The Wires

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."

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 28

11:05 am ET: President Obama receives the annual hurricane season outlook & preparedness briefing in Miami, Florida (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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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.

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Thursday
Feb232012

The Commentariat -- February 24, 2012

President Obama spoke about energy policy at the University of Miami yesterday. He let on Republicans were lying about his policy, without naming names. Related New York Times story here:

How a Bill Does Not Become a Law. Laura Vozzella & Anita Kumar of the Washington Post write an interesting history of how Virginia's transvaginal ultrasound bill (along with the personhood bill) got tabled. CW: and thank you, Amy Poehler & Jon Stewart.

Sandra Fluke, whom Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) refused to let speak before his committee last week, spoke yesterday at an informal hearing hosted by the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, addressing the subject of contraception access. It's no wonder Issa wouldn't give Fluke a hearing; her testimony shows who's "moral" and who isn't:

... NEW. Dana Milbank: "If the gender gap becomes a chasm that swallows Republicans this fall, it will be no fluke. It will, however, have something to do with Sandra Fluke."

... Elizabeth Warren in a Boston Globe op-ed: "... the Senate is about to vote on an amendment that would allow any insurance company or any employer to claim a vague 'moral conviction'’ as an excuse to deny you health care coverage. Here’s the really astonishing news: Senator Scott Brown is not only voting for this amendment, he is fighting to get it passed." ...

... Sen. Scott Brown, in a Boston Globe op-ed: "The new ObamaCare mandate forcing religious organizations to offer insurance coverage for practices that go against the teachings of their church gives the government control over the most personal aspects of our lives, opening the door to endless abuses of power.

Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "Today, the State Department revealed that another fundraiser turned ambassador ran her embassy into the ground ... only to return to fundraising and leave the State Department to pick up the pieces. According to a new State Department inspector general's report on the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas, Ambassador Nicole Avant presided over 'an extended period of dysfunctional leadership and mismanagement, which has caused problems throughout the embassy' since she was appointed by the president in 2009." ...

... Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, faces "a thicket of questions surrounding his own Florida campaigns.... Federal inquiries surrounding Mr. Buchanan appear to be widening, as investigators examine allegations that his companies improperly reimbursed contributors to his campaigns and claimed improper tax deductions and that he failed to include all his varied financial interests in his Congressional disclosure reports. The Federal Election Commission has already completed one investigation that produced a settlement this week.... A federal grand jury in Tampa is hearing evidence in the case.... The House Ethics Committee, meanwhile, is examining his failure in Congressional filings to disclose numerous financial interests and management positions...."

Right Wing World

I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. So you don't blame the pills. I think it's sort of like the argument — conservatives use the argument all the time about guns. Guns don't kill, criminals kill. So, in a way, it's the morality of society that we have to deal with. The pill is there and, you know, it contributes, maybe, but the pills can't be blamed for the immorality of our society.-- Ron Paul, during the debate Wednesday

Women and their contraception are morally analogous to criminals and their firearms. -- Charles Pierce

Mark Murray of NBC News: at the GOP debate, "He Who Must Not Be Named -- [George W.] Bush -- was named by the candidates or moderator nine times.... Almost every heated exchange invoked, one way or another, policies, endorsements, or legislation from the Bush era.... All of last night's criticism of policies and endorsements from 2001 through 2008 -- some of which weren't all that controversial at the time -- reflects how much more conservative the Republican Party has become since the man who billed himself as the 'compassionate conservative' sat in the Oval Office.... Last night's debate was the first time when George W. Bush's record -- directly or indirectly -- was criticized as much as Barack Obama's." ...

... CW: It seems conservatives and Republicans are not enjoying the spectacle of the GOP presidential candidates gnawing at each others' legs as much as I am. Here's winger Byron York of the Examiner scolding the candidates & their spokesmen.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "How much would a pair of victories [in Michigan & Arizona] be worth [to Mitt Romney]? Republican strategists say that although they would restore Romney to front-runner status in the race, they could still leave the party looking at a long nomination battle. They also say that winning both states Tuesday wouldn’t be enough to resolve many of the doubts that still surround Romney." ...

... Paul Krugman on Mitt Romney's Keynesian gaffe & his pathological lies: "Mr. Romney is so deeply committed to insincerity that neither side can trust him to do what it considers to be the right thing."

... With Friends Like This.... Steve Benen has a hilarious post which runs down quite a few Romney surrogates who are happy to speak out on the record disagreeing with or dissing Romney. ...

... With Endorsements Like This.... The Detroit Free Press endorses Romney in the Michigan primary, mostly because he's not as bad as the competition:

... for the past 12 months, Romney has been refashioning himself as something other than what his record suggests. He has made gestures toward economic and social radicalism, and eschewed the common sense of cooperative governing that made him a success in Massachusetts. Romney was also dead wrong when he opposed government bailouts for the auto industry (Michigan’s most vital economic engine) in late 2008. And he has since adopted a recalcitrant and, at times, revisionist defense of his position in the face of overwhelming evidence that the bailouts he opposed were necessary.... But Romney, unlike the zealous Rick Santorum, the impulsive Newt Gingrich and the backward-thinking Ron Paul, is preferable to the rest of the field.

... Domenico Montanaro of NBC News: "The pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future is going up with an ad in Michigan and Arizona, starting tonight, that focuses on the story of Mitt Romney helping to lead the search for his business partner's daughter who went missing in New York City in the 1990s.... The ad run by a SUPER PAC, called 'Saved,' is word-for-word the same ad that the Romney CAMPAIGN ran in 2007, called 'The Search.' ... Super PACs and campaigns are, by federal law, not allowed coordinate." You can see both ads on this NYT Caucus blogpost. ...

     ... Paul Blumenthal in the Huffington Post: Paul Ryan, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, said the ad "violates campaign finance law that prohibits the republication of campaign materials by a super PAC." ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "... just days before Republicans vote in Michigan and Arizona, [Rick Santorum's] lengthy Washington record has also become powerful fodder for Mitt Romney as he attempts to undermine Mr. Santorum’s conservative credentials and portray him as a creature of insider politics. ...

... Ron Brownstein of the National Journal: "The most consistent note in Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign is attacking his rivals for their ideological inconsistency. It’s a nervy strategy for a candidate whose own greatest vulnerability is the sense, especially among conservatives, that he has serially reconsidered his positions for political advantage on issues from abortion to gay rights to immigration." ...

... Delusional Mitt. Steve Rattner, who was Obama's auto czar, writes in a New York Times op-ed: The gist of Romney's position on the auto bailout "is that the government should have stayed on the sidelines and allowed the companies to go through what he calls 'managed bankruptcies,' financed by private capital. That sounds like a wonderfully sensible approach — except that it’s utter fantasy. In late 2008 and early 2009, when G.M. and Chrysler had exhausted their liquidity, every scrap of private capital had fled to the sidelines." ...

... Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times examines the relationship between Mitt Romney & his mother Lenore.

Tim Egan contrasts Rick Santorum's theocratic aspirations with Roger Williams' founding of Rhode Island in 1636: "the first government in the world which broke church and state apart."

Michael Crowley of Time: when Mitt Romney criticized him in Wednesday's debate for supporting Arlen Specter, Rick Santorum responded "that that Specter had promised him he would use his power as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman to support George W. Bush’s judicial nominees." But Specter says it ain't so: "I never made any deals with Santorum about supporting — any blanket commitment to support Bush judges."

AND in a delightful-to-read short essay for Esquire, novelist Walter Kirn takes a liking to the old codger Ron Paul.

Is there any important political leader in this country who is more rude and obnoxious that Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.)? Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post tried to refute Christie's claim that he's "just like President Obama" on gay marriage. Christie would not let Capehart get a word in edgewise. The post & an embedded video of the exchange are here.

Local News

Gene Johnson of the AP: "In a ruling that appears headed toward appeal, a federal judge has ruled that Washington state cannot force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives. The state's true goal in adopting the rules at issue was not to promote the timely access to medicine, but to suppress religious objections by druggists who believe that such drugs can have an effect tantamount to abortion, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton said in his ruling Wednesday.... The judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, first blocked the state's dispensing rule in 2007. But a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel overruled him, saying the rules did not target religious conduct. It sent the case back to Leighton, who held an 11-day trial before reaffirming his original decision."

Kenric Ward of Sunshine State News: "Waving aside objections from the Florida Bar and the ACLU, the [Florida state] House Judiciary Committee approved an 'anti-Sharia law' bill on Wednesday." CW: as a Floridian, I sure hope this bill passes because I stay up nights worrying I will have to bow five times a day to Mecca.

News Ledes

New York Times: "After flirting through the week with breaking a new record, the broad United States stock market on Friday reached its highest level since 2008. The milestone suggested that upbeat signals on the economy, along with low interest rates, are encouraging investors to take more risks with their money."

Washington Post: "Iran has significantly ramped up production of a purer form of enriched uranium, U.N. nuclear officials said in a new report Friday, a finding certain to exacerbate worries about the country’s march toward nuclear-weapons capability."

ABC News: "President Barack Obama vowed Friday to 'look for every tool available' to stop Syria's deadly crackdown on opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's regime. 'It is important that we not be bystanders during these extraordinary events,' he said in the Oval Office as he met with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark." ...

... New York Times: "A leader of Hamas spoke out against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, throwing its support behind the opposition and stripping Damascus of what little credibility it may have retained with the Arab street. It was Hamas’s first public break with its longtime patron." ...

... New York Times: "Diplomats, government ministers and high officials met in the Tunisian capital on Friday for a meeting of the so-called 'Friends of Syria' designed to put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, a day after a United Nations panel concluded that the authorities in Damascus had ordered 'gross human rights violations' as a matter of state policy, amounting to crimes against humanity." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "International leaders meeting [in Tunis] Friday agreed on a unified plan for pressure they hope will stop Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s bloody crackdown on civilian opponents and drive him from power, but they stopped well short of approving military assistance to the Syrian opposition."

New York Times: "Angry and violent protests broke out in Kabul after the midday prayer on Friday and gunfire could be heard near the large Eid Gah Mosque where a crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered in the center of the capital."

Here We Go Again. The Hill: "Seven state attorneys general sued the Obama administration Thursday over its order requiring some religious employers to cover birth control in their employees’ healthcare plans. In the suit, the states argue that the White House infringed on the religious freedoms protected by the First Amendment."

Washington Post: "Medical costs for enrollees in the health-care law’s high-risk insurance pools are expected to more than double initial predictions, the Obama administration said Thursday in a report on the new program."

New York Times: "Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced on Friday that he would challenge his successor, Julia Gillard, for the leadership of the Labor Party and the country in a vote set for Monday morning. The move sets up a showdown to end an acrimonious public leadership battle that analysts warn has begun to paralyze the Australian government." Sydney Morning Herald story here.

AP: "Iraq's al-Qaida branch has claimed responsibility for the latest wave of bombings and other attacks that killed dozens in Baghdad and across the country, raising concerns over the government's ability to provide security after the U.S. troop pullout."

Reuters: "The United States' first sit-down negotiations with North Korea since its new and untested leader took over made some progress although Kim Jong-un's ascent to power did not appear to have altered the North's positions, a U.S. envoy said on Friday."

Hollywood Reporter: "During a live performance of StupidCrazyPolitics at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in San Jose, Calif., [comedian Bill] Maher presented a check for $1 million to Priorities USA Action, which spends money in support of the president’s reelection campaign.

AP: "A coroner on Friday opened Australia's fourth inquest into the most notorious and bitterly controversial legal drama in the nation's history: the 1980 death of a 9-week-old baby whose parents say was taken by a dingo from her tent in the Australian Outback."

AP: "A Dutch prince struck by an avalanche while skiing off-trail in Austria last week suffered massive brain damage and he may never regain consciousness, doctors said Friday. Johan Friso, 43, is the second son of the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix."

AP: "In the final months before she resigned as Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin displayed growing frustration over deteriorating relationships with state lawmakers and outrage over ethics complaints that she felt frivolously targeted her and prompted her to write: 'I can't take it anymore.'"

Reader Comments (5)

Anti-Sharia law is about the type of legslation the Florida legisature can handle. They get rambunctous some times and want to show those lobbyists that they can write a bill on their own.
You may remember that they passed a law saving us from dwarf tossing. I am not kidding, they really did. Their next independent bill writting attempt was a law against dirty expressions on bumper stickers.
The Florida Lagislature is composed of members of a lesser breed that depends on special interest lawyers and lobbyists for complicated things. The wing nuts are currently in control.

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

"They ... want to show those lobbyists that they can write a bill on their own." -- Carlyle

@ Carlyle. Ah, you overestimate my elected representatives. It seems anti-Sharia law nut David Yerushalmi wrote the bill. The Florida legislator who filed the bill just copied Yerushalmi's boilerplate bill. So, no, they can't write a bill of their own.

February 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

I think we have a winner:

http://douglass-forgot-the-chitterlings.tumblr.com/post/18106025547/somebody-posted-this-on-my-news-feed-it-is

February 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

thank you sandra fluke. another strong woman in the pipeline. she answers each of the misogynists' claims in the most rational and logical way (as i sit there planning how to castrate those hateful guys). thank you, marie, for sharing this clip.

February 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

For those of you who aren't offended by slightly raunchy visuals, @DaveS is right -- looks like a winner.

February 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader
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