The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, May 21, 2015.

Washington Post: "California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County late Wednesday after an onshore pipeline burst, spewing thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean — blackening beaches and endangering West Coast wildlife. The area, a popular camping spot some 20 miles from Santa Barbara, known for its palm tree-lined seashore and pristine surf, has been “closed indefinitely.” The extent of the damage is not known."

New York Times: "Islamic State militants on Thursday solidified their rout of Syrian government forces in the historic desert city of Palmyra, moving to the outskirts to seize its airport and the notorious Tadmur Prison, according to residents and statements from the group. It was the first time that the ISIS militants seized an entire city from Syrian government forces; it won control of its first major city, Raqqa, from Syrian insurgents and the Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front after the two became rivals."

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 22

10:00 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony (audio only)

11:00 am ET: President Obama speaks at the Jewish American Heritage Month celebration

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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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.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

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Monday
Feb202012

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!

http://www.c-span.org/Events/Abraham-Lincoln39s-quotA-House-Dividedquot-Speech/10737422241/

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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