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The Washington Report – October 9th, 2015

09 Oct 2015

The Washington Report – October 9th, 2015

 

FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS RUN FOR SPEAKER … CHAOS, OR NOT … PAUL RYAN BETWEEN A ROCK AND … TRADE DEAL EXPLAINED FOR THOSE WHO FALL ASLEEP HEARING ABOUT TRADE DEALS … NDAA PASSES, WHAT’S NEXT … WHO IS STEVE BANNON AND WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW … HOUSE OF CARDS (spoiler alert) … and other news of the week.
Best,
Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Steve Moffitt, Alan MacLeod, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala and Ross Willkom)

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SPEAKER MESS … IT’S COMPLICATED The Fix: “Congress has less than a month worth of legislative days to keep the government open; pass a bill that funds repairs to highways, bridges and rails; find a new speaker for the House of Representatives; raise the debt ceiling to allow us to pay our existing obligations; and pass a spending bill to keep the government open. The drama escalated Thursday when House Republicans’ No. 2, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), suddenly took himself out of the running to be speaker. With just minutes to spare, current Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had to postpone the election for his replacement, his likely candidate no more. Without a speaker, Congress’s deadline for the last task on its to-do list, Dec. 11, seems closer than ever. That’s more than two month away, but the actual number of days that Congress has to work on all of its legislative and personnel problems is much less (because lawmakers are usually in their districts Friday afternoon through Monday as well as the week around holidays (of course the schedule could change if leaders decide to hold weekend session or stay in town for Thanksgiving).”
– 8 legislative days until the National Highway Trust Fund runs out of money on Oct. 29;
– 8 legislative days until House Speaker John Boehner retires on Oct. 30, a day with no votes scheduled;
– 12 legislative days until the government runs out of money to pay its debts on November 5;
– 24 legislative days until the federal budget expires and the government shuts down at midnight on December 11th, a day with no votes scheduled.

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BEHIND MCCARTHY’S DECISION TO BAIL Politico: “Publicly, he projected an air of confidence … But in private, his allies told him the pursuit for power was changing him and he wasn’t himself. Some said that even if he won, he couldn’t govern. ‘We need somebody to get us 247,’ McCarthy said in an extensive interview … referring to the total number of House Republicans. ‘And I was never going to be able to get 247.” … The majority leader’s longtime allies – the people he recruited and helped get elected to Congress – told him they were getting hammered back home, and that it would be difficult to back him on the House floor. Other friends said McCarthy’s pursuit of the speaker’s gavel had become a staggering weight … and was already starting to change him. Conservatives – namely members of the House Freedom Caucus – were making demands he believed he simply couldn’t deliver on. … “Even if he could win, he’d be unable to move a must-pass debt ceiling increase. He figured he’d have an equally hard time shepherding through a critical spending deal. The party, as he would say after the announcement that left the entire Capitol dumbfounded, needed a new face. He had missed his moment. A McCarthy aide delivered the news to a shocked Boehner just moments before he made the announcement publicly.”

FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS RUN FOR SPEAKER Politico: “Here are five reasons why only a fool, hero, caretaker … would want the job Boehner dearly hopes to vacate by month’s end, but can’t. 1. Ted Cruz is running for president. … 2. The ‘catastrophic’ 2013 government shutdown didn’t scare the tea party. … 3. If you have any chance of winning, you’re automatically the ‘establishment.’ … 4. Paul Ryan doesn’t want to be speaker. And he’s smarter than you. … 5. Your best friend will be Nancy Pelosi.”

HOW MANY AMERICANS EVEN KNOW WHO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE IS? The Fix: “[According to Gallup] only 15% of Americans could ID Boehner as the Speaker of the House n August — meaning that one out of every seven Americans had never heard his name. The details of McCarthy’s decision not to run for speaker are still being unearthed. But it’s hard to see a whole lot of value in a gig that — even when your party isn’t ripping itself in half — doesn’t exactly make you a political superstar.”

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NOT AN ‘ONION‘ HEADLINE – TRUMP TAKES CREDIT FOR MCCARTHY’S WITHDRAWAL (seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up!)

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SO, WHO IS GOING TO BE SPEAKER? TheFix: “The honest answer is no one knows. … With McCarthy’s implosion, uncertainty reigns. PAUL Paul RyanRYAN BETWEEN A ROCK AND …The Fix: Here’s the situation …There is both a massive power vacuum within the House GOP and an exposed wound in the long-running knife fight between the party establishment and the tea party base. One big thing that all Republicans agree on is that Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who served as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate in 2012, is the only one who can fix things — even temporarily — for the party. Ryan, thanks to his annual budgets that make hard choices about where money is spent (and not spent) by the government, has convinced hard-core tea partiers that he is motivated, fundamentally, by conservative principle. The establishment has long seen him as a national star in waiting, putting him where he wants to be — at the moment as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee — to keep him as happy as possible. The other big thing that all Republicans agree on is that Ryan does not want to be speaker. Within 30 minutes of McCarthy’s failure to secure the votes he needed on Thursday, Ryan was out with a statement reasserting — as he did when John A. Boehner announced his planned resignation two Fridays ago — that he had no interest in the top job. AN UNSTOPPABLE  FORCE (push for Ryan to be Speaker) MEETS AN UNMOAVALBE OBJECT (Ryan’s oft-state resistance). The prevailing sentiment in Washington over the last 24 hours has been that while everyone understands Ryan doesn’t want the job, they also believe he will take it for the “good of the party.” Let’s say Ryan thinks some more about it but then decides that his initial resistance to being speaker was the right instinct. Given the “take one for the team” mentality that seems to have rapidly cemented around the idea of a Ryan bid and the near-certain prospect of a chaotic race for speaker without Ryan in the race, you can be sure that there will be grumbles within the GOP conference that the Wisconsin congressman really only cares about himself. That’s totally unfair, of course, since Ryan has been very clear that he did not want to be speaker — under any circumstances. But politics can be an unfair business, and if Ryan says “no” under the current circumstances, there will be those (and it won’t be just a few people either) who forever label him as selfish and not a team player. And what if Ryan acquiesces to the calls from, well, everywhere, to be speaker? He moves into a job that he doesn’t want — and that might well be impossible, even for someone like him who enjoys a strong reservoir of goodwill among his GOP colleagues, to succeed in. Yes, Ryan might have a bit of a honeymoon period, but he is not exactly out of central casting as a tea party hero, so it’s not too difficult to see the same group that has troubled Boehner eventually doing the same to Ryan. Plus, serving as speaker — unless it was a very limited stint to get the party through crisis — would not forward … Ryan’s long-term ambition: being president. While Ryan plays coy about what he really wants for his political future, it’s clear that the House might not be the be-all, end-all for him. If it was, he wouldn’t need to be cajoled into at least thinking about seeking the speakership. Ryan didn’t want to run for president in 2016 but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to run in 2020 or even 2024. Remember, he is only 45 years old. (And he did run for vice president.) If Ryan does want to be president, speaker looks like a cul-de-sac on that road — at best.  The last speaker of the House to be elected president was James K. Polk way back in 1844. And in a political environment in which Republican voters hate Washington, do you really want to voluntarily become the official Republican face of the nation’s capital? Ryan is being backed into a corner here. His choices are run for speaker, which he doesn’t want to do and could hurt his long-term political prospects, or don’t run and be cast as a self-serving egotist.
Neither of those choices is particularly appealing.”

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CHAOS … OR NOT SO MUCH The Fix: “According to the NYTs, McCarthy’s decision threw an “already tumultuous chamber into deeper chaos with no clear leader in sight.” According to Politico, Republicans were left with “no idea of their governing agenda with several legislative battles in the coming weeks.” True, the party would be better off had it chosen a speaker candidate on Thursday. But would it have been better off with McCarthy? The evidence that Republicans lost a speaker who could bring them together is thin-to-nonexistent. Actually, until Thursday morning, the rap on McCarthy was expressed most succinctly by the New Republic’s Brian Beutler: “McCarthy’s record as world’s worst whip survives year-long challenge from Scalise.’ McCarthy, a “young gun” Republican organizer who helped the party recruit much of its winning 2010 class, was less a manager and more a Doctor Frankenstein. McCarthy presided over — sorry, whipped — a failed extension of the Patriot Act, a failed extension of the payroll tax cut, a failed attempt to raise the debt limit, a failure to pass the GOP’s preferred “fiscal cliff” rescue, a failed attempt to pass the farm bill. The default drama of McCarthy’s whip tenure was that Republicans would prep a vote, someone would realize that they were short, and crisis would ensue until someone wrote up a compromise that would allow Democrats to bail out a rump of the GOP. Some of the panic over McCarthy’s failure stems from the assumption that the status quo is naturally safer than change. It’s certainly not rooted in the demands of House Republican rebels. Some are angry with Boehner-era leadership for refusing to face down the Obama White House, but the main demands of the House Freedom Caucus, the people who felled McCarthy, are for rules changes. The caucus endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) for speaker, a former leader of both state legislative chambers in Tallahassee, on the basis of his dry promise to listen to the Republican Conference.THE FREEDOM CAUCUS (where do they get these names?) Obviously, the rebels have bigger dreams — the Freedom Caucus questionnaire … asks a potential speaker to commit to impeaching the IRS commissioner and defunding Planned Parenthood (You read that right, ‘impeaching the IRS commissioner). In this, the most conservative Republicans are simply listening to their districts, many of which were [strengthened] in 2011 — actually their primaries more competitive than their challenges from Democrats. They were listening to their districts, too, when they repeatedly demanded a Select Committee on Benghazi. McCarthy’s gaffe about the political effectiveness of that committee revealed that the hard liners were right.and he was a candidate for speaker who often struggled to articulate his thoughts.”IMPACT OF MCCARTHY’S FACE-PLANT? The … next speaker will inherit a majority that can sustain dozens of losses and is protected from those losses by gerrymandering in key states. And its voters, as pollsters will tell you, don’t pay a ton of attention to who the speaker is. There is life after chaos — though, seriously, it’s better to figure out how to raise the debt limit first.”

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TPP AND THE TRADE DEALS EXPLAINED FOR PEOPLE WHO FALL ASLEEP HEARING ABOUT TRADE DEALS The Fix: “Two separate things are being talked about, each of which is often referred to by an abbreviation, and the two abbreviations are almost identical. First, there’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. This is the actual trade deal that President Obama is hoping to secure with a number of countries, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. You can remember that TPP is the trade deal itself because TPP is like OPP, and the deal is all about getting other people’s property. Specifically, the people of the Pacific Rim. Then there’s Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA. This is also known as “fast-track” authority because it gives the president the ability to negotiate a deal that will receive only an up-or-down vote in Congress. Without fast track, Congress can amend the terms of the deal. You can remember that TPA is “fast track” because when you T.P. a house, you are on the “fast track” to juvenile delinquency. Or you can just call it fast track, which is easier .Fast-track authority doesn’t apply to only one agreement. In the past, it has spanned presidencies, beginning in 1974 and lasting until the Clinton administration. It also existed during parts of both terms of George W. Bush’s presidency. From the president’s standpoint, fast-track authority is critical to negotiating agreements because he can negotiate in good faith — what he says to his negotiating partners he’s confident will be part of the final deal (if Congress approves it). SO THAT’S TPP and TPA. NOW LET’S TALK POLITICS. Trade deals are often contentious, particularly among Democrats. (Last year, the National Journal called trade the “last major fault line” in the party.) Environmentalists often oppose the deals because they don’t include heightened environmental protections. Labor loathes trade deals, having seen hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs go to Mexico in the wake of the North American Free Trade Agreement (also known as NAFTA) and because they want stronger worker protections included (in part, to ensure that overseas manufacturers aren’t cutting costs on the backs of their workers).But the business community — and therefore most Republicans and pro-business Democrats — loves these deals, because they open up new markets. (And, in the past, because companies have been able to cut costs by moving jobs to, say, Mexico.) This led to the unusual spectacle this week of the Chamber of Commerce, which opposed Obama’s reelection, arguing in favor of giving Obama fast track and the AFL-CIO, which backed his reelection, arguing against it. WE SHOULD MENTION: Fast track is the actual political issue right now because Obama considers it essential for completing the TPP. He has been trying to line up Democratic support for reinstating the authority, but has had trouble getting some of his team on board. Last week, he had a big victory when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) reached an agreement with Republicans for what he calls “smart track” — fast-track authority overlaid with mandatory protections for workers and the environment. THE LOUDER FIGHT, as always, will be in the House. As you may have gathered above, many House Democrats have expressed reluctance to approve fast track. More than 120 signed a letter opposing TPA during the last Congress. And as The Post’s Reid Wilson elegantly details, Democratic power centers have changed since NAFTA was passed in the 1990s, making the fight trickier. So what, you might ask. If Republicans like the idea, doesn’t Speaker Boehner have enough votes from his conference? And my response is: Has Boehner ever had a unified caucus? As usual, the most conservative wing of the House GOP is giving Boehner trouble. Earlier this year, a prominent tea party organization trumpeted that it was teaming up with labor to block fast track, yet another set of WEIRD BEDFELLOWS IN TRADE DEAL HOTEL. The conservative opposition comes from a different place, though: The group does not support granting that much power to the president, particularly this president. A common argument is that fast track skips over the democratic process of Congress weighing in on an agreement — which is true, but is also something Congress has overlooked in the past. AND THEN THERE’S 2016. You may remember several references above to NAFTA, the big trade deal in the 1990s that labor hates. You also may remember that the president who finalized that deal was a gentleman who went by the name of “Clinton.”You also may have heard that his wife is running for president. Hillary Clinton is in a tough spot. She seems eager to get the left-most wing of the party behind her, but it almost uniformly doesn’t like the TPP. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been outspoken in her opposition, prompting an unusual rebuke from the president.) When Clinton was secretary of state, she backed the deal — but she can easily point out that she was working for the guy who is so eager to see it pass now. She offered a tepid note of caution on the deal last week, including that she is worried about “currency manipulation” — something that has been called a “poison pill” for a deal. (Meaning: If it’s included, the bill is dead. You probably knew that, but we’re just making sure.) Jeb Bush has already attacked Clinton for her “flip flop” on the deal, because (wait for it . . .) he’s on Obama’s side? As we said earlier, the politics on this are weird. So, that’s where we are. Congress is expected to vote on the issue next month, meaning lots more time to hear about how all of this works. (And lots more time for 2016 candidates to try to beat each other up.) If you made it this far, if you read this far down, you deserve a reward. (And thanks.)

WHERE TPP STANDS Politico: “The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday reached final agreement.  The conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, after years of negotiations … was merely “an important first step,” conceded Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative, as he and other weary officials announced their accord. Now the deal faces months of scrutiny in Congress, where some bipartisan opposition was immediate.  WHAT’S IN IT? Politico: “Today, when American firms export their products to the other 11 nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they get hit with tariffs as high as 55% on wine, 50% on motorcycles, 35% on plywood, 30% on tractors, 24% on headphones, and 20% on beauty products. If the TPP goes into effect, those foreign tariffs will all disappear. With the largest regional trade agreement in history now complete and heading for a vote in Congress, the big fights are likely to involve patent protections for drug companies, safeguards for the environment and labor rights, currency disputes, and the rights of tobacco companies to litigate anti-smoking regulations. But in an interview U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman tried to shift the spotlight to TPP’s traditional free-trade roots, predicting it would boost the U.S. economy by slashing more than 18,000 tariffs—or as Froman calls them, “export taxes”—on U.S. products.” Full Read.

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SANER, MORE EFFECTIVE PRISON SENTENCES NYTs: “The sentencing reform bill introduced in the Senate on Thursday … is a crucial first step on the long path toward unwinding the federal government’s decades-long reliance on prisons as the answer to every ill. For starters, it is worth noting the bipartisan nature of this legislation. In a Senate that can’t agree on the time of day, top Republican and Democratic senators — most notably Senator Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa) and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, as well as a longtime supporter of harsh sentencing laws — negotiated for months to produce a concrete set of fixes. Among the most significant are those that would reduce mandatory-minimum sentences for many drug crimes. These sentences are jaw-droppingly long — from five years for a first offense up to life without parole for a third. The new bill would cut the life sentence to a 25-year minimum, and would cut the 20-year sentence for a second offense to 15 years. These may seem like minor tweaks to pointlessly long sentences, and for the most part they are. But when half of all federal inmates are in for drug crimes, even small changes can make a real difference. In addition, the bill would give federal judges more power to impose sentences below the mandatory minimum in certain cases, rather than being forced to apply a strict formula. This would shift some power away from prosecutors, who coax plea deals in more than 97% of cases, often by threatening defendants with outrageously long punishments.OTHER PROVISIONS would give more inmates the chance to earn early release by participating in educational and other rehabilitative programming; seal or expunge juvenile records, so people are not burdened for life because of crimes they committed when they were young; and make it easier for older inmates to seek early release — a smart idea because they are by far the costliest to keep imprisoned and the least likely to commit new crimes. Finally, and critically, many parts of the bill are retroactive, which means thousands of current federal inmates could benefit immediately. In particular, 6,500 prisoners are still serving time under an old law that punished crack-cocaine offenses far more severely than powder-cocaine offenses. When the law was altered to reduce the disparity in 2010, the change applied only to new cases, leaving thousands of inmates serving unjustly long sentences for no good reason.”

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VW EXEC PLAYS THE BLAME GAME “Mi­chael Horn, head of Volk­swa­gen Group of Amer­ica, told a House En­ergy and Com­merce sub­com­mit­tee that en­gin­eers were re­spons­ible for [a defeat device to cheat emissions tests] and that seni­or Volk­swa­gen of­fi­cials were not aware of it. Even as mem­bers of the pan­el ex­pressed skep­ti­cism, Horn con­fessed, ‘I agree it’s very hard to be­lieve, … and per­son­ally I struggle as well.’ … Horn said the com­pany is work­ing to de­vel­op a fix for the 482,000 cars af­fected by the device.” (National Journal).

DIVERGING FORTUNES. “The amount of electricity generated from natural gas in the United States surpassed the share of coal-fired production in July for the second time.” (Houston Chronicle)

WHITE HOUSE WAVES VETO PEN AT OIL-EXPORTS BILL The White House made clear Wednesdaythat looming House passage of a bill to lift the ban on crude-oil exports would be merely symbolic, even if it cleared the Senate, too. A formal “statement of administration policy” on the GOP-led bill says that President Obama’s advisers would recommend a veto if it reached his desk. The bill’s 137 cosponsors include 16 Democrats. White House spokesman Josh Earnest has previously said that export-policy decisions should stay in the executive branch.”

AN END TO THE WIND TAX CREDIT? “A Republican senator wants to end a key wind power tax credit once and for all. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced a bill Wednesday to end certain renewable energy tax credits, including the Production Tax Credit (PTC) used by the wind power industry.” (The Hill)

“When Americans think about deaths from guns, we tend to focus on homicides. But the problem of gun suicide is inescapable: More than 60% of people in this country who die from guns die by suicide.” (NYTs)

ASSISTED DYING BILL SIGNED “California will become the fifth state to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure into law on Monday, ending his months of silence on one of the most emotional issues in the state this year. In an unusually personal signing message, the governor, a former Jesuit seminarian, signaled how torn he was by the issue.” (NYTs)

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NDAA PASSES SENATE – NEXT STOP, THE PRESIDENT’S DESK Politico: “Senate Republicans are daring President Barack Obama: Veto the annual defense policy bill that authorizes pay and benefits for troops, overhauls the military’s outdated retirement system and provides legal guidance for virtually every program in the armed forces. They’re ready as well with a public-relations campaign that would blast the president for rejecting the National Defense Authorization Act during a time of war. But the president’s objections to the bill that Congress approved Wednesday have little to do with national defense. NOT EVEN A DEFENSE ISSUE, A BUDGET BATTLE “The defense bill has instead become ensnared in the larger battle over how to fund the government, a feud that likely won’t be settled until at least December. … The White House – and most Democrats – object to the measure because it authorizes an extra $38 billion in war funding to skirt the spending limits that are at the heart of the larger budget battle.”

VOTE BREAKDOWN The Senate voted 70-26 to approve the NDAA on Wednesday. But no senator running for president voted for final passage. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) changed his vote from Tuesday’s procedural motion and opposed the final bill, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The two other senators running for president – Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of Texas – were likely to have supported the measure, but both missed the final vote.

WILL OBAMA REALLY VETO THE BILL? It certainly looks that way. The White House has said in no uncertain terms that it opposes the bill over the added OCO funds, and there’s nothing policy-wise in the bill – like a path for closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – that might prompt him to reconsider, even though the White House does not have any major objections to the legislation. Republicans will, of course, slam the president for a veto.”

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A VETO? This is trickier because it will be dependent on the outcome of the budget deliberations, as a veto override vote is set up to fail in the House if not in both chambers. If a budget agreement is reached that raises the Budget Control Act caps, the NDAA has a quick fix that will let it sail over the finish line. But if that doesn’t happen, getting the bill done could get more complicated.”

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THE BITTERSWEET IRONY OF THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENCY A 7-page spread in N.Y. Mag, “The Paradox of the First Black President — As the historic administration nears its final year, African-American leaders debate: Did Barack Obama do enough for his own community?” Playbook: “There is a photo by Pete Souza, the White House’s canny and peripatetic photographer, that surfaces from time to time online. The setting is Marine One, and it features a modest cast of five. Valerie Jarrett … is staring at her cell phone. … Obama, twisted around in his seat, is listening to a conversation between … Reggie Love, and Patrick Gaspard, one of his then-top advisers. “Obama’s former deputy press secretary, Bill Burton, is looking on too, with just the mildest hint of a grin … Everyone onboard is black. ‘We joked that it was Soul Plane,’ says Burton. ‘And we’ve often joked about it since – that it was the first time in history only black people were on that helicopter.’ … [T]he price that Obama has had to pay … is one of caution, moderation, and at times compromised policies … the bittersweet irony of the first black presidency.” Interesting Read.

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MONEY, MONEY, MONEY … CNN: “Ted cruise raises $12 million over the summer, his cash flow over the last three months brings his total fundraising so far to $26 million. … [T]here are signs that other conservative alternatives are gaining steam: Ben Carson, powered by a legion of small-dollar donors, says his campaign raised $20 million in the third quarter. And Donald Trump has pledged to self-finance his campaign.”  NYTs , “Rubio campaign … reported raising about $6 million in the third quarter, much less than it had raised in his first quarter on the campaign trail, though it said that it still had a healthy $11 million on hand.”

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WHO IS RUNNING THE NEW VAST RIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY? MEET STEVE BANNONBloombergBusinessWeek: “Breitbart executive chairman Steve “Bannon’s life is a succession of Gatsbyish reinventions that made him rich and landed him squarely in the middle of the 2016 presidential race: He’s been a naval officer, investment banker, minor Hollywood player, and political impresario. …”Today, backed by mysterious investors and a stream of Seinfeld royalties, he sits at the nexus of what Hillary Clinton once dubbed ‘the vast right-wing conspiracy’ … But this ‘conspiracy,’ at least under Bannon, has mutated into something different from what Clinton described: It’s as eager to go after establishment Republicans such as Boehner or Jeb Bush as Democrats like Clinton. Whoa…Interesting read.  *NOTE: “Breitbart News is a haven for people who think Fox News is too polite and restrained.”

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NOBELS NYTs: “Three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering “therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of some of the most devastating parasitic diseases. They are William C. Campbell, formerly of New Jersey, and Satoshi Omura of Japan, who share one-half of the $960,000 award; and Tu Youyou of China, who won the other half. Dr. Campbell and Dr. Omura developed Avermectin, the parent of Ivermectin, a medicine that has nearly eradicated river blindness and radically reduced the incidence of filariasis, which can cause the disfiguring swelling of the lymph system in the legs and lower body known as elephantiasis. Dr. Tu was inspired by Chinese traditional medicine in discovering Artemisinin, a drug that is now part of standard anti-malarial regimens and that has reduced death rates from the disease.”

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117a11f81a99c129a340b43c_280x156HOUSE OF CARDS (oh, yay) SPOILER ALERT (Season 4 to be released on Netflix toward the end of February) KGB File: “When last we left Frank and Claire Underwood, TV’s most devious first lady had packed her bags and was leaving the president, who was knee-deep in a tough campaign to hang onto the White House. Well, this week, hundreds (literally, hundreds) of extras got the call to film a (faux) Democrat Convention at an old sports arena in Baltimore, the city where House of Cards is filmed. While all cast members had to sign non-disclosure contracts, and had to turn over cellphones so production staff could guarantee no one sneaked out photos of the set, one can assume that a convention means Frank is at least in the running for a second term. Robin Wright, the Emmy-nominated actress who plays Claire, is wearing two hats for season four, directing most of the episodes as well as acting. Kevin Spacey, whose Underwood has earned him critical raves, also serves as executive producer. One new face on the set since filming began this summer is Neve Campbell, who was announced as a cast member in the spring. No official word on Campbell’s character, but the buzz is that she’s no fan of the Underwoods.”

 

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