Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • The chickens that could flip the Senate

    The strange tale of one fierce Iowa political contest and four chickens who won’t stop pecking at Bruce Braley

    Pauline Hampton owns four hens for her therapy practice with children. Bruce Braley's home is next to hers. (Photo: Chris Moody/Yahoo News)Pauline Hampton owns four hens for her therapy practice with children. Bruce Braley's home is next to hers. (Photo: Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    BROOKLYN, Iowa – Enclosed in a small pen overlooking serene Holiday Lake, four hens live quiet and seemingly happy lives, unaware that they’re being used as pawns in what has become one of the strangest episodes in a fierce competition for the United States Senate.

    The chickens are the property of Pauline Hampton, an Air Force veteran who lives and works from her small home atop a sloping grassy hill overlooking the lake in a quiet vacation community surrounded by Iowa farmland. Hampton is a licensed therapist, and she purchased the birds last year to use in her work in “animal-assisted therapy” for children recovering from abuse, autism or social disorders. The bond her young patients form with the chickens helps them open up in ways that traditional adult-to-child therapy strategies don’t provide, she said.

    “A lot of times we let them out and they can follow the chickens around,” Hampton, a small woman in her 50s with blond hair, told me when I visited her home here last week. “A

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  • U.S. lawmakers unite in fury over Putin's op-ed in New York Times

    It’s not every day that an opinion piece in The New York Times simultaneously insults the Republican speaker of the House and nearly causes the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to  "vomit."

    But that’s exactly what happened when Russian President Vladimir Putin penned an article calling for the U.S. government, which is considering launching a military strike on Syria for alleged war crimes, to use restraint in the Middle East. In his piece, Putin also took issue with part of President Barack Obama's national address on Syria on Tuesday night, which made the case for military action and praised “American exceptionalism.”

    “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin wrote.

    “I was at dinner,” New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez said on CNN after he read the piece. “And I almost wanted to vomit.”

    Other lawmakers were equally blunt.

    “I was insulted,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on

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  • Florida Democrat gets trapped in an awkward hippy music video about a river and manatees

    Florida Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy at an event to save the St. Lucie River in his district. (YouTube.com)


    JUPITER, Fla. — While meeting with environmental activists in his district last Thursday, Florida Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy found himself starring in an impromptu singalong about the nearby St. Lucie River, an at-risk waterway in his district.

    After delivering a brief talk of support to members of the Rivers Coalition, a group that raises awareness about pollution from the nearby Lake Okeechobee, Murphy joined local activist Kathy Thomas while she sang her song, "Save the St. Lucie River.”

    The look on Murphy’s face as the protest anthem goes on for about five minutes is, well, priceless.

    "Spanish moss breathes into birds nest baskets where babies are fed with fish from a toxic nursery. Dolphins breed and roll around in the brown lagoons,” Thomas, wearing a homemade tie-dye shirt, cooed over the sound of her guitar. “Five hundred and eighty-two manatees have died in the last four months. There is no easy way to say that.”

    “There’s so much talent in this district,” Murphy said after

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  • The important battle this fall will be over the debt ceiling, not a government shutdown

    Some conservative lawmakers are threatening to shut down the government rather than fund the president’s health care law when it comes time to pass a required spending bill this fall, but House Republican leaders are looking instead to the upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling as their opportunity to attack Obamacare.

    The federal government is expected to reach its borrowing limit in October, and Congress will be asked to vote to increase the ceiling. Republican leaders see the vote as a better opportunity to squeeze concessions out of President Barack Obama than another necessary vote to set spending levels.

    But Republicans face one major problem: Obama has said unequivocally that he is not open to negotiating when it comes time to raise the debt ceiling, a position that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew echoed on Tuesday.

    “The president has been very clear. We are not going to be negotiating over the debt limit,” Lew said during an interview on CNBC’s "Squawk Box." Lew reiterated the

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  • Meet the top 10 richest members of Congress

    The Hill newspaper released its annual report Tuesday on the wealth of members of Congress, revealing the richest lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

    Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who began building his fortune 30 years ago by founding the company that makes Viper car alarm systems, tops the list this year with an estimated net worth of $355.4 million. Issa's estimated net worth has more than doubled in the past year, according to the The Hill's 2012 list, in which he ranked third.

    Although a Republican tops the new list, Democrats hold seven of the spots in the top 10.

    Using financial disclosure forms for the 2012 calendar year, The Hill calculated each amount by subtracting each lawmaker's liabilities from assets. The congressional disclosure forms, however, only require lawmakers to provide ranges instead of exact numbers, so the amounts listed here are "conservative estimates" based on information provided.

    You can find more information about where the lawmakers made their money by clicking

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  • Obama catches voters off guard with phone calls

    CHICAGO—President Barack Obama stopped by a Democratic victory office here on Tuesday to encourage supporters and call volunteers in Wisconsin. The first person he reached on the phone took some time grasping who was on the other line.

    At a downtown Obama for America field office, Obama thanked the staff and volunteers before calling a woman named Annie in Wisconsin.

    "Hi is this Annie?," Obama said, according to the pool report. "This is Barack Obama."

    [ U.S. Election: Complete coverage and live results on Yahoo! Canada News ]

    There was a brief pause.

    "This is Barack Obama," he repeated. "You know, the president?"

    When it sunk in that the caller wasn't kidding and was indeed the president, they went on to chat.

    "She was very nice to me even though she initially didn't know who I was," Obama joked when he set down the receiver. He went on to make six calls to volunteers. On the final one to Jill in Madison, she didn't seem to believe it at first, either.

    [Related: Political junkie? Sign

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