Only in America
September 29, 2012

A suburban New York man spent $50,000 building an elite Little League team after another team dropped his son. Robert Sanfilippo recruited stars to play with his son on the "Long Island Vengeance," whose helmets were embossed with a skull-and-crossbones. "It was all about revenge," a rival coach said. Sanfilippo was recently charged with sending threatening messages to a coach whose son struck out Sanfilippo's son. The Week Staff

This just in
9:01 a.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

A new report alleges that the military record Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has been touting during his presidential campaign may be more fiction than fact. The Washington Post's in-depth examination of Graham's military record throughout his 33-year career in the Air Force reveals that "the Air Force afforded him special treatment as a lawmaker, granting him the privileges of rank with few expectations in return."

Although Graham was not beholden to a fixed number of hours as an unpaid officer in the Air Reserve, The Washington Post reports that in eight of his 10 years in the Reserve, Graham did not achieve "satisfactory service," the minimum number of hours the Reserve requires for one to qualify for pension credit. Between January 1995 and January 2005, Graham received credit for a total of 108 hours of training, which breaks down to be under a day and a half of training per year.

Despite the fact that Graham wasn't necessarily putting in his time, the Air Force continually awarded him promotions and honors, promoting him from to lieutenant colonel to colonel. Furthermore, the Post reports that Graham did not complete the courses generally expected of officers who are promoted to either position. "Clearly, the rules didn't apply to him," one active duty Air Force lawyer anonymously told The Washington Post.

While the Air Force maintains that it did not show favoritism, and that "selection for promotion is based on the whole person concept," not just military achievements, even Graham admitted that the relationship was mutually beneficial. "They wanted to hang onto me and I didn't want to leave," he said. Becca Stanek

Look at this
8:20 a.m. ET

California's largest wildfire, the Rocky Fire, tripled in size over the weekend. Burning in Lake, Yolo, and Colusa counties northwest of Sacramento, it has already consumed 54,000 acres and, as of Sunday, was only 5 percent contained. And it's just one of many: A total of 9,000 firefighters are combating over 21 major blazes throughout the state. Even as the fires turn deadly — one firefighter has been killed, and 12,000 evacuated — photos of the northern Californian fires have an unexpected, if terrifying, beauty.

"The behavior of this fire [is] unprecedented,” California's fire spokesman, Jason Shanley, told The Sacramento Bee. "It's jaw dropping to see some of the things it's doing."  Jeva Lange

Ted Cruz vs science
8:00 a.m. ET
Steve Pope / Getty Images

In the opinion of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), climate change is less a reality, and more a theory cooked up "power-greedy" politicians. In a speech Sunday in California's Orange County in front of what Time says were "some of the most influential conservative donors in the country," presidential hopeful Cruz went full force on denying climate change. Cruz said the "data and facts don't support it."

“If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there’s been zero recorded warming. The satellite says it ain’t happening," Cruz said. NASA would disagree. In its report on the satellite data, the space agency says the collected information "reveals the signals of a changing climate," including increased levels of gases such as carbon dioxide. "There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response," the report says.

However, Cruz explained that the existing numbers on climate change are simply the result of government researchers creating climate data to better help politicians take hold of the economy and energy industry. "They're cooking the books," Cruz said. "They're actually adjusting the numbers. Enron used to do their books the same way." Becca Stanek

Greek debt crisis
7:04 a.m. ET
Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

Greece's main stock index fell over 22 percent on Monday as investors took advantage of their first opportunity since June 29 to react to the country's ongoing economic crisis, The Associated Press reports. Greek bank stocks were the hardest hit, reaching or nearing the daily trading limit of a 30 percent loss; markets in the rest of Europe were, for the most part, unaffected. Business and consumer confidence also plunged for the fifth consecutive month in July, according to the Economic Sentiment Indicator, dropping to its lowest level since October 2012.

Greece is expected to reenter a recession in the following months, despite having briefly emerged from a six-year contraction. Bailout talks continue, with a deadline of August 20, when a repayment of more than three billion euros is due to the European Central Bank. Jeva Lange

John Oliver Explains
3:54 a.m. ET

When the Chinese pandas at the National Zoo have as much right to representation in the U.S. Congress as any resident in the District of Columbia, you know there's a problem. So says John Oliver, who explored the issue of D.C.'s experience with a lack of representation on Sunday's Last Week Tonight.

As Oliver explains, even though Washingtonians pay federal taxes, fight in wars, and contribute to a GDP that's higher than 16 states', they are not represented by a member of Congress able to vote on their behalf. They do have a champion in Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, but as Oliver puts it, she only has "pretend power," as she is unable to vote on the House floor.

The segment gives a brief rundown of D.C.'s political history (yes, residents couldn't vote in presidential elections until 1964), as well as clips of lawmakers giving a variety of excuses as to why D.C. should just be content with the way things are now. In 2009, a bill was introduced that provided a glimmer of hope for those who wanted to see D.C. get voting power, but the Senate added an amendment that would repeal all of D.C.'s gun control laws, including its ban on semi-automatic weapons, and would alter its ability to enact future gun control legislation. "It was the kind of amendment NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre dreams about as he sleeps in his bullet-filled bathtub, I presume," Oliver quipped. The bill was dropped, and there hasn't been anything close since.

Not wanting the segment to end on a low note, Oliver brought in a gaggle of children to sing a song about what it would be like if D.C. became a state, and the simple steps that would have to be taken in case people become adamant about only having 50 (sorry, Florida). Watch the clip below. Catherine Garcia

hollywood 411
2:23 a.m. ET
R. Mitchell/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One thing that viewers won't be seeing on the upcoming American Experience documentary on Walt Disney is any discussion about the animation legend being anti-Semitic.

Panelists at the Television Critics Association press tour for Walt Disney — including documentarians, authors, and people who actually worked with Disney — all agreed on Sunday that he did not harbor any Nazi sympathies, despite rumors to the contrary that have been swirling since the 1940s. Director and producer Sarah Colt said she looked for evidence while working on the series, but couldn't find any (that wasn't the case for another man she made a documentary about, Henry Ford, "who was a virulent anti-Semite"). "It's not based on any truth, so we saw no reason to bring it up in the film," she said. "It wasn't relevant to who he was, so it's not part of the film."

Neal Gabler, author of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, said while conducting research for his book he found only "casual anti-Semitism," which he said was common during that era. Gabler said the rumors that he was anti-Semitic were "primarily made by enemies of Walt Disney who had a political beef with him," and not worthy of documenting. Richard Sherman, the son of Jewish immigrants who wrote the scores for Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book with his brother Robert, called the allegations "preposterous," and said Disney treated him like a son. It wasn't all flattering, though — the panelists were of mixed opinions on other aspects of Disney, with some saying he was cold and would cough before entering a room to make his staff nervous, while others said he was kind-hearted and always asked about people's children. Catherine Garcia

campaign 2016
1:30 a.m. ET

The first campaign ads of the Democratic primary race will start airing on television stations in Iowa and New Hampshire on Tuesday, featuring Hillary Clinton.

The ads will run for five weeks in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, media markets and the entire state of New Hampshire. Each ad buy is worth $1 million. Clinton's campaign is anticipating Republicans will purchase large ad buys in order to attack her, Time reports, and wants to "make sure everyone knows who Hillary Clinton really is — who she fights for and what has motivated her lifelong commitment to children and families," campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement.

In the first spot, Dorothy, Clinton talks about her mother, who was abandoned by her parents as a child but persevered due to the kindness of strangers. "When I think about all the Dorothys, all over America, who fight for their families, who never give up, that's why I'm doing this, that's why I've always done this," Clinton says.

In "Family Strong," a narrator touts her work with the Children's Defense Fund and says that while serving as a senator in New York, she "made sure the heroes and families of 9/11 got the care they needed." Catherine Garcia

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