🐷 Good Monday morning. Lunar New Year (the Year of the Pig) begins at midnight.
1 big thing: Big leak rattles White House
The massive leak of President Trump's private schedules, which dropped yesterday in the weekly Axios Sneak Peek newsletter, set off internal finger-pointing and speculation more fevered than any since the anonymous op-ed.
- The three months of schedules, Alexi McCammond and Jonathan Swan report, give unprecedented visibility into how this president spends his days.
- The schedules show that Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time over the past three months in unstructured "Executive Time," which includes tweeting, newspaper-reading, TV-watching and phone calls.
White House insiders said the leak sowed chaos:
- Cliff Sims, the former White House official who wrote the dishy "Team of Vipers," told me: "There are leaks, and then there are leaks. If most are involuntary manslaughter, this was premeditated murder. People inside are genuinely scared."
- Madeleine Westerhout — the director of Oval Office operations, who sits outside Trump's door — tweeted: "What a disgraceful breach of trust to leak schedules. What these don’t show are the hundreds of calls and meetings @realDonaldTrump takes everyday."
- The N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman tweeted: "A White House aide is weaponizing his schedules, which says a lot about how people in the White House feel about the man they work for."
2. Obesity tied to some higher cancer rates among millennials
⚡Breaking ... Millennials are facing a much higher risk of obesity-related cancers than baby boomers did at their age, according to a study published this morning in The Lancet Public Health, Axios' Eileen O'Reilly writes.
- Why it matters: The steepest increases for obesity-related cancers were in the youngest age group (aged 25–34 years) and are a warning that steps need to be taken by this generation to get rid of excess body weight.
"[The] food environment we are living in promotes over-consumption of energy-dense, high sugar/nutrient-poor foods that are pervasive and much more affordable and available to all," study author Hyuna Sung said.
- "Furthermore, physical activity has been 'engineered' out of [our] lifestyle due to energy saving technologies, such as via the use of cars instead of bicycles."
3. Facebook is 15 today
How the social network changed America, from The Economist:
- Facebook "has shaped what it means and feels like to be young. ... The company has fostered a virtual 'me-conomy,' where people (over)share their feelings, photos and comments."
- "Facebook has changed attitudes to privacy. The social network thrives through trust. ... Opinions about privacy may be shifting again at Facebook’s hands, this time in reverse."
- "Facebook has left a lasting mark on politics. The social-networking firm has become an invaluable tool for politicians seeking office." But it spawned fake news and filter bubbles, where people see their pre-conceptions reinforced.
4. Pic du jour
Tom Brady, 41, celebrates with his daughter, Vivian, after earning his sixth Super Bowl ring.
- Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy: "ATLANTA — Take those old records off the shelf. The Patriots ... joined the Steelers as the winningest team in Super Bowl history, securing their sixth Lombardi Trophy with a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium."
Headline of the day ... N.Y. Times: "How Boring Was the Super Bowl? The Punts Got Exciting" (In print: "A Night When Punts Counted as Thrills").
5. Blackface scandal spotlights America's embedded racism
The revelation about Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam "came on the first day of Black History Month and as Virginians prepare to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the settlement of Jamestown," AP's Errin Haines Whack writes.
- NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in an interview that the incidents of the past two years bring "front and center the need for this nation to deal with the question of race once and for all."
- Wes Bellamy, a councilman in Charlottesville, Va. who has worked for the removal of Confederate statues in the city: "I think a lot of black folks are tired of apologies and talking."
The context ... The blackface scandal is the third in recent weeks:
- "Last month, Florida's secretary of state resigned after photos from a 2005 Halloween party showed him in blackface dressed as a Hurricane Katrina victim."
- "Also last month, videos surfaced of people in blackface at the University of Oklahoma, including a man walking near campus. Two students withdrew from the university."
6. State of the union: Small businesses waving caution flag
"After a banner year, many small businesses are becoming more cautious about their investment and hiring plans," The Wall Street Journal's Ruth Simon reports (subscription):
- "Economic confidence among small firms, which edged downward for much of 2018, in January reached its lowest level since President Trump’s election, according to a monthly survey of 765 small firms for The Wall Street Journal by Vistage Worldwide."
- "Just 14% of firms expect the economy to improve this year, while 36% expect it to get worse."
Why it matters: "We could be at a turning point," said Richard Curtin, a University of Michigan economist who analyzed the data. "Recessions are not made of one firm collapsing, but of many firms cutting back in marginal ways."
7. "A historic meeting of faiths"
Breaking ... "Pope Francis received a grandiose, pomp-filled welcome on Monday as he opened his historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula with a meeting with Emirati leaders ahead of an address to faith leaders gathered in a Muslim region known for its restrictions on religious freedom." (AP)
- Why it matters, from the N.Y. Times: "The visit offers a rare note of hope for Christians in the Middle East, who in recent decades have come under intense pressure in the region where their faith has its roots. Many have been persecuted, killed or forced to flee."
- "The Gulf countries, which include the United Arab Emirates, are among the few in the Middle East where Christian numbers are rising."
"Why We Invited the Pope to the Arabian Peninsula," by Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the U.S., for Politico:
- "The pope’s visit will send a strong signal across the region and world: People with different beliefs can live, work and worship together."
8. How to spend it
What to do with money raised from a carbon tax looms is the biggest sticking point as the policy emerges from political purgatory, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her weekly "Harder Line" column.
- The most high-profile proposal at the moment, and the one that has the most support among economists, is to rebate most or all of the money back to consumers in dividend checks.
- Some conservatives say a carbon tax should be used to address fiscal woes.
What’s next: Now controlled by Democrats, the House is holding two hearings on climate change Wednesday.
- Legislation laying out the Green New Deal, a set of vague progressive policies transforming the economy in the name of fighting climate change, could be introduced in Congress as soon as this week.
9. Two trends in Super Bowl ads
1. "Ads poking fun at robots appeared everywhere," AP's Mae Anderson and Alexandra Olson write:
- "TurboTax had a 'Robochild' and Michelob Ultra showcased an uber-athletic robot sad that he can't partake in a beer."
- "SimpliSafe and Sprint's ads also featured robots."
- "Pringles and Amazon itself made fun of smart assistants."
- "Most of the ads played up robots for laughs and weren't realistic."
2. "Women-centric ads were also big":
- "After Hulu's 'Handmaid's Tale' spot, Serena Williams appeared as spokeswoman for Bumble, which bills itself as a feminist dating app where women make the first move."
- "Supermodel Karlie Kloss played up her identity as a businesswoman in an ad for web-hosting service Wix.com. She wore an understated green T-shirt."