02/15/2013 04:00 pm ET Updated Apr 17, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL, sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans - Asteroid Misses Earth, Despite Black President

We started work on the script for "Babel 2," which stars a meteor that forces a bunch of American journalists to learn about corruption in the Russian Highway Patrol -- and maybe something else in Japan. On that note, a group of lawmakers will gather to assess our asteroid preparedness, a panel we're choosing to call the Committee on I'd Still Miss You Babe And I Doooooon't Want To Miss a Thiiiiiing. And House Republicans want to "make being fiscally conservative cool," which will either end with the conference doing nothing... or filming a "Harlem Shake" video at the Capitol Hill Club. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, February 15th, 2013:

SENATORS NEARING DEAL ON BACKGROUND CHECKS - Which also means Wayne LaPierre is nearing the breaking point when he slathers warpaint on his face, strips off his shirt and goes Colonel Kurtz on everyone. WaPo: "The bipartisan group of four Senators... met this week to discuss where things stand, according to sources familiar with ongoing talks. One source tells me the four Senators are '95 percent of the way there.'... there is reason for optimism that the four Senators -- Republicans Tom Coburn and Mark Kirk, and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin -- may be able to bridge remaining differences... There is general agreement on the concept of expanding the background check to cover most private sales, and on the concept of improving state mental illness data-sharing with the feds -- which is important, because it means the four more or less agree on the fundamental policy goal here. The four Senators are in discussions about exemptions -- sales among family members -- and about tweaking the way background checks are performed for private sales in certain rural areas...One thing that still needs to be resolved is how to ensure that an expanded background check does not create some kind of national gun registry -- again, in order to mollify gun rights lawmakers." [WaPo]

@ScottBrownMA: Small world. Just ran into Tim Geithner at the Delaware rest stop. We were both walking our dogs. Racing him to MA.

JESSE JACKSON JR. CHARGED - We're sure Rod Blagojevich will be able to land him a spot on laundry duty. Chicago Tribune: "Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged today with violating federal law by misusing campaign funds. Jackson, 47, a Democrat from Chicago, faces felony charges, including conspiracy, in a criminal information filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Typically, federal prosecutors use an information to charge defendants when a plea deal has been negotiated. In a statement today, Jackson said: 'Over the course of my life I have come to realize that none of us are immune from our share of shortcomings and human frailties. Still I offer no excuses for my conduct and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made. To that end I want to offer my sincerest apologies to my family, my friends and all of my supporters for my errors in judgment and while my journey is not yet complete, it is my hope that I am remembered for the things that I did right.'" [Chicago Tribune]

@ryanjreilly: Jackson is gonna have to forfeit thousands in Michael Jackson, MLK, Malcom X and Jimi Hendrix memorabilia http://huff.to/XTOJi5

HOUSE REPUBLICANS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO SUCCEED WITHOUT CHANGING AT ALL... AGAIN - Politico: "[F]or the past few days, GOP leaders have met behind closed doors to both craft an agenda that confronts the ghosts of Congresses past and figure out a way to sell it to the American people. According to a source present, one meeting in Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) office featured GOP strategist Karl Rove floating a plan for every single Republican to give a floor speech on the same topic with the same message, in a bid to grab headlines. That may not happen, but there are some widely accepted fixes emerging from the weeklong talks. Rule one: Stop talking like the world is going to end. Budgetary politics is important to the GOP, but voters are going to stop voting for a party that talks about gloom and doom around the clock. 'I think that we need to make being fiscally conservative cool,' said Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), chairwoman of the Administration Committee and a close ally of Majority Leader Eric Cantor." [Politico]

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SEQUESTRATION WOULD CUT VAWA FUNDS - The spending cuts set to take effect on March 1st won't just decrease the funds allocated to contractors who want to visit the, ahem, Crystal City Restaurant, it'll also hurt women. Laura Bassett: "[D]omestic violence programs funded by the Violence Against Women Act would lose more than $20 million, according to a forthcoming report by the Department of Justice... Specifically, the DOJ estimates that $20 million in VAWA cuts would prevent 35,927 victims of violence in the United States from accessing lifesaving services and resources, including shelter, legal services and children's services. The cuts would also reduce funding for domestic violence training and education on a state and local level, which would prevent 34,248 fewer police, prosecutors, judges and victim advocates from receiving the training they need to effectively respond to domestic violence incidents." [HuffPost]


A message from America's Health Insurance Plans: The health care law fully takes effect next year. Millions get coverage for the first time. Will coverage be affordable for everyone? It's time for affordability. www.AHIP.org/affordability


SOUTHERN POLITICIAN HAS SECRET DAUGHTER, BUT NOT IN THE TRAGIC STROM THURMOND KIND OF WAY - Today in anti-scandals, via WaPo: "Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen (D) is confirming a 24-year-old woman with whom he exchanged tweets on the night of the State of the Union address is, in fact, his daughter, whom he only learned about three years ago... After the deleted [tweets] between Cohen and the woman emerged, his spokesman claimed she was the daughter of a close family friend whom Cohen has known his whole life. The executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party then issued a statement labeling Cohen the 'Anthony Weiner of the South,' referring to the New York congressman who resigned after accidentally tweeting a picture of his crotch to a woman. Cohen said this evening that, in fact, he knew the woman's mother a long time ago and had lost contact with her for many years, until he googled her a few years ago and saw she had a daughter. 'I saw the date of the child's birth and realized it was a pretty strong possibility it was my child.' He then friended the woman on Facebook...After reconnecting with the woman's mother, he has slowly built a relationship with his daughter, who has visited him several times in Washington." [WaPo]

TOM PRICE TO KARL ROVE: DO U LIKE ME YES [ ] NO [ ] - National Review: "Georgia Republican Tom Price, who is flirting with a Senate bid, commended Karl Rove's controversial Conservative Victory Project this morning at a National Review briefing, and urged conservatives to run better campaigns. 'Republicans ought to be in the majority of the United States Senate,' said Price, a prominent House conservative and vice chair of the Budget Committee. 'We have lost seats that we should not have lost because of a failure of communications, a failure of message, a failure of coherence within campaigns.'" [National Review]

He wears flag pins, I wear t-shirts, he served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee and I'm in the bleachers: "Music superstar Taylor Swift has an unlikely fan in Republican Rep. Tom Price. At a National Review breakfast Friday, Price enthusiastically noted his taste for country music -- and, when pressed, named Swift as his favorite country artist. 'I'm a big Taylor Swift fan,' Price said. He added with a laugh, 'Don't tell anybody.' Price enjoys Swift's music more than her dating preferences, however: She recently dated Conor Kennedy, one of the noted Democratic clan." [BuzzFeed]

@RepTomPrice: Hey @rebeccagberg, I shouldn't have said "Don't tell anyone." I'm proud to be a @TaylorSwift13 fan!

@RepTomPrice: 3 or 4 times so far. RT @nielslesniewski: @rebeccagberg @RepTomPrice how many times have you seen @taylorswift13 in concert?

STRING THEORY: NOT JUST A SUPER STICKY TYPE OF WEED - "Next week's medical marijuana conference in Washington, D.C., will feature not activists, politicians or even law enforcement. The event's main speaker will be John Schwarz, a father of string theory and theoretical physics professor at California Institute of Technology." Schwarz was apparently inspired to take up the cause after his wife -- also a physicist -- was diagnosed with a bladder condition and turned to pot to dull the pain. "We live in an evidence-based society," she said. "Why isn't the science getting through?" [HuffPost]

GOVERNMENT, BOSSES SCREWING MINERS, PT. 511,045 - Dave Jamieson: "A work safety rule that scientists say would save lives in the construction and mining industries is still caught in red tape at the White House after being sent there for review two years ago. Known as the silica rule, the measure put forth by the Labor Department would further restrict workers' exposure to crystalline silica, a dust found in sand and granite that's been proven to damage lungs and lead to respiratory disease. Mining and construction companies have opposed the rule due to the high projected cost of the tighter regulations, which the Labor Department has pegged at more than $100 million. Workplace rules are supposed to be reviewed by the White House within 90 days. Although lengthy delays are common, a period of two years is unusual." [HuffPost]

SPEAKING OF ROCKS: HOUSE PANEL TO HOLD ASTEROID DOOMSDAY HEARING - A lower chamber committee will try to discover whether America's response to an inbound asteroid will be more "Armageddon" or "Deep Impact" (bad sign: black president). The Hill: "The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on how to 'better identify and address asteroids that pose a potential threat to Earth,' Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said in a statement on Friday...The blast was unrelated to another rare meteorological event on Friday -- a 150-foot-long asteroid passed within 17,000 miles of Earth. It's the closest encounter of its kind on record, passing within the orbit of many man-made satellites." [The Hill]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Wet dog... in sloooooow moooootion.

D.C.'s GETTING MEDICAL WEED - HuffPost DC: "The district's first dispensary, Capital City Care, hopes to open its doors to the public at the beginning of April. General manager David Guard assured reporters that his business will adhere to the strictest laws in the nation. Well, the local laws, anyway. "The receptionist will double check your ID, issued by the Department of Health, against their database," he said. 'I am very excited. This is a dream come true.'" [HuffPost]

THE OBAMAS HEART JOSE - HuffPost DC: "The Obamas ate Valentine's Day dinner at chef Jose Andres' restaurant Minibar. It was a choice that pleased foodies, and caused some grumbling among those who were held up by the Obamas' security in D.C.'s Penn Quarter neighborhood. Others wondered how the first couple scored reservations at the restaurant, which takes only 12 diners per seating." [HuffPost]


- If you haven't already checked out videos of the meteorite that crashed into central Russia, do. [http://bit.ly/XJYnFT]

- Siracha-centric food porn. [http://chzb.gr/12ORdE0]

- "Tiny amounts of a common anti-anxiety medication -- which ends up in wastewater after patients pass it into their urine -- significantly alters fish behaviour, according to a new study." [http://bit.ly/VXiVqQ]

- Michael Jordan turns 50 this weekend. Here are his top ten most clutch plays ("Space Jam" plays not included). [http://bit.ly/ofLHd]

- Woman kisses lions, keeps face. [http://huff.to/11Kt9mv]

- Goats yell like humans. They're just like us! [http://bit.ly/Uc6tar]

- A three-minute long video game about being a fly. [http://bit.ly/VXpg5T]


@dansinker: Best. Drudge. Siren. Ever. RT @DRUDGE_REPORT: ASTEROID: 45 MINS AWAY drudge.tw/WN756M

@Delrayser: In Soviet Russia, star shoots YOU!


Today - Sunday: Mike Crapo takes his benefactors to Sun Valley for a ski fundraiser getaway. Hopefully lives out some kind of "Aspen Extreme"-style situation where he is outwitted and out-skied by some young buck outsider. [Sun Valley, ID]

Today - Monday: Instead of spending time in his home state, America's Winter Bone capital, Roy Blunt heads off to Disney World to raise funds. [Disney World, FL]

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