The Ledes

Friday, July 3, 2015.

Hill: "France has rejected an asylum request from Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. In a statement reported by Channel News Asia, Prime Minister Francois Hollande’s office explained the rejection by saying that Assange is in no immediate danger. Assange, who has been holed up in Equador’s embassy in London, requested asylum in a letter."

AP: "A Wisconsin man is being detained in a mental health facility after authorities say he told a security guard he planned to kill President Barack Obama. A warrant was issued Thursday for 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah, the same day Obama was in La Crosse touting a proposal to make more workers eligible for overtime pay."

New York Times: "The health insurer Aetna said on Friday that it had agreed to acquire its smaller rival Humana for $37 billion in cash and stock, signaling the start of what may become a flurry of consolidation in the sector. The deal would bring together two of the United States’ biggest health insurers. The combined company would have estimated operating revenue of $115 billion this year and more than 33 million consumers."

Washington Post: "A U.S. drone strike has killed Tariq al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State militant in Syria, in an attack that took place a day after another American aircraft killed his brother, also an influential militant, in neighboring Iraq, the Pentagon said Thursday. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the strike that killed Tariq al-Harzi occurred June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria...."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 2, 2015.

Developing ... Washington Post: "The Washington Navy Yard was on lockdown Thursday as police responded to a report of an active shooter at the facility, authorities said. The call came in about 7:40 a.m.... The U.S. Navy retweeted a message from their Washington district office saying 'no incident can be confirmed as of yet.'” ...

     ... UPDATE: New Lede: "Police flooded in to search after a report of gun shots was called in by someone inside the building. They found no gunman, no evidence that shots had been fired; nothing but shaken workers."

... The WashPo is running live video from WUSA on its front page. Apparently, you can pick up the video on the channel's mobile app. Also, the Post has live updates here. ...

... National Journal: "The Washington Navy Yard is on lockdown Thursday as police are looking into reports of an incident there. The U.S. Navy confirmed on Twitter at 7:59 a.m. that the building complex has been placed on lockdown, but not the exact nature of the incident. NBC News is reporting that shots were reported at the Yard."

AP: "U.S. employers likely hired at another strong pace in June, a sign that the job market is nearing full health and giving the Federal Reserve reason to raise interest rates as early as September. Economists predict that employers added 233,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in May, according to data firm FactSet." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The American economy is entering the summer powered by a decent head of steam, with employers adding 223,000 jobs in June."

ABC News: "A train carrying chemicals caught fire overnight in Maryville, Tennessee, displacing up to 5,000 people, authorities said. The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia when the fire broke out, said Kristin Seay with CSX Corporate Communications. The train was carrying liquefied petroleum gas and acrylonitrile – a product used in the manufacture of plastics."

Reuters: "The pilot flying a TransAsia Airways ...  ATR mistakenly switched off the plane's only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in its latest report on Thursday. The ASC's report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong had failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flame-out on take-off. 'Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,' Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 3

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today (as of 9:45 am ET).

New York Times: "On the eve of the most anticipated publishing event in years — the release of Harper Lee’s novel 'Go Set a Watchman' — there is yet another strange twist to the tale of how the book made its way to publication, a development that further clouds the story of serendipitous discovery that generated both excitement and skepticism in February."

Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."


Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

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CW: Kate Madison wrote this comment today. I'm repurposing it as a post for reasons that will be obvious when you read it.


By Kate Madison

Picking up on the gun control comment section of yesterday: I am a member of Central Coast Oregon Ceasefire--a local group of gun control activists (mostly women, ahem!), which is affiliated with the Oregon chapter, and more loosely with the national chapter. We are said to be the most active and involved local chapter in the nation, and I believe it.

First of all, Central Coast Oregon is "purple," thanks to the old hippies who live in Newport--but we are in the middle of Bright Red 2nd Amendment crazies. We sponsored a gun "buy-back" in Newport in April, but changed the title to gun "turn-in" when the local police got nervous. We held our "turn-in" at the Newport Police Station, under the direction of the Police Chief. CCCO members were not allowed to touch the guns being turned in (for vouchers at local businesses), which would be melted down to sell. So we kept track of the number of guns--an amazing 345, in a small city of 12,000--and issued the vouchers. I was one of the volunteers and I learned a lot about tragedy and crazy.

First of all, when I arrived at the Police Station on a chilly, rainy Saturday AM, there were already over 100 people waiting on the steps for the Police Dept. to open. These were the "protesters," who had come from not just Oregon--but Nevada, Idaho, Montana and even Wyoming--to meet people who had come to turn in their guns-- before they got in the doors--and to offer them a higher price. They carried posters which touted the 2nd amendment, and portrayed us as "Pussies on Crime, etc." (As I walked in, they chanted, whistled and gave obscene gestures.) I felt like an employee at an abortion clinic in Kansas.

That we actually got 345 guns is nothing short of amazing, because these protesters were quite verbal and pushy with people trying to get in the doors. I talked with all of them, and every person turning in a gun referred to personal experience with gun violence. One person had accidentally shot and killed a friend while cleaning his gun. All had become believers in the necessity of strict gun control and felt hopeless about our government ever doing the right thing.

I tell you this, because I am a believer, obviously, in the necessity of gun control and will continue my work against most odds--except in Oregon. We are lucky right now to have a Democratic governor and a totally Democratic legislature--albeit with a lot of Blue Dogs. Two weeks ago they passed a Universal Background Checks bill and this week a Domestic Violence bill (which includes banning gun possession by abusers). Our Democratic representative joined our Ceasefire celebration last Sunday and regaled us with stories about the hate mail he has received--from all over the U.S.

However.....this is a start. I am not hopeful that this legislation will be the answer to gun violence in Oregon, but it is a beginning. The sad part to me is that it has taken a completely Democratic controlled state to get ANYTHING passed.

America is to me the land of deliberately missing the point. Sad.


The Commentariat -- June 21, 2015

Frances Robles of the New York Times: "A website discovered Saturday appears to offer the first serious look at [mass murderer Dylann] Roof's thinking, including how the case of Trayvon Martin ... triggered his racist rage. The site shows a stash of 60 photographs, many of them of Mr. Roof at Confederate heritage sites or slavery museums, and includes a nearly 2,500-word manifesto in which the author criticized blacks as being inferior while lamenting the cowardice of white flight.... It is not clear whether the manifesto was written by Mr. Roof or if he had control of it."

Terrorism is act of violence done or threatens to in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry so it's more of a political act and again based on what I know so more I don't see it as a political act. -- James Comey, FBI Director, Saturday

I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go. -- Dylann Roof, allegedly, before murdering nine people of color, one a prominent politician & civil rights leader, at the AME church

I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me. -- Dylann Roof, on a Website believed to be his

Sounds like terrorism to me. -- Constant Weader

... It would be a good idea if Comey read this piece by historian Heather Richardson on how perfectly Roof's act of terror follows a pattern of Southern white male terrorism that goes back to the early years of the nation. ...

... Timothy Phelps of the Los Angeles Times: "During the attack at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday night, suspected gunman Dylann Roof tried to kill himself, according to the son of one of the victims. 'He pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger, but it went 'click,'" because the chamber was empty, said Kevin Singleton, the son of 59-year-old Myra Thompson." ...

... Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: "The continued presence of a Confederate flag on the grounds of the South Carolina state Capitol has become a galvanizing cause after nine people were killed inside a black church on Wednesday." Read down to the politicians' comments. ...

... Mark Hensch of the Hill: "South Carolina state Rep. Norman 'Doug' Brannon (R) said Friday night he plans on introducing a bill to remove the Confederate flag near his state's capitol building." ...

... If you missed it, read Ta-Nehisi Coates (linked last week) on the flag's purpose as a symbol of white supremacy.

Richard Oppel of the New York Times: "One year after outrage about long waiting lists for health care shook the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency is facing a new crisis: The number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more is now 50 percent higher than it was during the height of last year's problems, department officials say. The department is also facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall, which could affect care for many veterans.... The crisis may come to a head when [VA Deputy Secretary Sloan] Gibson testifies on Thursday on Capitol Hill...." CW: While several factors are at play, including increased requests for visits, you will not be surprised to learn that part of the problem stems from Republicans' insistence on implementation of a program to shift some veterans to private care.

David Sanger, et al., of the New York Times: "Undetected for nearly a year..., Chinese intruders executed a sophisticated [hack] attack that gave them 'administrator privileges' into the computer networks at the Office of Personnel Management, mimicking the credentials of people who run the agency's systems, two senior administration officials said. The hackers began siphoning out a rush of data after constructing what amounted to an electronic pipeline that led back to China, investigators told Congress last week in classified briefings."

Dana Milbank: "... new polling shows a significant increase in the number of Americans who describe themselves as liberal and the number of Americans taking liberal positions on issues."

Larry Summers in the Washington Post: "... financial historians may look back at the next week and wonder how Europe's financial unraveling was permitted." CW: For Summers, pretty readable.

God News

"Spiritual Warfare." CW: The president of the Southern Baptist Convention threatens the members of the Supreme Court with assassination if they rule in favor of same-sex marriage. I don't see any other way to read his language. If you want to know how hate crimes & mass murder/terrorism can possibly happen in this exceptional nation of ours, there you go. Violence R Us. Steve Benen reports.

What with it's being Sunday, I was wondering what the Vatican's emissary to the New York Times thought about the papal encyclical. Well, I'm afraid Douthat has quit his job & is now accusing Pope Francis not of being a leftie but of being an apocalyptic "catastrophist." Douthat seems to think Francis should be more cheerful.

Presidential Race

Erin Dooley of ABC News: "In the wake of the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton [Saturday] vowed to keep fighting for common sense gun control and delivered a blistering indictment of racism in America." ...

... Maureen Dowd: "CNN reported that Hillary had enthusiastically promoted the trade pact 45 times as secretary of state. Aside from the fact that Hillary should be able to take a deep breath and stick with something she's already argued for, it plays into voters' doubts about her trustworthiness." ...

... CW: Nobody knows what Hillary's genuine deep-down, secret views on the TPP are, but Dowd might at least play a teensy bit fair & point out that part of the job of secretary of state is to promote the boss's agenda. The task of promoting the TPP would fall to a number of departments, including state. Either Dowd doesn't understand this, or she's doing a David Brooks imitation.

Paul Krugman has more on Jeb!'s briliant management of the Florida economy in a blogpost published last week.

Marco, Worse than Jeb! Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: "As a state lawmaker in Florida in 2001, Marco Rubio ... co-sponsored a bill that would have protected the Confederate battle flag's place in public spaces. The bill was described as a racially charged response to a decision from then-Gov. Jeb Bush ... to remove the Confederate flag discreetly from the capitol building in Tallahassee." The legislation failed. ...

... Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times has more on GOP presidential hopefuls' stances on the symbol of white supremacy. Unintentionally humorous coda: "Before Saturday, most Republican candidates had avoided a discussion about the racial motives behind the attack and instead focused on the violence against churchgoers."

News Ledes, June 20 & 21

New York Times: "James Salter, whose intimately detailed novels and short stories kept a small but devoted audience in his thrall for more than half a century, died on Friday in Sag Harbor, N.Y. He was 90."

New York Times: "New York State Police troopers converged on Saturday on a spot near Friendship, N.Y., in the southwestern part of the state, where they believed a resident caught sight of the two convicted murderers who staged an elaborate escape from the state’s largest prison." ...


The Commentariat -- June 19, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Sari Horwitz & Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "The gunman charged with killing nine people in an African American church was unrepentant during a confession to police, even after almost backing out of what he called his 'mission' because church members were so nice to him, according to law enforcement officials and others briefed on the investigation. Dylann Roof not only confessed to causing the Wednesday night carnage in Charleston, but said he wanted his actions known, said the law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is unfolding." ...

... Alan Blinder & Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "In an emotional confrontation, relatives of people killed in a shooting at a storied black church here directly addressed the suspect in court on Friday, one after another, tearfully offering forgiveness, and hope that he would confess and repent."

Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration on Friday announced plans to tighten fuel-economy standards for heavy trucks, buses and vans, taking aim at a transportation sector that contributes a quarter of the greenhouse-gas pollution emitted by U.S. vehicles each year." ...

... Here's Jon Stewart's monologue from last which contributors applauded in the Comments:

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: On a fundraising trip to Southern California, President Obama reminded Democrats "'When I ran in 2008, I in fact did not say I would fix it. I said we could fix it,' Obama told an audience of about 250 at a fundraising event here at the stately hillside home of film mogul Tyler Perry. 'I didn't say, 'Yes, I can.' I said, 'Yes, we can.'"

Amateur Hour with Jeb! Tierney Sneed of TPM: A day after giving a speech in which he discussed the Charleston massacre, Jeb Bush said he didn't know if the attack was racially motivated." (CW: Had to check with Roger Ailes, I guess.) "Soon after..., Bush spokesman Tim Miller said on Twitter that 'of course' the former governor thought the attack was racially motivated." CW: Bush's spokesman knows what Bush thinks, but Bush doesn't know what Bush thinks. ...

... Jonathan Chait gets why GOP candidates are skeert to admit that white cops or other groups are racists -- they need the racist vote, after all -- but "Neither Jeb Bush nor other Republicans need the votes of racist murderers to win an election. It would be very easy to identify a confessed white-supremacist murderer without doing violence to the overall conservative worldview." ...

     ... CW: I know! I know! It's because their own inflammatory rhetoric & the beliefs of their racist followers are just barely south of violence. These politicians encourage not only racism, but also the means to carry out racist attacks. The entire confederate worldview is a violent, racist tease. Given the environment the confederates have created & nourished, they dare not say anything that might reveal their culpability.

... Lindsey Graham is a little ambivalent about flying the confederate flag. "It's who we are," he says, but at the same time he acknowledges "it's time for people in South Carolina to revisit that decision [to fly the flag]." ...

Liz Kruetz & Rick Klein of ABC News: "Hillary Clinton didn't call The Donald out by name, but she suggested in an interview Thursday that comments like ones the real estate tycoon-turned-Republican presidential candidate made during his recent announcement speech could 'trigger' events like this week's church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina."

Allesandra Stanley of the New York Times: Brian Williams' "'Today' interview was expected to be a sincere but pro forma act of contrition to clear the air before Mr. Williams goes back to work and Lester Holt takes over his former job. (Parts of the interview are set to air on NBC's 'Nightly News.') Instead, it was a tortured mea culpa that didn't close a chapter. Mostly it raised more questions and gave hardened media scolds another chance to castigate a man who has been punished plenty."


CW: Another day I'm falling down on the job. I'll be traveling today, so nothing more till much later. To anyone who fills in the blanks, thank you.

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "The Senate on Thursday passed a $600 billion defense policy bill that would rein in pension costs, ban the use of torture and authorize lethal offensive weapons for Ukraine. But it then immediately rejected a measure to pay for it, the first battle in a spending fight that could end in a government shutdown this fall."

Jennifer Steinhauer: "The House on Thursday again approved a measure to give President Obama accelerated negotiating authority to pursue a sweeping, legacy-building trade agreement with 11 Pacific Rim nations, part one of a complex legislative strategy devised by Republicans to get a trade package to Mr. Obama's desk. Led by Republicans, with the support of a few Democrats who support the trade deal, the House passed the trade promotion authority measure, 218 to 208. It will now be sent back to the Senate, where a more narrow band of Republicans and Democrats will be asked to approve it after already passing their own bill that included protection for workers, a provision favored by Democrats." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Henry Louis Gates in a New York Times op-ed: "I have no doubt that had the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney lived, he would have become known -- and celebrated -- across our country for his leadership, rather than sealed immortally in tragedy, one more black martyr in a line stretching back to the more than 800 slave voyages that ended at Charleston Harbor." ...

... Douglas Egerton, in a New York Times op-ed on "The Lives of Denmark Vesey": "In the coming days, the world will find out more about Dylann Storm Roof and his state of mind. But to dismiss him as simply a troubled young man is to disregard history. For 198 years, angry whites have attacked Emanuel A.M.E. and its congregation, and when its leaders have fused faith with political activism, white vigilantes have used terror to silence its ministers and mute its message of progress and hope." ...

... Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times has more on the history of Emanuel AME church. ...

... Rick Gladstone of the New York Times: "... many civil rights advocates are asking why the attack has not officially been called terrorism. Against the backdrop of rising worries about violent Muslim extremism in the United States, advocates see hypocrisy in the way the attack and the man under arrest in the shooting have been described by law enforcement officials and the news media." ...

... Anthea Butler in a Washington Post op-ed: "While white suspects are lone wolfs [suffering from mental illness] ... violence by black and Muslim people is systemic, demanding response and action from all who share their race or religion. Even black victims are vilified.... There was a message of intimidation behind this shooting, an act that mirrors a history of terrorism against black institutions involved in promoting civil and human rights. The hesitation on the part of some of the media to label the white male killer a terrorist is telling." ...

... Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "After a tense overnight manhunt, Roof was nabbed about 250 miles to the north in Shelby, N.C., after a local florist said she recognized him and his car from news reports." ...

... The AP has more on Debbie Dills, the florist who first saw Roof in his vehicle near Shelby. She followed him & got a plate number, while her boss, Todd Frady, whom she had phoned, called local police. ...

... Karen Attiah of the Washington Post: "The danger in invoking the myth of the presupposed racial tolerance of millennials (and subsequent generations) is that it works to absolve today's society of actively confronting and undoing the damage of the legacy of slavery, segregation and institutionalized racism.... It ignores how the cold logic of racism, white supremacy and anti-blackness has worked for generations and how it continues to work." ...

... Michael Safi, et al., of the Guardian: "The 21-year-old accused of killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, had been 'planning something like that for six months', his roommate has revealed, as friends recalled Dylann Roof's tirades against African Americans 'taking over the world' and his desire to ignite 'a civil war'." ...

... CW: It is appropriate that on the day we heard the news of this racist mass murder, the Supreme Court gave the state of Texas the right to refuse to allow the confederate flag to be emblazoned on license plates. It is also notable that four confederate justices dissented, & that Clarence Thomas, the only black justice, & one who almost never sides with the more liberal justices, did so in this case. Will the proximity of their published dissent to the racist terrorism in South Carolina shame them? Nah. ...

... ** Cristian Farias of New York more eloquently makes the connection: "Rarely does a decision of the Supreme Court -- often shrouded in legal formalisms and procedural abstractions -- meet so directly with a real-time tragedy in the headlines. But Walker is such a case: Vox reports that even now, a Confederate flag still flies in the South Carolina statehouse."

And, just as one cannot burn down someone's house to make a political point and then seek refuge in the First Amendment, those who hate cannot terrorize and intimidate to make their point. -- Clarence Thomas is a lonely dissent in Virginia v. Black, 2003

South Carolina statehouse.

... Schuyler Kropf of the Charleston Post & Courier: "The Confederate flag flying at the Statehouse in Columbia became part of the Charleston church shooting story Thursday after the U.S. and South Carolina flags were lowered in mourning but the [confederate flag] was left flying at its full height." ...

... Tim Murphy of Mother Jones: The confederate flag "was removed from the Capitol dome after massive protests in 2000, and as part of a compromise, relocated to the Confederate memorial. But the flag's origins in Columbia are a remnant of segregation, not the Civil War -- it was first flown over the Capitol in 1962 in response to the civil rights push from Washington. Despite the most recent incident of racial violence, don't expect the flag to come down any time soon. When Republican Gov. Nikki Haley was asked about it at a debate during her 2014 re-election campaign, she argued that it was a non-issue.... In a photo posted by the New York Times, the alleged gunman, Dylann Storm Roof, is seen posing in front of a car with a license plate bearing several iterations of the flag."

... Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic: "Roof's crime cannot be divorced from the ideology of white supremacy which long animated his state nor from its potent symbol -- the Confederate flag.... The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act -- it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it: 'Our new government is founded ... upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.'" ...

... Jason Horowitz, et al., of the New York Times, sort of profile Dylann Roof. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of the avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And at some point it's going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it. -- Barack Obama

... J. M. Ashby of the Bob & Chez Show: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is all choked up & mystified about how this could have happened in a state where "we love each other." ...

... Dave Weigel of Bloomberg: "Kentucky Senator Rand Paul told a crowd of social conservatives that a 'sickness' in the country was responsible for the mass shootings in South Carolina, adding that the problem 'isn't going to be fixed by your government..'" ...

... Matt Wilstein of Mediaite: Lindsey Graham says Roof was probably a guy just looking for Christians to kill. ...

... Brendan James of TPM: "Presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) on Thursday called the attack by a white gunman on a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. part of a broader assault on 'religious liberty' in America. 'It's obviously a crime of hate. Again, we don't know the rationale, but what other rationale could there be?' Santorum said on the New York radio station AM 970." CW: Maybe you boys should check the news & find out. Well, okay, not your preferred source of "news":

... Carimah Townes of Think Progress: "After the shooting..., Fox & Friends advocated for more guns, arguing people could've defended themselves if they were armed. 'Had somebody in that church had a gun, they probably would have been able to stop him,' host Steve Doocy remarked. 'If somebody was there, they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take him out.'" ...

... Also see Akhilleus's comments on Fox "News"'s coverage of the massacre in yesterday's thread. ...

... Chauncey DeVega in Salon: "... a local Charleston reporter asked a group of African-American activists, community leaders what the black community could do to prevent events like the mass shooting at Emanuel Baptist. This bizarre moment continued with the reporter ... suggest[ed] that the black community gives comfort to 'snitches,' thus wondering if black folks will in fact turn in a white domestic terrorist who had killed at least nine people."

"I'm Sorry." Margaret Hartmann of New York: Brian Williams is embarking on an apology tour.

Presidential Race

** Paul Krugman masterfully takes down Jeb!onomics, or, as the boy's old man used to say, "voodoo economics." Hilariously, Jeb! is portraying the housing bubble that brought on the Great Recession as a good thing & a feather in his cap.

Matt Taibbi: "The 47 Funniest Things about Donald Trump."

Species Megalomaniac. Species Megalopyge.

News Lede

Guardian: "The European Central Bank provided just enough support on Friday to stave off the collapse of the Greek banking system as political and financial pressure was piled on Athens before a crisis summit of eurozone leaders on Monday."


The Commentariat -- June 18, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "The House on Thursday again approved a measure to give President Obama accelerated negotiating authority to pursue a sweeping, legacy-building trade agreement with 11 Pacific Rim nations, part one of a complex legislative strategy devised by Republicans to get a trade package to Mr. Obama’s desk. Led by Republicans, with the support of a few Democrats who support the trade deal, the House passed the trade promotion authority measure, 218 to 208. It will now be sent back to the Senate, where a more narrow band of Republicans and Democrats will be asked to approve it after already passing their own bill that included protection for workers, a provision favored by Democrats."

Jason Horowitz, et al., of the New York Times, sort of profile Dylann Roof. ...

... Also see Akhilleus's comments on Fox "News"'s coverage of the massacre.


From the NYT liveblog, @ 11:24 am ET: "The police in Charleston say they will hold a news conference shortly, as reporters in the region report that Dylann Storm Roof has been captured in Shelby, N.C." See related stories below.


Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that messages displayed on specialized license plates are a form of government speech, and Texas is free to reject a proposed design that features the Confederate flag. Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s only African American justice, split with fellow conservatives and joined the court’s liberals in the 5 to 4 decision. The majority held that the design proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) would not simply reflect the views of the motorist who purchased it." ...

... CW: Sorry, I'm late to this. ScotusBlog is liveblogging decisions coming down today. So far there have been five, none of them the "biggies" we've been waiting for, tho at least a couple that will garner some MSM reporting; e.g., "Holding: Texas's specialty license plate design constitutes government speech, and thus Texas was entitled to refuse to issue plates featuring the proposed Confederate Veterans' design." -- a 5-4 decision, opinion by Breyer. ...

     ... ScotusBlog Wrapup: "The Court issued six opinions today. That means they have eleven left to issue. We expect them back to issue more opinions on Monday morning, and we'll start the live blog early that day. We don't know which day after Monday will be the next opinion day, but we'll let you know as soon as we hear."

Jason Horowitz, et al., of the New York Times: "A white gunman opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church in [Charleston, South Carolina’s] downtown, killing nine people before fleeing and setting off an overnight manhunt, the police said. At a news conference with Charleston’s mayor early Thursday, the police chief, Greg Mullen, called the shooting a hate crime." ...

     ... New Lede: "The gunman wanted in the killing of nine people at a prayer meeting at a historic black church in this city’s downtown area was taken into custody Thursday morning in North Carolina. Charleston’s police chief, Greg Mullen, said the suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, had been caught about 200 miles away, in Shelby, N.C., a town west of Charlotte. His arrest came about 14 hours after the shooting." ...

... The Statesman's story is here. The paper is reporting that the church's pastor is among those assassinated. "

Police widened the search Thursday for a gunman who opened fire and killed nine people during a prayer service at a historic African American church here, and the U.S. Justice Department announced it would investigate the attack as a hate crime. A federal law enforcement official identified the gunman as Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old from Columbia, S.C. He was still at large more than 13 hours after the Wednesday night shooting. ...

... Sarah Kaplan of the Washington Post on the storied history of the church & its congregation. ...

... CW: I'm sure over on Fox "News," they're emphasizing that this mass murder is "the work of a lone gunman." No, it is not. It is the work of our culture of racism & violence. It plays out in lesser ways a thousand times a day. It is so common that most such incidents don't make the news. Hatred of the other, acceptance & even glorification of violence -- that is who we are. We are a brutal nation. ...

... For instance, the Anniston, Alabama, city manager says there's nothing the city can do about the fact that two of its white police officers are active members of a racist hate group, & the police chief, according to one of racists -- who is a lieutenant on the force -- says the chief "thinks pretty much" as he does. ...

... CW: And people wonder why Rachel Dolezal identifies as black. I believe I'll be black today, too.

Jim Yardley & Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, as his much-awaited papal encyclical blended a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action."

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "... the Treasury has announced that a portrait of a woman, to be determined soon, will grace the $10 bill. The note will continue to have some image, also to be determined, of the current $10 honoree, Alexander Hamilton, a founding father (there were, of course, no mothers) and Treasury secretary to President George Washington.... Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, who by law makes the selection of an honoree, will disclose his choice by the end of the year. The new note will appear in 2020 — the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.... The Treasury has invited the public to use the hashtag #TheNew10 'to spread the word about the redesign.' Also, Mr. Lew and other officials will solicit the public’s ideas in round-table discussions and town-hall meetings."

Jake Sherman, et al., of Politico: "The process [to pass legislation authorizing TPP fast-track] is likely to begin in the House on Thursday, when the chamber plans to vote to give Obama fast-track trade authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest trade agreement in history. If it passes, [Mitch] McConnell would then take up the measure next week, hoping to win the support of at least a dozen Senate Democrats to send it to the president’s desk. The Senate would then amend a separate trade bill with TAA, a program to aid workers who lose their jobs due to trade deals, sending the measure to the White House for final approval.... The entire process hinges on support from Senate and House Democrats who support free trade but insist that the government also provide aid and job training to help workers hurt by foreign trade."

Jaime Fuller of New York: "Loretta Lynch was formally sworn in as attorney general [Wednesday].... Lynch was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor — on a bible owned by Frederick Douglass. When Lynch mentioned this to President Obama on the stage of the Warner Theater in Washington, with friends and family in the audience, he replied, 'That's pretty cool'":

... CW: Obama sure doesn't understand the Constitution the same way Tom DeLay understands the Constitution. Maybe they're working off different editions. (See yesterday's Commentariat.)

Dana Milbank: Once again, Congress -- through no fault of the House leadership -- took up an action to do something ... and chose to do nothing.

Robert Pear of the New York Times: interviews David King, the ignorant, selfish winger who is the "King" in King v. Burwell: "Millions of people are waiting anxiously for the Supreme Court to decide the fate of President Obama’s health care law with a ruling this month on health insurance subsidies. But David M. King, a plaintiff in the case, is not among them.... But Mr. King said that he was not really worried about the outcome of the case, King v. Burwell, because as a Vietnam veteran, he has access to medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs." CW: In other words, he likely did not have standing to bring the suit. At least one of the three other plaintiffs may have standing, though. ...

... Sharon Begley & Caroline Humer of Reuters: "As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on whether people in 34 states can continue to receive Obamacare health insurance subsidies, economists are projecting billions of dollars in lost healthcare spending for hospitals, drugstores and drugmakers if the justices say the payments are illegal." ...

... Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "House Republican leaders on Wednesday presented their members with the outlines of a plan that would respond to a Supreme Court decision negating federal subsidies that help people buy ObamaCare plans. The House GOP plan would give block grants to states that want them as a way to replace the subsidies, according to lawmakers leaving the meeting." ...

... Digby: "... they are saying that whatever they do it will be to 'protect' the Obamacare recipients. Which sounds good until you hear the next part: from the terrible Obamacare law.... The Republicans, being completely without shame and totally comfortable with hypocrisy, take special delight in such word games. They know it's absurd but that's what makes it so great: they [tie] the Democrats up in knots trying to untangle the absurdity." ...

... Turns out there's a reason Republicans suddenly want to "protect Americans from ObummerCare." Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post: "... a new report suggests the impact [of a win for the plaintiffs in King] would fall disproportionately on their own constituents, rather than those in Democratic districts -- by a margin of 2-to-1.... Some 4.2 million of those who would lose tax credits live in congressional districts with Republican representatives.... Just 2.1 million live in Democratic districts.... It's not at all surprising that Republican districts would have more affected people, since the states where officials wanted nothing to do with Obamacare tend to have more conservative voters. Those are also the states where Republican lawmakers have been able to draw district lines in ways that boost their numbers in Congress." ...

... BUT Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post explains what the GOP plan really is: "Congressional Republican leaders have promised for months they would be ready if the Supreme Court wipes out Obamacare subsidies for millions of consumers. At separate closed-door meetings in the House and Senate Wednesday, those leaders laid out a framework for their response, and totally repealing the law is the key feature, as it has been for more than five years." Via Greg Sargent.

Holy Moly! Whatever happened to our "Christian nation"? As the confederates line up to diss Pope Francis, Steve Benen notes, "It wasn’t long ago Republicans like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal argued that leaders from the faith community should 'rise up and engage America in the public square with Biblical values.... The time has come for pastors to lead the way and reset the course of American governance.'” ...

... Jeet Heer of the New Republic has a fascinating article on how conservative Roman Catholics of the William Buckley era dealt with a papal encyclical they didn't like. It did not go well. Blood was shed. Even now, "Anticipating a rout in the cultural wars, traditionalist Catholics are toying with the idea of secession.... It would mean foreswearing attempts to influence politics, disassociating oneself from engagement with mainstream culture as much as possible, and creating intentional communities that try to abide by strict church teachings." CW: Okay then, buh-bye.

Sarah Soper, in a New York Times op-ed, on "what it's like to be a 'girl' in the lab. "A 2014 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that on average, male scientists train fewer women than female scientists do. This trend is exaggerated for elite male scientists.... So as long as the scientific enterprise continues to be populated by people who might find it amusing to hold forth on the 'trouble with girls,' women will receive inferior mentoring, compared with their male colleagues, which will lead directly to inferior career outcomes. That is the real trouble."

You Are Entitled to Unlimited Crappy Service. Brian Fung of the Washington Post: "The Federal Communications Commission slapped AT&T with a $100 million fine Wednesday, accusing the country's second-largest cellular carrier of improperly slowing down Internet speeds for customers who had signed up for 'unlimited' data plans. The FCC found that when customers used up a certain amount of data watching movies or browsing the Web, AT&T 'throttled' their Internet speeds so that they were much slower than normal. Millions of AT&T customers were affected by the practice.... AT&T implemented the practice in 2011, prompting thousands of customers to complain to the FCC, according to an agency statement.... AT&T disputed the charges." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Mike Isaac & Natasha Singer of the New York Times: "In what could prove to be a ruling with serious implications for the on-demand economy, the California Labor Commission has ruled that an Uber driver should be classified as an employee, not an independent contractor." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Alison Griswold of Slate explains how the ruling could be "Uber's worst nightmare."

Housing Prices Stabilize. Neil Irwin of the New York Times: "Now, by a wide range of measures, nationwide home prices look relatively normal when compared with incomes, rents and other fundamentals — and are rising at similar low, single-digit rates.In contrast to the periods of irrational optimism and pessimism, the market is settling into a balance in which buyers are comfortable spending what they can afford given their income and savings, but aren’t willing (or able to persuade lenders) to stretch beyond that." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

Lori Aratani of the Washington Post: Washington D.C.'s Metro "central train control center — tasked with ensuring the safety of thousands of passengers moving through the nation’s second busiest rail system — is chronically understaffed, chaotic and filled with distractions, according to a federal report released Wednesday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Brian Stelter of CNN: "NBC and [Brian] Williams have come to a tentative agreement that will keep Williams at the network after his six-month suspension ends in August.... Williams will not be returning to the "NBC Nightly News" anchor chair, the people said. Instead he will have a new role; the details of it are unknown to all but a very small number of executives.... Lester Holt, Williams' fill-in for the past 4 months, will become the permanent anchor of 'Nightly News.'" ...

... Emily Steel, et al., of the New York Times: "Mr. Williams is expected to move to a new role primarily at the cable news network MSNBC, probably in a breaking-news capacity in the beginning...."

Presidential Race

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "... as she pursues the Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton is confronting a stark reality: Building support for her candidacy must sometimes come at the expense of Mr. Obama, and sometimes even at the expense of the policies they had both pursued in the White House." ...

... They're a'Going Fishing, Too. Ken Vogel & Rachel Bade of Politico: "A particular focus during Tuesday’s closed-door deposition [of Clinton pal Sidney Blumenthal] was a network of groups founded by Clinton enforcer David Brock that — Politico has learned — paid Blumenthal more than $10,000 a month as they defended Hillary Clinton against conservative attacks, first while she was secretary of state and then as she prepared for and ultimately entered the presidential campaign.... 'The Republicans asked more about what our groups do to debunk their false claims about Benghazi than about the attacks in Benghazi? That sounds like a bizarre waste of time,' Brock said. 'All our work is made public.'"

 ... Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico on how Democrats' & labor's positive views of Bernie Sanders are shaping Hillary Clinton's campaign. ...

... CW: We may never know, but there certainly could be a connection between Hillary's visit to North Charleston Tuesday & the mass murder of members of a black Charleston church.

Frank Rich: "The Bush candidacy seems like an artificial conceit, a summer franchise sequel that ... has outworn its welcome in the marketplace. It’s not clear what the rationale for it is...He seems to be running for no better reason than that he can." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski & Ilan Ben-Meir of BuzzFeed: "Mike Murphy, the longtime Jeb Bush confidant and consultant who is heading the Right to Rise super PAC, told a group of donors on a conference call Wednesday that they had so far raised $17 million in the Tri-State [New York] area to support Bush’s campaign for the presidency.... Murphy said the number the SuperPAC would be filing by the next July reporting deadline would give opponents 'heart attacks' and discourage their rivals’ donors from opening their wallets."

The Ugly American. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: As a budget crisis looms in Wisconsin, Scott Walker takes a taxpayer-funded six-day vacation trade mission to Quebec. "Walker’s four foreign trips in five months stand out. He now sprinkles details of his world travels into his stump speeches. While in Canada, Walker suggested that he had qualms about drinking the water in other countries he had visited." CW: Yeah, that's really showing your foreign policy creds, Scottie, & demonstrating what a great diplomat you are, too. The other countries he's visited were Britain, Germany, France & Spain, none of which is likely to serve up non-potable water, & certainly not in the fancy hotels where he stays. Oh, and he lies about his meetings with foreign leaders, too:

At a donor retreat hosted by Mitt Romney last week, Walker said in a speech that British Minister David Cameron told him that he was dissatisfied with President Obama’s leadership. Cameron’s staff quickly denied Walker’s account, telling Time that Cameron did not make such a remark and does not feel that way. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

... CW: I've been trying to think who Scottie reminds me of. Now I remember: George W. Bush. Same dull intellect. Same lack of curiosity. Same expression -- simultaneously dimwitted and smug. Same penchant for saying really stupid things. (At least Bush had competent speechwriters, so he didn't weave the really stupid things into his prepared texts.) If you wonder what kind of a president Scottie would be, you need look no further than Dubya. Kinda funny that there's a candidate in the race who is more like Dubya than the candidate who is Dubya's brother.

Trump's Fake Campaign. Even His Supporters Are Fake. Aaron Couch & Emmet McDermott of the Hollywood Reporter: "Donald Trump's big presidential announcement Tuesday was made a little bigger with help from paid actors — at $50 a pop. New York-based Extra Mile Casting sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors, seeking extras to beef up attendance at Trump's event."

Beyond the Beltway

Flying While Black. German Lopez of Vox: "The Institute for Justice, a national nonprofit that runs ... is helping [a young college student, Charles] Clarke, get his money back from law enforcement, after officers seized his life's savings -- $11,000 -- in the Cincinnati airport last February under "civil forfeiture" laws. Clarke broke no laws. It is not illegal to carry large sums of cash. A law enforcement official claimed in an affidavit that Clarke's checked luggage smelled of marijuana, though they turned up no drugs or evidence of drug-related activity in Clarke's luggage. Clarke appears to be a person of color. CW: I know that last bit surprises you.

The Three Little Grinches. Benjamin Mueller of the New York Times: Three USPS workers used schemes to obtain Christmas gifts destined for underprivileged children. "Terry Jackson, Mahogany Strickland and Nickyeves Saintalbord all worked at the James A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, which served as headquarters for Operation Santa...."

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