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“Scandal Jujitsu: How is Obama coping with multiple scandals? By playing them off against one another,” by William Saletan. It’s been a bad week for the White House, with scandals over the 2012 Benghazi attacks, IRS targeting of conservative groups, and Justice Department monitoring of AP reporters’ phone records all making national headlines. Saletan criticizes the administration’s tactic of justifying the AP phone record surveillance by tying it to Republican’s concern about Benghazi-like security breaches. He writes that it’s a cynical move and a failure in messaging that won’t make any of these headaches go away.
Last year, a 38-year-old friend sent me a link to an article titled “My Secret Grief: Over 35, Single, and Childless” by Savvy Auntie author Melanie Notkin about her heartbreak over not having children with the email subject line “She nailed it!” I quickly replied with the answer I’d given many friends who were worried about finding a partner in time to have a baby: “Freeze your eggs!” I gushed about how taking charge of my fertility had made me feel more relaxed and helped my dating prospects. Then I preemptively knocked down my friend’s arguments: You can afford it. It’s not too late. I’ll help you with the hormone shots. Despite my best efforts at cheerleading, she remained tepid: “I’ll think about it.”
The other night, I was having dinner with some friends in a fairly decent restaurant and was at the very peak of my form as a wit and raconteur. But just as, with infinite and exquisite tantalizations, I was approaching my punch line, the most incredible thing happened. A waiter appeared from nowhere, leaned right over my shoulder and into the middle of the conversation, seized my knife and fork, and started to cut up my food for me. Not content with this bizarre behavior, and without so much as a by-your-leave, he proceeded to distribute pieces of my entree onto the plates of the other diners.
A person’s head collides with an object. Unprepared for the impact, the head jerks in a violent whiplash motion. The person collapses, rolling on the ground and holding his head, before rising slowly and unsteadily. Eyewitnesses testify that the person was confused or disoriented.
Maybe it wasn’t the best idea for acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller to resign before talking to Congress. He appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday as a sort of human sacrifice; the first bureaucrat to resign in the scandal, and not even the one Republicans or Tea Partiers wanted. Miller had been a deputy commissioner during the years of scandal, and the IRS inspector general’s report didn’t tie him to any bias or malfeasance.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand—A fish restaurant in New Zealand seemed an odd place to discuss a war that took place several thousand miles away and several decades ago, but there we were: Sea bream was served, sauvignon blanc was poured, the rain drummed down outside, and I listened while three septuagenarians smiled, laughed, and told me of the unimaginable tragedy they had lived through as children.
This article originally appeared in the Birdist.
Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, a black-and-white, French New Wave–influenced coming-of-age-in-New-York tale, has the earnest, wonky charm of a homemade valentine. The addressee is the 29-year-old actress Greta Gerwig, who plays the title character, co-wrote the script with Baumbach, and is also the director’s girlfriend—they became a couple after working together on Baumbach’s 2010 film Greenberg. If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to sit and watch Greta Gerwig just sort of behave for an hour and a half, your Sunday matinee plans are set. That’s not to say that Frances Ha dispenses completely with structure, plot and theme—it’s just that Baumbach treats those elements with more insouciance than is usual in his films, which have tended of late to be hyper-verbal, slightly sadistic drawing-room comedies (Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg).
No company likes to admit problems, but yesterday’s quarterly earnings report from Wal-Mart featured a remarkable amount of excuse-making, even by corporate standards. The company surprised analysts by reporting a 1.4 percent quarterly decline in comparable-store sales across the United States. In other words, Wal-Mart’s American stores sold less stuff this past quarter than the quarter before. Wal-Mart blamed this drop on essentially everything under the sun except people not wanting to shop at their stores: “A delay in income tax refund checks, challenging weather conditions, less grocery inflation than expected, and the payroll tax increase” were all said to have created “considerable headwinds” for America’s No. 1 retailer. And perhaps they did, but companies all across the land dealt with the same issues and most of them did better than Wal-Mart.
In the wake of the story this week that the Justice Department scooped up two months’ worth of the phone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press, University of Chicago law professor and Slate contributor Eric Posner and Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon have been arguing over whether this is an overreach by the Department of Justice and an intrusion on the newsgathering function of the press (Emily), or an entirely justified effort to find and prosecute a scurrilous government leaker who imperiled the country’s counterterrorism operation in Yemen (Eric). Here’s an edited version of their exchange:
At her live event in New York, Prudence suggested a careful approach to a man worried about his kids and their mother with borderline personality disorder.
America is a fluoride nation. Beginning in 1945, when Grand Rapids, Mich., became the first city in the world to add the stuff to its water supply, the practice has spread across the United States. In most areas it is simply understood that ingesting minuscule levels of fluoride is good for dental health. As of 2010, almost three-quarters of Americans drink fluoridated water from community water systems, and the nation’s 30 most populous cities consume it.
Move over, mobile phones. There’s a new technological fix for poverty: biometric identification. Speaking at the World Bank on April 24, Nandan Nilekani, director of India’s universal identification scheme, promised that the project will be “transformational.” It “uses the most sophisticated technology … to solve the most basic of development challenges.” The massive ambition, known as Aadhaar, aims to capture fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans of 1.2 billion residents, with the assumption that a national identification program will be a key ingredient to “empower poor and underprivileged residents.” The World Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, effusively summed up the promise as “just stunning.”
This article originally appeared on Previously.TV, a brand-new TV commentary and recap site created by Tara Ariano, Sarah D. Bunting, and David T. Cole, the original founders of Television Without Pity. Visit Previously.TV for more.
Several new diagnoses appear in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, released later this month, and critics are attacking with claws extended. Controversy surrounds whether several of these new disorders should be included, and many experts question their validity.
California and Texas might be leading the nation’s rollout of solar and wind power, respectively, but Washington, where hydroelectric dams provide over 60 percent of the state’s energy, was the country’s biggest user of renewable power in 2011, according to new statistics released last week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.