The Ledes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

AP: "A senior PLO official has called for a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza war, saying he is also speaking in the name of Hamas."

Guardian: "Gaza endured a night of relentless bombardment that brought some of the heaviest pounding since the start of the conflict three weeks ago, in the hours after the Israeli political and military leadership warned of a protracted offensive. Palestinian officials say more than 110 people have been killed in Gaza in the past 24 hours."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, July 28, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in a letter on Monday."

New York Times: "The United States and Europe put aside their differences and agreed on Monday to sharply escalate economic sanctions against Russia in a set of coordinated actions driven by the conclusion that Moscow has taken a more direct role in the war in Ukraine. After months in which European leaders were hesitant to go as far as the Americans, the two sides settled on a package of measures that would target Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors. In some cases, the Europeans may actually leapfrog beyond what the United States has done, forcing Washington to try to catch up."

Guardian: "Dutch and Australian police have failed to reach the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 for a second day as clashes rage in a town on the road to the area." ...

... Washington Post: "The Ukrainian military on Monday captured a strategically important swath of territory close to the debris field of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a spokesman said, dealing a blow to pro-Russian rebels but raising new questions about whether an investigation at the site will ever yield conclusive evidence about the attack on the airliner."

NEW. Washington Post: "Israel will press its air and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, preparing his country for a longer and bloodier campaign and dashing hopes that the three-week-old conflict would end soon." ...

... Washington Post: "International efforts to end the devastating three-week-old Gaza war intensified Monday with the U.N. Security Council calling for an 'immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' in the conflict that has already claimed the lives of more than 1,035 Palestinians and 43 Israeli soldiers. The ravaged coastal enclave was relatively quiet Monday as Palestinians started celebrating the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday that caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Israel mostly held its fire overnight, shelling only a site in the northern Gaza Strip in response to rockets fired from there." ...

     ... UPDATE: "Explosions rocked a major hospital and a neighborhood of Gaza City on Monday, leaving at least 10 people dead, witnesses reported." ...

... New York Times: "On Sunday, however, [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry was having difficulty accomplishing even ... a succession of temporary cease-fires..., despite a phone call in which President Obama, in a sign of mounting impatience, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to embrace an 'immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' while the two sides pursued a more lasting agreement. ...

... A White House readout of the conversation between Obama & Netanyahu is here.

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 29

10:10 am ET: White House Agricultural Champions of Change meet

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

***********************************************

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

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:

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South Carolina

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NBC News projects that South Carolina Republican Nikki Haley will win the gubernatorial race. The State story here.

NBC News projects Republican Sen. Jim DeMint will win re-election to the South Carolina Senate seat. 7:02 pm ET. The State report here.

WCSC-TV, Charleston, October 21: some Republicans want sworn assurances from their gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley that she's not a philandering tax cheat.

Hey, South Carolina, there is a sensible Senate candidate you can vote for in November: Green party candidate Tom Clements:

... Here is activist Tom Turnipseed on Clements. See what you think.

Oh, What Next? AP: "Police say longshot Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene was kicked out of a South Carolina restaurant after his companion got into a fight with people eating there." A woman with Greene apparently got into an argument with Oconee County Democratic Party officials. The police asked Greene & the companson to leave but did not arrest anyone.

The State via the AP: "South Carolina Democrats called on Alvin Greene to end his bid for U.S. Senate after his legal troubles got more serious Friday, but there is not much hope among party leaders that Greene will abandon his long-shot campaign."

Washington Post, August 13: "Longshot Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene was indicted Friday on two charges, including a felony charge of showing pornography to a teenage student in a South Carolina college computer lab."

AP: "Surprise U.S. Senate nominee Alvin Greene frequently mentions his 13 years of military service, but records obtained Thursday by The Associated Press show that the veteran who has called himself an 'American hero' was considered a lackluster service member at best." ...

... On the other hand, he has the best damned campaign video in South Carolina:

Lawrence O'Donnell thinks Alvin Greene sounds like a better candidate than his opponent Sen. Jim DeMint:

Katharine O. Seelye of the New York Times profiles Alvin Greene. He is upset that the Army didn't promote him but the did make Nidal Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood mass murderer, a major.

The State, July 10: "Alvin Greene, the obscure jobless man whose come-from-nowhere victory in the June Democratic primary for U.S. Senate created a national furor, had legitimate sources of income to pay his $10,400 primary entry fee, law enforcement sources said Friday."

Thinking out of the Box. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian profiles Alvin Greene & reveals part of Greene's "big idea" jobs creation plan:

Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit. They can make toys of me and my vehicle, especially for the holidays and Christmas for the kids. That's something that would create jobs. So you see I think out of the box like that. It's not something a typical person would bring up. That's something that could happen, that makes sense. It's not a joke. -- Alvin Greene

Jeffrey Collins & Meg Kinnard of the AP, July 6, find some conflicting characterizations of the mysterious Alvin Greene.

The State, June 28: "SLED and the 5th Circuit solicitor’s office are investigating the finances of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene to see whether any laws have been broken in the way he has been representing his financial situation to the state court system. SLED will use a new state law that allows the agency to issue an administrative subpoena to financial institutions...."

AP, June 22: "In a clear sign of racial progress in the South, Republicans overwhelmingly chose Nikki Haley, an Indian-American woman, to run for governor in South Carolina and nominated Tim Scott, who would be the Confederate state's first black congressman in more than a century."

AP, June 22: "State Rep. Tim Scott defeated Paul Thurmond, an attorney who is son of the one-time segregationist U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond. Scott, who won the runoff with 69 percent of the vote, is now poised to become the nation's first black GOP congressman since 2003."

USA Today, June 22: "Prosecutor Trey Gowdy has just made six-term incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis the fifth congressional incumbent to fall prey to this year's anti-incumbent tide."

AP on the primary runoff.

Bloomberg News on Republican Rep. Bob Inglis' fight to keep his seat.

Michael Scherer of Time tries, but fails, to shed light on Alvin Greene's mysterious "involuntary" military discharges.

The State, June 21: turnout for Tuesday's primary runoffs is expected to be low.

Washington Post, June 21: "the political smear tactics that this state made famous don't seem to be working this time around."

CNN Political Ticker: an engineering firm paid Nikki Haley to give them insider information & "access" while she was in the state legislature.

CW: this is so predictable, I predicted it. Will Folks, the guy who presented evidence that he at least had "a close personal relationship: with Nikki Haley, has endorsed her candidacy for governor.

I am the best candidate for the United States Senate in South Carolina. And I am also the best person to be Time magazine's Man of the Year. -- Alvin Greene

CNN: Meanwhile, "as Democrats in South Carolina face the uncomfortable prospect of having unemployed political novice Alvin Greene as their Senate nominee in November, some in the party have launched an effort to put a more polished candidate on the ballot as an independent."

June 17: Michael Scherer of Time visits Alvin Greene at home.

WLTX-TV, Columbia: "The South Carolina Democratic Party's Executive Committee Thursday rejected a protest of the June 8 primary for U.S. Senate, in which Alvin Greene defeated Vic Rawl.... The committee felt there was not sufficient evidence to overturn the results, a move which, had it been approved, would have required a new primary."

The State, June 15: "The executive committee of the S.C. Democratic Party will meet Thursday to consider a protest Vic Rawl filed Monday after his surprise thrashing at the hands of a political unknown who is facing a felony obscenity charge."

I saved the money from the Army. Army, Army, Army, Army money. My personal Army money.... Can I get paid for this interview?
-- Alvin Greene, on the source of his $10,400 filing fee payment

Washington Post: speculation abounds as to how Alvin Greene won the primary race, but most agree there was more than one factor that led to his victory.

Low-grade fraud and back-stabbing is well within the standard deviation of the mean in South Carolina politics.
-- Prof. Scott Huffmon

Suzy Khimm of Mother Jones, June 14: Alvin Greene expects the Democratic party to fully support him, but he hung up on Khimm when she asked him about Vic Rawl's election challenge.

New York Daily News: "Vic Rawl, a former state Representative, filed a formal protest on Monday contesting the shocking primary 'win' of Alvin Greene.

"Elephant Dung"

I saw the patterns in this. I know a Democratic pattern and I know a Republican pattern, and I saw in the Democratic primary elephant dung all over the place. So I knew something was wrong in that primary. -- Rep. James Clyburn on the vote for Alvin Greene

CQ Politics: "White House adviser David Axelrod suggested Sunday that South Carolina Senate candidate Alvin Greene (D) was not a credible choice and gave a thinly veiled call for the nominee to withdraw."

Here are some words of hope for Alvin Greene from another Al Greene -- "Everything's Gonna Be All Right":

Fox "News": Judge Vic Rawl, the heavily-favored Democratic candidate for Senate, who lost to political unknown Alvin Greene, calls for an official investigation into election results "oddities."

CW: also see my blogpost on the Mysterious Green Plant Discovered in South Carolina.

Shep Smith of Fox "News" interviews the alleged victim, 19-year-old Camille McCoy, & her mother in the pending felony case against Alvin Greene:

The State: the South Carolina Democratic party, after urging Alvin Greene to drop out of the race, certified him as the party's official candidate Friday. The story contains other developments in this act of "South Carolina's theater of the politically absurd. CW: I think we're going to have to give Mr. Greene his own page.

Ravi Somaiya of Newsweek: "Jon Krosnick, a Stanford professor who is a leading expert on the psychology of political behavior, believes sabotage is the most likely explanation for Alvin Greene's win. ...

The State posts this fascinating interview of Alvin Greene. In it, Greene says he received an honorable dischange from the military but his separation was "involuntary":

... Oh, wait. He left both the Army AND the Air Force involuntarily, tho he was the recipient of several service medals. ...

... Keith Olbermann looks into the South Carolina Democratic primary for U.S. Senate & talks to winner Alvin Greene:

... Also, Frances Martel of Mediaite comments on Alvin Greene's interviews.

Alvin Greene. South Carolina Democratic party photo.

Sean Miller of The Hill: "Less than 24 hours after Alvin Greene’s surprise win in the South Carolina Democratic Senate primary, the state party has asked him to withdraw from the race because of a pending felony charge."

Michael O'Brien of The Hill: House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) called for in [sic.] South Carolina to investigate the circumstances that led to Alvin Greene winning the Democratic Senate primary in his state earlier this week. 'There were some real shenanigans going on in the South Carolina primary,' Clyburn said during an appearance on the liberal Bill Press radio show. 'I don't know if he was a Republican plant; he was someone's plant.'"

While No One Was Looking. AP: "An unemployed military veteran has stunned South Carolina Democratic Party leaders by winning the nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. Thirty-two-year-old Alvin Greene of Manning defeated 64-year-old Vic Rawl of Charleston in Tuesday's primary. Rawl is a former judge and legislator, who had about $186,000 cash available and had already scheduled a fundraising event for Thursday." Or as Gawker puts it, "Alvin Green [sic.]: An inspiration to random unemployed dudes everywhere." (CW: forgive the misspelling. Who could know?)

... Mother Jones: Who Is Alvin Greene? Some are suggesting he might be a Republican plant! CW: which sounds possible -- see if you don't think he has something in common with Sarah Palin. Asked if his win surprised him, Greene said,

I wasn’t surprised, but not really. I mean, just a little, but not much. I knew I was on top of my campaign, and just stayed on top of everything, I just — I wasn't surprised that much, just a little. I knew that I worked hard and did.

... Oh, dear. AP: "South Carolina's surprise Democratic nominee to challenge U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint is facing a pending felony charge. Court records show 32-year-old Alvin Greene was arrested in November and charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student. The felony charge carries up to five years in prison."

     ... Update: Sean Miller of The Hill: "Less than 24 hours after Alvin Greene’s surprise win in the South Carolina Democratic Senate primary, the state party has asked him to withdraw from the race because of a pending felony charge." 

     ... AND Update 2: Michael O'Brien of The Hill: House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) called for in [sic.] South Carolina to investigate the circumstances that led to Alvin Greene winning the Democratic Senate primary in his state earlier this week. 'There were some real shenanigans going on in the South Carolina primary,' Clyburn said during an appearance on the liberal Bill Press radio show. 'I don't know if he was a Republican plant; he was someone's plant.'"

AP: "On the busiest night of the primary year, tea party activists flexed their muscle in South Carolina, pushing state Rep. Nikki Haley ahead of three rivals in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Shy of a majority, she will face Rep. Gresham Barrett in a June 22 runoff."

CW: to South Carolina Republican Sen. Jake Knotts, racial epithets still count as "humor," but -- under pressure from fellow Republicans -- he makes a half-apology for his comment about Nikki Haley & President Obama: "I apologize. I still believe Ms. Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologize to both for an unintended slur.” CW: sorry, I'm have trouble figuring out how using a racial epithet is "unintended."

AP: Larry Merchant, "a South Carolina lobbyist resigned from a rival political campaign [of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer] on Wednesday and then became the second man to claim he had a tryst with [state Rep. Nikki Haley] Republican lawmaker trying to become the state's first female governor.... Marchant admitted he had no proof to back up his allegation of a one-night stand with...Haley in 2008 and her campaign vehemently denied the allegation." ...

... CW: here was backstory I missed from the Charleston Post & Courier: "Republican gubernatorial hopeful Andre Bauer said today he has asked for and received the resignation of a political consultant for “inappropriate conduct” but would say little more." In other words, Bauer "took the high ground" (hah!) even as he arranged for Merchant to "confess" to his alleged affair withHaley.

South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley counters blogger's assertion he had an affair with her in this campaign ad (& the cynical Constant Weader still thinks there's a good possibility blogger Will Folks' charges were a smokescreen to get Haley more, ah, exposure):

Charleston Post & Courier: Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley has refused to release her phone & e-mail records for the period a blogger claims to have had an affair with her. "Haley has made transparency in government one of the foundations of her campaign."

South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley meets the press. She can field rapid-fire, pointed questions & answer in complete, coherent sentences, unlike her famous endorser Sarah Palin. CW: this "scandal" might be one big publicity stunt to get Haley name recognition. If Folks suddenly admits he was lying about two days before the primary, you can be sure that's what the deal was:

Charleston, South Carolina Post & Courier: "In 2007, the year political blogger Will Folks claims he had an affair with state Rep. Nikki Haley, the two spoke by phone at least 600 times. Some of those calls came late at night, lasted for hours -- and one did not end until nearly 5 a.m. At the time, Folks was a part-time consultant for Haley."

John Cook of Yahoo News, May 27: "Another day, another titillating tidbit in the kiss-and-blog saga enveloping South Carolina's Republican gubernatorial primary.  Will Folks, the conservative blogger and political operative who claims he had an affair with GOP candidate Nikki Haley, says: There are pictures!" Here's the FitsNews post Cook refers to.

Talking Points Memo: "South Carolina blogger and political consultant Will Folks has released a series of what he claims are text messages between himself, an AP reporter, another GOP political operative, and the campaign manager for gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley -- with whom Folks claims he had an inappropriate physical relationship." Here's the FitsNews blogpost....

WIS-TV: Will Folks, "the blogger who rocked the state's political scene Monday by claiming to have had an 'inappropriate physical relationship' with gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley says he was pressured to disclose the affair by the campaign of fellow candidate Gresham Barrett." ...

... Meanwhile, some other person writing on Folks' site claims there is "a flood of phone records, text messages, emails, voicemails and other data exchanges between the two protagonists" -- CW: which we readers are meant to infer prove the relationship with Folks & Haley was "inappropriate." ...

... The State has more on the Haley-Folks story, which has thrown the race into "turmoil.

WIS-TV (Columbia, South Carolina): Will Folks, "a political blogger and former aide to Gov. Mark Sanford. claims to have had a past romantic relationship with Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley. Haley, who is married and has two children, 'emphatically' denied the claim Monday morning.... The Columbia Free Times has 'been investigating a story involving an alleged affair between Haley and Folks for several weeks.'" Here's Will Folks' post. The AP story focuses on Haley's denial.