Friday Reads

Happy Friday!!

Today is a busy news day, even though it’s the Friday before Thanksgiving week.

Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presides over House passage of President Joe Biden’s expansive social and environment bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The breaking news: The House passed the Build Back Better bill this morning. CNBC: House passes $1.75 trillion Biden plan that funds universal pre-K, Medicare expansion and renewable energy credits.

The House of Representatives on Friday passed the largest expansion of the social safety net in decades, a $1.75 trillion bill that funds universal pre-K, Medicare expansion, renewable energy credits, affordable housing, a year of expanded Child Tax Credits and major Obamacare subsidies.

The final vote was 220-213, and only one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine voted against the bill.

Now that it has cleared the House, President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act goes to the Senate, where it is likely to be revised in the coming weeks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he aims to have the chamber pass the bill before Christmas. The House will need to vote on it again if the bill is altered.

If the measure is signed into law, the bill will profoundly change how many Americans live, especially families with children, the elderly and low income Americans.

What’s in the current version of the bill:

  • Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds. In addition to helping millions of children prepare better for school, the benefit would enable parents of young children to return to the work force earlier.
  • Capping childcare costs at 7% of income for parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income.
  • 4 weeks of federal paid parental, sick or caregiver leave.
  • A year of expanded Child Tax Credits. During the past year, these credits have raised households with more than 3 million children out of poverty, and cut overall child poverty in America by 25%.
  • Extended pandemic-era Affordable Care Act subsidies. So far this year, these subsidies have increased ACA enrollment by more than 2 million.
  • New hearing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, including coverage for a new hearing aid every five years.
  • A $35 per-month limit on the cost of insulin under Medicare, and a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 per year.
  • $500 billion to combat climate change, largely through clean energy tax credits. This represents the largest ever federal investment in clean energy.
  • Raising the State and Local Tax deduction limit from $10,000 to $80,000.

The bill represents a major victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who pulled together a divided caucus with conflicting interests and united it behind a sprawling, 2,000-plus-page bill, passing it with a thin majority.

The vote was supposed to be last night, but a deranged Kevin McCarthy decided to make a last ditch effort to prevent it from going forward. The New York Times: Kevin McCarthy Speaks for More Than Eight Hours to Delay a House Vote.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California early Friday concluded a marathon speech in opposition to the Democrats’ social policy bill, after talking for eight hours and 32 minutes, surpassing the length of one by Representative Nancy Pelosi in 2018 that held the record for the longest continuous House speech in modern history.

“Personally I didn’t think I could go this long,” Mr. McCarthy said toward the end of his monologue as some of the people behind him struggled to keep their eyes open. Finally, after 5 a.m., he finished. “With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back,” he said.

Mr. McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, railed against President Biden and his agenda in an effort to delay the passage of the Democrats’ $1.85 trillion social policy and climate change bill.

The debate over the bill had been scheduled to last 20 minutes before Mr. McCarthy took over after 8 p.m. to deliver an at times rambling speech stuffed with Republican talking points against the legislation and punctuated with riffs about history.

“I know some of you are mad at me, think I spoke too long,” he said at one point. “But I’ve had enough. America has had enough.”

Shortly after midnight Friday, when Mr. McCarthy showed no sign of yielding control of the House floor, Democratic leaders sent lawmakers home, with plans to return at 8 a.m. to finish debate and vote on the sprawling package.

The horror! The notion of the government helping regular Americans instead of enriching the already super-rich was just too much for McCarthy and the rest of the Trumpist goons.

The Daily Beast: Democrats Finally Unite—to Mock Kevin McCarthy All Night as He Breaks Stupid Record.

Curiously, McCarthy stopped talking shortly after surpassing the eight hour, seven minute record set by Nancy Pelosi in 2018—yielding after eight hours and 32 minutes.

Starting at 8:38 p.m., McCarthy took full advantage of the “Magic Minute”—in which leaders from both parties are allowed to speak for as long as they want with it only counting as one minute against the time allocated for debate—and delivered a stemwinder of half-truths, outright lies, aggrieved arguments, unrelated tangents, and recycled rhetoric….

As McCarthy began his lecture on the floor Thursday, the Democratic heckling started almost immediately. McCarthy told members he had “all night,” to which Democrats responded, “So do we!”

And both sides really did.

When McCarthy baselessly claimed the bill would cost $5 trillion, Democrats started yelling out increasingly large numbers. “$6 trillion!” one shouted, before another topped him with “$7 trillion!”—with more Democrats joining in with even more farcical projections.

When McCarthy said, “If I sound angry, I am,” Democrats chimed in with a prolonged “awww” sound, like they were watching a baby do something cute.

Read more at the link. Democrats mocked McCarthy on Twitter too. Read more at Mediaite: House Democrats Roast Kevin McCarthy on Twitter for Marathon Speech: ‘Please Saw Me in Half and Put Me Out of My Misery.’

Biden appears to be working up to getting rid of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The Washington Post: Biden expected to replace Ron Bloom, USPS board chair and key DeJoy ally, on postal board.

President Biden is expected to announce Friday that he will not renominate Ron Bloom, the chair the U.S. Postal Service board and a key ally of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, when his term expires next month, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

The move casts doubt on DeJoy’s future at the agency, the people said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

The decision potentially gives liberals on the panel another crucial vote to oust the postmaster general, who can only be removed by the board of governors. The nine-member board currently comprises four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent, though Biden has only appointed three members.

Bloom, a Democrat, has backed DeJoy as the agency permanently slowed mail delivery standards and raised prices.

Biden’s decision reflects the White House’s continued antipathy toward DeJoy, who is widely viewed as a loyalist to former president Donald Trump.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Yesterday, Dakinikat posted a video of Louisiana Senator John Kennedy going full Joseph McCarthy on a Biden appointee.

At The Guardian, David Smith writes: ‘Professor or comrade?’ Republicans go full red scare on Soviet-born Biden pick.

Saule Omarova, 55, was nominated in September to be America’s next comptroller of the currency. If confirmed, she would be the first woman and person of colour in the role in its 158-year-history.

Omarova was born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the Soviet Union and moved to the US in 1991. For John Kennedy of Louisiana, a member of the Senate banking committee, this was like a red rag to a bull.

Questioning whether Omarova was still a member of communist youth organisations, Kennedy said: “I don’t mean any disrespect: I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.”

The remark prompted gasps in the hearing room on Capitol Hill.

Omarova replied, slowly and firmly: “Senator, I’m not a communist. I do not subscribe to that ideology. I could not choose where I was born.

“I do not remember joining any Facebook group that subscribes to that ideology. I would never knowingly join any such group. There is no record of me actually participating in any Marxist or communist discussions of any kind.”

Omarova then told how her family suffered under the communist regime.

“I grew up without knowing half of my family. My grandmother herself escaped death twice under the Stalin regime. This is what’s seared in my mind. That’s who I am. I remember that history. I came to this country. I’m proud to be an American and this is why I’m here today, Senator.”

Omarova has worked mainly as a lawyer and most recently as a law professor at Cornell University. She has testified often as an expert witness on financial regulation and even worked briefly in the administration of George W Bush.

Kennedy wasn’t the only one to attack Omarova.

…in a letter to Omarova after she was nominated, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania requested a copy of a graduation paper she wrote about Karl Marx when she was an undergraduate at Moscow State University – “in the original Russian” .

At Thursday’s hearing, Toomey noted that Omarova has written several academic papers that propose sweeping changes to the banking system.

“Taken in totality, her ideas do amount to a socialist manifesto for American financial services,” he said.

A judge is trying to muzzle the NYT in the Project Veritas case. The New York Times: Judge Tries to Block New York Times’s Coverage of Project Veritas.

A New York trial court judge ordered The New York Times on Thursday to temporarily refrain from publishing or seeking out certain documents related to the conservative group Project Veritas, an unusual instance of a court blocking coverage by a major news organization.

The order raised immediate concerns among First Amendment advocates, who called it a violation of basic constitutional protections for journalists, a viewpoint echoed by The Times. Project Veritas issued a statement in support of the order, arguing that it did not amount to a significant imposition on the newspaper’s rights.

The judge’s order is part of a pending libel lawsuit filed by Project Veritas against The Times in 2020. That suit accuses the newspaper of defaming Project Veritas in its reporting on a video produced by the group that made unverified claims of voter fraud in Minnesota.

Led by the provocateur James O’Keefe, Project Veritas often conducts sting operations — including the use of fake identities and hidden cameras — aimed at embarrassing Democratic campaigns, labor organizations, news outlets and other entities. It is the subject of a Justice Department investigation into its possible involvement in the reported theft of a diary that apparently belonged to President Biden’s daughter, Ashley.

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer who represents media outlets including CNN, called the court’s order “ridiculous.”

“Even though it’s temporary, the Supreme Court has said even the most modest, minute-by-minute deprivations of these First Amendment rights cannot be tolerated,” Mr. Boutrous said. “To go further and suggest a limit on news gathering, I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

Read the rest at the NYT. See also The Washington Post: Court bars New York Times from publishing Project Veritas memos in move called ‘unconstitutional.’

More stories to check out today:

Will Bunch at The Philadelphia Inquirer: The impeachment of President Biden and other American nightmares coming in 2023.

The Daily Beast: Europe Locking Back Down With COVID Winter Surge Coming for Us All.

The Washington Post: Prominent scientist who said lab-leak theory of covid-19 origin should be probed now believes evidence points to Wuhan market.

The Chicago Tribune: Man spotted with AR-15 outside Kyle Rittenhouse trial confirms he is a fired Ferguson police officer.

Politico Magazine: The Bonnie and Clyde of MAGA World. For a decade, Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence had surfed the wave of populist-right politics like few other people in America. Then came Jan. 6.

CNN: Trump’s ire grows as DeSantis’ popularity with Republicans takes off.

The Washington Post: ‘No one tells me what to do’: Sinema praises infrastructure, questions spending and inflation in wide-ranging interview.

What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads

Van Gogh Monmarte painting revealed

Scène de rue à Montmartre, 1887

Good Morning!!

I’m illustrating this post with paintings from Vincent van Gogh’s Paris years, because of this story from BBC yesterday: Van Gogh Paris painting goes on public display for first time.

A Street Scene In Montmartre has been owned by a French family for most of the time since it was painted in 1887.

Sotheby’s estimates it could fetch up to eight million euros (£6.9m) when it is sold at auction next month.

Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey told BBC News that this is “the first time we are able to see it properly”.

Small reproductions have been made in the past, often in black-and-white. “What is exciting is that it is a Van Gogh painting which has been hidden away ever since it came off the artist’s easel,” Mr Bailey said.

“It has always been in private collections, so only the owners and their friends knew it.

“It is an interesting picture because it is a transitional work between Van Gogh’s Dutch years, when he painted in dark, earthy colours, and the exuberant works that he did in Provence. It was in Paris that he discovered the Impressionists, and this led him to explore colour.”

It is one of a series of works Van Gogh created while lodging with his brother Theo in 1886 and 1887 a short distance from the street depicted in the painting….

Montmartre was still semi-rural when the scene was painted. A windmill features prominently behind some perambulating locals. The famous Sacré-Cœur church that now dominates the area was under construction at the time.

View of Paris from Vincent's Room, 1887

View of Paris from Vincent’s Room, 1887

I’m getting really angry about the treatment of Neera Tanden and Deb Haaland–both women of color–in the Senate. This attack on her by fake good ‘ol boy Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana is really disgusting. Andrew Solender at Forbes: GOP Senator Questions Neera Tanden’s Loyalty To Biden, America – Says Her ‘Allegiance’ Is To Hillary Clinton.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) denounced two of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet-level nominees in fiery terms Wednesday, questioning Office of Management and Budget nominee Neera Tanden’s loyalty to America.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Kennedy expressed pessimism about Tanden’s imperiled nomination, stating, “I’m not saying she’s a smoked turkey, but the smoker is heating up.”

Kennedy pointed to Tanden’s past tweets attacking lawmakers as the main area of concern, but simultaneously launched into his own attacks, claiming there is bipartisan concern that Tanden’s “allegiance is not to America and it’s not to President Biden, it’s to Secretary Clinton.

Kennedy also echoed Republican attacks on Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Biden’s nominee for Interior secretary, as a radical leftist, but said he needs to “do a little more research” and is still undecided, according to pool reports.

Kennedy said he is “not impressed” with what he has seen from Haaland thus far, labeling her a “neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whackjob” who is “living in La La Land,” citing her support for an oil and gas moratorium.

What an asshole. And remember, Kennedy is one of the eight Republicans who in 1918 spent the Fourth of July in Russia sucking up to Putin.

Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Opinion: What terrible things did Neera Tanden tweet? The truth.

Can you believe that Neera Tanden called Hillary Clinton the “anti-Christ” and the “real enemy”?

Oh, wait. It was Ryan Zinke who said those things. Fifty-one Republican senators (and several Democrats, including Joe Manchin III of West Virginia) confirmed him as secretary of the interior in 2017.

Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin, 1887

Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin, 1887

And how about the times Tanden allegedly called the NAACP a “pinko organization” that “hates white people” and used racial epithets?

My bad. That was Jeff Sessions. Again, 51 Republican senators (and one Democrat, Manchin) voted to confirm him as attorney general in 2017.

Surely Tanden went beyond the pale when she “liked” a tweet calling then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry a “traitor” and “Vietnam’s worst export,” and when she suggested Clinton supporters leave the country.

Except Mike Pompeo was the one who did those things. He won confirmation as secretary of state in 2018 with the votes of 50 Republicans and six Democrats, including Manchin.

But, really, the most appalling thing Tanden said was that Muslims have a “deficient theology” and they “stand condemned.”

Whoops. That wasn’t Tanden but Russell Vought. Just last year, 51 Republicans voted to confirm him as director of the Office of Management and Budget — the same position Tanden is up for now.

Now, all 50 Senate Republicans, assisted by Manchin, are on the cusp of sinking Tanden’s nomination because they object to her harsh tweets. Many have noted the hypocrisy, particularly when compared with the treatment of Richard Grenell, an online troll who won confirmation as ambassador to Germany with 50 Republican votes — and Manchin, natch — despite routinely disparaging women’s appearances.

But this isn’t just about double standards. What really must sting about Tanden’s tweets is not that they were mean, but that, for the most part, they were true.

What really got Manchin’s goat was that Tanden criticized his daughter.

At The Daily Beast, David Rothkopf asks: Joe Biden Wants to Repair America. Will Joe Manchin Let Him?

Like 82 million others, I voted last year to entrust America to a moderate Democrat named Joe.

Little did I expect that the Joe who’d end up with the last word on a host of vital national issues would be Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Manchin’s ascendancy came thanks to the Democratic victories in the two Georgia runoff races in January. That gave the party 50 votes in the Senate and control, thanks to the decisive tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, so long as the caucus maintains unity. What they could not count on, it turned out, was Manchin.

Fishing in Spring, 1887

Fishing in Spring, 1887

On issues from cabinet nominations to the filibuster to the minimum wage, Manchin has seized the power that breaking from the Democratic majority gives him. He does this in the name of being a so-called centrist, a moderate. But the reality is that he is proving to be a MINO, a moderate in name only, embracing views that are more like those of the increasingly radical Republican Senate caucus than they are like those of his Democratic colleagues….

One of the earliest signs that Manchin was perfectly happy to play the spoiler disrupting the aspirations of his own party leadership came even before the Democrats took control of the Senate. While negotiations were taking place between Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell over the new power-sharing arrangements in the 50-50 Senate, McConnell sought to put a stake through the heart of any idea the Democrats might have of seeking to abolish the filibuster, one of McConnell’s favorite tools of obstruction in the Senate, vital to enabling his minority to continue to block key legislation that could not make it to the filibuster threshold of 60 votes.

Manchin publicly announced his opposition to removing the filibuster. His rationale was that of all filibuster advocates, that it was an important institutional legacy in the Senate and helped drive bipartisanship by forcing the majority to seek some minority support for their legislation. Neither of these assertions are true, however. The filibuster was rarely used in the first 200 years of U.S. history and once it began to be used more frequently, from the 1990s onward, it was almost always used to block the passage of legislation rather to leverage opposing sides into dialogue.

Biden needs to start playing hardball with Manchin. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

The Capitol insurrection in the news:

Frank Figluzzi at MSNBC: The Senate asked all the wrong questions about the pro-Trump attack on the Capitol.

The Senate held its first hearings into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Tuesday. And I have to be honest: I was not impressed.

The cadre of former Capitol security chiefs testifying might as well have played a continuous recorded loop of them reciting in unison, “the intelligence wasn’t there,” in response to senators’ equally redundant questions about the Capitol security failure and why adequate resources weren’t deployed.

A Woman Walking in a Garden 1887

A Woman Walking in a Garden 1887

But neither the senators nor their witnesses addressed the toughest questions: Why didn’t you see what so many civilians did? What biases fed into the many incorrect assumptions made? And what keeps us collectively — as Americans, as law enforcement, and more specifically, as white people — from perceiving our own as a potential threat? The answers are complex — but the right questions need to be asked first.

The more that former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, and former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger repeated their “intelligence was lacking” mantra, the less intelligent they sounded. Irving stated, “We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol, and our collective judgment at that time was no, the intelligence did not warrant that.” Sund testified that “the level of probability of acts of civil disobedience/arrests on Jan. 6 ranged from ‘remote’ to ‘improbable'” and that “none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.”

Perhaps the dozens of intelligence professionals on Sund’s staff should include the cost of newspaper subscriptions and laptops in their next budget request. The truth is that there was significant online chatter and numerous media reports that protestors were targeting the electoral vote count. So then, what is it that keeps law enforcement professionals from seeing what’s right in front of them?

Ouch!

As these hearings continue, we will likely hear from the FBI and other law enforcement leaders. Importantly, we can expect to hear about the legal constraints on what that agency can and cannot do about monitoring social media, penetrating protests groups and investigating domestic extremism. These limits rightfully help preserve our civil liberties, free speech and freedom of association. And it’s true that law enforcement can’t possibly see and assess the universe of social media even if such monitoring were allowed. But plenty of social media posts prior to the insurrection spoke of violence, vandalism and targeting the Capitol — those things have little to do with exercising civil liberties.

After the insurrection, two ProPublica journalists interviewed 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers about the assault on the Capitol. They also obtained confidential intelligence bulletins and previously unreported planning documents. Significantly, their reporting provides something other than the convenient “intelligence failure” rationale as to why planning was so poor when it came to protecting our iconic symbol of democracy.

Read the rest at MSNBC. 

NPR: Architect Of The Capitol Outlines $30 Million In Damages From Pro-Trump Riot.

The cost of repairing damages from the attack on the U.S. Capitol and related security expenses have already topped $30 million and will keep rising, Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton told lawmakers on Wednesday.

The events of Jan. 6, he said, were “difficult for the American people and extremely hard for all of us on campus to witness.”

Farmhouse in a Wheat Field, 1888

Farmhouse in a Wheat Field, 1888

Blanton said that congressional appropriations committees have already approved a transfer request of $30 million to pay for expenses and extend a temporary perimeter fencing contract through March 31.

But more money will be needed, he added: “History teaches us that project costs for replacements and repairs beyond in-kind improvements across campus will be considerable and beyond the scope of the current budgetary environment.”

The price tag will go even higher, Blanton told lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee, if the fence and other security measures are needed beyond March.

Republicans aren’t upset about the Capitol attack though. What they care about is Neera Tanden’s “mean tweets.”

Profiles of two of the insurgents:

The Daily Beast: An NYPD Cop’s Road From Terror ‘Victim’ to Capitol Rioter.

The retired NYPD cop now charged with assaulting a D.C. cop in the Capitol riot that has been called domestic terrorism was previously assigned to guard the ruins of the World Trade Center as recovery teams extracted the remains of innocents killed by Islamic terrorism.

And 54-year-old Thomas Webster once presented himself as a victim of terrorism in a civil suit filed in the same federal jurisdiction where he was accused this week of attacking a District of Columbia police officer “like a junkyard dog.”

Webster can be seen on video wielding a metal flagpole and seeking to tear off the cop’s gas mask with such ferocity that he became known online as “the eye gouger.”

Webster’s transformation from supposed terror victim to accused terrorizer caused him to be denounced by a law enforcement supervisor who directed and participated in the actual removal of remains from Ground Zero while the now retired cop stood guard at the periphery. The supervisor does not remember Webster from those months in downtown Manhattan but had seen the Jan. 6 video from the Capitol.

“I look at it as a further desecration of all first responders,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “It’s taken 20 years, but he managed in my view to be as guilty as any terrorist or terrorist wannabe. You are attacking the very principles of our existence: democracy, the Constitution, the Capitol.”

Bellingcat: Woman Accused of Stealing Nancy Pelosi’s Laptop Appears in Video Making Nazi Salute.

On January 6, 2021, Riley June Williams, a 22-year-old home care worker from Pennsylvania, was one of roughly 800 rioters who breached the US Capitol building in Washington D.C. While many engaged in property damage and violence that day, Williams’ case stands out given her ex-partner has alleged to the FBI that she stole a laptop from Nancy Pelosi’s office.

This former boyfriend also alleges that her goal was to sell the laptop to a Russian intelligence agency, a claim January court documents say “remains under investigation,” but which has been denied by Williams’ lawyer who accuses the former partner of seeking revenge. 

Vase with White and Red Carnations, 1886

Vase with White and Red Carnations, 1886

While Williams has not been charged with stealing the laptop itself, something she also denies, she faces multiple charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds as well aiding/abetting others to “embezzle, steal, purloin.”

Footage from January 6 released by ITV News shows Williams urging rioters upstairs towards Congressional offices. In one video from inside Pelosi’s office, a voice that the FBI states it believes to be Williams’ says “dude, put on gloves” before a gloved hand takes a laptop from a table. The affidavit links to a thread of captured Discord posts from a user named Riley bragging, “STOLE SHITT FROM NANCY POLESI [sic]”.

In an interview with ITV on January 16, Williams’ mother described her daughter as getting caught up in the moment. She noted that Riley had been radicalized on far-right message boards but described her daughter’s main political goal as, “…wanting America to get the correct information”. 

However, Bellingcat has since received information that suggests that Williams was more than just a Trump supporter caught up in the maelstrom. She is somebody who posted racist and Anti-Semitic content as well as filmed a video that appears openly pro-Nazi and promotes accelerationism (speeding up the collapse of society) as a pathway towards establishing a genocidal white supremacist state….

Several days after Williams was charged in mid-January, an antifascist activist reached out to Bellingcat with a video they believed showed her pledging allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Bellingcat has since shared the footage and findings of its investigation with NBC News.

The 36-second video opens with a young woman dancing in a dress while wearing a hat, glasses and a mask decorated with a skull. These skullmasks were adopted as a symbol by Atomwaffen and similar accelerationist Nazi terrorist groups back in 2017.

But so what? Have you heard about Neera Tanden’s tweets?

That’s all I have for you today. I know there’s lots of other news–what stories have caught your interest?