HUFFPOST HILL - Pestilence And Fire Are SO IN This Season

The government is spending less money on fighting fires, thanks in part to all the great work Hellboy is doing for the Patton Boggs government relations team. A congressman worries that too many American employees don't work enough and don't possess the requisite skill sets for their jobs... you know, like congressmen. And Rick Perry says he might run for president a second time. He won't rest until John Winthrop's vision of a city upon a hill mired by obesity epidemics, overcrowded death rows and completely devoid of Mexicans is realized. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, August 23, 2013:

NIH ILL-EQUIPPED TO HANDLE PANDEMIC - The pro-contagion lobby, however, is delighted. Sam Stein: "Roughly six months into sequestration, the situation is worse than predicted. Internal NIH estimates show that it will end up cutting more than the 700 research grants the institutes initially planned to sacrifice in the name of austerity. If lawmakers fail to replace sequestration at the end of September, that number could rise above 1,000 as the NIH absorbs another 2 percent budget cut on top of the 5 percent one this fiscal year... The real-world implications of irrationality, [NIH Director Dr. Francis] Collins added, are quite grave. His most vivid example is the flu vaccine, which he says could be as close as five years away from discovery. NIH officials are working to insulate that program from budget cuts. But sequestration will, at the very least, mean that research goes slower than it could. 'If you want to convert this into real meaningful numbers, that means people are going to die of influenza five years from now because we don't yet have the universal vaccine,' he said. 'And God help us if we get a worldwide pandemic that emerges in the next five years, which takes a long time to prepare a vaccine for. If we had the universal vaccine, it would work for that too.'" [HuffPost]

From MoJo, the advice column for the curious who don't want an answer: "Ask A FISA Court Judge

WHAT'S RECESS WITHOUT A REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN CALLING PEOPLE LAZY? Amanda Terkel: "The economy and jobs continue to dominate discussions lawmakers have with their constituents during the August recess, as many Americans are still out of work and worried about their next paycheck. In a speech to a local Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) argued that part of the problem is that there are millions of jobs that remain vacant each month. 'There's 3 million jobs every month in this country that go unfilled,' said Joyce in his remarks to the Stow-Munroe Falls Chamber of Commerce. 'Believe me, the [Cleveland] Plain Dealer already fact-checked me on it because they couldn't believe me. They thought I was lying, and they actually came up with a higher number than 3 million...And the trouble is, it's because they either can't find people to come to work sober, daily, drug-free and want to learn the necessary skills going forward to be able to do those jobs,' he added." [HuffPost]

What's HuffPost Senior Editor Sasha Belenky reading? Check out his list of the week's best longreads. TL:DRs need not apply.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Alyssa Brown and Kyley McGeeney: "For Americans, being unemployed, being out of the workforce, or working part time -- but wanting full-time work -- are the strongest predictor of having depression. Unemployed adults and those not working as much as they would like are about twice as likely as Americans who are employed full time to be depressed. [Gallup]

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GOVERNMENT ADOPTS PRO-FIRE POSITION - But not because the night is dark and full of terrors. Politico: "Running out of money to fight wildfires at the peak of the season, the U.S. Forest Service is diverting $600 million from timber, recreation and other areas to fill the gap. The nation’s top wildfire-fighting agency was down to $50 million after spending $967 million so far this year, Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers said Wednesday in an email. Chambers says the $50 million the Forest Service has left is typically enough to pay for just a few days of fighting fires when the nation is at its top wildfire preparedness level, which went into effect Tuesday. There are 51 large uncontained fires burning across the nation, making it tough to meet demands for fire crews and equipment. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell sent a letter Aug. 16 to regional foresters and other top officials telling them to come up with the cuts by Friday...The step comes as the Obama administration has been cutting spending on thinning national forests to prevent wildfires, and despite Congress creating a special wildfire reserve fund in 2009, known as the FLAME Act." [Politico]

PERRY MULLING ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL BID - HuffPost's Ryan Rainey: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) indicated on Thursday that he's still thinking about running for president in 2016, despite his failed 2012 bid. Perry told Newsmax's Steve Malzberg that he's going to make a decision 'over the course of the next year,' but that a 2016 run is a 'very viable option.' In June, Perry announced that he would not run for reelection as Texas' governor, a job he has held since his predecessor, George W. Bush, won a higher office and resigned in 2000. Another Texas Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, is also considered a possible candidate for the White House. Perry acknowledged his counterpart's formidable political style in the Newsmax interview. '[He's] very capable, one of the great debaters of our time, a very committed conservative -- and does a good job of representing the Texas way of doing business,' Perry said of Cruz." [HuffPost]

And he's doing everything he can to get on people's good sides: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is being told "don't mess with Missouri" as he tries to lure the Show Me State's businesses to Texas. KTRS Radio in St. Louis announced Fridaythat it would not air a commercial starring Perry aimed at telling businesses to leave Missouri for Texas. The ad is part of a nine-day advertising campaign Perry is running in Missouri preceding his job recruitment trip to the state next week. Mark Dorsey, the station's general manager, posted on the KTRS website that the station at first thought the ad was just promoting Texas tourism. " [HuffPost's John Celock]

PUT ME IN COACH: BP - The British oil giant thinks the EPA punished it for poisoning a relatively obscure body of water. Kate Sheppard: "BP, the oil giant whose exploding well dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, has sued the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the government's temporary ban on BP obtaining new U.S. leases or government contracts. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas last week, London-based BP argues that the EPA's November 2012 suspension of the company from new U.S. contracts was 'punitive, arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of EPA's discretion.; BP, Europe's second-biggest oil company, asks the court to declare the suspension null and void and to block the EPA from enforcing it. The EPA suspension, citing BP's "seriously improper conduct" in preventing and dealing with the spill and concealing its size, will stay in effect until the company shows it 'meets federal business standards.'" [HuffPost]

UPDATE: AL GORE NOT INVENTING WEATHER CATEGORIES - The other day the former vice president reportedly said that "category six" was being added to the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, a level previously reserved for sharknadoes. Turns out Gore was misquoted. WaPo: "[T]his was also a segment of the interview in which I remembered struggling to keep up with Gore, and when that happens, some nuance can get lost. (A note on methods: In most cases, including this one, I transcribe these interviews in real time, with a tape recorder as back-up....) I asked Gore’s staff about the line and they have Gore saying: 'The scientists are now adding category six to the hurricane…some are proposing we add category 6 to the hurricane scale that used to be 1-5.'" Apologies, Mr. Vice President! [WaPo]

Fox's dancing football robot would never stand for this sort of thing: "In the wake of a report that ESPN bowed out of a joint investigative project with PBS on NFL player concussions, the union representing players said it was a 'disappointing day for journalism' if the sports network caved on the series out of business concerns...The New York Times published a report Friday morning tracing ESPN's decision to part ways with PBS directly to pressure from the league. According to the report, which cited two anonymous sources, two ESPN executives met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Network President Steve Bornstein in a 'combative' lunchtime meeting in midtown Manhattan last week.'[L]eague officials conveyed their displeasure with the direction of the documentary,' the Times reported." [HuffPost's Dave Jamieson]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are animals in small places.

FishbowlDC DEFAMATION TRIAL IS GOING TO BE AWESOME - Mark Leibovich is going to have to update "This Town" once this all is through. City Paper: "The defamation suit against FishbowlDC is already shaping up to be a real-life Seinfeld finale, only instead of the Soup Nazi, the trial's witness list includes a number of local minor media personalities. Lawyers for local publicist Wendy Gordon filed the suit back in January, alleging that FishbowlDC editor Betsy Rothsteinand blogger Peter Ogburn 'falsely depicted Ms. Gordon as a self-promoting, attention-seeking, loose party girl/cougar, constantly on the prowl for considerably younger men for casual, sexual relations.'... On the defense side, lawyers for Mediabistro Inc. list potential 12 witnesses, including Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson, former Washington Timeseditor Sam Dealey, former Washington Examiner reporter and Sirius radio host Julie Mason, and Washingtonian editor-at-large Carol Joynt. The plaintiffs are calling 31 witnesses, including the Washington Times' Emily Miller, FRESH 94.7's Tommy McFly, the Washington Examiner's Joana Suleiman, and the Washington Post's Paul Schwartzman." [WCP]


- Footage from the unaired "30 Rock" pilot that had Rachel Dratch playing the role of Jenna. [http://bit.ly/1c18UCm]

- Short feature on some of the special effects featured in "Game of Thrones," season three. [http://bit.ly/178Ur6i]

- Where have all the deer gone? [http://huff.to/1dy6mxo]

- Supercut of movie characters ordering people dead. [http://huff.to/1f7vYiG]

- Color photographs of the Titanic. Apologies in advance for the lack of fogged-up Model Ts. [http://bit.ly/173iFwH]

- Brilliant dad figures out how to make daughter stop crying. [http://bit.ly/12w4lgA]

- How to saber a bottle of champagne, which is to say, how to open a bottle of bubbly with a FREAKING SWORD. [http://bit.ly/16VNcjJ]


@jwherman: The ads that follow me around the internet most are either for things I bought or things I chose not to buy in favor of something similar

@tylerkingkade:My heart goes out to the HuffPost DC office, struggling through an internet outage. Hopefully, they have found shelter in a Starbucks.

@pourmecoffee: 20 years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs and now we have no cash, no hope, no jobs and Ben Affleck is Batman.

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