The Night Beat is following the California earthquake, a 5.0 on the Richter scale, but there's no significant damage to report. And even though I'm putting my best veepstake-search FAA-database-sleuthing skills to the test, I have not been able to figure out where LeBron is traveling for "The Decision." BTW: Rachel Maddow's firing an AK-47 tonight with Task Force-trained Afghan National Army commandos was a visual treat. And the U.S. and Russia's negotiations on a spy swap is a sign of healthy relations between the two countries. Meanwhile ...
MINI v. MAJOR: Osama Bin Laden's chef has pleaded guilty at Gitmo to providing material support
to Al Qaeda and conspiring to commit terrorism. His sentence will be determined at a hearing in August, per the DoD. That's a minor step. One major step that's been overlooked: the just-off-the-presses decision by Germany to take two Gitmo detainees. Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder, who no doubt has a lot to say about Gitmo, will appear on Sunday's Face the Nation.
ANGRY TEACHERS: Just in case the tension between President Obama and the teachers' unions wasn't acute enough, the American Federation of Teachers' public affairs staff e-mailed political reporters tonight to point out that the union had invited President Obama and Vice President Biden to speak at its annual convention in Seattle, and that both declined. (Both will be out West tomorrow; Obama in Las Vegas, raising money for Harry Reid, and Biden raising money in Oregon.) Meanwhile, the government "tested over 45,000 teachers last year to determine whether or not they met the new standards to receive higher pay. Over 90 percent passed," according to a U.S. official. Oh, sorry, that's Afghanistan's ministry of education, and the U.S. official in question is Lieutenant General David Rodriguez. But if it's good for the goose ... Tomorrow, I'll have more on why the unions are mad at the White House. (Update: an AFT spokesperson denies any hostile intent with the release of the information about Biden and Obama. "We sent out the release to correct the record of Sam Dillon's article in the NYT a couple of days ago, and a few other articles since then, that left the impression we didn't invite the Obama Administration to our convention."
FOOD FIGHT: The Atlantic's Food Channel is following a HUGE story that seems to signal a major shift in the willingness of the government to regulate how foods are marketed to children. Both the FTC and the FDA have reportedly signed off on tough new standards to regulate junk food marketing to kids aged 2 to 17. The USDA has not, leading to speculation that the food industry is successfully lobbying the agency. Colleague Dan Fromson notes that the FTC appears to be taking the lead on this, in part because it hasn't been too active in the past on this topic and because it traditionally concerns itself with advertising rather than nutrition, the domain of the FDA. The tough new standards might have been foreshadowed by the FTC's scolding of Kellogg last month. Foods cannot be marketed to kids that have more than
Saturated Fat: 1 g or less per RACC* and not more than 15% of calories;RACC means "regular amount conventionally consumed."
Trans Fat: 0 g per RACC* (<0.5 g)
Sugar: No more than 13 g of added sugars per RACC*
Sodium: No more than 200 mg per portion
ONE TOUGH NERD: From Brian Goldsmith: That's not a slogan often seen in political ads. But former Gateway Computer President Rick Snyder uses it to compare himself to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in his largely self-funded campaign for the Michigan GOP gubernatorial nomination. You may recognize the announcer's voice; after all, the ads are produced by Fred Davis, the same quirky-like-a-fox GOP media man who did Demon Sheep and Paris and Britney.
SPENDING PARITY: For the first election cycle in a long while, both parties will have roughly the same amount of money to put into a finite series of races -- an amount that will be less than the previous midterm cycle. The Republican National Committee's money woes are well-known; the Democratic National Committee has only slightly more cash on hand. Normally, the party that is playing offense would spend money to expand the playing field, while the party playing defense would pay to defend it. The Republicans want to expand the House battlefield, figuring that each dollar spent on a House race is a better bang for the buck. But there are -- potentially -- more than a dozen competitive Senate races this year, and the Republicans will have to hope that they make some of them competitive enough to force Democrats to spend precious federal dollars on defense. Case in point: the key number in California is $4.7 million. That's what the Democrats can spend on coordinated activities with Barbara Boxer's campaign. Boxer expects to get this $4.7 million in a race that, despite the tough environment, she should win. Bottom line: party spending decisions will mean more this year.