Here you go, since I haven’t given you anything else to chew on today:
1. Belgium charges terror plot suspects (BBC) — This happened last night and all, but it’s huge, with raids across Belgium, France and Germany. Meanwhile, Obama and PM Cameron meet to discuss terror, and to reaffirm the “special relationship.” Presumably, POTUS didn’t use the occasion to return any Churchill busts.
2. 2014 Was the Warmest Year Ever Recorded on Earth (NYT) — Just FYI. Something you might really want to take note of…
6. Police: Teen sweethearts blaze trail of crime across South (AP) — Yeah, I didn’t really think it was a front-page story, either, but the lurid headline reeled me right in. The girl is just 13. The boy, who is 18, supposedly doesn’t know that…
There actually is some news today, which is fairly unusual for this week of the year:
- Metts pleads guilty, ends storied career in disgrace (thestate.com) — The judge accepts the deal this time, since it doesn’t rule out prison time.
- Jet Debris and Bodies Found; Little Hope of Any Survivors (NYT) — But we sort of knew that was the case, tragically. FYI, these horrific stories are seeming less distant to me lately, since I have tickets to fly to Southeast Asia myself in a couple of months.
- Here’s Why Obama Said The U.S. Is ‘Less Racially Divided’ (NPR) — He said we feel worse about race just because we’re talking about it more. I can identify with that explanation. This is from an NPR interview with POTUS. (See video below.)
- Boehner Stands By Scalise After Revelations (WSJ) — Revelations that he addressed a white nationalist group in 2002.
- Release of Bergdahl Reshaped America’s Talks With Cuba (NYT) — It made the White House hesitate to make a swap deal. I’m glad to hear the Bergdahl mess made someone in the administration rethink something…
You haven’t had one of these lately, and it’s a newsy day locally, so here you go:
1. Metts resigns, agrees to plead guilty (thestate.com) — Thus ends 42 years as Lexington County sheriff. Here’s a copy of the plea deal, and here’s his resignation letter to Gov. Haley.
5. Columbia police chemist who was forced out fires back at city (thestate.com) — She’s sued the city for $3 million, and now she’s speaking out, among other things saying that her departure from her job is “absolutely” “about race.” That, and retribution.
6. Man breaks teacher’s arm in classroom (AP) — This happened in Orangeburg, in front of her 4th-grade pupils.
Just because you haven’t had one in awhile, and I felt like it would do you good:
- Harrell pleads guilty, looks toward future as informant (thestate.com) — Yeah, this has already been covered, but it’s still today’s lede story.
- Both Ebola nurses now doing much better (People, Yahoo) — Some of this is a day or two old, but I haven’t seen it on any front pages, and it seems like high-interest news to me. Nina Pham’s condition has been upgraded from “fair” to “good,” while Amber Vinson has actually been declared free of the disease! Seems like this isn’t getting the play that their initial infection got. Meanwhile, a doctor has been hospitalized in New York with Ebola-like symptoms.
- Evidence shows Islamic State used chlorine gas (WashPost) — Until now, this was one atrocity that they apparently had not yet committed.
- Canadian Police Say Ottawa Attack Was by Lone Gunman (NYT) — We’re used to “lone gunmen” in this country, but it seems like that’s one American cultural import Canada could have done without.
- Dogs helped stop White House jumper (WashPost) — Maybe they should put a dog in charge of the Secret Service.
- Dreher, Camden banned from football playoffs (thestate.com) — Not Earth-shattering, perhaps, but it seemed like a good local talker. This is because of a postgame fight between the two schools last Friday.
Hurricane, left, and Jordan — the dogs who got the job done, protecting the White House.
First, happy birthday to my Uncle Woody.
Now, here are some possible topics:
- CDC: Unclear how many in Dallas were exposed to Ebola — First, we heard about how this got out of control in Africa because those poor, benighted folk lack the medical care we have in the developed world. Then, we tsk-tsked about how Spain couldn’t even protect its health care workers. Now, it turns out we can’t, either.
- Vatican Signals More Lenient Stance on Gays and Divorce — I read this, but didn’t see any news in it. I think this, and the Pope’s previous comments, seem like big news to people who didn’t understand the Church to start with. It’s all a matter of emphasis. I applaud what Pope Francis has chosen to emphasize, but it’s no radical departure.
- Kim Jong-un reappears after absence — Oh, well. It was too much of a good thing to last.
I tried to find something local, but I didn’t see much but crime and sports. But maybe there’s something good that I missed. In any case, y’all talk about what interests you…
I’m giving you this VFP not because it’s a very newsy day (it isn’t), because it’s been awhile, and gosh darn it, y’all deserve one:
- West signals more Russia sanctions (BBC) — This is ahead of cease-fire talks expected tomorrow. And a day after POTUS draws a line in the Baltics. This is really kind of a jumbled story, but it’s the most important thing I see out there, so it leads…
- BP’s ‘reckless conduct’ caused spill (The Guardian) — We could be talking up to 18 billion more in fines. Which, you know, is more than I make in a year!
- McDONNELLS GUILTY: Ex-governor, wife convicted of corruption (WashPost) — Don’t know if you’ve been following this, but today’s the big day on it. The Post, the NYT and the WSJ are all leading with it. Which is why I turned to British outlets for my own lede and second story. ‘Cause you know, I don’t live in Virginia. And those of us who don’t are mere voyeurs on a story such as this.
- Johnson & Johnson Pushes Ahead With Ebola Vaccine (NPR) — Here’s hoping they can get it out into the field quickly — and it works.
- Joan Rivers dead at 81 (LAT) — For those of you interested, I figured L.A. would have the most complete coverage.
- Two gubernatorial debates set (thestate.com) — Not necessarily front-page material, but I was hard-up for something local.
Surprise! We haven’t had one of these in a while. Y’all seemed to like Open Threads more, and they were less work, so I went along with you. But lately, you’ve seemed less enchanted with the open threads, and I like VFPs (they appeal more to my compulsion to try to make sense of the news), so here you go:
- U.S.: Missile was Russian-made (WashPost) — Now this is a lede story worthy of the term. The WSJ, the NYT and the WashPost are all going multi-column on their headlines on this one. You may of may not have noticed, but normally a lede on those sites is held to one column. Since the headline on this could well include the words “Cold War Redux,” this is heavy news, indeed.
- SIDEBAR: Indiana University student athlete killed in crash – She was Dutch. There was one U.S. citizen: Quinn Lucas Schansman.
- SIDEBAR: Obama says ‘near 100’ AIDS workers killed. Is it true? — The number remains uncertain, but the NYT has identified at least one top researcher killed in the shootdown.
- Netanyahu Warns of Wider Israel Operation in Gaza (NYT) — The story that would be the lede most days. The world is an extraordinarily dangerous place these days, as the U.S. slouches toward greater isolationism.
- Obama opens Eastern Seaboard to oil exploration (AP) — A story with implications for SC. The exploration involves something called “sonic cannon,” which lets the women of the world know right off that this is something a guy is responsible for thinking up.
- SC jobless rate held steady in June (thestate.com) — The rate has stayed stagnant since April, after a year of sharp declines.
Do y’all like these better, or the Open Threads? In any case, here’s your news for May Day! May Day! May Day!
- Sheheen accuses Haley of interfering with child-death panel (thestate.com) — He said in a letter to John Courson, “It has become increasingly clear that Gov. Haley and her administration have stonewalled the investigation into children’s endangerment from within DSS, and even used the power of the Governor’s office to try to cover-up the problem through pressure and intimidation.”
- Putin Tells Ukraine to Withdraw Troops in East (WSJ) — Ukraine continues to have a lot of trouble defending its territory.
- Defying U.S., tech firms alert users to data demands (WashPost) — And so our ability to defend ourselves gets a little weaker.
- U.S. Urges Privacy Protections for Data Held by Companies (NYT) — It’s good to see the administration focus for a change on the folks who actually do intrude on private citizens’ privacy — the private sector.
- Hearing Friday in Harrell’s effort to dump Wilson from probe (thestate.com) — Normally I don’t play up advance stories, but given the way this originally was being kept secret…
- ‘Spider-Man 2’ isn’t amazing enough (WashPost) — Maybe that’s why my spidey sense isn’t tingling.
Not a huge news day, but just to acknowledge what’s going on out there:
- Russia in ‘partial’ border pullout (BBC) — So… what’s he leaving in place? I’ll bet it’s still a threat to Ukraine.
- Health Website Failures Impede Signup Surge as Deadline Nears (NYT) — A blast from the past on Obamacare’s big day — more website trouble.
- U.S. considers release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard (WashPost) — I generally try to keep up with espionage news, but I still have trouble understanding why we were holding someone who spied for an ally in prison. Edward Snowden is still running around loose (sort of) and making appearances at SXSW, and this guy’s been in prison for 27 years? Something is askew here.
- Koreas Trade Fire Amid North’s Drills (WSJ) — All we need…
- Suspect arrested in Five Points shooting (thestate.com) — What are we going to do about this stuff, folks?
- Guinea faces huge Ebola epidemic (The Guardian) — News to shudder at. Even a tiny Ebola outbreak should be enough to send chills down the spine.Just in case the Ukraine and Korea stories didn’t worry you enough…
And you thought I wasn’t going to post today. It’s kind of a weird news day today. The WSJ, the NYT, the BBC and the WashPost all have wildly different lede stories at this hour (respectively, they led with Obamacare, HIV babies, Ukraine and the SAT). There’s a lot going on, but everything seems to be of about equal weight. In my book, the Beeb got it right. Here ya go:
- ‘Tough’ Ukraine talks to continue after Paris summit (BBC) — Meanwhile, the EU offers up $15 billion to help.
- SLED Report: Santiago didn’t tell investigators everything (thestate.com) — I tell you what — this CPD thing is getting to be about as hard to follow as the hacking scandal in Britain.
- Report: Marine to become 1st South Carolinian to receive Medal of Honor since Vietnam (thestate,com) — Something for SC to be proud of.
- Obama Gives Health Plans Added 2-Year Reprieve (WSJ) — OK, how many reprieves is that now? Anyone keeping score?
- SAT to lower top score to 1600 in revised test (WashPost) — The Post is actually leading with this at the moment.
- Second Success Raises Hope for a Way to Rid Babies of H.I.V. (NYT) — This is wonderful, but I find it hard to read — even thinking about babies being in such a horrific predicament.
Here’s what we have going at this hour:
- West warns Russia amid Crimea threat (BBC) — Ukraine isn’t sorted out; not by a long shot.
- No bond for teen facing murder charge in Dutch Fork student’s death (thestate.com) — As mentioned previously, attorney Todd Rutherford said his client will seek to invoke South Carolina’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
- Chairman of Richland’s election board gives up seat (thestate.com) — In that he won’t seek re-election to the post. Not normally front-page fodder, but with the way things are going with this group… Meanwhile, lawmakers are seeking candidates for two open seats. Hey! Where’d everybody go…?
- British Spies Reaped Millions of Webcam Images, Some of Sex (NYT) — Apparently, James Bond’s sex life has now been reduced to watching other people on webcams.
- After shutdown, lawmakers donated more than $465K (WashPost) — I thought you could use a sorta, kinda feelgood story about members of Congress. Of course, they CAUSED the mess to begin with, so this could sort of go under the heading of purchasing indulgences…
- First lady unveils food label reforms (The Guardian) — The thing I like about this is that serving sizes will be adjusted upward, to reflect how much we actually eat (really, who eats only half a cup of ice cream?). So we’ll see how many calories we’re really getting.
It’s a slow news day, so it’s tough to come up with a whole (virtual) page of worthy items (how boring is it? the WSJ is leading with the Libor probe), but I haven’t given y’all anything all day, so here you go:
- U.N.: North Korean abuses ‘unparalleled’ (The Guardian) — The human rights report says North Korea is “committing systematic and appalling human rights abuses against its own citizens on a scale unparalleled in the modern world, crimes against humanity with strong resemblances to those committed by the Nazis.” So, pretty harsh.
- The hijacker was (allegedly) the co-pilot (BBC) — You know, I don’t think arming the crew would have helped on this one.
- Richland robber attacks pregnant woman with Mace, steals purse (thestate.com) — Yeah, I realize this is a relatively minor crime, but come on, man — Mace, on a pregnant woman? That should definitely count as an aggravating circumstance.
- Think pieces about the GOP (NYT, WashPost) — Both of these venerable papers are leading with thumb-suckers about what the Republicans are up to. Here’s the NYT version, and here’s the one from the Post. Personally, I was most interested in George Will’s column late last week about why the GOP is ditching immigration reform — because apparently the party doesn’t think it has enough time on its busy Obamacare-hating schedule. It’s like it can’t chew gum and reform immigration at the same time.
- There was a reason ABBA dressed like that (The Guardian) — Apparently, the pop quartet wore those ridiculous costumes for tax reasons. I told you it was a slow news day.
- U.S. wins first ice dance title — ever (WashPost) — No I mean, really, really slow…
I would have included something about the spat on Columbia City Council over hiring a new police chief, but that was in the paper this morning, and that just made it too old.
Since I’ve been a bit out of pocket lately, I felt like I owed y’all one of these:
- House approves ‘clean’ debt-limit bill (WashPost) — Weird how easy that was, after all the previous instances in which “principle” supposedly made this impossible. Not that I’m complaining; it’s just weird.
- Midlands braces for double-whammy ice storm (thestate.com) — SNL is no doubt gearing up for a return of Buford Calloway, Sethory. Here’s hoping it’s just a laughing matter. I hear that SCE&G is warning folks this one is going to be worse than a couple of weeks ago.
- Shirley Temple Dies (NPR) — I find that headline hard to take in. I heard a quote on NPR today — can’t seem to find it at the moment — in which FDR said that as long as we had Shirley Temple, America was going to be all right. And now we don’t have her.
- French and US ‘trust restored’ (BBC) — However, the trust of the French first lady? Not so much…
- Bing censoring Chinese search results for US users (The Guardian) — Apparently, The Guardian has found someone on the Web to worry about that doesn’t involve the NSA.
- Gov. Haley backs bill to allow carrying of firearms without permits, training (thestate.com) — Because the guns-in-bars bill she signed today just doesn’t go far enough, I suppose.
A sort of middling news day:
- Just as Hopes Were Lifting, a Meager Growth in Payrolls (NYT) — I went with this version because the headline best explained the stakes.
- U.S. to dump HealthCare.gov contractor (WashPost) — CGI Federal will be replaced by Accenture.
- Target Says 70 Million Individuals’ Data May Have Been Stolen (NPR) — But wait — the NYT says it’s more like 110 million.
- CAR resignation brings joy and fear (The Guardian) — The continuing unholy mess in Central Africa.
- N.J. Lawmakers Release New Bridge-Lane Closure Records (WSJ) — It sucks to be Chris Christie this week.
- Hollande attacks report of affair (BBC) — He indicates he may sue. But I wonder: Is this sort of thing even considered defamatory in France?
The first VFP of the year! I know y’all are thrilled. Here are your headlines:
- First chemical weapons leave Syria (BBC) — Meanwhile, as this cabaret distracts us, the killing continues, and spills into neighboring countries.
- In memoir, Gates issues harsh Obama critique (WashPost) — But I told you about that earlier.
- Bone-Chilling Cold Snap Envelops Eastern U.S. (WSJ) — You knew this already, but it is a big part of what’s happening today.
- Blankets, fosters needed at Pets Inc. shelter, where heat is out (thestate.com) — Hey, my daughter is already fostering three of their dogs, so my family is doing its bit, but some of the rest of y’all may want to help out the critters…
- Jobless Benefit Bill Clears One Hurdle, but More Remain (NYT) — Democrats dodge a filibuster in the Senate, take up their bill by a 60 to 37 vote.
- JPMorgan Chase To Pay $1.7 Billion To Madoff Victims (NPR) — This is getting a little old, but it seems front-worthy…
More cute than you can handle: That’s my grandson with one of the puppies my daughter is fostering.
Since I’ve been lax about posting today, and you haven’t had one of these lately:
- Nelson Mandela, Peaceful Liberator, Dies (NYT) — This was the breaking news that made me think, “I should do a Virtual Front Page.” He was 95.
- France takes military action in CAR (BBC) — While people in this country were yammering about Sarah Palin and some guy named Martin Bashir, 100 people were dying in the Central African Republic. France is going in to try to stop it. Because France does stuff like that nowadays, unlike certain other countries that could be mentioned. Ahem. But in our defense: The UN Security Council unanimously approved French action, which is something it doesn’t do for us.
- Pope to Set Up Commission on Clerical Child Abuse (NYT) — The new broom gets set to do some more sweeping.
- Stolen cobalt-60 found; thieves likely dead or dying (WashPost) — This takes the “Dumb Crook News” meme to a new level.
- GOP Family Feud: ‘Showboat’ DeMint Takes on ‘Tyrant’ McConnell (NPR) — In case you wondered what our boy was up to lately.
- Taboo, X-rated shop, announces it is closing (The State) — Oh, no! So where am I going to buy dirty stuff if I need some? Oh, year, the internet. In fact, why was there a shop for this in 2013 anyway? Showrooming?
Just because I haven’t given you one of these lately:
- Typhoon deaths ‘fewer than feared’ (BBC) — Relatively good news, since the numbers we were hearing yesterday were four times as high.
- New guidelines urge wider use of cholesterol drugs (WashPost) — This is supposed to be a major change, but frankly, I had trouble following the stories. That may be because I wasn’t that hip to the old guidelines. By the way, U.S. sites were leading with this, instead of the typhoon. Which reminds me of this.
- China Vows ‘Decisive’ Role for Markets (WSJ) — Not that they’re giving up central control of the economy or anything, but I thought this worth playing bigger than most news sources were playing it.
- Bill Clinton Urges Obama to Allow Fix to Health Care Law (NYT) — Because, you know, POTUS loves it when his favorite predecessor “helps” him this way…
- Former USC football player Kenny Miles shot himself, sheriff says (thestate.com) — Today’s talker. Meanwhile, speaking of the sheriff — the city of Columbia has opened a nationwide search for a new police chief.
- Airlines Reach Deal Over Merger (WSJ) — to create world’s largest airline.
Just a quick one, to make up for a pathetic paucity of posts today:
- Kerry Tries to Reassure Israel and Saudis on Mideast Policy (NYT) — That’s gonna be a tough sell. Have you read what the Saudis are saying about us? Prince Turki al Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador in Washington, said this recently: “The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious, and designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down, but also to help Assad butcher his people.” Whoa.
- Obama Tells Merkel That U.S. Is Not Tapping Her Phone (NYT) — The Germans are not pleased.
- Vatican suspends ‘bishop of bling’ (BBC) — Broad-minded as he is, Pope Francis can only take so much…
- Fired White House Aide Admits He Was Twitter Troll (NPR) — Amazingly, this guy was 40, not 14…
- Man arrested for stealing Chihuahua from Pets Inc. (thestate.com) — It was kind of a slow news day locally.
- Post-shutdown, Cruz returns to Texas a hero (WashPost) — The Post is leading with this at the moment. I guess this is more of a shock to people in Washington than to us in South Carolina.