The Skinny is's take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.
There's "a troubling development that could foreshadow an anti-satellite arms race" filling the front pages today, as the New York Times describes it. (Happy Friday!!) "It" is the Chinese military's successful test last week of a ground-based missile that hit and destroyed one of China's own satellites that was orbiting more than 500 miles in space.
You could also refer to it, as the Washington Post does, as "a high-stakes test demonstrating China's ability to target regions of space that are home to U.S. spy satellites and space-based missile defense systems."
The test was greeted with formal protests from the U.S. and several other nations. The U.S. last performed a similar test in 1985, but ended such testing because the leftover debris can "seriously damage" other satellites and even spacecraft.
Security expert Michael Krepon wins quote of the day, explaining the genesis of the test this way to the Post: "The Chinese are telling the Pentagon that they don't own space. We can play this game, too, and we can play it dirtier than you."
The test "was expected to send tremors through the U.S. satellite industry," says the LA Times, because, um, they have satellites floating around in space that control all of those fun daily activities like going to the ATM and paying at the pump.
But it was the Pentagon that was particularly irked by the test, because the US military "is especially dependent on satellites for navigation, communications and missile guidance," writes the Post. However, the Chinese target was 537 miles into space and according to U.S. officials, "many sensitive communications satellites are much higher, at about 22,000 miles above Earth," and the Chinese test "does not prove that China has the capability to disrupt those systems."
Anyway, be sure to hug your ATM machine today.
Congressional Ethics Reforms: So Hot Right Now
Ethics are very trendy these days in Congress and yesterday the Senate passed its ethics overhaul in a 96-2 vote (Republicans Orrin Hatch and Tom Coburn were the stragglers.) From a public relations perspective, it's the "most significant ethics reform since Watergate," writes the Post. (The New York Times called it "a watershed moment in the history of K Street and Capitol Hill.")
But otherwise it's a real downer for Senators. No more lobbyist-funded gifts, meals and travel. No more cheap rates on corporate jets – they've got to pay those damn charter rates just like the rest of us. And Senators can't put into bills earmarks that would benefit their immediate families. (Which, apparently, was cool to do before.)
What everyone really freaked out about was the provision that would "require for the first time that lobbyists disclose the most valuable favors they do for lawmakers: holding campaign fund-raisers, soliciting campaign contributions and bundling checks from clients and friends." It was the check-bundling disclosures that really irked everyone, because that would "make it harder for incumbent lawmakers to tap K Street lobbyists as surrogate fund-raisers," writes the NYT.
"An Owlish, Cigar-Chomping Extrovert"
Three papers put Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Art Buchwald's obituary on their front pages this morning (the Wall Street Journal includes it in the newsbox.) Buchwald died at 81, of kidney failure, for which he refused dialysis treatment and "continued to write his column, reflecting on his mortality while keeping his humor even as he lost a leg," writes the New York Times, which calls him "the most widely read newspaper humorist of his time" and describes his as "an amiable and wry brand of wit."
The Washington Post invokes the best adjectives, however, describing Buchwald as "an owlish, cigar-chomping extrovert." The LA Times writes that Buchwald "built deceptively simple spoofs of modern life on foundations of indignation."
Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee put it this way to the NYT last February: "The joy of his column was not that it was side-splitting humor, but that he made you smile."
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