Friday, April 17, 2009

The TR: Twitter Takeover, Piracy Lunacy and Teabagging All Over the Place

D.C. weather is running the gamut between "OMG, I'm freezing to death" to "Dude, I SO need a smoothie." The schizophrenia has nothing on O, however, who has been morphing from Best Dad Ever to Defender Against Pirates to Economics Professor before our very eyes. Either he can't make up his mind or he's the best damn politician to grace the national stage in quite some time...

Forecast

This weekend, the Prez is on the Latin America tour with a major stop at the Summit of the Americas, and talking about the drug war, the economy and immigration. Media coverage won't have quite the same fawning tone as his Europe tour, though; O hasn't won over Chavez, and Cuba, though not present, will likely dominate at least part of the discussion. Check out Barack's op-ed here and expect the pundits to focus on the Summit through the weekend.

Immigration will set the tone -- post-Summit and to the White House's credit -- over the next few weeks in the newly returned Congress. This ain't one of the easy issues for any administration. Check out what the AFL-CIO is recommending, and tell us what you think: Are O's goals just rhetoric, or will he finally get some sh*t done?

Now that the US has opened the door to talking with Iran, there's been a lot of talking about talking. In a "freeze-for-freeze" proposal, the US won't impose additional sanctions if Iran agrees to join talks about the future of its nuclear program. Ahmadinejad says Iran is working on a counterproposal regarding its "civilian nuclear program," which could drop next week. So maybe we'll get more than a glimpse of our stealth Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who's been no doubt busy but flying under the media's radar?

At times, the state-to-state gay marriage legalization process felt like it could grow into a juggernaut, with supporters making like Howard Dean: We're going to New Hampshire, to Maine, to New Jersey... But is public acceptance of gay marriage finally becoming a reality, or has it all been a mirage based on a few cleverly-argued legal cases? New York is the next testing ground, as Governor Paterson's bill has been met with some tough rhetoric from Catholic legislators, with more to come in the following week.

Is the economy finally on the upswing? Columnists and economists are being VERY hesitantly optimistic about our country's financial situation and will continue to be -- but, as always, take these things with a grain of salt. Krugman and the other prophets of doom certainly are.

The Week That Was

Dems have been LOLing all week about teabagging, and, sorry, but we were right there with 'em. Yes, it's childish. Also, hilarious. But it was also a little bit unnerving to see the true wackos of the Right come out to play (although apparently there was ONE Democrat in the mix).

Afghan women, protected by female police despite being stoned by over 1,000 counter-protesters, protested a recently passed law that undermines their rights. Wow. It certainly signals the beginning of women's empowerment in this country, but will it keep spreading?

Arrrr, pirates! As much as we want to joke about peg legs and rum, it's actually pretty intense. Sunday was the first real test of O's national security machismo, and he didn't flinch. But the pirates have stepped up their efforts all week, even though the fourth pirate from the lifeboat is set to be tried in the US and 11 others are being taken to Kenya. At least the dolphins are on OUR side.

It's been a social media #prfail week all 'round. Books relating to LGBT themes began losing their Amazon sales ranks and visibility, and Twitter exploded with conspiracy theories and allegations of censorship. Dominoes employees grossed out America, and it only took a few hours for them to lose their jobs over it. A few hours? That's LIGHTYEARS in the Twitterverse. Flacks and wannabe "social media experts," we hope you're taking notes.

Speaking of social media, the Celeb-King of Twitter beat CNN in a head-to-head competition to be the first to reach 1 million followers and donated $100k to the No More Malaria Fund when he won. As our Culture Minister can attest, Ashton's Tweets are actually kind of entertaining. But is this the sign that Twitter's officially mainstream? And, well, is that so bad? They complained about Facebook, but it's the number 4 most popular website in the world. We suspect Twitter will triumph as well.

Gratuitously adorable alert: First Puppy pictures! (We couldn't resist. NO ONE CAN.)

In Memoriam S'more

The NY Times will be rearranging itself to avoid cutting more staff, and Gannett reported a 60 percent drop in profit, but they're not dead yet. Just, um... wheezing. Heavily.

But some voices are piping up and saying that it may not be such a tragedy -- Daily Kos and feministe, for starters. Even the Pulitzer Prize is embracing new rules to allow online-only publications. Is the grieving period (gasp) over?

Scorecard

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Happy Earth Day!

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