TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: October 23

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

‘Canada Will Never Be Intimidated’

Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered prayers to the grieving families following an armed attack in Ottawa, which led to the death of an officer and a sustained lockdown of the area, and said the incident would strengthen the country’s resolve

Know if You’re Safe From Recalls

2014 isn’t over, but it’s already broken the record for most auto recalls ever, as automakers have recalled an estimated all-time high of 56 million in the U.S.

Connecticut Monitoring 9 for Ebola

Nine people in Connecticut who could have been exposed to Ebola have been ordered to stay home for 21 days, the state’s Public Health Department said

Royals Beat Giants 7-2 to Take Game 2 of World Series

Kansas City trounced San Francisco on Wednesday for the team’s first win in a World Series game since beating St. Louis in 1985. The Royals haven’t won the series yet, but they did something more important: they showed why they belonged here

Coalition Air Strikes in Syria Have Killed 500

The U.S.-led air campaign designed to degrade and destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria has killed hundreds of militants throughout Syria — but it’s just a fraction of the group’s ground strength. Dozens of civilians have also died

North Carolina Releases Report on Academic Scandal

The University of North Carolina report details how a lack of oversight allowed the creation of so-called “paper classes” that student athletes were encouraged to take and in which they received high grades with “little regard” for the quality of their work

The Secret to Finding a Super Cheap Thanksgiving Flight

This year, like every year, there’s a lot of mixed messages on what to do if you’ve procrastinated on booking tickets for one of the busiest travel seasons. From checking smaller airlines to avoiding fares on Wednesday and Sunday, here’s a go-to information guide

Experts Assess Prospect of Ebola Falling in Wrong Hands

The virus is considered a bioterrorism agent — a “select agent and toxin” that has the “potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety.” But massive fines, jail time and a risk of deadly exposure may be enough of a deterrent

Corporations, Advocacy Groups Spend Big on Ballot Measures

Large companies and national advocacy groups are putting big dollars behind committees with benign-sounding names that support or oppose ballot initiatives on issues as varied as minimum wage increases in Alaska and recreational marijuana in Florida

U.S. Murder Suspect Unaware Filipina Was Transgender

A friend of murdered Filipina Jennifer Laude testified that the American suspect, who went out with the two on the night of the crime, didn’t know they were transgender. The witness made her statement during a Philippine Senate hearing on Wednesday

Blackwater Guards Found Guilty in Iraq Shootings

Four former Blackwater guards were found guilty on Wednesday in the 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad, and a federal judge ordered them immediately to jail. The shootings caused an international uproar over the role of defense contractors in warfare

Mayor, Wife Tied to Disappearance of 43 Students in Mexico

Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo said he suspects that Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda are “probable masterminds” in the disappearance of 43 students after demonstrations on Sept. 26

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Meet America’s Most Sucessful Political Families

It's that time of year again: Bushes and Clintons galore are on the campaign trail supporting candidates who are up for election. Here's a look at America's most successful political dynasties

TIME 2014 Election

Corporations, Advocacy Groups Spend Big on Ballot Measures

A still from an advertisement payed for by Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban, a group backed by agricultural giants Monsanto and DowAgroSciences YouTube

Spending on TV ads soars to $119 million ahead of Election Day

Bonnie Marsh is worried that many of her neighbors’ health problems stem from big companies farming genetically modified crops around her in Maui County, Hawaii. So she helped collect enough signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot that would ban growing such crops until an environmental study is done.

“We’ve come forward because we feel there’s a real threat to the health of the Earth,” said Marsh, a nurse who focuses on natural remedies. “We are done being an experimental lab.”

Marsh said her group, Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina, has raised about $700,000 so far for what is the first-ever citizen-initiated ballot measure in Maui County. They’ve used about $17,000 of it to buy TV ads to help get the word out. But Marsh’s group is being outraised and outspent by business-supported opposition.

Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban, a group backed by agricultural giants Monsanto and DowAgroSciences, has already spent more than $2 million — or $23.13 per registered voter in the county — on television ads arguing that the ban would kill jobs, cost the local economy millions of dollars and block crops that have been proven safe.

And more ads could be on the way — the group has not yet filed a report with the state to say how much it has raised, nor would it volunteer the information to the Center for Public Integrity.

More has been spent on television time on that measure than any other local initiative in the nation. It’s also more expensive than more than 100 statewide measures, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of preliminary data from media tracking service Kantar Media/CMAG.

Across the country, large companies and national advocacy groups are putting big dollars behind committees with benign-sounding names that support or oppose ballot initiatives on issues as varied as minimum wage increases in Alaska and recreational marijuana in Florida.

The committees are using that money to put their message out in expensive ads featuring family farmers, concerned doctors and smiling teachers. Voters may not readily be able to identify the patrons behind the millions of dollars in ads, but a who’s who of corporate America — soda king Coca-Cola, agriculture magnate Monsanto and malpractice insurer The Doctors Company — are among them.

Through Oct. 20, TV ad spending on ballot issues totaled roughly $119 million, including $11.3 million on local initiatives such as the one in Maui County.

Four of the five most expensive ballot initiatives feature at least one corporate patron duking it out over the airwaves, getting involved in the initiative process that was designed as a way to give voters a direct voice on public policies.

· The two most expensive propositions were in California. Proposition 46 has drawn more than $23 million in ad spending, while Proposition 45 has attracted $20.5 million. Almost all of it has come from two groups: No on 45 — Californians Against Higher Healthcare Costs and No on 46 — Patients, Providers and Healthcare Insurers to Contain Health Costs. The “no” groups are backed by doctors and insurance companies, including The Doctors Company and Blue Shield of California, fighting to stop measures that would force doctors to undergo drug testing and insurers to get new approval for rate hikes, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of state campaign finance records.

· Coming in third place was a Colorado amendment to expand gambling, which has drawn about $12 million in ad spending. Of that, $6.4 million came from Coloradans for Better Schools, a group backed by a Rhode Island casino company, Twin River Casino. Competing casinos in Colorado are helping fund $5.7 million in ads opposing the measure through a group called Don’t Turn Racetracks Into Casinos.

· Ranking fourth were two California measures that have been touted as an inseparable duo: Proposition 1, which would authorize a bond issue for water infrastructure projects, and Proposition 2, which would change the state’s “rainy day fund.” Most of the $7.6 million spent on ads supporting the two measures came from California Gov. Jerry Brown. The Democrat has not run any ads for his re-election bid, instead buying $5.6 million in ads through his campaign committee to back the propositions.

· Rounding out the top five, with $5 million in ads, was an Oregon measure that would require genetically modified foods to be labeled. The No on 92 Coalition, fueled by groups such as Monsanto and the J.M. Smucker Company, is battling natural food companies funding the Vote Yes on Measure 92 committee.

Fewer but costlier initiatives

This year voters have fewer ballot measures to decide than they did four years ago, when a comparable number of offices were up for election. In 2010, voters considered 184 statewide initiatives compared with 158 this year.

Even California voters, well acquainted with lengthy ballots, have only six measures to read through this November.

But this year already has 2010 beat in terms of TV ad spending. In 2010, ballot measure backers and opponents spent about $87 million on ads for the entire election cycle, compared with this year’s $119 million through Oct. 20.

Citizens in 26 states can gather signatures and put a proposal on the ballot that would create a new law or veto an existing one. Every state but Delaware offers voters the chance to weigh in on constitutional amendments approved by the legislature. Once the initiative is approved to go before voters, the ad deluge begins.

Ballot measure opponents and supporters use a number of tools to influence voters — door-knocking, direct mail, digital advertising and more — but television spots have the highest profile influence on such direct democracy.

“TV ads are a very effective way of getting out a message,” said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida professor who has studied ballot measures for more than 20 years. Advertising can be used “devastatingly well,” he added.

But those ads — and the money behind them — aren’t necessarily a bad thing if it gets people talking, he said, even if a few of them are confusing or misleading. “Increased money usually means there is more information, more awareness of ballot measures,” he added.

Corporate titans rule the airwaves

In California, competing messages about the drug-testing-for-doctors proposition are abundant on the airwaves. Recent transplant James VanBuskirk, a 34-year-old marketer for a property insurance company, says he sees one every time he watches prime-time TV.

Prop 46 tops the ballot measure spending pile in this election, with $23 million spent on thousands of ads across California.

Consumer Watchdog, a national advocacy group, teamed up with trial lawyers to back the measure. Trial lawyers stand to benefit from Prop 46 because, in addition to testing doctors for drug use, it also increases the maximum judges can award for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits. Groups backed by them spent $3.9 million so far on ads supporting the measure.

Consumer advocates and the California Nurses Association have also thrown their money behind Proposition 45, which would require insurers to receive approval for rate hikes from the California insurance commissioner, an elected regulator. Ballot committees supporting the measure have aired more than $679,000 on ads so far.

But their messages have been crowded out by those of insurers and doctors, who are spending big to oppose both measures on the airwaves — with more than $38 million spent on ads so far, about $19 million on each measure — nearly a third of the total amount spent on ballot measure ads nationwide. And there are likely many more ads to come: Groups opposing the two measures together have raised more than $100 million, according to California campaign finance records.

“It’s definitely in the upper stratosphere of California fundraising,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit that produces online voter guides.

That doesn’t mean the insurance companies are necessarily going to win. In 2010, a group backed by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spent almost $14 million on ads supporting a ballot measure that would require local voter approval for any new government-backed utilities. The electric company lost, even though its opponents did not buy any airtime.

Casinos versus casinos

In Colorado, casinos are waging the nation’s third-most-expensive ballot fight over the airwaves this year.

It’s casino versus casinos, according to an analysis of state campaign finance data. One Rhode Island gambling company, Twin River Casino, wants to offer slot machines, blackjack and other games at a racetrack in Aurora, Colorado. In ads, the committee backed by the company promises $100 million of new gambling revenue will be sent to an education fund every year. The ads have run more than 5,500 times, at a cost of about $6.4 million.

But already established gambling operations in Colorado that don’t want more competition have backed a group that has kept pace, spending $5.7 million on ads opposing the measure. “Amendment 68 is not about education. It’s a Rhode Island gambling scheme,” one opposition ad says.

Most Coloradans likely have no idea that casinos are backing the ads on both sides, said Kyle Saunders, associate professor of political science at Colorado State University. Colorado has clear-cut competitive U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, he said, while ballot-measure backers are “muddying the issues.”

“It’s a difficult environment for voters to know everything about a particular ballot measure anyway, in a normal election,” Saunders said. “You have to actually do some digging or find that article on the Internet or newspaper that has that in-depth information, and that’s actually a pretty demanding task for low- and medium-information voters.”

Gambling is also on the ballot in Massachusetts, with a casino-backed group spending about $3.3 million on ads.

In total, gambling-based ballot measures are responsible for $17.5 million in ad spending nationwide.

Food industry food fight

Even soda is getting in on the political ad contests. The American Beverage Association, whose members include Coca-Cola and Pepsi, has pumped millions into a group opposing a Massachusetts ballot measure that would raise fees for beverage distributors and expand the state’s bottle deposit to cover more types of bottles. The beverage lobby-backed group has spent about $2.5 million on TV ads, while pro-initiative forces have not bought any airtime.

The California branch of the beverage-makers group has also backed a group trying to defeat a local initiative in San Francisco that would tax sugary drinks; so far the group has spent $1.8 million on ads, making the measure the second-most expensive local measure in terms of television spots, behind Maui’s initiative.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are also teaming up with other big food businesses like Monsanto and the Hershey Company in their effort to keep Oregon and Colorado from requiring labels on food that contains genetically modified organisms. Groups backed by the team of food companies have spent about $3 million on ads in each state, arguing that the measures would raise food prices and hurt farmers.

“Farming is hard enough. The last thing we need is Measure 92, a bunch of complex, costly regulations that don’t exist in any other state,” says a plaid-shirt-wearing farmer in an ad opposing the Oregon measure.

Proponents of labeling in Oregon, backed by natural food companies, have spent $2 million on television ads in the state. “I want you to be able to trust the food you feed your family,” says another plaid-shirt-wearing farmer, who favors the measure. Proponents in Colorado have not aired ads.

Winning hearts

Corporations aren’t the only big players in state ballot measures this year. National advocacy groups are also tugging at heartstrings on the airwaves.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have teamed up to oppose anti-abortion measures in Tennessee and Colorado. In Tennessee, a group backed by the pair has spent about $1.3 million on TV ads against a measure that would give the legislature more leeway to regulate abortion. Proponents of the measure, backed by Tennessee Right to Life, have spent about $606,000 on ads.

In Colorado, a Planned Parenthood-backed group has spent $477,000 on the airwaves to oppose an amendment to the state constitution that would redefine “person” to include the unborn. The ads say the move would effectively ban all abortion in the state. Proponents have aired no ads.

Other initiatives attracting interest from advocacy groups include:

· In Washington, television viewers have already been treated to more than 4,000 ads about a pair of conflicting ballot measures concerning background checks for gun purchases, with most of them coming from a group supporting expanded background checks. That organization — backed by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety fund, early Amazon investor Nick Hanauer and a handful of Microsoft executives, according to state records — spent an estimated $3 million on ads. The other side, backed by gun enthusiasts and sporting clubs, is trailing behind, with only about $58,000 spent.

· In North Dakota, the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society, among others, have lent their support to a measure that would dedicate some of the state’s oil tax revenues to land preservation. North Dakotans for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks has ponied up nearly $485,400 for ads—more than double the cost for all the ads run by candidates for state offices this year. The group’s opponents have spent about $134,000 on ads so far.

· In Maine, voters are considering a ballot measure that would ban traps, bait and dog chases in bear hunting. The Humane Society has backed a group that has spent about $860,000 on ads favoring the ban so far. The other side, Maine’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Council, has spent about $713,000 on ads.

Attracting voters with pot and money

Marijuana is on the ballot in the District of Columbia and three states, spurring $4.5 million in ads. In Oregon, voters have watched some 1,825 ads worth more than $1 million run by supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana. That effort’s backers include the family of Peter Lewis, a longtime marijuana legalization advocate from Ohio and chairman of Progressive Insurance, who died in 2013. Another backer is the Drug Policy Alliance, an anti-drug-war nonprofit backed by liberal financier George Soros. (Soros’ Open Society Foundations are a financial supporter of the Center.)

The ads argue that legalizing the drug will allow police to focus on solving murders and finding missing children. Opponents have aired no ads so far, but a similar measure failed in Oregon in 2012. In Alaska, supporters of marijuana have aired just $8,210 worth of ads.

In Florida, opponents of a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana have spent roughly $3.2 million on ads. But the players in that fight might care less about marijuana than the governor’s race. Analysts say the marijuana legalization effort in Florida is really a tactic to get more young and left-leaning residents to turn out and vote for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Billionaire casino operator Sheldon Adelson has given $4 million to the anti-pot campaign, while the pro-pot side is backed more than $3.8 million from the personal injury lawyer John Morgan and his firm, which hired Crist after he left office. So far, however, the marijuana advocates have only spent about $195,000 on TV ads, according to Kantar Media/CMAG data.

Ballot measures are a reliable way to motivate a party’s base. For instance, liberal groups helped get measures to raise the minimum wage on five states’ ballots this fall. Yet only Nebraska’s appears to have drawn TV ads: a paltry $79,000 worth.

“That totally makes sense,” said Neil Sroka, a strategist for progressive groups and the communications director at the Howard Dean-founded Democracy for America. “I wouldn’t count the lack of spending on ads to be indicative that they’re not incredibly useful in driving out votes.”

Sroka told the Associated Press that polls show overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage, including among independents and Republicans. Liberal activists looking to motivate voters can use the minimum-wage measures as a way to get perhaps reluctant voters talking and then tell them that the Democratic nominees for office also support higher wages.

“These ballot measures are great ways to talk to voters who might not want to talk to Democrats,” Sroka said.

Money talks but does it win?

For some corporations and national advocacy groups, investments in ballot measure ads have already paid off. This summer, oil companies won an August vote after dishing out nearly $900,000 to buy about 8,000 TV spots in Alaska to keep special tax breaks. “We need to stay in the game,” said a hockey coach in an ad that likened the sport to the oil industry.

In Michigan, manufacturers almost hit the $2.8 million mark on ad spending for an August ballot measure designed to eliminate a double tax on industrial property, while also rerouting an existing tax to fund local budgets. Though observers worried the measure was too confusing for pessimistic Michigan voters, who turned down every single initiative on the ballot in 2012, the manufacturers walked away with a victory.

But for others, ad spending was for naught. In Missouri, construction companies spent about $1.2 million on TV ads but still lost an August vote that would have authorized a sales tax to fund road construction.

The bulk of the measures, though, will come before voters on Nov. 4, so a flood of advertising is on the horizon. Then the implications of voters’ decisions will begin, affecting individuals’ lives and companies’ bottom lines.

In Hawaii, approval of the Maui County GMO ban would be a blow to Monsanto, which can produce up to four crops of corn seeds a year in Hawaii’s lush environment.

The state’s seed industry, including Monsanto’s corn, has grown rapidly in recent years, and last growing season was worth $217 million, outpacing sugar cane and pineapples. The corporate-backed Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban argues that small farms and big alike would be hurt by the ballot’s ban.

“More than 600 people would lose their jobs,” the group’s spokesman, Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez, said in an email. “The purpose of the TV ads is to educate voters about the flawed, costly and harmful initiative.”

Natural remedies nurse Marsh doesn’t know whether her side can beat the Monsanto-backed ads; she said fliers against the GMO ban show up in her mailbox every day. But the ban advocates have a great volunteer network, she said, and at the very least they’ll get to make themselves heard. “We’re just trying to make them be held responsible for what they’re doing,” she said.

Associated Press reporter Philip Elliott contributed.

TIME 2014 Election

DSCC Back On Air to Support Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in Lexington, Ky., on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Pablo Alcala—AP/The Lexington Herald-Leader

The DSCC returns to Kentucky in its bid to oust the top Senate Republican

The official Democratic group working to saving the party’s Senate majority is going back on the air to provide a late boost to Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Democrat trying to throw out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a week after the group shocked political observers by appearing to pull out of the race.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will reserve $650,000 in advertising, according to a DSCC official, who said that internal polling shows undecided voters turning to her.

A week ago, it appeared that Grimes would be left on her own as she entered the home stretch of the race with the DSCC going dark in Kentucky. A Real Clear Politics polling average shows McConnell with a slim but persistent lead.

It is unclear if the DSCC ad buy will move the needle in Grimes favor, but the spending will take away money the Democrats could use elsewhere.

Election handicappers place the odds in favor of Republicans to take the majority; the GOP needs a net gain of six seats and have pickup opportunities in many states, including Montana, West Virginia, Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa and North Carolina.

The DSCC ad buy was first reported by Politico.

TIME 2014 elections

No, Republicans Aren’t Yet Winning the Women’s Vote

Jeanne Shaheen,Scott Brown
United States Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), right, listens as her Republican rival, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown speaks during their debate , Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 in Conway, N.H. Jim Cole—AP

One poll doth not a trend make

The Associated Press dropped its latest national poll Wednesday ahead of the midterm elections due to be held in less than three weeks. The poll had a spate of expected findings: likely voters favor Republicans to take control of the U.S. Senate, the top issue remains the economy, and no one likes either party very much. Then, buried in the seventh paragraph of the story, was this nugget about women voters:

Women have moved in the GOP’s direction since September. In last month’s AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent prefer the Republicans, 42 percent the Democrats.

Given Democrats’ unrelenting drumbeat on women—their women’s economic agenda, the GOP’s “War on Women”—for the last six months, this looked like surprising news. Democrats have staked the fate on the Senate on turning out one demographic: unmarried women, who vote reliably Democratic but tend not to show up in off presidential elections. Democrats have won women every year since the Reagan era except for 2010 and in losing them they lost control of the House and six Senate seats. Thus their strategy this year to turn out unmarried women in order to prevent a 2010 from happening all over again. If the AP poll is correct Democrats are in deep trouble.

Needless to say, paragraph seven led the Drudge Report much of the morning: “Poll shock: Women want Republicans!” That spawned a spate of headlines from conservative news sites. Townhall led with: “Poll: More Women Plan to Vote For Republicans in Midterms.” And Hotair blared: “Republicans closing the [gender] gap.”

But the poll is just one data point, and there is a good reason to be skeptical of a major shift in the female electorate. The reason is the voter screen that the AP used.

“Their likely voters screen in this survey is very similar to the 2010 electorate—i.e. more conservatives than moderates are likely to vote,” says Dave Winston, a GOP pollster. “But if you’re looking at variety of different surveys, the voter screening differences are huge, so you’re depending on how they phrase a question—are you likely to vote—or a series of questions to come up with who’s in the poll.”

Winston says the AP took steps after its polls proved off course in 2012 to correct what they saw as flaws in their survey-taking. But their new processes remain unproven. “The proof will be in the pudding,” he says.

Granted, every midterm electorate skews older, more conservative and more male and Democrats face an uphill battle trying to turn out a demographic that doesn’t usually vote, but this poll is either wrong or “it’s a precursor to a trend that none of us have spotted yet,” says Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who together with GOP pollster Ed Goeas does George Washington University’s Battleground State polls. “But I haven’t seen any other poll that shows that.”

“It seems off, honestly” Lake says. “We aren’t seeing any place where there isn’t a gender gap. We haven’t’ seen any polling that shows women trending Republican. You see men more enthusiastic for Republicans than women are for Democrats, sure. And women are sitting more undecided, which is why both parties are looking to convince women voters before election day, but we haven’t seen anything even approaching gender parity, let alone women trending Republican, in our polls of likely voters.”

The only other recent national poll that breaks out likely voters by sex came out with opposite results. Fox News found Dems winning women 44% to 35% amongst likely voters in a survey conducted Oct. 12-14. And polls in battleground states have Dems winning women by double digits and unmarried women by as much as 30 points in many cases.

“This just isn’t what we’re seeing in competitive races. North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado and Michigan all have insane and historic gender gaps with women favoring Democrats,” says Marcy Stech, a spokeswoman for Emily’s List, which helps elect pro-choice female Democrats. “The GOP can cling to this this national poll, but the reality is that they continue to be underwater with women voters in key races—and women don’t trust them on the economic opportunity issues that matter to them, ie, equal pay, min wage, access to health care and birth control.”

In 2012, Democrats benefitted from a couple of GOP senatorial candidates who said dumb things about women and rape, comments that turned off female voters, helping President Obama and the Democrats win big with women. This cycle, Republicans have avoided such missteps. Both Mark Udall in Colorado and New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen have turned away from War on Women ads and attack lines in the last week. But are Republicans winning women? The preponderance of state and other national polls indicate that isn’t happening.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: October 22

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Ebola Fears Could Curb Flu

Since Ebola’s first symptoms resemble that of the flu, fears about Ebola could drive patients to doctors and emergency rooms with flu symptoms. Each year, the CDC estimates that between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu, though most don’t see their doctor

Editor Ben Bradlee Dies at 93

A former Washington Post reporter remembers a legendary newspaperman, who was the most celebrated editor of his time

Ferguson Commission Formed

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced on Tuesday the formation of a commission to address inequality in Ferguson, Mo., the site of ongoing protests following the police shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown

Giants Beat Royals in World Series Opener

The San Francisco Giants thrashed the Kansas City Royals in Game 1 of the 2014 World Series, stealing a 7-1 win and disappointing Royals fans who have waited 29 years to see their team in the championship

North Korean Detainee Jeffrey Fowle Returns to Ohio

The American released from North Korean custody on Tuesday, about a half-year after he was detained after he left a Bible at a nightclub, returned to his family in Ohio on Wednesday. Two Americans who have been convicted of crimes in North Korea are still held

Shaheen Admits to Headwinds in New Hampshire Debate

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen frankly discussed what could bring her down in two weeks on Election Day. Shaheen spoke of Republican candidates capitalizing on an environment that’s unfavorable to Democrats

The Five Biggest Airlines Have Recently Hiked Their Prices

The five biggest U.S. airlines all increased their base fare on domestic flights in the past week, despite declining fuel prices and apprehension over Ebola. JetBlue initiated a $4 fare increase last Thursday, and United, Delta, American and Southwest followed suit

Christie Offers Dems a Killer Soundbite on Minimum Wage

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seemed to invite the controversy Tuesday by saying, “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage, I really am.” Democrats instantly seized on the quote fragment but, in proper context, it fits within the Republican Party’s longstanding position

Kenny G Irks Beijing With Visit to Hong Kong Protest Site

The famous saxophonist is striking all the wrong notes in the city, China said Wednesday. Officials reiterated their calls for foreigners to keep out of China’s affairs after Kenny G tweeted that he was at the main protest site of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement

Michael Sam Waived From Cowboys’ Practice Squad

The Dallas Cowboys announced Tuesday that defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, was waived from their practice squad. Sam was signed to the team’s practice squad Sept. 3 but never made it to the Cowboys’ active roster

Afghan Poppy Production Hits All-Time High

Federal auditors SIGAR reported that farmers grew 209,000 hectares of the poppy in 2013, blowing past the peak of 193,000 in 2007. One factor was affordable deep-well technology, which over the past decade turned 200,000 hectares of desert into arable land

New Theory on King Tut’s Death

The Egyptian king, who died at 19, was afflicted with severe genetic disorders most likely because of inbreeding, according to research as part of an upcoming documentary. He was likely born of a brother-sister union and had a clubfoot

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TIME 2014 Election

Jeanne Shaheen Admits to Headwinds in New Hampshire Debate

Big picture issues have made the environment a tough one for Democrats, says the former governor

Towards the end of the one-hour New Hampshire Senate debate on Tuesday night, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen frankly discussed what could bring her down in two weeks on Election Day.

“Sometimes there’s factors that are beyond your control,” said Shaheen, when asked by the moderator, NBC’s Chuck Todd, on what she learned in her losing Senate bid in 2002. “There are things happening in the country that affect a race. And I think we’re seeing this now in this race. We’re seeing a lot of concern about what’s happening in the world. We’re seeing my opponent who has been grandstanding to make political gain on [Islamic militants in Iraq and Greater Syria], on the border, on Ebola.”

Shaheen hit the nail on the head: if she, a well-liked former governor, loses her reelection race it will be in large part because her opponent, Republican Scott Brown, has capitalized once again in an environment that’s unfavorable to Democrats. Brown, who rose in the 2010 GOP wave to represent Massachusetts as Senator, has done a good job recently in closing the gap in nationalizing the election; on Friday, the nonpartisan election handicappers at the Cook Political Report reported that the race was a “toss-up” after months leaning Shaheen. In the debate Tuesday, Brown again and again hammered Shaheen as an Obama puppet and touted himself as “the most bipartisan senator.”

“She’s voting with the President 99% of the time,” said Brown several times, including in his final remarks. “And that’s not good for New Hampshire.”

“Unfortunately when she went to Washington she changed,” he added.

Shaheen, for her part, struck a nuanced line on her support of the President. When asked if she approved of the job President Barack Obama is doing—“yes or no”—Shaheen split: “In some ways I approve, in some ways I don’t approve.” When asked if the President should have done more to quell the violence in Syria, she hit the President’s lack of military response after throwing down a “red line” on chemical weapons. When asked if passing the President’s major health care law was a “proud accomplishment” for her, Shaheen said “absolutely.”

“I think that making sure that almost 100,000 people in New Hampshire have access to health care is real progress for people in the state,” she said, adding that her support of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is a “fundamental difference” between the two candidates.

At various points throughout the night, Shaheen did turn the race to where she wanted it: Brown versus Shaheen. In one of the loudest cheers of the night, Shaheen ripped her opponent for flirting with a bid for Massachusetts governor before moving to New Hampshire and starting up his Senate campaign.

“I don’t think New Hampshire is a consolation prize,” she said.

But the political environment still favors Brown. When asked who she would support as Senate Majority Leader, Shaheen said she is open to replacing the current incumbent, Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid.

“I’m not sure who our choice will be,” she said, to some laughter. “I’m not going to speculate on who [it should be] but I think it’s important for us to have a contest in these positions because we need to think about how we’re doing business in the Senate.”

Brown gave a simpler response to one of the loudest cheers he received all night.

“Harry Reid is the problem,” he said. “And we have to get rid of him because he’s holding everything up right now.”

“So let me just say, it’ll be anybody except Harry Reid,” he concluded.

Brown and Shaheen’s next and final televised debate will be on October 30.

TIME remembrance

Benjamin Bradlee, Esteemed Editor of the Washington Post, Dies at 93

Became famous for editing the newspaper during its groundbreaking coverage of the Watergate scandal

Benjamin Bradlee, who edited the Washington Post during the period when the newspaper published articles based on the Pentagon Papers and broke the Watergate story which eventually led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, has died at age 93.

Bradlee helmed the Post from 1968 to 1991, and became famous after the paper’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, when burglaries of the Democratic National Committee offices were linked to Nixon’s office, setting off a chain of events that eventually forced the president to resign. He was played by Jason Robards in All the President’s Men, which told the story of the Post’s discovery and coverage of the scandal.

He became close friends with John F. Kennedy when he was assigned to cover the his presidential campaign for Newsweek, but he had an advantage over the other reporters; he lived on the same Georgetown block as the young candidate, and they shared a back alley.

“I don’t want to disappoint too many people, but … the number of interesting political, historical conversations we had, you could stick in your ear,” recalled Bradlee about his friend. “We talked about girls.”

Bradlee’s Newsweek remembrance of JFK after his assassination became a book, That Special Grace. In 2013, Bradlee was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

TIME 2014 Election

Halloween Scare Tactics: The Most Terrifying Ads of the 2014 Election

Are these ads for Election Day or Halloween?

Beheadings. Murder. Rape. Foreign invaders. Deadly disease outbreaks. The 2014 news cycle has given political ad makers a lot to work with as they try to scare voters to the polls this fall. There are still two weeks left until Election Day, and many of the ads released in the cycle’s most competitive races seem better fit for next week’s Halloween festivities than democratic debate. Here are some of the most frightening ads of the 2014 Election—so far.

Democratic Senate candidate in Michigan Rep. Gary Peters has been tied to a convicted felon who was connected to a loan shark ring, so naturally the state’s Republican party released an ad about it. And, to top it off, the ad is Sharknado-themed. This one—featuring a cartoon Peters in a Hawaiian shirt running from a “loan sharknado”—is likely more ridiculous (and honestly, a little comical) than scary, but it is lit like a haunted house and there are sharks falling from the sky.

Nebraskan Congressional candidate Brad Ashford received the Willie Horton treatment in an ad released by the National Republican Congressional Committee. The NRCC tied the Democratic state Senator to the early release of a violent felon who murdered four people less than a month after he was released from prison. In the ad, the Democratic state Senator who is challenging Incumbent Rep. Lee Terry is called out for supporting a “good time law” that allows convicted felons to earn early release. Democrats have blasted the ad as not only misleading, but also racist.

Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu is in a tight race to keep her seat and both sides have traded jabs throughout the cycle. This ad featuring an ominous soundtrack and home invasion was the National Rifle Association’s effort to paint Landrieu as anti-gun—Politifact gave the NRA’s claims a rating of “pants on fire.”

Following the summer’s influx of child migrants across the southwestern border, immigration reform was set to be an easy target during the election, but the threat of Islamic terrorist group ISIS provided a surprising twist for immigration themed attack ads like this one against Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. The Department of Homeland Security has said there is no “credible threat” to the U.S. from ISIS terrorists and that there are no known plots by the terrorist organization to slip over the southern border. But that hasn’t stopped the specter of terrorist invasions from making it into attack ads.

A progressive group released what is arguably the most terrifying of the election cycle, blaming budget cuts supported by Republicans for the government’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has now trickled into the U.S. The ad switches between Republican lawmakers calling for more cuts and images of dead bodies, hazmat suits and haunting statistics on cuts to health care spending. Cut, cut, cut. The rapid fire montage tactic follows the lead of Alfred Hitchcock famous Psycho shower scene.

A number of nasty ads have come out of the Texas gubernatorial race between state Senator Wendy Davis and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, but few have garnered the attention of the creepy ad that claims Abbott sided with a company whose employee raped a woman in her home. The ad comes across like an episode of Dateline, complete with a grim black and white filter.

 

TIME 2016 Election

Christie Offers Democrats A Killer Soundbite on Minimum Wage

Faith And Freedom Coalition Holds Policy Conference
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road to Majority' Policy Conference at the Omni Shoreham hotel on June 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It's not what he said. It's how it will sound when edited.

The journalist Michael Kinsley observed that “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s sin Tuesday provided a modern corollary.

Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Christie seemed to invite the controversy by saying, “I gotta tell you the truth, I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage, I really am.”

On Twitter, Democrats instantly seized on the quote fragment. The Democratic National Committee and Democratic Governors Association swiftly blasted out statements in condemnation, as opposition research group American Bridge posted it to YouTube. “Our hearts are breaking,” said DNC Press Secretary Mike Czin in a statement. “Poor guy. It must be almost as tiring for him as it is for the millions of Americans who work full time but live in poverty because the minimum wage is too low.”

In proper context, Christie’s statement fit within the Republican Party’s longstanding position on the minimum wage: He argued the focus should be on creating minimum wage jobs, not raising the pay scale for the least-paid. “I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table tonight in America who are saying, ‘You know honey, if my son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all our dreams would be realized,” Christie said. “Is that what parents aspire to for their children?”

But that more nuanced argument is not something most voters will hear this fall—or when Christie mounts a likely bid for the White House in 2016. Instead they are likely to hear “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage,” over and over and over again thanks to his Democratic foes, especially if Christie becomes the Republican Party’s nominee.

The moment was not unlike Mitt Romney’s 2012 line that “I like being able to fire people” when they do poor work—a tenet of the free market, but an statement that played into the insensitive rich guy narrative Democrats and his GOP primary opponents had already invested millions in developing.

In the modern campaign, where every public or private utterance is liable to be recorded or tweeted by a reporter or opposing tracker, Christie’s unforced error Tuesday wasn’t saying something wrong. It was saying something that could be edited to sound like something else entirely.

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