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;
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
RACC means "regular amount conventionally consumed."
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.
BUSINESS BEAT: The Atlantic Business Channel's Dan Indiviglio will be watching tomorrow for the Federal Reserve to reveal consumer credit numbers for May. Americans have largely been deleveraging since the recession began, though the home buyers' credit helped create some new mortgage debt. But that influence was mostly gone by May, so we could see a sizable drop in the numbers. Also, Clear Capital releases a report which will provide insight on the housing market's performance during the second quarter. This is an earlier report than most, so it will be interesting get a glimpse of how home prices are faring. Given the influence of the home buyer credit, prices likely rose.
MAD MAX: So why is Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, unhappy with the White House about the recess appointment of Don Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services? Baucus doesn't take issue with Berwick himself, but with the fact that he has to assert the prerogatives of Congress and of his committee in order to maintain comity. His tough statement today is more a gesture to his colleagues than a poke at the White House.
FNU LU: Oh Reuters! (To be fair, I could have easily made this mistake.) From a dispatch: "The other two men named in the indictment are Tariq Ur Rehman, who is believed to be in Pakistan, and Fnu Lu, who took Zazi to meet with militants in Waziristan so he could obtain weapons training, the indictment said." The government uses FNU LU to refer to "first name unknown, last name unknown." Reuters was notified of the mistake and has corrected the article.
-- Michael Steele, the RNC chairman, will appear as scheduled at the opening of GOP headquarters in Denver. Steele acquired an ally today: Ann Coulter, who agreed that Afghanistan is, indeed, Obama's war.
-- The Russian spies will be arraigned tomorrow in New York City; Judge Kimba Woods has given the government time to prepare a case against the bail order for reporter Vicky Pelaez. That hearing is scheduled for Friday.
-- If you have time, stop by the Washington Hilton tomorrow for the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's cyber security symposium, which features a who's who (or a who's that, depending on whether you're interested in the issue) of speakers, including cyber coordinator Howard Schmidt. ... Speaking of cyber, CYBERCOM is staffing up: Capt. (promotable) Willie Metts with be J2; and Gen. Alexander's EA, Capt. Jan Tighe, will be promoted to read admiral, lower half, and serve as deputy director for operations, J3.
-- Also, Consumer Watchdog will unveil which home WiFi network set up by a member of Congress it successfully penetrated (or probed) tomorrow, as part of a protest against Google Street View's WiFi gathering practices.