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Sort of Serious Stuff

DNC and RNC City Selection by Uber Availability, Direct Flights, Last Call, and Temp

Game-Show-Last-CallOver the weekend, the Democratic National Committee announced six U.S. cities – Birmingham, Cleveland, Columbus, New York, Philadelphia, and Phoenix – that have submitted bids to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Already announced for the RNC: Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and Kansas City.

While final decisions have not and will not be made until later this year or early 2015, we’ve made the call based on what’s important: average temperature, Uber availability, direct flights from DCA, and last call. So heads up DNC and RNC, we’ve selected your 2015 convention destinations. Disqualifiers (average temperatures above 90*, no Uber service, only one non-stop flight from Reagan, and early last call times) have the strikethrough. Read more

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AJAM: Emails Show Google Execs Cozy With NSA Prior To Snowden Leaks

Al Jazeera America reporter Jason Leopold says that he has obtained emails that show that Google execs Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt had a closer relationship with National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander than previously disclosed. Tech companies have worked hard to distance themselves from the NSA ever since leaked documents provided by Edward Snowden were published showing the extent of the agency’s spying on Americans.

Many, including Google, have said they only ever provided information to the government when compelled to do so by law. However, Leopold says the emails -obtained via a FOIA request -reveal that Schmidt and Brin were working closely with Alexander long before the Snowden leaks:

Alexander, Schmidt and other industry executives met earlier in the month, according to the email. But Alexander wanted another meeting with Schmidt and “a small group of CEOs” later that summer because the government needed Silicon Valley’s help.

“About six months ago, we began focusing on the security of mobility devices,” Alexander wrote. “A group (primarily Google, Apple and Microsoft) recently came to agreement on a set of core security principles. When we reach this point in our projects we schedule a classified briefing for the CEOs of key companies to provide them a brief on the specific threats we believe can be mitigated and to seek their commitment for their organization to move ahead … Google’s participation in refinement, engineering and deployment of the solutions will be essential.”

Read the whole article here.

Aereo CEO: Win or Lose, Web TV Is Inevitable

In an interview with Bloomberg, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia says that even if his company loses its case before the Supreme Court today, someone will eventually figure out a way to make the tv-on-the-web business model work.

“I hope we don’t [lose] and I feel confident that we won’t,” Kanojia told Bloomberg’s Betty Liu. “But even if we do, you know, I think [another company just like Aereo will come along and be able to break through]. It is inevitable. It’s going to happen.”

The case before the Supreme Court now deals with whether or not Aereo has the right to distribute broadcast channels via the web for a monthly fee. Broadcasters say Aereo’s business model is to essentially steal a product and then re-sell it, while Aereo contends they are merely providing a more convenient way to watch what is offered for free by the broadcasters anyway.

Watch the clip after the jump…

Read more

Medal of Honor Doc Premiers at Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito,Jr. and Sonia Sotomayor probably didn’t have far to go when they attended the premiere of “Medal of Honor: A History” by producer Ed Hooper last night at the Court, followed by a dinner also attended by 30 Medal of Honor Recipients.

“Medal of Honor: A history” is a hour long documentary on the history of the medal – not the recipients, but the medal itself and how it rose from a decoration no one wanted to become the nation’s highest honor. It’s narrated by Gary Sinise. It features interviews with service branch historians and the U.S. Senate historian, and illustrates how a medal is created at the mint. This is the first time a history of the medal has been assembled anywhere.

Today is National Medal of Honor day and the festivities will carry on at Arlington National Cemetery where the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation will honor 3 Citizen Honor recipients for heroic deeds in a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

(h/t Janet Donovan)

Verizon Flack Apologizes for Maligning CPI’s Allan Holmes


Verizon Executive Director of Media Relations Ed McFadden -who, according to his Twitter picture, is a terrifying stone monkey god -apologized today for his “rude” and “unbecoming” attack on Center for Public Integrity journo Allan Holmes.

Here’s McFadden’s ad hominem tweet from earlier today, which has since been deleted:

Oooo, burn!

The story Holmes wrote had to do with “the massive influence web being deployed by AT&T and Verizon as they fight proposals advocated by their smaller competitors and the Justice Department to limit how much… new wireless frequencies they’ll be allowed to bid on.”

We suppose McFadden was just doing his job and got a little overzealous. Still, Holmes’ article didn’t seem lazy or unethical to us. Damaging to Verizon’s public image perhaps, but not lazy or unethical…

O’Bama’s St. Paddy’s Day Statement on Ukraine

Notably drunk and with lips as green as a leprechaun’s pecker, President Obama raised a glass to “those crazy a$$#@%#s in Crimea” at a short press conference today on the Ukrainian crisis. He also gave a “special shout-out” to Russian President Vladimir Putin who he said “acted all hard and s#%t,” but was in fact “fronting” and would “get his real soon.”

Media analysts across the spectrum rushed to interpret Obama’s remarks. We here at FBDC think MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell had it about right when she said the following to Matt Lauer:

“The President is understandably wasted right now. I mean come on Matt, the man just got finished with two wars and now he’s going to have to start another one -this time with the very real prospect of nuclear annihilation for one or more European allies. If I weren’t a gin girl, I’d be hitting the Jamie pretty hard right now too.”*

Erin go bragh, y’all!

*We made this up entirely. Here is what really happened.

AJAM Claimes Iran Behind 1988 Lockerbie Bombing

In a documentary set to be released tonight, Al Jazeera America claims to have unearthed new evidence that Iran was behind the 1988 bombings of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

“Lockerbie: What Really Happened?” will air tonight at 9:00 EST, and purports to show that the group responsible for the bombings was the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC). The group was supposedly responding to requests from Iran to avenge the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by the USS Vincennes in July 1988, which killed 290 people. The US government shot down that civilian plane after mistaking it for an Iranian military F-14 Tomcat.

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Tina Brown, Madeleine Albright, Friends to Solve Ukraine Crisis Tonight

Powerful ladies of Washington unite!

Tina Brown is gathering together some A-list names tonight to discuss the situation in Ukraine at a “Women in the World” cocktail reception at the Fairmont Hotel. Some of the women attending include:

Anita Dunn, Cheryl Mills, Amb. Melanne Verveer of Georgetown, MSNNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Sophie L’Helias Delattre of the Center for Stategic and International Studies, Voto Latino’s Maria Teresa Kumar, Elizabeth Thorp from Capitol File, Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell, Lauren Shweder Biel of DC Greens, documentarian Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, activist Humaira Bachal from Karachi, and Valerie Jarrett.

Frmr Sec. of State Madeleine Albright will be the guest of honor, and then, of course, Tina Brown will be hosting.

FishbowlDC will be attending the event as well, so we’ll keep you posted on what plan these impressive women put together to solve the world’s problems.

CNN’s Arwa Damon Receives Oxfam Award

Tonight, CNN’s Arwa Damon will be at the Newseum in downtown DC to collect Oxfam America’s first ever “Right the Wrong” Award. The award comes as Damon returns from a reporting stint in Turkey, where she has been covering anti-government protests. But for the past few weeks, Damon has been been covering a much more dangerous beat -the civil war in Syria. Indeed, Oxfam is recognizing her tonight for her “fearless reporting on conflict and humanitarian disasters in Syria.” (A great example of which can be found here.)

“It is a bit surreal,” she says of the contrast between the chaos of a war zone and the pomp of an awards ceremony.

“I am more comfortable being out there, dirt under my nails, amongst it all. But of course it’s phenomenally flattering and I think it does serve as a platform to highlight all the issues that we are covering out there.”

Damon is perhaps uniquely suited to cover the war for CNN -she is the quadrilingual, half-American granddaughter of former Syrian Prime Minister Muhsin al-Barazi. He was deposed and executed in 1949 during one the coups that wracked the early days of the independent Syrian state. She grew up in Morocco and Turkey, graduated from Skidmore College in New York, and began her career shortly after 9/11. At the time, she was working at a Turkish textile company, but in the face of the anti-Arab backlash taking hold of the country, she decided to dedicate her life to a higher purpose than hawking robes and carpets.

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Twitter Suspends ISIS Account That Tweeted Amputation

It appears Twitter has suspended ISIS-affiliated user reyadiraq, who earlier tweeted images (such as the one to the right) of a man’s hand being amputated. A spokesperson from Twitter said that they do not comment on individual accounts, “for privacy and security reasons.” But attempts to visit www.twitter.com/reyadiraq are now met with a message saying the account has been suspended.  The Twitter TOS also state that accounts may be suspended if they are deemed to be inciting violence or posting obscene material.

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