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April 14, 2014

For many years now, the internet has been giving celebrity vaccine deniers like Jenny McCarthy a lot of grief, on account of all the, you know, children killed due to vaccine refusals. Apparently some of that finally got through, because over the weekend McCarthy published an aggrieved op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times claiming she's been misrepresented:

I am not "anti-vaccine." This is not a change in my stance nor is it a new position that I have recently adopted. For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, "pro-vaccine" and for years I have been wrongly branded as "anti-vaccine." [Chicago Sun-Times]

Nope! As detailed here and here, McCarthy has, for years, loudly and angrily asserted scientifically false things about vaccines: most prominently, that they're filled with toxins, and that they cause autism. No, this is a tactical retreat to a less outrageous anti-vaccine position, motivated by the total scientific and ethical collapse of the purported vaccine-autism link. Because despite her attempted whitewash of history, McCarthy is still effectively scaremongering about vaccines:

I believe in the importance of a vaccine program and I believe parents have the right to choose one poke per visit. I've never told anyone to not vaccinate. Should a child with the flu receive six vaccines in one doctor visit? Should a child with a compromised immune system be treated the same way as a robust, healthy child? Shouldn't a child with a family history of vaccine reactions have a different plan? Or at least the right to ask questions? [Chicago Sun-Times]

As Aaron Carroll points out, these less alarming "questions" about vaccines are either strawmen or scientifically bogus:

She asks that we consider the "gray zone." But in many areas, there is no gray zone. Do vaccines cause autism? No... Do they overwhelm the immune system? No... She's conflating totally different things here... She asks if a sick kid should get vaccines. If they're not more than mildly ill, yes. Maybe if they'd gotten the flu vaccine they wouldn't have the flu. She brings up immunocompromised kids, but they absolutely do get considered differently already. No decent physician would not consider a child's individual medical history. Same with those kids with a history of adverse reactions. We consent people for vaccines, and ask if they've had bad reactions before.

And no one, absolutely no physician I know, refuses to answer the questions of parents. [The Incidental Economist]

Yet again, she's been sowing scientific controversy where there is none. Sorry we hurt your feelings, Jenny, but lives are literally at stake here. Ryan Cooper

5:30 p.m. ET
Brian Blanco/Getty Images

One day after The New York Times published cell phone footage of the moments preceding Keith Lamont Scott's fatal shooting at the hands of police in Charlotte, North Carolina, Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has announced he will release footage from the dash and body cameras of the officers involved on Saturday.

Putney said releasing the video would have "no adverse impact on the investigation" into Scott's death, adding that his decision was not influenced by five days of protesters in Charlotte calling for the film to be made public. North Carolina. Gov. Pat McCrory endorsed the decision.

The police chief also said the video has "no definitive, visual evidence" that Scott was armed at the time of his death — a major point of controversy between accounts from police and other eyewitnesses — but maintained other evidence says Scott "absolutely" had a gun when he was killed. Where a possible gun may have been located is less clear; an Associated Press report indicates Putney "told reporters on Saturday that officers saw marijuana and a weapon in Keith Lamont Scott's car," as opposed to in his hands.

This is a breaking story that will be updated as more details become available. Bonnie Kristian

12:58 p.m. ET
Eric Feferberg/Getty Images

A new species of tropical ant has been discovered in the vomit of a diablito, or little devil frog, a very orange and poisonous frog that lives in Colombia and Ecuador.

Scientists use wild ant-eating frogs as tiny scouts who are able to search for insects in places people can't go. Then they capture the frogs and carefully make them vomit up the results of their latest explorations. The frogs are released unharmed.

In this case, the frog puke contained a single (and dead) member of the newly identified ant species, Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri. "Sometimes people think that our world is very well explored. Nothing could be farther from the truth," said Christian Rabeling of the University of Rochester, New York, who led a study on the new ant. He added, "The difficulty is finding the ants!" Bonnie Kristian

12:44 p.m. ET
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A New York Times editorial published Saturday announced the paper's official endorsement of Democrat Hillary Clinton for President. The article did not offer a comparison of Clinton to her rival, Republican Donald Trump, instead promising to "explain in a subsequent editorial why we believe Mr. Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history."

As for Clinton, the editorial board insisted their rationale centered on her merits — "intellect, experience, toughness, and courage" — and not her position as the sole viable alternative to Trump: "The best case for Hillary Clinton cannot be, and is not, that she isn’t Donald Trump." Clinton should be seen as a realist rather than an opportunist, the endorsement essay argued, running through a record of her accomplishments while dismissing Clinton's negatives as "occasional missteps."

The Times endorsement of Clinton may be striking in its vehemence, but it is hardly unexpected, as the paper has endorsed the Democratic candidate in 22 of 26 presidential elections since 1916. The last time a Republican won the Times' loyalty was Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Bonnie Kristian

12:13 p.m. ET
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The CEOs of America's 100 largest corporations are universally uninterested in financially backing Republican Donald Trump, an analysis from The Wall Street Journal reveals. However, 11 Fortune 100 CEOs have donated to Democrat Hillary Clinton, a longtime Wall Street favorite.

Among Clinton's high-profile donors from the business world are the leaders of Apple, American Airlines, and Nike. Her Fortune 100 CEO support is double what President Obama received in 2012, when nearly a third of these 100 CEOs backed Republican Mitt Romney and 66 didn't donate to any presidential candidate.

Clinton has also received financial support in the form of donation bundling from social media executives, namely Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. A bundler collects donations on the campaign's behalf and may be rewarded with special access or position in the new administration should their candidate win. Bonnie Kristian

11:43 a.m. ET
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Republican nominee Donald Trump is a simplistic "moron," rock legend Bruce Springsteen said while speaking in an interview with Rolling Stone to promote his new autobiography.

"Well, you know, the republic is under siege by a moron, basically," he said in the conversation published Friday. "The whole thing is tragic. Without overstating it, it's a tragedy for our democracy." Springsteen went on to critique Trump's connection to "white nationalism and the alt-right movement" before offering a more empathetic analysis of why Trump's candidacy has garnered so much support:

"I believe that there's a price being paid for not addressing the real cost of the deindustrialization and globalization that has occurred in the United States for the past 35, 40 years and how it’s deeply affected people's lives and deeply hurt people to where they want someone who says they have a solution. And Trump's thing is simple answers to very complex problems. Fallacious answers to very complex problems. And that can be very appealing." [Springsteen, via Rolling Stone]

Fellow musician Jon Bon Jovi also took on Trump this week, telling Gigwise, a British music website, that it is "incredible" how Trump can "can lie to you. You tell him here's factually what you said that's incorrect and then he tells it the same [way again]." Bonnie Kristian

11:25 a.m. ET
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Here we go again: Federal agencies on Friday started to prepare for a possible government shutdown beginning Oct. 1, the end of the fiscal year.

Though congressional leaders are working on a 10-week stopgap measure to continue funding the federal government, squabbles over whether that bill should include relief aid to Flint, Michigan, have stalled the process. Thus, "at this time, prudent management requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse and OMB is working with agencies to take appropriate action," an Office of Management and Budget official told The Hill.

The last time the government shut down because of a funding gap was in 2013, when nonessential employees were sent home for more than two weeks. Contrary the suggestion of the term "shutdown," only about 20 percent of federal employees are considered nonessential, meaning roughly eight in 10 — more than 3 million people — will keep working as usual should a shutdown occur. Bonnie Kristian

11:14 a.m. ET
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The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the newest Smithsonian museum, opened to the public in Washington, D.C. on Saturday morning. President Barack Obama participated in the opening ceremony, which was attended by thousands and paired with a three-day festival of African-American cuisine and culture on the National Mall.

In comments at a reception honoring the museum Friday night, Obama referenced high-profile police misconduct cases involving black Americans."My hope is that as people are seeing what's happened in Tulsa or Charlotte on television," he said, a visit to the museum will help them to say, "I understand. I sympathize. I empathize. I can see why folks might feel angry, and I wanna be part of the solution."

See comments from Obama and Oprah on the new museum below. Bonnie Kristian

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