The Ledes

Monday, May 25, 2015.

New York Times: "Texas marked 24 counties as disaster areas on Monday as drenching rains and violent weather swept through that state and Oklahoma, forcing thousands of people from their homes and killing at least three."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, May 21, 2015.

New York Times: "John F. Nash Jr., a mathematician who shared a Nobel Prize in 1994 for work that greatly extended the reach and power of modern economic theory and whose long descent into severe mental illness and eventual recovery were the subject of a book and a film, both titled 'A Beautiful Mind,' was killed, along with his wife [Alicia], in a car crash on Saturday in New Jersey. He was 86."

New York Times: "Anne Meara, who became famous as half of one of the most successful male-female comedy teams of all time and went on to enjoy a long and diverse career as an actress and, late in life, a playwright, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 85. Her death was confirmed by her husband and longtime comedy partner, Jerry Stiller, and her son, the actor and director Ben Stiller."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 25

11:20 am ET: President Obama speaks at Arlington National Cemetery

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

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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.