Acting IRS commissioner repeatedly failed to tell Congress that tea party groups were targeted
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress was not told tea party groups were being inappropriately targeted by the Internal Revenue Service, even after acting agency Chief Steven Miller had been briefed on the matter.
Miller was first informed on May, 3, 2012, that applications for tax-exempt status by tea party groups were inappropriately singled out for extra scrutiny, the IRS said Monday.
At least twice after the briefing, Miller wrote letters to members of Congress to explain the process of reviewing applications for tax-exempt status without disclosing that tea party groups had been targeted. On July 25, 2012, Miller testified before the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, but again did not mention the additional scrutiny — despite being asked about it.
At the hearing, Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, told Miller that some politically active tax-exempt groups in his district had complained about being harassed. Marchant did not explicitly ask if tea party groups were being targeted. But he did ask how applications were handled.
Miller responded, "We did group those organizations together to ensure consistency, to ensure quality. We continue to work those cases," according to a transcript on the committee's website.
AP IMPACT: Obama administration allows wind farms to kill eagles, birds despite federal laws
CONVERSE COUNTY, Wyo. (AP) — It happens about once a month here, on the barren foothills of one of America's green-energy boomtowns: A soaring golden eagle slams into a wind farm's spinning turbine and falls, mangled and lifeless, to the ground.
Killing these iconic birds is not just an irreplaceable loss for a vulnerable species. It's also a federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines.
But the administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company, even those that flout the law repeatedly. Instead, the government is shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret.
Wind power, a pollution-free energy intended to ease global warming, is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's energy plan. His administration has championed a $1 billion-a-year tax break to the industry that has nearly doubled the amount of wind power in his first term.
But like the oil industry under President George W. Bush, lobbyists and executives have used their favored status to help steer U.S. energy policy.
Angelina Jolie writes in op-ed she's had both breasts removed over genetic cancer risk
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Angelina Jolie says that she has had a preventive double mastectomy after learning she carried a gene that made it extremely likely she would get breast cancer.
The Oscar-winning actress and partner to Brad Pitt made the announcement in the form of an op-ed she authored for Tuesday's New York Times (http://nyti.ms/17o4A0fhttp://nyti.ms/17o4A0f ) under the headline, "My Medical Choice." She writes that between early February and late April she completed three months of surgical procedures to remove both breasts.
Jolie, 37, writes that she made the choice with thoughts of her six children after watching her own mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, die too young from cancer.
"My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56," Jolie writes. "She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was."
She writes that, "They have asked if the same could happen to me."
Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy: Q&A
Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie announced on Tuesday that she had a preventative mastectomy after learning she had a gene that significantly raised her risk of breast cancer. Here's a crash course in the procedure Jolie had and why.
Q: What kind of surgery did Jolie have?
A: Jolie had a preventative double mastectomy, meaning she chose to have both her breasts removed even though she had not been diagnosed with cancer.
Q: Why did she have the mastectomies?
Government uses subpoena to gain wide swath of Associated Press telephone records
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.
In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than a hundred journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
"There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know," Pruitt said.
Police search for 19-year-old man shooting, wounding of 19 at New Orleans Mother's Day parade
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans police and federal authorities were searching early Tuesday for a young man who is suspected of opening fire at a Mother's Day parade in New Orleans, wounding 19.
Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas identified the suspect late Monday as Akein Scott, 19, of New Orleans. Referring to blurry surveillance camera images of the mass shooting, Serpas said police have "multiple identifications of Akein Scott as the shooter" seen in the film.
Serpas said officers would be searching all night and into Tuesday for Scott, whom he called "no stranger to the criminal justice system." He urged the teen, who has previous arrests on firearms and drug charges, to give himself up.
"We would like to remind the community and Akein Scott that the time has come for him to turn himself in," Serpas said at a news conference outside police headquarters.
A photo of Scott hung from a podium in front of the police chief. "We know more about you than you think we know," he said.
Bangladesh holds mass prayer at wreckage of building collapse that killed 1,127
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Thousands of mourners gathered Tuesday at the wreckage of a Bangladeshi garment factory building to offer prayers for the souls of the 1,127 people who died in the structure's collapse last month, the worst tragedy in the history of the global garment industry.
The Islamic prayer service was held a day after the army ended a nearly three-week, painstaking search for bodies among the rubble and turned control of the site over to the civilian government for cleanup.
Recovery workers got a shocking boost Friday when they pulled a 19-year-old seamstress alive from the wreckage. But most of their work entailed removing corpses that were so badly decomposed from the heat they could only be identified if their cellphones or work IDs were found with them. The last body was found Sunday night.
Soldiers in camouflage, police and firefighters in uniform stood solemnly in neat rows near relatives of the dead. Many of the rescue workers had pained expressions on their faces. Tears rolled down the cheeks of one soldier.
The mourners raised their cupped hands in prayer and asked for the salvation of those who lost their lives when the Rana Plaza building came crashing down on April 24. They also appealed for divine blessings for the injured still in the hospital.
Kate and William's first child on the way but royal housing options still unclear
LONDON (AP) — Is it a boy? A girl? Prince William and the former Kate Middleton aren't telling, and palace officials are not revealing where the royal baby will spend its first few months, since renovation of their future home at Kensington Palace is taking longer than expected.
William's tour of duty as a search-and-rescue pilot in Wales is scheduled to wrap up around September, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as the pair is formally known, are preparing to move from an isolated cottage on a Welsh island to new digs at Kensington Palace in central London.
But the timing isn't quite right. Major refurbishment works at the palace likely won't be finished until at least a month or two after the infant is born. The baby (and future monarch) is due in July.
A major relocation can complicate things for any young parents-to-be; William and Kate are no exception, despite their wealth and prestige.
The couple's chosen quarters at the palace have fallen into disrepair since its former occupant, Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II, died in 2002. Workers are still upgrading it and getting rid of an asbestos problem.
Big 4 cellphone carriers unite behind AT&T's 'It Can Wait' anti-texting-and-driving campaign
NEW YORK (AP) — The country's four biggest cellphone companies are set to launch their first joint advertising campaign against texting while driving, uniting behind AT&T's "It Can Wait" slogan to blanket TV and radio this summer.
AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile will be joined by 200 other organizations backing the multi-million dollar ad campaign.
The campaign is unusual not just because it unites rivals, but because it represents companies warning against the dangers of their own products. After initially fighting laws against cellphone use while driving, cellphone companies have begun to embrace the language of the federal government's campaign against cellphone use by drivers.
AT&T and Verizon have run ads against texting and driving since 2009. In 2005, Sprint Nextel Corp. created an education program targeting teens learning to drive.
"Every CEO in the industry that you talk to recognizes that this is an issue that needs to be dealt with," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in an interview. "I think we all understand that pooling our resources with one consistent message is a lot more powerful than all four of us having different messages and going different directions."
US, Russia and Iran put aside differences, join together for wrestling meet in New York
The governments of the United States and Russia can sometimes be at odds.
Americans and Iranians rarely see eye to eye on anything.
But the possibility of wrestling losing its Olympic spot has given these three often-divergent nations a cause to rally around.
The U.S., Russian and Iranian wrestling teams will meet on Wednesday for an historic exhibition in New York. It's a showcase event for what the sport's international governing body has dubbed "World Wrestling Month."
The IOC in February recommended that wrestling be dropped from the Olympic program starting in 2020. Wrestling now has to plead its case to the IOC to be included as a provisional sport in St. Petersburg, Russia on May 29.