Tuesday, December 17, 2013.
New York Times: "Tunisia ... has once again broken new ground with a political deal between longtime enemies among the Islamists and the secular old guard. The deal, announced over the weekend, aims to put in place an independent caretaker government until new elections next year, marking the first time Islamists have agreed in the face of rising public anger to step back from power gained at the ballot box."
AFP: "British police on Monday said they had finished examining new information about the 1997 death of Diana, princess of Wales, but had found 'no credible evidence' she was murdered. Scotland Yard police headquarters announced in August it was checking the credibility of recently received information about the deaths of the princess and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, including an allegation that she was murdered by a British military figure."
Monday, December 16, 2013.
New York Times: "Ray Price, who was at the forefront of two revolutions in country music as one of its finest ballad singers and biggest hit makers, died on Monday at his home in Mount Pleasant, Tex. He was 87."
NBC News: John C. Beale, "the EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change, deserves to go to prison for at least 30 months for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job, say federal prosecutors."
AP: "An official Chinese newspaper on Monday accused the U.S. Navy of harassing a Chinese squadron earlier this month, shortly before a near collision that marked the two nations' most serious sea confrontation in years."
AP: "The bogus sign language interpreter at last week's Nelson Mandela memorial service was among a group of people who accosted two men found with a stolen television and burned them to death by setting fire to tires placed around their necks, one of the interpreter's cousins and three of his friends told The Associated Press Monday. But Thamsanqa Jantjie never went to trial for the 2003 killings when other suspects did in 2006 because authorities determined he was not mentally fit to stand trial, said the four."
Boston Globe: "Four buildings at Harvard University have been evacuated and police from five different agencies are on the Cambridge campus, some of them with bomb-sniffing dogs, to investigate 'unconfirmed reports’ that explosives had been hidden in the buildings. No detonations of explosives have been reported." ...
... Update: "The bomb scare at Harvard University today was triggered by an e-mail warning that explosives had been planted in four buildings at the heart of the storied campus, according to a law enforcement official. At 2:44 p.m., the university announced that the the Science Center, the last of the four buildings, had been deemed safe."
Guardian: "The United Nations has launched an appeal for $6.5bn (£4bn) for Syria and its neighbours to help 16 million people in 2014, many of whom are hungry or homeless victims of a 33-month-old Syrian conflict that has no end in sight."
Guardian: Former Chilean President "Michelle Bachelet has promised major tax and education reforms to help ease Chile's social divisions after sweeping back to power with a huge majority in presidential elections on Sunday. The centre-left candidate won with about 62% support, the highest share of votes for any presidential candidate since the country returned to holding democratic elections in 1989."
Public Service Announcement
New York Times: "After years of mounting concerns that the antibacterial chemicals that go into everyday items like soap and toothpaste are doing more harm than good, the Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that it was requiring soap manufacturers to demonstrate that the substances were safe or to take them out of the products altogether. The proposal was applauded by public health experts, who for years have urged the agency to regulate antimicrobial chemicals, warning that they risk scrambling hormones in children and promoting drug-resistant infections, among other things."
12:30 pm ET: Jay Carney's press briefing
If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.
CW: If you've lived in the Village or had an association with NYU, as I have, you might be interested to read this short piece by Gabriel Sherman, in New York, about the opposition to NYU's plan to further expand its already-outsized Village footprint.
Hollywood Reporter: "Netflix is casting its vote for Mitt Romney. The subscription streaming service ... will premiere the Romney documentary Mitt exclusively beginning Jan. 24 at 12:01 a.m. PST." CW: Just makes me so proud to be a Netflix customer.
J. K. Trotter of Gawker: "Roger Ailes’ secrets command a heavy price. Last week, the New York Times reported that Fox News had reached an out-of-court settlement with Brian Lewis, the former Roger Ailes aide who was abruptly fired in late July. A Fox News executive with knowledge of the negotiations told Gawker that Lewis was paid approximately $8 million in hush money.... The settlement came after an extraordinary, months-long confrontation during which Fox News accused Ailes’ former right-hand man of vague 'financial irregularities,' and Lewis’ attorney angrily responded that Ailes had a lot to lose if Lewis ever spilled the beans on their 17-year-long partnership at the right-wing network."
Patrick di Justo of the Atlantic: "The earliest sunset really comes in the first week in December, and the latest sunrise occurs in early January. Yet December 21 really is the shortest day of the year." di Justo explains the "astronomical hijinks responsible for this absurd state of affairs."
Los Angeles Times: "Consumers are using bitcoins at coffee shops, hotels, online stores and even, in some cases, to run their businesses. And every day, dozens more firms are deciding to use the virtual currency.... Though still far from the mainstream and too complex for the average consumer, bitcoin already has grown well past its roots as the plaything of anarchists and hackers who viewed it as a political statement against big government and an alternative to credit cards."
Uri Friedman of the Atlantic on the history of the Lenin statute, toppled Sunday, December 8, in Kiev.
New York Times: "Following a firestorm over his recent comments about Sarah Palin, the MSNBC host Martin Bashir resigned on Wednesday (December 4), citing what he called his 'ill-judged comments.'” ...
... Steve M. of NMMNB: No, Bashir is not just like Limbaugh.
New York Times: "Newsweek, the struggling weekly magazine that ceased print publication last year, plans to turn the presses back on."
New York Daily News: Apparently ABC "News" is not fascinated by people who won't sit for interviews with Barbara Walters. They nixed Walters' pick -- Edward Snowden -- for year's most fascinating person. CW: The other fascinating picks are so fascinating that I never heard of some of them & couldn't pick others out of a lineup.
Dylan Byers of Politico: Host Martin Bashir is "on vacation" or suspended on something from MSNBC for saying horrible things about Sarah Palin.
Emily Postum Advises: Even if your dinner invitation gets lost in the mail, do not show up for the event brandishing a machete. Via New York.
"A Tale of Two 'Lolitas.'" Galya Diment for New York: "... three weeks before [Vladimir Nabokov's] Lolita arrived in bookstores in France, where it first came out that September, [Dorothy] Parker published a story — in The New Yorker, of all places— titled 'Lolita,' and it centered on an older man, a teen bride, and her jealous mother. How could this have come to pass?" Diment follows the clues.
Rags AND Riches. Seattle Times: Jack MacDonald, "a Seattle attorney who amassed a fortune through frugal living and stock investments, has left $187.6 million to Seattle Children’s, the UW School of Law and the Salvation Army. He clipped coupons, wore sweaters with holes in them to make people think he was poor and took a bus — not a cab — to the University of Washington when he attended an alumni luncheon in his later years. Only a tight circle of family and friends knew that MacDonald was nurturing a secret fortune."
New York Times: "It was one of the most dramatic thefts ever to hit the rare-book world, the disappearance of thousands of volumes — including centuries-old editions of Aristotle, Descartes, Galileo and Machiavelli — from the Baroque-era Girolamini Library in Naples. Now, prosecutors at a trial here are trying to show how such a wholesale violation of Western cultural patrimony could have taken place. The very man charged with protecting these treasures, Marino Massimo De Caro, a politically connected former director of the library, is accused of being at the center of a network of middlemen, book dealers and possibly crooked conservators — all part of what prosecutors say is a sometimes corrupt market for rare books in which much is spent and few questions are asked. Apart from Mr. De Caro, 13 others are charged, including a priest."
Summer Burton of BuzzFeed: "Three previously unpublished and closely guarded J.D. Salinger stories appear to have been leaked online today for the first time. It’s hard to determine the origin of the 'book' pictured in the photos that were leaked onto invite-only bittorrent website what.CD today (and later reposted on Reddit) — the ISBN doesn’t lead anywhere, and a book of these three stories was certainly never printed legally.... Salinger scholar Kenneth Slawenski, author of J.D. Salinger: A Life confirms that these are truly Salinger’s unpublished stories, having read the previously guarded manuscripts." ...
... CW Update: the stories have already been removed from Reddit. Right now (9:30 pm ET, Thursday, Nov. 28) you can read them on mediafire at this page. They may not stay there for long.
Guardian: "Buried somewhere under four feet of mud and rubbish, in the Docksway landfill site near Newport, Wales,,,, is a computer hard drive worth more than £4m. It belonged to James Howells, who threw it out when he was clearing up his desk in mid-summer.... And then last Friday he realised that it held a digital wallet with 7,500 Bitcoins created for almost nothing in 2009 - and then worth about the same."
AFP: "The first book written in what is today the United States of America fetched $14.2 million in New York, becoming the world's most expensive printed book sold at auction. The translation of Biblical psalms 'The Bay Psalm Book' was printed by Puritan settlers in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640 and sold at a one-lot auction in just minutes by Sotheby's Tuesday.... Sotheby's named the buyer as David Rubenstein, the billionaire American financier and philanthropist."
Maureen Dowd, again trying unsuccessfully to imitate Frank Rich's gift for connecting literature & cinema to current events, attempts to connect the novels of Jane Austen to the evah-so complex lives of -- American football stars. Just pathetic.
NBC News: "MSNBC and Alec Baldwin's management team announced Tuesday that they have 'mutually' parted ways and the actor's six-week-old talk show host, 'Up Late with Alec Baldwin,' has been canceled." ...
... Waaaaahh! Baldwin whines extensively to Jen Carlson of Gothamist about being kicked off the air. He didn't call that Fox "News" reporter a "cocksucking faggot"; he probably called him a "cocksucking maggot," or something innocuous like that. And he didn't even do it on air! ...
... Deadline: "MSNBC's joint announcement today with Alec Baldwin’s camp that they had mutually decided to end Baldwin’s Up Late interview show leaves the cable news network with just one on-air talent headache: Martin Bashir, whose apology for graphic comments he made about Sarah Palin hasn’t ended chatter as to whether he should be punished.... Bashir had used his weekday afternoon program on November 15 to criticize Palin for having compared U.S. indebtedness to China to slavery. Bashir cited the diaries of a former plantation overseer who punished slaves by having someone defecate in their mouth or urinate on their face. Bashir suggested the former Alaska governor was a candidate for the same treatment. After Bashir made that suggestion, the same day MSNBC suspended Baldwin’s show after the host’s off-screen behavior, much debate ensued as to why Baldwin’s reprehensible rant during a heated off-air confrontation merited suspension, while Bashir’s thought-out, and deliberately gag-inducing, suggestion, made on air, did not. Bashir apologized during his next telecast...."
Los Angeles Times: "In a remarkable turn of events, a Nazi-looted Baroque masterpiece that turned up on the art market five years ago was returned Friday to its owner, who plans to donate it to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The life-size figure of St. Catherine of Alexandria, painted in Genoa around 1615 by Bernardo Strozzi, was installed Monday in the third floor galleries for European art.... The restitution of the Strozzi by an Italian court was made to Philippa Calnan, the original owner's sole direct descendant. Calnan, a retired public affairs director at LACMA and the J. Paul Getty Trust, is making the gift to the museum."
"A Practiced Eye" v. Forensics. Patricia Cohen of the New York Times on the controversies over authentication of the painting above.
Amy Chozick, et al., of the New York Times: "As [New York Mayor Michael] Bloomberg prepares to leave office and resume a more direct role in the company he founded, [Bloomberg L.P.,] he rejoins an operation whose core business, after two decades of heady growth, has slowed, and whose news division has more than doubled since he left. Interviews with current and former employees show that the business and news operations exist in uneasy tension, and occasionally collide. Bloomberg suddenly faces newsroom layoffs, a shift in emphasis back to financial news and skepticism from the business side that investigative journalism might not be worth the potential problems it could create for terminal sales."
Politico magazine reports "Bobby Baker's salacious secret history of Capitol Hill." CW: I haven't read the story yet, but it should be fun. My father, BTW, was one of the IRS officers who nabbed Baker. My father wasn't allowed to say so publicly, of course, but he was happy to be of service in this case.
The Reliable Source: "Divorcing: David Brooks and Sarah Brooks, after 27 years of marriage." ...
... After expressing empathy for divorcing couples, including the soon-to-be ex-Mr. & Mrs. Brooks, Driftglass writes, "That being said, words alone cannot express how eagerly I await the David Brooks column in which he rounds up the all the usual David Brooks suspects -- neurology, disordered families, the poors having un-David-Brooks-approved-of sexytime, the '60s and, oh, let's say Henry V -- to explain the collapse of his marriage." ...
... CW: As for me, I think we find the first clues for the cause of the Brooks' split in this two-year old video verite':
Washington Post: "The genetic analysis of a 24,000-year-old arm bone from an ancient Siberian boy suggests that Native Americans have a more complicated ancestry than scientists realized, with some of their distant kin looking more Eurasian than East Asian. The new study, published online Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the oldest genome of a modern human ever fully sequenced."
For Politico, the Commercial Is the Content. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: Mike Allen of Politico recycles press releases from Politico advertisers in his daily "Playbook," supposedly a news feature.
Driftglass reviews the Sunday morning shows.
A Woman's Work Is Never Done -- Unless She's Too Damned Useless to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner. CW: Writers at the New York Times cannot get over the idea that women's work is in the kitchen. Here's the headline for Clyde Haberman's NYT profile of Amy Kule, the executive director of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade: "In Charge of the Macy’s Parade, but Not the Thanksgiving Dinner." Haberman must be on a diet: there's a lot about food in his piece.
Who Could Have Known This Would Happen? MSNBC has suspended Alec Baldwin for two weeks for using offensive language after he testified in a court case. (According to this Politico story, he called one reporter a fag.) CW: This is a guy who berated his own daughter in the most disgusting of terms. You wouldn't expect him to be nicer to a Fox "News" reporter, would you?
New York Times: "In one of the biggest television syndication deals ever completed, 'The Simpsons' will finally be moving to cable television.... The 21st Century Fox family..., which owns the studio that created 'The Simpons,' (20th Century Fox Television); the network that broadcasts it (Fox) and now the cable network, FXX, that has acquired the rights to the more than 500 episodes. Terms were not disclosed, but bidding for the highly coveted 'Simpsons' library was reported to be intense, rising toward the $1 billion range."
Yahoo! News: "The Northern California ghost town of Seneca is for sale by its owners due to health issues, according to the Craigslist post." Bargain price, too: $225,000.