Trending In Our News Feeds – Government audit condemns IRS overreach. An audit released yesterday by the inspector general in charge of supervising the IRS charged the agency with using “inappropriate criteria” for screening groups seeking tax-exempt status. The report confirms the agency’s tax-exempt unit used terms such as “tea party” and “patriot” to target conservative political advocacy groups. However, the report suggests the IRS’ actions stemmed from clumsiness, not a partisan agenda. Inspector General J. Russell George says the tax-exempt unit employs workers who are ignorant of tax laws and defiant of their supervisors. President Obama called the IRS’ actions “intolerable and inexcusable.” He told Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to hold the agency accountable and take action to prevent future overreaches. The Justice Department and FBI are also launching investigations into the actions of the IRS. The Washington Post tells you why so many political groups are seeking tax-exempt status.
Justice Department scrambles to defend AP surveillance. Federal officials rushed to defend the Justice Department’s surveillance of the Associated Press yesterday, as journalists across the country slammed the Obama administration for its unprecedented efforts to silence whistleblowers. At a Justice Department press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed his department investigated the AP in response to a story revealing a foiled Al Qaeda attack. He said, “It put the American people at risk and that is not hyperbole. Trying to determine who was responsible required very aggressive action.” Deputy Attorney General James Cole echoed that sentiment in a letter to the AP.
The Editorial Board of The New York Times pushed back against the DOJ’s defense, arguing the government collected far more information than was necessary to protect national security. Citing 1972 guidelines on government surveillance of the media, the Board says government requests for media information should be as narrow as possible. An extensive grab of two months of phone records was not required in order to protect the country. The Christian Science Monitor asks if the AP scandal will cause Eric Holder to step down.
Gruesome video highlights Syria tensions. A video released this week showing a member of the Syrian opposition cutting into the body of a government soldier underlines how both sides in the Syrian conflict have committed atrocities. The video shows Khalid al-Hamad, the leader of an opposition brigade, cutting open a government soldier and biting into the man’s lung. Speaking with TIME, Hamad said, “Hopefully we will slaughter all of [the Alawites]. I have another video clip that I will send to them. In the clip, I am sawing another [government soldier]… I sawed him into small pieces and large ones.”
The video demonstrates the increasingly sectarian nature of the violence, and the controversial composition of the rebel forces. The conflict pits primarily Sunni rebels against government forces loyal to Assad’s Alawite faith. The opposition forces have been linked to Al Qaeda. The UN suspects that, like Assad’s forces, they have used chemical weapons. The BBC profiles the most prominent opposition forces.
World’s best films on display at Cannes. The world’s film elite descend on the French Riviera today as the prestigious Cannes Film Festival begins. The festival kicks off with a showing of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and will highlight work from Oscar contenders such as Alexander Payne and Nicolas Winding Refn. The festival’s judges will award the top prize, the Palme D’Or, to one of 20 nominated films. PolicyMic pundit Meghan Darcy profiles the extravagant festival, giving you eight must-do activities to cross off your list if you’re lucky enough to attend.
Status Updates – Be a part of our conversation on social justice in higher education. At the end of the month, PolicyMic’s Feminist Editor Sam Meier will be hosting a week-long discussion on social justice and higher education. We’ll be discussing topics ranging from student debt to college gender dynamics. Make sure to submit a post by Thursday, 5/16. Have ideas for topics we should discuss? Send them Sam’s way.
Reince Priebus responds to PolicyMic! Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has taken the time to respond to two of the most thoughtful comments on his op-ed explaining why Obama is failing millennials. Check out Chairman Priebus’ responses to get his take on how the GOP is staying true to its values and why small government will make the U.S. prosper.
Get to know PolicyMic’s newest D.C. pundit. As part of our D.C. City Challenge, we asked you to tell us one way you would change our nation’s capital. Find out why successful applicant Chelsea Dias thinks everyone should take a tour of Capitol Hill, and be sure to apply to join our awesome community of D.C. pundits.
Are you active in politics, art, or business? Let us know what you’re up to and we’ll feature you in this section!
Must Reads From PolicyMic – Why the IRS and AP Scandals Should Scare the Heck Out Of You (Mark Kogan, @markskogan) – The recent IRS and AP scandals are very serious issues that will unfortunately be dumbed down in the fight for 2016. Here is why they cannot be ignored.
[34 Mics, 29 Comments, 2224 Shares]
39% Of the Americans Who Think Benghazi Is a Big Deal Can't Find It On a Map (Aubrey Bloomfield, @aubbloomfield) – A new poll finds that 39% of those who think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in American history cannot even find Benghazi on a map. Hint: it’s not in Iran or Cuba.
[15 Mics, 18 Comments, 215 Shares]
Did You Know Angelina Jolie's Gene Mutation is At the Center Of a Supreme Court Battle? (Sam Bakkila, @sambakkila) – Research company Myriad Genetics has a patent on the genes that cause malignant breast and ovarian cancer. Their brutal defense of this patent has blocked early detection, treatment, and research.
[12 Mics, 5 Comments, 369 Shares]
Union Of the Snake: How California's Prison Guards Subvert Democracy (Sagar Jethani, @bluescreen) – The California Prison Guards’ Union won't let anything stand in its way. Including the Constitution.
[8 Mics, 2 Comments, 1 Share]
4 Reasons AMC is the King Of TV (Jordan Ecarma, @jdecarma) – AMC has scored three cable hits with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, coming out of nowhere to become a major force in the television world.
[6 Mics, 0 Comments, 0 Shares]
Who Would Have Thought Bitcoin Could Help the World's Poor? (Jeff Fong, @J_AndradeFong) – Despite Bitcoin's association with the developed world, its greatest contribution may be as a low cost payment system for the world’s struggling poor.
[4 Mics, 2 Comments, 38 Shares]
What We’re Sharing – This is the next step in the tech revolution: welcome to the programmable world (Wired).
How Chris Hadfield turned space into a reality show (Atlantic).
How would you respond if you knew you carried a gene for cancer? (Well)
Why cicadas are obsessed with prime numbers (Elements).
Attention millennials: your 20s are not a throwaway decade! (YouTube)
Hat tip: Catherine Flanagan
There’s something off with a lot of the Great Gatsby reviews (Medium).
Facebook is going to blow your mind with the world’s most advanced emoticons (PopSci).
Check out this awesome LEGO remake of a famous James Bond scene (Laughing Squid).
Dessert – This is what would happen if Congress got stuff done like college roommates.
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