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
Mar232012

The Commentariat -- March 24, 2012

Sorry, the site has been down for maintenance all morning.

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

David Maraniss of the Washington Post on the striking parallels in the lives of Presidents Bill Clinton & Barack Obama. ...

(... Not to be confused with Dana Milbank's Washington Post column on the striking parallels in the personality traits of Mitt Romney and Milbank's dog Z.Z.)

In a Washington Post op-ed, Reniqua Allen argues that "the first black president has made it harder to talk about race in America." If, like me, your first thought was, "Nah," listen to what Geraldo Rivera has to say in the clip below, & be assured that racism is alive and well outside the Deep South. P.S. When I see a black kid in a hoodie approaching, I do not cross the street, I do not even think about crossing the street, I do not give him a second thought, though if we make eye contact and/or we're not on a crowded street, I say hello or good morning. I think my reaction -- or lack thereof -- is normal, not even slightly extraordinary. Evidently Geraldo would not agree.

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times: "As it prepares to take power in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is overhauling its relations with the two main Palestinian factions in an effort to put new pressure on Israel for an independent Palestinian state. Officials of the Brotherhood, Egypt’s dominant Islamist movement, are pressing its militant Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, which controls Gaza, to make new compromises with Fatah, the Western-backed Palestinian leadership that has committed to peace with Israel and runs the West Bank."

Change is, yes, health care reform. You want to call it Obamacare — that’s okay, because I do care. That’s why we passed it. That is why we passed it — because I care about folks who were going bankrupt because they were getting sick.  And I care about children who have preexisting conditions and their families couldn’t get them any kind of insurance. And so now we’ve got reforms that will ensure that in this great country of ours you won’t have to mortgage your house just because you get sick. -- President Obama in Atlanta last week ...

... ** Former Clinton DOJ attorney Walter Dellinger, who filed a brief on behalf of the Congressional Democratic leadership defending the Affordable Care Act, debunks five myths about the law. CW: this should be required reading for every opponent of the law. ...

... ** Jonathan Chait of New York magazine on "the barbarism of the health-care repeal crusade." Read the whole post to see how Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan -- and the whole right-wing gang -- fit into the picture. "The conservative movement’s fanatical determination to achieve this goal — through the courts, through the election, through sabotage of its implementation by denying funds and refusing to confirm administrators — reveals an even higher level of commitment to the principle of denying health insurance to the undeserving." ...

... Ron Brownstein of the National Journal: "... what, if anything, to do about the nearly 50 million Americans who today lack health insurance? Those millions of uninsured rarely intrude into the promises from GOP congressional leaders and the party’s presidential field to defend liberty by repealing Obama’s plan." ...

... Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post takes on Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post: "I’m still not sure whether Charles Krauthammer’s Friday column is actually a Stephen Colbert-like parody of over-the-top conservative opposition to President Obama’s health-care law." Stromberg refutes Krauthammer's self-parody point-by-point.

Major Garrett of the National Journal: "'If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.' With that one sentence, President Obama on Friday placed himself in the middle of a raging national debate as a parent, a president, and an African-American speaking to and for the black 'community.'" ...

... Joan Walsh of Salon: "Many of us have been sympathetic to the restraints [President Obama] wears while nevertheless wondering when he would say something about the tragedy. He did so Friday with a palpable sadness, for the family of Trayvon Martin, for himself, and for all of us." ...

... Manuel Roig-Franzia, et al., of the Washington Post examine George Zimmerman's multi-racial ethnicity, his upbringing and his hopes -- to be a policeman. Zimmerman is the man who shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager.

Right Wing World ...

... is horrified President Obama spoke out in sympathy for Trayvon Martin's parents. Something about black panthers. AND there's this:

CW: This has to be the worst presidential campaign ad since LBJ's "Daisy" ad of 1964. As Dylan Byers of Politico notes, "Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad morphs into U.S. president Barack Obama right about the time the narrator says 'sworn American enemy.'" Byers has more here, and sorry, the Santorum spokesmen's phony excuses don't cut it.

Contributor Marvin Schwalb has a good assessment of the elements of Right Wing World in today's comments. And Schwalb presents a logical argument for banning hunting! A perfect means to drive the NRA nuttier.

Kevin Drum: that nice Paul Ryan cares three percent more about the poor than he cared last year. (I'm pretty sure my math is wrong here, but when it comes to toting up the kindliness of Paul Ryan, the figures are so teensy it doesn't really matter -- I think the right answer is closer to 5 %. Whoop-tee-do!)

It's Friday so it must be time for Steve Benen's countdown of Mitt Romney's Lies of the Week: "It was heartening that Mitt Romney's habitual dishonesty generated far more attention than usual this week, but the scrutiny doesn't appear to have discouraged the Republican frontrunner, who had an incredibly mendacious week.... Take a look at the 11th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. Unfortunately, it's one of the longest editions to date."

Nia-Malika Henderson & T. W. Farnam of the Washington Post: "Ahead by double-digits in polls [in Louisiana, Rick] Santorum is expected to do well and to continue his streak of strong showings in the South. Yet, with a delegate gap that keeps getting wider, the final vote tally in Louisiana may not matter much in the long run given that the former senator from Pennsylvania faces daunting odds and a difficult stretch of contests next month.

Gail Collins thinks of six things you need to know about the GOP primary race. CW: that's about as long as such a list should get.

News Ledes

Well, this complicates the story:

New York Times: "Rick Santorum was projected as the winner of the Louisiana Republican primary Saturday night, capturing a deeply conservative state with a hefty portion of the kind of evangelical Christian voters who have helped him claim victories in 10 other states." The Washington Post is updating results here.

AP: "President Barack Obama is opening his pitch for faster work to lock down nuclear material that could be used by terrorists with an up-close look at the nuclear front lines along the heavily militarized border with volatile North Korea. Obama arrived in Seoul on Sunday morning, local time, for three days of diplomacy."

New York Times: "The United States military has decided that no service members will face disciplinary charges for their involvement in a NATO airstrike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.... An American investigation in December found fault with both American and Pakistani troops for the deadly exchange of fire, but noted that the Pakistanis fired first from two border posts that were not on coalition maps, and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them that they were shooting at allied troops."

AP: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant Saturday and is recovering at a Virginia hospital, his office said."

NBC News: "More than a decade before former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with more than 50 counts of child sex abuse, a psychologist warned university police that his actions fit that of a 'likely pedophile’s pattern.'” Includes video story.

AP: "U.S. investigators believe the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians split the slaughter into two episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again, two American officials said Saturday."

AP: "Dozens of French Muslims are training with the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan, raising fears of future attacks following the shooting deaths of seven people in southern France allegedly by a man who spent time in the region, Pakistani intelligence officials said Saturday."

New Orleans Times-Picayune: "The four Republican candidates for president crisscrossed Louisiana on Friday in a last bid for votes before today's primary. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. for a ballot that also includes some local races and issues."

Politico: "Jon Corzine inappropriately ordered the removal of $200 million from customer funds while serving as the head of MF Global, according to a memo released Friday by a House Financial Services subcommittee -- a finding that appears to contradict the former New Jersey governor’s congressional testimony. The money contributed to the disappearance of an estimated $1.6 billion in client money."

New York Times: "The New York City police detective who fired the first shots in the 50-bullet barrage that killed Sean Bell in 2006 has been fired, and three others involved in the shooting are being forced to resign, law enforcement officials said on Friday. The decision came after a Police Department administrative trial in the fall found that the detective, Gescard F. Isnora, had acted improperly in the shooting that killed Mr. Bell on what was supposed to have been his wedding day and that he should be fired."

Reuters: "Syrian forces pounded the central city of Homs with mortar fire while troops backed by heavy armor stormed rebellious towns across the country on Saturday, leaving six civilians and four soldiers dead, opposition activists said."

Guardian: As expected, "US army staff sargeant Robert Bales has been formally charged 17 counts of premeditated murder, a capital offence that could lead to the death penalty in the massacre of Afghan civilians, the US military said."

AFP: "A piece of an old Russian satellite whizzed by the International Space Station on Saturday, forcing its six-member crew to temporarily take shelter in two Soyuz escape capsules, officials said. The incident was the third of its kind in more than a decade of continuous inhabitation of the orbiter, whose first element was launched by Russia in 1998, the US space agency NASA said in a series of Twitter updates."

Reader Comments (4)

Ridicule is the only way to attack the NRA. They have an unbelievable position of power over politicians. They will beat you as a candidate and they will send someone after you if you oppose them. There is no way to make an impression with a direct attack.
Those volunteer firemen down at the fire house will never believe any level of gun control is anything but an evil conspiracy.
As a former Michigander I understand their position to some degree. As a matter of fact, most of those firemen in Michigan have about half a dozen gun in their homes and neither they or their friends have shot anyone.
In all of those rural areas where people hunt deer or pheasants and rabbits and ducks, the IRA has everyone convinced that the "bunny huggers" and the liberals are scheming to "take their guns away."
The IRA sells irrational positions as fighting against the gun control forces trying to get their foot in the door.
For politicians gun control is a lose, lose and a waste of effort. Perhaps, in a generation or two, things will change.

March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Two worlds. That is what this race for POTUS has established. There is no way to clearly establish the 'conservative' world. It has many parts that politicians play to make them come together. There is the fundamentalist piece, hiding behind your god. There is the macho piece, the pathetic attempt of men to rule over women. And of course the racist piece, the need to know that there is someone worth less than you (often a tough job). There is the most ridiculous piece that freedom requires no government, accept when you need it (which is always) and there is the greed piece which allows the political part to use the other pieces to fill their pockets. For me, I have never been able to understand how people live in an alternate universe. But the good news is that that other universe is eroding in other parts of the world, mainly Europe which demonstrates that for the most part this is all about how people are brought up. Sort of Stockholm syndrome for children. So it can go away. I hope that the exposure of this universe will be the beginning of its end.

P.S. On a related matter, since the right to own a gun, under the second amendment, is to provide for militias, there is no right to shoot an animal. So it would be perfectly constitutional to ban hunting. Wouldn't that be fun? Macho, macho man!

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Regarding the Steve Benen article, Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Volume XI (!):
When Romney states one of his outrageous falsehoods, would it be too much to ask the press to request specifics? He gets away with a lot simply because they don't ask him to back up his assertions.

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

After watching Geraldo for the first time in years: he and his network are like cartoon characters of journalists and journalism. If life is about nothing more than having an easy life they seem to be accomplished at a shallow insipid existence. Some people do a public service to watch and report on these people and their organization. Watching dullards is a public service for those of us simply lacking in patience.

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercitizen625
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