The Ledes

Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

Jacksonville Times-Union: A Jacksonville jury today found Michael Dunn guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. "Under Florida law Dunn must be sentenced to prison for life with no possibility of parole for the murder of Davis. He also faces a minimum of 60 years for the attempted murders of Leland Brunson, Tommie Stornes and Tevin Thompson, friends of Davis who were in the Dodge Durango with Davis when he died.... A previous jury deadlocked on his guilt in Davis’ death in February while convicting him of the second-degree attempted murders of Brunson, Stornes and Thompson."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, September 30, 2014.

Guardian: "Medical officials in the United States announced on Tuesday the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed outside Africa during the latest outbreak, which has killed more than 3,000 people this year. The patient, who has not yet been identified, is being treated in Dallas, Texas. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said the patient left Liberia in west Africa on 19 September, but did not develop symptoms until a few days after arriving in the US. He was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas on Sunday."

Los Angeles Times: "The Securities and Exchange Commission accused two men of insider trading for acting on advance word that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman planned to bet against nutritional products company Herbalife Ltd. It's the latest dramatic turn for the Los Angeles company, which is under federation investigation and has been fighting allegations for nearly two years that it operates an illegal pyramid scheme."

Los Angeles Times: "Bell Gardens[, California,] Mayor Daniel Crespo died Tuesday after he was shot by his wife, Levette, during a domestic situation, Sheriff's Department officials told The Times."

New York Times: "An Oklahoma man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the beheading of a co-worker, but federal officials said they had found no links that tie the man to terrorist organizations, including Islamic extremist groups that have beheaded several Western hostages in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks. Alton Nolen, 30, who worked on the production line of a food processing plant in Moore, Okla., remains in the hospital after being shot by the company’s chief operating officer, who is also a reserve deputy sheriff, the authorities said."

New York Times: "Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed leader on Tuesday called for the pro-democracy demonstrators who have blocked major roads in the city to return home 'immediately,' and he gave no sign that he was prepared to compromise on their demands for more open elections to choose his successor." ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging the protests.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 1

12:15 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to


Think Progress: "Facebook officially apologized Wednesday for enforcing its 'real name' policy for users against drag queens and other members of the LGBT community. Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, acknowledged that the policy has been a 'painful' experience for the many individuals whose profiles were suspended and promised to do better."

CW: Glad to see I'm not the only person who hates Windows 8. I thought it was just my old-lady-ness setting in.

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker: "The first trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Inherent Vice dropped today and, as expected, it's a madcap psychedelic Southern California love song that may or may not feature an appearance by elusive author Thomas Pynchon.... Anderson declined to answer directly in a recent interview with the New York Times, but [actor Josh] Brolin confirmed the notoriously reclusive author will appear in the film, telling the reporter, 'I don't think anybody knew... He came on as the kind of mercurial iconoclast he is. He stayed in the corner.'"

Here's a voiceover Pynchon did in 2009 promoting the novel Inherent Vice:

Whatever Happened to Piers Morgan? Guardian: "Piers Morgan, the former CNN talkshow host, has been appointed editor-at-large of Mail Online’s US operation. The outspoken New York-based British journalist, who parted company with CNN in early September, six months after his primetime talkshow was axed, will write for the Daily Mail’s US website several times a week, according to a Mail Online story published on Tuesday."

CW: You won't likely be hearing from Piers here. I've never found a reason to cite a Daily Mail story.

Los Angeles Times: "George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin are married, having said their vows Saturday evening in Venice, Italy." ...

... OR, as the Business Women Media lede reads, "Amal Alamuddin, a 36 year old London-based dual-qualified English barrister and New York litigation attorney who has long been a high-profile figure in international refugee and human rights law has gone against the trend for professional women in her field and married… an actor."

CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."


Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

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The Commentariat -- May 19, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. Reuters: "President Barack Obama on Saturday called on the U.S. Congress to back his efforts for tough new financial industry oversight, saying a $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan underscored the need for such regulation."

Former First Lady Laura Bush in a Washington Post op-ed: "Many of the vital gains that Afghan women have achieved over the past decade were made because of the sacrifice and support of the United States and the broader NATO alliance.... As the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan changes, the world must remember the women of Afghanistan."

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "At least it's on the record: Most House Republicans support the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens.... If nothing else..., it's illuminating to watch 'small-government' Republicans -- who have spent the last three years lamenting the loss of freedom caused by a higher marginal tax rate or the regulation of derivatives -- defend the most arbitrary big government power imaginable." ...

New York Times Editors: "On Wednesday, a federal judge struck down a law allowing the indefinite detention of anyone suspected of terrorism on American soil as a violation of free speech and due process. Two days later, the House made it clear it considered those to be petty concerns, voting to keep the repellent practice of indefinite detention on the books.... The overall defense bill was approved by the House, and President Obama has threatened to veto it -- not because it fails to prohibit detention, but because it violates an agreement on the military budget and tries to prohibit same-sex marriages on military property, among other flaws. The Senate has an opportunity to fix this bill to restore the due-process rights found in the Constitution."

Paul Krugman: "Since former President Bush is going to favor us with a book on How to Succeed in Economic Policy Without Really Trying -- and since Mitt Romney is essentially planning a return to Bushonomics -- it might be worth looking at Bush's job record compared with that of Obama so far." CW: Ha!

Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post: "... our national conversation about contraceptives isn’t over -- and that groups on the both sides intend to keep the discussion very much alive." ...

... Irin Carmon of Salon on House Subcommittee to Oppress Women (Especially Women of Color) Chairman Trent Franks' [RTP-Ariz.] refusal to allow Washington, D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to speak before his committee on his plan to ban abortions after 20 weeks in the District. Norton would have said "the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act 'is the first bill ever introduced in Congress that would deny constitutional rights to the citizens of only one jurisdiction in the United States....'" Carmon notes, "The National Right to Life Committee has called the bill its 'top congressional priority for 2012,' and will score members based on their votes, even though it likely has no chance of getting past the Senate -- or the president." CW Note: Carmon didn't designate the official name of the subcommittee, so I was just guessing there.

Tom Friedman, You're an Idiot. Brendan Nyhan in the Columbia Journalism Review: "What’s so frustrating about pundits' hype of Americans Elect is that its failure was so predictable."

Matt Gutman of ABC News: "A closer look at the witness statements and audio testimony taken in the immediate aftermath Trayvon Martin's death provides the first insight into George Zimmerman's behavior after he shot the unarmed teen." ...

... Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times: "A girl who talked on the phone with Trayvon Martin on the night of Feb. 26 has told a state prosecutor [under oath] that she heard rising fear in Mr. Martin's voice that peaked with words like 'get off, get off,' right before she lost contact with him and he was shot to death." ...

... Judd Legum of Think Progress: "Among the evidence in the Trayvon Martin case released by the Florida state prosecutor yesterday was a 15-minute interview with a former work colleague of George Zimmerman. The man, who is not identified by name, says that Zimmerman relentlessly bullied him at work. Zimmerman, according to the witness, targeted him because he was Middle Eastern." Includes audio of interview.

Benedict Carey of the New York Times: Prominent psychiatrist Robert Spitzer is sorry for his "sexual orientation disturbance." He apologizes to the LGBT community.

Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, earmarks $17,000 drip pans for Black Hawk helicopters. Comparable pans cost $2,500.

The Excellence in Journalism Prize Goes to Runner-up Is ... the National Review. Alex Pareene of Salon: "The National Review says Elizabeth Warren is guilty of the gravest crime a writer can commit: Plagiarism. Katrina Trinko compares passages from 'All Your Worth: The Ultimate Money Lifetime Plan,' Warren's book with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, with passages from 'Getting on the Money Track,' a book by Rob Black. The passages line up perfectly. The wording and even the punctuation are identical. It’s plagiarism all right. Except it looks very much like Warren is actually the victim." Later, editor Rich Lowry acknowledged the mistake & took down the story. CW: wouldn't it have been clever to fact-check the story before publishing it? Pareene found it awfully easy to debunk the National Review's claim. ...

... The Excellence in Journalism Prize Goes to the Washington Times. Mariah Blake of Salon: " a handful of columns over the last year [Washington Times columnist & former editor Arnaud de Borchgrave] has lifted passages verbatim, or nearly verbatim, from the Internet and other sources, without attribution -- a fact the Washington Times' leadership tried to sweep under the rug, according to insiders at the paper." CW: read the story; it's pretty amazing.

Presidential Race

Willard's Whoppers. Steve Benen: the Mittster racked up 19 lies this week. "I'm curious," he writes, "is Romney also allowed a certain number of falsehoods before people begin to doubt his character? And if so, what is that number?"

What Would Willard Do? Greg Sargent notes that Thursday, Romney said, "America's economy runs on freedom. And he has been attacking economic freedom from the first day he came into office." Sargent responds, "What's missing from this narrative is what, if anything, Romney would have done if he had been president in January of 2009, when the economy was on the brink of global meltdown. The implication of Romney's remarks above is that doing nothing at all would have been preferable to what Obama did." C[mon, reporters, if Willard ever lets you ask him a question (and he's trying hard not to), that's a good one to ask.

CW: I think Krugman is onto something: "My take has always been that [Romney is] a smart guy who also happens to be both ambitious and completely amoral.... More and more, however, he has been coming out with statements suggesting that he is, in fact, a dangerous fool.... I'm beginning to suspect that ... outside of whatever he did at Bain, Romney really is ignorant as well as uncaring."

Andrew Leonard of Salon: "When Meg Whitman ran for governor of California in 2010, the former eBay CEO told voters that her business background made her the right choice to boost job creation in a state troubled by high unemployment.... It’s the same spiel we hear from Mitt Romney every single day." As the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard, she "is planning to cut its workforce by around 30,000 jobs." HP is probably more likely to take the money saved via a tax break and spend it on a new R&D center in Shanghai than it is to staff up in Silicon Valley." CW: also, as I noted in yesterday's News Ledes, Whitman promised as governor she would create 500,000 jobs a year in California. Right.

Gail Collins looks forward to the party conventions, for which "you, the taxpayer, are paying." So enjoy!

Right Wing World *

Remington Shepard of Media Matters: Joe Ricketts & Mitt Romney drop the Jeremiah Wright hoohah, but Hannity & Friends can't let go.

In yesterday's comments, contributor James Singer obliquely suggested that Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett was beyond description. Ever curious, I wanted to know why. Well, here ya go: Catalina Carnia of USA Today: "... Ken Bennett, a Republican exploring a 2014 race for governor, issued a statement insisting he is not a 'birther....'" [But] "Bennett told a radio interviewer yesterday it was 'possible' he would keep Obama off the ballot if the" State of Hawaii doesn't provide him with verification of little Barry's birth certificate. CW: if you are an Arizona resident (& not a damned foreigner) & are looking for a sinecure, you might think of running for secretary of state. Apparently, it is a job that leaves plenty of time to do whatever the hell you feel like.

* Where undermining the government is the primary function of the government.

News Ledes

New York Times: "For the second straight race, the Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another ran down Bodemeister in deep stretch, winning the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore."

Reuters: "World leaders backed keeping Greece in the euro zone on Saturday and vowed to take all steps necessary to combat financial turmoil while revitalizing a global economy increasingly threatened by Europe's debt crisis. A summit of the G8 leading industrialized nations came down solidly in favor of a push to balance European austerity -- an approach long driven by German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- with a dose of U.S.-style stimulus seen as vital to healing ailing euro-zone economies."

Chicago Tribune: "Three out-of-state men arrested in a Bridgeport [Illinois?] apartment raid days before the NATO summit considered hitting President Obama's campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house and police stations with 'incendiary devices,' according to court documents. The trio, who are being held on $1.5 million bond apiece, are charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device."

Reuters: "Around 500 demonstrators gathered outside the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Saturday to protest the recent closure of mental health clinics as part of a series of rallies and marches timed to coincide with a NATO summit here. But the protest was much smaller than one attended by an estimated 2,500 people at a downtown plaza on Friday. The biggest rally is expected to be on Sunday near the convention center where world leaders will gather."

New York Times: "Walter Wink, an influential liberal theologian whose views on homosexuality, nonviolence and the nature of Jesus challenged orthodox interpretations, died on May 10 at his home in Sandisfield, Mass. He was 76."

AP: "A blind Chinese activist was hurriedly taken from a hospital Saturday and boarded a plane that took off for the United States, closing a nearly monthlong diplomatic tussle that had tested U.S.-China relations. Chen Guangcheng, his wife and their two children were on United Airlines Flight 88, which took off late Saturday afternoon from the Beijing airport. The flight was scheduled to arrive in Newark, N.J., Saturday evening. ...

     ... New York Times Update: 'Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal advocate who made an improbable escape from virtual house arrest and sought refuge in the American Embassy here, arrived in Newark on Saturday, ending a fraught diplomatic drama that threatened to disrupt relations between China and the United States."

NEW. Los Angeles Times: "The Obama administration ordered tariffs of 31% and higher on solar panels imported from China, escalating a simmering trade dispute with China over a case that has sharply divided American interests in the growing clean-energy industry. The Commerce Department announced the stiff duties Thursday after making a preliminary finding that Chinese solar panel manufacturers 'dumped' their goods -- that is, sold them at below fair-market value."

NBC News: "A key witness to the Trayvon Martin shooting changed the story he had given Sanford, Fla., police, telling state authorities he was not sure who was screaming during the altercation with George Zimmerman. The man known as Witness #6 originally told Sanford police Zimmerman cried for help.... On March 20, according to the Orlando Sentinel, while sitting for a follow-up interview by a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigator the witness said that he was no longer sure who was calling for help."


The Commentariat -- May 18, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXamner is on David Brooks' column today. The NYTX front page is here. ...

... Dean Baker has a good post on Brooks, too.

To provide employment for the poor, and support for the indigent, is among the primary, and, at the same time, not least difficult cares of the public authority. -- -- James Madison, letter to Rev. F.C. Schaeffer, January 8, 1820

Sorry, President Madison. You don't get ...

... The Quote of the Day. I stand by what I said, whatever it was. -- Mitt Romney *

* Translation: I make up so much shit, how can I be expected to know what I said, for Pete's sake? What it was, was Romney's invoking Jeremiah Wright to claim that Obama was trying to make this "a less Christian nation" a few months ago, even though now he says bringing up Wright is just wrong. See Charles Pierce on Romney's whining, in the Presidential Race section below.

** Thomas Mann & Norm Ornstein in the Washington Post on what will & won't work to mitigate partisan politics. Point One: banish Tom Friedman.

Paul Krugman: The euro "could fall apart with stunning speed, in a matter of months, not years. And the costs -- both economic and, arguably even more important, political -- could be huge."

Democracy Now! Always good, better with Krugman (begins about 22 min. in). Thanks to Dave S. for the link:

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "On Wednesday, Obama-appointed(!) Judge Katherine B. Forrest blocked the section of last year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that purported to 'reaffirm' the 2001 authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda. A group of activists and journalists had argued that the vague wording of the law could subject them to indefinite military detention because their work brings them into contact with people whom the US considers to be terrorists...." CW: For more on this, see the first part of the Democracy Now! video where Chris Hedges -- one of the plaintiffs -- and his lawyer speak to Amy Goodman about the case.

Let's Go Shopping at Safeway, Ladies. The President flew into the White House lawn. A Secret Service agent greeted him at the helicopter. The President was carrying two pigs under his arms, and the Secret Service agent said, 'Nice pigs, Sir!' The President said, 'These are not ordinary pigs. These are genuine Arkansas razonback hogs. I got one for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and one for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And the Secret Service agent said, "Excellent trade, Sir! -- Bob Gordon, Senior Vice President & General Counsel for Safeway, kicking off a shareholder meeting May 15

Presidential Race

** Jamelle Bouie of American Prospect: "Romney is running for president as a right-wing Republican with right-wing ideas, and it is absurd to think that he would suddenly revert to the Mitt who governed Massachusetts.... Romney's agenda mirrors that of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.... To meet all of Romney's fiscal goals -- and a balanced budget -- policymakers would have to make the most draconian cuts in the nation's history. Over eight years, they would have to slash $10 trillion from the non-defense discretionary budget, or a whopping 81 percent." Bouie captures "The Real Romney" in a nutshell.

Melissa Harris & Hal Dardick of the Chicago Tribune: "The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, today moved to control the fallout from a now-disavowed plan to politically attack President Barack Obama reportedly funded by family patriarch.... Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, who has been pushing a plan to get government help in rebuilding Wrigley Field, issued a statement distancing himself and the organization from that plan. Ricketts' statement came as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, blasted the proposed political attack on the president as an insult to the nation." ...

... More of the same from Jim Rutenberg & Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "Mr. Ricketts became a case study in the risks of political neophytes with big checkbooks seeking to play at the highest and roughest levels of politics." ...

... Charles Pierce: meanwhile, Willard has used the occasion to whine that Obama is attacking his character.

Let's Not Go to the Movies. Paul Waldman of American Prospect tells us about two new crazy anti-Obama movies. Here's the trailer for the less crazy of the two:

     ... Waldman remarks, "... my favorite is the black family playing Monopoly, who suddenly jump up from their chairs and start swinging at each other.... Who are they supposed to be? The Obamas? Some of Obama's co-conspirators? People sent into a frenzy by his socialist policies?"

For news from Right Wing World, see Akhilleus' comment below. It's a doozy.

Local News

John Schmid of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "At a time when Wisconsin's jobs statistics are under scrutiny as never before, preliminary data released Thursday showed that Wisconsin lost an estimated 6,200 private-sector jobs in April." (See yesterday's Commentariat for links to stories about Gov. Scott Walker making up numbers to pretend Wisconsin does not have the worst jobs record in the nation.)

In Florida, It's Time to Purge Hispanic Voters. Luzette Alvarez of the New York Times: "In an attempt to clear the voter rolls of noncitizens, a move that had set off criticism and a threatened lawsuit, Florida election officials decided on Thursday to use information from a federal database to check a list of 182,000 voters who they suspect are not citizens.... The push ... is viewed by some as an effort to single out Democratic voters, many of them black and Hispanic." No kidding.

"Sieg Heil!" Charles Pierce has a lovely report on goings-on in the "laboratories of democracy"; i.e., the states.

News Ledes

New York Times: "The House on Friday turned back an unusual coalition of liberals and conservatives and voted down legislation to reject explicitly the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects apprehended on United States soil.... The measure would thwart the Obama administration's efforts to close the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and would impede its ability to carry out the nuclear arms reduction treaty ratified by the Senate in 2010."

The Hill: "Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius didn't mention the controversy over the administration's contraception mandate during a Friday commencement speech at Georgetown University. Sebelius, whose visit to the Jesuit school had prompted protests and complaints because of the contraception issue, gave a largely non-political speech.... Her address was interrupted once by a protester who, shortly after she began speaking, began to yell." CW: if you're dying to see the protester, the video is here.

New York Times: "The United Nations nuclear monitoring agency said on Friday that its leader would travel to Iran on Sunday for a meeting with the country's top nuclear negotiator. The unexpected development signaled that both sides had stepped up both the urgency of resolving their dispute and the seniority of the officials doing the negotiating."

Guardian: "The Brooklyn district attorney has set up a taskforce to combat the intimidation of child sexual abuse victims in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community amid growing criticism of his handling of the issue."

President Obama meets with new French President Francois Hollande. A socialist get-together!

New York Times: "François Hollande used his first visit with President Obama as France's president on Friday to restate his pledge to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of the year, two years earlier than originally planned." ...

     ... Washington Post story here.

AP: "The leaders of eight of the world's biggest economies meet this weekend outside Washington, seeking to keep Europe's debt crisis from spiraling out of control and jeopardizing fledgling recoveries in the U.S. and elsewhere." ...

... Guardian: "Barack Obama is to make a major speech in Washington announcing at least $3bn in private sector funding to tackle hunger in developing countries, mainly in Africa. White House officials disclosed the figure in a briefing ahead of the president's speech on Friday, which marks the start of four days of talks with world leaders."

Reuters: "Investors are bracing for Facebook's Wall Street debut on Friday after the world's No.1 online social network raised about $16 billion in one of the biggest initial public offerings in U.S. history." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Shares of the social network giant closed at $38.23, just 0.6 percent above the initial public offering price -- a price that represented 100 times historical earnings." ...

     ... New York Times Update 2: Glitches! "The Securities and Exchange Commission said that it would review the day’s trading, which included an unexpected delay, missing trade execution messages and at one point, having to fill orders by hand."

New York Times: "As Wal-Mart reported higher-than-expected first-quarter earnings on Thursday, it suggested in a regulatory filing that the scope of an internal investigation into bribery accusations had widened beyond the retailer's subsidiary in Mexico.... It was the first public disclosure by the company that the internal inquiry could involve additional subsidiaries, though none was named."

New York Times: "Hewlett-Packard's chief executive, Meg Whitman, plans to cut 30,000 or more jobs next week, according to officials familiar with the plan. Her goal, they said Thursday, is to spend the money she saves on increasing the efficiency of the company's sales force and on creating new products." ...

... CW Flashback. San Francisco Chronicle, August 8, 2010: "Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who has touted her experience as a job-creator as the former CEO of eBay, has announced a plan to create 500,000 jobs a year during her first four-year term."

Washington Post: Rep. Trent Franks [R-Ariz.] "presided Thursday over the latest in a long series of attempts to control social issues in the nation’s capital. At issue this time was his bill, with 193 co-sponsors, to ban all abortions in the District beyond 20 weeks, except to save the life of the mother.... Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District's lone, nonvoting member of Congress -- sitting in the front row of a subcommittee hearing room -- was not allowed to speak" at the hearing.

New York Times: "The Westchester County medical examiner's office said Thursday afternoon that the cause of [Mary Richardson] Kennedy's death was asphyxiation due to hanging. [Her estranged husband Robert F.] Kennedy, [Jr.,] said that contrary to earlier reports, there was no note found at the scene.... There was no indication that it was anything other than a suicide."

AP: "Jurors were set to begin deliberating the fate of John Edwards on Friday, weighing nearly four weeks of testimony and evidence from the former presidential candidate's corruption trial." ...

... The Washington Post reports on yesterday's closing arguments.


The Commentariat -- May 17, 2012

My regular column in the New York Times eXaminer is a piece on how both Paul Krugman & Ross Douthat whupped Tom Friedman Tuesday. Plus, ...

... My second column in the New York Times eXaminer rebuts Yves Smith's takedown of Paul Krugman's post on the failure of Americans Elect to find a third-party presidential candidate.

Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: "... at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit, there was a clear difference between Democrats and Republicans: Democrats talked constantly about how they should be talking about entitlements. Republicans reiterated their position that they won't talk taxes." CW: bear in mind that the Peterson Foundation is devoted to cutting Medicare & Social Security in the name of "fiscal responsibility" & "deficit reduction." This is as phony-baloney as a "conference" could be. ...

... Gail Collins does a mighty fine job of summing up all the budgetary posturing.

"JPMorphing." New York Times editors: "On Monday, a JPMorgan official told The Times that the trades -- which have since ballooned to at least $3 billion — started out as allowable [under the Volcker Rule], but had 'morphed into something' that crossed the line.... [JPMorgan CEO Jamie] Dimon and other bankers have been fighting to make the regulations as loose and vague -- and as prone to morphing -- as possible.... The banks will keep pushing the limits."

Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "After years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census Bureau has made it official: White births are no longer a majority in the United States."

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "In the dead of night on Monday, the Virginia House of Delegates scuttled the appointment of a highly qualified judicial nominee, Tracy Thorne-Begland, because he is gay. Even Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a rock-ribbed conservative, found this display of intolerance a bit over the top.... According to Delegate Bob Marshall -- an aggressive activist for the pro-heterosexual agenda -- if you're gay, and publicly in favor of equal rights, then you can never serve as a judge because you can't be trusted to rule impartially on gay issues. (Never mind that gay rights cases are unlikely to come before Virginia's General District Court.)" ...

... "Another Virginia Disgrace." Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: "Apparently, the only advocates we can trust to morph into a neutral umpire upon rising to the bench are straight white men. Anyone else who pledges to become an umpire -- as Thorne-Begland did, by the way -- must be lying."

Richard Hasen argues in Slate that Justice Souter (or Justice Stevens) should publish the secret dissent Souter wrote in the Citzens United case. The dissent was unknown to the public until Jeff Toobin published his story in this week's New Yorker on how Chief Justice Roberts manipulated the case (linked in Monday's Commentariat).

Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times: "An examination of the Sanford, [Florida,] Police Department's handling of the [Trayvon Martin] case shows a series of missteps -- including sloppy work — and circumstances beyond its control that impeded the investigation and may make it harder to pursue a case that is already difficult enough."

Presidential Race

Jim Rutenberg & Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire [-- Joe Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs --] on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the 'super PAC' era and attack President Obamain ways that Republicans have so far shied away from." CW: "Provocative" is the wrong word; "racist smear" would work better. The registered name of the group: "Character Matters," acutely ironical in that they haven't any character. Read the story. ...

     ... Update: "Mitt Romney on Thursday condemned plans by Republican strategists and a billionaire investor to run a $10-million advertising campaign linking President Obama to the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, his incendiary former pastor.... At the same time, Mr. Romney stood by remarks made in February on Sean Hannity's radio show that Mr. Obama wanted to make America 'a less Christian nation.' 'I'm not familiar, precisely, with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was,' Mr. Romney said."

... Jamelle Bouie of American Prospect: "What this illustrates ... is the extent to which racialized, anti-Obama conspiracies are in wide circulation among the GOP donor class of wealthy businesspeople.... There's nothing about wealth and education that grant immunity to conspiratorial beliefs.... That this comes with a serving of racism is only a reflection of the race-baiting that is now common to conservative media outlets (see: Rush Limbaugh).... If you accept that wealthy conservatives are the most likely to believe insane things about the president, then you also have to give up hope -- at least in the short-term -- that the Republican Party will abandon its camp in the right-wing of American politics."

David Firestone of the New York Times tears apart Karl Rove's non-factual attack ad on President Obama & deplores GPS Crossroads' unwillingness to reveal the donors responsible for it.

Peter Nicholas of the Wall Street Journal: Vice President Biden, speaking in Youngstown, Ohio, warns of the dangers of "Romney economics," highlighting Romney's Bain Capital shenanigans. "'Romney made sure the guys on top got to play by a separate set of rules, he ran massive debts, and the middle class lost,' Mr. Biden ... says. 'And folks, he thinks this experience will help our economy. Where I come from, past is prologue. So what do you think he'll do as president?'" ...

... Greg Sargent: the Obama campaign is well aware that Romney is benefiting from the public perception that his version of his "success at turning companies around" is accurate. They're working on it. Sargent notes that Romney is back to claiming he created 100,000 jobs, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked.

Calvin Woodward of the AP did a mighty fine fact-check of Romney's budget speech. I hope a lot of local papers published it.

David of Crooks & Liars: "Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is refusing to even utter George W. Bush's name after the former president endorsed him in an elevator on Tuesday. 'I'm for Mitt Romney,' Bush had blurted out to ABC News on Tuesday as the doors of the elevator closed on him in Washington, DC where he was giving a speech on human rights. Speaking to a crowd of supporters in St. Petersburg, Florida on Wednesday, Romney would only refer to Bush as President Barack Obama's 'predecessor.'" With video. Thanks to Kate M. for the link. ...

... Steve Benen notes that the Romney campaign did not send out a press release on the Bush endorsement, but they did send one out when failed Delaware Republican Tea Party candidate Christine I-Am-Not-a-Witch O'Donnell endorsed Romney. CW: So a former two-term president is more toxic than a failed Tea Party candidate who said she had dabbled in witchcraft. Your Republican party today. ...

... AND King Willard is not taking questions from the riffraff press.

Right Wing World

Quote of the Day. Listen, you're a person of faith and so am I. In his administration and now on his re-election campaign, President Obama has surrounded himself with morally repugnant political whores with misshapen values and gutter-level ethics. -- Mike Huckabee, jovial former governor of Arkansas, jovial Fox "News" host, just being jovial in a fundraising letter ...

... Update. Dylan Byers of Politico: "Mike Huckabee is firmly denying that he approved a fundraising letter which refers to President Obama's advisers as 'morally repugnant political whores.'"

... Paul Waldman: there's a lesson in Huckabee's letter: personality is not policy; Huckabee's views are no different from Rick Santorum's; Huckabee just has a more pleasant manner.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) -- Retro Man. Pitts sends a letter telling a constiuent he favors "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists." Sharon suffered a stroke in 2006 & has been a vegetative state ever since. Arafat died in 2004. Ian Rhodewalt in MondoWeiss: "Apparently, my congressman believes that the solution for peace in the Middle East will be reached by encouraging negotiations between a vegetable and a dead man."

Local News

"Walker Dislikes Jobs Numbers, So He'll Put out His Own." Tim Jones of Bloomberg News: "When Wisconsin job numbers compiled by the U.S. government were on the upswing last year, Governor Scott Walker traveled to Milwaukee to tout them as proof that he was turning around the state's economy. Now that the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures have shown for months that the state is losing more jobs than any other, Walker, a Republican who faces a June 5 recall election, will release his own." CW: That's right. When you don't like the facts, make up your own. ...

... "Scott Walker Magically Turns Dismal Wisconsin Job Numbers Into A Pre-Election Miracle." Rick Ungar of Forbes: "The Governor has simply decided to ignore the system used by the Department of Labor -- and every other state in the nation -- to measure job growth (or loss) and elected instead to go with a different set of numbers that makes things in Wisconsin look better.... According to Laura Dresser, a labor economist at ... The University Of Wisconsin, Walker's new numbers are little more than an incredibly transparent effort to create a false reality just in time to mislead Wisconsin voters who will cast their ballot in a few short weeks." In an update, Ungar reports that "Governor Walker has released the revised numbers, indicating that Wisconsin produced 23,300 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2011 rather than the reported loss of approximately 33,000."

... We Are Wisconsin: "It's obvious that Scott Walker, his campaign, and administration officials are engaging in a brazenly dishonest campaign to obscure his worst-in-the-nation jobs record. But now they've been caught in a lie showing use of taxpayer resources and insider knowledge of private information for campaign purposes, further eviscerating any shred of credibility regarding this disgraceful and dishonest PR stunt." ...

... Here's the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, which is kind of a he said/he said report & doesn't necessarily leave the impression that Walker is just inventing numbers. ...

... Madison's Wisconsin State Journal report isn't much much illuminating. But both major papers do at least concentrate on the controversy.

News Ledes

New York Times: "... a trove of new documents and photographs [were] released Thursday by the special prosecutor in the [Trayvon Martin] case, Angela B. Corey, that form part of the discovery process in the murder case of Mr. Martin."

The Hill: "JPMorgan Chairman Jamie Dimon will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on his bank's multibillion-dollar trading loss. The hearing is yet to be scheduled...."

New York Times: "The Senate on Thursday confirmed two nominees chosen by President Obama for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, overcoming Republican objections and bringing the seven-member board to full strength for the first time since 2006, before the economic crisis struck." CW: the story is worth reading.

Washington Post: "In February, Supreme Court Justice [Stephen Breyer] was robbed at his Caribbean vacation house by a man wielding a machete. And more recently ... he suffered a burglary at his Georgetown home."

New York Times: Facebook "raised $16 billion on Thursday, in an initial public offering that valued Facebook at $104 billion."

New York Times: "Donna Summer, one of the most influential singers of the disco era, died on Thursday. She was 63."

New York Times: "The trading losses suffered by JPMorgan Chase have surged in recent days, surpassing the bank's initial $2 billion estimate by at least $1 billion, according to people with knowledge of the losses."

AP: "National foreclosure trends took a positive turn in April, as the number of homes seized by banks declined and fewer properties entered into the foreclosure process. But state-level data point to potentially more home repossessions ahead in Florida and many of the 25 other states where courts are required to sign off on foreclosures."

New York Times: "Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said Wednesday that she was ready to discuss stimulus programs to get the Greek economy growing again and that she was committed to keeping Greece in the euro zone, signaling a softer approach toward the struggling country." ...

... Guardian: "One estimate put the cost to the eurozone of Greece making a disorderly exit from the currency at $1tn, 5% of output. Officials in the United States are also nervously watching the growing crisis: Barack Obama on Wednesday described it as a 'headwind' that could threaten the fragile American recovery." ...

... Guardian: "Barack Obama is to press German chancellor Angela Merkel to support a growth package to help bail out Europe at the G8 summit this weekend amid fears in the White House that the eurozone crisis could damage the president's re-election chances."

New York Times: "A commando-style squad of [U.S.] Drug Enforcement Administration agents accompanied the Honduran counternarcotics police during two firefights with cocaine smugglers in the jungles of the Central American country this month, according to officials in both countries who were briefed on the matter. One of the fights, which occurred last week, left as many as four people dead and has set off a backlash against the American presence there."

Guardian: "Investigators are questioning Mexico's former deputy defence minister and a top army general for suspected links to organised crime, in the highest level scandal to hit the military in the five-year-old drug war. Mexican soldiers on Tuesday detained retired general Tomás Angeles Dauahare and general Roberto Dawe González and turned them over to the country's organised crime unit...."

AP: "The presiding judge in the U.N. trial of Gen. Ratko Mladic has delayed indefinitely the presentation of evidence that had been scheduled to start later this month due to 'errors' by prosecutors in disclosing evidence to defense lawyers."

The Hill has more on the meeting yesterday between President Obama & Congressional leaders on the budget & debt ceiling. (See also yesterday's News Ledes.)

ABC News: "At a news conference this morning, Sens. [Chuck] Schumer [D-NY] and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the 'Ex-PATRIOT' ... Act to respond directly to [Facebook co-founder Eduardo] Saverin's move [to renounce his U.S. citizenship & go to Singapore which has no capital gains tax], which they dub a 'scheme' that would 'help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.' The senators ... will outline their plan to re-impose taxes on expatriates like Saverin.... Their proposal would also impose a mandatory 30 percent tax on the capital gains of anybody who renounces their U.S. citizenship. The plan would bar individuals like Saverin from ever reentering the United States again."

New York Times: "Mitt Romney almost matched President Obama in fund-raising during April after securing his party's presidential nomination and joining forces with the Republican National Committee, the campaign will announce on Thursday."

AP: "With only two hours allotted to each side to make closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors and defense lawyers neared the end of a month-long trial into whether former presidential candidate John Edwards violated campaign finance laws."

Space: "An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station early Thursday (May 17), kicking off a four-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory."


The Commentariat -- May 16, 2012

The full episode of ABC's "The View," with President Obama, is here.

Callum Borchers of the Boston Globe: "President Obama's total assets in 2011 were as high as $8.3 million in 2011, according to an annual financial disclosure filing released by the White House Tuesday. Much of the president's wealth is in the form of US Treasury bills and notes.... The Obamas also have $500,001 to $1 million in a checking account at JPMorgan Chase, the bank currently under FBI scrutiny for a $2 billion trading loss."

In a scathing takedown of House Speaker John Boehner's(R-Ohio) announcement that he would engineer another debt crisis this year, the New York Times editors conclude, "Mr. Boehner's decision to again threaten a default shows that he is an unreliable budget negotiator. President Obama failed to recognize that last time, and Congressional Democrats gave in too easily. We hope both are hearing the message this time around."

Alexander Bolton of The Hill: "Sen. John McCain is talking with Democrats about a joint effort to require outside groups that have spent millions of dollars on this year's elections to disclose their donors. McCain (R-Ariz.), once Congress's leading champion of campaign finance reform, has kept a low profile on the issue in recent years."

Ilyse Hogue of The Nation: Facebook's Eduardo "Saverin exemplifies the spoiled 1 percenter who erodes the fabric of the country that afforded such opportunity by not paying back the investment America made in him." ...

... How Have We Helped Thee, Eduardo Saverin? Farhad Manjoo counts the ways, you little schmuck. ...

... BUT. Incredibly in Right Wing World -- Adam Peck of Think Progress: "Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook whose falling out with the company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the subject of the 2010 blockbuster The Social Network, renounced his US citizenship last week, and the right has wasted no time labeling him a hero."

Maureen Dowd seems fond of Jamie Dimon, and apparently JPMorgan Chase stockholders are A-okay with him, too.

This Bears Repeating. New York Times editors: "Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in 1989 by the state of Texas, was almost certainly wrongly convicted of stabbing a young woman to death with a knife in a gas station robbery in Corpus Christi. Carlos Hernandez, who died in a Texas prison while serving time for stabbing someone else, almost certainly killed the young woman and repeatedly told others that he had committed the murder."

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post comments on Deb Fischer's upset win in the Nebraska GOP U.S. Senate primary. Money isn't everything.

CW: This is in the news, so I'm linking it. Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Elizabeth Warren has pushed back hard on questions about a Harvard Crimson piece in 1996 that described her as Native American, saying she had no idea the school where she taught law was billing her that way and saying it never came up during her hiring a year earlier, which others have backed up. But a 1997 Fordham Law Review piece described her as Harvard Law School's 'first woman of color,' based, according to the notes at the bottom of the story, on a 'telephone interview with Michael Chmura, News Director, Harvard Law (Aug. 6, 1996).'"

James O'Keefe, Still Full of Shit. Scott Keyes of Think Progress. "Conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe released a new video today supposedly exposing voter fraud in North Carolina by highlighting non-citizens like Zbigniew Gorzkowski who have voted in recent elections. The problem: Gorzkowski is an American citizen.... The one instance in the video where O'Keefe purports to show that a non-citizen had actually voted, in fact shows that a citizen voted." CW: Despite the falsity of O'Keefe's video, Matthew Boyle of the right-wing Daily Caller is promoting it. His "update" (on page 2) is unintentionally humorous. But then, The Daily Caller is unintentionally humorous every day.

Prof. Anne Butler in a New York Times op-ed: "... the current debate [between the Vatican & American nuns] has focused on the nuns' progressive stances on birth control, abortion, homosexuality, the all-male priesthood and economic injustice, tension between American nuns and the church's male hierarchy reaches much further back."


Presidential Race

Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "Fifty-six percent of Americans think Barack Obama will win the 2012 presidential election, compared with 36% who think Mitt Romney will win.... The poll was conducted at a time when U.S. registered voters are evenly divided in their vote preferences. Gallup's latest Daily tracking update, based on May 8-14 interviewing, shows 46% of voters preferring Obama and 45% Romney." ...

... Nate Silver comments on the polls.

... Dylan Byers of Politico: "The New York Times has sent in its response to the Obama campaign's heavy criticism of [Tuesday]'s NYT/CBS News poll (see previous post), which the campaign objected to, in part, because it surveyed the same group of people surveyed for a poll last month. That now controversial poll has Mitt Romney leading Obama among those surveyed -- including women -- and shows two-thirds believe the president supported same-sex marriage 'for political reasons.'"

It's Obama's Fault This Guy Can't Get a Job. Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Jason Clausen, a Mason City, Iowa man featured in Mitt Romney's new video featuring unemployed people has a lengthy rap sheet and served ten days in jail for 'assault on a peace officer,' public records show.... The records show Clausen had nearly 20 busts, tickets or fines, a number of them traffic infractions related to things like driving while intoxicated, or with a suspended license. Some were related to accidents, others to driving without seat belts." Here's the ad:

... Jamelle Bouie of American Prospect on the Romney ad: "In this narrative, the GOP didn't mismanage the economy into the deepest downturn since the Great Depression. Rather, the economic crisis simply happened, ex nihilo, and Obama did nothing to stop or mitigate it. What's more, he made things worse, with government spending and an explosion of debt.... For Obama to succeed, he needs to show -- convincingly — that Romney is peddling a false narrative and failed policies." ...

"Ads that Work so Long as You Don't Think." Steve Benen on Romney's ad: "There's nothing to connect the president to the plight of the individuals in the video -- unlike, say, the plight of those who got laid off because Romney's vulture capital firm threw them out of work -- but we're supposed to blame Obama anyway. What's more, there's nothing in the clip to explain why these struggling folks would be better off under a Romney administration that intends to cut taxes for the wealthy while slashing public investments that benefit working families, but we're probably not supposed to think too much about that, either."

... Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "President Obama’s Chicago-based campaign team has been waiting months to launch a real attack against Mitt Romney's experience at Bain Capital.... There is no mystery to the strategy underway: define Romney before he can fully pivot to general-election voters.... This week's opening volley is less an assault on private equity than it is an attack on the character of the former governor. It goes directly to the issue of whose side Romney is on, where the Obama campaign sees the GOP candidate as most vulnerable." ...

... David Axelrod explains the rationale behind the Obama campaign's "exploration" of Romney's run as head of Bain Capital:

Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times: "In advance of Mitt Romney's fundraising swing through Florida [Wednesday] Democrats are highlighting one of the business ventures of Bain Capital while Romney was in charge: Dade Behring, which, saddled with debt, wound up shuttering two medical technologies facilities in Miami. Some 850 jobs were lost, while Bain walked away with $242-million -- an 800 percent return on its investment. The Dade Behring case has been well-documented, but here's a new wrinkle: The company under Bain's leadership sought and received millions of dollars in tax breaks for creating jobs in Puerto Rico -- shortly before closing it's facilities, costing nearly 300 jobs."

Steve Kornacki of Salon: "George W. Bush may have established a new world record today for the shortest, most awkward public endorsement statement in presidential campaign history: '"I'm for Mitt Romney,' Bush told ABC News this morning as the doors of an elevatorclosed on him, after he gave a speech on human rights a block from his old home -- the White House.' The reason for this strange scene is obvious: Romney and his fellow Republicans want absolutely nothing to do with the 43rd president, lest voters connect the epic financial meltdown that played out on his watch to the economic anxiety they're now feeling."

Krugman v. Friedman: "... the center not only did not hold, it couldn't seem to get any attention whatsoever. Americans Elect, a lavishly funded 'centrist' group that was supposed to provide an alternative to traditional political parties, has been a ridiculous flop. Basically, about seven people were actually excited about the venture -- all of them political pundits. Actual voters couldn't care less." Read the whole post. ...

... Rebecca Elliott of BuzzFeed with "Seven Very Bad Predictions about Americans Elect." Top Flop: Tom Friedman.

News Ledes

Politico: "Defying a veto threat from the White House, the House approved its version of the Violence Against Women Act amid furious backlash from Democrats and women's groups that it wouldn't do enough to protect abused victims. Wednesday's vote to renew the 1994 anti-violence law was 222-205. Twenty-three Republicans voted against the bill, while six Democrats voted for it. Vice President Joe Biden, who wrote the law as a senator, said after the vote the measure would water down key protections for victims."

Washington Post: "President Obama warned congressional leaders on Wednesday that he would not tolerate a replay of the bitter debt-ceiling fight of last summer that nearly put the United States in default and led to the nation's first credit-rating downgrade. During lunch at the White House with top leaders of the House and Senate, Obama called the political deadlock last year 'not acceptable' and emphasized that he expects a 'serious bipartisan approach' to tackling the budget and the federal deficit this year, White House press secretary Jay Carney said."

Fox 8 Cleveland News: "Rep. Dennis Kucinich has decided against running for Congress in Washington State."

AP: "Mary Kennedy, ex-wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was found dead at her New York home Wednesday, a source told the Associated Press. Kerry Lawrence, an attorney, confirmed her death, but did not know the cause."

New York Times: "A day after Greece's president warned about the possibility of bank runs, Greek political leaders on Wednesday began forming a caretaker government before new elections next month that could lead the rudderless country to exit the euro, a prospect that has already sent jitters sweeping through world markets."

New York Times: "The defense in John Edwards's federal corruption trial rested on Wednesday morning without calling Mr. Edwards, his daughter Cate, or his former mistress, Rielle Hunter, to the stand. Closing arguments are set to begin on Thursday morning with the case going to the jury as early as Friday." AP story here.

New York Times: "The $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase has claimed another victim. Bruno Iksil, the so-called London Whale at the center of the trading debacle, is expected to leave the bank, according to current and former colleagues. The timing of the departure is unclear."

New York Times: "Speaker John A. Boehner on Tuesday set the stage for a bruising election-year showdown on fiscal policy, vowing to hold up another increase in the federal debt ceiling unless it was offset by larger spending cuts. His combative comments came on the same day the Republicans' presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, hit President Obama hard on his fiscal stewardship in a speech in Des Moines, suggesting that Mr. Romney and Congressional Republicans see an opening to attack the president on the mounting federal debt and the size of the government."

Washington Post: "A Senate committee plans to vote Wednesday on legislation that would give partners of same-sex federal workers some key benefits, a week after President Obama endorsed marriage for same-sex couples."

Washington Post: "On Tuesday, Congress accomplished something relatively rare: It passed a piece of legislation and sent it to the president for his signature. On a broad bipartisan vote of 78 to 20, the Senate voted Tuesday to extend the life of the U.S. Export-Import Bank and expand its authority to make loans to U.S. exporters.... Amid the gridlock, Tuesday's bill was the rarest of breeds: a lasting compromise on an issue of substance."

Omaha World-Herald: "Deb Fischer ran a stealth campaign. The state senator from Valentine who scored one of the biggest upsets in Nebraska political history Tuesday started to surge in the polls at the perfect time -- early enough to win and too late for her opponents to respond. Fischer, who raised a paltry $440,000 to front-runner Jon Bruning's $3.6 million, is now in position to become the second woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate from Nebraska, if she defeats Democrat Bob Kerrey in the fall. A third was appointed."

Reuters: "In a primary election race for Oregon's top law enforcement post, the candidate who pledged to protect medical marijuana patients scored a decisive victory Tuesday night over a rival who led a cannabis crackdown last year. Retired judge Ellen Rosenblum, strongly backed by proponents of liberalized marijuana laws, captured 63 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary for state attorney general...."

New York Times: "Carlos Fuentes, Mexico's elegant public intellectual and grand man of letters, whose panoramic novels captured the complicated essence of his country’s history for readers around the world, died on Tuesday in Mexico City. He was 83."

WFTV Orlando: "WFTV has confirmed that autopsy results show 17-year-old Trayvon Martin had injuries to his knuckles when he died. The information could support George Zimmerman's claim that Martin beat him up before Zimmerman shot and killed him."

Washington Post: "Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by the United States, according to opposition activists and U.S. and foreign officials."

Washington Post: "President Obama plans to issue an executive order Wednesday giving the Treasury Department authority to freeze the U.S.-based assets of anyone who 'obstructs' implementation of the administration-backed political transition in Yemen."

New York Times: "Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander, went on trial [in the Hague] on Wednesday for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity stemming from some of the bloodiest events of the Bosnian war in the 1990s, including the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo."

AP: "Paperwork for Chen Guangcheng, his wife, and two children [to travel to the United State] was completed in the hospital where the family of four has stayed since he left the embassy in Beijing two weeks ago." ...

... Foreign Policy: "Chen Guangcheng called into a U.S. congressional hearing Tuesday -- for the second time this month -- and asked the international community not to forget about his extended family members and friends suffering government harassment in China."

New York Times: "Just days before Facebook is scheduled to hold its first public stock offering, which could value the company at more than $100 billion, [General Motors] one of the country's largest marketers, has decided to remove its advertising from the social network."

AP: "President Barack Obama raised a combined $43.6 million in April for his campaign and the Democratic Party. Obama's campaign says 400,000 donors contributed last month, including 169,000 who donated for the first time. Obama raised about $53 million in April."