The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, December 18, 2014.

New York Times: "The stock market began the week burdened by geopolitical worries, but by the close of trading on Thursday it had bounced back to achieve one of its biggest upswings in recent years. Soothing words from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, saying that it would be 'patient' on raising interest rates, drove the surge, analysts said. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index jumped 2.4 percent on Thursday, to 2,061.23 — its biggest one-day gain since January 2013. That came on the back of a 2 percent rise on Wednesday."

CNN: "U.S. airstrikes have killed two top-level and one mid-level ISIS leader, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN. Haji Mutazz was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputy in Iraq; Abd al Basit was his military emir in Iraq; and Radwan Talib was his Mosul emir. Their deaths resulted from multiple strikes going back to mid-November -- it has taken until now to determine conclusively they were killed."

AP: "Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates' historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013."

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday refused to release Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, from prison as he continues to appeal a prosecution that Republicans say exposed pervasive corruption in state government but Democrats regard as a case pursued for political retribution."

Boston Globe: "Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in federal court in Boston this morning for a brief pretrial hearing, which was punctuated by an interruption in Russian and English from a woman in the gallery. Several journalists reported she exclaimed 'stop killing innocent people' in English as she was escorted out for yelling in Russian. The woman identified herself to reporters as a relative of Ibrahim Todashev: a friend of Dzhokhar’s brother who was killed by an FBI agent during an incident that arose from the investigation of a Waltham triple homicide."

AFP: "Two owners and 12 former employees of a US pharmacy were arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2012 outbreak of meningitis that killed 64 people across the country, prosecutors said. Barry Cadden and Gregory Conigliaro owned the New England Compounding Center (NECC), which lost its license in 2012 after inspectors found it guilty of multiple sanitary violations. the pharmacy, located in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts in the US northeast, voluntarily shut down and recalled all products following the unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis."

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

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

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

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

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Monday
Dec082014

The Commentariat -- Dec. 9, 2014

CW: My power may go out again for an extended period beginning some time today; ergo, I won't post any updates to Reality Chex till (1) it's safe to travel & (2) I can find an operating public wifi source.

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Negotiators were racing the clock Monday to release a more than $1 trillion spending package to keep the federal government open through the end of the fiscal year, capping the least productive congressional session in modern American history. House and Senate leaders were reviewing the final details of the massive bill on Monday afternoon with the goal of posting the text by midnight so that the Republican-controlled House can vote as early as Wednesday morning. Failure to do so might delay plans to approve the legislation by Thursday night when current funds expire." ...

     ... Oops! New Lede: "Plans to quickly approve a $1.1 trillion spending package to keep most of the federal government open through the end of the fiscal year fell apart late Monday, increasing the chance lawmakers will miss a Thursday deadline. Just in case, top appropriators said Monday that they were ready to pass a short-term extension of a few days in order to give the House and Senate more time to pass the final bill and end the least productive congressional session in modern history.... Both sides had reached agreement on continuing the program by Monday evening, but differences remained regarding proposed changes to 2010 financial regulatory reforms that were sought as part of the deal...." CW: Not surprisingly, Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions is also causing problems: he considers it an "abdication of congressional responsibility" not to use the bill to halt President Obama's immigration reforms.

Mark Landler & Peter Baker of the New York Times: "On the eve of a long-awaited Senate report on the use of torture by the United States government -- a detailed account that will shed an unsparing light on the Central Intelligence Agency's darkest practices after the September 2001 terrorist attacks -- the Obama administration and its Republican critics clashed on Monday over the wisdom of making it public.... While the United States has put diplomatic facilities and military bases on alert for heightened security risks, administration officials said they do not expect the report ... to ignite the kind of violence that killed four Americans at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Such violent reprisals, they said, tend to be fueled more by perceived attacks against Islam as a religion than by violence against individual Muslims. But some leading Republican lawmakers have warned against releasing the report...." ...

... Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian: "The Senate intelligence committee is poised to release a landmark inquiry into torture as early as Tuesday, after the Obama administration made a last-ditch effort to suppress a report that has plunged relations between the CIA and its Senate overseer to a historic low point.. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday the administration welcomed the release of the report, but warned US interests overseas were at risk of potentially violent reactions to its contents." ...

... AP: "The chairman of the House intelligence committee..., Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican..., told CNN [Sunday] that the US intelligence community had assessed that the release of the report would be used by extremists to incite violence." ...

... Mark Hosenball & Jeff Mason of Reuters: "Graphic details about sexual threats and other harsh interrogation techniques the CIA meted out to captured militants will be detailed by a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the spy agency's anti-terror tactics, sources familiar with the document said." ...

... ** Pardon the Bastids! Anthony Romero, head of the ACLU, in a New York Times op-ed: "That officials at the highest levels of government authorized and ordered torture is not in dispute. Mr. Bush issued a secret order authorizing the C.I.A. to build secret prisons overseas. The C.I.A. requested authority to torture prisoners in those 'black sites.' The National Security Council approved the request. And the Justice Department drafted memos providing the brutal program with a veneer of legality.... My organization and others have spent 13 years arguing for accountability for these crimes.... Prosecutions would be preferable, but pardons may be the only viable and lasting way to close the Pandora's box of torture once and for all.... Pardons would make clear that crimes were committed.... Mr. Obama could pardon George J. Tenet for authorizing torture at the C.I.A.'s black sites overseas, Donald H. Rumsfeld for authorizing the use of torture at the Guantánamo Bay prison, David S. Addington, John C. Yoo and Jay S. Bybee for crafting the legal cover for torture, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for overseeing it all." ...

The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.... They deserve a lot of praise.... As far as I'm concerned, they ought to be decorated, not criticized. -- Dick Cheney, to the New York Times, yesterday

We're authorized. -- "Law & Order" Det. Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina), to people from whom he wanted to get something without bothering to obtain a court order

... "Dick Cheney Was Lying About Torture." Mark Fallon, a former interrogator, in Politico Magazine: " It's official: torture doesn't work. Waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, did not in fact 'produce the intelligence that allowed us to get Osama bin Laden,' as former Vice President Dick Cheney asserted in 2011. Those are among the central findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation and detention after 9/11... As those of us on the inside knew.... The ostensible purpose of torture was to save lives, but it has had the exact opposite effect. Torture was a PR bonanza for enemies of the United States. It enabled -- and, in fact, is still enabling — al Qaeda and its allies to attract more fighters, more sympathizers, and more money."

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "The US government suspected that a mole inside the FBI was passing secrets to Irish republican militants who repeatedly plotted to assassinate Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and 90s, files released to the Guardian showed on Monday."

Charles Babington of the AP: "Appearing before a House Oversight panel Tuesday, [MIT professor Jonathan Gruber] expanded on earlier apologies [for remarks he made while discussing the healthcare law]. Gruber said his comments were uninformed, 'glib, thoughtless and sometimes downright insulting.' He said passage of the health law was transparent and heavily debated in public, despite his earlier comments. Gruber said he was not the 'architect' of the law, and apologized for 'inexcusable arrogance.'" ...

     ... CW: Hats off to Gruber. Admitting stupid mistakes & apologizing for them is hard enough, but it takes real guts to make those apologies in front of Darrell Issa. ...

... This Is Sick. Jennifer Haberkorn & Manu Raju of Politico: "In high-level strategy sessions on Capitol Hill, Republicans are going through reams of historical information and sitting through marathon slide show presentations, trying to figure out how to gut Obamacare through a complicated budget process that requires only a simple majority -- a sign of how seriously they're taking their best shot yet at dealing a long-term blow to the health care law." ...

... CW: Republicans decided to oppose ObamaCare in 2009 as a political strategy. They made up a long list of phony arguments against it, but since it was a Republican-inspired idea, they must have favored it (in what passes for their hearts) in principle. But somewhere along the way, these calculating bastards morphed their strategic plots into an ideological belief system. Now they really think depriving millions of people of health insurance is a good thing. They must be crazy. ...

... Greg Sargent: "A new Bloomberg poll finds that by a large margin of 55-34, Americans believe Republicans are acting 'more out of antagonism towards Obama' than out of a 'deep belief in their vision for the country.' By contrast, Americans believe by 54-36 that Obama is more driven by his vision than by antagonism towards Republicans. Perhaps the American people ought to have a word with our both-sides-to-blame pundits. On the other hand, the poll also finds the GOP's approval rating at a five year high while Obama has hit bottom. So maybe there's no downside in being perceived as driven by antagonism towards Obama!" The poll is here.

Burgess Everett of Politico: "Vivek Murthy, who has drawn opposition for remarks drawing a link between gun violence and health, is likely to get a [confirmation] vote [for surgeon general] before Democrats hand control of the chamber to Republicans in January, a senior Senate Democratic aide said Monday evening. But winning confirmation is another matter."

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Monday rejected BP's challenge to a multibillion-dollar settlement arising from the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, declining to hear the company's case that it is being forced to compensate businesses with losses unrelated to the disaster.... But the Supreme Court without comment declined to review lower-court rulings that rejected BP's claims . Those courts said the company must abide by an agreement that did not require the kind of proof BP now insists upon."

Independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption. -- Anthony Kennedy, who is probably not the dumbest Supreme ...

... Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Charles Pierce applauds the New York Times piece (linked here Sunday, I think) that takes an "incredibly deep dive into the reeking, murky waters of legalized corruption and influence-peddling that our Nine Wise Souls in Washington have enabled so blithely.... This is smooth and edgeless corporate fascism in its classic sense -- a marriage of government and industry that is so tightly consummated that the former is entirely indistinguishable from the latter.... The real work of converting a self-governing republic into a seamless corporate oligarchy -- is being done in the states, where politicians can be purchased more cheaply, and where the infrastructure of the corruption on the national level is developed." ...

... CW: As David Byler of Roll Call pointed out early last month, "The GOP now controls 68 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers -- the highest number in the history of the party. Republicans currently hold the governorship and both houses of the legislature in 23 states (24 if Sean Parnell wins re-election in Alaska [he didn't, but the governorship went to Bill Walker, a former Republican who ran as an independent]), while Democrats have that level of control in only seven." No word of what percentage of these neanderthals (apologies to Neanderthals!) are corporate puppets, but I'd bet it's most of 'em. There is a reason fatcats & their Tea Party minions are pushing for repeal of the 17th Amendment, which provides for the direct election of U.S. senators. If repealed, state legislators could once again choose U.S. senators. This process would save fatcats a lot of money -- Senate races are expensive; legislators come cheap. That is, the oligarchs would change the Constitution -- not just the interpretation of the Constitution -- in the interest of maximizing their profits.

David Leonhardt of the New York Times on the GOP debate about whether or not to reappoint Doug Elmendorf as head of the CBO. CW: The value of CBO reports is in their apolitical nature. As Leonhardt points out, Elmendorf's CBO has not always been right. But its judgments have been based on actual calculations, not on political calculations. Surely, surely Republicans will go for a charlatan, making CBO reports meaningless political craptrap.

Charles Pierce comments on Michael Tomasky's post, linked yesterday, urging Democrats to abandon the South: "To me, the key to the problem is to break the stranglehold of the Washington-based consultant class over what candidates will be run in what places.... Forging an actual alliance of working people, black and white, in the places that need it the most, is a worthwhile effort whether it fails initially or not." CW: Pierce's view is interesting, especially in light of Nicholas Confessore's article about the GOP establishment picking that party's presidential candidate (linked under "Presidential Election" below).

Michael Schwirtz of the New York Times: "A correction officer who was on duty when a homeless veteran died in an overheated cell at Rikers Island was charged on Monday with lying on jail records, falsely claiming she had checked on the inmate that night, according to prosecutors. The charges against the officer, Carol Lackner, come 10 months after the death of Jerome Murdough, who was arrested on trespassing charges in February after seeking shelter from the cold in the stairwell of a Harlem public housing project. Officer Lackner, 35, so far is the only person to face criminal charges in the 56-year-old man's death, which provoked condemnation from city leaders and drew attention to deep-seated problems at Rikers that have become the focus of federal and city investigators."

Seth Masket in Pacific Standard with a history lesson on the civil rights movement: "... if the [current] movement fails to achieve much, it won't be because it got push-back from white moderates. Pretty much every important movement faces that."

Jesse McKinley & David Goodman of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York asked Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday to immediately grant his office the power to investigate and prosecute killings of unarmed civilians by law enforcement officials. Mr. Schneiderman also challenged state legislators to pass new laws to repair public confidence in the criminal justice system, which he said was badly damaged after grand juries in Missouri and on Staten Island declined to bring criminal charges against officers in fatal encounters with unarmed black men." ...

... New York Times Editors: "In 2010 alone, federal prosecutors sought indictments in 162,000 cases. All but 11 times, they succeeded.Yet the results are entirely different when police officers kill unarmed civilians. In those cases, the officers are almost never prosecuted.... Whether or not bias can be proved in a given case, the public perception of it is real and must be addressed. The best solution would be a law that automatically transfers to an independent prosecutor all cases in which a civilian is dead at the hands of the police."

... Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge meet (or rather avoid) "I Can't Breath" protesters at a New York Nets/Cleveland Cavaliers game in New York. "Those protesting the death of Eric Garner rallied abound the hashtag #RoyalShutdown, determined to make the event more than just a lighthearted photo-op for the NBA and William and Kate.... LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack and Alan Anderson all warmed up in 'I Can't Breathe' shirts to pay tribute to Garner and protest the lack of charges against officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death." Kate & William didn't show up till the third quarter. CW: The royals did meet Beyonce & Jay Z at the game, a meeting which this Post decided to treat to a slo-mo video, because it's such an historic event, I guess. ...

... Charlotte Alter of Time: "Prince William visited the White House for the first time Monday during the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first official trip to the USA." ...

... Andy Borowitz: "President Barack Obama spent several hours on Monday in a closed-door Oval Office meeting seeking advice on how to establish a monarchy, Fox News reports.... According to the Fox report, the President came away 'intrigued' by the meeting and said he would explore the idea further next week when Congress is on vacation."

Speaking of titled (and entitled) people, James Kirchick of the Daily Beast does quite a number on "America's Worst Gay Power Couple," Chris Hughes of the New Republic & Sean Eldridge of nothing. He also does a nice job knocking down their (former) fans: "They are little more than entitled brats who, like most fabulously wealthy arrivistes who attain their fortunes through sheer luck rather than hard work, are used to getting everything they want, when they want it, and throw temper tantrums when they don't." ...

... Ha Ha. Brad DeLong, "Jamie Kirchick, who benefitted mightily in launching his career from being part of a corrupt and compliant media establishment that grasped at Martin Peretz's filthy lucre, complains about Chris Hughes.... No, there is not a hint of self-consciousness, self-reflection, or irony in there." DeLong has a good roundup of commentary on the fiasco that is/was the New Republic. CW: Maybe journalists shouldn't write about journalists. They're not very good at it.

Presidential Election

Oh, Who Will Be the Billionaires' Man? Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Dozens of the Republican Party’s leading presidential donors and fund-raisers have begun privately discussing how to clear the field for a single establishment candidate to carry the party's banner in 2016, fearing that a prolonged primary would bolster Hillary Rodham Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate. The conversations, described in interviews with a variety of the Republican Party's most sought-after donors, are centered on the three potential candidates who have the largest existing base of major contributors and overlapping ties to the top tier of those who are uncommitted: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney.... With the midterms over, Mr. Christie and Mr. Bush have begun pushing top bundlers to commit to them in advance should they announce a White House bid...." ...

If I were Mitt Romney, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, I would be really irritated by that article. The last thing they need to become is the pet candidate of billionaires. It's a disastrously bad idea and it won't happen. -- Newt Gingrich

... Ed KIlgore: "... the Daddy Warbucks wing of the GOP does not seem especially aware of the hate-rage that will break out among 'movement conservatives' if the Establishment culls the field before 'the base' weighs in." ...

... digby: "This is democracy?... The Democratic elites would be no better if the rank and file were clamoring for a left wing fire-brand they assumed would lose them the election. In fact, they took the reins under very similar circumstance back in 1976. It worked out really well for them. They ended up with a one term presidency followed by 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Let's just say that this "move to the middle" is no panacea." ...

... CW: digby doesn't say so, but that what the Democrats' "super-delegates" are all about: restraining the liberal wing. ...

... Hunter of Daily Kos: "This isn't to say others won't run, of course. There will be the usual half-dozen batshit insane candidates hailing from the various regions of teapartyism and theocracy-lite.... But the 'real' candidate, the 'establishment' candidate, need only putter and try to dodge blows until it is time to flood the market with the necessary ads, and we'll have our winner. Don't think of it as damaging to democracy -- think of it as a streamlining of the process. The megadonors will pick the best candidate for you, then you will get to vote for that person. It certainly sounds more efficient, doesn't it?"

November Elections

Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star: "Campaign reports filed late last week revealed that key Democrats funneled money to Greg Orman's campaign for the U.S. Senate in Kansas. A political committee known as the Senate Majority PAC run by former advisers to Majority Leader Harry Reid sent about $1.5 million to two other campaign committees that were backing Orman's campaign.... Meanwhile, HuffPost reported that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, gave $1 million to pro-Orman groups." CW P.S.: Orman lost big anyway.

News Ledes

AP: "U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday to consult with Iraqi government officials and confer with U.S. commanders about the campaign to defeat Islamic State fighters."

NBC News: "An Ohio man who spent 27 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit was brought to tears Tuesday when a judge dropped all charges against him. Kwame Ajamu, 56, was the last of three men exonerated in the 1975 robbery and murder of a Cleveland-area money order salesman.... Ajamu was originally sentenced to death, but it was vacated because of a paperwork error. He later earned parole in 2003."

Sunday
Dec072014

The Commentariat -- Dec. 8, 2014

David Rogers of Politico: "House-Senate negotiators neared agreement Sunday on the last pieces of a $1.1 trillion spending bill designed to avert any shutdown this week and put most government agencies on firm footing through next September. Building on a long weekend of talks, the goal was to file the giant measure by late Monday and then push for quick floor action before the current funding runs out Thursday night." ...

... Greg Sargent opines that since Boehner needs Democrats to pass the bill in the House, "That should mean House GOP leaders will not be able to attach anything to the funding bill that would undermine Obama's action."

The Bush Pre-buttal. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "A long-awaited Senate report condemning torture by the Central Intelligence Agency has not even been made public yet, but former President George W. Bush's team has decided to link arms with former intelligence officials and challenge its conclusions.... Mr. Bush and his closest advisers decided that 'we're going to want to stand behind these guys,' as one former official put it.... The former officials said that neither Mr. Bush nor his advisers had been interviewed by the committee."

Rachel Huggins of the Hill: "President Obama will sit down with BET Networks to discuss calls for criminal justice reform after two controversial grand jury decisions cleared white officers in the death of black men.... The interview, hosted by BET host and TV journalist Jeff Johnson, marks the president's first network discussion outlining his strategy to investigate the incidents and ways the country can unify during this time." There's a clip here. ...

     ... Jonathan Chait: White conservatives are outraged that President Obama said racism is "deeply rooted" in our culture. Hell, they're not racist. They don't even know any black people. CW: It's extremely unfortunately that this branch of De Nial runs right under the Supreme Court building. ...

... Allen McDuffee of the Atlantic: "New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday admonished former mayor Rudy Giuliani for his repeated recent comments that 'responsibility is on the black community' for reducing the necessity of police officers in their communities. 'I think he fundamentally misunderstands the reality,' said de Blasio on ABC's This Week. 'There is a problem here. There is a rift here that has to be overcome. You cannot look at the incident in Missouri; another incident in Cleveland, Ohio; and another incident in New York City all happening in the space of weeks and act like there's not a problem.'" ...

     ... Vanessa Williams of the Washington Post on de Blasio's blunt remarks on racism & policing & why the mayor is able to speak more forcefully than is President Obama. ...

... Timothy Cama of the Hill: "The New York Police Department (NYPD) has launched its investigation into the killing of Eric Garner, but it could take up to four months to complete, the department's head said. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the decision last week by a grand jury not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Garner meant that the internal investigation could kick off.... He promised a transparent investigation into possible violations of department policy, including a public trial if necessary. Bratton will then have the final say on any potential punishments for Pantaleo, he said." With video. ...

... Mike Carter of the Seattle Times: "Federal prosecutors say they will review an incident in which a Seattle police officer punched and seriously injured a handcuffed, intoxicated woman, after King County prosecutors said Friday they won't charge the officer." The policeman asserted the woman kicked him though a hospital exam showed no indication of physical injury.

... Connie Schultz in Politico Magazine: "A boy's death and a damning Justice report put Cleveland at the center of a national police crisis." Schultz, a syndicated columnist, is married to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). ...

... You will want to know what Rush Limbaugh thinks about the killing of Eric Garner in a Fox Sunday show segment that had Chris Wallace -- who is accustomed to interviewing the wing-nut contingent -- asking, "What are you talking about?" ...

... AND, over at the winger screed Power Line, Paul Mirengoff seems to think it's ridiculous that young people would be upset by the grand jury's decision to free Eric Garner's killer. I don't know if Mirengoff is smart enough to know that Columbia University is essentially in Harlem.

John Harwood of the New York Times: President "Obama has long since concluded that pursuing dreams of reconciliation in his final two years in office is a fool's chase. So he is offering an alternative model for 21st-century presidential success.... It turns ... on advancing the major policy goals that Mr. Obama embraced as a candidate. Through that prism, he continues to make progress."

Donna Cassata of the AP: "Republicans will hold at least 246 House seats come January, according to election results Saturday, giving the GOP a commanding majority that matches the party's post-World War II high during Democratic President Harry S. Truman's administration. The GOP retained control of two seats in runoffs in Louisiana, expanding the advantage for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who can afford defections from his increasingly conservative caucus and still get legislation passed." ...

... Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "Trying to win Southern seats is not worth the ideological cost for Democrats.... The Democratic Party cannot (and I'd say should not) try to calibrate its positions to placate Southern mores.... It's lost.... If they get no votes from the region, they will in turn owe it nothing, and in time the South, which is the biggest welfare moocher in the world in terms of the largesse it gets from the more advanced and innovative states, will be on its own, which is what Southerners always say they want anyway.... Let the GOP have it and run it and turn it into Free-Market Jesus Paradise...." Read the whole post.

E. J. Dionne: "Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). They have co-sponsored a bill that ... would create a 15-member commission to study ... [on] 'how best to expand the use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of federal programs and tax expenditures.' The commission would also look into 'how best to protect the privacy rights of people who interact with federal agencies and ensure confidentiality.' ... They're saying, you should want government programs to achieve what they set out to do. And in this age of Big Data, there are more metrics than ever to allow you to have a clear sense of how well they are working." ...

... CW: I would take this bill a little more seriously if Ryan were not the co-sponsor. For instance ... Matt Yglesias of Vox: "Conservatives in Congress led by Paul Ryan are thinking of bringing back an accounting gimmick from the 1970s called dynamic scoring [which was] used by Ronald Reagan to help sell the country on gigantic income tax cuts...." Unless Murray has tricked Ryan into co-sponsoring a bill that will prove he's a charlatan, their data-analysis bill is a joke. Even if it ain't funny.

"Recovery at Last?" Paul Krugman: "At this point we have enough data points to compare the job recovery under President Obama with the job recovery under former President George W. Bush, who also presided over a postmodern recession but certainly never insulted fat cats. And by any measure you might choose -- but especially if you compare rates of job creation in the private sector -- the Obama recovery has been stronger and faster. Oh, and its pace has picked up over the past year, as health reform has gone fully into effect.... We can now say with confidence that the recovery's weakness had nothing to do with Mr. Obama's (falsely) alleged anti-business slant. What it reflected, instead, was the damage done by government paralysis -- paralysis that has, alas, richly rewarded the very politicians who caused it."

Oh, the "Death Panel" Again. Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "The GOP is refocusing its attention on the courts as it searches for any way to weaken President Obama's signature healthcare law while he continues to wield a veto pen. Twenty-five Republicans asked the Supreme Court to take on another lawsuit against ObamaCare on Thursday, this time against a controversial Medicare advisory board that the party has assailed as a 'death panel.' Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), who is leading the charge in Congress against the Independent Payment Advisory Board, said legal challenges against ObamaCare 'make a lot more sense' than writing repeal bills that are guaranteed a veto." ...

... Mike Lillis of the Hill: "Liberals on and off Capitol Hill are defending President Obama's healthcare law from the friendly fire of fellow Democrats. The liberals say the criticisms from Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) are not only flat wrong, but also pointless coming four years after the law's passage. 'I disagree with both of them,' said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who helped usher the bill into law as then-chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. 'I disagree with what they said, and I can't quite see a lot of value in it.'... Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, delivered a similar message, arguing that, while there are plenty of improvements that could be made to the law, the critics should focus their attention on getting those things done instead of questioning the value of the law as it stands."

ALEC Attack -- Bought & Paid For. Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "Oil, gas and coal interests that spent millions to help elect Republicans this year are moving to take advantage of expanded GOP power in Washington and state capitals to thwart Obama administration environmental rules. Industry lobbyists made their pitch in private meetings last week with dozens of state legislators at a summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-financed conservative state policy group." ...

... Marcus Stern & Sebastian Jones for the Weather Channel (yes, the Weather Channel!): "InsideClimate News, The Weather Channel, and The Investigative Fund have monitored the regulatory response to oil train explosions this year, focusing on whether the agency that oversees the railroads -- the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) -- is able to ensure that the nation's aging railroad infrastructure can safely handle its latest task: serving as a massive, rickety network of pipelines on wheels. We found that regulators don't have the resources to catch up with -- let alone, get ahead of -- the risks posed by exploding oil trains. That has left the FRA politically outgunned by the railroad industry, leaving it largely to police itself." CW: I thought maybe this article was going to end up being an advocacy piece for Keystone XL since two of its major owners are the Blackstone Group (founded by Pete Peterson) & Bain Capital (Mitt!), but it doesn't seem to be.

Brian Murphy & Daniela Deale of the Washington Post: "The Pentagon was putting final touches on a rescue mission in hopes of freeing American Luke Somers. At a South African-based charity, negotiators believed they were within hours of reaching a deal for the release of South African teacher Pierre Korkie. Neither side was apparently aware of the other -- or even that the two men were held together -- in the days before an unsuccessful raid by U.S. Special Forces on Saturday that left both captives dead."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: The Rolling Stone story of the alleged gang rape of UVA student Jackie keeps looking worse: "Fire the Rolling Stone editors who worked on this story." ...

... Margaret Talbot of the New Yorker: "One of the article’s strongest points was that ... the campus administrators who heard about [Jackie's] claims chose not to investigate them. Rather than force her to confront the alleged perpetrators, they allowed her to choose whether to press charges, request a campus hearing, or just go on with her life. Yet by not seeking the men out, Erdely and Rolling Stone made the same mistake. By arguably violating journalistic ethics to respect Jackie's wishes and her fears of the accused, they let the allegedly evil bros remain as hidden and unaccountable as they would want to be." ...

... Jessica Roy of New York: "The past few weeks cannot have been particularly uplifting for sexual-assault survivors, who have been forced to watch as Jackie, the woman at the heart of Rolling Stone's controversial campus-rape story, has had her character picked apart, been thrown under the bus by the magazine she agreed to open up to, and even had men's-rights activists publish what they claim are her full name, phone number, and address to the internet. But now Emily Clark, Jackie's freshman-year suite mate, has penned a moving letter in UVA's student newspaper reemphasizing her belief in Jackie's story.... Here's hoping the Twitter wackos won't use this gesture of support as an excuse to drag Clark through the mud, too." ...

... Hanna Rosin in Slate: "In the story, reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely called her subject by the name 'Jackie,' which I think many reading the story assumed was a pseudonym (many of the other characters in the piece go by pseudonyms).... Erderly then told a Washington Post reporter that the young woman's real first name is Jackie.... From there, it's a short distance to some vicious trolls, including the singularly vile Charles C. Johnson, threatening to doxx her. Johnson tweeted Jackie's full name on Sunday and wrote that he would give Jackie until midnight 'to tell the truth' or else he will 'start revealing everything about her past.'... Others are already a few steps ahead of him, posting pictures from Jackie's Facebook feed -- and even her mother's Facebook feed -- and adding nasty captions."

Chris Hughes, owner & publisher of the New Republic, defends himself in a Washington Post op-ed. He also suggests TNR journalists who walked out (a dozen, according to him) are a bunch of backward-looking whiney-babies. ...

... Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times: "The New Republic magazine said on Saturday that it would not publish its next issue, but would return to newsstands in February next year, after dozens of its top editors and contributors resigned in the face of a leadership change.... Some of the journalists who left had requested that their articles be removed from the coming issue, according to former staff members...."


White House: "On December 7, 2014, President Obama delivered remarks at the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors reception":

... In case you forgot, here's Obama, two years ago, at a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater in New York:

News Lede

Oakland Tribune: "On Sunday, the morning after protests resulted in six arrests and injuries to three police officers, witnesses to the unruliness insisted the number of police present escalated the tension after a person vandalizing with a skateboard touched it off. They also took exception to any characterization that the protests were violent.... A Sunday evening protest began much less aggressively, with just one bottle being thrown at officers from the otherwise peaceful crowd. However, demonstrators broke off into two groups about 8 p.m., with one continuing peacefully into neighborhoods and a more aggressive group heading full steam toward Highway 24. Those protesters tried to light patrol cars on fire and threw bottles, Molotov cocktails and rocks at officers, California Highway Patrol officials said." The San Francisco Chronicle story of the Saturday protests is here.

Saturday
Dec062014

The Commentariat -- Dec. 7, 2014

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The White House signaled Friday that it still favors going ahead next week with the release of a long-delayed Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation practices many view as torture, despite indications of a last-minute move by Secretary of State John Kerry to put off the release due to concerns about possible retaliation against American forces and hostages overseas. 'The president has been clear that he wants the executive summary of the Committee's report to be declassified as expeditiously as possible, and we welcomed the news from the Committee that they plan to do so next week,' National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Friday afternoon in a statement to Politico. "The precise timing is up to Senator [Dianne] Feinstein and the Committee."

Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year. They share a common philosophy about the reach of the federal government, but the companies also have billions of dollars at stake. And the collaboration is likely to grow: For the first time in modern American history, Republicans in January will control a majority -- 27 -- of attorneys general's offices." CW: Working with? "The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt [said] ... federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.... The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma's biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon's chief of lobbying."

Andrew Siff of NBC New York: "Staten Island's top prosecutor did not ask grand jurors to consider a reckless endangerment charge in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a source familiar with the case told NBC 4 New York. District Attorney Daniel Donovan only asked grand jurors to consider manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo...."

Redditt Hudson, a former St. Louis Police officer, in a Washington Post op-ed: "I won't say all, but many of my peers were deeply racist.... The problem is that cops aren't held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there's a different criminal justice system for civilians and police. Even when officers get caught, they know they'll be investigated by their friends, and put on paid leave. My colleagues would laughingly refer to this as a free vacation. It isn't a punishment. And excessive force is almost always deemed acceptable in our courts and among our grand juries. Prosecutors are tight with law enforcement, and share the same values and ideas. We could start to change that by mandating that a special prosecutor be appointed to try excessive force cases. And we need more independent oversight, with teeth." ...

... Vivian Yee & Kirk Johnson of the New York Times: "... even as [police] departments have started adopting [body cams], questions remain about how much it can actually prevent violent encounters with citizens or clarify the boundaries of appropriate police response."

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Hillary Clinton had several opportunities to distance herself from the Obama administration during an appearance Friday before a heavily pro-Israel crowd, but she didn't take them. Instead, she defended President Barack Obama's dealings with the Jewish state at a time of tense U.S.-Israel relations, insisting the White House is committed to Israel's security and supporting America's nuclear talks with Iran."

God News

This Explains a Lot. Public Religion Research Institute: "White evangelical Protestants are much more likely to attribute the severity of recent natural disasters to the biblical 'end times' (77%) than to climate change (49%)." CW: Ergo, climate change cannot be "man-made"; it is God's work. Via Steve Benen.

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "Maryland and six other states still have articles in their constitutions saying people who do not believe in God are not eligible to hold public office. Maryland's Constitution still says belief in God is a requirement even for jurors and witnesses. Now a coalition of nonbelievers says it is time to get rid of the atheist bans because they are discriminatory, offensive and unconstitutional. The bans are unenforceable dead letters, legal experts say, and state and local governments have rarely invoked them in recent years. But for some secular Americans, who are increasingly visible and organized, removing the bans is ... a test of their growing movement's political clout."

Simon Brown of Americans United schools Rick Santorum on the history of separation of church & state, which Santorum opined was a communist Soviet idea. "Roger Williams was talking about church-state separation in 1644. More than 100 years later, key founders like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson championed the idea. Madison, who is widely considered to be the 'father of the Constitution,' was a primary drafter of the First Amendment. In a document known as the 'Detached Memoranda,' Madison wrote, 'Strongly guarded ... is the separation between religion & Gov't in the Constitution of the United States....' Here's a newsflash for Santorum: Williams, Jefferson and Madison were not communists." Read the whole post. Via Benen.

Caitlin MacNeal of Think Progress: "A federal judge last week rejected a newly-elected Republican Colorado state representative's claim that the U.S. navy violated his religious freedom. Gordon Klingenschmitt, who once tried to perform an exorcism on President Obama, claimed that he was wrongfully dismissed as a Navy chaplain for attending a politicized religious event in uniform." Via Benen. ...

... Yeah But. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "Klingenschmitt, however, insisted that he was fired [from the Navy] because he used the name of Jesus in his prayers and therefore was a victim of anti-Christian persecution.... Klingenschmitt, who has built his entire career as a political activist on this claim of religious persecution, is now receiving support from the right-wing outlet WorldNetDaily, which implies today that the judge only ruled against Klingenschmitt because she is a lesbian." The headline is a laffer: "Lesbian Judge Takes on Jesus in Court."

Nick Squires of the Telegraph: Pope Francis has fired the head of the Swiss Guard. "In a dispassionate one-sentence notice, the Vatican's official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, announced on Wednesday that Daniel Anrig will no longer serve as the commandant of the 500-year-old corps after the end of next month. No official explanation was given for the decision, but it was widely rumoured that the Argentinean Pope ... found the commander's manner overly strict and 'Teutonic'."

Congressional Elections

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Republicans put the finishing touches on a triumphant midterm election by picking up a ninth Senate seat Saturday when Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) defeated Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in a runoff election.... With most precincts reporting, Cassidy led Landrieu by about 14 percentage points. The Associated Press called the race for Cassidy shortly after polls closed in the evening." The Times-Picayune story, by Cole Avery, is here.

Diana Samuels of the Times-Picayune: "Republican Garret Graves is headed to Washington to represent Louisiana's 6th Congressional District. And four-time former governor and ex-convict Edwin Edwards -- a Louisiana icon, both beloved and reviled -- has lost his first, and likely last, political race at the ballot box."

Roll Call: "Republican physician Ralph Abraham defeated Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, a Democrat, in a runoff for Louisiana's 5th District. He will now officially succeed outgoing GOP Rep. Vance McAllister. Abraham led Mayo, 66 percent to 34 percent, with two out of 845 precincts reporting when the AP called the race."

News Ledes

Some of the "furries" evacuated from a suburban Chicago hotel after chlorine gas sickened several people. AP photo.... AP: "Chlorine gas sickened several people and forced the evacuation of thousands of guests from a suburban Chicago hotel early Sunday, including many dressed in cartoonish animal costumes for an annual furries convention who were ushered across the street to a convention center hosting a dog show.... he source of the gas was apparently chlorine powder left in a ninth-floor stairwell at the hotel, according to the Rosemont Public Safety Department. Investigators believe the gas was created intentionally and are treating it as a criminal matter." CW: Yes, apparently there's an international convention for people who like to dress up as bunnies & foxes.

AP: "Four of the remaining nine USS Arizona survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack are vowing this year's anniversary won't be their last reunion. The men in their 90s gathered for a news conference Tuesday in a building overlooking the memorial that sits on top of the Arizona, a battleship that sank in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack. Even though it's the last official survivor gathering of the USS Arizona Reunion Association, the men said they still plan to get together, even if not in Hawaii."

New York Times: "The United States transferred six detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Uruguay this weekend, the Defense Department announced early Sunday. It was the largest single group of inmates to depart the wartime prison in Cuba since 2009, and the first of the detainees to be resettled in South America. The transfer included a Syrian man who has been on a prolonged hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention without trial, and who has brought a high-profile lawsuit to challenge the military's procedures for force-feeding him. His release may moot most of that case, although a dispute over whether videotapes of the procedure must be disclosed to the public is expected to continue."

Saturday
Dec062014

Note to Commenters

December 6: Problem resolved. Fortunately, no one's e-mail address was compromised. It is safe -- turns out it always was safe -- to include your e-mail address in your posts.

December 5: Please remove your e-mail address from future comments. That is, remove it from the box titled "Author Email."

A reader has identified what looks to me like a security breach. I've notified my host Squarespace, but until they get this fixed, I'm concerned that your e-mail identity could be compromised.

As far as I am aware, no one's ID has been compromised yet but there has been one close call.

I am almost certain this is a programmer error, not a hacking incident.

Marie

Update, December 6: This problem is ongoing. Squarespace has not deigned to respond to my multiple alarms. Their technical service used to be fair-to-middling. Now it completely sucks.