The Ledes

Thursday, July 24, 2014.

Bloomberg News: "Jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 284,000 in the week ended July 19, the fewest since February 2006 and lower than any economist surveyed by Bloomberg forecast...."

Guardian: "A flight operated by Air Algérie carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early on Thursday, the plane's owner said."

The Guardian is liveblogging developments in the Gaza crisis. More than 700 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, many of them children.

Reuters: "A powerful Ukrainian rebel leader has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had an anti-aircraft missile of the type Washington says was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and it could have originated in Russia. In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence."

Los Angeles Times: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday night lifted its ban on U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at a special session on Wednesday in which the top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Israel and Hamas had likely committed war crimes with indiscriminate attacks on civilians." ...

... New York Times: "As the death toll mounts and passions spike, the Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned on Wednesday what it called 'deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists' who are reporting on the fighting in Gaza. That includes 'forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments,' the association said."

... New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Washington Post: "Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said." ...

... Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

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 23

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the NAACP national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (audio only)

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

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

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.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Wednesday
Apr112012

The Commentariat -- April 12, 2012

Your Titanic song for today:

CW: The 2nd Rachel Maddow segment I linked below reminded me to link to the 2013 budget proposal of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (or, as Rep. Allen West [R-Fla.] calls them, card-carrying Communists). I haven't looked over this year's proposal yet, but their proposed 2012 budget was the only proposal that made sense.

Here's the Pew News Quiz that contributor James S. mentioned in the comments to yesterday's Commentariat. According to James, it's a breeze; I'm about to find out if I'm as uninformed as the average American. Update: the quiz was a snap. ...

... Here's another "quiz" that I haven't tried yet, but when I find out what our income is I think I'll give it a whirl. The Obama-Biden campaign has an interactive calculator that let's you "see how your tax rate stacks up against Mitt Romney’s — and then see what the Buffett Rule would do." ...

... Ezra Klein explains how the Buffett Rule, or more accurately -- the "Paying a Fair Share Act" -- actually works. My eyes glazed over but if your family income is higher than a million a year, maybe you'll want to pay more attention than I did. ...

** ... Win-Win-Win. Prof. James Galbraith in a CNN opinion piece: "Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is pressing for the federal minimum to rise to $9.80 per hour by 2014.... Harkin's proposal would raise the incomes of 28 million American workers. It would make a big difference in the South, where wages are lower. It would especially help younger workers, minorities and women. It would not add to the deficit -- since federal workers all make more than that anyway -- and would likely spur the economy and increase tax revenues -- by a lot more than the Buffett Rule."

David Streitfeld of the New York Times: "The government’s decision to pursue major publishers on antitrust charges has put the Internet retailer Amazon in a powerful position: the nation’s largest bookseller may now get to decide how much an e-book will cost, and the book world is quaking over the potential consequences."

Daily Kos: "The overt and immeasurable influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over U.S. policy has been well-documented on this site and others. For the most part, little has been done legislatively to change this unfortunate fact. But a Madison, Wisconsin Democrat, Mark Pocan, has been circulating a bill that aims to rein ALEC in:

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has been circulating the 'ALEC Accountability Act,' a bill that would require ALEC to register with the state as a lobbyist and report the funding sources for the 'scholarships' funding legislators’ travel.

       ... Thanks to contributor Dave S. for the link. 

... Dave S. also highlights this preamble to a statement by ALEC, issued in the wake of the organization's loss of yet another corporate underwriter:

Ron Scheberle, Executive Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued the following statement today in response to the coordinated and well-funded intimidation campaign against corporate members of the organization.

      ... Yes, it's horrible that Common Cause, Color of Change & similar dastardly intimidators are picking on a right-wing group that spoon-feeds anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-poor (voter ID), pro-gun, etc. legislation to state legislators too stupid to write their own regressive laws. Frankly, I don't get why any big corporation would view as beneficial most of the legislation ALEC writes. Here's a bit more from Andy Kroll of Mother Jones.

CW: Oh this is nice. Andrew Sprung of xpostfactoid: "... justices Alito, Roberts and Scalia seemed unaware of a fundamental feature of the Affordable Care Act (and were not disabused during oral argument on 3/27): the ACA has a catastrophic coverage option." Would knowing this have changed any of these justices minds? And who is responsible for their ignorance?

Right Wing World

The New York Times editors do a very nice job of comparing Mitt Romney to his "hero" Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: "If Mr. Romney is elected and a Republican-led Congress presents him with a bill overturning the Ledbetter act, would he sign it, following the path of his hero, Mr. Walker?" Read the whole editorial. The Obama-Biden campaign should jump on this because the editors begin to show how "Romney's electability problem" would become the nation's problem if he were elected. ...

..."We'll Get Back to You on That." Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney’s campaign scrambled Wednesday afternoon to clarify his support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act after top aides were caught flat-footed by the question.... Top policy aides to the former Massachusetts governor seemed uncertain how to respond when a reporter asked about Mr. Romney’s position on it during a campaign conference call." ...

... This segment of Rachel Maddow's show has the audio (the pause is real). Maddow & Sam Stein do a good job of illustrating Romney's "everything problem" (see also E. J. Dionne's & Greg Sargent's commentary, linked below):

... E. J. Dionne: "Thus the box the primaries built for Romney: He must simultaneously court evangelical Christians and working-class voters who have eluded him so far and also reassure socially moderate women higher up the class ladder who, for now, are providing Obama with decisive margins. It’s not easy to do both." ...

... Greg Sargent shows that Romney's "woman problem" isn't going to evaporate. The campaign's hesitation on the Lilly Ledbetter law was no accident. And it makes Dionne's point: Romney is caught between a rock & a hard place.

Art by "DonkeyHotey" for Esquire.Charles Pierce: "How does Rick Santorum, man of principle, look those wonderful people ... in the eye and now tell them they have to vote for the Governor of the People's Republic Of Gay Marriage And Taxachusetts? The only way to do it is to scare the daylights out of them about what will happen during the second term of Barack Hussein Alinsky. In other words, the only way for Rick Santorum to maintain political viability is to become a towering fake for the next six months. Myself, I think he's up to the job."

CW: Yay! We Floridians Have Our Own Personal Baby Joe McCarthy. Jonathan Mattise of the Palm Beach Post: At a local townhall meeting Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) "got in shots at Democrats and President Obama, who spoke Tuesday at Florida Atlantic University. West said Obama was 'scared' to have a discussion with him. He later said 'he's heard' up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are Communist Party members, but wouldn't name names." Via Charles Pierce, who comments. ...

... As contributor P. D. Pepe notes in today's comments, West is not giving up even though the Communist Party says no Members of Congress belong to the party:

News Ledes

New York Times: 'North Korea defied international warnings of censure and further isolation on Friday, launching a rocket that the United States and its allies called a provocative pretext for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that might one day carry a nuclear warhead. But in what was a major embarrassment to the North and its young new leader, the rocket disintegrated moments after the launching, and American and Japanese officials said its remnants fell harmlessly into the sea."

The Daily: "Rescue workers who raced to Thomas Kinkade’s California home on the morning the painter died were responding to a call of a unconscious, 54-year-old man who had been 'drinking all night' ..." With audio.

Raw video of George Zimmerman being taken into Seminole County jail (Sanford, the town where Zimmerman shot & killed Trayvon Martin, is in Seminole County):

Orlando Sentinel: "Late Wednesday night, [George] Zimmerman — his head covered — was ushered out of a black SUV and into the Seminole County Jail, just hours after special prosecutor Angela Corey announced a second-degree murder charge against him." ...

     ... Update: "George Zimmerman ... faced a judge for the first time this afternoon. Meanwhile, a probable cause affidavit filed in the second-degree murder case failed to disclose much new evidence. The four-page affidavit did, however, does offer a few new pieces of information. It says that 'Zimmerman confronted Martin,' an apparent contradiction of Zimmerman's version of the events." AP story here.

New York Times: "After more than nine hours of debate, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the state’s death penalty, following a similar vote in the State Senate last week. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill, which would make Connecticut the 17th state — the 5th in five years — to abolish capital punishment for future cases." Hartford Courant story here.

Washington Post: "An uneasy calm descended on Syria on Thursday indicating that both the government and rebels were keeping their promises to observe a U.N.-brokered cease-fire which went into effect at dawn." Al Jazeera story here. Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria is here.

Reader Comments (8)

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/13/1064432/-Wisconsin-Dem-Introduces-the-ALEC-Accountability-Act-

Fighting Back! Got get em Rep. Pocan!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

http://www.alec.org/2012/04/alec-responds/

Ron Scheberle, Executive Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued the following statement today in response to the coordinated and well-funded intimidation campaign against corporate members of the organization:

That's Rich...

How's that shoe fit Ron?

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

The Pew quiz, indeed, was a breeze, should have been for any who pay attention but I find at the end only 8% got them all correct as I did. A sorry state of affairs.

The topper to the West story is that the actual American Communist Party wrote a letter disclaiming Allen––"There are no communists in the Congress..." Even this did not derail our idiot legislator from responding that ACP didn't know what they were talking about.

Here's my response to Liz Peek, the financial guru of Wall Street about a year ago when she claimed EVERYONE was worried about the yuan and EVERYONE knew who John Boehner was:

INTERVIEW WITH ONE RANDOM AMERICAN (*man on the street)

I: Could you tell me, sir, are you incensed about China and its yuan?

M: Am I what?

I: Incensed about the yuan?

M: Some guy named yuan is selling incense in China?

I: So you are not incensed about the yuan?

M: The Yuan can do whatever he wants to do as far as I’m concerned as long
as he’s selling the incense legally.

I: Alrighty, then. Just off the cuff as long as I have you here. Do you know
who John Boehner is?

M: Is that supposed to be a joke? Some guy’s Johnson has a boner?

I: Never mind. One more thing: Do you happen to know who’s running for
governor in your state?

M: Sorry, I don’t pay much attention to politics.

I: But you vote?

M: You betcha!

*one of Steve Allen's guys

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

A reader writes re: the Obama-Biden tax interactive feature,

"I put in a salary of $260,000 just to see what the result would be and it is obvious the quiz is meant to impress those who make less than that and make those who might pay more pay attention to the effect on lower wage earners. A very brief message comes up that you can barely read that says the taxes at that income are significantly based on the nature of investments and other factors. Then it quickly switches to info on how the Buffett rule would affect lower income earners. No problem with that since the majority of people make less than $250,000."

Marie

April 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Two questions from a Left Coast ignoramus:

Who elected West? Will they do so again?

Anyone who knows, please enlighten...I'd be grateful.

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I took the Pew quiz as a lark and was horrified that only 8% of the public got all 13 questions right! My apologies to any readers here who did not, but, seriously, this was a quiz? I considered it a "gimme".

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercakers

@Ken Winkes. There's quite a bit about West here & here. Although West will run in a different Congressional district (the 18th) because of redistricting, apparently he has a good chance of winning in the new district, which is centered in Port St. Lucie & is overall Republican-leaning. Amazingly, I cannot find a map of the new Florida congressional districts. The 18th did include much of Miami & all of Miami Beach & the Keys. The district has been represented by popular Cuban-American Republican Ileana Ros since Claude Pepper died in 1989, & has generally voted Republican, tho it went for Obama by 2 points in 2008. Ros is running in the newly-created 27th district. Without seeing a map, I have no idea what's where.

April 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

That Pew test IS a bit of a joke. Unless you're a moron. Or watch too much Fox. But I repeat myself.

Seriously. These results may partly explain why there are people who think the Titanic disaster was made up by someone in Hollywood. Twenty five percent--a quarter of those taking the Pew test--only got 5 or fewer out of the 13 questions right. Thirteen percent could only get 3 or fewer correct. That is astonishing given the ease of these questions. The thing that scares me even more is the knowledge that a fair number of those at the lower end were just guessing and happened to accidentally get a couple right. That means that perhaps 3 to 5% of those at that bottom are even more dense than the test might indicate. Now consider this: these are figures for people who actually took the time to take this test!!! We're not even talking about a whole raft of potential voters who don't even dare--or care--to take a test like this. At least those taking it thought they knew enough to do so.

But if you're too stupid to realize that the Titanic was the subject of an actual event, you're stupid enough to buy Romney's lies about Obama putting women out of work. And Romney is bad enough. He lies like he breathes. It's automatic. But at least he's smart (read: cynical, manipulative, calculating; see: hypocritical) enough to know he's lying.

Well, he needs to. And even though he's bad at it, like the cheating husband trying to explain away those lipstick marks on his collar, millions still go along with him (CBS morning news dutifully relayed Romney's assertion about women as if it were unassailable fact. At least NPR yesterday put it into context and reported that he was being cute with his math and in fact women have lower unemployment numbers than men since Obama became president).

What truly worries me are the lies propagated by such as Rick Santorum (to quote Charlie Pierce: "...have I mentioned what a dick this guy is?"). Because Santorum, the Savonarola of his day, hands down his cultural, economic, historical, and social solecisms as if they were gospel and millions eat it up. So when he makes his rulings on how little right women have over their own bodies (he being so knowledgeable about such things) and when he makes similarly uneducated assertions about women being in combat situations (because Santorum, yet another of the many, many, many Republican chicken hawks who have never spent a millisecond in uniform but claim to know all about combat and war) and when he declares, without the tiniest iota of proof or support that the Affordable Care Act will cost trillions and TAKE AWAY OUR FREEDOMS, there are millions--MILLIONS--of people out there nodding their heads hard enough to cast the drool in all directions.

And those people vote.

These are the truly scary ones. Because even if they don't have the numbers themselves they cause soulless weaklings like Romney to drift ever farther to edge of the known world, out where 'blah' people are a constant danger and where scores of Democrats in congress are dirty commies and where there is no separation of church and state, plenty of guns and bibles, and no stops on ignorance, racism, fanaticism, or nationalism.

And as George Carlin reminded us, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. If you do, I have a couple of deck chairs on the Titanic you might want to try out.

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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