The 411 on the 414 area code

Andy Tarnoff

Milwaukeeans love our 414, the area code covering the city, the county and parts of Muskego and Brookfield, and it’s been around forever.

Actually, forever only extends back to 1947, when Bell Telephone established our iconic area code, along with 715, in Wisconsin. The goal back then was to standardize long-distance calls and to remove the switchboard operator from having to manually connect people across systems with patch cords.

But why did they pick 414?

The exact answer isn’t totally clear, but we have some clues.


Prime Members can save big on low-end Kindles

Paul Thurrott

Amazon is offering big discounts on its entry-level Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite e-book readers to Prime members.

It’s not clear how long these prices will last. Or whether this is a hint that the devices, which are both years-old, are about to be updated. But given how expensive the higher-end Kindles are—the Oasis is still a whopping $250 and up—these low-end models look even more attractive than usual now.

Trump’s miserable crew has never been so desperate

The Washington Post
Joe Scarborough

These are desperate times for the quislings of Trump. The cost of collaborating with President Trump in the continued debasement of American democracy is becoming far too high. Fifteen months into his presidency, Trump has seen a national security adviser, a former campaign chairman, a foreign policy adviser and another high-ranking campaign official face charges of serious crimes. This Last week, the president must have felt the walls closing in even more tightly around him when FBI agents searched the home, office and hotel room of his longtime personal lawyer, whom associates call Trump’s “fixer.”

The president’s response to the Michael Cohen search, duly authorized by an independent federal judge, was to reflexively trash law-enforcement officers, undermine the rule of law and slander a Vietnam War hero who has committed his adult life to the service of America. By now, of course, few should be surprised by the depths to which Trump sinks when attacking law enforcement personnel. But this last week provided insight into just how desperate Trump and his courtiers have become in their defenses of an indefensible administration. The president promoted a Fox News show via Twitter that starred a steady stream of sycophants who slandered special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Trump’s strikes on Syria risk retaliation, escalation in a war he wants to avoid

The Washington Post
Paul Sonne

Last week, President Trump promised to withdraw from Syria. This week, he opened a new front against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad that risks drawing the United States into a broader conflict there.

By attacking Assad late Friday, the Trump administration says it sought to warn the Syrian leader against what Western nations said was his use of illegal chemical warfare agents, following the gassing of civilians near Damascus last weekend.

The administration calculated that the need to send a signal to Assad over chemical weapons outweighed the possibility of provoking a response from his allies, Russia or Iran, on the battlefield in Syria, elsewhere in the Middle East or even in cyberspace.

The risk, analysts say, is that the United States would then end up in a cycle of escalation that entangles the American military more deeply in the Syrian conflict than the administration intended.

Trump’s company asked Panama president to help in hotel spat

AP News
Juan Zamorand and Stephen Braun

U.S. President Donald Trump’s company appealed directly to Panama’s president to intervene in its fight over control of a luxury hotel, even invoking a treaty between the two countries, in what ethics experts say was a blatant mingling of Trump’s business and government interests.

That appeal in a letter last month from lawyers for the Trump Organization to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela was apparently unsuccessful — an emergency arbitrator made days later declined to reinstate the Trump management team to the waterfront hotel in Panama City. But it provides hard proof of exactly the kind of conflict experts feared when Trump refused to divest from a sprawling empire that includes hotels, golf courses, licensing deals and other interests in more than 20 countries.

“This could be the clearest example we’ve seen of a conflict of interest stemming from the president’s role as head of state in connection with other countries and his business interests,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of The Project on Government Oversight, a Washington ethics and good government organization.

Paul Ryan and the end of an era

The Weekly Standard
Stephen F. Hayes

It’s fitting that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced his retirement during what was a very disturbing week in the White House, even by the chaotic standards that have prevailed under President Trump. Some suggested Ryan’s leaving means the Republican party has now become a Trumpist party. But that happened long ago. Ryan’s departure is not some kind of inflection point; it is an exclamation point.

Ryan is leaving for a variety of reasons. Anyone who has known him even casually believes him when he says he wants to spend more time with his family. Ryan would prefer, as well, to spend his time on policy innovation, rather than dealmaking. Even in better times that would have made the speakership an awkward fit. But the position has evolved into a job with virtually all downside. At a time of extraordinary polarization between the two parties and internecine conflict inside the GOP, the House speaker is the face of a deeply unpopular institution, with limited power to change it.

3 big takeaways from James Comey’s new book

The Washington Post
Callum Borchers

Former FBI director James B. Comey’s memoir hits bookshelves next Tuesday and his blitz of media interviews begins with “20/20” on Sunday. But The Washington Post obtained a copy of “A Higher Loyalty” and published excerpts on Thursday.

1. Comey does not accuse Trump of committing a crime.

2. Trump’s ego was bruised by the Steele dossier, particularly the part about paying for sex.

3. Comey describes several conversations that can be corroborated or disputed.