Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President lays out why new, high-standards trade agreements are important for our economy, our businesses, our workers, and our values":

The Ledes

Saturday, April 25, 2015.

New York Times: "Pledging to shut down the city, thousands of demonstrators jammed the streets of Baltimore on Saturday to protest the death of a black man who sustained a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody." ...

... Baltimore Sun: "A day of peaceful rallies into the death of Freddie Gray turned violent as dark fell over Baltimore with protesters smashing the windows on police cars, blocking traffic near the Inner Harbor and shouting, 'Killers!' at officers dressed in riot gear." ...

     ... The Sun also is loveblogging the demonstrations.

New York Times: "An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.9 shook Nepal on Saturday near its capital, Katmandu. People in the capital described scenes of panic and collapsed buildings, and the United States Geological Survey predicted severe damage to villages near the quake’s epicenter, about 50 miles from Katmandu." ...

     ... New Lede: "A powerful earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday near its capital, Katmandu, killing more than 1,300 people, flattening sections of the city’s historic center and trapping dozens of sightseers in a 200-foot watchtower that came crashing down into a pile of bricks." ...

... At 9 pm ET, the Washington Post has the death toll at 1,500. By midnight, the Post was reporting 1,800 dead. ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging developments. ...

... NEW. Washington Post: "An Indian army mountaineering team found 18 bodies on Mount Everest on Saturday, an army spokesman said, after a massive earthquake in Nepal unleashed an avalanche on the world’s tallest mountain at the start of the main climbing season." ...

Katmandu's historic Dharahara Tower, before & after the quake.... NEW. Washington Post: "The devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that violently shook Nepal on Saturday left more than human casualties in its wake. The country also saw a number of its iconic UNESCO World Heritage sites and most popular tourist attractions -- some dating more than 1,700 years -- reduced to piles of rubble."

AP: "The University of Florida suspended one of its fraternities on Friday after allegations that its members hurled drunken insults and spat at a group of disabled military veterans at a Panama City Beach resort."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
April 24

Sorry. This is yesterday's livefeed. Since the White House doesn't date their schedule (despite my repeated requests) I just can't tell. I probably won't have time to republish today's schedule, should the White House ever get around to publishing it.

10:00 am ET: President Obama makes a statement

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus (audio only)

2:15 pm ET: President Obama honors the Super Bowl champs

4:55 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Organizing for Action summit

7:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at an Israel Independence Day ceremony (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

Wild Things Interrupt President Obama's reading of "Where the Wild Things Are" at the White House's Easter Egg Roll:

... Don't Worry, Bee Happy. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "The pint-sized guests Monday might not have listened to him, but the president’s National Pollinator Initiative will forge ahead. Last June Obama launched an inter-agency task force charged with developing a federal strategy to protect pollinators, which help sustain crops ranging from almonds to blueberries and broccoli, and it should be unveiling a detailed plan in a matter of months."

The Coolest First Lady in the History of the Nation:

Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: "For her forthcoming book, “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House,” Kate Andersen Brower managed to elicit stories from domestic staff who witnessed up close the loneliness of President Nixon as he faced impeachment, the weariness of Hillary Clinton as her husband’s sex scandal exploded and other surprisingly intimate moments involving the first families. Most of these stories — from Nancy Reagan’s tirade over three broken tchotchkes to the tearful hug Jackie and Bobby Kennedy shared with a favorite doorman in an elevator — are attributed to staffers by name, not wrapped in the cloud of anonymous sourcing that usually cloaks reporting about the inner workings of the White House." ...

Here's What $75MM Buys:

... Orange County Register: "President Richard Nixon's Western White House, an oceanfront San Clemente estate owned by retired Allergan CEO Gavin S. Herbert, is for sale at $75 million. Herbert, 83, is selling the 5.45-acre estate after owning the property for 35 years." Includes slideshow.

New York: "Here's a spoiler for people who haven't finished House of Cards season three yet: Frank Underwood doesn't die, because Netflix [April 2] announced that it had renewed Cards for a fourth season."

Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday afternoon, just about lunch time, a 'flying saucer' was undergoing a spin test in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The saucer is technically a 15-foot wide, 7,000-pound aerodynamic test vehicle. It is designed to help engineers try out new technologies for landing spacecraft, and someday people, on Mars."

Guardian: "Comedy Central is standing by its new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, after the 31-year-old South African comedian set to replace Jon Stewart was criticized for a series of controversial jokes he tweeted before his appointment." ...

... Jessica Winter of Salon: "Not since John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate have the vetting capacities of a powerful political force been cast into such doubt." Besides being a misogynist pig & an anti-Semite, Noah isn't even funny."

Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

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The Commentariat -- Dec. 10, 2012

The Sunday Funnies

Jake Sherman of Politico: "New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman seems to be testing the patience of a couple of his fellow pundits on ABC's 'This Week.' Conservative commentator George Will and former White House aide Mary Matalin both directed pointed remarks at Krugman Sunday that broke with the good-natured banter common among the guests on Sunday political talk shows." CW: I happened to be in the kitchen while my husband had this segment on; Matalin & Will once again proved they are the Village Vicious Idiots. You can watch the performances here (if you're willing to sit through several minutes of ads). The segment begins at about 14:45 min. in. ...

... Pam Spaulding of Pam's Houseblend writes a great post of Matelin's & Will's sorta not anti-gay remarks emanating from the same show. She throws in a bonus remark about Ann Coulter.

AND Lawrence O'Donnell takes on the Newt on "Press the Meat." Igor Volsky of Think Progress reports. With video.

NEW. Charles Pierce has a lovely rundown of what-all you missed by doing something useful with your Sunday morning. Thanks to MAG for the link.

NEW. Driftglass fills in the parts Pierce missed.

Cliff Notes

Jake Sherman & Carrie Brown of Politico: "President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House Sunday in an attempt to break the logjam on the fiscal cliff. It was their first face-to-face meeting in 23 days." The New York Times story, by Brian Knowlton & Jackie Calmes, is here.

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Sunday that he's 'beginning to believe' thatfalling in line with President Obama's call to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, then shifting the focus to reforming entitlements 'is the best route for us to take' on the 'fiscal cliff.'"

Joan Walsh has a terrific post on the stupidity of raising the eligibility age for Medicare. CW: I'm getting damned sick of the increasing acceptable idea that Obama has to cave on something like this because House Republicans need some "face-saving" measure so they can say they won. Why in hell is it more important to appease a few prima donnas than it is to guarantee more affordable health care to millions of older Americans? What happened to Obama's campaign line about "fundamental fairness"? Oh. I guess it was just a campaign line.

Peter Schroeder & Bernie Becker of The Hill: "The White House has the power to temporarily protect taxpayers from middle-class tax hikes even as upper income rates rise if Congress does nothing and all of the Bush-era tax rates expire in January. Experts and lawmakers alike agree that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has the power to adjust how much is withheld from paychecks for tax purposes -- for all taxpayers or just for some."

** Paul Krugman: "Increasingly, [corporate] profits have been rising at the expense of workers in general, including workers with the skills that were supposed to lead to success in today's economy.... As best as I can tell, there are two plausible explanations, both of which could be true to some extent. One is that technology has taken a turn that places labor at a disadvantage; the other is that we're looking at the effects of a sharp increase in monopoly power."

** Frank Rich: "What's really shocking about the Petraeus affair is not Petraeus's affair but the fact that once again, we were taken in by a secular plaster saint who turns out to bear only a faint resemblance to the image purveyed by the man himself and the mass media that abetted his self-glorification."

Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Almost two decades after the Clinton administration failed to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda, the United States is coming under harsh criticism for not moving forcefully in another African crisis..., this time in Rwanda's neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo.... Critics ... who include officials of human rights organizations and United Nations diplomats ... of the Obama administration's Africa policy have focused on the role of Susan E. Rice ... in the administration’s failure to take action against the country they see as a major cause of the Congolese crisis, Rwanda.... Aides to Ms. Rice acknowledge that she is close to [Rwandan President Paul] Kagame and that Mr. Kagame's government was her client when she worked at Intellibridge, a strategic analysis firm in Washington." ...

... AND speaking of President Clinton, Richard Socarides, who worked in the Clinton administration, has a good, short post in the New Yorker on what the Supreme Court's rulings on the DOMA & Prop 8 cases could mean to the future of gay marriage. His post is a reminder for those extolling the virtues of Bill Clinton that Clinton was not a leader on this issue.

Jason Zengerle of New York magazine: "... a month after the election, Obama's campaign team has managed to cast a 2008-like hue on their 2012 victory. The secret of their successful spin: Instead of talking about how their guy won a second term by methodically defining -- and demonizing -- his buffoon of an opponent, they’re gushing about the ingenuity of their apps and algorithms."

Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker: "Unless and until the federal government takes over the business of running our elections -- which will, in all likelihood, never happen -- the process of voting will remain the shambles we saw on November 6, 2012."

James Allworth in the Harvard Business Review on how political corruption stifles innovation -- by privileging established companies and technologies over new ones. CW: It's worth noting that there's another side to the story. There was no greater or more invasive monopoly in the U.S. than AT&FuckingT, but it also was half-owner of Bell Labs, a citadel of innovation that produced 7 Nobel Prizes. Of course if the Justice Department hadn't broken up AT&T, we'd probably still be phoning each other on black rotary dials & paying AT&T a per-minute fee to use the government-developed Internets. Thanks to Dave S. for the link.

Edward Wong of the New York Times: "In a strong signal of support for greater market-oriented economic policies, Xi Jinping, the new head of the Communist Party, made a visit over the weekend to the special economic zone of Shenzhen in south China, which has stood as a symbol of the nation's embrace of a state-led form of capitalism since its growth over the last three decades from a fishing enclave to an industrial metropolis."

Local News

Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press: "Large numbers of Michigan State Police officers were around the Capitol building early this morning as Lansing braced for a day of protests related to controversial right-to-work legislation working its way through the state Legislature. Today's protests are a precursor to much larger ones planned for Tuesday, when thousands of union activists are expected to converge at the Capitol and supporters of right-to-work legislation have also promised a strong presence there. Union members took civil disobedience training in Detroit on Saturday to prepare for the protests." ...

... Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post: "The Obama administration told labor leaders that the president will also be weighing in on the right-to-work fight in his speech [to be delivered today at the Detroit Daimler Truck diesel plant], according to union officials who spoke with The Huffington Post." ...

... Greg Sargent: "I'm told that virtually the entire Democratic Congressional delegation in Michigan is set to privately meet with [Michigan Gov. Rick] Snyder today in an effort to persuade him to reconsider the initiative and to find a way out of the impasse.... The lawmakers ... will try to persuade Snyder that proceeding with the anti-union initiative will badly damage the state and that there is a middle-ground way out of the situation...."

Right Wing World

Jonathan Chait on "The Psychology of Defeat": how the leaders of Right Wing World -- especially Charles Krautheimer are handling their pain.

News Ledes

President Obama speaking in Detroit, Michigan:

Washington Post: "Treasury announced on Monday that it is completing its exit of American International Group, the insurance behemoth that nearly imploded four years ago, almost dragging down the entire financial system with it. It plans to sell about 234 million shares, raising about $8 billion and leaving Treasury with a $5 billion profit on its investment. The Federal Reserve, which also invested in the firm, has already unloaded virtually all its holdings, for a profit of $18 billion."

Bloomberg News: "HSBC Holdings Plc will pay at least $1.9 billion to settle U.S. probes of money laundering allegations involving Europe's largest bank..., making it the largest such accord ever. The bank, whose top executives were accused of lax oversight by a U.S. Senate subcommittee in July, has been the target of investigations run by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Controls, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Manhattan District Attorney."

New York Times: "The political crisis over Egypt's draft constitution hardened on both sides on Sunday, as President Mohamed Morsi prepared to deploy the army to safeguard balloting in a planned referendum on the new charter and his opponents called for more protests and a boycott to undermine the vote." ...

     ... Update: "Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Morsi captured, detained and beat dozens of his political opponents last week, holding them for hours with their hands bound on the pavement outside the presidential palace while pressuring them to confess that they had accepted money to use violence in protests against him.

Guardian: "Russian and American diplomats have met in Geneva to discuss the future of Syria with the UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, according to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, who insisted the meeting did not imply Moscow had softened in its support for the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad. ...

... Al Jazeera: "Syrian rebels have captured parts of a large army base in the country's north, just west of the city of Aleppo, activists say."

AP: "Mexico's music world mourned Jenni Rivera, the U.S.-born singer presumed killed in a plane crash whose soulful voice and openness about her personal troubles had made her a Mexican-American superstar. Authorities have not confirmed her death, but Rivera's relatives in the U.S. say they have few doubts that she was on the Learjet 25 that disintegrated on impact Sunday in rugged territory in Nuevo Leon state in northern Mexico."

AP: "South African former President Nelson Mandela's stay in hospital for unspecified medical tests has stretched into a third day. On Monday there was no new word on his condition. Government officials have said the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon is 'comfortable' and receiving medical care that is 'consistent with his age.'"


The Commentariat -- Dec. 9, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer takes on Paul Krugman, albeit gently, and Republicans, not so gently.

Adele Stan in Washington Monthly: raise the eligibility age for Medicare and "PEOPLE WILL DIE."

Maureen Dowd: "... the Republican decline will be traced to a stubborn refusal to adapt to a world where poor people and sick people and black people and brown people and female people and gay people count. ...

     ... CW: before you get too taken by the Oracle of DeeCee's assurances that the End of the Republican Era is nigh, read Matt Taibbi (a) just for the pleasure, but (b) for his view on political prognostication:

     ... Matt Taibbi on the DeMise of DeMint: "In the minds of those Tea Party conservatives DeMint represents, they debased themselves in supporting an ultimate-RINO type like Romney, and all they got for their trouble was four more years of Black Satan lounging around on the couches of the White House." ...

... Here's the cartoon P. D. Pepe refers to in the Comments section. It took me a while to find it. (It's really helpful when contributors provide links to specific articles or items they mention, so readers can follow up if a particular topic interests them. Also, it always saves me a step!):

Christopher Weyant, Cagle Cartoons, The Hill.Robert Pear of the New York Times: "... affluent Americans will soon be hit with new taxes adopted as part of the 2010 health care law. The new levies, which take effect in January, include an increase in the payroll tax on wages and a tax on investment income, including interest, dividends and capital gains. The Obama administration proposed rules to enforce both last week.... To help finance Medicare, employees and employers each now pay a hospital insurance tax equal to 1.45 percent on all wages. Starting in January, the health care law will require workers to pay an additional tax equal to 0.9 percent of any wages over $200,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly."

Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times: "As soon as the confrontation over fiscal policy winds down, the Obama administration will begin an all-out drive for comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, according to officials briefed on the plans. While key tactical decisions are still being made, President Obama wants a catch-all bill that would also bolster border security measures, ratchet up penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and make it easier to bring in foreign workers under special visas, among other elements."

Nicholas Kristof highlights a social services program gone awry. In Appalachia, families have a huge stake in their children's failure to learn to read. CW: Kristof merely criticizes the program & can't seem to think of a way to fix it. I'll bet you can.

Steven Mufson of the Washington Post has a long piece on the U.S.'s natural gas industry, which is about to become a big exporter thanks to fracking & other technology, possibly causing a rise in LNG prices here.

** Pakistan International News: "Former US President Jimmy Carter has slammed American assassination drone strikes in other countries, saying that killing civilians in such attacks would in fact nurture terrorism. 'I personally think we do more harm than good by having our drones attack some potential terrorists who have not been tried or proven that they are guilty," Carter said in an interview with Russia Today. But in the meantime, the drone attacks also kill women and children, sometimes in weddings... so this is the kind of thing we should correct,' he added." Video of the RT interview with President Carter is here. The interview begins about 3:30 min. in. In the first part, Carter blasts Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. I love that guy.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: "President Obama's finance team is offering corporations and other institutions that contribute $1 million exclusive access to an array of inaugural festivities, including tickets to a 'benefactors reception,' a children's concert, a candlelight celebration at the National Building Museum, two reserved parade bleacher seats and four tickets to the president's official inaugural ball." In case your solicitation to go to a $1 million party got lost in the mail, here's a copy. I'm going to try to think of this whole stupid shebang as the Caterers & Musicians' Stimulus Program. ...

... All of Which May Be Moot, What with the World Coming to an End First. Nick Allen, et al., of the London Telegraph: "Ahead of December 21, which marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year 'Long Count' Mayan calendar, panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.

Doktor Zoom of Wonkette reflects on the efficacy of gun ownership as a means of protection. Luckily, s/he has Wayne LaPierre of the NRA & other bright lights to help sort things out.

Has Anybody Seen Mitt Romney? Yes! AP: "Defeated presidential candidate Mitt Romney was a guest ringside Saturday night at the fourth fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez." CW: what a cultural trend-setter President Romney would have been. The fights, for Pete's sake?

Local News

Josh Israel of Think Progress: "The Detroit Free-Press, which endorsed Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) in his 2010 campaign and has generally supported him since, blasted his decision to ram through a union-busting 'right-to-work' law in a lame-duck legislative session. At Snyder's urging, the state House and Senate each passed versions of the law this week. The editorial board slammed his move as a 'failure of leadership' and observed that his 'about-face' amounted to a betrayal of Michigan's voters." The Freep editorial is here.

The Last Congressional Race

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Rep. Charles Boustany has defeated fellow GOP Rep. Jeff Landry in Louisiana's 3rd District on Saturday, according to the Associated Press, bringing a close to the final undetermined congressional contest of the 2012 cycle."

News Ledes

** New York Times: Birger Stromsheim, a Norwegian hero of World War II, died Nov. 10 in Oslo at 101. CW: read his obituary, please. Here's the Telegraph's obituary. Here's an excerpt from the book The Real Heroes of Telemark by Ray Mears.

AP: "Egypt's liberal opposition has called for more protests on Sunday after the president made concessions overnight that fell short of their demands to rescind a draft constitution going to a referendum on Dec. 15." Al Jazeera story here.

Reuters: "Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez returns to Cuba on Sunday for more surgery after a recurrence of cancer led him to name a successor for the first time in a sign the disease may force an end to his 14-year rule."

AP: "Pakistani intelligence officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed three suspected militants near the Afghan border."

ABC News: "The American doctor rescued from the Taliban in Afghanistan Saturday by U.S. Special Operations Forces is the medical adviser for a Colorado Springs NGO, his employer confirmed today. Dr. Dilip Joseph and two colleagues were kidnapped by a group of armed men while returning from a visit to a rural medical clinic in eastern Kabul Province...."

Guardian: "Poor countries have won historic recognition of the plight they face from the ravages of climate change, wringing a pledge from rich nations that they will receive funds to repair the 'loss and damage' incurred.... Developing countries had been fighting hard for the concession at the fortnight-long UN climate change talks among 195 nations in Qatar, which finished after a marathon 36-hour final session."

Dallas Morning News: "Irving, [Texas,] police have now confirmed that Josh Brent, nose tackle for the Cowboys, has been arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter. Jerry Brown, 25, is the person who died. Brown is listed as a linebacker on the team's practice squad." Follow-up story here.

Guardian: "Nelson Mandela is 'comfortable and in good care', South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, has said after visiting him in hospital."

AP: "British police say they have contacted Australian authorities about a possible investigation into an Australian radio station's hoax call to a U.K. hospital. The callers impersonated Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles and received confidential details about the former Kate Middleton's medical information. The call was recorded and broadcast."


The Commentariat -- Dec. 8, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... Here's the transcript. Same ole, same ole.

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would enter the national debate over same-sex marriage, agreeing to hear a pair of cases challenging state and federal laws that define marriage to include only unions of a man and a woman."

Karen McVeigh of the Guardian: "The US military is facing fresh questions over its targeting policy in Afghanistan after a senior army officer suggested that troops were on the lookout for 'children [link fixed] with potential hostile intent'. In comments which legal experts and campaigners described as 'deeply troubling', army Lt Col Marion Carrington told the Marine Corp Times that children, as well as 'military-age males', had been identified as a potential threat because some were being used by the Taliban to assist in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces." CW: how is it that I read this first in a non-U.S. source? Looks like Current TV covered it, but that's about it.

Scott Shane & Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Private [Bradley] Manning faces a potential life sentence if convicted on charges that he gave WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy organization, hundreds of thousands of confidential military and diplomatic documents. But for now, he has been effectively putting on trial his former jailers at the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps base. His lawyer, David E. Coombs, has grilled one Quantico official after another, demanding to know why his client was kept in isolation and stripped of his clothing at night as part of suicide-prevention measures."

Cliff Notes

Daniel Newhauser of Roll Call: "Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio did not rule out a compromise agreement to raise taxes as part of a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, but he kept the ball in President Barack Obama's court when it comes to finding a way to get there."

Paul Krugman: "Ezra Klein says that the shape of a fiscal cliff deal is clear: only a 37 percent rate on top incomes, and a rise in the Medicare eligibility age. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that this is just a case of creeping Broderism, that it's a VSP fantasy.... Because if Obama really does make this deal, there will be hell to pay. First, raising the Medicare age is terrible policy.... Second, why on earth would Obama be selling Medicare away to raise top tax rates when he gets a big rate rise on January 1 just by doing nothing?"

... And yet, and yet. It ain't just Ezra Klein who's getting the vibes from the White House. Here was Lawrence O'Donnell the other day:

The president ... always says, 'I have to have the top rates go up' -- and it's worth noting that he doesn't specifically say I have to have 36 or 39%, he doesn't offer a specific number. But he always says, 'but we're willing to do that by significant spending cuts in entitlements.' ... He brings it up. He doesn't say the word Medicare, but that s what he's talking about.

... Digby thought O'Donnell was blowing smoke then, but she doesn't think so now. ...

... AND if you think O'Donnell isn't connected enough to "read" the President, how about Joe? Zeke Miller of Buzzfeed reports, "Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that the Obama administration is flexible about raising tax rates on the nation's highest earners, as long as they do rise. 'There are two irreducible minimum requirements for us,' Biden said at a lunch with Americans who would be affected by the fiscal cliff. 'The top brackets have to go up -- this is not a negotiable issue; theoretically we can negotiate how far up. But we think it should go -- the top rate should go to 39.6%.'"

** Dan Froomkin of the Huffington Post: "... according to longtime political observers Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, campaign coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth.... Lies from Republicans generally and standardbearer Mitt Romney in particular weren't limited to the occasional TV ads, either; the party's most central campaign principles -- that federal spending doesn't create jobs, that reducing taxes on the rich could create jobs and lower the deficit -- willfully disregarded the truth.... Mann said he was struck in conversations with journalists by how influenced they were by the heavily funded movement to promote a bipartisan consensus around deficit reduction and austerity.... Mann and Ornstein said that in practice, the fact-checkers may have made things worse rather than better." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "The issue isn't that Republicans are 'too' conservative, whatever that might mean. It's that the party, and to a startling degree the conservative movement generally, has failed to develop reality-based policy proposals; has decided in many cases that compromise itself is against its principles; and has (in the case of the Romney/Ryan campaign) repeatedly violated norms about lying in campaigns."

Dana Milbank: Jim DeMint "is, arguably, the perfect candidate to run a post-thought think tank."

CW: don't think Apple is getting all patriotic & shuttling its manufacturing ops back to the U.S.A. Quentin Hardy of the New York Times reports that the few computers it will produce in the U.S. will likely be larger ones which businesses use & they're making the move to save on shipping costs of the heavier product.

Gail Collins is less than impressed that in January, women will comprise a whopping 20 percent of the U.S. Senate.

Charles Pierce: "Of all the unfathomable quirks -- and I am being very kind, it being the holiday season and all -- of the Obama Administration, its unfathomable rigidity on the topic of marijuana makes less sense than any of the others."

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "... President Obama is dropping his principled objection to some forms of political fundraising to help pay for the post-election party.... The Presidential Inaugural Committee will accept unlimited corporate donations to help fund Obama's inauguration festivities next month, reversing a voluntary ban on the money he imposed on the inaugural four years ago and during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Obama will also allow individuals to contribute up to the legal maximum for the 2013 inauguration -- $250,000 -- lifting a $50,000 cap he voluntarily imposed in 2008...." ...

... John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation: "The decision prioritizes a lavish celebration over the integrity of the office, and bodes poorly for an administration whose first term can be characterized as slowly turning away from a principled approach to money in politics in favor of political expediency and fundraising." ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico: "Because inauguration day falls on a Sunday in 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts will officially administer the official oath of office [to President Obama] in a private ceremony that day. The public inauguration on the Capitol Building's West Front -- at which Roberts will administer a second, symbolic oath of office -- will take place the next day. In early meetings with the inaugural committee, officials privately indicated to reporters that the Jan. 20 event could be closed to reporters and cameras." The press is not amused.

Sarah Lyall of the New York Times has an expanded story on the suicide of a British nurse whom Australian DJs tricked into divulging information about the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge who was hospitalized at the time.

Local News

Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times: "Charlie Crist is becoming a Democrat. Crist -- Florida's former Republican governor ... on Friday evening signed papers changing his party from independent to Democrat. He did so during a Christmas reception at the White House, where President Barack Obama greeted the news with a fist bump for the man who had a higher profile campaigning for Obama's re-election this year than any Florida Democrat."

Don't Tell Douthat. Emily Ramshaw of the New York Times: "When [Texas] state lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2011 that moved $73 million from family planning services to other programs, the goal was largely political: halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics. Now they are facing the policy implications and, in some cases, reconsidering. The latest Health and Human Services Commission projections ... indicate that during the 2014-15 biennium, poor women will deliver an estimated 23,760 more babies than they would have, as a result of their reduced access to state-subsidized birth control. The additional cost to taxpayers is expected to be as much as $273 million -- $103 million to $108 million to the state's general revenue budget alone -- and the bulk of it is the cost of caring for those infants under Medicaid." CW: who could have guessed? Take away a woman's birth control, & she'll start having babies.

Chicago Tribune/AP: "Republicans slammed right-to-work legislation through the Michigan House and Senate Thursday, drawing raucous protests from throngs of stunned union supporters, whose outnumbered Democratic allies were powerless to stop it.... Details of the bills weren't made publicly available until they were read aloud on both floors as debate began. The chaos drew raucous protests from hundreds of union supporters, some of whom were pepper-sprayed by police when they tried to storm the Senate chamber.... After repeatedly insisting during his first two years in office that right-to-work was not on his agenda, [Gov. Rick] Snyder [R] reversed course Thursday," & said he would sign the legislation." ...

... Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press: "Health care providers could use a 'moral objection' or 'matter of conscience' standard to refuse service to patients under a bill passed by the [Michigan] state Senate today.... The state already has a conscientious objection clause for abortion services, but the new law also could give the green light to doctors to refuse to write birth control prescriptions and opens the door to a refusal of service for all sorts of ailments, said state Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw. Kahn, a cardiologist ... was the only Republican to join most of the Democrats to vote against the bill." ...

... Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Obama will wade into the midst of the Michigan debate Monday when he visits a Detroit area auto plant in a state he won resoundingly in part because of the support of the UAW. A White House spokesman said the president opposes right-to-work legislation but could not say whether Obama plans to address it directly in his remarks Monday." CW: a comprehensive story about the whys & wherefores of the state GOP's move.

News Ledes

New York Times: Italian "Prime Minister Mario Monti said he intended to resign after losing the backing of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party, according to a statement issued late Saturday by the president's office."

New York Times: "Facing the most serious crisis of his presidency, Mohamed Morsi is leaning more closely than ever on his Islamist allies in the Muslim Brotherhood, betting on their political muscle to push through a decisive victory in the referendum on Egypt's divisive draft constitution." ...

     Update: "Struggling to quell protests and violence that have threatened to derail a vote on an Islamist-backed draft constitution, President Mohamed Morsi moved Saturday to appease his opponents with a package of concessions just hours after state media reported that he was moving toward imposing a form of martial law to secure the streets and allow the vote." ...

     ... Washington Post: "Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi early Sunday annulled most of an extraordinary Nov. 22 decree that gave him near-absolute power.... The decree ... will be replaced by a modified version of the original declaration. But the most controversial article, which placed all of Morsi's actions beyond judicial review, is gone...."

... AP: "Egypt's military warned Saturday of 'disastrous consequences' if the crisis that sent tens of thousands of protesters back into the streets is not resolved, signaling the army's return to an increasingly polarized and violent political scene." Al Jazeera story here.

Al Jazeera: "More than 100,000 Palestinians have gathered in Gaza for a rally marking the 25th anniversary of Hamas to be addressed by the ruling movement's leader in exile. Khaled Meshaal crossed from Egypt on Friday. His speech was set to be the headline event of the rally."

Reuters: "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify on a report expected to be released next week on the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, a top Republican lawmaker said on Friday."

Guardian: "Talks on a new climate deal ground on through Friday night in Qatar, as countries failed to agree on key issues including: rescuing the Kyoto protocol, finance and compensation for poor countries suffering the effects of climate change, and how to structure a proposed new global climate change agreement. The negotiations, which have gone on for more than a fortnight, looked set to last for most of Saturday. But the marathon session left many delegates hopeful of rescuing a deal amid the frustration and confusion of the night."

AP: "Americans swiped their credit cards more often in October and borrowed more to attend school and buy cars. The increases drove U.S. consumer debt to an all-time high. The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumers increased their borrowing by $14.2 billion in October from September. Total borrowing rose to a record $2.75 trillion."


The Commentariat -- Dec. 7, 2012

Betty McIntosh, ca. 1941.** Elizabeth P. McIntosh, in the Washington Post: "On Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor, I was working as a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. After a week of war, I wrote a story directed at Hawaii's women; I thought it would be useful for them to know what I had seen. It might help prepare them for what lay ahead. But my editors thought the graphic content would be too upsetting for readers and decided not to run my article. It appears here for the first time." The Post also has a video interview of McIntosh here, but it wasn't working this morning. Update: a half-hour later, the video suddenly started playing; definitely worth your watching.

Cliff Notes

Oh, Mano a Mano. Jonathan Weisman & Peter Baker of the New York Times: "At House Speaker John A. Boehner's request, Senate leaders and Representative Nancy Pelosi have been excluded from talks to avert a fiscal crisis, leaving it to Mr. Boehner and President Obama alone to find a deal, Congressional aides say." Here's the video of President Obama's visit to a Virginia family who needs that middle-class tax cut.

Over there in Right Wing World, where they are pretending this month that they really do like the darker-complexioned people, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is again being touted as one of the GOP's most brilliant thinkers & a contender for the presidency. Jindal has been doing everything he can to raise his profile, including writing an op-ed in Politico about the danger of the fiscal cliff, which he says is nothing compared to Fiscal Cliffs II & III, etc. that are a-coming. The only trouble is, as Jon Chait of New York magazine points out, Jindal has no fucking idea what the fiscal cliff is. Like many Americans, he has it ass-backwards. He thinks if the fiscal arguments aren't resolved, deficits will explode. Of course, the opposite is true. Sequestration will cut expenditures & higher taxes will raise revenue. This, my friends, is what passes for brilliance in Right Wing World. Jindal's op-ed is here. ...

... Oh, I see Paul Krugman says what I said. Only he didn't use the word "fucking." "... you have to wonder even more about the state of mind that induces you to write an op-ed about a subject you don't comprehend at all." ...

... AND here Krugman, via Dean Baker, points out that the Washington Post headline writers don't understand the fiscal cliff, either. "It speaks to the state of confusion that all the deficit fearmongering has created. And if headline writers at a major newspaper can't get it straight, how can you expect ordinary voters to get it?" CW: the Post has been serving as Deficit Hawk Central, so if anybody should get that the fiscal cliff is not about Deficit Armageddon, it's the Post staff.

AND in another Stupid Republican Trick, Sahil Kapur of TPM reports, "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wanted to prove on Thursday that Democrats don't have the votes to weaken Congress' authority on the debt limit. Instead they called his bluff, and he ended up filibustering his own bill." ...

... Pausing to watch the videotape of this moment in Senate history is worth three minutes of your time:

... CW: when Mitch McConnell stands on the Senate floor and says, "I object to myself," we should applaud him. ...

...Shane Goldmacher & Elahe Izadi of the National Journal: "... people on both sides of the aisle acknowledged that McConnell's failed maneuver cost the GOP some precious negotiating ground." ...

... Matt Yglesias on how Obama can beat the Republicans in their debt-ceiling game: "... the federal government still has a lot of tax revenue coming in. You use that money to make sure bond holders get paid in full and there's no default ... & to make sure Social Security checks keep paying out. You keep paying federal workers' wages. But contractors, state governments, and health care providers just get IOU notes..., you tell them to keep doing their jobs, and [you] tell them that if they want money they should ask congress."

Paul Krugman: we don't have a fiscal crisis; we have a jobs crisis. "So why aren't we helping the unemployed? ... It's about class. Influential people in Washington aren't worried about losing their jobs; by and large they don't even know anyone who's unemployed."

Tim Egan: "For the politicians and pundits who do the gun industry's bidding, the First Amendment does not apply to the Second Amendment. It took a sportscaster, accustomed to parsing the nuances of a stunt blitz, to break the code of shameful silence."

The Decline and Fall of the GOP

James Downie of the Washington Post on the 38 Republican Senators who voted against the disability treaty: "It was nothing less than moral cowardice, a failure that should shame them for the rest of their lives." ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon: "It's striking to compare the two Senate votes, for the ADA in '90 and against the treaty this week. In '90, there was overwhelming bipartisan support for the ADA, with only a handful of dissenters -- all Republicans. The initial Senate vote, in October 1989, was 76-8, and the final bill (the compromise between the Senate and House versions) passed on a 91-6 vote in July '90. Most of the Republicans who voted no all hailed from what was then considered the far-right fringe.... This week's Senate roll call was a mirror image of the ADA, at least on the Republican side." What's more, there were actual concerns about the ADA; there are none about the treaty. ...

... BUT Greg Sargent sez "It seems perfectly possible that DeMint’s new post could put him in an even better position than before to enforce ideological purity on Republican candidates -- including in the House -- who would otherwise be inclined towards moderation, balance, and compromise to toe the Tea Party line. This is the sort of thing that risks discouraging moderates from running for office." CW: this assumes, erroneously I think, that forcing ideological purity is a winner. Yeah, it will work in some states and/or districts which don't need forcing anyway. But nation-wide, people are fed up with the far-right Tea Party absurdity. You have to be invested in Reynolds Wrap haberdashery & Rushbo Media Enterprises to buy this nonsense. The more the economy improves & the more people get jobs, the less people will be swayed by Right Wing World fantasies. ...

... Hunter of Daily Kos has a rundown of reaction to DeMint's career move: "In any case, we may have found the single most widely lauded decision of Sen. Jim DeMint's storied career, and by a wide margin. No matter what you think about Jim DeMint, everyone involved agrees: the best single thing he's ever done is leave."

Joe Conason of the National Memo: "The suddenly sensible sounds emanating from the business community are astonishing when contrasted with the anger displayed toward the president by many of these corporate suits only weeks ago, when they berated Obama as 'anti-business' and loudly yearned for a corporate-style Romney presidency. Resoundingly rebuked by the electorate, which overwhelmingly favors Obama's positions on taxes and entitlements -- and stands ready to blame the Republicans if no budget agreement is achieved -- the business leaders are backing ever so subtly away from their traditional alliance with the GOP. These brand-conscious executives suddenly have realized that the Republican brand, especially at the congressional level, is politically toxic. And they would rather not be too closely identified with it at this dangerous moment."

Tim Noah of The New Republic writes "Requium for a Wingnut." The wingnut would be Jim DeMint, of course. ...

... Paul West of the Los Angeles Times: "The surprise resignation of Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina on Thursday could prove to be a marker for a decline in the influence of the tea party movement he has helped lead.... Republican losses in the election weakened his position.... A wide survey in DeMint's very conservative home state, released this week, found that more South Carolinians now disapprove of the tea party movement than approve of it.... DeMint's decision could also open the way for him to run for the GOP presidential nomination." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

... Neda Semnani of Roll Call: "Immediately following Sen. Jim DeMint's announcement that he would be ditching the Senate to lead the Heritage Foundation, tweeters everywhere began playing their new favorite game: How many ways can we start rumors about Stephen Colbert being appointed to South Carolina's Senate seat? The truth is, it might not be the craziest idea ever." Semnani lists four reasons Gov. Nikki Haley should consider appointing Colbert to DeMint's seat. ...

... Andy Kroll of Mother Jones: "A Colbert for Senate Twitter account, @ColbertforSC, sprung up almost immediately." Colbert is "looking forward to Gov. Haley's call," a spokesperson said.

AP: "Obama's approval rating stands at 57 percent, the highest since May 2011, when U.S. Navy SEALs killed [Osama bin Laden], and up 5 percentage points from before the election. And 42 percent say the country is on the right track, up from 35 percent in January 2009.

Dylan Matthews
of the Washington Post suggests ten ways to reduce income inequality that have nothing to do with the tax code. CW: A number of his suggestions are obvious, but the last one stunned me.

Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: Justice Antonin Scalia is just not into free speech. He "abhors" the Court's decision in the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan case, in which the Court "held that reporters and other individuals cannot be held liable for making unintentionally false statements against public figures so long as they do not do so with 'reckless disregard of whether [their statement] was false or not.'" ...

... Speaking of right-wing nuts, John Brenahan & Manu Raju of Politico post this gem: "The National Republican Senatorial Committee quietly sent $760,000 to the Missouri Republican Party in early November, just as the state GOP was mounting a last-minute TV ad blitz to boost Rep. Todd Akin's sagging Senate campaign.... The disclosure is highly significant because the Senate GOP campaign committee promised to abandon Akin after failing to push the conservative congressman out of the race following his August declaration that 'legitimate rape' rarely leads to pregnancies because female bodies often shut down." ...

... Speaking of right-wing nuts, a great piece by Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post on Sheldon Adelson, "low-information billionaire." The irony is that despite the $150 million Adelson spent on Gingrich, Romney, et al., the policies he favors pretty much reflect, as Linkins puts it, "the platform of the average Daily Kos diarist." CW: Linkins is too circumspect to say so, but I feel pretty confident that the reason Adelson puts his money where he does is that he's a "savvy businessman" who knows damned well who's for sale. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. ...

Jim Yardley of the New York Times: "... 112 workers were killed in a blaze last month [in a Bangladesh garment factory] that has exposed a glaring disconnect among global clothing brands, the monitoring system used to protect workers and the factories actually filling the orders. After the fire, Walmart, Sears and other retailers made the same startling admission: They say they did not know that Tazreen Fashions was making their clothing.... The global apparel industry aspires to operate with accountability that extends from distant factories to retail stores.... But much of the factory's business came through opaque networks of subcontracts with suppliers or local buying houses."

Local News

Steve Yaccino & Monica Davey of the New York Times: "As labor supporters crowded into the [Michigan state] Capitol chanting their dismay, this state's Republican leaders announced on Thursday their intent to swiftly pass limits on unions in Michigan, a state with deep ties to organized labor." CW: -- once again proving that if you are a regular person trying to earn an honest wage for your labor, Republicans hate you.

Stacey Solie of the New York Times: "By 5 p.m. Thursday..., the first day that same-sex couples were able to apply [for marriage licenses in Washington state,] the [Seattle, King County] office had issued 481 [marriage] licenses -- most of them to same-sex couples -- doubling the previous record for licenses issued in a single day.... in another part of town, a different kind of party was taking place under the city's Space Needle, where dozens of people had gathered to celebrate the vote to legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state." ...

     ... CW: as contributor Kate Madison's brother (a Biblical scholar, I'm sure) noted, the Old Testament preordained the Washington votes: "If a man lies with another man he should be stoned." -- Leviticus 20:13. ...

... Uh oh. Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Senior White House and Justice Department officials are considering plans for legal action against Colorado and Washington that could undermine voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in those states...." CW: IMHO, senior White House & Justice Department officials should chill out. I can think of something that might help them in that regard.

Erica Goode of the New York Times: Missouri "authorities are investigating allegations that [Bethany] Deaton, 27, was drugged, sexually assaulted and killed on the orders of her husband, Tyler Deaton, 26, a man described by witnesses as a Pied Piper-like leader who gathered a band of young people around him and pressured them to engage in sexual practices under the guise of religious devotion. [Micah] Moore, [who confessed to suffocating her at Tyler Deaton's insistence] has been charged with first-degree murder. Mr. Deaton and others are still under investigation."

Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times: New Jersey Gov. Chris "Christie, a Republican who supported Mitt Romney, endured a half-hour of grilling from [Jon Stewart] about his political beliefs, his personal style and even a hug he recently received from Bruce Springsteen." The extended interview, which is a three-parter, starts here. ...

... Here's one of the issues on which Stewart challenges Christie. Jason Millman of Politico: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rejected a state-run health insurance exchange Thursday, paving the way for the federal government to step in and run one."

Right Wing World

Guns Don't Kill People; People Kill People Women Who Get near Gun Owners Get Killed. Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "Bush White House Press Secretary-turned-Fox News host Dana Perino asserted Wednesday night that women who are victims of violence should 'make better decisions' to avoid being hurt." CW: Perino managed to put herself to the right of a bunch of Second Amendment stalwarts.

News Ledes

Guardian: "A nurse at the private hospital treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge has been found dead in a suspected suicide three days after being duped by two Australian radio presenters in a hoax call." The New York Times has a follow-up here.

New York Times: "President Obama proposed a $60.4 billion emergency spending bill on Friday to finance recovery efforts in states pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, a sum White House officials called a 'robust' investment in the region but that was far less than the amount the states had requested. The spending plan would pay for most but not all of the $82 billion in damage identified by the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut...."

AP: "The U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008. The government said Superstorm Sandy had only a minimal effect on the figures." CW: bear in mind that had Romney won the election, he now would be getting credit for inspiring "confidence" in businesses to hire & expand their operations.

AP: "Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets after Friday midday prayers in rival rallies and marches across Cairo, as the standoff deepened over what opponents call the Islamist president's power grab, raising the specter of more violence. President Mohammed Morsi responded to bloody clashes outside his palace with a fiery speech denouncing his opponents, deepening the crisis. The opposition turned down his appeal for talks, saying the president had not fulfilled their conditions for beginning negotiations."...

     ... Guardian Update: "Egypt's opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) has angrily rejected calls by the president, Mohamed Morsi, for a national dialogue and warned that he has lost legitimacy after recent unrest and bloodshed."

AP: "The exiled Hamas chief broke into tears Friday as he arrived in the Gaza Strip for his first-ever visit, a landmark trip reflecting his militant group's growing international acceptance and its defiance of Israel. Khaled Mashaal, who left the West Bank as a child and leads the Islamic militant movement from Qatar, crossed the Egyptian border, kissed the ground, and was greeted by a crowd of Hamas officials and representatives of Hamas' rival Fatah party."