The Ledes

Thursday, April 24, 2014.

Guardian: Ukrainian troops are moving against pro-Russian separatists. The Guardian's liveblog is here.

Washington Post: "Three American medical staff members died when an Afghan security official opened fire Thursday at an American-run Christian hospital in Kabul in the latest violence targeting foreigners in Afghanistan."

Guardian: "Pupils at the elite Southbank International School in London were victims of serial paedophile teacher William Vahey, the school has confirmed. The scale of the abuse is expected to be revealed later on Thursday in a letter to parents.... Vahey, a 64-year-old American who taught at Southbank between 2009 and 2013, killed himself after being found with 90 images of boys. The FBI believe the children were drugged with sleeping pills and molested in assaults dating back to 2008."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Guardian: "The Oklahoma supreme court has dissolved its stay of the executions of two men who challenged the state's secrecy about its source of lethal injection drugs. The court reversed the decision of a district court judge who said the law that keeps the source secret is unconstitutional. The turnaround heads off a potential constitutional crisis sparked by the state's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who had tried to override the stay by issuing an executive order to go ahead with the sentences.... The court's reversal on Wednesday came hours after a resolution by an Oklahoma House member to try to impeach some of its justices."

New York Times: "The latest accord between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization appeared more serious than past attempts, experts said, and came as hopes faded for a resolution to peace negotiations with Israel."

New York Times: "Russia continued Wednesday to ratchet up pressure on the government in Kiev, warning that events in eastern Ukraine could prompt a military response and again accusing the United States of directing events there."

Not All Fish Are Created Equal. Time: "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed President Barack Obama to Tokyo Wednesday by taking him to the greatest sushi restaurant in the world, the three Michelin star Sukiyabashi Jiro."

Reuters: "Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday they were holding an American journalist in the city of Slaviansk and the online news site Vice News said it was trying to secure the safety of its reporter Simon Ostrovsky."

AP: "When armed men seized the police station in this eastern Ukrainian city, mayor Nelya Shtepa declared she was on their side. She changed her story a few days later. Then she disappeared — the victim of an apparent abduction by the man who now lays claim to her job. On Tuesday, she resurfaced, expressing support once again for the pro-Russia insurgents — but possibly no longer as mayor."

AP: " A senior Canadian diplomat was expelled from Canada's embassy in Moscow in retaliation for Canada expelling a Russia diplomat as tensions grow over the Ukraine, Canadian officials said Tuesday."

AP: "A Moscow judge on Tuesday left open the possibility of jailing President Vladimir Putin's main critic for years, a sign of Putin's increasingly hard-line rule against opponents. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was fined $8,400 on Tuesday for slandering a lawmaker. His second trial starts Thursday, and prosecutors who previously secured his house arrest are widely expected to ask for jail for him pending trial, with Tuesday's verdict making him a recidivist. If there's a guilty verdict at that trial, he could get a prison term."

AP: "A Kansas judge will on Wednesday consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning's petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she serves a 35-year sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "An Army soldier convicted of leaking classified military and diplomatic records persuaded a Kansas judge Wednesday to legally change her name from Bradley Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning."

Time: "President Barack Obama paid a visit to the small community of Oso, Wa., on Tuesday, exactly one month after a massive mudslide there claimed at least 41 lives. He promised survivors that the entire country will be on hand to help for 'as long as it takes'”:

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday took the rare step of urging doctors to stop performing a surgical procedure used on tens of thousands of women each year to remove uterine growths, saying the practice risks spreading hidden cancers within a woman’s body. The procedure, known as power morcellation, has long been used in laparoscopic operations to remove fibroid tumors from the uterus, or to remove the uterus itself. It involves inserting an electric device into the abdomen and slicing tissue in order to remove it through a small incision. The surgery is far less invasive than traditional abdominal operations."

White House Live Video
April 24

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "The Hannity-Stewart feud: Day Three. During an 11-minute segment on the 'The Daily Show' Wednesday night, Jon Stewart called out Sean Hannity for what he perceived as hypocrisy on the Cliven Bundy issue and called the Fox News host 'The Arby’s of news.'”

CW: It's worth remembering that Stewart was the guy who brought down CNN's shouting pundits show "Crossfire." Of course the Blitzer Channel is, by comparison to Fox "News," a paragon of journalistic excellence.

Jon Stewart on the Cliven Bundy story:

... AND on Sean Hannity's support for Bundy:

... AND Hannity is pissed off. Apparently, it upsets him to hear his own blatant hypocrisy ridiculed.

New York Times: "David Letterman introduced his successor, Stephen Colbert, on his 'Late Show With David Letterman' Tuesday night on CBS with a monologue joke and some cordial conversation — but no measuring of the drapes":

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa. Paul Fahri of the Washington Post: The ratings for "Meet the Press" are so bad that NBC hired a psychologist to analyze Greggers. ...

     ... CW: Here's the rub. Fahri writes, "The impossible burden for Gregory, of course, has been to follow the beloved Russert. As one NBC colleague describes it, Russert is a 'ghost' who still haunts Gregory’s tenure at 'MTP' six years into his run." This is strictly VSP bull. Russert was a mediocre interviewer, who continually let politicians get away with evasive answers. He left big shoes to fill only because he had big feet.

MoDo loves her '65 Mustang.

USA Today: "Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she's pregnant with her first child."

New York Times: "It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world discovered so far, astronomers announced on Thursday. The planet, known as Kepler 186f, named after NASA’s Kepler planet-finding mission, which detected it, has a diameter of 8,700 miles, 10 percent wider than Earth, and its orbit lies within the 'Goldilocks zone' of its star, Kepler 186 — not too hot, not too cold, where temperatures could allow for liquid water to flow at the surface, making it potentially hospitable for life."

Jason Zinoman of the New York Times argues that the real king of late-night comedy is Jon Stewart.

Whose Pulitzer Is It Anyway? Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded the Pulitzer Prize this week for his multipart series on denials of benefits to black lung victims. ABC News, which used Hamby's work for a "Nightline" segment, now wants a piece of the Pulitzer, even though the Pulitzer Prize is given for print journalism. ...

... J. K. Trotter of Gawker has more: "Journalist-on-journalist carnage is rarely so open, or so bilious, especially when obituary-worthy awards are on the line. Then again, television news has never attracted, or rewarded, humble folk. According to Poynter, an ABC spokesperson repeatedly 'threatened [{Bill} Buzenberg {executive director of CPI}] and the Center saying they would make this very "messy" ... unless they got what they wanted.'” ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico has more on the feud. ...

... Capital New York: "Fresh off a Pulitzer win for his investigative work at The Center for Public Integrity, Chris Hamby is jumping ship to join Mark Schoofs' investigations desk at Buzzfeed...."

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

Josh Dickey of Mashable: "Stephen Colbert is CBS' top choice to replace the retiring David Letterman, and has indicated that he's willing to take over the Late Show when the time comes, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable." Via New York.

Lauren Moraski of CBS "News": "David Letterman announced Thursday that he's retiring from CBS' 'Late Show' sometime next year. He made that announcement during the taping of his program Thursday afternoon at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater."

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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.