The Ledes

Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

Los Angeles Times: "Andrew Getty, an heir to the Getty oil fortune, was found dead at his Hollywood Hills home Tuesday. Los Angeles police are investigating.... Just two weeks ago, Getty had sought a restraining order against a woman, according to court records.... A woman who was present at the time of the death was escorted from the residence by police for questioning...."

Washington Post: "Iraqi forces claimed to have seized the city of Tikrit from Islamic State militants on Tuesday after U.S.-led airstrikes cleared the way for ground operations, an advance that would mark the government’s most significant victory over the extremists since their summer blitz. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in a televised address that Tikrit had been liberated after security forces and 'popular mobilization' units, a grouping of pro-government fighters that includes Iranian-backed Shiite militias, made rapid inroads into the city. However, military officials said some areas of the city were yet to be entered...."

New York Times: "With anger swelling over corruption, inequality and a devastating Islamist insurgency in the nation’s north, Nigerians chose a former general who once ruled with an iron hand to be their next president, according to election results on Tuesday. The election was the most competitive presidential race ever in Nigeria, one of the largest democracies in the world. Now, if power is handed over peacefully, it will be a major shift for the nation — the first transfer of power between civilians of different parties in a country that has spent much of its post-colonial history roiled by military coups."

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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Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday afternoon, just about lunch time, a 'flying saucer' was undergoing a spin test in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The saucer is technically a 15-foot wide, 7,000-pound aerodynamic test vehicle. It is designed to help engineers try out new technologies for landing spacecraft, and someday people, on Mars."

Guardian: "Comedy Central is standing by its new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, after the 31-year-old South African comedian set to replace Jon Stewart was criticized for a series of controversial jokes he tweeted before his appointment." ...

... Jessica Winter of Salon: "Not since John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate have the vetting capacities of a powerful political force been cast into such doubt." Besides being a misogynist pig & an anti-Semite, Noah isn't even funny."

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.

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The Edwards-Hunter Affair

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I haven't kept up with the twists & turns of this saga, and this isn't the place to link to stories about Elizabeth Edwards' death. -- Constant Weader

Falling in love with you could really fuck up my plans for becoming President.  -- John Edwards, to Rielle Hunter during their first tryst

Sex, Lies & Videotape -- the Hearing. AP (October 31): "A North Carolina judge has scheduled a hearing to review the civil case involving former Sen. John Edwards and a sex tape purportedly involving him. Judge Michael Morgan has scheduled the status review for Monday afternoon in Pittsboro, [N.C.]. The meeting comes a week before a scheduled hearing on charges by Edwards' former mistress that a former campaign staffer should be held in contempt of court. Rielle Hunter is suing former Edwards staffer Andrew Young for the return of personal property, including the purported sex tape."

Politico (October 13): the defense in the John Edwards case is arguing that the former Senator's prosecution was politically motivated. The prosecutor who brought the case was a Bush appointee who was hostile to Edwards.

Reuters, July 23: "The Federal Election Commission approved a final audit on Thursday that concludes former presidential candidate John Edwards' campaign owes the government more than $2 million.... The report found John Edwards for President got matching funds in excess of his entitlement as a candidate, misstated its cash-on-hand balance by nearly $100,000, failed to itemize loan repayments of more than $4 million and stale-dated at least 128 checks worth $141,808."

AP News Brief (via the NYT): "The trial of John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and Democratic presidential candidate, can begin in October, a federal judge in Greensboro said Thursday, despite arguments from his lawyers that they need more time."

The Sleaziest Man Alive. Or Ever. ABC News, June 16: "Just weeks before federal prosecutors charged John Edwards in a six-count felony indictment, ABC News has been told, the two-time Democratic presidential candidate requested millions of dollars from Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon, the banking heiress whose financial support of Edwards is at the center of the criminal case."

Raleigh-Durham News & Observer:, June 5: how the John Edwards plea negotiations went down to the wire but the deal didn't happen -- Edwards refused to do time.

Washington Post, June 3: "Former vice presidential nominee John Edwards was indicted Friday on federal campaign finance charges for allegedly using campaign donations to conceal an extramarital affair while he was running for president in 2008." The Raleigh News & Observer story is here. New York Times story here.

Ben Smith of Politico, May 31: "As John Edwards appears on the brink of being charged with violating campaign finance law, his lawyer, former White House Counsel Greg Craig..., [issues] a defiant statement." ...

... Amy Sullivan of Time thinks any DOJ plea agreement with Edwards should include a stipulation that Edwards just go away.

ABC News, May 24: "The United States Department of Justice has green-lighted the prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards for alleged violations of campaign laws while he tried to cover up an extra-marital affair, ABC News has learned. A source close to the case said Edwards is aware that the government intends to seek an indictment and that the former senator from North Carolina is now considering his limited options. He could accept a plea bargain with prosecutors or face a potentially costly trial." With video.

I love you.... Uhh, I really love you, Andrew. -- John Edwards to Andrew Young

Politico:, March 4: "An unremarked fact on a recent trove of voicemails to Andrew Young obtained by the North Carolina press: John Edwards left warm voicemails for his aide Andrew Young even as the attempt to cover up his affair collapsed." This ABC Raleigh-Durham print report includes text of some of the voicemails.

Kim Severson of the New York Times, February 28: "... a federal grand jury in Raleigh could soon hand up an indictment against [John Edwards] in a case centering on campaign finance practices. One issue is whether Mr. Edwards knew that some of the millions of dollars given by at least two wealthy donors was being used to help support — and hide, some contend — Rielle Hunter, the campaign videographer with whom he had a prolonged affair, and the daughter they conceived."

February 12: WRAL News [Raleigh, North Carolina] has learned that former senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards testified earlier this week in a civil lawsuit his former mistress brought against a former aide over a purported sex tape involving the politician and mistress. Rielle Hunter, a former campaign worker who gave birth to Edwards' daughter, has sued one-time Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife, alleging that they took the sex tape and photographs of Edwards with her daughter from her." CW: what fun the cross must have been!

This is what passes for front-page news on the Huffington Post: former National Enquirer editor David Perel tells how he got John Edwards to admit to his affair with Rielle Hunter.

AP, January 6, 2011: "The will Elizabeth Edwards signed days before her death last month made no mention of her estranged husband and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards. The document Elizabeth Edwards signed Dec. 1, six days before her death, also named her eldest child, lawyer Cate Edwards, as the executor of her estate."

Rebecca Dana comments in the Daily Beast on Elizabeth Edwards' latest hypocrisy tour -- "blaming the press while ruthlessly courting publicity."

Elizabeth Edwards speaks to Matt Lauer of NBC -- transcript of some remarks. Update: here's the video:

 

WSOC-TV Charlotte, May 28: "Rielle Hunter was in an uptown Charlotte law office Friday to give a deposition on an alleged sex tape of her and John Edwards."

New York Times, April 29: Baby Mama Rielle Hunter, "good friend" of one-time washed-up philandering Sen. John Edwards, tallks to Oprah. CW: pardon my lack of enthusiasm. Here's the transcript. And here's a clip re: the sex tape.

CBS News, March 16: Andrew Young fires back at Hunter.

It Just Gets Smarmier. In the Daily Beast, Diane Dimond provides a description of the action in the Edwards-Hunter sex tape.

NEW: here's Lisa DePaulo's GQ interview of Hunter. CW: I won't be reading it.

Rielle Hunter. GQ photos.Washington Post's Reliable Source: the girlfriend takes off her pants & speaks to GQ.

News & Observer, March 13: Andrew & Cheri Young won't be going to jail for contempt of court.

Michael Isikoff of Newsweek, March 12: "A nonprofit group that John Edwards set up to fight poverty paid $124,000 for Web videos and photos to...Rielle Hunter...in late 2006, the same year Edwards acknowledged he started a 'liaison. with her.... The checks have since been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in North Carolina as part of a sprawling criminal investigation...."

AP: Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones reprimanded Andrew Young in a court hearing Friday, declaring that the "former aide to John Edwards was in contempt of court, demanding that he turn over a 'personal' videotape being sought by Edwards' former mistress...but declined to put him in custody." ...

    ... Politico Update: "Former John Edwards aide Andrew Young said Friday that he has turned over a copy of his ex-boss’s sex tape to the FBI."

Tina Brown on the Revenge of the Toady: "...there was virtually no aspect of the Edwards campaign persona that was true."

The Huffington Post has more yucky details on the Edwards affair. With video, audio tapes.

Washington Wire reviews an advance copy of John Edwards lapdog Andrew Young's tell-all. Sample: Edwards considered leaving his cancer-stricken "crazy" wife Elizabeth but didn't because he realized she was more popular with voters than he. Oh, & there's a sex tape. Here's the New York Daily News book report.