FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
February 11, 2016
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

John Kasich is keeping his expectations low for the upcoming Feb. 20 primary in South Carolina. After pulling off a comfortable second-place finish in the GOP's New Hampshire presidential primary Tuesday, the Ohio governor admitted in a Thursday interview with CNN's New Day that he doesn't expect South Carolina's election to go quite as well. "We're going to compete here," Kasich said of South Carolina's primary. "We don't expect to win here."

Kasich's defense of his campaign — and his concession about South Carolina — follows Republican opponent Jeb Bush's jab that Kasich "has nothing in South Carolina." "But on the other hand, if you look at the person who says that, they spent like well over $100 million — something like that — and they got like nothing," Kasich said, reminding Bush that, for spending more money than any other candidate, his results so far have fallen short.

Bush finished two spots behind Kasich in New Hampshire and two spots ahead of him in Iowa, where Bush came in sixth and Kasich came in eighth. Becca Stanek

10:40 a.m. ET
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Honolulu-born former President Barack Obama is returning to his tropical roots to work on his memoir, The Washington Post reports. On the heels of post-presidency vacations through Palm Springs, the Caribbean, and Hawaii, Obama is now staying on the South Pacific island of Tetiaroa, where he reportedly plans to write his book.

The French Polynesian atoll once belonged to Marlon Brando and is a favorite vacation spot of celebrities. Obama reportedly arrived at the Tetiaroa resort alone and will stay for at least a month. It is unclear if the rest of his family will be joining him; daughters Malia and Sasha are busy with an internship and high school, respectively.

Former first lady Michelle Obama is also working on a memoir. Her joint deal with her husband is reportedly worth at least $60 million. Jeva Lange

10:28 a.m. ET
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

The Associated Press tallied up the potential costs of North Carolina's bathroom bill, and the total isn't pretty. Because of the legislation passed last year rolling back LGBTQ protections and requiring transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds to their biological sex, The Associated Press estimated North Carolina will "suffer more than $3.76 billion in lost business" by the end of 2028.

One of the biggest blows is the canceled construction of the PayPal facility, which The Associated Press reported would have "added an estimated $2.6 billion to the state's economy." Other costs include called-off concerts, the NCAA's refusal to host tournaments in North Carolina, and the NAACP's national economic boycott — to name just a few.

Shortly after the bill was signed into law last year, then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R) assured North Carolinians the law would not impact the state's status as "one of the top states to do business in the country." Lt. Gov Dan Forest has maintained the bill's effect is "minimal to the state" and warned people not to be "fooled by the media" into thinking the issue is "about the economy."

But The Associated Press found North Carolina's economy "could be growing faster if not for the projects that have already [been] canceled," noting its cost estimate is "likely an underestimation." In total, North Carolina has lost out on "more than 2,900 direct jobs that went elsewhere," AP reported.

Because the estimate is based on projects and events the state has already lost out on, North Carolina won't be getting that money back even if the law gets repealed. Read the full story over at The Associated Press. Becca Stanek

9:53 a.m. ET
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

While many moderate Republicans are now eyeing opportunities to cooperate with Democrats on health care, still others are doubling-down on their repeal message. For House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), whose ultra-conservative faction helped take down the GOP health-care bill, the do-or-die message has earned him positive feedback in his home state, Politico reports. As one local flier advertising a Meadows rally raves: "This is the face of leadership! Thank Mark and all those who gave us an opportunity to get health care right."

"I respect [Meadows] for staying true to his principles," said one of Meadows' constituents, Jerry Moore of Highlands, North Carolina. "Trump promised repeal. That was no repeal."

"What's happening now is no longer the Trump plan. It is the Obama plan," agreed the local GOP chairman, Jackson County's Ralph Slaughter.

The Affordable Care Act covered thousands of people in North Carolina in 2016, but only one insurer in the state participates in the ObamaCare exchanges. Still, as Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor told Politico: "People like the Affordable Care Act. They don't like ObamaCare. And they just don't realize [they're the same]."

For his part, Meadows said Sunday: "This is not the end of the [health-care] debate. It's like saying that Tom Brady lost at halftime." Jeva Lange

9:41 a.m. ET

When CBS correspondent Scott Pelley sat down with Michael Cernovich, founder of alt-right blog Danger and Play, on Sunday night's episode of 60 Minutes to discuss fake news, it quickly became apparent that Cernovich's definition of "truth" was not the same as Pelley's. Cernovich's blog — which Pelley noted has "become a magnet for readers with a taste for stories with no basis in fact" — was one of several websites that pushed the Pizzagate story, the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex-trafficking operation in the back of a D.C. pizzeria which led a man to open fire in that pizzeria last December.

"These news stories are fakes," Pelley said, right off the bat. "They're definitely not fake," Cernovich said, insisting the stories were "not lies at all" and "100 percent true."

When Pelley asked if Cernovich was just saying that because "it's important for marketing" his website, Cernovich maintained he believed it. "I don't say anything that I don't believe," Cernovich said, claiming that's a "high bar" because he's an attorney.

Pelley pointed to a baseless headline published on Cernovich's blog, "Hillary Clinton has Parkinson's Disease, physician confirms," to see if he could get Cernovich to admit that may have been "misleading." The story was sourced to an anesthesiologist who had never met the Democratic presidential nominee, and was later denied by the National Parkinson Foundation and Clinton's doctor.

But Cernovich stood by it. "I don't take anything Hillary Clinton is gonna say at all as true. I'm not gonna take her on her word," he said. "The media says we're not gonna take Donald Trump on his word. And that's why we are in these different universes."

Watch the 60 Minutes segment below. Becca Stanek

9:31 a.m. ET

In February, actor Harrison Ford had a bit of a mix-up at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, landing his private plane on the taxiway instead of the runway and narrowly missing a loaded passenger plane. The audio of Ford's call to air-traffic control has been released, and it's classic Harrison Ford.

"I'm the schmuck that landed on the taxiway," he said, explaining that he had been "distracted" by an airliner in movement and "the big turbulence" from a landing Airbus. "Okay, so can I just get your name and your pilot's license?" the unidentified air-traffic controller asked. "The name is Harrison Ford," Ford said. "Okay," the controller said, nonchalantly. Ford explained that he had to find his license in his backpack. "Okay, take your time, no big deal," the air-traffic controller said. "Well, it's a big deal for me," Ford said.

This wasn't Ford's first brush with aviation disaster. But the 74-year-old flight enthusiast has had more hits than misses, earning him honors as a Living Legend of Aviation from the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy. Peter Weber

9:04 a.m. ET

Last Thursday, Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian lawmaker who had fled to Ukraine and become a strident critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead on a Kiev sidewalk in broad daylight. A few days earlier, Voronenkov had told The Washington Post that he and his wife knew they were in danger. "For our personal safety, we can't let them know where we are," he said. "The system has lost its mind. They say we are traitors in Russia."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the attack an "act of state terrorism by Russia," a charge Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed as a "fabrication."

Voronenkov is one of a handful of Putin critics and Russian diplomats who have died suddenly and sometimes mysteriously in the past few months. "I have an impression — I hope it's only an impression — that the practice of killing political opponents has started spreading in Russia," Gennady Gudkov, a former Russian lawmaker and security services officer, told The Moscow Times.

Two days before Voronenkov's murder, Nikolai Gorokhov, a lawyer for the family of Sergei Magnitsky — himself killed in police custody after uncovering $230 million in Russian government fraud — fell from his apartment window. Russian authorities say Gorokhov, who survived the fall, was trying to hoist a bathtub up to his apartment when he fell; Bill Browder, a financier who had hired Magnitsky, alleges that somebody pushed Gorokhov. In another apparent near-miss, Putin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza narrowly survived what appears to be a second poison attack.

On Dec. 26, Oleg Erovinkin, a former top Russian intelligence official and the chief-of-staff to Igor Sechin, the president of state-owned oil firm Rosneft, was found dead in his car on the streets of Moscow; no official cause of death has been given. There has been speculation that Erovinkin was the main source of the dossier on President Trump and Russia compiled by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

Stranger still, since November, at least six Russian diplomats have died, some from gunshot wounds and others of apparent natural causes. Among these is Andrey Karlov, 62, the Russian ambassador to Turkey who was shot in an Ankara art gallery, and Vitaly Churkin, 64, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations who died in New York City. The New York Chief Medical Examiner's office said in mid-March that it would "not publicly disclose the cause and manner of death of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin" due to diplomatic protocols.

The deaths and near-deaths may well be totally unconnected. But it's sure a lot of coincidences. Peter Weber

8:40 a.m. ET
Pat Benic-Pool/Getty Images

The White House is denying that President Trump handed German Chancellor Angela Merkel a bill for over $350 billion when the two leaders met earlier this month, as the Times of London reports. Trump reportedly claimed the bill was for the money Germany owed NATO. The Times apparently learned of the bill from anonymous German officials, including one who described Trump's move as "outrageous."

"The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations," the minister said.

NATO countries agree to spend two percent of their GDP on defense, although only the U.S., U.K., Greece, Poland, and Estonia are meeting those goals at this time. "It is believed that Mr. Trump's team calculated the amount Berlin has fallen short of the two percent target from that point then added interest," The Independent writes.

Former President Bill Clinton's secretary of labor, Robert Reich, tweeted in response to the news: "Trump is an international embarrassment. To our allies around the world: He doesn't represent most Americans, and we're doing all we can."

The White House denied Trump offered Merkel the bill. "This is not true," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told Business Insider.

Whether Trump handed Merkel the bill or not, there's no doubt their meeting was an awkward affair. Trump has additionally made a point of chasing down Germany for the money: "Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO and the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!" he tweeted. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads