The Ledes

Friday, October 24, 2014.

Guardian: "European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised."

New York Times: "American security officials said Thursday that they were looking into a new report that Islamic State militants had used chlorine gas as a weapon against Iraqi police officers last month near Balad, north of Baghdad."

Bloomberg News: "Mali became the sixth West African country to report a case of Ebola, opening a new front in the international effort to prevent the outbreak of the deadly viral infection from spreading further."

New York Times: "Frank Mankiewicz, a writer and Democratic political strategist who was Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary, directed Senator George S. McGovern’s losing 1972 presidential campaign and for six years was the president of National Public Radio, died Thursday at a hospital in Washington. He was 90."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 23, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Islamic State still generates tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit income despite a U.S.-led effort to cut the financing streams that have helped turn the once-obscure militant group into a terrorist organization unlike any previously seen, a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said Thursday."

Guardian: "The prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, vowed a tough and uncompromising response to a brazen gun attack on the national parliament on Wednesday that left a soldier dead and a nation in shock. As calm fell on Canada’s idyllic capital, where hours earlier Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had forced his way into the parliament building in a hail of gunfire before being killed by a ceremonial official, Harper delivered a sombre television address declaring that the country would not be cowed by terrorism." ...

... Toronto Globe & Mail: "Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the slain 32-year-old suspected killer of a Canadian Forces soldier near Parliament Hill, was a labourer and small-time criminal – a man who had had a religious awakening and seemed to have become mentally unstable. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999." ...

... New York Times: "A day after a terrorist attack convulsed the heart of Ottawa, the Canadian capital, the city’s police chief said he was satisfied that it was the work of a lone gunman, who shot dead a soldier before being killed in a hail of gunfire in the Parliament building.... In the hours following the raid, police officials had said that there might be as many as three armed men."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 23

12:30 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks about an anti-domestic violence program in Duluth, Minnesota

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

Selina Gray, on right, saved Arlington House treasures during the Civil War.Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: "When Robert E. Lee’s wife, Mary, fled Arlington House at the start of the Civil War, she gave her personal slave, Selina Norris Gray, the keys to the mansion and responsibility for the grand house the Lees had lived in for 30 years. Gray fulfilled her duties. She is famously credited with saving from marauding Union soldiers numerous heirlooms belonging to George Washington that were stored in the house. Now the National Park Service, which administers Arlington House, has acquired what it says is a rare and previously unknown photograph of Gray and, apparently, two of her eight children."

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story.

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Friday
Sep072012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 8, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' "analysis" of President Obama's acceptance speech. The NYTX front page is here.

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

New York Times Editors: "In a scalding opinion issued on Thursday, Judge Royce Lamberth of Federal District Court rejected new rules imposed by the Obama administration last spring that limit access to counsel for prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who are not actively challenging their detention.... Judge Lamberth ... is completely right."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times writes the story behind the conviction of Bishop Robert Finn for misdemeanor failing to report suspected child abuse. Plea bargains save taxpayer money, but really -- misdemeanor, my ass. ...

... New York Times Editors: "At a minimum, Catholic officials concerned about church credibility should press for the resignation of Bishop Finn for having abetted the scandal."

"Freaky Freon Friday." Elisabeth Rosenthal & Andrew Lehren of the New York Times: smuggling a banned A/C coolant has become big business in the U.S. & Europe.

Presidential Race

Frank Newport of Gallup: "President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party look as if they are getting at least a preliminary bounce from their convention. Today's (Friday, Sept. 7) Gallup Daily tracking update puts Obama's job approval rating at 52%, the highest it has been since May 2011, after the killing of Osama bin Laden. Obama has also moved to a 48% to 45% lead over Mitt Romney among registered voters in the election tracking, up from Obama's 47% to 46% margin over the last nine days."

Republican know-it-all Joe Scarborough in Politico: "Maybe there seemed to be such a disparity between the two conventions because the Republican Party has never been the least bit excited about its nominee. Or maybe it's because Democrats were simply blessed with a deeper bench of political athletes in 2012. But whatever the reason, Republicans were lapped by their rivals and may ultimately pay in November for botching Mitt Romney's debut. And that means that these conventions will have mattered -- a lot." CW: hey, Scarborough gets some things right.

Howard Kurtz of Newsweek: "While the pundits are generally calling the president's Thursday night address mediocre, Obama and his advisers had taken great pains to avoid soaring rhetoric that might have been derided as empty. Indeed, they extensively tested the president's speech in dial groups, a type of focus group where voters twist dials to register approval or disapproval of specific passages, and say it tested off the charts." ...

... John Harris, et al., of Politico: "A surprisingly long parade of Democrats and media commentators described the [President's] speech less as a failure than a fizzle -- an oddly missed opportunity to frame his presidency or the nation's choice in a fresh or inspirational light. Even those who liked the president's performance generally went no further than saying that he was effective in doing a job that needed to be done, in a tough-minded if prosaic style." ...

... CW: my impression is that the speech holds up better on paper than it did in delivery -- which is kinda surprising in an Obama speech. But I also think Ken Winkes' commentary in today's Comments is exactly right. Winkes points to some critical facts that Obama should have included in his speech -- facts low-information (i.e., most) voters simply don't know. ...

... Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker titled on the front page (but not on the post), "How Obama Might Lose": "There was an odd mismatch between Obama's claim about the enormous stakes of this election and his own preview of what he would do if re-elected." CW: Lizza's analysis is in line with my own observation (see NYTX column, linked above) that Obama is promising only to be the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. He's planning to save us from the flood but doesn't think he can actually effect flood control. ...

... Also in line with my NYTX column, Rick Hertzberg of the New Yorker: "... if Obama is re-elected, he will almost certainly face a Republican House and a Senate that, whichever party is nominally in control, is paralyzed by Republican filibusters. That is why there were no big plans, no sweeping visions." ...

... AND Hertzberg, Lizza, John Cassidy & Dorothy Wickenden discuss the conventions & the what-all to expect next:

Mark Warren of Esquire on Joe Biden. A lovely encomium, but the takeaway is Your Analogy of the Day -- Joe Biden : Violence Against Women Act :: Paul Ryan : forcible rape. That alone should tell all voters, women and men, who has the better judgment -- Obama or Romney.

Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska. Mitt Romney talks like he's only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV. -- John Kerry, speaking before the Democratic convention (video in yesterday's Commentariat)

Quote of the Day. I think he diminished himself by even mentioning my name. How does he even know my name? I mean aren't these guys supposed to be these big wig elites who don't waste their time on the little people like me -- me representing the average American who, yeah I did say in Alaska you can see Russia from our land base and I was making the point that we are strategically located on the globe and when it comes to transportation corridors and resources that are shared and fought over [in] Alaska and I as the governor had known what I was doing in dealing with some international issues that had to do with our resources that could help secure the nation. -- Guess Who (no prizes for this one!) on John Kerry's speech

Good question, Guess Who. How could a 2004 presidential candidate possibly find out the name of a 2008 vice-presidential candidate? Obviously, Kerry's research team did some deep diving. And you're right: mentioning you in beneath Kerry's dignity. And mine. Oops! -- Constant Weader

Afghanistan, U.S. Troops Aren't "Important" Enough to Mention. Ben Ambruster of Think Progress: "In an interview with Fox News..., Mitt Romney shot back at critics who complained that he didn't mention Afghanistan or praise U.S. troops in his convention speech last week....

When you give a speech you don't go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president's decision to cut our military. And I didn't use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing. ...

     ... "His speech did mention the military, but only to say that he wants to 'preserve' a strong military (incidentally so does Obama)." ...

... Markos Moulitsas: "Wrong answer. You thank the fucking troops. They are not a laundry list. And while Romney might not think they are important, they kind of are. Romney then goes on to claim that he talked about a 'strong military,' which was totally the same as thanking the troops for their service. Except that it's not. One of them speaks to the institution, the other speaks to the individuals who do the work of the institution. It's the same distinction as corporations and the people who work for them -- a distinction that Romney famously fails to understand." ...

... CW: when Mitt talks about increasing "the military," what he's really talking about is increasing military contracts. And, yeah, I know military contractors, like all corporations, are people, too -- people like the ones that wacko leftie Ike warned about. Ike was warning about Mitt Romney, too.

Lady Romney Refuses to Answer Again. David Nelson of KWQC (Iowa): "Mrs. Romney ... said she wanted to speak about women's issues.... 'My message, really, was "women, I hear your voices."' ... When asked if she believes a lesbian mother should be allowed to marry her partner, Mrs. Romney said, 'I'm not going to talk about the specific issues.' ... When asked if she believes that employer-provided health insurance should be required to cover birth control, Mrs. Romney said 'Again, you're asking me questions that are not about what this election is going to be about.' ... [Nelson cited] an April 2012 Pew Research Center poll [which] found that 46% of women voters under age 50 said birth control is 'very important' to their vote this November.... Mrs. Romney responded 'but I personally believe, and this is what I'm hearing from women all across the country that they are going to look for the guy that's going to pull them out of the weeds and get them job security and a brighter future for their children. That's the message." The full transcript of the interview is here. The video is here. Quite a show. ...

... Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress: "... Ann Romney declin[ed] to address whether she believes women should have access to contraception through their employer-based insurance plans. Such questions are irrelevant, Romney said, because this election is not going to be about birth control.... In fact, women's access to reproductive health services is inextricably linked to the economic issues that countless women face." ...

... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: Mitt Romney's "women's ambassador" says women's issues don't matter.

Congressional Races

McCay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "At a rally in the most conservative county in Iowa, Mitt Romney enthusiastically endorsed conservative lightning rod Rep. Steve King.... Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith issued a statement: ... 'If his speech today praising Rep. Steve King -- who has questioned whether women get pregnant from rape and incest and said hateful things about immigrants -- is any indication, we know [Romney] wouldn't stand up to the most strident voices in his party.'" ...

... For more on King's immigrants = animals remarks, see Jillian Rayfield of Salon. And to get a fully picture of the Real Steve King, Hunter of Daily Kos has a good overview of the guy Romney wants to "partner" with in Washington.

Bob Salsberg of the AP: "Joseph Kennedy III, the first of his famous political family's generation to seek elective office, defeated two little-known Democrats in Thursday's primary in Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District. Kennedy, 31, will face the winner of a three-way Republican primary in the November election for the seat currently held by longtime liberal Democratic Rep. Barney Frank."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The bleak [jobs] report is all but certain to spur the Federal Reserve to expand its efforts to generate faster economic growth and lower unemployment. The central bank, whose policymakers meet next week, is strongly considering pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the mortgage market." CW: I'm not holding my breath.

New York Times: "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged on Saturday that the United States would soon lift cold-war-era trade sanctions on Russia, but she did not address related legislation in Congress that has so far blocked the move, infuriated the Kremlin and become an unexpected issue in the American presidential race." CW: the presidential race part, spelled out in the story, is interesting.

Reuters: "Nearly seventeen years after O.J. Simpson walked away from his murder trial a free man..., former Los Angeles deputy district attorney Christopher Darden on Thursday accused Simpson defense lawyer, the late Johnnie Cochran, of 'manipulating' one of the infamous gloves that the prosecution said linked Simpson to the grisly double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman."

Thursday
Sep062012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 7, 2012

Presidential Race

C-SPAN covers the Democratic convention without commentary. C-SPAN's convention coverage is also online. Day 3 (Thursday) begins at about 4:30 pm ET. The schedule of speakers & events is here. ...

... Here's the New York Times liveblog.

President Obama's full acceptance speech:

... Helene Cooper & Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama on Thursday night accepted the Democratic nomination for a second term, making a forceful argument that he had rescued the economy from disaster and ushered in a recovery that would be imperiled by a return to Republican stewardship." ...

... The Voice from Tomorrow presents the (prepared) text of President Obama's speech to the Democratic convention -- even as he speaks. Hey, it's a gift! ...

... "Downsizing the Dream." Glenn Thrush of Politico writes quite a balanced analysis of Obama's speech. ...

... "The Age of Diminished Expectations." Matt Miller of the Washington Post: "Obama's affirmative vision was largely rhetorical.... But when it came to actual policy, the choice Obama repeatedly framed calls on voters to avoid some very bad things that would happen if Republicans win and keep their promises.... But another choice -- a bolder, progressive agenda for real American renewal -- is not on the ballot this year."

... Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post: "Obama can point out that he is more reasonable than the Tea Party, more consistent than Mitt Romney and more mainstream than Paul Ryan. And he has a good shot at winning on those terms. But achieving the many fine social goals he favors will require more than a mandate not to be the other guys, but some sophisticated policy." ...

... Michael Grunwald of Time: "I didn't get that speech. It felt subdued and clichéd. It felt like a few speeches stitched together. It felt like after overpromising in 2008 he was determined to underpromise in 2012.... The speech felt like a downer, hope and all. Joe Biden made a better case for his boss, and Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama made MUCH better cases." ...

... Jim Fallows of the Atlantic makes three (or four) cogent points about Obama's speech.

Jodi Kantor of the New York Times: Malia & Sasha Obama will appear at the Democratic convention this evening. Kantor writes about the girls' life in the White House.

Vice President Biden's full acceptance speech:

... The text of the Vice President's remarks is here. ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times: Joe Biden, son of a used-car salesman, takes on the son of an auto executive: "I don't think [Romney is] a bad guy. I'm sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did. But ... I don't think he understood that saving the automobile worker, saving the industry, what it meant to all of America, not just autoworkers. I think he saw it the Bain way. Now, I mean this sincerely. I think he saw it in terms of balance sheets and write-offs." Firestone writes, "Better than most speakers at the convention, [Biden] refuted the contemptuous Republican assertion that Democrats are constantly on the lookout for government handouts. People who need government help for a college loan or job training aren't trying to become dependent, he said, they are seeking their own path out of dependency." ...

... E. J. Dionne: "Biden was effective, and at times powerful, speaking as a witness who watched Obama up close. And because of his reputation for saying what's on his mind, which has often gotten him into trouble, he has a kind of credibility that doesn't come automatically to those who are always, always on message. Biden has a gut understanding of white working class and less affluent middle class voters whom Obama needs because, basically, that's where Biden comes from." ...

... Literally, Joe Biden.

John Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is not usually a great speaker, but he did an excellent job talking about Obama's foreign policy:

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm "In Romney's world, the cars get the elevator; the workers get the shaft":

Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) speaks of his first visit to Charlotte & about voting rights today -- rights that the GOP is challenging across the country:

... Charles Pierce: "If I were running the president's campaign, I'd shut the hell up about Simpson-fking-Bowles and put John Lewis on an airplane and let him tell his story in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and everywhere else this atavistic authoritarian nonsense is going down. There's more at risk here than anyone knows."

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords [D-Az.] leads the Pledge of Allegiance:

Paul Krugman's column today is a balanced assessment of President Obama's stewardship of the economy. He adds, almost in passing, "... there's not a shred of evidence for the G.O.P. theory of what ails our economy...."

Oh, no! Amy Gardner of the Washington Post: "Big Shot Donors Packed like Sardines." This is so wrong. But it should make John Fund feel better.

(The Man from a Place Called) Hope Springs Eternal. Eric Weisbrod of CNN: on Facebook, Bill Clinton got more mention than words associated with the NFL opener. ...

... CNN: Hillary Clinton watched her husband's speech, in a taped version, while traveling in East Timor. Secretary Clinton has been working in Asia this week, & did not attend the convention -- the first Democratic convention she has missed in 4 decades. It is political tradition for secretaries of state not to attend party conventions. With photo. ...

... Dashiell Bennett of the Atlantic has a terrific post in which he illuminates the differences between what Clinton said & what his prepared text said. (A nightmare for the teleprompter operator!)

... Lori Robertson, et al., of FactCheck.org: "Former President Bill Clinton’s stem-winding nomination speech was a fact-checker's nightmare: lots of effort required to run down his many statistics and factual claims, producing little for us to write about. Republicans will find plenty of Clinton's scorching opinions objectionable. But with few exceptions, we found his stats checked out." ...

... James Fallows: Clinton's speeches succeed because he "treats listeners as if they are smart." ...

... Worse than I Realized. Jonathan Chait of New York: The "Associated Press 'fact check' of Bill Clinton's speech last night has attracted a fair amount of Internet abuse, but not nearly enough. It's not only a prime specimen of journalistic idiocy -- it's one of those documents that reveals the incredibly blinkered quality of conventional wisdom, so contemptuous of facts that challenge its assumptions." Read the whole post. ...

... Brad DeLong: "No. Glenn Kessler Doesn't Have Any Business Working for a Journalistic Enterprise That Wants to Have a Reputation. Why Do You Ask?" A short post. ...

... Paul Krugman: "Clinton did get one thing wrong, which he has persistently gotten wrong for years. He's stuck on the notion that we have a big structural unemployment problem [that is, reflecting supply factors, or whether it's mainly simple lack of demand]." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Fluke-Bashing, Ctd. Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress: "After [Sandra] Fluke [appeared at] ... the Democratic National Convention last night to articulate the issues at stake in the ongoing War on Women, conservative media took to Twitter to bash her for 'whining' about needing free birth control for the activities that go on in her 'bedroom.'"

If I heard … the president is going to report on the promises he made and how he has performed on those promises then I would love to watch it. But if it is another series of new promises that he is not going to keep I have no interest in seeing him, because I saw the promises last time. Those are promises he did not keep and the American people deserve to know why he did not keep his promises. -- Mitt Romney, on why he wouldn't be watching the President's acceptance speech. Thanks to reader Judy K. for the link.

James Rosen of Fox "News": "Senior Romney-Ryan campaign officials tell Fox News the campaign will launch an enormous media offensive on Friday.... The push will include ad buys in several states that will cost tens of millions of dollars."

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times writes a lovely little piece about how hard it's been on Paul Ryan -- unassuming backbencher from Janesville, Wisconsin -- to unexpectedly find himself in the national spotlight where all-of-a-sudden people are picking on him for being a serial liar. Blechhh!

The Republican National Committee admits it's responsible for this lame ad:

     ... CW: And if you think the woman playing the former Obama supporter is a lousy actress, maybe that's because she isn't an actress at all: she's RNC staffer Bettina Inclan. Pema Levy of TPM: "Inclan began her current RNC post in January 2012, and has worked in Republican politics since well before Obama's 2008 election. She did Hispanic outreach for Rick Scott's 2010 Florida gubernatorial race worked on Capitol Hill for Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and as national executive director of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly." Somehow I don't think Inclan & Obama were going steady in 2008.

Related News & Opinion

Paul Krugman: "I've spent most of the day with a parent in the hospital; and my thoughts turned to the GOP platform, which boasts that "Our reform of healthcare will empower millions of seniors to control their personal healthcare decisions." ... It's really amazing how this notion of patients as consumers, just like people buying furniture or gardening supplies, has taken hold; anyone with the least experience of actual medical situations, which means almost everyone, has to know how totally unrealistic it is."

Nina Bernstein of the New York Times: "The presidential election may decide Medicaid's future. But many states faced with rising Medicaid costs and budget deficits are already trying to cut the cost of long-term care by profoundly changing Medicaid coverage, through the use of federal waivers."

Congressional Races

Talking Points Memo has a pretty good poll-tracker. The current polls -- not so good, particularly the Senate races.

News Ledes

Bloomberg News: "Payrolls rose less than projected in August and the unemployment rate declined as more Americans left the labor force, indicating the U.S. labor market is stagnating. The economy added 96,000 workers last month following a revised 141,000 rise in July that was smaller than initially estimated...."

New York Times: The Obama administration has decided to blacklist as a terrorist organization the Haqqani network, the militant organization responsible for some of the deadliest attacks against American troops in Afghanistan, several American officials said late Thursday."

Guardian: "US forces will continue to hold prisoners in Afghanistan even after they transfer their main detention centre to Afghan authorities this week..., a report from a rights group said, in a decision likely to anger Kabul officials who believed they had won control of all Afghan detainees.... Afghan lawyers have warned that this is unconstitutional and sets a dangerous precedent for the country's security forces."

AP: "A series of earthquakes collapsed houses and triggered landslides in a remote mountainous part of southwestern China on Friday, killing at least 50 people with the toll expected to rise. Damage was preventing rescuers from reaching some outlying areas, and communications were disrupted."

Reuters: "Yosemite National Park doubled the scope of its hantavirus warning on Thursday to some 22,000 visitors who may have been exposed to the deadly mouse-borne disease as the number of confirmed cases grew to eight and a third death was reported. U.S. officials recently sounded a worldwide alert, saying that up to 10,000 people were thought to be at risk of contracting hantavirus pulmonary syndrome after staying at the popular Curry Village lodging area between June and August."

AP: "Drew Peterson -- the crass former Illinois police officer who gained notoriety after his much-younger wife vanished in 2007 -- was convicted Thursday of murdering a previous wife in a potentially precedent-setting case centered on secondhand hearsay statements." Related Chicago Tribune story, videos here.

Space.com: "NASA's newest Mars rover Curiosity is taking its first tentative drives across the Martian surface and leaving tracks that have been spotted all the way from space in a spectacular photo snapped by an orbiting spacecraft." With photos. More from NASA.

BBC News: Britain's "Prince Harry has been deployed to Afghanistan for four months, the Ministry of Defence says. The prince, an Apache helicopter pilot, arrived on Thursday night at the main British base, Camp Bastion in Helmand."

Wednesday
Sep052012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 6, 2012

Presidential Race

C-SPAN has gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Democratic convention for those times you prefer to hear the speakers instead of talking heads. C-SPAN's convention coverage is also online. Day 2 (Wednesday) begins at 4:50 pm ET. The schedule of speakers & events -- it has times today! -- is here. ...

... Here's the New York Times' liveblog of the convention. Their report on speeches by Clinton, Warren & Fluke is here.

E. J. Dionne: The Democratic convention "should be seen as a three-day tutorial designed not only to defend President Obama's economic stewardship but also to advance a view of government for which, over the past 40 years, Democrats have often apologized ... with Republicans putting forward the most emphatically pro-business, anti-government agenda since the Gilded Age.... Building their convention around an out-of-context quotation from Obama, Republicans offered a counter-theme, 'We built it.' But the message of Tampa often came off more as: 'We own it.'"

Michael Crowley of Time: "Bill Clinton's blockbuster speech is the highlight of a week that so far feels like a home run derby. One after another, Democratic speakers have been making full contact with the ball -- and their audiences. Anyone who's been watching at home must sense how much more energy is roiling here than it was [at the Republican convention] in Tampa. Republicans have been the 'motivated' ones in recent years, but the past two weeks suggest something might be shifting."

Bill Clinton's speech is worth hearing in its entirety. It's a piece of Americana. The New York Times has the transcript:

... Tim Noah of The New Republic: "Clinton Is Better than Obama at Explaining Why Obama Is Better than Clinton." ...

... Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: Clinton's "commanding presence, his let’s-just-chat manner, the familiar sound of his southern growl were the perfect counterpoint to the Republican Party's assault on President Obama at its convention in Tampa last week. He skewered the Republicans gently, biting his lower-lip in characteristic fashion. He spoke more in sorrow than in anger -- while also making it clear that the Republicans had almost destroyed the country and now want to finish the job." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "Bill Clinton tonight showed them all how it's done. He gave a master class in how to combine folksy and poetic language, stinging one-liners and policy nuance, empathy and rip-roaring partisanship. It was as good as it gets."

... Greg Sargent: "...it looks plausible that Clinton's unique role as 'referee,' and the authority he has among the undecided voters Obama needs, may have enabled him to go some way towards redefining this race." ...

... Joe Conason of the National Memo: Romney & Ryan must be sorry today they've been citing Bill Clinton as a model president. ...

... Ditto Joan Walsh of Salon: "Republicans will rue the day they dragged Bill Clinton into this fight with their welfare reform lies and their silly claims that Obama is a socialist defiling Clinton's centrist legacy. Clinton can say things Obama can't. He vividly laid out the depth of the economic challenge his successor faced, as well as the right-wing hatred."

Elizabeth Warren was the "warm-up act for President Bill Clinton":

... Sports! Steve Kornacki of Salon: Warren gave an excellent speech -- "the most direct attack on Wall Street yet heard at the convention" -- but she may have been upstaged by conflicting sports programming.

Sandra Fluke speaks to the DNC:

Sister Simone Campbell addresses the Democratic convention:

Thanks to Akhilleus for reminding us that Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, did indeed kick ass:

Rich Trumpka, President of the AFL-CIO, addresses the convention:

The Best Fucking News Team on Television develops a new Obama 2012 campaign slogan:

Obama will be in the convention hall Wednesday evening, according to MSNBC. (No link.)

Kevin Liptak of CNN: "In a rare display of just how quickly a tightly scripted national political convention can unwind, Democrats on Wednesday struggled to complete a voice vote amending their party platform to include language referring to Jerusalem and God. It took three attempts from Democratic National Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa before the platform was amended, and a loud chorus of delegates yelling 'no' met each attempt to pass the changes by voice vote." ...

... Jessica Yellin of CNN: "Democrats voted to update their party's platform Wednesday evening at their convention to include a reference to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, as well as the insertion of the word 'God,' neither of which was included in their platform this year but was in previous platforms. President Barack Obama himself intervened regarding the Jerusalem language...." ...

... David Atkins of Hullabaloo explains how the change went down. ...

... David Dayen of Firedoglake: "The Republican noise machine, then, successfully changed the Democratic platform document, a day after the fact. For context, there were lots and lots of liberals who spoke out about deficiencies in the platform, on housing, on civil liberties, on all kinds of subjects. None of them merited a change. But when one Weekly Standard writer and a group of trolls carp, Democrats leap to attention."

Gail Collins writes this & that about the convention. Eventually she gets around to endorsing higher taxes.... Collins' column has been totally updated to incorporate her reflections on Bill Clinton's speech. CW: first time I've ever seen that happen with a column.

The Pew Research Center has released public reactions to the Republican convention. Biggest highlight: Mitt Romney's Clint Eastwood's speech.

Women, you need to wake up. Women have to ask themselves who is going to ... be there for you. I can promise you, I know that Mitt will be there for you, he will stand up for you, he will hear your voices, he knows how to fix an economy, he's a can do kind of guy, he's a turnaround guy. -- Ann Romney ...

... Steve Benen: "There are ... key flaws to the pitch.... Mitt Romney's jobs plan doesn't really exist beyond vague platitudes and promises of tax cuts for the wealthy.... Romney's platform is a disaster for women's health; Romney doesn't have the spine to endorse the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Romney won't endorse the pending Violence Against Women Act; Romney took the coward's way out when Limbaugh targeted Sandra Fluke; Romney has offered support for a 'Personhood' measure that's so extreme it would ban some forms of birth control; Romney intends to destroy the Affordable Care Act, which would be a huge setback millions of women; and Romney's running mate has one of the worst voting records on women's issues in Congress."

Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro cited a well-known study from the Tax Policy Center when he stated that Republican candidate Mitt Romney's tax plan would 'raise taxes on the middle class.' FactCheck.org, however, found that claim to be misleading because Romney 'has promised he won't' raise middle-class taxes.... It is absurd to base that conclusion on the candidate's promises. Romney has, indeed, promised not to raise taxes on the middle class. But he has also promised that his tax plan will maintain current revenue levels. Those promises, by any measure, are totally incompatible, something the Tax Policy Center study made abundantly clear.... FactCheck.org needs to check its own facts instead of relying on baseless promises from political candidates." ...

... CW: I think FactCheck.org is just taking its place in the media-wide effort to be "bipartisan." Republicans lied, so they have to find some Democratic "lies," even if the only "fact" the so-called fact-checkers have on their side is Mitt Romney's promise to do the impossible. If you'd like to know how normal people can vote Republican, blame the "bipartisan" media. ...

... NEW. The Worst "Fact-Check" in History???. Matt Apuzzo & Tom Raum of the AP:

CLINTON: "Their campaign pollster said, 'We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.' Now that is true. I couldn't have said it better myself -- I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad."

THE FACTS: "Something, something, Monica Lewinsky, something."

We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers. -- Neil Newhouse, Romney pollster, way last week.

CW: I have no idea what the AP reporters are objecting to. I guess they're just being "bipartisan."

** Lee Fang of the Nation: while leading the charge against ObamaCare, Paul Ryan requested funds from the program. His plea: "The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary healthcare needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without healthcare." CW: I expect that's true. Since Ryan has voted to repeal & defund the ACA, obviously that means he thinks it's okay to leave "patients of all ages ... without health care."

Chloe Albanesius of PC Magazine: "Hackers today said they gained access to the network file servers of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and stole tax documents for ... Mitt Romney. A spokeswoman for the firm, however, said there is currently no evidence of a hack.... A spokesman for the Secret Service confirmed that the agency was investigating the report."

Nicholas Kristof grades President Obama's job performance.

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: the percentage of Guantanamo ex-prisoners who return to terrorist activities is much lower among those released during the Obama administration than during the Bush administration.

Ben Swann, a reporter at Fox 19 Cincinnati, shows the big boys how to analyze a politician's slick answers. Via Conor Friedersdorf (a libertarian) of the Atlantic. Swann really shows viewers how President Obama dissembles when Swann asks him about kill lists & drone strikes. Obama must think he can get away with it with a rube reporter; after all, network reporters let him get away with it all the time.

Other News & Opinion

Miranda Green of Newsweek reports on the "juiciest bits" from Bob Woodward's new book on the debt crisis. CW: Nothing very juicy. Woodward, top Very Serious Person, thinks we should care that President Obama hurt the feelings of those honorable fellas Eric Cantor & Paul Ryan. How did he hurt their wittle feewings? He said no to their nonsense. According to Green, "The president's arrogance is described many times in the book as having a negative effect." Why, oh why, am I reading "uppity black" into Woodward's white-bread interpretation. Arrogance, like every human trait, knows no color, but what Woodward -- perhaps vicariously -- describes as "arrogance" sounds to me like "standing his ground" against GOP intransigence, something most of us think the President did too little, not too much. ...

... Rick Klein of ABC News has a longer overview of Woodward's book. CW: doesn't sound to me as if there's a lot of news in the book; I've heard most of this before.

Turns out that even in Tennessee, you can't go around brandishing a loaded AK-47 in a public park.

News Ledes

New York Times: "A Roman Catholic bishop was found guilty on Thursday of failing to report suspected child abuse, becoming the first American bishop in the decades-long sexual abuse scandal to be convicted of shielding a pedophile priest. In a hastily announced bench trial that lasted a little over an hour, a judge found the bishop, Robert W. Finn, guilty on one misdemeanor charge and not guilty on a second charge.... Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation."

Washington Post: "Western spy agencies suspect Syria's government has several hundred tons of chemical weapons and precursor components scattered among as many as 20 sites throughout the country, heightening anxieties about the ability to secure the arsenals in the event of a complete breakdown of authority in the war-torn nation, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say."

Washington Post: "Amazon sent a shot across Apple's bow Thursday with the introduction of a 4G tablet that's hundreds of dollars cheaper than the iPad. Actually, the company introduced four tablets and a new e-reader: the light-up Kindle Paperwhite e-ink reader, a new version of the Kindle Fire and three versions of an enhanced tablet called the Kindle Fire HD."

New York Times: "The European Central bank took its most ambitious step yet toward easing the euro zone crisis, assuming sweeping new powers to throw its unlimited financial clout behind an effort to protect Spain and Italy from financial collapse."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday approved a settlement with three major publishers in a civil antitrust case brought by the Department of Justice over collusion in e-book pricing, paving the way for a war over the cost of digital books in the coming months."

AP: "Human Rights Watch said it has uncovered evidence of a wider use of waterboarding in American interrogations of detainees than has been acknowledged by the United States, in a report Thursday that details further brutal treatment at secret CIA-run prisons under the Bush administration-era U.S. program of detention and rendition of terror suspects."

Space.com: "NASA's Dawn probe has departed the huge asteroid Vesta, its orbital home for the past year, to begin a journey to its next destination: the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn's asteroid-mapping mission aims to shed light on the evolution of our solar system by studying huge space rocks, which scientists think are its leftover building blocks."

Tuesday
Sep042012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 5, 2012

Presidential Race

You can watch the Democratic convention without annoying commentary on C-SPAN (online here). The convention schedule -- according to C-SPAN -- is here.

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "President Obama's plans to deliver his acceptance speech on Thursday evening at an outdoor stadium rally has been foiled by a forecast of rain and heavy thunderstorms, aides said Wednesday, forcing organizers to scramble and move the final night of the Democratic National Convention indoors."

... The New York Times' liveblog is here. ...

... Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "Democrats opened their convention here on Tuesday night with two simple messages for voters: Mitt Romney does not get it, and President Obama does." Here's Amy Gardner's story for the Washington Post. ...

Here's Michelle Obama's full speech:

... E. J. Dionne on the First Lady's speech: "A speech that was thoroughly apolitical on the surface carried multiple political messages, linking a very traditional message about parenting with a call for social justice." ...

Click on photo for larger image.

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "Michelle Obama thoroughly bested Ann Romney’s attempts to connect with voters.... The First Lady ... connected [personal] stories to Obama's policies. Alongside more dependable applause lines such as lowering taxes on the middle class, the first lady explicitly included more divisive issues such as the Affordable Care Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, gay marriage, contraception, and even a defense of the president's economic record. And she connected the personal tales to a succinct, eloquent summary of the Democratic Party's central idea in this election." ...

... Eric Wilson of the New York Times on The Dress: "While the dress Mrs. Obama wore has not yet been produced, very similar styles from [Tracy] Reese, [an African-American self-made businesswoman,] cost $395 to $450.... Mrs. Obama's pink pumps were from J. Crew. Mrs. Romney's dress [by Oscar de la Renta] cost $1,990." CW: oops, excuse me; I commented at the time of Mrs. Romney's speech that I thought her dress looked like a glitzy version of a '50s housedress. Turns out it was a designer housedress.

Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post has some quick notes on San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention. ...

... Here's a long profile of Castro by Zev Chafets for the New York Times. ...

Here's Castro's speech:

... Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The Democrats honored one of their liberal lions, the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and used him to tweak Mitt Romney, who challenged him unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1994. In a video tribute, Mr. Kennedy was shown debating Mr. Romney over abortion rights during that campaign." Here's the Kennedy tribute, complete with Sen. Kennedy's excellent putdowns of Romney:

Haim Saban, an Israeli-American & CEO of Univision, in a New York Times op-ed: "Even though he could have done a better job highlighting his friendship for Israel, there's no denying that by every tangible measure, [President Obama's] support for Israel's security and well-being has been rock solid. Mitt Romney claims Mr. Obama has 'thrown allies like Israel under the bus,' but in fact the president has taken concrete steps to make Israel more secure -- a commitment he has described as 'not negotiable.'"

Dorian De Wind, a self-proclaimed moderate veteran, compares the conventions, so far. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Maureen Dowd does her usual schtick about Barry & Bill, President Now & Past.

She doesn't have to say anything. You can tell by the look in her eyes. -- A Friend or Relative of Charles Pierce, explaining how he knows Michelle Obama is a racist. Read Pierce's post of Obama's speech.

Charles Pierce on "What Democrats Should be Talking about at the DNC": "... the Republican Party has gone full Tenther. Now a lot of it is couched in arguments against the tyranny of EPA regulations and the jackboots of the individual health-care mandate, but there is no question that the driving force of this theory of government is resistance to full African-American citizenship just the way it was in 1860, in 1879, in 1957, and in 1965." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. Actually, this is what we all should be talking about.

I would love for [Chris] Christie to put a hot poker to Obama's butt. -- Haley Barbour, former RNC Chair, former governor of Mississippi

So, it is okay to propose "legitimate" rape of a black president with a torture device. See Charles Pierce's remarks above. P.S. If only Barbour could keep his racist sentiments to the "look in his eyes," the way Michelle Obama does. -- Constant Weader

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "Oh, God. I can already feel the viral emails hitting a million inboxes on this one: Christian Right journalist David Brody seems to have done a word-search of the 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions and found that a reference to the Almighty was taken out of the former in the latter." The passage in the 2008 platform described "God-given potential. "Some secular-socialist crept in and removed God from the Democratic Platform! ... Brody does not note that the platform has a whole section on 'faith' ..." CW: and Brody calls his brilliant observation an "exclusive." What exactly is "exclusive" about reading a public document?

I guess the main observation I would make is that (Romney) was a lot more interested in having the job than in doing the job. We were forty-seventh in the nation in job-creation. Real wages were declining. Our roads and bridges were crumbling. We had a structural deficit that he left behind. Business taxes went up. He did one profoundly important thing -- really profoundly important, and I say that sincerely -- and that's health-care reform, and he makes no mention of that. I can't understand that as anything but some kind of political calculation. The presentation he's making right now is that he was Mr. Fix-it, and I'm telling you, he didn't fix much. People ask me all the time what is the real Mitt Romney? Is he a conservative? Is he a moderate? Is he a pragmatist? I think he's an opportunist. I think he does and says things he needs to do and say to win elections and to appeal to the people in front of him. -- Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.), Mitt Romney's successor

** Shushannah Walshe of ABC News fact-checks Paul Ryan's latest: a "comparison" between Presidents Obama & Carter. You will be shocked, shocked, to read that the chairman of the House budget committee can't do simple arithmetic & he leaves out essential facts. Huh. Maybe he's just a liar.

Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Paul Ryan's defense against charges of lying is that he's a weasel.... The big point is that in 2008, Mitt Romney, the number one to Ryan's number two, called for a plan that would have closed not just the Janesville plant but General Motors itself. That's the real thing that Ryan is desperately trying to get voters to forget even as the auto industry continues to rebound strongly." ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York: yo, media, Paul Ryan has been lying all along: "The bit where he sadly shakes his head and blames President Obama for the failure of the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission that Ryan killed himself has been a staple of the Ryan shtick for two years. Reporters usually bat their eyes and coo sympathetically. Now it has become evidence of his duplicity.... Ryan ... has always resided in a counter-factual universe.... Facts taken for granted by mainstream economists have never penetrated his brain."

I remember a convention speech -- I was a pretty young guy at the time but I remember a convention speech. Remember Ronald Reagan talking about Jimmy Carter, are you better off now than you were four years ago? -- Paul Ryan, speaking in Ohio Tuesday

Reagan didn't use the line until just before the election during his only presidential debate with Carter. -- Shawna Shepherd, CNN

AND. If you're a marathon runner & you'd like to be a World Class Marathon Runner, use this handy Paul Ryan Time Calculator. Wow! You're a Phenom!

Congressional Races

Monica Potts of American Prospect on the flailing senatorial candidacy of Elizabeth Warren: "Massachusetts Democrats had assumed that a strong candidate like Warren would snatch the seat from Brown with ease -- that he was a fluke.... Maybe their expectations were so high because it hadn't occurred to them that someone as smart and accomplished as Warren still had something to learn." CW: part of Warren's problem is her staff. I had some interaction with her campaign manager shortly after Warren announced her candidacy. I was not favorably impressed. At all.

Other Opinion Topics

Prof. Paul Campos in Salon: "In America today, crime pays, at least if you're high up enough in the social hierarchy to take advantage of the fact that we're increasingly willing to accept that laws are for little people."

Haley Barbour talks about Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program, ca. 2010:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Bob Denver, whose television roles as Gilligan, the wacky first mate in 'Gilligan's Island,' and Maynard G. Krebs, the beatnik with a bongo in 'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,' were first hits, then cult classics, died on Friday in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 70."

New York Times: "... scientists have discovered ... the human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as 'junk' but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches."

AP: "A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Arizona authorities can enforce the most contentious section of the state's immigration law, which critics have dubbed the 'show me your papers' provision."

New York Times: "The United States and China clashed openly on Wednesday over two of the most contentious issues riling their relationship, the violence in Syria and growing tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea." ...

... Washington Post: "Japan's central government has agreed to buy a group of uninhabited islands that are also claimed by China and Taiwan, Japanese media reported Wednesday, potentially increasing regional tension over the simmering territorial dispute."

Washington Post: "Afghanistan's military said Wednesday that it has arrested or expelled from its ranks hundreds of soldiers, part of a major effort to stop the growing number of fatal attacks on U.S. and NATO troops by their Afghan partners. This year, the strikes -- known as 'insider attacks' -- have killed at least 45 troops, the vast majority of them Americans."

New York Times: "Iran has resumed shipping military equipment to Syria over Iraqi airspace in a new effort to bolster the embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to senior American officials."

Washington Post: "The Chinese government has charged Wang Lijun, a former provincial police chief who became embroiled in China's biggest political scandal in decades, with taking bribes, defecting and abusing his power, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Wang set in motion a perplexing political saga in February when he fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu and reportedly told U.S. officials that the wife of his powerful boss, Bo Xilai, had murdered a British businessman."