*** ALL STAR SHOW **
8:00 PM ET
By Arwa Damon and Faith Karimi, CNN
Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) — In a symbol befitting a nation in mourning, dark gray clouds swept over Johannesburg on Friday.
Under overcast skies that threatened to rain any minute, South Africans draped in flags and images of Nelson Mandela gathered on the streets to sing and dance.
Children spelled out “we love you Mandela” on the grass using rocks near his home in the suburb of Houghton. Nearby, stuffed animals and flowers sat in a heap.
Others wept as they lit candles.
Mandela, 95, died Thursday. The nation’s first black president battled health issues in recent years, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations.
President Jacob Zuma announced the loss late Thursday night, long after many South Africans had gone to bed.
They didn’t find out until Friday morning.
Got a question for President Obama? Now is your chance to ask him.
Hardball host Chris Matthews will sit down for a Q&A with the commander-in-chief on Thursday at American University in Washington, D.C. During the town hall-style interview, Obama will also answer students’ questions, in addition to some of yours, via the official “Let’s Play Hardball” group on msnbc.com.
Obama’s interview with Matthews comes following the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov, an interim nucleardeal with Iran, renewed calls for immigration reform, and with new budget negotiations on the horizon.
Matthews will discuss a number of topics with Obama, including voter suppression, healthcare, political gridlock in D.C., growing dissatisfaction with the government and more. The interview will air on Thursday evening’s Hardball at 7 p.m. ET.
By Sam Stein
WASHINGTON — The federal government shutdown that lasted for 16 days last month is expected to cost the U.S. economy between $2 billion and $6 billion in economic output, according to a report by the Office of Management and Budgetreleased Thursday afternoon.
Those figures, culled from independent forecasters, may be a conservative estimate, the authors note. They found that approximately 120,000 fewer private sector jobs were created during the first two weeks of October because of the dual threats of the shutdown and the standoff over the debt ceiling. Forecasters additionally expect fourth quarter real GDP growth to be 0.2 to 0.6 percent lower than what it could have been had the shutdown and debt ceiling fight not taken place.
Whatever deal Senate leaders come up with to solve the fiscal crisis had better work, because President Barack Obama has no Plan B if it doesn’t.
The Treasury is set to hit its credit limit Thursday.
Harry Reid told his caucus in a Thursday meeting that he “ate shit on nominees” during the Bush administration, allowing votes on some pretty awful nominees when he was leading the minority, instead of leading filibusters. He says he did it because he thought it was the right thing to do after Bush won re-election, and because of the bipartisan Gang of 14 agreement. And look where we’re at today.
But the siren song of a deal is always there, and Reid needs to resist it. He needs to remember—and remind his caucus continually—that they’ve been down that road too many times already, and it doesn’t work. He needs to fight any attempt in his caucus to splinter off into some “gang” that promises it will be different this time, really.
It’s time for Reid to finally do this. It’s time for him to force Republicans to either let the Senate function again, or lose their power to block the president’s nominees. Tell him so. [QUOTE]
“Be a Lion”
Activists are now working to shine light on what they call Sharia’s war on women.
A vast coalition met in Washington, D.C., Thursday, to warn women of the threat Islamic law would pose to their rights if enacted in the U.S.
“Sharia takes an entirely different approach to their rights than would the American Constitution or the Declaration of Independence,” explained Karen Lugo, assistant director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.
The group’s national public education campaign includes women who’ve been affected by harsh Sharia law.
Cynthia Farahat fled Egypt to avoid facing military prison for her human rights work against Islam.
“I’m almost here in America on exile for standing up for basic human rights and basic values under Sharia law,” she said. “I lived under Sharia law all my life. I just came to America six months ago.”
From her experience, Farahat summed up Sharia’s treatment of women as “oppressive” and “violent.”
“It does not identify women as citizens. And some jurists in Sharia law do not identify women as human beings,” she explained. “Some jurists would go so far as defining them as livestock.”
Farahat is a writer and helps with efforts by the Center for Security Policy, the group behind Thursday’s panel discussion in Washington.
Participants want America’s women to understand the stifling effect Sharia law would have on their unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
“The women living in Sharia are often in polygamous marriages, often in marriages where they do not have freedom to pursue their education or pursue a career if that should interest them,” Lugo said.
The panelists also noted that Islam is far more than just a religion, and the Koran commands the whole world must come under Sharia law.
“They say Islam is religion and state,” Farahat said.
“It encompasses every aspect of one’s life,” Lugo added.
Some 5,000 Muslim women die in honor killings every year, which Islamic extremists declare imperative.
Sharia insists women have guardians, and some Islamic countries view them legally as perpetual minors, never as adults.
Sharia law also allows husbands to divorce their wives at any time, without reason. [FULL QUOTE]
GRAPEVINE, Texas — The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to end its controversial policy banning gay kids and teens from joining one of the nation’s most popular youth organizations, ditching membership guidelines that had roiled the group in recent years.
Over 61 percent of Scouting‘s National Council of 1,232 delegates from across the country voted to lift the ban, BSA officials said. The final tally was 757 yes votes, to 475 no (another 168 delegates did not cast a ballot since they were not present at the meeting). The ban on gay leaders was not voted on and will remain in place.
“This resolution today dealt with youth. We have not changed our adult membership standards. They have served us well for the last 100 years. Those were not on the table,” said Tico Perez, BSA national commissioner.
The policy change will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, “allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units,” the BSA said in a statement.
By Ned Resnikoff
The Republican-controlled House Agriculture Committee on Thursday approved a version of the 2013 farm bill that cuts more than $20 billion in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over 10 years.
Farm bills are sprawling pieces of legislation that regulate, fund, and subsidize a variety of programs related to farming, agriculture, and food production. In addition to cutting food stamps, this particular bill would cut a certain kind of farming subsidy call direct payments. The bill is expected to reach the House floor for a full vote in June.