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October 22, 2014
National Archives

This amazing anecdote comes from the New York Review of Books, in a piece about how political media was quite different back in Lincoln's day. Back then, newspapers wouldn't hesitate to print (or fabricate) damaging gossip about politicians, who in turn would often respond with violence:

On one occasion, in 1841, that happened — and it involved not only Lincoln but his fiancée Mary Todd. The two had collaborated on a series of scurrilous letters from a fictitious "Rebecca" that vilified James Shields, a rising candidate in the Democratic Party (he would later be elected a senator three times from three different states). The fake Rebecca, who claimed Shields was a former beau, mocked his Irish origin and declared him "a fool as well as a liar.... With him truth is out of the question."

Shields stormed into the office of the Sangamo Journal, demanding that the editor, Simeon Francis, tell him who was behind the Rebecca letters. When Francis asked Lincoln what he should do, Lincoln, in order to shield his Mary, took sole responsibility (without admitting he wrote anything). Shields challenged him to a duel, and they actually met on the dueling ground — but Lincoln, as the one receiving the challenge, had the right to choice of weapons. When he called for broadswords, this gave him, with his long and strong right arm, a ludicrous advantage, and the fight was called off. [New York Review of Books]

The lesson here: don't mess with a rail-splitter when he has blade in hand. Ryan Cooper

4:40 p.m. ET
Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday released its cost estimate of Senate Republicans' health-care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The CBO score revealed that by next year, 15 million additional people would be uninsured under the plan, as opposed to under ObamaCare, the current law. The CBO attributed this steep drop to the fact that the "penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated" under the BCRA.

By 2026, 22 million more people would be uninsured under the BCRA, the CBO said. The organization had predicted 23 million more individuals would be uninsured under the House GOP's health-care bill than ObamaCare; the BCRA is the Senate's version of the House measure, which passed early last month.

The CBO also estimated that the BCRA would reduce the federal deficit over the next decade by $321 billion — $202 billion more in savings than the estimate for the House bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pushing for a vote on the BCRA this week. Five Republican senators have already announced their opposition to the bill unveiled last week; Republicans can only lose two votes and still pass the bill. Becca Stanek

4:29 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Monday, Michael Bloomberg dedicated $200 million to helping American mayors address prolific issues in their communities via his Bloomberg Philanthropies charitable organization. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, told The New York Times that the American Cities Initiative will help mayors implement policy changes typically reserved for the state and federal government. "It's really efficiency in government, how you marshal resources and how you deal with the public, explain to them, bring them along," Bloomberg told the Times.

Bloomberg's initiative will include a so-called "Mayors Challenge," which asks city officials to submit innovative policy solutions by October. These proposals may tackle any issue facing their communities. Bloomberg's own priorities include climate change, gun laws, and the opioid epidemic; earlier this month, he vowed to contribute $15 million to the United Nations in an effort to replace funding lost by President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

The rewards for the Mayors Challenge will vary, with 35 cities winning $100,000, four receiving $1 million, and one winner earning $5 million, ABC News reported. American cities must have at least 30,000 residents to apply. Winners will be announced in October 2018. Elianna Spitzer

4:08 p.m. ET

Either a plane headed to Nevada got terribly lost in West Virginia on Monday, or someone got their senators mixed up. Spotted flying above West Virginia's state capital was a plane toting a banner urging Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R): "Keep your word. Vote no on TrumpCare."

If West Virginians were trying to urge their Republican senator to vote no on TrumpCare, aka the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the person to talk to would be Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Heller, who represents a state more than 2,200 miles away from Charleston, has already announced his opposition to the Senate's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Becca Stanek

3:31 p.m. ET

Climate scientists are uncertain if the world's "natural sponges," which for decades have helped absorb global carbon dioxide emissions, will be able to keep up with the amount of emissions being produced from burning coal, oil, and natural gas, The New York Times reports. In fact, the sponges might already be failing: Even as the amount of carbon dioxide being produced has stabilized in recent years, carbon dioxide levels in the air rose at record rates in 2015 and 2016.

That's where concerns about the "natural sponges," like the land surface and the ocean, come into play. "In essence, these natural sponges were doing humanity a huge service by disposing of much of its gaseous waste," the Times writes. "But as emissions have risen higher and higher, it has been unclear how much longer the natural sponges will be able to keep up." In other words, even if "emissions were to stay flat for the next two decades, which could be called an achievement in some sense, it's terrible for the climate problem," said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pieter Tans.

Should [the natural sponges] weaken, the result would be something akin to garbage workers going on strike, but on a grand scale: The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would rise faster, speeding global warming even beyond its present rate. It is already fast enough to destabilize the weather, cause the seas to rise and threaten the polar ice sheets. [The New York Times]

More research still needs to be done to confirm scientists' worst fears. But "I'd estimate that we are about at the emissions peak," said Chinese Academy of Sciences professor Wang Yi. "Or if there are further rises, they won't be much." Read more about the problem at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

2:37 p.m. ET

In an off-camera briefing at the White House on Monday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer apparently claimed that President Trump believes other countries, in addition to Russia, might have been involved in hacking the 2016 election:

Trump has long disputed the evidence that the Kremlin was involved in trying to swing the election, claiming during the campaign that "it could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people. It could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?"

In a weekend interview with Hugh Hewitt, CIA Director Mike Pompeo also dismissed alarming evidence about Russia's involvement in the election. Pompeo said the news that "this election was meddled with by the Russians ... is frankly not particularly original. They've been doing this for an awfully long time. And we are decades into the Russians trying to undermine American democracy. So in some ways, there's no news."

But Politico's Eric Geller called Spicer's statement Monday a "pretty serious allegation." "The White House should explain itself," he said. Jeva Lange

2:17 p.m. ET

Nintendo announced Monday that it will release a miniature version of its Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition this fall. The system, first launched in 1991, will come with two controllers and 21 games, including classics like Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, and F-ZERO, along with a previously unreleased sequel to Star Fox, Star Fox 2.

This release comes on the heels of last year's mini NES Classic Edition, which was so popular that Nintendo struggled to meet demand. The limited edition gaming system was discontinued before many buyers got their hands on it.

The SNES Classic, which Engadget reports is small enough to fit "in the palm of your hand," will be available Sept. 29 for $79.99. Becca Stanek

1:29 p.m. ET

If you only have a passing interest in football, you might be forgiven for thinking the Washington Redskins play in Washington state. But if you are the NFL itself, you should probably know better.

Which makes this vanity plate, briefly for sale in the NFL's official online store, absolutely hilarious:

As The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg so calmly puts it: "HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF A PLACE CALLED WASHINGTON, D.C.? TURNS OUT IT IS THE CAPITAL OF THIS COUNTRY WEIRD RIGHT? AND IT ISN'T ACTUALLY IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. THERE'S A DIFFERENT TEAM THAT PLAYS IN THAT STATE, AND REDSKINS FANS HATE THAT TEAM. ALSO GO TO GEOGRAPHY CLASS OR WHATEVER."

The Redskins, for whatever it's even worth at this point, play in Maryland. Jeva Lange

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