The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Guardian: Texas governor Greg Abbott has expanded the emergency disaster zone in his state, adding 24 counties to a list of 13 affected by storms and flooding. Three people were reported dead and 12 missing as Oklahoma was also hit hard, while a tornado left 13 dead in a Mexican town just beyond the border." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Flooding brought Houston[, Texas,] to a near-standstill Tuesday, sending normally tame rivers and bayous surging out of their banks, inundating streets and homes, and leaving highways littered with hundreds of abandoned, ruined cars. As much as 10 inches of rain lashed the Houston area overnight, and added to floodwaters flowing downstream from areas of central Texas that were swamped over the holiday weekend, causing waterways to rise from trickle to torrent faster than people could get out of the way."

... See also Jeanne Pitz's comment on this in today's Commentariat.

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 26

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

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.

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MLK Day of Service

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

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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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