Tales from the Trail

Just the right tavern to celebrate 200 years of U.S.-French military ties

Not every U.S. ally who visits the Pentagon needs to be treated to a dinner that evokes more than 200 years of peaceful military relations.

France is the rare exception.

So when Defense Minister Alain Juppe traveled to Washington this week for talks with Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary found just the right venue: Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia, one of the few establishments in the United States that can boast of “fine dining since 1770.”

Its historical guest list includes the likes of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and James Monroe.

Gates had his eye on a slightly different pair of clients when he hosted Juppe for dinner the evening before the two signed a space cooperation agreement.

“I had the pleasure of hosting Minister Juppe along with other French and U.S. officials for dinner at a tavern where Secretary of State John Quincy Adams played host to General Lafayette in 1824,” Gates told reporters during the signing ceremony.

Ahmadinejad says bin Laden in Washington

BINLADEN/Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has the answer to the question that has plagued the United States since Sept. 11, 2001. 

He knows where Osama bin Laden is — in Washington. OBAMA/

In an interview with ABC’S “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad rejected reports that the al Qaeda leader was in Iran.

“I heard that Osama bin Laden is in the Washington, D.C.,” Ahmadinejad said through an interpreter in a contentious give-and-take with his interviewer, George Stephanopoulos.

Amidst the shivering in Washington, the case for global warming

WEATHER/OK, it’s cold in Washington. It’s really cold. And snowy. And blizzardy. It’s hard to recall that long-ago moment — what was it, six days ago? — when you could go for a walk without cross-country skis and a flask of brandy. But just because it’s winter doesn’t mean global warming is a myth.

But the storms gave conservatives fresh fodder for mocking former Vice President Al Gore and his efforts on global climate change.  Senator Jim DeMint tweeted “It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ‘uncle’,” Politico reported.

For decades, scientists have struggled to explain the difference between weather, which changes in the short term, and climate, which changes over the long term. There’s a good explanation at the new government Climate Service Web site called “Short term cooling on a warming planet.” The new site went up this week, between blizzards, and is supposed to guide consumers and businesses so they can adapt to climate change. The Climate Service itself is expected to be up and running by the start of the next U.S. fiscal year that begins on October 1.

Obama feels at home in eye of winter storm

While the rest of Washington dug itself out of  the area’s most severe winter storm in years, the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue  found the deeply drifting snow much to their liking as it blanketed the White House.

snow

“I am from Chicago, so let me first say that with the place where I live covered with snow I’m finally starting to feel like home,” President Barack Obama told reporters for a hastily summoned White House statement on climate change and healthcare reform.
    
Up to 20 inches of snow is forecast for the capital area Saturday, sharply restricting travel as airlines canceled flights and public transport was shut down.
    
This also brings to mind Obama’s previous recommendation that the locals need to develop some mid-western fortitude toward the weather, after he complained Washingtonians need some “flinty Chicago toughness” after his two daughters’ school closed down after a 2-inch snowfall in January. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed)

Muddy manse

Selling your house? Worried about having to lower the price to get it to move?

How about a $1.275 million price reduction? That’s how much former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel H. Mudd had to cut the asking price on his 11,500 square foot, six bedroom, six full bath (plus three half baths) mansion to find a buyer.  Originally listed for $8.9 million on September 11, the transaction closed on December 11 for $7.625 million.

 

Don’t worry too much for Mr. Mudd, though. He paid $5.15 million for the place in June 2000, leaving him with a 48 percent return on his investment, excluding any renovation costs. And even though he was booted from Fannie Mae when the government took over the housing giant in September 2008 and reportedly wasn’t paid his multi-million dollar severance package, he’s landed on his feet. New York’s Fortress Investment Group named him CEO in August.

 

Wondering what you could have bought from the son of the former NBC News anchor Roger Mudd? Here’s the listing agent’s description: