American journalism just lost another shining light. The widely admired media critic who overcame cocaine addiction to land at arguably the nation’s best newspaper collapsed today in the Times newsroom and died at a hospital. He’d just finished moderating an interview with Edward Snowden and Citzenfour director Laura Poitras. NYT executives called Carr “one of the most gifted journalists” who has ever worked at the paper and his generation’s finest media reporter. His death comes a day after legendary CBS correspondent Bob Simon died in a car crash.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Reports that cigarette habits harm our health aren’t new. But these numbers are. Scientists say we should add another 60,000 to 120,000 deaths to the list, as kidney failure, infections and potentially some other cancers are added to the list of 21 disease tied to lighting up. For example, men were 40 percent more likely to die of prostate cancer if they smoked, and women more than 30 percent more likely to die of breast cancer. As if we needed another reason to quit.
By a 93-5 vote, Ashton B. Carter easily won confirmation today as defense secretary, allowing the longtime Pentagon insider to succeed Chuck Hagel. Carter, 60, begins his new job just as his boss is asking Congress for expanded war powers to combat ISIS. Already, he may divert from the White House on two key issues: He’s open to slowing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and sending lethal aid to Ukraine. However, Carter appears to have a better grasp on the West Wing than Hagel did.
Negotiations between Athens and its eurozone creditors failed to produce so much as a framework for next week, much less make any progress toward resolving the country’s massive debt. With newly elected Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras digging in his heels to end austerity, the stalemate could lead Greece to run out of cash next month, default on its bailout and leave the currency. A meeting on Monday offers another window of opportunity, but not much hope of avoiding a crisis.
It’s warming up in Eastern Europe. Following months of Cold War-style clashes that have claimed more than 5,400 lives, Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels have reportedly agreed to drop their weapons. Overnight talks in Minsk culminated this morning in a cease-fire agreement for Feb. 15. Details are still emerging, but the progress seems to reflect a breakthrough following earlier reports that Ukraine was finding Russian demands “unacceptable.” The leaders are expected to sign a 10-point document to create a demilitarized zone.
It certainly won’t be a pleasure cruise. Captain Francesco Schettino was sentenced to prison for the deaths of 32 passengers in the tragic 2012 shipwreck off the coast of the Tuscan island of Giglio. His sentence includes 10 years for manslaughter, five years for shipwrecking and an additional year for abandoning 4,000 passengers and crew as the boat sank. Schettino, 54, denies the charges and claims he’s been made a scapegoat. He’s expected to appeal.
The Democrats have made their decision. Brooklyn didn’t have enough space to fit all of the media, and security concerns arose in an urban area so crowded. Money concerns arose about Columbus, Ohio, which lacks the East Coast’s deep pockets. But the City of Brotherly Love seemed just right when it came to a location for the Democrats to officially announce their next presidential nominee. Although at the moment, it’s looking like Hillary Clinton. Even her potential opponents are tiptoeing around her name.
He’s getting flak from all sides. The president’s request to authorize war against ISIS is under fire on Capitol Hill for being both too broad and too restrictive. Obama sought a three-year action focused on airstrikes and limited commando missions, ruling out longer, large-scale ground combat. Some Democrats fear operations could expand under the current language; Republican critics argue the military will be too restricted to prevail. Obama vowed that ISIS is “going to lose” — but first he’ll need to win at home.
Mourners honor three Muslims killed in North Carolina. (Washington Post)
Orbitz agrees to merge with Expedia as travel sites consolidate. (NYT)
Federal judge compels Alabama judge to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. (ABC)
Philadelphia hosting Democratic convention shows rebound. (Bloomberg)
Taiwan jail siege ends in hostage-takers’ suicides. (BBC)
Korean Air ‘nut rage’ executive faces year in prison. (NYT)
Oregon governor addresses critics, says he’s staying put. (Oregon Live)
Tesla earnings widely miss mark despite reaching output goals. (CNN)
Scott Walker’s possible 2016 bid dogged by questions over college exit. (Washington Post)
And to my wife, I leave my online profile. Facebook rolled out a feature today to allow a “legacy contact” to partially manage your account after you die. This person can pin a post to your wall (presumably to announce your untimely death), change your profile picture or update your cover photo. Previously, accounts of the deceased could only be “memorialized” or deleted. Now you can go to that big portal in the sky with some measure of immortality.
Take a deep breath. After a nude bike event outraged residents, Montana Rep. David Moore took aim at the state’s indecent exposure laws with a proposal to ban any garment that “simulates” a person’s buttocks or genitals. In his modest opinion, tight-fitting yoga pants “should be illegal in public.” This follows attempts by other politicians to portray yoga as anti-Christian. But amid giggles, Moore’s fellow legislators killed his bill. Apparently, it was too much of a stretch.
The award-winning war correspondent known for getting out of tight spots was killed yesterday in a Manhattan car crash. He’d been working on a report about the search for an Ebola cure. The Bronx native and Brandeis graduate launched his career with fearless Vietnam War reporting and covered dozens of conflicts around the globe for more than five decades, even being held captive by Iraqi forces for 40 days in 1991. Anderson Cooper paid homage to Simon, calling him a mentor and “warrior-poet.”
You might think it was an error, but we couldn’t possibly comment. Except to say that the acclaimed Netflix political drama’s third season — due to be released Feb. 27 — hit the Internet early yesterday. Spoilers can be found online thanks to grabbed and shared pics. But fans were disappointed that the network noticed the error and took the episodes offline after just 30 minutes. Cards devotees can take comfort in becoming Frank Underwood’s latest casualties as they await the season’s official debut.
The Tasmanian devil is facing a foreign evil, and he’s not alone. A new study says the continent’s unique mammals are on the verge of “extinction calamity,” mostly due to the spread of red foxes and feral cats originally brought from Europe. Of the 84 mammal species that have disappeared worldwide since the 1500s, 35 percent were Australian. Today over 20 percent of native land mammal species Down Under are threatened. Now only large-scale, sustained action can save the fearsome marsupials and their friends.
“I’ll be back,” he said. Following the worst performance of his career and an early exit from last week’s Torrey Pines tournament, the onetime No. 1 is taking a break to look for his swing. The California native is currently ranked 62, his lowest standing since his debut in 1996. Since winning the U.S. Open in 2008, Woods has endured a series of injuries and reconstructive back surgery. He hopes to return for the Honda Classic on Feb. 26, but many fear they’ve heard Tiger’s last roar.