The Ledes

Thursday, August 28, 2014.

AFP: "Islamic State jihadists have executed more then 160 fleeing Syrian soldiers, a monitoring group said Thursday, the latest in a string of brutal abuses alarming Western powers who fear a global spread of the terror."

New York Times: "Declaring that Russian troops had crossed into Ukraine, President Petro O. Poroshenko on Thursday canceled a planned visit to Turkey and convened a meeting of the national security council to focus on the 'marked aggravation of the situation' in the southeast of his country.The meeting of the national security council will focus on shaping a response, and Ukraine will also request a meeting of the United Nations Security Council."

Time: "In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a 'much bigger problem than anyone anticipated.' ... But Frieden says ... Ebola can be stopped.” ...

... New York Times: "As the tally of deaths from the worst known outbreak of the Ebola virus continued its seemingly inexorable rise, the World Health Organization said on Thursday that the epidemic was still accelerating and could afflict more than 20,000 people — almost seven times the current number of reported cases — before it could be brought under control."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "One of the longest-running shows in television history suffered its worst tragedy this week when an audio technician for the reality program 'Cops' was accidentally shot and killed by police while trying to film a robbery in Omaha. Officers thought the suspect was shooting at them. They opened fire, killing the suspect as well as Bryce Dion, 38, a seven-year veteran of the show. When police examined the suspect's weapon, they discovered it was a pistol that fired only pellets." ...

... New York Times: "The Omaha police chief said Wednesday that the fatal shooting of a crew member filming the television show 'Cops' by one of his officers was an 'unfortunate incident' and that it appeared that the three officers involved had acted professionally.

New York Times: "Tanks, artillery and infantry have crossed from Russia into an unbreached part of eastern Ukraine in recent days, attacking Ukrainian forces and causing panic and wholesale retreat not only in [the] small border town [of Novoazovsk, Ukraine,] but also a wide section of territory, in what Ukrainian and Western military officials described on Wednesday as a stealth invasion. The attacks outside this city and in an area to the north essentially have opened a new, third front in the war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists, along with the fighting outside the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk."

Washington Post: "The mother of Steven J. Sotloff, an American journalist who was captured last year by the Islamic State, has made a video plea to the head of the terrorist organization asking for her son’s release. In a video released Wednesday, Shirley Sotloff asks Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to 'please release my child. And as a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over.'” Story includes video.

Guardian: "The US has said little about Mount Sinjar since 14 August, when Obama declared the siege broken, but recent satellite imagery and interviews with Yazidis still on the mountain indicate a humanitarian emergency continuing to unfold."

New York Times: "A number of United States banks, including JPMorgan Chase and at least four other firms, were hit by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month, according to four people familiar with the investigation, which is incomplete. The hackers infiltrated the networks of the banks, siphoning off gigabytes of data, including account information, in what security experts described as a sophisticated cyberattack."

AP: "Syrian rebels, including fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group, seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights on Wednesday after heavy clashes with President Bashar Assad's forces, activists and rebels said. The capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan held more symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops."

Washington Post: "An open-ended cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was holding Wednesday after seven weeks of warfare that killed more than 2,200 people."

Washington Post: "Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of stepping up military activity in the annexed territory of Crimea and sending in troops to help separatists near a key seaport in southeastern Ukraine."

New York Times: "Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said on Wednesday that French prosecutors had placed her under formal investigation over a murky business affair that dates to her time as finance minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
August 28

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

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 York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

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

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

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

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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