Daniel Stone

Stories by Daniel Stone

  • APTOPIX Gulf Oil Spill,x-default

    BP, Coast Guard Optimistic 'Top Kill' Is Working

    Officials are claiming the latest process to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil spill—which has surpassed the Exxon Valdez disaster as the largest in American history—is working.
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    White House: We’re Stuck With BP For Now

    For all the bad press, insults and calls of incompetence that BP has had to stomach over the past few weeks, there’s a stark reality floating through Washington: in managing the Gulf clean-up, there’s no alternative. ...
  • EPA Wages Battle With BP Over Chemical Dispersants

    Last week, after BP had already dropped thousands of gallons of chemical dispersants onto the oil slick in the Gulf, the Environmental Protection Agency took a second look at the impact of the chemicals on marine life and in wetlands. It's response, in turn, was to politely require the company to transition to a less toxic alternative by the end of the weekend. ...
  • Arizona Mocks Washington With Muppets

    It’s been a long week of criticism in Washington. Criticism, that is, of Arizona’s controversial immigration law. President Obama has taken several high-profile swings at the measure, calling it "misguided" and then “misdirected" this week at a presser with Mexican President Felipe Calderón. That was after Attorney General Eric Holder claimed the statute was not “a good idea” and Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano called it “a bad law-enforcement law.” ...
  • MMS: Sorry About That 'Drill, Baby, Drill' Cake

    Humor in the workplace can be fun. But this morning, when The New York Times reported that a reception in Alaska at the regional office of the Minerals Management Service—the agency responsible for regulating offshore drilling—included a cake with the words "Drill, Baby, Drill," not many people were laughing. Feeling the heat, John Goll, the director of MMS's Alaska office, sent around this apology, obtained by NEWSWEEK, to all agency staff: ...
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    BP Continues Stealth Public Relations During Its Crisis

    Knowing that its name and future are at stake, BP has had to walk a fine line. Doing nothing to quell public outrage over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill would quickly erode the company's image. But undertaking aggressive and overt marketing to downplay the effects of the incident could just as easily paint the company as more concerned with profits than ecological impact.
  • Who to Expect at Tonight's State Dinner

    State dinners don't happen often—tonight's is only the second of Obama's presidency—which makes this evening's black-tie affair honoring Mexico's Felipe Calderón the hottest ticket in town. Who landed an invite? We'll post the list below, compliments of the White House. But we'll also do the reading for you. Most are top government folks in the U.S. and Mexico, but also some names from the far-away world of pop culture. George Lopez will be there, as will actress Eva Longoria and Oprah pal Gayle King. And your Gaggler's favorite—although he can't figure out why—Whoopi Goldberg is in the house. ...
  • Obama and Calderón: Good Friends in Front of the Cameras

    It's not a perfect comparison, but there are striking similarities between joint presidential press conferences and funerals. Both are formalities, produced simply because they have to be. They're fairly predictable, letting one know exactly what will happen and the general themes that will be mentioned. And the imperative: always—with no exception—mention only good things, such as how valiant and valuable the partner country is on a wide set of issues. Mention the longstanding history of cooperation between the two countries, take a few preselected questions, and call it a wrap. ...
  • The Indirect Sort-Of Apology While Blaming Someone Else: Blumenthal Coins New Kind of Mea Culpa

    Imagery is always deliberate in political apologies. Clearly, Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut's attorney general and Democratic Senate candidate, put some thought into how he'd apologize in front of the cameras just hours after a devastating front-page story in The New York Times implicated he had lied on several occasions about serving in Vietnam. Flanked by former Marines, two of Blumenthal's former colleagues lamented the "malicious, deceptive charges" levied by the newspaper, then vouched for Blumenthal's record speaking up for vets. Even the presentation was considered: rather than stare down at prepared statements, both speakers, attempting to appear authentic and not like political hacks, went off script, praising their brother Blumenthal.The candidate took the mike, but only after several minutes of listing his experience as a Marine Corps reservist did he even get to the question everyone had. Specifically, why did you lie about Vietnam? "...
  • Dale Peterson: Naming Names and Taking No Prisoners

    [youtube:jU7fhIO7DG0] We're a little late getting to it, but this campaign ad by Dale Peterson, who's running for the Republican nomination for Alabama agriculture commissioner, is just too good not to post. Set to sweeping orchestral stock music, it's a remarkable catalog of patriotic American signifiers: horse, cowboy hat, rifle, dignified but authentic drawl, straight-talking Marine veteran, and quaint, down-home swearing (e.g., "They don't give a rip!"). In an already crowded season of amazing campaign ads, this is truly an impressive entry.
  • Utah’s Fight for Uncle Sam’s Land

    Before the oil spill, at least, President Obama had proposed opening tracts of the Atlantic seabed to energy developers. But on dry land, the administration is more conservationist. It cordoned off 2 million acres last year and is considering another 13 million for national--monument status. The Sagebrush Rebellion, a mid-’70s range war between state officials and the federal government, which owns most resource-rich space in the West, started after a similar land grab. Now a new conflict may be afoot.
  • EPA Ups the Ante on Climate-Energy Bill

    The Environmental Protection Agency kept the media’s focus on energy and climate this week with a new announcement that in July of next year, it would begin a sweeping crackdown on some of the country’s biggest polluters. Under the plan, stationery sources of greenhouses that emit more than 100,000 tons a year will have to massively ramp down or face high fees.It’s serious stuff. The rule, when enacted, would be the farthest-reaching effort to reduce the U.S.’s out-of-control emissions—the most abundant in the world. And it would be President Obama making good on his promise to environmentalists, who have been waiting patiently for a response to climate change. To major polluters, like utilities and energy producers, it would influence a top-to-bottom taking-stock of operations and a substantial shift to renewable energy sources.But as NEWSWEEK reported in March, this threat to enact sweeping reduction measures is simply that: a bluff. Congress doesn’t want the EPA to regulate the...
  • Obama Takes Control of Populist Anger Over Spill

    British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward didn’t help himself, or his company, this morning when he tried to put the size of the gulf oil spill in perspective. "The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into [the Gulf of Mexico] is tiny in relation to the total water volume,” he said.True, but not exactly helpful. And almost instantly undercut by an NPR report this morning suggesting that the amount of oil leaking could be 10 times greater than BP, or the federal government, had estimated....
  • Meg Whitman’s ‘I Control My Media’ Strategy Continues to Backfire

    The story has gone from bad to worse for Meg Whitman. On the same day that a new poll shows the California-governor hopeful’s lead disappearing, state reporters have begun amplifying their complaints that Whitman was simply too isolated from the media. And that’s after she pumped almost $60 million of her own money into the race.The gripes are accurate. Whitman has agreed to only a handful of interviews, most with conservative columnists or ideologically declared reporters. She declined endorsement meetings with all of the state's major papers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, which published a punchy editorial today titled “What Meg Whitman’s Money Can’t Buy” that cautioned against a candidate who won’t answer tough questions. In January, in one of several bizarre standoffs, she declined reporters at a staged campaign event any face time. And when my colleague Andrew Romano profiled Whitman and a handful of other CEOs turned politicians for a story in February, Whitman’...
  • Savage Does Playboy: 'I Am a Sexual Libertarian'

    Conservative commentator Michael Savage has a penchant for being racy and provocative. But even we were surprised to see a sit-down he did in this month's Playboy. (Can’t say we’ve ever heard of this magazine, although word around the office is that they do great journalism.) Playboy writer David Hochman spent 16 hours interviewing Savage, an experience he said was "incredibly difficult." Savage’s opinions were often incendiary to the point of being like "poison." In this case, however, the contempt was shared. "Even when we were laughing," writes Hochman, "I knew he was thinking, Liberal vermin media."We’ll offer snaps to Hochman for questioning some of Savage’s more offensive views—like on immigrants ("The racists are the people who come into a country that isn't theirs and take it over"), sex ed ("I don’t want the government teaching my kids how to [bleep]"), gay marriage ("I'm a sexual libertarian...
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    Energy Bill: Something for Everyone, Everything for No One

    The energy bill cometh. That was how The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein characterized the scene in Washington today—the start of the official debate about the nation’s plan to combat climate change and craft a new energy landscape. (You can read the full bill here, or an official summary here.)There’s a lot in there, packed in tight. Nuclear proponents get the green light for new plants and research with $54 billion in federal loan guarantees. Renewable energy folks also get a boost with extended subsidies. There’s a directive to increase research on carbon capture and sequestration (a.k.a. clean coal), an intricate system to reduce greenhouse gases, and a full plan to integrate job creation at every step. Plus, about 15 pages in the 987-page bill address the hot-potato topic du jour: oil drilling, which will increase. But the difference is that states will be allowed to veto drilling projects within 75 miles of their coastline. And if that’s not enough, a revenue-sharing process will...
  • Oil Spill Raises Questions About Arctic Drilling

    It wasn’t that long ago that proponents of oil drilling, and even President Obama, were arguing that the threat of spills had been substantially reduced thanks to new advances in drilling technology. It’s a claim that sounds humbling in light of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But rather than harp on the past, environmentalists are focusing their efforts on the future, specifically this summer, when another round of exploratory drilling is set to begin off the pristine coasts of Alaska.
  • How Obama Got to Kagan

    President Obama's process to select Solicitor General Elena Kagan began the day after outgoing justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, according to a White House official. Administration staffers, led by chief counsel Bob Bauer, assembled records on "a broad array" of candidates, all presented to the president for review during his several trips around the country in April....
  • Obama Picks Kagan, Sets Up for Smooth Confirmation

    As the White House prepares to introduce its Supreme Court nominee tomorrow, NBC News reports that Obama has chosen Elena Kagan, the current solicitor general. Speculation had centered on Kagan since John Paul Stevens announced in April that he’d be leaving the Court next month, primarily because of Kagan’s clean legal record and personal ties to Obama as both a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and as dean of Harvard Law. She was also appointed by Obama last year to be the country’s top advocate in court, suggesting a clear vote of confidence in her experience....
  • Tea Partiers Can't Be 'Screaming Meemies' Anymore

    Since its debut as a ragtag protest group, the Tea Party has cohered into a formidable voice in the GOP primaries. Now, with a slew of statewide ballot measures, the movement is pivoting again—this time into the unglamorous world of knocking on doors and gathering signatures in an effort to shape local policy.
  • Today in Questionable Sourcing: New York Times Misfires on Oil-Spill Assessment

    The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is bad, but hey, relax, people, it’s not that bad. That’s according to a story in The New York Times this morning trying to assess the damage. The piece quotes a fellow named Quenton R. Dokken, identified as a “marine biologist” and head of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, described as a conservation group. Except that describing the Gulf of Mexico Foundation as a conservation group would be like describing Focus on the Family as a pro-choice organization.Dokken may be a marine biologist, but the foundation he leads is clearly and directly an arm of the oil industry. Its Web site lists 10 oil companies—including Shell, ConocoPhillips, and, yep, BP—as its funders. In fact, the site notes that in 2005, BP donated $30,000 to fund the foundation's efforts. And a year later the company chipped in $25,000 more.But it gets even murkier. On the foundation’s board of directors is a man named Ian Hudson, who happens to be the head of corporate responsibility...
  • How Will Gulf Spill Affect Energy Debate? A Chat With Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter

    Politics is nothing but the art of timing and opportunity. Opponents of drilling are hoping that now, in the wake of a worsening environmental catastrophe, might be their best opening to make a credible and convincing case that the time to shift to renewable energy is now, and there are 200,000 barrels' worth of reasons currently spewing in the Gulf of Mexico. The White House said late last week that it would be reevaluating its drilling policy articulated last month with a potential pivot to be announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. In the meantime, the Blue Green Alliance, a top Washington environmental advocacy group, hopes to make the case at a conference on green energy (coincidentally timed) that the spill underscores the imperative of moving quickly.Kicking off the conference was Bill Ritter, Colorado's cowboy-boot-clad governor, who says his state's recent investments in clean natural gas and renewables could be—and should be—the model for the country. And that while...
  • Cape Wind Gets the Green Light, Enviros (Finally) Revel

    America's first, and most promising, offshore wind project was finally given the go-ahead this morning by Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The project includes 130 turbines over 24 square miles off historic Nantucket Sound with a public and private price tag of $1 billion. Salazar just gave this statement in the Massachusetts State House in Boston:“After careful consideration of all the concerns expressed during the lengthy review and consultation process and thorough analyses of the many factors involved, I find that the public benefits weigh in favor of approving the Cape Wind project at the Horseshoe Shoal location. With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind-energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”The U.S. lags far behind other countries in Western Europe and Asia on offshore wind, many of which have robust development off their coasts. But the...
  • After Banking Reform, Energy Still Sits on Ice

    From sound policy to gimmicks. The prospect of an energy bill making its way to the floor of the Senate has gone from almost a sure thing to life support over the past two weeks as Democratic leaders have scrambled to fill in their calendar of legislative priorities. After health care, financial reform was the likely successor with energy presumed to follow, but the wild-card issue of immigration seemingly jumped the queue after party leaders did a calculus of what they needed to accomplish to fortify support before the November elections, and after Arizona's governor signed an immigration law last week that activists as well as some lawmakers think could unfairly lead to racial profiling....
  • Financial Reform Doesn't Get Cloture: What That Means

    The final vote tally this afternoon was 57 to 41, repudiation not of the Democrats' financial-reform package but of the period of debate that would precede an actual vote. This means that debate can extend endlessly, or until a collection of 60 members agree to cut it off. In reality, however, it just means that party leaders will return to negotiations to iron out several components of the legislation to craft it as bipartisan....
  • Financial Reform’s Day of Reckoning Might Not Be

    The politics of health care were easy. You were either for it or against it, and no one questioned the lines of disagreement. Financial reform is harder, and as the vote is called later today, no one knows exactly how things will shake out. This morning on Good Morning America, Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, said a deal is unlikely. If that happens, it could lead to an actual filibuster (although the Republicans would actually have to do it, and not just make threats). But despite Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s feverish efforts to hold his bloc of 41 together, Shelby also said that within several hours, leaders would “have the votes,” signaling the package would move ahead.The good folks at Talking Points Memo have devised five distinct scenarios we could see before the day is out. Perhaps the Republicans will blink first and give the green light for a vote (which will almost certainly pass). Or maybe the Dems will blink and stall...