The Ledes

Thursday, July 24, 2014.

Bloomberg News: "Jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 284,000 in the week ended July 19, the fewest since February 2006 and lower than any economist surveyed by Bloomberg forecast...."

Guardian: "A flight operated by Air Algérie carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early on Thursday, the plane's owner said."

The Guardian is liveblogging developments in the Gaza crisis. More than 700 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, many of them children.

Reuters: "A powerful Ukrainian rebel leader has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had an anti-aircraft missile of the type Washington says was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and it could have originated in Russia. In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence."

Los Angeles Times: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday night lifted its ban on U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at a special session on Wednesday in which the top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Israel and Hamas had likely committed war crimes with indiscriminate attacks on civilians." ...

... New York Times: "As the death toll mounts and passions spike, the Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned on Wednesday what it called 'deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists' who are reporting on the fighting in Gaza. That includes 'forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments,' the association said."

... New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Washington Post: "Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said." ...

... Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 23

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the NAACP national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (audio only)

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

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

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

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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