The Ledes

Wednesday, November 25, 2015.

Attention, Costco Shoppers. E. coli in the Salad Cooler. Washington Post: "Federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of deadly E. coli bacteria that has sickened 19 people in at least seven states, mostly in the west.... Preliminary evidence suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is the likely source of this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The Wires

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."

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 25

11:15 am ET: Vice President Biden delivers a joint summit statement with President Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia, President Pahor of Slovenia and European Council President Tusk in Zagreb, Croatia (audio only)

2: 45 pm ET: President Obama pardons the national Thanksgiving turkey

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."

... 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 20, 2012

CW: Sorry for the late start today. My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on "This Week's New York Times Sunday Sex Sermon." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

Alex Gourevitch & Aziz Rana in Salon: Forget Jefferson. Go with Lincoln. Jefferson's view was "deeply inegalitarian," whereas Lincoln had a more egalitarian view of social mobility premised on the idea of economic independence. ...

... Prof. Dorian Warren in Slate on rethinking the labor movement for the 21st century: "What grounds this vision of a 21st century labor movement is the core idea of extending what Americans claim to cherish in politics and civil society to the workplace: democracy, liberty and freedom. The consolidation of income, wealth and political power by the 1 percent over the last several decades is directly related to the decline of workers’ voice and power."

"Pain without Gain." Paul Krugman: "... we could actually do a lot to help our economies simply by reversing the destructive austerity of the last two years. That’s true even in America, which has avoided full-fledged austerity at the federal level but has seen big spending and employment cuts at the state and local level." ...

Thomas Edsall, in a New York Times op-ed, finds experts who question the legitimacy of free-market capitalism. I have a major quibble with Edsall's selections -- they don't emphasize the policies that have made globalization a threat to ordinary American workers -- but his post is worth reading to get an idea of what the problems are.

Frank Rich on an Obama-Santorum contest, and why it could be tougher for Obama than an Obama-Romney match-up.

Richard Halen in Slate: "Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg seems poised to use the Montana case to expose the false premise at the heart of the Citizens United case": that fat cats giving millions to Super PACs in support of candidates or causes do not "give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption." "If we are lucky, she’ll convince one of the justices in the Citizens United majority of the error of his ways." CW: this is a good article for you lawyers; Hasen delves into & explains what seem to a layperson to be fairly esoteric but defining legal principles: when a fact is not a fact, and how Citzens United is internally inconsistent.

BTW, if you read Bill Keller's New York Times column on WikiLeaks & Julian Assange, at least read the comments. The material he covers is so vast I'm not knowledgeable enough to counter him except on a superficial level, but I'll link to articles by writers who have something substantive -- either negative or positive -- to say about Keller's screed.

Right Wing World

** Wow! All of the Founding Fathers Agreed with the GOP. About, Like, Everything. Even If They Didn't Say So. Steven Mufson of the Washington Post: "... many historians believe that the GOP presidential candidates are summoning the Founding Fathers this year to divide as much as to unify. And the candidates frequently dig up the Founders to inject religion into the campaign rather than remove it from the debate."

"Ideological Hypocrites." E. J. Dionne: "This Republican presidential campaign is demonstrating conclusively that there is an unbridgeable divide between the philosophical commitments conservative candidates make before they are elected and what they will have to do when faced with the day-to-day demands of practical governance.... Can conservatives finally face the fact that they actually want quite a lot from government, and that they are simply unwilling to raise taxes to pay for it?"

Dave Weigel of Slate on Republican Neo-Pessimism. If only the economy would tank again!

Meghashyam Mali of The Hill: "GOP hopeful Mitt Romney held on to his lead in Maine's caucuses Saturday after votes postponed by bad weather were finally tallied. Ron Paul gained 83 votes on Romney following the caucus in Washington county, but Romney held a 156-vote lead statewide reported the Associated Press."

David Firestone of the New York Times: "More than any major candidate in recent times, [Rick] Santorum has derogated the federal government on religious grounds." ...

     ... Here's Santorum on his opposition to prenatal testing: "Santorum said he feels sonograms and 'all sorts of prenatal testing' are acceptable, and if he were an employer, he would provide it in his health insurance, but he feels differently about amniocentesis." More here. ...

... AND here is Santorum objecting to the "weird socialization" that goes on in public "factory" schools. He prefers home-schooling & the one-room schoolhouse. Welcome, my friends, to the 19th century:

... BUT allow me to cut Santorum a break. He has a shaggy dog story that should give you a laugh.

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: an archive at the University of West Georgia of papers about Newt Gingrich reveals an image of Gingrich the candidate would not want you to see. "An examination of the papers collected over nearly three decades reveals a politician of moderate-to-liberal beginnings, a product of the civil rights era who moved to the right with an eye on political expediency — and privately savaged Republicans he was praising in public. Even as he gained a reputation as a conservative firebrand, the documents show Gingrich was viewed by his staff primarily as a tactician — the 'tent evangelist' of the conservative movement, one staffer said — with little ideological core."

Local News

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "Florida lawmakers contend that education is essential to high-wage jobs in the state, but the [GOP-led] Legislature is again expected to slash millions of dollars from the budget for higher education and may usher in another round of tuition increases."

News Ledes

Reuters: "U.S. Senators said in Cairo on Monday they hoped for a swift end to a row over U.S. pro-democracy activists accused of working illegally in Egypt and said they were committed to help Egypt nurture its democratic institutions and rebuild its economy. Senator John McCain, leading the delegation, said Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi assured them Egypt was working to solve the dispute that triggered a crisis between Washington and Cairo, threatening $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid."

AP: "Oil prices jumped to a nine-month high above $105 a barrel on Monday after Iran said it halted crude exports to Britain and France in an escalation of a dispute over the Middle Eastern country's nuclear program."

New York Times: "The United States and Mexico reached agreement on Monday on regulating oil and gas development along their maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico, ending years of negotiations and potentially opening more than a million acres to deepwater drilling."

Reuters: "Japan and the United States have made substantial progress in their talks on sanctions against Iran, but no agreement has yet been reached, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said on Tuesday."

Reuters: "A top executive of Japan's scandal-ridden Olympus Corp has been found dead in a park outside New Delhi, an apparent suicide, The Times of India said on Tuesday, quoting police. Tsutomu Omori, 49, who was head of Olympus's medical equipment business in India, was found hanging from a boundary wall...."

New York Times: "After months of fraught negotiation, euro zone finance ministers were poised to bring Greece back from the brink of default Monday by agreeing to a second giant bailout in exchange for severe austerity measures — and subject to strict conditions."

Reuters: "Senior U.N. inspectors arrived in Tehran on Monday for talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program, a day after the Islamic state responded defiantly to tightened EU sanctions by halting oil sales to British and French companies."

Reuters: "Vladimir Putin will be elected president in the first round of March's election with more than half the vote, avoiding a runoff that would dent his authority on the eve of his planned return to the Kremlin's top job, a state pollster predicted Monday."

Reader Comments (4)

Happy Presidents Day!

Yes the Country hopelessly divided. Its worth remembering the greatness we've been witness to and that we've been here before. I have hope, hope that is "severely" challenged every time a GOP presidential candidate opens their mouth, that this time we can once again unite but this time do it in a more civilized manner.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

A little comment on the question of terminating pregnancy after amniocentesis. Is it true that many women terminate a pregnancy after getting bad news from the results, yes. But if you believe what Santorum believes that his god is the biggest controller of life then his god is the biggest killer of Down Syndrome fetuses because the great majority of Down Syndrome cases end in natural abortions called miscarriages. In fact way over 50% of all recurrent miscarriages have identifiable genetic defects in the fetal tissue. And a similar number might apply to single miscarriages but they are rarely tested. Just a few facts, that's all.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Ah, Marvin. You're applying rational thought to the irrational. The great thing about fundamentalist religion is you don't have to think. If it happens, "It's God's plan." Those who do the prudent thing & have prenatal tests, then find out they are carrying a fetus that has some life-altering affliction, have to think & make a difficult choice. That is not God's plan. That is the mother's plan. Thinking and deciding -- especially women thinking and deciding -- is not "natural." You really should leave it to God to decide.

What you see in Santorum is a living throwback to a primitive form of existence that predates scientific advances. So it is wrong to do things that could not be done without the aid of scientific discovery but it is okay to do really bad things -- like wage war & execute people who might be innocent -- because primitive people did those things without fancy science. If you saw Douthat's column yesterday, he called birth control "chemicals and latex." These are very sciencey things. Santorum & Douthat espouse a morality based in a pre-scientific worldview. It's kind of pathetic.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Marie, I agree with your comment completely with one minor adjustment. "The great thing about fundamentalist religion is you don't have to think." No. if you are a fundamentalist you are not allowed to think.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb
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