Show Notes for Friday, June 21, 2013

alazraqui• Actor and comedian Carlos Alazraqui joins us in the Los Angeles Bureau at 11am ET / 8am PT for “Coffee With Carlos”

• Far-reaching immigration legislation offering the prize of U.S. citizenship to millions is swiftly gaining ground in the Senate following agreement between Republicans and Democrats on dramatic steps aimed at securing the border with Mexico.

U.S. stock futures are roughly 0.5% higher this morning as investors catch their breath after a market plunge that followed Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks Wednesday that the central bank may start winding down its stimulus policies later this year.

President Obama is holding his first meeting with a privacy and civil liberties board today as he seeks to make good on his pledge to have a public discussion about secretive government surveillance programs.

Official autopsy results are expected today for “Sopranos” star James Gandolfini, who died of an apparent heart attack while vacationing in Italy. Doctors analyzed samples from his body and will provide a final report later in the day.

• It was a Heat repeat last night. They beat the Spurs 95 to 88 to keep the NBA title in Miami. King James (and his headband crown) led the way with 37 points.

Show Notes for Thursday, June 20, 2013

Karl Frisch of Bullfight Strategies calls in at 9am ET / 6am PT to talk about another GOP senator coming out for marriage equality

• Actor-vist Melissa Fitzgerald (“The West Wing”) joins us in the Los Angeles Bureau at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT to talk about the news of the day

cho• Actress and comedian Margaret Cho calls in at 111:30am ET / 8:30am PT to talk about the new season of “Drop Dead Diva” on Lifetime

• President Obama followed in the footsteps of past U.S. leaders with a speech on Wednesday in Berlin, where he said he would ask Russia to join the United States in slashing its supply of strategic nuclear warheads.

FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged that the bureau uses unmanned drones for surveillance on U.S. soil during testimony before a Senate Committee on Wednesday, adding that it is done in a “very, very minimal way, and very seldom.”

• A bipartisan group of Senate negotiators is expected announce today it has reached an agreement designed to bolster border security mandates in the pending immigration reform bill.

• James Gandolfini, the actor who most famously portrayed Tony Soprano on the series “The Sopranos,” has died of a suspected heart attack in Italy at age 51.

Show Notes for Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SparksGuitar• Sexy Liberal Hal Sparks joins us in the Los Angeles Bureau at 11am ET / 8am PT for Humpdays With Hal

• Top U.S. security officials revealed yesterday that the government’s recently exposed surveillance programs led them to an al Qaeda cell that plotted, scouted, but ultimately abandoned a plan to bomb the Wall Street in 2008.

The NSA is reviewing whether to stop collecting a vast stockpile of records of Americans’ telephone calls by allowing telecommunications companies to retain the data until U.S. intelligence officials have a specific reason to review it for possible connections to terror plots, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

President Obama will renew his call Wednesday at a speech in Berlin to reduce the world’s nuclear stockpiles, including a proposed one-third reduction in U.S. and Russian warhead arsenals, a senior administration official says.

• Despite calls from GOP leaders to move away from focusing on social issues in light of the GOP’s 2012 election losses, the Republican-led House of Representatives Tuesday passed a bill that would restrict abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

FBI agents plan a third day of digging Wednesday in suburban Detroit for the remains of former Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared 38 years ago.

Show Notes for Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Charlie Pierce of Esquire’s Politics Blog calls in at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT to talk about questions surrounding Ed Snowden and the NSA

WattsRolonda Watts, host of Sundays With Rolonda on BlogTalkRadio, calls in at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT to talk about the Zimmerman Trial

• President Obama promised in an interview with PBS that his decision to arm Syrian rebels does not mean the United States is “taking sides in a religious war.” Obama also played down the “ruckus” over the NSA’s controversial surveillance programs.

President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin said they would sign an agreement on securing and destroying nuclear material to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, replacing a 1992 deal that expired on Monday.

• A key committee in the Republican-led House is preparing to cast its first votes on immigration this year, on a tough enforcement-focused measure that Democrats and immigrant groups are protesting loudly.

• The FBI saw enough merit in a reputed Mafia captain’s tip to once again break out the digging equipment in Michigan in search of the elusive remains of former Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa, last seen alive when he left for lunch with two mobsters 38 years ago.

Show Notes for Monday, June 17, 2013

The Rude Pundit calls in at 9:30am ET / 6:30am PT to talk about the Left’s reaction to the NSA Scandal

Knight• Actor and comedian Wayne Knight (“Seinfeld”) calls in at 9:50am ET / 6:50am PT to talk about his TV Land show, “The Exes”

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America calls in at 10am ET / 7am PT to talk about an unbelievable case of sexism in the Beltway press

• The Guardian says the British eavesdropping agency GCHQ repeatedly hacked into foreign diplomats’ phones and emails when the U.K. hosted international conferences, even going so far as to set up a bugged Internet café in an effort to get an edge in high-stakes negotiations.

Syria’s raging civil war was set to top the agenda at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland starting on Monday, with President Obama trying to get Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Syria’s most powerful ally, to help bring Bashar Assad to the negotiating table.

• President Obama has chosen a high-powered D.C. lawyer with extensive experience in all three branches of the government to be the State Department’s special envoy for closing down the military-run prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

Firefighters are getting a better handle on the most destructive wildfire ever in Colorado, but they’re still struggling against hot spots that could threaten homes that have been spared by the massive blaze.

Show Notes for Friday, June 14, 2013

GraysonRep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) calls in at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT to talk about his online petition for a “Mind Your Own Business” Act that is gaining popularity

• Sexy Liberal John Fugelsang (“Viewpoint” on Current TV) joins us from the NYC Bureau at 11am ET / 8am PT for Fridays With Fuglesang

• The United States and its allies have concluded that the government of Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons in Syria’s protracted civil war, leading President Obama to broaden aid — including military support — to opposition groups.

• The director of the National Security Agency and members of Congress on Thursday pledged to release more information in the coming week about thwarted terrorist attacks to prove the value of the agency’s sweeping surveillance tactics.

• Amid ongoing debate about the U.S. government tracking private citizens’ phone and internet use, FBI Director Robert Mueller said Thursday that the government might have prevented the 9/11 terrorist attacks had similar surveillance programs been in place in 2001.

• There was a groundbreaking ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday. The justices ruled unanimously that biotech companies may not patent human genes. However, genes in the lab may be patented.

Show Notes For Thursday, June 13, 2013

Karl Frisch of Bullfight Strategies calls in at 9am ET / 6am PT to give us his impressions of the NSA data mining controversy

TomaskyMichael Tomasky of The Daily Beast calls in at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT to talk about the NSA and Edward Snowden

• Alleged NSA leaker Edward Snowden claimed yesterday to have evidence that the U.S. government has been hacking into Chinese computer networks since at least 2009 – an effort he said is part of the tens of thousands of hacking operations American cyber spies have launched around the world.

• Phone records obtained by the government through a secret surveillance program disclosed last week helped to prevent “dozens” of terrorist acts, Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, told a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

FEMA has denied additional aid tied to deadly explosions at a Texas fertilizer plant, a decision ripped Wednesday by local and state officials who accused President Barack Obama of having “gone against his word.”

• Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said he was taken out of context Wednesday and tried to clarify his controversial comment from a committee markup earlier in the day, when he said the “incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”

Show Notes for Wednesday, June 12, 2013

MoulitsasMarkos Moulitsas, founder of DailyKos.com, calls in at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT to talk about the Senate’s immigration reform efforts

• Sexy Liberal Hal Sparks joins us in the Los Angeles Bureau at 11am ET / 8am PT for Humpdays With Hal

• Edward Snowden, an American who has leaked details of top-secret U.S. surveillance programs and is believed to be in Hong Kong, is technically free to leave the China-ruled city at any time, local lawyers said on Wednesday, and one suggested he probably should.

• Dogged by fear and confusion about sweeping spy programs, intelligence officials sought to convince House lawmakers in an unusual briefing Tuesday that the government’s years-long collection of phone records and Internet usage is necessary for protecting Americans — and does not trample on their privacy rights.

President Obama prodded Congress Tuesday to send him a bill by fall remaking the nation’s immigration laws, even as the Senate prepared to cast its first floor votes on the landmark measure opening a door to citizenship for millions.

At least four major wildfires fueled by hot, gusty weather Tuesday burned along the front of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, including two that together destroyed dozens of structures and chased people from hundreds of homes

Show Notes for Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pierce2Charlie Pierce of Esquire’s Politics Blog calls in at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT to talk about the new revelations in the NSA data mining situation

• Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who exposed classified U.S. surveillance programs leaked by an American defense contractor, said this morning that there will be more ‘significant revelations’ to come from the documents in the coming weeks and months.

The Obama administration considered whether to charge a government contractor with leaking classified surveillance secrets while it defended the broad U.S. spy program that it says keeps America safe from terrorists.

• As the Supreme Court prepares to once again weigh in on the issue of affirmative action, a record-low number of Americans (just 45%) support such programs, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Potential jurors in the George Zimmerman trial were questioned Monday about what they knew about the death of Trayvon Martin. The first four jurors to be grilled had at least a passing knowledge of the situation but said they had not immersed themselves in media coverage.

• Calling it “the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone,” Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday unveiled an operating system for iPhones and iPads that will radically overhaul how users’ touchscreens look.

Show Notes for Monday, June 10, 2013

The Rude Pundit calls in at 9:30am ET / 6:30am PT to give us his rude thoughts about the NSA spying program

Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, calls in at 10am ET / 7am PT to talk about Fox News’ war on women

Paige• Actor, producer, and director Peter Paige (“Queer As Folk”) joins us in the Los Angeles Bureau for the 11am ET / 8am PT hour to talk about his new show, “The Fosters”

A 29-year-old former CIA technical assistant named Edward Snowden revealed yesterday that he is the source who leaked information about vast National Security Agency surveillance programs collecting data about American citizens and foreigners.

A fifth victim of the horrific shooting spree in Santa Monica, Calif., was confirmed dead Sunday as law enforcement officials revealed the name of the suspected gunman as John Zawahri, 23.

• More than a year after the killing of Trayvon Martin touched off a national furor over race, guns and Florida’s expansive self-defense laws, George Zimmerman, the man who shot him to death, is going to trial today.

“Kinky Boots” won six Tony awards on Sunday including the top award of best musical and a prize for its composer, pop queen Cyndi Lauper, as Broadway presented its top honors.

Show Notes for Friday, June 7, 2013

Fugelsang2• Sexy Liberal John Fugelsang joins us from the New York Bureau at 10am ET / 7am PT for Fridays With Fugelsang

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) joins us in the Los Angeles Bureau at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT to update us on the IRS, Verizon, and AP situations in DC

The N.S.A. and the F.B.I. have been tapping into the servers of major Internet companies to collect audio, video, photographs, e-mails and other documents, according to a Washington Post report on a program code-named PRISM.

An I.R.S. official involved in a 2010 conference cited for wasteful spending said Thursday no rules were broken and no fraud occurred, though he acknowledged that video parodies, fancy hotel suites and other excesses funded by taxpayers never should have happened.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday he will appoint the state’s Republican attorney general Jeffrey Chiesa to serve as an interim senator to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

• Trade deals, cybercrime and North Korea will likely be at the top of the agenda when President Barack Obama spends two days with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a 200-acre California estate in Rancho Mirage, CA.

Tropical Storm Andrea weakened but remained dangerous as it moved northward Friday, threatening to cause flooding and severe thunderstorms along the East Coast.

Show Notes for Thursday, June 6, 2013

Karl Frisch of Bullfight Strategies calls in at 9am ET / 6am PT to talk about the importance of Sen. Frank Lautenberg and his death

FangLee Fang of “The Nation” calls in at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT to tell us about some GOP supporters of ObamaCare

• Shaking up his national security team, President Obama tapped diplomat Susan Rice as his national security adviser, defying Republicans who have vigorously criticized her faulty explanation about the attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Internal Revenue Service officials can expect a grilling today when they face lawmakers over the latest controversy to rock the agency: lavish spending at employee conferences.

• The head of the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday he’s dropping a proposal that would have let airline passengers carry small knives, souvenir bats, golf clubs and other sports equipment onto planes.

• Amid calls by some congressional Republicans for his resignation, Attorney General Eric Holder told NBC News Wednesday that he has no intentions of stepping down.

• A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary to suspend existing organ allocation rules to give a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl a better chance at a life-saving lung transplant.

Show Notes for Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Toobin The OathJeffrey Toobin, author of THE OATH, calls in at 10am ET / 7am PT to talk about The Supreme Court and the upcoming rulings that will shape the Roberts’ Court legacy

Joe Muto, Gawker’s Fox Mole calls in at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT to talk about his book, AN ATHEIST IN A FOXHOLE

• Lawmakers outraged by sexual assaults in the military are moving swiftly to address the problem, tackling legislation that would strip commanders of their authority to overturn convictions in rape and assault cases.

Leaders from conservative and tea party groups told a congressional panel that the Internal Revenue Service’s methods of vetting organizations seeking nonprofit status discouraged supporters from donating to their causes.

• Setting the stage for what is likely to be a months-long struggle with Senate GOP, President Obama yesterday nominated two attorneys and a judge to fill the vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit – considered to be the nation’s second-most powerful court.

• In a decision with implications for his own re-election this fall, the next presidential campaign and the GOP in Washington, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) yesterday called for a special election to be held this year to choose the successor to the late Dem Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Show Notes for Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, calls in at 10am ET / 7am PT to talk about how Fox News is wallowing in a world of Obama “scandals”

Pierce2Charlie Pierce of Esquire’s Politics Blog, calls in at 10:30am ET / 7:30am PT to talk about why his dedication to the 1st Amendment is being tested

The new acting commissioner of the IRS vowed Monday to work quickly and with the cooperation of Congress to implement reforms to the tax agency in response to the revelations that conservative groups had been targeted for scrutiny in their applications for tax-exempt status.

Trade unions claiming 240,000 members are throwing their weight behind anti-government demonstrations across Turkey. The KESK confederation of public sector workers was calling a two-day strike starting Tuesday to protest what it called the “fascism” of the governing party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he had some “pretty good fights” with Sen. Frank Lautenberg. But Lautenberg’s death early Monday puts the Republican governor in a pretty good bind in replacing him.

• Lawyers for Jill Kelley, the Florida woman whose complaint to federal authorities led to the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, yesterday filed a lawsuit claiming the government violated her privacy by failing to keep information about her role in the investigation confidential.

Show Notes for Monday, June 3, 2013

rudepundit2The Rude Pundit calls in at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT to talk about why Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is such an a-hole

Three professional “storm chasers” were among the 13 people who died in the tornadoes that ripped through the Oklahoma City area Friday, the research project they ran confirmed Sunday.

• The IRS, already under fire after officials disclosed that the agency targeted conservative groups, faces increased scrutiny because of an inspector general’s report that it spent about $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012.

• Amid a furor over a Justice Department subpoena of Associated Press phone records, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the third-ranking senator in the Democratic leadership, yesterday continued to voice confidence in Attorney General Eric Holder.

• With student loan rates set to double in a month, President Barack Obama on Friday urged Congress to extend the current rates, a demand which Republicans rejected as needlessly partisan.

Angelina Jolie returned to the red carpet for the first time on Sunday, weeks after announcing that she had undergone a double mastectomy in February. Jolie joined partner Brad Pitt for the premiere of his new film, “World War Z,” in London.