The Ledes

Tuesday, September 2, 2014.

New York Times: "With NATO leaders expected to endorse a rapid-reaction force of 4,000 troops for Eastern Europe this week, a senior Russian military official said on Tuesday that Moscow would revise its military doctrine to account for 'changing military dangers and military threats.'”

Guardian: "Syrian rebels have issued three demands for the release of 45 Fijian peacekeepers they've held captive for five days, Fiji's military commander has said. Brig Gen. Mosese Tikoitoga said the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front wants to be taken off the United Nations terrorist list, humanitarian aid delivered to the capital Damascus, and compensation for three of its fighters it says were killed in a shootout with UN officers."

AP: "U.S. military forces attacked the extremist al-Shabab network in Somalia Monday, the Pentagon said, and a witness described ground-shaking explosions in a strike that reportedly targeted the group's leader. Al-Shabab had attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 67 people a year ago this month and the U.S. had targeted planners of the bloody assault."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, September 1, 2014.

Guardian: "The UK and US governments have criticised, in unusually strong language, Israel's decision to approve one of the largest appropriations of Palestinian land for settlement in recent decades. The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said he deplored the move as 'particularly ill-judged'."

Al Jazeera: "Iraqi Kurdish forces and Shia armed volunteers have retaken more northern towns from the Islamic State group, killing at least two of its senior fighters, sources have told Al Jazeera. A day after breaking the siege in the town of Amerli north of Baghdad, government forces retook the town of Sulaiman Bek on Monday, removing another key stronghold of the Islamic State group." ...

... Guardian: "Barack Obama on Monday formally notified Congress that he had authorised targeted air strikes in Iraq to help deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged Shia town of Amerli, the White House said in a statement."

Washington Post: Pakistan's "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was clinging to power Monday as protesters stepped up their assault on government buildings while the capital was gripped with fear and confusion about whether the country’s powerful military will step in to defuse the tension. As the demonstrations calling for the prime minister’s resignation enter their third week, Sharif is trying to navigate Pakistan’s worst political crisis in more than a decade."

Guardian: "The American government on Monday asked North Korea to release three Americans currently held in the communist country, after foreign media outlets were allowed to interview detainees. 'Out of humanitarian concern for Jeffrey Fowle, Matthew Miller, and their families, we request the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] release them so they may return home,” said Jen Psaki, spokesperson for the State Department, in a statement. 'We also request the DPRK pardon Kenneth Bae and grant him special amnesty and immediate release so he may reunite with his family and seek medical care.'”

Public Service Announcement

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."

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

White House Live Video
September 2

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

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

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

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

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

... Via Slate.

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

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

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

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

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

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

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Thursday
Aug212014

The Commentariat -- August 22, 2014

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that the Islamic State militant organization 'is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen,' and left open the possibility that the United States may strike the group not only in Iraq, but also in Syria. 'They're beyond just a terrorist group,' Hagel said during a news conference at the Pentagon. 'They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded& ... This is beyond anything that we've seen, so we must prepare for everything.'" CW: A chief funding source: countries -- including continental European countries -- willing to pay ransoms for their citizens held captive by ISIS. ...

... Helene Cooper & Michael Gordon of the New York Times: "The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria cannot be defeated unless the United States or its allies take on the Sunni militancy in Syria, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday afternoon. 'This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated,' the chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said in his most expansive public remarks on the crisis since American airstrikes began in Iraq. ...

... Mark Landler of the New York Times: "... the gruesome execution of an American journalist, James Foley, has drawn an intensely emotional reaction from lawmakers in both parties, with ... some urging Mr. Obama to redouble the fight against [ISIS]. There were signs on Thursday that the Obama administration is weighing that, with the White House and the Pentagon refusing to rule out military action against the group in Syria. But far from satisfying Congress, a wider conflict could put lawmakers, particularly Democrats, in a difficult position, since most deeply oppose any new war in the Middle East." ...

... Steve M.: "The body of James Foley was barely cold when Dick Cheney suited himself up to go on Sean Hannity's Fox show to blame (as he sees it) the real enemy: the Obama administration." ...

... Mike Lillis of the Hill: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry warned Thursday that Islamic terrorists might already have crossed the southern border into the United States with the intent of attacking Americans. In a fiery speech delivered before a conservative audience at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Perry ... said the federal government's failure to secure the southern border has created 'great concern' that militants representing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) might already have arrived from Mexico." CW: Huh. No mention that the U.S.-Canadian border, not to mention the thousands of miles of U.S. seacoast, can be breached easily.

... Martin Matishak of the Hill: "House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) on Thursday called for an inquiry into who leaked information about a botched attempt earlier this year to rescue photojournalist James Foley. It was 'unwise' for the White House and the Defense Department to formally acknowledge the operation and 'outrageous that someone would be so selfish and short sighted to leak it to the media,' the outgoing lawmaker said in a statement." CW: Yes, Buck, what we seriously need now is another House investigation of the Obama administration. ...

... Christopher Werth of the Los Angeles Times: "The black-hooded executioner who beheaded American journalist James Foley may have left more clues to his identity than he intended, experts said Thursday, beginning with his distinctly British voice, a sonic fingerprint that gives investigators a fighting chance of determining his identity. Scotland Yard, British intelligence and the FBI are all said to be scrambling to figure out the identity of the man who killed Foley...." ...

... Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "An official State Department account tweeted photos Thursday of two members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who were apparently killed in Syria this week. One of the men pictured, Abu Moussa, is an ISIS spokesman who recently told VICE News that the militant group would 'raise the flag of Allah in the White House.'"

Kristina Wong of the Hill: "The Pentagon broke the law when it transferred five Taliban detainees from Guantánamo Bay in exchange for prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, according to a report from ... the Government Accountability Office. [The GAO] said the Pentagon violated the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act, which requires the Pentagon to give certain congressional committees 30 days advance notice before any detainee transfer from the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.... The law also prohibits the Pentagon from using appropriated funds to conduct any detainee transfer, unless the Defense secretary gives the 30 days of advance notice. The Pentagon said it spent $988,400 on the detainee transfer, according to the report."

Lucy McCalmont of Politico: "Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill announced Thursday that she will lead a hearing in September looking into the militarization of local police departments, after recent tensions between law enforcement and protesters have rocked her state. The hearing, which will be held by the McCaskill-chaired Financial & Contracting Oversight Subcommittee, follows the Democrat's calls for demilitarization in Ferguson, Missouri."

Michael Corkery & Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Bank of America and the Justice Department have a reached a record $16.65 billion settlement, capping the most sweeping federal investigation into the sale of troubled mortgages by a Wall Street bank since the 2008 financial crisis. The landmark settlement, announced by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in Washington on Thursday morning, requires Bank of America to pay a $9.65 billion cash penalty and provide about $7 billion in relief to homeowners and blighted neighborhoods." ...

... The DOJ's statement about the settlement is here. ...

... Michael Corkery & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "Documents released as part of the $16.65 billion settlement between Bank of America and the Justice Department read like a highlight reel of the mortgage sins that fed the 2008 financial crisis. As part of the deal, the bank and the Justice Department agreed to a 'statement of facts' that offers a window into some of the darkest corners of the Countrywide and Merrill mortgage machine that was responsible for funneling a stream of troubled loans that helped devastate the global financial system." ...

... BoA's "statement of facts" is here (pdf). ...

... Peter Eavis & Michael Corkery of the New York Times: The $16.65BB settlement the DOJ is touting may turn out to be a lot less than that: BoA is getting credit for mortgages it wrote down years ago. Plus, "The actual pain to the bank could also be significantly reduced by tax deductions.... Shares of Bank of America jumped 4 percent on Thursday, suggesting investors believe that the bank could take the settlement in stride."

Oh, STFU. Paul Krugman: "According to a recent report in The Times..., 'An increasingly vocal minority of Federal Reserve officials want the central bank to retreat more quickly' from its easy-money policies, which they warn run the risk of causing inflation.... That 'vocal minority' has been warning about soaring inflation more or less nonstop for six years. And the persistence of that obsession seems, to me, to be a more interesting and important story than the fact that the usual suspects are saying the usual things.... When economic myths persist, the explanation usually lies in politics -- and, in particular, in class interests. There is not a shred of evidence that cutting tax rates on the wealthy boosts the economy, but there's no mystery about why leading Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan keep claiming that lower taxes on the rich are the secret to growth."

"The Twilight of Antonin Scalia." Garrett Epps of the Atlantic: "Scalia has had nearly 30 years to alter the law, and in many ways, he has succeeded. Yet the pique of confronting error, the pleasure of forecasting doom, has led him over and over into rhetorical excess, until at last his Windsor dissent helped cement one of conservatism's most stinging defeats." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Beyond the Beltway

Rosalind Helderman, et al., of the Washington Post: "In an emotional second day of testimony in his federal corruption trial, former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell portrayed in searing detail the slow collapse of his marriage.... By the time he had reached the pinnacle of state politics, he and Maureen McDonnell were at emotional sword points, with him avoiding time in his wife's presence and her communicating frequently by yelling, he said. At one point, she threw a $25,000 check at him during an argument over their troubled finances." ...

... Jonathan Weisman & Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "On his second day on the witness stand, Bob McDonnell ... deftly oscillated on Thursday between expressing sympathy for his wife, Maureen, and skewering her for poor judgment and emotional volatility, pressing his contention that the estranged couple could not have conspired illegally. Mr. McDonnell walked the jury methodically through their 38-year marriage, portraying the couple as drifting farther and farther apart as he relentlessly marched to higher office, from the Virginia General Assembly to attorney general to governor." ...

... The Washington Post's live updates of today's trial testimony are here. "The former governor said Maureen McDonnell -- without him knowing about it -- initiated the process in early 2012 for Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. to loan $50,000 to a real estate company he co-owned with his sister, whose first name is also Maureen. The governor said he first learned that his wife had been having loan discussions with the businessman by way of an e-mail, and it appeared to him a tentative agreement was already in place."

... Gene Robinson: "How far would you go to stay out of jail? Would you publicly humiliate your wife of 38 years, portraying her as some kind of shrieking harridan? Would you put the innermost secrets of your marriage on display, inviting voyeurs to rummage at will? For Robert McDonnell..., the answers appear to be: 'As far as necessary,' 'Hey, why not?' and 'Sounds like a plan.' ... A jury will decide whether McDonnell was an honest public servant. By his own account, he wasn't much of a husband." ...

     ... CW: McDonnell rejected a plea bargain that would have left his wife off the hook & would have required him to cop to one felony count. I suspect he would have got a suspended sentence, or at worst, an ankle bracelet. It's possible he would have gone to jail, but more likely not. So he's trashing his wife for little, if any, gain. He's doing it because he wants to, not because he has to.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "At a press conference shortly after 1 a.m., Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson said there had been seven arrests late Thursday and into early today. Five were for failure to disperse and the other two for minor offenses as well, he said. 'Today we had a good day,' said Johnson, who is in charge of the security forces on patrol in Ferguson." ...

... Joseph Goldstein & Mark Santora of the New York Times: "As tensions on the streets here seemed to ease on Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Missouri National Guard to begin withdrawing from the city." ...

"Anonymous Sources" Disagree. German Lopez of Vox: After an "anonymous source" told Fox "News" & the Washington Post that Officer Darren Wilson had "a fractured eyesocket" as a result of his encounter with Michael Brown -- and x-rays to prove it, another "anonymous source" told CNN that wasn't true & his "x-rays came back negative." He had a swollen face. ...

... These "anonymous sources" apparently think they are far more knowledgeable than the St. Louis county prosecutor. Mark Berman of the Washington Post: St. Louis County Prosecutor's spokesman Ed "Magee said that prosecutors have not received any medical records relating to Wilson so far. ​But he said that since Wilson was taken to the hospital, they assume there are medical records and they just haven't received them yet.... [Prosecutor Robert] McCulloch has been in touch with Wilson's attorney but has not spoken to Wilson himself. Wilson will be given an opportunity to appear before the grand jury, but he cannot be compelled to appear, Magee said." CW: Yeah, well the wheels of justice grind slowly, & sometimes evidence inexplicably gets lost, & hey, we're not going to charge this guy anyway, so what's the rush? ...

... Yishai Schwartz of the New Republic on why "convicting Darren Wilson will be basically impossible": "... in most states today, including Missouri..., as long as there is a modicum of evidence and reasonable plausibility in support of a self-defense claim, a court must accept the claim and acquit the accused." ...

... Robert VerBruggen of Real Clear Politics describes Missouri's lax law on police use of force. (Link fixed.) He includes jury instructions on when an officer is justified in using deadly force. ...

... Paul Cassell in the Washington Post: "... proving a crime in the Brown shooting will require close attention to the details, particularly details about the shooting officer's state of mind. Even if the officer made a mistake in shooting, that will not be enough to support criminal charges so long as his mistake was reasonable -- a determination in which the officer will receive some benefit of the doubt because of the split-second judgments that he had to make. And, of course, if it turns out that Michael Brown was in fact charging directly towards the officer (as recent reports have suggested), the officer's actions will have been justified under state law and no charges should be filed." ...

Steve King Has Black Friends! And by the way, it also should be said that someone like Lacy Clay, who's a member of the Congressional Black Caucus — there is no 'Congressional White Caucus.' It is a self-segregated caucus and it is a caucus that they drive an agenda that's based on race. And they're always looking to place the race card. They're always looking to divide people down that line. And I have friends in that caucus. I get along with them personally, but their agenda is to play the race card. And we have a President who had a perfect opportunity to eliminate a lot of this friction in this country, and instead, he and his attorney general have been in a place where they've created friction rather than eliminated it. -- Rep. Steve King (RTP-Iowa)

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: The home video taken of the killing of Kajieme Powell conflicts with police statements about the circumstances under which police shot Powell dead. "Powell had a knife -- Police Chief Sam Dotson described it as a steak knife. But he was not wielding it in the way officers claimed (or in the way it may have felt to them in the moment). He was not two or three feet away, but perhaps eight or nine. He wasn't charging hard or issuing threats. To the contrary, he was demanding to be shot.... Everything the St. Louis police did in the aftermath suggests they sincerely believe this was a justified, by-the-book killing.... If this is proper protocol, then the protocol is bad." ...

... ** Ezra Klein on the killing of Kajieme Powell: "There is something wrong that the video seems obviously exculpatory to the police and obviously damning to so many who watch it. The dispute over the facts in the Michael Brown case offers the hope that there is a right answer -- that Wilson either did clearly the right thing or clearly the wrong thing. The video of the Powell case delivers a harder reality: what the police believe to be the right thing and what the people they serve believe to be the right thing may be very different."

Steve Rothaus of the Miami Herald: "In the first decision on same-sex marriage with statewide impact, a federal judge ruled Thursday that Florida's gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional, ordering the state to allow the marriage of same-sex couples and to recognize marriages performed elsewhere.... U.S District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee ... stayed most of the effects of his ruling pending appeal...."

Senate Race

James Hohmann of Politico: "The New Hampshire Senate race is tightening, according to a just-posted WMUR poll that puts Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen up only 2 points, 46-44, over Republican Scott Brown. That's within the margin of error. The same poll last month had Shaheen ahead by 12 points.... The poll found 60 percent of those polled have not definitively decided who they will vote for -- a suggestion that this could be a very fluid race."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A Chinese fighter jet flew within 30 feet of a Navy surveillance and reconnaissance plane this week in international airspace just off the Chinese coast, the Pentagon said Friday. The encounter, known as an intercept, 'was very, very close, very dangerous,' said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. The Pentagon filed a diplomatic complaint with the People's Liberation Army on Friday morning, Defense Department officials said. As of Friday afternoon, it had not received a reply."

** New York Times: "Russian military has moved artillery units manned by Russian personnel inside Ukrainian territory in recent days and was using them to fire at Ukrainian forces, NATO officials said on Friday. The West has long accused Russia of supporting the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, but this is the first time it has said it had evidence that the Russian military was operating in Ukrainian territory."

Guardian: "Iraqi government forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters have launched attacks to recapture two towns in the north from Islamic State (Isis) militants, as Western governments consider how to mount an effective response to the threat posed by the extremist group that has redrawn the border of Iraq and Syria."

New York Times: "The first trucks from a long-stalled Russian convoy said to be carrying humanitarian aid crossed the border into eastern Ukraine on Friday, without the consent of the Ukrainian government and unaccompanied by Red Cross escorts, as had been earlier agreed upon. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a long statement in Moscow saying, in essence, that it had authorized the crossing because it was fed up with stalling by the government in Kiev." ...

... Washington Post: "Ukrainian authorities appeared to be scrambling Friday to decide how to respond to the border incursion. A Ukrainian military spokesman backed away from previous bellicose statements, but state security chief Valentyn Nalivaychenko told journalists in Kiev, 'We consider this a direct invasion by Russia of Ukraine,' Reuters news agency reported. He said Ukrainian forces would not use force against the convoy because they want to avoid 'provocations.'"

AP: "Gaza gunmen killed 18 alleged spies for Israel on Friday, including seven who were lined up behind a mosque and shot after midday prayers, in response to Israel's deadly airstrikes against top Hamas military commanders."

Washington Post: "Ever since the retirement of the space shuttle three years ago, American astronauts have had to hitchhike their way to the International Space Station aboard Russian spaceships. It is an increasingly costly arrangement..., made worse by U.S.-Russian tensions over the crisis in Ukraine. But in the coming weeks, NASA is expected to announce its long-awaited solution: a multibillion-dollar contract to build a U.S. spacecraft, which could help reignite a struggling American space program."

Wednesday
Aug202014

The Commentariat -- August 21, 2014

NEW. Carol Leonnig, et al., of the Washington Post: "The police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown suffered a fracture to his eye socket in a scuffle with the unarmed teenager before opening fire, a family friend said Thursday. Hospital x-rays of the injury have been submitted to the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney and will be shared with a grand jury now weighing evidence to determine whether Officer Darren Wilson should be charged in the shooting." CW: This is essentially the same information in the Fox "News" story, linked below.

Lara Jakes & Ryan Lucas of the AP: "The United States launched a new barrage of airstrikes Wednesday against the Islamic State extremist group that beheaded American journalist James Foley and that has seized a swath of territory across Iraq and Syria. President Barack Obama vowed relentless pursuit of the terrorists.... Looking forward, the State Department refused to rule out future U.S. military operations in Syria, where Obama has long resisted intervening in a three-year civil war." ...

... Adam Goldman & Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "U.S. Special Operations forces staged an unsuccessful operation this summer to rescue photojournalist James Foley and other Americans being held in Syria by Islamic State militants, according to senior Obama administration officials. The attempt, in which at least one U.S. serviceman was injured, came after at least six Western hostages freed by the militants had been debriefed by U.S. intelligence.... 'Unfortunately,' [one] official said, 'it was not ultimately successful because the hostages were not present ... at the site of the operation.'" ...

... The New York Times story, by Michael Shear, is here. ...

... Rukmini Callimachi of the New York Times: "Before pulling out the knife used to decapitate him, [Jim Foley's] masked executioner explained that he was killing the 40-year-old American journalist in retaliation for the recent United States' airstrikes against the terror group in Iraq. In fact, until recently, ISIS had a very different list of demands for Mr. Foley: The group pressed the United States to provide a multimillion-dollar ransom for his release, according to a representative of his family and a former hostage held alongside him. The United States -- unlike several European countries that have funneled millions to the terror group to spare the lives of their citizens -- refused to pay." ...

... Uri Friedman of the Atlantic: "Foley died while working in what is now the most dangerous place in the world to be a reporter -- a country where dozens of journalists have been killed and kidnapped in recent years." ...

... Jon Anderson of the New Yorker: "Yesterday's guerrillas have given way to terrorists, and now terrorists have given way to this new band, who are something like serial killers.... Freed and encouraged to kill and to horrify, it seems, many people will do so, even people raised in Western democracies.... There is no longer any doubt that the Internet, with its power of contagion and usefulness for recruiting, has become a preferred, particular tool of terrorists." ...

... ** Secretary of State John Kerry on the murder of James Foley.

Laura Wildes-Munoz & Josh Lederman of the AP: "President Barack Obama is considering key changes in the nation's immigration system requested by tech, industry and powerful interest groups, in a move that could blunt Republicans' election-year criticism of the president's go-it-alone approach to immigration. Administration officials and advocates said the steps would go beyond the expected relief from deportations for some immigrants in the U.S. illegally that Obama signaled he'd adopt after immigration efforts in Congress collapsed. Following a bevy of recent White House meetings, top officials have compiled specific recommendations from business groups and other advocates whose support could undercut GOP claims that Obama is exceeding his authority to help people who have already violated immigration laws."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a last-minute order putting a hold on same-sex marriages in Virginia less than a day before officials there were to begin providing marriage licenses to gay couples. The move comes a month after the federal appeals court that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage refused to delay the effects of its ruling. Legal experts have predicted that the Supreme Court will take up the issue of same-sex marriage in its next term, which begins in October."

"By Any Means Necessary." Linda Greenhouse writes a very readable column on the politics & tactics of the right wing's current challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Russell Berman of the Atlantic: "The only thing that would make congressional Democrats happier than a Republican attempt to impeach President Obama is if Republicans force another government shutdown. So when Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) raised the specter of a government shutdown fight [also linked in yesterday's Commentariat] if Republicans retake the Senate in November, Democrats rejoiced. And by rejoiced, we mean they feigned outrage."

Jonathan Chait: Paul Ryan is still the unapologetic, ideological supply-sider he was a teenager & believes cutting taxes "across the board" (i.e., for the rich) is the "secret sauce" that spices up economic growth. CW: This might be just an anecdote of stupid, but GOP leaders have tapped the functionally innumerate Ryan to head the House Ways & Means Committee, the House's chief tax-writing committee.

Beyond the Beltway

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Six arrests were made by officers patrolling the streets of Ferguson late Wednesday and early today, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson said. Speaking at a brief press conference at 1:30 a.m., he said the protests now in their 11 night were fairly calm although an officer was hit by a bottle at one point. He said the officer was uninjured." ...

... The Washington Post story is here. ...

... St. Louis Post-Dispatch at 6:20 pm ET Wednesday: "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is meeting with the parents of Michael Brown downtown at the federal courthouse in St. Louis. Afterward he will meet with elected officials, including Gov. Nixon, U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and U.S. Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City. All the meetings are closed to the press." ...

... Alan Zagier of the AP: "Attorney General Eric Holder sought Wednesday to reassure the people of Ferguson about the investigation into Michael Brown's death and said he understands why many black Americans do not trust police, recalling how he was repeatedly stopped by officers who seemed to target him because of his race. Holder made the remarks during a visit to [Ferguson, Missouri]." ...

... Hollie McKay of Fox "News": "Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of Michael Brown touched off more than a week of demonstrations, suffered severe facial injuries, including an orbital (eye socket) fracture, and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, a source close to the department's top brass told FoxNews.com." CW: At least one part of this report is definitely incorrect (unless all other media reports are wrong): "Wilson is a six-year veteran of the Ferguson police force department...." Actually, he has been with the Ferguson PD for about four years. ....

... Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "A police officer who pointed an assault rifle at people in Ferguson on Tuesday night and threatened to kill them has been relieved of duty and suspended indefinitely, authorities said. The officer, who was not identified, has been removed from the field after he pointed his semiautomatic weapon at a peaceful protester, according to Brian Schellman, a spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department. A video documenting the encounter ... made the rounds Wednesday.... A county police sergeant forced the officer, who works for the Saint Ann police, to lower his weapon and leave the area, Schellman said":

... A commenter on the site The Concourse, which published the videos, wrote, "The cop was later asked to write an essay on exemplary policing for the Washington Post." See WashPo op-ed by LAPD officer Dutta, linked in yesterday's Commentariat, for context. ...

... Jason Sickles of Yahoo! News: "The Ferguson, Missouri, police officer facing possible charges for recently killing an unarmed young man was commended earlier this year for wrestling and restraining another suspect. Officer Darren Wilson received the commendation for his 'extraordinary effort in the line of duty' at a Feb. 11 City Council meeting. New video turned over by the city under Missouri's open records law shows Wilson being presented his award and shaking hands with Police Chief Thomas Jackson." With video of the commendation ceremony. CW: I'd like to see video of the "wrestling & restraining" incident. ...

... ** CW: If you have the stomach for it, I suggest you watch this home video of the St. Louis police killing of Kajieme Powell, which occurred Tuesday. The video is an unintended masterpiece of slice-of-life (& death) videography. The unidentified videographer is walking down the street when he sees Powell acting strangely on the sidewalk in front of a convenience store. The videographer finds Powell's erratic behavior amusing & continues recording for that reason. I'll let the videographer's commentary take it from there. Via Jim Fallows.

Mayor Angela Pearson, City of Popular Bluff, Missouri, Official Website: "Dear Friends..., As you learn more about Poplar Bluff you'll see it is a great place to live and raise a family, with a population of nearly 17,000 friendly residents. Poplar Bluff is the county seat and is centered in the middle of beautiful Butler County. Poplar Bluff is the gateway to the Ozarks nestled in southeast Missouri, in between St. Louis and Memphis." ...

... CW: Aw, doesn't Poplar Bluff sound like the quintessential sweet, All-American town? I'll bet they have a swell city council, just as Mayor Pearson says: "... the City government works hard to meet the needs of this growth and encourages growth for the future. Working together we will meet the challenges the future holds...." Video via the Raw Story:


Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "In a moment that sent electric currents through a crowded courtroom, Robert F. McDonnell, the former Virginia governor and once rising Republican star, was called to the witness stand Wednesday afternoon, testifying that he did next to nothing for the businessman who showered his family with cash and gifts. The appearance, three days into his legal defense, came sooner than expected. But Mr. McDonnell, once considered a contender for his party's presidential nomination, was as smooth as ever as he began the political sales job of his life.... And almost immediately, a politician who always campaigned as a devoted family man and conservative Catholic turned the spotlight on his embattled wife, Maureen." ...

... Bob McDonnell is still testifying about what a fine fellow he is & what a difficult bitch he married. He moved out of the home he shared with the Difficult Bitch & the kids about a week before their corruption trial began. Now the choir boy is living with his priest. As the Washington Post reports, "'I knew there was no way I could go home after a day in court and have to rehash the day's events with my wife,' he testified."

... Rosalind Helderman, et al., of the Washington Post: "Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell, taking the stand in his own defense Wednesday against federal corruption charges, said his wife, Maureen, seemed uneasy about their new life from his very first day as governor-elect."

Senate Races

Sen. Mark Pryor (D), who is in a tight race to keep his seat in red-state Arkansas, cuts a terrific ad for ObamaCare -- with his father, former Sen. David Pryor -- without ever mentioning the ACA or "ObamaCare." Via Greg Sargent:

Gail Collins on Montana Democratic U.S. Senate "super-long-shot" candidate Amanda Curtis.

Gubernatorial Race

Jim Fallows of the Atlantic on the three-way race for governor of Maine. Fallows endorses independent Eliot Cutler, who is a personal friend. Maine Sen. Angus King (I) endorsed Cutler, too. CW: In case you have forgotten, the thuggish goonie Paul LePage (RTP) is the current governor; he is one of the three candidates, along with Democrat Mike Michaud.

Presidential Race

Excuse me, shut up! -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to hecklers at a town-hall meeting in Vermont

News Ledes

New York Times: "Some 10,000 mourners on Thursday buried three senior commanders of the armed wing of Hamas who were killed in predawn airstrikes by Israel, the most significant blow to the group's leadership since Israel's operation in Gaza began more than six weeks ago."

ABC News: "An American doctor who contracted Ebola will be released today from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, with details expected on the release of a second patient who also contracted the disease.... The virus has killed at least 1,229 and sickened 1,011 more, according to numbers released Tuesday by the World Health Organization. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have the most cases."

Tuesday
Aug192014

The Commentariat -- August 20, 2014

NEW. Greg Miller, et al., of the Washington Post: In public remarks, "President Obama denounced the killing of American journalist James Foley and pledged that the U.S. will 'do what's necessary to see that justice is done.'" ...

... NEW. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "American intelligence agencies on Wednesday verified the authenticity of a video showing the beheading of an American journalist by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria amid angry outrage in the United States and Europe. President Obama was planning to make a statement from Martha's Vineyard at 12:45 p.m. to address the issue. The video posted by ISIS shows a masked man decapitating James Foley, an American journalist who was kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago. It also shows another American captive, the journalist Steven Sotloff, and warns that he would be the next to die."

NEW. The Washington Post is liveblogging the McDonnell corruption trial. Here's one entry: "In February 2012, then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell discussed with management consultants the possibility of his own wife moving out of the Executive Mansion as a possible solution to tension the first lady had with her staff, one of the consultants testified Wednesday." CW: This is the second day of Bob McDonnell's "defense," which so far has consisted of bringing forward witnesses to trash Maureen McDonnell. It's really unseemly. But I suppose one should not be surprised that Transvaginal Bob shows no respect for his own wife when he has no respect for other women.

Manu Raju of Politico: "Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration's policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown. In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to 'move to the center' if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress. In short, it's a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency."

CW: You knew there were lots of catches to Paul Ryan's newfound interest in "helping" the poor. Here's a big one. Benjamin Goad of the Hill: "Paul Ryan is moving to reframe the debate on regulations, arguing that the nation's poor are the real victims of the red tape spewing from Washington.... 'The regulatory component trades on the fallacy that deregulation creates job growth and can alleviate poverty,' said Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen. 'The empirical evidence simply doesn't back this up, and the 2008 financial crash is a strong reminder that deregulation can be disastrous for our economy.' ... 'It's really a wolf in sheep's clothing,' said Ron White, director of regulatory policy at the Center for Effective Government.” No kidding. ...

... Don't give up. Ryan has more excellent ideas. See below.

Maureen Dowd devotes her 800 words to dissing President Obama. Again. Her column seems to be based on this: "The Constitution was premised on a system full of factions and polarization." ...

     ... CW: But Dowd is wrong. The Founders didn't even envision political parties. They didn't envision anyone's voting except themselves & their fancy friends. (They were so convinced the government would be so full of righteous men of good will, they didn't even mention the rights of the governed till they discovered the damned thing would not be ratified unless they tacked those rights on as an afterthought.) Like future Senator/President Obama, the Founders did not see "red states & blue states." What they did see, of course, were slave states & free states, which more than two centuries later turned out to be pretty much the same thing as red states & blue states. Still, just like the newly-minted President Obama, the Founders -- who actually had experience reaching compromise -- believed the governing gentlemen would work out their differences. They did not envision Mitch McConnell & Ted Cruz.

Beyond the Beltway

Frances Robles & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "As a county grand jury prepared to hear evidence on Wednesday in the shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer that touched off 10 days of unrest here, witnesses have given investigators sharply conflicting accounts of the killing." CW: Robles & Schmidt have done some serious reporting here; this is a good first pass at trying to reconstruct what actually happened in the confrontation between Brown & Darren Wilson. ...

... Nigel Duara of the AP: "Police and protesters in Ferguson were finally able to share the streets again at night, putting aside for at least a few hours some of the hostility that had filled those hours with tear gas and smoke. The St. Louis suburb still had plenty of lively protest Tuesday over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. And tensions rose briefly when someone hurled a bottle at officers. But the overall scene was more subdued than the past five nights, with smaller crowds, fewer confrontations and no tear gas." ...

... St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said 47 people were arrested and three loaded handguns were seized during the protests Tuesday night and early today. In a news conference that began at about 2:15 this morning, Johnson said officers interrupted criminal activities and prevented violence." ...

... CW: Missouri has an open-carry law (with municipalities being able to pass some restrictions), so it's unclear to me if the people carrying loaded handguns were violating the law. If you're going to write open-carry laws, expect people to be carrying. As for interrupting criminal activities, I expect that's true; at the same time, the authorities apparently criminalized the most benign of activities, including non-activity: Carol Leonnig, et al., of the Washington Post: "... only some officers seemed to be enforcing a rule that protesters could walk, but not stand still or congregate. 'I saw the police arrest a lady because she had stopped walking,' said Bryan Maynard, 35, who had come to see the protests.... 'It's more than heavy-handed.'" CW: If Maynard is correct, one of those 47 was a woman detained for standing still. ...

... Attorney General Eric Holder in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed: "At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn -- in a fair and thorough manner -- exactly what happened." ...

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Evidence in the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer will be presented to a grand jury beginning Wednesday. 'We are going to attempt to start giving evidence to the grand jury (Wednesday), depending upon the ability to get the witnesses in and the witnesses showing up,' said Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch. 'It will be handled by the attorney regularly assigned to the grand jury. It will not be by Mr. McCulloch.' The standing St. Louis County Circuit Court grand jury, not a special assembly, will hear the evidence." ...

... WJLA-TV-St. Louis: "Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol ... said bottles and Molotov cocktails were thrown from the crowd and that some officers had come under heavy gunfire [Monday night & Tuesday morning]. At least two people were shot and 78 were arrested, he said. He did not have condition updates on those who were shot. Johnson said four officers were injured by rocks or bottles. According to arrest records obtained by ABC News, only four of the 78 arrested are from Ferguson while 18 people arrested are from locations across the country...." ...

** Read this account by Ryan Devereaux of the Intercept. Police arrested Devereaux in Ferguson early Tuesday morning & held him overnight in jail. ...

... Chris McGreal of the Guardian: "Racial tensions in Missouri were stoked again on Tuesday when police killed another African American man as authorities struggled to quell the nightly confrontations over the shooting of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson last week. Angry residents of a black neighbourhood in St Louis, not far from Ferguson, accused the police of excessive force after two officers fired several bullets into a 23-year-old man described as carrying a knife and behaving erratically. The man has not yet been named but he was well known in the area and was said to have learning difficulties." ...

... The St. Louis Post-Dispatch account, by Joe Holleman & Lisa Brown, is here. ...

... Emma Roller of the National Journal: "... since he was shot to death on Aug. 9, Brown has been the subject of character assassination by the police and by the media." ...

...John Oliver comments on events in Ferguson, on the militarization of U.S. police force & on racism in the U.S. Thanks to James S. for the link:

The real looting is legal looting. People don't have their fair share of police jobs, fire jobs, accounting work, legal work. That's looting. The looting by night -- should not take place, but neither should the accepted level of legal looting. And that must stop. -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson

... ** Jeannette Cooperman of Al Jazeera on the history of apartheid policies in the St. Louis area: "In reaction, St. Louis 'has spent enormous sums of public money to spatially reinforce human segregation patterns,' [Michael] Allen[, director of the Preservation Research Office,] said. 'We tore out the core of the city around downtown, just north and south and west, and fortified downtown as an island, by removing so-called slum neighborhoods. Then we demolished vacant housing in the Ville [where rocker Chuck Berry and opera singer Grace Bumbry grew up] and other historic black neighborhoods. These were not accidents. These were inflicted wounds.' 'Black communities in urban areas don't have Whole Foods. They don't have Starbucks. They don't have work,' said Gerald Early, director of African-American studies at Washington University. 'And that goes back to legalized segregation. They were basically set up to not be able to compete with white communities, to remind people every day that they were inferior to whites.'" ...

     ... CW: This is precisely why Republicans keep making fun of Michelle Obama & her efforts to improve nutritional standards & habits; one of her initiatives is to eliminate "food deserts." These opinionators want "to remind people every day that they [are] inferior to whites." And you can bet these asswipes believe in their hearts they're not racists. Some probably even have a black friend. ...

... Tom Edsall of the New York Times compares & contrasts socioeconomic & political developments surrounding the Watts riots of 1965 & the Ferguson protests. "The urban riots of the second half of the 1960s prompted Washington to pump out money, legislation, judicial decisions and regulatory change to outlaw de jure discrimination, to bring African-Americans to the ballot box, to create jobs and to vastly expand the scope of anti-poverty programs. Civil unrest also drew attention to the necessity of addressing police brutality. Today, however, political and policy-making stasis driven by gridlock -- despite a momentary concordance between left and right on this particular shooting -- insures that we will undertake no comparable initiatives to reverse or even stem the trends that have put black Americans at an increasing disadvantage in relation to whites."...

... Radley Balko of the Washington Post: "There's no question that, had the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department mandated that its officers wear body cameras, use dashboard cameras or both, there would be far fewer mysteries about the events leading up to the shooting of Michael Brown. The department apparently had these cameras; it just hadn't gotten around to using them. But simply mandating that the cameras be used isn't enough." Oftentimes the police refuse to release videotapes of controversial confrontations; many times the cops accidentally forget to turn on their cameras or, um, inexplicably turn them off just before a confrontation. At other times, they accidentally forget where they put the tape. "One policy that would go a long way toward achieving those three objectives is what defense attorney Scott Greenfield calls the missing video presumption.... Under the missing video presumption..., the courts will assume that the video corroborates the party opposing the police...." ...

... AND Now, for a Different POV. Sunil Dutta, an LAPD officer & professor, in a Washington Post op-ed: "We are still learning what transpired between Officer Darren Wilson and [Michael] Brown, but in most cases it's less ambiguous -- and officers are rarely at fault. When they use force, they are defending their, or the public's, safety. Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you." ...

     ... Charles Pierce recommends this video to accompany your reading of Dutta's opinion piece:

Time to Look at the Politics. Let's Hear First from a Limited-Government Tenther: There is no problem with the federal government having a role [in the investigation into Michael Brown's shooting]. But in all of these things, local control, local government, local authorities who have the jurisdiction, who have the expertise, who are actually there are the people who should be in the lead. -- Rep. Paul Ryan

Yeah, the Ferguson police have the "expertise" to lead, all right. -- Constant Weader

Think I'm wrong? Hah! Paul Waldman is totally on my side. He's made a list of "The Ferguson Police Department's Top 10 Tips For Protester Relations." ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: Partly because local elections are held in April in odd-numbered years when no statewide or national races are in play, "In 2013..., just 11.7 percent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot. Turnout is especially low among Ferguson's African American residents, however. In 2013, for example, just 6 percent of eligible black voters cast a ballot in Ferguson's municipal elections, as compared to 17 percent of white voters.... So the solution to the fact that Ferguson's black majority is nearly unrepresented in its government could be as simple as rescheduling its municipal elections so that they are held in November of even-numbered years -- the same time that federal elections are held." ...

... Jeff Smith of the in a New York Times op-ed (August 17): "... because blacks have reached the suburbs in significant numbers only over the past 15 years or so, fewer suburban black communities have deeply ingrained civic organizations.... Many North County towns -- and inner-ring suburbs nationally -- resemble Ferguson. Longtime white residents have consolidated power, continuing to dominate the City Councils and school boards despite sweeping demographic change. They have retained control of patronage jobs and municipal contracts awarded to allies. The North County Labor Club, whose overwhelmingly white constituent unions (plumbers, pipe fitters, electrical workers, sprinkler fitters) have benefited from these arrangements, operates a potent voter-turnout operation that backs white candidates over black upstarts." ...

... AND This. Charlie Spiering of Breitbart "News": Missouri GOP chairman Matt Wills thinks it's "disgusting" & "fanning the political flames" that "liberal organizers" have set up voter registration tables near the site of Michael Brown's killing & at the QT convenience store. ...

... Charles Pierce: "Registering people to vote is 'fanning the political flames,' because you know how Those People are when you get them all hopped up on voting, that's probably why Matt Wills and the state party that he directs executively worked so hard to minimize the 'disgusting' spectacle of black people at the polls." ...

... Alan Grayson Saw This Coming. His Colleagues Didn't Care. Jennifer Bendery, et al., of the Huffington Post: "The militarized police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, is forcing members of Congress to explain their ongoing support for a Pentagon program that provides local law enforcement with weapons used in war zones.... House lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in June to block legislation by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) that would have ... banned funding for a specific set of heavy-duty gear, including grenade launchers, toxicological agents and drones, all of which may legally be transferred to police departments under current law." Democrats voted 3-1 against the Grayson amendment. ...

... CW: I suspect this is one of the bad outcomes of ending earmarks (a practice which Not-President-Thank-God John McCain decried for years). Since MOCs can no longer promise their constituents a bridge or a community center or a museum, they're dolling out tanks & grenades. Absent earmarks, the U.S. is becoming a vast militarized zone with substandard infrastructure. That is, Congressional policy, in the name of "reform," is turning the U.S. toward a third-world-country model.

MEANWHILE in New York City. Jake Pearson of the AP: The fatal beating of Rikers Island inmate Angel Ramirez in "July 2011 ... is among three deaths in New York City's jails over the past five years in which inmates were alleged to have been fatally beaten by guards. Yet in none of those cases was anyone ever charged with a crime.... The lack of accountability in the city's jail system was singled out time and again in a scathing federal review issued this month.... The government lawyers focused on juvenile facilities at the huge jail complex called Rikers Island but said their conclusions probably extend to all Rikers jails. They found that beatings often occurred out of view of security cameras, internal investigations took months to complete, and guards falsified or otherwise failed to properly fill out use-of-force forms documenting incidents."

Rosalind Helderman, et al., of the Washington Post: "The sister of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell took the witness stand Tuesday at her brother's corruption trial to make the case that the former Virginia governor's marriage was far more strained than his finances.... Maureen C. McDonnell, who shares a name with her brother's wife, testified that her sister-in-law was erratic and mentally unstable, a reluctant first lady who did not like living in 'that prison mansion.'" CW: Thanks, Sis.

Stephanie Simon of Politico: "A Louisiana judge on Tuesday swatted down Gov. Bobby Jindal's attempt to use his executive authority to repeal the Common Core in his state. Jindal is trying to unilaterally scrap the new academic standards and a related series of exams -- a move that's put him at odds with business leaders, the state superintendent, members of the board of education and many Republican legislators in Louisiana. In a blistering five-page ruling, District Judge Todd W. Hernandez of Baton Rouge ruled that Jindal's plan would cause 'irreparable harm' to students, teachers and parents who have been preparing for the new standards for years." ...

... AP: "Jindal once supported the standards as improving student preparation for college and careers. But Jindal, who is considering a 2016 presidential campaign, now opposes them as a federal intrusion in state education policy." CW: Because Obama.

<'>Cindy Carcamo of the Los Angeles Times: "At least five, perhaps as many as 10, of the 42 children slain [in San Pedro Sua, Honduras,] since February had been recently deported from the U.S.... Immigrant aid groups and human rights organizers say the Honduran government is ill-equipped to assist children at high risk after they have been returned." ...

... "Intended Consequences." Charles Pierce: "It is now the stated position of most of the Republican party in this country, and of Republican politicians like Steve King and most of the prospective 2016 presidential field, that more children must be sent home to die this way. People should remember that."

Senate Race

Dermot Cole & Nathaniel Herz of the Alaska Dispatch News: "Dan Sullivan, the former Alaska attorney general and natural resources commissioner, declared victory early Wednesday in one of the most divisive Alaska Republican primaries in decades, while Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller ran 8 points behind in second place. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell trailed third in the fight to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in the fall."

Presidential Race

Alexandra Jaffe of the Hill: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will turn himself into authorities on Tuesday evening, following his indictment by a grand jury on charges relating to abuse of power last week.... The governor's arraignment has been set for Friday, but Perry reportedly has no plans to attend and will go forward with a weekend trip to New Hampshire to rally Republicans there." ...

What, no glasses?? Still, wins prize for Best Hair in a Mugshot.     ... Update. Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was booked at a courthouse in Austin on Tuesday, getting his fingerprints taken and a mug shot, following his indictment by a grand jury on abuse of power charges. 'I'm here today because I believe in the rule of law, and I'm here today because I did the right thing,' a defiant Perry said to mostly cheers from those gathered outside the Travis County Courthouse."

... David Montgomery of the New York Times: "A prominent legal team has taken shape to assist Gov. Rick Perry in fighting a felony indictment, with the lead lawyer denouncing the abuse of power charges as 'nothing more than banana republic politics.'"

News Ledes

AP: "At least 34 sailors are being kicked out of the Navy for their roles in a cheating ring that operated undetected for at least seven years at a nuclear power training site, and 10 others are under criminal investigation, the admiral in charge of the Navy's nuclear reactors program told The Associated Press."

New York Times: "Israeli airstrikes killed a wife and baby son of the top military commander of Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates the Gaza Strip, hours after rocket fire from Gaza broke a temporary cease-fire Tuesday and halted talks aimed at ending the six-week conflict collapsed in Cairo. The fate of the commander, Mohammed Deif, the target of several previous Israeli assassination attempts, remained unclear, though Palestinian officials and witnesses said his was not one of three bodies pulled Wednesday from the rubble of the bombed Gaza City home." ...

... AFP: "An Israeli cabinet minister on Wednesday justified an air strike on Gaza that killed the wife and child of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif, saying he was a legitimate target. 'Mohammed Deif deserves to die just like (the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama) bin Laden. He is an arch murderer and as long as we have an opportunity we will try to kill him'" Interior Minister Gideon Saar told army radio."

New York Times: "After nearly a week of inaction, a Russian aid convoy destined for the besieged, rebel-controlled Ukrainian city of Luhansk rumbled to life on Wednesday, with 16 of its trucks passing through a Russian border checkpoint. Before heading to Luhansk, though, the trucks still have to be checked by the Russian border service, Ukrainian border guards and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Sergei Karavaytsev, an officer in Russia's Emergencies Ministry, said in a telephone interview."

Guardian: "Russia has shut down four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow for alleged sanitary violations in a move critics said was the latest blow in its tit-for-tat sanctions tussle with the west." CW: Now that could make Putin unpopular.

AP: "Germany says it is prepared to arm the Kurdish fighters battling Sunni insurgents in northern Iraq. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says Germany would closely coordinate its efforts with France, Britain and other European countries who are already delivering weapons to the Kurds."

Tuesday
Aug192014

Jaywalking as a Capital Offense

I have been under the misimpression that Michael Brown & his friend Dorian Johnson were ambling down the middle of a busy street, blocking traffic. However, this New York Times map shows that this was not the case:

The site of the shooting was Canfield Court. Canfield Court is a short stretch of the through street Canfield Drive, which in this section is a residential street of two- & three-story apartment buildings & townhouses surrounded by greenspace. About a block west, the residences appear to be single-family homes, & just to the east are single-story apartment buildings, again surrounded by ample greenspace. Here's what Canfield Court looks like on Google's street view:

Not exactly a busy street. Moreover, the sidewalks are fairly narrow -- too narrow for two people to walk abreast. So it seems quite natural & sensible for two friends to be walking together in the street rather than on the sidewalk. 

When I'm driving on local roads like this one, I often come upon people walking along them. When there are pedestrians, I just wait for them to move to the side or I drive around them, taking extra care if there are small children in the group. Sometimes I wave & smile. Whatever. I have never considered these events noteworthy or unusual. Walking in the street is the way people who don't have cars -- you know, poor people -- use public streets. I'd be surprised if the situation was much different in Ferguson.

Knowing this, it appears to me that Officer Darren Wilson purposely & without cause provoked Brown & Johnson by telling them to move to the sidewalk. (According to Johnson, Wilson shouted to them, "Get the fuck on the sidewalk.") The fact that Wilson was cruising a residential street suggests that he was a neighborhood patrolman, someone who is supposed to establish rapport with residents & create a sense of public trust in the police. ("Get the fuck on the sidewalk" is not the best outreach initiative.)

According to Johnson, he & Brown complied with Wilson's order. After that, Wilson "began to drive away, but then threw his car into reverse and came back alongside the teens, nearly hitting them." A scuffle between Wilson & Brown ensued. Wilson will dispute Johnson's account.

What actually happened to escalate a perfectly normal stroll down the street into a death-by-shooting is critical, of course, but not to the point of "who started it." Officer Wilson did.

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