The Ledes

Wednesday, May 27, 2015.

Hill: "The Defense Department accidentally sent live anthrax to labs in nine states and is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to contain it, the Pentagon said Wednesday. 'The Department of Defense is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their investigation of the inadvertent transfer of samples containing live Bacillus anthracis, also known as anthrax, from a DoD lab in Dugway, Utah, to labs in nine states,' said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman."

AP: "A second submariner has pleaded guilty to sharing videos of female officers undressing for a shower, continuing a case that a prosecutor calls a 'black eye' for the Navy's integration of women into the nation's sub fleet.... Electronics technician Joseph Bradley entered pleas Wednesday in a court-martial trial. He was sentenced to 30 days' confinement and a reduction in rank.... On Tuesday, missile technician Charles Greaves received two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge for making the videos. Five more male sailors face charges in the case."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Guardian: Texas governor Greg Abbott has expanded the emergency disaster zone in his state, adding 24 counties to a list of 13 affected by storms and flooding. Three people were reported dead and 12 missing as Oklahoma was also hit hard, while a tornado left 13 dead in a Mexican town just beyond the border." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Flooding brought Houston[, Texas,] to a near-standstill Tuesday, sending normally tame rivers and bayous surging out of their banks, inundating streets and homes, and leaving highways littered with hundreds of abandoned, ruined cars. As much as 10 inches of rain lashed the Houston area overnight, and added to floodwaters flowing downstream from areas of central Texas that were swamped over the holiday weekend, causing waterways to rise from trickle to torrent faster than people could get out of the way."

... See also Jeanne Pitz's comment on this in today's Commentariat.

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 27

12:15 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks about the Russian-Ukraine conflict (audio only)

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.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

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

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

Friday
Feb172012

The Commentariat -- February 18, 2012

CW: I submitted my New York Times eXaminer column late, so I'm not sure when it will be published. In the meantime, if you read Joe Nocera's column today, take it with a mountain of salt. I'll be getting back to you on that, sooner or later. ...

     ... Update: here's my NYTX column. It's titled "Fire Joe Nocera." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute to NYTX here. ...

... Laurence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute explains to New York Times reporter/analysts why we are not "becoming an entitlement society."

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Jason DeParle & Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage."

"Did the Stimulus Work?" Michael Linden of the Center for American Progress:

** Thomas Frank in a TruthOut interview: "... what is really spectacular is how [the 2008 financial meltdown] ... got processed through the right's upside-down machine and came out as the story of how power-hungry leftists tried to 'transform America' by force during a crisis: Rather than Hank Paulson and Co. bailing out their friends, it was Big Government trying to get its fingers around the throat of free enterprise.... Barack Obama had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take the financial oligarchy apart ... because that was what democracy requires -- and despite the right's perception of him as Robespierre reincarnated, he didn't do it."

"A Better Way to Buy Politicians." Lindsay Mark Lewis, a former DNC finance director, urges repeal of what's left of McCain-Feingold, which would put mega-donors' money under the control of the politicians they back & make politicians responsible for the ads they run. CW: maybe, but hardly a substantial improvement. ...

... CW: Besides, Andy Rosenthal inadvertently points out an advantage to keeping SuperPACS independent of candidates: "... under the law, broadcast stations cannot censor, edit or refuse ads by candidates for federal office.... But ... independent groups are not guaranteed the same access to airwaves as candidates for federal office. TV stations have every right to reject third-party ads." Rosenthal doesn't see TV stations turning down ad revenues, but he says they should "insist on edits for the sake of accuracy." ...

... Here's Annenberg's FlackCheck.org  One thing you can do is click on "Stations" (upper left) to e-mail your local stations & urge them to stop running deceptive ads.

Michelle Dammon Loyalka, a journalist living in Beijing, in a New York Times op-ed: "... while China’s industrial subsidies, trade policies, undervalued currency and lack of enforcement for intellectual property rights all remain sticking points for the United States, there is at least one area in which the playing field seems to be slowly leveling: the cheap labor that has made China’s factories nearly unbeatable is not so cheap anymore." ...

... Reuters: "Foxconn Technology Group, the top maker of Apple Inc's iPhones and iPads whose factories are under scrutiny over labour practices, has raised wages of its Chinese workers by 16-25 percent from this month, the third rise since 2010."

Via the Wall Street Journal.Prof. Jeffrey Sachs in the Huffington Post: "One of the unshakable myths of the punditariat is that the federal government is going bankrupt because of entitlements spending, especially spending on Medicare and Medicaid.... The most frequently quoted forecast is that of the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO's long-term forecast assumes that health care costs will continue to rise steeply during the next 70 years, though at a diminishing rate.... [But] healthcare costs are already vastly over-priced now compared with what other countries pay for the same services.... New information technologies ... lower the costs of health-care delivery and administration.... Let's therefore fight the right-wing hysteria demanding immediate and harsh cuts in Medicaid and other health outlays." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. Since the post is in the HuffPo, I never would have found it. ...

... OMG! Even J. D. Kleinke of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute agrees: "... the growth rate of national health expenditures ... has been moderating since 2002." Of course he thinks the way forward is in the "free market" where everybody gets to shop for their own policies. He would. Because, you know, individual insurance consumers have so much power.

VatiLeaks! Boys in Beanies Behaving Badly. Elisabetta Povoledo of the New York Times: "... the Vatican has become embroiled in an embarrassing scandal in which a number of leaked documents have drawn back the curtains on the church’s inner workings. The internal church squabbling, predictably dubbed 'VatiLeaks' by the Italian news media, became public about three weeks ago with the disclosure on television and in newspapers of confidential letters written by a top Vatican official who had denounced alleged corruption and financial mismanagement in Vatican City."

Kathleen Hennessey & Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times: President Obama raised $6,000 a minute on his Western trip -- and criticism from Republicans & those inconvenienced by traffic congestion he caused.

Right Wing World

Viva America! Quote of the Day: This sounds like some third-world county governed by colonels in mirrored sunglasses in which he dictates, 'I, the supreme leader, dictate that something will be provided free when we know the cost of that will have to be borne by everybody else in society that's not getting the free good.' -- Karl Rove, on contraceptive coverage (pssst! somebody tell Bush's Brain that contraception saves both public & private money; in fact, insurance policies that don't cover contraception cost more than those that do)

Once again, Steve Benen lists Mitt Romney's five top lies of the week. It is astounding that it is possible, week after week, to find five or ten lies that a major candidate has made during any given week.

Protestants Are Not Christians. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic; sure, the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. -- Rick Santorum, in a 2008 speech at conservative Catholic Ave Maria University. More here -- this is really remarkable stuff ...

... Charles Blow: in Detroit, the city with the highest poverty rate in the U.S., "Rick Santorum praises income inequality." Blow writes a pretty good takedown of Santorum.

Gail Collins writes about Republicans -- including Santorum -- running afoul of residency requirements. "Rick Santorum’s political career was built on an upset victory against a Democratic House member who, Santorum claimed, had ... moved his family to the Washington suburbs. When Santorum moved his own family to the Washington suburbs, he claimed that promises he made when he was in the House didn’t count for the Senate."

Laura Strickler of CBS News: "Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson plans to give another $10 million to the outside group backing [Newt Gingrich]...."

Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: so they're not through voting in the Maine caucuses. Washington County is caucusing today, & since Romney beat Ron Paul by less than 200 votes last week, his victory could be overturned. "The party’s decision about how to count the vote has touched off a political storm and raised questions about the whole caucus system. Caucuses in other states have been plagued with problems this year, and doubts have been raised about their fairness and the ability of state parties to manage them." CW: Kinda turns the tables on Will Rogers' famous remark, "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." ...

... Tim Mak of Politico: "Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster has admitted that the state party made numerous clerical errors in counting the state’s caucus results — even omitting some votes because emails reporting tallies 'went to spam' in an email account. However, Webster insisted that the errors did not change the outcome."

Local News

AP: "A judge on Friday denied Gov. Scott Walker's request for a two-week extension to review recall petition signatures, saying the election is likely to proceed. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess' ruling was a victory for recall organizers who had said there was no good reason for another extension and that Walker's request was an attempt to delay the inevitable." Thanks to Kate M. for the link.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Egypt will begin criminal proceedings on Friday against 19 Americans and two dozen others in a politically charged investigation into the foreign financing of nonprofit groups that has plunged relations between the United States and Egypt to their lowest point in three decades, state news media reported Saturday."

New York Times: "... speaker after speaker at the funeral of Whitney Houston on Saturday afternoon kept coming back to her strong attachment to New Hope Baptist Church [of Newark, New Jersey], where her prodigious talents were first recognized and where the funeral was held."

Washington Post: "Two Supreme Court justices suggested Friday that the court reconsider its controversial 2010 decision that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending in elections. The suggestion came as the court blocked a Montana Supreme Court decision upholding a century-old ban on corporate campaign spending in the state.... In Friday’s order, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer said the upheaval in the world of campaign finance since the Citizens United decision does not bear out the majority opinion."

New York Times: "The full details of recent experiments that made a deadly flu virus more contagious will be published, probably within a few months, despite recommendations by the United States that some information be kept secret for fear that terrorists could use it to start epidemics."

Reuters: "An Egyptian court will start the trial on February 26 of activists from mostly American civil society groups accused of working illegally in Egypt, in a case which has strained U.S.-Egyptian ties. A judicial source told Reuters that the 43 accused, including around 20 Americans, would go on trial next Sunday, charged with working in the country without proper legal registration."

Reuters: "Syrian security forces fired live ammunition to break up a protest against President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus Saturday, killing at least one person, opposition activists said." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Hundreds and hundreds of antigovernment protesters braved scattered gunfire from Syrian soldiers to march through a middle-class neighborhood in Damascus on Saturday, the biggest demonstration witnessed close to the heart of the capital since the country’s uprising started 11 months ago."

New York Times: "Pope Benedict XVI created 22 new cardinals on Saturday, including Timothy M. Dolan of New York, in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica rich in pageantry and resonant with ancient tradition."

New York Times: A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones."

Washington Post: "A half-dozen members of the House Ethics Committee have recused themselves from the troubled investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and been replaced by a new team, a sign that the stalled probe is set to restart.... Kenneth Gross, an ethics attorney..., said the mass recusal appeared to be 'unprecedented' in a congressional investigation."

Reuters: "China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping on Friday swiped away fears that his country's economic growth could stumble, and turned to courting American companies, film-makers and governors hungry for a slice of that growth on the final day of his U.S. visit." ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Before catching a late-night flight to Europe, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping made one last stop in Los Angeles: Staples Center [to watch the fourth quarter of the Lakers game].... The Chinese delegation has been greeted with protests by Tibetans and other groups at virtually every stop of their five-day tour of the United States. The Lakers game was no different."

Houston Chronicle: "About 40 investors who lost savings in accounts with accused swindler R. Allen Stanford packed the courtroom where he's on trial Friday, noting the third anniversary of the government lawsuit that shut down his operations. To date, investors have recovered nothing."

Reuters: "Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is to be questioned next week by police investigating an alleged prostitution ring in Lille, northern France, a police source said."

Los Angeles Times: "Whitney Houston's funeral is invitation-only and attendance will be limited to family and friends, but Saturday's services are set to be seen around the world: They will stream online and be shown on a number of TV networks. Houston's funeral is slated to begin at 9 a.m. Pacific [12 noon ET] at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. -- the late pop titan's childhood church."

Reader Comments (2)

I love Will Rogers: But Disreali had a better quote and perhaps WIll was riffin on it:

"A conservative government is an organized Hypocrisy."

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Ther is a change in the wind. For several years voters have been electing the lesser knave to offices. That is, the candidates most successful at villifying his or her opponent and successfully deflecting attacks on themselves. Therefore, we have officials in all positions that got there by being the best defamer.
The republicans quest for a candidate may be the turning point. Mitt's PAC has been so strong and has spent so much money that it has attracted too much attention. Destroying Gingrich was easy but brought attention to the PAC. The attacks on Santorum are not so easy and are bringing a lot of attention to the PAC.
Who thinks Americans want a Nasty Man for President?
Mitt is the obvious Nasty Man.

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.