The Ledes

Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

New York Times: "Artur Fischer, a German inventor who registered more than 1,100 patents, including the first synchronized camera flash and an anchor that millions of do-it-yourselfers use to secure screws into walls, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Waldachtal, in southwestern Germany. He was 96."

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 9

1:00 pm ET: Senior administration officials discuss the President's FY2017 budget

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

Contact the Constant Weader

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Monday
Apr162012

The Commentariat -- April 17, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on the New York Times' sponsorship of "Deficit Reduction Week." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here. My column incorporates ...

     ... Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation has a good column in the Washington Post debunking the idea -- promulgated by Brooks & Friedman, among others -- that neither side is willing to work in a bipartisan way to pass a right-wing deficit-reduction plan. ...

     ... AND this terrific post on Bill Keller's most recent NYT column by Joan Walsh of Salon. ...

     ... AND this post in which economist Dean Baker debunks David Brooks' column today.

** Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people nationwide, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.... Justice Department officials said that they met their legal and constitutional obligations when they learned of specific errors, that they alerted prosecutors and were not required to inform defendants directly.... The Post found that while many prosecutors made swift and full disclosures, many others did so incompletely, years late or not at all." Hsu points to a number of specific cases, all of which will make you sick.

Josh Barro of Forbes makes the case for abolishing the federal Housing & Urban Development Department (HUD).

Nate Silver of the New York Times has 12 tips on how to read political polls.

Jake Tapper of ABC News on the GSA Las Vegas "meeting" scandal. With video. And photos!

The Presidential Race

Walter Shapiro: "Romney's budget plan shouldn't be a secret saved for wealthy donors."

Matthew O'Brien of The Atlantic: "The last time we checked in on Mitt Romney's tax plan, the numbers didn't add up. Actually, there weren't any numbers to add up. Instead, there was a not very plausible promise to make the numbers add up at a later date.... Romney only spelled out the taxes and not the tax deductions that he wanted to cut.... Because he promised that his plan would be 'revenue neutral,' these numbers had to offset each other. But if Romney's recent hot mic moment is any indication, they don't. Not even close.... Red ink is the likely result of the Romney tax plan. Lots of it. That's just math."

In case you'd like to know what Mitt & Ann Romney said to ABC News' Diane Sawyer, here's the transcript.

** "Why Ann Romney Stayed Home." McCay Coppins in BuzzFeed: "... for many Latter-day Saint women, staying at home to raise children is less a lifestyle choice than religious one — a divinely-appreciated sacrifice that brings with it blessings, empowerment, and spiritual prestige. These doctrinally-defined gender roles aren't entirely unique — they've been preached by various sects for centuries — but Mormons have proven uniquely unwilling to bend them to fit modern times. The Church took heat in the '70s for waging a high-profile campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment; and even today, Mormon women remain twice as likely to be homemakers as non-Mormons, regardless of income levels." ...

... Roseann Barr, who is running for president, writes an opinion piece in the Daily Beast questioning Ann Romney's veracity & criticizing the latest fake mommy war. CW: Barr mostly gets it right. I'm linking the piece largely because "people are talking" about it.

Right Wing World *

** Charles Pierce of Esquire argues that "The Democratic party has an obligation to beat the Republican party so badly, over and over again, that rationality once again becomes a quality to be desired."

Frank James of NPR: In an "entirely objective statistical procedure," two political scientists have demonstrated that "the Republican Party is the most conservative it has been a century." ...

     ... Jamelle Bouie of American Prospect: "Unfortunately, even after noting that ideological polarization is assymmetric, both NPR and Poole [the political scientist] refuse to move away from a 'pox on both houses' frame for the story.... If there’s a problem in American politics, it’s the Republican Party, whose theological devotion to to tax cuts and 'small government' has destroyed our finances — both Reagan and George W. Bush were responsible for huge explosions of debt—and made bipartisan cooperation impossible."

After the Horse Is out of the Barn. Colorado Pols: A day after the GOP organ Colorado Observer quoted Rep. Scott Tipton's campaign manager saying, "With gas prices doubled, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved, we feel good," & after the quote had made national news, the Website totally sanitized the citation. "You shouldn't be surprised to discover that what the Colorado Observer and its stable of former GOP campaign staffers who call themselves 'journalists' practices isn't 'journalism,' but this kind of dishonesty convinces you they aren't really trustworthy even as a partisan mouthpiece." Via Greg Sargent. See also yesterday's Commentariat.

Mary Bruce of ABC OTUS News: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked back Saturday night, dancing and drinking beer at a local hotspot after a day of summit meetings in Cartagena. The AFP/Getty got images of the Secretary dancing at Café Havana with her hands up in the air and swigging a local brew with friends." ...

Apparently this is shocking in Right Wing World.     ... Digby: "Yes, you may have been under the impression that right wingers consider Hillary to be a frigid, unfeeling schoolmarm but that was then and this is now. It's only a matter of time before they have her jumping out of the cake at the secret service sex parties." ...

     ... Davig Graham of The Atlantic on the brew-haha: "Inexplicably, however, we haven't seen Drunk Texts from Hillary anywhere."

* ... is far right.

Local News

War on Women. M. J. Lee of Politico: "Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law on Monday a bill that could shut down the only abortion clinic in the state, hailing it as an important step to 'ensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected in Mississippi.'”

Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leads all of his Democratic challengers in the Wisconsin recall election, per a new Public Policy Polling poll."

News Ledes

CNN: "The space shuttle Discovery landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington on Tuesday after a series of nostalgic fly-bys on the back of a NASA Boeing 747, bringing whoops of pride and tears to the eyes of space fans and astronauts alike":

New York Times: "Citigroup's shareholders rejected the bank’s plan to award its chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit, $15 million in compensation, in a show of frustration about Wall Street pay."

AP: "Under pressure to take action on rising gasoline prices, President Barack Obama wants Congress to strengthen federal supervision of oil markets, increase penalties for market manipulation and empower regulators to increase the amount of money energy traders are required to put behind their transactions."

Washington Post: "A probe into the alleged misconduct of nearly a dozen U.S. Secret Service agents has expanded to include more than five military personnel, Defense Department officials said Monday, as the scandal that erupted during President Obama's trip to Colombia last week put high-level officials on the defensive." ...

... ABC News: "... the Secret Service officials accused of misconduct in Colombia revealed their identities by boasting at a Cartagena brothel that they worked for President Obama." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The Secret Service has uncovered evidence that all 11 personnel under investigation for alleged misconduct with prostitutes in Colombia before President Obama's arrival there for a summit meeting last weekend had taken women to their rooms, Representative Peter T. King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said on Tuesday." Washington Post story here.

Washington Post: "Inspector General Brian Miller told a congressional committee scrutinizing an $823,000 Las Vegas conference that his office has asked the Justice Department to investigate 'all sorts of improprieties' surrounding the 2010 event, 'including bribes, including possible kickbacks.' ... Miller's revelations of possible further misconduct ... enraged Democrats and Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The lawmakers put GSA officials on the defensive during a tense four-hour hearing, with some Republicans loudly rebuking former administrator Martha N. Johnson and her colleagues."

Show Me the Money. AP: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that the long-term partnership agreement being negotiated with the United States should specify exactly how much money the U.S. will give to Afghan forces in coming years."

New York Times: "Demanding his acquittal, [Anders Behring Breivik,] a self-styled anti-Islamic militant on trial for killing 77 people in Norway's worst peacetime atrocity took the stand for the first time on Tuesday, describing the deaths as 'the most spectacular sophisticated political act in Europe since the Second World War' and saying he would do it over again."

AP: "The Syrian regime widened shelling attacks on opposition strongholds Tuesday, activists said, targeting a second town in a new sign that a U.N.-brokered cease-fire is quickly unraveling despite the presence of foreign observers."

Reader Comments (2)

I'm off to work, but am looking forward to Marie's making mincemeat out of Brooks today. I should never have read his column while eating breakfast––instead of food for thought, it was agita on a grand scale.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD Pepe,

Never under any circumstances read Brooks while eating! In addition to guaranteed primary GI tract stimulation, a Brooks piece is a straight line shot to the medullary chemoreceptor trigger zone. Not fun. Also you may become infected with Brooks Disease, which will cause you to uncover equivalencies where there are none. "Hitler? He wasn't all that bad. Besides, those Jews....they made jokes about him, didn't they? How awful." or "Those nice people in those covered wagons only wanted a few million acres to live on--I mean, it was their Manifest Destiny. So they indulged in a few atrocities. So what? Those mean old Native Americans killed that nice General Custer, didn't they? They were all equally bad."

See? ...and like that.

Speaking of CTZ stimulation, Buzzfeed is reporting that Mittens is already selling tickets to his inaugural meet and greets. A mere $50,000 ($78,500--the "legal" limit, nudge, nudge, wink, wink--is the preferred amount) will get you in line to whisper sweet corporate somethings into Mitty's ear (only the right one). A measly 10 Gs will only get you a picture with the great one.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/romney-sells-inauguration-access-nine-months-earl

They're lining up to carve up the country.

Vote early, vote often.

And stay away from David Brooks on a full stomach! Such dangerous enterprises are only for those with proper training and death defying skills like Marie.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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