The Ledes

Friday, November 27, 2015.

AP: "Malian special forces have arrested two men over last week's attack on a luxury hotel in the capital that killed 19 people, according to a statement distributed Friday morning. The statement identified the two Malians, both arrested in Bamako, but provided no other details on their background or their potential roles in the attack."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families, What makes America America is that we offer that chance. -- President Obama
White House: "In this week's address, the President wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and reflected on America’s history of welcoming men and women seeking a safer, better future for themselves and their families":

The Ledes

Thursday, November 26, 2015.

Guardian: "Sex abuse allegations against priests at St John’s Abbey in Minnesota were revealed in stark detail on Tuesday with the release of confidential documents concerning five priests accused of child sex abuse."

Reuters: "A 23-year-old Indiana man has pleaded guilty to breaking into a medical museum and stealing preserved human brains that he then sold online. David Charles, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to six charges including receiving stolen property and burglary in a Marion county court. Magistrate Amy Barbar sentenced him to one year of home detention and two years of probation, county prosecutor spokesman Anthony Deer said."

White House Live Video
November 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."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (October 26): "A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

New York Times (October 20: "The American Cancer Society, which has for years taken the most aggressive approach to [breast-cancer] screening, issued new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years. The organization also said it no longer recommended clinical breast exams, in which doctors or nurses feel for lumps, for women of any age who have had no symptoms of abnormality in the breasts."

... For about $880,000, you can purchase Julia Child's excellent little house in Provence; her kitchen is intact, except for the stove.

New York Times: "Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks [forming Stonehenge], divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there. They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge." With slide show.


New York Times: "In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees, in a packed sales room at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction."

Artist's rendering of the main exhibition hall of the planned wing of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "In designing its $325 million addition on Columbus Avenue, the American Museum of Natural History has opted for an architectural concept that is both cautious and audacious, according to plans approved by its board on Wednesday. The design ... evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior. The design, by the architect Jeanne Gang for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, aims to unite the museum’s various activities, solve its notorious circulation problems and provide a multistory showcase for the institution’s expanding role as a hub for scientific research and scholarship.”

New York Times: "... Jon Stewart has signed a production deal with the premium cable channel HBO, the channel announced on Tuesday. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Stewart will work on some digital short projects that are expected to appear on HBO’s apps like HBO Now and HBO Go. Mr. Stewart could also pursue movie or television projects with the network. The contract covers four years."

Guardian: "Facebook has announced plans to water down its controversial 'real names' policy, after lobbying from civil liberties groups worldwide."

If you'd like to know whatever happened to former NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, the Washington Post has the answer.

Jennifer Senior of the New York Times reviews Notorious R.G.B., by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik: "It’s an artisanal hagiography, a frank and admiring piece of fan nonfiction."

Digital Globe photo, via NASA, republished in the New York Times. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.... New York Times: "Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.... Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes."

New York Times: "In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior. The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as 'locality,' which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated 'spooky action at a distance,' and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion." CW: Everything is relative, Al.

Gizmodo: On Halloween, "a rather large asteroid — discovered less than three weeks ago — is set to to fly past the Earth at a distance not seen in nearly a decade.... NASA says that 2015 TB145 will safely pass by the Earth and continue to following along its exceptionally eccentric and high-inclination orbit — which may explain why it wasn’t discovered until only a few weeks ago. During the flyby, the asteroid will reach a magnitude luminosity of 10, so it should be observable to astronomers with telescopes."

For $299,000 you could buy the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run." It looks like a dump prone to flooding every time it rains, but it's a block-and-a-half from the Jersey shore beach.

New York Post: "During his time in the White House, President Richard Nixon — pug-nosed, jowly, irascible, charmless-yet-devoted husband to Pat — was known to awkwardly hit on middle-aged female staffers. In 'The Last of the President’s Men' (Simon & Schuster), veteran journalist Bob Woodward quotes Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, about the commander-in-chief’s sad seduction techniques."

The Washington Post thought it would be great journalism to feature Donald's Digs in their weekend edition.  You'll be happy to know that Trump's taste runs to the gaudy & garish. You can take the boy out of the boroughs but you can take the boroughs out of the boy. I'd call Donald's style Early Modern Lottery Winner. Here's a sampling:

... There's much more where that came from. Ugh. Here, by contrast, is the study in Michael Bloomberg's New York City pad. Bloomberg is quite a few $$BB richer than Trump.

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

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The Commentariat -- July 6, 2012

** Prof. William Forbath in a New York Times op-ed: "... today's court challenges the White House, the Democrats and the liberal legal community to reassert a constitutional vision of a national government empowered 'to promote the general Welfare' and -- in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's terse formula -- 'to regulate the national economy in the interest of those who labor to sustain it.'"

This Comes as No Surprise. Brian Beutler of TPM: "... many of the states with high-profile conservative governors vowing to stand athwart the ACA's progress, by refusing to expand their Medicaid programs and erecting hurdles to establishing insurance marketplaces, would stand to gain the most from successful implementation of the law." CW: let's be clear here: these governors are white Republican men who don't want to help poor people, particularly poor people of color. ...

... Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "... this is an ideological and even a moral issue to conservatives, who view dependence on any form of public assistance as eroding the 'moral fiber' of the poor (as Paul Ryan likes to put it), and as corrupting the country through empowerment of big government as a redistributor of wealth from virtuous taxpayers to parasites who will perpetually vote themselves more of other people's money." These governors' real goal is to end Medicaid altogether.

Two card-carrying conservatives -- Mickey Kaus (here) & Scott Galupo (here) argue that universal healthcare "is a social prerequisite for more freedom and market-driven flexibility." That's refreshing!

Tim Egan: "In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a special report of 'unprecedented extreme weather and climate events' to come. The events are here, though the skeptics now running the Republican Party deny the obvious, in large part because they are paid to deny the obvious. But for those who are already familiar with the new face of nature, no amount of posturing can wish away the fire this time."

Presidential Race

President Obama finally boasted about the Affordable Care Act in a campaign stop yesterday:

Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian: "Barack Obama has used a tour of the swing state of Ohio to renew his claim that his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, led the outsourcing of American jobs to India and China. The assertion is controversial and has been largely discredited by independent fact-checking groups. But Obama showed no sign of backing away from the claims on Thursday, telling an audience in Maumee, Ohio that Romney's executive experience was in 'companies that were pioneers of outsourcing'." ...

     ... CW: this is a good example of the press, not the politician, misleading the reader. I checked the transcript, and here's exactly what Obama said: "Governor Romney's experience has been in owning companies that were called 'pioneers' of outsourcing. That's not my phrase -- 'pioneers' of outsourcing." Obama is 100 percent truthful here: this is a phrase from a Washington Post investigative report, and Obama is careful to characterize the wording as someone else's -- in this case, a reputable newspaper's (and one that is definitely not in the tank for Obama). Here's the New York Times story, which covers the remark, covers Romney's response, but doesn't accuse the President of misleading.

Rich Miller & John Detrixhe of Bloomberg News: "Mitt Romney has suggested that President Barack Obama has done a worse job managing the economy than Jimmy Carter. Investors disagree. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index of stock prices has surged 70 percent under Obama, more than three times the 19 percent increase seen during President Carter's first 3-1/2 years in office starting in 1977. The corporate and government bond markets also have outperformed, with yields falling rather than rising. And the dollar has fared better...."

New York Times Editors: Mitt is full of shit. (Okay, not exactly their words, but their sentiment.) "Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote that the mandate is legal under the Congressional taxing power, which Republicans took a step further, saying the mandate must now be a tax. And not just a tax, but a huge, oppressive tax, one of the largest in history. It is, of course, no such thing. How many 'oppressive taxes' are entirely optional? Anyone who does the smart thing and gets health insurance won't have to pay it. It is, as Mr. Romney himself described it in 2006, a fee to promote 'personal responsibility' and prevent healthy people from freeloading." ...

... Michael Shear & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "As the Massachusetts governor and then as a presidential candidate, Mr. Romney spent the next six years describing in a variety of different ways the possible punishments for ignoring the Massachusetts mandate: as 'free-rider surcharges,' 'tax penalties,' 'tax incentives' and sometimes just as 'penalties.' But regardless of the terms he used, his intentions were clear: Massachusetts residents who chose not to buy health insurance would see their state income taxes go up. Now ... Mr. Romney is asking voters to condemn his rival for a health insurance mandate that is nearly identical to the one he championed in Massachusetts." His newest claim asks "voters to ignore his own record.... Mr. Romney is ... criticizing the president's approach with the same language that he once happily applied to his own achievement."

Paul Krugman: "Did I mention that Herbert Hoover actually was a great businessman in the classic mold? ... If Bain got involved with your company, one way or another, the odds were pretty good that even if your job survived you ended up with lower pay and diminished benefits. In short, what was good for Bain Capital definitely wasn't good for America...."

Jonathan Chait of New York: "Conservatives say they want Romney to change his staff or alter his campaign tactics. But what they really want is a different candidate and a different electorate. They want to believe that the American people are hungering for detailed endorsements of Republican plans to cut entitlement spending and taxes for the rich and launch a philosophical assault on the welfare state. But that's not what the public wants and Romney knows it." Read the whole post. ...

... Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: Emperor Rupert has never cared for Prince Willard. And the emperor's disdain for shows up in the product of his media empire.

CW: So here Ann Romney says that the Obama campaign sent out a memo early on that said, "Kill Romney." Anything is possible in politics, but I don't believe a presidential campaign would put that sentence to paper. When photographers took pictures of the Romneys jet-skiing, commentators called it a "John Kerry windsurfing moment." But it wasn't. The Obama campaign is not going to run ads that appear to disparage Ann Romney. I am beginning to think that the Romney campaign is using Ann Romney as a very effective foil: she lies & provides cover for her husband:

     ... P.S. Surely there are wingers out there already spreading the story that Obama plans to assassinate Romney.

AND. Let's Debate Obama's Race! One of the first cinematic black presidents says, "America's first black president hasn't arisen yet. [Obama]'s not America's first black president -- he's America's first mixed-race president."

Local News

This post by Gregg Easterbrook of the Atlantic is several days old, but if you live in Maryland or parts of Washington, D.C. and are a Pepco customer you'll want to read it, so you can get pissed off about the multi-day power outage all over again. Besides, maybe you're just now getting back on line so no news is old news.

Answer to July 7 PhotoQuiz: Michael Bloomberg, President of the Slide Rule Club; he was also in the debating club, technical club, science club & the homeroom dues agent.

News Ledes

Orlando Sun Sentinel: "Murder defendant George Zimmerman calmly walked out of the Seminole County Jail today with the help of donations to his legal defense fund. Zimmerman posted the $1 million bond thanks in part to the $20,000 in donations raised since Thursday when Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. set the bond amount."

** AP: "U.S. employers added only 80,000 jobs in June, a third straight month of weak hiring that shows the economy is struggling three years after the recession ended. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent."

Guardian: "Central banks around the world signalled their determination to stimulate the flagging global economy on Thursday yesterday, with the injection of £50bn of electronic money into the UK and interest rate cuts in the eurozone and China. The Bank of England warned that recovery was at risk without a boost to its programme of quantitative easing after a flurry of economic surveys showed the double-dip recession could stretch into the autumn."

Huffington Post: yesterday California called for an amendment to the U.S. constitution overturning Citizens United vs. FEC, "which ruled that government restriction of corporation or union spending on political campaigns violated the First Amendment right to free speech. California joins Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland and New Mexico in calling for ... overturn[ing] the Supreme Court ruling."

New York Times: "Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria met [in Paris] on Friday with their international sponsors to intensify pressure for his removal, buoyed by word that Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, a commander in the elite Republican Guard, and a member of the Damascus aristocracy, had defected and fled the country."

AP: "Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was convicted and sentenced to 50 years Thursday for a systematic plan to steal babies from prisoners who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the military junta's war on leftist dissenters three decades ago. Argentina's last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, also was convicted and got 15 years."

New York Times: "French investigators' final report on the 2009 crash of an Air France jet that killed 228 people portrays a cockpit rapidly consumed by confusion and unable to decode a welter of alarms to determine which flight readings could be trusted, with the pilots' apparent reliance on a faulty display cementing the plane into its fatal stall."

AFP: "Equador's foreign minister has said that rape and sexual assault cases lodged in Sweden against Julian Assange are laughable, but no ruling has yet been made on the WikiLeaks founder's asylum application."

Reader Comments (5)

Re the Atlantic post about the horrors of Pepco in Montgomery County, Md and D.C. Those of us who lived in the area know it well. The people who bought my house in McLean, VA (when I moved to Oregon), told me their entire street was without power for 4 days--except for them and the house directly across the street--which just "happens" to belong to the Deputy Director of the CIA. No inconveniences allowed. Never know when we might need to send out another drone! A great example of "Power begetting Power!"

On the UP side, I hear that David Brooks' multi-million dollar Queen Anne manse in classy Cleveland Park (D.C.) is still without power. HA! Hope everything in his frig is now as rotten as his prose. He can't buy his way out of this one--unless he has an expensive generator, which Cleveland Park (when I lived in the area) disallowed. Pepco rocks, she said bitchily and with ill-will.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

There is always a limit. Even for the MSM, it is hard to keep your eyes closed forever. In the last few days there seems to be a bit of an awakening. Finally Mitt said something so 'dumb' (a quote from the WSJ) about the ACA tax that the flip may have actually caused a flop.
And the now that the evening news spends the first 10 min. of every broadcast watching the country burn, the words 'global warming' are actually mentioned.
So you can hide from the facts, but in these cases the perps keep coming at you.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

The Atlantic story about Pepco may be days old, but it was news to me. Ouch! A rather damning story, especially this line: "Montgomery County, Maryland, is one of the nation's bluest and wealthiest counties; its perennially awful power service raises the question of whether liberals can make the trains run on time." We all know that the majority of Italians loved Mussolini because he always had the trains run on time––or so the story goes. So now we blame O'Malley, a liberal, for Pepco's inefficiency but jump the gun here and question all liberal's acumen at train running in general? Many moons ago when the electrical grid was being implemented someone must have said, "It would be better, wiser, and cheaper in the long run if we lay lines underground." From what I understand all new lines are done that way now. But back to the article by whats-his-name who sounds at his wit's end. Maybe he and David Brooks (thanks, Kate, for the image) are sharing a warm beer in a public park under a shady oak.

Re: Lisa's example yesterday of the Nannie mit kinder. I'd buy that if there was no one else on the beach, but since that wasn't in the scenario and since beaches usually have many bathers, the life-saving Nannie could fend off her charges to some nice lady with a large hat while she, the Nannie, rushes in and saves the drowning person who would be most grateful, maybe giving Nannie a large reward, allowing her to opt out of the kinder care just in case the parents were not happy with having their children pushed off in the care of the nice lady with the large hat.

And by gum, Ann is standing by her man even though her accusations are baseless. She better watch out–––those lazy liberals are sharpening their knives and finally polishing their silver tongues and are out for––can I say it? –––the kill!

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

As with so many other aspects of their approach to public life, Republicans provide incontrovertible evidence concerning their fealty to ideology above all else by applying the tag “immoral” to whatever they don’t like. Taxes? Immoral. Regulation? Immoral. Helping those less fortunate? Immoral. It’s especially funny (or galling, depending on which side of the bed you fell out of) to hear right-wing Christians wallow in this type of thinking. Isn’t helping the poor one of the biggest rules handed down by Jesus? How is that immoral? How is paying taxes immoral? Remember the give unto Caesar story?

They don’t really care that it doesn’t make sense or that it’s entirely inconsistent with their other arguments.

Whenever progressives point to the necessity of things like good education and health care for the poor and lower middle class citizens, rich Republicans like Paul Ryan jump up and demand that the poor not accept such assistance because of the damage to their moral fiber. Is this not a form of nanny state thinking? Ryan and his ilk are SO concerned with the moral well being of the poor that they are ready at the drop of a W2 to protect them from themselves. They may go unemployed for years due to Republican business schemes, may not be able to collect unemployment, may get only a pittance when they do work and may have health care taken away from them; they may end up dying of starvation and disease but when they do, their souls will be pure thanks to Paul Ryan protecting them from the moral ravages of Big Government.

How nice that they have Nanny Ryan looking out for their well being. If not in this world, then the next, to which he and his right-wing colleagues will be more than happy to guarantee expeditious transport.

But if one attempts to discuss the many billions in breaks and subsidies provided to corporations, the clarion call to the battlements sounds and CEOs stand shoulder to shoulder with their brave, tail wagging Republican employees to fend off such scurrilous attempts to save THEIR souls from moral destruction.

Hey, if corporations are people, as Willard the Rat maintains, then shouldn’t Republicans be equally concerned about the dangers of handouts from Big Government?

I guess that personhood thing only goes so far. Besides, those corporate souls are already black as hell anyway. No chance of any moral rescue mission. Might as well order another $500 bottle of wine at some ritzy Washington restaurant frequented by wealthy donors and corporate lobbyists and toast all those dead poor people.

Oh look, over at that other table, it's Willard and Ann. The poor lady, I hope she's brought her concealed Uzi in case there are any liberals waiting to murder her husband.

I'm sure she and Willard have been discussing their own plans for rescuing America's lower classes from the moral turpitude of a decent life.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Without spending more time on whether the lifeguard should have left his post, which is something I am sure is being discussed between the city and lifeguard company, the point of my original comment was that you should be careful using this kind of event to attack private services or you have no argument when the same reasoning is used to question whether liberals can make a train run on time. You have to look at the big picture and the history before laying blame.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
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