Rep. Wasserman Schultz cooks, and her public is eating it up

Then, aiming her iPad straight down, she began shooting pictures.


By dawn, a tempting photo and the recipe would appear on Instagram. By noon, the dish that her husband and two of their three children back home in Florida would never have eaten would be savored by co-workers here, along with a second cook’s offering: also quinoa, but with a Mexican accent.

Since December, 15 Democratic National Committee staffers and Wasserman Schultz, their chairwoman, have nourished one another Mondays through Thursdays when Congress is in session. In the Vegetarian Lunch Club, they strive to share good food, save money on restaurants and maybe drop a few pounds, with each person cooking just twice a month.

This is no ritual communal meal. A late-morning e-mail blast alerts all 16 participants to what’s on the menu for the serve-yourself lunch du jour. Members usually take laden plates back to their desks, although one charter veggie clubber confessed to sneaking out for a roast beef sandwich on a day she’d brought in food.

It began when staffer Amy Kroll told co-workers about the vegan lunch bunch at her previous job, complete with Tumblr and Twitter accounts and a waiting list. She asked to organize one at the DNC, and Wasserman Schultz promptly joined; so did 14 colleagues, who chose less-stringent vegetarian fare over vegan.

Most Americans, at least those who follow increasingly shrill U.S. politics, know the DNC chief as a partisan pit bull, a vocal defender of her president, her party and herself against Republicans of every stripe — and occasionally fellow Democrats.

But to more than 1,400 Instagram followers, she is the ebullient “cleancookingcongresswoman,” a late but devoted arrival to a movement dedicated to eating whole, additive-free foods.

Wasserman Schultz follows a roughly 80-20 ratio of healthful to not-great food, leaning heavily plant-centric and more pescatarian than carnivore. Her longtime breakfast of peanut M&Ms and full-sugar Coke soon gave way to a banana, a Kind bar and a Starbucks light Frappuccino, hold the whipped cream.

Back home near Fort Lauderdale, she picks bananas, litchis, figs, grapefruit and kumquats from her own trees and tends a new garden of herbs and vegetables, including much-maligned okra: “I’ve never cooked it before, and nobody but me will eat it, but I love it and want to try.”

Son Jake, 16, enjoys the mahi-mahi he catches with his father, banker Steve Schultz, and mom’s veggie lasagna. His twin, Rebecca, has the most adventurous palate of the siblings (she would’ve eaten that quinoa-pomegranate-sprouts casserole), while sister Shelby, 11, took a recent break from SpaghettiOs and other beloved kid food to try panko-crusted Buffalo chicken tenders.

“Was I surprised that she started to cook? How about shocked?” asked the lawmaker’s mother, Ann Wasserman, who lives in Florida with her husband, Larry, a short drive from their daughter. As a child, “Debbie never came near the kitchen.” After she was married, “Steve would cook and Debbie would clean up.”

In the 18 months since her move to clean cuisine spawned bounteous homemade Sunday suppers for the extended family, Wasserman has seen “some unidentifiable things that look a little alien. But it’s my duty as a mother: I am going to eat it. Most of it is surprisingly good,” especially the fish, she said.

Wasserman Schultz was 47 when she went mostly clean. Inspired by chef Rocco DiSpirito’s book “The Pound a Day Diet,” and despite having “10 thumbs,” she thought she could follow his recipes. “I wanted to not chop off my fingers or burn myself. I am not that experienced or coordinated, but I don’t like doing things halfway, so I did it.”

With the zeal of a convert (“I love the supermarket now”) and the skills of novice (she recently braced a fat sweet potato on her thigh while peeling it over a garbage can), she began the long march.

“I screen-shot recipes that were posted. I didn’t understand why people pictured their food on Instagram, which I really thought was stupid. But then I wanted to see what people thought of my cooking,” she said. “I scared the crap out of my staff by creating an account without telling them.”

After two months of practice back home and in the Capitol Hill rowhouse she shares with New York Democratic Reps. Kathleen Rice and Carolyn B. Maloney, the cleancookingcongresswoman went public in April 2014, explaining in her first Instagram post:

“I started this journey because I wanted to feel healthier, lose some weight after gaining weight following breast cancer and set an example for my 3 amazing kids (and my hubby who has now decided to eat healthy and can’t believe I’m cooking after 23 years of marriage).”

The Capitol, not her face, serves as her Instagram profile image. She downloaded recipes from food blogs and from other Instagram posters, and pored over Clean Eating and Cooking Light magazines.

That maiden post featured the quinoa melange from Instagram’s deliciouslyella, because it was nutritious and “pretty.” She has learned an important principle of Instagram: Luscious food photos draw more “likes” than boring ones. A friend, appalled by her use of the family’s funky dishes on Instagram, bought her stylish white Ikea plates in trendy shapes for better visuals.

Unlike Twitter, which the combative Wasserman Schultz deemed full of “haters,” Instagram is her warm and happy place, free of snark from other lawmakers, pundits, political hacks, voters and donors. When she rhapsodized about apple slices topped with toasted pecans and Skippy chocolate peanut butter (her personal culinary “crack”), or rejoiced at finally fitting back into a size 2 skirt last worn before her 2007 breast cancer diagnosis, members of her food “community” shared her pleasure.

“My husband says I only cook now so I can put things on Instagram,” she said. “That is not true.”

She recently began to evangelize to colleagues about her edible epiphany. On June 2, she hosted 15 Democratic congresswomen at the home of Rep. Chellie Pingree, Maine, a friend, farmer and fellow clean eater. The speaker was Robyn Webb, an Alexandria, Virginia, nutritionist and cookbook author who taught the group how to chop onions and basil, then supervised as they stuffed red peppers with farro and pesto, made salad with endive and oranges, and baked Tuscan biscotti.

“It was a blast,” said Webb. “Debbie is so interested that she feels she has to share her passion with everyone.”

It was not always thus. Since her 20s, Wasserman Schultz has commuted to work from South Florida, first to Tallahassee as a political aide, then state representative and then senator before entering Congress in 2005. Her husband was in charge of family meals.

Now, when Wasserman Schultz is in Washington, “I don’t really cook during the week,” Steve Schultz said. “We just kind of eat grilled cheese, mac and cheese, pasta, tuna, eggs, frozen foods.” Calling himself a “full-strength food” lover, he dutifully tastes everything she makes, gently suggesting that some things he considers duds be ditched: “I am not one of those quinoa people.”

Wasserman Schultz says she is in this for the long haul. After stocking pantries in both homes virtually from scratch, she could still use a good knife, decent can opener and some dish towels for her late-night “kitchen therapy” in Washington. “People used to ask what I did for fun, and I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t do anything for myself that I enjoyed. Now I do, and I’m choosing to do it at 11 o’clock at night.” She welcomes the intense concentration of measuring spices in tiny spoons or eviscerating a pomegranate, a break from plotting ways to ambush Republicans or motivate Democrats.

Gradually, she’s learning to improvise. A recipe for bread spiked with Bailey’s Irish Cream for an earlier DNC lunch listed several items she did not have, including yeast, a bread machine and the proper flour. So she mixed together the last of her whole-wheat, coconut and tapioca flours, added baking powder as the rising agent and popped the loaf into a conventional oven. (The result was tasty, if dry.)

Citing her longtime pet issues of child nutrition, food security and maternal health, Wasserman Schultz has a few new dreams: “I have kind of fantasized about going to cooking school, writing a book, something that would combine politics and cooking.” She says she even has a catchy working title, but she won’t reveal it.

After the success of her Democratic women’s cookathon, she’s now mulling a bipartisan fete. “I would have to be careful,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to be accused of attempting to poison Republicans.”

Groer, a Washington journalist, writes about politics, culture and design, and twice represented the District of Columbia in the National Chicken Cooking Contest.

–On 杭州桑拿,washingtonpost杭州桑拿会所,/recipes/, Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pomegranate Quinoa.

Virtual human teases out secrets from patients

She draws you into conversation: “So how are you doing today?” “When was the last time you felt really happy?” She notices if you look away or fidget or pause, and she follows up with a nod of encouragement or a question: “Can you tell me more about that?”

Not bad for an interviewer who’s not human.


Ellie is a virtual human created by scientists at the University of Southern California to help patients feel comfortable talking about themselves so they’ll be honest with their doctors. She was born of two lines of findings: that anonymity can help people be more truthful and that rapport with a trained caregiver fosters deep disclosure. In some cases, research has shown, the less human involvement, the better. In a 2014 study of 239 people, participants who were told that Ellie was operating automatically as opposed to being controlled by a person nearby, said they felt less fearful about self-disclosure, better able to express sadness and more willing to disclose.

Getting a patient’s full story is crucial in medicine. Many technological tools are being used to help with this quest: virtual humans such as Ellie, electronic health records, secure e-mail, computer databases. Although these technologies often smooth the way, they sometimes create hurdles.

Honesty with doctors is a bedrock of proper care. If we hedge in answering their questions, we’re hampering their ability to help keep us well.

But some people resist divulging their secrets. In a 2009 national opinion survey conducted by GE, the Cleveland Clinic and Ochsner Health System, 28 percent of patients said they “sometimes lie to their health care professional or omit facts about their health.” The survey was conducted by telephone with 2,000 patients.

The Hippocratic Oath imposes a code of confidentiality on doctors: “I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know.”

Nonetheless, patients may not share sensitive, potentially stigmatizing health information on topics such as drug and alcohol abuse, mental health problems and reproductive and sexual history. Patients also might fib about less-fraught issues such as following doctor’s orders or sticking to a diet and exercise plan.

Why patients don’t tell the full truth is complicated. Some want to disclose only information that makes the doctor view them positively. Others fear being judged.

“We never say everything that we’re thinking and everything that we know to another human being, for a lot of different reasons,” says William Tierney, president and chief executive of the Regenstrief Institute, which studies how to improve health-care systems and is associated with the Indiana University School of Medicine.

In his work as an internist at an Indianapolis hospital, Tierney has encountered many situations in which patients aren’t honest. Sometimes they say they took their blood pressure medications even though it’s clear that they haven’t; they may be embarrassed because they can’t pay for the medications or may dislike the medication but don’t want to offend the doctor. Other patients ask for extra pain medicine without admitting that they illegally share or sell the drug.

Incomplete or incorrect information can cause problems. A patient who lies about taking his blood pressure medication, for example, may end up being prescribed a higher dose, which could send the patient into shock, Tierney said.

Leah Wolfe, a primary care physician who trains students, residents and faculty at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, said that doctors need to help patients understand why questions are being asked. It helps to normalize sensitive questions by explaining, for example, why all patients are asked about their sexual history.

“I’m a firm believer that 95 percent of diagnosis is history,” she said. “The physician has a lot of responsibility here in helping people understand why they’re asking the questions that they’re asking.”

– – –

Technology, which can improve health care, can also have unintended consequences in doctor-patient rapport. In a recent study of 4,700 patients in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 13 percent of patients said they had kept information from a doctor because of concerns about privacy and security, and this withholding was more likely among patients whose doctors used electronic health records than those who used paper charts.

“It was surprising that it would actually have a negative consequence for that doctor-patient interaction,” said lead author Celeste Campos-Castillo of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Campos-Castillo suggests that doctors talk to their patients about their computerized-record systems and the security measures that protect those systems.

When given a choice, some patients would use technology to withhold information from providers. Regenstrief Institute researchers gave 105 patients the option to control access to their electronic health records, broken down into who could see the record and what kind of information they chose to share. Nearly half chose to place some limits on access to their health records in a six-month study published in January in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

While patient control can empower, it can also obstruct. Tierney, who was not involved as a provider in that study, said that if he had a patient who would not allow him full access to health information, he would help the patient find another physician because he would feel unable to provide the best and safest care possible.

“Hamstringing my ability to provide such care is unacceptable to me,” he wrote in a companion article to the study.

– – –

Technology can also help patients feel comfortable sharing private information.

A study conducted by the Veterans Health Administration found that some patients used secure e-mail messaging with their providers to address sensitive topics — such as erectile dysfunction and sexually transmitted diseases — a fact that they had not acknowledged in face-to-face interviews with the research team.

“Nobody wants to be judged,” said Jolie Haun, lead author of the 2014 study and a researcher at the Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research at the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa. “We realized that this electronic form of communication created this somewhat removed, confidential, secure, safe space for individuals to bring up these topics with their provider, while avoiding those social issues around shame and embarrassment and discomfort in general.”

USC’s Ellie shows promise as a mental health screening tool. With a microphone, webcam and an infrared camera device that tracks a person’s body posture and movements, Ellie can process such cues as tone of voice or change in gaze and react with a nod, encouragement or question. But the technology can neither understand deeply what the person is saying nor offer therapeutic support.

“Some people make the mistake when they see Ellie — they assume she’s a therapist and that’s absolutely not the case,” says Jonathan Gratch, director for virtual human research at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies.

The anonymity and rapport created by virtual humans factor into an unpublished USC study of screenings for post-traumatic stress disorder. Members of a National Guard unit were interviewed by a virtual human before and after a year of service in Afghanistan. Talking to the animated character elicited more reports of PTSD symptoms than completing a computerized form did.

– – –

One of the challenges for doctors is when a new patient seeks a prescription for a controlled substance. Doctors may be concerned that the drug will be used illegally, a possibility that’s hard to predict.

Here, technology is a powerful lever for honesty. Maryland, like almost all states, keeps a database of prescriptions. When her patients request narcotics, Wolfe explains that it’s her office’s practice to check all such requests against the database that monitors where and when a patient filled a prescription for a controlled substance. This technology-based information helps foster honest give-and-take.

“You’ve created a transparent environment where they are going to be motivated to tell you the truth because they don’t want to get caught in a lie,” she said. “And that totally changes the dynamics.”

It is yet to be seen how technology will evolve to help patients share or withhold their secrets. But what will not change is a doctor’s need for full, open communication with patients.

“It has to be personal,” Tierney says. “I have to get to know that patient deeply if I want to understand what’s the right decision for them.”

Levingston is a freelance health and science writer.

‘Go Set a Watchman’ has important insights into contemporary racism

I’m pleased and not a little surprised to be able to report, however, that for all the controversy that surrounds the way it came to be published and the state in which it was found, “Go Set a Watchman” is, in fact, a complete book.


And if it’s a highly uneven one, it’s still worth reading at a moment when we’re grappling yet again with Northern and Southern variations of white supremacy and the idea that good people can do poisonous things.

The news that Atticus Finch is a racist is the headline for pieces about “Go Set a Watchman.” But the meat of the story is Jean Louise’s reckoning with her father and herself.

“Go Set a Watchman” begins when Jean Louise, better known to us as Scout, returns home to Maycomb from New York, where she now lives. Her vacation begins with a frisson of tension: Scout is trying to decide whether or not to marry her childhood friend Henry Clinton, now Atticus’ partner in his law business.

But the trip becomes more fraught when Scout discovers that her father has been reading racist pamphlets and that both he and Henry are members of the Maycomb Citizens’ Council, the replacement for the local Ku Klux Klan. The dissonance between who she believed these men to be, and who they actually are, sets her up for a series of talky confrontations with Henry and Atticus, and ultimately with the guiding principle that has defined her life.

One sharp insight of “Go Set a Watchman” is the way race, racism and class are all tangled up in each other in Maycomb and in Scout’s understanding of Atticus. When she goes to the balcony of the courthouse where in “Mockingbird,” she watched her father mount a black man’s defense, part of her horror at what she discovers is the way Atticus has dirtied his own class status.

“Below her, on rough benches, sat not only most of the trash in Maycomb County, but the county’s most respectable men,” Lee writes. “She knew little of the affairs of men, but she knew that her father’s presence at the table with a man who spewed filth from his mouth — did that make it less filthy? No. It condoned.”

Scout is confused by her father’s profession of belief because “Many times she had seen him in the grocery store waiting his turn in line behind Negroes and God knows what … He was the kind of man who instinctively waited his turn; he had manners.”

But those manners aren’t actually a display of respect for black people; they’re Atticus’ way of demonstrating his own virtue to himself, just as he took up Tom Robinson’s defense in “To Kill a Mockingbird” even though “he had no taste for criminal law. The only reason he took this one was because he knew his client to be innocent of the charge, and he could not for the life of him let the black boy go to prison because of a half-hearted, court-appointed defense.”

Belief in the law or etiquette aren’t the same thing as a belief in social equality, or even equal access to the franchise. Atticus’ courtesies to black people are actually his way of distinguishing himself from them.

“(Thomas) Jefferson believed full citizenship was a privilege to be earned by each man, that it was not something given lightly nor to be taken lightly,” he tells Scout, explaining why he thinks blacks’ rights should be curtailed until they’ve proved — by Atticus’ standards — worthy of them. “A man couldn’t vote simply because he was a man, in Jefferson’s eyes. He had to be a responsible man. A vote was, to Jefferson, a precious privilege a man attained for himself in a — a live-and-let-live economy.”

Scout hasn’t perceived this distinction because, as Lee writes, “Had she insight, could she have pierced the barriers of her highly selective, insular world, she may have discovered that all her life she had been with a visual defect which had gone unnoticed and neglected by herself and by those closest to her: She was born color blind.” In contemporary conversation, colorblindness is often invoked as a sort of admirable ideal, but it is nothing of the sort in “Go Set a Watchman.”

The fact that Scout, as her Uncle Jack suggests, has “never been prodded to look at people as a race, and now that race is the burning issue of the day, you’re still unable to think racially,” means that she has missed both the racism of other Maycomb residents and the pain of Calpurnia, the woman who raised her. Scout has thought she was being just and liberal; instead, she has ignored the larger currents all around her.

When Scout goes to visit Calpurnia, hoping to reassure her that Atticus and Henry’s defense of her grandson Frank will be successful, she’s stunned by Calpurnia’s despair and indifference, emotions she never showed to Scout before. “She sat there in front of me and she didn’t see me, she saw white folks. She raised me, and she doesn’t care,” Scout reflects, stunned by the reversed polarity of their relationship and by the idea that Calpurnia’s affection for her was just another commodity Atticus bought.

After that terrible visit, Scout has to go to a coffee her Aunt Augusta is throwing to reintroduce the younger woman to the friends of her school days. During this extended scene, the strongest section of “Go Set a Watchman,” Scout’s perception of Maycomb — and herself — dissolves entirely.

In between a flood of overheard sentiments and uncomfortable debates about life in New York, Scout finds herself drawing from literature to explain her increasingly confused feelings. “It takes a lot of what I don’t have to be a member of this wedding,” she thinks, channeling another tomboy of Southern literature. “I hope the world will little note nor long remember what you are saying here.”

The scene ends with Scout despairing over her own long-standing refusal to see the truth. “Mr. Stone set a watchman in church yesterday,” her mind races to a sermon of the day before. “He should have provided me with one. I need a watchman to lead me around and declare what he seeth every hour on the hour. I need a watchman to tell me this is what a man says but this is what he means, to draw a line down the middle and say here is this justice and there is that justice and make me understand the difference.”

The rest of “Go Set a Watchman” lacks the power of that scene; the book ends with a series of long, dense dialogues that are of interest mostly because the idea of Scout confronting Atticus is novel and unnerving, not because they are particularly well-written. Lee makes a hash of some complicated but careworn ideas about Southern identity and states’ rights.

But for all the blockiness of the conversations, there is insight in them, particularly when Scout argues with Henry about his participation in the Citizens’ Council meeting. “I’m part of Maycomb County’s trash, but I’m part of Maycomb County,” Henry tells her, explaining that both her high-class status in town and her residency in New York give her a freedom of thought and speech that are not available to him. “I’ve got to live here, Jean Louise. Don’t you understand that? … I am trying to make you see, my darling, that you are permitted a sweet luxury I’m not. You can shout to high heaven, I cannot.”

“Go Set a Watchman” doesn’t settle for the easy canard of Northern superiority on the question of white supremacy. For all that Scout has moved to New York, she tells her Uncle Jack, “I don’t especially want to run out and marry a Negro or something.” And Jack makes a forceful argument that running away to the North and thinking you’re better for it is a kind of naivete. “It takes a certain kind of maturity to live in the South these days,” Jack suggests to Scout.

Henry may not have the freedom to speak his mind in Maycomb, but Scout does. Jack thinks she should move back to Maycomb and make use of her liberty. By doing so, he argues, she could give courage to people who agree with her, but are afraid that if they spoke up against racism, they could lose their jobs or social position.

“You, Miss, born with your own conscience, somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle onto your father’s,” Jack tells Scott near the conclusion of the novel. “As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God.”

Scout isn’t the only one to experience that kind of moral confusion, that outsourcing of our sense of right and wrong to Atticus Finch. If finding that he’s not what we needed him to be disconcerts some readers, that doesn’t mean, as NPR’s Maureen Corrigan suggested, that “This Atticus is different in kind, not just degree: He’s like Ahab turned into a whale lover or Holden Caulfield a phony.”

Instead, “Go Set a Watchman” is part of the process of divesting ourselves of the idea that, as Ta-Nehisi Coates put it, “we believe racism to be the property of the uniquely villainous and morally deformed, the ideology of trolls, gorgons and orcs.” If racism can belong to Atticus Finch — and if it became his property through the same processes that made him a hero — it can belong to anyone.

How a precocious 11-year-old girl gave Pluto its name

But fate lay on page 14: a story about a newly discovered planet found at the far reaches of the solar system.


Madan read the story aloud to his precocious granddaughter, who had studied the planets in school by arranging lumps of clay in the university park to model the distances between celestial objects. Young Venetia also had a penchant for classical mythology (all the major celestial objects in our solar system are named for Greek and Roman gods), so when Madan speculated about the new planet’s name, she had a suggestion up her sleeve.

“We all wondered,” she recalled in the documentary “Naming Pluto.” “And then I said, ‘Why not call it Pluto?’ And the whole thing stemmed from that.”

Venetia’s grandfather, the retired head of the historic Bodleian Library at Oxford University, passed the idea along to an astronomer friend of his, who responded, “I think PLUTO excellent!!” according to The New York Times. (There’s nothing like a new planet to get dignified British professors to use excessive punctuation and all-caps.)

The astronomer telegraphed his colleagues at the Arizona observatory that discovered the new planet, and they voted unanimously in favor of the name. Pluto, the solar system’s ninth planet, was born.

We all know what happened 75 years later: New astronomy discoveries and a debate about the true definition of a planet resulted in Pluto being stripped of its title.

Pluto may no longer be a planet. It may be small and obscure. But it is the ultimate underdog, capable of captivating us with its hapless charm despite distance and darkness and years of scientists slowly chipping away at its status. And its champions, like 11-year-old Venetia, come from the unlikeliest of places. They include a scientific outcast and a penniless farm boy, along with the thousands of ordinary astronomy lovers who cheered when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft whizzed past Tuesday morning, sending back the best image yet of everyone’s favorite planet-that-isn’t.

There it was, all rocky brown and beige. And in its lower hemisphere was an almost-perfect heart. How could ours not melt?

It was a long way from the very first photograph of Pluto, taken by Percival Lowell almost exactly 100 years earlier. Lowell was a turn-of-the-century American astronomer infamous for speculating that aliens had built canals on Mars.

Somewhat outcast from the space community for his admittedly zany notion, Lowell dedicated the remainder of his life to yet another thankless task: the search for Planet X, an elusive rocky body at the very outer reaches of our solar system. Using a primitive camera and borrowed telescope, he spent more than a decade diligently photographing the night sky, hoping to find evidence of a planet whose existence had been theorized since the 1840s but never proved.

In the spring of 1915, Lowell’s camera finally caught what it had been searching for: two faint images of a small sphere of space rock more than 3 billion miles from the Sun. But for reasons we many never know — maybe Lowell never saw the images, maybe he did and didn’t recognize their significance — Lowell never realized that he’d finally found the ninth planet. Lowell died a year later, and those first photographs faded into obscurity.

Lowell’s death in 1916 left a gap in the ninth planet search effort, one that remained mostly empty until 1929, when a 23-year-old named Clyde Tombaugh arrived at the Flagstaff, Arizona, observatory Lowell founded.

Tombaugh was the son of farmers from Kansas, and his dreams of going to college were dashed when a hailstorm destroyed his family’s crops, according to a biography on the Academy of Achievement website. Undaunted, he taught himself trigonometry and geometry and began building his own telescopes. The sketches of planets he drew with his homemade equipment were so impressive that, when he sent them to the observatory in Flagstaff, astronomers there invited him to come work for them.

“I was rather unnerved by it all, everybody were strangers, 1,000 miles from home, and not enough money in my wallet for a return ticket home,” Tombaugh wrote of his first day there, according to the Kansas Historical Society.

Upon his arrival Tombaugh was put to work on Lowell’s old task — searching for the elusive “trans-Neptunian object.” Though the technology was slightly better, the technique for seeking out a distant planet hadn’t changed much. Tombaugh spent hours in an unheated dome, snapping photos of the sky, then examined the exposures to determine whether any of the pinpricks of light in them seemed to move over the course of days. Objects that remained stationary were stars, the logic went. But if it moved — it might be a planet.

After nearly a year of searching, he found it — a tiny speck that crept across several of his photos. “That’s it!” he recalled exclaiming. Tombaugh and his colleagues spent more than a week studying the moving speck and confirming its validity, then announced their finding to the world on March 13, 1930. It would have been Lowell’s 75th birthday.

The discovery transformed Tombaugh from an anonymous researcher into an international astronomy sensation. He was offered a scholarship to the University of Kansas, became a military researcher and astronomy professor, and is credited with discovering several new asteroids and hundreds of stars. An ounce of his ashes, saved after he died in 1997, was on board New Horizons when it launched in 2006.

Thousands of miles across the Atlantic, the news of the discovery reached young Venetia Burney. She thought that Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld, was a fitting namesake for the darkest and most distant planet. The Lowell astronomers seemed to agree — they voted unanimously in favor of the name, which had the added bonus of beginning with the same letters as Percival Lowell’s initials.

When the news went public, according to a 2006 interview with the BBC, Burney’s grandfather rewarded her with a five-pound note.

In the interview, Burney is modest about her stroke of genius — she came up with Pluto mostly because the other major names from classical mythology had already been taken, she said. But she is indignant on one point: She did not name the planet for Pluto the dog, a Disney character that debuted in the same year.

“It has now been satisfactorily proven that the dog was named after the planet, rather than the other way round. So, one is vindicated,” she said.

Burney, who became Venetia Phair after she was married, went on to become a schoolteacher and minor astronomy celebrity — an asteroid has been named for her, as has a dust-measuring instrument on board New Horizons. She died in 2009, three years after the spacecraft launched and six years before it would reach the planet she named.

Its improbable christening by a British schoolgirl was in some ways the high point for Pluto. After spending nearly a century trying to find the elusive planet, astronomers spent most of the next 85 years challenging its significance. Estimates of Pluto’s size were repeatedly revised downward throughout the 20th century. The discovery of its largest moon, Charon, in the 1970s, allowed them to nail down the planet’s mass at just a tiny fraction of Earth’s.

In the 1990s, astronomers began identifying other large, rocky objects in Pluto’s general neighborhood, which we now know as the Kuiper Belt. Scientists began debating whether Pluto ought to be reclassified from ninth planet to “king of the Kuiper Belt” in the words of Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson, who in 2000 left Pluto out of the New York museum’s planetary display.

The death knell for Pluto as a planet came in 2005, when astronomers discovered the space object Eris even farther from the sun than Pluto and seemingly even larger. Appropriately named for the Greek goddess of chaos and strife, Eris sparked an uproar among astronomers. Either scientists had found a 10th planet, or they had to reconsider what the term “planet” really meant.

The International Astronomical Union went with the latter option, deciding in 2006 to classify both Pluto and Eris as “dwarf planets.” The rationale was that Pluto wasn’t massive enough to “clear the neighborhood” around its orbit (meaning that there are no other objects of comparable size in its orbit except those that are under its gravitational influence, such as satellites).

It was crushing news for the average Pluto enthusiast. But many of the people who study Pluto say that the affable, unflappable, not-quite-planet is no worse off for its redesignation.

“Pluto is the granddaddy of the most populated region in the solar system, with the most to tell us about our history,” Hal Levison, a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute who advocated for revising the planet classification criteria, told Slate last year. “It must not mind.”

The “demotion” may even have worked in its favor.

“It’s interesting, isn’t it, that as they come to demote Pluto, so the interest in it seems to have grown?” Venetia Burney commented to the BBC in 2006.

After all, everyone loves an underdog.

Navy sailor becomes 5th victim to die after Tennessee shooting

Randall Smith was a petty officer in the Navy.


The service declined Saturday morning to release his name, but Darlene Proxmire, a step-grandmother in Ohio, confirmed his identity. His age had not been confirmed.

The Navy said Smith died at 2:17 a.m.

Proxmire, of Paulding, Ohio, said Smith had recently reenlisted to stay in the service, and was a married father with three children.

“He loved his family,” Proxmire said in a phone interview. “His wife and his three little girls were his whole world.”

Proxmire said Smith accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Defiance College, a Division III school in Defiance, Ohio. But he injured his shoulder and chose to enlist in the Navy afterward.

Four U.S. Marines were also killed in the attack and the FBI said the gunman 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. An autopsy is being performed to confirm that.

Around the country, officials sought to step up security at recruiting posts, which by nature must be open to the public. The Chattanooga gunman fired upon such a post during his attack, but its bulletproof glass prevented any casualties.

In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott (R) ordered the National Guard to move its recruiters from six storefront locations around the state and put them in armories until the storefronts could be better secured. He also said the state would speed up the processing of personal concealed-weapons permits for any National Guard members who applied.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin (R) ordered her state’s adjutant general to allow military personnel at recruiting centers and other places to carry weapons. And in New York City, police stepped up their patrols outside recruiting posts, including the one in Times Square.

In Chattanooga, investigators sought to decipher the motives of the gunman who targeted U.S. troops they also began to confront the uncomfortable question of whether counterterrorism agencies are reaching the practical limits of what they can do to detect homegrown plots.

Investigators said they were a long way from drawing conclusions.

They said Abdulazeez had not previously drawn the attention of authorities, save for a drunken-driving charge a few months ago.

Abdulazeez’s travels to the Middle East, his acquisition of several firearms and his recent online musings about the meaning of Islam were coming under fresh examination as hundreds of federal agents sought to reconstruct his movements and mind-set.

“At this time, we have no indication he was inspired by or directed by anyone other than himself,” Edward Reinhold, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Knoxville, Tenn., told reporters on Friday.

U.S. officials said that devices including a computer and cellphone believed to have belonged to Abdulazeez were being examined by FBI technicians in a laboratory at Quantico, Virginia.

The FBI said that Abdulazeez was armed with at least two rifles or shotguns, as well as a handgun, when he opened fire on a military recruiting center and a Navy Reserve facility in Chattanooga. Authorities did not give a more detailed description of the firearms or say how he obtained them.

“Some of the weapons were purchased legally and some of them may not have been,” Reinhold said.

U.S. counterterrorism officials have become increasingly worried about the ability of the Islamic State and al-Qaida offshoots to attract and radicalize followers in the United States. At the same time, authorities have expressed concern that their ability to detect such contact has been eroded by the spread of encrypted communication.

Federal authorities have arrested more than 10 people over the past six weeks who are suspected of having ties to the Islamic State. U.S. officials said the crackdown was part of an effort to suppress a surge in suspected plots aimed at unleashing violence on U.S. targets during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended the day of the attacks in Chattanooga.

But officials have also said that homegrown radicals have gotten better at hiding their intentions and cloaking their contacts with overseas groups, despite a massive expansion in U.S. surveillance capabilities since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Two U.S. law enforcement officials said Abdulazeez traveled to Jordan on four occasions prior to the shootings. The last trip he took was from April 2014 to November 2014. One of the officials said there was no information the trips were connected to attempts to enter Syria or establish contacts with a terrorist group.

Jordan has been a way station for foreign fighters attempting to enter Syria, including a 22-year-old U.S. citizen who similarly went undetected during trips to Jordan before carrying out a suicide attack in Syria last year.

But Jordan is also a popular tourist destination, one of several nations bordering Syria that account for more than 2 million travelers who arrive in the United States each year.

Moreover, Abdulazeez had a grandmother and other relatives in the country, according to neighbors and court papers.

And while his father, Youssuf Abdulazeez, was investigated by the FBI in 1994 and again in 2002 for donating to Palestinian groups suspected of having ties to terrorism, U.S. officials said the father was removed from a terrorism watch list a decade ago.

Based on the limited information available so far, the younger Abdulazeez appears to have repeatedly brushed up against U.S. screening systems without triggering an alert, said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“You have to do something that would set off some type of alarm,” Nunes said in an interview. Because of the mounting odds against disrupting plots, as well as the countermeasures being taken by terrorist groups, Nunes said that stopping attacks is “becoming tougher and tougher.”

Nunes said the FBI has warned lawmakers repeatedly in recent months that the bureau was facing a surge in the number of threats it is tracking — many based on intelligence gleaned overseas — but has been unable to connect those tips to individuals or specific targets in the United States.

“The FBI has warned us that there are a bunch of threats that they know about but can’t find,” Nunes said. “They have enough specifics to say something is being planned. We know (the Islamic State) is talking to someone but we can’t find the person.”

U.S. counterterrorism officials emphasized Friday that they have no evidence so far that the attack by Abdulazeez fell into that troubling security gap.

Four Marines were killed in Thursday’s attack: Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan of Hampden, Massachusetts.; Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt of Burke, North Carolina; Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist of Polk, Wisconsin; and Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells of Cobb, Georgia.

Smith, the Navy petty officer, and a Chattanooga police officer were wounded. Abdulazeez was killed after exchanging gunfire with police.

While the FBI was cautious in making judgments, other lawmakers said there was clear reason to suspect that Abdulazeez had been inspired, directly or indirectly, by the Islamic State or a similar group.

“Based on my experience, I think he was radicalized by these individuals in Syria,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told reporters. “The threat is real and it comes from the Internet,” he added. “They don’t have to travel to Iraq and Syria. . . . They’re already here.”

Abdulazeez could trace his heritage to several parts of the Middle East — he was born in Kuwait as a Jordanian citizen, although his parents identified themselves as Palestinians. He came to the United States with his family while very young and grew up in Chattanooga, attending a local high school and earning a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

In addition to his visit to Jordan last year, he traveled there on at least one prior occasion, during a combined trip to Kuwait in 2010, according to the official Kuwait News Agency.

A high school friend, Levon Miller, added that Abdulazeez traveled abroad once every few years. “He’d take off for a month or two mostly during his college breaks,” Miller said, although he said he didn’t know details about where he went.

Other signs emerged Friday that Abdulazeez and his four sisters had grown up in a troubled household, afflicted by marital strife and debt.

His father filed for federal bankruptcy protection in 2002. Seven years later, his mother filed for divorce, charging that her husband had sexually and physically abused her, and had threatened to take a second wife. The couple later reconciled.

Three months ago, Abdulazeez was hired as a shift supervisor by Superior Essex, a firm that manufactures specialty wiring and cables. Co-workers said he called in sick last weekend and hadn’t been seen since.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Cari Gervin in Chattanooga, and William Branigin, Brian Murphy, Greg Miller, Missy Ryan, Mark Berman, Sari Horwitz, Carol D. Leonnig, and Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.