Only in America
April 13, 2013

An Ohio kindergartner was suspended for coming to school with a mohawk haircut. The school superintendent said 5-year-old Ethan Clos' hair — which the boy thinks is "cool" — violated prohibitions on "dress or grooming which is disruptive to the educational process." He is requiring Clos to shave off the mohawk before returning to school.

  Samantha Rollins

what's up with that?
8:40 a.m. ET

Nothing has defined Carly Forina's presidential campaign quite like her outspoken opposition to Planned Parenthood — a point she has brought up repeatedly at debates and press conferences. It might seem odd, then, that her Fiorina Foundation has given half a million dollars to Planned Parenthood since 2011.

The Fiorina Foundation isn't actually, legally, a foundation, per se; it's an account Fiorina and her husband hold with The Ayco Charitable Foundation, a "donor-advised fund" that stashes charitable donations for clients in case they want to quickly receive tax benefits, The Daily Beast explains. One expert on the topic described it as "a charitable savings account"; Fiorina's account just happens to give money to her supposed archenemy, distributing money to five Planned Parenthoods across New York, Connecticut, and Indiana:

If Fiorina feels as strongly as she claims that it's an abomination for American tax dollars — including hers — to be forced to help fund Planned Parenthood, it's perplexing that she would elect to be associated with any group that feels comfortable giving money to Planned Parenthood by choice — on behalf of an individual or not.

Asked if Fiorina has a problem with Ayco distributing funds to Planned Parenthood, and if she's ever lobbied them to stop, [Fiorina's deputy campaign manager Sarah Isgur] Flores said, "Carly has no control over those clients and their giving preferences."

Asked why Fiorina doesn’t just find a donor-advised fund that vows never to give money to Planned Parenthood on behalf of anyone, Flores didn't respond. [The Daily Beast]

The anonymity factor makes it hard to sort through Fiorina's possible motivations. As nonprofit consultant Al Cantor told The Daily Beast, it's a bit of an unsolved mystery. "[Fiorina] may be very generous and we don’t know it, or she may have not given any money out of her fund but got the charitable deduction [anyway], or she may have given to organizations she would rather not be associated with," Cantor said. Jeva Lange

This just in
8:18 a.m. ET

Trade negotiators from the U.S., Japan, and 10 other Pacific Rim nations reached agreement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal Monday, marking what The Washington Post reports is the "largest free-trade accord in a generation." The agreement comes after nearly eight years of negotiation and five days of talks between officials of the 12 nations.

The deal will eliminate trade barriers and establish commercial rules for Pacific Rim countries that represent an estimated 40 percent of the world's economy. Next up: Getting the deal ratified in all 12 member nations, with one of the biggest question marks being the U.S. Congress. Becca Stanek

Unfulfilled promises
8:13 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Carly Fiorina is well into her second political campaign, but, according to The Washington Post, she still hasn't paid for her first. Records show that the 2016 Republican presidential candidate, who challenged longtime Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2010, had right up until January "more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimil­lionaire didn't settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign," The Post reports. "Occasionally, I'd call and tell her she should pay them," Fiorina's former campaign manager Martin Wilson told The Washington Post. "She just wouldn't."

Campaign debts certainly aren't unusual. As The Post highlights, Hillary Clinton, for instance, "did not close out the $20 million she owed from her 2008 presidential campaign until January 2013." But what is unusual about Fiorina's case is her seeming unwillingness to repay her debts. Fiorina reportedly declined to set up a payment plan or a fundraiser to foot outstanding bills, as is common practice for "struggling" campaigns.

Read the full story over at The Washington Post. Becca Stanek

ancient tombs
7:35 a.m. ET

A resident of the Shangzhuang Village in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi discovered a rare archaeological site while preparing to lay the foundations for his new home. Featuring embedded brick carvings, the turtle-shaped tomb dates back 800 years to the mid- to late-Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 A.D.), Xinhua reports.

The octagonal tomb is four meters tall and consists of five small rooms on the northern, northwestern, southeastern, and southwestern sides; it was constructed to look like a turtle from above. Inside, analysis by the provincial institute of archaeology turned up multiple generations of human remains. Twenty-one embedded carvings on the inside of the chamber depict a folkloric story about sons. The director of the provincial institute of archaeology, Bai Shuzhang, told Xinhua that the unusual discoveries will lend to researcher's understanding of funeral customs in the region during the Jin Dynasty. Jeva Lange

7:32 a.m. ET

On Monday, the Nobel committee awarded the annual prize for medicine to three scientists who came up with treatments for parasitic diseases. William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura were jointly awarded the Nobel for their foundational role in developing Avermectin, a drug that has successfully treated river blindness and elephantiasis, two illnesses caused by parasitic roundworms; Youyou Tu was recognized for developing Artemisinin, a drug that has sharply reduced deaths from malaria. "These two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually," the Nobel committee said. "The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable."

Ōmura, a Japanese microbiologist, isolated about 50 strains of the bacteria group Streptomyces, which Irish-born parasitic biology expert Campbell narrowed down to one strain especially effective at killing parasites in animals. Parasitic worms sicken about a third of the world's population, especially in sub-Sarahan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. Tu, from China, researched traditional Chinese medicines to come up with a derivative of wormwood that is now used as a primary treament for malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that kills more than 450,00 people a year. For more information, read the Nobel committee's announcement. Peter Weber

Things that make you go hmmm
5:56 a.m. ET

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the frontrunner to take over the House speakership from John Boehner after he steps down in October — or at least he was until he seemed to acknowledge last week that the House special committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, was essentially aimed at keeping Hillary Clinton from becoming president. That widely panned gaffe is the centerpiece of this new ad from the progressive Agenda Project Action Fund.

"Just like Joseph McCarthy before him, Kevin McCarthy and his fellow Republicans are using their constitutionally granted powers not to advance the interests of the America people, but instead to try to destroy their political enemies," AP Action communications director Erik Altieri said in a statement. Trying to tie the two Republicans together by the common Irish last name isn't a new idea — Stephen Colbert made the same point, with a lighter touch, on Friday. But the ad is also an interesting strategic move for AP Action, since Kevin McCarthy's top competitor for the speakerships is currently Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of, yes, the House Select Committee on Benghazi. You can watch the ad below. Peter Weber

4:59 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Trade negotiators from the U.S. and 11 Asia-Pacific countries said late Sunday that they are optimistic they'll be able to announce a final Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Monday, after almost eight years of negotiations. The trade officials, meeting in Atlanta, had suggested earlier that a deal could be announced on Sunday, but ongoing haggling over drug patents, dairy exports, and other issues held up a final agreement. If finalized and ratified by the signatory countries, the landmark TPP would open up trade and set commerce ground rules for 12 countries representing about 40 percent of the global economy.

Several breakthroughs had spurred hopes that this five-day meeting would seal the TPP deal, including a compromise between the U.S. and Australia over the exclusivity period for brand-name pharmaceutical firms to sell advanced biologic drugs — Peru and Chile are still concerned — but New Zealand is still pressing for greater access to foreign markets for its dairy products. Japan, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico reached tentative agreement on a deal governing the manufacture of automobile and auto parts.

If the deal is finalized, the fight begins to get it ratified in all 12 member nations, with one of the biggest question marks the U.S. Congress. President Obama faces skepticism from Democrats and allied labor and environmental groups, and while Republicans tend to support free trade deals, some have expressed concerns about provisions that help labor unions and shorter exclusivity periods for brand-name drugmakers. The 2016 presidential race is a wild card, and Congress won't vote on the deal until early next year, when the fights for each party's presidential nomination are in full swing. Peter Weber

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