Early Briefing: Can't We All Just Get A Latte?

Murky Coffee owner Nicholas Cho, left, defended barista David Flynn in a letter on the store's Web site after a customer blasted Flynn, in person and in a blog, for balking at an order for a triple espresso on ice. The request violated company policy. (By Joe Heim -- The Washington Post)

*Who knew a cup of coffee could create such a tempest in a teapot?

Not Jeff Simmermon, whose request for a triple shot of espresso over ice at Murky Coffee in Arlington County turned into a heated Internet squabble, sparked debate about whether the customer is always right and provided a reminder about the intended and unintended consequences of blogging.

The drink request Sunday, said Simmermon, who was visiting from Brooklyn, was denied by a barista who told him that Murky doesn't do espresso over ice. Irked, Simmermon said he asked for a triple espresso and a cup of ice, which he said the barista provided, grudgingly.

He then went home and blogged about it on his Web site and a war of words ensured when shop owners posted their own response.

*Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. spent nearly an hour on Capitol Hill Wednesday trying to reassure House Republicans about the Bush administration's plan to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. According to participants in the closed-door meeting, he was peppered with sometimes hostile questions but steadfastly asserted that taxpayers would be protected and that the government's offer of assistance would be temporary and carefully proscribed.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) backed away from demands to delay consideration of the proposal until lawmakers could hold hearings, saying Republicans would be satisfied with "conversations" to help them understand the plan. "There's no effort to stop it or block it," he said. Still, many Republicans in the House and Senate remained skeptical about the proposal.

*Eight D.C. Council members proposed legislation this week to capture more revenue from the Nationals by increasing the sales tax by 5 percent for most items sold at the new ballpark in Southeast Washington. The city charges a 10 percent sales tax. Council members said the money raised from the tax increase would help make up for tax revenue lost because of lower-than-projected ballpark attendance at the ballpark.

And they said it would bring money into the city's coffers while the Nationals continue to hold off on paying rent on the ballpark.

*Food and Friends, a nonprofit organization that provides meals and other nutritional services to homebound AIDS and cancer patients across the Washington region, is scaling back its services, citing declining donations and rising fuel and food costs.

The cutbacks come as the District-based charity is facing criticism from some donors, AIDS activists and non-profit watchdogs, who say the compensation awarded to the group's longtime chief is too steep. Food and Friends paid executive director Craig M. Shniderman $357,447 in salary and benefits last year, and Shniderman, 60, said his salary has increased by 4 percent this year.

*A D.C. Superior Court judge Wednesday ordered prosecutors and mortgage lenders to begin mediation with District residents who were among 400 Washington area homeowners caught in an alleged mortgage scheme operated by a Prince George's County company.

It was the first civil hearing for the case involving Metropolitan Money Store, which federal authorities have accused of defrauding homeowners in Maryland, the District and Virginia from 2004 to 2007.

*The Greater Washington Board of Trade said it will withhold political contributions from Virginia delegates running for election next year unless the General Assembly passes a "broad-based" transportation package for Northern Virginia.

*Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) announced Wednesday that 120 employees in the governor's office and Cabinet would be eligible to work from home part of the week and directed all state agencies to consider ways to improve and expand alternative work schedule programs.

"Rising fuel prices, the escalating cost of commuting to work, worsening traffic congestion and reduced air quality compel a change in the business culture of state agencies," Kaine said in a statement.

*Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who leads the House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet, is awaiting response from regulators on his recommendation for additional conditions on Sirius Satellite Radio's acquisition of rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings. Markey wants the Federal Communications Commission to require that new satellite radio receivers process high-definition signals and that the combined company freeze its prices for six years, instead of the FCC's proposed three, and set aside more than the FCC's proposed 12 channels for noncommercial use.

*SI International of Reston said it has agreed to buy Arrowpoint of Alexandria for $16 million in cash, with an additional $9 million dependent on Arrowpoint meeting certain objectives. Arrowpoint is an IT and consulting firm with 150 employees that works with the National Guard, Navy and Army. The acquisition is dependent on closing conditions.

*Marriott International expects to add 29 properties in Mexico in the next five years, which would triple the number of its hotels there. Owners of Marriott properties in Mexico will invest more than $1 billion under four agreements, the Bethesda-based hotel chain said.

By Terri Rupar  |  July 17, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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