The Ledes

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

Washington Post: "The deadly wildfires that engulfed two Tennessee tourist towns leading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park left at least seven dead and hundreds of buildings damaged or destroyed, officials said late Wednesday as the terrible toll of the fires began to take focus. At least 53 people were treated for injuries at hospitals, though their conditions were not known. Massive walls of flames spread down the mountains into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Monday with shocking speed, said those who fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. The fires are estimated to have damaged or destroyed more than 700 homes and businesses — nearly half of them in the city of Gatlinburg. Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said late Wednesday afternoon that the fire was 'likely to be human-caused.'” -- CW

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Guardian: (Nov. 3): "An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.” -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.

 

The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

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Pennsylvania

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NBC News projects that Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey will win the Senate seat.

NBC News projects that Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett will win the governorship.

President Obama spoke at a Democratic National Committee event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, late this morning. AP Update: "President Barack Obama implored voters on Saturday to resist a Republican tide, warning that if the GOP prevails in Tuesday's midterm elections all the progress of his first two years in office "'can be rolled back.'"

One way for Congress to avoid Constitutional challenges to legislation: just defund the Supreme Court! What a concept! It's the brainchild of 4th Congressional District Republican nominee Keith Rothfus. You can't make this stuff up.

October 20: Pennsyvania Senate candidates Joe Sestak & Pat Toomey debate. Watch it on C-SPAN. Philadelphia Inquirer story here.

Politico, October 11: "Vice President Biden mentioned Karl Rove’s name a half-dozen times at a fundraiser in Scranton, Pa., on Monday, charging that the GOP strategist is raising money from 'shady sources' to attack Democrats.... Biden told Rove to 'tell us where that money is coming from,' and he filed a similar complaint against the Chamber of Commerce...."

Ben Smith finds "the dumbest use of the term 'race card' yet." (Smith's comment is here.) CW: yes, it is. If anyone played racial politics here, it was certainly the accuser.

New York Times: Rahm Emanuel, "President Obama’s chief of staff, used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary to see if Representative Joe Sestak would drop out of a Senate primary if given a prominent, but unpaid, advisory position, people briefed on the matter said Friday." ...

     ... NEW: Here's a pdf of White House Counsel Robert Bauer's legal assessment that no "improper conduct" occurred....

     ... This statement from Joe Sestak confirms White House's version of events....

    ... NEWER: Here's a comprehensive Washington Post story.

Definition of Grandstanding. Jake Tapper of ABC News: "In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder..., all seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee 'urge the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Congressman Joe Sestak's claim that a White House official offered him a job to induce him to exit the Pennsylvania Senate primary race against Senator Arlen Specter.'" Here's a pdf of the letter....

     ... Or, as Steve Benen puts it, "It's hard to overstate how incredibly dumb this is."

The (Allentown, Pennsylvania) Morning Call: "The White House and Joe Sestak should explain what happened with the alleged job offer, Gov. Ed Rendell said Wednesday...."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "For three months, the White House has refused to say whether it offered a job to Representative Joe Sestak to get him to drop his challenge to Senator Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania Democratic primary, as Mr. Sestak has asserted.... Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 'trust us' response from the White House has not exactly put the matter to rest." ...

... Related. Steve Benen says the brouhaha over the "Sestak Offer" is pointless; whatever transpired, unless money changed hands, no crime was committed & -- sorry, Republicans -- there's no scandal....

... Politico: on "Meet the Press," Rep. Joe Sestak confirms that "someone" in the White House offered him an administration job if he would quit the Pennslyvania Democratic Senate primary race. With video. Here's a better video:

... New York Times: "The White House appeared to confirm Sunday that the Obama administration had some kind of conversations with Representative Joe Sestak, the Pennsylvania Democrat who was challenging Senator Arlen Specter, but asserted that the conversations were not inappropriate." ...

     ... The Hill Update, May 24: "Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) called on the White House on Monday to detail conversations it allegedly had with Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to try to convince him to drop his Senate bid."

The Hill, May 19: "Congressman-elect Mark Critz (D-Pa.) will be sworn-in at a ceremony on Capitol Hill Thursday." Critz won a special election to replace his former boss Jack Murtha, who died this spring.

"Nothing makes friends like winning." New York Times: "Shortly after Representative Joe Sestak won an improbable victory Tuesday over Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary, President Obama called Mr. Sestak to congratulate him. The president pledged his full support."

AP: "An aide to the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha won a special election to fill the final months of his boss's term - a nationally watched contest considered a potential bellwether for this fall's midterm election. In a tight race to the end, Mark Critz brushed back a strong challenge from Tim Burns."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Rep. Joe Sestak, riding a call for 'new blood' in Washington, defeated incumbent Arlen Specter in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary Tuesday, ending the career of the longest serving senator in Pennsylvania history."