The Ledes

A friend sent me this updated forecast. Hope this helps:

Monday, January 26, 2015.

Politico: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid successfully underwent a lengthy surgery on Monday to repair broken bones in his face suffered in a New Year’s Day exercise injury, according to his office. The Nevada Democrat was released from George Washington University Hospital on Monday afternoon following the surgery. Surgeons removed a blood clot and pooled blood in Reid’s right eye and mended several bones in Reid’s face, injuries that have caused Reid blindness in his right eye."

New York Times: "Marcus J. Borg, a scholar who popularized a liberal intellectual approach to Christianity with his lectures and books about Jesus as a historical figure, died on Wednesday at his home in Powell Butte, Ore. He was 72."

Bloomberg News: "Russia’s foreign-currency credit rating was cut to junk by Standard & Poor’s, putting it below investment grade for the first time in a decade, as policy makers struggle to boost growth amid international sanctions and a drop in oil prices."

Hill: "The U.S. has closed its embassy in Yemen's capital because of security concerns, the State Department said Monday. The closure comes after the resignation of Yemen's president, pressured by rebel forces."

The New York Times is continually updating its snowfall map for the Northeast. ...

... New York Times: "As millions of residents in the Northeast prepared for a powerful storm bearing down on the region, bringing with it near hurricane-force winds along the coast and as much as three feet of snow, officials from New Jersey to Maine urged people to get off the roads and stay indoors. Even before the worst of the storm hit, thousands of flights were grounded, public transportation was suspended or curtailed and travel bans were put in place in the half dozen states in the path of what was expected to be a blizzard. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced on Monday afternoon that all subway and bus service in New York City would stop at 11 p.m." CW: Sorry to say the forecast pictured above still holds. ...

... "The Times is providing free unlimited access to storm coverage on and its mobile apps." ...

Washington Post: "Blizzard warnings and winter storm warnings blanket the Northeast on Sunday night in anticipation of [a major] storm. Over 29 million people are under a blizzard warning through at least Tuesday afternoon, and 14 million people are under a winter storm warning. 24 to 36 inches of snow is expected from northern New Jersey to southern New England, in addition to the 50 to 60 mph wind gusts that could severely reduce visibility." ...

... USA Today: "Airlines reacted to a major snowstorm that's expected to wallop parts of the Northeast by cancelling more than 5,200 flights through Wednesday. Of those, at least 3,200 were already announced by Sunday – a day before the storm's first flakes fell along the East Coast." ...

... The Weather Channel story is here. ...

... Boston Globe: "This storm will cripple travel through Tuesday afternoon and it will take until Thursday before things start to get back to normal. These types of storms can shut Logan Airport down for at least a day even after the worst of the storm has ended. Everything will be closed tomorrow and many schools will be closed Wednesday and some the rest of the week, because the sidewalks won’t be clear."

... CW Prediction: This potentially historic storm should be the final nail in the coffin of any silly global warming theories. Those GOP senators who admitted climate change was "real"? Just pulling Democrats' chain.

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, January 25, 2015.

Weather Channel: "New York City is under a blizzard warning and Boston is under a blizzard watch in anticipation of Winter Storm Juno, which will be a major snowstorm for the Northeast Monday through Tuesday night, lingering into Wednesday morning. Parts of the region will see blizzard conditions and more than 2 feet of snow."

Washington Post: "After five years of extreme austerity prescribed to treat an epidemic of debt, a battered but defiant Greece on Sunday emphatically rejected the medicine. With millions of voters turning out ... the country delivered a historic win to Syriza, a radical leftist party that could put Greece on a collision course with the rest of Europe. The expected showdown has already rattled Greek financial markets and may challenge the core principle behind Europe’s currency union."

Los Angeles Times: "An electronic device that could be a drone has been recovered on the White House grounds, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a briefing early Monday in New Delhi, India. Asked about media reports on the device, Earnest said the device 'doesn't pose any ongoing threat' to the Obama family. The Secret Service is reportedly investigating."

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 26

8:10 am ET: President Obama & Indian PM Modi speak at a business summit in New Delhi, India

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a Caribbean energy security summit in Washington, D.C.

5:45 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a sheriffs' association meeting

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to


Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?


In the New York Times, Barry Bearak remembers Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks.

Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, New Hampshire): "After going through the drive-through at Burger King [in Rochester, N.H.] Friday, a local woman discovered that instead of the sweet tea and junior spicy chicken sandwich that she ordered, she got a bag full of money. Rather than keeping the cash — totaling $2,631 — she came back to the restaurant with her husband and returned it."

Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

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The Commentariat -- Dec. 9, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer takes on Paul Krugman, albeit gently, and Republicans, not so gently.

Adele Stan in Washington Monthly: raise the eligibility age for Medicare and "PEOPLE WILL DIE."

Maureen Dowd: "... the Republican decline will be traced to a stubborn refusal to adapt to a world where poor people and sick people and black people and brown people and female people and gay people count. ...

     ... CW: before you get too taken by the Oracle of DeeCee's assurances that the End of the Republican Era is nigh, read Matt Taibbi (a) just for the pleasure, but (b) for his view on political prognostication:

     ... Matt Taibbi on the DeMise of DeMint: "In the minds of those Tea Party conservatives DeMint represents, they debased themselves in supporting an ultimate-RINO type like Romney, and all they got for their trouble was four more years of Black Satan lounging around on the couches of the White House." ...

... Here's the cartoon P. D. Pepe refers to in the Comments section. It took me a while to find it. (It's really helpful when contributors provide links to specific articles or items they mention, so readers can follow up if a particular topic interests them. Also, it always saves me a step!):

Christopher Weyant, Cagle Cartoons, The Hill.Robert Pear of the New York Times: "... affluent Americans will soon be hit with new taxes adopted as part of the 2010 health care law. The new levies, which take effect in January, include an increase in the payroll tax on wages and a tax on investment income, including interest, dividends and capital gains. The Obama administration proposed rules to enforce both last week.... To help finance Medicare, employees and employers each now pay a hospital insurance tax equal to 1.45 percent on all wages. Starting in January, the health care law will require workers to pay an additional tax equal to 0.9 percent of any wages over $200,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly."

Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times: "As soon as the confrontation over fiscal policy winds down, the Obama administration will begin an all-out drive for comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, according to officials briefed on the plans. While key tactical decisions are still being made, President Obama wants a catch-all bill that would also bolster border security measures, ratchet up penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and make it easier to bring in foreign workers under special visas, among other elements."

Nicholas Kristof highlights a social services program gone awry. In Appalachia, families have a huge stake in their children's failure to learn to read. CW: Kristof merely criticizes the program & can't seem to think of a way to fix it. I'll bet you can.

Steven Mufson of the Washington Post has a long piece on the U.S.'s natural gas industry, which is about to become a big exporter thanks to fracking & other technology, possibly causing a rise in LNG prices here.

** Pakistan International News: "Former US President Jimmy Carter has slammed American assassination drone strikes in other countries, saying that killing civilians in such attacks would in fact nurture terrorism. 'I personally think we do more harm than good by having our drones attack some potential terrorists who have not been tried or proven that they are guilty," Carter said in an interview with Russia Today. But in the meantime, the drone attacks also kill women and children, sometimes in weddings... so this is the kind of thing we should correct,' he added." Video of the RT interview with President Carter is here. The interview begins about 3:30 min. in. In the first part, Carter blasts Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. I love that guy.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: "President Obama's finance team is offering corporations and other institutions that contribute $1 million exclusive access to an array of inaugural festivities, including tickets to a 'benefactors reception,' a children's concert, a candlelight celebration at the National Building Museum, two reserved parade bleacher seats and four tickets to the president's official inaugural ball." In case your solicitation to go to a $1 million party got lost in the mail, here's a copy. I'm going to try to think of this whole stupid shebang as the Caterers & Musicians' Stimulus Program. ...

... All of Which May Be Moot, What with the World Coming to an End First. Nick Allen, et al., of the London Telegraph: "Ahead of December 21, which marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year 'Long Count' Mayan calendar, panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.

Doktor Zoom of Wonkette reflects on the efficacy of gun ownership as a means of protection. Luckily, s/he has Wayne LaPierre of the NRA & other bright lights to help sort things out.

Has Anybody Seen Mitt Romney? Yes! AP: "Defeated presidential candidate Mitt Romney was a guest ringside Saturday night at the fourth fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez." CW: what a cultural trend-setter President Romney would have been. The fights, for Pete's sake?

Local News

Josh Israel of Think Progress: "The Detroit Free-Press, which endorsed Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) in his 2010 campaign and has generally supported him since, blasted his decision to ram through a union-busting 'right-to-work' law in a lame-duck legislative session. At Snyder's urging, the state House and Senate each passed versions of the law this week. The editorial board slammed his move as a 'failure of leadership' and observed that his 'about-face' amounted to a betrayal of Michigan's voters." The Freep editorial is here.

The Last Congressional Race

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Rep. Charles Boustany has defeated fellow GOP Rep. Jeff Landry in Louisiana's 3rd District on Saturday, according to the Associated Press, bringing a close to the final undetermined congressional contest of the 2012 cycle."

News Ledes

** New York Times: Birger Stromsheim, a Norwegian hero of World War II, died Nov. 10 in Oslo at 101. CW: read his obituary, please. Here's the Telegraph's obituary. Here's an excerpt from the book The Real Heroes of Telemark by Ray Mears.

AP: "Egypt's liberal opposition has called for more protests on Sunday after the president made concessions overnight that fell short of their demands to rescind a draft constitution going to a referendum on Dec. 15." Al Jazeera story here.

Reuters: "Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez returns to Cuba on Sunday for more surgery after a recurrence of cancer led him to name a successor for the first time in a sign the disease may force an end to his 14-year rule."

AP: "Pakistani intelligence officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed three suspected militants near the Afghan border."

ABC News: "The American doctor rescued from the Taliban in Afghanistan Saturday by U.S. Special Operations Forces is the medical adviser for a Colorado Springs NGO, his employer confirmed today. Dr. Dilip Joseph and two colleagues were kidnapped by a group of armed men while returning from a visit to a rural medical clinic in eastern Kabul Province...."

Guardian: "Poor countries have won historic recognition of the plight they face from the ravages of climate change, wringing a pledge from rich nations that they will receive funds to repair the 'loss and damage' incurred.... Developing countries had been fighting hard for the concession at the fortnight-long UN climate change talks among 195 nations in Qatar, which finished after a marathon 36-hour final session."

Dallas Morning News: "Irving, [Texas,] police have now confirmed that Josh Brent, nose tackle for the Cowboys, has been arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter. Jerry Brown, 25, is the person who died. Brown is listed as a linebacker on the team's practice squad." Follow-up story here.

Guardian: "Nelson Mandela is 'comfortable and in good care', South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, has said after visiting him in hospital."

AP: "British police say they have contacted Australian authorities about a possible investigation into an Australian radio station's hoax call to a U.K. hospital. The callers impersonated Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles and received confidential details about the former Kate Middleton's medical information. The call was recorded and broadcast."


The Commentariat -- Dec. 8, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... Here's the transcript. Same ole, same ole.

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would enter the national debate over same-sex marriage, agreeing to hear a pair of cases challenging state and federal laws that define marriage to include only unions of a man and a woman."

Karen McVeigh of the Guardian: "The US military is facing fresh questions over its targeting policy in Afghanistan after a senior army officer suggested that troops were on the lookout for 'children [link fixed] with potential hostile intent'. In comments which legal experts and campaigners described as 'deeply troubling', army Lt Col Marion Carrington told the Marine Corp Times that children, as well as 'military-age males', had been identified as a potential threat because some were being used by the Taliban to assist in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces." CW: how is it that I read this first in a non-U.S. source? Looks like Current TV covered it, but that's about it.

Scott Shane & Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Private [Bradley] Manning faces a potential life sentence if convicted on charges that he gave WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy organization, hundreds of thousands of confidential military and diplomatic documents. But for now, he has been effectively putting on trial his former jailers at the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps base. His lawyer, David E. Coombs, has grilled one Quantico official after another, demanding to know why his client was kept in isolation and stripped of his clothing at night as part of suicide-prevention measures."

Cliff Notes

Daniel Newhauser of Roll Call: "Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio did not rule out a compromise agreement to raise taxes as part of a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, but he kept the ball in President Barack Obama's court when it comes to finding a way to get there."

Paul Krugman: "Ezra Klein says that the shape of a fiscal cliff deal is clear: only a 37 percent rate on top incomes, and a rise in the Medicare eligibility age. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that this is just a case of creeping Broderism, that it's a VSP fantasy.... Because if Obama really does make this deal, there will be hell to pay. First, raising the Medicare age is terrible policy.... Second, why on earth would Obama be selling Medicare away to raise top tax rates when he gets a big rate rise on January 1 just by doing nothing?"

... And yet, and yet. It ain't just Ezra Klein who's getting the vibes from the White House. Here was Lawrence O'Donnell the other day:

The president ... always says, 'I have to have the top rates go up' -- and it's worth noting that he doesn't specifically say I have to have 36 or 39%, he doesn't offer a specific number. But he always says, 'but we're willing to do that by significant spending cuts in entitlements.' ... He brings it up. He doesn't say the word Medicare, but that s what he's talking about.

... Digby thought O'Donnell was blowing smoke then, but she doesn't think so now. ...

... AND if you think O'Donnell isn't connected enough to "read" the President, how about Joe? Zeke Miller of Buzzfeed reports, "Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that the Obama administration is flexible about raising tax rates on the nation's highest earners, as long as they do rise. 'There are two irreducible minimum requirements for us,' Biden said at a lunch with Americans who would be affected by the fiscal cliff. 'The top brackets have to go up -- this is not a negotiable issue; theoretically we can negotiate how far up. But we think it should go -- the top rate should go to 39.6%.'"

** Dan Froomkin of the Huffington Post: "... according to longtime political observers Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, campaign coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth.... Lies from Republicans generally and standardbearer Mitt Romney in particular weren't limited to the occasional TV ads, either; the party's most central campaign principles -- that federal spending doesn't create jobs, that reducing taxes on the rich could create jobs and lower the deficit -- willfully disregarded the truth.... Mann said he was struck in conversations with journalists by how influenced they were by the heavily funded movement to promote a bipartisan consensus around deficit reduction and austerity.... Mann and Ornstein said that in practice, the fact-checkers may have made things worse rather than better." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "The issue isn't that Republicans are 'too' conservative, whatever that might mean. It's that the party, and to a startling degree the conservative movement generally, has failed to develop reality-based policy proposals; has decided in many cases that compromise itself is against its principles; and has (in the case of the Romney/Ryan campaign) repeatedly violated norms about lying in campaigns."

Dana Milbank: Jim DeMint "is, arguably, the perfect candidate to run a post-thought think tank."

CW: don't think Apple is getting all patriotic & shuttling its manufacturing ops back to the U.S.A. Quentin Hardy of the New York Times reports that the few computers it will produce in the U.S. will likely be larger ones which businesses use & they're making the move to save on shipping costs of the heavier product.

Gail Collins is less than impressed that in January, women will comprise a whopping 20 percent of the U.S. Senate.

Charles Pierce: "Of all the unfathomable quirks -- and I am being very kind, it being the holiday season and all -- of the Obama Administration, its unfathomable rigidity on the topic of marijuana makes less sense than any of the others."

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "... President Obama is dropping his principled objection to some forms of political fundraising to help pay for the post-election party.... The Presidential Inaugural Committee will accept unlimited corporate donations to help fund Obama's inauguration festivities next month, reversing a voluntary ban on the money he imposed on the inaugural four years ago and during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Obama will also allow individuals to contribute up to the legal maximum for the 2013 inauguration -- $250,000 -- lifting a $50,000 cap he voluntarily imposed in 2008...." ...

... John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation: "The decision prioritizes a lavish celebration over the integrity of the office, and bodes poorly for an administration whose first term can be characterized as slowly turning away from a principled approach to money in politics in favor of political expediency and fundraising." ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico: "Because inauguration day falls on a Sunday in 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts will officially administer the official oath of office [to President Obama] in a private ceremony that day. The public inauguration on the Capitol Building's West Front -- at which Roberts will administer a second, symbolic oath of office -- will take place the next day. In early meetings with the inaugural committee, officials privately indicated to reporters that the Jan. 20 event could be closed to reporters and cameras." The press is not amused.

Sarah Lyall of the New York Times has an expanded story on the suicide of a British nurse whom Australian DJs tricked into divulging information about the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge who was hospitalized at the time.

Local News

Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times: "Charlie Crist is becoming a Democrat. Crist -- Florida's former Republican governor ... on Friday evening signed papers changing his party from independent to Democrat. He did so during a Christmas reception at the White House, where President Barack Obama greeted the news with a fist bump for the man who had a higher profile campaigning for Obama's re-election this year than any Florida Democrat."

Don't Tell Douthat. Emily Ramshaw of the New York Times: "When [Texas] state lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2011 that moved $73 million from family planning services to other programs, the goal was largely political: halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics. Now they are facing the policy implications and, in some cases, reconsidering. The latest Health and Human Services Commission projections ... indicate that during the 2014-15 biennium, poor women will deliver an estimated 23,760 more babies than they would have, as a result of their reduced access to state-subsidized birth control. The additional cost to taxpayers is expected to be as much as $273 million -- $103 million to $108 million to the state's general revenue budget alone -- and the bulk of it is the cost of caring for those infants under Medicaid." CW: who could have guessed? Take away a woman's birth control, & she'll start having babies.

Chicago Tribune/AP: "Republicans slammed right-to-work legislation through the Michigan House and Senate Thursday, drawing raucous protests from throngs of stunned union supporters, whose outnumbered Democratic allies were powerless to stop it.... Details of the bills weren't made publicly available until they were read aloud on both floors as debate began. The chaos drew raucous protests from hundreds of union supporters, some of whom were pepper-sprayed by police when they tried to storm the Senate chamber.... After repeatedly insisting during his first two years in office that right-to-work was not on his agenda, [Gov. Rick] Snyder [R] reversed course Thursday," & said he would sign the legislation." ...

... Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press: "Health care providers could use a 'moral objection' or 'matter of conscience' standard to refuse service to patients under a bill passed by the [Michigan] state Senate today.... The state already has a conscientious objection clause for abortion services, but the new law also could give the green light to doctors to refuse to write birth control prescriptions and opens the door to a refusal of service for all sorts of ailments, said state Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw. Kahn, a cardiologist ... was the only Republican to join most of the Democrats to vote against the bill." ...

... Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Obama will wade into the midst of the Michigan debate Monday when he visits a Detroit area auto plant in a state he won resoundingly in part because of the support of the UAW. A White House spokesman said the president opposes right-to-work legislation but could not say whether Obama plans to address it directly in his remarks Monday." CW: a comprehensive story about the whys & wherefores of the state GOP's move.

News Ledes

New York Times: Italian "Prime Minister Mario Monti said he intended to resign after losing the backing of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party, according to a statement issued late Saturday by the president's office."

New York Times: "Facing the most serious crisis of his presidency, Mohamed Morsi is leaning more closely than ever on his Islamist allies in the Muslim Brotherhood, betting on their political muscle to push through a decisive victory in the referendum on Egypt's divisive draft constitution." ...

     Update: "Struggling to quell protests and violence that have threatened to derail a vote on an Islamist-backed draft constitution, President Mohamed Morsi moved Saturday to appease his opponents with a package of concessions just hours after state media reported that he was moving toward imposing a form of martial law to secure the streets and allow the vote." ...

     ... Washington Post: "Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi early Sunday annulled most of an extraordinary Nov. 22 decree that gave him near-absolute power.... The decree ... will be replaced by a modified version of the original declaration. But the most controversial article, which placed all of Morsi's actions beyond judicial review, is gone...."

... AP: "Egypt's military warned Saturday of 'disastrous consequences' if the crisis that sent tens of thousands of protesters back into the streets is not resolved, signaling the army's return to an increasingly polarized and violent political scene." Al Jazeera story here.

Al Jazeera: "More than 100,000 Palestinians have gathered in Gaza for a rally marking the 25th anniversary of Hamas to be addressed by the ruling movement's leader in exile. Khaled Meshaal crossed from Egypt on Friday. His speech was set to be the headline event of the rally."

Reuters: "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify on a report expected to be released next week on the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, a top Republican lawmaker said on Friday."

Guardian: "Talks on a new climate deal ground on through Friday night in Qatar, as countries failed to agree on key issues including: rescuing the Kyoto protocol, finance and compensation for poor countries suffering the effects of climate change, and how to structure a proposed new global climate change agreement. The negotiations, which have gone on for more than a fortnight, looked set to last for most of Saturday. But the marathon session left many delegates hopeful of rescuing a deal amid the frustration and confusion of the night."

AP: "Americans swiped their credit cards more often in October and borrowed more to attend school and buy cars. The increases drove U.S. consumer debt to an all-time high. The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumers increased their borrowing by $14.2 billion in October from September. Total borrowing rose to a record $2.75 trillion."


The Commentariat -- Dec. 7, 2012

Betty McIntosh, ca. 1941.** Elizabeth P. McIntosh, in the Washington Post: "On Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor, I was working as a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. After a week of war, I wrote a story directed at Hawaii's women; I thought it would be useful for them to know what I had seen. It might help prepare them for what lay ahead. But my editors thought the graphic content would be too upsetting for readers and decided not to run my article. It appears here for the first time." The Post also has a video interview of McIntosh here, but it wasn't working this morning. Update: a half-hour later, the video suddenly started playing; definitely worth your watching.

Cliff Notes

Oh, Mano a Mano. Jonathan Weisman & Peter Baker of the New York Times: "At House Speaker John A. Boehner's request, Senate leaders and Representative Nancy Pelosi have been excluded from talks to avert a fiscal crisis, leaving it to Mr. Boehner and President Obama alone to find a deal, Congressional aides say." Here's the video of President Obama's visit to a Virginia family who needs that middle-class tax cut.

Over there in Right Wing World, where they are pretending this month that they really do like the darker-complexioned people, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is again being touted as one of the GOP's most brilliant thinkers & a contender for the presidency. Jindal has been doing everything he can to raise his profile, including writing an op-ed in Politico about the danger of the fiscal cliff, which he says is nothing compared to Fiscal Cliffs II & III, etc. that are a-coming. The only trouble is, as Jon Chait of New York magazine points out, Jindal has no fucking idea what the fiscal cliff is. Like many Americans, he has it ass-backwards. He thinks if the fiscal arguments aren't resolved, deficits will explode. Of course, the opposite is true. Sequestration will cut expenditures & higher taxes will raise revenue. This, my friends, is what passes for brilliance in Right Wing World. Jindal's op-ed is here. ...

... Oh, I see Paul Krugman says what I said. Only he didn't use the word "fucking." "... you have to wonder even more about the state of mind that induces you to write an op-ed about a subject you don't comprehend at all." ...

... AND here Krugman, via Dean Baker, points out that the Washington Post headline writers don't understand the fiscal cliff, either. "It speaks to the state of confusion that all the deficit fearmongering has created. And if headline writers at a major newspaper can't get it straight, how can you expect ordinary voters to get it?" CW: the Post has been serving as Deficit Hawk Central, so if anybody should get that the fiscal cliff is not about Deficit Armageddon, it's the Post staff.

AND in another Stupid Republican Trick, Sahil Kapur of TPM reports, "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wanted to prove on Thursday that Democrats don't have the votes to weaken Congress' authority on the debt limit. Instead they called his bluff, and he ended up filibustering his own bill." ...

... Pausing to watch the videotape of this moment in Senate history is worth three minutes of your time:

... CW: when Mitch McConnell stands on the Senate floor and says, "I object to myself," we should applaud him. ...

...Shane Goldmacher & Elahe Izadi of the National Journal: "... people on both sides of the aisle acknowledged that McConnell's failed maneuver cost the GOP some precious negotiating ground." ...

... Matt Yglesias on how Obama can beat the Republicans in their debt-ceiling game: "... the federal government still has a lot of tax revenue coming in. You use that money to make sure bond holders get paid in full and there's no default ... & to make sure Social Security checks keep paying out. You keep paying federal workers' wages. But contractors, state governments, and health care providers just get IOU notes..., you tell them to keep doing their jobs, and [you] tell them that if they want money they should ask congress."

Paul Krugman: we don't have a fiscal crisis; we have a jobs crisis. "So why aren't we helping the unemployed? ... It's about class. Influential people in Washington aren't worried about losing their jobs; by and large they don't even know anyone who's unemployed."

Tim Egan: "For the politicians and pundits who do the gun industry's bidding, the First Amendment does not apply to the Second Amendment. It took a sportscaster, accustomed to parsing the nuances of a stunt blitz, to break the code of shameful silence."

The Decline and Fall of the GOP

James Downie of the Washington Post on the 38 Republican Senators who voted against the disability treaty: "It was nothing less than moral cowardice, a failure that should shame them for the rest of their lives." ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon: "It's striking to compare the two Senate votes, for the ADA in '90 and against the treaty this week. In '90, there was overwhelming bipartisan support for the ADA, with only a handful of dissenters -- all Republicans. The initial Senate vote, in October 1989, was 76-8, and the final bill (the compromise between the Senate and House versions) passed on a 91-6 vote in July '90. Most of the Republicans who voted no all hailed from what was then considered the far-right fringe.... This week's Senate roll call was a mirror image of the ADA, at least on the Republican side." What's more, there were actual concerns about the ADA; there are none about the treaty. ...

... BUT Greg Sargent sez "It seems perfectly possible that DeMint’s new post could put him in an even better position than before to enforce ideological purity on Republican candidates -- including in the House -- who would otherwise be inclined towards moderation, balance, and compromise to toe the Tea Party line. This is the sort of thing that risks discouraging moderates from running for office." CW: this assumes, erroneously I think, that forcing ideological purity is a winner. Yeah, it will work in some states and/or districts which don't need forcing anyway. But nation-wide, people are fed up with the far-right Tea Party absurdity. You have to be invested in Reynolds Wrap haberdashery & Rushbo Media Enterprises to buy this nonsense. The more the economy improves & the more people get jobs, the less people will be swayed by Right Wing World fantasies. ...

... Hunter of Daily Kos has a rundown of reaction to DeMint's career move: "In any case, we may have found the single most widely lauded decision of Sen. Jim DeMint's storied career, and by a wide margin. No matter what you think about Jim DeMint, everyone involved agrees: the best single thing he's ever done is leave."

Joe Conason of the National Memo: "The suddenly sensible sounds emanating from the business community are astonishing when contrasted with the anger displayed toward the president by many of these corporate suits only weeks ago, when they berated Obama as 'anti-business' and loudly yearned for a corporate-style Romney presidency. Resoundingly rebuked by the electorate, which overwhelmingly favors Obama's positions on taxes and entitlements -- and stands ready to blame the Republicans if no budget agreement is achieved -- the business leaders are backing ever so subtly away from their traditional alliance with the GOP. These brand-conscious executives suddenly have realized that the Republican brand, especially at the congressional level, is politically toxic. And they would rather not be too closely identified with it at this dangerous moment."

Tim Noah of The New Republic writes "Requium for a Wingnut." The wingnut would be Jim DeMint, of course. ...

... Paul West of the Los Angeles Times: "The surprise resignation of Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina on Thursday could prove to be a marker for a decline in the influence of the tea party movement he has helped lead.... Republican losses in the election weakened his position.... A wide survey in DeMint's very conservative home state, released this week, found that more South Carolinians now disapprove of the tea party movement than approve of it.... DeMint's decision could also open the way for him to run for the GOP presidential nomination." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

... Neda Semnani of Roll Call: "Immediately following Sen. Jim DeMint's announcement that he would be ditching the Senate to lead the Heritage Foundation, tweeters everywhere began playing their new favorite game: How many ways can we start rumors about Stephen Colbert being appointed to South Carolina's Senate seat? The truth is, it might not be the craziest idea ever." Semnani lists four reasons Gov. Nikki Haley should consider appointing Colbert to DeMint's seat. ...

... Andy Kroll of Mother Jones: "A Colbert for Senate Twitter account, @ColbertforSC, sprung up almost immediately." Colbert is "looking forward to Gov. Haley's call," a spokesperson said.

AP: "Obama's approval rating stands at 57 percent, the highest since May 2011, when U.S. Navy SEALs killed [Osama bin Laden], and up 5 percentage points from before the election. And 42 percent say the country is on the right track, up from 35 percent in January 2009.

Dylan Matthews
of the Washington Post suggests ten ways to reduce income inequality that have nothing to do with the tax code. CW: A number of his suggestions are obvious, but the last one stunned me.

Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: Justice Antonin Scalia is just not into free speech. He "abhors" the Court's decision in the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan case, in which the Court "held that reporters and other individuals cannot be held liable for making unintentionally false statements against public figures so long as they do not do so with 'reckless disregard of whether [their statement] was false or not.'" ...

... Speaking of right-wing nuts, John Brenahan & Manu Raju of Politico post this gem: "The National Republican Senatorial Committee quietly sent $760,000 to the Missouri Republican Party in early November, just as the state GOP was mounting a last-minute TV ad blitz to boost Rep. Todd Akin's sagging Senate campaign.... The disclosure is highly significant because the Senate GOP campaign committee promised to abandon Akin after failing to push the conservative congressman out of the race following his August declaration that 'legitimate rape' rarely leads to pregnancies because female bodies often shut down." ...

... Speaking of right-wing nuts, a great piece by Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post on Sheldon Adelson, "low-information billionaire." The irony is that despite the $150 million Adelson spent on Gingrich, Romney, et al., the policies he favors pretty much reflect, as Linkins puts it, "the platform of the average Daily Kos diarist." CW: Linkins is too circumspect to say so, but I feel pretty confident that the reason Adelson puts his money where he does is that he's a "savvy businessman" who knows damned well who's for sale. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. ...

Jim Yardley of the New York Times: "... 112 workers were killed in a blaze last month [in a Bangladesh garment factory] that has exposed a glaring disconnect among global clothing brands, the monitoring system used to protect workers and the factories actually filling the orders. After the fire, Walmart, Sears and other retailers made the same startling admission: They say they did not know that Tazreen Fashions was making their clothing.... The global apparel industry aspires to operate with accountability that extends from distant factories to retail stores.... But much of the factory's business came through opaque networks of subcontracts with suppliers or local buying houses."

Local News

Steve Yaccino & Monica Davey of the New York Times: "As labor supporters crowded into the [Michigan state] Capitol chanting their dismay, this state's Republican leaders announced on Thursday their intent to swiftly pass limits on unions in Michigan, a state with deep ties to organized labor." CW: -- once again proving that if you are a regular person trying to earn an honest wage for your labor, Republicans hate you.

Stacey Solie of the New York Times: "By 5 p.m. Thursday..., the first day that same-sex couples were able to apply [for marriage licenses in Washington state,] the [Seattle, King County] office had issued 481 [marriage] licenses -- most of them to same-sex couples -- doubling the previous record for licenses issued in a single day.... in another part of town, a different kind of party was taking place under the city's Space Needle, where dozens of people had gathered to celebrate the vote to legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state." ...

     ... CW: as contributor Kate Madison's brother (a Biblical scholar, I'm sure) noted, the Old Testament preordained the Washington votes: "If a man lies with another man he should be stoned." -- Leviticus 20:13. ...

... Uh oh. Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Senior White House and Justice Department officials are considering plans for legal action against Colorado and Washington that could undermine voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in those states...." CW: IMHO, senior White House & Justice Department officials should chill out. I can think of something that might help them in that regard.

Erica Goode of the New York Times: Missouri "authorities are investigating allegations that [Bethany] Deaton, 27, was drugged, sexually assaulted and killed on the orders of her husband, Tyler Deaton, 26, a man described by witnesses as a Pied Piper-like leader who gathered a band of young people around him and pressured them to engage in sexual practices under the guise of religious devotion. [Micah] Moore, [who confessed to suffocating her at Tyler Deaton's insistence] has been charged with first-degree murder. Mr. Deaton and others are still under investigation."

Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times: New Jersey Gov. Chris "Christie, a Republican who supported Mitt Romney, endured a half-hour of grilling from [Jon Stewart] about his political beliefs, his personal style and even a hug he recently received from Bruce Springsteen." The extended interview, which is a three-parter, starts here. ...

... Here's one of the issues on which Stewart challenges Christie. Jason Millman of Politico: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rejected a state-run health insurance exchange Thursday, paving the way for the federal government to step in and run one."

Right Wing World

Guns Don't Kill People; People Kill People Women Who Get near Gun Owners Get Killed. Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "Bush White House Press Secretary-turned-Fox News host Dana Perino asserted Wednesday night that women who are victims of violence should 'make better decisions' to avoid being hurt." CW: Perino managed to put herself to the right of a bunch of Second Amendment stalwarts.

News Ledes

Guardian: "A nurse at the private hospital treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge has been found dead in a suspected suicide three days after being duped by two Australian radio presenters in a hoax call." The New York Times has a follow-up here.

New York Times: "President Obama proposed a $60.4 billion emergency spending bill on Friday to finance recovery efforts in states pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, a sum White House officials called a 'robust' investment in the region but that was far less than the amount the states had requested. The spending plan would pay for most but not all of the $82 billion in damage identified by the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut...."

AP: "The U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008. The government said Superstorm Sandy had only a minimal effect on the figures." CW: bear in mind that had Romney won the election, he now would be getting credit for inspiring "confidence" in businesses to hire & expand their operations.

AP: "Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets after Friday midday prayers in rival rallies and marches across Cairo, as the standoff deepened over what opponents call the Islamist president's power grab, raising the specter of more violence. President Mohammed Morsi responded to bloody clashes outside his palace with a fiery speech denouncing his opponents, deepening the crisis. The opposition turned down his appeal for talks, saying the president had not fulfilled their conditions for beginning negotiations."...

     ... Guardian Update: "Egypt's opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) has angrily rejected calls by the president, Mohamed Morsi, for a national dialogue and warned that he has lost legitimacy after recent unrest and bloodshed."

AP: "The exiled Hamas chief broke into tears Friday as he arrived in the Gaza Strip for his first-ever visit, a landmark trip reflecting his militant group's growing international acceptance and its defiance of Israel. Khaled Mashaal, who left the West Bank as a child and leads the Islamic militant movement from Qatar, crossed the Egyptian border, kissed the ground, and was greeted by a crowd of Hamas officials and representatives of Hamas' rival Fatah party."


The Commentariat -- Dec. 6, 2012

News Flash: Michael O'Brien of NBC News: "South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, an influential Republican who has helped prod his party rightward, will step down from his seat in January to become the next director of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank."

Cliff Notes

Quinnipiac University: "American voters give President Barack Obama a 53 - 40 percent job approval rating - his best score in three years - and by a wider 53 - 36 percent they trust the president and Democrats more than Republicans to avoid the 'Fiscal Cliff,' according to a Quinnipiac University poll...."

Devin Dwyer, et al., of ABC News: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, "President Obama's lead negotiator in the 'fiscal cliff' talks, said the administration is 'absolutely' willing to allow the package of deep automatic spending cuts and across-the-board tax hikes to take effect Jan. 1, unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher income tax rates on the wealthy."

Josh Marshall of TPM: "House Republicans are saying they'll regroup around the debt limit and force the president's hands when they have all the power -- probably late next month or in early February. This assumes a replay of 2011.. But the President says he won't negotiate under any circumstances. And his top advisors say he&'s adamant on the point -- not just because of the current impasse but to take hostage taking over the national debt off the table for good."

Molly Hooper of The Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned his conference on Wednesday that leaders are 'watching' how the rank and file vote to determine committee assignments, according to sources in a closed-door meeting. Boehner addressed the firestorm over the removal of four lawmakers from plum committee assignments at the weekly GOP conference meeting."

Lori Montgomery & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "A growing chorus of Republicans is urging House leaders to abandon their staunch opposition to higher tax rates for the wealthy with the aim of clearing the way for a broad deal that would also rein in the cost of federal health and retirement programs." CW: sounds choreographed to me.

Dana Milbank: "Right now, [Speaker Boehner] is hoping to lead his fractious GOP to an orderly surrender. The question is no longer whether Republicans will give on taxes; they already have. All that remains to be negotiated is how they will increase taxes, and whether they will do it before or after the government reaches the 'fiscal cliff.'" Read it and gloat.

Here's Frank Rich on the fake fiscal cliff, etc. He seems to be hoping that at his next stay at a Marriott, Mitt Romney will be the concierge & Ann Romney will bring him fluffier towels. Hey, it could be good for the Romney marriage -- a little hanky-panky in Room 207, etc. Ann could learn that one need not be Leader of the Free World to have fun. Thanks to MAG for the link.

If you don't like Rich's take on the fiscal cliff, here's Montgomery Burns (no relation) to give you the rich person's perspective:

... But some top CEOs are breaking with Mr. Burns & supporting a tax hike for the wealthy, as Ryan Grim & Sabrina Sidiqui of the Huffington Post report. ...

... Here's President Obama, pitching his deficit reduction plan to some of those CEOs & urging them to pressure their Republican friends not to create another debt ceiling crisis:

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Through phone calls, White House invitations and old-fashioned political flattery, Mr. Obama has dispensed with some of the populist language of the campaign trail to appeal to corporate America's palpable desire for certainty. In groups and one by one, the president is making a case to business leaders that siding with him will put the nation back on a firm fiscal footing and unleash the economy.... White House officials have been encouraged by what they describe as a more positive reaction than expected."

Sahil Kapur of TPM: "The possibility that Democratic and Republican leaders will agree to slowly increase the Medicare eligibility age to 67 is creating strange bedfellows: liberals -- both in and out of Congress -- and the health insurance industry. The reason: hiking the Medicare eligibility age would throw seniors aged 65 and 66 off Medicare and into the private market, forcing insurers, who will soon be required to cover all consumers regardless of health status, to care for a sicker, more expensive crop of patients."

Gail Collins on Republican Senators who voted down the disabilities treaty: "The big worry was, of course, offending the Tea Party. The same Tea Party that pounded Mitt Romney into the presidential candidate we came to know and reject over the past election season. The same Tea Party that keeps threatening to wage primaries against incumbents who don't do what they're told. The Tea Party who made those threats work so well in the last election that Indiana now has a totally unforeseen Democratic senator. The threat the Republicans need to worry about isn't in the United Nations." ...

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "For the first time in U.S. history, white men are in the minority of the House Democratic caucus and Nancy Pelosi doesn't want you to forget that." ...

... Oh, let's take one more look at the House GOP leadership:

In response to criticism, Boehner later appointed a white lady to head up the secretaries' pool or something like that. ...

... Erik Loomis of Lawyers, Guns & Money on "the coming Republican coalition" and how Republicans are going out of their way to win over -- well, maybe crazy white Christian bigots. Hard to say.

The Democratic Governors Association celebrates, well, themselves. They did have a few surprising wins in November:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) likes the middle class. He said so in a speech Wednesday night. Thirty-five times, by Dave Weigel's count. But, also according to Weigel, everything Rubio said about helping the middle class was already on the regular GOP menu. ...

... Oh, and now Marco believes in science, too. Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "On Wednesday, Mr. Rubio told Mike Allen of Politico: 'There is no scientific debate on the age of the earth. I mean, it's established pretty definitively, it's at least 4.5 billion years old.'" Then he does an Olympics-class backtracking pretzel flip, where he pretends he didn't say what he said a few weeks ago. CW: most of the news agencies that covered Marco's marvelous move called the word from Marco the Science Guy a "clarification."

New York Times Editors: states should invest in citizens, not big corporations. "... targeted [corporate] incentives ... are little more than transfers of wealth to a handful of powerful corporations from all other taxpayers, including other businesses. If the problem is excessive tax burdens on businesses in general, then the solution is broad tax reform that also benefits small business owners, who are more likely to stick around ... and who are unlikely to hopscotch around the country in search of a bigger tax break."

Ryan Reilly of TPM: "Sen. Barbara Boxer plans to introduce an election reform bill designed to prevent long lines at polling places on Wednesday... The LINE Act ... would require the attorney general to set national standards for a minimum number of voting machines, poll workers and other resources during federal elections by Jan. 1, 2014. The goal would to be prevent voters from having to wait more than an hour to vote at any polling place in the country."

MAG is right. Charles Pierce writes a fierce & funny putdown of Brother Ross Douthat.

James Risen, et al., of the New York Times: "The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats.... The experience in Libya has taken on new urgency as the administration considers whether to play a direct role in arming rebels in Syria, where weapons are flowing in from Qatar and other countries."

Paul Waldman of American Prospect: "It ain't easy being Fox.... It needs to simultaneously cater to the establishment, to the Tea Party, to the elite, to the base, and to everyone in between. That can be a difficult juggling act. Fox plays a much more central role in the conservative movement than MSNBC does in the liberal movement, which is good for business, but it also brings complications. But don't worry about Karl Rove. He'll be back on the air before you know it, telling conservatives why their victory is inevitable."

Local News

Scott Keyes of Think Progress: Two Democratic Florida legislators have introduced bills to extend early voting to 14 days -- which is what it was before Gov. Rick Scott (RTP) took over -- and to allow local elections officials to extend hours & voting venues. Republicans control the state legislature, so good luck with that. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Resignations rocked the government of President Mohamed Morsi on Thursday as tanks from the special presidential guard took up positions around his palace and the state television headquarters after a night of street fighting between his Islamist supporters and their secular opponents that left at least 6 dead and 450 wounded." ...

... Reuters: "Egypt's Republican Guard restored order around the presidential palace on Thursday after fierce overnight clashes killed seven people, but passions ran high in a struggle over the country's future. The Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, criticised by his opponents for his silence in the last few days, was due to address the nation later in the day, state television said."

New York Times: "A new round of diplomacy on the conflict in Syria will begin on Thursday afternoon when Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy, hosts an unusual three-way meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov."

Washington Post: "Afghanistan's national intelligence director [Asadullah Khalid] was badly wounded in a brazen suicide bombing in the Afghan capital Thursday afternoon. Officials described the attack as an assassination attempt and said the bomb exploded as the director was greeting a visitor at his private guest house."

New York Times: "For the first time in years, Apple will manufacture [some] computers in the United States, the chief executive of Apple, Timothy D. Cook, said in interviews with NBC and Bloomberg Businessweek."