The Ledes

Tuesday, September 30, 2014.

New York Times: "Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed leader on Tuesday called for the pro-democracy demonstrators who have blocked major roads in the city to return home 'immediately,' and he gave no sign that he was prepared to compromise on their demands for more open elections to choose his successor." ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging the protests.

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, September 29, 2014.

AP: "Militants of the Islamic State group were closing in Monday on a Kurdish area of Syria on the border with Turkey — an advance unhindered so far by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, including one that struck a grain silo, killing two civilians, according to activists. Islamic State fighters pounded the city of Kobani with mortars and artillery shells, advancing within three miles (five kilometers) of the Kurdish frontier city, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Nawaf Khalil, a Kurdish official."

New York Times: "A wave of protest in Hong Kong further engulfed the city on Monday as thousands of residents defied a government call to abandon street blockades, students boycotted classes and the city’s influential bar association added its condemnation of a police crackdown on protesters."

Los Angeles Times: "Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated Monday as president of Afghanistan, succeeding President Hamid Karzai and marking the first peaceful transition of power in the nation’s history."

Oklahoman: "In a bizarre coincidence, a fired Oklahoma City nursing home employee was arrested Friday after a co-worker reported he threatened to cut her head off. Jacob Mugambi Muriithi, 30, is being held in the Oklahoma County jail on a terrorism complaint. His bail is set at $1 million... She said Muriithi identified himself as a Muslim and said he 'represented ISIS and that ISIS kills Christians,' the detective told a judge in the affidavit. The two had not worked together before."

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 29

11:00 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at an event announcing winners of Job-Driven Training grants

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

9:00 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's awards dinner in Washington, D.C.

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

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

Los Angeles Times: "George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin are married, having said their vows Saturday evening in Venice, Italy." ...

... OR, as the Business Women Media lede reads, "Amal Alamuddin, a 36 year old London-based dual-qualified English barrister and New York litigation attorney who has long been a high-profile figure in international refugee and human rights law has gone against the trend for professional women in her field and married… an actor."

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."

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Friday
Apr132012

The Commentariat -- April 14, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Jia Lin Yang of the Washington Post: "Romney and Obama’s tax proposals for the \rich offer a window into how differently the two men understand the economy: what makes it tick, what the government can do to encourage wealth and how to rebuild the middle class.... If Republican front-runner Mitt Romney reaches the White House, he will push for the top 1 percent of American earners to save an average of $150,000 in taxes, according to an analysis of his tax plan by the Tax Policy Center. In a second Obama administration, these Americans would pay about $83,000 more than they do now." Bottom line: they both shill for the rich; Romney is just way worse. For the top 0.1 percent, the difference is even more stark. Romney’s plan would save them an average of $725,000. President Obama would raise their taxes by $450,000." ...

... Brian Beutler of TPM on pundi-critics of the Buffett Rule: "All Buffett Rule critics knock Obama for not pursuing more comprehensive tax reforms. If they’d paid even passing attention to the events of 2011, they'd know that the only tax reforms Republicans back either raise no revenue, or are conditioned on the idea of locking in the Bush tax cuts permanently." CW: I've also seen what are supposed to be straight news reports comparing the Buffett Rule with the Ryan budget as if they were analogous. They are not. The Buffett Rule is one itty-bitty part of a budget proposal; the Ryan budget is, well, a budget. ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine. Even Democrats can't remember why they favor the Buffett Rule. But Chait knows: "The Buffett Rule is a symbolic fight to expose Republican extremism.... Republicans oppose it because they won’t accede to any higher taxes on the rich, no maer what." ...

... Jon Walker of Firedoglake: "In addition, every time Democrats talk about the Buffett Rule they can easily pivot to talking about how rich Mitt Romney is and how little he pays in taxes. Continuing to push down Romney’s already extremely low favorable numbers by depicting him as rich, privileged, and out of touch looks to be part of the Democrats overall 2012 strategy." ...

... Jake Tapper of ABC News: "President Obama’s secretary, Anita Decker Breckenridge, makes $95,000 a year. White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage tells ABC News that Breckenridge 'pays a slightly higher rate [than did the Obamas] this year on her substantially lower income, which is exactly why we need to reform our tax code and ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share.' ... [The] president would not be impacted by the Buffett Rule, though he would see his taxes go up if the so-called Bush tax cuts on higher income wage-earners were allowed to expire, as the president says he wants."

... Frank Newport of Gallup: "Six in 10 Americans favor Congress' passing the so-called 'Buffett Rule,' which would mandate a minimum 30% tax rate for Americans with a household income of $1 million or more per year. Majorities of both Democrats and independents favor the policy, while a majority of brainwashed people Republicans oppose it." CW: the only logical reason to oppose passage of the law is "I'm rich & selfish."

Chris McGreal of the Guardian: "Barack Obama's policy of engagement with North Korea lies 'in tatters' after it was effectively shot down by Pynongyang's defiant but failed attempt to launch a long-range rocket."

T. W. Farnam of the Washington Post: "An anonymous donor gave $10 million late last year to run ads attacking President Obama and Democratic policies.... In the new, free-wheeling environment of independent political giving, the identity of this donor, like many others, is likely to remain a permanent mystery. The donation went to Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit group founded with the support of political strategist Karl Rove. Another donor gave $10 million in the 2010 midterm elections...."

These [Stand Your Ground] laws are vigilantism masquerading as self-defense, and getting 25 states to pass them is one of the best con jobs the NRA’s leaders have ever pulled off. They don’t give a damn whether innocent people are shot and killed. And they don’t give a damn about the integrity of the American justice system. They want to create a nation where disputes are settled by guns instead of gavels, and where suspects are shot by civilians instead of arrested by police. These laws destabilize our justice system, they degrade our society, and they destroy innocent lives. We can’t be silent — and we can’t let them stand. -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City ...

... Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News calls George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin, "not just the face of the NRA in this country, he is the face of gun laws built on the fears and paranoia of the gun lovers in the NRA, the ones who have made a mockery of the Second Amendment."

... Beth Reinhard of the National Journal: "Which 'anti-gun president' is the NRA talking about?" Obama passed on golden opportunities to address gun control. ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon: "... a question for Obama: If the NRA is going to pretend that you’re aggressively pursuing gun control anyway, then why not actually do it? ... The case for national Democrats sticking with a hands-off approach to gun control is that it makes it possible to score victories in state-level races in pro-gun states." CW: Kornacki thinks this is a lame excuse. I don't. Sure, the NRA leadership & many of its members are delusional. But there are probably many more gunowners who are (a) skittish about Obama, but (b) realize that Obams is not the most anti-gun president ever. If, before the election, Obama proposes sensible gun-control laws, then he will have "proved" the NRA's point, & those more inclined to believe the facts as opposed to NRA fiction might decide the NRA is right when it claims "Obama will take away your guns."

John Schoen of NBC News: "Thanks to easing demand from a slowing global economy and increased production from Saudi Arabia, the oil market is coming off a two-year cycle of tightening supply, according to the International Energy Agency. That's helped snap a 13 percent surge in oil prices since the start of the year." This could mean lower gas prices this summer.

Steve Benen: Repetition matters -- because not everyone is listening, apparently including Politico pundits. (No surprise there.)

Right Wing World

** Andrew Rosenthal has an excellent post on the Republican "war on women." He urges Democrats to talk about it. ...

... Romney Is Not the "Mommy" Candidate. Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "Among parents, really, the only clear beneficiaries of Romney's fiscal plans would seem to be the wealthiest ones. They depend least on the government programs Romney would cut and they'd benefit the most from the tax cuts he wants to pass." ...

... Steve Benen: "... the Republican National Committee created a stand-alone blog to appeal specifically to women voters, and then decided to ignore the blog, posting two items in the last 12 months.... Why would a major party create a blog for women and then forget about it? Doesn't this suggest the exact opposite of the intended point?"

... Allison Yarrow of the Daily Beast: "... critics derided the Women’s Health and Safety Act that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law today as cruel, dangerous, and hostile to women — likely to deter many Arizona women from seeking an abortion, and to distress those who nonetheless go through with one.... While it becomes the seventh state to pass such legislation in the past two years, many Arizonans believe theirs is the most restrictive and sinister because of the degree to which it will legislate health care, thwart evidence-based medicine, and shame women."

Michelle Goldberg in the Daily Beast: "... a look at Romney’s political career suggests that his problems with female voters long predate the current political season, and it will take more than a few spasms of manufactured umbrage on behalf of stay-at-home-moms to make them go away.... Last week, he said that his wife 'reports to me regularly' on what women care about, suggesting a disinclination to listen to women directly. [Hilary] Rosen was certainly wrong to minimize the work Ann Romney has done in bringing up five sons. She was absolutely right, though, to point out that Ann has 'never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing,' and is thus hardly equipped to be her husband’s primary source of intelligence on the challenges confronting American women." Even womanizing Ted Kennedy beat Romney with women. ...

... "Ann Romney Should Aplogize!" Joan Walsh of Salon: "An aggrieved Ann Romney even told Fox News ... that as the mother of five grown boys, 'I know what it’s like to struggle.' Well, I’d like to demand that Ann Romney apologize to all women for equating the 'struggle' of a wealthy mother who had full-time household help to that of a poor or working-class job-holding mother, who must choose between her job and her children when a child gets sick.... I’d like to demand that Mitt Romney apologize for his wife’s remarks, too. I’d like to hear every prominent Republican denounce Ann Romney for her heinous insensitivity to non-wealthy mothers who must work outside the home. Wait. Ann Romney’s not a Democrat, and I’m not a Republican, so that’s not how the world works. Sorry about that. I apologize." ...

... Steve Benen reports on Mendacity Mitt's lies of the week. ...

... "The Draperizing of Mitt Romney." This is a fairly astouding video as it comes from Politico, which is a pro-Republican Website:

It's Unfair for Obama to Criticize Republicans. -- GOP. Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "... it’s increasingly ridiculous to hear Republicans complain that Obama needs to just take his medicine and not try to confuse voters with information about the opposition."

Shit Allen West Says:

News Ledes

New York Times: Talks between Iran and six world powers about the aims of its nuclear-enrichment program began on Saturday morning with a plenary session of all parties. European and American officials suggested that a serious commitment from Iran to negotiate may be enough to continue the talks at another round in late May, possibly in Baghdad, as Iran has suggested." ...

    ... Guardian Update: "The first international negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme for 15 months are under way in Istanbul amid increasing signs that Tehran is prepared to trade limits on its enrichment of uranium for relief from economic sanctions."

Reuters: "China took a milestone step in turning the yuan into a global currency on Saturday by doubling the size of its trading band against the dollar, pushing through a crucial reform that further liberalizes its nascent financial markets. The People's Bank of China said it would allow the yuan to rise or fall 1 percent from a mid-point every day, effective Monday, compared with its previous 0.5 percent limit."

New York Times: "Activists said on Saturday that two neighborhoods in the Syrian city of Homs were shelled overnight, as the United Nations struggled to iron out the details about the rapid deployment of international observers."

Los Angeles Times: "Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney asked for an extension Friday to file his 2011 tax return. The former Massachusetts governor and his wife, Ann, expect not to owe any further taxes, having estimated $3.2 million in liability and made $3.4 million in payments, according to the documents filed. Romney will file his return prior to the November election, according to a spokeswoman."

The Washington Post story on the Secret Service agents recalled from Colombia is here. The Post broke the story. See also yesterday's Ledes.

Reuters: "Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein's compensation increased 14.5 percent to $16.2 million in 2011 despite a sharp decline in profits and share price during the year, leaving the bank open to more attacks on its pay policies. Blankfein's pay boost includes stock awards from previous years that vested in 2011, and therefore does not reflect the amount that Goldman's board awarded him strictly for the company's performance last year."

Reader Comments (6)

I'm a day early in recognizing the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic disaster but the WSJ is even earlier than me. They are on the job as usual and have uncovered the real reason the Titanic sank.

Ready?

It was Obama's fault.

Okay, if they could actually have gotten his name in there they would have so they did the next best thing. The blame for the Titanic disaster is the sole--and they actually do make this claim,--the SOLE responsibility of government regulators.

Betcha couldn't have guessed that.

White Star Line chairman and uber capitalist Bruce Ismay is completely blameless as is anyone connected with the construction and outfitting of the ship, they, adhering strictly to the regulations laid out by the British government (and not a farthing more), cannot be held in any way accountable for the horrible loss of life. The blame is on the heads of politicians and regulators.

There is no mention that Ismay, attempting to double down on his corporate hubris (which later turned to ignominious cowardice as he shoved aside women and children to save his own sorry ass--WSJ would never suggest any such moral failure by a CEO) and lack of concern for the safety of his passengers instructed the captain to not only maintain speed through a dangerous North Atlantic iceberg field, but to increase speed in order to enhance his own personal aura. After all, he had all those other robber barons on board. He had to show them that he too valued money over human life. He was a member of their club. Corporate profits trump life any day of the week and twice on April 15, 1912. But not according to the WSJ.

The speed of the ship was what caused the ship's collision with icebergs, not British politicians. But that would never play in a Murdoch rag, so we get "Regulators Murder Thousands".

Read it yourself. I'm not making this up:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577337923643095442.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Just disgusting. There is no level to which these idiots will not stoop to stick it to government regulation. Of course, even if regulations were outdated, what was to prevent White Star, supposedly an industry leader, from taking their own precautions in the case of an accident and adding the necessary extra lifeboats? Not a thing. But according to the WSJ, they abided by the absolute letter of the law and are blameless.

So what is the upshot? That left to their own devices, that is, no regulations at all, that White Star would have done the decent thing? Yeah, because there's such a long history of corporations doing that. No matter. Obama and his predecessors killed those people. Not corporate hubris and greed.

Rest in peace all you Titanic victims. The Wall Street Journal has uncovered your murderers.

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

@Akhilleus. Thanks for the link. There's a double irony here of course. The WSJ, champions of the GOP, are regulation vigilantes. They never saw a reg they like. Regulations cripple business, kill jobs, blah blah. "You want how many lifeboats?"

And do you think the author of the piece is really named "Berg"?

April 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Rant alert: I'm increasingly fascinated by the complex shapes into which "responsible voices" in the media have twisted themselves in order to pretend that mandated ultrasound, unlimited military spending, and legislation clearly written by the NRA and ALEC are just indications of business as usual in a give-and-take legislative system. The Very Serious People (to use Krugman's term) are currently tut-tutting about the economy, having predicted ruinous inflation every several months for the last few years. Other VSPs, many of whom fumbled every detail in Iraq (they'll embrace us as liberators, the war won't cost much, there's more than one kind of Muslim?) are predicting ruin for the U.S. unless we attack Iran along with Israel, which seems to have embraced the American concept of Manifest Destiny, circa 1876. Paul Ryan's pseudobudget would cut social safety net spending drastically while pumping up a military that needs more money like the Amazon basin needs more rain. I'd like to think that this is the last desperate stand of those who stand for a white, paternalistic, repressive, aggressive, often religious group of "dead-enders" who will probably create even more mayhem than they already have but will finally subside into the 19th-century survivalist pipe dream into which they've been trying to drag the rest of us. However, as disturbing as all of this is, it would be much less so if news organizations that describe themselves as non-partisan weren't so blatantly eager to pretend that this is an even intellectual fight. By giving credence to right-wing slogans and false equivalencies, the press and supposedly even-handed web sites like Politico allow those who desperately want to continue to call themselves Independents (just because, darn it, the moniker sounds so noble and above the fray) to do so without undue discomfort. How far can Jan Brewer, Scott Walker, and Eric Cantor go before the mainstream press calls them out for the authoritarian, anti-family, upper-crust lackeys that they are? A little further, it appears.

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

@ Jack: William Pfaff has written a terrific book you may want to read: "The Irony of Manifest Destiny." (The Tragedy of America's Foreign Policy)

Last night on the PBS "Washington Week" there was discussion re: Romney's long silence to Sam Stein's question as to Romney's stance on the Lilly Ledbetter law which ended with Dan Baltz saying, "But in the end he said he supported it." NO, he didn't!" I yelled––what he actually said was he wouldn't repeal it. Another example of false reporting and this was PBS for gosh sakes!

Cory Booker–––what a guy. Always said he's a man to watch.

The kerfuffle over Rosen's words: She qualified it by her preceding remarks regarding the economy which is being left out by the MSM. It was quite clear to me that she meant the missus had not had the experience of being OUT in the workplace, therefore was not the one to address this issue; she certainly was not implying that a woman who works at home raising children was somehow inferior. Anyone who has done this knows it 's one of the most difficult jobs––––HOWEVER––in Ann Romney's case, the burden because of their wealth, was lifted way above being difficult.(There have been many comments by the pundits as to how REAL Ann is, how good a speaker she is, how she seems to connect with people––something her husband fails to do––. This appeal has not yet reached me and I find listening to her for more than five minutes makes me yearn for Pat Nixon and her taciturnity.)

@ akhilleus: The information you cited is unbelievable––but then, why should we be surprised when every day another bat-crazy issue rears its ugly head. The fact that so many people didn't realize that the Titanic was actual history and not some fictional film just adds some frosting to this cake of ice story.

It's a lovely spring day here in New England and it's time to cultivate the garden––digging in the dirt clears one's head.

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Jack, I'm sorry to say this, but it will be a LOT further. After all, those "impartial" and "non-partisan" reporters, commenters, and "investigators" have a few more vertebrae to splinter before they give up the idea that in order to deserve those descriptors, they must give willful misdirection, ideological fantasy, and outright lies the same consideration as truth, facts, and rational argument.

In other words, if you're a Democrat, you have to have a rock solid case fully supported by facts in order to be considered even with off the cuff lies offered by Republicans. And then you'll still lose.

MSM outlets are still moaning on and on about the uncalled for attacks on poor Mrs. Romney by evil liberals. That's the story. There's no attempt at actually looking into what Rosen's, admittedly poorly chosen, comment was meant to convey. That the Romneys are hopelessly out of touch.

A few short years ago, Poppy Bush was ridiculed for not knowing the price of a gallon of milk. If some reporter tried that today with Mittens or Mrs. Willard, they'd be excoriated as vicious "gotcha" partisans by uber partisans such as drug addled Limbaugh whose rants would then be copied spittle and syllable, word for word by mainstream outlets and passed on as "news".

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

Marie, I hope you're just sleeping in this morning. It's jarring to see that you haven't posted anything yet. I hope all is well with you on Tax Day.

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney
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