Biden'd
July 25, 2014

Vice President Joe Biden drew laughter from the audience at a National Urban League conference in Ohio this week when he lamented not having even one Republican child. "I should have had one Republican kid to go out and make money," Biden said. "You know, so when they put me in a home, I get a window with a view. You know what I mean?"

Biden has long made a habit of casting himself as comparatively poor, saying in June that he is the "poorest man in Congress," a claim which is best supported by his high levels of debt. Biden also says he has no savings and no investments, which is true by technicality: The stocks and bonds are in his wife's name.

Biden may indeed be poor compared to the many millionaires who roam the halls of Congress, but surely not compared to the population at large. He has been a senator or vice president continuously since 1973, when congressional salaries were pegged at $42,500 per year, and he now earns an annual salary of $230,700. Median per capita income in 1973 and 2012 was $4,141 and $28,281, respectively.

Biden's poverty rhetoric has been compared to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's much-criticized statement in June that her family was "dead broke" upon leaving the White House at the end of Bill Clinton's term.

Germanwings Crash
1:25 p.m. ET

Aviation lawyers believe that the families of victims in Tuesday's Germanwings plane crash may be able to seek unlimited liabilities from Lufthansa, Germanwings' parent company.

Investigators said Thursday that Andreas Lubitz, the plane's co-pilot, was likely to have intentionally crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. Investigators also believe Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit.

"The liability for the victims would be uncapped," George Leloudas, an aviation law expert, told Bloomberg. "From the perspective of the airline, it's difficult. There are no real defenses that you can use. It is irrational. That is why you buy insurance."

Bloomberg notes that under the international Montreal Convention, coverage for the victims' families will likely begin at $139,000. Kevin Durkin, an air crash attorney at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, told Bloomberg that the convention "does not limit a person's recovery," and the claimants may be able to seek more.

In that case, "the burden is on Germanwings to prove that some entity other than it was the only cause of the occurrence," Bloomberg explains. James Healy-Pratt, an aviation lawyer at London's Stewarts Law LLP, told Bloomberg that Germanwings may be insured for up to $1 billion.

This just in
12:45 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Following the news that he would not seek re-election next year, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) endorsed Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to take his place. Reid made the comment to The Washington Post during an interview in his home Friday morning.

Reid's endorsement of Schumer means he is leapfrogging Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), who is the second-highest Democrat in the upper chamber. (Schumer is third in line.) Reid said Durbin would likely not oppose Schumer and predicted Schumer would win the post uncontested. The Post reports that Reid and Durbin spoke via phone Friday morning.

Reid apparently thinks Schumer could bring a "different style" to the leadership post. A spokesman for Reid said: "It's the caucus' decision but Senator Reid thinks Senator Schumer has earned it."

hmmm
12:05 p.m. ET
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Of all the repercussions global warming could level on the planet — and there are many — this fear from California Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D) is pretty unique.

Lee presented House Concurrent Resolution 29 to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, in which she warns that "women will disproportionately face harmful impacts from climate change." How, you ask?

"Food-insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage," in order to obtain food and water, the resolution reads.

While Lee's take on the dangers of global warming may seem strangely specific, she does represent a state that just entered its fourth-straight year of a record-breaking drought, so California lawmakers are — clearly — looking at every possible effect.

For those who have everything
11:54 a.m. ET
Courtesy photo

Even in our current golden age of mini-campers, the Sealander (from $17,000) "beats them all," writes Outside Magazine. This "curious hybrid" is part personal yacht, part pop-up camper. You can hitch it to your SUV and tow it down the highway, then plop it in calm water and motor out to the horizon. Fold-down beds and "sleek" cabinetry create a home away from home, while the roll-back roof can open to the heavens. "It's perfect for largemouth casting or sipping margaritas in the moonlight."

Bergdahl
11:36 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl was charged with desertion by the Army this week, nearly a year after he was returned to the United States in a controversial prisoner swap. Now, Bergdahl's lawyer is claiming that his client was not deserting his post so much as he was "absent without official leave," temporarily leaving the base to "bring what he thought were disturbing circumstances to the attention of the nearest general officer."

Bergdahl's lawyer Eugene Fidell told Bloomberg View that Bergdahl "had concerns about certain conditions in the unit" and that the soldier left the base to find an officer in charge to whom he could report these concerns. Bergdahl did not simply tell one of his supervising officers, Fidell says, because some of them were party to the "disturbing" behavior in question. Fidell also says Bergdahl fully intended to return to the base, but was instead captured by the Taliban shortly after leaving.

The Army charged Bergdahl with one count of desertion and one count of misbehavior before the enemy this week, the latter of which carries a potential life imprisonment sentence. If Fidell is successful in proving Bergdahl was simply AWOL, his client could instead only face one month of confinement.

no business like show business
11:19 a.m. ET
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Clinton the Musical will debut off-Broadway this spring in New York, featuring dancing reporters and Lewinsky scandal prosecutor Kenneth Starr singing a number called "Sexual Relations."

The show includes plenty of jokes about Hillary Clinton's then-future political career. "That's part of the fun of doing something that's set in the past where people know what's going to happen in the future but the characters in the past don't know what's going to happen," said writer and composer Paul Hodge. "That's an opportunity for comedy."

But perhaps the most interesting feature of the 1990s retrospective musical is its inclusion of two different actors playing Bill Clinton, "one a wholesome, intelligent Clinton, and another a randy, rogue one." Hillary Clinton is the only character who can see both.

Discoveries
10:56 a.m. ET

Plenty of churches contain relics of saints, but not many of those relics were found in excavations from sixth-century churches.

Archaeologists at a medieval fortress site in Burgas, Bulgaria, found a lead vessel, which contains some of the ashes from the alleged grave of John the Apostle, in a reliquary that dates to the sixth century C.E. The reliquary, which was once part of an early Christian basilica, is named for Saint John the Theologian, who is considered one of Jesus' apostles. The vessel, which is less than an inch long, is decorated with crosses.

Milen Nikolov, director of the Burgas Regional Museum of History, said that early Christians would have believed the relic had healing properties. John the Apostle's grave in Turkey was also a pilgrimage site for early Christians seeking healing, Ancient Origins reports. Nikolov said the reliquary was "one of the most important discoveries" in the museum's history.

In addition to the relic, the archaeologists also uncovered a 10th century Bulgarian royal seal at the fortress site.

See More Speed Reads