The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, November 27, 2015.

BBC News: "The Democratic Action party [of Venezuela] says Luis Manuel Diaz[, a regional leader of the party.] was killed by a man who approached the stage after a public meeting in central Guarico state. Opposition leaders blamed militias supporting the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). President Nicolas Maduro denied this and said an inquiry had been launched."

AP: "Malian special forces have arrested two men over last week's attack on a luxury hotel in the capital that killed 19 people, according to a statement distributed Friday morning. The statement identified the two Malians, both arrested in Bamako, but provided no other details on their background or their potential roles in the attack."

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families, What makes America America is that we offer that chance. -- President Obama
White House: "In this week's address, the President wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and reflected on America’s history of welcoming men and women seeking a safer, better future for themselves and their families":

White House Live Video
November 27

11:00 am ET: Michelle Obama accepts delivery of the White House Christmas tree

Go to


Michelle Obama accepts delivery of the White House Christmas tree, November 27:

Boston Globe: Michael Dukakis loves leftover turkey. A turkey carcass makes great soup, he said, inviting people to drop off turkey carcasses at his home. So they did.

Domenico Montanaro of NPR with everything you never wanted to know about the strange tradition of presidential "pardons" of turkeys.

Frank Rich reviews "Carol," the film based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, published under a pseudonym. As usual, Rich goes deep.

New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday[, Nov. 18,] night for “Between the World and Me,” a visceral, blunt exploration of his experience of being a black man in America, which was published this summer in the middle of a national dialogue about race relations and inequality.... The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for 'Fortune Smiles.'..."

Slate: Carly Simon told People magazine that "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. CW: Somehow I think I knew that a long time ago.

Guardian: "Gawker, the gossip website..., is giving up on reporting gossip in order to refocus on politics and 'to hump the [2016 presidential] campaign'. The site, founded by British journalist Nick Denton in 2003, announced on Tuesday that Gawker was steering in a new direction that would “orient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire'.”

Washington Post: Actor "Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday that he is HIV-positive, as rumored in recent days by an onslaught of tabloid stories. Sheen told Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show that he is going public with his illness for multiple reasons, including that he’s been blackmailed for upwards of $10 million since he was diagnosed four years ago."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (October 26): "A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

New York Times (October 20: "The American Cancer Society, which has for years taken the most aggressive approach to [breast-cancer] screening, issued new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years. The organization also said it no longer recommended clinical breast exams, in which doctors or nurses feel for lumps, for women of any age who have had no symptoms of abnormality in the breasts."

... For about $880,000, you can purchase Julia Child's excellent little house in Provence; her kitchen is intact, except for the stove.

New York Times: "Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks [forming Stonehenge], divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there. They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge." With slide show.


New York Times: "In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees, in a packed sales room at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction."

Artist's rendering of the main exhibition hall of the planned wing of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "In designing its $325 million addition on Columbus Avenue, the American Museum of Natural History has opted for an architectural concept that is both cautious and audacious, according to plans approved by its board on Wednesday. The design ... evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior. The design, by the architect Jeanne Gang for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, aims to unite the museum’s various activities, solve its notorious circulation problems and provide a multistory showcase for the institution’s expanding role as a hub for scientific research and scholarship.”

New York Times: "... Jon Stewart has signed a production deal with the premium cable channel HBO, the channel announced on Tuesday. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Stewart will work on some digital short projects that are expected to appear on HBO’s apps like HBO Now and HBO Go. Mr. Stewart could also pursue movie or television projects with the network. The contract covers four years."

Guardian: "Facebook has announced plans to water down its controversial 'real names' policy, after lobbying from civil liberties groups worldwide."

If you'd like to know whatever happened to former NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, the Washington Post has the answer.

Jennifer Senior of the New York Times reviews Notorious R.G.B., by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik: "It’s an artisanal hagiography, a frank and admiring piece of fan nonfiction."

Digital Globe photo, via NASA, republished in the New York Times. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.... New York Times: "Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.... Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes."

New York Times: "In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior. The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as 'locality,' which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated 'spooky action at a distance,' and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion." CW: Everything is relative, Al.

Gizmodo: On Halloween, "a rather large asteroid — discovered less than three weeks ago — is set to to fly past the Earth at a distance not seen in nearly a decade.... NASA says that 2015 TB145 will safely pass by the Earth and continue to following along its exceptionally eccentric and high-inclination orbit — which may explain why it wasn’t discovered until only a few weeks ago. During the flyby, the asteroid will reach a magnitude luminosity of 10, so it should be observable to astronomers with telescopes."

For $299,000 you could buy the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run." It looks like a dump prone to flooding every time it rains, but it's a block-and-a-half from the Jersey shore beach.

New York Post: "During his time in the White House, President Richard Nixon — pug-nosed, jowly, irascible, charmless-yet-devoted husband to Pat — was known to awkwardly hit on middle-aged female staffers. In 'The Last of the President’s Men' (Simon & Schuster), veteran journalist Bob Woodward quotes Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, about the commander-in-chief’s sad seduction techniques."

The Washington Post thought it would be great journalism to feature Donald's Digs in their weekend edition.  You'll be happy to know that Trump's taste runs to the gaudy & garish. You can take the boy out of the boroughs but you can take the boroughs out of the boy. I'd call Donald's style Early Modern Lottery Winner. Here's a sampling:

... There's much more where that came from. Ugh. Here, by contrast, is the study in Michael Bloomberg's New York City pad. Bloomberg is quite a few $$BB richer than Trump.

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

Contact the Constant Weader

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The Commentariat -- April 28, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Gail Collins just nicks the tip of the iceberg on the privitization of education, but it's enough to infuriate me. If you want to talk war on everything, the war on public education is perhaps the most scandalous, because it is, to borrow a phrase from Obama, winning our future. That is to say, our future is losing. CW: BTW, it may be coincidental, but ever since I wrote a column (which nobody liked) in the NYTX criticizing Collins for wasting her NYT real estate on frivolous stuff, Collins has written mostly substantive columns.

Kevin Drum: "Can the government provide healthcare more efficiently than the private market? There's no simple answer to that, but a couple of recent data points suggest the answer is yes." This is an interesting post in that Drum cites studies that indicate both Medicare & Medicaid costs are actually holding steady or decreasing. This was news to me.

Paul Krugman: "Obama, far from presiding over a huge expansion of government the way the right claims, has in fact presided over unprecedented austerity, largely driven by cuts at the state and local level. And it’s therefore an amazing triumph of misinformation the way that lackluster economic performance has been interpreted as a failure of government spending." With a chart to prove it. ...

... Here's Krugman on NPR; includes summary of the interview.

How to Control the Narrative. Glenn Greenwald doesn't like it: "This is what the Obama administration does over and over. It’s a flagrant abuse of its secrecy powers. It uses anonymous leaks to selectively boast about what it does and thus shape media narratives and public understanding of its conduct (also called 'domestic propaganda'). But it then simultaneously insists that the whole matter is classified — Top Secret — when it comes time to be subjected to any form of legal accountability or have its assertions publicly tested."

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Obama campaign officials have asked the president’s elite donors and fund-raisers to donate to [Hillary] Clinton’s defunct presidential campaign committee, with the goal of retiring $245,000 in debt left over from her 2008 White House bid. As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton is barred from engaging in political activity or actively fund-raising for herself." Naturally, there's a tit for tat.

CW: Sorry, forgot to post this yesterday. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 13 people, including Bob Dylan, John Glenn, Toni Morrison and John Paul Stevens, the White House announced Thursday." Post includes complete list of honorees.

Richard Ryan & William Ryan in the New York Times: "In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Steve Kornacki of Salon: "After a week of public squabbling, both [Scott Brown & Elizabeth Warren] publicly released several years of tax returns earlier today, and it turns out their incomes aren't very different. According to the Boston Globe's report, Brown and his wife (a former television reporter at Boston's ABC affiliate) took in $510,856 in 2011. The total for Warren and her husband: $616,181. Their 2010 returns tell a similar story, with Brown reporting around $840,000 in income and Warren about $955,000. Those totals put each of them near the top of the income scale. There's a wider gulf in earlier years, before Brown's 2010 Senate victory, which he parlayed into a lucrative book deal."

Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: "On Capitol Hill, Democrats are aggressively pushing the case that Republicans are now waging a 'War on Women' on three legislative fronts. First, they are blasting House Republicans for their proposal to block changes to the Violence Against Women Act.... Second, they've cast the GOP proposal to lower student rates by taking money out of Obamacare's prevention fund as another 'assault on women.' ... [Third,] Senate Democrats are planning to hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which 'would put more pressure on employers to prove that differences in wages are not rooted in gender difference.' ..."

Meanwhile, in ...

... Right Wing World

The Presidential Race

We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business. -- Mitt Romney, rich person with rich parents, like so many of us ...

Steve Benen chronicles Mitt's lies of the week; 15th in an extraordinary series.

Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: President Obama may use climate change to smoke out Willard Romney and his climate change denials turns; it could play well with upscale voters who think Romney is appealing.

Local News

Believe me, there is [sic.] a lot of good and hardworking people that work for the state. They are not the problem. The problem is the middle management of the state is about as corrupt as you can be. Believe me, we’re trying every day to get them to go to work, but it's hard. -- Gov. Paul LePage (RTP-Maine) ...

... Eric Russell of Bangor Daily News: LePage "offered no proof of corruption, no data to back his case that these managers don't work and he didn't identify a specific department. He did go on to talk about how most of these employees are not appointed by him and are protected through union contracts."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The latest high-level talks on ending a diplomatic deadlock between the United States and Pakistan ended in failure on Friday over Pakistani demands for an unconditional apology from the Obama administration for an airstrike. The White House, angered by the recent spectacular Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, refuses to apologize."

New York Times: "The recently retired chief of Israel's internal security agency said Friday night that he had 'no faith' in the ability of the current leadership to handle the Iranian nuclear threat, ratcheting up the criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak from the defense and intelligence communities."

New Rules. New York Times: "... the Secret Service ... announced on Friday that it had tightened its rules for staff members traveling in foreign countries."

AFP: "A leading Chinese activist who escaped from house arrest last weekend is now under US 'protection' and Washington and Beijing are in talks over his status, an overseas rights group said Saturday. Chen Guangcheng, who has been blind since childhood, fled last Sunday with the help of his supporters from under the noses of dozens of guards and subsequently recorded a video alleging abuses against him and his family."

New York Times: police chiefs from 250 American cities gathered in Washington this week to focus on disparities in gun violence among cities.

AP: "Calling it an 'oversight,' George Zimmerman's attorney said Friday the neighborhood watch volunteer did not disclose that a website had raised more than $200,000 for his defense, even though his family told the judge they would have trouble coming up with his bond.... Florida Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said he wanted to know more about the money."

AFP: "A Ukrainian court adjourned until May 21 on Saturday the new tax evasion trial of the jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on hunger strike, on account of her failing health. The unexpected decision came as Western concern mounted over the fate of the fiery opposition leader after she stretched her fast into a ninth day to protest an alleged beating at the hands of three prison guards."

Reader Comments (13)

Poor Mittens. He really doesn't get it.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Poor Mitt RawMoney. He really doesn't get it.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Poor Mitt RawMoney. He really doesn't get it.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Poor Mitt RawMoney. He really doesn't get it. (sigh)

Do NOT delete this. It deserves repetition.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Thanks for sharing Boehner doing his best Nixon "I am not a crook" impression. However, even a lame sound bite suffices to convince those who dearly desire, without being blamed, to rein in those heretics who are contemplating sex for non-Catholic League-approved purposes, even when the attempt to squelch the sinners creates some collateral damage.

Actually, now that I think about it, those salacious mouth-breathers deserve to have to listen to el Rushbo--for eternity.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

An astute commenter (Huffington Post) wrote this regarding
Maine's Governor LePage latest bit of stupidity in his continuing series of knee-jerk thinking.

"Just remember, it costs taxpayers on AVERAGE twice as much to PRIVATIZE Government services.

The idea, that you can contract private, un-regulated, PROFIT driven companies and expect them to operate more efficiently FOR TAXPAYERS is ludicrous. BUT the right has convinced millions of Americans it is TRUE. "

It more than applies to the points Gail Collins made in her column. Somehow, 'privatization' has been sold as 'no cost' to the gullible public—who do they think pays the cost for the privatized jails? The inmates? Who pays for the Charter Schools? The magic money fairy? Who buys the myth that privately run school 'hire' better teachers than public schools?

Unfortunately, too many have. Wake up, people!

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

"Can the government provide healthcare more efficiently than the private market? There's no simple answer to that..." Yes there is! Simply deny payments for medically worthless procedures and fix a pricing schedule that allows for a maximum of 25% more than any other country charges for the same procedure. My favorite, an appendectomy in Germany $3285, in the US $13,123. And there would be a huge improvement in the US economy when surgeons would have to give up their Mercedes for a Ford.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

When Romney repeats lies such as asserting that President Obama has "apologized for America" why doesn't the press challenge him to cite specifics? This question is rhetorical.
But it sure would be refreshing to see an energized media that doesn't just act as dutiful scribes.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Re. Eduction. Roosevelt created the CCC and put three hundred thousand unemployed young people to work in three momths.
We could create the Teachers Conservation Corps and put an assistant in every class room to minister to those that have trouble keeping up. What a wonder it would be to have a whole bunch of children that could read, write and do sums.
Taking educated young people and giving them experience and a salary would be expensive but the result would be priceless, an economic stimulus and better prepared students and workers.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@ Jack: such a coincidence––last night after watching Boehner's little hissy fit I turned to my husband, shook my finger, and in my best Nixonian voice said, "I am NOT a crook!"

Romney's continuel lies amaze me along with the lack of the right to hold his feet to the fire. They, these republicans, evidently think it just doesn't matter, that the public doesn't know any better. When the debates start Obama will have such a treasure trove of goodies to work with. When Mitt's father, George, was a presidential candidate for the 1968 elections his truth telling did him in. He had backed the Vietnam War, but after going over there to see first hand he concluded he has been "brainwashed,"––and he finally let that loose––and for that he lost. Here we have the opposite with son Mitt, whose fabrications become his facts until faced head on––he, too, will lose...I hope.

I agree with Marie that the war on education is the most scandalous and the vultures who are making big bucks from mucking it up need to be exposed. There have been some exposés re: these private on-line colleges, but there needs to be outrage.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

The canard of privatization has been given serious legs because here again the press have failed miserably to do their job.

The right has been pushing this for decades. Remember Ronald Reagan and then Ross Perot whining about how government should be run more like a business? Well first, the only real business Reagan had ever been in was the creation of fantasy. Ross Perot got rich because lucrative government contracts allowed him to develop data systems that he then went on to make a fortune with after his work with the government was concluded. There is absolutely no way he would have been able to develop those systems on his own nickel. We paid for it. You and me. Then he took what he learned while raking in our money and made a fortune. You know what? Good for him. But for him to turn around and stoke the fires of hatred and loathing for the government by ripping it for not being "business-like" was not just disingenuous, it was repulsive.

And so, the idea that government services could be provided better by the private sector has taken hold because no one has ever challenged it.

Are private sector enterprises more efficient? Maybe. Sometimes. But clearly not always. Why didn't GM see that giant gas guzzlers would kill its business? Hmmm? Would GM still be around if Obama hadn't stepped in and helped? And remember Chrysler? The government bailed their asses out too and then Lee Iaccoca, without EVER mentioning the help he got from unions and federal government went on to fashion himself as the savvy businessman who "saved Chrysler." Bullshit.

As Krugman and many others have pointed out many, many times, government is NOT a business. It does things business could never do. Would we have gone to the moon without the government? Would we have a interstate highway system? The Hoover Dam? The TVA? Can you just imagine postal service handled by a private business? You may never get mail because your house might not be on a profitable enough route. Same with bus services. Same with pretty much everything else. If it doesn't return a profit at a certain level, they won't do it. So close thousands of public libraries. Close schools. Shut down unemployment centers, public hospitals, the FDA, hey what a boon to Big Pharma!

Would any of these things or many more be in our lives if Republicans had their way and worked everything like a business? It's not even a rhetorical question. We've already had a president--the CEO president--who operated the government as if it were his own private corporation. George W. Bush.

See how well that turned out.

Any more questions?

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

Gov. LePage continues to embarrass most Mainers with his thoughtless remarks (and terrible grammar). But not all of us. The other night, while tending bar, I had the misfortune of having to over hear a couple people praising LePage's "straight-talk" and "bluntness". Seems neither of them has any trust in "smooth talking politicians". Both were military people, one headed to Afganistan. After two drinks they started talking about how they'd like to see President Obama's school records....Thank goodness they left, or I'd have been forced to cut them off!

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGail Leiser

On further thought, just consider exactly what kind of education children might receive from for profit corporations. Maybe decades ago when many corporations were somewhat standalone, there might have been a small chance that actual education could be the goal (stick that in your Funk and Wagnalls) but today when corporations are wholly owned subsidiaries of larger fish who themselves in turn owe obeisance, fealty, and profits to even bigger multi-nationals?


So here's how it works.

Edu-corp, a private educational management company owned by some multi-national which in turn trades in a variety of investment instruments, decides that a science text book by Good Science Publishers, has too many references to human based global warming. Since a substantial portion of the parent corporation's quarterly earnings comes from introducing enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, it's very likely that they will opt for the science textbooks developed by Texas Oilman's Press which states that there is no such thing as global warming. Also, if some group threatens to boycott some other industry they own, they might come to an understanding with them and force all their schools to purchase textbooks written by The Fundamentalist Christian Way Publishing company which declares that...well, you can guess for yourselves.

As for that conversation that Gail overheard, it wouldn't matter if those patrons saw Obama's school records. Upon seeing the record of a superior student, they would assume that it had been doctored because no nee-gro could ever be that smart.

Sorry, but there really is no rational reason for so many to hate Obama like they do apart from blank, unholy racial hatred.

And we all know, haters gonna hate.

And maybe run our schools too.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus
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