The Ledes

Sunday, September 21, 2014.

New York Times: "Afghanistan’s election commission on Sunday pronounced Ashraf Ghani the winner of the country’s presidential election, but it withheld an announcement of the total votes won, despite an exhaustive and costly audit process overseen by the United Nations and financed by the American government. The suppression of the vote totals was apparently the final step necessary for the two presidential candidates to sign an American-brokered agreement to form a power-sharing government, giving the runner-up, Abdullah Abdullah, substantial powers in what is, in effect, the post of prime minister."

New York Times: "NASA’s latest Mars spacecraft, Maven, arrives Sunday evening to study the mystery of what happened to the planet’s air. A 33-minute engine firing, beginning at 9:37 p.m. Eastern time, will put Maven in orbit around the planet. Acknowledgment will reach mission controllers 12 1/2 minutes later, the time it takes for a radio signal to travel to Earth from Mars. NASA’s website will provide a live broadcast beginning at 9:30 p.m."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President thanked Congress for its strong bipartisan support for efforts to train and equip Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIL":

The Ledes

Saturday, September 20, 2014.

Guardian: "The United States has quietly released 14 Pakistani citizens from military detention in Afghanistan, where the US holds its most secret cohort of detainees in its war on terrorism. The US military transferred the 14 to Pakistani government custody on Saturday. It did not publicize the release, as is typical with releases from the detention center on the outskirts of Bagram Airfield which is known formally as the Detention Facility in Parwan. A Pakistani human rights group instead announced the transfer and said it was the largest number of Pakistanis the US has thus far released."

New York Times: "Polly Bergen, an actress, singer and businesswoman who won an Emmy in 1957 for her portrayal of the alcoholic torch singer Helen Morgan and was nominated for another 50 years later for her role on the television show 'Desperate Housewives,' died on Saturday at her home in Southbury, Conn. She was 84."

New York Times: "The two candidates for president of Afghanistan have agreed on a power-sharing deal that will give the losing candidate substantial influence in the next government, initialing the American-brokered deal Saturday night and promising to sign it at a formal ceremony on Sunday. The deal promised an end at last to the tumultuous, five-month-long aftermath of the Afghan presidential elections, although previous settlements have repeatedly collapsed at the last minute despite the candidates’ promises."

New York Times: "A Texas man who scaled the White House fence made it through the North Portico doors on Friday night before being apprehended, the Secret Service said. The intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, was arrested just inside the doors and taken to George Washington University Hospital after complaining of chest pains, said Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman. None of the Obamas were home when the security breach occurred about 7:20 p.m., but White House staff members were evacuated as a precaution, officials said. President Obama and his daughters had left for the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., just minutes before the incident." ...

     ... New Lede: "The Secret Service will conduct an internal review of its security procedures around the White House after a man who jumped the fence Friday night at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue managed to make his way through the front door of President Obama’s home before being stopped, officials said Saturday." ...

     ... ** Washington Post UPDATE: "Within seconds, the man who relatives said served as a sniper in the Iraq War got to the front double doors of the North Portico, turned the brass knob and stepped inside the vestibule. There he was grabbed and subdued by an officer standing post inside the door. He was carrying a folding knife with a 2-1/2 inch serrated blade." ...

... Fox "News": "A New Jersey man was arrested Saturday outside the White House after driving up to a gate and refusing to leave, less than 24 hours after another man jumped the fence and got inside the presidential mansion before being arrested, which has resulted in increased security and a “comprehensive internal review,” according to the Secret Service."

New York Times: "Forty-nine Turkish hostages who had been held for months in Iraq by Islamic State militants were returned to Turkey on Saturday after what Turkey said was a covert operation led by its intelligence agency. The hostages, including diplomats and their families, had been seized in June from the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul." ...

     ... Too Good to Be True? AP UPDATE: "Turkish authorities say they have freed 49 hostages from one of the world's most ruthless militant groups without firing a shot, paying a ransom or offering a quid pro quo. But as the well-dressed men and women captured by the Islamic State group more than three months ago clasped their families Saturday on the tarmac of the Turkish capital's airport, experts had doubts about the government's story."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
September 19

10:00 am ET: Annoucement of Department of Defense awards on biofuel production

10:15 am ET: President Obama & Vice President Biden host a White House event to launch the "It's on Us" campaign

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

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

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

CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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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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