The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, February 7, 2016.

New York Times: "Robin Chandler Duke, a rags-to-riches grande dame who married an ambassador and became one of America’s best known advocates for women by championing reproductive rights and international family planning, died in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday. She was 92."

New York Times: "Defying warnings of tougher sanctions from Washington, North Korea launched a rocket on Sunday that Western experts believe is part of a program to develop intercontinental ballistic missile technologies."

White House Live Video
February 8

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIH/NIAID, & Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC

4:15 pm ET: Celebrating African-American women & dance

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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Vice President Biden has been instructed not to do his hilarious Hu's on First routine in front of the President of China. -- Jimmy Kimmel

She's a beauty queen, so right away I hate her. I think she's stealing my act, so that pisses me off. -- Roseanne Barr, on Sarah Palin

What I'm trying to do is help run out the clock. -- Sen. Jim DeMint, December 16, 2010 ...

... We are in session, if necessary, up to January 5th. That is the clock our Republican colleagues need to run out. It's a long clock. -- Sen. Harry Reid

Winning the competition would mean a lot to me.... It would feel like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me! -- Bristol Palin, in her classy vernacular way, signaling to tea partiers to keep those phone votes coming ... Palin came in third in the "Dancing with the Stars" finale, behind winner "Jennifer Grey, 50-year-old star of 'Dirty Dancing,' [and] 19-year-old Disney star Kyle Massey."

If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he’d have two. -- James Carville

... Update: If I offended anybody, I'm not sorry and I don't apologize. -- James Carville ...

They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive. -- Roger Ailes, Fox "News" CEO, referring to NPR executives

At one point, Gibbs literally had his foot lodged in the closing front door, asking if the Indian security officials pushing hard to shut it were going to break his foot. -- Pool Report

It's All about Bill. Where is the love? I ought to be the tea party's poster child. -- Bill Clinton, November 1, 2010

Putting the American people back to work ... is the moral and national challenge of our time It is too important for pure partisanship or blind ideology. -- Barack Obama

To paraphrase my friend, Deval Patrick, the last election was a changing of the guard -– now we've got to guard the change. -- Barack Obama

Their message is: Whatever it is that Obama was for, we'll be against. We'll try to roll back health care. We'll try to roll back financial regulatory reform. And all those folks who were financing these third parties all across the country, all those special interests, they're going to be looking to be able to write the rules again, if these folks are back in power. -- Barack Obama, on Republicans & their backers

I can't spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead. -- Barack Obama

We have a lot of kids on the ground acting like adults and we have a lot of adults in this room acting like kids. -- Barack Obama, to his military advisors, for their petty infighting

Something that is beyond man is happening. America today begins to turn back to God. -- Glenn Beck ...

The March on Washington changed America. Our country reached to overcome the low points of our racial history. Glenn Beck's march will change nothing. -- Eleanor Holmes Norton

If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know.... We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work! -- Alan Simpson, co-chair of the President's deficit commission, to the Older Women's League

A significant portion of the money that belongs in Delaware and New York and Georgia ... resides right here. -- Joe Biden, eulogizing Sen. Ted Stevens

I think Republicans are going to get the House back. -- independent prognosticator Charlie Cook, on the November elections

Maybe what he found was it was harder being George Bush than he thought. He now owns a war and an environmental disaster. -- Martha's Vineyard vacationer Karl Sternberg, on President Obama

There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. -- Newt Gingrich ...

... There will be a mosque in Rome, only when a Roman Catholic church is permitted in Mecca. -- Benito Mussolini (via Ben Smith; see his notes on sourcing) Update: see Smith's further post on the Mussolini citation, which is almost certainly apocryphal

I wish we had been able to obstruct more. -- Mitch McConnell

Obstruct more? Is that even possible? -- Barack Obama

They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality. They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president. -- Robert Gibbs, on what he calls "the professional left"

Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.... Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.
-- Judge Vaughn Walker

Calling out the right wing has become a rare commodity among journalists and Democrats. All scurrilous attacks are not equal..., but appealing to racial, religious, and ethnic fears and anger is a prescription for grave danger for our country. -- Howard Dean

It's not like they've engaged in some heavy reflection. They have not come up with a single, solitary new idea to address the challenges of the American people. They don't have a single idea that's different from George Bush's ideas, not one. Instead, they're betting on amnesia. -- Barack Obama, on Republicans

The idea that the average American is overtaxed is a nice piece of populist pandering. In fact, federal taxes as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest level since the Truman administration.
-- Fareed Zakaria

With all due respect -- I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about what the President's employees say about one thing or another.
-- Nancy Pelosi, on Robert Gibbs' assertion that Democrats could lose the House in November

Modern Conservatism is a disease. If you don't understand that, you're already infected. -- driftglass

The Senate sucks, and I mean it literally. It sucks the energy out of the room and it sucks the urgency out of what we do.... The lack of urgency from the Senate on these jobs bill is soul-crushing.
-- Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va)

We are dealing with extremist, obstructionist, lying hypocrites who think you don't have to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest but are holding up help for the neediest. -- Rep. Paul Hodes, on Republicans

Unfortunately ... some want Obama to fail, period. And unfortunately, Obama's failure would be the country's failure. In a way, some of them are rooting against the country. They want political power. -- -- Sen. Kent Conrad, on Republicans

Neither a borrower nor a lender be / For loan oft loses both itself and friend / And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. -- Polonius, "Hamlet" by Will Shakespeare ...

... Neither a thinker nor a reader be / For thought oft loses both itself and friend / And reading dulls the edge of Fox TV. -- Sarah Palin Shakespeare, "Ham" by Sam Kennerly <twitter.com/djsamk>

Politics in D.C. have become Seinfeldesque. Fights about nothing.
-- Democratic strategist Chris Lehane

I think having a moratorium on new federal regulations is a great idea. -- John Boehner

You better get down there. -- Barack Obama to Steven Chu, shortly after the Gulf oil spill

George Steinbrenner died yesterday.... Because he was smart enough to die in 2010, there is zero tax liability on the estate tax. -- former baseball player & Sen. Jim Bunning

I don’t appreciate it. I don’t know who this guy is. I’ve never met him before. And he’s saying that we’re going to lose the House.
-- Nancy Pelosi, on Robert Gibbs, according to a source in the caucus

When tax money flows to the nation’s capitol, half stays there, half is wasted and half of it goes to political cronyism. -- Rand Paul (and maybe another half should go to teaching Dr. Paul 4th-grade math. Via Ben Smith)

People would walk by my booth and say ‘TARP, TARP, TARP, TARP!' But when you tried to talk to them about it, they did not know any of the details. They confused TARP and the stimulus plan. They confused TARP and the omnibus bill. They confused TARP and the president's budget. -- Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), who lost his primary race to Tea Party candidates

I thought they'd take Rush Limbaugh. -- Joe Biden, on the spy swap

This fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. -- LeBron James

The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid. -- U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ...

... Judge Tauro is attempting to hoist conservatives by their own petard, by saying: ‘You like the 10th Amendment? I’ll give you the 10th Amendment! I’ll strike down DOMA!’ -- Law Prof. Jack Balkin

You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap around women for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway, so it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. -- Gen. James Mattis, in 2005. Mattis has been nominated to head CENTCOM

Governor Mitt Romney's hyperbolic attack on the New START Treaty ... repeats discredited objections and appears unaware of arms control history and context. -- Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee

I ain't going anywhere. -- RNC Chair Michael Steele

If Al-Qaeda is down to one hundred men in Afghanistan, at the most, why are we fighting a major war? ... The whole enterprise is Afghanistan feels disproportionate. -- Fareed Zakaria

The Senate is the slowest moving thing since the snail. -- Rep John Dingell

We don't need a state-run media because our media outlets volunteer for the task. -- Glenn Greenwald in Salon

Like all Jews, I was probably in a Chinese restaurant.
--
Elena Kagan, in response to Sen. Lindsey Graham's question, Where were you at [sic.] on Christmas?

You light up the room. -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok), to Elena Kagan

They’re snuffing out the America that I grew up in.... There’s a political rebellion brewing, and I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it since 1776. -- House Minority Leader John Boehner (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via Politico) AND ...

Ensuring there’s enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country’s entitlement system. -- John Boehner (CW: i.e., old needy people should pay for the war)

Liberty is not a cruise ship full of pampered passengers. Liberty is a man of war and we are all the crew.  I don't know why I thought of that. -- Sen. John Cornyn, at the Kagan hearing

Whether you're a worker, a pensioner, a small business owner, a woman, a voter, or a person who drinks water, your rights are harder to defend today than they were five years ago. -- Sen. Al Franken, commenting on the activist Roberts Court

This is a change in personnel, but it is not a change in policy.
-- Barack Obama, on replacing Gen. McChrystal with Gen. Petreaus

I am going to maintain silence in every language known to man.
-- Gen. Dwight Eisenhower on President Truman's firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur

I believe that Gen. McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case.... I have recalled Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person. -- Robert Gates, on comments by Gen. McChrystal & his staff to Rolling Stone