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.

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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.

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
May252012

The Commentariat -- May 26, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Jessica Silver-Greenberg & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "Scores of federal regulators are stationed inside JPMorgan Chase's Manhattan headquarters, but none of them were [sic.] assigned to the powerful unit that recently disclosed a multibillion trading loss.... The lapses have raised questions about who, if anyone, was policing the chief investment office and whether regulators were sufficiently independent.... The bank pushback also suggests that JPMorgan had sway over its regulators, an influence that several said was enhanced by the bank's charismatic chief executive, Jamie Dimon.... Ssme former Fed officials are asking whether the investigation should be spearheaded by the New York Fed, where Mr. Dimon has a seat on the board. Some lawmakers and former regulators also have reservations about the comptroller's office, which is investigating the trade and was the primary regulator for JPMorgan's chief investment unit."

Larry Elliott & Decca Aitkenhead of the Guardian: "The International Monetary Fund has ratcheted up the pressure on crisis-hit Greece after its managing director, Christine Lagarde, said she has more sympathy for children deprived of decent schooling in sub-Saharan Africa than for many of those facing poverty in Athens. In an uncompromising interview with the Guardian, Lagarde insists it is payback time for Greece and makes it clear that the IMF has no intention of softening the term s of the country's austerity package." CW: very helpful.

Ezra Klein on "the reality behind Obama & Bush's 'spending binge.'" ...

... Welcome to the White House, You Incompetent Jerk. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama will host former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, at the White House next week for the unveiling of their official portraits, bringing the two presidents together at a time when Mr. Obama has been castigating Mr. Bush's record on the campaign trail." CW: I might add it's also at a time when Obama's DOJ is still working overtime getting Bush & Co. off the hook for crimes against humanity (see yesterday's Commentariat), so Dubya should be damned grateful to Obama that he's not in Guantanamo.

The Guardian has an excerpt of David Maraniss's biography of Barack Obama, which covers some of the same period as the excerpt in the WashPo I linked a few weeks ago, but the Guardian's bit is more extensive.

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "... an increasing number of GOP candidates for Congress are declining to sign the promise to oppose any tax increase, a small sign that could signal a big shift in Republican politics on taxes."

Dana Milbank: Before Republicans clone Ronald Reagan, "they ... may wish to consider some genetic flaws that party scientists should repair in the cloning process."

Presidential Race

New York Times Editors: "The Obama campaign ... is right to make an issue of Mr. Romney's tenure at Bain. Mr. Romney argues that his experience in the private sector makes him the best choice to revive the economy, and voters need to understand the precise nature of that experience.... At Bain Capital, Mr. Romney made businesses more efficient, but often at a high human cost.... His embrace of Republican budgets that would benefit the wealthy while hurting the poor and the middle class shows his priorities haven't changed." ...

... Steve Benen: "Romney's single most important claim as a candidate for the presidency is that he, during his private-sector career, was a 'job creator.' If this isn't true, his rationale for national office crumbles. And when a person making a bold claim can't keep his story straight, it's generally a strong hint that the claim is dubious." ...

... AND Benen reports on Willard's Whoppers of the Week. ...

... PLUS More Birtherisms from the Donald. Benen writes, Donald "Trump is an official surrogate and fundraiser for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. During the Republican primaries, Romney even had Trump record robocalls for his campaign, and next week, the two will appear together in Las Vegas. As Greg Sargent noted today, when Hilary Rosen noted Ann Romney may not be qualified to serve as her husband's economic advisor, it was national news for weeks, despite the fact that Rosen (a) was correct, (b) had no formal role whatsoever in President Obama's campaign; and (c) was immediately denounced by high-profile members of the Obama team. And yet, here's Trump, spewing obvious garbage, which won't diminish his role on Team Romney and won't stop the Republican candidate from fundraising with Trump. The playing field isn't even."

Gail Collins takes potshots at Willard's big education speech. CW: as far as I can tell, if your kid can't read & his teacher is lousy, it's Barack's fault.

Local News

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Scott Walker on Friday brought the sharp tone of the last year in Wisconsin politics to the first of two debates in the state's historic recall election." Here's the debate, which begins about 3 min. in:

War on Women -- Georgia Campaign. Kristina Torres of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday approved new restrictions on late-term abortions in Georgia.... Deal's signature makes Georgia the latest state to generally ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, cutting by about six weeks the time women in Georgia may have an elective abortion. Commonly referred to as a 'fetal pain' bill, House Bill 954 will tighten medical exemptions for terminating pregnancies and require any abortion performed after 20 weeks be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive. The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, makes no exception for rape or incest." ...

... ** Doctors (who dare not reveal their names because of threats against them) in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "House Bill 954 hinges its basis for a challenge to the U.S. Constitution on the notion that a growing baby inside the womb feels pain at 20 weeks.... All recent research from the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists refutes this rationale.... HB 954 still mandates that physicians provide care that may be medically inappropriate." Via the Maddow Blog.

Fort Myers, Florida, News-Press: "Florida is violating federal law with procedural barriers and depriving thousands of jobless workers from receiving unemployment compensation, two legal organizations say in a complaint to the U.S. Labor Department.... The groups contend a 2011 law passed by the Republican-led Florida Legislature made a variety of changes in the state's unemployment compensation system that unfairly prevent otherwise qualified workers from getting benefits.... The 2011 law was sought by business interests to help curtail skyrocketing unemployment insurance taxes paid by employers. Even before it went into effect Aug. 1, only 17 percent of the state's unemployed workers received benefits, the lowest rate in the country, the groups said."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Syrian opposition organizations accused government forces on Saturday of carrying out a massacre in a village near Homs, leaving some 100 people dead, many of them children."

Reuters: "Iran has significantly stepped up its output of low-enriched uranium and total production in the last five years would be enough for at least five nuclear weapons if refined much further, a U.S. security institute said."

Reuters: "The brother of blind activist Chen Guangcheng has gone missing, a lawyer said on Saturday, days after he fled his village in northeastern China to seek help for his son who has been detained in a case that has become a rallying point among rights activists."

Reader Comments (3)

Your column in New York Times eXaminer yesterday was superb. I get so annoyed listening to David Brooks on NPR conversations between him and EJ Dionne as EJ tries to rein in his misstatements and half-truths. It was lovely to read a thorough take-down.

@Trish Ramey. Thanks, but Krugman did most of the work. I really wanted to demonstrate how Krugman directly contradicts Brooks and how he does so in such a purposeful way. There can be little doubt that Krugman's column Friday was a direct response to Brooks' column of Tuesday.

Of course, as P. D. Pepe pointed out in her comment on NYTX, in real life, Brooks is never going to back down. I think he knows what he's doing, and he may genuinely believes that he is simply articulating a different POV, not that his facts are wrong. By throwing in the data from Krugman's blogpost, I think I also showed that Brooks is wrong on the facts. His erroneous position isn't just a matter of "opinion."

Marie

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

It appears that the Pope's butler has had enough of the immoral and unethical dealings of this pope, previously Cardinal RATzinger, a former member of the Hitler Youth. But he has been caught trying to expose the illegal methods employed by the Vatican. How horrible. Luckily for the butler, the pope's apparatchiks have guaranteed that he will be treated with “all the juridical guarantees foreseen by the criminal code of the State of Vatican City.”

Great.

So that means he'll be subjected to the Strappado, the rack, the Judas Chair, fingernail extraction, application of red hot pokers to sensitive areas of the body, thumb screws, the Iron Maiden, and lots more of the exciting methods of retribution developed by the Catholic Church in anticipation of those who might have the temerity to challenge its position as a moral force in the world.

Actually, it is a moral force in the world. A force for IMmorality.

I wish that butler all the best but you can bet that if RATzinger can't find any priests with the stomach to inflict the appropriate levels of suffering, he can call Dick Cheney and in a few hours, a coterie of CIA inquisitors will be on the scene, firebrands in hand.

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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