The Ledes

Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

AP: "Syrian rebels, including fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group, seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights on Wednesday after heavy clashes with President Bashar Assad's forces, activists and rebels said. The capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan held more symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops."

Washington Post: "An open-ended cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was holding Wednesday after seven weeks of warfare that killed more than 2,200 people."

Washington Post: "Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of stepping up military activity in the annexed territory of Crimea and sending in troops to help separatists near a key seaport in southeastern Ukraine."

New York Times: "Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said on Wednesday that French prosecutors had placed her under formal investigation over a murky business affair that dates to her time as finance minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, August 26, 2014.

New York Times: "The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index reached a milestone on Tuesday, closing above 2,000 for the first time ever, if just barely. It was a lazy day of trading that picked up on some encouraging signs in the United States economy, but not enough for sustained optimism in the market."

ABC News: "A third American hostage held by ISIS has been identified as a 26-year-old American woman who was kidnapped a year ago while doing humanitarian relief work in Syria. The terror group is demanding $6.6 million and the release of U.S. prisoners for the life of the young woman, whom a representative for the family requested not be identified."

New York Times: "A 33-year-old American who was fighting for the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was killed in recent days in a battle with a rival group in Syria, a senior American official said on Tuesday. The authorities identified the man as Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego. According to a human rights group that tracks the conflict in Syria, Mr. McCain was killed in a battle in Marea, a city in northern Syria near the Turkish border. Mr. McCain had been on a watch list of potential terrorism suspects maintained by the United States government, American officials said."

New York Times: "Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday reached a long-term cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting, according to officials on both sides, halting the longest, bloodiest battle either side has experienced in years — but without resolving many of the bigger issues underlying the conflict."

New York Times: "Burger King Worldwide agreed on Tuesday to buy the Canadian restaurant chain Tim Hortons for about $11.4 billion, creating one of the biggest fast-food operations in the world – with a little help from Warren E. Buffett. As part of the transaction, however, the American burger giant will move its home to Canada, where the combined company’s biggest market will be."

Washington Post: "Ukraine said Tuesday its forces detained a group of Russian paratroopers who crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, and the U.S. ambassador to Kiev warned of a possible “Russian-directed counteroffensive” by pro-Moscow separatists, raising tensions between the two countries as their presidents attended a regional summit."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
August 27

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:00 pm ET: White House Veteran Entrepreneur Champions of Change forum

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

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

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

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.

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

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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