The Ledes

Friday, May 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Ross W. Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, a notorious online marketplace for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, for his role as what prosecutors described as 'the kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise.'”

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

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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

White House Live Video
May 29

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

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Monday
Apr162012

The Commentariat -- April 17, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on the New York Times' sponsorship of "Deficit Reduction Week." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here. My column incorporates ...

     ... Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation has a good column in the Washington Post debunking the idea -- promulgated by Brooks & Friedman, among others -- that neither side is willing to work in a bipartisan way to pass a right-wing deficit-reduction plan. ...

     ... AND this terrific post on Bill Keller's most recent NYT column by Joan Walsh of Salon. ...

     ... AND this post in which economist Dean Baker debunks David Brooks' column today.

** Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people nationwide, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.... Justice Department officials said that they met their legal and constitutional obligations when they learned of specific errors, that they alerted prosecutors and were not required to inform defendants directly.... The Post found that while many prosecutors made swift and full disclosures, many others did so incompletely, years late or not at all." Hsu points to a number of specific cases, all of which will make you sick.

Josh Barro of Forbes makes the case for abolishing the federal Housing & Urban Development Department (HUD).

Nate Silver of the New York Times has 12 tips on how to read political polls.

Jake Tapper of ABC News on the GSA Las Vegas "meeting" scandal. With video. And photos!

The Presidential Race

Walter Shapiro: "Romney's budget plan shouldn't be a secret saved for wealthy donors."

Matthew O'Brien of The Atlantic: "The last time we checked in on Mitt Romney's tax plan, the numbers didn't add up. Actually, there weren't any numbers to add up. Instead, there was a not very plausible promise to make the numbers add up at a later date.... Romney only spelled out the taxes and not the tax deductions that he wanted to cut.... Because he promised that his plan would be 'revenue neutral,' these numbers had to offset each other. But if Romney's recent hot mic moment is any indication, they don't. Not even close.... Red ink is the likely result of the Romney tax plan. Lots of it. That's just math."

In case you'd like to know what Mitt & Ann Romney said to ABC News' Diane Sawyer, here's the transcript.

** "Why Ann Romney Stayed Home." McCay Coppins in BuzzFeed: "... for many Latter-day Saint women, staying at home to raise children is less a lifestyle choice than religious one — a divinely-appreciated sacrifice that brings with it blessings, empowerment, and spiritual prestige. These doctrinally-defined gender roles aren't entirely unique — they've been preached by various sects for centuries — but Mormons have proven uniquely unwilling to bend them to fit modern times. The Church took heat in the '70s for waging a high-profile campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment; and even today, Mormon women remain twice as likely to be homemakers as non-Mormons, regardless of income levels." ...

... Roseann Barr, who is running for president, writes an opinion piece in the Daily Beast questioning Ann Romney's veracity & criticizing the latest fake mommy war. CW: Barr mostly gets it right. I'm linking the piece largely because "people are talking" about it.

Right Wing World *

** Charles Pierce of Esquire argues that "The Democratic party has an obligation to beat the Republican party so badly, over and over again, that rationality once again becomes a quality to be desired."

Frank James of NPR: In an "entirely objective statistical procedure," two political scientists have demonstrated that "the Republican Party is the most conservative it has been a century." ...

     ... Jamelle Bouie of American Prospect: "Unfortunately, even after noting that ideological polarization is assymmetric, both NPR and Poole [the political scientist] refuse to move away from a 'pox on both houses' frame for the story.... If there’s a problem in American politics, it’s the Republican Party, whose theological devotion to to tax cuts and 'small government' has destroyed our finances — both Reagan and George W. Bush were responsible for huge explosions of debt—and made bipartisan cooperation impossible."

After the Horse Is out of the Barn. Colorado Pols: A day after the GOP organ Colorado Observer quoted Rep. Scott Tipton's campaign manager saying, "With gas prices doubled, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved, we feel good," & after the quote had made national news, the Website totally sanitized the citation. "You shouldn't be surprised to discover that what the Colorado Observer and its stable of former GOP campaign staffers who call themselves 'journalists' practices isn't 'journalism,' but this kind of dishonesty convinces you they aren't really trustworthy even as a partisan mouthpiece." Via Greg Sargent. See also yesterday's Commentariat.

Mary Bruce of ABC OTUS News: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked back Saturday night, dancing and drinking beer at a local hotspot after a day of summit meetings in Cartagena. The AFP/Getty got images of the Secretary dancing at Café Havana with her hands up in the air and swigging a local brew with friends." ...

Apparently this is shocking in Right Wing World.     ... Digby: "Yes, you may have been under the impression that right wingers consider Hillary to be a frigid, unfeeling schoolmarm but that was then and this is now. It's only a matter of time before they have her jumping out of the cake at the secret service sex parties." ...

     ... Davig Graham of The Atlantic on the brew-haha: "Inexplicably, however, we haven't seen Drunk Texts from Hillary anywhere."

* ... is far right.

Local News

War on Women. M. J. Lee of Politico: "Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law on Monday a bill that could shut down the only abortion clinic in the state, hailing it as an important step to 'ensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected in Mississippi.'”

Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leads all of his Democratic challengers in the Wisconsin recall election, per a new Public Policy Polling poll."

News Ledes

CNN: "The space shuttle Discovery landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington on Tuesday after a series of nostalgic fly-bys on the back of a NASA Boeing 747, bringing whoops of pride and tears to the eyes of space fans and astronauts alike":

New York Times: "Citigroup's shareholders rejected the bank’s plan to award its chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit, $15 million in compensation, in a show of frustration about Wall Street pay."

AP: "Under pressure to take action on rising gasoline prices, President Barack Obama wants Congress to strengthen federal supervision of oil markets, increase penalties for market manipulation and empower regulators to increase the amount of money energy traders are required to put behind their transactions."

Washington Post: "A probe into the alleged misconduct of nearly a dozen U.S. Secret Service agents has expanded to include more than five military personnel, Defense Department officials said Monday, as the scandal that erupted during President Obama's trip to Colombia last week put high-level officials on the defensive." ...

... ABC News: "... the Secret Service officials accused of misconduct in Colombia revealed their identities by boasting at a Cartagena brothel that they worked for President Obama." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The Secret Service has uncovered evidence that all 11 personnel under investigation for alleged misconduct with prostitutes in Colombia before President Obama's arrival there for a summit meeting last weekend had taken women to their rooms, Representative Peter T. King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said on Tuesday." Washington Post story here.

Washington Post: "Inspector General Brian Miller told a congressional committee scrutinizing an $823,000 Las Vegas conference that his office has asked the Justice Department to investigate 'all sorts of improprieties' surrounding the 2010 event, 'including bribes, including possible kickbacks.' ... Miller's revelations of possible further misconduct ... enraged Democrats and Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The lawmakers put GSA officials on the defensive during a tense four-hour hearing, with some Republicans loudly rebuking former administrator Martha N. Johnson and her colleagues."

Show Me the Money. AP: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that the long-term partnership agreement being negotiated with the United States should specify exactly how much money the U.S. will give to Afghan forces in coming years."

New York Times: "Demanding his acquittal, [Anders Behring Breivik,] a self-styled anti-Islamic militant on trial for killing 77 people in Norway's worst peacetime atrocity took the stand for the first time on Tuesday, describing the deaths as 'the most spectacular sophisticated political act in Europe since the Second World War' and saying he would do it over again."

AP: "The Syrian regime widened shelling attacks on opposition strongholds Tuesday, activists said, targeting a second town in a new sign that a U.N.-brokered cease-fire is quickly unraveling despite the presence of foreign observers."

Reader Comments (2)

I'm off to work, but am looking forward to Marie's making mincemeat out of Brooks today. I should never have read his column while eating breakfast––instead of food for thought, it was agita on a grand scale.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD Pepe,

Never under any circumstances read Brooks while eating! In addition to guaranteed primary GI tract stimulation, a Brooks piece is a straight line shot to the medullary chemoreceptor trigger zone. Not fun. Also you may become infected with Brooks Disease, which will cause you to uncover equivalencies where there are none. "Hitler? He wasn't all that bad. Besides, those Jews....they made jokes about him, didn't they? How awful." or "Those nice people in those covered wagons only wanted a few million acres to live on--I mean, it was their Manifest Destiny. So they indulged in a few atrocities. So what? Those mean old Native Americans killed that nice General Custer, didn't they? They were all equally bad."

See? ...and like that.

Speaking of CTZ stimulation, Buzzfeed is reporting that Mittens is already selling tickets to his inaugural meet and greets. A mere $50,000 ($78,500--the "legal" limit, nudge, nudge, wink, wink--is the preferred amount) will get you in line to whisper sweet corporate somethings into Mitty's ear (only the right one). A measly 10 Gs will only get you a picture with the great one.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/romney-sells-inauguration-access-nine-months-earl

They're lining up to carve up the country.

Vote early, vote often.

And stay away from David Brooks on a full stomach! Such dangerous enterprises are only for those with proper training and death defying skills like Marie.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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