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."

The Wires

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":

The Ledes

Thursday, November 26, 2015.

Guardian: "Sex abuse allegations against priests at St John’s Abbey in Minnesota were revealed in stark detail on Tuesday with the release of confidential documents concerning five priests accused of child sex abuse."

Reuters: "A 23-year-old Indiana man has pleaded guilty to breaking into a medical museum and stealing preserved human brains that he then sold online. David Charles, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to six charges including receiving stolen property and burglary in a Marion county court. Magistrate Amy Barbar sentenced him to one year of home detention and two years of probation, county prosecutor spokesman Anthony Deer said."

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

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.


The Commentariat -- August 5, 2012

Once again inspired by P. D. Pepe, I have taken a whack at Our Young Man from the Vatican, waxing eloquent today all All's Wrong with Obama. The NYTX front page is here.

James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute in a Washington Post op-ed: "In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.... We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs.... The future is now. And it is hot." ...

... Seth Borenstein of the AP reports on the report.

Bill Vlasic, et al., of the New York Times: if U.S. policymakers could entice the Japanese to build cars in the U.S., maybe a similar approach should be taken for the tech industry, where so much product is built in Asia.

New York Times Editors: "Massachusetts will be the first state to try to cap overall health care spending, both private and public, so that it will grow no faster than the state economy."

How come "ordinary citizens go to jail when they break the law, while the elites face a mere slap on the wrist"? A few theories.

Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Illinois) talks to Michael Sneed of the Sun-Times about her husband's illness, which she characterizes as depression, possibly triggered by weight-loss surgery.

Presidential Race

"The Vanity of Perfectionism." Robert Parry in AlterNet on the foolishness of people "on the American Left ... who sit out presidential elections or cast ballots for third-party candidates who have no chance of winning.... When we treat elections as if they are our moment to express ourselves, rather than to mitigate the damage that a U.S. president might inflict on the world, we are behaving selfishly, in my view.... U.S. elections should not be primarily about us." Thanks to Kate M. for the link.

An Obama Landslide? Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "Liberals don't want to jinx it. It terrifies the right. And the press would prefer a nail-biter. But the fact is that finding Romney's path to victory is getting harder every day."

A Romney Landslide? James Pethokoukis of the (right-wing) American Enterprise Institute: "Political scientist Douglas Hibbs looks at two factors when forecasting presidential elections: a) per capita real disposable personal income over the incumbent president's term, and b) cumulative U.S. military fatalities in overseas conflicts. And he's predicting a near-landslide win for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, with Obama losing by about as big a margin in 2012 as he won back in 2008." ...

... On Hibb's model, contributor Victoria D. points to this post by Ezra Klein, who relies heavily on a lot of work by Nate Silver. Klein (& Silver) note that "Hibbs's model in particular performs well for the years from which it extrapolates -- that is, the elections from 1952 to 1988 -- and very poorly for elections before and after.... The model predicted that Al Smith would win in 1928, Thomas Dewey would win by a landslide in 1948, and that Al Gore would have won comfortably in 2000. In sum, Silver alleges, the model does worse than just positing that each party will get 50 percent of the vote. So take Hibbs's findings with a grain of salt":

Chart by Nate Silver.

Let's Just Lie. Reid Epstein of Politico: "Mitt Romney sparked a Saturday tit-for-tat by claiming, without pointing to any evidence, that President Obama 's campaign is trying to restrict military voting in Ohio. Obama's campaign responded, ripping Romney for 'completely fabricating' a claim it called 'shameful.' At issue: A lawsuit the Obama campaign filed July 17 that seeks to restore three days of early voting for all of the state's voters. At no point does the lawsuit attempt to curb the rights of active military.... Romney's spokesman, Ryan Williams, in an interview Saturday could point to no place in Obama's lawsuit that seeks to restrict the rights of military voters." ...

... Speaking of which, here is Vol. XXVIII Steve Benen's "Mitt's Mendacity."

Right Wing World *

Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts school in Illinois, asked a Washington, D.C. federal court on Wednesday for an emergency injunction against the Obama administration's contraception coverage mandate because the rule forces the school to cover emergency contraception.... But Wheaton's health plan already covered emergency contraception when the mandate was announced..., and tried to scramble to get rid of that coverage in order to qualify for the one-year reprieve President Barack Obama put in place for religious institutions that have moral objections to contraception." Via Steve Benen.

"Land's End." Joseph Conn in Wall of Separation: "Notorious Southern Baptist lobbyist Richard Land has announced his retirement.... Land, head of the so-called Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, lobbied for the SBC for nearly 25 years. He is the embodiment of the SBC's conversion from friend of religious liberty to agent of theocracy. A faithful advocate of the Religious Right agenda for 25 years, Land has been shrill, aggressively partisan and deeply hostile to the church-state wall." Via Steve Benen.

* Where Hypocrisy never sleeps.

News Ledes

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "The shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek about 10:15 a.m. Sunday that left seven people dead, including the shooter, and three people injured is being treated as a domestic terrorist incident, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. Oak Creek police officers who responded to a 911 call about the shooting were helping a victim when the shooter ambushed one of the officers, shooting the officer multiple times. A second Oak Creek officer returned fire, killing the shooter, Edwards said. The wounded officer, described as at least a 20-year veteran of the department, was in surgery Sunday afternoon and was expected to survive, Edwards said during a 4 p.m. news conference." New York Times story here. ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Tattoos on the body of the slain Sikh temple gunman and certain biographical details led the FBI to treat the attack at a Milwaukee-area temple as an act of domestic terrorism, officials said Sunday."

New York Times: "Israel on Sunday barred the delegations of five countries from attending a diplomatic conference in Ramallah, in the West Bank, upending plans by the Palestinian president to announce his intention to renew the Palestinians' bid this September for enhanced status in the United Nations."

AP: "A possible plea deal in the deadly Tucson shootings that wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords would send Jared Lee Loughner to prison for the rest of his life, a person familiar with the case said Saturday.A court-appointed psychiatrist will testify Tuesday that Loughner is competent to enter a plea...."

AFP: "... The Mars Science Laboratory and rover Curiosity -- designed to hunt for soil-based signatures of life and send back data to prepare for a future human mission" -- is scheduled to land on Mars early Monday morning. First signals would reach NASA "at 1:31 am Eastern time (0531 GMT).... That will be about 14 minutes after the touchdown actually happens due to the time it takes for spacecraft signals to travel from Mars to Earth."

AP: "Several wildfires raging around the parched Oklahoma landscape prompted more evacuations on Sunday as emergency workers sought to shelter those forced out by flames that destroyed dozens of homes and threatened others in the drought-stricken region."

Reader Comments (12)

Re Tomasky and Hibbs. Both camps are working overtime to build bandwagons. Be wary of polls, especially those with party bias. Trust Daily Kos to sort out who's trustworthy and who's a shill.

August 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Again I watched America burning down on the evening news. James Hansen's actual data will not be noticed by the MSM or the politicians. The issue is simple. There are too many humans. We are just so efficient at making more (remember, 80,000 plus a DAY).

But to address the matter we would have to admit that our wonderful god got it wrong. Never. Of course this is actually part of the god's plan, you know the new means to the end. What a wonderful concept. Since this is part of the god's plan, we are not responsible for doing anything. What a great idea, just sit back and let hell arrive on the Earth.
BTW, today I watched for the first time Bill Maher's movie Religulous. If you still think there is some chance to get this right, don't watch.

PS: As to Romney winning on the 'bread and peace' numbers half of that is not relevant. It's called war. Notice that we no longer even notice that we are still at war?

August 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

I found the Campbell Brown video from yesterday most interesting given that her husband, Dan Senor, is on the board of StudentsFirst N.Y.––arm of Michelle Rhee's coalition funded by Rubert Murdoch and others who have an interest in destroying teacher's unions. And the fact that Senor is a Romney advisor sheds a lot of light on Ms. Brown's allegations which according to Diane Ravitch are poppycock. Then if we follow Michelle Rhee's political minglings we find she was on Rick SCOTT's transition team, was beside SCOTT Walker during one of his speeches, and her coalition launched an initiative to defend Rep. Paul SCOTT against a recall effort. We could conclude Rhee may be suffering from Scotophilia! When we also learn about her husband, Kevin Johnson, former NBA star (Rhee's first husband also named Kevin and by the way, "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is a terrific film) we find he was accused of sexual misconduct at his charter school (he is now mayor of Sacramento under investigation for the improper use of City Hall resources by his nonprofits). Adding to all this is Michelle's snarky past––cheating scandal in the DC schools; lying about her past experience; lying about the 300 teachers she fired––quite a few, she said, were child molesters––there was ONE––makes for a fascinating story especially when you connect all the dots which point to the destruction of unions and privatizing our schools.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

"WHEN an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States."

From Avraham Burg's piece in the Times today––"Israel's Fading Democracy"–––worth reading.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

One more thing: Douthat today reads as though the poor man's brain has been addled by all that daily praying. He presents Obama's domestic policies as "much more STRIDENTLY left wing; chastises the comforting progressive "fantasy" that we can close the deficit and keep the existing safety net by SOAKING America's really, really rich; that Obama's stance on immigration, gay marriage, reproductive issues and even–––yes, EVEN welfare reform is PANDERING to Democratic voting blocs. What can one say to Mr. Douthat? Our guy, Gemli once again nails it:

'Immigration, gay marriage, and reproductive rights are hot-button cultural issues only to wild-eyed retrograde jingoistic misogynists. But to hear them complain that Obama is pandering (for shame!) to a liberal base must be grounds for involuntary commitment."

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I never read the Douthat but I do take a look at the comments. They always go after him but today was special. It looks like he is really having a hard time defending his new boss, Romney. I don't know if he really believes what he writes or not. If he does he is really delusional. But then again, delusion is considered a cultural norm.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

OK, just to finish my day as a proud American, the murders at the Sikh Temple have been declared 'domestic terrorism' by the police.
In other words another well educated citizen who is permitted to carry a gun doesn't know that not everyone who wears a beard and a turban is a Muslim. Never mind the mentality that revenge justifies murder. Never mind that this behavior is exactly what the 9/11 terrorists used as their justification. You know, just doing gods work. But it's no big deal. Another 7 dead doesn't really effect the total of uncountable millions who have died in the same game.

Yes, I am really pissed.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

After reading Frank Bruni's "Truculence Before Truth" in the NYT, I suggest he be added to that befuddled duo of Douthat and Brooks. Larry, Curly and Moe anyone?

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones

Tommy Bones: Frank Bruni has been a great disappointment to me. But on the issue of whether Reid's statement regarding Romney's tax situation was appropriate - I'm not sure it was. Bruni's statement at the end of the article that the position of both campaigns is "I'm not as bad as the other guy," is just plain ridiculous. Obama is running on a record of great accomplishment and Romney is running on fumes. Certainly the President is calling into question Romney's business bona fides, as the public seems to think his business experience is relevant. Amazingly, Obama is running to win reelection.
Personally, I think Tim Egan should have been given the job as columnist instead of Bruni. Egan is an eloquent writer and a more original thinker. And there currently is no progressive voice in the Times OpEd bench save the estimable Krugman, who really focuses on economic matters.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

I miss Akeillius' comments. Sorry for the misspelling of the name but I think you know who I mean. He writes excellent long thought provoking posts that make me think and laugh.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

@ Victoria D.: I share your reservations about Reid's remarks. They don't seem very "senatorial." Still, after watching the Rachel Maddow segments, embedded in yesterday's Commentariat, I'm sort of satisfied that turnabout is fair play.

@Janet. Couldn't agree with you more about Akhilleus. I'll see if I can find out if he's left his undisclosed location -- or what. I hope he'll be back soon.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Victoria D and Marie: I understand your point but I am so worried about the possibility of the republicans gaining any more control over our government. I feel that this is the most important election to date in my lifetime (I'm 65). For example, consider the implications of the repubs being in a position to choose the next couple of Supreme Court Justices. Also, what has President Obama's efforts to be reasonable and co-operative with the opposition party gained for him or us? A republican win would be an unmitigated disaster for the majority of the U.S. citizenry whether they realize it or not at this point. The time for diplomacy and niceties has passed and it is time to fight fire with fire. In my opinion Reid's allegations merely put Romney in a lose/lose position. Frankly, I like that.

By the way, I like Tim Egan also.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones
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