The Ledes

Sunday, September 21, 2014.

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

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

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

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

The Ledes

Saturday, September 20, 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Service Announcement

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

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

White House Live Video
September 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Sunday
Apr152012

The Commentariat -- April 15, 2012

Sorry to be so late today. My seeing eye dog is a slow reader. Or, as Pappy Bush would say, "it's the vision thing." But no big deal. Apparently the waxing & waning of the vision thing is going to occur for a while.

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Frank Bruni's irritating "column about nothing." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

Maura Judkins of the Washington Post has links to lots of stories about the Titanic. Survivors remember the ship & its sinking:

** Paul Krugman & Robin Wells, from an article in The Occupy Handbook, republished in Salon: It's the inequality, stupid. A must-read on how the rich bought off both politicians & economists:

Republicans are encouraged and empowered to take positions far to the right of where they were a generation ago, because the financial power of the beneficiaries of their positions both provides an electoral advantage in terms of campaign funding and provides a sort of safety net for individual politicians, who can count on being supported in various ways even if they lose an election.

Dean Baker contradicts Greg Mankiw's New York Times op-ed on the benefits of competing state governments. Baker writes, "... the reality is that the government has implemented a wide range of policies that have led to a massive upward redistribution of before tax income over the last three decades."

Reuters: "President Barack Obama called on likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns, in an interview with Univision released on Saturday." ...

... Mary Bruce of ABC News: "President Obama, on a three-day trip to South America, attacked GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney’s stance on immigration reform today, saying his support for Arizona’s tough immigration law is 'very troublesome.' 'We now have a Republican nominee who said that the Arizona laws are a model for the country … and these are laws that potentially would allow someone to be stopped and picked up and asked where their citizenship papers are based on an assumption,' Obama told Univision during an interview in Cartagena, where the president is attending the Summit of the Americas." ...

... I can't tell if this is the entire interview or just a portion of it. In any event, it covers the remarks reported in the stories above:

Nicholas Kristof: "An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.... We enlist soldiers to protect us, but when they come home we don’t protect them." ...

... Kate M. sent me this related op-ed piece on the Bales massacre, published in the Washington Post late last month. The author, Sarah Chayes, was an advisor to the U.S. military in Kandahar:

Never before has so much been asked of such a small segment of the American population. A startling proportion of the troops I’ve seen in Afghanistan have deployed three or more times: They make up less than 12 percent of the less than 1 percent of us in uniform.... U.S. soldiers are expected — by military as well as civilian officials — to make up for [the American and Afghan governments'] political and diplomatic failings.... Bales will stand trial. Afghan civilians will pay, too, dying as U.S. forces draw down and leave a government so rotten with corruption that many predict its implosion. But what accountability is there for the leaders, Afghan and American, whose poor decisions brought about such tragedies?

Right Wing World

Joan Walsh of Salon on Mitt Romney's doubletalk on working women: "His wife's [stay-at-home] 'job' is 'more important' than his, but he'd make welfare moms work 'from day one if we could.'" ...

... Don't miss this Chris Hayes segment:

News Ledes

AP: "With prayers, a hymn and a moment of silence broken by a ship's deep whistle, passengers and crew on a memorial trip marked 100 years to the moment since the Titanic sent more than 1,500 people to a watery grave."

New York Times: "A summit meeting of Western Hemisphere nations ended without a final statement of consensus on Sunday, after the United States and some Latin American nations remained sharply divided over whether to continue excluding Cuba from such gatherings."

ABC OTUS News: "President Obama today called for a 'thorough' and 'rigorous' investigation following the scandal surrounding the Secret Service officials tasked with his protection."

Washington Post: "Egypt’s top general urged Islamist and liberal political parties on Sunday to end a constitutional crisis and finish the new charter that will map out the country’s post-revolutionary future before the military council hands over power to civilian rule this summer."

USA Today: "Google deliberately impeded the Federal Communications Commission's investigation into how the technology firm used data gathered as part of its Street View project, the agency says. The FCC notified Google that it has proposed that the company be fined $25,000; Google can appeal the fine."

New York Times: "The Taliban staged multiple and sustained attacks across Kabul and eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, hitting the heavily secured diplomatic neighborhood of the Afghan capital and the Parliament area as well as Afghan government installations in at least two provinces."

Tulsa World: "Tornadoes erupting across the Midwest and Plains left five people dead and at least 29 injured in Oklahoma and damaged houses, a hospital, a jail, an Air Force base and other buildings elsewhere during a weekend outburst of severe weather, authorities said."

Washington Post: "Western diplomats claimed modest progress Saturday after more than 10 hours of talks with Iranian officials, raising hopes for at least a temporary easing of a nuclear crisis that has fueled fears of a new military conflict in the Middle East."

Washington Post: "The U.S. Secret Service on Saturday placed 11 agents on administrative leave as the agency investigates allegations that the men brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms in Cartagena, Colombia, on Wednesday night and that a dispute ensued with one of the women over payment the following morning. Secret Service Assistant Director Paul S. Morrissey said the agents had violated the service’s 'zero-tolerance policy on personal misconduct' during their trip to prepare for President Obama’s arrival at an international summit this weekend."

New York Times: Wayne LaPierre "of the National Rifle Association accused the news media on Saturday of engaging in sensationalized coverage of the Trayvon Martin killing, in the first comments that the gun lobby has made publicly about the fatal shooting since it occurred six weeks ago." Critics have zeroed in on the NRA's support for "stand-your-ground" laws; the local police cited the Florida law as a reason they did not arrest Martin's killer.

Reader Comments (3)

CW,
Thank you for today's article re Frank Bruni!
You clobbered him, and he deserved it.
I miss Frank Rich.
Mae Finch

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

@Mae Finch. Thanks. Apparently somebody doesn't like what I had to say. I just don't know what the guy is talking about in his comment on NYTX -- something about my backing Rush Limbaugh or Hilary Rosen or both.

I think he's the same guy who complained a while back when I posted a response to Brooks early the same morning the Brooks column appeared in the paper that he had hoped I could write on something that wasn't so stale.

You can't please all of the people all of the time.

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

I'll never be a stay-at-home mom or dad, but after 50 years working
for various corporations and companies, I sorta have an idea what the
difference is. Granted, when a lot of women I know have 3 or 4
households to run, paying bills, getting the gardeners to do whatever,
repairs and regular maintenance, it may seem like a full time job.
BUT, you don't have to worry about being harassed, sexual or
otherwise, or worrying about losing your job and not being able to
make the mortgage or pay the rent. Yes, there definitely is a
difference. But it seems impossible to get that point across to
those of us who have never been subservient to a corporation.

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris
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