The Ledes

Tuesday, April 15, 2014.

Boston Globe: The Boston Marathon finish line has been evacuated after suspicious packages were discovered. ...

... Washington Post: "Boston and its surroundings braced for an emotional week that begins Tuesday with a large ceremony honoring the victims, first responders, medical personnel and others affected by [last years Boston Marathon bomb] attack. It will be a chance to mourn the dead and remember the bloodshed, but also to proclaim that what is perhaps the world’s most famous footrace will continue for a 118th year, and to marvel at the way events have brought this community together."

Los Angeles Times: "President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of a drug convict, correcting a mistake that had extended his prison time by more than three years and could not be fixed by the courts."

Even in Canada. AP: "Five people were killed and the son of a police officer is in custody after multiple stabbings at a house party attended by university students near the University of Calgary, the police chief said, calling it the worst mass murder in Calgary's history."

CNN: "A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn't know about it or couldn't get a drone there in time to strike." With video.

Detroit Free Press: "Two members of General Motors’ senior leadership team are leaving the company three months after a transition to a new CEO and amid a crisis over the automaker’s failure to fix an ignition switch defect."

AP: "Federal authorities have lodged two criminal charges against a Phoenix woman accused of throwing a shoe at Hillary Rodham Clinton while she gave a convention speech at a Las Vegas Strip resort."

New York Times: "After days of failing to enforce its own ultimatums, the Ukrainian government on Tuesday began what the president called a military operation to confront pro-Russian militants in the east of the country." ...

... Washington Post: "... Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that Ukraine was descending into civil war." ...

    ... Update: "The Ukrainian government said its forces had repelled an assault by pro-Russian militiamen at a military airfield, hours after announcing the start of a staged counteroffensive Tuesday to reclaim control of the eastern part of the country."

BBC News: "Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi must do one year's community service over tax fraud, a Milan court has ruled. He was convicted of tax fraud last year in connection with TV rights purchased by his firm Mediaset in the 1990s. The alternative to community service had been house arrest. It is not yet clear what form his community service will take."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, April 14, 2014.

New York Times: "In a new sign of desperation, Ukraine’s acting president asked the United Nations on Monday to send peacekeeping troops to the east of the country, where pro-Russia militias have seized government buildings and blocked major highways with seeming impunity. A deadline set by the Ukrainian government for the militants to vacate occupied buildings passed earlier Monday without any signs of an effort to enforce it, while militants, in an apparently coordinated strategy, used the day to seize another police station in an eastern town, then hoist a Russian flag over the building." ...

... Reuters: "U.S. President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that Russia's actions in Ukraine were not conducive to a diplomatic solution of the crisis in that country, and the White House warned that Moscow would suffer further costs for its behavior. Obama spoke to Putin at the Russians' request, a senior administration official said, describing the call as 'frank and direct,' a diplomatic construction that usually means tense."

AP: "Megan Huntsman ... told police she either strangled or suffocated [six of her babies] immediately after they were born. She wrapped their bodies in a towel or a shirt, put them in plastic bags and then packed them inside boxes in the garage of her home south of Salt Lake City. What's not clear is why."


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/04/10/3772409/fbi-rescues-kidnapped-wake-forest.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

Public Service Announcements

Washington Post: "Researchers are reporting that injections of long-lasting AIDS drugs protected monkeys for weeks against infection, a finding that could lead to a major breakthrough in preventing the disease in humans."

New York Times: "General Motors will more than double the size of a recall issued this month for an ignition switch defect in some of its small cars, the automaker said in a news release Tuesday. The expansion brings the number of vehicles covered by the recall to nearly 1.4 million in the United States. The recall is aimed at vehicles with ignition switches that could inadvertently turn off the engine and vehicle electrical system – disabling the air bags – if the ignition key is jarred or the vehicle’s operator has a heavy key ring attached to it."

New York Times: "The essence of [a] disagreement [among experts] comes down to a simple question: Will e-cigarettes cause more or fewer people to smoke? The answer matters. Cigarette smoking is still the single largest cause of preventable death in the United States, killing about 480,000 people a year."

White House Live Video
April 15

12:00 noon ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a Boston Marathon bombing anniversary service in Boston, Massachusetts (audio only)

12:15 pm ET: Jay Carney's press briefing

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

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

 

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

Josh Dickey of Mashable: "Stephen Colbert is CBS' top choice to replace the retiring David Letterman, and has indicated that he's willing to take over the Late Show when the time comes, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable." Via New York.

Lauren Moraski of CBS "News": "David Letterman announced Thursday that he's retiring from CBS' 'Late Show' sometime next year. He made that announcement during the taping of his program Thursday afternoon at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater."

No News, All the Time:

Igor Bobic of TPM: "In its wall-to-wall coverage of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, CNN has raised the possibility of the supernatural, blackholes, and North Korea; it has interviewed a psychic, tried but failed to rent its own 777 jet, and finally settled on a flight simulator it is using to 'search' for the plane.On Tuesday the network finally turned its attention to garbage."

Washington Post: "Stephen Colbert and his writing staff were in fighting form Monday night, after a controversy stemming from an out-of-context tweet had hashtag activists calling for his head." ...

... This is kinda must-see TV:

AND Colbert dismantles his charity:

Michael Lewis in the New York Times Magazine on the whiz-kids of high-frequency Wall Street trading.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Monday
Apr022012

The Commentariat -- April 3, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' criticism of Charles Snelling, the former manager of Dulles & Reagan airports who killed his Alzheimer's-stricken wife Adrienne and himself. In case you have forgotten what a snivelling creep Brooks is since the last time I wrote about what a snivelling creep he is, my column should refresh your memory. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

Good comments to yesterday's Commentariat are definitely worth your review.

Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes" on NASA & Florida's Space Coast:

... CW: This reminds me of this video, which I embedded a few weeks ago:

... Adam Sorensen of Time: "'In the politics of the past, to get your vote in the Space Coast, I’d come here and promise hundreds of billions of dollars,' Romney told voters on Cape Canaveral back in January. 'I know that's something that's very attractive, very popular, but it's simply the wrong thing to do.'"

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times decries the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to allow police to strip-search people they have arrested for minor crimes & misdemeanors and even, as in the case before the Court, no crime at all. Thanks to reader Janice K. for the link. See also yesterday's News Ledes. CW: I wonder what percentage of Occupy protesters will be strip-searched. ...

... Charles Pierce: "In case you were wondering  when the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court was going to stop pleasuring America's corporations and get back to enabling whatever police powers come before it, this is your day. By the usual 5-4 majority, Anthony Kennedy being his usual swinging self, and writing the opinion personally, the Court decided that local police can pretty much strip-search anyone they want, for whatever reason they can make up, even if the guy they picked up never gets charged with anything because the whole thing was the result of a bookkeeping glitch, and even if the arrest was for something that isn't even a crime."

Here are the President's remarks -- made yesterday -- on the necessity and constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act:

... Here is the full press conference with President Calderon & PM Harper:

Kevin Drum: "... overturning Obamacare could end up mobilizing movement liberalism in the same way that the Warren Court mobilized movement conservatism four decades ago." CW: You'll have to read the whole post to appreciate his argument; Drum doesn't see a big public outcry against the Court, but he does see an outcry among the liberal base. ...

... Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic presents a number of conflicting views. He adds, "... the effect of narrow, seemingly partisan decisions can be cumulative. A decision striking down the health care law might seem more alarming precisely because it's part of a pattern that started with Bush v. Gore and Citizens United. The liberal base will certainly see it that way." ...

Steve Benen: right-wing pundits are gleefully mocking "the nearly impenetrable parochialism of American liberals." But (1) "we don't yet know the outcome," and (2) --

It wasn't just 'the left' that expected the justices to reject conservative arguments. Conservative federal judges upheld the health care law before the case reached the Supreme Court; Reagan administration officials saw the dispute as a no-brainer unworthy of the justices' time; and experts, analysts, and former Supreme Court clerks all helped form a consensus within the legal community: it was simply hard to imagine a court majority striking down the law....

So why do the predictions look ridiculous? Because the legal community -- analysts, scholars, journalists, attorneys, former clerks -- appear to have wildly overestimated the extent to which conservative justices give a damn about precedent, the facts of the case, the court's traditions and respect for restraint, lower-court rulings, the integrity of the institution, and the justices' avoidance of activism.

Another Obama ad attacks Willard for attacking Obama:

 

Right Wing World

... Michael Shear of the New York Times gets real with Romney on energy policy: "For several weeks, Mitt Romney has seized on the rising cost of gasoline to attack President Obama and his environmental aides for what Mr. Romney calls their misguided desire to see higher energy prices.... But Mr. Romney ... has in the past appeared much more open to the notion that rising energy costs could be good for the American economy. In his 2010 book, 'No Apology,' Mr. Romney described a gradual increase in the cost of energy as the kind of market-based incentive that conservatives could embrace." ...

... AND Steve Benen points to this post by Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: as governor of Massachusetts, Romney hiked the state's gas tax by 400 percent.

I'll leave it to Charles Pierce to inform you of the latest quote from campaign juggernaut (according to Politico) Ann Romney. If you want to avoid a spit-take, do not read while imbibing a beverage. ...

... Joe Klein of Time whacks Mitt Romney on his latest lies about President Obama, this time vis-a-vis immigration reform. Will the real Mitt Romney please get back in his pants?

Don't Confuse Him with the Facts. The economy is simply the product of all the nations’ businesses added together. -- Mitt Romney

There is more to the economy than business. It also consists of such things as the public sector and workers. The distinction is important because during the last business cycle, which coincided with the George W. Bush presidency, corporate profits rose sharply while the median income failed to rise at all.... To define the fate of the economy solely as the product of business is wrong. Not just morally wrong but factually wrong. -- Jonathan Chait, New York magazine

This is another instance where Romney shows how out-of-touch he is with ordinary Americans. He just does not see workers, let alone government workers like teachers, as contributing to the nation's economy. This is the crux of his view that workers are expendable, unions are counterproductive and gross income inequality is justifiable. For all of his self-proclaimed business expertise, Mitt Romney doesn't understand the economy. -- Constant Weader

 

Don't Confuse Him with the Facts. I think it’s seven or eight of the California system of universities don’t even teach an American history course. It’s not even available to be taught. -- Rick Santorum

Of the 10 UC system schools, just one (San Francisco) doesn’t offer American history courses. But that’s because it doesn’t offer any humanities courses at all — it’s a medical school. Meanwhile, Berkeley, Irvine, Davis, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz all offer numerous American history courses. All require students to take U.S. history before they can graduate. -- Alex Seitz-Wald, Think Progress

Local News

Kent Jones of the Rachel Maddow show has a funny post on Rebecca Kleefisch, the Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor who is the first looey ever subjected to a recall vote. She is seriously upset at the unfairness of democracy. With video.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Stocks on Wall Street traded sharply lower on Wednesday, despite data showing employers are continuing to hire, as investors digested minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting that suggested further monetary stimulus action is unlikely."

The New York Times liveblog of the Republican primaries is here. Romney has been declared the winner of the Maryland primary. Update: Romney wins Wisconsin with about 42% of the vote, Santorum with 38%. Oh, yes, and Romney won D.C., where Santorum wasn't on the ballot. Ho hum. ...

... More primary news from the Times here. Here's one tidbit, from Nate Silver: "Despite the fact that no presidential candidates are on the Democratic ballot except for Barack Obama (although Maryland Democrats can cast an uncommitted vote instead), Democratic turnout has actually outpaced Republican turnout there so far. As of 8:31 p.m., Mr. Obama had 30,152 votes in the Democratic primary, or about 91 percent of the total cast. Mr. Romney, meanwhile, had 11,768 votes in the Republican primary...."

... Reuters: "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared set to defeat his chief rival Rick Santorum in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, according to a Public Policy Polling survey." ...

... US News: "Mitt Romney is poised to pick up more wins in the Republican presidential primary race Tuesday when voters hit the polls in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The former Massachusetts governor is widely expected to dominate competitors in Maryland and his closest rival..., Rick Santorum, failed to even qualify for the D.C. ballot."

AP (via the NYT): "In an election-year pitch to middle-class voters, President Barack Obama is denouncing a House Republican budget plan as a 'Trojan horse,' warning that it represents 'an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country' that would hurt the pocketbooks of working families." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "President Obama opened a full-frontal assault Tuesday on the budget adopted by House Republicans, condemning it as a 'Trojan horse' and 'thinly veiled social Darwinism' that would greatly deepen inequality in the country.... The Republican budget, and the philosophy it represents, he said in remarks prepared for delivery, is 'antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who’s willing to work for it.'”

New York Times: "The United States has announced a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture of Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistani militant leader accused of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and who in recent months has emerged at the vanguard of a prominent anti-American political movement."

AP: "One man was wounded by gunfire early Tuesday in Lexington, numerous small fires were set and dozens were arrested as thousands celebrated Kentucky's win over Kansas to claim another NCAA title, authorities reported."

Guardian: James Murdoch will step down as BSkyB chairman. Liveblog.

Reader Comments (9)

You are (unintentionally) too kind to Willard. He does understand the part of the economy he cares about, that which maximizes individual or corporate profit. It's not his ignorance; it's just his self-serving view of capitalism that conveniently drops the "enlightened" adjective from the "self interest" that Adam Smith, a true philosopher, held up as an ideal more than 200 years ago. Contemporary cons have replaced the moralist Smith with the likes of Ayn Rand, whose so-called philosophy loses its appeal for most soon after they finish high school.

Of course, there's more to the economy than Willard recognizes. Taken as a whole, the economy is both a literal and figurative description of the totality of humanity's social and ethical arrangements. Mr. Romney and those he chooses to represent just don't like some of those arrangements because they don't put more money directly in their pockets. They might even put some of what they consider theirs in yours or mine.

Ayn Rand might find the Romneys and Ryans to be heroes. Adam Smith (and I) would see them as the moral paupers they are.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes: your commentary reminded me of this from Kung fu Monkey:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Department of Unintended Consequences: Anticipating your next David Brooks takedown, I actually read his column today. It's about mortality and how shocked we are yet again that someone has done something to end a life filled with pain and despair. Denial of reality doesn't end with climate change and evolution; the vampire movies remind us that we would all like to live forever (but only if we could stay relatively young and hot--we don't ask for much!). So, rather than use his soapbox to demand that we look at America's twisted religion-based attitudes toward euthanasia, Brooks ends his column by doing his judgmental bastard schtick. Who am I to judge Brooks? At least I asked myself the question.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

@Jack Mahoney. I just turned in my column on Brooks. You will not be surprised to learn I took exactly the same tack you do. I have to be away for awhile this morning, so I expect the column will be up well before I get back. I'm guessing it will be posted on NYTX at around 9 am ET.

Marie

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Ha! I was just going to address the Brook's column, but I see Jack and Marie are already on it. I do wonder why Mrs. Snelling wasn't taken into consideration ( in Brook's piece)––what did SHE want? My husband and I have discussed these kinds of issues over and again and in our case suicide in some form is paramount. The thought of losing my mind is terrifying and since we have had first hand knowledge of this malady three times over we know of what we speak. The fact that Brooks brings in the "twisted religion-based attitudes" as Jack mentions, is piss poor and he should know better!

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

While the country continues to debate whether or not the government can force us to eat broccoli, we seem to be too distracted to have noticed yesterday's horrendous SCOTUS decision allowing strip searches. The Times had a front page article on it earlier this morning, but as of 9:15 a.m., it apparently no longer warrants that status. However, Andrew Rosenthal had this to say: "The question before the court was simple: Should there be limits on the power of a police force to conduct strip searches of people who have been arrested—no matter the charge, no matter how long they are to be held? The answer, incredibly, was no."

http://loyalopposition.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/the-right-to-strip/?ref=opinion

I'm generally not a paranoid person, but I'm beginning to wonder about our fourth amendment rights being chipped away at a pretty rapid pace. The National Defense Authorization Act allows for indefinite detention of U.S. citizens, local police can track cell phones, and the FAA has been asked by Congress to allow airspace for drones in this country. (Not to mention forced ultrasounds – transvaginal or otherwise -, though that has yet to be challenged in court.) Last fall we were shocked that peaceful OWS protesters were drenched with pepper spray, but I'm fearful of the now legal intimidation tactics that might be used next time.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

@Janice--

If you're not generally a paranoid person, then you're paying even less attention than I used to. Now I'm a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, despite their pusillanimous stance on the Second Amendment.

Check out the following links and start wondering what information the Feds are gathering on you:

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/22/149183302/u-s-to-keep-data-on-americans-with-no-terror-ties

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1

Then further imagine how much they will know about you--even things that you thought were private--by assembling a picture of your life from your credit card transactions, electronic communications, etc.

From credit cards, every gasoline purchase and bills for food and lodging. That tells them everywhere you have been, and for how long.

Also, every book, magazine, newspaper, and video that you have ever bought or rented with a credit card, not to mention every cause that you have contributed to. Surely that will tell them something about your political leanings.

From e-mails and telephone conversations, a "mined" assemblage of perfectly innocent words that might somehow be connected and construed in the minds of the "watchers" and their computers as being "sinister."

Throw in all the networks of "anti-crime" cameras in public areas of every city of any size in this country that may have recorded your face when you thought what you were doing and where you were going were both private.

Surprise!

The next thing you know, you're in some windowless room being questioned.

Not generally paranoid? It's time to become so, because Big Brother is indeed watching and listening.

A strip-search may be the least indignity to which you are subjected.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZee

RE: Brooks column.

Brooks is an idiot, and I agree with Marie that his recent column is disgusting!

I am presently dealing with a mother in early stages of what is likely Alzheimer's disease. Her mother (my grandmother) died from it. My grandmother spent the last few years of her life unable to bathe, use the toilet, feed herself, and of course did not know or recognize us. My aunt cared for her as long as she could until my grandmother's physical limitations became too difficult. Her last year, and where she subsequently died, was in a nursing home.

As a college student (@ 30 years ago) I worked part-time as a cook in a small town nursing home. I felt so bad for the residents here. Some of the staff were not very kind, and the atmosphere of the home was quite depressing. Many residents were given only the minimal care necessary to keep them alive. This experience certainly left its mark on me, and the idea of my mother or myself ending up in such a place is horrible!

A few years ago I watched the film, The Notebook (www.imdb.com/title/tt0332280/). The film is about a relationship of two people who eventually marry, have children etc. and the wife in later years develops Alzheimer's disease. The husband faithfully visits her everyday at the idyllic nursing home, situated within a picturesque landscape, she is a patient at. He reads her stories from their past in hopes of rekindling memories long gone. She has a lovely private room, and seems to be quite content. I don't know if such a scenario exists in real life, perhaps it does. However, one would have to be very wealthy to afford such a situation! For most people of modest means, such as my grandmother and mother, a state supported institution is probably a more realistic "final resting place". If my mother could reside, when and if it becomes necessary, in a home as portrayed in The Notebook I would sleep much better at night.


For sure Mister Brooks has never or will never see a loved one of his end up in institution, or know what it is like to not have the resources to insure they may live the rest of their demented life in dignity, or he would be horrified! Or perhaps he feels a person of limited means deserves such a fate.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

I didn't read Brooks. He's a waste of time. However, I deeply sympathize with families that have relatives with Alzheimer's. I worked in a nursing home in high school, and we had many patients who were no longer functioning. We cleaned and fed them, and waited for them to die. One woman lay in her bed - she was 90 - and would call for her mother. It was so sad. Another sweet lady could no longer speak but she made hand signals for what she needed, and she had a beautiful smile.

I sometimes think I was lucky that my father drank himself to death and my mother suffered a coma from which she never emerged at age 62. But damn, I miss her so much.

Julie in Mass, hang in there. Spring is here.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulemry
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