The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

New York Times: "Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was forced from office under a cloud of corruption, was convicted on Monday of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial of a case involving an American businessman, whose sensational testimony in a Jerusalem court in 2008 was instrumental in Mr. Olmert’s downfall. The American businessman, Morris Talansky, said at the time that he had provided Mr. Olmert with about $150,000 over 13 years, mostly in cash stuffed into envelopes, an assertion Mr. Olmert vehemently denied. Mr. Talansky, known as Moshe, had said that much of the money was earmarked for election campaigns but that some was for Mr. Olmert’s personal expenses."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Rescue workers recovered two bodies on Sunday in the wreckage of the explosion and fire that happened last week in the East Village, the police said. One of two bodies was identified by family members as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The second body was not yet identified.... Officials said the fire was most likely set off by a gas explosion. The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. Three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble."

AP: "Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels there 'withdraw and surrender their weapons,' a summit of Arab leaders decided Sunday, as they also agreed in principle to forming a joint military force. The decision by the Arab League puts it on a path to potentially more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran, which is backing the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis."

Baltimore Sun: Protesters show up outside Bill Cosby's Baltimore performance, and one interrupts his show.

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 30

9:00 am ET: President's Management Advisory Board meeting

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Friday
Apr272012

The Commentariat -- April 28, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Gail Collins just nicks the tip of the iceberg on the privitization of education, but it's enough to infuriate me. If you want to talk war on everything, the war on public education is perhaps the most scandalous, because it is, to borrow a phrase from Obama, winning our future. That is to say, our future is losing. CW: BTW, it may be coincidental, but ever since I wrote a column (which nobody liked) in the NYTX criticizing Collins for wasting her NYT real estate on frivolous stuff, Collins has written mostly substantive columns.

Kevin Drum: "Can the government provide healthcare more efficiently than the private market? There's no simple answer to that, but a couple of recent data points suggest the answer is yes." This is an interesting post in that Drum cites studies that indicate both Medicare & Medicaid costs are actually holding steady or decreasing. This was news to me.

Paul Krugman: "Obama, far from presiding over a huge expansion of government the way the right claims, has in fact presided over unprecedented austerity, largely driven by cuts at the state and local level. And it’s therefore an amazing triumph of misinformation the way that lackluster economic performance has been interpreted as a failure of government spending." With a chart to prove it. ...

... Here's Krugman on NPR; includes summary of the interview.

How to Control the Narrative. Glenn Greenwald doesn't like it: "This is what the Obama administration does over and over. It’s a flagrant abuse of its secrecy powers. It uses anonymous leaks to selectively boast about what it does and thus shape media narratives and public understanding of its conduct (also called 'domestic propaganda'). But it then simultaneously insists that the whole matter is classified — Top Secret — when it comes time to be subjected to any form of legal accountability or have its assertions publicly tested."

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Obama campaign officials have asked the president’s elite donors and fund-raisers to donate to [Hillary] Clinton’s defunct presidential campaign committee, with the goal of retiring $245,000 in debt left over from her 2008 White House bid. As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton is barred from engaging in political activity or actively fund-raising for herself." Naturally, there's a tit for tat.

CW: Sorry, forgot to post this yesterday. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 13 people, including Bob Dylan, John Glenn, Toni Morrison and John Paul Stevens, the White House announced Thursday." Post includes complete list of honorees.

Richard Ryan & William Ryan in the New York Times: "In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Steve Kornacki of Salon: "After a week of public squabbling, both [Scott Brown & Elizabeth Warren] publicly released several years of tax returns earlier today, and it turns out their incomes aren't very different. According to the Boston Globe's report, Brown and his wife (a former television reporter at Boston's ABC affiliate) took in $510,856 in 2011. The total for Warren and her husband: $616,181. Their 2010 returns tell a similar story, with Brown reporting around $840,000 in income and Warren about $955,000. Those totals put each of them near the top of the income scale. There's a wider gulf in earlier years, before Brown's 2010 Senate victory, which he parlayed into a lucrative book deal."

Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: "On Capitol Hill, Democrats are aggressively pushing the case that Republicans are now waging a 'War on Women' on three legislative fronts. First, they are blasting House Republicans for their proposal to block changes to the Violence Against Women Act.... Second, they've cast the GOP proposal to lower student rates by taking money out of Obamacare's prevention fund as another 'assault on women.' ... [Third,] Senate Democrats are planning to hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which 'would put more pressure on employers to prove that differences in wages are not rooted in gender difference.' ..."

Meanwhile, in ...

... Right Wing World

The Presidential Race

We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business. -- Mitt Romney, rich person with rich parents, like so many of us ...

Steve Benen chronicles Mitt's lies of the week; 15th in an extraordinary series.

Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: President Obama may use climate change to smoke out Willard Romney and his climate change denials turns; it could play well with upscale voters who think Romney is appealing.

Local News

Believe me, there is [sic.] a lot of good and hardworking people that work for the state. They are not the problem. The problem is the middle management of the state is about as corrupt as you can be. Believe me, we’re trying every day to get them to go to work, but it's hard. -- Gov. Paul LePage (RTP-Maine) ...

... Eric Russell of Bangor Daily News: LePage "offered no proof of corruption, no data to back his case that these managers don't work and he didn't identify a specific department. He did go on to talk about how most of these employees are not appointed by him and are protected through union contracts."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The latest high-level talks on ending a diplomatic deadlock between the United States and Pakistan ended in failure on Friday over Pakistani demands for an unconditional apology from the Obama administration for an airstrike. The White House, angered by the recent spectacular Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, refuses to apologize."

New York Times: "The recently retired chief of Israel's internal security agency said Friday night that he had 'no faith' in the ability of the current leadership to handle the Iranian nuclear threat, ratcheting up the criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak from the defense and intelligence communities."

New Rules. New York Times: "... the Secret Service ... announced on Friday that it had tightened its rules for staff members traveling in foreign countries."

AFP: "A leading Chinese activist who escaped from house arrest last weekend is now under US 'protection' and Washington and Beijing are in talks over his status, an overseas rights group said Saturday. Chen Guangcheng, who has been blind since childhood, fled last Sunday with the help of his supporters from under the noses of dozens of guards and subsequently recorded a video alleging abuses against him and his family."

New York Times: police chiefs from 250 American cities gathered in Washington this week to focus on disparities in gun violence among cities.

AP: "Calling it an 'oversight,' George Zimmerman's attorney said Friday the neighborhood watch volunteer did not disclose that a website had raised more than $200,000 for his defense, even though his family told the judge they would have trouble coming up with his bond.... Florida Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said he wanted to know more about the money."

AFP: "A Ukrainian court adjourned until May 21 on Saturday the new tax evasion trial of the jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on hunger strike, on account of her failing health. The unexpected decision came as Western concern mounted over the fate of the fiery opposition leader after she stretched her fast into a ninth day to protest an alleged beating at the hands of three prison guards."

Reader Comments (13)

Poor Mittens. He really doesn't get it.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Poor Mitt RawMoney. He really doesn't get it.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Poor Mitt RawMoney. He really doesn't get it.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Poor Mitt RawMoney. He really doesn't get it. (sigh)

Do NOT delete this. It deserves repetition.

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Thanks for sharing Boehner doing his best Nixon "I am not a crook" impression. However, even a lame sound bite suffices to convince those who dearly desire, without being blamed, to rein in those heretics who are contemplating sex for non-Catholic League-approved purposes, even when the attempt to squelch the sinners creates some collateral damage.

Actually, now that I think about it, those salacious mouth-breathers deserve to have to listen to el Rushbo--for eternity.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

An astute commenter (Huffington Post) wrote this regarding
Maine's Governor LePage latest bit of stupidity in his continuing series of knee-jerk thinking.

"Just remember, it costs taxpayers on AVERAGE twice as much to PRIVATIZE Government services.

The idea, that you can contract private, un-regulated, PROFIT driven companies and expect them to operate more efficiently FOR TAXPAYERS is ludicrous. BUT the right has convinced millions of Americans it is TRUE. "

It more than applies to the points Gail Collins made in her column. Somehow, 'privatization' has been sold as 'no cost' to the gullible public—who do they think pays the cost for the privatized jails? The inmates? Who pays for the Charter Schools? The magic money fairy? Who buys the myth that privately run school 'hire' better teachers than public schools?

Unfortunately, too many have. Wake up, people!

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

"Can the government provide healthcare more efficiently than the private market? There's no simple answer to that..." Yes there is! Simply deny payments for medically worthless procedures and fix a pricing schedule that allows for a maximum of 25% more than any other country charges for the same procedure. My favorite, an appendectomy in Germany $3285, in the US $13,123. And there would be a huge improvement in the US economy when surgeons would have to give up their Mercedes for a Ford.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

When Romney repeats lies such as asserting that President Obama has "apologized for America" why doesn't the press challenge him to cite specifics? This question is rhetorical.
But it sure would be refreshing to see an energized media that doesn't just act as dutiful scribes.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Re. Eduction. Roosevelt created the CCC and put three hundred thousand unemployed young people to work in three momths.
We could create the Teachers Conservation Corps and put an assistant in every class room to minister to those that have trouble keeping up. What a wonder it would be to have a whole bunch of children that could read, write and do sums.
Taking educated young people and giving them experience and a salary would be expensive but the result would be priceless, an economic stimulus and better prepared students and workers.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@ Jack: such a coincidence––last night after watching Boehner's little hissy fit I turned to my husband, shook my finger, and in my best Nixonian voice said, "I am NOT a crook!"

Romney's continuel lies amaze me along with the lack of the right to hold his feet to the fire. They, these republicans, evidently think it just doesn't matter, that the public doesn't know any better. When the debates start Obama will have such a treasure trove of goodies to work with. When Mitt's father, George, was a presidential candidate for the 1968 elections his truth telling did him in. He had backed the Vietnam War, but after going over there to see first hand he concluded he has been "brainwashed,"––and he finally let that loose––and for that he lost. Here we have the opposite with son Mitt, whose fabrications become his facts until faced head on––he, too, will lose...I hope.

I agree with Marie that the war on education is the most scandalous and the vultures who are making big bucks from mucking it up need to be exposed. There have been some exposés re: these private on-line colleges, but there needs to be outrage.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

The canard of privatization has been given serious legs because here again the press have failed miserably to do their job.

The right has been pushing this for decades. Remember Ronald Reagan and then Ross Perot whining about how government should be run more like a business? Well first, the only real business Reagan had ever been in was the creation of fantasy. Ross Perot got rich because lucrative government contracts allowed him to develop data systems that he then went on to make a fortune with after his work with the government was concluded. There is absolutely no way he would have been able to develop those systems on his own nickel. We paid for it. You and me. Then he took what he learned while raking in our money and made a fortune. You know what? Good for him. But for him to turn around and stoke the fires of hatred and loathing for the government by ripping it for not being "business-like" was not just disingenuous, it was repulsive.

And so, the idea that government services could be provided better by the private sector has taken hold because no one has ever challenged it.

Are private sector enterprises more efficient? Maybe. Sometimes. But clearly not always. Why didn't GM see that giant gas guzzlers would kill its business? Hmmm? Would GM still be around if Obama hadn't stepped in and helped? And remember Chrysler? The government bailed their asses out too and then Lee Iaccoca, without EVER mentioning the help he got from unions and federal government went on to fashion himself as the savvy businessman who "saved Chrysler." Bullshit.

As Krugman and many others have pointed out many, many times, government is NOT a business. It does things business could never do. Would we have gone to the moon without the government? Would we have a interstate highway system? The Hoover Dam? The TVA? Can you just imagine postal service handled by a private business? You may never get mail because your house might not be on a profitable enough route. Same with bus services. Same with pretty much everything else. If it doesn't return a profit at a certain level, they won't do it. So close thousands of public libraries. Close schools. Shut down unemployment centers, public hospitals, the FDA, hey what a boon to Big Pharma!

Would any of these things or many more be in our lives if Republicans had their way and worked everything like a business? It's not even a rhetorical question. We've already had a president--the CEO president--who operated the government as if it were his own private corporation. George W. Bush.

See how well that turned out.

Any more questions?

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

Gov. LePage continues to embarrass most Mainers with his thoughtless remarks (and terrible grammar). But not all of us. The other night, while tending bar, I had the misfortune of having to over hear a couple people praising LePage's "straight-talk" and "bluntness". Seems neither of them has any trust in "smooth talking politicians". Both were military people, one headed to Afganistan. After two drinks they started talking about how they'd like to see President Obama's school records....Thank goodness they left, or I'd have been forced to cut them off!

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGail Leiser

On further thought, just consider exactly what kind of education children might receive from for profit corporations. Maybe decades ago when many corporations were somewhat standalone, there might have been a small chance that actual education could be the goal (stick that in your Funk and Wagnalls) but today when corporations are wholly owned subsidiaries of larger fish who themselves in turn owe obeisance, fealty, and profits to even bigger multi-nationals?

Nope.

So here's how it works.

Edu-corp, a private educational management company owned by some multi-national which in turn trades in a variety of investment instruments, decides that a science text book by Good Science Publishers, has too many references to human based global warming. Since a substantial portion of the parent corporation's quarterly earnings comes from introducing enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, it's very likely that they will opt for the science textbooks developed by Texas Oilman's Press which states that there is no such thing as global warming. Also, if some group threatens to boycott some other industry they own, they might come to an understanding with them and force all their schools to purchase textbooks written by The Fundamentalist Christian Way Publishing company which declares that...well, you can guess for yourselves.

As for that conversation that Gail overheard, it wouldn't matter if those patrons saw Obama's school records. Upon seeing the record of a superior student, they would assume that it had been doctored because no nee-gro could ever be that smart.

Sorry, but there really is no rational reason for so many to hate Obama like they do apart from blank, unholy racial hatred.

And we all know, haters gonna hate.

And maybe run our schools too.

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus
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