Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President discusses the measures we are taking to respond to Ebola cases at home, while containing the epidemic at its source in West Africa":

The Ledes

Saturday, October 25, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Pentagon on Friday reported the first death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq in its new mission to combat Islamic State militants who have seized large areas of Iraq and Syria. Marine Lance Corporal Sean Neal, a 19-year-old old from California, died in Baghdad on Thursday in what a Pentagon statement described as a non-combat incident. Further details about how Neal died were not immediately available."

Los Angeles Times: "A gunman suspected of fatally shooting two Northern California law officers Friday and wounding two other people was arrested after a six-hour chase with search dogs, helicopters and armored vehicles. Marcelo Marquez, 34, of Salt Lake City, was taken into custody by a SWAT team from a home in Auburn in Placer County, hours after the initial shooting occurred 30 miles away in a strip mall in Sacramento, said Placer County Sheriff's spokeswoman Dena Erwin."

Guardian: "A Palestinian-American teenager was killed during clashes with the Israeli military on Friday amid heightened tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank. A relative identified the teen as 14-year-old Orwah Hammad and said he was born in New Orleans and came to the West Bank when he was six. Hammad’s cousin Moath said he was among a group of Palestinians who were throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, October 24, 2014.

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday unleashed perhaps his strongest diatribe against the United States yet, using an international meeting of Russia experts to sell Moscow’s view that American meddling has sparked most of the world’s recent crises, including those in Ukraine and the Middle East. Instead of supporting democracy and sovereign states, Mr. Putin said during a three-hour appearance at the conference, the United States supports 'dubious' groups ranging from 'open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.'”

Washington Post: "The body found on an abandoned property outside of [Charlottesville, Virginia] has been confirmed as the remains of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham, a grim result that came nearly six weeks after the 18-year-old from Fairfax County went missing."

Seattle Times: "Two students are dead after one of them opened fire Friday morning in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria before turning the gun on himself, according to law-enforcement sources. Police said a girl was killed and two other girls and two boys were wounded  in the 10:45 a.m. shooting.... Jarron Webb, 15, said the shooter was angry at a girl who would not date him, and that the girl was one of the people shot.  He said he believes one of the victims was his friend since kindergarten." Marysville is near Seattle.

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

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

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

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

Public Service Announcement

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

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

White House Live Video
October 24

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

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

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

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

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

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snowden, The Movie:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Constant Comments

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

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

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

Sunday
Aug052012

The Commentariat -- August 6, 2012

CW: my DSL (& my land line) is down, so I am relegated to McDonalds again, which means I'm working only Mickey D. hours. Update: At 1 pm ET, my DSL is still down, but I must leave this place! I'll be back this evening.

CW: With a caveat on his WikiLeaks slam -- and here too he may not be entirely wrong -- Bill Keller has an interesting column this week on government leaks to reporters. As usual, Keller is insufferably smug, but -- to my surprise -- I agree with most of his column. If better-informed writers disagree, I'll be sure to post their critiques.

New York Times Editors: "Senate Republicans regularly promote themselves as the true custodians of national security. This claim seemed particularly hollow last week when they helped block a new measure aimed at protecting America's vulnerable computer networks from attack by, among others, potentially hostile foreign governments.... The cost of inaction is already high.... The Obama administration, including senior military leaders, lobbied hard for the bill, which was three years in the making and the product of a bipartisan effort. In the end, their common sense pleadings could not compete with the Chamber of Commerce, which has funneled millions of dollars to Republican political campaigns."

Fiscal Cliffitis. Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "A rising number of manufacturers are canceling new investments and putting off new hires because they fear paralysis in Washington will force hundreds of billions in tax increases and budget cuts in January, undermining economic growth in the coming months."

Azam Ahmed & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "Major banks, which often band together when facing government scrutiny, are now turning on one another as an international investigation into the manipulation of interest rates gains momentum. With billions of dollars and their reputations on the line, financial institutions have been spreading the blame in recent meetings with authorities.... While acknowledging their own wrongdoing, institutions are pointing out actions at other banks that they believe are worse -- and in some cases, extend to top executives." CW: so much for honor among thieves.

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "In courthouses across the country, lawsuits are challenging state laws that dictate who may vote, when they may vote and whether their ballot will be counted once they have voted. There is a special urgency in the presidential election's swing states. Lawyers in Colorado are poised to challenge the secretary of state's proposed purge of noncitizens from voter rolls. A half-dozen suits are aimed at Florida's raft of voting changes. A Pennsylvania judge is deciding whether a voter ID law there violates the state constitution. In Ohio, the Obama campaign has filed suit against a law passed by the state's Republican leadership to shorten the early-voting period. And [a] separate issue ... was whether Ohio must count provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct when the mistake was the fault of a poll worker rather than the voter." ...

... Prof. Richard Hasen in a New York Times "Campaign Stops" post: "I have not found a single election over the last few decades in which impersonation fraud had the slightest chance of changing an election outcome -- unlike absentee-ballot fraud, which changes election outcomes regularly. (Let's face it: impersonation fraud is an exceedingly dumb way to try to steal an election.) ... Pennsylvania is a symptom of a partisan system gone wild.... Unlike impersonation fraud, noncitizen voting cannot be dismissed as a Republican fantasy.... Partisan attempts at manipulation of election rules have become more entrenched and sophisticated."

Jason Felch & Kim Christensen of the Los Angeles Times: "For nearly a century, the Boy Scouts of America has relied on a confidential blacklist known as the 'perversion files' as a crucial line of defense against sexual predators.... A Los Angeles Times review of more than 1,200 files dating from 1970 to 1991 found more than 125 cases across the country in which men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior. Predators slipped back into the program by falsifying personal information or skirting the registration process. Others were able to jump from troop to troop around the country...." CW: excuse me for not being surprised.

Reformed Reagan-Bush staff economist Bruce Bartlett of the New York Times: "Republicans are adamant that taxes on the ultra-wealthy must not rise to the level they were at during the Clinton administration, as President Obama favors, lest economic devastation result. But they have a problem -- the 1990s were the most prosperous era in recent history. This requires Republicans to try to rewrite the economic history of that decade.... But it is clear from the experience of the 1990s that they can play a very big role in reducing the budget deficit and are not necessarily a drag on growth. And the obvious experience of the 2000s is that tax cuts increase the deficit and don't necessarily do anything for growth. Those arguing otherwise need to make a much better case than they have so far."

Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP: "People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It's a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press."

More Climate Change Fallout. Grant Schulte of the AP: "Thousands of fish are dying in the Midwest as the hot, dry summer dries up rivers and causes water temperatures to climb in some spots to nearly 100 degrees." CW: wonder if the fishers of fishes are attributing dead fish to God's will, too. ...

... A Cultural Climate Change Fallout. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "More quickly than any other place in the United States, the Alaskan Arctic is being transformed by global warming. The impacts of climate change are threatening a way of life. The dilemma for the federal government -- and state and local officials -- is whether to try to preserve, if it is even possible, the heritage of the Inuit villages, their ice cellars, sod ancestral homes and cemeteries ringed with spires of whalebones. Or spend the hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost to move even one village."

Donovan Slack of Politico: "Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor suggests that declining public approval of the court dates back to the controversial Bush v. Gore decision, which decided the 2000 presidential race." CW: but don't think this was an intellectual breakthrough moment for O'Connor. She also "demurred on taking responsibility. 'I don't see how you can say anybody was the deciding vote,' she said. 'They all counted.' O'Connor said she has no regrets about her vote." Not. My. Fault. ...

... Digby adds context:

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, attending a Washington, DC, party and watching the news networks predict Florida, and thusly the presidency, for Democrat Al Gore, says aloud, 'This is terrible.' Her husband explains that she is considering retiring from the Court, but will only do so if George W. Bush, a fellow Republican, is in office to appoint her successor. -- Jake Tapper (3/2001)

At a November 29 dinner attended by clerks from several justices, a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor tells the group that O'Connor is determined to overturn the Florida Supreme Court's decision to go ahead with manual recounts of election ballots (see 3:00 p.m., November 16, 2000). One clerk recalls the O'Connor clerk saying, 'she thought the Florida court was trying to steal the election and that they had to stop it.' O'Connor has the reputation of deciding an issue on her 'gut,' then finding legal justifications for supporting her decision. Unbeknownst to anyone outside the Court, O'Connor has already made up her mind. -- Vanity Fair (10/2004)

Joe Hagan profiles Maricopa County, Arizona''s brutal Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Rolling Stone. Notably, the voters keep re-electing him & Fox "News" keep inviting him back on the air.

Presidential Race

Tom Hamburger & Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post: "David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser who was President Obama's 2008 campaign manager, accepted a $100,000 speaking fee in 2010 from an affiliate of a company doing business with Iran's government. A subsidiary of MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company, paid Plouffe for two speeches he made in Nigeria in December 2010, about a month before he joined the White House staff.... At the time of Plouffe's speeches, MTN had been in a widely reported partnership for five years with a state-owned Iranian telecommunications firm. There were no legal or ethical restrictions on Plouffe being paid to speak to the MTN subsidiary.... In recent weeks, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has accused the administration of being soft on Iran." ...

     ... Glenn Greenwald: "The reason the Post sees this as some sort of a scandal and the reason it will resonate – namely: the money Plouffe received is tainted by virtue of a connection to the Evil Persian Regime — is frivolous and cynical, just part of the ongoing Washington fear-mongering orgy over Iran." But, speaking of "dirty money" (see links re: Sheldon Adelson below) read the whole post.

Julie Pace of the AP: "President Barack Obama, emboldened by the Supreme Court's affirmation of his health care overhaul, is now embracing the law while campaigning for re-election, just as Republican rival Mitt Romney steps back from it. Obama sees a second chance to sell voters on the issue despite deep skepticism about it from many people. Romney is avoiding answering hard questions about how he would tackle health care, and thus missing the chance to energize voters who oppose the law." CW: about time, Barry.

Reality Check. Glenn Greenwald: "Here we have the political campaign of the same President who, in another moment of trailblazing, has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, and whose top aides secretly met at coffee houses with industry lobbyists to draft bills so as to evade disclosure and record preservation requirements, marching, apparently with a straight face, behind the banner of transparency to demand disclosure of his opponent's tax returns."

Rick Klein of ABC News: "The nation has met Barack Obama's Mitt Romney. If it's going to meet Romney's version of himself, it will happen this month, or not at all. It was supposed to start last month, with picked-up ad spending and a foreign trip built around a choreographed Olympic moment. But the foreign trip fell flat amid distractions at every stop, and Democrats continued to break through with their assault on Romney's transparency and business record."

The Italian Job. Jesse Drucker, et al., of Bloomberg News: "Bain Capital, under Romney as chief executive officer, made about $1 billion in a leveraged buyout 12 years ago that remains controversial in Italy to this day. Bain was part of a group that bought a telephone-directory company from the Italian government and then sold it about two years later, at the peak of the technology bubble, for about 25 times what it paid. Bain funneled profits through subsidiaries in Luxembourg, a common corporate strategy for avoiding income taxes in other European countries.... Romney himself probably earned more than $50 million, and possibly as much as $60 million" while avoiding taxes.

Inventing Controversy. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "A pro-Israel group last week began running ads knocking President Obama for failing to visit Israel.... Then, on Sunday, the Romney campaign echoed this charge with its own ad also calling attention to Obama not visiting Israel as president. Obama visited Israel in 2008, as a presidential candidate, but thus far has not visited the Jewish state during his presidential term.... Only four of the last 11 presidents visited Israel during their presidency, and two -- Nixon and George W. Bush -- waited until their second term to make their first trip. In both cases, they visited in the last year of their presidencies.... Only Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, then, visited Israel in their first term. And of the last four presidents, two never visited Israel...."

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney raised $101.3 million in the month of July, his campaign said Monday, marking the second straight month in which the GOP presidential candidate has pulled in nine figures." ...

     ... Update. Michael Shear & Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "The president's campaign announced on Twitter on Monday morning that his July fund-raising topped out at about $75 million. 'Every bit helps,' the campaign tweeted, noting that 98 percent of the contributions were under $250. Mr. Obama's advisers have all but conceded the money race to Mr. Romney."

Maggie Haberman of Politico: "The Paul Ryan-for-VP chatter has heated up in the past two days, thanks in part to him updating his Federal Election Commission filings for his PAC, suddenly canceling a planned appearance at an anti-Obamacare rally and winning praise from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as the best pick." ...

... Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor & DNC chair, has his own GOP veep pick:

Screw the Dual Mandate. Kevin Bohn of CNN: "... Mitt Romney said Saturday that he does not support the Federal Reserve enacting a new stimulus program to boost the economy, telling CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger that a previous effort by the nation's central bank did not have a major impact." With video. ...

... A More Honest Assessment. Grace Wyler of Business Insider: "Romney's comments echo those of many of his fellow Republicans, who have raised concerns that any additional stimulus between now and the election would boost the markets, and improve President Barack Obama's chances for re-election.... Romney did tell CNN that he thinks "now is the time for something dramatic," but did not specify what that action should be." CW: he wouldn't, would he?

Dirty Harry. Priebus Keeps It Classy. George Stephanopoulos of ABC News: "Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus called Sen. Harry Reid a 'dirty liar'." this morning on 'This Week' for accusing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney of not paying taxes. ...

... Charles Mahtesian of Politico: Priebus's comment & a similar one by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are indications Reid's own finances will be a GOP target. ...

... Steve Kornacki: "Whatever you think of Reid’s tactics, this really is the definition of taking one for the team."

Dirty Money. Andre Tartar of New York magazine: "Billionaire Romney-backer Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas casino company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., is at the center of a year-long money laundering investigation, The Wall Street Journal reports." ...

Thomas Edsall in the New York Times: "... what was this ever-so-guarded, moralistic ('I want to clean up the moral pollution on TV and the Internet') politician doing at a $50,000-a-couple fundraiser in Jerusalem with Sheldon G. Adelson -- proprietor of one of the largest, if not the largest, gambling and casino operations in the world -- seated in the honored position at his side? Adelson and his company are under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice on allegations of foreign bribery. In addition, the United States Attorney's office in Los Angeles is investigating whether Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. failed to alert authorities to millions of dollars transferred to casinos in violation of money-laundering laws.... At a minimum, Romney could tell us how he reconciles the values he says he stands for with the basis on which Adelson's fortune is built." Edsall reviews some of Adelson's legal difficulties.

Congressional Races

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "As the three Republican candidates [for Missouri's U.S. Senate nomination] battled it out, [Sen. Claire] McCaskill (ConservaD) has had to buckle down as well. Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, David and Charles Koch's Americans For Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the 60 Plus Association have dumped as much as $15 million into the state since July 2011 to [oppose McCaskill].... The sustained campaign could become a textbook for future efforts in a new era of anything-goes campaign financing, both Ms. McCaskill and her opponents say. Most of the spending is coming from tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations like Crossroads GPS, which may accept large corporate and individual donations without disclosing donors' identities."

Elizabeth Warren, in a Politico opinion piece: "Washington politicians line up 10-deep to claim they support small businesses, but they avoid talking about a harsh reality: The system is rigged against small business. These owners can't afford armies of lobbyists in D.C., but the big corporations can. It's those armies of lobbyists that create the loopholes and special breaks that let big corporations off the hook for paying taxes. While small businesses are left to pay the bills.... If a business makes it big, the reward shouldn't be the ability to rig the system to stop the next guy."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Thwarting controls against money laundering, [British bank] Standard Chartered Bank enabled Iranian banks and corporations to hide roughly 60,000 transactions worth at least $250 billion within the bank, New York state's banking regulator charged Monday."

ABC News: "The gunman who opened fire in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and killed six people has been identified as Army veteran Wade Michael Page. Page, 40, opened fire outside the temple before entering around 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning and killed six people. He served in the Army from April 1992 through October 1998. Though police have not given any details on the motive of the shooter, but Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Special Agent Thomas Ahern said Page had tattoos that suggested he had ties to white supremacists."

New York Times: "In a flawless, triumphant technological tour de force, a plutonium-powered rover the size of a small car was lowered at the end of 25-foot-long cables from a hovering rocket stage onto Mars early on Monday morning." NASA's Website is here, with links to numerous stories & pix on Curiosity.

New York Times: "President Bashar al-Assad fired his prime minister on Monday, Syria's official media reported, as activists countered that he defected to neighboring Jordan in what seemed a further indication of disarray among loyalists following a series of high-level defections and a rebel bomb attack last month that killed four of the Syrian leader's closest security aides." ...

     ... Al Jazeera Update: "Riad Farid Hijab, the Syrian prime minister, has joined the opposition, he has announced, after state television reported that he was sacked this morning. The former prime minister arrived in Jordan after being smuggled across the border, Jordanian authorities confirmed to Al Jazeera on Monday."

Saturday
Aug042012

The Commentariat -- August 5, 2012

Once again inspired by P. D. Pepe, I have taken a whack at Our Young Man from the Vatican, waxing eloquent today all All's Wrong with Obama. The NYTX front page is here.

James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute in a Washington Post op-ed: "In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.... We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs.... The future is now. And it is hot." ...

... Seth Borenstein of the AP reports on the report.

Bill Vlasic, et al., of the New York Times: if U.S. policymakers could entice the Japanese to build cars in the U.S., maybe a similar approach should be taken for the tech industry, where so much product is built in Asia.

New York Times Editors: "Massachusetts will be the first state to try to cap overall health care spending, both private and public, so that it will grow no faster than the state economy."

How come "ordinary citizens go to jail when they break the law, while the elites face a mere slap on the wrist"? A few theories.

Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Illinois) talks to Michael Sneed of the Sun-Times about her husband's illness, which she characterizes as depression, possibly triggered by weight-loss surgery.

Presidential Race

"The Vanity of Perfectionism." Robert Parry in AlterNet on the foolishness of people "on the American Left ... who sit out presidential elections or cast ballots for third-party candidates who have no chance of winning.... When we treat elections as if they are our moment to express ourselves, rather than to mitigate the damage that a U.S. president might inflict on the world, we are behaving selfishly, in my view.... U.S. elections should not be primarily about us." Thanks to Kate M. for the link.

An Obama Landslide? Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "Liberals don't want to jinx it. It terrifies the right. And the press would prefer a nail-biter. But the fact is that finding Romney's path to victory is getting harder every day."

A Romney Landslide? James Pethokoukis of the (right-wing) American Enterprise Institute: "Political scientist Douglas Hibbs looks at two factors when forecasting presidential elections: a) per capita real disposable personal income over the incumbent president's term, and b) cumulative U.S. military fatalities in overseas conflicts. And he's predicting a near-landslide win for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, with Obama losing by about as big a margin in 2012 as he won back in 2008." ...

... On Hibb's model, contributor Victoria D. points to this post by Ezra Klein, who relies heavily on a lot of work by Nate Silver. Klein (& Silver) note that "Hibbs's model in particular performs well for the years from which it extrapolates -- that is, the elections from 1952 to 1988 -- and very poorly for elections before and after.... The model predicted that Al Smith would win in 1928, Thomas Dewey would win by a landslide in 1948, and that Al Gore would have won comfortably in 2000. In sum, Silver alleges, the model does worse than just positing that each party will get 50 percent of the vote. So take Hibbs's findings with a grain of salt":

Chart by Nate Silver.

Let's Just Lie. Reid Epstein of Politico: "Mitt Romney sparked a Saturday tit-for-tat by claiming, without pointing to any evidence, that President Obama 's campaign is trying to restrict military voting in Ohio. Obama's campaign responded, ripping Romney for 'completely fabricating' a claim it called 'shameful.' At issue: A lawsuit the Obama campaign filed July 17 that seeks to restore three days of early voting for all of the state's voters. At no point does the lawsuit attempt to curb the rights of active military.... Romney's spokesman, Ryan Williams, in an interview Saturday could point to no place in Obama's lawsuit that seeks to restrict the rights of military voters." ...

... Speaking of which, here is Vol. XXVIII Steve Benen's "Mitt's Mendacity."

Right Wing World *

Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts school in Illinois, asked a Washington, D.C. federal court on Wednesday for an emergency injunction against the Obama administration's contraception coverage mandate because the rule forces the school to cover emergency contraception.... But Wheaton's health plan already covered emergency contraception when the mandate was announced..., and tried to scramble to get rid of that coverage in order to qualify for the one-year reprieve President Barack Obama put in place for religious institutions that have moral objections to contraception." Via Steve Benen.

"Land's End." Joseph Conn in Wall of Separation: "Notorious Southern Baptist lobbyist Richard Land has announced his retirement.... Land, head of the so-called Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, lobbied for the SBC for nearly 25 years. He is the embodiment of the SBC's conversion from friend of religious liberty to agent of theocracy. A faithful advocate of the Religious Right agenda for 25 years, Land has been shrill, aggressively partisan and deeply hostile to the church-state wall." Via Steve Benen.

* Where Hypocrisy never sleeps.

News Ledes

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "The shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek about 10:15 a.m. Sunday that left seven people dead, including the shooter, and three people injured is being treated as a domestic terrorist incident, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. Oak Creek police officers who responded to a 911 call about the shooting were helping a victim when the shooter ambushed one of the officers, shooting the officer multiple times. A second Oak Creek officer returned fire, killing the shooter, Edwards said. The wounded officer, described as at least a 20-year veteran of the department, was in surgery Sunday afternoon and was expected to survive, Edwards said during a 4 p.m. news conference." New York Times story here. ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Tattoos on the body of the slain Sikh temple gunman and certain biographical details led the FBI to treat the attack at a Milwaukee-area temple as an act of domestic terrorism, officials said Sunday."

New York Times: "Israel on Sunday barred the delegations of five countries from attending a diplomatic conference in Ramallah, in the West Bank, upending plans by the Palestinian president to announce his intention to renew the Palestinians' bid this September for enhanced status in the United Nations."

AP: "A possible plea deal in the deadly Tucson shootings that wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords would send Jared Lee Loughner to prison for the rest of his life, a person familiar with the case said Saturday.A court-appointed psychiatrist will testify Tuesday that Loughner is competent to enter a plea...."

AFP: "... The Mars Science Laboratory and rover Curiosity -- designed to hunt for soil-based signatures of life and send back data to prepare for a future human mission" -- is scheduled to land on Mars early Monday morning. First signals would reach NASA "at 1:31 am Eastern time (0531 GMT).... That will be about 14 minutes after the touchdown actually happens due to the time it takes for spacecraft signals to travel from Mars to Earth."

AP: "Several wildfires raging around the parched Oklahoma landscape prompted more evacuations on Sunday as emergency workers sought to shelter those forced out by flames that destroyed dozens of homes and threatened others in the drought-stricken region."

Friday
Aug032012

The Commentariat -- August 4, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... Here's the transcript.

Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic: "... there are now fewer public sector employees per American than at any time dating back to the Carter administration (To be clear, we're talking state, federal, and local here).... If the share of government workers was back to 2007 levels, we'd have about 1.7 million more jobs than we do today." With charts. Here's the overview of the Brookings Institution report Weissman cites. ...

... Adam Peck of Think Progress: "Even as the national unemployment rate ticked up ever so slightly in July, the unemployment rate for veterans fell to its lowest level in more than three years, dropping to 6.9 percent. That figure is the lowest monthly unemployment rate for all veterans since before President Obama took office.... The unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars remained higher than the national unemployment rate, but it too appears to be trending in the right direction."

Gail Collins: The Do-Nothing Congress has no time to save the Post Office, but plenty of time to name post offices; it has no time to pass a farm bill during a national emergency but plenty of time to vote 33 times against ObamaCare. "Maybe it's possible [for Congress] to have a negative approval rating."

New York Times Editors: Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) showed "utter disdain" for the House Ethics Committee that reprimanded her. "She was found to have misused House resources, violated campaign restrictions on staff members, withheld subpoenaed documents and sought to manipulate witnesses and evidence. In the process, she most likely broke federal law, while showing a 'near total deflection of responsibility,' the panel concluded."

Solomon Banda of the AP: "... some are wondering whether the [University of Colorado's threat assessment] system broke down.... A university psychiatrist was so alarmed by graduate student James E. Holmes' behavior that she tried to bring him to the attention of the school's threat assessment team more than a month before the attack, but the group never met to talk about him because he had already taken steps to drop out.... University Chancellor Don Elliman has repeatedly said the school did all it could with regard to Holmes.... However, KMGH-TV and the Denver Post ... said police were never contacted."

Judy Chu (D-Calif.) in a New York Times op-ed: "I introduced the Harry Lew Military Hazing Accountability and Prevention Act, which asks the military to make hazing a crime, requires the Defense Department to come up with a comprehensive anti-hazing plan, and creates a tracking system for hazing incidents. These provisions passed the House in May as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, but the Senate still needs to act. And the sooner it acts, the better, because we know this is just the beginning of what we need to do to eradicate hazing. Our military doesn't have to abuse its own to be strong."

Charles Blow: "A young man is stopped by police, who find $10 worth of drugs on him; he had twice been searched by officers and then double handcuffed behind his back and placed in the back of a police car; yet, somehow, he retrieves a gun that both searches failed to find and uses it shoot himself in the right temple? That is what police in Jonesboro, Ark., say happened on the evening of Sunday, July 29, to Chavis Carter, a 21-year-old African-American man from Southaven, Miss., a suburb of Memphis."

"Still Puritan after All These Years." Matthew Hutson in a New York Times Sunday Review piece: "... present-day Americans still exhibit, in their attitudes and behavior, traces of those austere English Protestants who started arriving in the country in the early 17th century."

Contributor Victoria D. recommends this excellent piece by Karoli of Crooks & Liars on Campbell Brown, former CNN "journalist"/hack/stealth Romney surrogate & wife of Romney advisor Dan Palestinian-Culture-Sucks Senor. So do I.

Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post: America's First Ladies didn't/don't like the job.

Presidential Race

Rachel Maddow in an excellent segment on Mitt Romney's history of, um, lying about his taxes:

     ... AND one on Romney's insistence in 1994 that Ted Kennedy release his tax returns, etc.:

Brian Beutler of TPM: "Romney's most recent financial disclosure form revealed that his tax-deferred individual retirement account holds upwards of $100 million -- an amount that ... raises legal and ethical questions. IRAs are intended to allow workers to put away modest sums of money each year in order to help finance a middle class retirement. The savings are tax deferred, but there's a legal limit -- now $6,000 -- on how much each IRA holder can contribute annually. Now top Democrats on the Budget, Ways and Means, and Education and Workforce Committees want to know how people of Romney's wealth can end up with 100,000 times that much money in a single IRA, and how much the tax and investment strategies they employ cost the Treasury in revenue every year." With copy of letter from to top Treasury & Labor officials from Reps. George Miller (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Sam Youngman of Reuters: "Under pressure to reveal more about his personal finances..., Mitt Romney on Friday said he had paid 'a lot of taxes' every year.... Romney said the sources of [Harry] Reid's accusations [that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years] may be within the White House or President Barack Obama's re-election campaign."

Spending More Time with His Family. Arlette Saenz & Emily Friedman of ABC News: Romney "Spokesman Rick Gorka, whose curse-laden flap with the press in Poland rounded out the news reports culminating Romney’s trip, is 'taking some time off the trail' after a week abroad, per a Romney aide. Gorka normally serves as the traveling spokesman for Romney on all his campaign trips."

No Apologies? No Principles. Ginger Gibson of Politico: "At a news conference in Las Vegas, Romney wouldn't weigh in on either the fight over comments by the president of the fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A over gay marriage or an effort spearheaded by Michele Bachmann calling for an investigation into Huma Abedin and alleged Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the federal government." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Mitt Romney is most amusing when he has to go la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you at the cultural-issues antics of his party's base.... Even as his most loyal supporters treat this election cycle as marking the Final War for the Preservation of Civilization, the candidate himself continues to pretend it's all about GDP growth and out-year budget estimates. It's just ha-larious."

AND Willard Gets a Key Endorsement. CBS News: "Porn star Jenna Jameson chose a familiar stage to make her endorsement for the 2012 presidential election Thursday night. At a San Francisco strip club, the former adult actress and stage performer said she was ready for a Romney presidency. 'I'm very looking forward to a Republican being back in office,' Jameson said while sipping champagne in a VIP room at Gold Club in the city's South of Market neighborhood. 'When you're rich, you want a Republican in office.'" ...

... Okay, maybe this is a better one. Steve Peoples of the AP: "Clint Eastwood just made Mitt Romney's day. [He] endorsed the Republican presidential candidate Friday night during a Sun Valley fundraiser. 'I think the country needs a boost,' Eastwood told The Associated Press as he joined other Romney supporters for the private campaign event. In February, Eastwood told Fox News that he wasn't supporting any politician at that time. Some saw the 'halftime in America' ad he made for the Super Bowl as a nod toward President Barack Obama. Eastwood responded then by saying he was not 'politically affiliated' with the president." CW: What he meant was, "When you're rich, you want a Republican in office."

Congressional Races

Lucas Johnson of the AP: "The Tennessee Democratic Party is disavowing the man who won the party's nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Bob Corker in November, saying the little-known candidate belongs to an anti-gay hate group. Mark Clayton, 35, reported raising no money and campaigned little but received more than 48,000 votes, twice the number of his nearest competitor in Thursday's seven-candidate Democratic primary. Clayton is vice president of Falls Church, Va.-based Public Advocate of the United States, which calls itself a conservative advocacy group. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the organization an anti-gay hate group." CW: Congratulations on your re-election, Sen. Corker. And thanks to reader Jeanne B. for the link.

News Ledes

Birmingham News: "- A federal judge ... sentenced former Gov. Don Siegelman (D-Ala.) to 78 months in prison.... A federal jury in 2006 convicted Siegelman of federal funds bribery on allegations that he sold a seat on a hospital regulatory board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's 1999 referendum campaign to establish a state lottery. Siegelman served nine months of an 88-month sentence before being released in March 2008 on an appeal bond. A federal appeals court tossed out two of the charges against him, which prompted today's resentencing."

Reuters: "Wildfires burned out of control on Friday in Oklahoma, destroying homes and shutting down highways in a state that has suffered 18 straight days of 100-plus degree temperatures and persistent drought. Emergency officials counted 11 different wildfires around the state, with at least 65 homes destroyed in parched areas north and south of Oklahoma City and south of Tulsa."

Reuters: "The University of Colorado has hired a former federal prosecutor to probe its handling of a former graduate student accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 in a shooting spree at a movie theater in a Denver suburb, the school said on Friday."

AP: "Iran claimed Saturday it has successfully test-fired an upgraded version of a short-range ballistic missile with improved accuracy, increasing the Islamic Republic's capability to strike both land and naval targets."

AP: "The Afghan parliament passed votes of no confidence Saturday against the country's defense and interior ministers, a blow to the government of President Hamid Karzai as it attempts to project an image of stability while international forces draw down."

AP: "Senate Democrats rejected a Republican effort to force defense contractors to send out notices of possible job layoffs four days before the election, calling the move politically driven and purely speculative based on looming spending cuts. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 17-13 against an amendment by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The provision would have overturned Labor Department guidance this week to federal contractors that they do not have to warn their employees about potential layoffs from the automatic, across-the-board cuts that kick in Jan. 2."

Thursday
Aug022012

The Commentariat -- August 3, 2012

New York Times Editors: "What are Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Draghi waiting for? Slower growth? Higher unemployment? Lower output?"

Paul Krugman: "President Obama, if re-elected, can, and should, replace [Ed DeMarco, the acting director of the agency that runs Fannie & Freddie,] through a recess appointment. In fact, he should have done that years ago.... Mr. Obama has made plenty of mistakes. But the DeMarco affair nonetheless demonstrates, once again, the extent to which U.S. economic policy has been crippled by unyielding, irresponsible political opposition. If our economy is still deeply depressed, much — and I would say most — of the blame rests not with Mr. Obama but with the very people seeking to use that depressed economy for political advantage."

Tim Egan has a few thoughts on Nino Scalia's contribution to democracy. Like this: "Secretive donor money in federal elections went from 1 percent in 2006 to 44 percent in 2010, after the Supreme Court lifted restrictions." And this: "Fewer than 200 people in a nation of 313 million comprise 80 percent of all super PAC donations."

A Brave Senate Finance Committee Tackles Tax Reform. Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "... members of the Senate Finance Committee congratulated themselves for agreeing to jettison 20 [tax breaks], including a $5,000 credit for first-time home buyers in the District and a cash-incentive program for ­wind-energy projects that has been derided as benefiting foreign companies. But their failure to weed out dozens more pet provisions clouded prospects for a far-reaching simplification of the nation’s tax laws advocated by President Obama, GOP challenger Mitt Romney and congressional leaders in both parties." Among them: "An accelerated write-off for owners of NASCAR tracks."  Well, of course, some of these guys are "great friends" of Mitt's. (And of a senator on the Finance Committee, too, no doubt.)

Dave Weigel posts on the closing arguments in the Pennsylvania voter fraud trial.

AND Teddy Partridge of Firedoglake finds "the best obit correction ever: the New York Times on Gore Vidal."

Presidential Race

Chances are you pay a higher tax rate than him [Mitt Romney]….Mitt Romney made $20 million in 2010 but paid only 14 percent in taxes…probably less than you. Now he has a plan that would give millionaires another tax break. And raises taxes on middle class families by up to two thousand dollars a year. -- Voiceover in Obama ad ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "This ad is tough, but we cannot fault the accuracy of its key points. To some extent, the Romney campaign has been hoist with its own petard by refusing to provide sufficient detail that shows how the numbers add up in Romney’s tax and budget plans. So we are left with the judgment of a respected and independent third party. We hold campaign ads to a high standard, particularly attack ads.... For the first time in this frequently nasty campaign, we award a rare Geppetto Checkmark for a campaign ad."

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "President Obama on Thursday continued his swing-state offensive against Mitt Romney’s tax-cut plans, deriding them as a boon to the rich at the expense of everyone else — 'trickle-down tax-cut fairy dust,' he called them at a college here."

Richard Oppel of the New York Times: "After a rocky trip to Europe and Israel in which his remarks drew complaints from British and Palestinian leaders, Mitt Romney flew Thursday to Colorado, an important swing state, to try to regain his footing and refocus his campaign on his core message of renewing the economy."

Jennifer Epstein of Politico: "President Obama touted his record on women's issues and stressed the women in his personal story as he addressed a major gathering of women bloggers on Thursday. 'Women’s issues are front and center as they should be. But the conversation has been oversimplified a bit,' he told the BlogHer conference in New York, speaking live via video from Orlando, Fla. 'Women are not a monolithic bloc, not an interest group. You make up more than half our country and our workforce, not to mention 80 percent my household if you count my mother-in-law.'"

Jamelle Bouie of the American Prospect: "Obama’s attacks on Romney’s financial life — Bain Capital, his tax returns, his ostentatious wealth — are meant to present the former Massachusetts governor as an unscrupulous plutocrat, indifferent to the lives of ordinary Americans. But the goal of that is to soften Romney for the main event — an all-out attack on his economic plan." ...

... More Secret Mitt. Benjy Sarlin of TPM: "A new study describing Mitt Romney’s tax cut proposals as an average tax increase for 95% of Americans is 'a joke,' according to Romney adviser Eric Ferhnstrom. But policy aides offered no indication they plan to offer more details on Romney’s plan in order to clarify how it would be paid for...." ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times: "The Romney campaign’s increasingly desperate attempts to dismiss a new study of its tax plan are a pretty good sign that the study is devastating. That isn’t to say the campaign is trying to counter it with actual specifics.... The Tax Policy Center ... has one of the more reliable and unbiased computer models of the nation’s tax system. But for the far right (also known as the Republican center), any tax analysis that doesn’t swallow the prosperity gospel of tax-cut magic is, therefore, liberal." ...

... Paul Krugman: "Obama['s tax plan] is inadequate; Romney['s] is intensely, screamingly irresponsible. On top of that, Romney is scamming voters, claiming not only that he can make up the lost revenue by closing unspecified loopholes, but that he can do so in a way that doesn’t shift the tax burden away from the rich onto the middle class. He can’t, as a matter of sheer arithmetic — which is the point of that Tax Policy Center study. The Romney campaign isn’t even trying to make a substantive argument in response — they’re just calling names."

Maggie Haberman of Politico: "On Sean Hannity's radio show, Mitt Romney just told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to 'put up or shut up' on the unsubstantiated allegations he's made about the GOP hopeful not paying his taxes for ten years.... But the 'put up' line was a bit surprising, since Romney is the one under fire for not releasing his returns..., and only he, in this specific instance, has the documents in question that someone is asking be 'put up.'"

Fred Kaplan of Slate: "Romney's foreign policy ideas are really quite scary.... Romney took this trip to pass a fairly simple test: to demonstrate a bedrock comfort and competence on the world stage. He failed that test.... In comparing Romney’s foreign policy to Obama’s...: They’re the same, except when Romney’s is more reckless or mysterious. Not a good bumper sticker."

... AND in Sporting News.... "Ann Romney's horse fails to win dressage but avoids offending British." Sam Jones of the Guardian: "... the 15-year-old bay Oldenburg mare acquitted herself rather well. True, she and her rider, Jan Ebeling, may have been left well behind by Britain's Carl Hester, Germany's Dorothee Schneider and Denmark's Anna Kasprzak but, by Romney standards, her performance was a positive triumph. Never for a second during her seven-minute performance did a hoof stray dangerously mouthwards, nor did she do anything at all to offend or upset the host nation. From the moment she entered the Greenwich Park equestrian arena at 12.15 on Thursday afternoon, the most famous political horse since Caligula toyed with making a consul of Incitatus seemed in her element."

News Ledes

AP: "Syria reached out to its powerful ally Russia on Friday, as senior officials pleaded with Moscow for financial loans and supplies of oil products — an indication that international sanctions are squeezing President Bashar Assad's regime.... Rebels fought regime forces in the Syrian capital only two weeks after the government crushed a revolt there."

New York Times: "Cass Sunstein, 57, who projected an air of disheveled academic detachment while becoming one of the Obama administration’s most provocative figures, announced Friday that he was leaving government to return to Harvard Law School."

Houston Chronicle: "A federal judge in Galveston on Thursday partially blocked new Texas registration laws that critics say amount to vote suppression because they prevent large voter registration drives. U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa blocked the state from enforcing five provisions of the laws that its defenders say are aimed at preventing voter fraud."

NBC News: "House Republicans will file a civil suit against Attorney General Eric Holder during the August recess, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has told NBC News."

Bloomberg News: "Payrolls in the U.S. climbed more than forecast in July, boosted by a pickup in employment at automakers, even as the jobless rate unexpectedly rose to a five-month high. The increase of 163,000 followed a revised 64,000 gain in June payrolls that was less than initially reported.... Unemployment rose to 8.3 percent."

New York Times: "Amtrak lost more than $800 million on its food and beverage services over the last 10 years, largely because of waste, employee theft and lack of proper oversight, government auditors have found."

AP: "Growing use of generic medicines has reduced U.S. health care spending by more than $1 trillion over the past decade, according to an industry-funded study released Thursday. The fourth annual report, produced for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, found use of generic prescription drugs in the U.S. saved about $193 billion last year alone."

Washington Post: "Two federal agencies and Congress said Thursday that they were investigating an incident at Reagan National Airport in which commuter jets headed in opposite directions closed to within about 1,650 yards of one another at a combined speed of 436 mph.... Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood ... praised the air traffic controller who recognized that the planes were closing on each other at a high speed. The controller ordered one pilot to abort his approach to National and turn south. The three planes, all operated by US Airways, carried 192 passengers and crew members, the airline said. They all reached their destinations safely."

Reuters: "U.S. Representative Diane Black won the primary election by a comfortable margin over Lou Ann Zelenik, noted for her fierce opposition to the Islamic Center built in Murfreesboro..., although it was outside the congressional district she sought to represent. Zelenik was backed by a wealthy conservative businessman from Nashville, who paid for ads attacking Black over the mosque and Islam. Zelenik charged that Black had not opposed the mosque vigorously."

Space: "The 1-ton Curiosity rover, the heart of NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, is slated to touch down inside the Red Planet's Gale Crater on Sunday night (Aug. 5)."

Politico: "The House officially reprimanded Rep. Laura Richardson on Thursday for improperly using her official staff to conduct campaign work and personal errands, the latest blow to the California Democrat’s bid for a fourth term in Congress."

Guardian: "Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was formally charged with phone hacking and will appear in court next month.... Six other journalists from the News of the World, including David Cameron's former spin doctor Andy Coulson, have been officially charged and will appear at the same court on 16 August."