The Ledes

Friday, May 29, 2015.

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff. The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment — all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 29

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

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Asia -- November 2009

President Obama addresses U.S. troops at Osan Air Force Base in South Korea. Reuters picture.

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CW: Jim Fallows of the Atlantic backs me up -- again -- on the wrong-headed negative assessments by the U.S. press of President Obama's Asia trip.

     Update from Fallows here.

... AND if you missed it (I linked the individual post earlier), Fallows wraps up his series of posts on President Obama's Asia excursion.

CW: More Evidence I Was Right Not to Link those Stupid Articles (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal) about What a Failure President Obama's Asia Trip Was. Jon Pomfret & Joby Warrick of the Post: the U.S. persuaded China to back it on pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Here's Scott Horton's take on the U.S. press coverage of President Obama's Asia trip, the gist of which is the press is clueless. Horton also notes (as I haven't) that the U.S. press was equally ignorant of Secretary Clinton's trip to Pakistan & German Chancellor Angela Merkel's speech before a joint session of Congress.

The President speaks to U.S. troops at Osan Air Force Base:

ABC News: President Obama greeted & made remarks to 1,500 U.S. troops at Osan Air Force Base in Korea before ending his trip to Asia. Here's the Stars & Stripes report.

Presidents Obama & Lee's full joint press conference:

 

AFP: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said today his government is ready to engage in talks to ease U.S. automakers' concerns about a stalled free trade agreement, as President Obama warned that several issues still had to be settled.

Pomp & circumstance, Korean style. Pretty cool:

President Obama is in Korea. Agence France Presse story here.

AP: U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, a Republican, criticizes the U.S. major media for their largely negative accounts (CW: none of which I've bothered to link because the stories were such crap) of the President's visit to China, noting that

the visit had yielded important progress on cooperation in areas such as clean energy, military-to-military exchanges and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

Tourist-in-Chief. President Obama tours the Great Wall. Getty image. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.

Raw video: President Obama visits the Great Wall:

New York Times: President Obama tours the Great Wall on his last day in China. Wall Street Journal story here. See video clip above.

Presidents Obama & Hu's joint press conference:

U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman on the bilateral meetings. Huntsman is a conservative Republican:

...our President today...was extremely forceful and comprehensive in hitting on every one of the major issues that we try to manage in our bilateral relationship... And I've got to tell you that as one observer and someone who takes this relationship seriously, as the on-site manager, I was very, very proud of our President.

New York Times: Presidents Obama & Hu Jintao of China met in private off Tiananmen Square to discuss issues like trade, climate change and the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, but their public appearances were boiler plate scripts & neither took questions from reporters.

    Reuters: President Obama says China agrees that Iran must prove its nuclear program is "peaceful & transparent," but President Hu was more circumspect.

President Hu & Obama review honor guard (lots of 'em) at the Great Hall of the People. Getty image. CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.

China Censors Speech on Free Speech. Perfect! AP: President Obama's oblique criticism of China's censorship of the Internet censorship & free speech "was not widely heard in China where his words were blocked online and shown on only one regional television channel."

Pool Report: President Obama dines with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

 President Obama & Chinese President Hu Jintao meet at the Diauyotai state guest house before dinner. Getty image. CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.

New York Times: President Obama will prod China's leaders to get tough on Iran, will discuss climate change, North Korea & global economic crisis.

AFP: President Obama has arrived in Beijing.

President Obama's full town hall meeting for youth in Shanghai, China:

New York Times: at a town hall in China, President Obama gingerly challenged China to the lift its controls on the Internet & online social networking. CW: or as Politico puts it, the President urged China to "Tear Down this Firewall."

President Obama meets with Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng to discuss business relations between the U.S. & China:

President Obama made a last-minute, unscheduled stop in Singapore to attend a breakfast with world leaders discussing the agenda for the Copenhagen climate change meeting.

New York Times: APEC leaders agree to punt at the Copenhagen climate change conference next month.

Washington Post: President Obama told leaders at the Asia-Pacific summit that they could no longer rely on debt-ridden U.S. shoppers to fuel their economies and that the U.S. must consume less and export more. Here's the full transcript of the President's remarks.

Here's a clip from the press availability following President Obama's meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev:

New York Times: President Obama & Russian President Dimitri Medvedev, who met at the Asia-Pacific summit, said today they were dissatisfied with Iran’s response to a nuclear offer made by world powers; they also made progress in negotiating a replacement arms control treaty between the U.S & Russia. Here's the transcript of the Presidents' statements.

President Obama & Thai PM Vejjajiva speak in Singapore:

Here is a transcript of President Obama's & Thailand PM Vejjajiva's remarks after their bilateral meeting.

Here is a transcript of President Obama's & Indonesian President Yudhoyono's remarks following their meeting.

Reuters: at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, President Obama shook hands with Myanmar PM Thein Sein & called for the release of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

President Obama shakes hands with Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong before attending a gala dinner for APEC leaders in Singapore. AP photo. CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.Politico, Nov. 14: President Obama is in Singapore for the APEC meetings.

New York Times: President Obama addresses a Japanese audience:

 

U.S. Rubes Decry the President's Good Manners. Politico item here:

... AND Steve Benen peruses the right wing blogosphere's horrified reaction, with a final plea for "better conservatives." ...

... Let's give Jake Tapper's academic friend the last word on the "bow shot 'round the world" & faggedaboudit.

President Obama & Japanese PM Hatoyama hold a press conference:

Transcript of full remarks by PM Hatoyama (in translation) & President Obama.

AP: in a joint news conference with Japan's PM Yukio Hatoyama, President Obama said "his decision about how many troops to send to Afghanistan will come soon and he is bent on 'getting this right.'" See video of full press conference above.

Washington Post: President Obama, like every other U.S. President since 1945, declines to go to Hiroshima.

President Obama arrives in Japan. Raw video:

Helene Cooper & Martin Fackler of the New York Times analyze President Obama's goals in Asia. This story has been updated to report that President Obama has made a concession on the U.S. base on Okinawa.