The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

AP: "Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates' historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday refused to release Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, from prison as he continues to appeal a prosecution that Republicans say exposed pervasive corruption in state government but Democrats regard as a case pursued for political retribution."

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court in Boston this morning for a brief pretrial hearing, which was punctuated by an interruption in Russian and English from a woman in the gallery. Several journalists reported she exclaimed 'stop killing innocent people' in English as she was escorted out for yelling in Russian. The woman identified herself to reporters as a relative of Ibrahim Todashev: a friend of Dzhokhar’s brother who was killed by an FBI agent during an incident that arose from the investigation of a Waltham triple homicide."

AFP: "Two owners and 12 former employees of a US pharmacy were arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2012 outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 people across the country, prosecutors said. Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro owned the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which lost its license in 2012 after inspectors found it guilty of multiple sanitary violations. the pharmacy, located in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts in the US northeast, voluntarily shut down and recalled all products following the unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

New York Times: "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty Wednesday as the government declared three days of official mourning and grappled with the aftermath of an attack on a school by the Pakistani Taliban that killed 145 people. The national flag was lowered to half-staff on all official buildings and prayer services were scheduled across the country." ...

... The Washington Post profiles "Mullah Radio," the leader of the Taliban attack on schoolchildren & teachers.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 18

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

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

CW: For those of you who don't like hassling with DVDs, I accidentally found a cheap alternative to Netflix. Although I will continue to subscribe to Netflix's streaming videos, Netflix doesn't stream most decent movies. Instead, you have to maintain a (second) monthly subscription, then order & return the DVDs. However, YouTube now allows you to stream movies (you can watch them -- more than once -- during a 48-hour period.) There's no monthly fee, & you can play the movies on your TV via various devices. I have a Google dongle on one TV & a Blu-Ray box on another. The YouTube streaming videos work on both (you have to download on the Chrome browser). Setting up an account was very easy. Since I watch few movies, this works perfectly for me. When Ben Bradlee died, I watched "All the President's Men" for the umpteenth time, & today I watched "Good Night & Good Luck." Big advantage: instant gratification! I'm not sure if YouTube is good for more recent movies.

The Rockefellers Are Leaving the Building. New York Times: "By this time next year, they will have vacated the 56th-floor aerie [in 30 Rock] they have occupied since 1933 and moved to somewhat less rarefied headquarters across 49th Street. One of the country’s great dynastic families is downsizing."

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CNN, December 8: "Republican Randy Altschuler conceded his bid Wednesday to unseat Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in New York's 1st congressional district, settling the nation's last unresolved House contest from the November midterm elections. Bishop's victory keeps the GOP net gain in the House at 63 seats. That leaves the final breakdown for the 112th Congress at 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats. The 63-seat gain for the GOP is the largest for any party since 1948."

Syracuse Post-Standard, November 23: "Ann Marie Buerkle will be Syracuse's next representative in Congress, its first woman in the U.S. House. U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei, the Democrat, called Buerkle today to concede, ending three weeks of ballot inspections, recounting and court wrangling."

Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, who won a special election in New York's 23rd, will pull off another win in this traditionally red district, thanks again to Conservative spoiler Doug Hoffman. Kate Pickert of Time has the story.

NY1 projects that New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will retain the seat to which she was appointed in 2009 when Sen. Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State.

NBC News projects that New York AG Andrew Cuomo will win the gubernatorial race. New York Times story here.

NBC News projects that New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer will retain his seat.

President Clinton speaks at a rally for Andrew Cuomo:

     ... New York Times story here.

New York candidate for governor (or president or something) Jimmy McMillan appears on "Weekend Update":

New York Times, October 21: Many people in Buffalo were initially thrilled when hometown boy Carl Paladino won the Republican nomination for governor. But after finding out more about him, they've decided that "Mr. Paladino’s candor crossed the line from refreshing to repulsive."

You might say gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan is a single-issue candidate:

Spitzer Lite, in an elephant suit. -- the Murdoch-owned New York Post's description of Republican Carl Paladino. The Post unenthusastically endorsed Democrat Andrew Cuomo

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times:, October 18: "The first — and possibly last — debate in the New York race for governor unfolded as 90 minutes of political theater verging on farce Monday night.... Kristin Davis, a former prostitution madam, made frequent brothel jokes. Jimmy McMillan, the candidate of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, responded to a question about same-sex marriage by declaring “If you want to marry a shoe, I’ll marry you.” And Carl P. Paladino, the Republican candidate, startled those watching by accidentally walking off stage during the closing statements, in search of the men’s room." ...

... Seven Dwarfs. The New York Times is liveblogging the New York state gubernatorial debate among seven contendahs.

Daily News, October 13: Paladino seems to find it okay to be gay if you're renting space from him. For years, two gay bars operated in Carl Paladino-owned buildings in Buffalo.

New York Times, October 12: "Carl P. Paladino, the Republican nominee for governor of New York, apologized on Tuesday for delivering comments that offended gay people, even as his campaign manager provoked a new controversy by calling the Democratic nominee, Andrew M. Cuomo, “oily.”

Of "Speedos & Grinding." Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times, October 11: New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino defends remarks he made yesterday about gays, says he's not a bigot. CW: you decide.

New York Times, October 10: "The Republican candidate for governor, Carl P. Paladino, told a gathering in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Sunday that children should not be 'brainwashed' into thinking that homosexuality was acceptable, and criticized his opponent, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, for marching in a gay pride parade earlier this year. Addressing Orthodox Jewish leaders, Mr. Paladino described his opposition to same-sex marriage." Cuomo released a statement condemning Paladino's remarks.

Another Democrat, Bill Owens of New York's 23rd, runs on the John Boehner ticket:

... Time: Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman drops out of the three-way race in Upstate New York's 23rd District.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Mr. Paladino’s near-physical confrontation with a New York Post reporter on Wednesday night, along with his unsubstantiated assertions about the private life of his opponent, Andrew M. Cuomo, which he later retracted, have the political world grappling with this difficult question: In an election season defined by anger, how much is too much?" ...

... The New York Times Editorial Board on Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino: "... bullying, it is increasingly clear, is Mr. Paladino’s standard operating procedure. The last thing this state needs is an out-of-control governor who can’t take the heat.

Unhinged. Maggie Haberman of Politico, September 29: "New York Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino alleged Tuesday that Democrat Andrew Cuomo was unfaithful to his ex-wife years ago.... Paladino offered no proof of his claim, despite requests for substantiation, and he made it minutes after angrily declaring his 10-year-old daughter—a child from his own affair 10 years ago—off limits to the press." ...

     ... Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Hours after the phone interview [with Politico] was conducted, Mr. Paladino nearly came to blows with a New York Post reporter who confronted him about the comments." Here's the videotape:

... The Teddy-Bear Version:

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "As he mounts an outrage-filled campaign for governor of New York, Carl P. Paladino has vowed to forcibly rid Albany of the wayward officials and misbehaving bureaucrats..., promising to 'take out the trash.' But some of the people whom Mr. Paladino has recruited to run his campaign are plagued by checkered pasts.... [His] driver was jailed over his driving record; his campaign manager has tax troubles; and a strategist is charged with stealing $1.1 million."

Bob Herbert shares the content of some of the images & videos New York's Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, thought were so hilarious he had to forward them to friends & acquaintances. Here are two:

A photo showing a group of black men trying to get out of the way of an airplane that is apparently moving across a field. The caption reads: 'Run niggers, run.'

A video clip of a nude couple engaged in intercourse with the title: “Miss France [expletive].” Mr. Paladino characterized it as 'a keeper.'

New York Times: "Former Representative Rick A. Lazio has agreed to have his name removed as the Conservative Party’s candidate for governor, in a decision that bolsters the candidacy of the Republican candidate, Carl P. Paladino."

CW: Here's another good reason to despise New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. New York Post: "It was just about a year ago, hours after the death of her son in a car crash, that Cathy Paladino's husband told her he was the father of a 10-year-old girl with another woman -- and that all their children and most of their friends already knew." Only a cannibalistic axe-murderer is worse than this guy. The New York Times story provides a little more nuance. Carl is still an asshole.

Wall Street Journal: "Unleashing his most scathing criticism of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Thursday said the Democratic candidate for governor is hindered by a reputation for being 'the dirtiest, nastiest political player out there.' Mr. Spitzer also defended Mr. Cuomo's insurgent Republican rival, asserting that Carl Paladino 'is not as crazy as the media has portrayed him to be.'"

Politico: "Doug Hoffman ... conceded the GOP nomination [in an Upstate New York Congressional race] Thursday to Matt Doheny, a largely self-funding businessman who was the choice of the Republican establishment. But Hoffman announced at the same time that he would continue campaigning on the Conservative Party ballot line."

Donn Esmonde of the Buffalo News on why Paladino won the Republican primary: "The millionaire Buffalo developer’s candidacy for governor—and his annihilation of endorsed Republican Rick Lazio in last week’s primary— was spawned by decades of abuses that Albany heaped on its citizens. The abuses are largely traceable to an army of pay-to-play special interests."

New York Times: "Andrew M. Cuomo’s painstakingly constructed veneer of political inevitability began to crack on Wednesday, as a new poll showing his Republican opponent, Carl P. Paladino, within striking distance.... Just hours after the poll came out, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg publicly endorsed Mr. Cuomo."

New York Post: Republican "Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg is going to plunge into the governor’s race by endorsing Democrat Andrew Cuomo — possibly as early as today, sources said last night.

Salon, September 21: "The New York state Republican Party is denouncing GOP congressional hopeful Jim Russell following the revelation that he wrote an essay opposing 'miscegenation' (his word) and outlining his views about the assault on the 'Western continuum' from Jews, blacks and other minorities.... He is the GOP-endorsed candidate running against Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., in the state's 18th District, which is mostly Westchester County."

He is dangerous, at the least, he is mean spirited and he tries to divide people. -- Former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, a Republican, on New York's Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino

Think Progress: "former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato..., former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and former State Comptroller Carl McCall ... signed ... an open letter declaring [New York GOP gubernatorial nominee Carl] Paladino unfit for office."

Delusions of Grover. Clyde Haberman of the New York Times on New York's Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino: "On [Paladino']s campaign Web site, prominently displayed near the top of the home page, is a notice that says in large white-on-black type, 'The last NY governor from Buffalo became president of the United States.' ...  The two men have things in common, including fiscal conservatism and a distaste for political patronage and bossism. Oh, there’s one other matter: Both acknowledged having fathered children who in a quainter time were described as — pass the smelling salts — illegitimate."

New York Times: "Carl P. Paladino, a wealthy Buffalo businessman and political neophyte, won a stunning victory over his rival, former Representative Rick A. Lazio, in New York’s Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday night.... It put at the top of the party’s ticket a volatile newcomer who has forwarded e-mails to friends containing racist jokes and pornographic images, espoused turning prisons into dormitories where welfare recipients could be given classes on hygiene, and defended an ally’s comparison of the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, who is Jewish, to “an Antichrist or a Hitler.”

New York Times: "Representative Charles B. Rangel, the battle-scarred Democratic incumbent facing numerous ethics charges, captured his party’s nomination on Tuesday after a nasty six-way primary battle in which his opponents sharply questioned his fitness to serve."

David Chen of the New York Times (September 13) provides a run-down of New York state primary contests.

... BUT Nicholas Confessore of the Times writes, "on the eve of the first major statewide election in four years, many voters are ... spent with exhaustion. Disappointed and hopeless, many are disdainful of Albany’s would-be white knights and skeptical of the rhetoric of change."

Can't Get a Job? Maybe You Stink. Zaid Jilani of Think Progress: "New York GOP gubernatorial primary candidate Carl Paladino, 'a wealthy Buffalo real estate developer popular with many tea party activists,' is openly advocating for the creation of special prison dorms for recipients of unemployment insurance where they can receive special training and lessons in 'personal hygiene.'“

Jonathan Mahler profiles New York AG Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic candidate for governor, in the New York Times Magazine.

New York Times: "of the estimated $7.1 million that the [Andrew] Cuomo campaign has received from political action committees, associations, limited liability corporations and other entities, more than half has come from the biggest players in Albany: organized labor, the real estate and related industries like construction, the health care sector and lobbying firms."

The influence of lobbyists and their special interests must be drastically reduced with new contribution limits. -- Andrew Cuomo, while "sitting on millions in campaign cash from the very special interests whose influence he said he wanted to limit"

Susan Dominus of the New York Times: Andrew Cuomo's media-star girlfriend Sandra Lee won't speak to the media -- unless it's about tunafish.