Midday Roundup: Is that a threat?

Newsworthy | Leigh Jones

Midday Roundup: Is that a threat?

Bob Woodward
Associated Press/Photo by Alex Brandon

You’ll regret it. Veteran Washington newsman Bob Woodward claims a White House spokesman threatened him not to run a story in which he planned to say President Barack Obama “moved the goalposts” on the sequester negotiations. The story ran last week, but Woodward waited until this week to release emails from the administration’s economic adviser, Gene Sperling. Woodward, who became one of the most famous reporters in America for his role in exposing the Watergate scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency, doesn’t blame President Obama for the threats. He told CNN if the president knew what his advisors were saying, he would correct them. Now he knows, but some members of the Washington press corps don’t share Woodward’s confidence in the president’s support for the media.

Yes to food, no to guns. The United States will give Syrian opposition forces $60 million in food aid and medical support, Secretary of State John Kerry announced today. But as it has throughout the conflict, the Obama administration denied the rebels’ requests for weapons.

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Economic enthusiasm. The stock market inched toward record highs this morning after a positive report on Chicago manufacturing. Wall Street seemed unfazed by reports that the economy only grew 0.1 percent in the final quarter of 2012. But weekly jobless claims fell 22,000, so maybe that helped balance things out.

The American Sputnik. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has one of the most comprehensive and touching tributes to pianist Van Cliburn, who died yesterday. Cliburn is known worldwide as the American who conquered Russia during the Cold War. At 23, the native Texan won the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Competition. He was greeted by a ticker-tape parade when he returned home, and his recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 became the first million-selling classical album in history. Cliburn was long rumored to be gay, and the Star-Telegram notes he was survived by his longtime friend and manager, Thomas L. Smith. But Cliburn never said anything publicly about his sexuality, which is not mentioned in any of the prominent obituaries. Something else that’s not mentioned is his faith. But the Star-Telegram describes Cliburn as a man of deep Christian faith and notes he was a member of Broadway Baptist Church. Shortly before his death, Cliburn reportedly told Pastor Brent Beasley he had taken the Apostle Paul’s admonition to pray without ceasing to heart. “That’s how I have lived my life,” he said.

Future ambassador? Former pro basketball star Dennis Rodman, known in the late 1990s for his antics on and off the court, is making a comeback. Rodman became the first American to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang today when the two sat down to watch an exhibition basketball game together. Next thing you know, he’ll be asking President Obama to make him ambassador.

Small spaces. This could be considered an extreme form of couples therapy. Millionaire Dennis Tito, the first man to visit space as a tourist, is looking for a husband and wife to travel to Mars in 2018. The trip will take roughly 501 days, and the couple would be confined to a capsule the size of a toilet. Now, that sounds like just the vacation I’ve been dreaming of.

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