The Ledes

Monday, August 29, 2016.

New York Times: "An Australian aid worker who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and held for four months has been released and is doing well, Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said on Monday. The aid worker, Kerry Jane Wilson, who is in her 60s and is also known as Katherine Jane, had been working in Afghanistan for about 20 years and had most recently run Zardozi, an organization that promoted the work of Afghan artisans, particularly women.... Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, said in a brief statement that its special forces had carried out a raid to free Ms. Wilson." -- CW 

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, August 28, 2016.

Washington Post: "James W. Cronin, who shared the Nobel prize in physics for discovering a startling breakdown in what was assumed to be the immutable symmetry of physical law, thereby helping to explain the behavior and evolution of the universe as a whole, died Aug. 25 in St. Paul, Minn. He was 84." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

...Washington Post: Charles Osgood, who is 83 years old, announced Sunday, August 28, that he was retiring as host of the long-running CBS show "Sunday Morning." "He will stay on through Sept. 25. Osgood has been the face of the weekly program since 1994, when he took it over from its first host, Charles Kuralt." -- CW 

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

"Giovanni della Robbia’s 'Resurrection of Christ,' made for an entrance gate to the villa of the Antinori family outside Florence." Brooklyn Museum photo. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "One of the most innovative art-as-advertising firms in late-15th- and early-16th-century Florence was the della Robbia workshop, a family concern that prospered for three long-lived generations. Its specialty was a brand of glazed terra-cotta sculpture that was physically durable, graphically strong and technologically inimitable. (The exact methods for producing it remain a mystery to this day.)... The Museum of Fine Arts [in Boston is mounting] “Della Robbia: Sculpting With Color in Renaissance Florence”..., a show of ideal size and scholarly weight that includes among 46 pieces one of the tenderest Renaissance sculptures in existence — 'The Visitation' by Luca della Robbia — on first-time American loan from its Tuscan church."

Michelle & Barack -- The Movie. Richard Brody of the New Yorker reviews “Southside with You,” "a drama about Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s first date." Brody calls the film "a fully realized, intricately imagined, warmhearted, sharp-witted, and perceptive drama, one that sticks close to its protagonists while resonating quietly but grandly with the sweep of a historical epic." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Requiring longer passwords, known as passphrases, usually 16 to 64 characters long, is increasingly seen as a potential escape route from our painful push toward logins that only a cryptographer could love."

The New York Times features photos of the exteriors of Bill & Hillary Clinton's residences over the years.

Brian Hickey of the Philly Voice: When Leroy Black died at age 55, he got two obituaries in the Press of Atlantic City: " In the first obit, his 'loving wife, Bearetta Harrison Black' gets top survivor billing. In the second, however, Bearetta is nowhere to be found, but 'his long-tome (sic) girlfriend, Princess Hall' appears in her place. A man answering the phone at Greenidge Funeral Homes told PhillyVoice that the obituaries were placed separately because 'the wife wanted it one way, and the girlfriend wanted it another way.'" ...

... CW: Kinda reminds me of the headstone a widow placed on her husband's grave in the Key West cemetery: "Harry, I Know Where You're Sleeping Tonight."

New York Times: "A surprisingly specific genetic portrait of the ancestor of all living things has been generated by scientists who say that the likeness sheds considerable light on the mystery of how life first emerged on Earth. This venerable ancestor was a single-cell, bacterium-like organism. But it has a grand name, or at least an acronym. It is known as Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, and is estimated to have lived some four billion years ago, when Earth was a mere 560 million years old."

Ian Crouch of the New Yorker: "For a few days, at least, [Stephen] Colbert abandoned the political equanimity that he’d adopted when he started his 'Late Night' job." BTW, here's Laura Benanti's segment:

Washington Post: "Benny" (for Ben Franklin), the mystery philanthropist of Salem, Oregon, has given away more than $55,000 in $100 bills, which s/he hides in odd places like "pockets of clothing, in diapers, in baby wipes and in candy." -- CW 

Jumping Jupiter! New York Times: "Ducking through intense belts of violent radiation as it skimmed over the clouds of Jupiter at 130,000 miles per hour, NASA’s Juno spacecraft finally clinched its spot on Monday in the orbit of the solar system’s largest planet. It took five years for Juno to travel this far on its $1.1 billion mission, and the moment was one that NASA scientists and space enthusiasts had eagerly — and anxiously — anticipated. At 11:53 p.m., Eastern time, a signal from the spacecraft announced the end of a 35-minute engine burn that left it in the grip of its desired orbit around Jupiter." -- CW ...

... Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post has more on the importance of the mission. CW: This, BTW, is another fine example of your government actually at work.

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Apr232012

The Commentariat -- April 24, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Norm Ornstein's bright idea to entice Americans to vote by way of lotteries with big prizes. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here. ...

... A better idea: Katrina vanden Huevel in the Washington Post argues for universal voter registration.

** NEW. Paul Krugman in a NYT Magazine article on what Professor Ben Bernanke would do vs. what Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has done. CW: Haven't read it yet, but I will.

Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "... increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress. Branding its unilateral efforts 'We Can’t Wait,' a slogan that aides said Mr. Obama coined at that strategy meeting, the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies — on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more." ...

... Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "Government by executive order is not sustainable in the long-term. Nor is it desirable, whether you agree or disagree with those orders. But in this particular case, there may be no alternative."

Andrew Hacker reviews books by Charles Murray & Tim Noah on wealth inequality in the New York Review of Books. Thanks to contributor P. D. Pepe for the lead. ...

... An excellent post from Tim Noah, who is having a "conversation" in Slate with Matt Yglesias about wealth inequality: "... if you're at the median you have no positive reason to care how the economy does. Your only motivation is fear -- if the economy does really badly you may lose your job. But there’s no upside."

Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "During an interview last week..., Alexandra Franceschi, Specialty Media Press Secretary of the Republican National Committee, said that the Republican party’s economic platform in 2012 is going to be the same as it was during the Bush years, 'just updated.' ... As a result of the Bush economic platform, 'growth in investment, GDP, and employment all posted their worst performance of any post-war expansion,' while 'overall monthly job growth was the worst of any cycle since at least February 1945, and household income growth was negative for the first cycle since tracking began in 1967.' Meanwhile, the deficit and debt exploded."

John Burns of the New York Times: James & Rupert Murdoch are in for grillings this week before Lord Justice Brian Leveson. James will testify for up to six hours Tuesday, Rupert for the same period Wednesday. And the hearing will be broadcast on teevee!

Tara Bahrampour of the Washington Post: "A four-decade tidal wave of Mexican immigration to the United States has receded, causing a historic shift in migration patterns as more Mexicans appear to be leaving the United States for Mexico than the other way around, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center. It looks to be the first reversal in the trend since the Depression, and experts say that a declining Mexican birthrate and other factors may make it permanent."

"Covert Fashion." Attire for the Well-Dressed Gunslinger. Matt Richtel of the New York Times: Woolrich and several clothing companies are selling clothing designed for carrying concealed weapons. Woolrich "has added a second pocket behind the traditional front pocket for a weapon. Or, for those who prefer to pack their gun in a holster, it can be tucked inside the stretchable waistband. The back pockets are also designed to help hide accessories, like a knife and a flashlight."

The Presidential Race

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "The Liberal Media has consistently given more positive coverage to likely Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney compared to President Barack Obama, according to a new survey of media coverage from the Pew Research Center's Excellence in Journalism Project." ...

... Steve Benen: So much for Romney's claim that "a vast left-wing conspiracy" was out to get him.

Steve Peoples of the AP: "Mitt Romney's roadmap for governing the country is so vague that it has even Republican allies questioning his intentions.... In between heaping criticism on President Barack Obama, Romney spent the primary season sketching a broad conservative vision for leading the country should he win the White House.... But he's offered few detailed prescriptions on a range of the country's most pressing concerns from Social Security to potential military action in Iran. And in some cases where Romney and his aides have been specific, the former Massachusetts governor offers little significant change from the Democratic president he says is killing the American dream."

Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: "Mitt Romney appeared to publicly split on Monday with his 'informal' immigration adviser, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, setting up a general election pivot in which Romney potentially turns his back on the far-right anti-immigration sector of the GOP he courted heavily in the primary. At a press conference with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) Monday, Romney said Rubio’s nascent DREAM Act proposal, which offers the children of illegal immigrants a way to remain in the country, should pass muster with conservatives like Kobach. Kobach strongly opposes the DREAM Act on the grounds that it would provide amnesty to law-breakers — but Rubio's proposal differs from Democratic versions of the DREAM Act, which offers a path to citizenship."

I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans. There was some concern that would expire halfway through the year. I support extending the temporarily relief on interest rates...in part because of the extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market. -- Mitt Romney, yesterday, unprompted ...

... It would be popular for me to stand up and say I'm going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that. -- Mitt Romney, to a high school senior, ca. March 5, 2012

... Greg Sargent: "This would seem to put Romney at odds with Congressional Republicans. Obama has launched an all-out push to get Congress to extend a provision of a 2007 law that is set to expire on July 1st -- doubling the interest rate for nearly eight million students each year. Congressional Republicans are expected to oppose it along party lines...." ...

... Andrew Leonard of Salon: "The paint is hardly dry on Romney’s locking up of the GOP nomination, and already he is supporting big government handouts. Next thing you know, he'll be backing universal health care with an individual mandate."

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post on Fox "News" 'Steve Doocy interview of Mitt Romney. "The comical aspect of this entire episode is the fluency of the Doocy-Romney exchange. Even though Doocy grossly misquotes [President] Obama in his question to Romney, the candidate just runs with it." Doocy misquotes President Obama & Romney happily runs with the misquote." ...

... John Dickerson of Slate documents five times in this past when Obama has made this "silver spoon" remark, "long before Romney was the nominee. So has Michelle Obama. So has the press, in referring to the Obamas. "The 'silver spoon' construction is a standard Obama cliche." ...

... Also, Eugene Volokh traces how something Obama didn't say became a "quote": "But one reason Fox News and the New York Post get the big bucks, and have researchers on staff, is precisely so they can check what they say before they say it (especially nowadays, when video and transcripts of original events are so easily available) — even when, and perhaps especially when, the supposed 'facts' are useful to the speaker’s argument." ...

... BUT, the last word goes to Stephen Colbert:

Right Wing World *

Andy Rosenthal: "Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Republicans are not against all tax increases. Rep. Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, thinks poor people might need a tax hike.... There are many things wrong with this nonsense, but I’ll just point out one: Mr. Cantor and other Republicans who push this line have it exactly backwards. The problem is not that so many Americans don't pay taxes. It's that so many Americans are too poor to pay taxes."

Another Obituary for Facts. Robert Reich: "Bill O'Reilly, the tumescent personality of Fox News, said on his Friday show 'Robert Reich is a communist who secretly adores Karl Marx.' ... O'Reilly has no interest in arguing anything. Ad hominem attacks are always the last refuges of intellectual boors lacking any logic or argument. This is what's happening to all debate all over America: It's disappearing. All we're left with is a nasty residue.... A democracy depends on public deliberation and debate.... Hence the danger today -- when deliberation has stopped."

* Where fact, fiction, myth, reality -- it's all the same. -- Akhilleus

Stupid People News

Rachel D'Oro of the AP: "Rocker and gun rights advocate Ted Nugent was expected to plead guilty Tuesday to transporting a black bear he illegally killed in Alaska."

Local News

When Is a Reassessment Not a Reassessment? Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "Gov. Rick Scott has created a task force to review the controversial 'Stand Your Ground' law, the law behind which George Zimmerman hid after shooting and killing unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. He revealed the members of the task force on Thursday, and it should come as no surprise that among the four legislators appointed, two belong to the American Legislative Exchange Council and that all four voted for the law. One of the members, in fact, is state Rep. Dennis Baxley, who authored the law and who has said it doesn't need to be changed." ...

... Pema Levy of TPM: "The [local chapter of the] NAACP revoked an invitation to Florida Rep. Allen West to keynote an event over remarks he made accusing members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus of being communists, reports the TCPalm.... Four days before the event, the NAACP postponed the event and asked West not to attend the rescheduled event set for Sept. 15."

AP: "Social conservatives are objecting to plans by Gonzaga University, a Catholic institution [in Spokane, Washington], to give Archbishop Desmond Tutu an honorary degree when he makes a campus appearance in May. They are objecting because the Nobel laureate's social views contradict Catholic teachings, including support for abortion rights and gay marriage. More than 700 Gonzaga alumni, staff, faculty and students have signed petitions protesting Tutu's campus appearance and the university's plans to give him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree." CW: Archbishop Tutu is an Anglican, not a Roman Catholic. ...

... Charles Pierce: "Desmond Tutu is a genuine hero. He evinced more courage on any particular afternoon of the 1980's than these people collectively have demonstrated in their entire lives and then, when his work for justice was done, he helped put his country back together again.... At my graduation from Marquette in 1975, an honorary degree was given to Elie Wiesel. Strangely, the heretic Jesuits involved never asked him about The Pill."(The comments on Pierce's piece are excellent.)

News Ledes

New York Times: "Allegations of widespread bribery at Wal-Mart''s Mexican subsidiary continued to reverberate on Tuesday, with the company beginning a campaign to limit the damage as its shares declined further. In a statement, Wal-Mart said it had beefed up its internal controls to make sure it was complying with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits American companies from bribing foreign officials to secure business."

Here are the results of today's GOP presidential primaries, compliments of the New York Times. Romney won all five states. ...

... New York Times: "Five-term Representative Tim Holden of Pennsylvania was defeated in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, losing to Matt Cartwright, a lawyer, who made Mr. Holden's vote against President Obama's health care law a major issue in the newly redrawn 17th District."

AP: "The first new case of mad cow disease in the U.S. since 2006 has been discovered in a dairy cow in California, but health authorities said Tuesday the animal never was a threat to the nation's food supply. The infected cow, the fourth ever discovered in the U.S., was found as part of an Agriculture Department surveillance program that tests about 40,000 cows a year for the fatal brain disease."

Washington Post: "A former BP drilling engineer was arrested Tuesday on charges of intentionally destroying text messages sought by federal authorities as evidence in the wake of the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, the Justice Department said. The two charges of obstruction of justice filed against Kurt Mix, in the Eastern District of Louisiana, are the first criminal charges connected to the oil spill caused by a blowout on BP’s Macondo well."

ABC News: "Yemen has confirmed that a top member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was killed in a weekend airstrike that U.S. officials say was conducted by the CIA, another sign that the U.S. drone campaign in Yemen is gaining momentum."

The Guardian has a livefeed & liveblog of James Murdoch's testimony before the Leveson Inquiry. ...

... New York Times: "James Murdoch ... appeared on Tuesday before a judicial inquiry into the ethics and behavior of the British press, blaming his subordinates for keeping him ill-informed about the full extent of hacking at newspapers then under his control...." ...

     ... Update. The story's new lede: "The long-running tabloid newspaper scandal that has shaken Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire delivered a new jolt on Tuesday as its powerful and lucrative television operations moved to the center of a British judicial inquiry with disclosures that a senior cabinet minister, or at least an aide claiming to speak for him, worked covertly to help win approval for a $12 billion takeover of the BSkyB network." ...

     ... Guardian Update: "Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, has begged the Leveson inquiry to give him a chance to salvage his reputation after emails released by News Corp appeared to show that Hunt and his office passed confidential and market-sensitive information to the Murdoch empire to support its takeover of BSkyB. Facing calls from the Labour leader Ed Miliband to resign, Hunt urged Lord Justice Leveson to change his hearings timetable and give him a chance to clear his name."

AP: "Mitt Romney is all but certain to sweep Tuesday's five presidential primaries, marking a nearly definitive end to the Republican nomination process. Voters in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania will cast ballots Tuesday. But Romney won't be in any of those states Tuesday night. Instead, he'll return to New Hampshire, the state where a sweeping primary victory in January set him down the path to the GOP presidential nomination."

Guardian: "California voters will decide in November whether to repeal the death penalty, after activists collected the more than 500,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot... The move, which comes as a number of US states reconsider capital punishment, would abolish execution as the maximum sentence in murder convictions and replace it with life imprisonment."

Al Jazeera: "Salva Kiir, the South Sudanese president, has said his northern neighbour Sudan has 'declared war' on his country, as fighter jets from the north reportedly launched more strikes overnight in a border region. Although there has yet to be a formal declaration of war by either of the Sudans, Kiir's comments, made on Tuesday during talks on a visit to China, will likely stoke tension between the rival nations."

Al Jazeera: "Syrian troops have killed dozens of civilians in the city of Hama, activists have said, as UN military observers toured protest centres near the capital Damascus, and both Brussels and Washington imposed new sanctions."

Reuters: "Facebook Inc reported its first quarter-to-quarter revenue slide in at least two years, a sign that the social network's sizzling growth may be cooling as it prepares to go public in the biggest ever Internet IPO. The company blamed the first-quarter decline, which surprised some on Wall Street, on seasonal advertising trends."

Reuters: "The campaign aide who wrote a tell-all book about efforts to keep former Senator John Edwards' extramarital affair concealed during his 2008 presidential bid was expected to return to the stand Tuesday to testify against his former boss. Andrew Young is the federal government's key witness in the criminal campaign finance case against Edwards...." The Raleigh, North Carolina, News & Observer has a page dedicated to Edwards stories. ...

     New York Times Update: "The star prosecution witness in the corruption trial of former Senator John Edwards on Tuesday testified about elaborate efforts by Mr. Edwards to try to conceal an extramarital affair from his family, his campaign staff and reporters."

Reuters: Anders Behring Breivik, "the Norwegian who massacred 77 people to protest against Muslim immigration to Europe, said on Monday he had hoped to kill as many as 150 and kept on killing because police failed to respond urgently to his phone call."

Al Jazeera: "Israel has approved three settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank, the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said in a statement [late Monday].... Condemning the decision, Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said 'Netanyahu has pushed things to a dead end yet again'."

AP: "Wherever George Zimmerman went after he was released on bond from a Florida jail, a sensitive GPS device will pinpoint his location for authorities and alert them if he drifts even a few feet away from where he is allowed."

Reader Comments (3)

When I learned that the Republican party's economic platform in 2012 is going to be the same as it was in the Bush years––just updated––I immediately thought of "The Talking Heads" "Letting the Days go by" with their refrain, "Same as it ever was,"––perfect song for these times as it was for those times––same as it ever was.

Charlie Rose had McCain on last night––a suck-up interview if I ever saw one, although Charlie did manage to ask John, if he had to do it over again, would he have Palin as his running mate. Sure enough, true to form, John says, yes, indeedy, and then went on to praise Palin. The kicker was, after he was through with his accolades, his puzzlement as to why Palin was so disliked––"can't understand the vitriol"–––REALLY??? So what you are telling us is you would again choose her even though she's dead meat? Good old John McCain still riding in his bus that had something about truth written on the side of it––"the Straight-Talk Express.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Regarding PD Pepe's post, one is reminded of the blank intolerance in today's political world towards any admission of a mistake or a reconsideration of one's position based on experience and better information.

This is a quandary for both sides but for the Right, it's become a problem of pathological significance. "We're NEVER wrong. Even when we are" is a terrifically bad way to run your life, never mind its use as the decisive declaration for creating and enacting public policy. That's why "same as it ever was" can not only be floated with a straight face but almost dares anyone to make a course correction.

Because that would mean we were wrong before. And that's never possible. And then you have the charge of flip-flopping. But flip-flopping can (sometimes) be ameliorated, or at least explained if only a politician or party would come out and say "You know what? We thought about it, and we think we may have been wrong to support X. It's pretty clear after 12 years of X that it ain't workin' and it's time to look for a better solution." Presented like this, it's not flip-flopping, it's the thoughtful introspection and analysis of a serious adult. Done the Romney way, it's a petulant and manipulative child trying to stay out of trouble.

But seriously, how can John McCain, with a straight face say that he would choose to repeat such a stunning miscalculation? Even the guy who foisted that anchor on the McCain campaign, Steve Schmidt, now says that the biggest thing they didn't consider was whether or not Palin was ready to sit in the Oval Office. Especially considering McCain's age. Does anyone really believe--does John McCain believe??--that Palin could do that job?

So when did it become such a sin to be wrong, admit it, and move in a better direction? Isn't this part of the Christian philosophy? Yet another indication that,for many Republicans, the wooing of fundamentalist Christian voters is nothing but cynical calculation.

Part of the problem, at least from a Democrat's point of view, is that the right-wing media machine would hear only the words "I-Was-Wrong" and that would be the story for the next year. No attention would be paid to what came of such adult and mature consideration. It would all be "Nyah, nyah, you were wrong, nyah, nyah, you were wrong. You said so, you said so. You suck, you suck.."

And like that.

Very mature.

Damn. Now I'm even more depressed.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re Andy Rosenthal's article, "A Dastardly Plot to Avoid Taxes," which Marie linked: you come away feeling that Eric Cantor is either completely corrupt or completely stupid. Possibly both.
His pretense of knowing anything about economics by throwing around the word "macro" is laughable. Raising taxes on the poor makes no sense, especially if you remove the other safety nets, as the Ryan budget would do. It is not only inhumane, but ultimately counterproductive as it will result in the further downward spiral of lower earners...... From a macro perspective.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.
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