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:

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Euro-African Trip - July 2009

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New York Times report on the President's day in Ghana.

President Obama speaks after he & his family toured Cape Coast Castle, a slave-holding & -trading fort on the Ghanian Coast:

AFP: President Obama and his family visited the Cape Coast, Ghana, castle that was once a slave-trading fort.


President Obama's speech before the Ghanaian Parliament. The audio here, which I obtained from the White House, is MUCH BETTER than the audio on the satellite videos. However, President Obama doesn't begin speaking until 24 minutes in. You can click the audio forward (pause between clicks) -- this was a wonderful speech & well worth the effort.

Reuters reports on President Obama's speech before the Ghanaian Parliament. Politico's report is here. And here's the BBC's transcript of key excerpts from the speech. The Washington Post has the full transcript.

AP: Presidents Obama & Mills speak during a joint press availability.

Here's a very newsy pool report.

BBC News report on the President Obama's visit to Ghana with updated video.

BBC News reports on the Obamas' arrival in Ghana & their schedule for Saturday. AP story here. South Africa Mail & Guardian story here. London Telegraph story here.

This one's pretty good, too; the voiceover is in Italian, but the announcer is just relating what's going on, most of which is self-evident. The documents on the tray are copies of the Pope's new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" -- "True Charity":

The Obamas give the Pope a stole belonging to Bishop John Neumann, sainted in 1977, and they also brought him a letter from Sen. Edward Kennedy. Pool report here.

Washington Post: in the "frank" and "cordial" discussion, Pope Benedict stressed his opposition to abortion & stem-cell research; a spokesman for President Obama said the President "was eager to listen to the Holy Father."

AP: President Obama has concluded his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI; the First Lady joined them toward the end of the meeting.

More Catholic than the Pope. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, writing in Newsweek: "Obama's agenda is closer to [American Catholics'] views than even the pope's."

President Obama held a press conference following the G-8 meetings. AP report here.

President Obama's full remarks at the end of the G-8 summit:

Reuters: in the final G-8 session, African leaders ask the developed nations to honor their past pledges of aid; also request new funding for an agricultural program. AP Update of this story: G-8 leaders launch $15 billion global food initiative.

President Obama discusses the results of G-8/G-5 talks on energy & climate control:

Here's the G-S Leaders' statement on energy & climate.

New York Times: developing nations, led by China & India, refuse to commit to heat-trapping emission standards. Without the participation of the developing countries, "no climate deal will be effective."

A President Who Can Handle More than One Summit at a Time. CBS News: from the G-8 Summit in Italy, President Obama phones the Flu Preparedness Summit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

BBC News: President Obama chairs a key session Thursday morning in which G-8 leaders will try to push leaders of emerging nations to take steps to limit global warming.

AP: G-8 leaders open up their meeting Thursday to the "Group of Five" fastest developing market countries — Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa -- to try to secure their cooperation in dealing with global economic problems.

Jake Tapper of ABC News: President Obama & Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva -- a/k/a Lula -- take time out in their one-on-one meeting to rib each other, Lula concentrating on his country's defeat of the U.S. in a big soccer match.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: G-8 issues a weak statement against Iran, little different from earlier statement....

... BUT that's not the party line: Carol Lee of Politico on Wednesday's G-8 dinner meeting & Alexander Burns on Robert Gibbs' remarks.

AP: at the G-8 summit, leaders are drafting an agreement aimed at lowering trade barriers.

The G-8 leaders relax before dinner Wednesday. (CW: I can hear Sarkozy tell Obama, "Don't flatter yourself," which is what gets the laugh, but I can't hear what President Obama said that inspired Sarkozy's quip.):


AP: the Obama administration voices support for G-8 greenhouse gas emission control goals.

The G-8 leaders at the roundtable:

White House statement on the L'Aquila Earthquake Zone: U.S. is helping victims. Pool report on President Obama's tour, with PM Berlusconi, of the quake zone.

NBC News on President Obama's tour of earthquake-ravaged l'Aquila.

ANSA: Italian First Lady Clio Napolitano & Rome's First Lady Isabella Rauti Alemanno speak highly of Michelle Obama.

G-8 first spouses dined on a terrace of the Capitoline Museum as the guests of Isabella Rauti Alemanno, the wife of Rome's mayor. Here's the pool report by the Washington Post's Robin Givhan, & it's pretty funny.

Also, here's some dish on the first ladies' itinerary from Nick Squires of the London Daily Telegraph.

Herding cats world leaders; raw video:

Here's the pool report on President Obama's arrival in L'Aquila.

Time: President Obama sidesteps Berlusconi scandals by beginning his visit to Italy with a call on Italy's "largely ceremonial" president, Giorgio Napolitano.

Politico summarizes President Obama's brief remarks at a joint press availability with President Napolitano. I couldn't find a transcript or a video except this one with an Italian translator speaking over the President. Here's the pool report.

Raw video of the Obamas arriving at the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome:

AP: the three-day G-8 meeting in l'Aquila, Italy, will tackle climate change, global economy. BBC News report here; China's President Hu Jintau leaves the summit because of civil unrest in Western China.

New York Times: the Obamas dined at Moscow's Ritz-Carlton last night, enjoying some downtime before traveling to Italy.

Here's an informative pool report on the President's meetings with the Civil Society group & the oppo leaders.

Transcript: President Obama's opening remarks at a meeting with Russian opposition leaders (partial).

Transcript: President Obama's remarks at the Parallel Civil Society Summit.

Transcript: President Obama's remarks at the Russian Parallel Business Summit.

Clifford Levy & Ellen Barry of the New York Times: President Obama isn't a rock star in Russia.

President Obama speaks at the New Economic School in Moscow:

The text of the President's speech at the New Economic School.

Michael Shearer of Time: President Obama gets personal in his comments on democracy & universal rights.

New York Times: in a speech at Moscows's New Economic School, President Obama says the U.S. & Russia share many common interests.

Interfax: President Obama met with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, & Gorbachev attended the speech President Obama gave at the New Economic School.


President Obama comments during a photo-op with Russian PM Putin. Raw video:

Here's the full joint press conference called by Presidents Obama & Medvedev.

Here's the transcript.

AP: Presidents Obama & Medvedev agree to preliminary guidelines for reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles. New York Times story here.

AP: Michelle Obama & daughters Malia & Sasha tour the Kremlin.

Presidents Obama & Medvedev meet in the Kremlin:

CBS/AP story on President Obama's arrival in Moscow. New York Times story here.

President & Mrs. Obama at the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

BBC: President Obama has arrived in Moscow.