Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President described the progress our economy has made, laying a foundation for a future that prioritizes middle-class economics":

The Ledes

Saturday, January 31, 2015.

New York Times: "The Islamic State claimed to have beheaded a Japanese journalist in a video released Saturday night, the culmination of a two-week-long drama that appears to have cost the lives of two Japanese men. The video of the killing of the journalist, Kenji Goto, came two days after a deadline set by the extremist group expired, and the Jordanian government did not give in to its demand that a convicted would-be suicide bomber be exchanged for Mr. Goto’s life."

New York Times: "... as officials in 14 states grapple to contain a spreading measles outbreak that began near here at Disneyland, the parents at the heart of America’s anti-vaccine movement are being blamed for incubating an otherwise preventable public-health crisis."

Guardian: "Angela Merkel has ruled out the prospect of Greece securing further debt cuts from its creditor nations, potentially putting the country’s new leftist government on a collision course with Brussels."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Bobbi Kristina Brown, the 21-year-old daughter of the late Whitney Houston, was found face-down and unresponsive in a bathtub Saturday morning and was rushed to the hospital, Roswell authorities said. TMZ is reporting that sources close to the family say she’s been place in a medically induced coma to address swelling. An AJC reporter was told to leave hospital property Saturday and no hospital representatives were available for official comment."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

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

White House Live Video
January 29

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

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

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

This is a real bill. Consumer advocate Christopher Elliott verified it. Check out the customer name on the account:

Is "Asshole" the customer's real given name? Well, no. Comcast got mad at the family for wishing to cancel the cable part of their Comcast service. Comcast not only refused to cut the cable, as it were, they changed the primary customer's name from "Ricardo" (his parents' idea) to "Asshole." When Ricardo's wife tried to get Comcast to change the account back to her husband's real name, both Comcast's local & regional "customer service" (Comcast's idea) offices refused. After Elliott took up the Browns' case, Comcast relented on both. ...

... Video via Karoli of Crooks & Liars. CW: I assure you, former Arkansas Gov. Fuckabee will be very upset by the vid.

Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?

... www.cicret.com

In the New York Times, Barry Bearak remembers Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks.

Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, New Hampshire): "After going through the drive-through at Burger King [in Rochester, N.H.] Friday, a local woman discovered that instead of the sweet tea and junior spicy chicken sandwich that she ordered, she got a bag full of money. Rather than keeping the cash — totaling $2,631 — she came back to the restaurant with her husband and returned it."

Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Match.com. Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

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Monday
Jan052015

The Commentariat -- January 6, 2015

David Goodman & Al Baker of the New York Times: "For a second straight week, New York City police officers sharply cut back on their actions in the street, arresting less than half as many people and writing more than 90 percent fewer summonses than in the same period a year ago. The slowdown built on a drastic drop in activity that began shortly after the murder of two uniformed patrol officers in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, and continued across all 77 precincts in the city." ...

... Hunter of Daily Kos: "You can arrest only half as many people and still not sacrifice public safety? You can curtail other enforcement actions by 90 percent to no detrimental effect, save to the city's coffers? This sounds like excellent news.... Is this merely an extended period of unofficial pouting by New York City Police officers, or is there a specific something being requested? The closest we've come to an explanation of demands comes not from New York but from the Baltimore police union, which used the December murder of two New York officers to demand law enforcement receive the 'unequivocal support' of national leaders.... If members of the police departments demanding 'unambiguous' fealty ... want to explain how this required cult-like devotion to police authority squares with a national law enforcement framework that is not by definition a police state, they ought to pipe up with that." ...

... Here's One Thing. Liz Goodwin of Yahoo! News: "In the wake of the murder of two New York City police officers and a national debate about policing, the National Fraternal Order of Police is asking for the Congressional hate crimes statute to be expanded to include crimes against police officers.... Asked about the push today, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said ... the task force on policing convened by President Barack Obama would consider the hate crimes idea."

** Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times: "A member of the grand jury that declined to indict Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson has filed a federal lawsuit against the prosecutor handling the case, saying the public has been misled about the grand jury's deliberations. Represented by the Missouri chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the anonymous grand juror – identified only as 'grand juror Doe' -- sued St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch on Monday for the right to speak publicly about the case.... The grand juror hints that he or she may have voted to criminally indict Wilson and wants to advocate for reform as Missouri legislators consider whether to change the state’s grand jury process." ...

... Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: "McCulloch has been under increasing fire since admitting that he allowed witnesses he knew were lying to testify before the grand jury." ...

... The complaint is here.

Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Speaker John A. Boehner is all but assured of re-election to the top House leadership post when his colleagues vote on Tuesday, but the new term also could serve up the embarrassment of a potentially record number of his own Republican conference voting against him as speaker." ...

... Speaker Gohmert! David Edwards of the Raw Story: "Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) warned on Monday that there could be dire consequences for the entire country if Republicans in Congress did not oust John Boehner as Speaker of the House and elect him instead." With video. ...

... CW: I hope the Gohmert effort succeeds. As I said two years ago when there were similar rumblings among the nativists, Nancy Pelosi could make a co-governing deal with Boehner if he needs Democratic votes to retain his speakership. There is no way, BTW, that Gohmert (or Yoho!) would be elected speaker, but they can gum up the works. ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: Boehner has "more room for error this time around (as opposed to 2012 when the effort to unseat him lost by six votes), after Republicans gained double digits seats in the 2014 election. At least 29 House Republicans would have to desert Boehner in order for him to lose another term as speaker. But it's also becoming evident that he'll probably lose more votes this time around." Blake rounds up the names of Republican MoCs who have said, at one time or another, that they would vote against Boehner: "So, the likely/possible votes against Boehner currently stand at 15, with 29 being the magic number." ...

... Zeke Miller of Time: "A day before the new Congress is to be sworn in, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that [Rep. Steve] Scalise’s fate lies with his Republican colleagues after he admitted to speaking to a group linked to Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise maintained that he did not realize it was a hate group at the time and apologized for his mistake. 'Who they choose to serve in their leadership says a lot about who they are and what their values should be,' Earnest said Monday.... Twice repeating Scalise’s quote that he is 'David Duke without the baggage,' Earnest said that President Barack Obama believes that 'it’s ultimately [House Republicans’ decision to make,' whether Scalise serves as whip." ...

... The "Scary" Party. Jamelle Bouie of Slate assesses the GOP Congress's chances of "govern[ing] like a sensible party." See Speaker Gohmert! above.

Justin Sink of the Hill: "The White House isn't yet threatening to veto a Republican bill to authorize construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.... But the administration is playing coy on whether the president plans to veto the package or urge Democrats to vote against the legislation. 'We'll see what the legislation actually includes before we start urging people to vote one way or the other,' White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, adding that he wanted to 'reserve judgment' until the administration could 'actually see what language is included in that specific piece of legislation.'"

Justin Volz & Kaveh Waddell of the National Journal: "Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein is calling on President Obama to help 'prevent the use future use of torture' by the U.S. government, a move that comes on the heels of her panel's release of its investigation into the CIA's now-defunct "enhanced interrogation" program.... Along with urging a series of executive actions from the president, Feinstein said she will introduce four of her recommendations as legislation at the start of the 114th Congress. Such a bill would largely serve to codify an executive order President Obama issued upon taking office in 2009 that outlawed certain interrogation methods, including waterboarding."

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar." ...

     ... CW: I thought this was sort of a "meh" story & didn't link it, but it's hit a chord here on Reality Chex (and elsewhere), so here it is.

... Jonathan Chait with the Elsewhere: "The most recent grist for the machinery of [conservative] doomsaying is a New York Times report that Harvard faculty are up in arms over changes to their health insurance, loosely related to reforms in the Affordable Care Act. The schadenfreude is flowing, from the Daily Caller to Jonathan Adler to Red State to Hot Air.... What makes this response funny, if not unusual, is that the reforms ... show that in some ways, Obamacare has pushed the health-care system moderately in the direction conservatives favor, by encouraging employers to shift more of the cost of care onto employees.... The Harvard story demonstrates two things. First, Obamacare is implementing some versions of conservative ideas. Second, even moderate versions of this reform tend to upset consumers. But neither of these interpretations are capable of penetrating a conservative media apparatus that relentlessly turns all news stories into either non-stories or confirmation of their increasingly discredited hysteria." ...

... Paul Campos in LGM: "According to the AAUP, the average salary for Harvard full professors is currently $207,100, and their average total compensation (including the lousy health care plan) is $262,300.... The school offers some protection against high co-insurance costs to lower-paid employees...." CW: The salaries for assistant & associate professors, especially in the liberal arts, are likely to be considerably less than $200K.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The Obama administration’s plan to defuse a First Amendment showdown with a New York Times reporter over his confidential sources was nearly derailed at a court hearing Monday when the journalist rebuffed a series of questions concerning his reporting. But he eventually agreed to answer some of the queries, allowing the at-times tense session to get back on track and avoiding for now a major confrontation over press freedom. Times national security writer James Risen testified for about 45 minutes in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, where ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is set to go on trial next week on charges of leaking top-secret information that Risen published in his 2006 book 'State of War.'” ...

... Here's the New York Times story, by Matt Apuzzo, who sometimes collaborates with Risen on stories. ...

... CW: I'm of the impression Risen is kind of a dick, but a dick can make a damned good reporter. Or not.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Reporter Sues Obama over Stuck Backspace Key. J. K. Trotter of Gawker: "Sharyl Attkisson is the investigative reporter who believes the Obama administration hacked her personal computers because she reported on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi. Today she announced her family’s $35 million lawsuit against the federal government for the alleged hacking.... There is zero evidence that federal agents placed Attkisson’s family under illegal and retaliatory surveillance, and Attkisson’s new complaint does not offer any actual proof that any state-sponsored surveillance took place."

Matt Zapotosky & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "A federal judge in Richmond will decide on Tuesday what punishment former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell deserves for trading the influence of his office to a smooth-talking businessman in exchange for sweetheart loans, lavish vacations and a variety of other loot." ...

    ... UPDATE: The Post is liveblogging the sentencing hearing.

Michael Specter of the New Yorker:"One of science's most famous quotes is false ." CW: I generally think it's safe to accept as true stories I read in reputable publications by reputable journalists or scientists or historians (I'm talking facts here, not opinions). Most of the time, I'm right to do so. However, a teeny red flag does go up if a story seems outlandish for some reason. The false quote Specter himself cited numerous times does seem, if not outlandish, at least surprising. Someone shoulda checked it out. And at long last, someone did.

Maybe Obama Isn't Such a Lousy President. Scott Keyes of Think Progress: "In the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, David Siegel, billionaire chief of Florida timeshare company Westgate Resorts, sent an email to all employees" warning them that "re-electing Obama would 'threaten your job' and result in 'less [sic.] benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.' Just over two years after penning that company-wide email, Siegel informed Westgate employees that instead of layoffs, he would boost their minimum wage to $10 per hour beginning in 2015."

Paul Glastris in the Washington Monthly: The current Gilded Age gives progressives a chance to reform government -- and society -- but their inattention to the big picture may cause them to blow it.

This Can't Wait for Our Regular Weekly God News. Ruth Eglash of the Washington Post: Archaeologists working in Jerusalem’s Old City "uncovered something extraordinary: the suspected remains of the palace where one of the more famous scenes of the New Testament may have taken place — the trial of Jesus." ,,,

     ... CW: Just so you don't get too excited, it's quite possible the archaeologists have discovered an ancient palace or administrative building, one which certainly could have been built by & for Herod the Great. However, the trial of Jesus is almost certainly fictious -- part of a good story to explain to Diaspora Jews why the expected Jewish messiah did not come to lead the his people in victory over their Roman oppressors.

Patricia Mazzei & Steve Rothaus of the Miami Herald: "Crying tears of joy and relief, men and women who had challenged the ban leaped to their feet and shrieked with joy inside downtown Miami’s historic courthouse Monday morning when a judge ruled with little fanfare that the couples could marry right away. They would have otherwise had to wait until after midnight Tuesday, when another judge’s ruling took effect statewide." See also Presidential Election below. ...

... Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "Gay couples began marrying in Miami on Monday, kicking off a pivotal week when the Supreme Court will have a chance to consider whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry or whether states may limit marriage to a man and a woman."

AP: "Two women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual offences decades ago have joined a defamation lawsuit, contending the comedian publicly branded them as liars through statements by his representatives. The amended complaint was filed on Monday in the US district court in Springfield, in western Massachusetts, where Cosby has a home in Shelburne Falls."

 ...
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article5439081.html#storylink=cpy

The Hazard of Rearing a Ne'er-Do-Well. Jessica Roy of New York: "Man kills wealthy father for reducing allowance. Seems a little extreme." (Quoted from the front-page blurb.) ...

... Taylor Berman of Gawker has more on the story.

Presidential Election

Margaret Hartmann of New York: The long & (very) short of Jeb Bush's evolution on gay marriage. ...

... Andrew Kaczynski & Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed have the full text of Jeb's 1994 "sodomy" op-ed here. Their entire post is worth reading. Here's a gem: "Bush long used the language of victimization to describe LGBT activism. In his 1995 book, Profiles in Character, Bush described the 'gay rights movement,' 'feminist movement,' and 'black empowerment movement' as part of a so-called 'modern victim movements.' These activists, he wrote, 'have attempted to get people to view themselves as part of a smaller group deserving of something from society.'” ...

... CW: Jeb wrote that book 20 years ago, but you can bet his views haven't changed. Unless you're a straight, white man, Jeb Bush doesn't think you should be a fully-recognized person. Three-fifths, maybe. This is the GOP's definition of "moderate."

... Matt Lewis of the Daily Beast: "Images are important and memes matter — which is why the viral screen capture of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hugging Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is worth noting today [Monday]. In case you missed it [CW: you can bet I did], cameras captured Christie (an admitted longtime Cowboys fan) celebrating the Cowboys come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Lions in the owner’s box on Sunday night. GIFs were created. Tweets were sent. Jokes were made.... I think Bill Kristol hit the nail on the head with this Tweet: 'Next week, Scott Walker will go to the Packers’ game, root for his state’s team, & sit in the cheap seats & freeze with the common people.'” Read the whole post. It's entertaining & a good example of the superficiality of politics -- and of Chris Christie. CW BTW: Last time I looked Lewis was a reporter for winger Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller. ...

... Steve M.: "Yes, as we prepare to choose a new president in 22 months here in The Greatest Country on Earth, we're actually having a serious debate about this (which, shamefully, I'm participating in): 'Will Chris Christie Regret His Cowboy Hug?'" ...

... Matt Arco of New Jersey Advance Media: "Gov. Chris Christie’s trips to NFL games to root for the Dallas Cowboys were paid for by the team’s owner, Jerry Jones, according to the governor’s office.... Christie has now attended three games at the invitation of Jones.... Jones paid for Christie and his family to attend the games, including footing the bill for the private jet that shuttled the Christies to Sunday night’s game, Roberts said. As is always the case, New Jersey taxpayers paid for the governor's security detail provided by the New Jersey State Police."

Another Headache for Hillary. Smoking Gun: "Now that [Britain's] Prince Andrew has found himself ensnared in the sleazy sex slave story of wealthy degenerate Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Clinton can’t be too far behind.... According to court records, [Bill] Clinton 'frequently flew' with Epstein aboard the investor’s private jet from 2002 to 2005, the year news of the police investigation of Epstein was first reported.... While Clinton was never deposed, lawyers obtained Epstein’s computerized phone directory, which included 'e-mail addresses for [Bill] Clinton along with 21 phone numbers for him, including those for his assistant (Doug Band),' according to a court filing." ...

... CW: Must I really vote to give this guy, with time on his hands, access to a bevy of nubile young White House interns? Isn't this a little more serious than Chris Christie's hugging a rich sports team owner? (BTW, Jones, who is from Little Rock, was a prominent Clinton foe, who once boasted that he had put private detectives on Clinton, who had discovered one of Clinton's extramarital relationships.)

Sunday
Jan042015

The Commentariat -- January 5, 2015

David Goodman of the New York Times: "For the second time in just over a week, a sea of pressed blue uniforms filled some of New York's streets as Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered a eulogy for a police officer killed because of the badge he wore. And for the second time, hundreds of police officers crowded together in the rain turned their backs to television screens showing the the mayor's remarks outside a funeral home in southern Brooklyn." ...

... CW: Since these officers can neither follow orders nor control themselves, they cannot be trusted to keep the peace. The NYPD should dismiss them. ...

It's ironic that they seem to think it's appropriate for them to demonstrate at a funeral but not okay for citizens to demonstrate on public streets. -- Contributor Victoria D., in today's thread

... Why Apologize? The Thin-Skinned Blue Line. Bob Mayo of WTAE Pittsburgh: "In an email to the entire city police bureau, Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is responding to criticism of his appearance in a photo on Twitter in which he holds a sign challenging racism. The sign read, 'I resolve to challenge racism @ work. #EndWhiteSilence.' The chief's message to the rank and file came after a critical email from the president of the union representing city police. 'It appears my having been photographed with a sign supporting racial justice at work and (opposing) "white silence" has offended some. If any of my PBP (Pittsburgh Bureau of Police) family was offended, I apologize. You are very important to me and I would never hurt you purposefully,' McLay wrote." ...

... Jack Pickell of the Boston Globe: "A veteran Boston police officer was arrested Sunday on charges he assaulted an Uber driver in South Boston.... Officers later arrested Michael Doherty, 40 of South Boston, a 16-year veteran of the Boston Police Department, and charged him with assault and battery and using a motor vehicle without authority." Read the whole story for disgusting details of the alleged assault. ...

... Charles Blow wonders why a 45-year-old white woman who was shooting up Chattanooga, shot at police officers & led them on an auto chase was "taken into custody without incident or injury. Then he lists a number of incidents in which black men, whose actions were or seemed much less violent, were shot dead." ...

     ... CW: I'd like to caution that this is anecdotal evidence of discrimination. Blow, who used to be the Times' writer on sociological statistics, should have included statistical data which demonstrated or suggested that police do not treat black suspects the same way they treat deranged white women. Instead, he provides stats of public opinion, attempting to make the point that white people don't get it. But since his anecdotes don't provide an actual counter-argument, his use of the argument-from-anecdote fallacy amounts to sleight-of-hand & demagoguery. The right does this all the time; it's disappointing to see it coming from a New York Times columnist, especially when one is pretty sure there is evidence to back up the important point he is making. ...

... Wesley Lowery & Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post: "The frustration and defiance of the nation's police officers were on display again Sunday in New York City, where tens of thousands of them gathered for the funeral of the second of two officers who were slain at the height of the ongoing protests and scrutiny after several high-profile deaths of unarmed black males.... Law enforcement officials say morale is flagging among the rank-and-file, who they say feel 'betrayed' by President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in their calls for tough reforms of policing tactics." ...

... Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker presents the cases for & against special prosecutors in cases of fatalities caused by police.

Speaker Gohmert! Kyle Balluck of the Hill: "Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) said Sunday that he will challenge John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker in the new Congress.... Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) on Saturday announced that he would not support Boehner for Speaker." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the lead. ...

... Speaker Yoho! Even Better. Eric Bradner of CNN: "Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, said this weekend that he won't support Boehner as speaker when lawmakers vote Tuesday, and offered himself up as an alternative." ...

... CW: The Orange Man is looking a little better, isn't he?

Megan Wilson of the Hill: "Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Sunday that the GOP agenda will be focused on 'voting on things I know [President Obama is] not going to like.' He said that jobs would be the number one focus, also lumping in the Keystone XL pipeline project and rolling back strict environmental and healthcare regulations. 'We need to do everything we can to try to rein in the regulatory onslaught, which is the principal reason that we haven't had the kind of bounce-back after the 2008 recession that you would expect,' McConnell told CNN's Dana Bash on 'State of the Union.'" ...

... Seung Min Kim of Politico: "... the stage is set for a dramatic few months in the GOP-controlled Congress over immigration." ...

... Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "In taking control of Congress on Tuesday, Republicans say they will quickly advance energy and health care legislation that stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate as they try to make good on claims, and address doubts, that they can govern effectively.... Yet a sour note is possible on Tuesday as Speaker John A. Boehner seeks his third term as the House leader. Some disgruntled conservatives have said they will not back Mr. Boehner ... and a coup, while unlikely, would represent a disastrous beginning." ...

... Greg Sargent has a good overview of what to expect of the new Congress. Good governance? Not likely. ...

... AND Charles Pierce, despite reading soothing words in the Washington Post "about how the new Republican-majority Congress, which will open the Reign of the Morons II this coming Tuesday, really understands that it has to govern the country responsibly this time around, and that the grown-ups are in charge again," is not all that convinced. Something about Louie Gohmert & asparagus.

"I'm Not a Scientist" Is ... Progress! Timothy Cama of the Hill: "High-profile Republicans converged this year around a new favorite refrain when it comes to climate change: 'I'm not a scientist.... 'It sounds like one of the most nonsensical GOP talking points in quite some time,' said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist who advised Sen. John McCain's (Ariz.) 2008 campaign for president. But O'Connell said 'I'm not a scientist' plays an important, albeit temporary, role in the broader GOP debate.... 'The party's not come to a consensus on how they want to deal with the issue of climate change,' he said.... 'It's a rhetorical shift, obviously. There's no policy behind it,' said Tony Leiserowitz, director of Yale University's project on climate change communication. 'But ... it's definitely a step back from "it's a hoax," it’s definitely a step back from "it's not happening.z''"' ...

... MEANWHILE in Scotland. Juan Cole: "With regard to the [Scotland's] households, i.e. domestic energy consumption, Scotland's wind turbines generated enough to cover 98% of it in 2014. In addition, in some months of the spring and summer, those homes that have solar panels generated all the electricity the household used. Scotland tripled its solar installations in 2014. Scotland is well on its way to getting 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2022." ...

... CW: Keystone Mitch McConnell could learn a lot from his fellow Scots. But he won't. ...

... Lawrence Summers in the Washington Post: "The case for carbon taxes has long been compelling. With the recent steep fall in oil prices and associated declines in other energy prices, it has become overwhelming. There is room for debate about the size of the tax and about how the proceeds should be deployed. But there should be no doubt that, given the current zero tax rate on carbon, increased taxation would be desirable." CW: I'm pretty sure you have Mitch McConnell's ear, Larry.

"Knaves & Fools." Paul Krugman explains the roles of the president and the Federal Reserve in boosting or busting the economy. "So is the president responsible for the accelerating recovery? No. Can we nonetheless say that we're doing better than we would be if the other party held the White House? Yes. Do those who were blaming Mr. Obama for all our economic ills now look like knaves and fools? Yes, they do. And that's because they are."

Bruce Alpert of the Times-Picayune: "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise's 2002 speech to at least some members of a white supremacist group was a hot subject on the Sunday (Jan. 4) talk shows. And while all the Republicans appearing on the shows defended Scalise and asserted their support for his continuing in the No. 3 leadership position in the House, the continued focus on the 13-year-old speech, including a critical editorial Sunday by the conservative Boston Herald, has to be unsettling to the GOP.... [Sen. John] Barrasso was asked by host Chuck Todd whether the Scalise controversy might add 'to the stereotype of the Republican Party that Democrats want to paint.' 'Well, the Democrats do want to a paint this, but I've just gotten back from Wyoming. This has not come up as a discussion in Wyoming,' Barrasso said." ...

... CW: Gee, John, I wonder why. Maybe it's because the percentage of black people living in Wyoming in 2010, according to Census Bureau figures, was .08. As for Jews, who also would be deeply offended by Scalise's speaking to a David Duke group, Wyoming is the least Jewish state in the country, with .02 percent of population identifying as Jews. So, yeah, there could be a reason "this has not come up as a discussion in Wyoming." I don't think Wyoming is the civil rights center of America.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff of the Oregonian: "U.S. Navy veteran Dario Raschio was all smiles Saturday as he awaited a special honor from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, who joined him at Portland Community College's Southeast Campus to present the 100-year-old with a handful of medals.... Shortly after Wyden began speaking, though, protesters erupted in the back of the room, shouting 'hands-up, don't shoot!'... Raschio ... grabbed the mic to speak, more shouts came from the back of the room, demanding the military exit from Iraq. The feisty centenarian quickly responded, 'Give me a chance' which brought chuckles from the audience. He further chastised the shouters, saying 'Let's show a little respect for this occasion,' to which the crowd applauded." ...

... Kristyna Wentz-Graff: "However, immediately following the award presentation, the chanting began again. Protesters stated it was 'their town meeting' to which Wyden responded, 'Yes, it's your town meeting, but it's theirs as well' as he gestured toward the audience.... The event, at Portland Community College's Southeast Campus, was canceled after 45 minutes.... We are certainly going to reschedule it,' [Wyden] said. 'It's important to be able to throw open the doors of government to everybody. That's why town hall meetings are so important.'" ...

... CW: Now somebody please explain to me how these protesters were advancing their cause by shutting down a public meeting held by a relatively liberal U.S. senator. See Oprah Winfrey's comments, linked January 3. ...

... Contra Oprah's argument -- sort of -- Jesse McCarthy, in the New Republic, has a very fine piece arguing that "Hollywood loves the great man narrative, but the civil rights movement was never about top-down leadership."

Driftglass takes a well-deserved swipe at Bob Schieffer for choosing Newt Gingrich! to discuss race relations. As a sort of afterthought, he notes that Chuck Todd said something sorta nice about Mario Cuomo, "Proving once again that almost the only Liberals who are permitted anywhere near the Sunday Gasbag Conclave are those who are safely dead."

E. J. Dionne: "There will never be another politician like Mario Cuomo, a man shaped by a different age. Yet he taught lessons about racial reconciliation, the role of religion in politics, the purposes of politics itself and -- oddly for a politician -- humility that will always be fresh." ...

... CW: I think there are other politicians more or less like Mario Cuomo right now. The difference is that today's establishment does not embrace them the way the Democratic party did back in the day. The Party of Nothing thinks it cannot afford to offend all the special interests & ideologues whose policies & preferences Cuomo so effectively rejected.

Presidential Election

Steve M. writes an excellent assessment of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio & the press, including a nice little dig at Frank Bruni of the New York Times.

Robert Costa & Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "If Mike Huckabee is going to make a serious run for the Republican presidential nomination, he will have to do something he was unable to do in 2008: raise millions of dollars and build a sprawling national campaign to complement the well of support he has among evangelicals and grass-roots activists in early primary states.... Another likely hurdle for Huckabee as he solicits donations: scattered antagonism among the GOP's fiscally conservative donors who find Huckabee's record on taxes and spending to be lacking."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Bess Myerson, a New York favorite daughter who basked in the public eye for decades -- as Miss America 1945, as a television personality, as a force in public affairs and finally, under a harsher light, as a player in a shattering municipal scandal -- died on Dec. 14 at her home in Santa Monica, Calif., her death occurring in the relative obscurity in which she had lived her last years. She was 90."

New York Times: "Oil prices tumbled below $50 a barrel on Monday, spooking global financial markets and signaling that the remarkable 50 percent price drop since June was continuing this year and even quickening. The new drop in American and global benchmarks of more than 5 percent was accompanied by a series of reports of increased Middle Eastern oil exports; continuing increases in American production despite planned exploration cutbacks by many oil companies; and renewed worries about the declining economic fortunes of Europe."

AP: "Seating jurors in the case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was set to begin Monday under tight security at the federal courthouse in Boston and could take several weeks." ...

     ... Boston Globe UPDATE: "Jury selection has begun in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, with about 1,200 people being called in over the next the next three days to be considered as jurors in the case. U.S. District Court Judge George O'Toole Jr., the judge overseeing the trial, said it will begin on Jan. 26 and is expected to last three to four months."

Saturday
Jan032015

The Commentariat -- January 4, 2015

CW: Just had a three-plus-hour power outage because ... two whole inches of snow. More snow expected today -- more power outages anticipated. If I can borrow MAG's sled dogs to get out to my car to load it with stuff, I'll be traveling most of the week. This is my way of saying, "Expect snow delays on Reality Chex."

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama plans to make an aggressive push to tout his economic policies ahead of his State of the Union address on Jan. 20, starting with a swing through three states after he returns to Washington early Sunday from two weeks of vacation in Hawaii."

Senate Democrats Win Popular Majority! Really. Dylan Matthews of Vox: "On Tuesday, 33 US senators elected in November will be sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden -- including 12 who are new to the chamber. The class includes 22 Republicans and 11 Democrats, a big reason why the GOP has a 54-46 majority in the Senate overall. But here's a crazy fact: those 46 Democrats got more votes than the 54 Republicans across the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections." Matthews doesn't pull any punches when contemplating what to do about it: "The Senate is a profoundly anti-democratic body and should be abolished." Okey-doke.

On wealth inequality, Dylan Matthews shreds Harvard economist Greg Mankiw. CW: Mankiw's stunningly stupid argument is a paradigm of how conservatives -- even presumably "smart" ones -- pervert the most basic, widely-known realities (historical & otherwise) in service of their own insupportable schemes & beliefs. ...

... Funny, short post by Scott Lemieux in LGM on "The Ongoing Influence of Michele Bachmann's Historical Theories." (You have to read Matthews' post on Mankiw to understand Lemieux.)

Edward Kleinbard, in a New York Times op-ed: "While seemingly arcane, the change [to dynamic scoring] could have significant, negative consequences for enacting sustainable, long-term fiscal policies.... Economists describe [a recent GOP effort at dynamic scoring] as 'making counterfactual assumptions'; the rest of us call it 'making stuff up.'"... The Republicans' interest in dynamic scoring ... comes from political factions convinced that tax cuts are the panacea for all economic ills. They will use dynamic scoring to justify a tax cut that, under conventional scorekeeping, loses revenue. When revenues do in fact decline and deficits rise, those same proponents will push for steep cuts in government insurance or investment programs, because they will claim that the models demand it." ...

... Vicki Needham of the Hill: "Senate Democrats are warning Republicans to tread carefully with their selection of a budget scorekeeper for the new Congress, saying they will 'strongly object to any effort to politicize this important office.'"

Rosalind Helderman & Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "In the strange four months of enforced limbo that have separated [Bob] McDonnell's shocking guilty verdict from his much-anticipated sentencing Tuesday, the former Republican governor has in some ways presided over an extended wake for his own once-promising political and personal future.... The probation office has calculated that sentencing guidelines call for him to spend between 10 and 12 1/2 years in prison. Prosecutors have endorsed that recommendation, and judges in the Eastern District of Virginia accept probation office guidelines in 70 percent of cases."

A Discriminating Dress Code. Igor Bobic of the Huffington Post: "Oklahoma residents are concerned that a proposed bill would make it a crime to wear a hooded sweatshirt, or hoodie, in public on many occasions, according to local news station KFOR. The wearing of hoods or similar head coverings during the commission of a crime has been against state law since the 1920s, with the original intent of curbing violence perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan. But the new proposal would also ban an individual from intentionally concealing 'his or her identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise' even if he or she were not involved in a crime. Violation of the proposed law would constitute a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500." CW: The good news: the law would exempt hoods worn for "minstrel shows," among other occasions. Really. Might be a good idea for black teens to carry banjos during inclement weather.

Andrew Higgins & Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: "An investigation by The Times into the final hours of President Viktor F. Yanukovych's rule [of Ukraine] shows that he was not so much overthrown last year as cast adrift by his own allies, and Western officials were just as surprised by the meltdown as anyone else."

Digby on Mario Cuomo's "Tale of Two Cities" convention speech. CW: I think digby gets it exactly right. ...

... God News

While we always owe our bishops' words respectful attention and careful consideration, the question whether to engage the political system in a struggle to have it adopt certain articles of our belief as part of public morality, is not a matter of doctrine: it is a matter of prudential political judgment. -- Gov. Mario Cuomo (D-N.Y.), at the University of Notre Dame, September 1984

... Jim Fallows on Mario Cuomo's other important 1984 speech: "That was the second speech I want to mention, a year earlier,* at Notre Dame, in which the very publicly Jesuitical Governor Cuomo talked about the separation of church and state, in a speech titled 'A Catholic Governor's Perspective.' You can watch the whole thing via (non-embeddable) C-SPAN report here.... you can read the full text from Notre Dame's archives, here.... Among politicians of the past generation-plus seen as national-level contenders, he was the most accomplished and engrossing public thinker. (This is also Obama's strength, and presumably he will overtake Cuomo through the scale of the issues he has been involved in.)" ...

     ... * CW: As noted above, Cuomo gave the speech at Notre Dame in September 1984, a few months after the Democratic National Convention speech, not "a year earlier," as Fallows writes. ...

... David Gibson of Religion News Service: "Cuomo was also just as famous for elaborating a rationale by which Catholic politicians like himself could be personally opposed to abortion but could still support and defend a legal right to abortion.... Now, a new generation of Catholics conservatives -- mainly Republicans -- invoke the same kind of 'personally opposed' ethos to part ways with their church on issues like economic and foreign policy, the death penalty and immigration reform.... Cuomo even anticipated conservatives' adoption of his stance when he asked if he would have to follow the bishops' teaching on economic justice 'even if I am an unrepentant supply sider?'... Ironically, Cuomo's vision may have won out since nearly all Catholic politicians are cafeteria Catholics now -- picking and choosing which Catholic teachings they want to highlight." CW: Gibson points out how Cuomo's stance on abortion differed from, say, Marco Rubio's Pope-dissing.

Frances D'Emilio of the AP: "Pope Francis named 15 new cardinals Sunday, selecting them from 14 nations, including far-flung corners of the world such as Tonga, New Zealand, Cape Verde and Myanmar, to reflect the diversity of the church and its growth in places like Asia and Africa. Other cardinals hail from Ethiopia, Thailand and Vietnam. Another is form Sicily, where the Church in recent decades has been galvanizing public rejection of the Mafia."

Reuters: "One of Germany's most famous landmarks, Cologne Cathedral, will be plunged into darkness on Monday evening in protest at a march by a growing grass-roots anti-Muslim movement through the western German city, cathedral authorities said. The rise of the group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), has shaken Germany's political establishment, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to say in her New Year address that its leaders were racists full of hatred and citizens should beware being used." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Swedes expressing solidarity with Muslims have staged manifestations after a series of recent attacks on mosques. In the city of Uppsala, where anti-Muslim rhetoric was scrawled onto a mosque wall on Thursday, hundreds of people pasted red paper hearts and messages of support onto the building's entrance ahead of Friday prayers. A day before the so-called love bombing, police said a Molotov cocktail was hurled at the mosque without causing a fire. Earlier this week, a mosque in Eslov in the south suffered partial damage after a blaze that police suspect was arson. And on Christmas Day, five people were injured when a petrol bomb was thrown through a window of a mosque in the town of Eskilstuna."

Sally Morrow of Religion News Service posts photos of "the winners of the 2014 International Awards Program for Religious Art & Architecture, given out by Faith & Form, the interfaith journal on religion, art and architecture." ...

... Nice enough, but give me a good old-fashioned gothic (or neo-gothic) church any day. I attended a carol singing at St. Peter & Paul's Chapel in Concord, New Hampshire, a week or so before Christmas, and it was magical. At left is a shot of the interior.

 

 

David Segal of the New York Times: When United Airlines lost a monk's ticket, his fellow monk was outraged, & the order used their Website as a vehicle to get United to make things right with God. ...

... Maybe they should have posted a Gregorian chant. Here's one of my favorite Web videos:

... Singer/songwriter/performer Dave Carroll eventually also effected a happy ending, thanks to the video & subsequent publicity. United, not so much. ...

... Presidential Race

Robert Costa & Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "Mike Huckabee is leaving Fox News to decide whether he wants to run for president. The Republican former governor of Arkansas said that Saturday night's episode of 'Huckabee' is the last.... An early test for Huckabee's 2016 ambitions will begin later this month when he goes on a national tour to tout his new book, 'God, Guns, Grits and Gravy'...."

News Ledes

Boo-Yah! ESPN: "Stuart Scott, a longtime anchor at ESPN, died Sunday morning at the age of 49."

AP: "Thousands of uniformed police officers from across the U.S. are expected to attend the funeral Sunday of the second New York Police Department officer fatally shot with his partner in their patrol car two weeks ago. Buddhist monks will lead a Chinese ceremony for Officer Wenjian Liu, followed by a traditional police ceremony with eulogies led by a chaplain. The funeral follows a somber wake the day before as mourners lined up for blocks on a cold, rainy day to pay their respects."

AFP: "Weather was the 'triggering factor' in the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501 with icing likely causing engine damage, Indonesian officials said, as rough seas Sunday hampered the search for bodies and the sunken wreckage."

Guardian: "North Korea has furiously denounced the United States for imposing sanctions in retaliation for the Pyongyang regime's alleged cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. North Korea's foreign ministry reiterated that it did not have any role in the breach of tens of thousands of confidential Sony emails and business files and accused the US of 'groundlessly' stirring up hostility towards Pyongyang. He said the new sanctions would not weaken the country's 1.2 million-strong military."

AP: "Maine's former top drug prosecutor who fled to New Mexico after he was convicted of child pornography charges is appealing his nearly 16-year prison sentence." CW: Apparently the former prosecutor, James Cameron, like so many Americans, was unaware that New Mexico is one of the United States.

Friday
Jan022015

The Commentariat -- January 3, 2015

Brian Faler of Politico: "The question of who will be Congress' next chief number-cruncher has suddenly gotten a lot more important. Republicans, who are considering replacing the head of the Congressional Budget Office, are leaving it up to the agency to decide how to implement their long-sought plans to [apply so-called 'dynamic scoring' to] taxes and other legislation.... A draft of House rules for the upcoming Congress would require scorekeepers to begin using the methodology. But, to the surprise of some Democrats, Republicans are stopping well short of telling them how to do it.... The wide latitude given to the CBO could help insulate Republicans from charges they are threatening the credibility of Congress' independent budget analysts in their drive to reduce taxes. But it also raises the stakes in the question of who will run the office, because economists have widely varying opinions of how tax cuts affect the economy." ...

... CW: In other words, Republicans know dynamic scoring is phony, so they plan to shift responsibility for it to the CBO & begin every sentence with, "According to the CBO's own methodology..., blah-blah. Cute. Fortunately for the GOP, this is way too arcane for the public to follow, so Republicans will get away with it.

Michael Schmidt & David Sanger of the New York Times: "The Obama administration doubled down on Friday on its allegation that North Korea's leadership was behind the hacking of Sony Pictures as it announced new sanctions on 10 senior North Korean officials and several organizations. Administration officials said the action was part of what President Obama promised would be a 'proportional response' against the country. But White House officials said there was no evidence that the 10 officials took part in ordering or planning the Sony attack, although they described them as central to a number of provocative actions against the United States."

Rocco Parascandola & Larry McShane of the New York Daily News: "NYPD Commissioner William Bratton wants his officers to show respect, rather than their backs, at the Sunday funeral for assassinated colleague Officer Wenjian Liu. Bratton, in an internal message distributed Friday to citywide commands, urged the rank and file not to repeat last week's show of disdain for Mayor de Blasio during the service for slain cop Rafael Ramos."

Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post: "City officials in Cleveland announced on Friday that they are handing over the investigation into the Nov. 22 police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice to the county sheriff's office."

Sandhya Somashekhar of the Washington Post: "Key organizers of the wave of recent protests over police treatment of African Americans lashed out at Oprah Winfrey Friday over comments she made to People magazine criticizing their movement as 'leaderless.'" ...

... CW: I'm with Oprah on this. The failure of Occupy, for instance, was not a failure of motivation nor of goals. It was a failure of leadership & design. The idea that organization, strategy & planning denigrate the ideal of equality may be true, but it is also self-defeating. Thousands of people were extremely active in the civil, women's & gay rights movements, but leaders made things happen, & not just through protests. They fought the law, and they won. As long as every protest is an individual protest, the entrenched system will win. And, yes, there were differences within each of these movements, but those who took the long view & fought with steady, goal-oriented determination were the ones who effected changes.

The New York Times Editors write a lovely eulogy to Mario Cuomo.

Melissa Eddy of the New York Times: "... the relentless stream of migrants to Europe -- propelled by the war in Syria and turmoil across the Middle East and the Horn of Africa -- has combined with economic troubles and rising fear of Islamic radicalism to fuel a backlash against immigrants, directed most viciously at Muslims. The simmering resentments and suspicions have driven debates across Europe about tighter controls on immigration. Worries about immigration have helped buoy right-wing parties in Britain, Denmark, France and Hungary. German officials recorded more than 70 attacks against mosques from 2012 to 2014.... There are few places where the turn against immigrants is more surprising than Sweden, where a solid core of citizens still supports the 65-year-old open door policy toward immigrants facing hardship that has long earned international respect for the country."

Presidential Election

A History Lesson for Hillary. Gail Collins: "The only president elected to follow a member of his own party without creating some sort of cosmic disaster was George H.W. Bush." Read the whole column. It's interesting & funny.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Edward W. Brooke, who in 1966 became the first African American popularly elected to the U.S. Senate and who influenced major anti-poverty laws before his bright political career unraveled over allegations of financial impropriety, died Jan. 3 at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 95." The AP story is here. ...

     ... Update: The Boston Globe's obituary is here.

New York Times: "A British health worker who is being treated for Ebola in a London hospital is now in critical condition, her doctors said on Saturday. The patient, Pauline Cafferkey, a nurse from Scotland who had volunteered with the charity Save the Children to care for Ebola victims in Sierra Leone, returned to Glasgow, Scotland, last Sunday."

AP: "Indonesian officials said Saturday that they were confident wreckage of AirAsia Flight 8501 had been located after sonar equipment detected four massive objects on the ocean floor." ...

... Washington Post: "AirAsia was not authorized to fly from Surabaya to Singapore the day that one of its passenger jets attempted the route and crashed into the Java Sea amid poor weather conditions, according to Indonesian officials. Transportation Ministry Spokesman J.A. Barata told the Wall Street Journal that the air carrier was only allowed to make the flight four days of the week, but not on Sunday."

Guardian: "A woman who claims that an American investment banker loaned her to rich and powerful friends as an underage 'sex slave' has alleged in a US court document that she was repeatedly forced to have sexual relations with [Britain's] Prince Andrew.... Another close associate of [financier Jeffrey] Epstein who is also accused in the lawsuit, Alan Dershowitz, told the Guardian that the woman’s accusations against himself were 'totally false and made up'." ...

... Guardian: "Lawyers have asked the US government to hand over any letters or other documents it might have relating to the claims of two women that Prince Andrew was among those who lobbied its justice department on behalf of the billionaire financier and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein."

Yahoo! News: "A 7-year-old girl walked three-quarters of a mile through rugged terrain Friday night -- after surviving a plane crash that killed her father, mother, sister, and cousin. The child had been aboard her family's Piper PA-34 heading from Key West, Fla., to their home state of Illinois, but the plane crashed in western Kentucky."

Washington Post: "A suspected al-Qaeda terrorist died Friday night just days before he was slated to go on trial in New York on charges of helping plan the 1998 bombings outside U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224 people, his lawyer said. Among the dead were 12 Americans, including two CIA employees. Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer after U.S. commandos and FBI agents captured him in a 2013 raid outside his house in a suburb of Tripoli, Libya."

White House: "In this week's address, the Vice President wished Americans a Happy New Year, and asked that as we make resolutions to get healthier in 2015, we take the time to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act":