The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Guardian: Texas governor Greg Abbott has expanded the emergency disaster zone in his state, adding 24 counties to a list of 13 affected by storms and flooding. Three people were reported dead and 12 missing as Oklahoma was also hit hard, while a tornado left 13 dead in a Mexican town just beyond the border." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Flooding brought Houston[, Texas,] to a near-standstill Tuesday, sending normally tame rivers and bayous surging out of their banks, inundating streets and homes, and leaving highways littered with hundreds of abandoned, ruined cars. As much as 10 inches of rain lashed the Houston area overnight, and added to floodwaters flowing downstream from areas of central Texas that were swamped over the holiday weekend, causing waterways to rise from trickle to torrent faster than people could get out of the way."

... See also Jeanne Pitz's comment on this in today's Commentariat.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 27

12:15 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks about the Russian-Ukraine conflict (audio only)

Go to


New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.


The Commentariat -- April 7, 2013

Photos via the Huffington Post.Maureen Dowd on Hillary Clinton's run for president in 2016. ...

... MEANWHILE, Not-Hillary Bobby Jindal is faltering. Kristen Lee of the New York Daily News: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential 2016 Republican White House contender, is struggling in his conservative home state, where his approval rating has fallen even below that of President Obama. The Republican governor's approval rating stands at 38% in the new Southern Media Opinion & Research survey, slightly lower than Obama's 43% approval....The pollsters said unhappiness about state cuts to higher education and health care contributed to Jindal's declining popularity. Also, 63% of respondents oppose Jindal's plan to eliminate state income taxes and raise sales taxes."

Bryon Tau of Politico: "President Obama's labor allies are unhappy about cuts to entitlements and benefits that are expected to be proposed by the administration in its forthcoming budget. In an email entitled 'Obama's really bad idea,' the AFL-CIO's policy director Damon Silvers blasted the leaked details of cuts to Social Security asking labor activists to 'make some noise about it.'"

Neil Irwin of the Washington Post: "On both sides of the Atlantic, democratically elected institutions have been helpless, slow or unable to act on the scale needed to protect the leading Western economies. And time and again, the central bankers -- a group of secretive, unelected technocrats -- have stood up while presidents and parliaments dithered." Adapted from his book.

Science News: "Residents of states with the highest rates of gun ownership and political conservatism are at greater risk of suicide than those in states with less gun ownership and less politically conservative leanings, according to a study by University of California, Riverside sociology professor Augustine J. Kposowa." Thanks to contributor James S. for the link. ...

... So Let's Give Guns to Sexually-Frustrated, Emotionally-Volatile Kids! Steve Benen on Liberty University, where everything is banned except guns: "At Liberty University, students are far more likely to see someone carrying a semi-automatic than carrying a bottle of beer. Mini-skirts have been deemed inappropriate, but loaded handguns have been deemed entirely appropriate. Students can see an extended magazine, but they can't see 'Django Unchained.'" ...

... Oh, Hell, Let's Give Guns to Everybody! Jonathan Allen of Politico: "Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's threat to filibuster any new gun restrictions is gathering steam, as a dozen of his Republican colleagues have now signed onto his plan." ...

... Frank Bruni goes hunting for pheasant & partridge -- on an ironically-named "bird preserve." At least he plans to eat his prey. ...

... Scott Malone of Reuters: "The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said on Friday it had revoked the federal license of a Connecticut gun retailer that sold a weapon to the mother of Adam Lanza, who killed 26 people at an elementary school in December."

If the Republicans in the Senate don't start approving some judges and don't start helping get some of these nominations done, then we're going to have to take more action. -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, threatening to change the filibuster rules

"The Manchurian Speaker." Ezra Klein: "As badly as Obama wants a budget deal, Boehner seems just as determined to keep him from reaching one. For liberals, this is close to an ideal situation. The Republican Party's brand continues to worsen. The Democratic president manages to look reasonable without ever actually signing a painful compromise into law. And Medicare and Social Security remain safe."

Manu Raju & John Bresnahan of Politico: "New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg will not return to Capitol Hill next week, and now it's unclear when -- or even if -- the veteran lawmaker will be back.... If Lautenberg were to give up his seat, under New Jersey law, Gov. Chris Christie (R) would have the power to name an interim replacement -- most likely a fellow Republican -- before a special election would be held to fill out the remainder of Lautenberg's term, which expires January 2015. But the timing of any potential Lautenberg retirement is critical."

Larry Henry of KFSM, Fort Smith, Arkansas: "U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., on Saturday (April 6) clarified his view on same-sex issues, saying he is opposed to same-sex marriage." CW: Pryor's term ends in 2015; presumably he's planning to run for re-election.

Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times: A "back-room bargain [between Pakistani & CIA officials], described in detail for the first time in interviews with more than a dozen officials in Pakistan and the United States, is critical to understanding the origins of a covert drone war that began under the Bush administration, was embraced and expanded by President Obama, and is now the subject of fierce debate.... The C.I.A. has since conducted hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed thousands of people, Pakistanis and Arabs, militants and civilians alike.... [Pakistan] became the laboratory for the targeted killing operations that have come to define a new American way of fighting, blurring the line between soldiers and spies and short-circuiting the normal mechanisms by which the United States as a nation goes to war." Mazzetti adapted the article from a book he has written.

Steve Eder of the New York Times: Rutgers athletic director Tim "Pernetti is hardly the only person who watched the edited video [of men's basketball coach Mike Rice abusing team players] and still approved of keeping Mr. Rice on staff until last week. The athletic department's human resources and chief financial officer saw the video, as did the university's outside legal counsel. At least one member of the board of governors saw it. Robert L. Barchi, the university president, has said he did not see it before last week, although at least one of his senior directors asked him to watch it. Interviews ... show that when the most senior Rutgers officials were confronted with explicit details about Mr. Rice's behavior toward his players and his staff, they ignored them or issued relatively light penalties." Here's the report.

... Peter Moskowitz of Gawker: "Republican [New York] City Councilman Dan Halloran ... was best known for making false claims about city snow plow drivers purposely slowing down their work. Fortunately his reputation as a liar was recently superseded by revelations that he accepted bribes in an effort to get Democratic State Senator Malcom Smith on the Republican ticket for Mayor. But now he can be best remembered for something else: Halloran was voluntarily tied to a tree and flogged 11 times with a leather belt by the leaders of his pagan sect as punishment for an 'undisclosed act' against a female 'thrall' (probationary servant, in non-pagan-Religion-terms).... In addition to being flogged as punishment, the Post reveals that Halloran once tried to start his own sect of Theodism and attract followers away from the main group. In order to do that, he had to battle another member of the group, which involved throwing 7-foot-long tree spears at each other."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Lilly Pulitzer, the Palm Beach princess of prints who created an enduring fashion uniform for wealthy socialites and jet setters almost by accident, died on Sunday at her home in Florida. She was 81."

Reuters: "Members of the U.S. military whose homes were unlawfully foreclosed upon between 2006 and 2010 will receive about $39 million from subsidiaries of Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday."

Los Angeles Times: "Coroner's officials plan to conduct an autopsy on the youngest son of Orange County Pastor Rick Warren next week to determine an official cause of death, a routine event in cases where suicide is suspected, authorities said Saturday afternoon. Matthew Warren's death at his home on Pradera Drive in Mission Viejo was reported to Orange County sheriff's officials at about 5:25 p.m. Friday, said Supervising Deputy Coroner Dan Aikin. Aikin said he could not confirm an earlier report by coroner's officials to City News Service that Warren, 27, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound."


The Commentariat -- April 6, 2013

"Depression, Not Ended." Paul Krugman: "Lousy jobs report....Yet for what, the third time since 2009, all discussion in Washington has turned away from job creation to deficits (even though the debt problem has largely faded away) and the need for an early Fed exit from stimulus (even though unemployment remains high and inflation low). Clearly, the answer is to cut Social Security!" ...

... Michael O'Brien of the Atlantic: "STOP CUTTING THE DEFICIT." ...

The President lays out his plan in his weekly address:

     ... Here's the transcript. Funny, not a word about why it's such a good idea to cut Social Security benefits -- which have nothing to do with the deficit, but he's proposing anyway. AP story here. ...

... ** Here's the lede in Stephen Ohlemacher's AP story, one that voters across the nation will be reading in their local papers this morning: "President Barack Obama's proposal to change the way the government measures inflation could lead to fewer people qualifying for college grants and anti-poverty programs, reduced benefits for seniors and veterans, and higher taxes for low-income families. If adopted across the government, the new inflation measure would have far-reaching effects because so many programs are adjusted each year based on year-to-year changes in consumer prices." ...

... Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic relates Obama's budget strategy (see if you're convinced). BUT: "We have pressing problems on our hands -- people struggling to pay for basic necessities, kids trapped in poverty, infrastructure that desperately needs repairing. Instead of talking about how to fix those problems, we'll be debating how much spending to cut and how quickly. That should be the real news of the day." ...

... Jon Chait of New York: "Mainly this appears to be a message strategy aimed at advocates of BipartisanThink, who have been blaming Obama for failing to offer the plan he has in fact been offering. The strategy is that, by converting their offer to Boehner from an 'offer' to a 'budget,' it will prove that Obama is Serious. On the one hand, this strikes me as completely ridiculous. On the other hand, it might actually work! BipartisanThinkers like Ron Fournier ('a gutsy change in strategy') and Joe Scarborough ('Now THIS is a real budget … exciting') are gushing with praise." See also Krugman's comment linked in yesterday's Commentariat." ...

... Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post: Obama "seems to have been consistently pushing for a plan that breaks with the liberal establishment in significant ways, and after a certain point, you have to perhaps entertain the notion that it's something that he authentically desires." ...

... Sahil Kapur of TPM: "Liberals are mounting strong criticisms of President Obama amid news that his budget will include a Social Security benefit cut -- an official endorsement of a policy compromise he's offered Republicans for years -- and warning Democrats not to dare vote to cut the cherished retirement program."

... Steve Benen: "... if you're a progressive who strongly opposes changes to Social Security and Medicare, I have good news for you: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hasn't seen Obama's new budget, but he's already rejecting it out of hand."

** Ezra Klein: "In a report for the New American Foundation..., [the authors] conclude that the ongoing debate over how to cut Social Security is all wrong: We need to make Social Security much more generous." Again, see Krugman's comment linked yesterday.

Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "The NRA's recent successes on Capitol Hill -- as well as a string of victories in state legislatures across the country -- demonstrate the effectiveness of the group's strategy to overcome a post-Newtown tilt toward gun control. The organization has drafted and circulated legislation, mobilized its members and continued to put pressure on politically vulnerable lawmakers. At the same time, groups attempting to promote stricter gun control measures have faltered."

New York Times Editors: Close Guantánamo.

New York Times Editors: "A federal district judge in New York has overturned the Obama administration's ban preventing girls younger than 17 from purchasing emergency contraceptive pills over the counter. It was a well-deserved rebuke to a politically motivated decision that overrode sound science and the health needs of young girls in order to placate political opponents of emergency contraception." ...

... Irin Carmon of Slate: "Today, a federal judge appointed by Ronald Reagan did for women’s health what the Obama administration was too politically cowardly to do: Make safe, time-sensitive emergency contraception available to everyone, regardless of age. The shameful thing is that it had to come to this. The administration, said 2nd Circuit District Judge Edward Korman, acted in 'bad faith' -- a phrase that arises again and again in the stinging decision. And Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius acted in a fashion that 'was politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent.'" ...

... Josh Lederman & Lauran Neergaard of the AP: "The Justice Department said it is evaluating whether to appeal.... A Justice spokeswoman said there would be a prompt decision. And the White House said Obama's view on the issue hasn't changed since 2011.... Absent an appeal or a government request for more time to prepare one, the ruling will take effect in 30 days, meaning that over-the-counter sales could start then."

CW: Obama's public remark about Harris is consistent with his public remark about controlling his daughters' access to birth control, a rationale he used to "justify" imposing accidental motherhood on thousands of American girls & women.

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama late Thursday night called Kamala Harris, the California attorney general, and apologized to her for telling a group of wealthy donors that she is the 'best-looking attorney general in the country.'" CW: He also said he was sorry he had asked her to go out and get coffee. In a statement, the White House noted that the President has withdrawn as an honorary judge of the annual Attorneys General Beauty Pageant even after organizers dropped the bathing suit competition.

Trenton Daniel of the AP: "A new report on American aid to Haiti in the wake of that country's devastating earthquake finds much of the money went to U.S.-based companies and organizations. The Center for Economic and Policy Research analyzed the $1.15 billion pledged after the January 2010 quake and found that the "vast majority" of the money it could follow went straight to U.S. companies or organizations, more than half in the Washington area alone. Just 1 percent went directly to Haitian companies." CW: OR, why I don't get all choked up & pull out my checkbook when Bill Clinton -- "the most influential man in Haiti" -- asks me to help people in need.

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Dr. Paul Rothman, the dean of medical faculty at Johns Hopkins University..., issued a statement Friday labeling Ben Carson's comments about gay marriage 'offensive' and said the school will meet with students who want him removed as commencement speaker. Carson, meanwhile, offered a fuller apology for the comments, which compared gay marriage to bestiality and pedophilia." AND here's a question for Blake: how come Rothman is "Dr. Paul Rothman" & Carson is "Ben Carson." They are both medical doctors. Why doesn't Carson get the honorific, too, even if he is a jerk?

Tom Canavan of the AP: Rutgers University "Athletic Director Tim Pernetti resign[ed] over his failure to immediately fire coach Mike Rice, who was caught on video hitting, kicking and taunting players with anti-gay slurs at practice.... Also resigning was John B. Wolf, Rutgers' interim senior vice president and general counsel, who is believed to have recommended against firing Rice in December over the video." ...

... Kate Zernike & Steve Eder of the New York Times: "On Friday, the university also released a 50-page report that John P. Lacey, an outside lawyer, prepared last year in response to the abuse allegations. It made clear that Rutgers officials were aware that Mr. Rice's outbursts 'were not isolated' and that he had a fierce temper, used homophobic and misogynistic slurs, kicked his players and threw basketballs at them. But it described Mr. Rice as 'passionate, energetic and demanding' and concluded that his behavior constituted 'permissible training.' It found that he aimed to 'cause them to play better during the team's basketball games.'" ...

... Ted Sherman & Kelly Heyboer of the Star-Ledger: "Pernetti -- under a settlement agreement obtained by The Star-Ledger -- will be paid more than $1.2 million in return for his resignation. Under the terms of his contract, Rice is entitled to receive more than $1 million." ...

... Kelly Heyboer: "Under Rice's contract, the coach could be fired for bringing 'shame or disgrace to the university.' If he was fired 'for cause' in December, the university would not have to pay him for the remainder of his $650,000 contract or give him his $100,000 bonus for completing the season, his contract said. The report stopped short of recommending whether Rice should be fired, suspended or punished in any other way."

** Roger Ebert's New Yorker cartoon caption contest entries. (He won once.)

Local News

War on Women, Ctd. John Hanna of the AP: " Kansas legislators gave final passage to a sweeping anti-abortion measure Friday night, sending Gov. Sam Brownback a bill that declares life begins 'at fertilization' while blocking tax breaks for abortion providers< and banning abortions performed solely because of the baby's sex. The House voted 90-30 for a compromise version of the bill reconciling differences between the two chambers, only hours after the Senate approved it, 28-10. The Republican governor is a strong abortion opponent, and supporters of the measure expect him to sign it into law so that the new restrictions take effect July 1."

News Ledes

AP: "Militants killed six Americans, including a young female diplomat, and an Afghan doctor Saturday in a pair of attacks in Afghanistan on Saturday. It was the deadliest day for the United States in the war in eight months."

New York Times: "J. David Kuo, an evangelical Christian who served as a leader in President George W. Bush's faith initiative but later became a critic, died on Friday. He was 44."

AP: "The Southern California church headed by popular evangelical Pastor Rick Warren announced Saturday that Warren's 27-year-old son has committed suicide. Warren's Saddleback Valley Community Church said in a statement that Matthew Warren had struggled with mental illness and deep depression throughout his life."

New York Times: "Nelson Mandela ... was discharged from a hospital on Saturday after a nine-day stay to receive treatment for pneumonia, the South African government said."

Reuters: "World powers and Iran failed again to end the deadlock in a decade-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear program in talks that ended in Kazakhstan on Saturday, prolonging a standoff that could yet spiral into a new Middle East war. No new talks were scheduled but big power negotiators, who earlier this year were insisting that time was running out, were at pains to say the diplomatic process would continue."

Reuters: "Three people were shot to death in a rural Idaho house where a man and his son were breeding pit bulls, police said on Saturday, adding that they found two small children and up to 70 dogs on the property."


The Commentariat -- April 5, 2013

April Is the Cruelest Month. Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "In a significant shift in fiscal strategy, Mr. Obama on Wednesday will send a budget plan to Capitol Hill that departs from the usual presidential wish list that Republicans typically declare dead on arrival. Instead it will embody the final compromise offer that he made to Speaker John A. Boehner late last year, before Mr. Boehner abandoned negotiations in opposition to the president's demand for higher taxes from wealthy individuals and some corporations." The Washington Post story is here.* ...

     * Lousy Reporting Award of the Day. Goldfarb writes, "[Republican critics] are also likely to focus on the fact that, unlike the Republican budget that passed the House last month, Obama's budget does not balance within 10 years. The GOP has made the failure to balance the budget a key talking point in recent weeks." The House budget balances in 10 years only if you believe in asterisks & unicorns. ...

... Susie Madrak has a quick overview of the lowlights. Really shocking. ...

... CW: maybe Obama should read the news. When he made his original proposal, Republicans & the deficit were ascendant, so at least there was some lame excuse for his bowing to Boehner. Now the opposite is true: Republicans are on the skids & the deficit is taking care of itself. So here's the latest excuse: "... the White House believes that most Americans will blame them for the fiscal paralysis." Yes, because every American adult is waking up this morning to read all about Obama's budget before reading the actual budget itself in detail & saying aloud, "My, President Obama is a reasonable fellow. I'm glad he's cutting my Medicare & Social Security just to show those Republicans a thing or two." As I recall, Obama's budget proposal to Boehner was way worse than Simpson-Bowles, with far more tax cuts & far less revenue. ...

... Paul Krugman: "The truth -- although you'll never hear this in Serious circles -- is that we really should be increasing SS benefits.... So what's this about? The answer, I fear, is that Obama is still trying to win over the Serious People, by showing that he's willing to do what they consider Serious -- which just about always means sticking it to the poor and the middle class. The idea is that they will finally drop the false equivalence, and admit that he's reasonable while the GOP is mean-spirited and crazy. But it won't happen.... Oh, and wanna bet that Republicans soon start running ads saying that Obama wants to cut your Social Security?" ...

... Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism is withering in her criticism of Obama, essentially calling him a bully who picks on little people but is too cowardly to take on anyone remotely approaching his own size. ...

... D. S. Wright of Firedoglake: "President Barack Obama has once again started his negotiations by scoring into his own net.... The loopholes for the wealthy [which Obama proposes] will not stay closed. The current tax system is designed for that type of gamesmanship. So what is likely to happen if Obama gets his dream deal? Social Security will be permanently cut and the rich will lose a deduction or two for a year before they get slipped back in. Exchanging temporary increases in taxes for permanent benefit cuts to those in need in an a two-tier economy is beyond cynical." ...

... Erik Loomis of Lawyers, Guns & Money: "It'd be nice if Obama realized for once that the Republicans will never compromise with him unless he completely capitulates to their agenda, with its ever rightward shifting goalposts. Pretending to be a nice moderate Republican is not going to work. Nor should it since if a Democratic president can't stand up for Social Security, what can he stand up for?" ...

... CW: a parting thought: Obama is delighted liberals are screaming. He will point to us & say, "See, liberals are screaming. That's proof this is a great deal."

Just Remember Obama Is "Belt-Tightening," Too. Dana Milbank: "... the White House announced that Obama, 'to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants,' would return 5 percent of his salary.... The gesture, matched by several Cabinet members, was meant to be roughly the same percentage by which domestic agencies are being cut. But the amount -- $20,000 of his $400,000 salary -- is so little for a man made wealthy by his political fame that it comes across as patronizing.... During World Wars I and II, there were 'dollar-a-year men' who left lucrative private-sector careers to serve their country in Washington. If Obama really wants to share in the furloughed workers' 'sacrifice,' he should follow that honorable example and give back all but a dollar of his $400,000 salary. When he leaves office, he'll be able to earn it back with a couple days' work." ...

... Justin Sink of The Hill: "Treasury Secretary Jack Jew and Homeland Security Janet Napolitano have joined President Obama and other top members of the administration in taking pay cuts in solidarity with federal workers facing furloughs under the sequester.... Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are both forfeiting the equivalent of 14 days' worth of pay -- the maximum number of days faced by departmental employees." ...

... As Julianna Goldman & Phil Mattingly of Bloomberg report, you can add multi-millionaire John Kerry to that list of self-sacrificing public servants. Feeling better now? ...

... Jeremy Peters of the New York Times, in a straight news report, demonstrates he is as impressed with all this "self-sacrifice" as is Milbank: "By Thursday, the Obama administration's stampede to embrace the politics of self-sacrifice was on. Cabinet secretaries practically tripped over themselves to hand over parts of their paycheck as federal workers brace for furloughs because of the across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester.... Of course, they can well afford it. Mr. Kerry has an estimated net worth exceeding $200 million and Mr. Hagel, Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama are all millionaires." ...

... The Real Conspiracy. Government Economic Policies Are Killing You. In 43 percent of U.S. counties, women's mortality rates are rising. According to the authors of a study published in the journal Health Affairs, "Female mortality rates were not predicted by any of the medical care factors.... Many people believe that medical care and individual behaviors such as exercise, diet, and smoking are the primary reasons for declines in health... But socioeconomic factors such as the percentage of a county's population with a college education and the rate of children living in poverty had equally strong or stronger relationships to fluctuations in mortality rates."

Paul Krugman says David Stockman is just another Andrew Mellon, Herbert Hoover's treasury secretary: "... his analysis is pretty much standard liquidationism, with a strong goldbug streak.... Now, the fact is that these ranters have been wrong about everything, at every stage of the crisis, while the Keynesians have been mostly right."

Our Republican President, Ctd. You may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it's probably not rising to your No. 1 concern. And if people think, well, that's shortsighted, that's what happens when you're struggling to get by. -- Barack Obama, "justifying" his likely decision to approval the Keystone XL pipeline ...

... Charles Pierce: "This is the argument we get from the oil companies, the extraction industries, and all the politicians they have sublet over the past 40 years -- that environmental concerns are the province of the liberal elites, as though small farmers are not being killed by drought, small businesses being killed by what's killing the small farmers, and small homeowners along both seaboards being killed by increasingly massive storms."

New York Times Editors: "... twisted radicalism is playing an outsized role in the current debate" over gun safety legislation.

Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times: "Florida Sen. Bill Nelson reversed his opposition to gay marriage on Thursday, joining a swell of moderate Democrats to do so recently as public support for gay marriage has grown."

Scott Wilson of the Washington Post: "President Obama reopened the debate Thursday over whether his administration is too influenced by men after praising the looks of Kamala Harris, California's attorney general and a possible future gubernatorial candidate. 'You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you'd want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake,' Obama said at a party fundraiser in Atherton, Calif., a wealthy suburb of San Francisco. 'She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.'" CW: Forget the sexism. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I just took a look at photos of state attorneys general, & I found quite a number of very attractive men & women. So while Harris is certainly beautiful, I wouldn't call her "by far the best looking A.G. in the country." ...

... "Crimes Against Nature." Speaking of attorneys general, Virginia's Ken Cuccinelli is his own worst enemy, and yours, too. Josh Israel of Think Progress: "Cuccinelli II (R) filed an appeal last week after a federal appeals court struck down Virginia's sodomy law as unconstitutional." But the law is unconstitutional precisely because Cuccinelli was among state lawmakers who refused to revise it to meet federal standards after the Lawrence v. Texas decision struck down sodomy laws. ...

... We Are All Criminals Now. Adam Serwer of Mother Jones figures that "If Virginia's ban on 'unnatural' sex acts applied nationwide, the Virginia law would make 90 percent of men and women in the United States between the age of 25 and 44 criminals." Serwer asked Cuccinelli's "campaign if Cuccinelli or anyone working for his campaign had ever engaged in any of the prohibited conduct and whether Cuccinelli would fire any campaign staff who had done so. We have received no response."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: Chuck Schumer, former hatchet-man, makes friends with Republicans.

Kate Zernicke, in her New York Times article about Rutgers University President Robert Barchi doesn't say Dr. Barchi is totally tone-deaf, but her recounting of one incident after the other in which he outraged students, faculty, administrators & minorities sure says Barchi is a bull in a china shop. I'm not sure how well the Rutgers fiascos will work ultimately out well for Chris Christie, either. ...

     ... Reuters Update, by Scott Malone: "Rutgers University Athletic Director Tim Pernetti will leave his post in the wake of revelations that ousted men's basketball coach Mike Rice had verbally and physically abused players, the Star-Ledger newspaper and ESPN reported on Friday."

Get Ready for a Culture Warriors Freak-out. Jessica Dye of Reuters: "A federal judge on Friday ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the 'morning-after' emergency contraception pill available without a prescription to all girls of reproductive age. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn, New York, comes in a lawsuit brought by reproductive-rights groups that had sought to remove age and other restrictions on emergency contraception." CW: sorry, Mr. President, that means your lovely daughters have access, too. As well they should.

A Memphis sanitation worker states the obvious: privatization is about destroying unions & depriving workers of fair pay & decent working conditions:

Tim Egan: "The scourge of 24-hour news, in which stuff that isn’t important gets its own countdown clock, is now doing to the weather what it did to public affairs and the stock market. It's making us all a little jumpy and anxious, with a twisted view of the normal rhythms of the seasons." ...

CW: If the people at the Weather Channel want to frighten their audience for good reason, maybe they should do a little less "Snowmageddon" reporting & a little more reporting like this -- Justin Gillis of the New York Times: "Glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took at least 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years, scientists reported Thursday, the latest indication that the recent spike in global temperatures has thrown the natural world out of balance."

Frank Rich on everything -- always rich.

Right Wing World *

"System X." Tim Murphy of Mother Jones: "Last week, conservative talk show host and media mogul Glenn Beck decided to let his listeners in on what he dubbed 'the biggest story in American history.' It's called System X. ... System X: a government run by a single party in control of labor, media, education, and banking; joined by big business to further their mutual collective goals.... If you don't stop it,' he warned, 'American history is over as you know it.'" System X turns out to be national core curriculum standards. As Murphy points out, reasonable people can disagree on the merits of the Common Core standards without seeing it as a bipartisan plot to steal your brains or something.

You hear some of these quotes: 'I need a gun to protect myself from the government.' 'We can't do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away.' Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It's a government of and by and for the people. -- Barack Obama ...

... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: "Just a simple statement of fact, right? ... Leave it to the raving kooks of the right wing blogs to find a way to distort Obama's words and read things into them that he never said -- in lockstep unison, because that's how they do everything.... The hatred is rotting their brains." Johnson provides numerous examples of the Crazy.

* ... is a dark, dark place.

Reefer World

Pew Research Center: "For the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans favor[s] legalizing the use of marijuana. A national survey finds that 52% say that the use of marijuana should be made legal while 45% say it should not."

News Ledes

AP: "An alleged white supremacist gang member who was arrested during the investigation into the killing of Colorado's prisons chiefs may have thrown a gun from his vehicle before his arrest. James Lohr was arrested early Friday after a brief chase in Colorado Springs."

New York Times: "The parents of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager who was shot by George Zimmerman last year, have settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against the homeowners' association in the gated community where he was killed."

AP: "Pope Francis directed the Vatican on Friday to act decisively on clergy sex abuse cases and punish pedophile priests, saying the Catholic Church's 'credibility' was on the line. The announcement was quickly dismissed by some victims' advocates as just more talk, while others lobbying for reform in the church held out hope the new pontiff might challenge the Vatican's bureaucratic culture seen as fostering a cover-up mentality."

Reuters: "American employers hired at the slowest pace in nine months in March, a sign that Washington's austerity drive could be stealing momentum from the economy. The economy added just 88,000 nonfarm jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, well below market expectations for a 200,000 increase."


The Commentariat -- April 4, 2013

Michael Shear of the New York Times: President "Obama, who appears to be leaning toward approval of the [Keystone XL] pipeline, acknowledged that it is difficult to sell aggressive environmental action to Americans who are still struggling in a difficult economy...."

National Constitution Center: "It was 45 years ago today that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed by an assassin's bullet in Memphis. The world has changed greatly since 1968, but King's message survives intact." CW: the world may have changed, but the hatred & greed against which Dr. King fought is still controlling our politics.

Ezra Klein has a good piece on what a GOP health expert claims is the Republican plan to replace ObamaCare: "This isn't a plan to 'replace Obamacare.' It's a plan to do the opposite of replacing Obamacare.... Rather than make comprehensive insurance more accessible through government subsidies and regulation, it makes insurance stingier and rarer by removing government subsidies and regulation.... Obamacare and the Republican ideas aren't even apples to oranges. They’re apples to taking away apples.... The fact that Republicans haven't put forward an actual legislative replacement to Obamacare suggests that" they know their "plan" would be exposed as a sham.

Yes, the Sequester Is Killing People. Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post: "Cancer clinics across the country have begun turning away thousands of Medicare patients, blaming the sequester budget cuts. Oncologists say the reduced funding, which took effect for Medicare on April 1, makes it impossible to administer expensive chemotherapy drugs while staying afloat financially." ...

... Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post: "Of all the blinkered buzz-saw cuts in this year's $85 billion spending sequestration, perhaps none is as counterproductive -- or as flat-out boneheaded -- as the one now hitting medical research under way in a refurbished industrial expanse of central St. Louis." ...

... Peter Baker & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury in solidarity with federal workers who are going to be furloughed as part of the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester, an administration official said Wednesday. The voluntary move would be retroactive to March 1, the official said, and apply through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in September. The White House came up with the 5 percent figure to approximate the level of spending cuts to nondefense federal agencies that took effect that day." CW: sure hope that makes Medicare patients dying of cancer feel better.

Jon Lender, et al., of the Hartford Courant: "After more than 13 hours of debate..., the [Connecticut] General Assembly early Thursday approved an historic and far-reaching gun-control bill that proponents said was their toughest-in-the-nation response to the Dec. 14 Newtown school massacre. The state House of Representatives at 2:26 a.m. gave final legislative approval to the bill by a vote of 105 to 44, with 2 absent. Of the 98 House Democrats present, 13 voted no; and 31 of the 51 Republicans in the hall voted no. About eight hours earlier, the state Senate had approved it by a 26-10 vote -- with two of 22 Democrats and eight of 14 Republicans opposed. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will sign the bipartisan bill into law at noon Thursday in the Old Judiciary Room on the third floor of the state Capitol." ...

     ... AP Update by Susan Haigh: "Alongside family members of some of the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Malloy signed the bill hours after the General Assembly approved the measure to give the state some of the toughest gun laws in the country."

... Aaron Davis of the Washington Post: "The Maryland House of Delegates passed what would be among the nation's most restrictive gun-control measures Wednesday, voting to ratchet up the state's already tough rules by requiring fingerprinting of gun buyers, new limits on firearm purchases by the mentally ill, and bans on assault weapons and on magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.The 78 to 61 vote handed Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).... The bill now returns to the state Senate, which passed a substantially similar version of the legislation last month." ...

... Erica Goode of the New York Times: "Many states with the weakest gun laws have the worst rates of gun violence, ranking high on numerous indicators, like gun homicides and suicides, firearm deaths of children, and killings of law enforcement officers, according to a report ... issued Wednesday by the liberal Center for American Progress." Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress has more. The study report is here (pdf). ...

... there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them.... We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. -- Barack Obama, 2004 Democratic Convention

I am a pundit. -- Constant Weader

... Denver Post: "President Barack Obama took to a lectern in Denver to make his case for tougher federal gun laws Wednesday with the backdrop of a Western state that focused the nation's attention on a mass shooting last year and took significant legislative steps on guns this year":

GOP Sides with Iran, North Korea & Syria (Not a Typo). Steve Benen: "Following seven years of negotiations, the Arms Trade Treaty was approved by the U.N. General Assembly, 154 to 3, though there were [23] abstentions. The United States was part of the majority." China & Russia were among the abstentions. The three "no" votes: Iran, NK & Syria. "The National Rifle Association and Republican policymakers are taking the Iranian, North Korean, and Syrian side of the argument." ...

... Gavin Aronsen of Mother Jones: "... the treaty doesn't dictate domestic gun laws in member countries. It requires signatories to establish controls on the import and export of conventional arms.... The US is the world's leading arms exporter, and gun dealers aren't eager to be required to report weapons exports that may wind up in the hands of warlords or terrorists overseas."

UN Arms Treaty should be rejected outright by US Senate. It is international gun regulation, plain and simple & it must never be ratified. -- Sen. Ted Cruz (RTP-Texas), in a Tweet

The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty is another attempt by internationalists to limit and infringe upon America’s sovereignty. Such a treaty would require the United States to implement laws as required by the treaty, instead of the national controls that are currently in place. -- Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) Via Jonathan Bernstein.

One thing we know about Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi -- he has no sense of humor:

Brian Beutler of TPM: "We’ve reached a point in the power struggle between the White House and Senate Republicans where it's unclear whether President Obama can get a judicial nominee supported by Ken Starr -- yes, that Ken Starr -- confirmed to a federal appellate court.... John Roberts' old seat on the DC Circuit has been vacant for eight years." And still no filibuster reform. Beutler thinks the Senate's blocking Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. CW: I think the camel has a mighty strong back. ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "The Republican party excuse: "The DC Circuit doesn't really have a very heavy caseload, so it doesn't need any more judges.... Now that David Sentelle has retired and the court has four vacancies, maybe this argument won't fly any longer. Then again, maybe it will."

"The Nihilism of David Stockman." Neil Irwin of the Washington Post: "Stockman’s view of the economy seems to be: that basically anything the state does to try to fix things is undermining some elegant capitalist order and will inevitably lead to chaos.... [But] capitalism can only exist in a framework -- monetary and legal -- set up by the government." ...

... William Greider of the Nation: in the 1990s & 2000s, Paul Krugman got the effects of globalization seriously wrong. Thanks to Kate M. for the link. Here's Krugman's withering 1997 review of Greider's book, which Greider mentions in his column.

Gail Collins agrees with a portion of a comment contributor Diane made in yesterday's Comments. Collins writes that former South Carolina Gov. Mark "Sanford has always had a terrible case of chronic self-absorption. Now that he's talking about his feelings so much, it's turned into a creepy New Age egomania."

Ta-Nehisi Coates, in a New York Times op-ed, on Dr. Benjamin Carson, the latest Conservative Black Hope.

Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times: "Walmart, the nation's largest retailer and grocer, has cut so many employees that it no longer has enough workers to stock its shelves properly, according to some employees and industry analysts. Internal notes from a March meeting of top Walmart managers show the company grappling with low customer confidence in its produce and poor quality. Before the recession, at the start of 2007, Walmart had an average of 338 employees per store at its United States stores and Sam's Club locations. Now, it has 281 per store, having cut the number of United States employees while adding hundreds of stores." CW: maybe one reason consumers have "lost confidence" in WalMart is that they don't like shopping at stores that underpay AND overwork their employees. Meanwhile, the Waltons just keep getting richer.

Steve Eder & Kate Zernicke of the New York Times: "On Wednesday morning, Rutgers fired the men's basketball coach, Mike Rice, a day after video surfaced of him berating his players during practices, throwing basketballs at them, kicking them and taunting them with vulgar language, including homophobic slurs. But Mr. Rice's dismissal did little to quiet critics, including selected officials, faculty members and students, who called for the dismissal of [athletic director Tim] Pernetti and [university president Robert] Barchi and demanded to know why Rutgers had not fired Mr. Rice after it initially investigated the abuse allegations last November." ...

... New York Times Editors: "Critics like Walter Byers, a former N.C.A.A. executive director, have complained of a 'neo-plantation' system of college sports in which athletes are pawns while high-priced coaches and athletic directors -- under pressure to win -- exercise the power of kings. The Rutgers tape is a timely warning not only to Rutgers but to university presidents everywhere as the final games of the N.C.A.A.'s basketball tournament play out before the nation."

Local News

Harry Warren, et al., of WRAL Raleigh: "A resolution filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide. The resolution grew out of a dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers." ...

... Charles Pierce: "Thus does North Carolina march boldly into the past, looking neither right nor left as it passes 1789 or 1776, until it arrives at 1640, and Quakers and Catholics are hiding under the bed." ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "The bill might be pointless grandstanding, but it's just one of many pointless pieces of grandstanding that signal the revival of nullification as a legal theory in the Obama years, mostly among conservatives who have claimed that states could disregard duly passed federal laws on matters like health care or gun control. (Liberals have indulged too, demanding that the feds not enforce drug laws in states that have legalized marijuana.)" ...

... Laura Leslie of WRAL: "The [Republican-controlled North Carolina] state Senate voted 33-14 Wednesday to repeal the state's historic Racial Justice Act and restart executions in North Carolina. The 2009 Racial Justice Act allowed death row inmates to appeal their sentences on the grounds of racial bias in the court system. If a judge agreed, the inmate's sentence could be commuted to life without the possibility of parole."

Right Wing World *

War on Women, Ctd. Digby: "Here's more evidence that the Republican Party is 'moderating' on these pesky social issues due to their shellacking in the last election. This post is by Reince Preibus, Chairman of the Republican Party: 'Media Covers up Democrat-Backed Planned Parenthood's Support for Infanticide.' ... Anyway, I think we can all feel fairly confident that the War on Women has not been abandoned. ...

... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: "This is damage control, folks -- a sop thrown to the religious right, who are getting very angry with the Republican Party and their talk of 'rebranding.' The absurdly hateful lie that President Obama supports infanticide has been bouncing around the right wing echo chamber for years, impervious to refutation, and Priebus is very calculatedly playing to that lovely group of people who are willing and eager to believe it." CW: my thoughts exactly. Besides, the 22 percent of Romney voters who believe Obama is the Anti-Christ won't be slightly surprised that he supports infanticide.

Even More GOP Outreach. (The Hits Just Keep Coming.) Lou Chibbaro of the Washington Blade: "Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli has filed a petition with the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond asking the full 15-judge court to reconsider a decision by a three-judge panel last month that overturned the state's sodomy law. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 on March 12 that a section of Virginia's 'Crimes Against Nature' statute that outlaws sodomy between consenting adults, gay or straight, is unconstitutional based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2003 known as Lawrence v. Texas." CW: the ruling should have been 3-0; don't know what the problem was with the dissenting judge, but I can guess.

* Is still right-wing.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Roger Ebert, the popular film critic and television co-host who along with his fellow reviewer and sometime sparring partner Gene Siskel could lift or sink the fortunes of a movie with their trademark thumbs up or thumbs down, died on Thursday in Chicago. He was 70." CW: the obituary, written by Douglas Martin, who also write Virginia Brill's obituary, does not mention until th een dof the 4th paragraph that Ebert "published a cookbook on meals that could be made with a rice cooker." The Chicago Sun-Times obituary of Ebert is here, with links to related stories.

New York Times: the Manhattan D.A. brought indictments "against 63 members of ... three [East Harlem] gangs. All males, they range in age from 16 to 25. All but eight of them are younger than 20. Forty-nine of them face up to life in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. The top charges against the 14 others carry sentences of up to 25 years in prison. Most of the young men were arrested on Wednesday in an operation that involved more than 300 police officers. Throughout the day on Thursday, they were brought before two judges in Manhattan, where they all pleaded not guilty."

Christian Science Monitor: "Investigators in the case of slain Colorado prison chief Tom Clements have begun a search for two white-supremacist prison gang members identified as persons of interest in the case. The men, James Lohr and Thomas Guolee, are said to be part of the 211 Crew, a gang whose members also included Evan Ebel, the primary suspect in Mr. Clements's killing."

Reuters: "The Bank of Japan unleashed the world's most intense burst of monetary stimulus on Thursday, promising to inject about $1.4 trillion into the economy in less than two years, a radical gamble that sent the yen reeling and bond yields to record lows. New Governor Haruhiko Kuroda committed the BOJ to open-ended asset buying and said the monetary base would nearly double to 270 trillion yen ($2.9 trillion) by the end of 2014, a dose of shock therapy officials hope will end two decades of stagnation."

Reuters: "New York State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson and four others were charged with corruption by U.S. prosecutors on Thursday, in the second federal graft case brought against New York politicians this week. Federal prosecutors have accused Stevenson of taking more than $22,000 in bribes in exchange for official acts, which included drafting and sponsoring legislation to assist four businessmen in opening a network of adult daycare centers in the Bronx and avoid competition."

Reuters: "An Ohio judge sentenced Richard Beasley to death on Thursday for the murder of three down-on-their-luck men who responded to an ad he placed on the Craigslist website for a nonexistent job."

AP: "The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week by 28,000, the third straight increase. Weekly applications increased to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the highest level since late November."

New York Times: "An enormous leak of confidential financial records has revealed the identities of thousands of wealthy depositors — including European and Russian officials and corporate executives, Asian dictators and their children, and even American doctors and dentists -- who have stashed immense amounts of money in offshore tax havens.... The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a 15-year-old Washington-based group that obtained the secret records, collaborated with The Guardian, Asahi Shimbun, Le Monde, The Washington Post and more than 40 other news organizations to untangle and report their contents." The Guardian story is here, with links to related stories.