TPM Cafe: Opinion

Stop me when this sounds familiar, but there’s a new story brewing in Trenton involving the governor’s office and allegations of improper influence.

This time, it involves an eleven-year-long case against ExxonMobil that Chris Christie’s administration is trying to settle for $255 million. That sum, announced today by acting attorney general John Hoffman, is less than 3% of the $8.9 billion New Jersey officials had long sought from the petroleum giant after the company was accused and found guilty of polluting two wetlands sites in Bayonne and Linden, New Jersey. News of a much-reduced negotiated settlement figure of $250 million, brokered between state lawyers and attorneys representing Exxon, broke on Friday. Today, the number was adjusted to $255 million and lauded by Hoffman as evidence that the Christie administration had “aggressively pushed the case to trial.” It was, he said, “the result of long fought settlement negotiations that pre-dated and post-dated the trial.”

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In this era of movie remakes, reboots, sequels and franchises, it is hardly shocking to hear that Hollywood is adapting a property into a film for the sixth time. The only surprise is that it’s not a superhero. Last week, Variety reported that Brewster’s Millions would once again be coming to a theater near you. Based on a 1902 book by George Barr McCutcheon, Brewster’s Millions was adapted into an American film in 1914, 1921, 1926, 1945 and, most recently, 1985. It has also been a Broadway play, as well as a foreign film; two English movies have been made from the premise, and India got into the act with a 1988 version called Maalamaal.

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In case the situation with the latest Obamacare lawsuit, King v. Burwell, wasn’t surreal enough, along comes the anti-Obamacare lawyer Michael Carvin, and some of his, um, more colorful ideas about why the Affordable Care Act is bad law. Trying to contrast the ACA with the constitution, Carvin characterized the ACA as “a statute that was written three years ago, not by dead white men but by living white women and minorities.”

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There’s a new Mathematica study out today about the effectiveness of Teach For America elementary school teachers, and it says exactly what you expect. That’s because the sharper a controversy gets, the more polarized a debate becomes, the easier it gets to filter new information into weapons that suit your team’s trench. And since TFA occupies some of the most sharply contested turf in education politics, this new study probably won’t shock you, no matter what your prior beliefs about TFA happen to be.

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On Tuesday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of the United States Congress. Netanyahu was invited to speak not through standard diplomatic procedures—the kind of procedures, say, that the President of the United States might go through to speak to Israel’s Knesset. Instead, Netanyahu got a special invitation from Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.

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His name is Gabriel, and according to the press conferences, he’s not supposed to be here. His mother, Andrea Minichini, said she was at a clinic and told the provider she wanted an abortion, but changed her mind as she held the first dose of the medication abortion regime in her hand. Allegedly feeling pressured by staff, she took the pill anyway, then took herself to a hospital where she was told she would need to take the rest of the protocol or put the fetus at risk of deformities. Rather than follow their advice, she Googled until she found a website with a number to call, and after that call received the name of a doctor who would “reverse” her abortion.

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President Obama's proposal to fight ISIS on battlegrounds beyond Iraq and Syria seems to be going nowhere. But given his effort, it is a good time to recall the expensive price tag that accompanied the U.S. war in Iraq: $1.7 trillion dollars, with additional billions owed for war veterans’ benefits. Billions of that went toward “Democratic nation-building,” such as a $750 million dollar U.S. Embassy building in Baghdad; $500 million for an Iraq police training program; and $17.1 million toward fostering political competition in Iraq in 2011, though there were “no results reported,” according to United States Agency of International Development.

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Earlier this month, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office announced it would indict NYPD Officer Peter Liang for the killing of Akai Gurley, with the most serious charge leveled against him being second degree manslaughter.

This indictment comes after the non-indictments of Officers Dan Pantaleo in the killing of Eric Garner and Darren Wilson in the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, and has touched off a firestorm of outrage, with many in the Chinese American community saying that Officer Liang is being unfairly scapegoated for being Asian. Let’s put this indictment in some perspective: During the past 15 years, NYPD officers have killed at least 179 people, and only three officers before Liang was indicted.

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