November 15, 2018

David Hockney's "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" sold on Thursday for $90.3 million, setting a new auction record for a living artist.

Christie's in New York estimated that the 1972 oil painting would fetch $80 million. The bidding lasted nine minutes, with the two most active bidders calling in by telephone. The previous record was held by Jeff Koons, whose "Ballon Dog (Orange)" sold in 2013 for $58.4 million.

Hockney, 81, is considered one of the most influential British artists. Before the sale, Ana Maria Celis, vice president of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's, said auction houses can "rarely say, 'This is the one opportunity to buy the best painting from the artist.' This is it." Catherine Garcia

October 15, 2018

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday released a proposal requiring drug companies to reveal how much their medications cost in television ads.

"Right now, drug companies are required to disclose the major side effects a drug can have — but not the effect that buying the drug could have on your wallet," the department said in a statement. The law would apply to brand-name drugs covered by both Medicare and Medicaid, CBS News reports, as long as a typical course of treatment costs more than $35 every month.

PhRMA, the drug industry's largest trade group, said it's open to putting prices up on a website, but believes if prices are revealed in commercials, that could "discourage patients from seeking needed medical care." Catherine Garcia

September 11, 2018

Should Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, her yet-to-be-determined Democratic opponent in 2020 will receive at least $1 million from angry donors.

Using the platform Crowdpac, the Maine People's Alliance, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, and activist Ady Barkan launched a crowdfunding campaign that has already raised $1 million, but with a catch. If Collins votes to confirm Kavanaugh, all that money will be sent to the TBD Democrat running against her. If she votes no, the money will not be collected.

All eyes are on Collins, as well as her fellow moderate Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Collins has said she wants to ensure Roe v. Wade is not overturned, but also voted for Kavanaugh already, when he was nominated in 2006 to the U.S. Court of Appeals. In a statement, Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins, said "anybody who thinks these tactics would work on Sen. Collins obviously doesn't know her. Sen. Collins will make up her mind based on the merits of the nomination. Threats or other attempts to bully her will not play a factor in her decision-making whatsoever."

Adav Noti of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center told The Washington Post on Tuesday that this campaign could violate federal bribery laws. "I think they're playing a game to avoid the literal application of the bribery statute," Noti said. Jordan Libowitz, spokesman for the group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibilities, disagrees, telling the Post: "It seems kind of icky but it doesn't rise to the level of bribery because there's no agreement. It's just the way money and politics tend to work these days." Catherine Garcia

September 5, 2018

Nike's decision to make former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick one of the faces of its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" ad campaign is not sitting well with many people who believe, as President Trump has argued, that Kaepernick's career-deflating decision to protest police violence against black people by kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to the anthem and the American flag. Several people posted videos of themselves burning or otherwise defacing their Nike gear, as The Root captures, fairly unsympathetically.

But Trump himself has been conspicuously silent on Nike's celebration of Kaepernick's protest. On Tuesday, he explained to The Daily Caller why he has been reticent to tweet or otherwise weigh in on one of his favorite culture-war battles. "I think it's a terrible message," Trump said. "Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent."

"I think it's a terrible message that they're sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there's a reason for them doing it," Trump elaborated, "but I think as far as sending a message, I think it's a terrible message and a message that shouldn't be sent. There's no reason for it." He added that "as much as I disagree with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement," and "I wouldn't have done it ... in another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn't do, but I personally am on a different side of it." Peter Weber

July 10, 2018

The U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office announced Tuesday that Facebook will be fined £500,000 (roughly $660,000) for its role in the Cambridge Analytica data-collecting scandal.

The ICO is giving Facebook the maximum fine possible for two breaches of the Data Protection Act, saying Facebook did not safeguard user information and was not transparent regarding how data was harvested by others. "Fines and prosecutions punish the bad actors, but my real goal is to effect change and restore trust and confidence in our democratic system," Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.

Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said the company "should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015. We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the U.S. and other countries." Catherine Garcia

May 31, 2018

If you already work from home and need a change of scenery, Vermont might be the place for you.

On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed legislation that pays people who move to the state and work remotely. They will receive $5,000 a year, not to exceed $10,000 over two years. The money can be used on certain expenses, including relocation costs, computers and software, and internet access. To be eligible, a person must move to Vermont after Jan. 1, 2019, be a full-time employee for an out-of-state business, and work primarily from home or a co-working space.

Joan Goldstein, the state's commissioner of economic development, told CNN Vermont's population is small and aging, and "we recognize the need to recruit people" to live there. The funds will be distributed on a first come, first served basis, and only $125,000 will be given out in 2019. Catherine Garcia

May 24, 2018

David MacNeil, a Chicago-area businessman who has donated more than $1 million to President Trump, told Politico Republican candidates can expect nothing from him until they take action on an immigration bill.

MacNeil owns the WeatherTech automotive company, and employs more than 1,100 people. MacNeil told Politico that if Congress doesn't come up with a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deal, one of his employees could be deported. "I'm saying this as a political donor who's donated seven figures in the last couple of years: I will not donate any more money to anyone who doesn't support DACA, period," he said. "I'm putting my money where my mouth is."

The "critically important" employee was brought to the United States as a toddler, and "it would be a disaster if I were not able to legally employ her," MacNeil told Politico. "They should not be playing political football, political blackmail with people's lives." Catherine Garcia

May 14, 2018

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt was confirmed on Feb. 17, 2017, and he's had his unusual 24/7 security detail since day one on the job, the EPA's inspector general told lawmakers in a letter sent on Monday.

EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. said Pruitt had requested the blanket security before taking office, and the EPA's Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training had complied with his request. Elkins sent his letter to Democratic senators who asked for more details on why Pruitt had such a security detail. He noted that his office "played no role in this decision."

Previous EPA administrators have not had constant security, Reuters reports, and agency spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the decision was made "before Administrator Pruitt arrived at EPA." Last month, Pruitt — who has come under scrutiny for his expensive travel and penchant for flying in first class — told lawmakers that he needed 24/7 protection because of threats made against him once he was in office. Catherine Garcia

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