in special election. Polls close tonight at 7:00 P.M. in the South Carolina special election to fill Tim Scott’s congressional seat. A survey by Public Policy Polling had GOP candidate Mark Sanford ahead of Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, by one point heading into today’s election. Statistics superstar Nate Silver digs through the data to tell you why Colbert Bush probably won’t represent South Carolina for long, even if she pulls out a win today.
Lauryn Hill sentenced to three months in jail for dodging taxes. A federal court in New Jersey sentenced singer Lauryn Hill to three months in jail at a hearing yesterday for evading $3 million in income taxes. The R&B star and former Fugees frontwoman will report to prison on July 8. Remember better times for Lauryn by listening to this killer duet with Tanya Blount, and check out these 10 ways the rich dodge taxes.
Status Updates – Learn how six million pounds of floating trash made America greener. Our friends at Retro Report have a released a video telling the story of the Mobro 4000, the garbage barge left to float at sea for five months carrying six million pounds of New York trash. Watch the video and find out how “the most watched load of garbage in the memory of Man” sparked the U.S. recycling movement.
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Must Reads From PolicyMic – Some People Just Do Not Understand Guns (David Susman, @dacsus65) – Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to firearms and gun control. So why is the know-nothing crowd dictating the terms of the conversation?
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5 Traps to Avoid When Taking Your Final Exams (Perry Nagin) – A former teacher reveals how to prep for your highly anticipated end-of-the-year tests.
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So Who Do You Call If You Get Kidnapped In Syria? (Shwetika Baijal, @shwetika) – “Kidnap, ransom, and extortion” is one of the services offered by private security firms and insurance companies. Meet the guys who lend a hand when people go missing and governments can't help.
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4 Seen and Unseen Consequences Of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Jessie Bullock, @jessiebullock) – Four major sections of the Senate immigration bill have both predictable and unforeseen consequences. Here is what to expect as the immigration reform debate plays out.
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How Anti-Fracking Became the Environmental Cause Celebrities Love Most (Mijin Cha) – Mark Ruffalo is a successful celebrity activist for the same reasons that everyday people are able to make a difference in their communities.
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What We’re Sharing – Newsweek sent a journalist to explore the depths of the online terror underworld.
NY Times: “Google Glass is going to cause quite a brawl.”
At this rate, we won’t be out of the recession until fall 2014 (CNN).
Why it’s bogus to argue that gun laws wouldn’t have prevented Newtown (National Journal).
Inside the miracle of the Zanesville zoo escape (GQ).
Science says playing guitar gives you game (Pacific Standard).
Nearly 40% of Americans blame Superstorm Sandy on the end of times (Reuters).
On the East Coast, cicadas are about to outnumber people 600-1 (AP).
BONUS: How to build your very own cicada tracker.
The Onion got hacked yesterday: this is what they learned.
Dessert – 45 legendary photos of famous people hanging out together.
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