Stupid is as stupid does. Secretary of State John Kerry, traveling overseas for the first time in his new role, declared himself a strong supporter of freedom of speech, religion, and thought. He told a group of German students that in America, “you have a right to be stupid if you want to be.” If anyone had doubts before, I guess we now know how he feels about roughly half the country. I assume he was referring to those who disagree with his positions. Presumably, Kerry believes people espousing positions he agrees with are just publicly sharing their enlightenment. But at least he’s got everyone’s back.
Sequester countdown. The wailing and gnashing of teeth continues today in Washington as the nation gets one day closer to the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. Democrats insist the sky will fall on Friday if Congress doesn’t act. And reporters even caught House Majority Leader John Boehner swearing in frustration. Outside of Washington, Americans shrugged and moved on with their lives.
Remembering Trayvon. Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed African-American teenager shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. On Friday, a task force commissioned by Florida Gov. Rick Scott said it found no reason to change the state’s “stand your ground” law, which protects from prosecution people who kill in self-defense. Prosecutors at first said Zimmerman would not be charged for Martin’s death, based on the law. After a public outcry, a special prosecutor appointed by Scott charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. The trial is scheduled to start in June.
Confident all around. The housing market recovery continues to pick up steam, and consumer confidence rose more than expected in February, two pieces of good economic news that sent the stock market up this morning. According to the S&P Case-Shiller index, home prices rose 7.3 percent in the final quarter of last year. New home sales are especially encouraging, jumping 15 percent in January, a 30 percent increase over a year ago. Today’s consumer confidence numbers showed their first improvement in four months, the biggest jump since November 2011.
Salut! Health advocates are buzzing today about a new Spanish study that says the Mediterranean diet—rich in nuts, oils, and red wine—offers the best preventative against heart disease. The study’s findings, so dramatic researchers ended their work early to announce the results, could finally persuade cardiologists to stop recommending low-fat diets in favor of foods with a little more flavor.