Placeholder on recent news

As mentioned recently, for me this has been a period of extraordinary family and personal complication, ongoing for a few more days. Items for the web-site to do list, perhaps tomorrow:

* The fire at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in China: if we'd been in our apartment in Beijing last night, we would have in fact been outside the apartment, watching what was happening a quarter-mile up the street near the new CCTV tower. Last year, on the final night of Chinese New Year, my wife remarked that it was a miracle that the city hadn't gone up in flame. (To explain: this fire happened on the final night of this year's CNY.)

* Obama's first press conference, which I thought extremely accomplished in ways obvious and subtle. The answer that most repays careful study is the response to an economic question from our former Atlantic colleague Chuck Todd (transcript here, search for "Chuck.") Impressive aspect, about which more later: the premise of the question was --  no offense, Chuck -- somewhat confused. Obama addresses the confusion in the first paragraph of response and then has a conciliatory loopback to make an additional useful point.

* Introduction of Kindle 2. I think my wife will enjoy the Kindle 1 that is about to be hers.

* This NYT story about a change in emphasis at Newsweek, based on the recognition that weekly news magazines simply cannot compete in delivering "breaking news" to their readers.

The venerable newsweekly's ingrained role of obligatory coverage of the week's big events will be abandoned once and for all, executives say.

"There's a phrase in the culture, 'we need to take note of,' 'we need to weigh in on,' " said Newsweek's editor, Jon Meacham. "That's going away. If we don't have something original to say, we won't. The drill of chasing the week's news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable."

Ah, the battles over exactly that principle ten+ years ago at the weakest of the news magazines, US News. More later on this too.

* An impressively brave post by my friend Steve Clemons about a quite startling change in the leadership of the Japan Society of New York. Twenty-plus years ago, when I first went on a Japan Society fellowship for a stay in Japan (as many journalists have done since then), it would have been inconceivable that a just-retired Japanese government official (and former Mitsubishi exec) would be in charge of this American organization, for reasons that Steve Clemons clearly lays out. Although the Japan Society is not quite the same lobbying organization that AIPAC is, it would be like having an Israeli government official head that organization. This is truly startling.

* And, later, a wrapup on the real action for me of the last few days: final visit for family reasons to my home town. The moving vans arrive tomorrow to take the last shipment from my parents' house. Onward.