The Ledes

... Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. (This video tends to start near the end. If it does that for you, cursor back to the beginning.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

Guardian: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday continued to pave the way for an increase in interest rates as early as September. The US central bank left its key interest rate unchanged at near zero – where it has been since the 2008 financial crisis – but once again signalled that rates will rise later this year. While the Fed chair, Janet Yellen, has left little doubt that rates will rise this year, the Fed left itself wiggle room as it has set no timetable and said rates would only be raised if the economy continues to improve and unemployment continues to fall." ...

... The Fed's statement is here.

New York Times: "A large object that appeared to be an airplane part washed up Wednesday on the shore of Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, prompting speculation that it might be debris from Flight 370, the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared in March 2014." ...

     ... AP UPDATE: "Air safety investigators have a 'high degree of confidence' that aircraft debris found in the Indian Ocean is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared last year, a U.S. official said Wednesday."

New York Times: "After months of speculation, Afghan officials announced Wednesday that they were now certain that the Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, died in Pakistan in 2013."

Guardian: "Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has approved the immediate construction of hundreds of settlement units in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in an effort to stave off a growing threat posed by pro-settler parties in his rightwing coalition government. The issue was brought to a head on Wednesday by a supreme court ruling that two buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El – built on private Palestinian land without permits – should be destroyed, despite Netanyahu’s opposition."

Washington Post: "An Albuquerque 911 dispatcher has resigned after audio was released of him hanging up on a 17-year-old as she tended to a friend who was shot at the party. The victim, 17-year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver, later died.... Emergency responders had already been dispatched to the house before [the dispatcher] hung up." Includes 911 audio.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "A big-game hunter from the Twin Cities found himself at the center of an international firestorm Tuesday over the death of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, but said he regrets killing the animal and believed his guides were leading him on a legal hunt.... Earlier Tuesday, the Telegraph newspaper of London identified [dentist Walter] Palmer as the hunter who shot Cecil and reported that he paid $54,000 for the hunt. The Telegraph said the lion was illegally lured out of Hwange National Park, where it had protected status, and onto a neighboring game farm, where Palmer was on safari." ...

... Salon: Yelp contributors are whacking Palmer.

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 28, 2015.

Guardian: "Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya’s former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, has been sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli. Saif, once seen as his father’s heir apparent, was condemned to death along with eight other figures from the former dictatorship, including the former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and Gaddafi’s last prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi."

Reuters: "FIFA boss Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his stewardship of soccer's governing body, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired by Swiss broadcaster RTS on Monday."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 29

1:00 pm ET: Press briefing by Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

For an actual feel-good moment, Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post tells the story of 16-year-old small-plane crash survivor Autumn Veatch. Veatch, who was injured in the crash that killed her grandparents, walked untold mild through rough terrain until she came to a public road & parking area.

Washington Post: "Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program '19 Kids and Counting' from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program."

Washington Post: "Filmmaker George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King and dancer-actress Rita Moreno are among an unprecedented six honorees to be saluted at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Seventies rockers the Eagles, actress Cicely Tyson and conductor Seiji Ozawa will also be honored at the Dec. 6 event, Kennedy Center officials said Wednesday. A major fundraiser for the arts center, the gala celebration will be televised on CBS on Dec. 29."

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. ...

... Laura Marsh of the New Republic: "Scolars have been pointing out Atticus Finch's racism for years."

New York Times (July 15): "It was the last day of business at F. A. O. Schwarz on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan."

New York Times: "A day after its successful flyby, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of Pluto, revealing a young surface dotted with ice mountains. The piano-size spacecraft traveled nine years and three billion miles to study the dwarf planet and its five moons." Includes one close-up photo from 25 miles out. More on NASA's site.

New York (July 14): "We're halfway through July, but until this morning, there was still snow on the ground in Boston. The last of the city's historic snowfall, a disgusting frozen mass of dirt, snow, and trash, was officially pronounced melted this morning"."

Here are time-lapse photos of the long melt:

Sean Hollister of Gizmodo: "The Mozilla Firefox web browser now blocks Flash by default. And when I say “blocks,” I don’t mean it asks you nicely if you’d really like to use Flash. I don’t mean it automatically pauses Flash videos like Google Chrome. I mean Mozilla has decided that Flash is going down.... Why such a hard-on for Flash? Why now? Well, it could be that the world just rediscovered just how prone Flash is to nasty, nasty vulnerabilities. When the Hacking Team — an Italian security company that sold intrusive spy tools — got hacked, one of those tools got out into the wild. A nasty hole in Flash that Adobe has yet to patch.... It’s probably worth noting that [Monday July 13], Mozilla’s Facebook’s chief security officer publicly asked Adobe to kill off Flash once and for all.... Update: Adobe has already released a newer version of Flash, 18.0.0.209, which Firefox doesn’t block by default. You’ll want to manually download it."

Contributor Nisky Guy takes us back in time to February 2006, when Lewis Black complained, "I can't wait that long":

Washington Post: "On its approach to Pluto, the spacecraft [New Horizons] obtained the most arresting image yet of the dwarf planet. Pluto is not a bland and featureless ball of ice, but rather a complex, variegated, mottled world with broad snowfields, structures that look like cliffs or fault lines, and a strikingly bright heart-shaped area that could be the eroded remnant of a giant impact crater."

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To see photos of the Inauguraton activities, go to the Photo Galleries page on the navigation bar above & select the "Inaugural Gallery" from the drop-down menu.

After the Balls

 

Final Inaugural Events

The New York Times has an outstanding slideshow depicting the President's first day in office.

The Obamas attend one more inaugural party, this one for campaign & transition staffers. Pool report here.

President Obama takes the oath  of office!! -- Again. Really. Washington Post story here. Here's the audio:

 

Inauguration Day 2009

Washington Post, Jan. 25: D.C.police admit to mistakes in crowd management that caused many ticket-holders to miss the swearing-in.

Photographer David Bergman has created an amazing zoomable panorama (a Gigapan) of the inauguration crowd. You can zoom in close enough to ID people.

The Washington Post has a fabulous inter-active photomosaic of Barack Obama taking the oath of office with Michelle Obama holding the Lincoln Bible. Play with it. You'll like it. This is a work of art made by a thousand artists -- and one genius who figured out how to compile it. Below is the photo ONLY. Go to the site.

CLICK IMAGE TO GO TO WASHPO SITE.Don't miss Time's excellent behind-the-scenes photo essay.

Washington Post: inaugural headcount -- 1.8 million!!

Joanna Weiss of the Boston Globe captures some small moments that illuminated a grand day.

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "a nation in crisis embraces the moment."

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times on Barack Obama's inaugural day.

Washington Post: diverse Americans come from across the country to witness history. AND, security measures were such a success that with well over a million people in downtown D.C., there were no arrests.

But Ben Smith reports on some apologies for the "Purple Tunnel of Doom" & other snafus.

All of the New York Times inaugural slideshows. The Los Angeles Times has a very good slideshow here. Time has a good one, too.

The Los Angeles Times has a slideshow of the stars at the inaugural balls for folks who like to see pictures of stars standing up wearing nice clothes.

USA Today on the parties & balls. New York Times on the balls. Only one couple mattered. The Caucus is liveblogging the balls. But the A-ticket wasn't a ball at all -- it was billionaire Eli Broad's dinner for top Obama Administration officials. What they were saying at the Gay Ball.

Obamas attend the Youth Ball. The President says "young people getting involved" is the reason he was elected & "young people everywhere are in the process of imagining something different than what has come before." The Caucus: the President gets a rock star welcome.

The Obamas at the Commander-in-Chief Ball. The President speaks, salutes military, military families; mention of Shinseki gets an enthusiastic shout-out. "The time has arrived when we demand not only more or our leaders, but more of ourselves." Talks via satellite with Chicago soldiers (or Marines) in Kabul. Obamas dance, then dance with military members at the ball.

The Obamas arrive at the Home States Ball -- Hawai & Illinois. The President speaks about unity "to create the kind of world we want to create to pass on to our grandchildren."

Joe Biden speaks at the Commander in Chief Inaugural Ball. Ball is broadcast live to servicepeople overseas.

The Obamas at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. "This ball captures best the spirit of this campaign." First Lady is wearing dress designed by Jason Wu

Bidens, now Obamas make their way to reviewing stand. The Obamas walk across lawn of their new place, President holds Sasha's hand, First Lady holds Malia's. Barack & Michelle Obama shake hands with muckymucks, friends & their children in the reviewing stand.

The Obamas go back to the White House.

Highlights of Inauguration Day from MSNBC:

The Bidens also are walking the route.

The Obamas have emerged again from the belly of the Beast.

Chuck Todd reports Robert Gibbs held his first press conference; talked about Senate confirmations.

The Obamas get back in the car.

Barack & Michelle Obama get out of the car in front of the Navy Memorial. They are walking up Pennsylvania Avenue. Temperature is about 25 degrees; windchill in the teens.

The Huffington Post has a good slideshow of Barack & Michelle Obama's day here.

Motorcade takes Obamas & Bidens to the parade.

President Barack Obama reviews the troops. His wife & the Bidens accompany him on the East Steps of the Capitol.

Barack Obama pays tribute to Ted Kennedy in his brief remarks. Video of Obama's remarks included in Politico story linked directly below.

Ted Kennedy suffers a "medical emergency" at the luncheon. Taken out on stretcher, having convulsions. Also Senator Byrd is taken ill. Kennedy's health situation sounds grave. Politico story here. At the Congressional Luncheon, President Obama speaks about his concern for Kennedy:

Update: statement from hospital that Kennedy is alert & being evaluated. Sen. Byrd not ill.

Luncheon wraps up and Congress gives flags, photographs, crystal bowls to the Obamas and Bidens; Reid offers toast to new President & Vice President.

Congressional honchos are seated for lunch in the Capitol Building's Statuary Hall. The Bidens, then the Obamas arrive.

Obama's aides go to work at the White House.

Barack Obama bids farewell to George W. Bush on the East steps of the Capitol.

Time photos. New York Times slideshow.

U.S. Navy chorus signs National Anthem.

Dr. Joseph Lowery delivers benediction. USA Today on the benediction.

Elizabeth Alexander delivers her poem.

President Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address. Text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address. The video is of the swearing-in & of President Obama's full inaugural address:

The New York Times has a terrific interactive graphic of the inaugural address that includes both video & transcript of the speech.

WhiteHouse.gov switches to Obama at noon. Here's the first post. The Caucus remarks here.

Feinstein introduces John Roberts. Barack Hussein Obama takes oath of office -- Roberts screws it up. Michelle holds Lincoln Inaugural Bible. Band plays "Hail to the Chief" for Barack Obama & the crowd is wild. Me too. Washington Post story, updated; links to video. New York Times story.

The Caucus on the oath flub(s).

Quartet performs John Williams composition/ arrangement. Perlman, Ma, Montera, McGill. Ma looks as if he's having a fabulous time!

Justice John Paul Stevens administers oath of office to Joe Biden. Jill Biden holds the Bible.

Aretha Franklin sings a gospel version of "My Country 'Tis of Three" wearing a funny hat.

Rick Warren gives the invocation. The CW turns the sound off. He's running on for quite awhile. And on. And on.

Dianne Feinstein speaks. "This was the moment when the dream...reached the walls of the White House."

Barack Obama arrives with Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, other Democratic leaders. Is announced as "Barack H. Obama." Huge roar from the crowd.

Joe Biden, Democratic Congressional leaders are announced, arrive on stand.

Dick Cheney arrives in a wheelchair.

George W. Bush arrives with John Boehner. Booing in the crowd.

Michelle Obama & Jill Biden arrive.

Malia & Sasha Obama, followed by Mrs. Robinson, are seated, followed by Mrs. Cheney & Mrs. G.W. Bush. The Huffington Post has a good slideshow of the girls (Malia & Sasha, not Lynne & Laura) here. Time has an even better one.

The Obamas' moving vans arrive at the White House.

Two million fill the mall. Washington Post story here.

Dignitaries are announced for the swearing-in. Former Veeps & their wives are seated. President Bill & Senator Hillary Clinton both look somber. The Bushes, Sr. & Clintons chat. The Carters are announced & seated. The Bushes Sr. are announced & seated. The Clintons are announced, get a huge ovation.

Presidential motorcade heads up Pennsylvania Avenue toward Capitol. Barack Obama & George Bush share a ride.

The Bushes greet the Obamas in the White House portico. Michelle Obama brings Laura Bush a present. They have coffee in the Blue Room. The gift from Mrs. Obama is a leather-bound journal, & a pen with today's date.

The Bidens enter the White House.

The Obamas leave the church and head for the White House to have coffee with the Bushes.

 Joe & Jill Biden, Barack & Michelle Obama enter St. John's.

The New York Times Caucus is liveblogging the inauguration.

Bush leaves a note in the Oval Office for Obama. A reasonable facsimile from Funny or Die:

 

General News and Trivia:

The Washington Post's interactive party map. This is a decidedly cool graphic.

Washington Wire: menu for the inaugural lunch. And recipes for items on the menu from Inaugural Congressional Committee; the most visited page on their site according to Dianne Feinstein.

Los Angeles Times: the parade to the White House on Pennsylvania Aveue, a stretch of road steeped in history.

The Los Angeles Times has a very good slideshow on the preparations for the inauguration.

ABC News: the inauguration tab is now tagged at $170 million.

New York Times: preparing for the inauguration -- slideshow.

The Washington Post on inaugural donations.

NBC has great photos of past First Ladies' inaugural gowns.

The President & First Lady welcome "ordinary people" to the White House. The Bidens invited D.C. school children to their official home.

The Obamas and Bidens attend a post-inaugural prayer service at the National Cathedral at 8:30 10:00 8:30 am, broadcast to begin at 10:00 am ET. The Rev. Sharon Watkins will be the first woman to lead this service, which has a tradition dating back to George Washington.

__________

Not to be missed: life imitates art -- the intro to the new season of "The West Wing":

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