Monday, December 30, 2013
Things To Ponder At Year End
TRENDS OF THE YEAR - Tweets beat press conferences: We saw lots of stories this past year about real-time news reporting ahead of the professional media (as in the Boston Marathon bombing) or tweets as ways to get information about things happening in places like Syria or Egypt. But 2013 was also the year in which another ... trend really came into its own: the use of ... Twitter/Facebook ... for politicians ... to communicate with the public directly. ... Media end up reporting what was put out on the web . This ... shrinks and possibly eliminates the role of media in keeping politicians honest and on their toes.
AP'S TOP 10 STORIES OF 2013, voted by U.S. editors and news directors: 1) health care overhaul ... 2) Boston marathon bombing ... 3) Vatican changeover ... 4) divided Congress ... 5) NSA spying ... 6) gay marriage ... 7) Nelson Mandela ... 8) Philippines typhoon ... 9) Syria ... 10) missing women found in Cleveland.
STAT DU JOUR - New York Soon To Trail Florida In Population: New York ... will soon fall behind Florida into fourth place, When the Census Bureau releases its latest population estimates on Monday, demographers expect that Florida and New York will be narrowly separated - perhaps by as little as a few thousand people - and that if Florida does not pass New York this time, it almost certainly will do so in 2014. ... The shift also highlights the struggles in upstate New York, which has lost large-scale manufacturing jobs, ... offsetting consistent gains in New York City. ... The changing population pattern could have many practical and political implications, including diminished congressional delegations.
JOHN MILLER of CBS News announced Friday on WCBS Channel 2, followed by a reader on the "CBS Evening News," that he is leaving the network to re-join incoming NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. Miller will take a top position counterterrorism and intelligence. Miller has been a leader under Bratton at the N.Y. and L.A. police departments, and helped him develop his philosophy of collaborative policing.
LOOK FOR CBS News to replace Miller with more than one person, given both his on-air roles and his array of law-enforcement sources.
ONE OF THE BEST YEAR-END ARTICLES THAT RAN ANYWHERE - The Economist, "The first world war ... A century on, there are uncomfortable parallels with the era that led to the outbreak of the first world war": "Globalization and new technology -- the telephone, the steamship, the train -- ... knitted the world together. ... Yet within a year, the world was embroiled in a most horrific war. It cost 9m lives-and many times that number if you take in the various geopolitical tragedies it left in its wake, from the creation of Soviet Russia to the too-casual redrawing of Middle Eastern borders and the rise of Hitler. ... Too many people, in London, Paris and elsewhere, believed that because Britain and Germany were each other's biggest trading partners after America and there was therefore no economic logic behind the conflict, war would not happen. ...
"The United States is Britain, the superpower on the wane, unable to guarantee global security. Its main trading partner, China, plays the part of Germany, a new economic power bristling with nationalist indignation and building up its armed forces rapidly. Modern Japan is France, an ally of the retreating hegemon and a declining regional power. ... The most troubling similarity between 1914 and now is complacency. Businesspeople today are like businesspeople then: too busy making money to notice the serpents flickering at the bottom of their trading screens. Politicians are playing with nationalism just as they did 100 years ago. China's leaders whip up Japanophobia, using it as cover for economic reforms, while Shinzo Abe stirs Japanese nationalism for similar reasons."
The 10 craziest stories of 2013 –
1). Sexting with Danger: Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner began his attempt to finagle his way back into public life in April with a New York Times Magazine profile of his post-congressional, supposedly post-sexting, life. Weiner officially began his ill-fated campaign for New York City mayor on May 21, repeatedly saying he and his family had moved beyond the scandal as he sought to keep his focus on the “issues.”
Turned out that Weiner had indeed continued sexting with women after leaving Congress, as photos, messages and his ridiculous moniker were shared. A woman, later identified as Sydney Leathers, came forward with sexually explicit online messages. And on July 23, he admitted that he kept having relationships even after he got caught the first time.
Weiner finished with a tiny 5 percent of the vote, and just after his concession speech, he gave a fitting goodbye to the reporters who covered his campaign as cameras caught him flipping off a journalist.
2). All My Children, or Not: Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of Rep. Steve Cohen’s life. And what a soap opera year it was for the Tennessee Democrat, complete with a surprise “daughter,” a shocking paternity test and a bunch of bizarre tweets.
3). Rand Paul and the case of the copy and paste: The plagiarism charges around Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — he was accused of lifting from a think tank study, an op-ed in The Week magazine, Wikipedia entries for the films “Gattaca” and “Stand and Deliver,” and more sources — stayed in the headlines for a few weeks in the later part of year, with ever-more examples of other people’s writing found in his book, speeches and op-eds.
4). Unionization of College Adjunct Faculty: The Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) attempt to unionize College Adjunct Faculty at small college and universities. Want-a-be Faculty and unions do not mix. But also university management beware of tougher fiscal times ahead.
5). The Fake Interpreter: After Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Dec. 10, people couldn’t stop talking about the selfie President Barack Obama took with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British PM David Cameron. But that wasn’t even close to being the strangest part of the event. The sign language interpreter who stood feet away from world leaders such as Obama as they delivered speeches was a fraud, using gestures that deaf groups called nonsensical. Thamsanqa Jantjie said he may have been suffering from a schizophrenic episode and claimed he saw “angels” during the service. He also fessed up that he had been violent in the past, and reports emerged that he had been charged with involvement in a mob that in 2003 had burned two men to death. He had never faced trial, however.
6). “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine”: It took until November for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to finally admit he had used crack: “Probably in one of my drunken stupors.”
7). Not Classy, San Diego Mayor: Accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, San Diego mayor and former Rep. Bob Filner spent much of the summer refusing to resign. First to go public with allegations was his former communications director. Then a dozen more women came forward in rapid succession with stories of the 70-year-old Democrat behaving inappropriately, forcing them into headlocks, trying to sneak kisses and making inappropriate comments. Finally, on Aug. 23, Filner stepped down in a deal with the San Diego City Council, and, in October, he pleaded guilty to felony false imprisonment and two misdemeanor battery charges. Filner was sentenced in December to three months of home confinement and three years of probation.
8). Jailhouse Rock: In April, the FBI arrested an Elvis impersonator from Mississippi suspected of mailing ricin to Obama and other public officials. Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was released nearly a week later, with authorities determining he had been set up. Then the FBI turned to James Everett Dutschke, a taekwondo instructor who had a year’s long feud with Curtis, charging him with sending the letters and attempting to frame Curtis. To celebrate his freedom, Curtis appeared on CNN and ended up regaling viewers with a live rendition of a Randy Travis song. Dutschke, meanwhile, has been in jail since April. In December, he pleaded not guilty to a new indictment that charges him with trying to recruit someone from jail to send another ricin-laced letter to Sen. Roger Wicker — and again trying to frame Curtis.
9). The Fugitive: The Edward Snowden story dominated the year’s news, from the leak itself to the repercussions of what the documents revealed about the NSA and government surveillance. But for all the substantial policy debates that rocked the political world, one question about Snowden commanded the headlines this summer and offered up the wackiest part of the NSA leaker’s tale: Where in the world was Snowden? As a fugitive on the run, Snowden delivered what seemed like a plot out of a bestselling political thriller, with stops in global locations spanning Hawaii, Hong Kong and Russia. The question of where Snowden was — and where he’d end up — captivated the world. After his U.S. passport was revoked, Snowden boarded a plane to Moscow, where he stayed for 39 days in Sheremetyevo International Airport’s transit zone. Adding another twist, Snowden had a seat booked for a flight through Cuba and, although he never boarded it, a number of reporters did. On their flight to Havana, some passed the time by photographing Snowden’s empty seat. Ultimately, he was granted temporary asylum in Russia for a year, setting the stage for a sequel in 2014, when Snowden’s asylum expires in August.
10). The Tale of T-Bone: Some young kids have an imaginary friend. And so does a U.S. senator, according to some reports. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s drug dealer bestie T-Bone’s very existence was called into question again this year in a National Review story. Could the Democrat’s frequent campaign tale of the Newark drug dealer who once threatened his life before becoming his good friend be a fantasy? The question of T-Bone’s existence first made a run in the press in 2008, when Esquire reported that Booker had admitted “that although T-Bone’s corporeal being is ‘1,000 percent real,’ he’s an ‘archetype’ of an aspect of Newark’s woe whose actual nom de crack may not actually be T-Bone.” Fast forward to Booker’s 2013 Senate run, where the story came back with a vengeance.
The conservative National Review dug into the controversy, asserting that T-Bone was a tale spun by Booker and quoting Rutgers University history professor Clement Price, a Booker supporter, who said the Newark mayor had confessed to him T-Bone was a composite. Booker’s spokesperson, however, told Slate that “this is a partisan attempt to revive a fake controversy from five years ago and make it a 2013 fake controversy” and pointed to the Esquire piece. T-Bone never materialized for an interview, photo-op or otherwise to put the story to bed. Undaunted, Booker won the election in a cakewalk.
NEW YEARS WEATHER –
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Bobby Hull (75), Ben Kingsley (70), Sandy Koufax (78), Meredith Viera (60), Tiger Woods (38).
THE MOTHER SHIP - For ESPN, Millions to Remain in Connecticut: The governor of Connecticut arrived at ESPN's expansive campus here to celebrate the groundbreaking of the sports media giant's 19th building, a digital center that would be the new home of 'SportsCenter.' It was August 2011, and this was the third visit in a year by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ... This time, Mr. Malloy brought a hard hat, a shovel and an incentive package for ESPN potentially worth $25 million. ESPN is hardly needy. With nearly 100 million households paying about $5.54 a month for ESPN, regardless of whether they watch it, the network takes in more than $6 billion a year in subscriber fees alone. Still, ESPN has received about $260 million in state tax breaks and credits over the past 12 years, according to a New York Times analysis of public records. ...
ESPN is Connecticut's most celebrated brand, ... employing more than 4,000 workers in the state. ... This is peak season for ESPN, which is broadcasting 33 of the 35 college football bowl games, including the national championship game on Jan. 6 between Florida State and Auburn. This spring, it is scheduled to open the 193,000-square-foot Digital Center 2 ... The main hallways in the building were designed to be wide enough to fit a race car.
ESPN's Monday Night Football: Cable's Most-Watched Series for Eighth Straight Year; -- ESPN release : "The 2013 season ranks as the third highest-rated and most-viewed season in ESPN's eight years of presenting Monday Night Football ... Since 2006, Monday Night Football has registered five of the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history. (Only Bowl Championship Series college football games since 2011 - which also aired on ESPN - rank higher.) ... ESPN's highest-rated MNF game of 2013 was the Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears (Dec. 9 ... 16,192,000 viewers). The most-viewed MNF game was the Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins season-opener (Sept. 9) with 16,524,000 viewers."
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Wednesday 1/1, 5:00 PM ET, ABC: The Grand Daddy Rose Bowl, from Pasadena, California – #5 Stanford Cardinal (11-2) vs. #4 Michigan State Spartans (12-1), we like the Spartans to win a wild one. State 35 Stanford 31. Season to date (12-6)
SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Season Complete. Final Season totals (10-5)
SPORTS BLINK - Rematches galore in wild-card playoff round: It begins with the Colts hosting the Chiefs on Saturday. Indianapolis won at Kansas City just last week. At night, ... New Orleans is at Philadelphia. On Sunday, it's San Diego at Cincinnati ... And the wild-card finale with San Francisco visiting Green Bay ... Off next weekend are Denver (13-3) and New England (12-4) in the AFC, Seattle (13-3) and Carolina (12-4) in the NFC. In the divisional round, Seattle and New England will be at home on Saturday, Jan. 11, with Carolina and Denver hosting games on Jan. 12. ... Aaron Rodgers played the role of returning hero ... in Green Bay's 33-28 victory at Chicago.
Bengals 34, Ravens 14 ... For first time in six seasons, Super Bowl champs will miss playoffs.
NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/4, 4:35 PM ET, NBC: AFC Wildcard Playoff – Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) vs. Indianapolis Colts (11-5). It has been a great year for the Chiefs but it ends here, Colts 24 KC 20. Season to date (12-4)
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS –
(NCAA Orange Bowl, Jan. 3) #12 Clemson Tigers (10-2) 30 vs. #7 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1) 38.
(NCAA Hockey, Jan. 4) Yale Bulldogs (7-3-3) 4 vs. Vermont Catamounts (10-6-1) 3
(NHL, Jan. 1) Toronto Maple Leafs (20-16-5) 3 at Detroit Red Wings (18-13-9) 4
(NFL Upset of the Week, Jan. 5) San Francisco 49ers (12-4) 17 vs. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) 21
2013 Season Final (55-46)
DRIVING THE WEEK - Dow on track for best year since 1996: The Dow Jones Industrial Average is on track to end the year with its biggest percentage gain since 1996 and is almost certain to have its best year in a decade. If it closes on Dec. 31 above 16,422.11, the Dow will beat its 25.32 percent surge in 2003. That would make it the best year since 1996, when the Dow gained 26.01 percent. ... The Dow is also heading for its fifth straight annual gain, its longest winning streak since nine consecutive gains ending in 1999. The index is up 87 percent since it closed at 8,776.39 on Dec. 31, 2008.
The new week begins with a single economic report on the calendar: Pending home sales for November from the National Association of Home Builders. Economists are looking for a 1.0 percent increase, following October’s 0.6 percent decline.
Next week: Rink Rats 2014 predictions.
Until Next Monday, “Happy New Year”.
December 30, 2013