The Ledes

Thursday, July 24, 2014.

Bloomberg News: "Jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 284,000 in the week ended July 19, the fewest since February 2006 and lower than any economist surveyed by Bloomberg forecast...."

Guardian: "A flight operated by Air Algérie carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early on Thursday, the plane's owner said."

The Guardian is liveblogging developments in the Gaza crisis. More than 700 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, many of them children.

Reuters: "A powerful Ukrainian rebel leader has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had an anti-aircraft missile of the type Washington says was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and it could have originated in Russia. In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence."

Los Angeles Times: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday night lifted its ban on U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at a special session on Wednesday in which the top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Israel and Hamas had likely committed war crimes with indiscriminate attacks on civilians." ...

... New York Times: "As the death toll mounts and passions spike, the Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned on Wednesday what it called 'deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists' who are reporting on the fighting in Gaza. That includes 'forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments,' the association said."

... New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Washington Post: "Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said." ...

... Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

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 23

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the NAACP national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (audio only)

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

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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:

Contact the Constant Weader

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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.