Skimm for February 20th
Quote of the Day: "They are dumb and they are stupid, stupid, stupid." -Erskine Bowles on the upcoming spending cuts set to start in March.
THE STORY: President Obama gently poked Congress in the eye to act and prevent automatic spending cuts set to start on March 1.
UH OH. WHAT'S COMING? On March 1, a series of automatic spending cuts known as "the sequester" are set to start. This is not the way either side of the political aisle wants to welcome spring. The cuts, which will affect everything from defense to education, are a result of a previous emergency debt ceiling deal, during which the old Washington adage of 'we'll deal with it later' seemed like a good idea. It wasn't.
SO WHAT'S OBAMA THINKING? He has urged Congress to prevent the cuts from happening by passing a smaller package of cuts and tax increases. Specifically, he said if Congress "allows this meat cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness." Harsh metaphor.
AND WHAT DID THE GOP HAVE TO SAY? Um, hello Mr. President, we don't want these cuts either but step away from the tax increases. Everyone agrees that the sequester is a bad, bad idea (for good measure, Obama spoke in front of emergency responders who might lose their jobs if the cuts happen. Heart strings pulled.) but the GOP is adamant that they need a plan that successfully reduces the deficit and curbs spending.
SO IS ANYONE GOING TO FIX THIS? DC's ambiguously bipartisan duo-Simpson and Bowles- tried. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles (deficit obsessed) proposed a detailed plan for rewriting the tax code and making major cuts, thinking it would lead to compromise. Unfortunately, they proposed about $200 billion more in spending cuts than the White House would like. They also proposed this while Congress is in recess. If a plan falls in Congress, and no one is around to hear it, does a plan exist?
REPEAT AFTER ME...What to say in a meeting... Surprise! I resign. Marine General John Allen, the longest-serving leader of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, asked the president to accept his resignation. This means he won't move forward with his nomination to be NATO's supreme allied commander (big job) so he can care for his wife who is battling chronic health issues. Aww, but why does his name sound so familiar? Oh yeah, the Pentagon investigated his involvement in the whole Gen. David Petraeus affair mess. He was cleared of any wrongdoing, after investigators combed through his "racy" exchanges with socialite Jill Kelley, and his decision to retire is said to have not been influenced by that blip in his stellar career.
What to say while doing your taxes... This math does not make sense. It's just as confusing as how $50 million worth of diamonds could be stolen in under five minutes. Although the thieves didn't break "Gone in 60 Seconds" records, heavily armed robbers dressed up as police officers made off with the goods during a raid at Brussels' international airport. The robbers drove onto the tarmac and took the goods as they were being loaded onto a plane. No one was injured and no shots were fired. Sometimes you can't help but root for the bad boys.
What to say after Facebook stalking... Is karma finally coming around to get me? Last month, several laptops on the Book's network were targeted by a sophisticated hacking attack. Thankfully, it doesn't seem like they got any info (still I live in fear of my search habits becoming public record). Now, unknown hackers have used the same malicious software to infect some Mac employees' computers. Apple came clean about the cyber attacks--the widest known efforts to target Macs used by corporations. It doesn't stop there -- Twitter was hacked earlier this month in the same campaign and 250,000 users may have had info compromised. @Jeep's account was also hijacked and MTV pretended theirs was as well, showing that just like TRL, their humor is passe. The breaches are being investigated and some think they come from China (although there is no official proof).
What people are morbidly fascinated by... The story of Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic track star and double amputee, who is charged with premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend. Pistorius says he did not mean to kill her and did not know she was on the other side when he shot through his bathroom door. He says he thought an intruder was breaking in and that his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was in bed. Pistorius says he used a bat to break down the bathroom door and then carried his girlfriend downstairs. She died in his arms. Prosecutors say, no bail for you, think he's a flight risk and that it's sketchy he had testosterone and needles laying around. Cold blooded killing or horrific accident? Discuss amongst yourselves.
What to say when you're broke... Now would be a great time to launch a fashion line. The United States Post Service is trying to get creative in how not to lose billions of dollars each year. Their answer? "Rain Heat & Snow," a new line of apparel and accessories modeled off of the Post Service's unofficial motto. The idea is to create "smart apparel," in other words, "wearable electronics." How about -- buy some printers?
BIRTHDAYS: Dan Quinlan (San Francisco, CA); Sara Christensen (Los Angeles, CA); Maggie Berry (New York, NY); Shirley Symister; Patty Silverstein (New York, NY)
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