The Ledes

Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "One of the longest-running shows in television history suffered its worst tragedy this week when an audio technician for the reality program 'Cops' was accidentally shot and killed by police while trying to film a robbery in Omaha. Officers thought the suspect was shooting at them. They opened fire, killing the suspect as well as Bryce Dion, 38, a seven-year veteran of the show. When police examined the suspect's weapon, they discovered it was a pistol that fired only pellets." ...

... New York Times: "The Omaha police chief said Wednesday that the fatal shooting of a crew member filming the television show 'Cops' by one of his officers was an 'unfortunate incident' and that it appeared that the three officers involved had acted professionally.

New York Times: "Tanks, artillery and infantry have crossed from Russia into an unbreached part of eastern Ukraine in recent days, attacking Ukrainian forces and causing panic and wholesale retreat not only in [the] small border town [of Novoazovsk, Ukraine,] but also a wide section of territory, in what Ukrainian and Western military officials described on Wednesday as a stealth invasion. The attacks outside this city and in an area to the north essentially have opened a new, third front in the war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists, along with the fighting outside the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk."

Washington Post: "The mother of Steven J. Sotloff, an American journalist who was captured last year by the Islamic State, has made a video plea to the head of the terrorist organization asking for her son’s release. In a video released Wednesday, Shirley Sotloff asks Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to 'please release my child. And as a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over.'” Story includes video.

Guardian: "The US has said little about Mount Sinjar since 14 August, when Obama declared the siege broken, but recent satellite imagery and interviews with Yazidis still on the mountain indicate a humanitarian emergency continuing to unfold."

New York Times: "A number of United States banks, including JPMorgan Chase and at least four other firms, were hit by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month, according to four people familiar with the investigation, which is incomplete. The hackers infiltrated the networks of the banks, siphoning off gigabytes of data, including account information, in what security experts described as a sophisticated cyberattack."

AP: "Syrian rebels, including fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group, seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights on Wednesday after heavy clashes with President Bashar Assad's forces, activists and rebels said. The capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan held more symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops."

Washington Post: "An open-ended cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was holding Wednesday after seven weeks of warfare that killed more than 2,200 people."

Washington Post: "Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of stepping up military activity in the annexed territory of Crimea and sending in troops to help separatists near a key seaport in southeastern Ukraine."

New York Times: "Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said on Wednesday that French prosecutors had placed her under formal investigation over a murky business affair that dates to her time as finance minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, August 26, 2014.

New York Times: "The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index reached a milestone on Tuesday, closing above 2,000 for the first time ever, if just barely. It was a lazy day of trading that picked up on some encouraging signs in the United States economy, but not enough for sustained optimism in the market."

ABC News: "A third American hostage held by ISIS has been identified as a 26-year-old American woman who was kidnapped a year ago while doing humanitarian relief work in Syria. The terror group is demanding $6.6 million and the release of U.S. prisoners for the life of the young woman, whom a representative for the family requested not be identified."

New York Times: "A 33-year-old American who was fighting for the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was killed in recent days in a battle with a rival group in Syria, a senior American official said on Tuesday. The authorities identified the man as Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego. According to a human rights group that tracks the conflict in Syria, Mr. McCain was killed in a battle in Marea, a city in northern Syria near the Turkish border. Mr. McCain had been on a watch list of potential terrorism suspects maintained by the United States government, American officials said."

New York Times: "Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday reached a long-term cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting, according to officials on both sides, halting the longest, bloodiest battle either side has experienced in years — but without resolving many of the bigger issues underlying the conflict."

New York Times: "Burger King Worldwide agreed on Tuesday to buy the Canadian restaurant chain Tim Hortons for about $11.4 billion, creating one of the biggest fast-food operations in the world – with a little help from Warren E. Buffett. As part of the transaction, however, the American burger giant will move its home to Canada, where the combined company’s biggest market will be."

Washington Post: "Ukraine said Tuesday its forces detained a group of Russian paratroopers who crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, and the U.S. ambassador to Kiev warned of a possible “Russian-directed counteroffensive” by pro-Moscow separatists, raising tensions between the two countries as their presidents attended a regional summit."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
August 27

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

1:00 pm ET: White House Veteran Entrepreneur Champions of Change forum

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

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

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

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Thursday
Jun212012

The Commentariat -- June 22, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "The First Draft of History -- Will be Vaporized." The NYTX front page is here.

Matthew Stevenson writes a terrific send-up for NYTX of the New York Times' coverage of the "Dating Game" between President Obama & Chancellor Merkel.

CW: contributor Janice recommends this American Prospect article by Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson on Michael Harrington's The Other America, the seminal work on poverty in America that helped inspire Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty." Janice says it's a must-read. I agree.

CW: I was prepared not to care for this long article on how privileged women balance work and family by Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic, but she mostly succeeds at reining in the whiney factor & makes some mild proposals -- and has taken some itty-bitty steps -- toward easing the burdens of the two-career woman: worker & mommy. Of course I would go much further & urge that all jobs be cut to a 35-hour work week -- a sure-fire way to create millions of jobs, jobs, jobs. ...

... I learned about Slaughter's piece thru this article by Jodi Kantor of the New York Times, which discusses the article & the difficulties elite women still have competing with elite men. Why should those of us who are not -- or whose children or grandchildren will not become -- secretary of state give a rat's ass? Because, however slowly, what happens at the top does trickle down. I'd like to have your input on this.

"Illegal Movie":

Paul Krugman: "... you shouldn't imagine that what The Times discovered about prison privatization in New Jersey is an isolated instance of bad behavior. It is, instead, almost surely a glimpse of a pervasive and growing reality, of a corrupt nexus of privatization and patronage that is undermining government across much of our nation."

Krugman, from an undisclosed location, on the Fed's inaction: "I'm sorry, but this looks like pure concession to political intimidation -- a Fed refusing to do anything that would let Republicans accuse it of helping Obama. And for the sake of its own political comfort, the Fed is essentially betraying the unemployed. All in all, the degree of elite failure in this crisis is just stunning."

CW: sorry, I thought I linked this earlier, but I guess not. Ezra Klein has a pretty good piece in the New Yorker on the history of the individual mandate. Since after next week, we may not ever hear much about it ever again, you might consider Klein's piece a swan song. ...

... Here's the Chorus. Dr. Donald Berwick, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Obamacare is helping our nation achieve health care that is excellent, accessible to all and affordable. In the 17 months that I led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), I saw how this law is helping tens of millions of families and is finally putting our health-care system on the right track."

Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: maybe the Supremes would have been able to write a meaningful decision in F.C.C. v. Fox if they weren't so loath to write the words "fuck" and "shit," which were, after all, the issues of the case. Davidson's post includes this excellent video:

Reality Chek: the vaunted Democratic super-majority lasted about six months. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Alexander Burns of Politico: "Indiana Treasurer and GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock applauds the Supreme Court's decision invalidating the Affordable Care Act in a new video uploaded to his YouTube account. The catch, obviously, is that the Court hasn't ruled on Obamacare just yet.... Mourdock's video ... is apparently a pretaped message in the event that the health care law goes down, but it hit the web early.... But wait -- there's more! Mourdock uploaded three more videos so as to cover multiple contingencies in the Supreme Court decision. There's a video for a ruling that upholds the Affordable Care Act, one for a split decision and one for a totally inconclusive decision." CW: Moredick is going to be this season's Rand Paul. Let's just hope he loses the election. ...

... Plus, either Moredick didn't get this memo or it doesn't apply to Senate candidates. Reuters: "U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday told the Republican rank-and-file there will be no celebrating in Congress if the Supreme Court rules against President Barack Obama's sweeping healthcare reform law."

David Nakamura & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "A day after a congressional committee recommended that the House hold the nation's attorney general in contempt in connection with an investigation of a botched federal gun-running operation, the White House and its Republican rivals sought to position themselves as the principled parties in a high-stakes game of election-year brinkmanship."

Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker: "... in 2012, abortion remains — more than ever, in fact — the biggest and clearest difference between Republicans and Democrats."

Presidential Race

Jacob Weisberg of Slate: the President "and his campaign have cleverly recognized that Romney's slow-footedness and lack of imagination present an opportunity for them to shine in contrast. They have reversed the usual dynamic of re-election campaigns, highlighting the challenger's stodginess while making Obama into a nimble incumbent."

** Willard, the Outsourcing King. Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney's financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India. During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain..., it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to [SEC] filings.... Romney in recent months has lamented the toll [outsourcing has] taken on the U.S. economy. He has repeatedly pledged he would protect American employment by getting tough on China.... A Washington Post examination of securities filings shows the extent of Bain's investment in firms that specialized in helping other companies move or expand operations overseas."

¿Como se dice 'Flip Flop' en Español? Trip Gabriel & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney on Thursday offered what he called a strategy for 'bipartisan and long-term immigration reform' in an address to a convention of Latino elected officials in Florida. In the speech, which also touched on the economy, Mr. Romney dropped the confrontational tone he took on immigration during the Republican primary. Instead, he promised to work in a series of areas to help immigrants and their families while discouraging people from coming to the country illegally.... The nearly twenty-minute speech was met with tepid applause and moments of pointed silence." ...

... Or Maybe Not. Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "Romney has now shifted to a strategy of strategic obfuscation.... Romney completely avoided the two big questions: How will Romney deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the US, and what will he do about the DREAM Act-eligible immigrants.... [The speech was] just vague enough to give the impression that Romney has moderated on immigration policy without making an actual commitment to any policy changes." ...

... Lawrence Downes of the New York Times: "To qualify for Mr. Romney’s plan, an illegal immigrant would first have to serve in the military. That's about 30,000 people, according to Frank Sharry, an immigration-rights advocate.... Mr. Romney finally had the chance to explain what he would do about the 11.5 million illegal immigrants in this country, apart from hope they go away, and do it before an eager audience. But he didn't."

... Mark Murray of NBC News: "In remarks he delivered in Florida before Latino political leaders, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney once again declined to answer if he would overturn President Obama's executive action to no longer deport qualified young illegal immigrants.... Left unsaid, of course, is what Romney -- if elected president -- would do before signing long-term legislation into law, or if the legislation couldn't be passed. Remember: Due to congressional opposition, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been unable to pass comprehensive legislation dealing with illegal immigration."

Ben Adler of The Nation, citing numerous big-business flame-outs, makes an excellent case against ever choosing a businessperson as president or treasury secretary.

Dressage as Tax Dodge. Amy Davidson: "The Romneys reported a business loss for the care of Rafalca that added up to some seventy-seven thousand dollars."

Local News

California, an Actual Laboratory of Democracy. New York Times Editors: "A bill moving through the California Legislature, aptly named the Trust Act, seeks to counter the damage done to community policing and public safety by the Obama administration's Secure Communities program.... The bill would enhance the ability of local departments to fight crime by restoring community trust and saving jail space for serious offenders. It deserves to become law."

News Ledes

... Here's the "money quote," literally:

Tampa Bay Times: "President Barack Obama used the first Florida rally of his 2012 campaign on Friday to blast Mitt Romney as an 'outsourcing pioneer' and promised a second term focused on helping the middle class more than the wealthiest Americans."

New York Times: "President Obama assailed Republicans on Friday as obstacles to fixing the nation's immigration system and said his opponent would block efforts to let young immigrants stay if they were brought into the United States illegally by their parents." Orlando Sentinel story here.

New York Times: "Msgr. William J. Lynn, a former archbishop's aide, was found guilty Friday of one count of endangering children, becoming the first senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to be convicted of covering up child sexual abuses by priests under his supervision. The 12-member jury acquitted Monsignor Lynn, of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, on a conspiracy charge and a second count of endangerment after a three-month trial that prosecutors and victims rights groups called a milestone in the sexual abuse scandals that have shaken the Catholic church." Philadelphia Inquirer story here.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "... jurors in the child sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky asked a judge to re-read a portion of his instructions involving one of the more controversial elements of the case.... Judge John M. Cleland called jurors back to the courtroom at 3:25 p.m. and instructed them once again on how to weigh testimony involving the alleged abuse of a man known in court documents as Victim 8. His identity remains unknown to prosecutors. Last week, Penn State janitor Ron Petrosky testified that in 2000 a co-worker, James Calhoun, walked out of a locker room shower claiming he had seen Sandusky 'licking on' the young boy's genitals." ...

     ... ** New York Times Update: "Jerry Sandusky ... was convicted Friday of sexually abusing young boys, completing the downfall of a onetime local hero." Philadelphia Inquirer story here.

New York Times: "Egypt's military rulers warned on Friday that they would use 'the utmost firmness' against anyone they deem to threaten 'the higher interests of the country' just as tens of thousands of demonstrators flooded into Tahrir Square here for the fourth day of demonstrations against the dissolution of Parliament and reassertion of their power." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Tens of thousands have packed Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square to denounce a power grab by the ruling military, as the nation nervously awaited the results of the first post-Mubarak presidential election."

Al Jazeera: "A Turkish fighter jet has gone missing over the Mediterranean near Syria, risking a new crisis between Middle Eastern neighbours already at bitter odds over a 16-month-old revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The military said a search and rescue operation for the two pilots of the F-4 plane was under way.... Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said at a news conference on Friday that he did not know whether Syria had shot down the plane, and said that Syria had sent no word of apology."

Washington Post: "The University of Virginia governing board will meet next week to discuss whether to reinstate President Teresa Sullivan, whose abrupt ouster this month caused an uproar on the historic campus. Sullivan supporters on the board of visitors called for a special meeting after they secured what they think are enough votes to retain her, according to current and former board members briefed on the conversations."

Washington Post: "The leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Spain were gathering in Rome Friday for crucial talks aimed at reaching a compromise on short- and long-term fixes for the region's worsening financial crisis, ahead of a European Union summit in Brussels next week." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The leaders of the euro zone’s four largest economies vowed on Friday to defend the common currency with all means necessary, trying to reassure markets before yet another key summit meeting of the European Union next week in Brussels."

Washington Post: "Pakistan's ruling party picked a new prime minister Friday -- former government power and water chief Raja Pervez Ashraf -- but the choice seemed to guarantee continued political turmoil: Ashraf, the energy minister from 2008 to 2011, is associated with a persistent energy crisis that has crippled the country with blackouts, water shortages and steep increases in the price of fuel." ...

     ... Al Jazeera Update: "Raja Pervez Ashraf has been elected Pakistan's new prime minister and sworn in by the president, just days after the Supreme Court had dismissed Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt."

New York Times: "Twenty people were killed when seven Taliban militants shot their way into a much-visited lakeside resort [in Afghanistan] and took scores of hostages during an 11-hour siege, Afghan officials said on Friday."

Reuters: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Friday that he was ready for a life in Ecuador and said the country had been 'quite supportive' of his bid for asylum."

Wednesday
Jun202012

The Commentariat -- June 21, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "The Third-Party Zombie and Other Friedman Recyclables." The NYTX front page is here. ...

... I thought this parody of Friedman's column today was a hoot.

Paul Krugman on Ben Bernanke:

... Ben Pleases Willard. Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "... the Fed board agrees that the economy needs help, but ... has chosen not to provide it, at least right now.... There's plenty that the Fed could do, and ... they are the only game in town, given that Congress is not going to do anything helpful.... On Sunday, in a little-noticed part of his Face the Nation interview, [Mitt] Romney bashed 'politicians' who 'want to do everything they can just before an election to try and temporarily boost something' when they should be concerned about 'the potential threat down the road of inflation.' ... What we have here is Romney also benefiting from a presumption that he cares about economic growth, when ... he's explicitly expressing far more concern about inflation." ...

... Michael Grunwald of Time agrees with Bernstein, forcefully so, and not for the first time. "And so we beat on, boats against the current...."

Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian: Julian "Assange's fear of ending up in the clutches of the US is plainly rational and well-grounded." ...

... Chris Spannos of the New York Times eXaminer has an interesting play-by-play of how the New York Times changes its story -- in this case, the story of Julian Assange's application for political asylum.

One Reason ObamaCare Is Unpopular. Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: "In all, about $235 million has been spent on ads attacking the law since its passage in March 2010.... Only $69 million has been spent on advertising supporting it." Underwriting the anti-ACA ads: "an array of conservative groups, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($27 million) to Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS ($18 million), which includes the billionaire Sheldon Adelson among its donors, and the American Action Network ($9 million), founded by Fred V. Malek, an investor and prominent Republican fund-raiser." This is not about health care; it's about GOP politics. ...

... The Other Reason ObamaCare Is Unpopular. Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "The latest study from the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism found that ... [media] coverage of the Affordable Care Act was dominated by rhetoric used by the law's opponents. According to Pew, 'the concepts used by opponents were nearly twice as common as those used by supporters.' ... Journalists are supposed to separate truth from falsehood, but instead spent the bulk of their resources speculating about 'politics and strategy.'" ...

... The overview of the Pew report is here, and it's very readable. CW: If the Supreme Court kills the Affordable Care Act or the individual mandate, blame the media's politicized coverage -- which turned the public against the ACA; the law's unpopularity provides cover for the conservatives on the Court. And this is all about GOP dominance -- nobody wins when health care loses, particularly the ACA which both medical personnel and the health insurance industry like.

Gasland. Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "For more than a year now, Republicans in Washington — and Mitt Romney on the stump -- have been pressing the case that the Obama administration is trying to squash an energy boom" [with excessive regulations]. But people who live in the areas where these fracking fabulous booms are taking place say there is no regulation & the gas companies do whatever they want.

Gail Collins on a few of the pitfalls of privatization. ...

... This is the Sam Dolnick series Collins refers to. (Links to the other two articles in the series at the top of the page.) Hell is a New Jersey halfway house owned by one of Chris Christie's "mentors."

This PBS interview of former President Jimmy Carter provides a good overview of the political situation in Egypt:

Barack Obama Is Tired of Dealing with You People. John Farrell of the National Journal: "... the assertion of [executive] privilege [in the "Fast & Furious" fiasco] is another sign of Obama's willingness to employ his presidential authority to circumvent Republican hostility and intransigence. It goes in line with the president's unilateral expansion of his discretionary authority in immigration cases, the undeclared cyber war against Iran, or the use of drones in attacks on terrorist targets.... In an election year, as Mitt Romney is discovering, an incumbent like Obama can stage an impressive display of presidential forcefulness." ...

... Andrew Rudalevige of the Monkey Cage has a nice little history of the use of executive privilege. ...

... Here's the Justice Department's statement. ...

... Dana Milbank explains the Holder-Issa standoff in a nutshell: "Republicans didn't have much on Holder -- it's one of those perennial disputes about how much the executive branch needs to divulge to the legislature -- so they did what sensible people usually do when they have an honest disagreement: They accused the attorney general of being an accessory to murder." CW: well, yeah, but at least one Republican on the committee accused President Obama of being in on the plot, too. ...

I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day. I'm not kidding. There's a prison here in the Capitol … If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him. -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Jennifer Bendery's interview of Pelosi for the HuffPost is worth reading)

Presidential Race

Michael Bender of Bloomberg News: "Mitt Romney's presidential campaign asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state's economy because they clash with the presumptive Republican nominee's message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the matter."

"You Must Remember This":

... Unless You've Got ROMNESIA! David Corn of Mother Jones reviews Mitt Romney's long history of misremembering his past. Corn doesn't cover any new ground, so you've probably read it all before, but the article is full of helpful strings around the finger for Willard.

We are not going to talk about immigration, for Pete's sake. Gabriel Debenedetti & Patricia Zengerle of Reuters: Mitt Romney's presidential campaign fended off questions on immigration policy on Wednesday as the Republican challenger scrambled for a response five days after President Barack Obama's relaxation of immigration policy drew accolades from Hispanic voters. Questions on the Republican challenger's position on immigration dominated a campaign conference call Wednesday that was supposed to be about the economy. The call was cut off early after what a Romney staffer said were 'off-topic' questions."

News Ledes

Not Quite Junk. New York Times: "After putting banks on watch four months ago, Moody's Investors Service on Thursday slashed the credit ratings of 15 large financial firms.... Two United States banks that were hit hard in the financial crisis emerged with the lowest ratings. Citigroup and Bank of America are now rated only two notches above junk. While Morgan Stanley avoided a worst-case scenario of a three-notch downgrade, its rating slipped by two levels."

New York Times: "Hours after a jury began deliberating the child sexual abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky, lawyers for [Matt Sandusky] one of his adopted children, said Thursday that he had been abused by Sandusky and had offered to testify in the case." Philadelphia Inquirer story here. ...

... Philadelphia Inquirer: "After seven days of testimony, 50 witnesses, and accounts of serial abuse from eight young accusers, the jury in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case began deliberations this afternoon."

New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to address whether the government still has the authority to regulate indecency on broadcast television, but it ruled in favor of two broadcasters who had faced potential fines for airing programs featuring cursing and nudity on narrow grounds."

ABC News: "Less than two weeks after taking a medical leave of absence following a seizure and a string of bizarre car accidents, Commerce Secretary John Bryson is resigning.... President Obama accepted Bryson's resignation Wednesday night and will meet with him at the White House this afternoon to thank him for his service."

Bloomberg News: "More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, indicating the labor market continues to struggle."

New York Times: "A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers." ...

... Al Jazeera: "The pilot of a Syrian MiG 21 fighter jet who flew his plane to Jordan has asked for political asylum on landing, Jordanian Minister of State for Information Samih al-Maaytah said. Syrian activists said it was the first defection involving an aircraft since the start of a 15-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad."

New York Times: "Egyptian election officials said Wednesday that they were postponing the announcement of a winner in last week's presidential runoff, saying they needed more time to evaluate charges of electoral abuse that could affect who becomes the country's next leader." Al Jazeera story here.

New York Times: "Spain successfully raised money at a bond auction Thursday amid high demand from investors, but at a punitive cost that underlined the country's financial fragility just hours before it planned to give more detail about the state of its sickly banks."

Guardian: "Julian Assange has spent a second night at the Ecuadorean embassy in London amid reports that a decision on his request for political asylum will be made on Thursday.... Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, will make a decision on Assange's application later on Thursday, the country's deputy foreign minister, Marco Albuja, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation."

Orlando Sentinel: "Sanford police Chief Bill Lee, who stepped aside temporarily three months ago amid a national outcry over his department's handling of the Trayvon Martin shooting, was fired Wednesday night. City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. dismissed Lee, effective immediately." ...

... Sentinel: "George Zimmerman's legal defense team released about a dozen documents, audio recordings and video of his statements to police about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin this morning.... The evidence was released through the website Zimmerman's attorneys set up for their client, Gzlegalcase.com." ...

     ... Update: details & video from ABC News.

AP: "Painter and sketch artist LeRoy Neiman, best known for evoking the kinetic energy of the world's biggest sporting and leisure events with bright quick strokes, died Wednesday at age 91."

Tuesday
Jun192012

The Commentariat -- June 20, 2012

... Colbert Krugman Edition

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on the unresponsiveness of the Democratic party to American workers. The NYTX front page is here.

** "Follow the Dark Money." Andy Kroll of Mother Jones on "the down and dirty history of secret spending, PACs gone wild, and the epic four-decade fight over the only kind of political capital that matters." CW: haven't read it yet, but it looks like a winner.

CPAN has the video of President Obama's remarks at his press conference yesterday; the transcript is here.

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "The FBI has been given an expanded role in coordinating the domestic intelligence-gathering activities of the CIA and other agencies under a plan enacted this year by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., officials said. The bureau's highest-ranking field agents now also serve as the DNI's representatives across the country. The change is intended to improve collaboration, but some officials say it has created new friction between the FBI and CIA."

Isn't That Special? Chris Frates of the National Journal: "The Cato Institute and prominent Republican donors Charles and David Koch are set to settle their legal fight over control of the libertarian think tank, ending a high-profile dispute that split the conservative movement. 'Looks like we've come to an accommodation with the Koch brothers,' Cato founder and President Ed Crane said in a Tuesday e-mail to employees."

... I can't embed the BBC interview of Paul Krugman which contributor Dave S. recommended, so as a second-best -- and on a different topic -- here's Krugman on Rachel Maddow's show:

... AND. It's Krugman Week on PBS. Here's the first of five installments:

... Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Meeting in the desert scrub of Mexico's Baja region..., the leaders of the so-called Group of 20 eschewed specific commitments, instead limiting themselves to more generalized promises to invest in public works, overhaul labor markets and use innovation, education and infrastructure investment to fuel economic growth. A more detailed plan to address Europe's crisis is expected to emerge next week after a European summit meeting in Brussels." ...

... Shaila Dewan & Motoko Rich of the New York Times: "... since its postrecession peak in April 2009 (not counting temporary Census hiring), the public sector has shrunk by 657,000 jobs. The losses appeared to be tapering off earlier this year, but have accelerated for the last three months, creating the single biggest drag on the recovery in many areas. With the economy expanding, albeit slowly, state tax revenues have started to recover and are estimated to exceed prerecession levels next year. Yet governors and legislatures are keeping a tight rein on spending, whether to refill depleted rainy-day funds or because of political inclination."

Maureen Dowd recounts the testimony of Dottie Sandusky, Jerry's wife. If Cairo is in Illinois, De Nile must be in Pennsylvania. One thing that comes out from the testimony: the "constant wife" resented -- and still resents -- the kids Jerry "allegedly" abused.

Charles Pierce interviews Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) about the U.S. Supreme Court, Citizens United & Montana's anti-corruption campaign finance law. Entertaining.

Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe: "Senator Scott Brown today rejected a debate proposed by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, after the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy refused his precondition that she not endorse a candidate in his reelection campaign against Democrat Elizabeth Warren." ...

     ... Markos Moulitsas: "... telling the widow to shut the hell up? That's ... unforgivable."

Presidential Race

** Dana Milbank seldom gets serious. Today is an exception: "Under the Obama presidency..., conservative leaders are encouraging the vulgarity -- if not joining in by heckling the president from the House floor. The Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, recently shared a stage with Donald Trump only hours after the buffoon tycoon had again floated the disproved allegation that Obama wasn't born in the United States. Among many such episodes before that, Romney failed to challenge a supporter who suggested to him that Obama 'should be tried for treason.' ... When conservatives sanction the debasement of Obama, they are debasing the presidency itself." Plus, Tucker Carlson should fire Neil Munro for heckling the President.

Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday. The report, prepared by Senate Democrats and reviewed by nonpartisan tax experts, marks the first attempt to quantify the trade-offs inherent in the GOP tax package, which would replace the current tax structure with two brackets -- 25 percent and 10 percent -- and cut the top rate from 35 percent."

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post manages to write a positive story about Romney & Bain Capital, riffing off the photo above.

Peter Baker & Michael Cooper of the New York Times sort of fact-check the presidential candidates. Both sides do it, blah-blah.

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "President Obama's campaign will begin airing two TV ads today in nine battleground states, attacking Mitt Romney for outsourcing state work and hiking a number of fees during his term as Massachusetts governor.... Independent fact checkers have examined Romney's record on the outsourcing issue and taxes/fee hikes and found neither to be as black and white as the Obama campaign ads suggest." Here's one of the ads:

Tales of the WaWa. In that MSNBC creative editing story I linked yesterday, I mentioned that what Romney said was "amazing" was actually an anecdote he'd told earlier, not the bit about how you get your sandwiches at WaWa. Well, it turns out the backstory is "amazing" because it's 100 percent untrue -- just crap Romney heard or made up to fit his point. In the anecdote that ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor, Romney said,

I met an optometrist this morning. And this optometrist wanted to change his billing address. He moved his office from one side of town to the other. Same zip code. Same post office. But he wanted to change his address. He got a form from the federal government. This is so he can get reimbursement for the services he provides for the poor and seniors. The form he gets to change addresses is 33 pages long.

     ... Apparently Romney was talking about a Medicaid form that's two pages long. TWO. If it turns out Romney's implausible story is right, Greg Sargent will get back to us. Don't hold your breaths.

Gene Robinson: "... if taking action on the immigration issue is good politics for Obama and the Democrats, then Republicans have only themselves to blame. The GOP has made a conscious decision to offer nativists and xenophobes a comfortable home where their extremist views go unchallenged.... It's tiresome having to spend so much time trying to figure out what Romney really believes. If anything, I mean." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Even as [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell is signaling that the party will wait for Romney's direction on the [immigration] issue, however, a handful of House Republicans are moving forward by introducing bills that would block enforcement of Obama's new policy.... Can Republicans leaders possibly want any bills to be on the table that would reverse Obama's order?"

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney told reporters here Tuesday that his vice presidential search team is vetting Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), revealing that one of the Republican Party's biggest young stars is under consideration to be his running mate.... Romney's comments came after ABC News reported that his search team had not asked Rubio to complete a questionnaire or submit any personal financial documents.... Romney strongly denied the ABC report, which was attributed to two anonymous sources."

Colbert discovers an election conspiracy. Thanks to Kate M. for the link:

AND. The presidential candidates try out campaign slogans:

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A House panel voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into Operation 'Fast and Furious,' hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related documents."

Washington Post: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday renewed a program designed to provide a push to economic growth amid a warning that hiring is slowing. The Fed said it would extend 'Operation Twist,' a program that seeks to reduce long-term interest rates, through the end of the year. The decision was a sign that the Fed is not pulling back from its years-long campaign to support the U.S. economy." New York Times story here.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Defense attorneys in the Jerry Sandusky trial rested their case today without calling their client to the stand -- forgoing his chance to counter a mountain of devastating testimony from men who said he molested them as boys. The judge said the court would be in recess until 9 a.m. Thursday, after which closing arguments would begin. Once deliberations start, the jury will be sequestered."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "After 11 days of deliberations, jurors at the landmark clergy-sex abuse trial of two Philadelphia priests said Wednesday they were deadlocked on all but one count. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina immediately pressed them to keep trying."

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Tuesday that the fate of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria should be left to the hands of the Syrians, saying that no one country has the right to tell another people whom [sic.] their leader should be."

AP: "The three parties that back Greece's commitments to bailout creditors have agreed in principle to form a coalition government and are negotiating the final details, officials said Wednesday."

AP: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is beyond the grasp of British authorities as long as he is holed up in Ecuador's London embassy, the government said Wednesday. But he faces arrest if he steps outside. Police said Assange had violated the terms of his bail, which include an overnight curfew, and 'is now subject to arrest.' Police officers were stationed Wednesday outside the Edwardian apartment block that houses the small South American country's London embassy."

AP: "Americans overwhelmingly want the president and Congress to get to work on a new bill to change the health care system if the Supreme Court strikes down President Barack Obama's 2010 overhaul as unconstitutional, a new poll finds."

Monday
Jun182012

The Commentariat -- June 19, 2012

Tecumseh killed by William Henry Harrison's forces at the Battle of the Thames, 1813.... Ishaan Tharoor in Time: why Canada is celebrating the bicentennial of "Mr. Madison's War" and the U.S. is not.

Michael Cooper of the New York Times: "Throughout the Great Recession and the not-so-great recovery, the most commonly discussed measure of misery has been unemployment. But many middle-class and working-class people who are fortunate enough to have work are struggling as well...."

How to Win at Monopoly. Christian Berthelsen & Alan Zibel of the Wall Street Journal: "A government program that helps struggling homeowners take advantage of low interest rates to cut monthly mortgage payments is providing an unexpected revenue boost to large banks such as Wells Fargo Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase.... Banks that collect those payments ... could get as much as $12 billion in revenue this year refinancing mortgages under the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP.... That is because the new HARP rules make it easier for borrowers to refinance their loans with existing lenders.... 'There's essentially a monopoly on refinancing,' Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said at a Senate hearing last month.... A senior administration official said the administration tried to get the FHFA to change the policy last year but was unable to do so. The FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which finance the lion's share of home mortgages, defends the program's structure." ...

... Andrew Leonard of Salon highlights the sentence from the WSJ story I italicized in bold, and has some appropriately unkind words to say about Eddie DeMarco, who runs the FHFA. ...

... According to Peter Goodman, the HuffPost's business editor, a former New York Times reporter & an excellent analyst, there is no reason Obama can't fire DeMarco's ass inasmuch as he is "an acting director who was never confirmed by the Senate." In fact, Obama did try to replace DeMarco last year, but when the Senate refused to confirm his replacement, Obama left DeMarco on the job. Goodman calls DeMarco "the single largest obstacle to meaningful economic recovery."

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon on why "the expected GOP backlash to Obama's immigration decision has failed to materialize." ...

... Lisa Lerer of Bloomberg News: "Sixty-four percent of likely voters surveyed after Obama’s June 15 announcement [re: deportation waivers] said they agreed with the policy, while 30 percent said they disagreed. Independents backed the decision by better than a two-to-one margin."

Hedge Fund Managers Shouldn't Call the Shots at Universities. Prof. Siva Vaidhyanathan in Salon on the University of Virginia's ouster of its president Theresa Sullivan: "The biggest challenge facing higher education is market-based myopia. Wealthy board members, echoing the politicians who appointed them (after massive campaign donations) too often believe that universities should be run like businesses, despite the poor record of most actual businesses in human history.Universities do not have 'business models.' They have complementary missions of teaching, research, and public service...." Vaidhyanathan fingers a hedge-fund operator named Peter Kiernan who boasted that he engineered Sullivan's ouster. ...

... BUT Kiernan did not act alone. Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: "Paul Tudor Jones, a highly successful Greenwich fund manager who was an early Obama backer last time around but has already given more than $200,000 to Romney's SuperPAC, Restore Our Future.... Tudor Jones ... is at the center of the mysterious and controversial coup d'etat at the University of Virginia." In 1998, Tudor Jones & his wife bought a venerable Greenwich mansion which they tore down and replaced with an "aggressive" mansion which "dominates the landscape. With its enormous center dome and columned portico, it may have been influenced by Thomas Jefferson's Monticello or by Jones's alma mater, the University of Virginia," according to a Vanity Fair article MacGillis cites. ...

... AND as MacGillis points out, the fact that Sullivan co-authored a book with Wall Street scold Elizabeth Warren (and Jay Westbrook), titled The Fragile Middle Class, probably did not make her particularly popular with her hedge-fund overlords at UVA.

Kirk Semple of the New York Times: "Asians have surpassed Hispanics as the largest wave of new immigrants to the United States, pushing the population of Asian descent to a record 18.2 million and helping to make Asians the fastest-growing racial group in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center."

Presidential Race

We have our own places that we do that. -- Ann Romney, explaining why the Presidents Romney won't be vacationing abroad as often as the Obamas do ...

President Obama, however, has not taken any foreign vacations during his presidency. -- Justin Sink of The Hill ...

... One of the places "that they do that" is in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where the Romneys have a compound "on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. Over the years, they have combined 6 properties to create the compound, which consists of a main home, a converted /stable and other land that have been combined." ...

The main house at the Romney compound in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

... Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog lists some of the Romneys' vacation options. Don't miss the tweet from Gotta Laff. ...

... Zillow has more photos of a few of their favorite places.

CW: Madame Dressage is supposed to be a great asset to the Romney campaign on account of her ability to "humanize" Willard. I'm having a hard time seeing that.

MSNBC, the Fox "News of the Left. This is a pretty funny video:

     ... The trouble is, the clip takes Romney's remark out of context -- the same way the Romney campaign took an Obama remark out of context to totally change his meaning. Dylan Byers of Politico reports that what "amazed" Romney referred not to the WaWa's scanner but to the preceding anecdote he told about an optometrist who he claimed was snowed under by government paperwork.

Philip Rucker & Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "President Obama has tapped Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, to play Republican Mitt Romney in mock debate rehearsals, Obama campaign officials and the senator's office confirmed Monday. Kerry will help Obama prepare for among the most consequential events of his reelection campaign -- the three fall debates against Romney. As the senior senator from Massachusetts, Kerry has studied Romney's career and campaign style for nearly two decades and has first-hand knowledge of his record as governor.

Local News

Vagina Monologues. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "Last week, a Michigan state legislator was barred from speaking on the House floor because she used the word vagina in a statement about proposed abortion regulations in what is arguably the most restrictive bill yet proposed to curb reproductive freedom. State Republicans who rescinded her speaking privileges for a day variously expressed offense at Rep. Lisa Brown's use of the word vagina or the context in which she used the word vagina or her use of the phrase no means no in describing a 50-page proposed bill that contains the word vagina three times." Lithwick proposes a legislative antidote. ...

Dawson Bell & Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press: "At least a few thousand women and at most a few hundred men thronged the state Capitol lawn Monday evening.... The two female legislators who were the spark for the gathering after they were barred from speaking on the state House floor Thursday as punishment for their remarks during an emotional debate over abortion were among the evening's star performers as the crowd on blankets and lawn chairs enjoyed a reading of the play, 'The Vagina Monologues.'"

News Ledes

New York Times: "The lawyer for President Obama demanded on Tuesday that Crossroads GPS disclose its donors, saying in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that the group is plainly a 'political committee' subject to federal reporting requirements. In the complaint..., Robert F. Bauer, the campaign's chief counsel, writes that the group -- founded by Karl Rove, among others -- can no longer shield the identity of its donors by defining itself as a 'social welfare' organization."

New York Times: "Former President Hosni Mubarak, who led Egypt for three decades until he was toppled last year in a popular uprising, was on life support at a military hospital late Tuesday after he was declared 'clinically dead' by doctors, according to Egyptian officials and state news media." ...

     ... Washington Post: "Tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out across Egypt late Tuesday to protest recent moves by the country's ruling generals, as conflicting reports about the health of former president Hosni Mubarak injected new uncertainty into a tumultuous political moment."

Guardian: "The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has sought political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, sparking a new crisis in the tortured history of his extradition to Sweden."

Washington Post: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. failed to convince the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee late Tuesday to drop plans to hold him in contempt of Congress, meaning the panel is likely to vote Wednesday unless the Justice Department hands over documents related to the so-called 'Fast and Furious' gunwalking scandal."

New York Times: "Jerry Sandusky's wife [Dottie] ... took the witness stand on Tuesday to defend him against charges he sexually abused boys in their home and on Penn State's campus, and jurors also heard police investigators contradict themselves and psychological experts duel over evaluations of the defendant."

New York Times: "President Obamaand his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, finally had their face-to-face meeting on Monday, as Mr. Obama pressed Mr. Putin to work with him to ease President Bashar al-Assad of Syria out of power, a move increasingly viewed by the West as the only way to end the bloodshed that has been under way there for more than a year. But after two full hours together, Mr. Putin was still balking...." ...

... Guardian: "The opening day of the G20 summit was threatening to deteriorate into a fractious row between eurozone countries and other non-European members of the G20, notably the US, as EU commission president José Manuel Barroso insisted the origins of the eurozone crisis lay in the unorthodox policies of American capitalism." ...

     ... Update: "Angela Merkel is poised to allow the eurozone's €750bn (£605bn) bailout fund to buy up the bonds of crisis-hit governments in a desperate effort to drive down borrowing costs for Spain and Italy and prevent the single currency from imploding. Germany has long opposed allowing the eurozone's rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, to lend directly to troubled eurozone countries, fearing that Berlin would end up paying the bill, and the beneficiaries would escape the strict conditions imposed on Greece, Portugal and Ireland."

... Reuters: "Under pressure from financial markets and anxious world leaders, Europe agreed on Monday to move towards a more integrated banking system to stem a debt crisis that threatens the survival of the euro."

Washington Post: "The Senate reached a deal late Monday that likely guarantees final passage of a new farm bill, likely to be one of the only significant spending bills passed by Congress before the November elections. The new five-year measure would cost $969 billion over the next decade and includes $23.6 billion in proposed cuts, making it a slimmed-down version of legislation that historically served as one of the main opportunities for members of Congress to deliver pork-barrel spending to their constituents."

New York Times: "Talks between Iran and six world powers went into a second day on Tuesday morning, as negotiators sought a compromise that would head off the danger of military confrontation over Tehran's nuclear ambitions."

Reuters: "Greek political parties meeting on Tuesday said they expected to form a coalition government soon and then seek concessions to the painful austerity measures tied to the international bailout deal keeping the country from bankruptcy."

Al Jazeera: "The United States has urged Egypt's military to move swiftly on plans to transfer full power to an elected civilian government and suggested failure to do so would prompt a review of US ties, which includes billions of dollars in military and civilian aid. Both the US State Department and the Pentagon -- which oversees the close military links between the two countries -- voiced concerns on Monday over moves by Egypt's generals to tighten their grip on power...."

Al Jazeera: "The Supreme Court of Pakistan has disqualified Yusuf Raza Gilani from his post as the prime minister of the nation. Tuesday's disqualification comes after an April 26 declaration convicting Gilani, the nation's longest-running prime minister, for contempt for refusing to ask Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, state TV has reported. The high court ordered Zardari to take steps to elect a new prime minister, state media reported." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Pakistan's combative top judge made his most audacious foray into judicial activism yet on Tuesday, firing Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, emptying the cabinet and forcing President Asif Ali Zardari to reset his fragile governing coalition. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry's order was the culmination of a three-year transformation that has injected the once supine Supreme Court into the heart of Pakistan's power equation."

Washington Post: "A week of chaos and uncertainty set off by the removal of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan ended early Tuesday when the university's Board of Visitors appointed an interim leader after almost 12 hours of debate. Carl P. Zeithaml, dean of the university's top-ranked McIntire School of Commerce, will start Aug. 16."

Washington Post: "Brett McGurk, the Obama administration's pick to be the ambassador to Iraq, withdrew his nomination on Monday in the face of mounting opposition in the Senate. Senate Republicans last week expressed doubts about McGurk after a racy e-mail exchange surfaced between McGurk and a Wall Street Journal reporter covering him. The e-mails between McGurk and reporter Gina Chon -- whom he later married -- date from when McGurk was working in Iraq for the National Security Council under President George W. Bush and Chon was stationed in Baghdad."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Friends and former colleagues described Jerry Sandusky as a 'local hero' and an exemplary role model as his lawyers began presenting his defense against child sex-abuse charges Monday."