House Republicans embarrass John Boehner again
Stop me if you've heard this one before. The House Republican leadership proposes a bill. Conservatives in the GOP caucus revolt. The Republican leadership make the bill far more conservative to woo their support, costing Democratic votes. Conservatives reject the bill anyway, forcing the leadership to pull the bill from the floor to avoid a humiliating defeat.
It's a movie that must be getting pretty old for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who was forced to do just that on Thursday after his team failed to whip enough Republican votes to pass a $695 million bill to deal with an ongoing border crisis caused by an influx of tens of thousands of Latin American children. Boehner's price tag had initially been $1.5 billion, which caused some sticker shock in his caucus. (President Obama has asked for $3.7 billion to aid the children and provide federal agencies with additional support.)
This time around, Boehner also faced a familiar bete noire: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who reportedly encouraged hard-right Republicans to vote against the bill.
The latest turn of events means the issue will likely not be resolved before Congress starts a five-week recess tomorrow. In case you need reminding, Congress' approval ratings continue to hover at all-time lows.
Bill Nye on Deflategate: Patriots' explanation 'didn't make any sense'
Bill Nye, the celebrity scientist and former host of an eponymous TV show, on Sunday threw cold water on New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick's amateur science explanation for why footballs used in last weekend's AFC Championship game were underinflated.
"What he said didn't make any sense," Nye said in an interview with ABC.
Belichick on Saturday said atmospheric conditions, not deliberate tampering, caused the balls to fall below the minimum allowable PSI, saying the team "absolutely followed every rule to the letter." —Jon Terbush
Rebel missile attack kills 30 civilians, injures 100 in Ukraine
Pro-Russian separatists on Saturday launched missile attacks on the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, killing 30 civilians and injuring more and 100.
"This is a crime against humanity to be tried by the Hague tribunal," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a statement.
Rebels fired around 60 missiles in two separate attacks, with the scope of the bombardment suggesting, according to Western officials, some degree of Russian involvement. Secretary of State John Kerry called the attack "reprehensible" adding that it was "aided and abetted by Russia’s irresponsible and dangerous decision to resupply" the rebels despite a delicate truce.
Moscow denied any role in the attack.
Republican presidential hopefuls gather in Iowa for 2016 kickoff
A slew of potential Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination descended on Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday for a conservative summit considered the unofficial kickoff to the next election cycle.
Sponsored by Iowa Rep. Steve King (R), the event drew prospective candidates ranging from the moderate (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) to the Tea Party-aligned (Texas Sen. Ted Cruz), the latter of whom challenged his fellow speakers to "show me where you stood up and fought" President Obama's policies. Other featured attendees included Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Notably, two of the most prominent potential GOP candidates — Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney — did not attend, citing scheduling conflicts.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe 'speechless' over ISIS execution of hostage
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that though intelligence experts had yet to verify a video purporting to show ISIS had executed one of two Japanese hostages, the evidence had "a high chance of being real."
The video, which surfaced Saturday, showed one of the hostages, Kenji Goto, holding an image of what appeared to be the decapitated body of the other prisoner, Haruna Yukawa. Though ISIS initially sought a $200 million ransom for the two men, the group instead offered in the latest video to swap Goto for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman sentenced to death in Jordan for a 2005 terror attack.
President Obama called Abe Sunday to offer his condolences, saying the US. stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Japan.
Bill Belichick addresses Deflategate: 'I'm not a scientist, and I'm not a league official'
Bill Belichick spoke after the New England Patriots' practice on Saturday, saying the team had conducted an internal study on how footballs used in Sunday's AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts might have become deflated.
The short explanation? Science.
The Pats' head coach suggested that "atmospheric conditions" could have affected the footballs' air pressure, so that while the footballs were initially set to a proper 12.5 PSI, they eventually "adjusted to climatic conditions and...reached an equilibrium state" lower than originally set. Belichick said that he and other team officials had spoken to "a lot of people," and that they learned that while a football's texture is easy to identify, the pressure is "a whole different story."
Belichick again reiterated that the Patriots delivered footballs to the officiating crew that had been set to the proper PSI, and he lamented spending the week before the Super Bowl answering inquries about the controversy.
"I'm not a scientist, and I'm not a league official," he said. "(But) we feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter."
Pro-Russian militants attack key Ukrainian port, officials say at least 30 dead
Having rejected further peace talks on Friday, pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine launched a new offensive a day later, attacking the country's strategic port of Mariupol, Reuters reports.
Mariupol city officials said at least 30 people were killed and more than 80 were injured in the Saturday clashes. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered an emergency security council meeting, to be held on Sunday.
"We are for peace, but we accept the challenge of the enemy," Poroshenko said. "We will protect our motherland."
The European Union's foreign policy chief called openly on Russia to use its "considerable influence over separatist leaders," to halt the offensives; Moscow has continued to deny that it is supporting the rebels.
Researchers discover fish living under a half-mile of Antarctic ice
And you thought your home got chilly in the winter.
Researchers have discovered fish and other invertebrates living deep below Antarctic ice sheets, NBC News reports.
Scientists with the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling — or delightful acronym WISSARD — discovered the fish earlier this month while exploring Antarctica's western "grounding zone." Land, ice, and sea all converge at this area of the continent; the researchers are the first to drill below the Ross Ice Shelf and actually sample the grounding zone.
The researchers said they will study further how the fish are able to survive in such extreme conditions — the discovery marks the closest to the South Pole that marine life has been found.
American Sniper sets record for widest release of an R-rated movie
American Sniper is setting "records on top of records," according to Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Dan Fellman.
His assessment is not pure hyperbole, CNNMoney notes; the film, which grossed $105 million on its opening weekend, has set a record for the "widest release ever for an R-rated movie." American Sniper expanded by 150 screens this weekend — it is now showing on 3,705 screens in the U.S., total.
The movie has also broken records for "best opening for a movie based on a book," "largest MLK opening weekend ever," and "largest drama opening weekend ever," according to Fellman. Nominated for a best picture Academy Award, the film stars Bradley Cooper — who is up for a best actor Academy Award for the role — as Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle.
Sarah Palin is 'seriously interested' in running for president
The potential field of Republicans with an eye toward the 2016 presidential nomination may be expanding further. Sarah Palin told The Washington Post on Friday that she is "seriously interested" in running for president.
"Who wouldn't be interested?" Palin asked. "Who wouldn't be interested when they have been blessed with opportunities to speak about what is important to this country and for this country?"
Alaska's former governor made the comments before addressing activists at the Iowa Freedom Summit. The GOP's 2008 vice-presidential nominee said she won't rush to make a decision, because making an official, public announcement is a "significant step."
Watch White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest get in on the Deflategate fun
If you didn't watch Tom Brady's press conference about Deflategate, well, you can check out a supercut of the New England Patriots quarterback talking about his deflated balls here.
The lack of skillful sidestepping was noticed by many, including White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
"The one thing I can tell you is that for years it's been clear that there was no risk that I was going to take Tom Brady's job as quarterback of the New England Patriots," Earnest said when asked about the controversy during a Friday press conference. "But I can tell you that as of today, it's pretty clear that there's no risk of him taking my job, either."
Is this the best burn in the history of burns? No, but White House press secretaries don't get to let loose very often, so let's give Earnest this one.
"That was kind of fun, right?" he asks, grinning from ear to ear.
Yes, Earnest, yes it was. —Sarah Eberspacher