The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, May 21, 2015.

Washington Post: "California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County late Wednesday after an onshore pipeline burst, spewing thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean — blackening beaches and endangering West Coast wildlife. The area, a popular camping spot some 20 miles from Santa Barbara, known for its palm tree-lined seashore and pristine surf, has been “closed indefinitely.” The extent of the damage is not known."

New York Times: "Islamic State militants on Thursday solidified their rout of Syrian government forces in the historic desert city of Palmyra, moving to the outskirts to seize its airport and the notorious Tadmur Prison, according to residents and statements from the group. It was the first time that the ISIS militants seized an entire city from Syrian government forces; it won control of its first major city, Raqqa, from Syrian insurgents and the Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front after the two became rivals."

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 22

10:00 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony (audio only)

11:00 am ET: President Obama speaks at the Jewish American Heritage Month celebration

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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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.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

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.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

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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.