$30million for Mad Men creator Matt Weiner in new deal source
» Patching things up: Weiner and AMC had been butting heads over some rather unglamorous specifics of the award-winning show, the sorts of arguments that chill the blood of television fans. AMC had wanted to reduce the production budget by shaving two minutes off the running time of each episode, as well as killing off characters to save on the actor’s pay, which is a pretty brazen demand to make in an artistic sense. As the compromise stands, all but the first and last episode will be two minutes shorter, but character deaths won’t be mandated by management.
“These are real thugs. They’re really people who shoot first and ask questions later…there was so little organization and absolutely no command structure going on.”—Tyler Hicks, one of the reporters kidnapped by the Libyan military • Reflecting on the nature of his captors. Hicks and three others were held for six days by Gaddafi’s forces before being released. source (via • follow)
“The word “Governator” combined two worlds: the world of politics and the movie world. And [this cartoon] brings everything together. It combines the governor, the Terminator, the bodybuilding world, the True Lies…”—Arnold Schwarzenegger • Speaking about “The Governator,” an upcoming project he’s doing with comic book icon Stan Lee. Slated for release next year, you’ll be able to both buy “The Governator” comic book, and watch “The Governator” cartoon show. The project features Arnold as the protagonist, who after completing his term in office, decides to build a secret crime-fighting base under his home in Brentwood. Two questions: Will this fictional narrative acknowledge the fact that Schwarzenegger was, to be generous, an ineffective (and by the end quite unpopular) governor? And more importantly, when are we going to get the “Comeback Kid” Bill Clinton video game franchise we’ve so passionately desired? source (via • follow)
Florida Gov slashes disabilities services, then heads to Special Olympics ceremony
afternoon Florida Gov. Rick Scott is expected to announce a 15% pay cut for workers who aid developmentally-disabled Floridians.
eveningAs a sort of consolation prize to those whose services will be cut, Scott will then attend a photo-op for the Special Olympics. source
» Why the 15% cut? Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities is facing a $170 million deficit, and Scott claims these cuts are essential to preserving the agency. Fair enough. Alternatively, he could lower his proposed $1.5 billion corporate tax cut to, say, $1.4 billion, and re-route that money to the APD. Just a suggestion. [hat tip: ThinkProgress]
France may preempt IAEA summit: President Nicolas Sarkozy wants G20 nuclear industry officials to come to Paris in May to discuss safety issues. This might rankle the United Nations, as such an event would preempt the IAEA’s summit in Vienna, planned for June. The IAEA lacks the power to force action on its recommendations, which is why nations like France may not want to wait for the U.N. body. “I suspect that this will not be appreciated on the 28th floor,” said a diplomat, referring to the office of IAEA Director General Yukiyo Amano. source
British officials say no deal struck with Moussa Koussa
NOMoussa Koussa was not offered immunity to defect source
» So say British officials: Koussa, the former Libyan Foreign Minister who defected yesterday, had been a cornerstone of the Gaddafi regime dating back to the 1969 revolution. As such, it wasn’t unreasonable upon learning of his defection to wonder just how dirty his hands were. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court lists Koussa as having had command control over Libyan forces suspected of “crimes against humanity” during his long career as Gaddafi’s confidant. If he has indeed defected with no assurance of legal immunity, that might be indicative of how Gaddafi’s inner circle is feeling right now. Here’s hoping more of these dominoes start to fall.
really? Donald Trump has employed a daring, if unscrupulous political strategy in courting the birther movement. Basically, he’s trading in whatever mainstream credibility he has to corner the market on a vociferous, single-issue base.
Orly! Orly Taitz, birther maven and former California Secretary of State candidate, endorsed Trump on her blog, calling him “THE PRESIDENT WE OUGHT TO HAVE NOW, ASAP.” As you can tell from the caps-lock, she’s deadly serious. source
Biden: Republicans and Democrats nearing deal in budget talks
$33billion in cuts in the latest, tentative budget proposal source
» Still not a sure thing: Joe Biden, who has been negotiating a budget with the Republicans, says that he and Republicans are now “working off the same number” in their talks. However, John Boehner’s spokesman made it clear that “there is no deal until everything is settled.” If this budget passes, the cuts will fall drastically short of the $100 billion Republicans pledged to cut during last November’s elections. If it doesn’t, a government shutdown will become a near-certainty.
Ivory Coast: Opposition takes administrative capital, Gbagbo's forces "crumbling"
yesunder the leadership of Alassane Ouattara, opposition forces in Ivory Coast now control the country’s administrative capital
"hours"resignation deadline given to Laurent Gbagbo, who has so far refused to step down as President, by Ouattara’s Prime Minister source
» Quick recap: Gbagbo lost November’s presidential elections, but has refused to cede power to Ouattara, the victor. The taking of the administrative capital, Yamoussoukro, has symbolic significance, as it was the birthplace of the area’s first President and ultra-popular reformer, Félix Houphouët-Boigny. It’s not a done-deal yet; Abidjan, the city from which the country’s government is actually run, is still controlled by Gbagbo forces, and will present a much more difficult challenge to the opposition.
Former US intelligence officer: CIA is currently in Libya
are cia operatives on the ground in libya? Yes, according to an anonymous American official and former US intelligence officer. It’s unclear, however, what type of operatives they are, and what exactly they’re doing. Details are sketchy at this point, but they apparently helped rescue one of the American soldiers who had to eject from his F-15 on day one of the engagement. We’re going to hold off on drawing any conclusions here until more solid information comes in. source
More GOP union-busting fun, this time at the federal level
goal Continuing full-steam ahead with their party’s attack on worker’s unions, House Republicans will vote on legislation making it more difficult for rail and aviation workers to unionize.
obstacle The White House, via the Office of Management in Budget, released a statement today threatening—though not explicitly pledging—to veto any bill that contained such changes. source
» What’s being proposed: The provision, which comes in the form of an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill, would affect the way votes are tallied when rail or aviation workers decide whether or not to unionize. Under the proposed amendment, no-shows and abstentions would count as “no” votes (that is, votes against unionization; if anyone can explain the intellectual justification behind such a policy, we’re all ears). But not only does the bill face a possible presidential veto; there’s also doubt as to whether House leadership even has the votes to pass it. We’ll keep you posted as to how this plays out after tomorrow’s vote.
South Carolina wants to legalize handguns in day-care centers
concerning The state legislature in South Carolina is currently considering a law that would allow for guns to be carried in day-care centers, churches, and restaurants.
crazy The state’s pro-gun lobby oppose the bill for not going far enough, and has called the bill “unconstitutional” in its restrictions. source
» Restrictions? What restrictions? As explained in an open letter, the gun lobby objects on the grounds that the legislation doesn’t allow out-of-staters, or people under 21, to reap the benefits of the new law, thus violating their constitutional rights. Fun fact: South Carolina has the ninth-highest rate of murder-by-firearm in the country. Actually, on second thought, there’s nothing fun about that.
Was Libyan military aid authorized? It’s being reported that President Obama signed an order, called a “finding,” which is effectively a secret authorization to militarily support the Libyan rebellion. The process is said to generally be used for secret CIA authorizations. The administration has gone to staggering lengths to avoid the perception that the Libyan intervention was an American decision rather than an international one, for reasons of perception both domestic and worldwide. This report, however, would suggest the U.S. had decided to actively support the rebellion of their own unilateral volition. source
Ohio House passes anti-union bill, abortion next big fight
labor war The Republican-led Ohio House approved their much publicized anti-public union bill, adding payments for health care and pensions, and restricting collective bargaining for 360,000 or so people. The bill will now head to the Senate.
culture war The Ohio “heartbeat” bill heads to the House. It would make abortion illegal if a fetal heartbeat is detected (normally about six weeks into pregnancy). The doctor would be guilty of a felony and could be sentenced to a year in prison. source
25%the percentage of global oil production that’s consumed by the U.S.
2%the percentage of global oil reserves under the control of the U.S.
1/3rdthe reduction in fuel imports Obama wants for the next decade source
» So, how do we get there? The nitty-gritty policy proposals President Obama spoke on seemed hauntingly familiar, with emissions standards, electric car production, (safety reviewed) nuclear power and natural gas all figuring into his pitch. These are all worthwhile possible answers or supplements to reduce foreign fuel imports, but will Congress have the desire (or failing that, the collective will) to act on issues they’ve to this point been pretty willing to pass on? Especially with a Republican-led House, whose leadership is demonstrably opposed to emissions standards, it’s a worrisome possibility that this effort, like so many over the last thirty years, will fall by the wayside.
“Asking whether large solar power plants are appropriate in the Mojave desert is like wondering whether subways makes sense in New York City.”—
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lays out a case for putting solar farms in the Mojave as part of a policy based on improving public health, boosting the economy, and avoiding the risks of the fossil economy.
“[San Francisco] deserves a neighborhood named after a delicious cruelty-free food instead of the flesh of an abused animal.”—PETA’s Tracy Reiman • Regarding the city’s notorious Tenderloin district. The TL, as some call it, is a notoriously rough area near San Francisco’s financial district; according to local lore, it’s named after the preferred cut of meat for neighborhood cops overflowing with bribe money. PETA is offended at this carnivore-centric nomenclature, and wants to rename the neighborhood “The Tempeh,” after the soy product. Once again, PETA really ought to consider picking their battles more carefully. Besides, renaming it “The Tempeh” might imply that the corrupt cops preferred cruelty-free food. And we don’t want to glorify corrupt cops, do we? source (via • follow)
Ground gained by Gaddafi: The Libyan rebellion is retreating in the face of heavy artillery and tank fire, as Muammar Gaddafi’s forces have retaken Breja. The rebels are heading back to Ajdabiya, which was where they were situated before the start of the NATO air strikes. As the international community mulls whether to actively provide arms to the rebel movement, Gaddafi’s ground attack seems to be prevailing despite being the lack of aerial support. That said, this conflict is nothing if not fluid, so it’s wise to stay abreast of new information. source
“He’s now using his thugs to try to stay in power and intimidate the opposition and the duly elected president.”—President Barack Obama • On the continued grip on power by Laurent Gbagbo, the Ivory Coast strongman who was electorally defeated by Alassane Ouattara last November. As power-hungry, unscrupulous leaders are prone to do, Gbagbo didn’t relinquish power to Ouattara, instead orchestrating a campaign of intimidation and violence against the citizenry. Some 400 people have been killed as a result, and it’s estimated more than a million have been displaced, fleeing their homes and seeking peaceful refuge elsewhere. It’s nice to hear the President talk about this, because frankly, the people of the Ivory Coast have gotten short shrift with all the upheaval in the Middle East. He emphasized that a diplomatic effort with surrounding African nations is the crux of the U.S. effort to isolate and pressure Gbagbo out of power, downplaying military options. source (via • follow)
» Why? Behgjet Pacolli was elected by parliament a month ago. Today, a constitutional court ruled this ascension in violation of the country’s constitution, and in respect of their decision, Pacolli stepped down. But down though he is, he’s not yet out: Pacolli has announced his intent to run for President in the next election, which has yet to be scheduled. The Republic of Kosovo declared independence in 2008 following ten years of interim UN rule, and gained international recognition that same year.
“This is State Represenative Bobby Franklin. Thank you for calling to give me encouragement about my sponsorship of House Bill 1, recognizing that pre-natal murder is murder. I’m not able to take that encouragement right now, so at the tone please leave your name, number, and a message.”—Best Lawmaker Voicemail Ever (via nickbaumann)
» Why the fine? SImple explanation. Despite the fact that the university knew about the slayings of two students in a dorm room, it took them 2 hours and 15 minutes to warn people what was going on — a requirement under the Clery Act. Shooter Seung-Hui Cho attacked a lecture hall 2 hours and 30 minutes after the initial killings — attacks which were much deadlier. To put it simply, they could have saved lives if warnings were put out sooner.
On Obama's apparent contradictions in his Libya message
Last night, we got a friendly message from nhaler about the contradictions in the messages we’re hearing on Libya: ”What’re your thoughts on the plain contradictions that are being repeated by the mass media regarding Obama’s claims that USA ‘led the charge’ against Gaddafi?” Good question. In many ways we saw clear leadership from France before reports that the U.S. led the mission first came out. But on the other hand, they were in front of the coalition behind the airstrikes, even as they only modestly took on the endeavor. To us,this whole situation plays into Obama internal conflicts. He was slow to discuss Libya until weeks after the original crisis began, which has made it hard for him to jump on the issue decisively. That’s the problem here. He needs to be less conflicted and his cabinet more focused as a unit.
Wisconsin: Judge blocks collective bargaining law once again
then Wisconsin-based Judge Maryann Sumi ruled a couple of weeks ago that the just-passed anti-collective bargaining law couldn’t be implemented for procedural reasons. Scott Walker continued to implement it anyway.
now Judge Maryann Sumi has ruled again, saying that Secretary of State Doug La Follette can’t do anything to allow the law to take effect. Walker’s folks tried to get around him. With the latest order, they pretty much failed. source
“At this point, in addition to maintaining a no-fly zone protecting civilian populations, we also have political tools, diplomatic tools, sanctions freezing his assets — all of which continue to tighten the noose. And so our expectation is that as we continue to supply steady pressure, not only militarily but also through these other means, that Gaddafi will ultimately step down.”—President Barack Obama • Offering a follow-up to the sentiments he made last night about the American military action in Libya. While Obama says he was reluctant to start another military campaign, here we are — Obama emphasizing that we could “save a lot of lives” in Libya. Doesn’t this contradict all the stuff he’s been saying about this being a specific mission with a limited scope? source (via • follow)