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."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Guardian: Texas governor Greg Abbott has expanded the emergency disaster zone in his state, adding 24 counties to a list of 13 affected by storms and flooding. Three people were reported dead and 12 missing as Oklahoma was also hit hard, while a tornado left 13 dead in a Mexican town just beyond the border." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Flooding brought Houston[, Texas,] to a near-standstill Tuesday, sending normally tame rivers and bayous surging out of their banks, inundating streets and homes, and leaving highways littered with hundreds of abandoned, ruined cars. As much as 10 inches of rain lashed the Houston area overnight, and added to floodwaters flowing downstream from areas of central Texas that were swamped over the holiday weekend, causing waterways to rise from trickle to torrent faster than people could get out of the way."

... See also Jeanne Pitz's comment on this in today's Commentariat.

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 27

12:15 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks about the Russian-Ukraine conflict (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

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.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Sunday
Jun172012

The Commentariat -- June 18, 2012

The Most Transparent White House Ever:

Copy of an Office of Legal Counsel memo Charlie Savage of the New York Times received after making a Freedom of Information Request for it. The OLC memo is by Bush counsel Jack Goldsmith. WTF is the Obama Administration hiding? Other than everything.

Uninsured & Clueless. Alec MacGillis, writing for Kaiser Health News, visits a weekend free clinic in Tennessee. When he asked patients what they thought about the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling on "the new national health care law," here's the kind of response he got: "What new law? I've not heard about that." Via Adam Sorensen. We get the government we deserve.

CW: I can't believe I'm linking to an op-ed by Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post's editorial director: Republicans used to swear they favored full disclosure of those responsible for every type of political ad. "Now Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have introduced legislation that would — without limiting a single act of political speech -- promote disclosure, sunlight and disinfectant. Not a single Republican has signed on."

Paul Krugman, Myth Buster: "... the origins of [the Greek economic] disaster lie ... in Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin, where officials created a deeply -- perhaps fatally -- flawed monetary system, then compounded the problems of that system by substituting moralizing for analysis. And the solution to the crisis, if there is one, will have to come from the same places.

Bill Keller urges Roman Catholics "of open minds and open hearts" to leave the Church.

Congress is Back from One of Its Many Vacations. Russell Berman of The Hill: "The focus for congressional leaders ... will be on the highway and education [student loans] bills. As campaign fever engulfs the Capitol, deals on those two issues could be among the last agreements before Congress takes its July 4 recess. But they are no sure thing."

Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post on the Jerry Sandusky trial: "There's a shadow trial underway, because if the prosecution's case is correct, many people and important institutions failed to keep Sandusky from preying on boys despite direct eyewitness evidence that he was a pedophile."

Christine Haughney of the New York Times: "Three years after telling his shareholders that he would not buy a newspaper at any price, [Warren] Buffett has moved aggressively into the business, buying 63 papers and revealing a 3 percent stake in Lee Enterprises, a chain of mostly small dailies based in Iowa. In a letter Mr. Buffett sent to the publishers and editors of all Berkshire Hathaway daily newspapers, he described himself as a newspaper 'addict' who planned to buy more papers in the future."

Peter Boyer of Newsweek writes a long encomium on Chris Christie. He mentions New Jersey's great economy. (See Marvin Schwalb's comment in yesterday's Commentariat for a Reality Chek there.) CW: what impressed me was how Christie had mastered the "divide & conquer" strategy against public workers.

Dreams of My Father? More like Fables about Family & Friends, according to Ben Smith's reading of David Maraniss's new biography of the young Barack Obama. ...

... Jim Fallows reviews Barack Obama for the New York Times Book Review. ...

... AND you book-readers might want to read Dan Amira's review of Rielle Hunter's tell-all book about her affair with handsome John Edwards. As far as I can tell, Amira hasn't read the book, but that takes nothing away from his insightful take. ...

... Russell Goldman of ABC News has more. Also at the ABC link, a video so you book-readers who don't like to read words won't have to. And this tease: this Friday at 10 pm ET on ABC's "20-20," "Hunter will reveal the current status of her relationship with Edwards."

Julia Preston & Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "In recent weeks, the White House faced intense pressure from some of its closest allies ... to provide some relief for immigrant communities. The urging came from Harry Reid of Nevada and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois ... and the Hispanic caucus in the House of Representatives, as well as Latino and immigrant leaders across the country.... And last week, students without immigration papers started a campaign of sit-ins and hunger strikes at Obama campaign offices in more than a dozen cities...." ...

... In a Time magazine essay, "The President explains his decision to no longer deport undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children." ...

... Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times: "Republicans were angered by Obama's [immigration] move, seeing the new policy as circumventing Congress but also deriding it as job-stealing amnesty (by that view, they must think [Sen. Marco] Rubio's [R-Fla.] proposal, which would create nonimmigrant visas, was amnesty as well.) But even as Rubio had yet to release his proposal, the dynamic has shifted. Republicans have dug in and Democrats may now feel that anything short of the full Dream Act is unacceptable." Via Greg Sargent.

Presidential Race

The only difference between negative and positive ads is that negative ads have facts in them. -- Mike Murphy, GOP campaign operative ...

... Frank Rich: "The serious questions raised by the early Obama ads [attacking Romney] are not whether they were too much but too little.... The president, any president, should go negative early, often, and without apology if the goal is victory. The notion that negative campaigning is some toxic modern aberration in American democracy is bogus." Top this, Barack:

In his public statements about Homeland Security's new deportation policy, including the Time magazine essay linked above, President Obama of course doesn't say a thing about screwing Romney. But the new policy does screw Romney. And Romney knows it. ...

... Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "... Mitt Romney declined to say on Sunday whether he would reverse the president's decision if he takes up occupancy of the White House.Although Mr. Romney said during the Republican primary debates that he would veto the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, he was more equivocal about Mr. Obama’s order last week." ...

... Greg Sargent: Romney refused to answer Schieffer's repeated question as to how he would pay for the massive tax cuts on the wealthy he has proposed. ...

... Philip Rucker & Dan Balz of the Washington Post, in a straight reporting piece, repeatedly write that Romney's campaign speeches are all about criticizing Obama policies without specifying any of his own.

Emily Friedman of ABC News: "President Obama's senior campaign strategist David Axelrod condemned the protesters who showed up at two of Mitt Romney's campaign events in Ohio today while taking a dig at the GOP candidate.... Axelrod wrote on Twitter, 'I strongly condemn heckling along Mitt's route. Shouting folks down is their tactic, not ours. Let voters hear BOTH candidates & decide.'" ...

... Gwen Florio of the Missoulian: at the Montana state GOP convention, "an outhouse labeled 'Obama Presidential Library' [was] parked outside Missoula's Hilton Garden Inn, where the convention took place.... The outhouse was painted to look as though it had been riddled by bullets. Inside, a fake birth certificate for Barack Hussein Obama made reference to the disproven controversy over the president's origins. It was stamped 'Bull--;.' A graffito advised 'For a Good Time call 800-Michelle (crossed out), Hillary (crossed out) and Pelosi (circled in red.)'"

News Ledes

New York Times: baseballer "Roger Clemens ... was acquitted Monday of all charges that he lied to Congress in 2008 when he insisted he never used steroids or human growth hormone during his long career."

New York Times: "Saudi Arabia's Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who was governor of Riyadh for nearly 50 years until his recent promotion to Saudi Arabia's defense minister, was officially named crown prince on Monday, making him the heir apparent to the 88-year-old King Abdullah."

AFP: "The leaders of the world's major powers will seek to buy the global economy some breathing space at the G20 summit Monday with new support for an IMF financial firewall and for Greece."

Here's Al Jazeera's liveblog for Egypt. What a mess! ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Faced with the popular election of the first Islamist head of state in the Arab world, Egypt's ruling generals sought on Monday to soften the appearance of their supreme authority as they entered a period of negotiations with the prospective president over the balance of executive, legislative and military power."

Reader Comments (4)

Those Republican outhouse jokes sure are thigh slappers. It's clear that in the septic tank that is the Republican party, the scum has risen to the top.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Marie has written an interesting take on Maureen Dowd's piece on Heroes and whispering whistlers, trying this together with Thomas Moore plus ends with a lovely tribute to the real heroes, the common man that toils hard and lives honestly and well––the washerwomen on their knees and the fathers (and mothers) that step up to the plate day after day.

And the story goes re: Thomas Moore's false allegations about Thomas Wolsey: Moore claimed that that Wolsey breathed into the King's face while whispering in his ear when he had the French pox, intending to infect the monarch.

"...imagine living inside the Lord Chancellor's head. Imagine writing down such a charge and taking it to the printer, and circulating it through the court and through the realm, putting it out there to where people will believe anything; putting it out there to the shepards on the hills, to Tyndale's plowboy, to the beggar on the roads and the patient beast in its byre or stall, out there to the bitter winter winds, and to the weak early sun, and the snowdrops to the London gardens." (From Wolf Hall)

And we are still reaping the results, aren't we?

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I realize this is a somewhat delayed response but I sent in a comment on Friday before leaving for the weekend but I must have pressed the “Into the Mystic” button instead of “Submit Comment” one.

But it comes apropos of today's comments here on RC, noting the sludge and the stink and the lies that emanate from those high and low in right-wing world.

Anyway, that comment had to do with Romney’s juvenile “strategy” of having his bus drive in circles around an Obama crowd while leaning on the horn, like an ignorant adolescent who wants to show the adults exactly what they can do with their appeals to maturity.

Last week Letterman took a moment to ask a serious question about Romney’s judgment. His concern was how anyone could trust the discernment, intelligence, and even rationality of a guy who would strap a dog to the roof of a car for a journey of hundreds of miles. I realize the Seamus thing has been beaten to death, but substitute your next door neighbor for Romney. You find out that this guy just drove to Canada with his dog tied down on the roof and thought this was perfectly okay. Would you trust this guy to do ANY thing for you? Pick up a ‘scrip at CVS? Water your lawn? Collect your mail while you were on vacation? Fuck no.

You’d think the guy, at best, was a dangerous eccentric and at worst a sociopath. And you certainly wouldn't want him near your kids, never mind the family pet. So NOW would you want this guy running the country? It really is all about judgment; sound judgment, not the judgment of some propeller hat looney tune. No wonder Gail won’t give it up. It’s enormously revealing (as is Romney’s “inability” to recall a felony gay bashing assault which others involved recall as one of the great regrets of their lives. It might be a low blow to bash a candidate for something they did in high school, but for them to lie about it as an adult throws it back into the ring).

So too is having your personal Presidential Campaign bus with your name plastered in 8 foot tall letters on both sides, ostensibly touting your soundness of mind and fitness for the highest office in the land, drive around in circles near an Obama crowd honking the horn like a 16 year old who had just downed his first six pack. Seriously? What’s next? Cherry bombs in White House trash cans? Mooning the president? Ringing his doorbell and running?

I don’t know who is emulating whom, but that’s pretty much what this ignorant asshole Neil Munro, of the Daily Caller did in the Rose Garden during a presidential statement. Just IMAGINE the lividity levels on the right had ANYone dared to interrupt Bush or Reagan during one of their statements. There have been outraged phony recollections from the right of Sam Donaldson yelling questions at Reagan, but I can never recall any time at which he did this while Reagan was still speaking. He usually did it as the Old Actor was running away after the presser, trying to avoid questions. We all remember him standing on a runway or next to Marine One pretending he couldn’t hear the questions about why he sold weapons to terrorists. I’d have been yelling too.

Interestingly, the comments to this story on the US News site are equally revealing of the mindset of the right. First, the president is referred to by some as 666Obama. Then the usual raft of lies is floated about how Obama is trashing the Constitution and making his own laws using signing statements. Then a comment is run up the red pole declaring that evil liberals were upset when Bush used signing statements but don’t seem to realize that Obama has, in three years, used this tactic more times than Bush did in eight. A 100% pure RNC approved lie. But don’t expect any red meat chewers to check this “fact”. Two things about this. First, Obama uses signing statements because he is stymied at every turn trying to enact policies by a do-nothing Republican house that is striving to ensure his (and America’s) failure. Bush got nearly everything he asked for from congressional Democrats. He used many signing statements to neutralize and deface laws he didn’t like and to weasel in a number of his less legal schemes.

Second, Bush used this maneuver 161 times. Obama has done it 19. In what world is 19 > 161?

Why, in Right Wing World, of course. Where dropping your trousers in public and acting the craven churl is considered good judgment.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re: uninsured and under-educated. All answers about "why" are exposed in the KHN article. How to change the "why" to "wonder why" is the challenge of the Democratic Party. The message has to reflect the audience it is intended for. The election is about "You, your family, your life." The Republicans are offering nothing but false promises. Wonder why.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.