The Ledes

Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

AP: "Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday that an American serviceman has been killed near Irbil in Iraq. 'It is a combat death,' Carter said at the outset of a news in Stuttgart, Germany where he has been consulting with European allies this week."

New York Times (May 2): "A historic Serbian Orthodox church in Manhattan that plays an important role in New York’s Serbian community was gutted by flames on Sunday, just hours after parishioners had filled its pews for Easter services. The New York Fire Department said it received the first report of the blaze at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, on West 25th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas in the Flatiron district, shortly before 7 p.m.... The church, which has served for decades as the backbone of New York’s Serbian Orthodox community, was previously known as Trinity Chapel, an Episcopal church that was sold to its current owners in 1943." ...

... CBS/AP: "Investigators in three cities are looking into large fires at Orthodox churches that occurred around the religion's Easter celebrations and caused widespread damage. The blazes in New York City, as well as Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, caused only minor injuries, according to multiple reports."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

New York Times: "Taking a stance sharply at odds with most American public health officials, a major British medical organization urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit. The recommendation, laid out in a report published Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians, summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms." -- CW

Washington Post: "More than a third of advanced-melanoma patients who received one of the new immunotherapy drugs in an early trial are alive five years after starting treatment -- double the survival rate typical of the disease, according to a new study."

Zoe Schlanger of Newsweek: "If you are eating fast food, you're probably also eating phthalates,... a class of chemicals that have been linked to everything from ADHD to breast cancer, ...[which] are common in food packaging, drink containers, the tubing used to transport dairy and the equipment used to process fast food." --LT

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

New York Times: “'Hamilton,' the groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the nation’s founding fathers, has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway history." ...

... Here's the full list of Tony Award nominees.

MIT News: "For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth. The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published [Monday, May 2] in the journal Nature.... The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile."

Washington Post's Reliable Source: At an "afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner [Saturday, May 1]..., a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief.... The two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people. 'Punches were definitely thrown,' said one witness. Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, separated the two."

New York Times: "... a nearly 47,000-word journalistic series [by Walt Whitman] called 'Manly Health and Training,' were lost for more than 150 years, buried in an obscure newspaper that survived only in a handful of libraries. The series was uncovered last summer by a graduate student, who came across a fleeting reference to it in a digitized newspaper database and then tracked down the full text on microfilm.Now, Whitman’s self-help-guide-meets-democratic-manifesto is being published online in its entirety by a scholarly journal, in what some experts are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades."

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

New York Times: "The Pulitzers are in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University reflected in part the changes sweeping the media landscape." Here's the full list of the prize winners, via the New York Times.

CW: The AP produced this video in January 2015, but I just came across it:

New York Times: "James Levine, who transformed the Metropolitan Opera during four decades as its music director but has suffered from poor health in recent years, will step down from his post after this season to become music director emeritus, the company announced Thursday."

Politico: "Gabriel Snyder, editor in chief of The New Republic for the past 17 months, is leaving the magazine in the wake of its sale to Win McCormack.... The masthead change marks the first big move since McCormack, a publisher, Democratic booster and editor in chief of a literary journal called Tin House, bought TNR from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in February after Hughes was unsuccessful at turning around the money-losing magazine’s business during his four years of stewardship."

The Great Octopus Escape. Guardian: "An octopus has made a brazen escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand by breaking out of its tank, slithering down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappearing into the sea. In scenes reminiscent of Finding Nemo, Inky – a common New Zealand octopus – made his dash for freedom after the lid of his tank was accidentally left slightly ajar. Staff believe that in the middle of the night, while the aquarium was deserted, Inky clambered to the top of his glass enclosure, down the side of the tank and travelled across the floor of the aquarium."

... Charles Pierce: "One of the best biographies I've ever read was Scott Berg's brilliant, National Book Award-winning account of the life of Maxwell Perkins, the editor at Scribner's who was responsible for bringing out the best work in Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.... I'm going to be first in line to see [the film "Genius."] OK, so there won't be a line, but I'll be there nonetheless."

Michael Cavna of the Washington Post on the artistry in the film "All the President's Men."The real Woodward & Bernstein weigh in.

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Asia - November 2010

G20 Class Picture. Front row: South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak, China's President Hu Jintao, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner, US President Barack Obama, & Turkey's PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Middle row: Malawi's President Bingu Wa Mutharika, EU President Herman Van Rompuy, Japan's PM Naoto Kan, Italy's President Silvio Berlusconi, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, India's PM Manmohan Singh, Canada's PM Stephen Harper, Britain's PM David Cameron, Australia's PM Julia Gillard, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, & Ethiopia's PM Meles Zenawi. Back row: World Trade Organisation Director-General Pascal Lamy, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, International Labour Organisation Director-General Juan Somavia, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Singapore's President Lee Hsien Loong, Spain's PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Vietnam's PM Nguyen Tan Dung, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick, Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) Secretary General Angel Gurria, & Financial Stability Board Chairman Mario Draghi. Getty image.You're on an auxiliary page. Click Constant Comments-Home on the bar above to go to the main page.

For photos, see the Asia Gallery November 2010 in the drop-down Photo Galleries menu on the navigation bar above.

New York Times: "President Obama and other Asia-Pacific leaders wrapped up a two-day meeting on Sunday with sweeping pledges to rectify global economic imbalances and move toward creating a regional free-trade zone, but few concrete gains.

The Hill: "President Obama assured Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday that the lame-duck session will be used to ratify the START nuclear-arms treaty":

AP: "Leaders of the Pacific Rim economies that have spearheaded the still-fragile global recovery agreed Sunday to work toward building a regionwide free trade zone they say is the lynchpin for sustainable growth."

Simon Johnson: "It is hard to imagine how the summit could have gone any worse for the US Treasury and the president."

President Obama attended an APEC dinner.

President Obama met with the APEC Business Advisory Council. ...

... AP: "Appealing for broader access to fast-growing markets in Asia, President Barack Obama says the United States is in the Pacific region to stay and that both sides will benefit from stronger trade relationships. On a mission to help create jobs at home, Obama noted that while U.S. exports to the region have increased by more than 60 percent in the last five years, competition has cut into the U.S. share of trade here. 'We want to change that,' Obama declared in a speech Saturday." ...

... AP: "Leaders of the world's three biggest economies — the U.S., China and Japan — all pledged Saturday to push for free trade, apparently putting aside acrimony over currencies that threatens to revive pressure to raise trade barriers. The promises not to backslide into retaliatory trade tactics came at an annual summit of Pacific Rim leaders, just a day after a divisive summit of the Group of 20 major economies in South Korea." ...

... AP: "Chinese President Hu Jintao said Saturday that his country will keep its markets open and seek more balanced trade, while gradually adjusting the value of its currency." ...

... President Obama attended an APEC leaders' retreat. ...

Mark Smith of the AP: "Thank you, Mr. President."

Politico: "In the last speech of his nine-day trip overseas, President Obama defended his economic policies and signaled that while he’s committed to bringing down the country's mounting deficit he will not take any drastic measures in the immediate future":

Washington Post: "Marking the final stop on his 10-day tour of Asia, President Obama arrived Friday in the country that least fits his vision of the region's growth. Obama speaks of Asia's "amazing success stories and rapidly expanding markets," but in Japan, those notions are memories rather than aspirations. He views Asia as a catalyst for the U.S. economic recovery, but Japan's economy serves more as a cautionary tale of mismanagement."

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Sewell Chan of the New York Times: "After a two-day meeting marked by anxieties and trade frictions, the leaders of the Group of 20 economic powers agreed in essence to a year-long cooling-off period, in which they will tackle persistent problems.... The meeting still showed the power of the United States to set the agenda for international discussion, even if the result ...  was far less robust than American officials had hoped for."

President Obama held a press conference after the close of the G20 Summit. Here's the transcript of the President's remarks, including the Q&A, via CNN. C-SPAN has the video here; the event runs 46 minutes. Clip above. ...

... Precisely because of China’s success, it’s very important that it act in a responsible fashion internationally. And the issue of the renminbi is one that is an irritant not just to the United States, but is an irritant to a lot of China’s trading partners and those who are competing with China to sell goods around the world.... [The renminbi] is undervalued. And China spends enormous amounts of money intervening in the market to keep it undervalued. -- Barack Obama ...

... New York Times: President Obama ... left little doubt that he considered one country, China, the primary source of [imbalances in the global economy]. Scrapping a longtime practice of speaking with diplomatic caution about China’s currency policy, Mr. Obama accused Beijing of intervening aggressively to keep its currency, the renminbi, below its market value to promote exports. He said it was a mistake for nations to think that 'their path to prosperity is paved simply with exports to the United States.'"

New York Times: "... when the heads of state convened this week for the Group of 20 conference — a gathering marked by disputes over currency and global trade imbalances between the United States and its allies — wrapped up here on Friday, they were not shy about putting Mr. Obama on the defensive. 'It’s not just a function of personal charm,' the president said Friday, at a news conference wrapping up the session. 'It’s a function of countries’ interests and seeing if we can work through to align them.'”

New York Times: Leaders of the world’s biggest economies agreed on Friday to curb 'persistently large imbalances' in saving and spending but deferred until next year tough decisions on how to identify and fix them.  The agreement, the culmination of a two-day summit meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging powers, fell short of initial American demands for numerical targets on trade surpluses and deficits. But it reflected a consensus that longstanding economic patterns — in particular, the United States consuming too much, and China too little — were no longer sustainable."

New York Times: Leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging powers neared agreement Thursday evening on a pledge to reduce global economic imbalances that the United States views as a key hindrance to its recovery. However, the accord is unlikely to require the most powerful surplus economies, China and Germany, to change any policies substantially in the short term."

President Obama attended a G-20 working dinner.

President Obama attended the G-20's official welcoming ceremony.

President Obama held a bilateral meeting with Chancellor Merkel of Germany:

President Obama held a bilateral meeting with President Hu of China:

 

Presidents Obama & Lee held a joint press conference. ...

... New York Times: "President Obama and President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea failed to reach an agreement Thursday on a long-awaited free-trade agreement, and said they had decided instead to give their negotiators more time to work out differences, which revolved around Korean imports of American autos and beef." Washington Post story here. ...

... New York Times: President Obama's remarks at the press confierence & other indicators demonstrate that the U.S. & South Korean positions with regard to North Korea have subtly changed. ...

... President Obama speaks about the ongoing effort to establish a free trade agreement with South Korea:

The Economist: "It was chance that [President Obama's] tour took him to Asia’s biggest and richest democracies — South Korea and Japan were on the itinerary as hosts, respectively, of the G20 and Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summits. But that lent the tour its tacit theme: that, crudely put, the American model still trumps the Chinese one."

President Obama in South Korea:

AP: "Celebrating America's Veterans Day, President Barack Obama on Thursday saluted the bravery of U.S. troops who defended South Korea during its war with North Korea and condemned the communist north for continuing on a course that he says deepens its isolation from the rest of the world along with the poverty of its people":

 

President Obama arrived in Seoul, Korea today. AP: In a letter to G-20 leaders, "President Barack Obama said a strong, job-creating economy in the United States would be the country's most important contribution to a global recovery as he pleaded with world leaders to work together despite sharp differences."

AP: "The leaders of major rich and developing nations struggled Thursday to break a deadlock on how to fix problems cramping the global economy as President Barack Obama insisted that a strong United States is crucial for a wider international recovery."

David Sanger of the New York Times: "With China leading the critics of American economic policy, officials acknowledge that President Obama is going to have a difficult time winning any kind of consensus strategy" at the G-20 meeting in South Korea. ...

... Howard Schneider of the Washington Post: "An international backlash against the Federal Reserve's move last week to pump billions of dollars into the U.S. economy is threatening to undercut the Obama administration's economic goals for this week's G-20 meeting of world leaders."

*****************************************************************

President Obama speaks at the University of Indonesia:

     ... Here's the transcript of the President's remarks.

Washington Post, Jakarta: "Speaking before thousands in the city that helped raise him, President Obama on Wednesday cited this country's transition from dictatorship to democracy as a model in an Islamic world often governed by unelected autocracies."

New York Times on President Obama's visit to Indonesia.

AP: "Once the wait for President Barack Obama's return was over, Indonesian anticipation turned to another question: Would a conservative Muslim government minister shake the first lady's hand? He says he did, but not by choice. Footage on YouTube shows otherwise, sparking a debate that has lit up Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the blogosphere.... Minister Tifatul Sembiring ... smiled broadly as he shook the president's hand and then reached with both hands to grasp Michelle's. But later he said she forced their contact."

CNN: "U.S. President Barack Obama is officially shortening his visit to Indonesia because of fears that volcanic ash spewing from Mount Merapi could have grounded Air Force One, according to administration officials."

President & Mrs. Obama attended a state dinner today. Remarks by President Obama in a Toast at the State Dinner in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Presidents Obama & Yudohoyono held a joint press conference today. AP: "President Barack Obama is heralding a 'comprehensive partnership' between the United States and Indonesia, a fast-growing country with the world's largest Muslim population." President Obama's opening remarks:

... Jakarta Post: "Reflecting on the four years he spent here as a child, visiting US President Barack Obama said that Jakarta has changed so much":

... AP: "President Barack Obama said Tuesday he is making progress toward ending the misunderstanding and mistrust between Muslim countries and the United States, but the effort is incomplete. The president, at a news conference in the world's largest Muslim country, also criticized Israel's plans to build new apartments in disputed East Jerusalem":

President Obama held bilateral meetings with President Yudhoyono today. Remarks by President Obama and President Yudhoyono of Indonesia Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting. ...

... Jakarta Post: "After twice canceling and potentially calling off another visit due to volcanic eruptions, US President Barack Obama has finally arrived in Jakarta and is now holding a meeting with Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono." ...

... President Obama & the First Lady arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia this morning. Washington Post: "President Obama arrived in Indonesia Tuesday for a short stay that may be made shorter by the erupting Mount Merapi volcano. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One from New Delhi that U.S. officials are working through Obama's schedule looking for ways to condense what had been planned as a 24-hour stay." ...

... Here's a pool report, mostly from a gaggle with White House staffers Ben Rhodes & Jeff Bader, via Time.

Politico: "President Obama has declined to meet with Nobel Peace Prize winners in Hiroshima on Friday, even though he’ll be in Japan."

Norimitsu Onishi for the New York Times: "When President Obama visits Jakarta on Tuesday, he will find a city that, in some ways, has changed beyond recognition. A city of one luxury hotel and one shopping mall when Mr. Obama lived here between 1967 and 1971, Jakarta is now the overextended and overcrowded capital of the world’s fourth most populous nation. But Jakarta’s neighborhoods, including the two where Mr. Obama lived, retain enough of their former selves that the president would quickly find his bearings."

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President & Mrs. Obama attended a state dinner Monday evening. Times of India story here.

President & Mrs. Obama met with President Patil Monday evening. No link.

President Obama spoke before the Indian Parliament today. Politico: "In a speech to India’s parliament on Monday, President Obama will strongly endorse the country’s bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, administration officials said." Updates: AP post-speech story here. The New York Times story, which is more expansive, is here. AND here's the full text:

President Obama met with Indian Vice President Ansari, with opposition leader Swaraj & with Sonia Gandhi. Washington Post: "More than 400 survivors of the 26-year-old Union Carbide gas leak protested on the streets in the heart of New Delhi on Monday and demanded justice from President Barack Obama, who spent the morning locked in meetings with senior Indian officials not too far away."

President Obama & PM Singh held a joint press conference earlier today. Washington Post: "President Obama pledged Monday to strengthen U.S.-India efforts to fight and prevent terrorism and to work with all South Asian nations to deny safe havens to terrorists." New York Times: at the press conference, "President Obama delivered a strong endorsement ... of the Federal Reserve’s decision to pump $600 billion into the American economy, and issued a veiled rebuke to China for maintaining a huge trade surplus while artificially controlling its currency." Update: see clip above.

Here's a clip from President Obama & PM Singh's joint press conference:

Politico: "Tensions between the White House press corps and Indian security boiled over on the third day of President Obama’s visit, prompting press secretary Robert Gibbs to threaten to pull President Obama out of his bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh." ...

... At one point, Gibbs literally had his foot lodged in the closing front door, asking if the Indian security officials pushing hard to shut it were going to break his foot. -- Pool Report ...

... Here's raw video of the Gibbs dust-up with Indian security forces:

President Obama attended a business leaders' luncheon Monday in New Delhi. No link.

President Obama & PM Singh held a bilateral meeting early Monday morning.

Times of India: "A large marquee open at the sides, a Navy band and no less than 30 camels greeted some 70 guests at a tasteful private dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and wife Gursharan Kaur for US President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama."

AP: "On the second of the three days he is spending in India, Obama arrived in New Delhi on Sunday afternoon in the company of his wife, Michelle. Among his airport greeters were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who apparently broke the normally rigid rules of protocol by making the trip to personally welcome Obama to the Indian capital." Times of India story here; with video. Update: more from the Wall Street Journal blog on the Obamas' visit to the Humayun Tomb.

Getty images.... Times of India: "US First Lady Michelle Obama, who has a reputation of being a fashionista, kept her sartorial choice for her India visit trendy but understated though some designers felt she should have opted for a saree at some events."

Heather Timmons of the New York Times: "While President Obama is wooing India with promises of increased trade and United Nations clout, his wife’s charm offensive has included serial hugs and a talent for Indian dance. The combination has been an unexpected success. An Indian public and news media that were lukewarm before the official three-day visit began on Saturday have since become exuberant Michelle Obama fans." ...

... Times of India: "Michelle Obama could well be crowned the `dancing queen'. Twice in two days, the First Lady demonstrated in Mumbai that she could swing to desi beats with the best of them, pulling off matkas and jhatkas like a seasoned performer. It came as no surprise when she revealed that she'd done the bhangra at the White House during PM Manohan Singh's US visit last year." ...

...  Times of India: "President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle on Sunday danced spiritedly to a foot-tapping Marathi folk song as they participated in symbolic Diwali festivities with children at a city school. The US first couple took a break from their formal engagements to savour dance presentations by youngsters and visit a science exhibition at the Holy Name High School, close to the Hotel Taj Mahal where they are staying": 

New York Times: President Obama faced tough questions "from students at St. Xavier’s College, a 140-year-old Jesuit institution in Mumbai."Clip:

     ... New York Times story here. Transcript of the full remarks of the President & First Lady on the White House site here. Times of India: "President Barack Obama today made it clear that the United States 'cannot impose' itself on Indo-Pak relations and called for a 'military response' in a 'significant ongoing way' against those who perpetrated terror attacks in Mumbai and New York."

AP: "Michelle Obama played hopscotch, danced and sang with 33 disadvantaged children from the Indian charity Make a Difference Saturday at the University of Mumbai.":

Reuters: "President Barack Obama will announce the easing of U.S. controls on exports to India when he addresses business leaders here on Saturday, in a move to boost trade between the two countries, the White House said." AP Update: "President Barack Obama says new trade deals between the U.S. and India will support more than 50,000 jobs in the U.S. He said the relationship between America and India should be a win for both sides — while acknowledging concerns in America about outsourcing." ...

     ... Reuters Update: "President Barack Obama announced $10 billion in business deals on Saturday as he arrived in India to boost U.S. exports and jobs after a mauling in mid-term polls, but he ran into immediate controversy over Pakistan":

President & Mrs. Obama visited the Mani Bhavan museum in Mumbai, once the home of Mahatma Gandhi.

President Obama made remarks about the 2008 terrorist attack. Times of India story here:

The President & First Lady meet with survivors of the 26/11 attacks & victims' families. This portion of the video begins about 5:15 min. in:

Via Time, here are U.S. pool reports from India.

New York Times: "President Obama arrived in ... [Mumbai] on Saturday morning for a 10-day, four-nation swing through Asia that will put a heavy emphasis on opening markets to American goods and creating jobs at home." Washington Post: story here.

Where the President won't be visiting:

AP: President Obama "was to depart Friday morning on Air Force One for Mumbai, India, where he was to arrive around noon local time Saturday after refueling in Germany. It's the first stop on a 10-day tour through India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, the longest foreign outing of Obama's presidency.... The president ... will be accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama for the first part of the trip." Los Angeles Times story here.