The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

New York Times: "On Monday, the [U.S.] government charged that in the shadows of an undercover investigation of Silk Road, a notorious black-market site, two federal agents sought to enrich themselves by exploiting the very secrecy that made the site so difficult for law enforcement officials to penetrate. The agents, Carl Mark Force IV, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Shaun W. Bridges, who worked for the Secret Service, had resigned amid growing scrutiny, and on Monday they were charged with money laundering and wire fraud. Mr. Force was also charged with theft of government property and conflict of interest."

Guardian: "The personal details of world leaders at the last G20 summit were accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department, which did not consider it necessary to inform those world leaders of the privacy breach.... An employee of the agency inadvertently sent the passport numbers, visa details and other personal identifiers of all world leaders attending the summit to the organisers of the Asian Cup football tournament."

Washington Post: "One person was killed and another was injured Monday morning when police with the National Security Agency opened fire on a vehicle whose driver refused commands to stop at a security gate, according to a statement from the agency. The vehicle slammed into a police cruiser after shots were fired." ...

... ABC News: "Sources say the two inside [the vehicle] were men dressed as women. Preliminary information indicated the two men were partying at an area hotel with a third individual when they took that individual's car without permission. However, it's still unclear how or why they ended up at the NSA gate."

New York Times: "Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was forced from office under a cloud of corruption, was convicted on Monday of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial of a case involving an American businessman, whose sensational testimony in a Jerusalem court in 2008 was instrumental in Mr. Olmert’s downfall. The American businessman, Morris Talansky, said at the time that he had provided Mr. Olmert with about $150,000 over 13 years, mostly in cash stuffed into envelopes, an assertion Mr. Olmert vehemently denied. Mr. Talansky, known as Moshe, had said that much of the money was earmarked for election campaigns but that some was for Mr. Olmert’s personal expenses."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Rescue workers recovered two bodies on Sunday in the wreckage of the explosion and fire that happened last week in the East Village, the police said. One of two bodies was identified by family members as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The second body was not yet identified.... Officials said the fire was most likely set off by a gas explosion. The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. Three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble."

AP: "Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels there 'withdraw and surrender their weapons,' a summit of Arab leaders decided Sunday, as they also agreed in principle to forming a joint military force. The decision by the Arab League puts it on a path to potentially more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran, which is backing the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis."

Baltimore Sun: Protesters show up outside Bill Cosby's Baltimore performance, and one interrupts his show.

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 30

9:00 am ET: President's Management Advisory Board meeting

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

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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.