The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, August 31, 2014.

New York Times: "Israel laid claim on Sunday to nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land in a Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem — a step that could herald significant Israeli construction in the area — defying Palestinian demands for a halt in settlement expansion."

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called on Ukraine on Sunday to begin talks on “the statehood” of that country’s rebellious southeast, a vague and provocative turn of phrase he used while demanding that the Ukrainian government negotiate directly with pro-Russian separatists."

Public Service Announcement

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 1

9:30 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at Detroit's Labor Day parade

2:55 pm ET: President Obama speaks a LaborFest 2014

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

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

... 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.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Constant Comments

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

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

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

Sunday
Aug172014

The Commentariat -- August 18, 2014

Julie Pace of the AP: "President Barack Obama returned to Washington just after midnight Monday for a two-day break from a summer vacation, during which airstrikes in Iraq and violent clashes in a St. Louis suburb intruded on his golf and beach plans."

Anna Palmer & Carrie Brown of Politico: "Senior White House officials are in talks with business leaders that could expand the executive actions President Barack Obama takes on immigration.... The outreach is an effort to broaden the political support for Obama's decision to go it alone on immigration...."

Thomas Frank, in Salon, suggests a few things President Obama could do to salvage his presidency: 1. "... instruct his Attorney General to start enforcing the nation's antitrust laws the way Democrats used to do.... 2. Investigate and prosecute fraud committed during the housing bubble.... 3. Make it clear that he will no longer tolerate the college tuition price spiral." CW: Sorry, Presidential Candidate Audacity turned out to be mostly talk & not much walk. But, hey, maybe he returned to Washington for two days to follow through on Frank's suggestions.

AND Now We'll Take a Short Break for Some Good News. Ylan Mui of the Washington Post: "The recovery in America's job market is finally spreading to industries with good pay after years of being concentrated in fields with low wages. Hiring has picked up steam in areas such as construction, manufacturing and professional services in recent months -- sectors with a median hourly wage of at least $20. Nearly 40 percent of the jobs created over the past six months have been in high-wage industries, compared with just a quarter during the last half of 2013...."

Jill Lepore in the New Yorker: It appears corruption -- depending upon the definition of corruption -- is now a First Amendment right.

Paul Krugman: "War in the preindustrial world was and still is more like a contest among crime families over who gets to control the rackets than a fight over principles. If you're a modern, wealthy nation, however, war -- even easy, victorious war -- doesn't pay." But some leaders -- Vladimir Putin -- appear to use war as a distraction from troubles at home, like a faltering economy.

Lenika Cruz of the Atlantic: "All of the U.S. Treasurers Since 1949 Have Been Women," six of them Latina & one African-American. The position is largely ceremonial. All of the U.S. treasury secretaries have been white men.

Steve M.: Not everyone on the right is all Rand Paul-y about the militarization of our police forces. Wingers -- including His Holiness's Emissary to the New York Times Ross Douthat -- are claiming that heavyhanded policing & sentencing are holding down the crime rate. Douthat applauds Paul & writes,

I want lower incarceration rates and fewer people dying when a no-knock raid goes wrong. (CW: Yes, Ross, it's such a shame when police knock down the wrong door & shoot some innocent people.) I want lower incarceration rates and fewer people dying when a no-knock raid goes wrong. But there may be trade-offs here: In an era of atomization, distrust and economic stress, our punitive system may be a big part of what's keeping crime rates as low as they are now, making criminal justice reform more complicated than a simple pro-liberty free lunch.

... CW: There are numerous factors that may reduce the crime rate. Policing-after-the-fact & incarceration are two of them. They are neither the most desirable nor the most cost-effective.

Beyond the Beltway

Now Soldiers. Alan Blinder & Tanzina Vega of the New York Times: "Gov. Jay Nixon announced early Monday that he would deploy the Missouri National Guard to [Ferguson] as part of a fresh attempt by the authorities to quell the unrest that has paralyzed the town....Mr. Nixon said in a statement that he chose to activate the National Guard because of 'deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent acts.' 'Tonight, a day of hope, prayers and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk,' Mr. Nixon said. The governor's decision came after the worst night of violence since the unrest began. On Sunday night, hours before the start of a second day of a mandatory curfew that the governor had ordered, police officers came under assault from gunfire and firebombs and responded with their largest show of force so far." ...

... Gov. Nixon's official statement is here. ...

... Alex Altman of Time: "'These people are not protestors. This is something different and it has little to do with #JusticeForMikeBrown,' tweeted Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman and community leader who has emerged as an important mediator. French and others believe the provocateurs are doing damage to a heartfelt cause. The images of looting and rioting threaten to rob Ferguson's peaceful majority of political sympathy.... The peaceful majority are trying to assert control." ...

... Cops Will Be Cops. Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker: "Police in Ferguson were caught on camera Sunday night threatening to mace one reporter and shoot another. At least two other journalists also claim they were arrested while following police orders." With video. CW: Worth a click. ...

     ... More from Margaret Hartmann & Abraham Riesman of New York. Video & tweets. ...

     ... CW: Worth noting: that nice Capt. Johnson appears to be right in there arresting reporters. ...

... Frances Robles & Julie Bosman of the New York Times: "Michael Brown ... was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday found. One of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown's skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family's request to conduct the separate autopsy. It was likely the last of bullets to hit him, he said." ...

... On Sunday, Captain Ronald Johnson spoke at a memorial service for Michael Brown at Greater Grace Church in Ferguson:

... Julie Bosman & Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that the Justice Department would conduct its own autopsy of Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot more than a week ago by a white police officer. A Justice Department spokesman, Brian Fallon, said in a statement that the autopsy, which would be in addition to a state autopsy, had been ordered because of 'the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family.'" ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: Missouri "State officials on Sunday defended their tough response to the chaos that enveloped this St. Louis suburb on the first night of a curfew and imposed a second night of restrictions as signs emerged of heightened federal involvement in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager." ...

... Chuck Raasch of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "In multiple appearances on national television Sunday morning, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon repeatedly emphasized the role of the federal investigation over the local one in the shooting death of Michael Brown. He said that St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, who has publicly criticized Nixon's decision to bring in the Missouri Highway Patrol, has an opportunity to 'step up here and do his job.' Nixon appeared on four morning talk shows.... The governor said that his conversation on Thursday with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had led to the deployment of 40 more FBI officers to investigate the shooting.... Nixon also told ABC's 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos' that his office was unaware that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson was going to release on Friday a videotape showing what is alleged to be Brown, 18, in what police have called a 'strong-armed' robbery of cigars in a convenience store shortly before he was killed. 'We were certainly not happy with that bring released, especially in the way that it was,' Nixon said. 'It appeared to cast aspersions on a young man that was gunned down in the street. It made emotions raw'":

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in Time: "Ferguson is not just about systemic racism — it's about class warfare and how America's poor are held back." CW: There's a short, straight line between Abdul-Jabbar's essay & Jill Lepore's, linked above. ...

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Emily Smith & Stephanie Smith of the New York Post: "Ousted 'Meet the Press' anchor David Gregory was paid $4 million to leave NBC and signed a contract not to speak out against the network, sources told Page Six.... A source said Gregory's contract extended into next year, so NBC had to pay him for the rest of the term, plus an extra fee to ensure his silence. In return, he was asked to sign a nondisparagement clause, which explains -- despite the drama behind the scenes -- his saccharine message on Twitter to announce his departure.... But quietly, sources say, Gregory is 'angry and humiliated' at the way he was treated by NBC suits...." CW: Bear in mind, this is "Page Six" so not necessarily reliable, but the story at least sounds plausible. Via Caroline Bankoff of New York.

Senate Race

I know that this state is know for its wind energy, for corn, for soybeans, but that woman is an onion of crazy. Every time you peel back a layer, you find something more disturbing about her views. -- Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), on Iowa U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst. Wasserman-Schultz was speaking at the Iowa State Fair.

Presidential Election

Annie Lowrey in New York on "why Hillary Clinton doesn't really have a Mitt problem": "What has been strange about Clinton's responses to the questions about the many tens of millions she and her husband have pulled in of late is that there is an elegant and obvious rich-Democrat way to answer them. She simply has to say, 'Yes, we're really lucky. And I know first-hand that we don't need a tax break for our millions in earnings or our private jet.' It's a well-worn response, too, given by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton among many others. But it is a response that Mitt Romney, whose economic policies would probably have slashed his own taxes while raising them for lower-income Americans, could never give." ...

     ... CW: I dunno. I think if you're planning to run for president, & you know your party is going to push you toward a populist message, traveling around like a queen is not the best "optic."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "James M. Jeffords, the former U.S. senator from Vermont who gave Democrats control of the closely divided chamber in 2001 when he left the Republican Party to become an independent, died Aug. 18 at a retirement residence in Washington. He was 80."

New York Times: "Separatists rebels on Monday attacked a caravan of cars carrying refugees trying to flee war-ravaged eastern Ukraine, killing 'dozens' of people in a devastating barrage of artillery fire, Ukrainian military officials said, though rebel leaders denied there had been any attack at all."

Guardian: "The US State Department banned a senior member of the Islamic State (Isis) on Monday.... Now banned from any financial dealings in the United States or with people in the United States is the group's spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, a Syrian whose given name is Taha Sobhi Falaha. Also banned was Said Arif, an Algerian member of the rival Nusra Front who escaped house arrest in France and was linked to a plot to bomb the Eiffel Tower."

AP: "Aided by U.S. and Iraqi airstrikes, Kurdish forces Sunday wrested back part of Iraq's largest dam from Islamic militants who had captured it less than two weeks ago, security officials said." ...

... Reuters: "Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iraqi counter-terrorism forces have pushed Islamic State militants out of Mosul dam, state television reported on Monday.... An independent verification was not immediately possible."

Reuters: "Russia on Monday said all objections to it sending a humanitarian convoy to Ukraine had been resolved but said no progress had been made in Berlin talks toward a ceasefire between government and rebel forces in the east of the country."

Reuters: "Israeli troops on Monday demolished the homes of two Palestinians it suspects of the abduction and killing of three teenagers in the occupied West Bank in June, the army said."

Guardian: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said he 'will be leaving the embassy soon' during a press conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has sought asylum for more than two years."

Saturday
Aug162014

The Commentariat -- August 17, 2014

Sebastian Payne of the Washington Post: "Many social conservatives say they feel politically isolated as the country seems to be hurtling to the left, with marijuana now legal in Colorado and gay marriage gaining ground across the nation. They feel out of place in a GOP increasingly dominated by tea party activists and libertarians who prefer to focus on taxes and the role of government and often disagree with social conservatives on drugs or gay rights."

A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don't want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation. -- James Risen, New York Times reporter, who fox six years has been under subpoena to reveal a source ...

... Maureen Dowd: Why is the Obama administration still pursuing Jim Risen?

Beyond the Beltway

Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," featuring Emerson, Lake & Palmer & the Neue Philharmonie Frankfort. Seems appropriate. Thanks to Bonita for sending along the link:

DeNeen Brown, et al., of the Washington Post: "Gun violence, tear gas and armored vehicles marked the first night of a controversial curfew imposed in this St. Louis suburb where the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager has kicked over a caldron of frustration and anger. What some hoped would be an evening of calm was instead one of chaos that ended with a shooting victim, seven arrests and an early morning heavy rain that finally helped clear the streets." ...

     ... St. Louis Dispatch: "Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson said in a briefing just before 3 a.m. that police began using smoke bombs early this morning after learning that men were on the roof of Red's BBQ. Police were going to walk West Florissant Avenue in teams, but that plan changed with the report of men on the roof." ...

     ... The New York Times story, by Julie Bosman & Alan Blinder, is here. ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Saturday declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew on the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, marking a definitive crackdown by authorities on rioting that has erupted since an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer. Speaking at a tense press conference marked by yelling from members of the public, Nixon, a Democrat, said the curfew would take effect at midnight and run until 5 a.m."

... Brian Beutler: "Ferguson presents an unusually extreme and condensed example of this sort of racial-civic polarization. But you can find expressions of the same basic dynamic -- of white public officials using their power to socially weaken black constituents -- all across the country." Read the whole essay.

Manny Fernandez & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "A defiant Gov. Rick Perry vowed on Saturday to fight his indictment for abuse of power, calling it a 'farce' and a 'political' prosecution. In his first appearance since a grand jury indicted him on two felony counts on Friday for trying to pressure the district attorney here, a Democrat, to step down by threatening to veto state funding for her office, Mr. Perry said, 'I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto.]' He added, 'We don't settle political differences with indictments in this country.'" (See yesterday's Commentariat .) ...

... Rick Perry Is a Ham Sandwich. Jonathan Chait: "I do not have a fancy law degree from Harvard or Yale or, for that matter, anywhere. I am but a humble country blogger. And yet, having read the indictment, legal training of any kind seems unnecessary to grasp its flimsiness.... The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a 'misuse' of power or 'coercion' of one[s opponents." ...

... CW: Again, I'm not sure Chait is right. As he says, governors & presidents are always threatening vetoes of pending legislation they don't like. That's the way the system is supposed to work. But suppose President Obama threatened to veto every bill (as if there were all that many) unless John Boehner resigned his speakership because Obama claimed Boehner was incompetent (& there's ample evidence for that). That seems analogous. It also seems outrageous.

Senate Race

Jack Healy of the New York Times: "Montana's Democrats, scrambling to salvage their political fortunes after plagiarism charges forced Senator John Walsh to end his election bid, chose a high school math teacher and one-term state legislator on Saturday as their nominee for a fiercely contested Senate seat. The nominee, Amanda Curtis, 34, who grew up in a family stalked by poverty and tragedy, cast the stakes of the election in stark economic terms, saying it was about 'millionaires versus the middle class.' As the daughter of a union worker whose family sometimes relied on food stamps to buy groceries, Ms. Curtis said she knew what it meant to worry about bills and the price of gas." ...

... The Missoulian story, by Mike Dennison, is here.

News Ledes

AP: "Ukraine's government said Sunday that separatists shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane after army troops entered deep inside a rebel-controlled city in the east in what could prove a breakthrough development in the four-month long conflict." ...

... Reuters: "Ukrainian rebels are receiving new armoured vehicles and fighters trained in Russia, with which they plan to launch a major counter-offensive against government forces, a separatist leader said in a video released on Saturday. The four-month conflict in eastern Ukraine has reached a critical phase, with Kiev and Western governments watching nervously to see if Russia will intervene in support of the increasingly besieged rebels - an intention Moscow denies."

Reuters: "The Islamic State militant group has executed 700 members of a tribe it has been battling in eastern Syria during the past two weeks, the majority of them civilians, a human rights monitoring group and activists said on Saturday." ...

... Guardian: "Kurdish forces supported by American warplanes have mounted an offensive to retake Iraq's largest dam from jihadi fighters, as reports emerged of another grisly episode of mass slaughter perpetrated by the extremists in a village in northern Iraq." ...

     ... UPDATE: "The US on Sunday launched two waves of air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) militants in northern Iraq, in the most extensive American military operations in the country since the withdrawal of ground troops in 2011. The strikes supported an offensive by Kurdish peshmerga fighters which aimed to regain control of the strategically important Mosul dam. Early in the day US aircraft, for the first time including land-based bombers, carried out 14 strikes. Later, US Central Command confirmed further strikes had been carried out by 'fighter and attack aircraft'.... In [a] letter to Congress, [President] Obama said the strikes had been authorised in order to 'recapture the Mosul dam'. He added: 'These military operations will be limited in their scope and duration....'"

AP: "A Palestinian negotiator said Sunday his side is 'less optimistic' about indirect talks with Israel over the Gaza war as a deadline on a temporary cease-fire looms. The Palestinian team reassembled in Cairo on Sunday after members returned from consultations in Qatar, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East. The Israeli team also returned Sunday to resume the Egyptian-mediated talks. A current five-day cease-fire is due to end late Monday."

Friday
Aug152014

The Commentariat -- August 16, 2014

SNAFU. Reed Abelson & Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "The Obama administration's declared war on health care fraud, costing some $600 million a year..., is not close to defeating the fraudsters.... An array of outside contractors used by the government is poorly managed, rife with conflicts of interest and vulnerable to political winds, according to interviews with current and former government officials, contractors and experts inside and outside of the administration. Authority and responsibilities among the contractors are often unclear and in competition with one another. Private companies -- like insurers and technology companies -- have responsibility for enforcement, often with little government oversight."

Dylan Byers of Politico: "Former Vice President Al Gore and business partner Joel Hyatt have filed a lawsuit against Al Jazeera on charges of fraud and material breaches in their acquisition of Current Media.... Gore and Hyatt, the co-founders of Current Media, say that Al Jazeera has unlawfully refused to turn over tens of millions of dollars currently located in an escrow account. That money is owed to Current Media shareholders per the terms of the $500-million merger agreement made in January 2013, the plaintiffs say. The lawsuit was filed Friday morning by David Boies, attorney for Gore and Hyatt, in the Delaware Court of Chancery. (Boies also represented Gore in the 2000 Florida election recount battle against George W. Bush.)

Paul Waldman argues that if Tuck Chodd is going to save "Press the Meat," he'll have to make it as awful as Tim Russert did. Russert, Waldman notes, "was actually terrible at his job. He was obsequious to the people he was supposedly so 'tough' on, forever distracted by the irrelevant, and one of television's foremost blue-collar poseurs. But what is inarguable, however, is that Russert was hugely successful. He gave the Sunday show viewership exactly what they wanted, which was apparently a relentless insiderdom gripped by the conventional Washington wisdom, wrapped in a gossamer-thin veneer of tough-guy truth-seeking." CW: I have no doubt Friar Tuck there is up to the job. Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid or Chris Hayes could never pull off a Little Tim act.

Kristina Wong of the Hill: "The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee intends to review a Pentagon program that transfers surplus military equipment to police agencies, following the use of controversial police tactics in Ferguson, Mo. 'Before the defense authorization bill comes to the Senate floor, we will review this program to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended,' Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in a statement Friday." ...

... digby: "I'm hearing some nonsense that only libertarians have been talking about the militarization of the police. I am not a libertarian. I'm a liberal and a civil libertarian which isn't the same thing. And I've been talking about this for a very long time. So have a lot of other liberals." ...

... Beyond the Beltway

Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was indicted on two felony counts on Friday by a state grand jury examining his handling of a local district attorney's drunken driving arrest and the state financing for a public corruption unit under the lawyer's control." CW: So that's two Republicans governors under indictment. Do I hear a third, Gov. Christie? ...

... Here's the Dallas Morning News story, by Christy Hoppe. ...

... A copy of the indictment, via the Hill, is here. ...

... It All Started with Potato Juice. Christopher Hooks of the Texas Observer writes a very readable account of the backstory.

... Salvador Rizzo of the Star-Ledger: "New Jersey taxpayers have been billed $6.52 million so far this year by Gov. Chris Christie's private attorneys dealing with the aftermath of the George Washington Bridge scandal, according to invoices released today by acting state Attorney General John Hoffman."

Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "Tension between the police and demonstrators infuriated by the shooting death of Michael Brown a week ago was renewed early Saturday, as protesters barricaded a major thoroughfare and police officers in riot gear quickly responded, prompting a standoff. The police, using megaphones, were ordering the demonstrators to abandon their protest. Some demonstrators threw glass bottles toward the authorities, who repeatedly warned that they could make arrests. ...

     ... Koran Addo & Paul Hampel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report the sequence of events, which is pretty telling. The rioting & looting -- which took place in the after midnight, following hours of peaceful demonstration -- would seem to have nothing to do with Michael Brown & everything to do with rowdy boys on a Friday-night binge. Some of the protesters attempted to stop the looting by blocking the store entrances. ...

... CW: For what it's worth, I still think the police are making tactical mistakes. They should not be dressed in riot gear & standing in 18th-century-style military formation; they should not be putting up barricades. They should be in uniform, walking along the perimeters of the protest location, which would put them in front of the stores, thus deterring looting. Oh, and they should call up every black cop in Missouri to do the policing. ...

... Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "Ferguson police said Officer Darren Wilson had shot the teen during a confrontation after [a convenience store] robbery. They said a description of [Michael] Brown had been broadcast over police radio identifying him as a robbery suspect and released security camera photos of the robbery, showing someone they identified as Brown towering over and allegedly menacing the store clerk. But as more details emerged later in the day, the connection between the robbery and the shooting ... became more tenuous. Although the simultaneous naming of Brown as a suspect and the video's release had suggested that the officer stopped Brown because of the robbery, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson later appeared to reverse himself, saying at a second news conference that their confrontation 'was not related to the robbery' at all.... Asked why police felt compelled to release the robbery photos if they were unconnected to the shooting, Jackson said it was because the media had asked for them. He then abruptly ended the news conference and was hustled away." ...

... Following are some background stories, more or less in descending chronological order:

... Cavan Sieczkowski of the Huffington Post: "The Ferguson Police Department released a video of a convenience store robbery, following the revelation of the name of the officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown.... In a press conference earlier on Friday, Ferguson police released a report naming Brown as the main suspect in a convenience store robbery where a box of Swisher Sweets cigars valued at $48.99 was stolen and a clerk was allegedly shoved.... Video of the incident allegedly showing Brown, which was released to the public, 'had nothing to do with the stop' and was 'unrelated' to [Officer Darren] Wilson's contact with Brown, Jackson said." Report includes the surveillance video. ...

... Later That Same Day. Molly Hennessey-Fiske, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Police said Friday that the police officer who shot to death an unarmed 18-year-old did not know the man was a robbery suspect and stopped him because he was walking in the street, a revelation that seemed likely to add to public anger over the death of Michael Brown.... [Ferguson Police Chief Thomas] Jackson said Wilson was not aware that Brown was suspected in a robbery before their encounter. He said [the officer, Darren] Wilson, 28, stopped Brown and another man because they were walking in the middle of the street." ...

... Robert Patrick of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "News that Michael Brown was wanted as a robbery suspect could put a fresh light on his killing by a Ferguson police officer, a use-of-force expert said Friday.... The circumstances faced by Officer Darren Wilson contained both elements, according to a description Friday by Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. He said Wilson was aware there had been a robbery involving cigars but did not realize when he ordered two young men to stop walking in the street that they were suspects. Wilson made the connection when he noticed cigars in Brown's hand, Jackson said." ...

... Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson this morning identified Darren Wilson as the officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager last Saturday. Wilson is a 6-year veteran of the force. He was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting."

Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post: "St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley on Friday said he is leading an effort to remove the county prosecutor [Robert McCulloch] from investigating the Michael Brown case because he thinks the prosecutor's personal experiences and recent statements have tainted his ability to act objectively." ...

... CW: Rachel Maddow had a guest on earlier this week who said that McCulloch's office has few black ADAs. The guest, a black attorney, said she applied for a job in McCulloch's office fresh out of law school; when she was offered the job, the hiring attorney asked if she'd mind hearing fellow attorneys regularly use the "N" word.

... The Ferguson Police Department Has a History. Michael Daly of the Daily Beast: "Police in Ferguson, Missouri, once charged a man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him.... Henry Davis ... was ... arrested for an outstanding warrant that proved to actually be for another man of the same surname, but a different middle name and Social Security number." Read the whole story. CW P.S.: Henry Davis is black. But you knew that. ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico: "Forty-eight media organizations -- ranging from the Associated Press to Fox News to The New Yorker and the National Press Club -- sent a letter to law enforcement authorities in Ferguson, Mo., on Friday to protest the police's treatment of reporters and ask for greater transparency regarding the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American who was shot and killed by police." A copy of the letter is here. Oddly, not a word about the tear-gassing of an Al Jazeera reporter & crew.

Congressional Elections

Cathleen Decker of the Los Angeles Times: "Surmounting yet another voting snafu, Hawaii awarded its Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate to appointed incumbent Brian Schatz late Friday, as he defeated Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in an election whose outcome was delayed nearly a week by the impact of Tropical Storm Iselle. A tally of votes released late Friday showed Schatz with 115,401 overall to Hanabusa's 113,632, a difference of less than 1,800 votes or 0.7%."

Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times: "Florida's congressional districts won't change by November and new elections can't be held until next year, the state's top elections officials told a circuit court judge on Friday. Responding to a court order to have a proposal in place by noon today, the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections, in conjunction with the Florida Secretary of State, concluded that the earliest date they could conduct a special election in the 25 counties affected by the new congressional districts would be in March 17, with a general election to follow on May 26." Via Cameron Joseph of the Hill.

Gail Collins reflects on the Alaska GOP primary, where all the candidates eat salmon at least once a week, & Joe Miller, Sarah Palin's fave, charges that millions of Hispanic thugs will take away your Second Amendment rights.

Jay Newton-Small of Time: "Republican State Sen. Joni Ernst, who is running for Senate and served more than 20 years in the military, said Friday that she was sexually harassed in the military and, given her experience, is backing the removal of cases of sexual assault from the military chain of command, a position that puts her at odds with much of the GOP." CW: This is yet another instance where a Republican (and in this case a fringey right-winger) becomes a liberal on an issue where s/he has some real-world experience.

News Ledes

AP: "The European Union offered Friday to take charge of Gaza's border crossings and work to prevent illegal arms flows, insisting on a durable truce and saying a return to the status quo before the latest war 'is not an option.' As EU foreign ministers held an urgent meeting in Brussels about global conflicts, Hamas negotiators met with the Islamic militant group's leadership in Qatar to discuss a proposal for a long-term truce with Israel. An official said the group was inclined to accept the Egyptian-mediated offer."

Guardian: "The US confirmed on Saturday evening that its planes and drones had carried out air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) fighters in the area around Iraq's crucial Mosul dam."

AFP: "Jihadists carried out a 'massacre' in the northern Iraqi village of Kocho, killing dozens of people, most of them members of the Yazidi religious minority, officials said on Saturday. Jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group are carrying out attacks against minorities in Iraq's Nineveh province, prompting tens of thousands of people to flee.... Harim Kamal Agha, a senior official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party in Dohuk province, which borders Nineveh, put the death toll at 81 and said the militants had taken women to prisons they control." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The gunmen had surrounded the village for more than a week, refusing to let residents leave and saying they had limited time to save themselves by converting to Islam. When that time ran out, fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria stormed in, killing the men and rounding up the women and children, a survivor and Iraqi officials said Saturday."

Thursday
Aug142014

The Commentariat -- August 15, 2014

... Matt Berman of the National Journal: "President Obama announced 'progress' in the American military's targeted operations in Iraq in a press statement Thursday from Martha's Vineyard, Mass. That said, the United States will continue airstrikes 'to protect our people and facilities in Iraq.' On Wednesday night, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters that a humanitarian operation to send in U.S. ground troops to help escort thousands of Yazidi Iraqis off Mount Sinjar was 'far less likely now' because of seemingly successful airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops." ...

... The Guardian story, by Spencer Ackerman, is here. ...

... Rod Nordland of the New York Times: "Yazidi leaders and emergency relief officials on Thursday strongly disputed American claims that the siege of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq had been broken and that the crisis was effectively over, saying that tens of thousands of Yazidis remained on the mountain in desperate conditions."

Dustin Volz of the National Journal: "The FBI unintentionally spied on the communications data of some Americans who were not targets of investigations because of typographical errors, according to a government watchdog."

Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico: "Nearly 70,000 people in the Central Valley's Kern County have gotten health care coverage this year because of Obamacare. But their congressman, new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, faces no danger of those newly insured kicking him out of office for voting dozens of times to repeal the law. It's a sharp disconnect, one that is taking place not just in McCarthy's deep-red Bakersfield district but in many other Republican districts throughout the country ahead of the 2014 midterm elections: Constituents benefiting from Obamacare coverage aren't turning against the politicians who want to repeal it." ...

... CW: I wonder if the reason ACA beneficiaries aren't opposing Congressional Republicans is that they know -- even if they don't much follow the news -- that radical House bills never become law. Or, alternatively, they've heard about the do-nothing Congress. Some may be in tune enough to realize that President Obama would veto any anti-ObamaCare bill that made it through Congress (which it could, with a GOP majority in the Senate). But Obama is a short-timer, & these blase voters (or non-voters) would do well to think of their futures.

Paul Krugman: Europeans listened to deficit hawks -- the "too-muchers" -- & as a result are in a "forever slump."

Beyond the Beltway

CW: Perhaps the optimal response to protests against use of excessive force (in this case, shooting a person to death) is not a massive display of excessive force. ...

... John Schwartz, et al., of the New York Times: "Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, the highway patrol official appointed by the governor to take over the response, immediately signaled a change in approach. Captain Johnson told reporters he had ordered troopers to remove their tear-gas masks, and in the early evening he accompanied several groups of protesters through the streets, clasping hands, listening to stories and marching alongside them. On Thursday night, the armored vehicles and police cars were gone, and the atmosphere was celebratory. A street barricaded on previous nights was filled with slow-moving cars blasting their horns.

Wesley Lowery, et al., of the Washington Post: "... the heavy riot armor, the SWAT trucks with sniper posts and the gas masks were gone from the streets of Ferguson Thursday night, and Johnson marched with the crowd, eliciting cheers from the protesters. Johnson vowed to not blockade the streets, to set up a media staging center, and to ensure that residents' rights to assemble and protest were not infringed upon." ...

... CW: This is pretty interesting, because yesterday afternoon, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson gave a news conference in which he said protesters would be allowed on the sidewalks only, & the streets would be blocked off with cones. (This sounds on the face of it like a plan to pick off protesters who would, quite naturally, step into the street.) Either the state was keeping that jackass out of the loop even yesterday when we were hearing Ferguson authorities were receiving advice from federal & state experts on crowd management, or Jackson was ignoring their advice. ...

... Jack Jenkins of Think Progress: "A group of local clergy and religious faithful took to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri on Thursday evening, joining a mass of peaceful protestors.... Sporting clerical collars and brandishing signs inscribed with slogans such as 'We are praying with our feet' and &'End police brutality,' pastors and priests filed in with hundreds of other Ferguson residents to decry the killing of Michael Brown." ...

... Top Cop Politicizes Ferguson Demonstrations. Mario Trujillo of the Hill: "The executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police criticized President Obama Thursday for his remarks about law enforcement in Ferguson, Mo. 'I would contend that discussing police tactics from Martha's Vineyard is not helpful to ultimately calming the situation,' director Jim Pasco said in an interview with The Hill.... The officer involved in the Ferguson shooting is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and is being represented by one of its lawyers. His name has not been released to the public." CW: How is criticizing President Obama for calling for "calm & peace" helping the shooter? Partisan remarks like this are intended to fuel the fire, not restore calm & peace. Just fucking stupid. ...

... David Lieb & Jim Salter of the AP: "Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says the Missouri State Highway Patrol will take over the supervision of security in the St. Louis suburb that's been the scene of violent protests since a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager. Nixon made the announcement at a news conference Thursday. Nixon says security will be overseen by Capt. Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol. Johnson, who is black, said he grew up in the community and 'it means a lot to me personally that we break this cycle of violence.'" ...

... The St. Louis Post-Dispatch report is here. The New York Times story is here. ...

... "The Late Show with Jay Nixon." Katie Glueck of Politico: "Sometimes a politician's biggest sin is failing to show up. Gov. Jay Nixon waited five days after a black teen was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, to visit the area.... It doesn't help that Nixon has had a rocky history with the African-American community. The relatively conservative Democrat won 92 percent of the black vote in his 2012 reelection, a state President Barack Obama lost. Still, some black political leaders harbor resentment from the 1990s, when, as state attorney general, Nixon was involved in backing an end to some school desegregation programs."

... Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Attorney General Eric Holder called on authorities in Ferguson, Mo., to keep the peace 'without relying on unnecessarily extreme displays of force,' emphasizing in a statement Thursday that things have to change in the city. Holder also announced that Missouri officials had on Thursday accepted an offer of 'technical assistance' from the Justice Department aimed at helping these local authorities improve their response to the crowds in suburban St. Louis." ...

... Robert Patrick of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The American Civil Liberties Union sued St. Louis County and the county police Thursday morning to obtain copies of initial police reports surrounding the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown by Ferguson police.... The ACLU lawsuit says that the incident report is an open record under Missouri law, and that the police department's refusal is either a knowing or purposeful violation of the law." ...

... Richard Leiby & Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: "... across the country, experts say, many police forces have yet to adopt some of the most basic techniques to curb the possibility of police brutality and subsequent unrest. These strategies include having police live in the communities where they enforce the law and building connections with the residents." ...

... Brian Beutler: "... it's worth noting that the right began stoking white resentment over Ferguson well before Obama said anything about it." ...

How Steve King (RXenophobe-Iowa) Says the "N" Word in Public: ... they all appear to be of a single, you know, of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that.

CW: Cumbersome, but oh so politically-correct.

... Alexia Campbell of the National Journal on how police in Ferguson are using intimidation, threats of arrest, and claims of impending violence to keep [journalists] away from covering the news.... It was ... the first time I had ever felt afraid of a police officer." CW: Clearly, Campbell is white. ...

... CW: Yesterday, based on a video of the incident, which I posted, I posited that the police appeared to have purposely targeted an Al Jazeera news crew with tear gas, though I acknowledged that since I couldn't see what was going on outside the frame, this might not have been the case. As it turns out, my supposition was correct. John Cassidy of the New Yorker writes that the crew was a mile from the demonstrators, setting up for a stand-up report. The Al Jazeera reporter Ash-Har Quraishi said, "We had been in contact with police officers who were just feet away from us. We had had discussions with them; we understood this was just as far as we could get.... We didn't think there would be any problems here, so we were very surprised. We were very close to where those canisters were shot from. We yelled ... yelling that we were press. But they continued to fire." ...

     ... It seems to me that there were clear political & racial components to the police attacks on prominent citizens. The journalists targeted were "Arabs," a black man (Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post) & a "liberal" (Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post -- he was wearing press credentials). The St. Louis alderman Antonio French is black. I don't know about the ministers the police arrested, but there is about a 50-50 chance they were black. And I doubt they were throwing rocks or lobbing Molotov cocktails. These aren't just Constitutional violations; any idiot, any police officer, can see they are human rights violations. ...

... Jordan Sargent of Gawker: "At the same time that the Ferguson Police Department was terrorizing its own citizens [Wednesday] night, something interesting and important happened on cable news: Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson reiterated to Sean Hannity that Michael Brown struggled with his killer inside the cop's vehicle, while at the same time two new eyewitnesses told CNN that they saw no such thing.... At some point, some people somewhere -- a police department or a district attorney's office or a jury -- will decide who was right, and if we know one truth here it's that history is not on the side of the witnesses." ...

... Alec MacGillis of the New Republic: "... what's really driving the spectacle of militarized local police is that spigot of money that was turned on after Sept. 11, 2001, when a federal government abashed to have missed so many warning signs for those devastating attacks acted as if that massive failure could be washed away by sparing not a cent in preventing the next one. A whole industry has sprung up to capitalize on that spigot -- like the company that's been selling mine-resistant BearCats at $280,000 a pop to 100 towns per year. The flow of funds has become so reliable that the Missouri Office of Homeland Security holds regular workshops to advise local agencies on how to get their hands on the dough.... So we have had the absurd spectacles of $100 million in counter-terrorism funds going to South Dakota (pop. 833,000), a BearCat patrolling a pumpkin festival in New Hampshire, and $90,000 spent on bollards and surveillance at the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres' spring-training facility. And now we have protesters in a St. Louis suburb being confronted with exo-skeletal defenders of the peace who look like they arrived straight from the Maidan or Tahrir Square." ...

... The Libertarian's View. Sen. Rand Paul blames the debacle in Ferguson on Big Government & the "erosion of civil liberties." CW: This time, he might be right. And to his credit, Paul recognizes the underlying racism that motivates the police response (even as he obliquely invokes his Aqua Buddha moment):

Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.... Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.

... "It's the Boys, Not Just the Toys." Ed Kilgore: "... let's pay attention to how police are doing their jobs, not just what is in their armories." ...

... Steve M. "Military weaponry makes a bad situation much worse, but the core problem is still police forces that have nothing but contempt for the populations they're supposed to 'protect and serve.' ... If Paul's fellow libertarians get us talking almost exclusively about gear and government, then they'll have successfully diverted the discussion onto their turf, for their ends. We mustn't let that happen." ...

... Benjamin Wallace-Wells of New York: "... over the past two days -- as the police in Ferguson have responded to very angry protests with an alarmingly heavy hand, looking and reacting as if they were not the community's own peace officers but an invading army — something remarkable has happened. The longstanding liberal concerns about police racial hostility has seemed to merge with the longstanding libertarian concerns over police militarization.... Many of the criticisms from the left and the right sound very similar.... It seems possible that the talk about police militarization might function as a convenient rhetorical backdoor, a way for both liberals and conservatives to address the siege mentality that seems to have taken hold in many police departments and the alienation that breeds in communities." ...

... Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "... demonstrations this week over the shooting of Michael Brown..., and the overwhelming law enforcement response that followed have ... many on the right torn between an impulse to see order restored and concern about whether the crackdown is a symptom of a state run amok." ...

... De Nile Is a River that Runs through the "Heartland." Emily Swanson of the Huffington Post: "Sixty-nine percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents, but only 33 percent of Republicans, said that police in big cities are usually tougher on blacks...." Via Greg Sargent. CW: Let's be clear; the evidence is undeniable that at every step in our criminal justice system -- & as Charles Blow pointed out, even in our school systems -- racial minorities receive unequal, discriminatory treatment. This is not some unquantifiable "impression" upon which people can have differing "opinions"; these are are hard, cold facts. ...

... ** Adam Serwer of msnbc on "the blurred line between law enforcement & combat.... There are those who squawk on television about armed insurrection and tyranny, and those who face the prospect that each day could be the last they will stare down its barrel. Ferguson has reminded us that these are not the same people, and they are not living under the same rules." CW: Serwer does a remarkable job of getting to the heart of the matter. ...

... AND Clickhole holds a "fashion face-off" between the police & the army, a natural reaction "when two of the state's instruments of physical force bust out the exact same look":

Rosalind Helderman & Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "After nearly three weeks of testimony, federal prosecutors wrapped up their corruption case Thursday against former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. The final prosecution witness, FBI Special Agent David Hulser, described phone records, mansion logs and e-mails that prosecutors hope will help convince jurors that the former first couple conspired to seek the largess of Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr."

The Market Basket boycott/strike continues. An amazing phenomenon.

Senate Races

AP: "A Hawaii judge on Thursday upheld the timing of a makeup primary election for more than 8,000 voters on the Big Island despite a last-minute challenge from a Senate candidate who said they should have more time to recover from a tropical storm. Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ruled that the election should proceed Friday. The ruling rejects a complaint from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is running in a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate against U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Hanabusa says the makeup election doesn't give enough time for voters in two Puna precincts to regain power and road access after the storm hit last week."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Au revoir, Greggers. Dylan Byers of Politico: "David Gregory will leave NBC News after stepping down as moderator of 'Meet the Press,' he announced Thursday.... As previously reported, NBC News has selected chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd to take over for Gregory. Todd's promotion is expected to be announced as early as Thursday evening."

Cameron Joseph of the Hill: "Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn has nabbed the endorsement of former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller (D), a conservative Democrat who's backed more Republicans than members of his own party in recent years." ...

... CW: Not sure how much of a coup that is:

News Ledes

Guardian: British PM "David Cameron is prepared to supply weapons directly to Kurdish forces fighting jihadists from the Islamic State (Isis) in northern Iraq, in a move that risks drawing Britain back indirectly into the country's conflict."

Reuters: "Dozens of heavy Russian military vehicles massed on Friday near the border with Ukraine, while Ukrainian border guards crossed the frontier to inspect a huge Russian aid convoy." ...

... AFP: "Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine suffered dramatic setbacks Thursday as top military chiefs quit and Ukraine's forces pummelled their strongholds, cutting off a key rebel-held city from the Russian border.... Ukraine's military said it had completely surrounded Lugansk, cutting all links to the border with Russia, which Kiev believes has been supplying the insurgents with weapons."