The Ledes

Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

New York Times: "The American economy turned in a better performance last quarter than first thought, expanding at a 2.1 percent rate, the government said on Tuesday. While well below the pace of growth recorded in the spring, it was better than the 1.5 percent rate for the third quarter that the Commerce Department reported late last month."

Houston Chronicle: "A helicopter crashed at Fort Hood on Monday, killing four crew members, U.S. Army officials said. Military officials said the UH-60 helicopter crashed sometime after 5:49 p.m. Monday in the northeast section of the central Texas Army post. Emergency crews spent several hours searching the area and later found the bodies of the four crew members."

Reuters: "A bomb exploded outside the offices of a Greek business federation in central Athens on Tuesday, badly damaging the nearby Cypriot Embassy but causing no injuries, police officials said.The blast, which police believe was carried out by domestic guerrilla groups, is the first such incident since leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power in January. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.Attacks against banks, politicians and business people are not uncommon in Greece, which has a long history of political violence and has been mired in its worst economic crisis in decades."

The Wires

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."

White House Live Video
November 24

11:30 am ET: President Obama & President Francois Hollande of France hold a joint press conference

5:00 pm ET: President Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Go to


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."

... 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:

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The Commentariat -- April 9, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's Easter Sunday sermon, and I think it's a winner even if it is full of typos I can't see. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

In a fabulous column, and without naming names, Paul Krugman explains why self-described centrists have fallen for Paul Ryan, "a garden-variety modern G.O.P. extremist, an Ayn Rand devotee who believes that the answer to all problems is to cut taxes on the rich and slash benefits for the poor and middle class." ...

... Krugman blogpost coda: "... the Ryan proposal would lead to bigger, repeat bigger, deficits than the Obama proposal."

** Eric Alterman of The Nation, in the New York Times: "... economic liberalism is on life-support, while cultural liberalism thrives. [That's largely because] cultural liberalism comes cheap.... Liberals must find a way to combine their cultural successes with new approaches to achieving economic equality.... So far the president has been unwilling to put his budgetary moneys where his mouth is. In fact, Obama has proved far more adept at adapting his positions toward the increasingly radical views enunciated by the leaders of the Republican Party than he has in articulating — and sticking to — an alternative vision of the role of government in ensuring a fair economic shake for all its citizens."

Prof. Philip Kitcher has a terrific essay in the New York Times on social Darwinism. ...

E. J. Dionne: "Conservatives are not accustomed to being on the defensive.... So imagine the shock when President Obama decided last week to speak plainly about what a Supreme Court decision throwing out the health-care law would mean, and then landed straight shots against the Mitt Romney-supported Paul Ryan budget as 'a Trojan horse,' 'an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country,' and 'thinly veiled social Darwinism.' ... Conservatives are unhappy because they prefer passive, intimidated liberals to the fighting kind."

Law Prof. Ronald Krotoszynski, in a New York Times op-ed: "In the post-9/11 era, security has too often been an empty pretext for placing dissent out of eyesight and earshot."

Right Wing World

Thomas Edsall, writing in the New York Times, tracks Mitt Etch-a-Sketch Romney's shift to the center. CW: I think it's worth noting, tho Edsall doesn't mention it, that during the general elections the positions of both presidential candidates will be to the left of where they were a year ago. Politicians are shifty people.

James Crugnale of Mediaite: "Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley took a shot at President Barack Obama’s stance on the Supreme Court via Twitter Saturday, tweeting, 'Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law.' ... Obama chief strategist David Axelrod fired back at the Iowa Senator, alleging a six-year-old had hacked his Twitter account.”

News Ledes

New York Times: "... the aggressive tactics that have served Mr. Romney so well in other states faced an unexpected complication [in Pennsylvania]: the emergency hospitalization of Mr. Santorum’s disabled daughter Bella, which prompted an outpouring of public sympathy."

New York Times: "The special prosecutor appointed to investigate the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin said Monday that she had decided not to convene a grand jury in the case.... The prosecutor, State Attorney Angela Corey, who was appointed last month by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to investigate the shooting, said in a statement that her decision 'should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case.'”

New York Times: "A judge set bail at $9.1 million each on Monday morning for the two men accused in the shooting spree here in which three people were killed and two others were wounded.... All five victims were black. Many city and community leaders have said that the shootings were racially motivated, but District Attorney Tim Harris of Tulsa County said on Monday that the authorities were trying to determine whether the rampage constituted a bias crime."

New York Times: "Facebook ... said it had agreed to buy Instagram, the popular mobile-centric photo-sharing service, for $1 billion in cash and stock, giving it a stronger foothold on mobile devices. It would be Facebook’s largest acquisition to date by far."

Washington Post: David Foley, "a top official at the General Services Administration, was placed on administrative leave Monday, four days after a video that features him joking about the lavish spending at a Las Vegas conference became public.

New York Times: Iranian diplomats are sending mixed signals in advance of nuclear arms talks.

AP: "Syrian forces fired across the border Monday into a refugee camp in Turkey, wounding at least five people as a U.N.-brokered plan to end more than a year of violence this week all but collapsed...." ...

     ... Updated New York Times story here.

AP: "The U.S. Navy said Monday it has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program.The deployment of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise along the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group marks only the fourth time in the past decade that the Navy has had two aircraft carriers operating at the same time in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea...."

New York Times: "AOL agreed on Monday to sell a portfolio of over 800 patents, and license about 300 more, to Microsoft for $1.056 billion, amid an arms race within the technology industry over intellectual property."

AP: "Sony Corp. will cut about 10,000 jobs worldwide over the next year as it tries to return to profit, Japanese news reports said Monday."

Reader Comments (4)

On Douthat: It's not just his lying, which you have illuminated wonderfully, it's his simple-minded conception of religion's psychological and sociological aspects (if, to make my own bias clear, there is any other). Douthat seems to believe--there's that word again--that a religious tenet or practice is a constant, like gravity or the speed of light, when all religions and their convictions are subject to drift and change over time. The reasons for those changes are many but the simple proliferation of street corner churches in this country since Douthat's golden age should be proof enough of religion's inconstancy.

To this non-believing observer, the delicious irony at the heart of Douthat's lamentations is that his own party has done all it can to splinter established religious institutions by substituting consumerism and dollar worship for ethical behavior, by hawking belligerent anti-intellectualism, political paranoia and outright racism, and by funneling millions of tax dollars into the coffers of the religious Right and its private religious-based so called schools.

And then Douthat complains about a nation so ignorant, so confused, so angry, so afraid that thousands, if not millions of its citizens seek security in their own egocentrically defined Church of the One True God--themselves.

The Republican Party has done all it can to make the church business big business and has been remarkably successful in doing so in the last forty years. For them it was a simple matter of votes. Unintended consequences or not, that effort has had a significant effect on our politics, some of which Douthat apparently doesn't like. I don't either but he's blaming the wrong folks for the development. He should look in a mirror.

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes. Thanks for the coda to my column. You're right of course about the inconstancy of religious doctrine and about Douthat's inability to see that. I suppose that's a conservative thing -- those guys don't like change! But all faiths have changed their "cast-in-stone" principles, sometimes for practical reasons & sometimes because of changes in leadership. The ones that don't are no longer around; e.g., Shakers. It's true that some well-established religions are more hidebound than others, so in some cases it isn't the doctrine that changes but the parishioners. The Roman church's contraception ban would be a lot bigger problem in this country if Catholic women paid much attention to it.

And I heartily agree that Republicans have encouraged wacky religious views. What's more, the GOP gets worse every year. When some yokel called Obama an A-rab (that's pronounced with a long "A") at a McCain event, McCain said, "No, he's not." When a woman at a Santorum rally said Obama was a Muslim, Santorum didn't disagree. (I will say that last week or so -- and now that he has the nomination pretty well sewed-up -- Romney did say "No" when some guy who seemed to be looking for a "Yes" answer asked Romney if he believed interracial marriage was immoral.) Their war on science is mind-boggling. The GOP has definitely returned to the pre-Scopes trial era.


April 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Blame evolution for the spread of religious dogma of all kinds across the world. Becoming a group in awe of one God or another brought people together in a larger society than the family. Grouped together followers of one God or another started helping each other. People that helped each other survived. Those that did not perished. That Darwin fellow described the process as evolution.
Many of the religious groups do not believe in evolution, What the hell Archie.

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Marie, I wanted to share my thoughts on Krugman's take:

Many "Independents" and "Centrists" are closet authoritarian/libertarians (philosophies that would seem to be incompatible until you realize that the combo means "lower taxes for me, behaving yourself for you"). The Republican Redistribution and Redemption Center is doing the heavy lifting for these "centrists" who apparently desire another Golden Age in which we can lionize the rich and admonish the poor about the sin of laziness and then herd them into churches where they can learn about the celestial bootstraps by which they can pull themselves up. (Perhaps the Brooks household can spare a pair.)

Also, it has occurred to me why these folks pine for the 1950s. That era occurred just before television forced us to witness the cost we inflict on those less fortunate for the sake of our elevated lifestyles. In those idyllic times we could choose not to be informed. Television and the Internet have made it impossible for a person to ignore reality, and the response to that has been to split humanity into those who are appalled by much of what they see and those who smugly deny that any of it matters.

One last thing I'd like to ask "centrists": Were you a centrist during, say, the Ford Administration? Can you feel the scale of tectonic shift centrism has experienced since 1975? Does any of that matter to you, or is it important for your own self-image for you to be able to claim to be "fair and balanced"?

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney
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