The Ledes

Wednesday, November 25, 2015.

Attention, Costco Shoppers. E. coli in the Salad Cooler. Washington Post: "Federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of deadly E. coli bacteria that has sickened 19 people in at least seven states, mostly in the west.... Preliminary evidence suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is the likely source of this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

New York Times: "The American economy turned in a better performance last quarter than first thought, expanding at a 2.1 percent rate, the government said on Tuesday. While well below the pace of growth recorded in the spring, it was better than the 1.5 percent rate for the third quarter that the Commerce Department reported late last month."

Houston Chronicle: "A helicopter crashed at Fort Hood on Monday, killing four crew members, U.S. Army officials said. Military officials said the UH-60 helicopter crashed sometime after 5:49 p.m. Monday in the northeast section of the central Texas Army post. Emergency crews spent several hours searching the area and later found the bodies of the four crew members."

Reuters: "A bomb exploded outside the offices of a Greek business federation in central Athens on Tuesday, badly damaging the nearby Cypriot Embassy but causing no injuries, police officials said.The blast, which police believe was carried out by domestic guerrilla groups, is the first such incident since leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power in January. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.Attacks against banks, politicians and business people are not uncommon in Greece, which has a long history of political violence and has been mired in its worst economic crisis in decades."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (October 26): "A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

New York Times (October 20: "The American Cancer Society, which has for years taken the most aggressive approach to [breast-cancer] screening, issued new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years. The organization also said it no longer recommended clinical breast exams, in which doctors or nurses feel for lumps, for women of any age who have had no symptoms of abnormality in the breasts."

White House Live Video
November 25

11:15 am ET: Vice President Biden delivers a joint summit statement with President Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia, President Pahor of Slovenia and European Council President Tusk in Zagreb, Croatia (audio only)

2: 45 pm ET: President Obama pardons the national Thanksgiving turkey

Go to


Domenico Montanaro of NPR with everything you never wanted to know about the strange tradition of presidential "pardons" of turkeys.

Frank Rich reviews "Carol," the film based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, published under a pseudonym. As usual, Rich goes deep.

New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday[, Nov. 18,] night for “Between the World and Me,” a visceral, blunt exploration of his experience of being a black man in America, which was published this summer in the middle of a national dialogue about race relations and inequality.... The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for 'Fortune Smiles.'..."

Slate: Carly Simon told People magazine that "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. CW: Somehow I think I knew that a long time ago.

Guardian: "Gawker, the gossip website..., is giving up on reporting gossip in order to refocus on politics and 'to hump the [2016 presidential] campaign'. The site, founded by British journalist Nick Denton in 2003, announced on Tuesday that Gawker was steering in a new direction that would “orient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire'.”

Washington Post: Actor "Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday that he is HIV-positive, as rumored in recent days by an onslaught of tabloid stories. Sheen told Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show that he is going public with his illness for multiple reasons, including that he’s been blackmailed for upwards of $10 million since he was diagnosed four years ago."

... For about $880,000, you can purchase Julia Child's excellent little house in Provence; her kitchen is intact, except for the stove.

New York Times: "Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks [forming Stonehenge], divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there. They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge." With slide show.


New York Times: "In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees, in a packed sales room at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction."

Artist's rendering of the main exhibition hall of the planned wing of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "In designing its $325 million addition on Columbus Avenue, the American Museum of Natural History has opted for an architectural concept that is both cautious and audacious, according to plans approved by its board on Wednesday. The design ... evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior. The design, by the architect Jeanne Gang for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, aims to unite the museum’s various activities, solve its notorious circulation problems and provide a multistory showcase for the institution’s expanding role as a hub for scientific research and scholarship.”

New York Times: "... Jon Stewart has signed a production deal with the premium cable channel HBO, the channel announced on Tuesday. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Stewart will work on some digital short projects that are expected to appear on HBO’s apps like HBO Now and HBO Go. Mr. Stewart could also pursue movie or television projects with the network. The contract covers four years."

Guardian: "Facebook has announced plans to water down its controversial 'real names' policy, after lobbying from civil liberties groups worldwide."

If you'd like to know whatever happened to former NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, the Washington Post has the answer.

Jennifer Senior of the New York Times reviews Notorious R.G.B., by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik: "It’s an artisanal hagiography, a frank and admiring piece of fan nonfiction."

Digital Globe photo, via NASA, republished in the New York Times. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.... New York Times: "Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.... Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes."

New York Times: "In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior. The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as 'locality,' which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated 'spooky action at a distance,' and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion." CW: Everything is relative, Al.

Gizmodo: On Halloween, "a rather large asteroid — discovered less than three weeks ago — is set to to fly past the Earth at a distance not seen in nearly a decade.... NASA says that 2015 TB145 will safely pass by the Earth and continue to following along its exceptionally eccentric and high-inclination orbit — which may explain why it wasn’t discovered until only a few weeks ago. During the flyby, the asteroid will reach a magnitude luminosity of 10, so it should be observable to astronomers with telescopes."

For $299,000 you could buy the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run." It looks like a dump prone to flooding every time it rains, but it's a block-and-a-half from the Jersey shore beach.

New York Post: "During his time in the White House, President Richard Nixon — pug-nosed, jowly, irascible, charmless-yet-devoted husband to Pat — was known to awkwardly hit on middle-aged female staffers. In 'The Last of the President’s Men' (Simon & Schuster), veteran journalist Bob Woodward quotes Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, about the commander-in-chief’s sad seduction techniques."

The Washington Post thought it would be great journalism to feature Donald's Digs in their weekend edition.  You'll be happy to know that Trump's taste runs to the gaudy & garish. You can take the boy out of the boroughs but you can take the boroughs out of the boy. I'd call Donald's style Early Modern Lottery Winner. Here's a sampling:

... There's much more where that came from. Ugh. Here, by contrast, is the study in Michael Bloomberg's New York City pad. Bloomberg is quite a few $$BB richer than Trump.

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

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December 16 -- "Most Dangerous" List

As I was reading (or trying to read) about Newt Gringrich & Paul Ryan & Barack Obama, et al., I got to wondering who the country's most dangerous politician was. Let's hear who you think it might be and why. There probably is not a wrong answer here unless you pick Al Franken's cat.

Reader Comments (6)

My brother emailed me this posting about Thomas Jefferson: Is there any candidate that comes close to this record? This shows what has really happened to America. The land of the free and the home of the pompous morons.

At 5, began studying under his cousin's tutor.

� At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.

� At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.

� At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.

� At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.

� At 23, started his own law practice.
� At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.

� At 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British America " and retired from his law practice.

� At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

� At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence

� At 33, took three years to revise Virginia ’s legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.

� At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry.
� At 40, served in Congress for two years.

� At 41, was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.

� At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.

� At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.

� At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of
Republican Party.

� At 57, was elected the third president of the United States

� At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase doubling the nation’s size.

� At 61, was elected to a second term as President.

� At 65, retired to Monticello

� At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.

� At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.

� At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence along with John Adams

Thomas Jefferson knew because he himself studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, his laws and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. Jefferson really knew his stuff. A voice from the past to lead us in the future:

John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House
with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

@Marvin Schwalb; In total agreement. Does it matter to history that Tom had a bunch of red-headed slaves running around the plantation? I don't know if it concerns me at this time and if it doesn't why do we worry about the private lives of our current politicians? Just to start a debate.
@The most dangerous politician is President Obama. He can kill you with a drone day or night. He can make you disappear in the blink of an eye. He is presiding over the militarization of America.
Here's a thought I came upon while wondering the corridors of my mind. The military-industrial complex has run out of countries to wage wars of profit in so they have set their greedy eyes on the last country to exploit. US. Welcome home. Freedom in the land of "free to be dumb". I'm going to the lumber yard where I'm safe.

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

@Marvin Schwalb--

An excellent post! I, too, am in total agreement.


It’s a pleasure to return from two weeks off to read your thoughtful and uniquely humorous posts. I’m in total agreement with your remarks, too.

Still, you ask why we should concern ourselves with the private lives of our politicians today, given that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and apparently indulged in at least one extramarital affair with a female slave.

Well, here’s my take on that topic.

In my old-fashioned and conservative way, I consider marriage to be a sacred promise of love and devotion between two people.

Now, I’m grown-up enough to realize that despite the sacred promise, marriages often just don’t work out, and I don’t believe that there is any stigma attached to divorce. (Though I do start to question the judgement of people who engage in serial marriages and divorces. Good judgement is something that we--or, at least I--require of any politician.)

But to cheat on one’s spouse prior to divorce is simply anathema to me. It’s a betrayal of a solemn vow to the one person in the world that you allegedly care about beyond all else.

And if a politician will betray the person who is nominally dearest in the world to him/her, what will that politician do to US when it serves his/her interests and convenience?

Trust matters.

Yes, Thomas Jefferson had character flaws the I find hard to forgive. But perhaps recognition of his own flaws constituted part of his understanding of “the nature of man” as @Marvin Schwalb put it, causing him to give us a government with numerous checks and balances against the vagaries of human nature.

And his towering legacy goes a long way towards earning my forgiveness, compared to cheating SOBs like Clinton and Gingrich.

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZee

@ Marvin Schwalb: thanks so much. Kennedy's recognition of Jefferson's intellect also tells you something about Kennedy's own, I'd say.

@ Zee. Sally Hemmings was the half-sister of Jefferson's first and only wife. Apparently, the two women looked quite a bit alike & were both beautiful. Perhaps Jefferson's liaison with Hemmings -- which began after his wife's death -- was a strange way of being "faithful" to his wife. My recollection -- and somebody please correct me if I'm wrong -- is that Jefferson freed Hemmings & his natural children in his will but did not free his other slaves.

As a young man, Jefferson opposed slavery, & he wrote an anti-slavery clause into the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. As he got older, I think he got full of himself and viewed the work slaves did to make his own life better to be worth their toil. "May the many be enslaved so that one can be free": something like that. Some people improve with age; some become more self-centered and intolerant. I'd say Jefferson definitely fell in with the last lot. It is too easy to say, "Oh, well, he was a man of his time & place." The truth is that there was a lot of anti-slavery sentiment during Jefferson's later years, sowhich he had initially instigated. It's disingenuous, I think, to give Jefferson a pass on this. He knew better, and chose not to see, because the truth was a personal inconvenience.

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

@Marie, it's really hard to pick the most dangerous politician. What is really scary is that now Nut Gingrich is now considered the Republican 'intellectual'.
P.S. Another false premise is that everyone with a Ph.D. is smart. As someone involved with that group for more than 50 years, believe me it is not true.

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

I become a little more horrified every day at what this President is willing to accept. So yes JJ, I agree Mr Obama gets today's prize. For the moment. Unfortunately there are even worse alternatives waiting in the wings... As to your comment on the MIC, it occurred to me that may well be why they lost that drone (it was intentional, you won't convince me otherwise) because the U.S. has such an absolute lock on high tech spy gear that no one can compete, and that's bad for business. Or should I say it's bad for the greedy- no, the most disgustingly greedy pigs of powerlust this planet has ever seen...
Some of you may think this is over the top, but I read somewhere... O.K. I admit it, it was here... but this a nice, respectable, progressive UFO site! In any case, the article states that Bill Rich, Lockheed Skunk Works Director had a deathbed confession of immense proportions regarding the U.S. status as the world leader in high tech propulsion and spy gear; we got it from outer space.
When you look at the facts that don't line up it might be the only possible answer. Why does every single President of our generation quickly go gray and seemingly do the bidding of the MIC no matter they said during their campaign? I'm just sayin'...
As we sit here today our elected officials are gutting the Constitution they swore an oath to uphold. How can they still be in office? Isn't any member of our government who signs the defense authorization bill which contains the provision which ends habeus corpus in strict violation of that oath? Haven't they just put the final piece of the puzzle in place for any protest to be deemed or referred to as "a bunch of terrorists" and thereafter be detained in perpetuity at the sole discretion of whoever holds elective office at the moment? So the answer to today's question would be whoever's in office at the moment is the most dangerous. Consider the following quotes;

{ "There exists a shadowy Government with it's own Air Force, its own Navy, it'sown fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of the nationalinterest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself."- Senator Daniel K. Inouye

"In the councils of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwar-ranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military IndustrialComplex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and willpersist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our libertiesor democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert andknowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial andmilitary machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that secu-rity and liberty may prosper together."- President Eisenhower - January 1961}

I am a very pragmatic person not prone to hype or hysteria and I find popular culture, and fads in general- distasteful at best. But when confronted with facts, figures and other elements that just don't add up you have to start looking for unconventional answers.
Let's look at Dick Cheney; (ewwww!) In 1994 and again in 1996 he gave cogent, factual, insightful reasons why invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein was a terrible idea and how such an action would be devastatingly bad for America and it's interests. In 2003 he violated his own advise and counsel and to the letter every single reason not to invade and conquer he gave previously came to pass under his (and GWB's) administration!!!! Why? It doesn't make sense. Obviously we don't know what is really happening in the world and specifically in our own government. We must entertain thoughts and ideas way outside the box.

In an aside, I regret not being able to post more often, but my physical condition continues to deteriorate and what few moments of productivity I am allowed have been focused on procuring cash ( of course I have been denied disability benefits by SS ) I barely made my December mortgage. I may have to resort to begging if this continues...

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Doktor
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