Newsweek Thinks Readers Will Pay Economist-Like Prices to Bring Its Print Edition Back to Life
Newsweek, the once mighty weekly that ceased printing last year in favor of producing an online-only magazine, is getting back in the paper and ink game—a decision clearly at odds with recent trends in the magazine industry. The New York Times:
The magazine expects to begin a 64-page weekly edition in January or February, said Jim Impoco, Newsweek’s editor in chief. Mr. Impoco said in an interview that Newsweek would depend more heavily on subscribers than advertisers to pay its bills — and that readers would pay more than in the past. "It’s going to be a more subscription-based model, closer to what The Economist is compared to what Time magazine is," Mr. Impoco said. "We see it as a premium product, a boutique product."
At its early-90s peak, Newsweek boasted a circulation of more than 3 million readers at a time when print ads largely subsidized subscription prices. Now that the company is hoping to rely almost exclusively on subscriber revenues to foot the bill—"We won't charge less than it costs to produce," Impoco said—the magazine has set a rather modest-sounding first-year circulation goal of 100,000. That figure, however, is a far cry from the total circulation of the magazine Impoco name-dropped as his exemplar: The Economist boasts a global print circulation of nearly 1.5 million, a little more than half of which comes from the United States. It's not yet known what Newsweek will charge for an annual subscription, but, for what it's worth, one-year of The Economist will run you a pricey $160.
The announcement leaves Newsweek largely swimming against the current in an industry where many legacy publications have come to the painfully slow realization that their financial future most likely exists online. Still, the magazine is not alone in its refusal to shrink its print presence in favor of its digital one. The Week, which also relies on the subscriber-over-ad-revenue model, also announced yesterday that it was expanding its publishing frequency from 48 times a year to 51.
Could NASA’s Planned Moon Garden Redefine Farm-to-Table?
Just as everyone was getting on board with the whole farm-to-table movement and eating locally grown food, NASA is planning to put a wrench in the whole thing by planting a garden on the moon. Really. The space agency’s planning to plant seeds on the moon in 2015 as a test to see if the moon can sustain human life. “They can test the lunar environment for us acting as a ‘canary in a coal mine,’” NASA said in a statement. “If we send plants and they thrive, then we probably can.”
Some of the seeds that will be planted on the moon are basil and turnips, which, if successful, would put the farm pretty far from the table. But, growing plants on the moon’s surface isn’t quite as easy as sticking a few seeds in the ground in your back yard. Here are but a few of the obstacles from the New Scientist:
Factors that could confound lunar plant growth include the virtual absence of an atmosphere and high levels of solar and cosmic radiation that bombard the moon's surface. So the space agency is developing a sealed canister with five days' worth of air, in which seeds can germinate on nutrient-infused filter paper. The idea is that water will be released on touchdown and sunshine will do the rest.
Easy, right? As for transportation, the seeds will be carried aboard Google’s Lunar X-Prize mission. The Google funded prize offers $20 million, Forbes reports, “for a private company to launch a robotic spacecraft that lands on the moon, travels across the surface, and transmits back two ‘Mooncasts’ by December 31, 2015.”
Capitol Christmas Tree Is Lit, So You Should Probably Get It Together and Put Yours Up Too
When does the holiday season officially start? It seems to get earlier and earlier as stores opened their doors throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, proving that nothing is sacred. It’s up to personal discretion of course whether Black Friday or Cyber Monday kicks off the Christmas countdown. But, if you were still looking for an indication that the holiday season is on, the Capitol Christmas Tree went live on Tuesday evening. So, you can take this as de facto Congressional approval that it’s ok to untangle strings of lights and dust off the ornaments now. The Capitol Tree is, however, a mere warm up to the National Christmas Tree lighting in front of the White House later this week, according to Washingtonian magazine. Hard to argue that the National Tree is the head honcho in the tree department, after all, it has its own Twitter account.
Guardian Has Published Only 1% of Leaked Snowden Files So Far
On Tuesday, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, testified before a UK parliamentary committee on the paper’s handling of sensitive data and the “concerted pressure and intimidation” the paper has faced since its publication of the NSA files leaked by Edward Snowden. Rusbridger also told British lawmakers the Guardian had published 1 percent of some 58,000 files it was given by Snowden.
Here’s more on the hearing via the Washington Post:
Rusbridger faced more than an hour of questioning by Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee on counterterrorism, testifying in an occasionally combative public grilling of both the Guardian and its editor...
Earlier in the hearing, Labor lawmaker Keith Vaz questioned Rusbridger about testimony last month in which John Sawers, head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, told lawmakers that the Guardian’s decision to publish had the country’s enemies “rubbing their hands with glee.” Vaz then bluntly asked Rusbridger, “Do you love this country?” “I'm slightly surprised to be asked the question, but yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can in this country discuss and report these things,” Rusbridger responded.
...At the hearing, Rusbridger said that over the course of the Guardian’s publication of the Snowden material, the paper had consulted government agencies on both sides of the Atlantic more than 100 times.
Rusbridger’s testimony came as British police are looking into whether the Guardian staff should be investigated for terrorism-related crimes for their publishing of Snowden’s files, Reuters reports.
What Killed Yasser Arafat? New Report Rules Out Poison.
Since Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004, conspiracy theories circulated about whether the Palestinian leader was, in fact, murdered. Palestinians suspected Israel played a role in his demise, which Israel denies. The questions about the circumstances of his death grew loud enough that Arafat’s remains were exhumed last year to try to settle the matter. On Tuesday, a report by French scientists investigating Arafat’s death ruled out poisoning by radioactive polonium as the cause.
The French inquiry, which concluded that a “generalized infection” led to the leader’s death, contradicts an earlier Swiss investigation that concluded that Arafat was poisoned. The new forensic report presented to Arafat’s widow, Al Jazeera reports, showed “traces of the radioactive element polonium 210, but concluded that Arafat died of natural causes.” A Swiss university published a report last month, according to Al Jazeera, that found “between 18 and 36 times the normal background levels of polonium in Arafat’s rib and hips and in the surrounding soil stained by his body fluid.” A team of Russian scientists also conducted a forensic test, but the results were inconclusive.
After becoming ill in October 2004, Arafat was flown to a French military hospital in Paris where he died in November 2004. At the time of his death, the BBC reports, “Mr. Arafat's official medical records say he died from a stroke resulting from a blood disorder. French doctors were not able at the time to determine what had caused the disorder.”
Slatest PM: Obama Kicks Off a Three-Week Healthcare Sales Pitch
Obama's Healthcare Promise: Associated Press: "Seeking to regroup from his health care law's disastrous rollout, President Barack Obama on Tuesday insisted that the sweeping overhaul is working and warned Republican critics that he would fight any efforts to strip away its protections. 'We're not repealing it as long as I'm president,' Obama said during a health care event at the White House. 'If I have to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what I'll do.' Earlier Tuesday, the administration released a 50-state report saying that nearly 1.5 million people were found eligible for Medicaid during October. As website problems depressed sign-ups for subsidized private coverage, that safety-net program for low-income people saw a nearly 16 percent increase in states that have agreed to expand it, according to the Department of Health and Human Services."
The Sales Pitch: Politico: "[T]he president ... [kicked off] a three-week drive to refocus the public on the law’s benefits.... The White House will take the lead in emphasizing a different benefit each day until the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for Jan. 1 coverage. The daily message will be amplified through press events and social media by Democratic members of Congress, the Democratic National Committee, congressional campaign committees and advocacy organizations, officials said. The fresh push is an attempt to get back to the game plan that Democrats wanted to pursue before the faulty website forced them into full-time damage control. The president needs to rebuild confidence in the law among the public and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, who have threatened to roll back aspects of Obamacare if the insurance marketplace didn’t improve quickly — and refocus attention on what would be lost if it were repealed. Now that the website appears to be mostly functional, the West Wing thinks it has the ability to return to sales mode."
Meanwhile: ABC News: "As pressure mounts on President Obama to fix problems that persist with his signature healthcare law, Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans are coming under pressure themselves to present an alternative set of reforms. ... Republicans have long voiced a preference for patient-centered reforms, but today Boehner was tight-lipped when pressed to vote to replace the president’s health care law next year. 'We’ll see,' Boehner answered when prodded for a commitment. 'When you look at Obamacare, what you see is a government-centered health care delivery system. That’s not what the American people want. The American people want to be able to pick their own type of health insurance; they want to be able to pick their own doctor; they want to be able to pick their own hospital. That’s what a patient-centered health care system looks like.'"
Walmart's Biggest Black Friday Seller? Towels.
Wondering what Walmart's top Black Friday seller was? NBC News has you covered:
The retailer announced it had sold 2.8 million towels during the shopping event, which this year started even earlier at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The textile sales outpaced the 300,000 bicycles, 1.4 million tablets, and 2 million televisions sold during the period, and also beat last year's towel sales by 1 million. For $1.74, bath towels and six packs of washcloths were available. That breaks down to $.29 per washcloth.
"We've seen at-home items like towels and sheets and even Rubbermaid Tupperware become popular on Black Friday at our stores," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Deisha Barnett. "A lot of people are either hosting guests for the weekend or preparing for guests for the holiday season."
Read more over at NBC News, which also has what it claims to be people scrambling to get their hands on the 29-cent washcloths. One small note: NBC's headline, which claims the store's "hottest Black Friday seller was a 29-cent towel," is a little misleading. The retailer sold 2.8 million towels, but the article itself makes it clear that figure covers more than just the pocket-change-priced washcloths.
Regardless, towels may have taken the top spot in terms of quantity, but more traditional doorbusters like TVs no doubt brought in more cash for the big box retailer.
Ariel Castro's Death Might Not Have Been From Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation After All
Convicted kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro was found hanging in his cell in early September, only weeks after being sentenced to life in prison (plus an additional 1,000 years for good measure). Given he was in protective custody and alone at the time, local officials and nearly everyone else leaped to the seemingly obvious conclusion that Castro's death was almost certainly suicide. The following month, however, a preliminary report from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction suggested a different conclusion, that Castro's death was actually the accidental result of auto-erotic asphyxiation.
Fast forward to today, and we're right back where we started, via the Associated Press:
Two corrections consultants have concluded that Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro committed suicide in his prison cell and didn't die by accidentally killing himself while attempting to achieve a sexual thrill. The nationally regarded consultants rejected a suggestion in a state prisons report last month that Castro's Sept. 3 hanging was not a suicide as originally believed.
The consultants' report released Tuesday says all available evidence, including a shrine-like display in Castro's cell and an increasing tone of frustration in his prison journal, point to suicide. ... Castro was found hanging in his cell from a sheet attached to a window hinge.
Elsewhere in Slate: How Do You Tell a Suicide from an Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation Accident?
Bob Dylan’s Comments Spark “Racism” Investigation in France
French officials announced on Monday that Bob Dylan is under investigation in the country for allegedly “racist” comments made by the singer last year where he equated Croatians to Nazis and the KKK. The comment, made in an interview, caused a Croatian association in France to file a complaint with French authorities last year. The Paris courts will hear the case and have asked Dylan to appear at the hearing, the Guardian reports.
The comments in question were made by Dylan in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2012, where he discussed race relations in America.
Blacks know that some whites didn't want to give up slavery – that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can't pretend they don't know that. If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.
The reference, the BBC reports, is to the Croat Ustashe fascist movement during World War Two that killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Roma. The Croat association alleges that “the comments as carried in the French version of the magazine violated French racial hatred laws,” Reuters reports. Any complaint of racism is automatically investigated in France without consideration to the merits of the case.
Dylan was served with notice of the investigation last month when he was in Paris to received the Legion of Honour award. The Croat group said it is only seeking an apology.
UN Links Assad to War Crimes in Syria for First Time
The United Nations’ top human rights official for the first time linked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in his country. On Monday, Navi Pillay, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights said that a UN panel investigating abuses in Syria found “massive evidence” of war crimes. Pillay said in a press conference, the New York Times reports, “they point to the fact that the evidence indicates responsibility at the highest level of government, including the head of state.”
Pillay’s frank remarks about Assad’s role in possible human rights violations were unusual, Al Jazeera reports, because they are “at odds with a policy of keeping the identity of alleged perpetrators under wraps pending any judicial process.” Syria’s deputy Foreign Minister responded to Pillay’s comments, telling the Associated Press: "she has been talking nonsense for a long time and we don't listen to her.” The UN panel has not been allowed to investigate inside Syria, according to the Los Angeles Times, and relies on information from interviews with refugees and Skype conversations with people in Syria.