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March 11, 2014
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Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington is a wealthy man, one who could conceivably pay a $200 fine in more than mere pocket change. But after being ejected from a spring training game in 2011 — and then incurring a fine for not leaving the bench — Washington reportedly paid his debt with a big box loaded with 20,000 pennies.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Washington responded by filling a box with $200 in pennies and mailing it to Bob Watson, MLB vice president in charge of discipline. Cost to mail it to New York: About $45.

Watson called after receiving the box.

Watson: "And you just had $200 in pennies hanging around? Washington: "Yes. Bob, I didn't have my checkbook. I wasn't trying to be funny. Now go to the bank and put that in the [change] machine and get your $200." [Star-Telegram]

As Randy Moss once sagely observed, rich people don't write checks: they pay with straight cash, homey. Jon Terbush

10:28 a.m. ET
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American teenagers performed below average for the developed world in the results of the latest PISA education test, released Tuesday morning, with nearly three dozen countries outperforming the U.S. But the kind of education reform promised by President-elect Donald Trump and his nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, could make things even worse, The New York Times reports.

The PISA test is given every three years to half a million 15-year-olds from 69 countries around the world to gauge their ability to make strong written arguments and solve problems they haven't seen before — the aim being to test what conditions make teenagers "smart." Money spent per student isn't a firm indicator of a country's success on the test, nor are low child poverty levels or fewer immigrants. Instead, here's what the findings showed:

Generally speaking, the smartest countries tend to be those that have acted to make teaching more prestigious and selective; directed more resources to their neediest children; enrolled most children in high-quality preschools; helped schools establish cultures of constant improvement; and applied rigorous, consistent standards across all classrooms.

Of all those lessons learned, the United States has employed only one at scale: A majority of states recently adopted more consistent and challenging learning goals, known as the Common Core State Standards, for reading and math. These standards were in place for only a year in many states, so [analyst Andreas] Schleicher did not expect them to boost America's PISA scores just yet. (In addition, America's PISA sample included students living in states that have declined to adopt the new standards altogether.) [The New York Times]

Trump and DeVos want to repeal Common Core, although their ability to do so is a little unclear since the federal government did not create or implement the program. Common Core-like standards are also seen across every high-ranking nation in the PISA test, including Poland and South Korea, the Times points out.

But what about America's middling scores on the PISA? There is a silver lining, The New York Times reports — read a further breakdown of the findings here. Jeva Lange

10:20 a.m. ET

During an appearance Monday night on The Daily Show, CNN commentator Van Jones reminded America once again that not every person who voted for President-elect Donald Trump was "voting for every crazy thing he said." To move forward in the days after the election, Jones argued, Democrats especially need to remember that many people found Trump's remarks "distasteful, but not disqualifying, because they had so much other economic pain and problems that were not being talked to." "Listen, Trump is much worse than anybody in this country is willing to accept," Jones said, "but a lot of his voters are much better and I don't want to give them away."

In the midst of the presidential election, Jones was one of the first to point out that Trump's supporters — even the white supremacists — should not be written off. In the days after the election, Jones shirked shutting himself off in favor of engaging with Trump voters — and he's encouraging everyone, "especially this younger generation" of African-Americans, to do the same. "They shot [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] in the face the year I was born because he was trying to fight for these ideals," Jones said. "I have one bad election and some bad tweets and quit? I can't do that. And I will tell you: You cannot, especially this younger generation. They can't quit either."

Catch the rest of Jones' interview below. Becca Stanek

10:10 a.m. ET

A single tweet from President-elect Donald Trump had immediate real-world implications Tuesday morning, when shortly before the markets opened, Trump criticized Boeing for how expensive its new 747 Air Force One plane is:

He expanded upon that tweet in New York on Tuesday morning, saying "the plane is totally out of control. It's going to be over $4 billion for Air Force One program," he said, per CNBC. "I think it's ridiculous, I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money."

At the mere threat of Trump canceling his order on the latest model of the presidential jet, Boeing's stock plummeted. At Tuesday's opening bell, Boeing stocks were down 0.86 percent and had slid more than 1 percent in early trading. Though that may not sound all that steep, with a market cap at $93 billion, even a 1 percent decline is significant for Boeing.

Moreover, Politico reported, Trump's tweet seems to have misquoted the actual projected cost of the Boeing 747. Air Force One estimated it would cost $1.65 billion to build two new jets — about $825 million per aircraft.

When asked for comment by The Associated Press, Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher indicated the company still wasn't quite sure how to respond to the president-elect's tweet. "We are going to get back to you after we figure out what's going on," Blecher said. Becca Stanek

9:49 a.m. ET

British actor Peter Vaughan, known for his role as the blind Maester Aemon on Game of Thrones, died Tuesday at the age of 93, the BBC reports. Vaughan had appeared in five seasons of the HBO show.

Vaughan was born in 1923, and was a stage and television actor throughout the 1960s. He is also known for his part as Grouty in the British TV sitcom Porridge and played supporting roles in Citizen Smith, Chancer, and Our Friends in the North.

"This is to confirm that very sadly Peter Vaughan passed away at approximately 10:30 this morning," his agent, Sally Long-Innes, told the BBC. "He died peacefully with his family around him." Jeva Lange

9:37 a.m. ET

No one gets between a Texan and his ribs, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Republican Whip Steve Scalise (La.) know it. Ryan and Scalise reportedly stepped in to defend Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert's right to smoke ribs on the balcony outside his U.S. Capitol office after the office in charge of maintaining the building said Gohmert's hobby was a fire hazard.

Gohmert fussed about the issue on the floor of the House on Friday when he slammed federal agencies over their priorities, the Longview News-Journal reports. "About seven years ago, the architect of the Capitol, who works for the House and Senate, had decided that we all work for him and started making demands, one of which was [that] I could not cook ribs and share them with other members of Congress," Gohmert said.

He added, "I have enough of my late mother in me that I enjoy cooking and enjoy people enjoying what I cook. It's probably the only time here on Capitol Hill when I actually leave a good taste in people's mouths instead of a bitter taste."

The Longview News-Journal reports that the GOP leaders overruled the Capitol architect, and that the barbecuing can, at long last, resume. Let them eat ribs. Jeva Lange

9:02 a.m. ET
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Beyoncé leads the 59th annual Grammy Awards nominations with nine nods for her critically acclaimed visual album, Lemonade, The New York Times reports. Drake and Rihanna follow, nominated for eight awards each, while singer Adele received five nominations.

Beyoncé will compete directly against Adele, and her album 25, in three of the top categories. The category of Album of the Year will also pit the two powerhouses against Drake's Views, Justin Bieber's Purpose, and country singer Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to Earth. Record of the Year will see Beyoncé's "Formation" go up against Adele's "Hello," Rihanna's "Work," Lukas Graham's "7 Years," and Twenty One Pilots' "Stressed Out." The nominees for Song of the Year also include "Formation," "Hello," and "7 Years," in addition to "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" by Mike Posner and "Love Yourself" by Justin Bieber.

The contenders for Best New Artist include DJ duo The Chainsmokers, Chance the Rapper, country singers Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini, and singer-rapper Anderson Paak.

The awards will be hosted by James Corden and held Feb. 12, 2017 on CBS. See all of the nominees here. Jeva Lange

8:47 a.m. ET
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Retired Marine General John Kelly, 66, is the likeliest candidate to be tapped to lead the Department of Homeland Security, three people close to President-elect Donald Trump's transition process revealed to Politico.

The Department of Homeland Security, established after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, helms border and immigration control, both of which are issues Trump had made central to his campaign. Kelly had expressed interest in serving in the incoming administration, whether under Trump or Hillary Clinton; he did not endorse a candidate. In the past, Kelly has clashed with President Obama on the decision to open combat roles to women in the military as well as the administration's plans to close Guantanamo Bay.

After four decades in the military, Kelly recently retired as the chief of U.S. Southern Command, which oversaw military operations in Central and South America. Kelly is also one of the most senior military officers to have lost a child in Iraq or Afghanistan; his son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, was killed after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan in 2010.

Notably, if Trump were to select Kelly, he would be the third general to join the incoming administration, after Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who will serve as national security adviser, and retired Gen. James Mattis, who has been nominated for defense secretary. Retired Gen. David Petraeus is also reportedly being considered for secretary of state.

You can read more about Kelly, and his experience and positions, at Politico. Jeva Lange

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