Party crashers

The Washington Post reported that two senior Secret Service agents are under investigation after an incident last week where a government car was allegedly driven into security barriers at the White House

Last week’s incident is the first major misstep to take place since the management shake-up that began last October, when Julia Pierson abruptly resigned as director in the weeks after a man was able to jump the White House fence and race through much of the mansion’s main floor.

CNN reported that House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said his initial understanding is that the two agents were “partying in Georgetown” when they responded to an incident at the White House.

“Drinking on the job isn’t good at McDonald’s and it certainly isn’t good if you work for the Secret Service,” he said.

secretWH(image NBC NewsIn December last year, an independent review of the Secret Service found the agency needed a “culture change.”)


* POLITICS * The Associated Press filed a legal suit against the State Department “to force the release of email correspondence and government documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.” The action comes after several Freedom of Information requests “went unfulfilled,” the news organization said.

“State’s failure to ensure that Secretary Clinton’s governmental emails were retained and preserved by the agency, and its failure timely to seek out and search those emails in response to AP’s requests, indicate at the very least that State has not engaged in the diligent, good-faith search that FOIA requires,” says AP’s legal filing.

Meanwhile, after the prospective Presidential candidate’s less-than-convincing press conference, Clinton’s advisers are planning to move on by “changing the subject line,” according to Gabriel DeBenedetti at Politico.

Clinton’s camp believes her performance — which did nothing to assuage the political press corps or her Republican critics — succeeded in accomplishing several crucial goals. First, as one Hillaryland veteran told POLITICO, “it got her out there. Regular people could see how passionately she feels about her personal privacy and most people can empathize.”

Just as important, Clinton’s team hopes her public explanation transforms the storyline from the dangerous “what’s Hillary hiding?” to a more defensible — and numbingly complex — set of conversations among media reporters and lawyers about what public officials can and can’t do with their own emails. Despite warnings from Democrats around the country that the issue is still raging, Clinton allies figure that inside-baseball conversations like this don’t resonate with everyday voters, and especially not with undecided voters in swing states.

Meanwhile, potential GOP candidate Jeb Bush on Wednesday severed his final corporate ties, selling his stakes in a consulting business and an investment group. The former Florida Governor is headed to New Hampshire this weekend.


* WORLD * Scientists in China are warning that a new strain of influenza has the potential to become a pandemic virus, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“H7N9 viruses should be considered as a major candidate to emerge as a pandemic strain in humans,” they wrote in a study published Wednesday by the journal Nature.

The virus developed in birds before spreading to humans. Like the H5N1 bird flu and the H1N1 swine flu, it contains a combination of genes that are new to people.

The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri stepped down, becoming the sixth city official to resign or be fired following the scathing Justice Department report showing institutional racial bias. The St Louis Post Dispatch reported that Thomas Jackson will leave office on March 19. 

In the wake of the racist chanting by fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma, Amanda Paulson at the Christian Science Monitor looks at the challenges facing colleges in reforming such a culture.

On a related note, there’s a really interesting piece by Jamil Smith in The New Republic about the race beat at the New York Times and other papers. 


* BUSINESS * The annual report by the New York State Comptroller showed that Wall Street bonuses averaged $172,860 last year, an increase of 2 per cent on 2013 and the highest payout since 2007.

Sarah Kollmorgen at The New Republic writes that “the amount of cash is in fact so massive it could go a long way in the United States. It could, for instance, double the annual earnings of every full-time minimum wage worker in America, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, which simultaneously released a report of its own.”

Also at TNR, Reuben Thomas Fineghan writes about Robert Putnam’s new book “Our Kids” and finds that that “income, not culture, is what divides America now.”

Our Kids begins with a journey to Putnam’s home town of Port Clinton, Ohio, where he graduated from high school in the class of ‘59. This town is the origin of the book’s title: Port Clinton townsfolk called all the community’s children “our kids.”

The research team found that most of Putnam’s classmates, whether born rich or poor, went on to enjoy better lives than their parents. If we set the influence of race aside, social class was only a modest influence on the lives of Putnam’s generation.

Four big banks struggled to pass the Federal Reserve’s “stress tests,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Privacy advocates have expressed concerns about Mattel’s new wi-fi-connected “Hello Barbie” doll, which has been described as “eavesdropping” and “creepy”, the Washington Post writes.

To revive the sinking sales of its flagship brand, Mattel is bringing Barbie to life with voice-recognition software that will allow the doll to “listen” to children speak and give chatty responses. It will learn over time, remembering your dog’s name and adjusting to new topics.


* MEDIA * A new poll shows that Tina Fey is the favorite to replace Jon Stewart as host of the The Daily Show.

South African journalist Vuyo Mvoko found himself being mugged on camera during a stand-up piece in Johannesburg.

(SABC Digital News)


* SPORTS * With selection sunday for this year’s March Madness coming up this weekend and games set to begin next Tuesday, financial data released by the NCAA showed the association had total revenues of nearly $1bn in 2014.

Will Ferrell is planning – some may say threatening – to play in every position for different teams in five Spring Training baseball games on Thursday, as part of an upcoming HBO special. ESPN reports:

In 2010, he pitched — sort of — for Houston’s Triple-A club, the Round Rock Express, in a game against Nashville. Wearing a mustache in the guise of “Rojo Johnson,” a temperamental Venezuelan player, he threw one pitch behind a batter and was ejected. He ripped off the mustache as he left the field.

In the opening game, he’ll catch for the Chicago Cubs, who luckily started a one-game Cactus League win streak on Wednesday. Here’s the roster:




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