The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday afternoon ordered U.S. carriers to stop flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, prohibiting them from traveling through Israel’s largest airport after a rocket landed nearby."

Reuters: "Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in neighboring Egypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Israel later in the day. Both have voiced alarm at mounting civilian casualties."

New York Times: "A train carrying the bodies of victims from the Malaysia Airlines jet downed by a missile last week arrived Tuesday morning in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after a 17-hour journey out of lawless territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels." ...

... New York Times: "A piece of wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was shot down in eastern Ukraine last week bears telltale marks of small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel that apparently crippled the jet in flight. Riddled with these perforations and buffeted by a blast wave as it flew high above the conflict zone, the plane then most likely sheared apart."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 22

11:00 am ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

12:10 pm ET: President Obama & Vice President Biden deliver remarks & sign H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

3:30 pm ET: Drink Up! with First Lady Michelle Obama

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

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Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

Whole Food Business Model: We Cheat You, But Not so Much You'll Notice. Shan Li of the Los Angeles Times: "Whole Foods Market is paying $800,000 in penalties after an investigation found the supermarket chain overcharged customers throughout California. During a yearlong investigation, state and local inspectors found the Austin, Texas, grocer charged more than advertised for a wide range of food products, according to a statement from the Santa Monica city attorney's office. Problems included failing to deduct the weight of containers when ringing up fresh food, putting smaller amounts into packages than the weight stated on the label, and selling items by the piece instead of by the pound, as required by law, the statement said.... 'Based on a review of our own records and a sampling of inspection reports .... our pricing on weighed and measured items was accurate 98% of the time,' the company said in a Tuesday statement." ...

... CW: Besides, if you shop at Whole Foods -- at no charge to you -- you can learn that unions are like herpes, ObamaCare is a form of fascism & climate change is "perfectly natural."

Teenaged curiosity about sex is quite natural, but it can be a bummer.The Vagina Dialog. Turned out to Require a Large Cast of Supporting Characters. Jen Kirby of New York: "An American student studying abroad in Germany captured the world's attention yesterday by achieving the remarkable feat of getting himself stuck in a giant vagina sculpture and needing 22 firefighters to rescue him. But Fernando de la Jara, the artist behind the now-infamous work, took it all in stride.... 'It's participatory art,' de la Jara said. 'It should be entered.'"

 

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MLK Day of Service

Michelle Obama & Jill Biden work at a community center putting together goodie packages for the troops.

You're on an auxiliary page. Click Constant Comments-Home on the bar above to go to the main page.

Photos of preinaugural events are on the Inaugural Gallery page on the dropdown menu un Photo Galleries on the navigation bar just below the masthead.

The parties. (Not my strong suit.) The Sleuth reports on Arianna Huffington's A-List bash where Sting sang "Every Breath You Take," the stalker song often misinterpreted as a love song. Anne Schroeder Mullins on the Arianna party. And on Al Gore's Green Ball at the National Portrait Gallery. At the Kennedy Center, not one but two bigs shows, one headlining Aretha Franklin & the other Wynton Marsalis. Muhammed Ali salutes Barack Obama at the Bluegrass Ball. Celebs at the Creative Coalition dinner. The arty Big Shoulders party ended when the police showed up. Best of all, Dana Milbank takes a wry look at Hollywood on the Potomac -- the Return.

The official release on Barack Obama's dinner honoring John McCain. The Caucus story here. Photos. "Not invited was Mr. McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska." Barack Obama's prepared remarks at the "bipartisan dinner honoring John McCain."

The Caucus: Michelle Obama & Jill Biden at the children's concert.

Pool report on Barack Obama's dinner honoring Colin Powell (doesn't say much).

Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire on Barack Obama's National Day of Service. Washington Post story, with video. New York Times story here.

Barack Obama thanks volunteers:

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Do not miss Joe & Jill Biden on Oprah. Jill lets the cat out of the bag! It's great & it's news:

Comments from a couple of sharp Caucus readers on Jill Biden's Oprah-induced revelation (see link to video above):

     I guess that disease which destroys the connection between the brain and the mouth is contagious.-- Michael Feldman

     'If you’re secretary of state, you’ll be away, we’ll never see you, you know.”'-- Jill Biden. That’s the very same argument Bill used to encourage Hillary to take the job. -- Shooting from the Lip

     Another Caucus reader points out that this story is not exactly news. Joe Biden made similar, but more nuanced, comments to the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza back in October. Link to the Lizza story.

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Barack Obama is helping renovate the boys' dorm in a D.C. emergency shelter. Joe Biden brought doughnuts for everybody at the Habitat for Humanity home he helped build. Michelle Obama & Jill Biden are putting together goodie bags for troops.

Barack Obama makes his first stop on the day of service at Walter Reed Medical Center. Uninformative pool report.

Barack Obama issues a statement honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Bloomberg: Barack Obama issues a call to service. The video of his speech in the left column of this page.

Washington Post: Obama, Powell ask Americans to participate in national day of service on Martin Luther King Day, January 19, the day before the inauguration. Updated story. With video. 

Barack Obama promotes USAService.org:

Michelle Obama talks about her family's plans for volunteering:

The Washington Post's interactive party map is excellent.

Sunday Concert

If you're interested in the party scene (I'm not) here are a few sources.(A year later, most of these stories have disappeared.) There seems to be general agreement that the best A-List bash Sunday was Maureen Dowd's, so crowded Tom Hanks & Bruce Springstein couldn't get in. Jennifer Lopez seems to have been the star of the Latino Inaugural GalaHere's more from the Boston Globe. And the scoop on the Declare Yourself Ball.

Los Angeles Times story on the Lincoln Memorial "We Are One" concert. Washington Post: the "We Are One" concert. New York Times story here. The Caucus here. Like me, commenters on the blogs want to know what happened to Gene Robinson, who was supposed to give the invocation.

NBC has a very good slideshow covering the day here. And here's Politico's slideshow.

     Update: the Caucus blog now explains what happened. Nonfunctioning speakers were a "technical difficulty." But the fact remains that the inaugural committee scheduled Bishop Robinson (a) before the HBO broadcast was to air (at 2:30 pm) and (b) before the Obamas & Bidens arrived (at 2:52 pm). We Are One.*

          *As long as we are heterosexual.

          Here is the text of the Rev. Robinson's prayer.

          Update: there's a pretty good amateur video of the invocation here.

          More: Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star has a good post -- he says NPR has some 'splaining to do, too. One of his commenters who attended the concert said the sound systems were working fine immediately before & after Bishop Robinson's invocation, but not during it.

          Ben Smith of Politico does some excellent reporting on this issue (at the CW's request). First, he reports that the Presidential Inaugural Committee takes responsibility for not broadcasting the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson's invocation. Second, Smith reports the PIC has ensured that when the concert is replayed on the Mall to entertain the crowds Tuesday, the Rt. Rev. Robinson's invocation will be included. New York Times: story here.

Barack Obama speaking at the "We Are One" concert at Lincoln Memorial.

Transcript of Barack Obama's remarks.

Link to Politico's video of Joe Biden's speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

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Joe and Jill Biden attended mass at Holy Trinity, where John F. Kennedy worshipped.

Washington Post: Barack Obama, his wife and daughters attended services at the historic 19th Street Baptist Church. With video.

     Update: pool report on the Obamas' arrival inside the church.

     Update from the pool: the sermon.

Barack Obama will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery Sunday morning.

     AP Update: Obama, Biden honor war dead at Arlington.

Washington Post: Springstein does a soundcheck at the Lincoln Memorial Sunday. Includes video.

Saturday Whistlestop

The Bidens and Obamas on the rear platform as the train pulls out of the Wilmington station.

Here's an excellent video of the whistlestop tour the inaugural committee made:

New York Times slideshow here. MSNBC has quite a good slideshow here. The Chicago Tribune's slideshow is good, too.

 

Washington Post story here. With video.

Tens of thousands gather in Baltimore's War Memorial Plaza to greet Obamas, Bidens; train made rolling stop in Edgewood first. Link to photos.

 Jen Miller of the New York Times mingles among the well-wishers at Edgewood. A few good photos, too.

President-Elect Obama speaks in Balitimore:

     Here's the transcript of his prepared remarks.

Washington Post: "huge turnout for a hometown hero."

Text of Obama's Wilmington speech.

Mark Silva of the Swamp on Joe Biden's remarks.

Early afternoon pool report. 11 am ET pool report.

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times Caucus: the Obamas are "on track for the White House." Washington Post story here.

AP story: Barack Obama and his family begin their train journey to Washington at Philadelphia's 30th Street station; Obama cites founding fathers and calls for "a new Declaration of Independence" in his remarks.

     Transcript of prepared remarks.

Pool report: Obama arrived in Philadelphia Friday afternoon.

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The Obamas and Bidens will be taking an historic train car on their Philadelphia-Washington trip -- the Georgia 300. Here's the story from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen. Photos of the interior of the Georgia 300 here and here and here.

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