Newsletters

Get Well+Being delivered to your inbox every Monday Morning.

And what that says about the type of person you are. By David Zenlea

Washingtonians' taste in vehicles is a lot different from the rest of America. We love Hondas, Toyotas, and premium cars that are classy, but not flashy. We're also an area where people are relying more on greener ways to get around: carsharing, Uber, or cycling.

So what category do you fall in? Are you driving around in a classy Mercedes-Benz, or are you a die-hard cyclist who hates to drive? Take our quiz and find out:

Posted at 10:20 AM/ET, 05/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Ruth Bader Ginsburg's starring role at Michael Kahn's wedding over the weekend is just the latest example. By Harrison Smith

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. Notorious RBG, attracted attention Sunday afternoon when she officiated a same-sex wedding in advance of this summer’s Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. The ceremony, between Shakespeare Theater Company artistic director Michael Kahn and New York architect Charles Mitchem, took place at the Anderson House on Embassy Row.

As the New York Times reported Monday, “With a sly look and special emphasis on the word ‘Constitution,’ Justice Ginsburg said that she was pronouncing the two men married by the powers vested in her by the Constitution of the United States.”

It’s possible the justice was hinting at the outcome of the pending court case, where a decision is expected by late June, but it’s no secret where Ginsburg stands on the issue. It’s also not the first time she’s officiated at a same-sex marriage—or at any marriage, for that matter.

Though rules vary by state, Supreme Court justices are able to preside over marriage ceremonies in most jurisdictions. Below, a sampling of weddings that sitting justices have officiated.

RBG

  • Presided over NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell’s marriage to Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, at the Inn at Little Washington in 1997.
  • Officiated the marriage of her friend Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for NPR, and surgeon David Reines, in DC in 2000.
  • Became the first Supreme Court justice to officiate a same-sex marriage ceremony when she conducted the Kennedy Center wedding of Michael M. Kaiser, then the arts center's president, and economist John Roberts (no relation to the chief justice) in 2013. “I can’t imagine someone I’d rather be married by,” Kaiser told the Washington Post. The wedding was just a few months after the court struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • A month later, RBG presided over the DC wedding of public affairs specialist Michael Widomski and food critic David Hagedorn. The couple told the Huffington Post that they had sent Ginsburg a letter after reading that she’d never been asked to preside over a same-sex wedding. On the day the court session ended in summer 2013, she wrote them back, accepting the request “with the caveat that she had opera tickets on the evening of our wedding and therefore had to be finished with her duties as officiant by 5:30 p.m.” After saying their vows, the couple toasted the justice with glasses of whole milk, a nod to the “skim milk marriage” metaphor that Ginsburg used during oral arguments for the DOMA case.

Stephen Breyer

  • Officiated former Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s marriage to school teacher Amy Petitgout, in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, in 2011.

Elena Kagan

  • After a spur-of-the-moment request, Kagan officiated the 2011 marriage of her friend Philip Bobbitt, once described as the James Bond of Columbia Law School, and Maya Ondalikoglu, then a student at Columbia Law. The ceremony was held in the justice’s chambers.

Sonia Sotomayor

  • If you’re angling for a Supreme Court wedding, your best bet may be clerking for one of the justices. According to a letter signed by many of Sotomayor’s former clerks in support of her nomination to the Supreme Court, it’s typical for her to officiate at clerks’ weddings. Shortly after her confirmation in 2009, she officiated the wedding of former clerk Danielle Feldman Tarantolo, to Sean Henderson Murray, in an anteroom of the court’s official spouses’ dining room.

Clarence Thomas

  • Officiated Rush Limbaugh’s third marriage, to aerobics instructor Marta Fitzgerald, in 1994. The ceremony was held at Thomas’s home in Virginia. Limbaugh and Marta divorced in 2004.

Posted at 03:14 PM/ET, 05/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The District will give out its first film production incentives in five years. By Benjamin Freed
Veep is set here, but filmed almost entirely in Maryland. Photograph by Patrick Harbron via HBO.

Five years after it cut its last check to a Hollywood production company, the District government is finally back in the movie business—for a little while, at least. The city has made $1.2 million in tax rebates available to film and television producers who bring their projects here, the first time since 2010 that the District is offering to underwrite the movie industry.

The District has stayed away from handing out film incentives—which local governments around the country use to compete for the investment of big Hollywood productions—since the making of James L. Brooks's 2010 romantic comedy How Do You Know?, a critical and commercial failure that received $2 million from the DC government when it filmed some of its scenes here. A study released in late 2013 found that for every dollar the District spent on film incentives, it got back only 44 cents.

Since then, almost all of the commercial movie and television business Washington has attracted has been by productions getting quick, establishing shots of the city's skyline or interstitial scenes of fictional presidential motorcades rolling by, while most Washington-set titles do the bulk of their work in states with robust incentive programs. (House of Cards and Veep are filmed almost entirely in Maryland, which will have given the shows more than $60 million between the 2012 and 2016 fiscal years.)

But producers have stayed away from DC for the most part because there are no givebacks from the local governments and because filming in Washington often involves wrangling permits from local and federal authorities. (To say nothing of the fact that audiences and critics often don't end up caring that much when the role of "Washington" is played by Baltimore or Atlanta.)

Read More

Posted at 01:55 PM/ET, 05/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Looking for a furry friend? One of these cuties—all available at Washington-area rescues—might be your match.

Sheena (above) is a very sweet, hound/shepherd-mix. She loves to play with other medium or large dogs. Sheena appears to be about a year old, but is very well behaved for how young she is. She would do best in a home without cats or small dogs. You can meet Sheena through Rural Dog Rescue.

Cole is an approximately 2-year-old shepherd-mix. He is very laid-back and easy to train. He already knows basic commands like sit and down. He had a bit of a rough start but has come along way and learned that people are mostly nice. You can meet him through Rural Dog Rescue.
Mila is a 6-year-old, 58-pound, American Staffordshire terrier-mix. She is pretty laid-back at home but always up to go on an adventure whenever you are. She loves time on the couch, long walks, and lots of food. Mila is very bright and knows commands like “sit,” “stay,” “wait,” “down,” “back up,” “crawl,” “touch,” and “speak.” She adores human friends, but would prefer to be your only animal. Mila is in a Washington Humane Society foster home. Contact her foster at kseidl@gmail.com.

Gabrielle is 6 years old and very affectionate. She greets visitors to the Washington Animal Rescue League by winding her way around their ankles and meowing. She loves to cuddle and get lots of pets. Her adoption fee will be waived for anyone 50 years or older as part of WARL's Boomers’ Buddies program.

Scribble is 2 years old and weighs less than 20 pounds. He appears to be a mix between a feist, beagle, and pug. Scribble loves people and other dogs, and he is very intellient. You can meet him through K-9 Lifesavers.
Diamond is a 2- to 3-year-old Jack Russell terrier and beagle mix. She weighs about 13 pounds and is a sweet girl who was likely a stray or neglected for a while. Diamond has a great personality and with good nutrition, care, and stability, her coat is starting to shine and come in even thicker. Diamond is great with other dogs and people of all ages. Meet her through K-9 Lifesavers.

Snowball is a 9-month-old pit bull-mix who's great with people. He loves to greet everyone, whether out in the neighborhood or guests in your home. Snowball is great for someone with an active lifestyle - he likes explore parks and play fetch in the yard. Given his young age, he still needs someone to work with him on his basic manners. He will do great with a positive training class, he is crazy for food and has never met a treat that he didn't like. He is best suited for a home without young children. Meet him at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Posted at 01:31 PM/ET, 05/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The reporter's recent media tour spawned a lot of good quotes. By Andrew Beaujon

The London Review of Books published Seymour Hersh's 10,000-word article about Osama bin Laden's death last week. The piece spawned many media stories, as well as quite a few interviews with the 78-year-old reporter. Here are some enjoyable Hersh-reporter interactions from last week.

1) Isaac Chotiner, Slate, May 13

Chotiner: OK but here is my question about journalism, since you have been doing this longer than I have—

Hersh: Oh poor you, you don’t know anything. It is amazing you can speak the God’s English.

Later:

Chotiner: I feel like you are telling me two different things. One is that you get less pressure in Europe, and the other is that this story would have been fine at the New Yorker.

Hersh: So fine, I am glad you are confused. Write whichever one makes you happy.

Chotiner: OK.

Hersh: I don’t mean to yell at you but I feel good doing it. Goodbye.

2) Bob Garfield, On the Media, May 13

Hersh: Ask me a good question. Here's a question you can ask me: Do I have any evidence that anything I say is true. Evidence.

Garfield: Do you have any evidence that anything you say is true? Documents?

Hersh: ... I don't have a thing in writing that says anything. And I haven't had for all my stories. It's easy when you have a document. In the story I did about Abu Ghraib I had an internal report that was devastating. And in the My Lai story when I was just a kid I had seen a piece of paper I talked about but I didn't have it .... But most of the stories you get, and all those stories I was writing for the New Yorker after 9/11, all done on exactly the same basis as this story.

Later:

Hersh: You want my answer to that?

Garfield: I do.

Hersh: Boo hoo. Just boo hoo. Who cares. I write my stories. I'm not doing it through any different reporting than I did 20 years ago, and believe me, the criticism I had for some of those early stories, going back to My Lai.... I do counternarrative. And that has a cost. But you know something? I've been around a long time, I still have my fastball, and I just have pretty much learned to ignore much of the critics.

3) Paul Farhi, the Washington Post, May 15

“It’s not my fault I have f---ing sources most reporters don’t have,” he says from his office in Washington, between fending off calls from reporters seeking comment.

The official narrative “has been fixed,” he adds. “It’s complete. You bought the narrative! That’s why there’s so much anger. It’s not jealousy. It’s more than that. People are just f---ing bats--- about this.”

4) Michael Calderone, the Huffington Post, May 12

Hersh said [New Yorker editor David] Remnick “wasn’t afraid of a different point-of-view” and brushed off suggestions of ongoing tensions over the bin Laden raid account.

“Excuse me,” Hersh said. “Arguing with an editor. That’s so unusual?”

5) Chris Cuomo, CNN, May 11

Cuomo: I'm just saying you've made a big wager here with a pedigree that extends many years--

Hersh: Excuse me. Excuse me. No. That's your definition. This is not a wager. This is a story that has to be dealt with by this government very seriously.

6) Armin Rosen, Business Insider, May 11

"You're talking about someone who was a freelance reporter in 1969 and wrote about massacring hundreds of people in Vietnam for an anti-war news agency," Hersh said. "My God, you don't think I had trouble then?"

He's irritated at what he sees as a public obsession with where and how his bin Laden report had been published. "It's not a press story — it's a story about what the government does," Hersh said. "If the questions are about the press, I can't help you."

7) Peter Lloyd, ABC (Australia), May 14

Lloyd: Why publish in the London Review of Books? Is there a different fact-checking standard? And there is at least one report, the New Yorker turned down the story.

Hersh: I think talking about where I publish is so silly...

Lloyd: Well, I'm wondering why the New Yorker wouldn't publish it?

Hersh: Well, because I didn't give it to them, that's why.

Posted at 10:54 AM/ET, 05/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Washingtonians like nice cars, but not too nice. We like hybrids, not trucks. Here's how our taste in vehicles differs from the rest of the country's. By David Zenlea
Illustration by Ryan Snook.

What do you drive?

It’s not the first question Washingtonians typically ask one another. (This isn’t LA.) Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t buy cars or don’t have particular preferences. More than 250,000 new vehicles were registered in Washington in 2014, making the area the sixth-largest car market in the country, according to the industry consulting firm IHS Automotive.

Read More

Posted at 10:53 AM/ET, 05/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
No more parties at the once-popular party house. By Benjamin Freed
The pool at Doug Jefferies's house, currently not listed on Airbnb or any other vacation-rental site. Photograph via Airbnb.

A judge in DC Superior Court ordered local fitness magnate Doug Jefferies to stop listing his spacious Dupont Circle townhouse on vacation-rental websites like Airbnb after numerous complaints that the Q Street, Northwest, residence was operating as an illegal hotel and entertainment venue.

The District government sued Jefferies, founder of Results Gym and Stroga yoga studio, in late April after frequent complaints from neighbors that groups who rented his 5,700-square-foot house used it for loud, heavily attended parties that often dragged into the late hours. The house played host to a May 7 corporate party with more than 400 guests that featured a performance by early-2000s rapper Ja Rule, attracting at least two visits from the Metropolitan Police Department. The suit was made public the following day, and the company that booked the house has said it was unaware of Jefferies's legal entanglements.

In the 125-page lawsuit, the city contended that Jefferies was using his house as a residential housing business, public hall, boarding house, and bed and breakfast without the proper city-mandated licenses. Before yanking it down from Airbnb and similar sites, Jefferies charged $1,200 a night for the six-bedroom house, which includes a spacious game room, multiple roof decks, and a rooftop pool. He marketed it on vacation-rental sites as the “Celebrity House Hunter Mansion,” based off its appearance on the television series Celebrity House Hunting. In an interview with Washingtonian last week, Jefferies said he used revenue from renting the house as often as 15 times a month to finance an international-relief charity he runs.

Judge Maurice Ross ordered Jefferies to stop all business activity at the house, schedule an home inspection to determine whether the house is suitable for hosting group rentals, and if it is, limit groups to no more than eight individuals at a time. Jefferies must also pay $8,000 in fines and obtain the proper licenses if he wants to rent out his house again.

In a press release DC Attorney General Karl Racine mostly tows the line his office put out last week—that the case against Jefferies was about a single house that produced a raft of complaints from ticked-off neighbors. "Assuming Mr. Jefferies abides by the terms of the consent order, this agreement will bring an end to the dangerous, illegal, and troublesome use of this property to host large and noisy events," Racine says.

But Racine's statement continues with a potential hint for everyone else in the District who offers their home on Airbnb. "Today’s action sends a strong message to individuals who seek to unlawfully conduct lodging and entertainment businesses without proper licenses," he says. "Such activity is illegal, is a nuisance to law-abiding residents, and will be investigated."

This could put DC on track to follow the lead of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who said in October that 75 percent of New York City's Airbnb properties were operating illegally.

"If complaints come to us about illegally operated businesses that endanger public safety and operate unlawfully, we’ll check into it and [the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs] will check into it," says Racine's spokesman Rob Marus.

Airbnb says it offers regulatory guidance to its property owners in the District, where there are more than 1,000 listings.

Posted at 05:21 PM/ET, 05/15/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Could an obscure legal doctrine force Sweet Briar to change its plan? By Will Grunewald
May Day exercises at Sweet Briar College, 1905. Photograph by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress.

Sweet Briar College will see out its final graduating class on Saturday, though alumni groups will try to keep the school open. At the crux of both the college’s founding and its controversial plan to close is a single, peculiar historical document, the last will and testament of Indiana Fletcher Williams.

One hundred fifteen years ago, Indiana Williams died in her Amherst County, Virginia, plantation home. Through her will, she gave $2,000 to the local Episcopal church, bequeathed a painting of the head of Christ to an acquaintance in New York, and set aside 3,000 acres plus $800,000 to found the Sweet Briar Institute—“a school or seminary for the education of white girls and young women.”

The reclusive widow had led a genteel life, as a girl attending school at Georgetown Visitation, as a young lady gamboling about on a Grand Tour of Europe, as an adult flitting about the Manhattan social scene or passing summers on Sweet Briar, her Virginia estate. But in 1884 Williams suffered a defining personal tragedy when her only child, Daisy, a delicate 16-year-old with blonde hair that tumbled in long curls, died of a lung disease.

Daisy’s death turned the remainder of Williams’ life into a Southern Gothic daydream. For months she had her domestic staff deliver breakfast daily to Daisy’s grave and later trot Daisy’s pony to the site, with the girl's riding skirt laid across the pommel. She would visit the cemetery herself in the afternoons, bringing the mail and reading it aloud to Daisy. For 16 years she preserved the main house exactly as it had been. In Daisy’s bedroom, Williams left clothes arranged neatly in the closet and kept fresh sheets on the bed. Then, one morning in 1900, she died on the floor at the foot of that bed. The new Sweet Briar Institute, she had written in her will, would serve as a “perpetual memorial” to her daughter.

Read More

Posted at 05:01 PM/ET, 05/15/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Former Kesher Israel Rabbi Barry Freundel secretly videotaped women using a synagogue changing room. By Benjamin Freed, Harry Jaffe
Freundel, leaving court following his February plea hearing. Photograph by Benjamin Freed.

Barry Freundel, the former rabbi at Georgetown’s Kesher Israel synagogue, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison Friday as punishment for placing hidden cameras in a women's changing room at a ritual Jewish bath.

Judge Geoffrey Alprin handed down the sentence in DC Superior Court, which was packed with Freundel's victims and former congregants, many of whom gave deeply emotional statements about their encounters with the rabbi and about discovering they had been secretly videotaped while disrobing.

"I could not bear my friends knowing that my rabbi had seen me naked," said one victim.

Freundel, 63, was arrested last October 14 at his then residence in Georgetown after DC police investigated a complaint that there was a camera in the women’s changing room at the National Capital Mikvah—a ritual bath used by observant Jews—that is connected to Kesher Israel. Police officers removed numerous computers and hard drives from the house when arresting the rabbi, and authorities later recovered numerous pieces of video equipment and other storage devices.

Read More

Posted at 04:20 PM/ET, 05/15/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
We crunched some numbers to find out which commute is the most cost-effective.
Photograph by Flickr user Rich Renomeron.

With Bike to Work Day coming up, you may be considering using Capital Bikeshare to pedal in to work. The environmental and health benefits are hard to deny, but is cycling a more cost-effective option? We chose a few different bike routes around Washington—all ending at McPherson Square—and compared peak metro fare and taxi rates with the price to ride a Capital Bikeshare bike with an annual membership.

Read More

Posted at 06:00 AM/ET, 05/14/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()