The Ledes

Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

AP: "Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday that an American serviceman has been killed near Irbil in Iraq. 'It is a combat death,' Carter said at the outset of a news in Stuttgart, Germany where he has been consulting with European allies this week."

New York Times (May 2): "A historic Serbian Orthodox church in Manhattan that plays an important role in New York’s Serbian community was gutted by flames on Sunday, just hours after parishioners had filled its pews for Easter services. The New York Fire Department said it received the first report of the blaze at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, on West 25th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas in the Flatiron district, shortly before 7 p.m.... The church, which has served for decades as the backbone of New York’s Serbian Orthodox community, was previously known as Trinity Chapel, an Episcopal church that was sold to its current owners in 1943." ...

... CBS/AP: "Investigators in three cities are looking into large fires at Orthodox churches that occurred around the religion's Easter celebrations and caused widespread damage. The blazes in New York City, as well as Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, caused only minor injuries, according to multiple reports."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

New York Times: "Taking a stance sharply at odds with most American public health officials, a major British medical organization urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit. The recommendation, laid out in a report published Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians, summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms." -- CW

Washington Post: "More than a third of advanced-melanoma patients who received one of the new immunotherapy drugs in an early trial are alive five years after starting treatment -- double the survival rate typical of the disease, according to a new study."

Zoe Schlanger of Newsweek: "If you are eating fast food, you're probably also eating phthalates,... a class of chemicals that have been linked to everything from ADHD to breast cancer, ...[which] are common in food packaging, drink containers, the tubing used to transport dairy and the equipment used to process fast food." --LT

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

New York Times: “'Hamilton,' the groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the nation’s founding fathers, has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway history." ...

... Here's the full list of Tony Award nominees.

MIT News: "For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth. The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published [Monday, May 2] in the journal Nature.... The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile."

Washington Post's Reliable Source: At an "afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner [Saturday, May 1]..., a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief.... The two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people. 'Punches were definitely thrown,' said one witness. Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, separated the two."

New York Times: "... a nearly 47,000-word journalistic series [by Walt Whitman] called 'Manly Health and Training,' were lost for more than 150 years, buried in an obscure newspaper that survived only in a handful of libraries. The series was uncovered last summer by a graduate student, who came across a fleeting reference to it in a digitized newspaper database and then tracked down the full text on microfilm.Now, Whitman’s self-help-guide-meets-democratic-manifesto is being published online in its entirety by a scholarly journal, in what some experts are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades."

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

New York Times: "The Pulitzers are in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University reflected in part the changes sweeping the media landscape." Here's the full list of the prize winners, via the New York Times.

CW: The AP produced this video in January 2015, but I just came across it:

New York Times: "James Levine, who transformed the Metropolitan Opera during four decades as its music director but has suffered from poor health in recent years, will step down from his post after this season to become music director emeritus, the company announced Thursday."

Politico: "Gabriel Snyder, editor in chief of The New Republic for the past 17 months, is leaving the magazine in the wake of its sale to Win McCormack.... The masthead change marks the first big move since McCormack, a publisher, Democratic booster and editor in chief of a literary journal called Tin House, bought TNR from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in February after Hughes was unsuccessful at turning around the money-losing magazine’s business during his four years of stewardship."

The Great Octopus Escape. Guardian: "An octopus has made a brazen escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand by breaking out of its tank, slithering down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappearing into the sea. In scenes reminiscent of Finding Nemo, Inky – a common New Zealand octopus – made his dash for freedom after the lid of his tank was accidentally left slightly ajar. Staff believe that in the middle of the night, while the aquarium was deserted, Inky clambered to the top of his glass enclosure, down the side of the tank and travelled across the floor of the aquarium."

... Charles Pierce: "One of the best biographies I've ever read was Scott Berg's brilliant, National Book Award-winning account of the life of Maxwell Perkins, the editor at Scribner's who was responsible for bringing out the best work in Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.... I'm going to be first in line to see [the film "Genius."] OK, so there won't be a line, but I'll be there nonetheless."

Michael Cavna of the Washington Post on the artistry in the film "All the President's Men."The real Woodward & Bernstein weigh in.

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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.