Jonathan Chait: A week had passed since the 2012 election when Josh Barro finally said the unsayable. The 28-year-old Bloomberg View columnist is -- or, arguably, was -- the most precocious of a coterie of conservative reformists whose numbers have steadily swollen, those arguing that the GOP's product itself, not merely its marketing slogans, needs to change. ... Over time, Barro's writing has fitfully evolved from muted, oblique criticism to polite, persistent criticism to, finally, firm opposition. His alienation crystallized in a widely read post declaring Romney's infamous "47 percent" video as fatally defining the Republican candidate. Now Barro writes things like "The party's economic agenda, as embodied in the latest Ryan budget, is simply terrible for the vast majority of Americans." read more
A strain of cockroaches in Europe has evolved to outsmart the sugar traps used to eradicate them. American scientists found that the mutant cockroaches had a "reorganised" sense of taste, making them perceive the glucose used to coat poisoned bait not as sweet but rather as bitter. Meanwhile, amphibians are disappearing in the United States at an unexpectedly brisk pace. More disturbing, according to a report this week from the U.S. Geological Survey, the more rare the species of toad, frog or salamander, the higher the risk of decline.
The son of a former aide to President George W. Bush is charged with killing a man with a hatchet in Montgomery County, Md. Claude Alexander Allen III, 20, was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder Friday. Police say Allen killed a man at a home owned by his father, Claude A. Allen. The elder Allen was a domestic policy adviser in the Bush White House who resigned in 2006 after being arrested for shoplifting at a Target store in Gaithersburg, Md. He pleaded guilty to theft and told the judge at his sentencing hearing that he had lost perspective while working long hours and getting little sleep in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Nature: Under the microscope, they look like simple jacks, with eight spikes jutting out of a central ball. But these protein nanoparticles are science's latest weapon against influenza: a new breed of flu vaccine that provides better and broader protection than commercially available ones -- at least in animal tests. "This is taking us on the road to a universal vaccine," says Gary Nabel, now at the biotechnology firm Sanofi in Cambridge, Massachussetts, who led the work in his former lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland. read more
Tampa Bay Times: Two months after contributing $110,000 to Gov. Rick Scott's (R) re-election campaign, an upstart property insurance company is likely to reap a $52 million windfall, paid from the coffers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Sitting on a record cash surplus of $6.4 billion, Citizens is hoping to sign a special deal today with Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Co., a St. Petersburg firm that opened nine months ago and has made significant political contributions. read more
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi of MTV's Jersey Shore argued with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Friday at the reopening of the Seaside Heights' boardwalk. After both appeared seperately on NBC's Today Show, Polizzi, 25, approached the governor about his past remarks that her show was bad for the state. At one point during the conversation she says to him, "Why are you standing so close to me?" He leans in further for comic effect and replies, "You asked for my opinion." read more
Eugene Robinson: President Obama should spend his remaining years in office making the United States part of the solution to climate change, not part of the problem. If Congress sticks to its policy of obstruction and willful ignorance, Obama should use his executive powers to the fullest extent. We are out of time. With each breath, every person alive today experiences something unique in human history: an atmosphere containing more than 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide. ... [A]tmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by a stunning 43 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. read more
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Friday that the "Gang of Eight" immigration bill doesn't have enough votes to pass the Senate. "We don't currently have 60 votes identified in the Senate," Menendez said in an interview with Univision. "We need to add more votes on the floor. That means that the community in your state, in every state, should be contacting your state's two U.S. Senators saying that they want comprehensive immigration reform, that they are going to judge their political future based on this vote." Menendez said he was optimistic that the bipartisan coalition could cobble together the super-majority the bill will need to get through the Senate.
A 40-year-old Californian with a moderate income will pay between nothing and $219 a month for a basic health insurance plan next year under President Barack Obama's health care reform law, a state agency announced Thursday. Covered California, the authority in charge of the state's health insurance exchange, has released details about what the health insurance market for individuals who don't get coverage at work will look like next year. In all, 13 health insurance companies will sell products on the exchange, and premiums will range from 2 percent more to 29 percent less than what comparable plans cost this year, the agency said. read more
Terry and Anthony Jackson, two food pantry volunteers in Alabama aged 76 and 69, were fatally attacked on Tuesday morning after they arrived early to clean the church. Anthony, who was severely handicapped by cerebral palsy, died at the scene. Terry, who had looked after his brother all of his adult life, died later at the hospital. "They loved God. They loved serving others through the pantry," said Cheryl Blankenship, pastor of West Huntsville United Methodist Church. "They died on a happy day of their lives. They were about to share a meal with other volunteers -- and they were two single guys who didn't cook much so they loved fellowship meals. I think they were as happy as they could be." read more
A recent Fox News story reported that in a poll the news organization conducted, voters said the government was "out of control" by a margin of 68 percent to 26 percent. Here's the question pollsters asked to elicit that response: "Does it feel like the federal government has gotten out of control and is threatening the basic civil liberties of Americans, or doesn't it feel this way to you?"
Using Agriculture Department data, researchers at the Environmental Working Group found that Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Republican and a farmer from Frog Jump, Tenn., collected nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012. In 2012 alone, the data shows, Fincher received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners even if they do not grow crops. It is unclear how much Fincher received in crop insurance subsidies because the names of people receiving the subsidies are not public. The group said most of the agriculture subsidies go to the largest, most profitable farm operations in the country. These farmers have received $265 billion in direct payments and farm insurance subsidies since 1995, federal records show.
President Barack Obama on Thursday shifted the United States away from a "boundless global war on terror," restricting deadly drone strikes abroad and signaling that America's long struggle against al Qaeda will one day end. "Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That's what history advises. That's what our democracy demands," Obama said. "Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless 'global war on terror' -- but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America."
New York Times: President Obama's speech on Thursday was the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America. For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future. "Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue," Obama said in the speech at the National Defense University. "But this war, like all wars, must end. That's what history advises. It's what our democracy demands." read more
A year-long operation by New Jersey state alcohol officials found numerous alterations of booze -- including a bar serving rubbing alcohol with caramel coloring and calling it scotch and a bar filling liquor bottles with dirty water -- at 29 restaurants and bars. Thirteen of the violators were TGI Fridays restaurants. In "Operation Swill," state agents in January and February ordered drinks neat (without ice or mixers) and covertly tested them. Of 150 samples collected, 30 were altered or not the brand ordered.