Feb 17, 2019

Axios AM

🌞 Good Sunday morning!

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert withdrew as nominee for ambassador to the UN, after the White House learned she had in the past employed an immigrant nanny who was in the U.S. legally but wasn’t authorized to work. (Bloomberg)

1 big thing: The end of shame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Resigning in shame isn't really a thing anymore. Hanging on for dear life, and hoping everyone will forget about your scandal, is the new thing, Axios managing editor David Nather and tech editor Scott Rosenberg write:

  • It's not just Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, whose blackface yearbook picture was discovered 16 days ago.
  • It's a growing group of elected officials who are still hanging around despite scandals that would have been considered fatal in the past.
  • Why it matters: It's a sign of shorter attention spans and the lightning speed of today's news cycles — but also a sign of how standards have changed.

You see it with Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax insisting he won't resign after sexual assault allegations by two women.

  • You see it with Rep. Steve King staying in Congress after being stripped of his committee assignments over racist comments.
  • You see it with Rep. Jim Jordan keeping his seat in Congress despite accusations that he knew about sexual abuse of athletes at Ohio State University and didn't do anything about it.
  • You see it with Reps. Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter running for re-election — and winning — even though they're facing federal indictments.
  • And the "Access Hollywood" tape didn't exactly keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

It's not just an American phenomenon, either. As Axios' Dave Lawler points out, British Prime Minister Theresa May didn't step down after her Brexit plan went down in flames.

  • Jeremy Corbyn didn't let a few allegations of anti-Semitism stand in the way of leading Britain's Labour Party.
  • And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is running for re-election even though Israeli police want him indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The bottom line: They're betting that the public will move on — and they're usually right.

2. The Moon is hot
Photo: Rick Kern/Getty Images

The moon is at "the center of a reinvigorated space race that, like any good Hollywood reboot, features a new cast of characters and novel story lines," the WashPost's Christian Davenport writes:

  • "There is the rise of China, which on Jan. 3 landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, a ... first."
  • "This month, an Israeli spacecraft destined for the moon is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral."
  • "Later this year — the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing — two more moon missions are planned, one by India and another by China."
  • "NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the space agency intends to partner with the private sector to land an American spacecraft on the moon as early as this year."

Why it matters ... If these landings are successful, they'll "set a record: the most soft lunar landings in a single year, surpassing 1966 and 1972, which each saw three vehicles touch down."

3. The Catholic closet

"[G]ay men likely make up at least 30 to 40 percent of the American Catholic clergy, according to dozens of estimates from gay priests themselves and researchers," the N.Y. Times Elizabeth Dias writes:

  • "Some priests say the number is closer to 75 percent."
  • "Fewer than about 10 priests in the United States have dared to come out publicly."
  • Don't forget: The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful.

What's next: Beginning Thursday at the Vatican, "Pope Francis will host a much-anticipated summit on sex abuse with bishops from around the world."

  • "The debate promises to be not only about holding bishops accountable but also about homosexuality itself."
  • "Studies repeatedly find there to be no connection between being gay and abusing children."
Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP/Getty Images

A flock of birds flies over the Rio Grande, a natural border between Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Mexico.

4. While we enjoy brunch ...
Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Above, a boy works amid destroyed buildings yesterday in Hajin, Syria, as civilians begin returning to small towns recently liberated from ISIS militants by the U.S.-led coalition and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

  • Assad’s military or allied forces have launched more than 300 chemical attacks during Syria's eight-year civil war, according to a report today by the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute. (WashPost)

Below, a policeman stands watch at a checkpoint in Hajin, Syria.

Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
5. Obama to help NBA in Africa
Oklahoma City Thunder's Hamidou Diallo, who won the All-Star Saturday Night slam dunk contest, leaps over NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal. (Chuck Burton/AP)

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said former President Obama has told him he wants to "be directly involved" in plans for a new a pro league in Africa, AP's Tim Reynolds writes from Charlotte (the All-Star Game is at 8 ET tonight on TNT):

  • "The Basketball Africa League [is] a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport's global governing body FIBA."
  • "The initial plan is for the 12-team league to begin play in January."

Silver said talks with Obama are ongoing.

  • Obama spoke on a video that was shown during the event where Silver announced the league: "[E]ven if you are the best player, your job is not just to show off but your job is to make your teammates better."

🏀uch ... "There are four [NBA] teams — Chicago, Cleveland, Phoenix and New York — who are on pace to win less than 25 percent of their games this season."

6. 1 food thing
The New York Times

Ditch the recipe and wing it ... Sam Sifton, food editor of the N.Y. Times and the founding editor of NYT Cooking, loves what he calls "no-recipe recipes" — hints, options and inspirations, rather than strict instructions or ingredient lists:

  • "[C]ooking without recipes is a kitchen skill same as cutting vegetables into dice. It’s a way to improve your confidence in the kitchen and to make the act of cooking fun when sometimes it seems like a chore."

Today's print N.Y. Times ($6) includes a 44-page tabloid cookbook by Sifton, "You Don't Need a Recipe," with 38 no-recipe recipes, from baked salmon with BBQ sauce and hot peppers, to ham and radicchio toast, to steak tacos, to kale salad.

  • From "grilled broccoli with soy sauce, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar": "This is a good one to have in your back pocket when you're cooking burgers and dogs on the grill. ... Never mind hot dogs or anything else, actually. I could go for that broccoli on white rice and call it dinner."

Treat yourself to the no-recipe recipes.

How the section came about, by deputy food editor Emily Weinstein: "[W]e asked one of our editors, Mark Josephson, to grab the no-recipe recipes from each Wednesday newsletter and save them in one spot, just in case. ... Years passed. ... Mark was still saving them every week, in a giant running file."

  • Sometimes, Sam "zooms off at the end of the workday with the words, ... 'I’m going home to cook.' Occasionally he seems to only have a vague idea of what that meal will be, and faith that it will be good to eat."