March 3, 2014

A handful of super wealthy donors spent billions to support the Republicans in the last election, and they got little to show for their money, at least on the national level. That's led some billionaires, like David and Charles Koch's Americans for Prosperity, to shift their spending to state (or even local) races. Others, "like Paul Singer, the billionaire Republican investor, have expanded their in-house political shops, building teams of loyal advisers and researchers to guide and coordinate their giving," says Nicholas Confessore in The New York Times:

The Republican donors who have financed the party's vast outside-spending machine are turning against the consultants and political strategists they once lavished with hundreds of millions of dollars.... "The Karl Rove thing is out," said one donor, who asked for anonymity because he did not want to offend Mr. Rove. "The Koch thing is in." [New York Times]

Read Confessore's entire story at The Times. Peter Weber

8:20 a.m. ET
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Former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Friday reiterated his refusal to concede his loss to his Democratic rival, Doug Jones, at the polls on Tuesday.

Moore told supporters in an email that the election "battle is NOT OVER" while soliciting donations to his "election integrity fund" to pay for investigations into voter fraud he claims may have cost him victory. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has not found any evidence of voter fraud. Merrill said his office has investigation reports of irregularities and has "not discovered any that have been proven factual in nature."

Also Friday, President Trump said Moore should admit his defeat. "He tried. I want to support, always, I want to support the person running," Trump said, but at this point, Moore "certainly" should concede. Bonnie Kristian

8:02 a.m. ET
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The White House has directed the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to avoid using seven words and phrases in agency documents, The Washington Post reported Friday evening. The ban list is comprised of "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based," and "science-based." In place of the latter two phrases, the directive suggested saying things like, "CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes."

While the ban on the first five words has drawn fire for its implicit commentary on minorities, LGBT issues, and abortion, the prohibition of "evidence-based" and "science-based" has garnered particular criticism given the CDC's scope of responsibilities.

An unnamed CDC analyst who spoke with the Post said colleagues within the agency were "incredulous" at the announcement. The reaction "was very much, 'Are you serious? Are you kidding?'" the analyst said, adding, "In my experience, we've never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint" like this before. Bonnie Kristian

December 15, 2017

Republicans released their final tax bill Friday, the result of conference between the House and Senate. The final legislation proposes seven tax brackets for individual earners, with the top rate capped at 37 percent, down from 39.6 percent. The corporate tax rate is lowered to 21 percent from 35 percent.

Dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the bill overall includes $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. The latest version notably retains a deduction for state and local taxes, which had been scrapped from versions of the bill in both the House and Senate to the consternation of some Republicans in California and the Northeast. It also expands the child tax credit to be fully refundable up to $1400 — a concession to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — as well as preserves deductions for mortgage interest, medical expenses, and charitable contributions.

After the child tax credit expansion prompted Rubio earlier Friday to flip to a "yes" vote, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) also announced that he would back the bill, likely sealing enough support for the bill to pass the Senate and hit President Trump's desk. Republicans have said they hope to deliver the measure to the president by Christmas.

Critics of the bill warn that the sweeping tax cuts are not sufficiently offset and will cause the federal deficit to balloon. Read more about the bill at The Wall Street Journal, or see a summary of its contents below. Kimberly Alters

December 15, 2017
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If you want easy money, don't bet on the Golden State Warriors. ESPN reported Friday that final scores in Warriors games this season are an average of 10.5 points off of their predicted point spread — a nightmare for bettors.

In point-spread betting, gamblers bet on the difference, aka "spread," of a game's final score. And while the defending NBA champions win most of their games, their quality of play fluctuates drastically from night to night, which means the scoreboard's final tallies are extremely unpredictable. Professional bettor Erin Rynning summed up the issue to ESPN: "It's a headache. You do all this research and you want to think you're going to get 100 percent effort ... [but they] are bored. They have bigger fish to fry."

In order to minimize fatigue in the long 82-game regular season — not to mention conserve energy for an expected lengthy postseason run — the Warriors generally rest one or two key players per game under the guise of a minor "injury." These rests rarely lead to actual losses for the Dubs, but the absence of a star player like point guard Stephen Curry can lead to reduced margins of victory that mess with the spread. The Warriors are also notorious for playing possum in the first half of games and then either racing to huge leads in the second half or squeaking out victories in a game's final minutes.

While the Warriors' ability to "flip the switch" makes for great TV, it doesn't make for good predictions. In a season where the Warriors' actual win-loss record is 23-6, their record against the point spread is only 14-15. Read more at ESPN. Kelly O'Meara Morales

December 15, 2017

President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has at long last managed to convince a U.S. District Court judge to allow him to leave the Virginia condominium where he's been serving his detention in favor of staying in his home in Palm Beach Garden, Florida, The Washington Post's Spencer Hsu reports. Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates were indicted in October as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Manafort stands accused of massive financial crimes, including tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, false statements, and "conspiracy against the United States."

In early December, Manafort reached an $11 million bail agreement by pledging four properties — the Virginia condo and Florida house, as well as a Manhattan condo and a home in Bridgehampton, New York. (His Trump Tower apartment was apparently not valuable enough to make the cut.) But life in Florida will follow strict guidelines, seeing as Mueller's team views Manafort as a serious flight risk. For one, Manafort must "stay away from transportation facilities, including airports, train station, bus stations, and private airports," the documents stipulate.

Manafort additionally must obtain permission from the court for "any other domestic travel" and is "subject to electronic GPS monitoring," the judge ordered. He also has a curfew of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., which is stricter even than what is recommended for most high schoolers. As "teen parenting expert and clinical psychologist" Jerry Weichman recommends to Mom.me, "For juniors, [a curfew] between 11 and midnight, and between midnight and 1 a.m. for seniors."

Read the full documents below. Jeva Lange

December 15, 2017

GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), a holdout on his party's tax reform plan, flipped to a "yes" vote Friday, essentially sealing sufficient support for the bill to pass. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another hesitant vote, confirmed his "yes" earlier Friday.

"This bill is far from perfect, and left to my own accord, we would have reached a bipartisan consensus on legislation that avoided any chance of adding to the deficit," Corker wrote, but nevertheless "I believe that this [is a] once-in-a-generation opportunity to make U.S. businesses domestically more productive and internationally more competitive."

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) have had health problems that have kept them from voting in recent days. The GOP can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate for the tax legislation to pass. Read Corker's full statement below. Jeva Lange

December 15, 2017

Researchers in Germany have zeroed in on a new cancer-fighting tool: magnetic sperm.

Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research found that when sperm carrying a common chemotherapy drug were outfitted with what New Scientist described as "tiny, four-armed magnetic harnesses" and released near cervical cancer cells, the supercharged swimmers were able to eliminate 87 percent of the malignant cells they encountered in just three days. The harnesses "allowed [the sperm] to be guided by magnets," New Scientist explained, and thus more effectively reach the cancerous cells and deliver the medication.

New Scientist noted that sperm are a particularly convenient vessel for fighting illnesses associated with the female reproductive tract — like cervical cancer — because they have biological familiarity with the area. The researchers additionally hope sperm could be outfitted with medicines to combat endometriosis or ectopic pregnancies.

The most important takeaway though, per New Scientist, is that the use of these magnetized "spermbots" could make chemotherapy more effective and less painful for cancer patients, as more targeted drug delivery could reduce the amount of healthy cells lost to collateral damage — a common issue for people undergoing chemotherapy. Watch a video of the spermbots at work below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

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