Flake calls for one-week delay to floor vote on Kavanaugh – BY ALEXANDER BOLTON AND JORDAIN CARNEY – 09/28/18 01:53 PM EDT

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Friday called for a one-week delay in a Senate floor vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, saying he would vote to advance the nomination given that deal.

Flake said he was voting for Kavanaugh with the understanding that Republican colleagues would support a one-week delay to give the FBI time to investigate.

“I have been speaking with a number of people on the other side … in regard to making sure that we do due diligence here,” Flake said.

“I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week in order to let the FBI do an investigation, limited in time and scope,” Flake added.

“I will only comfortable moving on the floor until the FBI has done more investigation than they have already,” he continued. “It may not take them a week. I understand that some of these witnesses may not want to discuss anything further but I think we owe them due diligence.”

— Lydia Wheeler contributed reporting



The World’s Most Valuable Sports Agencies 2018 – Jason Belzer Sep 25, 2018, 09:45am

A number of Wasserman’s agents photographed at the agency’s L.A. headquarters, including 2018 ‘Most Powerful’ inclusions Joel Wolfe, Thad Foucher, Adam Katz, Doug Hendrickson and Darren Matsubara.Wasserman

The sports agency business is booming as ever-increasing media rights deals continue to pour profits into professional sports leagues, raising salaries and making seven-figure athlete contracts the norm.  The firms featured in Forbes’ 2018 ranking of the World’s Most Valuable Sports Agencies have negotiated a collective $45.7 billion in current professional athlete contracts, netting more than $2.35 billion in commissions, an increase of almost 10% over last year.

Leading the way for the sixth consecutive year is Los Angeles based Creative Artists Agency (CAA), whose $9.3 billion in contracts under management is more than double its next closest competitor. With a $900 million uptick in deals over the last year, the agency now stands to earn $348 million in commissions from its clients- a $30 million increase from 2017. Perhaps more impressively is the rise of CAA’s individual practice areas: the agency’s football ($4.1 billion), basketball ($2.3 billion) and hockey ($1.9 billion) divisions rank No. 1, and its baseball ($1 billion) division ranks No. 3. CAA’s football division by itself would be the fifth most valuable agency in the world.

CAA once again lands eleven agents on this year’s World’s Most Powerful Sports Agents list, including three in the top 11 – No. 9 Pat Brisson (hockey), as well as No. 10 Todd France and No. 11 Tom Condon (football). Among CAA’s biggest deals include Robinson Cano’s $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners, Karl Anthony Town’s $187 million deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Matt Ryan’s $150 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons, and Sidney Crosby’s $104 million deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In total, CAA has sixteen clients signed to contracts worth more than $100 million.

Moving up to the No. 2 most valuable agency this year is Wasserman , whose $3.7 billion in contracts net $175 million in commissions, representing a respective $1 billion and $40 million increase over last year. Founded in 2002 by Casey Wasserman, grandson of legendary talent agent Lew Wasserman,  Wasserman has steadily climbed the sports agency business ranks, representing more than 750 athletes across football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, and golf.  In addition to the sports included in these rankings, Wasserman represents top Olympic athletes and is unmatched in women’s sports such as the WNBA (Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, Brittany Griner) and the NWSL (Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe).

Wasserman lands five agents on this year’s World’s Most Powerful Sports Agents list, including No. 12 Joel Wolfe and No. 18 Adam Katz (baseball), No. 29 Thad Foucher and #46 Darren Matsubara (basketball), and #42 Doug Hendrickson (football). Among the agency’s top deals are Giancarlo Stanton’s massive $325 million contract with the New York Yankees (the largest deal in all of professional sports), Russell Westbrook’s $233 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Andrew Luck’s $124 million dollar contract with the Indianapolis Colts. Wasserman also expanded its soccer division with the purchase of European agency Mondial Promotion, giving it the strongest soccer division of any multi-sport agency in the world. Likewise, it has increased its hockey practice by acquiring equity in No. 31 Orr Hockey Group earlier this year.

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Moon is Stepping Stone, Not Alternative to Mars, NASA Chief Says – Mike Wall, SPACE.com September 27, 2018

The Red Planet remains the U.S. space agency’s ultimate goal

Moon is Stepping Stone, Not Alternative to Mars, NASA Chief Says
An artist’s concept shows NASA’s Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle and future destinations for human exploration beyond Earth orbit: the moon, an asteroid and Mars. Credit: NASA

The moon has not superseded Mars as a human-spaceflight target, despite NASA’s current focus on getting astronauts to Earth’s nearest neighbor, agency officials stressed.

The Red Planet remains the ultimate destination, and the moon will serve as a stepping stone along the way, Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator, and Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said during congressional hearings yesterday (Sept. 26).

“The moon is the proving ground, and Mars is the goal,” Bridenstine said during testimony before the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, part of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. [How Will a Human Mars Base Work? NASA’s Vision in Images]


“The glory of the moon is that it’s only a three-day journey home,” Bridenstine added. “So, we can prove all of the technologies, we can reduce all of the risks, we can try all of the different maturations that are necessary to live and work on another world. And we can do it all at the moon, where, if there is a problem, if there is an emergency, we know that we can get people home.”

He cited NASA’s Apollo 13 mission in 1970, which famously managed to make it safely back to Earth despite experiencing a serious problem on the way to the moon.

Far from delaying a crewed Mars mission, which NASA aims to execute in the 2030s, the current and near-future moon work should “accelerate our path to get to Mars,” Bridenstine said.

This reassurance is in keeping with the language of Space Policy Directive 1(SPD 1), which has spurred much of the moon work. SPD 1, which President Donald Trump signed in December of 2017, instructs NASA to return astronauts to the moon as part of a sustainable exploration program that will eventually bring more-distant destinations, such as Mars, within reach.

And about the current moon work: NASA plans to begin building a small space station in lunar orbit in 2022. This outpost, called the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, could be ready to accommodate astronauts by 2026, NASA officials have said.

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Orca ‘apocalypse’: half of killer whales doomed to die from pollution – Damian Carrington Last modified on Thu 27 Sep 2018 16.06 EDT

Banned PCB chemicals are still severely harming the animals – but Arctic could be a refuge

Split-view of a killer whale at sunrise off the coast of northern Norway. Photograph: Audun Rikardsen/Science

At least half of the world’s killer whale populations are doomed to extinction due to toxic and persistent pollution of the oceans, according to a major new study.

Although the poisonous chemicals, PCBs, have been banned for decades, they are still leaking into the seas. They become concentrated up the food chain; as a result, killer whales, the top predators, are the most contaminated animals on the planet. Worse, their fat-rich milk passes on very high doses to their newborn calves.

PCB concentrations found in killer whales can be 100 times safe levels and severely damage reproductive organs, cause cancer and damage the immune system. The new research analysed the prospects for killer whale populations over the next century and found those offshore from industrialised nations could vanish as soon as 30-50 years.

Among those most at risk are the UK’s last pod, where a recent death revealed one of the highest PCB levels ever recorded. Others off Gibraltar, Japan and Brazil and in the north-east Pacific are also in great danger. Killer whales are one of the most widespread mammals on earth but have already been lost in the North Sea, around Spain and many other places.

Killer whales hunting seals off the coast of northern Norway.
Killer whales hunting seals off the coast of northern Norway. Photograph: Audun Rikardsen/Science

“It is like a killer whale apocalypse,” said Paul Jepson at the Zoological Society of London, part of the international research team behind the new study. “Even in a pristine condition they are very slow to reproduce.” Healthy killer whales take 20 years to reach peak sexual maturity and 18 months to gestate a calf.

PCBs were used around the world since the 1930s in electrical components, plastics and paints but their toxicity has been known for 50 years. They were banned by nations in the 1970s and 1980s but 80% of the 1m tonnes produced have yet to be destroyed and are still leaking into the seas from landfills and other sources.

The international Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants came into force in 2004 to tackle the issue, but Jepson said the clean-up is way behind schedule. “I think the Stockholm Convention is failing,” he said. “The only area where I am optimistic is the US. They alone produced 50% of all PCBs, but they have been getting PCB levels down consistently for decades. All we have done in Europe is ban them and then hope they go away.”

The researchers said PCBs are just one pollutant found in killer whales, with “a long list of additional known and as yet unmeasured contaminants present”. Further problems for killer whales include the loss of key prey species such as tuna and sharks to overfishing and also growing underwater noise pollution.

The new research, published in the journal Science, examined PCB contamination in 351 killer whales, the largest analysis yet. The scientists then took existing data on how PCBs affect calf survival and immune systems in whales and used this to model how populations will fare in the future. “Populations of Japan, Brazil, Northeast Pacific, Strait of Gibraltar, and the United Kingdom are all tending toward complete collapse,” they concluded.

Underwater close-up of a killer whale off the coast of northern Norway.
Underwater close-up of a killer whale off the coast of northern Norway. Photograph: Audun Rikardsen/Science

Lucy Babey, deputy director at conservation group Orca, said: “Our abysmal failures to control chemical pollution ending up in our oceans has caused a killer whale catastrophe on an epic scale. It is essential that requirements to dispose safely of PCBs under the Stockholm Convention are made legally binding at the next meeting in May 2019 to help stop this scandal.” Scientists have previously found “extraordinary” levels of toxic pollution even in the 10km-deep Mariana trench in the Pacific Ocean.

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Blasey Ford–Kavanaugh Testimony Tells a Tale of Two Internets – EMMA GREY ELLIS CULTURE 09.27.1808:22 PM

Emily Waite/Blasey Ford by Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images

America watched Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testify before Congress today. The country listened as they relayed their accounts of what happened 35 years ago, when she says he sexually assaulted her at a house party, and he says neither the party nor the assault occurred. But while viewers may have watched the same hearing, they did not interpret it through a neutral conduit. Whether you followed along with a news outlet’s livestream or liveblog, watched the event on cable news, or relied on Twitter to curate a highlight reel, your experience was mediated and shaped by the filter bubbles that dictate whose opinions you see when you read things on the web. Where some see sober, science-backed credibility, other see a circus. It’s a story that’s all too typical in this period of political polarization.

If you are liberal—and in this political climate, we’re calling readers of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN liberals—you went on the internet this morning and saw a flood of #BelieveWomen tweets and women talking about how Blasey Ford’s testimony moved them to tears. Or maybe you saw The New York Times’, CNN’s, or BuzzFeed’s coverage of the tearful morning. As the day went on, that constellation of publications trumpeted Blasey Ford’s credibility—both The Atlantic and the Times pointed to Blasey Ford’s scientific background as being a particular asset to her testimony—and highlighted how painful the account was for Blasey Ford as well. You may have also read that the Republican’s prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, is known for her evenhanded treatment of sex crimes cases and that the (all-white-male-Republican side’s reliance on an outside investigator reflects poorly on them.

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These senators will make or break Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote – Tara Golshan Sep 27, 2018, 10:10pm EDT

Watch these three Republican and five Democratic senators very closely in the coming days.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is among four Republican senators who seem the most likely to vote against Brett Kavanaugh.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

After a tense day of testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school, the Senate is still expected to take up a vote on his confirmation in the coming days.

But despite President Donald Trump’s throwing his full support behind Kavanaugh, there are reports that Republicans are currently short of the 50 votes they need to confirm the president’s appointment.

As of late Thursday night, three Republicans are considered to be genuinely up in the air: Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK), Susan Collins (ME), and Jeff Flake (AZ).

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who was previously undecided, will support Kavanaugh, saying Thursday that despite compelling testimony from Ford, he sees nothing that “corroborates” her allegations.

There are also some big questions around how Democrats will vote. There are currently 10 Democrats running for reelection in red states, three of whom voted in favor of the last Trump-appointed Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch: Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Joe Manchin (WV). Manchin told reporters Thursday night that he was still undecided after the hearings.

Whether the allegations of sexual misconduct give those Democrats enough cover with voters in November to stand in lockstep with the Democratic Party remains to be seen. Kavanaugh is historically unpopular, but has left Americans divided along party lines.

One month ago, Kavanaugh seemed almost guaranteed a seat on the nation’s highest court. But in the past two weeks, three women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him, all dating back to his high school and college days.

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