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2 in 1,000
A new analysis finds that tort lawsuits — the ones over civil wrongs that cause someone loss or harm, such as suits over medical malpractice and car accidents — are on the decline, with less than two out of every 1,000 Americans filing one in 2015, down from 10 in 1,000 Americans in 1993. [The Wall Street Journal]
Back sleeper? Stomach sleeper? As it turns out, it’s usually something in between. 70 percent of people wind up sleeping on their side at some point during the night, regardless of the sleeping position they think they have. Whichever side you end up sleeping on, the right mattress is key for quality sleep. Something like this is what you want to be looking for. Sponsored by Casper
A procedural vote that was a de facto vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act — the Senate GOP plan to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act — failed in the Senate when nine Republicans (Senators Susan Collins, Rand Paul, Lisa Murkowski, Dean Heller, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker and Tom Cotton) voted no. The motion, which needed 60 votes to pass, fell 43-57. [FiveThirtyEight]
Share of state revenues that came from federal funds in fiscal year 2015. Looking at the 50 states together, that number has fluctuated between 26 and 36 percent since the turn of the century, with some years heavily affected by the 2008-09 recession. Still, some states come out very much ahead; Louisiana and Mississippi each get a little more than 42 percent of state revenue from the federal government, while states like North Dakota (18.4 percent), Virginia (21.5 percent) and Hawaii (22.8 percent) get far less. [Pew Charitable Trusts]
$6,000 per year
Every summer, lots of New York City rich people go to the Hamptons on Long Island. They are obviously the target demographic for all sorts of ridiculous luxury products, and one way to get such products out there is through the seemingly endless free magazines that target the area’s summer residents. This has presented a legitimate issue for the cities: The sheer mass of magazines being disposed of has led to at least one sanitation worker injury. The basic cost of disposing of the magazines is approximately $6,000 per year for Southampton Village. [27 East]
1.7 million pounds of dirt
Two new vacuums operating in the New York City subway system have hauled out 1.7 million pounds of dirt and detritus from the E, F and A lines since the beginning of the year. Since the trash clean-up effort began, the number of trash fires dropped from 75 in January to 53 in June. [The New York Times]
Estimated cost of prescription opioid abuse in 2013, according to a federal study. That doesn’t incorporate costs of lost productivity experienced by employers who are having trouble staffing up, with some reporting that as many as a quarter of applicants can’t pass a drug test. [The New York Times]
If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.
President Trumpâs outburst against Attorney General Jeff Sessions might be the event that forces a confrontation with congressional Republicans over the Russia scandal. If Sessions is fired or resigns under pressure, the Senate will have to confirm his replacement. And if Trump nominates as Sessionsâs successor someone such as Rudy Giuliani, who is seen by some as insufficiently independent from Trump or as likely to undermine special counsel Robert Muellerâs investigation, the moment may finally be upon Republicans in Congress to signal how far theyâre willing to go to check Trumpâs powers.
Or it could be something else. Trump could fire Mueller. He could pardon family members (Donald Trump Jr.) or close associates (Michael Flynn) implicated in the Russia scandal — or he could even try to pardon himself. Mueller could keep his job but eventually return with a finding that Trump had in fact attempted to obstruct justice — something that has been the basis for impeachment proceedings in the past.
I donât know which one of these scenarios is most likely to happen. But the odds are that at least one of them will eventually occur, or something equally severe that I havenât thought of — which will put Trump on a collision course with Congress and probably force them to confront the question of impeachment.
What will happen then? The consensus of the commentary that Iâve been reading, especially on the left, is that congressional Republicans would back down in such a confrontation, hemming and hawing about Trump but ultimately not doing very much about him. In fact, an increasing number of commentators are arguing that weâre already in the midst of a constitutional crisis because of Congressâs impending and inevitable failure to curb the presidentâs behavior.
This is a perfectly reasonable prediction of how Congress might react. We know that partisanship is an exceptionally strong force in American politics and that Congress has become more partisan over the past few decades. And we know that Trump has brought Republicans the presidency and majorities in both chambers of Congress. So if our political compass seems to be broken in these uncertain political waters, it makes sense to use partisanship as our lodestar and presume that the GOPâs response to Trump will never go much beyond the âtroubledâ or âconcernedâ stage.
Nonetheless, Iâm not so sure about it. As my colleague Julia Azari pointed out on Tuesday, weâre somewhat off the beaten path in assessing how an increasingly partisan Congress might respond to a president whose behavior has become increasingly abnormal. I donât think itâs easy to predict how Congress would react to, for example, Trump firing Mueller — and I donât think whatâs happened so far gives us all that much guidance either way.
So donât think of this as a âhot takeâ so much as a glass of cold water — a caution against overconfidence in an environment without much data or precedent. Still, there are a few things I think we can say:
Pressure is building on the Russia story
One point on which I explicitly disagree with some of the commentary Iâve read — I even disagree with Julia on this! — is the notion that the Trump-Russia stories are part of a ârepeating cycle where stories break and then fade away.â I think thatâs a pretty good description of how the Russia story was playing out earlier this year, when stories alleging connections between Russia and the Trump campaign were largely based on anonymous sourcing and contained few verifiable details. That made it hard for stories to build upon one another, or to be persuasive to anyone except folks who didnât like Trump in the first place.
But now? Big chunks of the story are on the record or have happened in full view of the public. Weâve got Trumpâs son, Donald Trump Jr., having released emails that showed him helping to arrange a meeting between Russian contacts and Trump campaign officials in the hopes of obtaining damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Weâve got Trump having fired the FBI director, James Comey, for reasons he later told NBC News were related to the FBIâs investigation into Russia. And weâve got a special counsel, Mueller, having been appointed and reportedly investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
This is serious stuff. And the story will probably develop further; the pace of Trump-Russia revelations has been accelerating. In the chart below, Iâve tracked whether a Trump-Russia story was the lead political story of the day, based on the top story at Memeorandum, a news aggregation site, at noon each day.1 The chart contains three categories:
- Red stories relate directly to reports about alleged ties between Russia and Trump and his associates, as well as the attempts by various governmental entities to investigate them;
- Orange stories relate to Trumpâs firing of Comey and its aftermath;
- And yellow stories reflect other âRussia-adjacentâ stories, such as Trump considering firing Sessions or accusing former President Barack Obama of having wiretapped him.2 While not about Trumpâs ties to Russia per se, these stories are part of the cloud of dust kicked up by apparent Russian interference in the 2016 election, the various Russia investigations and Trumpâs attempts to stop them.
Russia or Russia-adjacent stories led the news cycle 25 percent of the time through April 29, Trumpâs 100th day in office. (A lot of those were wiretapping-related stories, which were arguably an attempt by the White House to muddy the waters on Russia; the percentage falls to 16 percent if you exclude those.) Since then, Russia or Russia-adjacent stories, including the Comey firing, have led the news 49 percent of the time (none of which have been wiretapping-related). And Russia or Russia-adjacent stories have been the news lead 56 percent of the time so far in July.
The point is that even if Congress didn’t react that strongly to Russia-Trump developments before, there also hadnât been much proven misconduct to react to. Now, the story is more serious, with at least some evidence of attempted collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and various attempts by the White House to impede the investigation. So is Congress stepping up? Well, actually…
Congressional Republicans have taken some tangible steps on Russia
When The Atlanticâs McKay Coppins recently talked to Congressional Republicans and their staffs, he found a variety of reactions, ranging from members who thought the Russia story was a bunch of hot air to others who privately thought it could be grounds for impeachment. But, they were united in claiming they already had taken significant steps to check the presidentâs behavior. As Coppins reported:
But on one point, at least, there seems to be widespread consensus: All of them believe theyâre already doing everything they can within reason to hold the president accountable — and they fiercely reject any argument to the contrary.
Needless to say, these Republicans are making a debatable assertion. As we reported, for example, Republicans in Congress didnât have all that much to say about the Trump Jr. meeting. And while relatively few Republicans expressed support for the Comey firing, even fewer called for a special prosecutor or an independent investigation. (Mueller was appointed by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, rather than by Congress.)
There are some meaningful steps that Republicans have taken, however:
- The Senate Intelligence Committeeâs investigation into Trump-Russia ties has been pretty serious, even if the Houseâs investigation has not been. The Senate has called (and sometimes even subpoenaed) a wide-ranging slate of witnesses. Comeyâs testimony before the committee in June was a major spectacle, and committee chair Richard Burr asked Comey fairly evenhanded and nonpartisan questions.
- The Senate and House recently passed sanctions against Russia by overwhelming, near-unanimous margins despite the initial objections of the White House.3
- Congress has warned Trump against firing Sessions, and taken steps to prevent a recess appointment that would allow Trump to temporarily replace Sessions without a confirmation vote.
This certainly isnât everything that Republicans might do, but it isnât nothing, either. And if Congress hasnât done that much to investigate Trump itself, it also hasnât gotten in the way of the more important investigations — the ones being conducted by Mueller (who was widely praised by Republicans when he was appointed as special counsel) and by the media.
Itâs still early, and impeachment is a very serious step
It took two years and almost two months from the discovery of the Watergate break-in on June 17, 1972, to Richard Nixonâs resignation under threat of removal from office on August 9, 1974. Even after what was probably the most infamous event of the Watergate ordeal — the Saturday Night Massacre on Oct. 20, 1973, in which Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox — it still took almost 10 months until Nixon resigned.
In most respects, Trump is ahead of Nixonâs schedule. Heâs only been president for six months — and itâs been less than three months since Comey was fired and less than three weeks since Trump Jr.âs meeting with Russians at Trump Tower was revealed.
Trump also has only a 38 or 39 percent approval rating — whereas Nixon, five months after the Watergate break-in in November 1972, overwhelmingly won re-election with 61 percent of the vote against George McGovern. Recent polls4 show that about 43 percent of the public want Trump to be impeached, which is short of a majority — but also well ahead of where Nixon was in July 1973, when just 24 percent of the public supported impeachment.
How much farther Trumpâs approval rating might fall and how quickly that might happen is hard to say. His numbers did decline a few percentage points after the Comey firing, but theyâve been fairly steady since then. Thereâs undoubtedly some truth in the notion that partisanship will give Trump a cushion with Republican voters. At the same time, his numbers are historically poor for a president at this point in his term despite a fairly good economy, which usually boosts approval ratings. And thereâs been considerable erosion in the number of voters who say they strongly support Trump. Voters who go from strongly supporting a candidate to reluctantly supporting him may turn out to oppose him a few months later.
Trump, like Nixon, also has a tendency to make enemies out of former allies when feeling embattled. Some media outlets that usually strongly support Trump, such as Breitbart, have come out strongly in defense of Sessions, for example. Itâs not that hard to imagine a scenario — a year or two from now — where Trump is increasingly isolated, as George W. Bush was late in his second term.
But the impeachment process is slow, both by custom and design. And thatâs for good reason: Removing a popularly-elected president is a drastic step, especially early in his term. If I had to imagine a world in which Trump winds up being impeached and removed from office, it would play out fairly gradually. Some event will probably spark a confrontation between Trump and Congress later this year or early next year. But it might take until 2019, after further White House missteps throughout 2018 and a big Democratic win at the midterms, for Republicans to actually be ready to impeach Trump. The confrontation is increasingly unlikely to be avoided — but the key tests of how Republicans in Congress will respond to Trumpâs conduct over Russia have still yet to come.
With the majority of NFL training camps opening this week, fans will get their first chance to see the 2017 editions of teams play full-speed, full-squad, full-pad football.
But half of the 2016 playoff field was made up of teams that didn’t make it to the postseason in 2015. If recent history holds, this spring’s roster churn will lead to similar turnover: In nine of the past 11 seasons, at least five of 12 NFL playoff teams have failed to return to the postseason the following year.
So which players who’ve changed teams have the potential to tip the balance of power in each division? Today we take on the four divisions of the AFC. We’ll do the NFC later this week.
AFC East: Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots
Opportunity: The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl last season, in case you forgot. And in doing so, they did it with possibly the least star-studded Patriots squad Tom Brady’s ever led to the big game. The Jets and Bills seem intent on rebuilding this year (not like the Patriots were losing sleep over them anyway). But the Miami Dolphins, who finished 2016 on a 9-2 run under rookie head coach Adam Gase, could pose a serious threat to the Patriots for the first time since 2008 — the last time any team besides the Patriots won the AFC East. Perhaps this is why New England spent the offseason getting better on offense.
What needed to be addressed: No team had a bigger difference in effectiveness between their shotgun and under-center offense last season than the Patriots, according to Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. With All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski missing eight games (and the only proven downfield threat when he was on the field), the Patriots offense was ineffective under center as opposing defenses were able to key in on the short passes that traditionally butter Brady’s bread. As a result, New England became reliant on Brady’s ability to read the field from shotgun and produce something from nothing.
The last time Gronkowski missed more than half of a season, 2013, Brady threw to wideouts an average of 25.2 times per game, second-most in his career — but his passer efficiency rating while doing it, 91.0, was his second-worst ever. Over the next three seasons, Brady targeted wideouts just under 19 times a game. But in 2016, the heavy use of shotgun helped Brady’s rating shoot up to a whopping 109.9. So 2016 was a bit of anomaly for the Brady Patriots, one he’d be unlikely to reproduce while still relying on the likes of Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan at wideout.
|ATTEMPTS PER GAME||PASSER EFFICIENCY RATING|
Potential impact: The Patriots traded their first-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for Cooks, addressing their need for a vertical threat with one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL. Last season, Cooks finished 14th in the league in yards per reception, with an average of 15.0 yards; only T.Y. Hilton and Julio Jones averaged more yards per catch and had at least as many catches as Cooks (78). Cooks’s ability to get open whether a quarterback is dropping back or under center should be a boon to the offense. Patriots owner Robert Kraft compared Cooks’s potential impact to the 2007 addition of Randy Moss.
Question mark: Brady is famously dedicated to keeping his body in great shape and avoiding the effects of aging; in June, ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported that Brady doesn’t seem to have lost any arm strength. But if Brady’s arm turns into a wet noodle on his 40th birthday, Cooks’s vertical threat will be minimized.
AFC North: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Ravens
Opportunity: Baltimore finished 8-8 in 2016, ahead of the 6-9-1 Cincinnati Bengals but well behind the 11-5 Pittsburgh Steelers. With significant questions surrounding the veteran cores of all three rosters, the Ravens could claw back to the top of the pack — or fall into the basement.
What needed to be addressed: The decline of Joe Flacco’s deep-ball game has affected both his output and the Ravens’ offensive results. Although Flacco’s passer rating has been at his career norm in each of the past two seasons, his average yards per completion in 2016 (9.9) and 2015 (10.5) were the lowest of his career. According to TruMedia, Flacco had the third-most passing attempts that went at least 10 yards beyond the sticks from 2008 to 2014, but he ranked just 18th from 2015 to 2016. Now, two of Flacco’s top three targets of 2016 — Steve Smith (retired) and Dennis Pitta (career-threatening injury) — are unavailable.
Potential impact: Before a lingering groin tear depressed his 2016 average yards-per-catch to a career-low 12.2, Maclin averaged 13.6 yards per reception over his career. That includes a high of 15.5 in 2014, the year before he came to Kansas City after five seasons in Philadelphia. If Maclin returns to his pre-injury form, he’ll be an excellent fit for what Flacco and the Ravens have always done best: attacking downfield. Getting to play with Flacco, rather than Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, could do wonders for Maclin, too:
Question mark: What if Maclin is fine but Flacco isn’t? Should Flacco, who’ll take up $24.5 million of the Ravens’ salary cap this season, turn in yet another subpar season despite the addition of Maclin, the clock could start ticking on the quarterback’s time in Baltimore.
AFC South: Eric Decker, WR, Titans
Opportunity: The Titans tied the Houston Texans at 9-7 last season, losing the division on a tiebreaker. Houston will add J.J. Watt to a defense that finished seventh in DVOA last season, despite missing the perennial All-Pro for 13 games. But the Texans are going back to the drawing board at quarterback, as they have every year under head coach Bill O’Brien (not that Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer and Brock Osweiler haven’t left room for improvement). The Titans, meanwhile, went 8-4 in the last 12 games of 2016, and third-year quarterback Marcus Mariota seems primed to take another big step forward, as he did from his rookie season (51.6 Total Quarterback Rating) to his second (64.9).
What needed to be addressed: In the spring of 2016, Titans rookie general manager Jon Robinson went on a mission to build a power run game, drafting first-round tackle Jack Conklin and second-round tailback Derrick Henry and signing free-agent tailback DeMarco Murray. In 2017, Robinson added weapons for Mariota, drafting wideout Corey Davis No. 5 overall and catch-and-run threat Taywan Taylor in the third round. That being said, Davis’s learning curve is likely to be even steeper than for most rookie receiverss; the MAC product wasn’t medically cleared for full-speed practice until June.
Potential impact: Decker has solidified himself as one of the league’s most dangerous slot receivers. Neither No. 1 wideout Rishard Matthews nor tight end Delanie Walker, who accounted for more than 50 percent of the Titans’ non-RB targets last season, boasts Decker’s combination of size and speed. If Matthews, Walker and Mariota can build on what they did last season, Decker will make it difficult for opponents to defend the middle of the field.
Question mark: Mariota, like Davis, is recovering from surgery; he was a limited participant at June minicamp. Even if he has fully recovered in time for training camp, missing any offseason work isn’t ideal for a young quarterback. There’s also the question of how often he’ll be asked to throw to all of these weapons, considering that the run-first Titans finished 28th in team pass attempts last season.
AFC West: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders
Opportunity: The Oakland Raiders were in the process of winning their 12th game when young quarterback Derek Carr was lost for the season with an injury. The Kansas City Chiefs capitalized on the opportunity, winning both of their final regular-season games and claiming the division crown on a tiebreaker. With Carr back and hometown hero Lynch coming out of retirement, the Raiders will be looking for the division crown … and maybe more. At the very least, the lame-duck Raiders should give the city of Oakland one real playoff run before they run to Las Vegas.
What needed to be addressed: Latavius Murray, who was the Raiders’ main running back last season and now is a Minnesota Viking, has a reputation as a boom-or-bust runner. In 2016, though, he was almost the opposite. He finished 16th in Success Rate, a way of measuring how consistently backs keep the offense on schedule in terms of down and distance, but 23rd in DVOA (-3.7 percent).
Potential impact: Before retiring at the end of the 2015 season, Lynch was one of the hardest backs to tackle in the NFL; in 2014, Lynch topped the league in Pro Football Focus’s Elusive Rating. To evaluate Lynch’s potential impact on the Raiders’ offense, we can compare the 2016 Raiders’ offensive line to that of the 2015 Seahawks, the last team Lynch played for, using Football Outsiders’ two advanced metrics to measure running success: Adjusted Line Yards5 and Power Success rate.6
Compared with the 2015 Seahawks, the 2016 Raiders didn’t average quite as many Adjusted Line Yards as (4.09 vs. 4.18) or perform as well in Power Success (59 percent vs. 71 percent). However, the Raiders blocked much better in the second level (8th vs. 15th) and the open field (7th vs. 12th). Over the last three seasons, according to TruMedia, Murray has had to fight through more resistance than most starting tailbacks, but Lynch took his first average hit far earlier than most of the rest of the league. Meanwhile, Lynch is far better after first contact. Bottom line? The Bay Area may feel a lot of Beast Quakes.
Question mark: Lynch is a 31-year-old running back who just took a year off. He might not have any more Beast Quakes left in him.
The Senate is expected, around lunchtime on Wednesday, to take up the so-called repeal and delay, which would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, but delay that repeal for two years, creating a deadline for Congress to write a new health care policy bill. (Based on the last six months, you can imagine that not going well.) The Congressional Budget Office has analyzed this provision and projected it would leave 32 million uninsured by 2026 if Congress does not figure out some kind of new health policy during that two-year window.
Having this vote is a big priority of the most conservative wing of the Senate Republicans, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. A provision very similar to this one was passed in 2015 but vetoed by President Obama. It is expected to fail this time, however, because a sizable bloc of more moderate Republican senators have said they do not support getting rid of Obamacare without a new policy in place.
So this vote is mainly symbolic. But we are in the midst of a bizarre process, and today’s vote is a key part of it. The Republican Party has broadly committed to getting rid of the Affordable Care Act and many of the 52 GOP senators campaigned on that promise. So it is important for these senators to get on the record that they voted for some version of Obamacare repeal. Nine Republican senators (Collins, Paul, Murkowski, Heller, Lee, Moran, Graham, Corker and Cotton) effectively voted against one version of repeal (the McConnell bill with the Medicaid cuts) last night. I expect Corker, Cotton, Lee, Paul and Moran to vote for the repeal-and-delay bill today, allowing those members to say that they too have voted to end Obamacare.
So after this vote, we will have two new data points: the list of members who voted against both versions of Obamacare repeal that have hit the Senate floor so far, and the list of members who have voted for one version but against the other. The first group may be a lost cause for McConnell; it is likely to be hard to find legislation that pleases them. The senators in the second group are in play, but the trick will be finding a bill that satisfies their different interests. For example, I expect the more moderate Rob Portman of Ohio, who backed the bill that was voted on Tuesday night, to oppose today’s bill because it is does not lay out how Obamacare should be replaced. But it could be hard to reconcile his interests with those of, say, Paul.
So why does that data matter? You could argue that it does not. Tuesday’s most important vote, the “motion to proceed” that could have stopped this bill, was approved, with Republican senators, who appeared to set aside previous criticisms of the legislation and the process by which it was crafted. Tuesday’s vote suggests GOP senators will ultimately fall in line and vote for some Obamacare repeal in the end because of party loyalty. What is in the legislation may matter less than the fact that it’s a repeal of Obamacare, and Republican senators may feel they cannot stand in the way of reaching that goal of the party.
But Tuesday’s motion to proceed was not a policy vote.
So the other way to view Tuesday’s successful motion to proceed vote is that Republican senators just voted to start a process and will evaluate these policies on their merits, not purely in terms of party loyalty. Viewing the motion to proceed vote that way, these policy votes create the path for a different outcome: Every GOP senator has the chance to vote for his or her kind of Obamacare repeal, but then at least some of them feel the freedom to vote against whatever bill McConnell comes up with at the end of this week.
There is a lot of focus on what exactly McConnell will propose next. But the key actors here are the swing senators. The reality is that the views that Collins, Heller and Murkowski have expressed during this Obamacare repeal process (concerns about having costs go up for low-income people and getting rid of Medicaid) are very hard to reconcile with what Cruz, Lee and Paul have suggested (most of Obamacare must go). If this is a process that is about policy, it’s hard to see Republicans coming together. If it’s about party loyalty, then they obviously can. Since it’s probably about both, stay tuned!
Hockey has its good points, but Sam has her own preferences. Teamy goodness with an added dash of Jack and Daniel silliness and Teal'c pwnage.
Words: 710, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English
- Fandoms: Stargate SG-1
- Rating: General Audiences
- Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
- Categories: Gen
- Characters: Samantha Carter, Daniel Jackson, Jack O'Neill, Teal'c
- Relationships: Jack and Daniel Friendship
- Additional Tags: Women Being Awesome, Character Study, Teal'c pwnage, teamy goodness, Friendship, Sam POV
Words: 564, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English
- Fandoms: Stargate SG-1
- Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
- Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
- Categories: Gen
- Characters: Daniel Jackson, Jack O'Neill
- Relationships: Jack/Daniel (friendship or pre-slash)
- Additional Tags: Implied Mpreg, Implied/Referenced Rape/Non-con, Episode: s01e14 Hathor, Starts angsty, ends sweet
On a nice, calm walk in Ymittos, a rescue Grecian pup was walking alongside his owner, when something caught his attention...
Aragon, the altruistic pup, went to investigate. Using his keen nose, he sniffed out something unfamiliar. A box of little black and white kittens that have obviously seem to have been abandoned, and left to fend for themselves, reported the Laughing Squid.