In documenting the drama that has swirled around the inner workings of The New York Times this last decade or so — perhaps culminating with Jill Abramson's ouster — Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti makes this observation:
Gossipy, catty, insular, cliquey, stressful, immature, cowardly, moody, underhanded, spiteful — The New York Times gives new meaning to the term "hostile workplace." What has been said of the press — that it wields power without any sense of responsibility —is also a fair enough description of the young adult. And it is to high school, I think, that The New York Times is most aptly compared. The coverage of the Abramson firing reads at times like the plot of an episode of Saved By the Bell minus the sex... [Washington Free Beacon]
Was there much sex in Saved by the Bell? Not that I recall. Sounds more like 90210 to me. But I digress.
Sophomoric behavior, no doubt, permeates a lot of offices in America — and I suspect too many work environments feel like high school. But this is special. Commenting on the White House Correspondents Dinner recently, Mark Leibovich observed, "This is a classic case of the bubble world and the unselfawareness..." One could say the same thing about the recent spectacle surrounding America's "paper of record."
Americans already hate the news media. And based on the breathless coverage of Abramson's ouster by the Acela Corridor elite — and the embarrassing details and accusations that continue to trickle out — we're left asking this: Can anyone blame them? Matt K. Lewis
A North Korean biological weapons scientist has reportedly defected to Finland, taking with him 15 gigabytes of data detailing experiments on human.
The 47 year old — identified only by his surname Lee — fled a research facility near North Korea's border with China in June, The Independent reports. Citing a humans rights group, South Korean newspaper Yonhap says he plans to present his data to the EU in July. There is reason for caution, however: Neither his defection nor his planned presentation have been confirmed by European authorities.
Greg Scarlatoiun, director of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, reportedly told a Finnish newspaper that the story is at least plausible.
“We have been told similar stories in the past that human experiments are carried out in prison camps,” he said, adding that the experiments in question likely involved chemical weapons testing on humans. Nico Lauricella
U.S. officials said Thursday that Tunisia's most wanted jihadist — Seifallah Ben Hassine, also known as Abu Ayadh — was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Libya last month. The strike targeted another al Qaeda leader. Ben Hassine's death, if confirmed, would mark a major success for Tunisia, which has been battling insurgents in its western border region. Last Friday militants massacred 38 people, most of them British, in an attack on a beach resort. Ben Hassine was suspected of masterminding several terrorist attacks and assassinations. Harold Maass
Health insurer Aetna said Friday that it would buy smaller rival Humana for $37 billion in the insurance industry's biggest deal ever. Antitrust regulators will have to review how the acquisition would affect competition. If the deal goes through, the combined company will have about $115 billion and 33 million members, nearly as many as No. 2 carrier Anthem. The deal could be the start of a wave of consolidation that was on hold before last week's Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare subsidies nationwide. Harold Maass
In a gambit to shake up the debt crisis talks last Saturday, Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras called for a national vote on July 5 to decide whether Greece should accept the terms of its creditors' bailout deal. The move appears to be backfiring.
The dea in question is off the table. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stopped negotiations until after the referendum. The polls are neck and neck. And a Greek court might decide that the whole thing is unconstitutional anyway.
On Friday, the 50-person court is slated to hear an appeal alleging that the vote violates Article 44 of the Greek constitution, which bars referendums on “the management of fiscal policy and issues that affect the financial situation of the state." The claimants also argue the question posed to voters is too confusing. The Greek government reportedly doesn't intend to offer a rebuttal in court. Nico Lauricella
Pretty cute for 2,000 years old:
2,000-year-old marble dolphin surfaces near Gaza Strip http://t.co/yPXosuWCWc
— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) June 25, 2015
Dated to around the first century AD, this marble dolphin turned up on a recent archaeological dig at Kibbutz Magen, Israel, near the Gaza Strip. It's about 16 inches high, munching a fish, and may once have adorned a larger statue of the ancient Roman god Neptune or goddess Venus, both of whom were frequently depicted with sea motifs. Although the archaeologists found it in the ruins of a Byzantine settlement, they believe it to be Roman. For more on the little guy, head over to The Times of Israel. Nico Lauricella
The prequel to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is set to be released on July 14. But controversy about its history — and if Lee, 88, really wants it published at all — has grown thicker already. While the official story holds that Tonja B. Carter, Lee's lawyer, was reviewing an old typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird and happened upon the manuscript for its prequel, Go Set a Watchman, The New York Times has dug up a second, conflicting narrative.
According to the new story, Carter might actually have found the book in 2011, when viewing the contents of Lee's safe-deposit box during a Sotheby's auction house rare books appraisal. In the box, Carter — along with Justin Caldwell, a rare books expert, and Alice Lee, Harper's sister — are said to have discovered a typescript story that looked suspiciously like To Kill a Mockingbird, but clearly wasn't the same.
The other was a typescript of a story that, like Mockingbird, was set in the fictional town of Maycomb and inhabited by the same people. But Mr. Caldwell noticed that the characters were older, and the action set many years later, the person said. After reading about 20 pages and comparing passages to a published copy of Mockingbird for nearly an hour, Mr. Caldwell is said to have realized the differences and told the others in the room that it seemed to be an early version of the novel. [The New York Times]
However, Carter said she had to leave the room and denied she had ever heard of a different manuscript being found that day.
The implications of the second narrative could be hefty, though. While Go Set a Watchman has already rocketed to being the bestselling preorder in the publisher's history, some think that Harper Lee, despite assurances otherwise, might not actually want Mockingbird's prequel published. Adding to the suspicion is the fact that Alice Lee might not have approved of Carter or anyone else publishing the novel. Go Set a Watchman was announced to be released three months after Alice's death. Jeva Lange
U.S. health officials revealed Thursday that a Washington woman's recent death from measles marks the first time someone has died from the disease in the country since 2003. While measles is known to be a highly contagious disease, health officials say it is extremely rare to die from it. Though officials are not saying whether the deceased woman was vaccinated, they did say she that her immune system was compromised due to medications she was taking.
Over the last year, measles cases have soared to an all-time high of 644 since the U.S. was declared to be measles-free in 2000. In Washington state alone, there have been 11 reported cases of measles this year — six of which were in a single county. The spike in measles outbreaks, coupled with this recent death, have further sparked debate over the necessity of the MMR (measles, mumps rubella) vaccine, which some believe — without concrete scientific evidence — causes autism in children. Becca Stanek