The Ledes

Wednesday, November 25, 2015.

Attention, Costco Shoppers. E. coli in the Salad Cooler. Washington Post: "Federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of deadly E. coli bacteria that has sickened 19 people in at least seven states, mostly in the west.... Preliminary evidence suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is the likely source of this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

New York Times: "The American economy turned in a better performance last quarter than first thought, expanding at a 2.1 percent rate, the government said on Tuesday. While well below the pace of growth recorded in the spring, it was better than the 1.5 percent rate for the third quarter that the Commerce Department reported late last month."

Houston Chronicle: "A helicopter crashed at Fort Hood on Monday, killing four crew members, U.S. Army officials said. Military officials said the UH-60 helicopter crashed sometime after 5:49 p.m. Monday in the northeast section of the central Texas Army post. Emergency crews spent several hours searching the area and later found the bodies of the four crew members."

Reuters: "A bomb exploded outside the offices of a Greek business federation in central Athens on Tuesday, badly damaging the nearby Cypriot Embassy but causing no injuries, police officials said.The blast, which police believe was carried out by domestic guerrilla groups, is the first such incident since leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power in January. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.Attacks against banks, politicians and business people are not uncommon in Greece, which has a long history of political violence and has been mired in its worst economic crisis in decades."

Public Service Announcement

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

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

White House Live Video
November 25

11:15 am ET: Vice President Biden delivers a joint summit statement with President Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia, President Pahor of Slovenia and European Council President Tusk in Zagreb, Croatia (audio only)

2: 45 pm ET: President Obama pardons the national Thanksgiving turkey

Go to


Domenico Montanaro of NPR with everything you never wanted to know about the strange tradition of presidential "pardons" of turkeys.

Frank Rich reviews "Carol," the film based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, published under a pseudonym. As usual, Rich goes deep.

New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday[, Nov. 18,] night for “Between the World and Me,” a visceral, blunt exploration of his experience of being a black man in America, which was published this summer in the middle of a national dialogue about race relations and inequality.... The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for 'Fortune Smiles.'..."

Slate: Carly Simon told People magazine that "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. CW: Somehow I think I knew that a long time ago.

Guardian: "Gawker, the gossip website..., is giving up on reporting gossip in order to refocus on politics and 'to hump the [2016 presidential] campaign'. The site, founded by British journalist Nick Denton in 2003, announced on Tuesday that Gawker was steering in a new direction that would “orient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire'.”

Washington Post: Actor "Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday that he is HIV-positive, as rumored in recent days by an onslaught of tabloid stories. Sheen told Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show that he is going public with his illness for multiple reasons, including that he’s been blackmailed for upwards of $10 million since he was diagnosed four years ago."

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

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


The Commentariat -- May 1, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer answers the question "What Would Willard Do?" vis-a-vis ordering the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. The NYTX front page is here.

Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post: "Making public colleges free would cost, it is estimated, somewhere around $30 billion a year. We could afford it. Mitt Romney’s proposal to eliminate the estate tax would cost about four times that sum and benefit only the heirs of the very wealthy. A financial transaction tax that would slow destabilizing speculation on Wall Street would raise many times that also."

Fuck the First Amendment. Adam Liptak of the New York Times writes a fairly hilarious dissertation on the Supreme Court's ban of the use of the word "fuck" even when its use is the subject of the case before the Court. Read his effort for the fun of it. And bear in mind that these high-placed persons possessed of such delicate dispositions do not mind ruthlessly disposing of actual human beings.

Thomas Edsall in the New York Times on conservatives' & liberals' differing views of "fairness." or why Eric Cantor opposes an7 & all tax hikes -- except a tax hike for the poor.

If you need a short course on Republican-sponsored state voter suppression laws, Gene Robinson has obliged.

The South Is Still the South. Barbara Liston of Reuters: "A federal lawsuit against a Florida school district alleges two black women who scored well on an adult skills test in 2010 were accused of cheating because, they were told, 'you people don't score that high.'" Read the whole story; it's worse than the lede.

Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe: "A record unearthed Monday shows that Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has a great-great-great grandmother listed in an 1894 document as a Cherokee, said a genealogist at the New England Historic and Genealogy Society.... Intense focus in Warren's heritage comes as the Democratic candidate has faced several days of scrutiny about whether she has represented herself as a minority in her academic career.... The lack of clarity on issue prompted US Senator Scott Brown's campaign to question Warren's credibility and call for her to 'come clean.' Warren's campaign shot back Monday, accusing Brown of 'nasty insinuations.'”

Presidential Race

We've always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it. Take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business. -- Mitt Romney, two days ago

... AND/OR collect millions & millions from friends of your parents. See Michael & Julie Creswell's report in the New York Times about how Tagg Romney & his business partner Spencer Zwick (the 2008 Romney campaign's top fundraiser), both of whom had zero private equity experience, managed to collect $244 million, much of it from Willard's campaign donors & $10 million of it from Willard & Ann Romney. (Tagg & Zwick later added Eric Scheuermann to the partnership; Scheuermann has private equity experience.) CW: Now I really despise those people.

Michael Barbaro & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Asked by reporters ... whether he would have given the same military order as President Obama, Mr. Romney replied, 'Of course, of course.' ... 'Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order,' Mr. Romney said.... In a news conference Monday with the Japanese prime minister, Mr. Obama accused Mr. Romney of flip-flopping on the question of whether he would have pursued Osama bin Laden." ...

     ... Jim Fallows' response is excellent. ...

     ... NEW. Even conservative Joe Scarborough says "... considering that Carter did the unthinkable by 2012 standards last week and praised Mitt Romney, I found his cheap shot at President Carter to be a bit jarring." Here's video of Carter praising Romney.

     ... An Obama supporter tells Greg Sargent: "Romney is undermining his own point. He's invoking a decision that cost Carter his presidency. Obama bet his presidency on this operation. It's troubling if Romney thinks it was an easy decision." Here are Romney & Obama:

     ... "A Noun, a Verb and 9/11." Michael Hirsh of the National Journal: "... when it comes to politicizing 9/11 it's hard to beat Rudy Giuliani, who will be at Romney's side on the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death. ...

     ... Piling On. Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "Republicans milked the horror of 9/11 for everything it was worth, not just to win at the ballot box, but also to justify an entirely unrelated war.... The best response to the howls of outrage from Republicans about 'politicizing 9/11' comes from Mitt Romney himself: 'Rudy Giuliani will appear at an event with Mitt Romney on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the assault on Osama bin Laden, a campaign aide confirmed to CNN.' Yeah, Mitt Romney is so desperately against politicizing 9/11 ... that he's going to mark the anniversary of bin Laden's death by campaigning alongside Rudy 911iani." ...

     ... Lewison wrote a good account a couple of days ago about just how opposed Romney was to Obama's pledge to go after Bin Laden. ...

     ... CW: In case you think the decision was a slam-dunk, as Romney characterizes it, here's an excerpt from David Corn's book Showdown on how Obama got Bin Laden. ...

     ... AND here's Vice President Biden speaking in January: "When the president asked his top advisers for their final opinion on the mission, all of them were hesitant, except for the former CIA director, now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Biden said. 'Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta. Leon said go. Everyone else said, 49, 51.'" ...

     ... BUT. Michael Hastings, writing for BuzzFeed, raises the possibility of Obama's being "swiftboated" by disgruntled, right-wing Navy Seals, who feel their success has been used and misrepresented for political purposes. ...

     ... CW Update: I just can't keep up with Romney. He no longer says any president would have made the call Obama made to take out bin Laden. Now he says "Any thinking American would have ordered exactly the same thing." Read my column in today's NYTX if you think there's any vague possibility this is true.

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "Romney on Auto Bailout 3.0": Obama owes his only economic success to me, Mitt Romney, who told Obama exactly how to save the auto industry.

Stay Greedy, Newt! Philip Elliott of the AP: "Rick Santorum wants to ensure the GOP's policy platform represents conservatives' interests. Newt Gingrich wants help retiring his campaign debt and repairing his reputation. Both Republicans are expected to endorse their former rival Mitt Romney ... but each wants assurances that Romney will deliver for them. Neither is rushing toward the task. Meanwhile, it doesn't appear that Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is going to go that way." CW: You know how Newt could retire his campaign debt? He could write a check. He's a multimillionaire. You know how Newt could repair his reputation? ... I didn't think so. ...

... AND Alex Altman of Time ponders what's next for Newt.

Right Wing World *

Heidi Przybyla & Tim Mattingly of Bloomberg News: "Tea party favorites such as Stephen Fincher of Tennessee were swept into Congress on a wave of anger over government-funded bailouts of banks. Now those incumbents are collecting thousands of dollars for re-election campaigns from the same Wall Street firms whose excesses they criticized. They have taken no significant steps to curb them or prevent future taxpayer-financed rescues.

* Fundamentalist nutjobs & corporate shills, sole proprietors. -- Akhilleus

Local News

Todd Richmond of the AP: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's [financial backer] list reads like a who's who of some of the richest people in America — financial gurus, a Las Vegas casino president, even an NBA team owner. Walker set the record for a state office with $12.1 million raised last year. Campaign finance records filed Monday show he has already easily surpassed that this year, raising $13.1 million between Jan. 18 and last week."

News Ledes

NBC News: "Marches turned violent in Oakland, where protesters pounded on bank windows and went face-to-face with a police line, and in Seattle, where protesters dressed in black smashed windows and police pepper-sprayed some in the crowds."

Orlando Sentinel: "Richard W. Myers will bring nearly three decades of law-enforcement leadership to Sanford's troubled police department when he starts work as interim chief on Friday. City Manager Norton Bonaparte announced Tuesday that he had hired Myers, former police chief of Colorado Springs, Colo., to run the department for at least three months."

New York Times: "... [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton arrives again in Beijing for talks that are certain to receive far less attention than the uncertain fate of a Chinese lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, who escaped a brutalizing, illegal house arrest and has sought protection from American diplomats in the Chinese capital."

New York Times: "President Obama landed here Tuesday, on a surprise visit, to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan meant to mark the beginning of the end of a war that has lasted for more than a decade. Mr. Obama ... flew by helicopter to the presidential palace, where he was to meet President Hamid Karzai before both leaders signed the pact. It is intended to be a road map for two nations lashed together by more than a decade of war and groping for a new relationship after the departure of American troops, scheduled for the end of 2014." CW: the White House livefeed shows no scheduled speech as of 4 pm ET. Update: President Obama speaks at 5:30 pm ET & 7:30 pm ET....

     ... NYT Update: 'Speaking from a military base near Kabul after a brief, surprise night visit to Afghanistan on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, President Obama said that 'we have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan.'”

Raleigh News & Observer: "Jurors for the John Edwards trial saw video on Tuesday afternoon of the house outside Chapel Hill where Edward’s pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, lived for several months while hiding from National Enquirer reporters.... Cheri Young, during her third day on the witness stand in a trial projected to last through May, stated that she videotaped the home and some of Hunter’s belongings to document that Hunter had lived in the home."

New York Daily News: "Would-be subway bomber Adis Medunjanin was convicted Tuesday of plotting to wage jihad in the city with two other homegrown terrorists. The Queens man was also found guilty of conspiring to join the Taliban and training with Al Qaeda."

The New York Times "City Room" blog is liveblogging May Day events in NYC: "The police arrested protesters on the Williamsburg Bridge, a park on the Lower East Side and near Washington Square Park Tuesday afternoon as the May Day protests organized by Occupy Wall Street gathered steam. The morning's protests in Midtown, outside banks and other businesses, had been well attended but more subdued." ...

     ... The Daily News has better live coverage here.

Guardian: "Rupert Murdoch is 'not a fit person' to exercise stewardship of a major international company, a committee of MPs has concluded, in a report highly critical of the mogul and his son James's role in the News of the World phone-hacking affair. The Commons culture, media and sport select committee also concluded that James Murdoch showed 'wilful ignorance' of the extent of phone hacking during 2009 and 2010 – in a highly charged document that saw MPs split on party lines as regards the two Murdochs." ...

     ... Update: the report is here. ...

     ... New York Times Update 1: "... the furor that accompanied the release of the report on Tuesday appeared to open a whole new arena of hazard for the prime minister and his Conservative Party. Mr. Cameron's Conservative members of Parliament voted against the report because of the insistence by the Labour and Liberal Democrat majority on including a condemnation of Mr. Murdoch as 'not a fit person' to run a major international company. That carries the risk of Mr. Cameron being cast as a de facto champion of Mr. Murdoch, and the possibility of being tarred by association with the wrongdoing at the Murdoch-owned tabloids.

     ... New York Times Update 2: "Rupert Murdoch said that News Corporation's 50,000 employees could expect 'a more robust global compliance structure' in response to the continued fallout over news gathering at the company's British newspaper unit."

Guardian: "The May 1 'general strike', the result of months of planning and coordination between groups across the US, is Occupy's big chance to regain the momentum lost when a combination of police crackdowns and the harsh winter weather shut down the protest at the end of last year."

Atlantic: "A day that is expected to be filled with anti-establishment protests all around the globe began early last night with a roving band of 'anarchists' smashing car windows and store fronts in San Francisco's Mission District. The mini-riot ... may have started as a 'ruckus street party' organized by Occupy Oakland protesters.... Many in the Occupy movement are blaming outsiders and "Black Bloc" anarchists who have a habit of hijacking peaceful protests for the own purposes."

Some headlines are irresistible. San Francisco Chronicle: "Man Sues BMW over Two-Year Erection."

Reader Comments (5)

I just posted a reply to Mr. Brooks. I imagine it will show up in the queue around 4 p.m. so I hope it's OK to share it here:

I haven't yet seen the column that addresses your disappointment with the Romney campaign not just for that single burst of dishonesty way back in November but for the candidate's relentless unhinging from reality and truth when addressing the President's record and time in office. If you were to turn the task of assembling such verbal garbage over to your least talented intern, you would soon have enough material for several pieces. I imagine that you would find such a prospect thrilling were the prevaricator not Romney but Obama.

As icing on the cake, you might want to address Romney's recent slam on President Carter, who made a gutsy decision that backfired, possibly costing him his presidency and the American people 30 years of faith-based economics.

May 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

CW: I'm bringing forward this comment by P. D. Pepe from two days ago, as I missed seeing it required my "approval." My apologies.

"Hey Ken––don't know whether you saw this in the Times, but it corresponds nicely to what you and Marvin are addressing: Here's the link:

May 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

What kind of economy do we want? Wendall Berry has the answer: --A long lecture, worth reading, also available on video.

Berry discusses the economy of affection. At the heart of the lecture a reference that pretty much sums it up: "In a speech delivered in 2006, 'Revitalizing Rural Communities,' Frederick Kirschenmann quoted his friend Constance Falk, an economist: 'There is a new vision emerging demonstrating how we can solve problems and at the same time create a better world, and it all depends on collaboration, love, respect, beauty, and fairness.'"

May 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynne


Nice job on your history lesson regarding the Mittster and the increasingly annoying buttstain that is David Brooks on the matter of Romney's macho assertion that of course he would have pulled the trigger on Bin Laden (after stating categorically, and for the record, that he wouldn't have done any such thing--can this guy fucking lie or what?). Brooks was weeping that the Obama people had to stick it to Romney "gangsta style." What about that Jimmy Carter crack? A quick look at Carter's record indicates that he spent 7 years in the navy and volunteered for work as an engineer on the first nuclear subs. Now sub duty has always been one of the most dangerous duties in the military, but in the early days of nuclear subs? Man, that took some sand. But for Romney, the mere mention of the name "Jimmy Carter" is the same as saying "cowardly." Really? Let's see, Carter's seven years in the Navy on dangerous duty was 7 years longer than Willard. Seven years longer than Bush, than Cheney, than Wolfowitz, than Limbaugh, than Beck, than Paul Ryan, than Ronald Reagan, than Turd Blossom Rove, than millions of screaming right-wing chicken hawks who sit around in their living rooms guzzling beers watching war movies and banging their fists on the table. Carter, the real (as opposed to fantasy) military man and engineer, would have considered that a stupid waste of energy.

So Willard said he would have pulled the trigger and gone after the big bad terrorist, because even wimpy little Jimmy Carter would have done that?

Just imagine my surprise that he would lie like that.

Laugh? I thought I'd die.

May 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

Romney has now doubled down on his trivializing the take-out of OBL: not only would any president have done it (even Carter!) but any PERSON would have done it.
Which is sort of the same as saying any person could have run Bain Capital, and made a lot of money, - especially if their daddy was wealthy and provided an education and seed money. Certainly anyone could have run the Olympics or been Governor of Massachusetts - a piece of cake compared to planning and executing the bin Laden missions.
Romney is clearly trying to Swift-boat Obama by going after his strengths, but sometimes one has to wonder if Romney even understands the nuts and bolts of the President's job whether concerning foreign policy, security or economic issues. He comes off as awfully uninformed and worse, uncurious Sort of reminds me of a previous president who got us into a disastrous war.

May 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.