The Ledes

Friday, November 27, 2015.

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


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:

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The Commentariat -- February 19, 2012

In 2009, a Russian satellite hit an Iridium communications satellite. Here, Iridium satellite orbits and collision debris clouds. Photo by D. S. Kelso, via the New York Times.Kenneth Chang in a New York Times op-ed: the U.S. should clean up its space debris.

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer takes a look at Tom Friedman's latest "great idea." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

** Please read today's comments. Mae Finch has a doozy.

Michael Cooper of the New York Times: "The nation has lost 668,000 state and local government jobs since the recession hit — more than in any modern downturn.... On the national level, the steady loss of public sector jobs has reduced the effects of recent job gains in the private sector and has slowed economic growth. But in cities and states around the country, the loss of those jobs has made it harder to provide services and has upended the lives of thousands of workers who had thought their government jobs were safe." ...

... Paul Krugman wrote a related woulda, coulda shoulda post last week. ...

... Jonathan Tasini of Playboy interviews Krugman. ...

... Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post has an interesting piece on Modern Monetary Theory, centered on the views of Jamie Galbraith.

CW: yesterday I linked to a rebuttal to a major New York Times story which claimed "Politicians have expanded the safety net without a commensurate increase in revenues, a primary reason for the government’s annual deficits and mushrooming debt." It doesn't hurt to reinforce that rebuttal (and Democrats seriously need to get the word out to the teeming masses longing to be free of "entitlements"): James Kwak of Baseline Scenario writes,

The idea that politicians have expanded the safety net is just not true, with the exception of the Medicare prescription drug benefit and an expansion in Medicaid that hasn’t taken effect yet. Spending on social programs has increased for a few obvious reasons: the baby boomers have started taking Social Security benefits, increasing that program’s expenditures; the recession boosted unemployment benefits, disability claims, and eligibility for poverty programs; and most importantly, health care has gotten much more expensive.

Joanne Kenan of Politico on contraception as a 2012 political issue. How did this happen? "Rick Santorum said states ought to have the right to outlaw the sale of contraception. And Susan G. Komen for the Cure yanked its funding for Planned Parenthood. And the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops teed off on President Barack Obama’s contraception policy. And House Republicans invited a panel of five men — and no women — to debate the issue. And a prominent Santorum supporter pined for the days when 'the gals' put aspirin 'between their knees' to ward off pregnancy."

"Voting Rights Act under Siege." Josh Gerstein of Politico: "In a political system where even the most trivial issues trigger partisan rancor, the Voting Rights Act has stood for several decades as a rare point of bipartisan consensus. Until now. An intensifying conservative legal assault on the Voting Rights Act could precipitate what many civil rights advocates regard as the nuclear option: a court ruling striking down one of the core elements of the landmark 1965 law guaranteeing African Americans and other minorities access to the ballot box. At the same time, the view that states should have free rein to change their election laws even in places with a history of Jim Crow seems to be gaining traction within the Republican Party."

Geov Parrish of the Booman Tribune: back in 2004, Judy Miller of the New York Times carried water for the Bush administration & wrote up its phony claims about Iraqi aggression; today's media, including the Times, seems even more interested in pursuing war with Iran than is the Obama administration.

Right Wing World

Richard Oppel of the New York Times on Wingnut Patrol: "... Rick Santorum< on Saturday criticized the public education system and questioned whether President Obama’s agenda sprang from a 'phony theology.' At one appearance here [in Ohio], he said the idea of schools run by the federal government or by state governments was 'anachronistic.' ... It was the latest in a series of comments ... suggesting that he takes a dim view of public schooling.... At another stop in Ohio on Saturday, Mr. Santorum waded into what he called the 'phony theology' of Mr. Obama’s agenda. 'It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology,' he said. 'But no less a theology.' ... Mr. Santorum has passed up ... opportunities to correct misstatements about the president’s background. Last month, a woman at one of Mr. Santorum’s campaign stops in Florida declared ... that Mr. Obama was Muslim.... Mr. Santorum did not correct the woman’s statement, and he later said it is not his job to correct such statements.” ...

    ... Update: Jake Tapper of ABC News: "Obama campaign strategist and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum this morning, saying he was 'well over the line' for questioning President Obama’s Christian faith. 'It’s wrong, it’s destructive and it makes it virtually impossible to solve the problems we face together as Americans,' Gibbs told me in an exclusive interview Sunday on 'This Week.' 'It’s just time to get rid of this mindset in our politics that if we disagree we have to question character and faith.'”

Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic: "Embattled Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who is facing explosive allegations that he and his attorney tried to intimidate a former lover by threatening to have him deported, on Saturday quit his position as an Arizona co-chairman of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign." ...

... Monica Alonzo of the Phoenix News Times has the backstory: "Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu — who became the face of Arizona border security nationally after he started stridently opposing illegal immigration — threatened his Mexican ex-lover with deportation when the man refused to promise never to disclose their years-long relationship, the former boyfriend and his lawyer tell New Times."

News Ledes

Reuters: "Riot police shielded Greece's national parliament Sunday as demonstrators gathered to protest against austerity measures on the eve of talks in Brussels on a 130-billion-euro ($171 billion) bailout needed to avert bankruptcy."

Guardian: "Iran announced on Sunday that it had stopped selling crude oil to British and French companies, in a move that may put further pressure on the price of oil amid heightening political tensions."

Reuters: "Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in cities across Russia in support of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday in a show of force two weeks before a March 4 presidential election that is expected to return him to the Kremlin."

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  • Response
    Response: Demotracks
    REALITYCHEX.COM - Constant Comments - The Commentariat -- February 19, 2012

Reader Comments (9)

I have a wish. Rick Demoron wins the Republican nomination. Not only will this get the country back on track, but the entire process from today on will torture Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. I have never seen a candidate manage to piss off so many people. And he is just getting started. No birth control, no public education, no Protestants and no women allowed to leave home. Welcome to Saudi Arabia!

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Oh, I 'm sorry. I forgot to mention that it's OK to commit mass murder if you call it a Crusade. Weeeeee!!

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

"Nocera’s column is misleading in its entirety and in its particulars. Nocera pretends the attorneys general got the best deal possible under the circumstances. They didn’t. Nocera portrays critics as whiners without a case. They are not. Even President Obama acknowledged that the settlement was just “a start.” Nocera leads the reader to believe that the states will not use the settlement funds for other purposes. They will. At least in several cases, that was the attorneys’ general plan all along. Nocera pretends that getting the banks to agree to fair servicing of mortgage was a big concession. It wasn’t. Banks are required under the CFPB to change their ways. Nocera asserts the banks will be subject to further “punishment.” Even he doesn’t seem to quite believe that, and the facts so far suggest otherwise. Nocera’s column is at best a whitewash. But I think it’s worse. Joe Nocera is pimping for the winners – the states, the Obama administration, and the banks. Americans who lost their homes or are paying on underwater mortgages? Good luck. Readers of the New York Times? Joe Nocera is happy to misinform you in service of his friends in high places. Joe Nocera proves in this column that he has no integrity. The New York Times, if it has any integrity, should fire him."
Writing that good is like a breath of fresh air. Cheers.

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercitizen625

A commenter on the NYT news story about Rick Sanitarium had this to say:
" Steady the bus, Rick. You can't show the crazy too early."

I think that is an excellent warning. Problem though: it is too late. Rick showed the crazy before he ever got started!"

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Who thinks the Republican establishment will go into a national election with either a nasty man, Mitt, or a crazy, Rick. Mitt, with his dirt machine PAC is defining himself as a nasty man. Rick,anti-sex, anti-birth control, anti-women, anti-gays and anti-poor people is quickly reducing the numbers of those that might vote for him.
The Republicans cannot live with this. Who will be the Republican candidate?

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Regarding the meeting on women's health with no women allowed to testify:
I called Rep. Issa's office the next day to express outrage that the woman witness was not allowed at the meeting he chaired.
Snarkily, he said "there are no women in football either."
It went downhill from there.
He did say women had the right to vote.
He mentioned religion, I reminded him that America is not a theocracy.
He spat out that I was an anticatholic, a new england liberal
He was hissing like a snake!
His name is Phil...:)
Finally my Irish appeared, and I called him a knuckle dragger...
He hung up.
What a neanderthal...seems like we have many among the Rep party.
Oy vey!
Mae Finch

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMae Finch

@ Mae Finch. Thank you for sharing your story. It's astounding. Congressional offices get calls from angry constituents all day long -- including a few from me, though I'm generally pretty polite even when I'm calling about something with which I disagree vehemently. My experience -- and firsthand observation -- is that Congressional staff treat even the most rabid callers with deference and respect. After all, it is the voters who are paying their salaries, and sass reflects badly on the Congress. The staffers do not argue with callers who are protesting their boss's policies; they just tell the caller they'll "pass on the information to the Congresswoman," meaning they'll add a tick to the "anti's" on the particular policy.

In the old days, it was common to receive a friendly form letter from the Congressperson a few days later. I don't think you should be watching your mailbox, Mae. Issa obviously doesn't give a rat's ass what voters think or in what regard they hold him and his staff.

February 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

I was taken up short when a friend told me two women had testified. I checked it out and it is true.

"Dr. Allison Dabbs Garrett, the senior vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma Christian University, and Dr. Laura Champion, the medical director at Calvin College Health Services, were two of ten witnesses who said the government mandate requiring religious institutions such as theirs to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs violated the First Amendment."

The above quote is from a very conservative Catholic web site. Sorry, I chose to just copy the above. I didn't want provide a link so that this guy would suddenly think he had garnered a lot of fans. Andrew Sullivan also had a confirming post.

The women were on a second panel held on Thursday. But women, and so far as I know, no men were allowed to give opposing testimony.

Is it possible that this election is going to take us right back to 1950?

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

I just finished reading Chang's article on space junk in the real Times. Very informative, amazing how quickly we managed to mess up our neighborhood. I have no idea whether any of the technological solutions are feasible but the principle of cleaning up your own mess is very sound - the Swiss are planning to do just that but they have only two tiny satellites. The Russians created most of the junk, with USA strong second.

I am not concerned about manned space flight - there should be a 100 year moratorium on that anyway. Communication, surveillance and other satellites are, however, essential part of our life now. To allow the junk to smash into them does not make much sense.

It cost billions to create this mess. It may cost about the same to clean it up now and more decades from now.

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLadislav Nemec
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