The Ledes

Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

The Unfortunate Death of a Fool. Washington Post: "What had first appeared to be an attempt to breach security at the [NSA] ... now appears to be a wrong turn by two men who police believe had robbed their companion of his vehicle and perhaps didn’t stop because there were drugs inside. A spokeswoman for the Baltimore office of the FBI, Amy J. Thoreson, said early in the investigation that authorities 'do not believe [the incident] is related to terrorism.' A law enforcement official said: 'This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.'”

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

New York Times: "On Monday, the [U.S.] government charged that in the shadows of an undercover investigation of Silk Road, a notorious black-market site, two federal agents sought to enrich themselves by exploiting the very secrecy that made the site so difficult for law enforcement officials to penetrate. The agents, Carl Mark Force IV, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Shaun W. Bridges, who worked for the Secret Service, had resigned amid growing scrutiny, and on Monday they were charged with money laundering and wire fraud. Mr. Force was also charged with theft of government property and conflict of interest."

Guardian: "The personal details of world leaders at the last G20 summit were accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department, which did not consider it necessary to inform those world leaders of the privacy breach.... An employee of the agency inadvertently sent the passport numbers, visa details and other personal identifiers of all world leaders attending the summit to the organisers of the Asian Cup football tournament."

Washington Post: "One person was killed and another was injured Monday morning when police with the National Security Agency opened fire on a vehicle whose driver refused commands to stop at a security gate, according to a statement from the agency. The vehicle slammed into a police cruiser after shots were fired." ...

... ABC News: "Sources say the two inside [the vehicle] were men dressed as women. Preliminary information indicated the two men were partying at an area hotel with a third individual when they took that individual's car without permission. However, it's still unclear how or why they ended up at the NSA gate."

New York Times: "Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was forced from office under a cloud of corruption, was convicted on Monday of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial of a case involving an American businessman, whose sensational testimony in a Jerusalem court in 2008 was instrumental in Mr. Olmert’s downfall. The American businessman, Morris Talansky, said at the time that he had provided Mr. Olmert with about $150,000 over 13 years, mostly in cash stuffed into envelopes, an assertion Mr. Olmert vehemently denied. Mr. Talansky, known as Moshe, had said that much of the money was earmarked for election campaigns but that some was for Mr. Olmert’s personal expenses."

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 31

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

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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.