The Ledes

Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

AP: "A column of armored vehicles flying Russian flags drove into a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russia demonstrators Wednesday, dampening the central government's hopes to re-establish control over restive eastern Ukraine."

AP: "A multi-story ferry carrying 459 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast Wednesday, leaving nearly 300 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by ships and helicopters. At least three people were confirmed dead and 55 injured."

Boston Globe: "A shelter-in-place order on Boylston Street has been lifted and a 25-year-old Boston man is facing charges after police executed a controlled detonation of two suspicious bags left near the Boston Marathon finish line. Just after 7 p.m. on Tuesday, on the one-year anniversary of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, police said two backpacks had been found in the area and immediately ordered people to evacuate. Authorities said the backpacks were tied to a man who goes by Kayvon Edson. Edson was captured in several videos marching down Boylston Street in a black veil, wearing a backpack, and chanting 'Boston strong.'” ...

     ... UPDATE: "A man who was arrested after suspicious bags were found near the Boston Marathon finish line was arraigned today in Boston Municipal Court. Kevin Edson, 25, of Boston is being charged with possession of a hoax explosive, threatening battery, threats to commit a crime, disturbing the peace, disturbing a public assembly, and disorderly conduct, according to the Boston Police Department. Edson is being held on $100,000 bail and is being sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for an evaluation, the Associated Press reports."


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/04/10/3772409/fbi-rescues-kidnapped-wake-forest.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy
The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, April 15, 2014.

Boston Globe: The Boston Marathon finish line has been evacuated after suspicious packages were discovered. ...

... Washington Post: "Boston and its surroundings braced for an emotional week that begins Tuesday with a large ceremony honoring the victims, first responders, medical personnel and others affected by [last years Boston Marathon bomb] attack. It will be a chance to mourn the dead and remember the bloodshed, but also to proclaim that what is perhaps the world’s most famous footrace will continue for a 118th year, and to marvel at the way events have brought this community together."

Los Angeles Times: "President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of a drug convict, correcting a mistake that had extended his prison time by more than three years and could not be fixed by the courts."

Even in Canada. AP: "Five people were killed and the son of a police officer is in custody after multiple stabbings at a house party attended by university students near the University of Calgary, the police chief said, calling it the worst mass murder in Calgary's history."

CNN: "A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn't know about it or couldn't get a drone there in time to strike." With video.

Detroit Free Press: "Two members of General Motors’ senior leadership team are leaving the company three months after a transition to a new CEO and amid a crisis over the automaker’s failure to fix an ignition switch defect."

AP: "Federal authorities have lodged two criminal charges against a Phoenix woman accused of throwing a shoe at Hillary Rodham Clinton while she gave a convention speech at a Las Vegas Strip resort."

New York Times: "After days of failing to enforce its own ultimatums, the Ukrainian government on Tuesday began what the president called a military operation to confront pro-Russian militants in the east of the country." ...

... Washington Post: "... Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that Ukraine was descending into civil war." ...

    ... Update: "The Ukrainian government said its forces had repelled an assault by pro-Russian militiamen at a military airfield, hours after announcing the start of a staged counteroffensive Tuesday to reclaim control of the eastern part of the country."

BBC News: "Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi must do one year's community service over tax fraud, a Milan court has ruled. He was convicted of tax fraud last year in connection with TV rights purchased by his firm Mediaset in the 1990s. The alternative to community service had been house arrest. It is not yet clear what form his community service will take."

Public Service Announcements

Washington Post: "Researchers are reporting that injections of long-lasting AIDS drugs protected monkeys for weeks against infection, a finding that could lead to a major breakthrough in preventing the disease in humans."

New York Times: "General Motors will more than double the size of a recall issued this month for an ignition switch defect in some of its small cars, the automaker said in a news release Tuesday. The expansion brings the number of vehicles covered by the recall to nearly 1.4 million in the United States. The recall is aimed at vehicles with ignition switches that could inadvertently turn off the engine and vehicle electrical system – disabling the air bags – if the ignition key is jarred or the vehicle’s operator has a heavy key ring attached to it."

New York Times: "The essence of [a] disagreement [among experts] comes down to a simple question: Will e-cigarettes cause more or fewer people to smoke? The answer matters. Cigarette smoking is still the single largest cause of preventable death in the United States, killing about 480,000 people a year."

White House Live Video
April 16

3:45 pm ET: President Obama & Vice President Biden speak on the importance of jobs-driven skill training in Oakdale, Pensylvania

 

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Whose Pulitzer Is It Anyway? Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded the Pulitzer Prize this week for his multipart series on denials of benefits to black lung victims. ABC News, which used Hamby's work for a "Nightline" segment, now wants a piece of the Pulitzer, even though the Pulitzer Prize is given for print journalism. ...

... J. K. Trotter of Gawker has more: "Journalist-on-journalist carnage is rarely so open, or so bilious, especially when obituary-worthy awards are on the line. Then again, television news has never attracted, or rewarded, humble folk. According to Poynter, an ABC spokesperson repeatedly 'threatened [{Bill} Buzenberg {executive director of CPI}] and the Center saying they would make this very "messy" ... unless they got what they wanted.'” ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico has more on the feud. ...

... Capital New York: "Fresh off a Pulitzer win for his investigative work at The Center for Public Integrity, Chris Hamby is jumping ship to join Mark Schoofs' investigations desk at Buzzfeed...."

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

Josh Dickey of Mashable: "Stephen Colbert is CBS' top choice to replace the retiring David Letterman, and has indicated that he's willing to take over the Late Show when the time comes, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable." Via New York.

Lauren Moraski of CBS "News": "David Letterman announced Thursday that he's retiring from CBS' 'Late Show' sometime next year. He made that announcement during the taping of his program Thursday afternoon at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater."

No News, All the Time:

Igor Bobic of TPM: "In its wall-to-wall coverage of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, CNN has raised the possibility of the supernatural, blackholes, and North Korea; it has interviewed a psychic, tried but failed to rent its own 777 jet, and finally settled on a flight simulator it is using to 'search' for the plane.On Tuesday the network finally turned its attention to garbage."

Washington Post: "Stephen Colbert and his writing staff were in fighting form Monday night, after a controversy stemming from an out-of-context tweet had hashtag activists calling for his head." ...

... This is kinda must-see TV:

AND Colbert dismantles his charity:

Michael Lewis in the New York Times Magazine on the whiz-kids of high-frequency Wall Street trading.

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Friday
Apr042014

The Commentariat -- April 5, 2014

** Larry Lessig in the Daily Beast: "The Supreme Court decision ending aggregate limits on political donations was made possible by a dangerous, narrow definition of 'corruption' the Framers themselves wouldn't recognize." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link. Also read Pepe's ecellent comment today on the Roberts confirmation hearing. Makes me think more of Chuck Schumer, too. ...

... Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "The astonishing concentration of wealth among America's super-rich, combined with a Supreme Court determined to tear down the barriers between their millions and our elections, is once again shifting the balance of power between politicians and donors.... The media, for the most part, still treats elected officials as the key players in our political process.... Mega-donors, by contrast, are permitted a substantial degree of anonymity. Now that must change.... The press has an obligation to follow power...." ...

... Jim Fallows of the Atlantic: "It is very hard for me to find a non-cynical interpretation of the growing gap between the way [John Roberts] presented himself [at his confirmation hearing] and the way he writes decisions now":

... Jonathan Alter in the New Yorker: What Sheldon wants, & how the Supremes help him get it. "Reformers like to complain about the malign influence of money in politics. The real problem is big money in politics...."

Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic: "As of the end of February, the number of Americans on Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was 3 million higher than it was at the beginning of the Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period. It's one more sign that the health care law is reducing the number of Americans without insurance significantly.... It's also one more window into our growing geopolitical divide -- between the part of America where officials are trying aggressively to help poor people get health insurance, and the part where officials are not." ...

By the New Republic.

... Republicans, Always on the Wrong Side of History. Theda Skocpol in TPM: "Not until the mid-1950s did Eisenhower-era Republicans finally accept Social Security; and it took until the early 1970s for generous benefits to make it widely popular." ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says in a new interview that it would be too costly for Republicans to reinstate some of the more popular provisions of Obamacare if and when the law is repealed, but that Republicans should look for alternatives." CW: An admission from the GOP Numbers Guru & former vice-presidential candidate that Republicans want to repeal the ACA & replace it with (a) nothing or (b) next to nothing. Millions of people vote for these nasty bastards. ...

     ... Charles Pierce: "He really doesn't know what he's talking about. He hasn't had to live in the real world away from the government trough for 10 minutes since he entered high school. Biggest fake in American politics." ...

White House: "In this week's address, President Obama highlights the important differences between the budget he's put forward -- built on opportunity for all -- and the budget House Republicans are advocating for, which stacks the deck against the middle class":

... ** Brian Beutler of Salon: "... the Koch brothers actively participate in, and benefit from, a healthcare system in which the government subsidizes private insurance; carriers are prohibited from discriminating against the sick; the young cross-subsidize the old; and qualified beneficiaries who opt out suffer a big financial hit.... As employers, they can and do compensate their employees with tax-exempt health insurance benefits, their employees are all part of one risk pool, and everyone contributes the same amount for equal coverage." So why do they oppose ObamaCare? it's all about the money. Beutler explains. ...

... Paul Waldman in the Washington Post: "... there's a new misleading [ObamaCare] 'horror story' on its way: the worker whose hours are being cut back so their boss won't have to comply with the ACA's employer mandate. Watch out for it, because it's coming. Just as before, the decisions of private companies to attempt to screw over ordinary people are going to be blamed not on those companies, but on Obamacare.

Alan Ota of Roll Call: Some House Republicans are urging their leadership to bring up for a vote an unemployment benefits extension.

James Surowiecki of the New Yorker: "The real mystery ... is not why [Brendan] Eich stepped down [as Mozilla CEO] but why he ever got hired in the first place. His unquestioned technical ability notwithstanding, this was a candidate who divided the board, who had already been controversial, and whose promotion was guaranteed to generate reams of bad publicity. I

Congressional Races

Gail Collins: "... Mike Rounds, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, came up with a debut video in which he tells prospective voters that the rest of the nation 'could learn a lot from the people of South Dakota.' Meanwhile, the viewer is treated to pictures of folks building houses, having meetings, playing with the family -- doing all sorts of positive things that presumably exemplify the state's wholesome lifestyle. Unfortunately, it turns out that they are stock photos from parts unknown. Except we did learn that the fetching woman holding her pen at that meeting is actually in Paris.... Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky recently released a video about the glories of his home state that featured what was supposed to be a triumphant local basketball team but was in fact hated Kentucky rival Duke." And so on. Hilarious. ...

... ** Still, Collins does not top Jake Rush/Chazz Darling, who is running in the primary to the right of Tea Party Rep. Ted Yoho (Fla.). Unbelievable. And scary. Adam Weinstein of Gawker has the details. Via Charles Pierce.

Beyond the Beltway

Ann Thompson of WVXU Cincinnati: "Federal Judge Timothy Black says he will issue a ruling by April 14 striking down Ohio's gay marriage ban passed by voters in 2004. Attorney Al Gerhardstein, representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit about birth certificates, amended his request to ask Black to declare all aspects of Ohio's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. In federal court Friday morning, the judge said he would do that. The ruling will only apply to the marriage recognition ban. The lawsuit did not seek to allow same-sex partners to get married in Ohio, just the recognition of marriages from other states."

Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times: "The United Automobile Workers has seized on leaked documents from Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee in its efforts to persuade the National Labor Relations Board to order a new unionization election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. The union, which lost a vote in February, plans to argue in a hearing later this month that Mr. Haslam and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, both Republicans, frightened VW workers at the plant with anti-union statements that made a fair vote impossible.... In the documents, revealed earlier this week, Mr. Haslam proposed nearly $300 million in incentives to help the VW plant add a second production line, contingent on the unionization effort's 'being concluded to the satisfaction of the state.' The documents, including the outlined incentives, were made public Monday by WTVF, a Nashville television station."

News Ledes

Guardian: "Against the backdrop of Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimean region, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Saturday that a key message he will deliver to leaders in Tokyo this weekend is that the US is strongly committed to protecting Japan's security."

Reuters: "NATO will strengthen its presence in Poland within weeks, [Polish] Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Saturday, a move that could help allay fears in eastern European states for their security after Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region."

New York Times: "A Chinese vessel that is part of a multinational search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the southern Indian Ocean reported on Saturday that an underwater sensor had picked up a 'pulse signal' of the same frequency used by locator devices on planes, China's official news agency reported."

AFP: "Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet jointly Sunday with US envoy Martin Indyk, as attempts continue to prevent the collapse of peace negotiations, officials close to the talks said."

Washington Post: "As polls opened amid threats of violence and lingering memories of fraud, Afghan voters turned out on Saturday morning to choose a president who will lead them into the post-American era in Afghanistan." The New York Times story is here. ...

... AP: "Several issues are at the top of Afghans' minds as they go to the polls Saturday. High among them is deteriorating security as the country undergoes its first democratic transition of power in history. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is barred by the constitution from seeking a third term in office." ...

     ... Washington Post UPDATE: "Conducted under armed guard, the country's third presidential election since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 unfolded without the large-scale attacks or major disruptions that many Afghans had feared, although scores of minor attacks were reported. As the process moves to a vote count that could take weeks and, potentially, lead to a second-round runoff, voters and observers expressed relief that the day had ended in relative peace." ...

     ... AP UPDATE: "President Barack Obama says Afghanistan's presidential election marks another milestone in the effort by the Afghan people to take full responsibility for their country as the United States and its allies gradually withdraw their forces."

Washington Post: "A spontaneous argument among soldiers in the same transportation unit at Fort Hood, Tex., touched off the mass shooting in which Spec. Ivan A. Lopez killed four people, including himself, and wounded 16 others, Army officials said Friday. Witnesses and relatives of the wounded said Lopez's fury was apparently sparked by a simple dispute over paperwork. They said the 34-year-old military truck driver became exasperated after he walked into a human-resources office Wednesday afternoon and asked for a leave-of-absence application, but was told to come back the next day. Lopez left, but returned moments later with a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol and opened fire on soldiers in his unit, the 49th Transportation Battalion, killing two of them. Lopez ... then walked outside and indiscriminately shot at other soldiers...."

CNN: "Two of the world's best-known public figures, Pope Francis and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, met for the first time Thursday in Rome. The Queen, accompanied by husband Prince Philip, is paying a one-day visit to Italy at the invitation of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano."

Thursday
Apr032014

The Commentariat -- April 4, 2014

Manny Fernandez & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "... nearly five years after the deadly shooting rampage there, it remained easy for a soldier and even a visitor to bring in a firearm. Fort Hood's weapons rules for soldiers who are not police officers rely in large part on the honor system." ...

... David Fahrenthold, et al., of the Washington Post: "Army Spec. Ivan A. Lopez -- who killed three people and wounded 16 others in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood -- was a father of four and had spent 10 years as a police officer in his native Puerto Rico before he joined the Army. The shooting spree at the sprawling Army post in central Texas ended about four minutes after it began, authorities said, when Lopez, 34, was confronted by a military police officer. The officer opened fire, officials said, and Lopez killed himself with a shot to the head." ...

... Will Weissert & Paul Weber of the AP: "The soldier who killed three people at Fort Hood may have argued with another service member prior to the attack, and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage, authorities said Thursday." ...

... Russell Berman of the Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said there's 'no question' that mentally ill people should be prevented from buying guns, a day after a soldier with a history of mental illness killed three people at Fort Hood in Texas. 'There's no question that those with mental health issues should be prevented from owning weapons or being able to purchase weapons,' Boehner said at a Capitol event.... Boehner and House Republicans have resisted the push by Democrats and President Obama to enact stricter gun laws in the wake of prominent mass shootings, including a 2009 massacre at Fort Hood." ...

... Philip Bump of the Atlantic: "... if Boehner is willing, at last, to support dramatic gun control efforts, there are almost certainly people on the other side of the aisle who'd be happy to work with him." Bump notes, however, "Those suffering the same diagnosed illnesses as the shooter -- depression and anxiety -- might be surprised by Boehner's willingness to take away their Second Amendment rights."

Jeremy Herb of the Hill: "The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday voted to declassify parts of its controversial report on Bush-era interrogation tactics, paving the way for the report's public release. The Intelligence panel voted 11-3 to make public the report's 400-page executive summary and its conclusions and findings, as well as the dissenting view from Republicans. The report will now be sent to the CIA for redactions before it is released to the public."

"Rube Goldberg Has Survived." Paul Krugman: The success of the Affordable Care Act is "a big political victory for Democrats. They can point to a system that is already providing vital aid to millions of Americans, and Republicans -- who were planning to run against a debacle -- have nothing to offer in response. And I mean nothing. So far, not one of the supposed Obamacare horror stories featured in attack ads has stood up to scrutiny." ...

... Clara Ritger of the National Journal: "A new study finds 5.4 million uninsured Americans have gained health coverage since September, the first estimate of how many of the nation's uninsured are benefiting from Obamacare. The percent of uninsured Americans fell to 15.2 percent in March from 17.9 percent in September, the study says." ...

     ... CW: Kinda shoots down the GOP talking point that the only people who signed up on Healthcare.gov were those who previously had fabulous insurance but lost it because of freedom-killing ObamaCare. ...

... "The Missing Millions." Sophie Novack of the National Journal: "Blue Cross Blue Shield is adding nearly 2 million to the tally of customers buying insurance outside the Obamacare exchanges, a group that has been largely overlooked in the debate over enrollment numbers.... Off-exchange enrollment -- directly with insurance companies or through private brokers and online sites -- allows consumers to bypass the sometimes-troubled exchange websites to purchase coverage. They are not using the new enrollment vehicle, but they are often buying the same plans, and are part of the same risk pools, with the same impact on premium costs." ...

... Evan McMorris-Santoro of BuzzFeed: "White House officials sought valuable primetime air for a rare, impromptu Tuesday night address to tout the accomplishment of signing up more than 7 million people under the Affordable Care Act. But network officials refused to make the kind of accommodation they did previously for the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, for instance...." ...

... Karyn Bruggeman of the National Journal notes that -- unlike in Congressional races -- in gubernatorial races anti-ObamaCare attacks are not a GOP standard. She explains why.

Reuters: "The Obama administration announced Thursday that same-sex married couples can qualify for Medicare hospital and physician benefits for the first time." The Medicare.gov site explains.

Sarah Mimms of the National Journal: "The Senate once again agreed to cloture on a five-month extension of unemployment-insurance benefits Thursday, but this time with even fewer Republican votes than before.... The cloture agreement sets up a vote on final passage for Monday, when Democrats will only need support from 51 of their own members to pass the measure.... [Sen. Dean] Heller [R-Nev., who helped write the bill,] plans to speak with [House Speaker John] Boehner next week about the extension, dismissing the speaker's claims that the Senate legislation is 'unworkable.'"

Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: His newest budget proves that "Paul Ryan is still a total jerk.... At least we won’t have to read any more 'Paul Ryan loves poor people' stories."

Frank Rich: "It looks like 2016 is going to be another bloody chapter in the GOP's ongoing civil war." ...

     ... CW: For what it's worth, it's just as likely 2016 will be another bloddy chapter in the Democratic Party's ongoing civil war. I, for one, am not feeling giddy about Hillary. If a viable candidate (sorry, Bernie) to her left emerges, I'll be there.

Peter Beinart of the Atlantic thinks McCutcheon v. F.E.C. could come back to haunt the Republican Party. "For the contemporary GOP, the danger of looking like the plaything of America's super-rich outweighs the benefits of increased support from America's super-rich. Even in the age of the Roberts Court, winning elections generally requires more than just raising more money. It requires winning more votes."

Nick Bilton of the New York Times: "A little over a week after becoming chief executive of Mozilla, Brendan Eich is stepping down after an intense debate over his belief that gays should not be allowed to marry. After his appointment as the company's new chief, Mr. Eich came under heavy fire from employees and the public for making a $1,000 contribution in 2008 to support a ban on gay marriage in California under Proposition 8." ...

... CW: A good example of why I don't think much of Andrew Sullivan. ...

... Steve M. Cue wingers to wail about the "Gaystapo," etc., the same gang of wingers who thought it was quite all right to pressure a right-wing religious organization to ban the hiring of gay employees & to demand the CEO step down....

     ... CW: An essential component of the rite of passage into Right Wing World is the Hypocritic Oath. I think taking the oath comes near the top of the RWW induction ceremony.

Katha Pollitt of the Nation: "It's one thing to say sex workers shouldn't be stigmatized, let alone put in jail. But when feminists argue that sex work should be normalized, they accept male privilege they would attack in any other area."

Karen DeYoung & Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "... as his tireless efforts to broker Israeli-Palestinian negotiations hit bottom Thursday, with Israel's cancellation of prisoner releases that were considered crucial to keeping the talks alive, there are some around [Secretary of State John] Kerry -- including on his senior staff and inside the White House -- who believe the time is approaching for him to say, 'Enough.' ... Speaking in Rabat, Morocco on Friday, Kerry said U.S. patience and involvement are not indefinite, but he did not declare his signature effort dead. 'We are not going to sit there indefinitely. This is not an open-ended effort,' Kerry said. 'It's reality check time."

News Ledes

Bloomberg News: "Employers in the U.S. boosted payrolls (NFP) in March and the unemployment rate held at 6.7 percent even as more Americans entered the labor force, showing steady progress that may prompt Federal Reserve policy makers to continue reducing stimulus while keeping interest rates low. Payrolls rose 192,000 after a 197,000 gain in February that was larger than first estimated...."

New York Times: "A Pulitzer-prize winning photographer for The Associated Press was killed and a reporter from the news agency was wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Friday by an Afghan police officer. Anja Niedringhaus, 48, a renowned photographer who had covered numerous conflicts, and Kathy Gannon, 60, the reporter, were shot in Khost Province in eastern Afghanistan where they had traveled to cover preparations for the country's presidential election on Saturday. Both had spent many years covering the war in Afghanistan and knew the country well."

Wednesday
Apr022014

The Commentariat -- April 3, 2014

Noah Rayman of Time: "The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote Thursday to declassify its 6,300-page report detailing the CIA's controversial interrogation and detention program."

They Have No Shame

Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog: "The Supreme Court pressed ahead on Wednesday with the majority's constitutional view that more money flowing into politics is a good thing -- even if much of it comes from rich donors. By a five-to-four vote, the Court struck down the two-year ceilings that Congress has imposed on donations to presidential and congressional candidates, parties and some -- but not all -- political action groups. The main opinion delivered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said confidently that corruption in politics will be kept in check by caps -- left intact -- on how much each single donation can be." ...

... Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and very likely increase the already large role money plays in American politics." ...

... Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "The ruling most empowers two groups of people: those with the wherewithal to spend millions of dollars on campaign contributions, and those with access to them, including party leaders, senior lawmakers and presidents." ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "... wealthy donors now have a broad new power to launder money to political candidates...." ...

... Gail Collins: "The downside to the decision is pretty clear, unless you are of the opinion that what this country really needs is more power to the plutocrats." ...

... Jesse Wegman of the New York Times: "McCutcheon, another blow to democracy." ...

The only type of corruption that Congress may target is quid pro quo corruption. -- John Roberts, in McCutcheon v. F.E.C.

... Charles Pierce: "Justice Stephen Breyer takes up ... in his dissent ... the majority's laughably narrow definition of what political corruption actually is -- that political corruption exists only if you buy a specific result from a specific legislator. But it hardly matters.... Four days after almost every Republican candidate danced the hootchie-koo in Vegas to try and gain the support of a single, skeevy casino gazillionnaire, the majority tells us that there is no 'appearance of corruption' in this unless somebody gets caught putting a slot machine in the Lincoln Bedroom on behalf of Sheldon Adelson." ...

... Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker: "Every Chief Justice takes on a project. Earl Warren wanted to desegregate the South. Warren Burger wanted to limit the rights of criminal suspects. William Rehnquist wanted to revive the powers of the states. It increasingly appears likely that, for John Roberts, the project will be removing the limits that burden wealthy campaign contributors -- the 'whole point' of the First Amendment, as he sees it. So far, that project is doing pretty well." CW: Yes, and such a noble project. ...

... Rick Hasan in Slate: "... this is ... a subtly awful decision.... The court seems to open the door for a future challenge to what remains of the McCain-Feingold law: the ban on large, 'soft money' contributions collected by political parties.... This opinion promises more bad things to come for money in politics, and soon." ...

... Good piece by Josh Gerstein of Politico on Roberts' Rules. ...

... Kevin Drum: "The cringe-inducing spectacle of Republicans trekking to Las Vegas this weekend to kiss Sheldon Adelson's ring in hopes of becoming his fair-haired child and sole recipient of his millions, shows that the horse is truly out of the barn on the role of the super-rich in political campaigns. It's possible that McCutcheon will strengthen party machinery and provide a slight counterweight, but more likely it will simply give billionaires even more control over the electoral process. ...

(... Betty Cracker of Balloon Juice: "The ways of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are mysterious, but if He could see fit to, as a BJ commenter once suggested, smite a certain corpulent jurist via Fettuccine Alfredo within the next year or so, it would be an exquisitely well-timed deus ex pastana." ...)

Kevin Bogardus of the Hill: "A collective groan went up on K Street Wednesday as the Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on donations to candidate and party committees.... The ruling means that a common K Street excuse for brushing off fundraising requests -- that they've already 'maxed out' their donations under the cap -- is now moot." ...

... Ari Berman of the Nation: "The Court's conservative majority believes that the First Amendment gives wealthy donors and powerful corporations the carte blanche right to buy an election but that the Fifteenth Amendment does not give Americans the right to vote free of racial discrimination. These are not unrelated issues -- the same people, like the Koch brothers, who favor unlimited secret money in US elections are the ones funding the effort to make it harder for people to vote."

... Chris Cillizza says you're addicted to Koch, too:

... ** Jonathan Chait: "The Wall Street Journal's editorial page owns the deluded self-pitying billionaire screed genre, and today, it brings us Charles Koch." CW: Short piece, handily dispenses with Koch.

Linda Greenhouse: During oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case, "... no one sought to discuss the question that was almost surely on the justices' minds, Justice Kennedy's in particular: how the Hobby Lobby case relates to gay rights. By an exquisite coincidence of timing, the court, at the exact moment it begins to sort out the Hobby Lobby case, also has before it a case illustrating how readily a claim of religious conscience can, if upheld, become a license for discrimination against gay men and lesbians.... I hope ... the court sees the two [cases] joined together as a kind of early warning system of the dangers of, as Justice Kennedy said, allowing religion to 'just trump.'" ...

... Charles Lane of the Washington Post: "We wouldn't have to [worry about Hobby Lobby executives' objections to contraceptive coverage] if nearly 150 million Americans weren't covered through employer-paid health insurance." CW: Lane appeals to Republicans to embrace health insurance exchanges on which individuals obtain insurance directly, but we know a better answer: single-payer.

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "The Fort Hood military installation in Texas is locked down after a shooting that left at least four people dead and injured an unknown number, according to authorities. Four people were killed, according to government officials. It's unclear at this moment if the four dead includes the shooter, who officials have confirmed was killed, but that number is believed to include the shooter." ...

     ... Update. Rajiv Chandrasekaran, et al., of the Post: "An Iraq war veteran who was grappling with mental health issues opened fire at Fort Hood, Tex., in an attack that left four people dead and 16 wounded Wednesday afternoon, according to preliminary law enforcement and military reports. The gunfire sent tremors of fear across a sprawling Army post still reeling from one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history." ...

     ... Lindsey Bever of the Post: "Authorities at Fort Hood have launched an aggressive investigation into the circumstances which led an Iraq war veteran to open fire and kill three soldiers Wednesday." ...

... President Obama remarks on the shooting. The transcript is here:

Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "... there is increasing evidence that a stronger recovery alone might not significantly aid the country’s long-term jobless. Even before the latest monthly job figures are released on Friday, short-term unemployment has fallen to its prerecession level, but long-term unemployment remains more than twice as high as it was in 2007." Yet the federal & state governments are doing little to help the long-term unemployed.

Ben Protess & Michael Corkery of the New York Times: "Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation into a recent $400 million fraud involving Citigroup's Mexican unit, according to people briefed on the matter, one of a handful of government inquiries looming over the giant bank. The investigation, overseen by the F.B.I. and prosecutors from the United States attorney's office in Manhattan, is focusing in part on whether holes in the bank's internal controls contributed to the fraud in Mexico. The question for investigators is whether Citigroup -- as other banks have been accused of doing in the context of money laundering -- ignored warning signs. The bank ... also faces a parallel civil investigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement unit...."

David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "The latest official to be caught in the Benghazi shredder is Michael Morell, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency.... Morell responded Wednesday by doing something unusual in Washington: He answered the charges [against him] in open testimony to the House Intelligence Committee.... Morell also took a rare public shot" at former CIA director David Petraeus.... The real significance of Morell's testimony was that he directly rebutted the GOP charge that the CIA, in concert with the White House, 'cooked the books' on Benghazi with manufactured talking points that Morell knew were wrong, and then covered it up."

Read this short post by Charles Pierce.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "After months of pummeling by Republicans and with a grim election season approaching, Democrats on Tuesday had a rare bright day. President Obama's announcement that the new health care plan had enrolled 7.1 million Americans coincided with the release by Representative Paul D. Ryan of a new Republican budget that proposes changes in Medicare and deep cuts in spending.... For the first time in a while, Democrats this week found themselves talking up a contrast between their agenda -- protecting the newly insured, raising the minimum wage and renewing unemployment benefits -- and a Republican plan that would cut health care and education spending deeply, and move Medicare toward private insurance.... Some Republican members of Congress are showing a newfound willingness to negotiate changes in the [ACA] rather than demand its repeal. "

Tim Alberta of the National Journal: "House conservatives unloaded on their Republican leaders in two closed-door meetings Wednesday, a response to last week's maneuver to extend the so-called doc fix with an unexpected voice vote. Nevertheless, most members said they would not seek retribution by voting against Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal next week. Tensions flared initially at Wednesday morning's Republican Conference meeting over what conservatives called a 'sneaky' decision by GOP leadership last Thursday to patch the sustainable growth rate requirement in the Medicare program with a simple voice vote, thereby avoiding a potentially disastrous roll-call vote." CW: So the wingnuts are against paying medical personnel fair wages??? All part of their plan to kill Medicare, I guess. ...

... Andrew Taylor of the AP: "A budget plan stuffed with familiar proposals to cut across a wide swath of the federal budget breezed through the House Budget Committee on Wednesday, but its sharp cuts to health care coverage for the middle class and the poor, food stamps and popular domestic programs are a nonstarter with President Barack Obama."

E. J. Dionne: "The fact that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hit its original goal this week of signing up more than 7 million people through its insurance exchanges ought to be a moment of truth -- literally as well as figuratively. It ought to give everyone, particularly members of the news media, pause over how reckless the opponents of change have been in making instant judgments and outlandish charges.... Given how many times the law's enemies have said the sky was falling when it wasn't, will there be tougher interrogation of their next round of apocalyptic predictions?"

The World According to Beck. Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch: "These days, Glenn Beck's TV and radio programs are little more than exercises in projection and hypocrisy, so it was no surprise to see him have a complete meltdown on his radio program today over President Obama's remarks [Tuesday] hailing reports that more than seven million people had signed up for health insurance under Obamacare. Declaring that the seven million figure was obviously phony, Beck flew into a rage against Obama and the 'rat bastards' in the media who refuse to hold him accountable for his pathological lying. 'This guy,' Beck said of Obama, 'you put him in a military uniform, I'm not kidding you, you put him on a balcony in a military uniform, this guy is a full-fledged dictator. He's a sociopath!,' Beck proclaimed, later in the broadcast."

News Ledes

Chicago Tribune: "... federal authorities announced that billionaire Ukrainian industrialist Dmytro Firtash and five other foreign nationals have been charged in Chicago with participating in an international racketeering conspiracy involving at least $18.5 million in bribes to government officials in India to allow the mining of titanium minerals.... Firtash, who has long allied himself with leaders friendly to Russian President Vladimir Putin.... Prosecutors, though, said the charges were filed under seal last June in Chicago and have nothing to do with recent events in Ukraine."

Houston Chronicle: "Serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells -- a drifter who has been linked to the deaths of more than a dozen people, including a 9-year-old San Antonio girl -- was executed Thursday evening.... The execution came despite last-minute litigation by attorneys for Sells and another death row inmate seeking to have the U.S. Supreme Court intervene because Texas prison officials have refused to disclose details about a new batch of lethal drugs."

Chicago Tribune: "Sears will close the doors of its State Street department store on Sunday, ending a long chapter of poor sales for the flagship Loop location and highlighting a growing trend away from brick-and-mortar shopping. Sears first opened the store in 2001, after an 18-year break from downtown. Sears opened its first store in the Loop in 1932; that store was open for 50 years."

NPR: "There were 326,000 first-time claims filed for unemployment insurance last week, up by 16,000 from the week before.... While they rose, claims remained at the lower end of the range they've been in for the past year and were running at a pace close to where they were before the economy sank into its last recession in December 2007."

Washington Post: "Acknowledging that Mideast peace talks he has shepherded for a year are teetering, Secretary of State John F. Kerry appealed directly to Israeli and Palestinian leaders Thursday not to miss a fleeting 'moment' to make peace."

AFP: "The Kremlin confirmed Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has finalised the divorce from his wife of 30 years Lyudmila following the couple's sudden split last summer." CW: Cause of the split: Vlad spending too much time at Black Sea resorts.

Tuesday
Apr012014

The Commentariat -- April 2, 2014

Amy Goldstein & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama announced Tuesday that more than 7 million Americans have signed up for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, the most ambitious federal effort in nearly half a century to widen access to coverage. The tally, which signified a sharp turnaround from the troubled beginnings of enrollment last fall, was driven upward by a late rush of consumers seeking coverage in the days and hours before the deadline of midnight Monday to enroll in health plans for 2014." ...

... CW: It was a good speech, worth your watching:

... Shit-tastic. Edward-Isaac Dovere & Carrie Brown of Politico: "There was a word White House officials had for Monday, the final day of Obamacare enrollment: 'S--t-tastic.' 'S--t,' because they couldn't believe that the website had crashed again, and they couldn't get it back for hours. '-Tastic' because this time, the problems were actually because of traffic so high that it caught even the most optimistic people in the White House by surprise." ...

... Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic: "... the available data points offer hints about what is happening. And while they don't add up to a clear, definitive vindication of the law, they are enough to justify some real optimism -- the kind that hasn't been possible since October 1, the day healthcare.gov launched, crashed, and nearly took the whole liberal cause into cyberhell with it." ...

I think they're cooking the books on this. -- Sen. John Barrasso (RTP-Wy.), on White House reports of ObamaCare sign-ups

Even by GOP standards, this was a rather extraordinary moment. A member of the Senate Republican leadership -- indeed, the chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee – went on national television to accuse the White House of perpetrating a fraud based on nothing but his own hopes. -- Steve Benen

... Brian Beutler of Salon: "Over the past several days we've been presented with a wealth of evidence that the conventional theory of the Affordable Care Act and the coming midterm elections is flawed.... Democrats and their allies are also, finally, defending the law in earnest.... Republicans don't have a good answer to the shifting on-the-ground reality, so they're denying it altogether.... And if Obamacare fatigue creates the space Democrats need to make the election about multiple policy issues, then Republicans will have a huge problem on their hands." ...

... Ed Kilgore is less optimistic than Beutler: "Let's face it: our friends on the Right have managed to keep the embers of Benghazi! glowing for a year-and-a-half. They will find ways to demonize Obamacare every day at least through November." ...

... Steve M. is not "doing the Snoopy dance" over ObamaCare sign-ups, either. ...

... Sahil Kapur of TPM: Conservative writers discover that ObamaCare helps a lot of people; elected GOP officials -- still pushing repeal. ...

... OR, as the Politico headline has it: "ObamaCare Critics: 'Homina, Homina, Homina." (A revision, oddly, from "Hubida, Hubida, Hubida."

... Steve M. changes his view: "... I've assumed that the media's national narrative on the health care law would just continue to be driven by Republicans, but I've been pleasantly surprised at this week's press -- Democrats actually seem to have changed the Obamacare story. It's now a triumph-over-adversity story...." ...

... CW: Steve & Ed Kilgore may have been right in the first place. One Politico story is not a sea-change. David Nather, the author of Politico story, is not one of Politico's wingers. He co-wrote a book on the ACA with former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle....

... Ferinstance, as Andy Borowitz "reports," "Accusing them of involvement in 'a widespread conspiracy to save President Obama's failed health-care program,' Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) today subpoenaed the approximately seven million Americans who have signed up for Obamacare so far." The beat goes on. ...

... AND a few days ago, Fox "News" explained in graphic detail, as it were, how ObamaCare sign-ups were falling W-A-A-A-Y short of their mark. Thanks to Akhilleus for sharing this data point:

... Arit John of the Atlantic picks the best & worst pundit predictions on the success/failure of ObamaCare. Guess what? The libruls wuz right. ...

... ** Hobby Lobby Hypocrites. Molly Redden of Mother Jones: "... while it was suing the government [over its owners' religious objections of contraceptive coverage], Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm's owners cite in their lawsuit. Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012 -- three months after the company's owners filed their lawsuit -- show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k)." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. ...

... Speaking of hypocrisy, Driftglass reprises an amazing four-year-old letter from conservative Russell King begging his fellow conservatives to behave like sane adults. Apparently, conservatives had their eyes shut & their fingers in their ears & were shouting lalalalala.

Spencer Ackerman & James Ball of the Guardian: "US intelligence chiefs have confirmed that the National Security Agency has used a 'back door' in surveillance law to perform warrantless searches on Americans' communications. The NSA's collection programs are ostensibly targeted at foreigners, but in August the Guardian revealed a secret rule change allowing NSA analysts to search for Americans' details within the databases. Now, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the intelligence committee, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has confirmed for the first time the use of this legal authority to search for data related to 'US persons'."

Russell Berman & Bernie Becker of the Hill: "Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday unveiled a budget that proposes to cut $5.1 trillion over a decade in a bid to erase the federal deficit, setting the stage for another election-year battle over the size of government and the future of Medicare and Medicaid. The nearly 100-page blueprint will likely be the last formal budget proposal from Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, who wants to move to the more powerful Ways and Means Committee next year. [READ BUDGET HERE.]" ...

... Sy Mukherjee of Think Progress: Ryan's budget "contains many of the same cuts to social safety net and low-income assistance programs as his previous proposals -- including sweeping changes to Medicare that would turn the health care program for the elderly into a 'premium support' plan that forces American seniors to pay more for their coverage." CW: Apparently, Ryan thinks an excellent way to show his compassion for the poor is to make sure the elderly poor carry much of the load of his phony deficit reduction plan. Maybe the ex-altar boy should recommend his plan to Pope Francis. ...

... Charles Pierce: Ryan's budget "is going nowhere, obviously, but it once again illustrates that Ryan's devotion to zombie-eyed granny-starver does not arise from his profound concern about The Deficit, but, rather, is based in a nearly theological opposition to the government's efforts to do anything except raise an army and protect the prerogatives of the upper classes."

Ros Krasnyl of Reuters: "The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday advanced a bill that would require U.S. government weather agencies to focus more on predicting storms and less on climate studies. The chamber passed the measure, HR 2413, on a voice vote. Prospects in the Democrat-controlled Senate are uncertain, although the House version had 13 Republican and 7 Democrat co-sponsors." CW: Also, no more field studies on pots of gold at ends of rainbows, which the House deemed -- "like climate change, based on a nonscientific theory."

Pete Kasperowicz of the Hill: "The House on Tuesday passed legislation to provide economic assistance to Ukraine and sanction Russia, sending the package to President Obama a few weeks after Russia formally took control of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. In a 378-34 vote, members passed a bipartisan, bicameral bill to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, as well as security aid. The Senate-amended H.R. 4152 also codifies sanctions against Russia in response to its military intervention into Ukraine."

Ben Clayman & Eric Beech of Reuters: "General Motors Co CEO Mary Barra on Tuesday called her company's slow response to at least 13 deaths linked to faulty ignition switches 'unacceptable,' but could not give U.S. lawmakers many answers as to what went wrong as she pointed to an ongoing internal investigation." The Washington Post story, by Michael Fletcher & Steven Mufson, is here.

Mary Walsh of the New York Times: "Officials of Caterpillar sparred with members of a Senate panel on Tuesday, defending more than a decade's worth of tax practices that put most of the company's profits out of reach of United States tax authorities. Members of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations came to a hearing on corporate tax avoidance armed with extensive evidence that since 1999, Caterpillar had been channeling its most profitable operations through a subsidiary in Switzerland, where it negotiated a tax rate of just a fraction of the American rate. They said the case exemplified ploys that American companies use to keep an estimated $2 trillion of profits offshore."

James Ball: "The new CEO of Mozilla, the not-for-profit organisation behind the Firefox web browser, declined on Tuesday to offer a rationale for his 2008 donation in support of California's gay marriage ban, insisting he would remain in post despite a backlash over his appointment. Giving interviews for the first time since he was announced as the new boss of Mozilla on 24 March, Brendan Eich repeatedly refused to be drawn on his stance on gay rights amid a widespread row over his $1,000 donation in support of the successful Proposition 8 ballot measure."

Dana Milbank: Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers "and other wealthy people, their political contributions unleashed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, are buying the U.S. political system in much the same way Russian oligarchs have acquired theirs." Meanwhile, Congress can't solve real problems for real people because they don't have billionaire backing.

Philip Bump of the Atlantic: "The source of black poverty isn't black culture; it's American culture."

Presidential Election 2016

Adam Edeson of the New York Daily News: "Chris Christie says he isn't letting the still-evolving Bridgegate scandal weigh down his potential 2016 plans. The embattled New Jersey governor told Fox News Channel's 'The Kelly File' that the political problems arising from the suspicious closures of multiple traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge last year won't affect whether he'll run for president. 'If you don't have baggage they'll create baggage for you. That's politics in America today,' Christie said." ...

... CW Translation: Actions have no consequences. "They" would try to do in Mother Teresa. ...

... Besides, Kate M. discovered a previously-unreported footnote in the Christie-commissioned Bridgegate report that conclusively proves Christie is totally innocent of any involvement in the scandal:

... So glad we've finally cleared that up.

Beyond the Beltway

Tony Merevick of BuzzFeed: "After simultaneous debate in both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature Tuesday, state lawmakers approved a religious freedom bill that some have argued could lead to discrimination against LGBT people and others. First in the House, the bill passed 79-43, and later, Senate lawmakers approved the bill with a wide majority. Gov. Phil Bryant [R] is expected to sign the bill into law." CW: Calling this crap "a religious freedom bill" is a crime against journalism.

Right Inside the Beltway

Mark DeBonis & Aaron Davis of the Washington Post: "Muriel E. Bowser, a low-key but politically canny District lawmaker, won the [Washington, D.C.] Democratic mayoral nomination Tuesday, emerging from a pack of challengers in a low-turnout primary to deny scandal-tarnished incumbent Vincent C. Gray a second term. The 41-year-old D.C. Council member triumphed in the latest in a string of District elections to reveal a city unsettled over the shape of its future. Bowser's win heralds many more months of uncertainty as she faces a substantial general-election challenger while a lame-duck Gray is left to steer the city amid the threat of federal indictment." ...

... Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post profiles Bowser. ...

... The Post's Robert McCartney calls the election "a vote for honest government."

News Ledes

USA Today: "The Supreme Court took another step Wednesday toward giving wealthy donors more freedom to influence federal elections. The justices ruled 5-4, in a decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, that limits on the total amount of money donors can give to all candidates, committees and political parties are unconstitutional. The decision leaves in place the base limits on what can be given to each individual campaign."

AP: "Charles H. Keating Jr., the notorious financier who served prison time and was disgraced for his role in the costliest savings and loan failure of the 1980s, has died. He was 90."

Guardian: "Workers at a scrapyard in Thailand's capital accidentally detonated a large bomb believed to have been dropped during the second world war, killing at least seven people and injuring 19 others, police said."

AFP: "Romania has approved an increase in American troops at its military airbase on the Black Sea as Washington continues to shift its main transit base for Afghanistan away from Kyrgyzstan, a report said Tuesday."