The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, February 7, 2016.

New York Times: "Robin Chandler Duke, a rags-to-riches grande dame who married an ambassador and became one of America’s best known advocates for women by championing reproductive rights and international family planning, died in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday. She was 92."

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."

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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Tuesday
Apr102012

The Commentariat -- April 11, 2012

The Titanic's second-class promenade. Photo by passenger Francis Browne.Above: rare photo of the Titanic by passenger Francis Browne. A few more photos here. Note deck chairs on left. To be moved to starboard by Paul Ryan, John Boehner.

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's post whining about President Obama's being a meanie. (The accompanying artwork is fabulous!) The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

Andy Rosenthal off the New York Times on the Buffett Rule: "Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Buffett has ever said the millionaires’ rate is about deficit reduction. It is about making the tax code truly progressive. When Mr. Buffett pays a smaller share of his income to the government than his secretary, we are not just rewarding Mr. Buffett, we are punishing the secretary."

Maureen Dowd has a good column psyching out Hillary Clinton & her Tumblr encounter of the hilarious kind. I wrote to a friend earlier today that I thought the Tumblr thing might mean Clinton's political career wasn't over after all. it seems others had the same thought. See also Infotainment.

New York Times Editors: "House Republicans combined two ill-conceived health care measures into a single bill and passed it on a largely party-line vote last month. One measure repealed an independent board that is one of the major cost-control measures in the health care reform law. The other imposed restrictions on medical malpractice awards that would limit the ability of patients who have been grievously harmed to receive fair compensation.... The Senate needs to reject or bury this legislation."

Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "The overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Tuesday opened the door to forgiving some mortgage debt of homeowners who owe more than their houses are worth, as the Obama administration has recently urged." But don't get your hopes up.

Another Way to Look at the Blahous "Study." Ezra Klein: "So, about that new study arguing that the Affordable Care Act actually increases the deficit: It’s really not saying anything in particular about the Affordable Care Act. It’s saying that the baseline we use to assess all legislation — from Obamacare to Paul Ryan’s budget — is wrong. And it’s saying that we actually don’t have a deficit problem at all.... Lots of the Affordable Care Act’s skeptics are trumpeting the Blahous study. But none of them actually use that baseline. Nor do they plan to switch over to it. And that means they don’t really believe the study." Klein explains the "logic" of the Koch-funded study & why it's nonsense. See also yesterday's Commentariat & comments.

Right Wing World

The Obama campaign releases a Romney's Greatest HIts video:

Conservatives Double Down on Willard: Peter Nicholas of the Wall Street Journal: "We mentioned earlier that conservatives are warning Mitt Romney not to take them for granted.... Gary Bauer, an adviser to Rick Santorum‘s campaign..., said Mr. Romney must now take concrete steps to ensure that conservative voters don’t stay home in November or support a third party candidate."

Mitt Romney Teams up with President Obama to Explain Individual Mandate":

... CW: With Santorum out of the race, Romney can concentrate on lying about Obama. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney’s turn toward the general election addressed one of his biggest vulnerabilities according to polls: a gender gap that shows women currently prefer President Obama by large margins. Mr. Romney fought back on his preferred turf, jobs and the economy, making the case that women had faced heavy job losses since President Obama took office.... He repeatedly cited the figure of 92.3 percent, which he said was women’s share of all the jobs lost since the president’s inauguration in January 2009.... The statistic, which appears to be a talking point Mr. Romney intends to use regularly, was rated 'mostly false' by PolitiFact." After reading the PolitiFact explanation, I'd rate it "Mostly Bullshit."

... Jonathan Bernstein of the Washington Post culls a surprising stat from the latest Obama v. Romney poll: "On health care, people pick Barack Obama over Mitt Romney 'to do a better job' on health care by a ten point spread. Yup, health care. That’s more than Obama’s seven-point edge in the horse race."

Elicia Dover of ABC OTUS News: "Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich may not appear on the ballot for the June 26 Utah primary, after a $500 check - the required filing fee - bounced, an official said." ...

... The Onion (fake news): "Following Rick Santorum's announcement Tuesday that he would end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, candidate Newt Gingrich called upon frontrunner Mitt Romney to drop out of the race so the former House speaker could concentrate on the general election. ...

... AP (real news): "Santorum's departure Tuesday has pushed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney closer to the nomination. But Gingrich and Paul say there is still time left for voters to pick a more suitable alternative to face President Barack Obama in November." CW: Newt Gingrich & Ron Paul: keeping America safe from satire.

Santorum Post Mortems


Good Riddance. New York Times Editors: "... the biggest reason for the improbable rise of Mr. Santorum was his appeal to the most extreme social conservatives and evangelical Christians. His problem, in the end, was that there just weren’t enough of them.... [Romney's] embrace of the Paul Ryan budget, with its unconscionable cuts to the social safety net, represents an economic extremism not that different from Mr. Santorum’s."

Dana Milbank: "In Gettysburg, Rick Santorum surrenders."

Jonathan Bernstein: "Santorum and the nomination process only functioned, from Florida on, as a mechanism for forcing Romney to hew to Republican orthodoxy. That mechanism will be replaced, now, by more direct action and pressure on him by conservative party actors. Those actors will certainly ensure that Romney picks a trusted conservative as a running mate, and will police everything he says on every issue."

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "I’ll miss him for the blogging material he so richly supplied, and do wish he had stuck around long enough to provoke a few more Romney gaffes and perhaps Romney defeats. But I’m glad I can go back to wearing sweater vests without fear of misunderstanding. Now we get to see if Newt Gingrich tries to pretend he’s the last True Conservative Standing, or will just let us all have a break from the Great Republican Race to the Right of 2012."

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post: 'With Rick Santorum, you never had to wonder if he believed what he said. You never had to wonder why he was running for president. And it’s that lack of Santorum’s authenticity that’s making Romney a hard sell for just about anyone."

CW: a couple of days ago I linked to an article about Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeting that President Obama was "stupid" for complaining about activist judges. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress has such a terrific post on this it's worth revisiting. The headline is "Grassley Calls Obama 'Stupid' for Agreeing for Grassley about Activist Judges."

News Ledes

AP: "A prison panel denied parole Wednesday to mass murderer Charles Manson in his 12th and probably final bid for freedom. Manson, now a gray-bearded, 77-year-old, did not attend the hearing where the parole board ruled he had shown no efforts to rehabilitate himself and would not be eligible for parole for another 15 years."

AP: "Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the Justice Department will take appropriate action in the killing of Trayvon Martin if it finds evidence that a federal criminal civil rights crime has been committed." ...

     ... ** Washington Post Update: "Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey plans to announce as early as Wednesday afternoon that she is charging ... George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation. It was not immediately clear what charge Zimmerman will face." Story has been updated to reflect charges brought. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The news conference is scheduled to be held in Jacksonville, [Florida,] at 6 p.m. [ET]." Story has been updated to reflect charges. ...

     ... UPDATE: Zimmerman turned himself in & was arrested for murder in the 2nd degree, per NBC News highest possible charge under the circumstances. No link. NBC News story here.

New York Times: "The Justice Department filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Apple and major book publishers on Wednesday, charging that the companies colluded to raise the price of e-books in 2010. Three publishers that were investigated — Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins — have agreed to a settlement, threatening to overturn a pricing model that allows publishers to set their own e-book prices, and dangling the possibility of lower e-books for consumers in the near future."

ABC News: "This morning the president will continue to push the so-called 'Buffett Rule,' which would require that millionaires are taxed at a rate of at least 30 percent. In making that argument, he will be joined by millionaires and their secretaries who support this tax increase." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Wednesday’s installment of President Obama’s running campaign to raise the taxes of millionaires featured a group of wealthy people who agree with him, standing at his side as he professed that the idea is popular among the gilded elite from Warren Buffett on down.

New York Times: "With the deadline for a cease-fire in Syria less than a day away, Kofi Annan, the high-profile special envoy who devised the timetable for a truce, on Wednesday urged Iran, Syria’s main regional ally, to support the peace effort and cautioned against arming rebel forces, saying that further militarization of the conflict would be 'disastrous.'”

AP: "Two massive earthquakes triggered back-to-back tsunami warnings for Indonesia on Wednesday, sending panicked residents fleeing to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles. There were no signs of deadly waves, however, or serious damage, and a watch for much of the Indian Ocean was lifted after a few hours."

Reuters: "Impoverished North Korea rejected international protests over its planned long-range rocket launch and said on Wednesday that it was injecting fuel 'as we speak', meaning it could blast off as early as Thursday."

Washington Post: Karl Rove's American Crossroads launched a six-state ad campaign against President Obama yesterday.

Reader Comments (6)

Who did the Albert E graphic? They deserve a Pulitzer, or a Nobel, or an Academy Award! This should be put on billboards. It should be posted on every piece of empty space that can be found. I absolutely love it!!!

April 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudy K

Marie,

Thanks for that link to the photos taken aboard the Titanic. One of the discussion threads hereabouts over the last few days relates to education. While scrolling down the photos on that site I came across an image of the great ship sailing away from the Irish coast on its way to disaster of historic proportion. One that, one might assume, would still resonate for any in the US, Ireland, or the UK. But the blurb for this photo was an eye opener:

"These photos will be a big blow to the remaining folks who believe that the Titanic was fictional"

Say what? Fictional? Who thinks that?

Too many people, at least by the look of the Twitter feed that accompanies the photographs. Mostly younger, these people are aghast to learn that there actually WAS a Titanic, it wasn't just a fictional event, and that people really did die. Comments of the "I never knew it was real! How am I just finding this out?" and "I just thought it was a move. It was real?" are common.

What planet did these people grow up on? Seriously. No wonder fact-free claims and accusations find such purchase. No one checks anything (well, not many, it seems). The level of general knowledge seems even lower than I thought.

I realize that there will always be a certain percentage of the population who live relatively benighted lives, and it's not as if the sinking of the Titanic was an event on par with a world war, but in its day and for many years after, it could be considered as stunning an event as 9/11 or the Japanese or Indian Ocean tsunamis are today.

There was an old folk song/children's song about the Titanic. I wonder how many remember it now?

It was sad, it was sad, oh yes it was sad.
It was sad when the great ship went down.
Husbands and their wives, little children lost their lives
It was sad when the great ship went down.

I suppose this has been replaced around campfires by songs like "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp". Well, I suppose we don't sing songs that were popular during the Hundred Year's War anymore, but c'mon.

I'm not even sure what to make of this but my initial reaction is not good. And these kids can VOTE or will have that franchise quite soon.

Jeez.

Okay, daily rant over now.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I remember the song. It was written by Huttie Leadbetter (aka Leadbelly).

But your right the level of ignorance, or worse fictionalizing, of history is often astounding.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Well, I just took the Pew Research "News IQ Quiz"--a 13-question test of no-brainer questions, such as "Was Franklin Roosevelt a Republican or a Democrat?" Of course, I aced it... as did 8 percent of the respondents. Think about that: 92 fucking percent of those could not answer questions about which party favors restricting abortions or opposed amnesty for immigrants, while 4 percent didn't get a single question right! And, likely as not, they all vote.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Here's the full report on the Pew "News IQ Quiz" if you'r interested. All the questions; all the responses. http://www.people-press.org/2012/04/11/what-the-public-knows-about-the-political-parties/

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

@James Singer---What this tells me is that 92% of the population
never reads a newspaper or magazine and has never in the past read
a book, other than fiction or porn. The 4% no doubt get all or their
enlightenment from fox news. And as far as thinking the sinking of
the Titanic was just something that happened in a movie, oy vey,
we be in deep doo doo.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris
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