We perused the various opinion sections across DC media today, mostly so you don’t have to. We even picked up on a theme: science. Here’s a selection of what we found.
For a second, we thought we were reading The Onion when we saw “America’s Looming Helium Disaster” atop a Politico column this morning. We pictured ruined children’s birthday parties and proms without balloon arches. The devastation! But this was not The Onion and we learned that helium is actually used for a lot more than just making things float. Scientists need helium for critical experiments, for example. MRI machines require it to work. Next generation semiconductors depend on it. According to the two scientists that wrote the piece, there’s also a critical shortage and problems in the crude helium markets—at least, there could be unless Congress acts soon. Bonus points to this one just for working in phrases like “helium must not be held hostage to congressional gridlock” and “havoc in the U.S. and global helium markets.” We like the drama.
Global warming? Pshaaaw…
And now, we pause for a word about an upcoming class being offered by Mediabistro.
The company’s hosting an expo in New York City on bitcoins on July 30. Here’s the catch: register before midnight tonight and you’ll get a lower rate. The event takes place at the New Yorker Hotel.
Among the speakers who will be there: Charlie Shrem, Vice Chairman at Bitcoin Foundation, Trevor Timm, co-founder and exec. dir. of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, Adam Levine, Editor-in-Chief of Let’s Talk Bitcoin, talk radio host Stephanie Murphy, and more.
Playboy‘s publicity department says he’s fully dressed, but we’re not convinced considering these pictures depict Fox News’ Sean Hannity from his gut up. Who knows what’s going on under the table?
In all seriousness, the mag is featuring Hannity in its July/August issue. It hits newsstands Friday. “Per usual, Sean is feisty and opinionated, and discusses everything from ‘radical’ Obama, gun control, and the climate change ‘crock,’ to his personal life and philosophies,” said publicist Theresa Hennessey.
Contributing Editor David Hochman conducted the interview.
Not surprising — “Obama is not managing the country well. … Obama is in a constant state of combativeness.”
Fueling the birther fire — On whether or not he regrets saying that Obama grew up in Kenya: “But he did grow up in Kenya, and he told The New York Times that he went to a school there and one of the most beautiful things on the planet is Islamic prayer at sunset.”
Forgetting his facts — On fueling the myth that Obama is a Muslim from Africa: “I never fueled the myth. How do you come up with this stuff? He did go to a Muslim school. He writes about it in his book. He went to a Muslim school in Indonesia, or wherever it was, Kenya. I forget. Now you’ve got me. I think it was Indonesia. I’m trying to remember his biography. It’s going back so long. He admits he went to a Muslim school. It’s on his audiobook, if you want a tape of it—you can hear him say it himself.”
Red meat for fair and balanced FNC viewers — On gun control: “Our framers and our founders were very clear on the issue of the Second Amendment, and they weren’t talking about deer hunting.”
Down with Kim Kardashian — “There are too many people what care too much about Honey Boo Boo and the Kardashians or whomever. I’ve met Kim, and she’s nice, but honestly there’s too much of a celebrity culture. I wish people cared more about the budget being balanced, about national defense, security, rise of radical Islamists, immigration—things that I think are really going to matter and impact everybody’s lives.”
A childhood troublemaker — “I don’t know how far I want to go with my honesty here, but I was taken home by the cops in the first grade for hanging on the back of cars in the wintertime. I’d get in trouble for sneaking out of the house late at night to have snowball fights. And I started smoking at a young age.”
The closest he gets to discussing sex — “Based on the Playboy definition, it’s probably the G-rated version. I used to go to all the clubs when I was young and 17 in New York. Then I worked in a couple of places as a bartender. I wasn’t Tom Cruise in Cocktail or anything, but I was pretty fast, and we made great daiquiris and piña coladas. I went through a period when I did okay in terms of dating. I was a skinny little kid, though. That was about it.”
More from the Hannity interview..In short: He hates Bill Maher with a passion. He prefers Megan Fox over Kate Upton.
The recent news of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs have raised many questions about Internet governance and the balance of privacy rights and national security.
An event reporters may want to attend? The Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution will host a panel discussion on June 20 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to discuss the impact that the recent exposure of Internet surveillance programs could have on open global discussion. Moderated by Allan Friedman, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, the panel will include Stephen Crocker, board chair for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Director of Internet Freedom and Human Rights Project Gene Kimmelman and Jason Healy, director of Cyber Statecraft Initiative.
To attend the event, RSVP here.
If you can’t make this one, Brookings will host another event on social media next week.
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt gave a speech today at the National Press Club to lay out a plan to ensure press freedoms in the aftermath of DOJ secretly seizing AP phone records.
He outlined five steps to safeguarding freedoms. They include a chance to be heard before docs are taken, judicial oversight, updated guidelines at DOJ (he says they’re antiquated), enacting a federal shield law and assurance of follow-up to what AG Eric Holder has stated regarding reporters: “The Justice Department will not prosecute any reporter for doing his or her job. The Department should not criminalize — or threaten to criminalize — journalists for doing their jobs, such as by calling them co-conspirators under the Espionage Act, as they did Fox reporter James Rosen. This needs to be part of an established directive, not only limited to the current administration.”
Pruitt’s full remarks are on the AP website. See them here.
WaPo‘s internal memos can be a hoot.
Today The Washington Post launches its Wine Club. To celebrate, they’re inviting employees to a wine tasting from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The party takes place at the “New Ventures space” or “4th Floor Lennox” where workers will be able to sample wines from the publication’s first shipment.
Our favorite line: “Please check with your supervisor before attending.”
What are they, 12? We think employees are responsible enough to decide if they can attend, don’t you?
As a perk… Read more
Breitbart News‘ Matthew Boyle is occasionally needled by members of the media for his in-your-face ways and reporting tactics. But today he can throw all that in their faces as he received applause at a morning presser on immigration outside the Capitol.
— Kimberly Willingham (@kimiwillingham) June 19, 2013
Willingham, who wrote the above, is communications director for Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas). As it was explained to us, tea partiers at a press conference on immigration… Read more
Bill Clinton is holding Hillary back — In her Bloomberg column with the headline “Hillary Has to Dump Bill Now,” Margaret Carlson examines Hillary Clinton’s “return to the living.” Carlson runs through a list of Clinton’s recent doings: unveiling her Twitter account (where she acknowledged the pantsuit), not being tan, being rested and ready and picking a “rocking photo.” The emergence of “Hillary 2.0” came at a poor time, however, during her the week long annual celebration of her husband’s Global Initiative, where she says Bill Clinton was “surrounded by his cast and on his turf.” During this period, it was Bill who made the headlines, with loose remarks about President Obama’s involvement in Syria (he said the president looked like a “wuss.”). Carlson basically states that if Clinton has any shot at the White House, she needs to learn how to control her husband.
First Couple looking to fill Friday nights — The young Obamas are growing up, and as the President said, “Now that my girls are getting older, they don’t want to spend that much time with me anyway.” So to keep him and FLOTUS from getting lonely, Peter Nicholas reported for the Wall Street Journal, President Obama is filling the couple’s time by hosting casual Friday dinner parties, which have often continued into Saturday morning. The White House did not disclose who has been invited, but according to sources familiar with the dinners, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein have all been guests at the soirées. A White House official said the couple is inviting guests not necessarily of political prominence, but any interesting people. Obama has been criticized in the past for giving Washington’s social life a cold shoulder, but he now appears to be embracing the party scene.
What kind of horses are the New Hampshire senators like?
News of Hasting’s death first came Tuesday afternoon from BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, who posted a note on the site that said,”We are shocked and devastated by the news that Michael Hastings is gone.”
“Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story, and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered from wars to politicians,” Smith said in his note. “He wrote stories that would otherwise have gone unwritten, and without him there are great stories that will go untold.”
Rolling Stone followed with an obituary a few minutes later.
Hastings’ hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. While other embedded reporters were charmed by McChrystal’s bad-boy bravado and might have excused his insubordination as a joke, Hastings was determined to expose the recklessness of a man leading what Hastings believed to be a reckless war.
Buzzfeed has a full story about Hastings here, there are tributes from the Buzzfeed staff here and finally, a collection of remembrances from other journalists, here.
Read on for a selection:
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