July 20, 2014

A frustrated Secretary of State John Kerry was caught Sunday on a live mic speaking candidly about the situation in Gaza. Kerry was in between interviews he was conducting for a media blitz when Fox News picked up his brief phone conversation with an aide.

"It's a hell of a pinpoint operation," Kerry said, seeming to criticize the Israeli government for the mounting civilian death toll. "We've got to get over there," he added. "We ought to go tonight. I think it's crazy to be sitting around."

Kerry's remarks came as he was about to appear on Fox News Sunday and so, once he was live on air, host Chris Wallace naturally asked him to explain what he deemed "an extraordinary moment of diplomacy." -- Jon Terbush

Should you stay or should you go
4:22 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saw numerous signs that becoming speaker of the House just wasn't meant to be. There was the Benghazi gaffe about Hillary Clinton and the impossible demands of the House Freedom Caucus. But perhaps his biggest red flag was the comment from "a lot of friends that were really supportive that said, 'Why do you want to do it during this time? This time will be the worst time. They're going to eat you and chew you up,'" McCarthy recounted in an interview with Politico, shortly after he abruptly announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the speakership race.

Although many thought McCarthy could gather the requisite 218 votes to become speaker, he knew that he "was never going to be able to get 247," he said, referring to the total tally of Republicans in the House. And, Politico reports, he wondered if he could be an effective speaker with "essentially the bare minimum" of support.

McCarthy said he wasn't so sure. "The conference is an odd place," McCarthy said. "Sometimes you gotta hit the bottom to be able to come back. This gives us a real fresh start — a new start gives a fresh start. Having a fresh face brings the conference together."

Read the full story over at Politico. Becca Stanek

4:20 p.m. ET

Choreographer Ryan Heffington has a talent for putting together some unusual, breathtaking dances — remember the video for Sia's "Chandelier"? This time, Emma Stone is Heffington's leading lady in the music video for "Anna," by Arcade Fire's Win Butler.

Filmed on the supposedly haunted Queen Mary ocean liner, Billboard reports that the music video was partly inspired by stories of the Lady in White, "a young and beautiful woman who, it has been reported, likes to dance to unheard music in the Queens Salon." While you really need the sound on for the full effect, Stone's performance is mesmerizing just about any way you look at it. Watch it in full below. Jeva Lange

a sob story
3:05 p.m. ET

Everyone had just finished saying the Pledge when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) stood up and announced he would be withdrawing his bid for speaker of the House — a decision that has thrown a wrench into the plans of the confused and scattered GOP Congressional leadership. In fact, McCarthy's announcement came as such a surprise that Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said some members were actually sobbing afterward. "The person next to me was crying," Rooney told The Hill.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) had the same story for The Washington Post's Robert Costa:

Likewise, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) told The Hill that fans of McCarthy's were in shock. "They lined up to give him a hug," Huelskamp said. "I saw tears in eyes. It's the strangest thing I've seen in a long time." Jeva Lange

Fed cred
2:46 p.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve released the minutes from its September meeting today. We learned the results of that meeting the day it ended, but the minutes can still provide a window into what's going on in the heads of the Fed officials who vote on monetary policy. Take this quote:

To some [members], the continued subdued trend in wages was evidence of an absence of upward pressure on inflation from current levels of labor utilization. Several others, however, noted that weak productivity growth and low price inflation might be contributing to modest wage increases. A number of participants reported that some of their business contacts were experiencing labor shortages in various occupations and geographic areas resulting in upward pressure on wages, with a few indicating that the pickup in wages had become more widespread.

Consider that line against something you'd never read in the Fed minutes. Something like: "Other members responded that their contacts amongst the unemployed and low-income workers saw no evidence of rising wage pressure at all."

Fed officials understandably rely on their contacts throughout the world of business owners to gauge regional changes in the economy. Those contacts have vested interests in having monetary policy prioritize low inflation over low unemployment. That doesn't mean the stress and worries they're under are not genuine. But with the exception of recent activism efforts, people who desperately need job growth to continue have no equivalent access to Fed officials' ears. Cold aggregate data is all that speaks for them.

That's bound to have an impact on how the Fed weighs it priorities. Hearing from people on the ground may be qualitative, not quantitative, but it can help parse the quantitative data. Human beings are social creatures, after all, and Fed officials are only human. Jeff Spross

This just in
2:45 p.m. ET

U.S. officials reported Thursday that Russian missiles aimed at Syria fell short of their target and crashed in a rural area of Iran. Intelligence estimates that at least four missiles crashed, though it remains unclear where they landed. Russian ships were positioned in the South Caspian Sea, and officials say that missiles' flight path would have "taken them across the northern sections of Iran and Iraq on the way to Syria," The New York Times reports.

Though one official said there "may be casualties," CNN reports that another official said that still remains unknown. Becca Stanek

This just in
2:04 p.m. ET

Facebook will be adding some flexibility to how users choose to "like" a post — but it won't be a "dislike" button, as some people have speculated. Instead, Facebook is testing emoji "reactions," where users can pick emotions such as "sad," "haha," "love," and "wow" to express how they feel about a post. "As you can see, it’s not a 'dislike' button, though we hope it addresses the spirit of this request more broadly," Facebook's Chief Product Officer Chris Cox wrote in a post introducing the feature.

The experiment is limited to Spain and Ireland for the time being, but after a short test run, it will likely expand worldwide on both mobile and desktop devices. Jeva Lange

1:30 p.m. ET

It's still a bit of a mystery what happened behind closed doors on Thursday when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) unexpectedly decided to drop out of the race for speaker of the House. Though details are scarce, McCarthy elaborated in a tweet:

McCarthy also held a short news conference, part of which you can watch below. Jeva Lange

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