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SHARPEN UP

Can De Blasio Be Less Blah?

© Lucas Jackson / Reuters

From charter schools to snow-clearing controversies to taxing the rich to pay for pre-K, Bill de Blasio has had a rough first few months as New York’s Mayor. To rehabilitate his battered public image, he needs to do more than take selfies on the steps of City Hall.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who roared into office with 73 percent of the vote, has spent his nearly three months on the job facing up to a cruel reality: Presiding over the nation’s media capital is no day at the beach. (Unless we’re talking about Omaha Beach.)        The city’s 52-year-old, 6-foot-5 chief executive has served as a human piñata for a local press corps eager to highlight his every rookie mistake and preventable political flap—and de Blasio has obliged with some beauts over the past several weeks.

Sex & the Military

How Did the General Get Off?

Chris Keane/Reuters

A top Army officer faced life imprisonment on sexual assault charges and other crimes but walked away Thursday with a minor reprimand. How did that happen?

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who had been charged with sexually assaulting a female captain who worked for him, walked free Thursday.Sinclair received a surprisingly light sentence given that he had originally faced life imprisonment and his own defense lawyers seemed resigned to some jail time, asking this week that he not be imprisoned for more than 18 months. Instead, in a decision that surprised many, Sinclair was docked $20,000 in pay and received a letter of reprimand, but was allowed to remain in the military and keep his pension and benefits.

1929-2014

Fred Phelps, Friend of the Gays

Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post, via Getty

The founder of the Westboro Baptist Church and his gang embodied hatred but their zealotry and extremism only served to harm Fred Phelps’ causes.

If Fred Phelps didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him.He was the living embodiment of hatred: mean-spirited and vicious, he and his extended family (many of whom he brutally abused) came to fame picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard. They practically trademarked the phrase “God Hates Fags.” And when targeting gays wasn’t enough, they expanded their targets to include women, Jews, Barack Obama, and eventually, anyone associated with the United States itself—including dead soldiers, whose distraught relatives were mystified to find fire-breathing fundamentalists shouting at funerals.

Lego My Job-o

Big Business Bullies Schools

Getty

If ‘The LEGO Movie’ taught us anything, it’s that today’s corporate interests view the ideal world as one in which commercial employment means excellence. But really, the only boss that should reign supreme is the boss named You.

As The LEGO Movie told us, through the story arc of its villain, Lord Business, the biggest threat to freedom posed by technology is not that machines will make us into slaves. It’s that our best and brightest will think of us, and themselves, as no more than machines—and use their power to rule accordingly.That is why you don’t have to be a Tea Partier to recoil in disgust at the all-out PR campaign Big Business is launching to shove as many Americans as possible into the machinery of Common Core.

About Time

Revenge Porn Site Gets Busted

Neil Webb/Getty

Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin have all seen lawsuits or bills passed this week that come down harshly on scorned lovers who share nude photos and videos of their former paramours online.

It's been a very bad week for the sleazy and scorned lover.Shockingly, almost no legal sanctions existed previously for those engaged in the hideous phenomenon of "revenge porn," in which jilted men (and let's be honest: it's almost always men) disseminate nude photos and videos of women who clearly had not guessed that they were involved with a person who might have a penchant for disseminating nude photos and videos when jilted.

Play Ball

March Madness: 5 Games to Watch

Getty

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a wishy-watcher, the following games should be on your tune-in list as the NCAA madness gets underway.

To the chagrin of these 40 courageous online petitioners and their hoops-hungry brethren, March Madness is not a national holiday. And unless you’re ESPN’s reigning bracket challenge champion, chances are your life doesn’t completely stop when the NCAA Tournament begins.If you’re not a sports journalist, college slacker, retiree, degenerate gambler, or addict, it’s probably impossible (or even unappealing) to watch 12 consecutive hours of basketball on both Thursday and Friday.

PLANE LUNACY

CNN Asks: 'Is It Really News?'

CNN

The disappearance of MA Flight 370 has proved a ratings bonanza, particularly for CNN. But with no new developments, and wild conjecture filling the void, even CNN's own journalists are questioning its coverage.

It has been nearly two weeks since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, with 239 people on board, vanished without trace, minutes after the young co-pilot radioed “All right, good night.” In the days since March 8, when the Boeing 777 lost contact with ground control en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, few facts about the disappearance have emerged.Yet that hasn’t stopped America’s cable news networks from going all in on the mystery, especially ratings-challenged CNN, which has scored big numbers with round-the-clock coverage that offers a tantalizing mix of informed and uninformed speculation, high emotion, conspiracy-theorizing, and fantastical ruminations, sprinkled with just a pinch of news.

Bates Motel

When Crime Scenes Go On Sale

Wikimedia Commons

The Colorado home of JonBenet Ramsey is on the market again. From Amanda Knox's Perugia house to Jeffery Dahmer's childhood home, some murder houses are perpetually on sale—while others have made a real estate killing.

For $1.9 million, you could be the proud owner of a 7,240-square-foot, five-bedroom renovated 1920s home in one of Boulder, Colorado’s most desirable neighborhoods. The catch? The basement of this dream home is where six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in 1996. Still interested?Despite the Bernardi Real Estate Group’s efforts to promote its “grand rooms, great light” and “elegance of past generations combined with modern updates,” the Ramsey estate clearly seems to be suffering from a textbook case of Haunted House Syndrome.

Calling All Angels

The Hero in Lenny Kravitz’s Family

Larry Downing/Reuters

The musician and actor isn’t the only celebrated member of his family—and an old Brooklyn pal made it his mission to see the original Lenny, who served in the Korean War, honored for the brave soldier and good friend that he was.

Among the 24 Jewish and Hispanic soldiers who received a belated Medal of Honor at the White House on Tuesday was the uncle and namesake of rock musician turned actor Lenny Kravitz. The two dozen awards were the result of a tireless investigation that spanned half a century led by a childhood pal of Army private first class Leonard M. Kravitz to have him posthumously honored.This superhumanly determined friend is 83 year-old Mitch Libman and his quest demonstrated what friendship meant in a Brooklyn long before hipsters and Girls.

HARD SELL

America’s Next Top Escort

Rentboy.com

This weekend, Duncan Black is up for two major awards at the escort industry’s Oscars. But when you pay him $400 an hour, you’re getting more than just his body. “I think there’s a social service involved in the work as well,” he says.

An hour-long lunch with Duncan Black costs most people $400. Even if you’re not paying, you very nearly want to at the end of it. His reviews, rightly, call him “sweet,” “demure,”  “easygoing.” “Total boyfriend material,” one gushes. “He’s almost too cute.” Clients love his soft laugh, his feet, his “Minnesota Nice”-ness, his… well, you know.Black is a male escort: according to his satisfied customers, a really good one. He’s also a contortionist, an aerial acrobat, a gamer, and a porn actor with a devoted Twitter following.

Who Is Frazier Glenn Miller?

Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon dissects the story of Miller, a 'nightmare image' of 'hate groups nestled in the heartland' who went on a Kansas killing spree on Sunday.

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