The Ledes

Monday, November 20, 2017.

New York Times: "The Argentine Navy disclosed on Monday that the crew of a missing submarine had been ordered to return to its home port on Wednesday after reporting a battery failure. The revelation was the first official confirmation that the Navy had known since Wednesday — when the submarine vanished — that the vessel was contending with equipment malfunction and might have the lost the ability to propel itself.... A multinational effort is underway to try to locate the submarine and its 44-member crew, amid mystery about what happened to the vessel.... The disclosure about mechanical failure is likely to add to fears that the crew has been lost."

New York Times:"Della Reese, the husky-voiced singer and actress who spent almost a decade playing a down-to-earth heavenly messenger on the CBS series 'Touched by an Angel' and became an ordained minister in real life, died on Sunday night at her home in Encino, Calif. She was 86."

New York Times: "Charles Manson, one of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century..., died on Sunday in Kern County, Calif. He was 83 and had been behind bars for most of his life."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, November 19, 2017.

Tennessean: "Country Music Hall of Famer, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and Grand Ole Opry member Mel Tillis died early Sunday morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida...."

New Yorker: Thomas Hargrove, a retired journalist, is developing an algorithm to solve serial murders. Interesting & not a bit nutty. Hargrove's research suggests that the number of serial killers still out their doing their jobs is much greater than police departments realize (or will admit -- serial killers are bad for local tourism). Also too, the percentage of murders that get solved has dropped precipitously in the last half-century.

Donaldo da Trumpo. Guardian: "On Wednesday, a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting sold for $450.3m, rocking the art world.... On Thursday, that same art world was given a reality check, when a sketch by the less celebrated Donald Trump sold for just $6,875 at an auction in Los Angeles. Trump’s untitled piece, which depicts the Manhattan skyline, barely cleared its minimum price of $5,000.... The president took on his project in 2009 for a charity event. Trump seems to have used either pencil or ballpoint pen for the piece, which measures 8in x 5in. The sketch shows what appear to be skyscrapers, alongside something representing the Empire State Building. Nate D Sanders, the auction house handling the sale, presented the sketch in a 15in x 18in frame, along with a signed photo of Trump."

New York Times: "After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s 'Salvator Mundi' sold on Wednesday night for $450.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s 'Women of Algiers,' which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015. The buyer was not immediately disclosed." ...

... New York Times critic Jason Farago calls the painting "a proficient but not especially distinguished religious picture from turn-of-the-16th-century Lombardy, put through a wringer of restorations.... The painting, when purchased at an estate sale in 2005 for less than $10,000, was initially considered a copy of a lost Leonardo, completed around 1500 and once in the collection of Charles I of England. [Some experts still think it's a copy.] Over time, its wood surface became cracked and chafed, and it had been crudely overpainted.... Cleaned by the conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the painting now appears in some limbo state between its original form and an exacting, though partially imagined, rehabilitation."

A D.C. Hotel for Liberals. Bloomberg: Eaton Workshop will open an anti-Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., late next spring. It's the "world’s first politically motivated hotel, the flagship for a global brand that’s built around social activism and community engagement."

Mike Isaac of the New York Times, in an article written in all tweets: "On Tuesday, [Twitter] said nearly all of its 330 million users would now be able to tweet with 280 characters, the exact total in this paragraph.... The only Twitter users who will remain at 140 characters are those who post in Japanese, Korean or Chinese, the company said. Those languages have alphabets that typically allow for the expression of more thoughts in fewer characters...."

Travel Advisory. New York magazine: "Oh Good, Southwest Airlines to Host Live Country-Music Concerts on Flights."

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. Des MacHale (often misattributed to H. L. Mencken)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Saturday
Aug222015

Aliens Among Us!

In a field of candidates who collectively hold such radical, xenophobic ideas against immigrant Americans, it is remarkable that so many are themselves the children of aliens.

The parents of these Republican presidential hopefuls come from exotic lands where the majority of people are communists or non-Christians, even from one country where men wear short skirts. Under the Constitution, the President of the United States must be a "natural born citizen." Do these shady birthright citizens qualify? Equally as unsettling: three candidates are married to foreign-born women. Do we really want an alien First Lady rifling through the White House silver & speaking in foreign tongues to world leaders plotting to undermine the American way?

Marco Rubio. Both of his parents were non-citizen immigrants when Marco was born. Despite Marco's claims that his parents were political refugees from Communist Cuba, the Washington Post revealed that the parents were economic opportunists who immigrated to the U.S. in 1956 during the Fulgencio Batista regime. In hopes of moving back to their native land, Marco's parents returned to Cuba several times after Fidel Castro gained power. Rubio's wife Jeanette is the daughter of Colombian immigrants. Prudent "real" Americans should question Marco's obviously shaky allegiance to the U.S. Rubio said this week that he was "open to exploring ways of not allowing people who are coming here deliberately for that purpose to acquire citizenship."

Ted Cruz was born in a socialist foreign country where his parents were working. Ted's mother Eleanor Wilson was born in Delaware to American parents. His father Rafael was Cuban-born & did not become a U.S. citizen until 2005. Meanwhile Teddy retained his foreign citizenship until last year, and then only after the Dallas Morning News outted his foreign allegiance to a nation which long threatened U.S. sovereignty and has harbored tens of thousands of enemies of the U.S. Like many a foreign spy, Ted dissembled when confronted with the facts: he claimed to have no idea he was a Canadian citizen. Ted said this week, "We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally. That has been my position from the very first day of my running for the Senate." Notably, he told a different story when he was actually running for the Senate. We one-hundred-percent U.S. citizens should not trust this guy. The U.S. has already fought one Revolution to win independence from the British Empire into which Ted was born & maintained citizenship. The very purpose of the Constitutional requirement that the president be a natural-born citizen was to protect the new nation from a return to British (or other foreign) rule. Would President Ted invite another Canadian invasion? Would we soon find ourselves singing "God Save the Queen"? 

Bobby Jindal is a true "anchor baby." Both his parents came legally from India to the U.S. six months before Bobby's birth in Baton Rouge. Obviously, they sneaked into the U.S. with a fiendish plan to endow their child with birthright citizenship. Curious, isn't it, that they chose a part of the country where a lot of people speak a foreign language? Although prestigious American universities invited Jindal to do his post-graduate work here in the U.S., Jindal chose to attend a foreign university which is a font of radical thought. Jindal's wife Supriya is an immigrant from India. Yet Jindal tweeted this week, “We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

Rick Santorum. His father Aldo immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was a child. According to Rick, his paternal grandfather -- also a U.S. immigrant -- was an acquaintance of Adolf Hitler's. Rick has close relatives in Italy who are communists. Real reds! The question is -- is Santorum a communist plant or a fascist? Santorum wants to end birthright citizenship.

Jeb Bush. Jeb! himself is a blueblood American, but his wife Columba was a Mexican who immigrated to the U.S. when she married Jeb! A known smuggler who lied repeatedly to U.S. Customs officials, Columba represents the criminal element of such concern to Republicans. While Bush calls birthright citizenship a constitutionally protected right,' he said this week that we should find a "targeted way" to "solve abuses, of people coming into the country so their children can become citizens."

Donald Trump. His mother immigrated from Scotland. Although Donald claims to be of Swedish descent on his father's side, his paternal grandfather was Friedrich Drumpf, who immigrated from Germany, not Sweden, first to New York City, then to Seattle & then to the Canadian Klondike & finally, via Germany, back to Queens. Two of Donald Trump's wives are natives of communist countries with ties to Russia & the old Soviet Union. Donald Trump says he would "end birthright citizenship" without bothering to amend the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States."

OR, maybe we could reject these exclusionary candidates & elect a Democrat who welcomes people from around the world & celebrates their contributions to our culture and our economy.

Saturday
Aug222015

The Commentariat -- August 22, 2015

White House: "In this week's address, the President spoke to the economic progress that our country has made over the past few years, from over 13 million new jobs over the past five and a half years, to 17 states raising the minimum wage":

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Thad Moore & Drew Harwell of the Washington Post: "The Dow Jones industrial average capped a four-day losing streak by dropping more than 500 points to close at 16,459.75, sinking 10 percent from its May peak and following even steeper market declines in Asia and Europe. The rout will further rattle workers whose 401(k) retirement accounts have taken a troubling hit. Investors have lost billions in recent weeks and are flocking to safety-net Treasury bonds as they wait for the bleeding to stop."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Joe Nocera of the New York Times: "A previous generation of Americans could count on a social compact; if you stuck loyally by a company, it would stick by you, providing you with a good job and a decent retirement. Long ago, loyalty fell by the wayside, and longtime employees learned that their loyalty meant nothing when companies 'downsized.' Amazon -- and, to be sure, any number of other companies as well -- has taken this idea to its logical extreme: Bring people in, shape them in the Amazon style of confrontation and workaholism, and cast them aside when they have outlived their usefulness.... [Founder & CEO Jeff] Bezos didn't have to build Amazon the way he did. He could have created a culture that valued employees and treated them well. But that would have required him to care about what somebody else thought. Fat chance."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Michael Birnbarm & Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "The ink was barely dry on a landmark agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program before a German government plane packed with the nation's economic elite touched down in Tehran. The trip was just the first in a rush of European ministers and business people flocking to a market that is poised to reopen after years of grinding sanctions." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... MEANWHILE. Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: "During the past decade, well-connected Iranian investors amassed undervalued assets in poorly executed and frequently corrupt rounds of privatization, buying insurance companies, hospitals, refineries and public utilities, among other things previously run -- usually poorly -- by the state.... [A] potential sell-off began to take shape in July, as the nuclear agreement began to move toward a conclusion...." (Also linked yesterday.)

Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said she believes the videos are illegal and that her organization is 'considering everything' in going after the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind the videos. 'I absolutely do believe that they have violated laws in terms of how they secured these videos,' she said in an interview at the group's Washington, D.C., headquarters. "But the fraud is also in how they have presented them and in the editing." ...

... Eliza Collins of Politico: "Jindal trolls protesters with undercover Planned Parenthood videos.... The Louisiana governor on Thursday showed a series of undercover Planned Parenthood videos on a loop outside the governor's mansion to protesters who were demonstrating against the defunding of Planned Parenthood."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Max Fisher of Vox has an update on the AP stories claiming that a U.N. "side deal" to the negotiated Iran nuclear agreement allows Iran to do its own testing of a military site known as Parchin. "On Thursday, as the AP came under increasing pressure, it published what it said was the full text of the draft IAEA agreement. The arms control experts were not convinced: Jeffrey Lewis, of Middlebury College, called the draft 'way too vague to support that story.' Cheryl Rofer, who has previously worked alongside the IAEA, tweeted that there were 'several things wrong' with the draft, for example that 'the whole thing is far too vague. It has no resemblance to a sampling plan.'... Tariq Rauf, the former head of verification and security policy coordination at the [IAEA] ... concluded that he suspected the draft may be fake..., in part on several odd errors in the draft..., but I suspect this may be because the AP reporter was required to copy down the draft agreement text by hand..., although it does raise questions about whether there could be more substantial errors as well." Thanks to Keith H. for the lead....

... CW: Here's something I find particularly troubling, tho Fisher doesn't mention it. The AP reporter George Jahn did a follow-up story reporting on reactions to his original, oft-altered story. In a section titled, "What Does the IAEA Say?", he quotes IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano: "'The arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our ... standards in any way.' He says agreements with Iran on clearing up the nuclear arms allegations 'are confidential and I have a legal obligation not to make them public - the same obligation I have for hundreds of such arrangements made with other IAEA member states.'" That's it. BUT Jahn omitted this part of Amano's statement, which appeared in a fuller Reuters report (linked in the Commentariat yesterday): "I am disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran. Such statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work." Reuters called Amano's remark "an unusually strongly worded statement." In other words, Amano directly & strongly criticized Jahn's report, calling it a "misrepresentation," and the AP chose not to print that part of the statement. That's just crap "journalism." News media regularly report denials or refutations by the subjects of their stories. The AP's decision to truncate Amano's remarks to eliminate his criticism of the gist of its story is cowardly &, well, misleading.

Presidential Race

Jonathan Martin & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "As Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign struggles with sliding poll numbers, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s exploration of a presidential candidacy is taking on a new seriousness.... Some Democrats supporting Mrs. Clinton have quietly signaled that they would re-evaluate their support if Mr. Biden joined the race."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton pleased progressives this week when she came out in opposition against drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Now they want to hear from her on Social Security. Former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland announced a proposal on Friday to expand Social Security, enhancing its benefits while holding the retirement age steady. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has expressed a similar view, leaving the ball in Mrs. Clinton's court.... The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and MoveOn.org all pressed Mrs. Clinton on Friday to join her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination in promising to protect Social Security...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jonathan Allen of Reuters: Reuters disputes Clinton's claim that she did not send classified material over her private e-mail account. Reuters has found at least 30 threads which it identifies as "so-called 'foreign government information,' information that is automatically classified. "The State Department disputed Reuters' analysis but declined requests to explain how it was incorrect." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

This is supposed to be a straight report. So Wow! Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "It was immigration, not segregation, that brought some 20,000 southerners -- far fewer than predicted -- out for Donald Trump on Friday night, but the ghost of George Wallace loomed large. Wallace, an avowed segregationist, was the last presidential candidate to win electoral votes as a third-party candidate. The threat of Trump doing so, propelled by a hardline immigration stance that many have condemned as racist, looms over the Republican Party now as it did over the Democratic Party then, even as the enthusiasm of his following, for once, fell far short of expectations.... Trump invited Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of Congress's most ardent immigration hardliners who helped the businessman craft his immigration plan, to the podium, where the two embraced." ...

... Robert Costa & Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Trump's flashy performance was about more than showmanship. His visit to Alabama was coolly strategic, touching down in the heart of red America and an increasingly important early battleground in the Republican nominating contest.... On the street, Olaf Childress, a neo-Confederate activist, gave out copies of 'The First Freedom' newspaper, which had headlines about 'Black-on-white crime,' 'occupied media' and 'censored details of the Holocaust.'" ...

     ... Steve M. assesses Costa & Weigel's "love letter" to Trump: "Clearly the earth moved for Costa and Weigel."

... The New York Times report, by Alan Blinder, is here.

John McCormick of Bloomberg: "A day after Jimmy Carter appeared on national television to talk about the cancer that's ravaging his body, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz criticized the former president's administration in a speech in Iowa. 'I think where we are today is very, very much like the late 1970s,' the senator from Texas said on the Des Moines Register's political soapbox stage at the Iowa State Fair. 'I think the parallels between this administration and the Carter administration are uncanny: same failed domestic policies, same misery, stagnation and malaise, same feckless and naïve foreign policy,' Cruz said. 'In fact, the exact same countries -- Russia and Iran -- openly laughing and mocking at the president of the United States.'" ...

     ... CW: Cruz's remarks about Carter struck me, too. This is what happens when a politician is a complete narcissist; he lacks normal awareness of common civility. Cruz, unsurprisingly, defending his remarks about Carter. As McCormick points out, Cruz did apologize for making a "joke" about Vice President Biden days after the death of Biden's son Beau. But Cruz can't help himself; he doesn't care about or even recognize other people's feelings. No doubt a staffer urged Cruz to apologize about his Biden "joke."

Josh Haskell & Jennifer Hopper of ABC News: "While Sen. Ted Cruz was grilling pork chops at the Iowa State Fair today, actress Ellen Page, wearing a hat and sunglasses, snuck her way up to the grill and asked the GOP presidential candidate about 'the persecution of gays in the workplace and LGBT rights.' ABC News caught the exchange." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Joseph Voorhees of Slate: Cruz repeatedly tells Page that "a Mennonite couple who agreed to pay a $5,000 fine late last year after they refused to provide service to a gay couple ... owns a church.... In reality they own a former church that they converted into an art gallery, flower shop, and bistro that they then ran as a wedding venue. So the Texan's taking some rather large liberties when he suggests that requiring the [couple] to allow a gay couple to wed in their for-profit business would be the same as 'forcing a Muslim imam to conduct a Jewish wedding ceremony.'" ...

... Cruz says his kind of birthright citizenship is cool -- he was born in Canada to an American mother & Cuban father -- but birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented residents is terrible. He says Jeb! is confused. Katie Glueck of Politico: "A day earlier, Bush suggested in New Hampshire that Cruz was the beneficiary of the broader birthright citizenship protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Bush opposes altering that language." (Also linked yesterday.)

... Flip-Flop. Esther Lee of Think Progress: "Scott Walker was tired from 'hours' of interviews when he said that fellow contender Donald Trump's plan to end birthright citizenship was 'very similar' to the immigration position that Walker supported as Wisconsin governor, according to an interview on Friday with CNBC correspondent John Harwood. Now, Walker says he doesn't have a stance on the topic. 'I'm not taking a position on it one way or the other,' Walker told Harwood, when questioned about ending birthright citizenship, a centerpiece demand that Trump laid out in his immigration policy plan....":

... CW: Really? Kasie Hunt of MSNBC: "Asked directly by msnbc if birthright citizenship should be ended, the Wisconsin governor replied: 'Yeah, to me it's about enforcing the laws in this country. And I've been very clear, I think you enforce the laws, and I think it's important to send a message that we're going to enforce the laws, no matter how people come here we're going to enforce the laws." Watch the video. Hunt asks the question twice, & twice Walker says, "Yeah," or "Yeah, absolutely," even invoking Harry Reid, who two decades ago introduced legislation to eliminating birthright citizenship for children of undocumented mothers, a position which years later he called a "travesty" & the "low point" of his legislative career. So Walker only favors this "travesty" when he's "tired"? Has he no principles? (Rhetorical question.) ...

... digby: "Walker, being the rank amateur he is, jumped on the Jeff Sessions/Donald Trump train automatically without thinking through whether or not that's what a serious frontrunning grown-up would do. He made a mistake." ...

... Hunter of Daily Kos: "There are flip-flops, and there are flip-flops. After leaping to support Donald Trump's far-right birthright-citizenship-ending proposal immediately after it was released and apparently agreeing that birthright citizenship needs to be repealed when asked by a reporter he now says ... he has no opinion on it?... Not only does Scott Walker walkback his own previous position, but he's apparently vowing to not have a position on one of the hot-button topics roiling the Republican presidential campaign.... Walker's unwillingness to state actual policy positions seems at this point less campaign strategy and more personal pathology."

** David Roberts of Vox: "Katie Couric recently interviewed Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, and the subject of climate change came up. They discussed it for over four minutes, likely marking the longest any national GOP political figure has spent talking about climate change in the past five years.... After acknowledging the science at the outset, literally everything Fiorina says subsequently is false or misleading. And yes, I know what 'literally' means.From the dazzling array, I have chosen a representative (but not exhaustive) sample of 10 misleading or false statements." CW: This is almost fun reading, Fiorina's claims & excuses are such nonsense. Unless you're already well-read on energy sources (and cats), you'll probably learn something. I did.

The Black Hand. Zeke Miller of Time: Jeb!'s superPAC "Right to Rise USA tweeted a picture of the inaugural mailing, which appears to show Bush posing in front of a bridge in what appears to be Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in Iowa. But a closer look at the photo seems to show that Bush was actually superimposed on a a stock image of the city, while his left hand appears to belong to someone else." CW: That "someone else" is a black person, so this must be Right to Rise's left-handed compliment to Iowa's huge black Republican base. The Photoshop fail has caused a lot of haw-hawwing on the Internets, but I'd say the biggest fake on the flyer is the candidate himself. ...

... ** IMPORTANT UPDATE: Chas Danner of New York: "... if you look at his other (right) hand, you can see that it was digitally colored white as well, as the awkward supposed shadows are the same color as the black hand." CW: Great catch, Chas!

Beyond the Beltway

Jonathan Katz of the New York Times: "A jury [in Charlotte, N.C.] said ... Friday that it was unable to decide whether a white police officer was guilty of manslaughter in the 2013 shooting death of an unarmed African-American man, but the judge ordered jurors to continue deliberating. The jury of eight women and four men -- seven are white, three African-American and two Hispanic -- said that it had taken three votes and was deadlocked on the fate of Officer Randall Kerrick. He is accused of using excessive force in the shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former college football player who died early on Sept. 14, 2013. Jurors told the judge that the three votes split 7 to 5, 8 to 4 and 8 to 4, but gave no indication of which way they are leaning." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

News Ledes

AP: "... three Americans are being hailed as heroes for tackling and disarming a gunman they happened to encounter on a high-speed Amsterdam-Paris train. Air Force serviceman Spencer Stone remained hospitalized Saturday after being stabbed, though the Pentagon said the injury was not life-threatening. Another passenger was wounded by a handgun in the attack Friday night, according to a police union official. It's unclear whether there was a political motive to the gunman's actions. French authorities are questioning the attacker, identified by police as a 26-year-old of Moroccan origin, and are expected to speak to at least one of the Americans on Saturday about what happened. Counterterrorism police are leading the investigation, according to the Paris prosecutor's office." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The two American service members who tackled a gunman on a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris rushed him even though he was fully armed, then grabbed him by the neck and beat him over the head with his own automatic rifle until he was unconscious, one of them said in television interviews [in Paris] on Saturday."

Thursday
Aug202015

The Commentariat -- August 21, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton pleased progressives this week when she came out in opposition against drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Now they want to hear from her on Social Security. Former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland announced a proposal on Friday to expand Social Security, enhancing its benefits while holding the retirement age steady. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has expressed a similar view, leaving the ball in Mrs. Clinton's court.... The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and MoveOn.org all pressed Mrs. Clinton on Friday to join her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination in promising to protect Social Security...." ...

... Jonathan Allen of Reuters: Reuters disputes Clinton's claim that she did not send classified material over her private e-mail account. Reuters has found at least 30 threads which it identifies as "so-called 'foreign government information,' information that is automatically classified. "The State Department disputed Reuters' analysis but declined requests to explain how it was incorrect."

Jonathan Katz of the New York Times: "A jury [in Charlotte, N.C.] said ... Friday that it was unable to decide whether a white police officer was guilty of manslaughter in the 2013 shooting death of an unarmed African-American man, but the judge ordered jurors to continue deliberating. The jury of eight women and four men -- seven are white, three African-American and two Hispanic -- said that it had taken three votes and was deadlocked on the fate of Officer Randall Kerrick. He is accused of using excessive force in the shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former college football player who died early on Sept. 14, 2013. Jurors told the judge that the three votes split 7 to 5, 8 to 4 and 8 to 4, but gave no indication of which way they are leaning."

Josh Haskell & Jennifer Hopper of ABC News: "While Sen. Ted Cruz was grilling pork chops at the Iowa State Fair today, actress Ellen Page, wearing a hat and sunglasses, snuck her way up to the grill and asked the GOP presidential candidate about 'the persecution of gays in the workplace and LGBT rights.' ABC News caught the exchange."

... Cruz says his kind of birthright citizenship is cool -- he was born in Canada to an American mother & Cuban father -- but birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented residents is terrible. He says Jeb! is confused. Katie Glueck of Politico: "A day earlier, Bush suggested in New Hampshire that Cruz was the beneficiary of the broader birthright citizenship protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Bush opposes altering that language."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Michael Birnbarm & Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "The ink was barely dry on a landmark agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program before a German government plane packed with the nation's economic elite touched down in Tehran. The trip was just the first in a rush of European ministers and business people flocking to a market that is poised to reopen after years of grinding sanctions." ...

... MEANWHILE. Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: "During the past decade, well-connected Iranian investors amassed undervalued assets in poorly executed and frequently corrupt rounds of privatization, buying insurance companies, hospitals, refineries and public utilities, among other things previously run -- usually poorly -- by the state.... [A] potential sell-off began to take shape in July, as the nuclear agreement began to move toward a conclusion...."

*****

Eric Holthaus of Slate: July was the hottest month in the recorded history of the world. ...

... IN OTHER COSMIC NEWS. Nick Gass of Politico: "Seeking to swat down online rumors about a catastrophic asteroid strike between Sept. 15-28, the U.S. space agency clarified this week that reports circulated by 'numerous recent blogs and web postings' are categorically false."

What the Deficit-Scolds Don't Get. Paul Krugman: "... many economists argue that the economy needs a sufficient amount of public debt out there to function well.... There's a reasonable argument to be made that part of what ails the world economy right now is that governments aren't deep enough in debt.... The debt of stable, reliable governments provides 'safe assets' that help investors manage risks, make transactions easier and avoid a destructive scramble for cash." A low public debt also drives interest rates on that debt down, which is a bad thing: "When interest rates on government debt are very low even when the economy is strong, there's not much room to cut them when the economy is weak, making it much harder to fight recessions.... Very low returns on safe assets may push investors into too much risk-taking -- or for that matter encourage another round of destructive Wall Street hocus-pocus.... [Also,] "issuing debt is a way to pay for useful things, and we should do more of that when the price is right."

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "On Sunday, a swarm of small rogue drones disrupted air traffic across the country on a scale previously unseen in U.S. skies.... Before last year, close encounters with rogue drones were unheard of. But as a result of a sales boom, small, largely unregulated remote-control aircraft are clogging U.S. airspace, snarling air traffic and giving the FAA fits.... Pilots have reported a surge in close calls with drones: nearly 700 incidents so far this year, according to FAA statistics, about triple the number recorded for all of 2014."

New York Times Editors: "Of all the threats to human life confronted by international health workers, few cause as heavy a toll as what is termed 'vaccine hesitancy' -- the delay or refusal by misinformed people to accept vaccination for themselves and their children. An estimated one in five children went without lifesaving vaccines globally last year, adding to the grim toll of 1.5 million children who die annually for lack of immunization, according to the World Health Organization.... The resistance to vaccines is worldwide, encompassing rural ethnic minorities opposed to needles to wealthy urbanites with suspicions about whether vaccines cause autism."

Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: "On Thursday morning, 130 civil rights and religious organizations, unions, and other progressive groups sent a letter to President Obama urging that he direct the Justice Department to reverse a Bush-era legal opinion about the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The 2007 memo from the Office of Legal Counsel concluded that, under RFRA, religious organizations seeking federal grants could not be forced to adhere to religious nondiscrimination laws in hiring."

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "In his most comprehensive effort to assure wavering Democrats, President Obama wrote in a letter to Congress that the United States would unilaterally maintain economic pressure and deploy military options if needed to deter Iranian aggression, both during and beyond the proposed nuclear accord.The Aug. 19 letter, obtained by The New York Times, is addressed to Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, but is also aimed at other Democrats with concerns about the deal." ...

... MEANWHILE. Mike Lillis of the Hill: "Twenty-two House Democrats visiting Israel got an earful from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their recent visit to the Middle East. Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders pressed their case against President Obama's historic nuclear deal with Iran, and focused on Democrats who could be the swing votes in the House." ...

... ** Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's top aide at State, in a U.S. News essay, on how the Bush-Cheney administration "did too little and were too late in strengthening the sanctions regime against Iran. In short, there was no policy with regard to Iran in the Bush administration other than, in Dick Cheney's words, 'We don't talk to evil.' As a result, by the time President Barack Obama's skillful and methodical diplomacy had made the sanctions regime more international and far more effective, the Iranians had over 19,000 centrifuges.... There are potentially deadly repercussions of a U.S. rejection of [the Iran nuclear] agreement. Rejection means the U.S. is alone.... The U.S. overestimated its capabilities to great damage in Vietnam and Iraq. We must not repeat that huge mistake with Iran." ...

... Burgess Everett & Jeremy Herb of Politico: "Sen. Claire McCaskill on Thursday become the latest in a string of red-state and centrist Democrats to endorse the Iran nuclear agreement this month -- providing a surge of momentum for Barack Obama ahead of a vote even the president has said could turn out to be as consequential as the decision whether to authorize the Iraq War last decade. McCaskill's announcement, on the heels of Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) saying he'll support the agreement a day earlier, is also a sign that moderate Democratic lawmakers don't appear especially worried about potential political fallout for backing the deal." ...

... Walter Pincus of the Washington Post tears apart, piece by piece, Sen. Bob Corker's "reasons" for not ratifying the Iran nuclear deal. See also yesterday's Commentariat. CW: As with so many Republican arguments about, well, everything, Corker wants to have his cake & eat it, too. In one part of his op-ed, he says, "Iran is so strong" it's scary; in another part he says, "Iran is so weak" negotiators should have gotten a much better deal. I guess a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, making Corker one exceptional intellect. ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Max Fisher of Vox: "On Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press published an exclusive report on the Iran nuclear program so shocking that many political pundits declared the nuclear deal dead in the water. But the article turned out to be a lot less damning that it looked -- and the AP ... scrubbed many of the most damning details.... A couple of hours after first publishing, the AP added in a bunch of quotes from Republicans furiously condemning the revelations, but at the same time, the AP removed most of the actual revelations. The information in the article was substantially altered, with some of the most damning details scrubbed entirely. No explanation for this was given.... On Thursday morning, shortly before this article went up, the AP reinstated most of the cut sections.... The AP then published another story that reiterated much of the information but also added a strange new detail that seemed to water down its original claims even further: 'IAEA staff will monitor Iranian personnel as they inspect the Parchin nuclear site.'... This is certainly not the first time that someone has placed a strategic leak in order to achieve a political objective. But it is disturbing that the AP allowed itself to be used in this way, that it exaggerated the story in a way that have likely misled large numbers of people, and that, having now scrubbed many of the details, it has appended no note or correction explaining the changes." CW: This is a lo-o-ong post. You'll have to read most of it to get the gist of it." See also yesterday's Commentariat. ...

... Shadia Nasralla of Reuters: "The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief on Thursday rejected as 'a misrepresentation' suggestions Iran would inspect its own Parchin military site on the agency's behalf, an issue that could help make or break Tehran's nuclear deal with big powers.... Under a roadmap accord Iran reached with the IAEA alongside the July 14 political agreement, the Islamic Republic is required to give the IAEA enough information about its past nuclear programme to allow the Vienna-based watchdog to write a report on the issue by year-end." ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM: "And here we have another case where tendentious malefactors leak seemingly damning details to reporters who in the most basic sense do not know what they are talking about and write a story which can and often does dramatically affect the public debate over a critical issue.... The AP has to scrub its story and pull a New York Times pretending the gist somehow isn't changed when there is barely a story there in the first place.... Again, basic premise: The nuclear stuff is complicated. The nuclear scientists understand it better than Hannity or even Wolf Blitzer. Listen to the nuclear scientists.

Ian Shapira of the Washington Post: The family of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, who as killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan, does not accept the excuses in the Army's investigation of the murder. "Greene's widow, Sue Myers, who holds a top-level security clearance," has read an unredacted version of the Army's report.

AP: New Orleans "Mayor Mitch Landrieu says former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will visit New Orleans next week for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Their visits follow that of President Barack Obama, who is coming to the city Thursday. On Friday, Bush and Laura Bush will go to Warren Easton Charter School, one of the spots where George Bush marked the hurricane's first anniversary. They will also go to Gulfport, Mississippi, for an event thanking first responders." CW: Also, way more white people in Gulfport. Whew! Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Birnbaum of the Washington Post: "Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned Thursday, calling snap elections in his economically embattled nation in a bid to combat dissent within his own party. The decision injected fresh uncertainty into Greece's turbulent economics."

Presidential Race

Nick Gass: "Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley will announce on Friday his goal to increase the number of Americans with adequate retirement savings by 50 percent within two terms in the White House, according to plans detailed in a campaign document provided to Politico. Rejecting calls to raise the retirement age, the former governor of Maryland will call for expanding Social Security benefits to all Americans for 'current and future' retirees, in addition to lifting the payroll tax cap on people earning more than $250,000." ...

... How to Respond to a Bully. Nick Gass: "Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley apologized 'like a disgusting, little, weak, pathetic baby' for his remark that 'all lives matter,' Donald Trump said in an excerpt of a new interview aired Friday on Fox News.... In response to Trump's remarks, O'Malley's campaign said it had no interest in 'engaging in a race to the bottom.' 'Governor O'Malley stands with those who have the guts to stand up to Donald Trump's hate speech,' O'Malley spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement ... that included a link to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow praising the governor for meeting with employees of Trump's Las Vegas hotel seeking to form a union earlier this week."

Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: Bernie "Sanders's appeal is ... about the opportunity his campaign gives disaffected Democrats to vent their anger at the list of national ills they believe are caused by big business and its conservative allies and have been left unaddressed by President Obama.... Americans, Mr. Sanders says, live under an oligarchy of billionaires, the Koch brothers and Walmart owners and Wall Street chieftains who conspire to keep the workingman down. Their information is dumbed down by a news media that avoids the issues, treats campaigns like soap operas and begs him to 'beat up on Hillary Clinton.'"

Nick Gass of Politico: "Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sit atop their respective parties' primary polls in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday. Since 1960, no presidential candidate has won without taking at least two of these three states. But in hypothetical general-election matchups in all three states, Vice President Joe Biden performed as well or better than Clinton against the top Republican candidates, outpacing even The Donald."

Drip, Drip. Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday said that Hillary Rodham Clinton did not follow government policies when she relied exclusively on a personal email account while she was secretary of state, challenging her longstanding claim that she had complied with the rules. The judge, Emmet G. Sullivan of United States District Court, also opened the door for the F.B.I. to look through Mrs. Clinton's server for messages that she may have deleted but that should have been handed over to the State Department." CW: Presidents Reagan & Bush I appointed Sullivan to judgeships before President Clinton appointed him a District court judge. ...

... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: Brian Fallon of the Clinton campaign: If Hillary Clinton unwittingly handled classified material on on a non-classified server, so did members of the House Benghaaazi! committee, since they also received the e-mails before the e-mails were classified." ...

... Bryan Bender of Politico: "While emphasizing that Clinton's defense cannot be judged until the content of the messages are fully analyzed, fellow diplomats and other specialists said on Thursday that if any emails were blatantly of a sensitive nature, she could have been expected to flag it. 'She might have had some responsibility to blow the whistle,' said former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who served under the former secretary of state and oversaw a department review of the deadly attack in 2012 on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi...." ...

... Kevin Drum says it's legitimate to question Clinton's judgment about using a private e-mail account, but he can't find any evidence of malfeasance: "Using a private server was allowed by the State Department when Clinton started doing it. Removing personal emails before turning over official emails appears to be pretty standard practice. None of the emails examined so far has contained anything that was classified at the time it was sent. There is no evidence that I know of to suggest that Clinton used a private server for any nefarious purpose. Maybe she did. But if you want to make this case, you have make it based on more than just timeworn malice toward all things Clinton." ...

... CW: Josh Voorhees of Slate has a fairly good recap of the events & issues surrounding Emailgate. He's wrong here, though: "Hillary's private email account and server effectively shielded her messages from Freedom of Information Act requests, congressional subpoenas, and other searches." If that were true, there would be no story here because the Benghaazi! committee & others filing FOIA requests would have come up with nothing. Wherever Clinton puts her work product, it is subject to FOIA & other legitimate investigatory & scholarly requests. One thing Voorhees points out: "Huma Abedin, is known to have had her own clintonemail.com address, making it difficult to believe that all of Clinton;s government business was logged on government servers."

     ... Another important point, & what I think was Clinton's biggest mistake -- bigger than using a private server in the first place -- was that she had her own obsessively-loyal staff decide what was private & what was public. That's the vixen & her pups guarding the henhouse. To maintain a bare-minimal level of credibility, Clinton should have had disinterested parties -- probably from the National Archives -- vet the public/private sorting process. ...

... Bill Barrow of the AP: "As part of her promise to address rising college costs, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling to expand the AmeriCorps service program launched under her husband's administration. Clinton calls for spending about $20 billion over 10 years on the expansion, increasing the number of civil service volunteers from 75,000 to 250,000 and more than doubling the educational grant that enrollees can receive." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.

Adele Stan of the American Prospect: "While the warriors against Planned Parenthood frame their fight as one against abortion, the war is more roundly against health care for the kind of women who are least likely to vote for Republicans, all to stoke a GOP base formed of a particular subset of white men (and the women who love them) -- a subset comprising those who are aggrieved at their perceived loss of power to women and people of darker hues. That's what the war against Planned Parenthood really is: a reality show all about showing uppity women who's boss.... The real target is the Democratic Party and its frontrunner for the 2016 presidential nomination."

You know, a lot of the gangs that you see ... when you look at Baltimore, when you look at Chicago, and Ferguson a lot of these areas. You know, a lot of these gang members are illegal immigrants. They're gonna be gone. We're gonna get them out so fast, out of this country. So fast. -- Donald Trump, Thursday

Every "illegal immigrant" Latino living in Ferguson must be a gang member because only 1.2 percent of the population is Hispanic. Of course it's possible Trump was talking about other ethnic "illegal immigrants." -- Constant Weader

... Race to the Bottom. New York Times Editors: "As Mr. Trump swells in the polls, his diminished opponents are following in his wake.... When the campaign is over, no matter what becomes of Mr. Trump's candidacy, he will have further poisoned the debate with his noxious positions, normalized an extremism whose toxicity is dulled by familiarity and is validated by a feckless party. He has emboldened the fringe lawmakers whose 'hell no' on any positive immigration legislation has stymied reform for years."

A Great Nation of Thugs

Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported. -- Scott Leader, on his reason for allegedly beating a homeless Hispanic man in Boston

... Sara DiNatale & Maria Sacchetti of the Boston Globe: "Police said two brothers from South Boston ambushed [a] 58-year-old [homeless man] as he slept outside of a Dorchester MBTA stop, and targeted him because he is Hispanic.... The brothers walked away from the scene laughing, a witness told State Police.... One of the brothers said he was inspired in part by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.... In Dorchester District Court on Wednesday, Scott and Steve Leader, who have extensive criminal records, pleaded not guilty to multiple assault charges with a dangerous weapon, indecent exposure, and making threats."

It would be a shame. ... I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate. -- Donald Trump, on hearing of the alleged beating ...

Andrew Husband of Mediaite: "In addition to beating a homeless man because of his ethnicity, the Leader brothers' 'passionate' nature is also on display in their respective (and extensive) criminal records. Like the time Scott attacked a Dunkin' Donuts employee, a Moroccan man, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C and rural Pennsylvania.... He threw a cup at the man and called him a terrorist.... Leader was charged with a hate crime and sentenced to one year in prison.

Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Every cloud has a silver lining, I guess, and in the case of two intoxicated brothers that urinated on a homeless man and beat him with a pole simply because he's Hispanic, the silver lining is that they are passionate about America.... Trump's response was newsworthy for how tone-deaf it was. It was also much more novel than the crime itself."

Zandar in Balloon Juice: "Whether or not you think Trump is a colossal cosmic joke inflicted on the body politic, the hatred he's stoking is very real, and has very real consequences."

This pattern of hateful rhetoric has officially passed the point of extremist words and has turned into alarming action. This is more than just bad politics. When political debate encourages an atmosphere where hateful actions and hurtful rhetoric get mainstreamed, it's bad for the country. -- Frank Sharry of America's Voice

... Patti Solis Doyle, a former Hillary Clinton campaign manager, who now works at CNN, wonders what Donald Trump would do about her & her brother: they were born in the U.S. before their parents became citizens.

Robert Costa & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "The non-Trump candidates are falling into three categories: Those who are emulating and befriending him in an effort to win over his supporters; those who are assailing his background or calling him out for his views and rhetoric; and those who prefer to stay silent, as if hunkering down in the basement to ride out the tornado."

Jeb! Accuses Trump of Being a Democrat. Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "After weeks of parrying Donald J. Trump's derisive thrusts with elliptical, indirect and sparing responses, Jeb Bush aggressively attacked Mr. Trump [in Keene, New Hampshire,] on Thursday, portraying him as a Democratic-leaning poseur in the Republican field and expressing confidence that voters would come to the same conclusion." CW: Also, I see it is now routine among the Warriors Against Women to accuse anyone who supports abortion rights of being for "partial-birth abortion." Watch for it.

Embracing the Bro! A Decider Makes Decisions. It's the first decision that a party nominee makes that's an indication of how you make decisions as president. Once you get to the bottom line of this, a president is a decider. A president leads by making decisions. -- Jeb!, yesterday

If the Doofus was his "own man" once, as he has claimed, he isn't any more. He has nearly completely morphed into Bush II. -- Constant Weader

... Also, said Bro! is doing some fundraising for Jeb!

Eli Stokols & Eliza Collins of Politico: "On Thursday, [Jeb Bush] allowed himself to be pulled into the mud with Donald Trump. Trump ... offered an immigration plan this week that called for repealing birthright citizenship ... to ... what he termed 'anchor babies.' In Keene, New Hampshire on Thursday, Bush defended his own use of that term in a Wednesday radio interview. 'You give me a better term and I'll use it,' Bush snapped at reporters. 'Give me another word.'... On Thursday, he told reporters that he does not believe the term is offensive. But at the same time, he said he has not directly used it and said he believes in birthright citizenship."

Matthew DeFour of the Madison, Wisconsin State Journal: "Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Scott Walker has lost significant home-state support for his White House bid, and he continues to face dissatisfaction among Wisconsin voters with his job approval dipping below 40 percent for the first time in a new Marquette Law School Poll released Thursday. The poll found 39 percent of registered voters approve of Walker's job performance.... 'That's notably underwater,' said poll director Charles Franklin." Walker beat other presidential candidates in the survey of Republican & Republican-leaning voters, but is well behind where he stood with them in April. Thanks to Nadd2 for the lead.

AP: "Two former top aides to Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign pled not guilty Thursday to charges that they conspired to buy the support of an Iowa lawmaker before that year's caucuses. Jesse Benton and John Tate appeared in federal court in Des Moines. Along with a third former Ron Paul staffer, they are charged with conspiracy, falsifying documents and several other related crimes. Both were released and a trial date of Oct. 5 has been set for all three. Benton and Tate are on leave from their roles leading America's Liberty, a super PAC supporting Rand Paul's presidential run. Benton is married to Rand Paul's niece. The third aide, former Ron Paul deputy campaign manager Dimitri Kesari, has already appeared in court."

Beyond the Beltway

Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will try to counter a pro-Planned Parenthood rally scheduled to take place outside his mansion on Thursday by running a loop of the secretly recorded videos that they plan to protest. Jindal announced Thursday that he is setting up an outdoor movie screen and speakers outside the governor's mansion to show the controversial videos, which he said too many of Planned Parenthood's supporters have refused to watch. The showing will take place at the exact time of a scheduled protest by Planned Parenthood supporters." CW: Jindal may be trying to prove he's even creepier than Trump, but that still doesn't make him a serious presidential contender.

John Lyon of the Arkansas News: Arkansas "Gov. Asa Hutchinson [R] said Wednesday he is open to continuing to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion [under the ACA] if the federal government grants the state increased flexibility in shaping its health-care programs." ...

... Steve Benen: "... the governor has a whole bunch of ideas about how to make the policy as conservative as possible, but there's no getting around the fact that Hutchinson has no interest in scrapping Arkansas' Medicaid expansion[, CW: which was instituted when Democrat Mike Beebe was governor].... Arkansas may be a ruby-red state now ... and the word 'Obamacare' probably polls horribly. But ... few states need the ACA as desperately as Arkansas, and even fewer have benefited more.... Just this month, Gallup showed the states with the largest drop in the uninsured rate. Arkansas was #1.... There's a big difference between GOP policymakers telling the public, 'We hate the president, so your family will no longer have access to basic medical care,' and actually going through with it."

Reuters: "California's first grey wolf pack since wild wolves disappeared from the state nearly a century ago has been spotted in the woods in the northern part of the state, wildlife officials said on Thursday."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Stock prices around the world continued to plunge on Friday, threatening to end one of the longest bull runs in the history of the United States stock market. A searing six-year rally in United States stocks had advanced into the summer months, shrugging off challenges like the dispute over Greece's debt. But in the last two weeks, world markets tumbled as investors grew increasingly concerned about developments in China, which unexpectedly devalued its currency last week, and the outlook for the economies of other large developing countries."

Guardian: "Emergency workers from Australia and New Zealand are travelling to the western United States to help fight raging wildfires in five states including Washington, where Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency as massive fires are burning out of control." ...

... Seattle Times: "A day after a rampaging wildfire near Twisp killed three U.S. Forest Service firefighters and injured four others, large blazes burned out of control across Washington [state] as gusting winds pushed flames over parched wild lands and broadened a statewide crisis. By Thursday, the Okanogan complex fires had exploded over bone-dry terrain in the North Cascades, tripling in size, consuming or threatening dozens of homes and outbuildings and displacing hundreds of people."