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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Friday
Jul202012

The Commentariat -- July 21, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

** E. J. Dionne: "Anyone who dares to say that an event such as the massacre at a Colorado movie theater early Friday demands that we rethink our approach to the regulation of firearms is accused of 'exploiting' the deaths of innocent people.... The gun lobby goes straight to the exploitation argument -- which is, of course, a big lie.... We never allow an assertion of this kind to stop conversation on other issues. Nobody who points to the inadequacy of our flood-control policies or mistakes by the Army Corps of Engineers is accused of 'exploiting' the victims of a deluge.... The worshipers of weapons also lay heavy stress on the psychological disabilities of the killer in a particular incident.... Crazy people, they say, will do crazy things, and there is nothing we can do about this." ...

... "We've Seen This Movie Before." Film critic Roger Ebert, in a New York Times op-ed: "Should [James Holmes] -- whose nature was apparently so obvious to his mother that, when a ABC News reporter called, she said 'You have the right person' -- have been able to buy guns, ammunition and explosives? The gun lobby will say yes.... That James Holmes is insane, few may doubt. Our gun laws are also insane, but many refuse to make the connection. The United States is one of few developed nations that accepts the notion of firearms in public hands. In theory, the citizenry needs to defend itself. Not a single person at the Aurora, Colo., theater shot back, but the theory will still be defended." ...

... A very affecting piece by Garance Franke-Ruta of The Atlantic on "the template of our grief" provides the "script treatment" for Ebert's "movie." ...

... Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker: "The reality is simple: every country struggles with madmen and ideologues with guns, and every country -- Canada, Norway, Britain -- has had a gun massacre once, or twice. Then people act to stop them, and they do -- as over the past few years has happened in Australia. Only in America are gun massacres of this kind routine, expectable, and certain to continue." ...

... Gail Collins: "... presidential candidates look at this issue and see the same thing other elected officials do: a rich, fierce, loopy lobby on one side, and, on the other, people with petitions, slogging along. Everybody, including the gun control advocates, knows that nothing will change unless the people decide to do the leading. Eventually, the American voters come around. Just ask the suffragists." ...

... Zach Beauchamp of Think Progress: "One of the principal weapons used by James Eagan Holmes in the horrific Dark Knight Rises shooting would have been subject to a series of sharp restrictions under the now-expired federal Assault Weapons ban. The AR-15 rifle carried by Holmes, a civilian semi-automatic version of the military M-16, would have been defined as a 'semiautomatic assault weapon' under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. If the law was still in force, semiautomatic assault weapons would have been outright banned." ...

... CW: This story is so eerie I thought it worth linking, even though I don't usually go for the maudlin stuff. AFP: "Jessica Ghawi had escaped a mall shooting in Toronto weeks ago when an 'odd feeling' led her outside, and then blogged about how fortunate she was. But in an ironic and tragic twist of fate, Ghawi died in Friday's Colorado theater shooting spree, one of 12 fatalities in the mass killing."

Joe Nocera: "... every week bring news of another financial scandal." Nocera runs down the latest four biggies. CW: he missed a 5th one: the municipal-bond bid-rigging scandal for which a B of A executive was indicted yesterday (see Friday's Ledes.

Keep the Government's Hands off My Tax Loopholes. Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "On Capitol Hill, lawmakers casually point to closing loopholes as the answer to much that ails the country. But ... it will be [difficult] to lower the budget deficit through painless changes in the tax code.... One man's loophole can be another's vital constituent interest.... The three largest [loopholes] are as popular as they are expensive: the mortgage interest deduction has cost about $75 billion a year recently, the employer deduction for health care has cost $120 billion a year, and the charitable-giving deduction has cost $38 billion a year...."

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) sticks it to Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) in a Washington Post op-ed: "... the central principle behind the unlimited contributions to super PACs that will dominate this election cycle is simple: Money is speech.... Yet many who hold this freedom as an article of faith are all too willing to limit an equally precious form of speech: voting.... Machinations [in Florida] make a mockery of the democracy we put on display every Election Day. When we hear of corrupt voting practices in foreign countries, where the ideal of democracy is nothing more than lip service, we feel good about ourselves.It's time to look right under our noses. It's happening here at home.

Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: "Elizabeth Warren has been so prodigious in raising money for her Senate campaign in Massachusetts that she is on track to become the top fund-raiser for the Senate this year, as well as one of the top Congressional fund-raisers of all time."

Presidential Race

Maybe it's time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they're going to do about it.... Romney passed a ban on assault weapons back when he was governor and now he says he's against it. Of course, he's done that on almost everything. Obama, when he was elected, said I want to reinstate the ban on assault weapons and he's never done it. -- Michael Bloomberg, New York City Mayor ...

... Kevin Robillard of Politico: "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the nation’s highest-profile supporters of gun control, said Friday that 'soothing words are nice' but demanded that the presidential candidates 'stand up and tell us what they're going to do about' preventing mass shootings." ...

... Mackenzie Weinger of Politico publishes Mitt Romney's evolving stance on gun control legislation. Now he likes AK-47s for all law-abiding citizens.

** It Was about the Money. Beth Healy & Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe: "Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney's former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not merely an absentee owner during [the 1999-2002] period.... He drove the complex negotiations over his own large severance package.... Indeed, by remaining CEO and sole shareholder, Romney held on to his leverage in the talks that resulted in his generous 10-year retirement package, according to former associates.... The full tally of Romney's 10-year compensation deal is not known because he has refused to release tax returns for the relevant period, which ended in 2009. In addition, his financial disclosures are sporadic and incomplete...."

Steve Benen produces his 26th installment of "Mitt's Mendacity." Run down the list. It's mind-blowing. It's as if he cannot say one true thing.

Wonders Never Cease. Glenn Kessler, the so-called Washington Post fact-checker, has at long last had a change of heart: "Romney has failed to provide sufficient evidence that he had 'no role whatsoever' at Bain. Over the past few days, we have repeatedly asked Bain Capital whether the firm could provide a statement that a review of Bain board meetings had shown that Romney did not attend any such meeting, either in person or by phone. We are still waiting for a response.... Going forward, unless new evidence emerges..., we may withhold the awarding of Pinocchios when the claim rests mostly on the question of when Romney stopped managing Bain Capital."

Greg Sargent links to a great Spanish-language ad (translation to English is included on the linked page) by SEIU & Priorities USA tying Romney's refusal to release his tax returns to his tough "papers-please" immigration stance. Sargent notes that the line, "He wants us to show our papers. But he won't show us his," came first from Vice President Biden.

The Other .01 Percent Thinks Al Green Is a Threat to Democracy. CW: Oops! Forgot to link this one. Paul Krugman: Gary Silverman of the Financial Times learned "why the Romney counter-attack on the 'America the Beautiful' ad featured Obama singing Al Green, and pretty well too": Suzy Welch, wife of multi-millionaire Jack "'Welch suggested that Mr Obama's personal style and choice of musical material define him as a member of a "different America."'"

** Dana Milbank: "On Thursday, two days after [Romney surrogate John] Sununu's attack, Romney himself said that Obama lacks 'an understanding of what it is that makes America such a unique nation.' Sununu and Romney are legitimizing people such as Cliff Kincaid" who convened a meeting at the National Press Club to discuss Obama's "real father," a "communist pornographer," "pedophile" & "possible Soviet spy" who "was Obama's sex teacher."

The Little Man Who Won't Be There. Jonathan Martin of Politico: "Former President George W. Bush will not attend the Republican convention next month in Tampa." (A classic Friday News dump.) ...

... BTW, the bit at the end of Politico's late-nite jokes -- recent presidents talking about the presidency -- is hilarious.

... Take the test and find out. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Right Wing World

Steve Myers of Poynter: "The Daily Caller is promoting its weekly gun giveaway in an ad placed next to a story related to the Colorado theater shooting. The headline for the story reads, 'Tea party leader tells media to stop 'false and reckless reporting' after Batman shooting'; to the right is an ad that says, 'Who should Romney select for VP? Click to enter The Daily Caller gun giveaway.'" ...

... BUT, in fairness, the MSM does it, too. Jim Romanesco: "A Denver Post tweet mentions a 'badly placed ad on our site' that has been disabled. Here’s what they were referring to:"

AND. I never look at the ads, but just as I was shutting down Gail Collins' column, which I used in my NYTX column (not up on NYTX yet), I saw this:

... Become a Gunsmith??? That's a New York Times ad next to a column advocating for gun control? Excellent product placement!

News Ledes

New York Times: "Alexander Cockburn, the acerbic left-wing journalist and author who though born in Scotland thrived in the political and cultural battlegrounds of the United States, died on Saturday in Bad Salzhausen, Germany, where he had been receiving medical treatment, his family said. He was 71. The cause was cancer, said Jeffrey St. Clair, a friend and colleague. Mr. St. Clair announced Mr. Cockburn's death on CounterPunch, the Web site that the two men edited." St. Clair's remembrance is on the front page of CounterPunch online.

Guardian: "Rupert Murdoch has stepped down as a director of News International, in a move that will fuel speculation the media mogul is preparing to sell off his UK newspapers. In an email sent on Saturday, staff at The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun were told that Murdoch remained 'fully committed' as chairman despite relinquishing positions on a number of UK boards, including NI Group."

AP: "An Air Force instructor implicated in a sweeping sex scandal at one of the nation's busiest military training bases was convicted in military court Friday of raping one female recruit and sexually assaulting several others. Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, the first Lackland Air Force Base instructor to stand trial in the scandal, was found guilty by a jury of seven military personnel on all 28 counts he faced, including rape, aggravated sexual contact and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault." ...

     ... Reuters Update: "A drill instructor accused of raping and sexually assaulting 10 female trainees at Lackland Air Force Base was sentenced on Saturday to 20 years in prison, the stiffest jail term handed down yet in the biggest sex scandal to hit the U.S. military since the 1990s."

Guardian: "Police investigating the shooting spree at a screening of the new Batman film in Colorado are preparing to send in a robot to detonate what they called a sophisticated booby-trap in the apartment of the suspected gunman." The Denver Post front page has links to related stories. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Law enforcement officials said Saturday that they had successfully disabled the most dangerous explosives and incendiary devices at the apartment of James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people at a movie theater [in Aurora, Colorado]."

Reader Comments (7)

W/r/t the Roger Ebert op-ed. Just finished reading a piece about him in the 2011 Best American Non-Required Reading ( I know)... Its a cool piece by a Chris Jones. "Robert Ebert: The Essential Man" it was culled from Esquire . Pretty good collection of work this time around.
Anyway.... Jill Stein in 2012!!!
On another note, and with all due respect, I'm wondering if there's a database of all the "mass" shootings in the U.S. over the last, I dunno, 10 years? Again, super sincerely, I can't fathom when indirectly affected people express shock, it's not at all uncommon. There a bit like suicide bombers without the, what, spirituality?? ( please don't kill me for that, I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. It almost seems like American mass murderers are voyeuristic about it?? Man I'm way out of my league here....)
Anyway, again, it's wierd how violent America is? Isn't it?

July 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralan

Re: mad killing. Surprised? No. We reap what we sow. Innocence left the theater long before the screening of the show.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Michael Bloomberg is totally out of touch with American politics. After what happened yesterday neither candidate will ever mention the word 'gun' again. Just like they haven't mentioned the word 'climate' since the U.S. starting burning up. Politics has nothing to do with leadership.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

I posted this in the 7/20 Comments by mistake:

The question we need to ask is, "Has the U.S.A. become the N.R.A.'s bitch?" Are we so terrified of confrontation that we kowtow to any cult of nuts who yell loud enough? I believe the answer is "Yes," and all this discussion is merely therapeutic, an attempt to make ourselves feel better by pretending that we just might take a stand one of these days.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Yes, Jack, the N.R.A. holds the guns dead straight at this country's temple and it's high noon even at midnight. And so this recent tragedy isn't going to change a thing unless the people rise up and demand it, but the people, according to polls, don't want a change. They want their gun rights so by god, they'll have them and we'll have more of the same stuff happen and our politicians will come forth and exclaim their sorrow and add the ubiquitous, " We hold the victims and their families in our hearts and prayers." REALLY? Prayers? What the fuck are you praying for????? Do something concrete, for heaven's sake, ban those suckers that kill so easily and make it EXTREMELY difficult for crazy people to purchase these guns that not only kill a dozen at a time in a theatre, but kill dozens every day in most of the states. Makes me sick!!!!

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

We've all heard it said, ad nauseam: If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Got to give the NRA credit; every time one of these senseless, demented shootings occurs, outlawing anything but standard hunting rifles and pistols looks like a good plan to me. Though the Right is re-writing the history of the few environmental controls we managed to put in place before our politics went so wacko, we did outlaw DDT, fer Gawd' sake. I don't mind a few outlaws having a little DDT tucked away. But the way it stands, these tragedies happen because outlaws and the mentally challenged DO have the freedom to possess and use modern weaponry on the innocent and defenseless, and they do so because they ARE outlaws whether we outlaw guns or not.

The counter argument to sensibly controlling weapon acquisition, which we've all heard, would be to arm everyone. That would work out well in a crowded, dark theater or in a mall, wouldn't it?

Good grief!

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I think when some heavily armed pathologically demented soul begins systematically knocking off the NRA hierarchy it will change. Not before.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer
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