The Ledes

Thursday, July 31, 2014.

Washington Post: A "confluence of worries sent the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling more than 300 points, its worst one-day drop since February. The plunge snapped a string of five straight monthly gains, and pushed the blue-chip index to a slight loss for the year. But it wasn’t just stocks that suffered. Oil fell to its lowest level since March, gold dropped and even Treasurys edged lower."

New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Thursday that he would not agree to any cease-fire proposal that does not allow the Israeli military to complete its mission of destroying Hamas’s tunnel network in Gaza." ...

     ... ** Washington Post Update: "Israel and Hamas have agreed to an unconditional, 72-hour humanitarian truce to begin Friday morning, diplomats from the United States and the United Nations announced Thursday, potentially paving the way for an end to the 24-day-old conflict. In a joint statement, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said both sides in the conflict are sending delegations to Cairo for negotiations aimed at reaching a lasting cease-fire."

USA Today: "Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released in a prisoner swap with the Taliban two months ago, will meet next week with the senior Army officer investigating the circumstances of his capture in Afghanistan, his lawyer said Wednesday. Bergdahl, who spent five years in captivity, plans to meet with Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, the investigating officer, in San Antonio, where Bergdahl is stationed, according to lawyer Eugene Fidell."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States economy rebounded heartily in the spring after a dismal winter, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday, growing at an annual rate of 4 percent from April through June and surpassing economists’ expecations. In its initial estimate for the second quarter, the government cited a major advance in inventories for private businesses, higher government spending at the state and local level and personal consumption spending as chief contributors to growth."

Guardian: "At least 19 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early on Wednesday when a UN school sheltering people was hit by shells during a second night of relentless bombardment that followed an Israeli warning of a protracted military campaign. Gaza health officials said at least 43 people died in intense air strikes and tank shelling of Jabaliya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City. The death toll included the people at the school who had fled their own homes." ...

     ... AP Update: "Israel unleashed its heaviest air and artillery assault of the Gaza war on Tuesday, destroying key symbols of Hamas control, shutting down the territory's only power plant and leaving at least 128 Palestinians dead on the bloodiest day of the 22-day conflict. Despite devastating blows that left the packed territory's 1.7 million people cut off from power and water and sent the overall death toll soaring past 1,200, Hamas' shadowy military leader remained defiant as he insisted that the Islamic militants would not cease fire until its demands are met."

Los Angeles Times: "Pacific Gas & Electric was charged Tuesday with lying to regulators during the immediate aftermath of the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and ravaged a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood. The new indictment includes obstruction charges related to what the company said about its records immediately after the incident, according to a release from the Northern District of California U.S. attorney's office. The filing comes three months after an April indictment claimed that PG&E violated federal pipeline safety laws."

Los Angeles Times: "A top Los Angeles utility official faced tough questions Tuesday night about the response to a massive pipe break that flooded UCLA and surrounding areas with millions of gallons of water and threatened the near-term use of Pauley Pavilion. The rupture of the 90-year-old main sent a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air and deluged Sunset Boulevard and UCLA with 8 million to 10 million gallons of water before it was shut off more than three hours after the pipe burst, city officials said."

Reuters: "Militant fighters overran a Libyan special forces base in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday after a battle involving rockets and warplanes that killed at least 30 people. A special forces officer said they had to abandon their main camp in the southeast of Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and former rebel militias in the city."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 31

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:20 pm ET: President Obama signs an executive order

3:40 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Department of Housing & Urban Development

7:25 pm ET: President Obama speaks at a celebration of the Special Olympics

8:30 pm ET: President Obama attends a performance celebrating the Special Olympics

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

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

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

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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