The Ledes

Thursday, March 26, 2015.

Guardian: "The UK supreme court has cleared the way for the publication of secret letters written by Prince Charles to British government ministers, declaring that an attempt by the state to keep them concealed was unlawful. The verdict – the culmination of a 10-year legal fight by the Guardian – is a significant blow for the government, which has been battling to protect the Prince of Wales from scrutiny over his 'particularly frank' interventions on public policy."

Washington Post: "Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes early Thursday in neighboring Yemen, heading a coalition of Arab nations in an effort to dislodge Houthi rebels sweeping through that country. The strikes were a startling turn of events that came as the Houthis, in control of Yemen’s capital for months, barreled south toward the coastal city of Aden, seizing an air base along the way that was evacuated by U.S. Special Operations forces­ last week." ...

     ... New York Times UPDATE: "Egypt said Thursday that it was prepared to send troops into Yemen as part of a Saudi-led campaign to drive back the Iranian-backed Houthi advance, signaling the growing likelihood of a protracted ground war on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula."

New York Times: "As officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a [Germanwings] jet with 150 people on board crashed amid a relatively clear sky, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in." ...

     ... ** UPDATE: "The co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525 deliberately crashed the aircraft, French officials said Thursday, pointing to voice recorder evidence that he had locked the captain out of the cockpit, ignored his pleas for re-entry and steered down into the French Alps as passengers were heard screaming. The assertions instantly changed the nature of the Tuesday crash, which obliterated the Airbus A320 and killed all 150 aboard, into a wide-ranging criminal investigation that focused on the co-pilot, a 28-year-old German with no obvious reason to commit mass murder, who had been hired less than two years ago." ...

     ... The Guardian's live updates are here.

... Washington Post: "A mother and daughter from Prince William County were among three Americans who perished when an Airbus jet plunged into a frozen ridge in the French Alps this week, officials said Wednesday. Yvonne Selke, a longtime government contractor, and Emily Selke, a recent graduate of Drexel University, died Tuesday along with 148 others on the Germanwings flight from Spain to Germany."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

New York Times: "On Wednesday, the Army announced that it was charging Sergeant [Beau] Bergdahl with misbehavior before the enemy and desertion, raising the possibility that he could be imprisoned again, this time for life."

New York Times: "Rescuers on Wednesday resumed the difficult task of searching for the 150 victims of a deadly plane crash in the French Alps, as France’s interior minister said that terrorism was not at the top of the list of potential causes."

Washington Post: "Yemen’s embattled president was pushed deeper into crisis Wednesday after fleeing a last-ditch refuge as advancing Shiite rebels seized a key air base in a push to overrun the country’s second-largest city. The whereabouts of Western-allied President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was not immediately clear."

Put Some Ketchup on that Velveeta. New York Times: "Kraft Foods and H. J. Heinz, two icons of the American food industry, are merging in a blockbuster deal involving the billionaire Warren E. Buffett and the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, creating what will be the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world.... Heinz, which is owned by 3G Capital and Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, will control 51 percent of the combined company, while Kraft shareholders will own 49 percent."

AP: "Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. will be released from a federal prison on Thursday and will serve out the remainder of his term in a Washington, D.C., halfway house, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy told The Associated Press after visiting Jackson. Kennedy said he spoke with Jackson at the minimum security federal prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama, where the son of the civil rights leader has been serving a 2 ½-year sentence after pleading guilty to illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items."

CBS New York: "The Connecticut home of the man who carried out the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been demolished, Newtown officials said Tuesday. The 2-acre lot where the 3,100-square-foot house once stood in a leafy, suburban neighborhood will be left as open space under a plan approved by town officials.... Everything inside the home, including rugs and lighting fixtures, had previously been removed and incinerated so that no remnants were available to become memorabilia."

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 26

4:10 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in Birmingham, Alabama

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

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.

"In March 2015, Robert Kenner, the Director of 'Food Inc' and other acclaimed documentaries, will debut his newest, 'Merchants of Doubt'. Based on the book by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway, the film follows the development of sophisticated methods for distorting science, used by the Tobacco industry to hide the poisonous nature of their products, and adapted by the Fossil Fuel industry to distort the science around climate change":

... Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post discusses the documentary: "... Marc Morano, a professional climate-change denier and founder of the Climate Depot Web site ... is, arguably, the star of Kenner’s film. After a stint in the 1990s reporting for Rush Limbaugh, Morano worked briefly as a flack for Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who famously called global warming a 'hoax.' He also plays dirty. In 'Doubt,' Morano recounts with glee how he has published the e-mail addresses of climate scientists, subjecting them to intimidation and flaming attacks from anonymous critics. (Several of the abusive e-mails are read aloud in the film by their recipients...."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker on true-crime documentaries like "The Jinx," the story of Robert Durst: "In the past several decades, true-crime documentaries have emerged as a kind of secondary appeals system...."

New York Times: "Marilynne Robinson won the National Book Critics Circle Award on Thursday for her novel 'Lila,' the final book in her trilogy set in the fictional Gilead, Iowa." The story names the other winners of this award, which -- at least among writers -- is more prestigious than the Pulitzer.

Guardian: "A presenter on the Spanish-language network Univision has defended himself after he was fired for making comments which appeared to compare US first lady Michelle Obama to 'something from the cast of Planet of the Apes'.... The situation is slightly murkier than it may have at first appeared. In the segment of the show in question, [Rodner] Figueroa had been discussing the work of a Filipino makeup artist named Paolo Ballesteros, who specialises in transforming himself into celebrities.... In a letter released through his PR firm, in Spanish and translated by the Guardian, Figueroa apologised but argued his remarks had been misinterpreted, saying he had been disparaging Ballesteros’s makeup talent, not making a slur about the first lady." ...

... CW: For what it's worth (not much), I would not have fired Figueroa. This seems to be a rare instance in which the excuse "I used a poor choice of words" is accurate.

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Friday
Apr062012

The Commentariat -- April 7, 2012

Here's my rap on Brooks in NYTX.

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

... Stephanie Condon of CBS News: "Amid continued Democratic charges that Republicans are waging a "war against women," President Obama's re-election campaign is zeroing in on Mitt Romney for allying with Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin -- who just repealed an employment discrimination law." The Romney campaign isn't talking to CBS News re: the new Wisconsin law. ...

... Justin Sink of The Hill: "Obama's campaign team said Friday that Walker's move was evidence Republicans are willing to 'undermine not only women's health care, but also their economic security,' and demanded that presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney comment on Walker's move." The Romney camp didn't respond to Obama -- or to The Hill.

Charles Blow on the stark differences between white and black views of the Trayvon Martin killing, and what good might come from reaction to his killing.

Andy Rosenthal decides to skip the Masters golf tournament. CW: glad he's finally getting around to it. The Augusta National club has continued to ban women decades after other all-male clubs dropped their penis requirement.

Not entirely germane to politics, but interesting: Amy Schalet in a New York Times op-ed: "... there is reason to believe that teenage boys are becoming more careful and more romantic about their first sexual experiences." Schalet attributes this partly to young men's new concerns about the consequences of unprotected sex -- a well-documented view -- but she says that it's also a consequence of boys' letting their romantic side rule. CW: Schalet has written a book on teen sexual practices, so maybe she mentions something in the book she doesn't mention here. The "something" is pressure from religious fundamentalists. I have personal knowledge that these believers are still telling men & women in the 20s, even engaged couples, to "wait until marriage." Because this is biologically "unnatural"; that is, we're built to have sex in our teens -- I find this "ideal" ridiculous.   

Right Wing World

Gail Collins got hold of the Republican to-do list. Quite funny.

Liar, Liar. Dana Milbank: Mitt Romney is still making up stuff. Milbank reports that a speech, Romney began with “'Good morning,' ... though it was already afternoon. The accuracy of his statements went downhill from there." Milbank details some of what Romney said next, then calls it "Incorrect, wrong, false and fictitious. And that was just a sample from one Romney speech on one day." CW: Milbank, who is probably a moderate Republican, thinks Romney is capable of doing better. That's generous. ...

... Volume XII of Steve Benen's Chronicle of Romney Lies is the longest episode yet. ...

... Benen points to this post by David Corn, who blames the mainstream media for letting Romney get away with his non-stop campaign of lies. He calls it "one of the fundamental problems of American politics."

Andy Rosenthal again on why Mitt Romney's "state-based" "healthcare plan" won't work. CW: I would add to Rosenthal's post that state legislators have known about the healthcare crisis just as long as members of Congress have, & with a few notable exceptions -- including Massachusetts -- they have done little or nothing to abate the problem. Rosenthal argues it's because they can't; I'd say in most cases it's because they won't.

Local News

Sorry, I kept meaning to post this yesterday. I first intended to post it on my own; then intended to post it when contributor Janice reminded me of it; well, here it is: U.S. dictatorships:

News Ledes

AP: Thomas Kinkade, painter of popular schmaltz, died yesterday. He was 54.

Reuters: "The chief executives of General Motors, AIG, and Ally Financial had their 2012 compensation packages frozen for a second year in a row by the Treasury Department after they got 'exceptional' bailout help during the financial crisis. The Treasury said on Friday that all three were making progress at repaying the taxpayer funds given to them to keep them from collapsing during the 2007-2009 financial crisis but their pay practices remain under scrutiny of a 'special master' until they do pay it back."

Reader Comments (5)

I have been following this Michigan dictatorship story for some time now via Rachel, but this latest plus video is incredible. How does something like this go on for so long? Why didn't the democrats rise up and demand recounts straightaway? and this Benton Harbor situation is also mind boggling. Why isn't there a great hue and cry from the people of Michigan? Silly me, thinking we had something resembling a democracy.

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

P.S. We all wanted Marie to take on Brook's latest, but she needs her rest. Luckily, Charles Pierce has taken up the cudgel and it is hilarious!
https://www.nytexaminer.com/2012/04/our-mr-brooks-has-a-date-with-the-others/#comment-352

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Thank you Marie. I knew you could do it. The breadth of your knowledge makes you the ideal person to deal with twits like Brooks. I wonder if he sneaks down the hall to avoid running into Dr. Krugman. Maybe they never are at the Times at the same time.
David may have a serious inferiority complex, causing his attacks on the President. He probably does not take cash but is staying in line for a right wing "think tank" job if the Times ever gets wise to him.

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

As usual, the Republican response to Obama's remark about social Darwinism manages to ignore the truth. (I sometimes get confused, doesn't our Mr. Brooks have access to the internet?) Social Darwinism is the excuse for the rich to claim the rights over all others.
The interesting thing is that this of course comes from Darwin's theory concerning all living things (it's called evolution, in all places except Texas and Tenn.) Survival of the fittest. But I get confused, isn't it the basic concept of a god that humans are special? That because of their god, the rules that apply to other species don't apply to us special folks. Aren't all men created equal? I am sorry but I keep writing posts like this because my brain just keeps doing logic. I just don't know how to stop it.

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

@PD Pepe---The interesting thing about Benton Harbor is that eons
ago one of their citizens left a parcel of parkland bordering on Lake
Michigan to the residents of BH in perpetuity. After the city was
taken over, this very valuable land was sold (given?) to a developer
who built an exclusive golf course and mega-mansions. Did the
voters approve this? Obviously they had no voting rights, since
the city council was put on hold by the state. And now we hear
that a bill just passed giving the state control of all public access
to lakes, rivers, streams and street ends that are now controlled
by the cities. You gotta be a billionaire to enjoy the lakes and
rivers in the future cause sounds like someone higher up in the
government has friends who want all that valuable property.

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris
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