Obama Flip-Flops: Does He Know Who Snooki Is, Or Not?

Gawker – By Maureen O’Connor

Barack Obama has been caught in a contradiction. Asked about Jersey Shore star Snooki on The View today, the President replied, “I don’t know who that is.” But two months ago he knew who she was! Nitpicky video analysis ahead.

Asked for his opinion on Snooki (who voted for John McCain) the president claimed ignorance. But two months ago he dropped Snooki’s name in a White House Press Correspondents Dinner punchline about a health care provision named in honor of the hit MTV show. “It [the provision] reads, ‘The following individuals shall be excluded from the indoor tanning tax within this bill: Snooki, JWOWW, The Situation and House minority leader John Boehner.'” So which is it, Obama? Do you know Snooki, or don’t you? Clearly, this is the Watergate of our time, and America demands an answer.

We believe there are three possible explanations for Snooki-gate:

1. He forgot Snooki. (Which is odd, because she’s the kind of person who tends to get seared into your mind forever.)

2. He is as ashamed of partaking in television’s guiltiest pleasure as you are. His ignorance on The View was feigned.

3. Obama’s famously hip speechwriters got ahead of him and dropped a cultural reference he didn’t understand for the sake of Beltway chuckles. He recited the joke without getting it, and promptly forgot its context as soon as it was over.

Obama Flip-Flops: Does He Know Who Snooki Is, Or Not?

Snooki v. Obama, cont’d

G.M.’s Electric Lemon


GENERAL MOTORS introduced America to the Chevrolet Volt at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show as a low-slung concept car that would someday be the future of motorized transportation. It would go 40 miles on battery power alone, promised G.M., after which it would create its own electricity with a gas engine. Three and a half years — and one government-assisted bankruptcy later — G.M. is bringing a Volt to market that makes good on those two promises. The problem is, well, everything else.

For starters, G.M.’s vision turned into a car that costs $41,000 before relevant tax breaks … but after billions of dollars of government loans and grants for the Volt’s development and production. And instead of the sleek coupe of 2007, it looks suspiciously similar to a Toyota Prius. It also requires premium gasoline, seats only four people (the battery runs down the center of the car, preventing a rear bench) and has less head and leg room than the $17,000 Chevrolet Cruze, which is more or less the non-electric version of the Volt.

In short, the Volt appears to be exactly the kind of green-at-all-costs car that some opponents of the bailout feared the government might order G.M. to build. Unfortunately for this theory, G.M. was already committed to the Volt when it entered bankruptcy. And though President Obama’s task force reported in 2009 that the Volt “will likely be too expensive to be commercially successful in the short term,” it didn’t cancel the project.

Nor did the government or G.M. decide to sell the Volt at a loss, which, paradoxically, might have been the best hope for making it profitable. Consider the Prius. Back in 1997, Toyota began selling the high-tech, first-of-its-kind car in Japan for about $17,000, even though each model cost $32,000 to build.

By taking a loss on the first several years of Prius production, Toyota was able to hold its price steady, and then sell the gas-sippers in huge numbers when oil prices soared. Today a Prius costs roughly the same in inflation-adjusted dollars as those 1997 models did, and it has become the best-selling Toyota in the United States after the evergreen Camry and Corolla.

Instead of following Toyota’s model, G.M. decided to make the Volt more affordable by offering a $350-a-month lease over 36 months. But that offer allows only 12,000 miles per year, or about 33 miles per day. Assuming you charged your Volt every evening, giving you 40 miles of battery power, and wanted to keep below the mileage limit, you would rarely use its expensive range-extending gas engine. No wonder the Volt’s main competition, the Nissan Leaf, forgoes the additional combustion engine — and ends up costing $8,000 less as a result.

In the industry, some suspect that G.M. and the Obama administration decided against selling the Volt at a loss because they want the company to appear profitable before its long-awaited initial stock offering, which is likely to take place next month. For taxpayers, that approach might have made sense if the government planned on selling its entire 61 percent stake in G.M. But the administration has said it will sell only enough equity in the public offering to relinquish its controlling stake in G.M. Thus the government will remain exposed to the company’s (and the Volt’s) long-term fate.

So the future of General Motors (and the $50 billion taxpayer investment in it) now depends on a vehicle that costs $41,000 but offers the performance and interior space of a $15,000 economy car. The company is moving forward on a second generation of Volts aimed at eliminating the initial model’s considerable shortcomings. (In truth, the first-generation Volt was as good as written off inside G.M., which decided to cut its 2011 production volume to a mere 10,000 units rather than the initial plan for 60,000.) Yet G.M. seemingly has no plan for turning its low-volume “eco-flagship” into a mass-market icon like the Prius.

Quantifying just how much taxpayer money will have been wasted on the hastily developed Volt is no easy feat. Start with the $50 billion bailout (without which none of this would have been necessary), add $240 million in Energy Department grants doled out to G.M. last summer, $150 million in federal money to the Volt’s Korean battery supplier, up to $1.5 billion in tax breaks for purchasers and other consumer incentives, and some significant portion of the $14 billion loan G.M. got in 2008 for “retooling” its plants, and you’ve got some idea of how much taxpayer cash is built into every Volt.

In the end, making the bailout work — whatever the cost — is the only good reason for buying a Volt. The car is not just an environmental hair shirt (a charge leveled at the Prius early in its existence), it is an act of political self-denial as well.

If G.M. were honest, it would market the car as a personal donation for, and vote of confidence in, the auto bailout. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of cross-branding that will make the Volt a runaway success.

Obama runs Volt at ‘crawling speed’

Baby Boy Drowns During Baptism Ceremony in Moldova


A shocking incident occurred in the village of Mihaileny of Rishcansky district of Moldova with a boy named Laurentiu, who was born six weeks ago in the family of 24-year-old Ludmila and Dmitry Gaydeu.

The parents decided to baptize the child on July 22. The priest of the local church, who is also the chief of all priests of the district, was not going to be there, so he asked priest Valentine Tsaralunge from the village of Taul to perform the ceremony.

“We have not figured out yet why he invited this father Valentine and not another priest from Riscani district,” Valery Moskalu, the district police officer, told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Approximately twenty of the closest relatives and friends came to the church at 4:30PM. Father Valentin began the baptism ceremony.

“He dipped the baby in the water without even covering the baby’s mouth with his hand to prevent him from drowning,” recalls Dmitry Gaydeu, the father of the six weeks-old Laurentiu. “He put his hand on his stomach and dipped him in the water three times.”

The Godparents saw that the boy was not well and warned father Valentine. He answered it was not the first time that he was conducting the ceremony and knew what he was doing. When they saw that the child showed no signs of life, he was immediately taken to the district hospital.

“We went along with the father,” continues Dmitry Gaydeu. ”The physician-pathologist Sergei Railean said that my son has suffered mechanical asphyxia by drowning, there was bruising and bleeding in the soft tissues of his neck. The doctor said the baby was healthy.”

“After that, father Valentine disappeared for some time,” the police officer said. “Then he came to us. We believe that during his absence he went to Chisinau, to the archdiocese.”

Six-weeks-old Laurentiu was buried on Saturday, July 24.

“This is the case of homicide through reckless imprudence. Father Valentine is facing up to three years of imprisonment. However, he claims he is not guilty.

“We will do everything to find out the truth,” s aid Dmitry Gaydeu” The boy was healthy, so the priest who conducted the rite of baptism is to blame for his death.”

Will Meghan McCain’s book cover tempt Republicans?

LA Times – By Carolyn Kellogg

The Daily Beast has gotten a preview of the cover of Meghan McCain’s upcoming book, “Dirty Sexy Politics.” That’s it at right — although the final version won’t have a red Daily Beast logo in the corner.

McCain, a blogger and columnist for The Daily Beast, is a lifelong Republican and the daughter of former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.

McCain’s publisher, Hyperion, describes her as “extremely mediagenic,” which is a euphemism for — what, exactly? She’s a pretty blonde? That if she Tweets a picture of herself in pajamas some people will get hot and bothered? Could they mean that McCain has a gift for sparking media controversy with her words?

If it’s the last, then it’s not the cover of the book that matters, but what’s inside. Hyperion explains what we can expect from “Dirty Sexy Politics,” due to hit shelves Aug. 31:

She’s become a model for what a moderate, progressive conservative really is. She doesn’t shy away from serious issues, while her humor and down-to-earth style keep her positions accessible. She’s ideally poised to discuss the future of the GOP from the perspective of its young, creative, and vocal members. And now, in Dirty Sexy Politics, she does exactly that.

In this witty, candid, and sometimes raucous book, Meghan touches on topics ranging from what the party needs to do to attract others like her, to the importance of blogs and Twitter in reaching out to younger voters, to what must happen to keep young people passionately engaged by politics in the future.

Will Republicans be drawn to the modestly attired Meghan McCain of the book’s cover? Does it have crossover appeal?

Feds Charge New Russian Bombshell

CBS – Posted by Naimah Jabali-Nash

Good-bye, Anna Chapman; hello, Anna Fermanova.

Fermanova, 24, is the newest bombshell targeted by federal authorities. She is accused of attempting to smuggle high-tech night vision scopes from the United States to Russia.

An arrest affidavit obtained by Crimesider states that Fermanova, along with others, tried to “intentionally attempt to export” defense articles listed on the United States Munitions List without having the required license to do so.

The document says that when Fermanova attempted to board a plane at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Moscow on March 1, Customs & Border Protection seized her luggage, finding three night vision devices.

When Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents approached Fermanova regarding the cutting-edge devices, she claimed that she purchased the scopes online, stated the affidavit.

The scopes reportedly cost approximately $15,000 total, according to The Smoking Gun.

When ICE agents further questioned Fermanova, asking if she was aware of the regulations regarding such items she claimed that she “signed something about that,” but was “not really sure what she was signing.”

According to ICE special agent David Mondanaro, one of the devices found in Fermanova’s luggage was a Raptor 4X, which is considered a “generation 3” night vision device that allows the user to locate a target in “low light conditions.” The Raptor 4X is engineered to be attached to a rifle, stated the affidavit.

Though Fermanova claimed she was unaware of such guidelines, the devices appeared to have “no visible identification stickers or markings” and several ID numbers “had been covered with black marker pen,” indicated Mondanaro.

The agents confiscated the three devices, but allowed Fermanova to board her scheduled flight, according to the affidavit. She returned to the U.S. and was arrested July 15 on a warrant signed by a federal magistrate in Brooklyn.

Scott Palmer, Fermanova’s lawyer, said the allegations were “really silly,” and claimed that Fermanova’s husband simply intended to resell the night vision scopes, possibly to hunters, according to The Smoking Gun.

The Smoking Gun reports that Fermanova divides her time between Russia and Texas, where her parents reside. Her Facebook page states that Fermanova graduated from Ogle School of Hair Skin and Nails in 2005. She reportedly has a cosmetology license that expires next August.

According to the Daily News, Fermanova is currently under house arrest.

Coming soon: Alvin Greene, the movie

Yahoo News – By Michael Calderone

Alvin Greene didn’t stop to chat with reporters who recently trekked to Manning, S.C., to watch his first campaign speech. But the Democratic candidate did talk to Leslie Beaumont after the event.

That’s because Beaumont and writer David Garrett are making a documentary on the unlikely Senate hopeful: “Who Is Alvin Greene?”

There’s been no shortage of Greene coverage lately. As The Upshot reported Monday, Greene received more media attention than any 2010 candidate in the six weeks after his unexpected primary win. However, Beaumont says the documentary will provide another perspective on the unlikely candidate.

“It’s more about this evolution of this private citizen seeking higher office,” Beaumont told The Upshot. “I wanted to show a side of him that hasn’t been seen.”

Both Beaumont and Garrett live in Los Angeles, and they have never made a campaign documentary. The filmmakers became interested in Greene after he came out of nowhere to win the primary.

“We’re really fascinated with the story of this ordinary private citizen living in obscurity and then thrown in the limelight,â€

So they contacted Greene by email and phone. Initially he wasn’t interested, she said. But they set up a meeting in South Carolina to try convincing him to let cameras follow him around.

“You have a great story,” Beaumont recalled telling him. “This is a historic moment in time that needs to be documented.”

Beaumont acknowledges that Greene was “very unprepared” for his first media interviews. But she says that Greene’s gaining confidence and the campaign is growing from a single man to at least a small circle of advisers.

“It’s interesting,” she said, “to see this evolution of Alvin Greene into politician.”

Still, Greene is far from a polished candidate. He makes comments that seem somewhat bizarre, like telling the Guardian that one way to create jobs is to employ people to make Alvin Greene toys.

Beaumont said she asked Greene about that widely mocked comment, and he claimed it was sort of a joke that’s geared for a British audience. (The Upshot isn’t quite sure why the British would find that funny, but maybe that, too, will be explained in the documentary.)

The Guardian’s not the only news outlet to seek out Greene, and Beaumont says her phone rings throughout the day with media requests. She said that Greene’s been generally positive about the attention, but also can seem overwhelmed at times.

“He’s never had an experience like this before,” she said. “I don’t think he realized what would happen if he ran to be a U.S. senator. After he won that primary, there is going to be this explosion of media attention around him.”

Beaumont said she’s heading to South Carolina next week to resume filming. She and Garrett are currently self-funding the project, but hope to get some outside financial backing for the remaining months of the campaign. She’s currently editing a trailer for the film in hopes of sparking more interest.

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