January 21, 2016
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What was supposed to be a simple preschool field trip to the Greater Des Moines botanical garden apparently ended with students sitting beneath a massive photo of a fetus at Carly Fiorina's anti-abortion rally. The Guardian reports that parents are accusing the Republican presidential candidate of "ambushing" their children during their field trip and forcing them to participate in a "right to life" forum:

Entering the rally, before a crowd of about 60 people, [Fiorina] directed around 15 young children towards a makeshift stage.

The problem, one parent said, was that the children’s parents had not given Fiorina permission to have their children sit with her — in front of a huge banner bearing the image of an unborn fetus — while she talked about harvesting organs from aborted babies. [The Guardian]

"Taking them into a pro-life/abortion discussion [was] very poor taste and judgment," one parent told The Guardian, adding that "the kids went there to see the plants." "I would not want my 4-year-old going to that forum — he can't fully comprehend that stuff. He likes dinosaurs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Transformers."

When The Guardian asked the former Hewlett-Packard CEO's campaign for comment, a spokeswoman was ambiguous: "We were happy that these children chose to come to Carly's event with their adult supervisor," a Fiorina spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Read the full story over at The Guardian. Becca Stanek

12:21 p.m. ET

Ben Carson is certain that his mother would not have taken kindly to how "dishonest reporters" covered his bid for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year. In fact, in response to a question on CBS Radio's Brown and Scoop podcast about what his mom, Sonya, would've thought about her son running for president, Carson said Wednesday he thinks she might have chosen to exercise her Second Amendment rights.

"She has Alzheimer's," Carson said, correcting the question's implication that his mother was dead. "She's not really cognizant of that, which is a good thing because my mother is really a fighter. She probably would have taken a gun and gone out and shot some of the dishonest reporters."

In case that quote doesn't make it clear, Carson seems to think that the media was one of the reasons his campaign ended when it did. He pointed out that "one of the reasons that our founders said that our system and our freedom depends on a well-informed and educated populace is because they recognize that if people were not well-informed and well-educated, they can be easily manipulated by a dishonest media." Carson concluded: "That's exactly what happens in our society today."

Listen to the interview, below. Becca Stanek

11:24 a.m. ET

While it is still uncertain which terrorist organization targeted Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on Tuesday, killing at least 41 when three suicide bombers detonated at a security checkpoint, many current indications point to the Islamic State. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio might agree: After all, he predicted such a large-scale ISIS attack in Turkey just two days before the bombings.

On Sunday, appearing on Face the Nation, Rubio stressed the importance of NATO in the face of Islamic terrorism. "We've seen already the attacks in Belgium. We've seen the attacks in France. We've seen attempted and thwarted attacks elsewhere, so because of all of that I think NATO takes on a special purpose," he said.

Then Rubio added his forboding prediction. "One of our NATO allies, right now, that faces the greatest threat of ISIS is Turkey," he said. "I would not be surprised over the next few weeks to see major ISIS operations within Turkey, itself."

It might not have been as brilliant a prediction as it first appears — ISIS has already launched deadly attacks in Turkey over the past year. However, Rubio's words just days before the bombings are undeniably ominous. Watch the interview below. Jeva Lange

11:16 a.m. ET
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On Wednesday, the Senate voted 68 to 32 to clear the Puerto Rico debt relief bill, just days ahead of the July 1 deadline for Puerto Rico's next bond payment. With the procedural vote now over, the bill will move onto final passage in the Senate, where it's expected to get the majority vote, and then to President Obama's desk, where it's expected to be signed into law.

The bill would establish a board to oversee the island's finances and allow for the restructuring of its debt, which currently amounts to $70 billion. The vote comes after months of waiting, during which Puerto Rico's crisis "progressively worsened," The New York Times reports.

Without the legislation's passage, Puerto Rico would default on July 1. Becca Stanek

10:41 a.m. ET
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In 1944, with the end of World War II looming, Jewish prisoners in the Lithuanian extermination camp Ponar devised a plan. The prisoners were being forced to dig up and burn the bodies of murdered Jews as the Nazis scrambled to hide evidence from the approaching Soviet army. The prisoners knew that once their work was done, they too would be killed. So, using spoons found among the corpses, the prisoners dug a tunnel from their holding pen to the outside. On the last night of Passover, the prisoners slipped into the tunnel to attempt escape.

Of the 80 prisoners in the holding pen, only 12 managed to get away and 11 survived until the end of the war to tell the tale. Since then, their 100-foot tunnel has been lost to history — at least, until now. A team of archaeologists and cartographers believe they have finally found the Ponar tunnel thanks to the use of radio waves at the site, The New York Times reports. The team has also discovered burial pits, including one containing the ashes of an estimated 7,000 people and another containing an estimated 10,000 bodies, using the technology.

"If we had never discovered the tunnel, people would have thought in another 20 years it was a myth, and they would have questioned — what do we really know happened? This is a great story about the way that people overcame the worst possible condition, and still had this hope that they could get out," team leader Richard Freund said.

Read more about the tunnel escape and the history of Ponar in The New York Times. Jeva Lange

10:39 a.m. ET
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Spain just made Scotland's battle to remain in the European Union that much harder. On Wednesday, as Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with European Parliament chiefs to negotiate her country's membership in the trade bloc, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to block Scotland's attempts to remain after Britain's vote to exit.

During the second day of an emergency EU summit in Brussels, Rajoy announced that he is "extremely against" the EU accepting Scotland independent of the rest of the U.K., and said that "if the U.K. goes, Scotland goes too." "I want to be very clear," Rajoy said. "Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union. Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of the United Kingdom." Rajoy's sentiments have been echoed by other EU officials who say that Scotland must declare its independence from the U.K. before it can apply to or join the EU.

However, Sturgeon has already said that a declaration of independence from the U.K. is not out of the question. Although Britain elected to exit the EU, Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain, 62 percent to 38 percent. Becca Stanek

9:55 a.m. ET
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A white-nationalist neo-Nazi group, the Traditionalist Worker Party, has vowed to make an appearance at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month to "make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs," according to spokesman Matt Parrott.

The Traditionalist Worker Party made headlines over the weekend when the group organized a pro-Trump rally in Sacramento, California, that ended in multiple stabbings.

Leftist groups have indeed vowed to protest against Trump at the Cleveland convention, but organizers say they will be peaceful. Furthermore, spokespeople for both the Coalition to Stop Trump and March on the RNC and the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression said the two groups are not concerned about the neo-Nazi presence.

"I'm not surprised they'll be there defending their candidate," Alli McCracken of the anti-war group Code Pink told The Daily Beast. Jeva Lange

9:54 a.m. ET
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Priorities USA, a super PAC that supports presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, accepted two donations totaling $200,000 from Suffolk Construction, a Boston-based firm.

This would be a non-story — except that when it made those contributions, Suffolk was an active federal contractor, with multiple Department of Defense contracts valued at nearly $1 million. It has been illegal for federal contractors to make this sort of political donation for seven decades. "Federal government contractors may not make contributions to influence Federal elections," the Federal Election Commission explains, listing contractor gifts among its prohibited contributions.

The money also violates Priorities USA's own organizational rules, which echo the FEC's regulation.

Research by The Hill indicates that active federal contractors also gave money to PACs supporting the now-defunct presidential campaigns of Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Bonnie Kristian

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