The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, October 12, 2015.

New York Times: "Prof. Angus Deaton, a British economist, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science on Monday for improving the accuracy of basic economic gauges, including measures of income, poverty and consumption."

Washington Post: "Breaking news: Iranian state television says jailed Washinton Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been convicted." ...

... Statement from Martin Baron, executive editor of the Post. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Iran appeared to be moving on Monday to position Mr. Rezaian’s case as part of a broader effort to get the release of Iranians detained in the United States."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post [Sept. 11]: "Aggressive treatment of high blood pressure can sharply cut the risk of heart attacks, strokes and deaths in people 50 and older, according to a landmark federal study released Friday that urges doctors to bring their patients’ blood pressure well below the commonly recommended target. The new research advises people with high blood pressure to keep their “systolic” pressure — the top number in the reading that health-care providers routinely tell patients — at 120 or below.

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

White House Live Video
October 12

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

The Washington Post thought it would be great journalism to feature Donald's Digs in their weekend edition.  You'll be happy to know that Trump's taste runs to the gaudy & garish. You can take the boy out of the boroughs but you can take the boroughs out of the boy. I'd call Donald's style Early Modern Lottery Winner. Here's a sampling:

... There's much more where that came from. Ugh. Here, by contrast, is the study in Michael Bloomberg's New York City pad. Bloomberg is quite a few $$BB richer than Trump.

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

Here's a break from the parade of horribles in the left column:

A friend sent me this version. You'll want to supersize it:

MoviePilot: Quite a few people think the film "The Martian" -- which depicts an Earthly astronaut stuck on Mars -- is "based on a true story." ...

... CW: Reminds of Orson Welles' 1938 radio production of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. History Channel: "Perhaps as many as a million radio listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that the Martians wouldn’t see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis church where evening services were being held and yelled, 'New York has been destroyed! It’s the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!'”

New York Times: "Europe’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that a widely used international agreement for moving people’s digital data between the European Union and the United States was invalid. The decision, by the European Court of Justice, throws into doubt how seamlessly global technology giants — the likes of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — can continue to collect, manage and analyze online information from their millions of users in the 28-member bloc. The court decreed that the data-transfer agreement was invalid as of Tuesday’s ruling."

One More Reason Not to Let Jeff Bezos into Your House. Bloomberg: " Inc. will stop selling media-streaming devices from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. that aren’t easily compatible with its video service, the latest example of the company using its clout to promote products that fit with its own retailing strategy.The Seattle-based Web retailer sent an e-mail to its marketplace sellers that it will stop selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast since those devices don’t 'interact well' with Prime Video." ...

... Karl Bode of Tech Dirt: "Amusingly, Amazon unloads what has to be one of the larger piles of ambiguous bullshit in defense of an anti-competitive position seen in some time: "Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime,' Amazon said in [an] e-mail [to sellers]. 'It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.'" Hilarious. Except it's up to developers to embed Chromecast support into their services and apps, and both Google and Apple publish open software development kits that allows any application to be utilized on both devices. In other words, it's Amazon's choice that Chromecast and Apple TV won't play nicely with Amazon Prime Instant Streaming. It has nothing to do with the devices not 'interacting well' with Amazon's services." ...

... Alison Griswold of Slate: "It will be interesting to see whether Amazon’s move with regard to streaming content raises any antitrust flags. Generally speaking, a company has breached antitrust laws when it has a monopoly and uses that monopoly to stifle competition."

Congratulations, Aliens! You are no longer in violation of U.S. copyright law:

... Our Long National Nightmare Is Over. Los Angeles Times: "In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, [a federal] judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the 'Happy Birthday To You' song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.... Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song."

When the posh British PM David Cameron was a lad, he fucked a dead pig. The antics of our own Aqua Buddha Boy pale by comparison.

New York Times: "It was a night of firsts, and a night for establishment cable at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday. Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for best lead actress on a drama series, for her role as a defense lawyer on ABC’s 'How to Get Away With Murder'; Jon Hamm won his first Emmy after seven previous nominations for his role as the tortured Don Draper on 'Mad Men'; and HBO, led by victories for the comedy 'Veep,' the drama 'Game of Thrones' and a four-part limited series, 'Olive Kitteridge,' had a triumphant showing, with 14 victories, including best drama and outstanding comedy series."


Washington Post: "When Pope Francis arrives in Washington this week for the start of a six-day visit to the United States, he might find at least one local spot that reminds him of home. That’s Brookland, a neighborhood in Northeast Washington so chockablock with Catholic institutions that it has been called 'Little Rome.'”

New York Times: "When the comedian Steve Rannazzisi has explained his success, which includes seven seasons starring on a popular TV show, 'The League,' and a one-hour special this Saturday on Comedy Central, he has frequently attributed it to decisions he made after narrowly escaping the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.... Confronted this week, though, with evidence that undermined his account, Mr. Rannazzisi, after a day of deliberation, acknowledged on Tuesday that his account was fiction."

Washington Post (Sept. 15): "King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain ... arrive in Washington this week for their first official visit.... The couple will meet with President Obama and Senate leaders on Tuesday (which happens to be the queen’s 43rd birthday), open an American-Spanish scientific conference at Georgetown University [where Felipe attended grad school], meet with American chief executives who do business in Spain, and head to Florida to celebrate the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine."

Perfect! Guardian: "Arnold Schwarzenegger is to replace Donald Trump as the host of the NBC reality show Celebrity Apprentice, the network has announced."

New York Times: "For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a new subway stop [in Manhattan] is open for business.... The extended subway line is a descendant of the train lines that ran along 11th Avenue from the mid-1800s until 1941." The stop is an extension of the No. 7 line. Exits are at 34th St. & 11th Ave.:



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The Commentariat -- July 16, 2013

Jonathan Weisman & Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Senator Harry Reid of Nevada took a defiant and uncompromising stand on Monday ahead of a closed-door meeting of the Senate, saying that pushing through a rules change to end filibusters of executive branch nominations would 'save the Senate from becoming obsolete.'" ...

... John Bresnahan & Burgess Everett of Politico: as all Senators meet into the night to try to avoid the "nuclear option," John McCain comes to the rescue with a fantastic solution: let Republicans pick the nominees! David Koch & a couple of Walton heirs for the NLRB, Charles Koch for Secretary of Labor, Lloyd Blankfein to head up the CFPB, & a few Scalia kids for open judgeships. ...

... Ed O'Keefe & Paul Kane of the Washington Post with a 9:23 pm ET Update: "The Senate made an eleventh-hour bid Monday night to avert an unprecedented maneuver to change the chamber's rules governing presidential appointees, with nearly all 100 senators huddled in a rare bipartisan, closed-door caucus.... All sides reported some progress, but there remained some critical distance on whether Obama's current picks to run the National Labor Relations Board would be confirmed or whether new selections would be sent to the Senate for confirmation.... If senators fail to reach a new agreement, Reid plans to hold a key test vote Tuesday morning on Cordray's nomination, needing 60 votes to move to a debate and final confirmation vote. Up after that would come the NLRB nominees, followed by less controversial selections to lead the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the EPA and the Labor Department. "CW: Sounds like they're taking up McCain's idea! ...

... Alex Rogers of Time: "After the meeting Reid continued to meet with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to hammer out a compromise, but Democrats said he was still prepared to act without Republican support. The issue is likely to come to a head on the Senate floor Tuesday morning." ...

... Ed O'Keefe & Paul Kane: "Senators reached a tentative deal Tuesday on averting a constitutional showdown over confirming President Obama's agency nominations." No word on what the deal is. MSNBC is saying some of the nominees will get an up-or-down vote, but there's apparently still some question on the NLRB nominees. ...

... New York Times Editors: "... this is a precedent worth setting. Whether Republican or Democrat, a president should get a vote on executive appointments, giving nominees a chance to make a case to a simple majority that they are fit for office. The American people have come to detest Congress for its contentiousness and inaction. On Tuesday, the Senate has a chance to begin restoring its reputation."

Vladimir Isachenkov of the AP: National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on Tuesday submitted a request for temporary asylum in Russia, his lawyer said. Anatoly Kucherena, a lawyer who is a member of the Public Chamber, a Kremlin advisory body, said that Snowden submitted the asylum request to Russia's Federal Migration Service. The service had no immediate comment." ...

Another Upside to the Snowden Leaks

Adam Liptak of the New York Times points to the Catch-22 in the U.S.'s secret surveillance programs: the government has argued -- and the Supremes have agreed -- that the only persons who "have standing" to bring a Fourth Amendment claim against the intelligence-gathering are those who can show it was the source of the government's case against them. BUT the government has also argued, in other venues, that it does not have to inform a defendant that the secret programs were the sources of their evidence. Ergo, nobody has standing to challenge the law or the intelligence-gathering. Neat. ...

... MEANWHILE, Jerry Markon of the Washington Post writes, "But the legal landscape may be shifting, lawyers say, because the revelations by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor and the principal source of the leaks, forced the government to acknowledge the programs and discuss them. That, they say, could help plaintiffs overcome government arguments that they lack the legal standing to sue or that cases should be thrown out because the programs are state secrets. A federal judge in California last week rejected the government's argument that an earlier lawsuit over NSA surveillance should be dismissed on secrecy grounds." ...

... Glenn Greenwald Is Still Nasty. Dylan Byers of Politico: "Veteran investigative reporter Carl Bernstein publicly criticized The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald on Monday over a statement he made about the National Security Agency secrets that could leak 'if anything should happen' to former security contractor Edward Snowden. 'That statement by that reporter is out of line,' Bernstein, who would not refer to Greenwald by his name, said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. In a subsequent email to Politico, Greenwald dismissed Bernstein ... as someone who 'hasn't done any actual reporting for a couple decades now.'"

Russell Luscombe of the Guardian: "One of the six female jurors who acquitted the Florida neighbourhood watch leader George Zimmerman of murdering Trayvon Martin has revealed that three of the panel originally wanted to convict him. The middle-aged woman, who is white and has grown-up children, said she and her fellow jurors believed that Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, threw the first punch in the fatal confrontation, leaving Zimmerman in fear of his life. That, she said, was the determining factor in why the three changed their minds." ...

... Philip Rucker & Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "Current and former Justice Department officials said Monday that bringing civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin ... would be extremely difficult and may not be possible." ...

... William Branigin & Sari Horwitz of the Post: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Monday he shares concerns about 'the tragic, unnecessary shooting death' of an unarmed black teenager in Florida last year, and he vowed to pursue a federal investigation into the matter. In a speech at the social action luncheon of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Holder pledged that the Justice Department would 'continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law' and would work to 'alleviate tensions, address community concerns and promote healing' in response to the case." ...

... ** Ta-Nehisi Coates: "The jury's performance may be the least disturbing aspect of this entire affair. The injustice was authored by a country which has taken as its policy, for the lionshare of its history, to erect a pariah class. The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is not an error in programming. It is the correct result of forces we set in motion years ago and have done very little to arrest." CW: exactly. ...

Sadly, all the facts in this tragic case will probably never be known. But one fact has long been crystal clear: 'shoot-first' laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns. Such laws -- drafted by gun lobby extremists in Washington -- encourage deadly confrontations by enabling people to shoot first and argue 'justifiable homicide' later. -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg

... Jamelle Bouie in the American Progress: "... what's clear to me is that, for all the real progress we've made, this country has yet to relinquish its long-standing hostility to blackness." ...

... Charles Blow: "The whole system failed Martin. What prevents it from failing my children, or yours?" ...

... Lawyers have been arguing about it, but Nichole Flatow of Think Progress outlines how Florida's stand-your-ground law was central to George Zimmerman's case -- and will figure in any civil suits that are brought. CW: One thing I didn't know: Zimmerman claimed on CNN that he knew nothing about the stand-your-ground law, but a professor of his testified that he covered it extensively in a course Zimmerman aced -- one of many reasons his lawyers didn't put him on the stand, I guess. ...

... Newt Gingrich seeks & finds the worst possible, most racially-charged thing to say about the Zimmerman acquittal & its aftermath. I'd like to hear Karl Rove comment on how Newt is "bringing the nation together." Update: see safari's excellent remarks in today's Comments.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "In a homecoming tinged with nostalgia and an unspoken sense of farewell, President Obama on Monday welcomed his oldest living predecessor, George Bush, to the White House, where the two men, separated by nearly four decades but united in their fervor for volunteer service, presented an award to a retired Iowa couple. Appearing together in the East Room, Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush, who is 89, bestowed the 5,000th 'Daily Point of Light' award -- named after Mr. Bush's signature initiative on volunteer service – to Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, who founded a nonprofit organization that delivers free meals to hungry children in 15 countries":

Washington Post Editors Caught Flogging Dead Horse: "Don't write off the deficit."

Where Are They Now?

Ariel Kaminer of the New York Times: " the news that David H. Petraeus, the former C.I.A. director and commander of the allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be a visiting professor at the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY this coming academic year was supposed to be great publicity all around. Instead it turned into a minor scandal all its own, as some professors and politicians expressed outrage over his six-figure salary, and others accused the university's administration of lying about just what the salary was."

Remember Her? Stephen Webster of the Raw Story: "President Barack Obama (D) may throw the 2014 House races to his Democratic allies by producing a 'magic wand' that grants non-citizens the right to vote in U.S. elections, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said in a video published Monday." CW: yes, she's still totally wacko -- and totally irrelevant. ...

... Caught on Bachmann's Surveillance Camera. Mila Mimica of NBC Washington: "An aide for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is out of a job after allegedly stealing cash from a Congressional office building. According to U.S. Capitol Police, 37-year-old Javier Sanchez was arrested July 11 and is facing charges of second-degree misdemeanor theft from the Rayburn House Office Building."

Local News

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times reveals that Ken Cuccinelli -- Virginia's attorney general, the Republican candidate for governor & former ward of Kate Madison -- has been slightly less successful than have Gov. Bob McDonnell & the Missus at extracting gifts & benefits from Jonnie Williams, the phony diet supplement mogul.

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: "'Glee' star Cory Monteith died of a 'mixed drug toxicity' involving heroin and alcohol, according to results released Tuesday by the British Columbia Coroner's Service in Canada."

Guardian: "The defence team representing Bradley Manning, the US soldier who leaked reams of state secrets to WikiLeaks, has made one last attempt to persuade the judge presiding over his court martial to dismiss the most serious charge against him: that he 'aided the enemy'."

Los Angeles Times: "A peaceful protest of the George Zimmerman verdict in Los Angeles turned violent Monday after youths broke away from the main demonstration in Leimert Park, stomped on cars, broke windows, set fires and attacked several people. KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV reporter Dave Bryan and his cameraman were among those who came under assault. One of the two journalists was taken to a hospital with a possible concussion.... Protesters also stormed a Wal-Mart in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles.... A short while later, LAPD officers wearing helmets and carrying batons swarmed the store as others marched through the parking lot."

Al Jazeera: "Health officials say that clashes overnight between police and supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohammed Morsi have left at least seven people dead in Cairo. Khaled el-Khateib, a senior health ministry official, said that about 261 people were also injured in the violence that broke out late on Monday and carried on into the early morning hours in four different locations in the capital. Mohamed Sultan, the head of Egypt's emergency services, told the Reuters news agency that two people were killed at a bridge in central Cairo and five more in the city's Giza district. The Muslim Brotherhood said that police used birdshot and live ammunition against protesters."

New York Times: "The leader of one of Mexico's most violent and feared drug organizations, the Zetas, was captured Monday in a city near the Texas border, an emphatic retort from the new government to questions over whether it would go after top organized crime leaders. The man, Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, 40, who goes by the nickname Z-40 and is one of the most wanted people on both sides of the border, was detained by Mexican marines Monday morning...."

New York Times: "A 30-year old Poughkeepsie murder mystery is solved, when the body is found in the basement after the murderer -- the victim's husband -- died."


The Commentariat -- July 15, 2013

Paul Krugman: "Long ago, when subsidies helped many poor farmers, you could defend the whole [farm bill] package as a form of support for those in need. Over the years, however, the two pieces diverged. Farm subsidies became a fraud-ridden program that mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals. Meanwhile food stamps became a crucial part of the social safety net. So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies -- at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed -- while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.... One of our nation's two great parties has become infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness...."

CSI Macy's. Stephanie Clifford & Quentin Hardy of the New York Times: "Nordstrom's experiment [in shopper-tracking] is part of a movement by retailers to gather data about in-store shoppers' behavior and moods, using video surveillance and signals from their cellphones and apps to learn information as varied as their sex, how many minutes they spend in the candy aisle and how long they look at merchandise before buying it. All sorts of retailers -- including national chains, like Family Dollar, Cabela's and Mothercare, a British company, and specialty stores like Benetton and Warby Parker -- are testing these technologies and using them to decide on matters like changing store layouts and offering customized coupons." CW: and you're apopletic because the government is storing your e-mails??? ...

... Jenny Barchfield of the AP: "Edward Snowden has very sensitive 'blueprints' detailing how the National Security Agency operates that would allow someone who read them to evade or even duplicate NSA surveillance..., [Glenn Greenwald] said Sunday." ...

... CW: I am growing more & more pissed at the NSA for allowing such access to a kid who had worked for the agency for only weeks. The "experts" who are supposed to be protecting us from so-called terrorists can't even protect themselves from a new-hire hacker with little formal education. Whatever you may think of Snowden's motives, the bottom line is that he did it because he could. ...

... Ellen Nakashima & Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "In his eight years at the helm of the country's electronic surveillance agency, [Gen. Keith] Alexander, 61, has quietly presided over a revolution in the government's ability to scoop up information in the name of national security. And, as he did in Iraq, Alexander has pushed hard for everything he can get: tools, resources and the legal authority to collect and store vast quantities of raw information on American and foreign communications." ...

... Ian Cobain of the Guardian writes an interesting piece on the U.S. "disposition matrix," a/k/a Obama's "kill list" & how Great Britain has used it to target individuals with dual British-&-Someplace citizenship.

The No-Policy Policy. George Packer of the New Yorker: "In the two and a half years since the popular protests that overthrew the Mubarak regime, the Administration has followed a pattern: express concern about tumultuous events [in Egypt], then accept their outcome as a fait accompli and make the best of the new status quo, without a perceptible effort to use whatever influence the U.S. still has over the main actors in Egypt's political drama."

Adam Nagourney of the New York Times: "The fallout over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin reverberated across the country on Sunday from church pulpits to street protests, setting off a conversation about race, crime and how the American justice system handled a racially polarizing killing of a young black man walking in a residential neighborhood in Florida." ...

... Statement by the President. "I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son." ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday urged the Justice Department to review federal charges against George Zimmerman who was acquitted in Sanford, Fla., of murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin."...

... Evan McMorris-Santoro of BuzzFeed: "Federal prosecutors are pressing forward with their investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin following the acquittal of the man who shot him, George Zimmerman, on state charges, a spokesperson for the Justice Department said Sunday.... The Justice Department's civil rights division as well as the FBI are continuing to investigate Martin's death, the statement said." ...

The evidence didn't support prosecution and the Justice Department engaged in this, the President engaged in this and turned it into a political issue that should have been handled exclusively with law and order. -- Rep. Steve King (RCrazy-Iowa)

... the grand jury in the case also did find that there was 'probable cause.' King's suggestion that a 'not guilty' verdict proves that there should not have been an investigation or trial at all suggests a stunning disregard for the value of Martin's life. But his -- and [Fox 'News' host Chris] Wallace's -- inference that there would not have been a prosecution if not for President Obama is flatly contradicted by the facts. -- Josh Israel, Think Progress

David Edwards of the Raw Story: "Republican strategist Karl Rove on Sunday accused President Barack Obama of tearing the country apart by sympathizing with the parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin.... 'We need a president to bring us together, not rip us apart,' he added. 'And I hope the Justice Department does not respond to the ill-advised recommendation of the NAACP to continue this controversy.'" CW: so according to Karl, the best way to "bring us together" is to condone or at least ignore radical, random violence against young black men. ...

... Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: " Mr. Zimmerman had the power of self-defense laws on his side, and was helped by a spotty police investigation and prosecutorial missteps." Alvarez provides a good explanation of why the jury found Zimmerman not guilty. ...

... CW: if you're blaming -- or partially blaming -- the jury for their verdict, you're making a mistake. And no, Geraldo, the verdict does not support your contention that the white women on the jury would have acted just as Zimmerman did. ...

... CW: I don't agree with this, but it is pretty funny. Thanks to James S. for sending it along:

Fucking punks. These assholes. They always get away. -- George Zimmerman, shortly after shooting Trayvon Martin dead ...

... Charles Pierce: "George Zimmerman can load his piece, tuck it into the back of his pants, climb into his SUV, and drive around Sanford, Florida looking for assholes and fucking punks who are walking through neighborhoods where he, George Zimmerman, defender of law and order, doesn't think they belong.... The Sanford P.D. was ready to hand Zimmerman back his gun with a fast shuffle until people got into the streets and suggested, loudly, that maybe the circumstances required another look. This is something that should be remembered now by all those sharp guys who talk about how the evidence cut both ways, and about how the prosecution overcharged the defendant, and about how well the defense mounted its case. There wasn't supposed to be a trial at all." ...

... Yup. Matt Guttman & Seni Tienabeso of ABC News: "George Zimmerman will get his gun back now that he has been cleared of murder and his lawyer said today that Zimmerman needs the weapon 'even more' than before.... Mark O'Mara [the attorney] ... said that Zimmerman intends to rearm himself." CW: because killing one hoodie-wearing scary kid is not enough. ...

... The Real Victim. Chris Francescani of Reuters: "After his acquittal on murder charges for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman may go to law school to help people wrongly accused of crimes like himself, close friends told Reuters on Sunday." ...

CW: Lest it should possibly get lost among the hype, "not guilty" does not equal "innocent." That is especially true in Florida, where the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did not act in self-defense. Here the tie goes to the one who didn't get shot dead.

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "Last night's not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial will enable the neighborhood-watch volunteer to resume his case against NBC News for the mis-editing of his widely distributed call to police. Back in December, Zimmerman sued NBC Universal Media for defamation over the botched editing, which depicted him as a hardened racial profiler."

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker describes "... a Republican strategy to defeat immigration reform, increase its support among whites, and make it harder for some nonwhites to vote. It's a recipe for a future in which America's two parties are largely defined by race. The unpleasant conclusion of this debate -- and of the Obama years -- could be the opposite of where we thought we were headed as a country.... The decision that Republicans make on immigration reform in the coming months will help determine that future." ...

... CW: now ask yourself why conservatives are embracing George Zimmerman. It is not foolish, BTW, to see the glorification of the Second Amendment as racism-inspired. Worth noting: the Second Amendment found its way into the Bill of Rights specifically because Southerners wanted to make sure they could put down slave rebellions.

Paul Fahri of the Washington Post: "Faced with news articles they consider flawed or biased, the [Koch] brothers and their lieutenants ... take the offensive, with detailed responses that oscillate between correcting, shaming and slamming journalists who've written unflattering stories about the company or the Kochs' myriad political and philanthropic activities.... Unlike most companies, which tend to work out their differences with reporters behind the scenes, Koch ... often takes its feuds public.... Journalists who've run afoul of the Kochs will often see their personal e-mail exchanges with company executives posted, on the Koch Web site.... KochFacts also posts lengthy, point-by-point critiques of news stories and calls out reporters for alleged factual errors and biases. A typical KochFacts headline from May: 'New Yorker's Jane Mayer Distorts the Facts and Misleads Readers Again.'" CW: The Kochs's all-out war on Mayer must cheer her immensely.

Local News

Jennifer Medina of the New York Times: "Just six months after declaring 'the prison crisis is over in California,' Gov. Jerry Brown is facing dire predictions about the future of the state's prison system, one of the largest in the nation. A widespread inmate hunger strike in protest of California's policy of solitary confinement was approaching its second week on Sunday. The federal courts have demanded the release of nearly 10,000 inmates and the transfer of 2,600 others who are at risk of contracting a deadly disease in the state's overcrowded prisons. State lawmakers have called for an investigation into a new report that nearly 150 women behind bars were coerced into being sterilized over the last decade. And last week, a federal judge ruled that prisoners were not receiving adequate medical care"

News Ledes

Guardian: "A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, has blocked the execution of Warren Hill, an intellectually disabled man who was set to be put to death by lethal injection despite a US supreme court ban on judicial killings of 'mentally retarded' people. Hill, 52, has been granted a slim window in which to argue that his rights have been violated by a recent state law that imposes secrecy on the drugs that would be used to kill him. Under the new Lethal Injection Secrecy Law, the identity of the suppliers of the sedative pentobarbital that would be given to him in a lethal dose has been deemed a 'state secret' in an effort to bypass a growing international boycott of the use of pharmaceuticals in death sentences."

New York Times: "Leonard Garment, a Wall Street litigator who was a top adviser to President Richard M. Nixon at the height of the Watergate scandal and who went on to flourish as one of the capital's most powerful and garrulous lawyers, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 89."

AP: "Thousands of demonstrators from across the country -- chanting, praying and even fighting tears — protested a jury's decision to clear neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager while the Justice Department considered whether to file criminal civil rights charges. Rallies on Sunday were largely peaceful as demonstrators voiced their support for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's family -- and decried Zimmerman's not guilty verdict as a miscarriage of justice...."

Guardian: Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, "the first senior US official to visit Egypt since the army toppled the country's elected president will hold high-level talks on Monday in Cairo, where thousands of supporters of the ousted Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi are expected to take to the streets."

BBC News: India's telegraph service shuts down forevah. CW: BTW, "private" correspondence, in telegraphic form, was not exactly private.


The Commentariat -- July 14, 2013

Meghashyam Mali of Reuters: "Attorney General Eric Holder faces a crucial decision on whether to press federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, after the neighborhood watchman was acquitted Saturday in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. The NAACP and other leading civil rights groups are pressing for Holder to open a federal case against Zimmerman, after he was found not guilty on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges by a Florida jury." ...

... CW: the Zimmerman case -- because it is so high-profile -- is an ideal candidate for federal charges. Except against wealthy defendants, where it's worthwhile to bring a civil suit, the threat of a federal rap is the only deterrent against reckless disregard for human life. ...

... Jelani Cobb in the New Yorker: "There’s fear that the verdict will embolden vigilantes, but that need not be the concern: history has already done that." Thanks to Diane for the link. ...

** ... Andrew Cohen of the Atlantic: "... you can go looking for trouble in Florida, with a gun and a great deal of racial bias, and you can find that trouble, and you can act upon that trouble in a way that leaves a young man dead, and none of it guarantees that you will be convicted of a crime. But this curious result says as much about Florida's judicial and legislative sensibilities as it does about Zimmerman's conduct that night. This verdict would not have occurred in every state. It might not even have occurred in any other state. But it occurred here, a tragic confluence that leaves a young man's untimely death unrequited under state law. Don't like it? Lobby to change Florida's laws." ...

... Paul Campos in Salon: "Trayvon Martin was stalked by George Zimmerman because he was black. Trayvon Martin is dead because he was black. George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin because the boy Zimmerman killed was black."

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "When President Obama proclaimed that those who commit sexual assault in the military should be 'prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged,' it had an effect he did not intend: muddying legal cases across the country. In at least a dozen sexual assault cases since the president’s remarks at the White House in May, judges and defense lawyers have said that Mr. Obama’s words as commander in chief amounted to 'unlawful command influence,' tainting trials as a result. Military law experts said that those cases were only the beginning and that the president’s remarks were certain to complicate almost all prosecutions for sexual assault."

Mitra Taj of Reuters: "Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who first published the documents [Edward] Snowden leaked, said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday that the U.S. government should be careful in its pursuit of the former computer analyst. 'Snowden has enough information to cause harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had,' Greenwald said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro with the Argentinean daily La Nacion. 'The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare.'" ...

     ... Glenn Greenwald confirms that he has a persecution complex: "About the Reuters Article. ... Like everything in the matter of these NSA leaks, this interview is being wildly distorted to attract attention away from the revelations themselves. It's particularly being seized on to attack Edward Snowden and, secondarily, me, for supposedly 'blackmailing' and 'threatening' the US government. That is just absurd." CW translation: "You people are picking on Ed & me." While it is true that Taj does not recite the question to which Greenwald responded, I'll be damned if I can see where a reasonable reader would infer that Greenwald is blackmailing or threatening anyone or that the reporter is attacking Snowden. As Greenwald would say, "That is just absurd." ...

     ... CW Update: well, okay, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs writes, "Today, Glenn Greenwald is basically issuing blackmail threats to the US government.... What an amazingly arrogant, skin-crawlingly creepy statement, even for this most arrogant of journalists. Is Greenwald trying to get Edward Snowden killed?" So I stand corrected. Still, I don't take Greenwald's remarks -- in context or out -- as tantamount to blackmail.

Charles Pierce has a nice little essay on the Majority Party in the U.S. House of Representatives: John Boehner "is no more the actual Speaker Of The House than Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is vice-president of the United States. The House Of Representatives is being led by the vicious and demented Id of one of the two major political parties...."

Congressional Race

Matt Gouras of the AP: "Popular former Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Saturday morning that he will not run for Montana's open U.S. Senate seat in 2014, an announcement that complicates Democratic efforts to retain their majority in next year's elections." ...

... Well, maybe that's not so bad. Kathleen Geier of Washington Monthly: "I’ve been less than impressed; Schweitzer is ardently opposed to even the most mild forms of gun control and his anti-tax, pro-war-on-drug rhetoric and policies are the last thing we need more of in Congress. On top of that, recent stories about his alleged links to 'secret money' and rumors of more damaging info to come were causing Montana Democratic officials to have second thoughts about his possible senate candidacy.... There may be an upside here. This Politico story identifies three potential Democratic candidates for the senate seat, and all of them are women."

Local News

Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post profiles Maureen McDonnell, wife of the Virginia governor, who is mightily culpable in the financial scandals that have all but ruined his future in politics.

Paul Nussbaum, et al., of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "In the weeks before the deadly Market Street collapse, the building's owner repeatedly warned top city officials and Salvation Army officials that the demolition could endanger the adjacent Salvation Army thrift store. But that did not prompt the city to step in. Nor did it stop the owner from rapidly demolishing the building - with devastating consequences."

News Ledes

New York Times: "George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, igniting a national debate on racial profiling and civil rights, was found not guilty late Saturday night of second-degree murder. He was also acquitted of manslaughter, a lesser charge."

San Francisco Chronicle: "The third passenger to perish in the Asiana Airlines crash was among the ill-fated group of students on their way from China on a summer tour to learn English, officials confirmed Saturday. Liu Yi Peng, 15, of Jiangshan city in Zhejiang province, died Friday, the same day police confirmed that another fatally injured student in the group, Ye Meng Yuan, 16, had been run over by a fire truck. It is not known whether Ye was alive at the time."


God, Sex and Procreation

I'm trying to figure out how the abstinence thing works with the anti-abortion thing. According to Christian conservatives, God wants us to have sex only under certain strict conditions: with our spouses of the opposite sex when our immediate purpose is to procreate and we don't enjoy ourselves too much.

Otherwise, we must abstain from having sex (and even thinking about sex).

Also according to Christian conservatives, God has a plan for each of us.

So let's say, God forbid (and I mean that literally), a woman has sexual relations under other than those prescribed circumstances. And let's say, God forbid (and I mean that literally), she gets pregnant as a result of said ungodly encounter.

If God did not want the woman to have sex in the first place, then God cannot have wanted her to get pregnant. The pregnancy is not part of God's plan.

If God did not want the woman to get pregnant, then God did not want her to have a child. Ergo, God would want the woman to have an abortion.