Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he doesn't smoke crack cocaine and he's not an addict in response to a video that surfaced recently that purports to show him using the illegal drug.
Last week Ford called the cell phone video obtained by The Toronto Star "ridiculous" and blamed the newspaper for "going after me."
Friday's comments from Ford were more emphatic:
"I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine," he said at a news conference. "As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen, or does not exist."
He didn't take questions from reporters and said he'd held his silence on the matter for the past week because his lawyer advised him "not to say a word."
Last week, the Star reported that two of its reporters had viewed a video that appeared to show Ford smoking crack. The newspaper says the footage was being "shopped around Toronto by a group of Somali men involved in the drug trade." The website Gawker has also obtained the video, but it has not been verified by other news organizations.
It's difficult for an American president to govern through nuance, especially when it's necessary to persuade a majority of the people that certain actions are essential for national security. And effective persuasion usually requires clarity.
That's how you arrive at President George W. Bush's stark formulation "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists," after Sept. 11 and much of that sprang from it.
But if President Obama's newly recalibrated counterterrorism strategy as outlined in his speech Thursday demonstrates anything, it is his penchant for nuance.
It's a tendency required by the times. After more than a decade of two large-scale wars, Americans long ago hit the kind of war weariness that made them open to the notion of downsizing what Obama's predecessor had described as a "global war on terror" that could last decades.
But there are still enemies who seek to wage an asymmetric fight against the U.S. Thus the need for the kind of complex U.S. approach — in short nuance — that can be hard to explain or easy to misstate in the Twitter era.
For an example of this nuance, just take Obama's new guidance for when the U.S. will target individuals for destruction by drone. In the past, a terrorist suspect could apparently be targeted for that fact alone.
But the administration's new guidance, according to a White House fact sheet, requires that a suspected terrorist only be targeted if he's a "continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons. It is simply not the case that all terrorists pose a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons; if a terrorist does not pose such a threat, the United States will not use lethal force."
That's a distinction that's difficult to imagine the Obama administration's immediate predecessor making, with its more cut-and-dried approach.
But part of Obama's appeal to many Americans when he was first elected in 2008 was his promise of a smarter approach to counterterrorism than Bush's, one that would improve the U.S.' image abroad. That was a vow that appeared challenged, at least when it came to the Obama administration's controversial use of drones.
Obama greatly expanded the use of the remotely controlled unmanned vehicles, with their Hellfire missile payloads, far beyond anything that occurred under Bush. The result? Growing anger toward the U.S. in unstable places like Pakistan and Yemen and in other nations with Islamic majorities across the region.
While the use of the high-tech weapons has engendered outrage elsewhere in the world, Americans have mostly embraced the tactic.
Recent polls indicate that a majority of Americans support drone attacks on terrorist suspects. Civil libertarians and human-rights activists like Code Pink protester Medea Benjamin, who interrupted the president's speech Thursday, may question the killing by drone of U.S. citizens abroad or of the innocent — but that doesn't appear to be a majority concern.
It's this widespread support of U.S. drone warfare among the public that has given Obama the latitude he has enjoyed until now to increasingly conduct these attacks. The president didn't mention in his speech the popularity of the drones with Americans among the reasons for continuing their use. Americans' support of the use of drones certainly has made this part of his counterterrorism policy easier than it would be otherwise.
Ironically, the one part of his counterterrorism policy in which Obama showed the least nuance has arguably been the most vexing: his campaign promise to close Guantanamo, freeing those detainees deemed as not dangerous while transferring the rest to the U.S. mainland for trial.
It's not by choice, of course. He ran into fierce congressional resistance when he first tried to make good on his promise in 2009 shortly after entering the White House, and all indications are that Republican lawmakers will do their best to thwart him again. And with most Americans agreeing with them that Guantanamo should remain open, their chances of winning are probably better than Obama's.
In the days since a tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., talk of constructing safe rooms in public schools has become commonplace.
In southwest Missouri, officials have built a few of them already, and they are seeking funding to build more.
'A Sense Of Peace'
Karina O'Connell is preparing dinner tonight under the pavilion at Phelps Grove Park in Springfield, Mo., where she's eating with her 9-year-old twin sons, Samuel and John Patrick.
A mixture of curiosity and fear has the boys often going online to track big storms. Their mother says the family's recent addition of a safe room at home helped ease a lot of concerns, especially for John Patrick.
"Now that we have our storm shelter, he was just, I mean he was still upset, but once we were in there, you know, we were playing games, he was very calm," O'Connell says. "It was ... a sense of peace for us that we actually have this now."
But when at school at Sunshine Elementary, the O'Connell boys don't have the safest place to ride out a storm. While Springfield has more than 50 school buildings, so far only three are equipped with a safe room that meets FEMA 361 standards, a room that can withstand the impact of an EF-5 tornado.
'Some Peace Of Mind'
Dave Bishop is the district's director of facilities. He says when FEMA awarded funding to the district, safe rooms were built at three schools.
One of them is at Jeffries Elementary, where Bishop shows off a safe room that was built from pre-stressed concrete, with straps at the ceiling capable of withstanding wind shear. FEMA's $1.6 million grant paid for 75 percent of the cost of this room, which also serves as the school's gymnasium and can protect about 500 people. When school's not in session, it serves as a shelter for residents within a half-mile radius.
"We were able to take up a matching grant of 25 percent and build this room, which I think speaks for itself. It's a very nice facility and I think provides some peace of mind," Bishop says.
Springfield Public Schools has applied for additional FEMA funds to build safe rooms in another three schools.
As for the buildings that don't have active safe rooms, Bishop says the district has a crisis plan tailored to each site, placing students where structure and building materials are the strongest. But after the storm in Oklahoma, O'Connell is considering a different plan for her children.
"I think I might be looking at the weather a little closer and then possibly taking them out of school in order to get them in my shelter," O'Connell says.
'Find A Way To Pay For This'
Helen Grant didn't have that option.
Her two daughters attend Central Elementary in Moore, Okla., which has no safe room and was placed on lockdown before Grant ever had a chance to pick them up. After seeing the destruction at Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary, she decided to sign a petition that calls on Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to require all schools in the state to build safe rooms.
"And even if the money is hard to come by, I'm sure people could pay for it. Our state has given tax breaks to big businesses. I'm sure they can find a way to pay for this," Grant says.
Bob Roberts, the emergency manager for Tulsa Public Schools, hopes to someday have safe rooms in all Oklahoma schools, but he's concerned about how to pay for them.
"We have to look at what's the most effective thing we can do with the money we have available," he says.
If nothing else, says Roberts, he believes schools should be reinforced to better withstand a storm's impact.
Back in Springfield, Mo., Storm Shelters' founder Jeff Olsen is in his showroom, pointing out the damage to a steel shelter caused when a two-by-four was shot at 100 mph, part of testing performed on the safe rooms he builds for homeowners.
These are the kinds of shelters that Moore's mayor says he'd now like to require in every new home built there.
But when Joplin, Mo., officials tried to do just that following the devastating tornado there two years ago, the City Council deemed that making that mandatory would be too expensive for homebuilders.
On today's Planet Money, we meet a single mother who makes $16,000 a year — and who managed to fund a vacation at a Caribbean resort with an interest-free loan from one of the world's largest banks.
Edith Calzado gets credit cards with teaser zero-percent interest rates — then transfers her balance before the rate ticks up. She signs up for store cards to get discounts — then pays off her bill on time. She gets food stamps and lives in subsidized housing. Her son is doing well in school.
She may be the single most successful and productive beneficiary of government assistance you'll ever meet.
Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones is back-peddling from remarks he made at a symposium last month that motherhood causes women to lose the necessary focus to be successful traders.
"As soon as that baby's lips touched that girl's bosom, forget it," Jones told an audience at the University of Virginia on April 26.
"Every single investment idea ... every desire to understand what is going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience ... which a man will never share, about a mode of connection between that mother and that baby," he said. "And I've just seen it happen over and over."
But in a statement released Friday, Jones apologized for what he has called "off the cuff" remarks:
"Much of my adult life has been spent fighting for equal opportunity, and the idea that I would support limiting opportunity for any segment of society, particularly women, is antithetical to who I am and what I have done," he said. "My remarks offended, and I am sorry."
The offending comments were made as Jones, the founder of Tudor Investment Corp., a $13 billion hedge-fund firm based in Greenwich, Conn., participated in a question-and-answer symposium at the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce. Prominent investors Julian Robertson of Tiger Management and John Griffin of Blue Ridge Capital were also part of the panel.
The video was obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request. You can skip to Jones' controversial remarks in the video below beginning at about 2:30.
Not surprisingly, the comments haven't gone over well with some women. Writing for Time magazine, columnist Rana Foroohar shot back at what she called Jones' "convoluted argument":
"He's saying that women can't be good traders because they are too much at the mercy of their emotions. Actually, plenty of research has shown just the opposite. In the bestselling book, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, John Coates, a former trader who is now a neuroscientist at Cambridge University, looks at just how emotionally influenced traders — mainly men — are."