The Ledes

Friday, May 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Ross W. Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, a notorious online marketplace for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, for his role as what prosecutors described as 'the kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise.'”

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff. The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment — all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit."

The Wires

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 29

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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.

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
Mar252012

The Commentariat -- March 26, 2012

Lincoln Caplan & Philip Boffey, in a New York Times op-ed, outline what arguments the Supreme Court will be hearing on the Affordable Care Act today, tomorrow and Wednesday. ...

... Ezra Klein has a long piece with everything you need to know about the oral arguments, plus background. ...

... Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday starts three days of hearings on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care overhaul law, an epic clash that could recast the very structure of American government. But it begins with a 90-minute argument on what a lawyer in the case has called 'the most boring jurisdictional stuff one can imagine.'" ...

... Supreme Court: "The audio recordings and transcripts of the March 26-28 morning sessions should be available no later than 2 p.m. The recording and transcript of the March 28 afternoon session should be available no later than 4 p.m. Anyone interested in the proceedings will be able to access the recordings and transcripts directly through links on the homepage of the Court's Website. The homepage currently provides links to the orders, briefs, and other information about the cases. The Court's Website address is www.supremecourt.gov." ...

... ** UPDATE: Here's the audio of today's arguments. Here's a pdf of the official transcript.

Paul Krugman fingers the right-wing funded ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council -- as the author of the Florida (and other states) Stand Your Ground law. "... we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population." Read the whole column. ...

... Brian Stelter of the New York Times: "... it took several weeks before the rest of the country found out" about the Trayvon Martin case. Stelter traces the evolution of the story & makes the case that newsrooms should diversify. ...

... Charles Blow interviews Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton. And adds, "To believe Zimmerman’s scenario, you have to believe that Trayvon, an unarmed boy, a boy so thin that people called him Slimm, a boy whose mother said that he had not had a fight since he was a preschooler, chose that night and that man to attack. You have to believe that Trayvon chose to attack a man who outweighed him by 100 pounds and who, according to the Sanford police, was wearing his gun in a holster. You have to believe that Trayvon chose to attack even though he was less than a hundred yards from the safety of the home where he was staying."

"To the Oklahoma Lawmakers" by Lauren Zuniga:

     ... Thanks to Haley S. for the link. Zuniga's poem -- and her performance of it -- provide a wonderful example of an artist taking on politicians to great effect.

Ben Protess & Azam Ahmed of the New York Times: Whether or not Jon Corzine actually knew he was covering a $175 million check with customer money -- something he testified before Congress that he did not know -- turns out to be a little complicated. CW: I would think that when you're playing with a couple hundred millions dollars, you'd sort of try to make sure you knew whose money it was. Evidently not. See also March 24 Commentariat.

Aziza Ahmed of the Guardian warns that Nicholas Kristof's well-meaning anti-sex-trafficking crusade may have unintended negative consequences.

Right Wing World

Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker: "Like almost anything that the Republican candidates can manage to agree on, the Obama Administration gas-price-hike conspiracy theory is nearly a hundred-per-cent hokum."

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "The Romney campaign consists of a weak candidate and a back-room staff that would have difficulty contesting a city-council election."

Romney Violates the Hatch Act. New York Times Editors: "Since 1940, it has been illegal for federal government contractors to contribute to federal political campaigns or parties. But in the new unregulated, unlimited jungle of campaign finance, Mitt Romney’s super PAC is allowing some contractors to violate that historic ban, taking yet another dangerous step toward a culture where government business is done on a pay-to-play basis." CW: if you can believe it, Romney is more corrupt that Karl Rove & Newt Gingrich! Here's the Los Angeles Times story on which the editorial is based.

ABC News: "Rick Santorum reportedly grew heated and accused a New York Times reporter of distorting a statement he made in an earlier speech, even yelling 'It's bulls-t' to him. Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times tweeted, 'I ask Santorum if Romney is 'worst Republican' to run. He says: 'Quit Distorting my words It's bulls-t.' He says he was talking health care'"

News Ledes

Orlando Sentinel: "With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk, leaving him bloody and battered, law-enforcement authorities told the Orlando Sentinel. That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say. There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about." ABC News story here.

Washington Post: "The Supreme Court began its constitutional review of the health-care overhaul law Monday with a fundamental question: Is the court barred from making such a decision at this time?" ...

... The New York Times' "The Lede" is providing live updates of the proceedings. ...

... New York Times Update: "The Supreme Court on Monday began three days of epic arguments over the 2010 health care overhaul law with a sort of appetizer — a 90-minute debate over whether the Court yet has the authority to hear the case."

New York Times: "President Obama took North Korea’s untested new leader, Kim Jong-un, to task on Monday, demanding that China curb his recent behavior and declaring that South Korea’s success will inevitably triumph over the failure and isolation of the North."

New York Times: "Ben S. Bernanke said Monday that recent declines in unemployment were likely to continue only if the economy grew more quickly."

Washington Post: "In their joint statement to reporters here, President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev spoke carefully about continuing discussions on the sensitive issues of European missile defense. But in an unscripted moment picked up by camera crews, the American president was more blunt: Let me get reelected first, he said, then I'll have a better chance of making something happen."

New York Times: "Turkey and the United States plan to provide 'nonlethal' assistance, like communications equipment and medical supplies, directly to opposition groups inside Syria, and will urge other allies to do so as well, the White House deputy national security adviser said on Sunday, after President Obama met with the prime minister of Turkey at a nuclear security conference in Seoul, South Korea."

ABC News: "President Obama paused during his speech to local college students in South Korea Monday to directly address the North Korean leaders across the DMZ, urging new dictator Kim Jong-un and his regime to pursue a different path."

New York Times: "One of the 17 murder counts that the United States military filed against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is for the death of the unborn baby of one of his victims, a senior Afghan police official said on Monday." ...

     ... Story has been updated. Here's the new lede: "The mystery over the identity of the 17th Afghan victim in the murder case against Staff. Sgt. Robert Bales grew murkier on Monday, after an Afghan police official initially asserted that a pregnant woman’s fetus was also among the dead, only to retract the statement a few hours later."

Reader Comments (9)

"To the Oklahoma Lawmakers" by Lauren Zuniga
WOW!

March 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Mayday!, Mayday! Today, for the first time when I went to google NYTimes editorials I found that theTimes has successfully invaded google and I got the paywall and was stymied. What do I do now? An eighty three years old poor soul is lost, any information on how to get through the fence will be appreciated. Paying is impossible.

March 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@ Everybody. I e-mailed Carlyle with a list of helpful suggestions of, um, things I read about his inquiry. I'd prefer if we didn't publicize these kinds of bright ideas here, but if he's still having trouble after he considers my suggestions, I'll put out an SOS.

March 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

P.D. Pepe: Cheney will not be spending his time in the great beyond shooting imaginary fowl. Cheney will be groveling in front of Gunga Din who is "squatting by the coals giving drinks to poor damned souls."

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Re Krugman on ALEC:

Someone (John Nichols?) made the fine point that the "Stand your Ground" laws are not so much an effort to "corporatize" security--though Krugman's overall point about diverting tax dollars into corporate hands is spot on-- as they are to insulate gun and ammunition manufacturers from any liability for the products they produce and sell. This from the hypocrites who preach responsibility, of course.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Forrest Morris: So far I have been getting there by using bing.com and google's chrome. This may be temporary as they may each have a twenty times limit.
I think the cookie attack will be best when my son shows me how to do it.
You can set up a whole bunch of search engines on your favorites list and get ten pops each if the NYTimes has invaded them all ..

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@ Everybody. I've removed a couple of comments re: the topic of an earlier discussion & have written privately to one of the commenters on the topic.

March 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Marie,

RE: Madmen

I've been a devoted fan since season 2. Just watched the first episode of season five. I haven't been so riveted to a series since The Sopranos. Thank you Mr. Weiner. This can only end badly. BTW I'm just as riveted to Walking Dead..but I digress.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Oh I almost forgot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyy8roNU060&feature=player_embedded

Awesome

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.