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.

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

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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Tuesday
Jun192012

The Commentariat -- June 20, 2012

... Colbert Krugman Edition

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on the unresponsiveness of the Democratic party to American workers. The NYTX front page is here.

** "Follow the Dark Money." Andy Kroll of Mother Jones on "the down and dirty history of secret spending, PACs gone wild, and the epic four-decade fight over the only kind of political capital that matters." CW: haven't read it yet, but it looks like a winner.

CPAN has the video of President Obama's remarks at his press conference yesterday; the transcript is here.

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "The FBI has been given an expanded role in coordinating the domestic intelligence-gathering activities of the CIA and other agencies under a plan enacted this year by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., officials said. The bureau's highest-ranking field agents now also serve as the DNI's representatives across the country. The change is intended to improve collaboration, but some officials say it has created new friction between the FBI and CIA."

Isn't That Special? Chris Frates of the National Journal: "The Cato Institute and prominent Republican donors Charles and David Koch are set to settle their legal fight over control of the libertarian think tank, ending a high-profile dispute that split the conservative movement. 'Looks like we've come to an accommodation with the Koch brothers,' Cato founder and President Ed Crane said in a Tuesday e-mail to employees."

... I can't embed the BBC interview of Paul Krugman which contributor Dave S. recommended, so as a second-best -- and on a different topic -- here's Krugman on Rachel Maddow's show:

... AND. It's Krugman Week on PBS. Here's the first of five installments:

... Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Meeting in the desert scrub of Mexico's Baja region..., the leaders of the so-called Group of 20 eschewed specific commitments, instead limiting themselves to more generalized promises to invest in public works, overhaul labor markets and use innovation, education and infrastructure investment to fuel economic growth. A more detailed plan to address Europe's crisis is expected to emerge next week after a European summit meeting in Brussels." ...

... Shaila Dewan & Motoko Rich of the New York Times: "... since its postrecession peak in April 2009 (not counting temporary Census hiring), the public sector has shrunk by 657,000 jobs. The losses appeared to be tapering off earlier this year, but have accelerated for the last three months, creating the single biggest drag on the recovery in many areas. With the economy expanding, albeit slowly, state tax revenues have started to recover and are estimated to exceed prerecession levels next year. Yet governors and legislatures are keeping a tight rein on spending, whether to refill depleted rainy-day funds or because of political inclination."

Maureen Dowd recounts the testimony of Dottie Sandusky, Jerry's wife. If Cairo is in Illinois, De Nile must be in Pennsylvania. One thing that comes out from the testimony: the "constant wife" resented -- and still resents -- the kids Jerry "allegedly" abused.

Charles Pierce interviews Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) about the U.S. Supreme Court, Citizens United & Montana's anti-corruption campaign finance law. Entertaining.

Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe: "Senator Scott Brown today rejected a debate proposed by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, after the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy refused his precondition that she not endorse a candidate in his reelection campaign against Democrat Elizabeth Warren." ...

     ... Markos Moulitsas: "... telling the widow to shut the hell up? That's ... unforgivable."

Presidential Race

** Dana Milbank seldom gets serious. Today is an exception: "Under the Obama presidency..., conservative leaders are encouraging the vulgarity -- if not joining in by heckling the president from the House floor. The Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, recently shared a stage with Donald Trump only hours after the buffoon tycoon had again floated the disproved allegation that Obama wasn't born in the United States. Among many such episodes before that, Romney failed to challenge a supporter who suggested to him that Obama 'should be tried for treason.' ... When conservatives sanction the debasement of Obama, they are debasing the presidency itself." Plus, Tucker Carlson should fire Neil Munro for heckling the President.

Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday. The report, prepared by Senate Democrats and reviewed by nonpartisan tax experts, marks the first attempt to quantify the trade-offs inherent in the GOP tax package, which would replace the current tax structure with two brackets -- 25 percent and 10 percent -- and cut the top rate from 35 percent."

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post manages to write a positive story about Romney & Bain Capital, riffing off the photo above.

Peter Baker & Michael Cooper of the New York Times sort of fact-check the presidential candidates. Both sides do it, blah-blah.

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "President Obama's campaign will begin airing two TV ads today in nine battleground states, attacking Mitt Romney for outsourcing state work and hiking a number of fees during his term as Massachusetts governor.... Independent fact checkers have examined Romney's record on the outsourcing issue and taxes/fee hikes and found neither to be as black and white as the Obama campaign ads suggest." Here's one of the ads:

Tales of the WaWa. In that MSNBC creative editing story I linked yesterday, I mentioned that what Romney said was "amazing" was actually an anecdote he'd told earlier, not the bit about how you get your sandwiches at WaWa. Well, it turns out the backstory is "amazing" because it's 100 percent untrue -- just crap Romney heard or made up to fit his point. In the anecdote that ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor, Romney said,

I met an optometrist this morning. And this optometrist wanted to change his billing address. He moved his office from one side of town to the other. Same zip code. Same post office. But he wanted to change his address. He got a form from the federal government. This is so he can get reimbursement for the services he provides for the poor and seniors. The form he gets to change addresses is 33 pages long.

     ... Apparently Romney was talking about a Medicaid form that's two pages long. TWO. If it turns out Romney's implausible story is right, Greg Sargent will get back to us. Don't hold your breaths.

Gene Robinson: "... if taking action on the immigration issue is good politics for Obama and the Democrats, then Republicans have only themselves to blame. The GOP has made a conscious decision to offer nativists and xenophobes a comfortable home where their extremist views go unchallenged.... It's tiresome having to spend so much time trying to figure out what Romney really believes. If anything, I mean." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Even as [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell is signaling that the party will wait for Romney's direction on the [immigration] issue, however, a handful of House Republicans are moving forward by introducing bills that would block enforcement of Obama's new policy.... Can Republicans leaders possibly want any bills to be on the table that would reverse Obama's order?"

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney told reporters here Tuesday that his vice presidential search team is vetting Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), revealing that one of the Republican Party's biggest young stars is under consideration to be his running mate.... Romney's comments came after ABC News reported that his search team had not asked Rubio to complete a questionnaire or submit any personal financial documents.... Romney strongly denied the ABC report, which was attributed to two anonymous sources."

Colbert discovers an election conspiracy. Thanks to Kate M. for the link:

AND. The presidential candidates try out campaign slogans:

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A House panel voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into Operation 'Fast and Furious,' hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related documents."

Washington Post: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday renewed a program designed to provide a push to economic growth amid a warning that hiring is slowing. The Fed said it would extend 'Operation Twist,' a program that seeks to reduce long-term interest rates, through the end of the year. The decision was a sign that the Fed is not pulling back from its years-long campaign to support the U.S. economy." New York Times story here.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Defense attorneys in the Jerry Sandusky trial rested their case today without calling their client to the stand -- forgoing his chance to counter a mountain of devastating testimony from men who said he molested them as boys. The judge said the court would be in recess until 9 a.m. Thursday, after which closing arguments would begin. Once deliberations start, the jury will be sequestered."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "After 11 days of deliberations, jurors at the landmark clergy-sex abuse trial of two Philadelphia priests said Wednesday they were deadlocked on all but one count. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina immediately pressed them to keep trying."

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Tuesday that the fate of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria should be left to the hands of the Syrians, saying that no one country has the right to tell another people whom [sic.] their leader should be."

AP: "The three parties that back Greece's commitments to bailout creditors have agreed in principle to form a coalition government and are negotiating the final details, officials said Wednesday."

AP: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is beyond the grasp of British authorities as long as he is holed up in Ecuador's London embassy, the government said Wednesday. But he faces arrest if he steps outside. Police said Assange had violated the terms of his bail, which include an overnight curfew, and 'is now subject to arrest.' Police officers were stationed Wednesday outside the Edwardian apartment block that houses the small South American country's London embassy."

AP: "Americans overwhelmingly want the president and Congress to get to work on a new bill to change the health care system if the Supreme Court strikes down President Barack Obama's 2010 overhaul as unconstitutional, a new poll finds."

Reader Comments (7)

Good eXaminer essay Marie. But I continue to believe that no matter how much pressure you put on Obama, including randomly hitting him with a stick, you're only going to get that wussy centrist claptrap out of him.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Glad to see Paul K getting so much exposure. Many will turn a deaf ear but not all. What will be will be, but maybe, just maybe enough people will listen this time to ward off the extremists. One only needs to look to Hungary to see the future if we continue down this path. That said: I thought the Colbert interview was a farce. But of course that's what he does and he plugged the book to a large audience. I was somewhat disappointed in the PBS interview because it looked like an attack and less an honest examination (link at his blog). Maybe I need to watch it again, I missed the very beginning. His BBC appearance was a good interview and I think the best of this spate.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18500853

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Marie: Great eXaminer column today, also frightening. Brings back the feeling that we Democrats are in a lose, lose. The public and conventional wisdom are nowhere near ready for the huge steps needed to restore the middle class, the workers of America, and judicial and education equality.
More Obama is not going to cut it, He must lose.
With the tea party in control of the Suit Romney and the Congress, the country will soon be an economic disaster, the public will be frightened, helpless and like alcoholics be at a bottom ready for a new leader and ready to finally reject the tea party and the pain of austerity.
A plan to expand expenditures five percent while raising revenue ten percent would probably let us do the things needed to restore the economy. There are a hundred things that can be done once the foolishness of self inflicted damage is over.
First a lot of pain in the "dear school" of experience, then with luck, thirty years of good government.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@DaveS. Thanks for the link. That is a good, no bullshit interview of Krugman. And while rummaging around the BBC site, I watched some interesting takes with the Watergate women and a David Frost interview of Margaret Mitchell. Only wish Rosemary Woods had been included among the women.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

For fun: Read Hilary Mantel's " Bring up the Bodies." It is 1536 and Parliament rejects a new poor law.
Quoting Thomas Cromwell or perhaps Hilary Mantel: " It was too much for the commons to digest, that rich men might have some duty to the poor; that if you get fat as gentlemen of England do on the wool trade, you have some responsibility to the men turned off the land, the labourers without labour, the sowers without a field. England needs roads, forts, harbors, bridges. Men need work. It is a shame to see them begging their bread, when honest labour could keep the realm secure, Can we not put them together, the hands and the task?"
Parliament responds; "God knows his trade. It is an outrage to the rich and enterprising, to suggest that they should pay an income tax only to put bread in the mouths of the workshy. And if Secretary Cromwell argues that famine provokes criminality: well are there not hangmen enough?"
Cromwell again: "The commons. God rot them. They never think higher that their pockets"
!536 mind you. We have made little progress.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

In other news, as a complement in outrageousness to their well documented rapacity as outlined in previous comments, Republicans rip current Democratic attorney general for minor case while ignoring horrifying laundry list of felonies and treasonous acts by previous Republican attorney general.

Fast and Furious, a stupid sounding idea begun by the Bush “Justice” department (almost everything to do with the Bush years needs quotes or some kind of parenthetical aside), has been picked up and hung to dry around Eric Holder’s neck. Holder himself is not exactly the poster boy for an exceptional attorney general, but the previous occupant of that position, Alberto Gonzales was easily the most corrupt, treacherous, mendacious, sleazy, scumbag of an attorney general in US history.

But where was the highly moralistic Mr. Darrell Issa when Gonzales was conducting a Republican ordered putsch of the Justice Department? Where was all this outrage when he authorized illegal surveillance of American citizens? No umbrage over torture? No demand for his dismissal after repeatedly lying under oath to congress? No calls for impeachment after years of treason? Not to mention the outrageous manipulation attempted on previous attorney general John Ashcroft to allow Bush to illegally spy on Americans, while Ashcroft lay drugged up in a hospital bed after surgery. These heinous acts far surpass the largely small focus Fast and Furious debacle.

But not for Republicans. Because they’ll put you in prison for decades for stealing a loaf of bread if you’re a democrat or liberal, but if you’re a bank CEO and steal billions from taxpayers, or start a war based on lies, or buy up perfectly good companies then fire all the employees and sell off the assets to line your own pockets they put you in the Right Wing Hall of Fame.

Pigs.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I found Andy Kroll's piece in "Mother Jones" really, really good. It's long, but I encourage you all to read it. I had no idea that it took seven years to get McCain/Feingold to pass and then in a swift slight of hand the Supremes just abolished it. And as long as we are bringing up once again Cromwell, what he implored to Thomas More seems apt here:

"I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken?"

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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