Good morning — and happy Liberation Day to our readers in Paris!
On this date in 1835, The New York Sun published the first of six articles that came to be known as The Great Moon Hoax. The stories claimed that a well-known astronomer had discovered flora and fauna on the moon, including unicorns and winged humanoids. Weeks passed before people figured out that it was a hoax. The Sun never ran a correction or a retraction, and the paper’s circulation saw a significant and enduring increase.
Stat of the day: 620,000 — the number of American military families that rely on food pantries to make ends meet, according to a recent report.
“Widespread methane leakage” –> Terrence McCoy reports for WaPo that “scientists have determined that 570 vents, called seeps, are leaking methane gas in the most unlikely of all places: the ocean floor just off the East Coast.” Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
SOS –> The Iraqi government is calling for more international assistance to fight off the Islamic State, according to AFP. And while Iran denies that it has boots on the ground, there is some evidence that its forces are in fact fighting against the Islamic State. (Via: The Raw Story.)
A big one –> Quentin Hardy and Ian Lovett report for the NYT that the economic losses from Sunday morning’s earthquake in Napa — the worst to hit the Bay Area in 25 years — could reach $1 billion. Around 120 people were injured, but there have been no confirmed deaths.
“A rare window into the world of high-dollar fundraising” –> Politico’s James Hohmann offers six “must-read” excerpts from emails showing that “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was deeply involved in raising money for an ostensibly independent group focused on fending off recall efforts.” The emails were part of a filing by a special prosecutor “who is pleading with a federal appellate judge to let him resume an investigation into what he thinks was potentially illegal coordination between the Wisconsin Club for Growth and Walker’s campaign.”
Some background –> Carol Leonnig, Kimberly Kindy and Joel Achenbach report for WaPo that Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, previously served in a neighboring police department that was “so troubled, and with so much tension between white officers and black residents, that the city council finally decided to disband it.”
Freed –> Peter Curtis, an American journalist who had been held in Syria for two years, was freed on Sunday after the government of Qatar helped mediate his release. Al Jazeera has the details.
Politics meet reality –> Paul Krugman looks at the “Texas Miracle” and finds that the data don’t support Rick Perry’s contention that his conservative policies are spurring job growth.
Round two? –> At TNR, David Dayen explains why the foreclosure crisis is likely to really flare up again in 2015.
Future of journalism? –> Salon’s Andrew Leonard on the economics of journalism today: “If you are lucky, you might be able to command a freelance pay rate that hasn’t budged in 30 years. But more people than ever work for nothing.” He says there are reasons for optimism about the future of American journalism, but it’s still very much up in the air.
Waning influence? –> Connie Bruck writes in The New Yorker that AIPAC’s tendency to side with the right-wing government of Israel against the Obama administration has hurt the organization’s clout on Capitol Hill.
Tastes like chicken –> Kevin Doyle reports for the BBC that Cambodia has a growing export market in rice field rats, which are “considered a healthy delicacy due to their free-range lifestyle and largely organic diet.”
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