The Ledes

Sunday, February 7, 2016.

New York Times: "Defying warnings of tougher sanctions from Washington, North Korea launched a rocket on Sunday that Western experts believe is part of a program to develop intercontinental ballistic missile technologies."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President discussed climate change and how the most ambitious climate agreement in history is creating private sector partnerships that are advancing the latest technologies in clean power.":

Hill: "President Obama will send a budget to Congress that increases the amount of funding toward clean energy research and development by about 20 percent, he said Saturday."

White House Live Video
February 5

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Timess: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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Wednesday
Oct172012

Binders Full of Women

“Binders full of women” is the latest and best example of Mitt Romney's using odd or convoluted language when he is talking about a topic with which he is uncomfortable and when he is lying. Romney wasn't telling the truth last night when he claimed he and his gubernatorial staff had made “a concerted effort” to “recruit” qualified women candidates for top jobs in his new administration.

 

Last week he told the Des Moines Register, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” His own vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan pushed legislation to redefine rape, and there is no reason to think a Republican Congress wouldn't do the same again. He has said he favors strong prohibitions against abortion and, implicitly, against some forms of contraception. In a primary debate, he said it would be great if abortion were outlawed, period. He thinks Roe v. Wade should be overturned and has said he would appoint conservative judges and justices – the fact that he appointed Robert Bork to head his committee on the judiciary is ample evidence of that. He said he would “get rid of Planned Parenthood,” an abortion provider. The construction “no legislation … that I'm familiar with” is just a rhetorical means of lying. Romney's binder full of agenda items may not include an “Outlaw Abortion” tab, but that is his plan.

 

Appearing before the righty-right-wing CPAC convention in February 2012, he said, “I was a severely conservative Republican governor.” When Romney introduced the term “severely conservative” at CPAC, it was such a novel – and false – descriptor that media attention moved it into the American lexicon.

 

When he gets into areas where he is more comfortable, Romney is able to answer with short, declarative statements: “Corporations are people, my friend.” “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”

 

“Binders full of women” is not the only remark Romney made during the town-hall debate that gives us a window into his attitudes about women. Too little has been written – so far – about this part of his extended reply:

 

I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

 

From bindersfullofwomen.comSo here is newly-minted Gov. Romney, realizing that working women are sort of special-needs aliens who require extraordinary accommodations. This is something he wouldn't know much about, because in the nearly two decades he was head of Bain Capital, the company never invited any women to become partners.

 

Romney, of course, never suggests that family flex-time should be enacted into law. Whether or not to provide this extraordinary benefit is entirely up to the employer. As an employer, Governor Mitt allowed the little lady he chose as his chief-of-staff to go home and do womanly things like helping the kids with their homework and whipping up vittles. It never occurred to him – then or now – that his male staff might have kids who need supper and help with the homework. The men have wives to do those homely chores, for Pete's sake.

 

Evidently only in a strong economy, “so strong” employers are desperate for workers, will employers scrape the bottom of the barrel and hire these special-needs gals. This is typical Republican pre-1970s thinking. Let the market economy decide if women's peculiar needs will be met. And never even consider that men and women share family responsibilities. That, after all, is not how the division of labor works in Republican/Romney family circles. Caring for children, for elderly or disabled relatives and loved ones – that, my friends, is women's work.

 

And, in an ideal world, women should be staying home and doing it. Stay-at-home parent Ann Romney said that Mitt always reminded her that what she was doing as a mother was more important than what he was doing. In his convention speech, Mitt Romney said, “I knew that her job as a mom was harder than mine. And I knew without question, that her job as a mom was a lot more important than mine.”

 

Matt Yglesias of Slate spoke to that issue in late August when Mitt was complaining – completely untruthfully – that President Obama wanted to “gut” the welfare-to-work program, a program that helps people – primarily mothers – get back into the workforce:

 

[Mitt Romney] doesn't say women should go back to the kitchen, stop working, and instead do the much harder and more important job of raising kids full time. But he doesn't want to spend any money or burden any business with any kind of rules or programs that would push us to a new more egalitarian equilibrium. Nor does his lip service to the values of full-time childrearing seem to have any content. He thinks the idea of paying poor women to stay at home and raise kids is outrageous and certainly doesn't encourage fathers to engage in the much harder and more important job of full-time homemaking. He's a guy who … doesn't want to do anything to address the challenges that parents face in an economic environment shaped around the obsolete expectation that behind every working man there's a full-time homemaker. But he's not a guy who in any way acts as if there's any content to his belief that full-time parenting is harder and more important that entrepreneurship or market labor.

 

At a campaign event in August 2012, Romney said,

 

If I am president, I will put work back in welfare. There is nothing better than a good job to help lift a family, to allow people to provide for themselves and end the spread of a culture of dependency. We must include more work in welfare. We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good hard work.

 

“Good job”? Really? Isn't a good job usually one that requires some educational background and perhaps some special skills? Romney's campaign boasted that “as governor he vetoed a provision in a Massachusetts bill that would have allowed education and training to substitute for work while he pushed for able-bodied parents of young children to meet the work requirement.” So if you're a poor woman, trying to get off welfare and into the workplace, forget about getting a good job. You'll have to take what you can get at whatever skill level you may have. Flex-time? Ha ha ha.

 

If you're a middle-class woman who has been able to obtain special skills on your own, then maybe you'll find an employer who needs your particular talents so much he (and I do mean “he”) will let you go home early enough to fix dinner for the kids before bedtime. (No such luck if you're a middle-class man.)

 

If you're a rich woman, you can stay home and do the “hard,” “important” job of mother.

 

The question town-hall participant Katherine Fenton asked was this: “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?”

 

Romney's answer, parsed: “None.”

 

Update: Somebody I know submitted the following Amazon.com customer review of the TOPS Cardinal XtraValue D-Ring Binder, 3 Inch. It seems it takes 48 hours for a review to be processed, & I have a feeling the Amazonians -- unless they are Amazon women -- may not approve the review.

 

"I love this binder. I used to have several. I chose red ones. They were the perfect size for my hobby, which was keeping binders full of women. The binders are very sturdy so the women didn't fall out or get wrinkled. The mechanism on the D-ring opens and closes easily, though, so when I wanted to add or discard a woman, I didn't have to exert much effort. When I left my job in Massachusetts, my staff purged all of my records, and unfortunately they discarded my binders full of women. I wish I still had them. If I get a new job that's anything like my old job, you can be sure I'll get some more of these binders and fill them full of women. And gay people. Possibly I'll purchase a 1-inch binder and fill it full of darker-complexioned people. Or any sort of people I'm not familiar with."

Reader Comments (5)

I believe it's vital that we spend the time deconstructing the Rat's antediluvian attitudes toward the vast--and I do not employ that word hyperbollically--number of not only Americans, although they are his primary target (another word chosen with care), but human beings all over the world whom Romney considers as his god-given inferiors and servants. I more than halfway expected this primping, self-absorbed rich boy to refer to the president as "boy".

He might as well have referred to women as "little women", "gals", or in the case of women who have decided they won't be one of Lady Ann's Obedient Sister Wives, as "sluts, bitches, and whores".

This guy has been dropping bread crumbs the size of softballs leading the dullest voter to his misogynist/racist heart of 18th C hearts.

Marie's map of the Romney Plantation points anyone who fucking cares to pay attention to this asshole's heart of stone and presumptuous sense of right-wing dominance and belief in his own superiority.

Given the astoundingly obvious hatred and snide disdain of this rodent for a world in which women, minorities, poor people, and the disadvantaged might in any way be considered his equal, can anyone but those of similarly reprehensible mind stand up for this dildo?

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Bravo! If I could post this to Facebook, I'd send across the 'net and watch as it became viral (and annoyed the shit out of some of my relatives).

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Thanks Marie! This is the mega load of outdated misogynist crap that had me looking around for a target to let lose with some venom. My husband was right there with me and in fact correctly identified Chuck Todd as a stupid shit for his contention that women didn't want to see all that unseemly confrontation. Yup - I'm pretty sure the internet was ablaze with orders for fainting couches last night. My husband laughed, while pointing at me as I threatened bodily harm to the Chuckster.

Maddow is a very at her job, but is she is going to distance herself from the fray make sure to give women a voice. She needs to have a woman as a permanent member of her after-debate panel. I'm getting really sick of men, on either side, knowingly expressing the inner psyche of women. I nominate Joy Ann Reed. At the Matthews after party, she was the only person who picked up the Lord SB Ozzie and Harriet sensibilities. She is smart and very very articulate. I always perk up when I see her on MSNBC because I know she'll say something of import.

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Diane, I had the same thought as you about Rachael's after-debate panel. It was especially jarring Tuesday night when so much talk during the debate was targeted to women ~ binders full of them. And, I second your nomination of Joy Ann Reed.

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Nick Kristof today, announcing his uninsured friend suffering from stage 4 cancer had died, in response to many commenters who essentially said, "Actions have consequences... too bad for him."

"First, a civilized society compensates for the human propensity to screw up. That’s why we have single-payer firefighters and police officers. That’s why we require seat belts. When someone who has been speeding gets in a car accident, the 911 operator doesn’t sneer: 'You were irresponsible, so figure out your own way to the hospital' — and hang up.

To err is human, but so is to forgive. Living in a community means being interconnected in myriad ways — including by empathy. To feel undiminished by the deaths of those around us isn’t heroic Ayn Rand individualism. It’s sociopathic. Compassion isn’t a sign of weakness, but of civilization."

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