The Ledes

Friday, July 25, 2014.

New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a two-stage plan to halt the fighting in the Gaza Strip that would first impose a weeklong truce starting Sunday, an official involved in the negotiations said on Friday. As soon as the truce took effect, Palestinian and Israeli officials would begin negotiations on the principal economic, political and security concerns about Gaza, with other nations attending." ...

... AFP: "Israeli fire Friday pushed the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to above 800, as Washington pressed Israel and Hamas to agree a week-long humanitarian ceasefire and thrash out a durable truce."

AFP: "The United States on Thursday said it had evidence Russian forces were firing artillery from inside Russia on Ukrainian troops, in what officials called a 'clear escalation' of the conflict. Moscow is also planning to 'deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers' to the pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine, US deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said." ...

... AFP: "Ukraine's prime minister resigned after his governing coalition collapsed, plunging the former Soviet state into political limbo as it struggles to quell a deadly rebellion in the east.... Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he was stepping down over the "dissolution of the parliamentary coalition and the blocking of government initiatives" after several parties walked out on the ruling group. The collapse of the ruling coalition paves the way for early elections to be called by President Petro Poroshenko within 30 days."

New York Times: "As a detachment of French soldiers reached the crash site in Mali of an Air Algérie jetliner, officials in Paris said Friday that the accident was most likely weather-related and that the distribution of the wreckage over a limited area suggested that the plane probably hit the ground intact."

 

Guardian: "The Washington Post's correspondent in Tehran has been arrested along with his Iranian wife and two American photojournalists. Iranian judicial offficials confirmed on Friday that Jason Rezaian, who holds dual American and Iranian citizenship, had been detained and is under investigation."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 24, 2014.

New York Times: "A series of explosions at a school run by the United Nations sheltering hundreds of Palestinians who had fled their homes for safety from Israeli military assaults killed at least 16 people on Thursday afternoon and wounded many more. The cause was not immediately clear."

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." ...

... New York Times UPDATE: "An Air Algérie jetliner with 116 people on board crashed early Thursday in a remote area of Mali near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger, officials 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."

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 25

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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.

Sunday
Apr082012

The Commentariat -- April 8, 2012

Sorry, I am back to being among the legally blind, so I won't be linking to stuff today. I might try to come back if my sight gets a little better & link to stuff that I think looks interesting, but as of yesterday afternoon, I have not been able to see. Period.

Have patience, please.

Ostara or Eostre, by Johannes Gehrts, 1884. Thanks to P. D. Pepe & the Venerable Bede.

Update: for the moment, I am seeing well enough to read a few articles when I ramp the print size WAY up. So, in honor of Christianity highest holy day, I'll concentrate on articles & essay related to religion, starting with ....

Nicholas Kristof has noticed an "intellectual tide" among atheists which acknowledges "grudging admiration for religion as an ethical and cohesive force." ...

 

 

... Kristof's column brings to mind this little number, which, as I recall, contributor Dave S. told us about a week or two ago:

"Global War on Women": Maureen Dowd compares the Augusta National & Pope Benedict (who spent Easter denouncing priests who want reforms like allowing women & married priests) to Saudi Arabia. She ends with,

The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the handsome Miami priest who defected to become an Episcopal priest when he fell in love and married a woman from his parish, found the pope’s timing ironic.

'They say women can’t be priests because Jesus only called men to be apostles,' he said. 'But the women close to Jesus were the first witnesses of the resurrection. When the men were afraid and hidden, the women went to the tomb and said, "Jesus is risen!" If Easter is the most important part of Christianity, the first to proclaim the message were women. Who could make more effective preachers?'

      ...  Dowd, BTW, contrasts the above-named miscreants with our national messiah Barack Obama.

      ... Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press (April 5): "Pope Benedict XVI has denounced priests who have questioned church teaching on celibacy and ordaining women, saying Thursday they were disobeying his authority to try to impose their own ideas on the church. Benedict made the rare and explicit criticism from the altar of St. Peter's Basilica in his homily on Holy Thursday, when priests recall the promises they made when ordained."

NEW. Rollo Romig of the New Yorker on "how Muslims view Easter."

Dan Frosch of the New York Times: "The Catholic Campaign, which doles out $8 million annually to about 250 groups nationwide, has been under increasing pressure from conservative Catholic groups to ensure that it is not unwittingly aiding organizations that run afoul of church positions on issues like birth control and marriage.... Since 2010, nine groups from across the country have lost financing from the campaign because of conflicts with Catholic principles...."

Heidi Hall of The Tennessean: "The Southern Baptist Convention has spent more than a decade trying to leave behind the racially divided past that created it.... But some consider statements made Saturday by the convention’s top policy representative on his national radio show a setback. On Richard Land Live!, Land accused black religious leaders — whom he called 'race hustlers' — and President Barack Obama of using the shooting death of an African-American teen in Florida for election-year gains."

Here are Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan on Obama's "War on Religion." And how about that Tim Dolan?:

... So here's the secular warrior at the Easter Week Prayer Breakfast he hosted:

... AND, uh-oh, here -- via the Maddow blog -- are some disrespectful members of Occupy Catholics and Catholics United outside St. Patrick's (TimDolanWorld) in NYC protesting the budget of the good Catholic boy Paul Ryan:

The banner reads, "Were you there when they crucified the poor?"

Law Prof. Robert Burt in a Washington Post opinion piece: In the Bible stories, "... no one has effective coercive authority over God. But in the biblical texts, God is continually reminded — by Abraham, Moses, Job and Jesus — that coercion cannot pry loose what He truly wants from us: not just obedience but loyalty, allegiance and love. It is also hard to exercise coercive authority over our secular leaders — the president during his term in office or life-tenured Supreme Court justices. Political leaders may want our love (or at least our votes), but it may be that, unlike God, they are content to settle for our sullen, enforced obedience."

Apropos of all this -- in this post, which appeared in the Times last week, Matthew Hutson cites studies which show that "superstitious thought, or 'magical thinking,' even as it misrepresents reality, has its advantages."

News Ledes

AP: "CBS newsman Mike Wallace, the dogged, merciless reporter and interviewer who took on politicians, celebrities and other public figures in a 60-year career highlighted by the on-air confrontations that helped make “60 Minutes” the most successful prime-time television news program ever, has died. He was 93." CBS News has a brief remembrance here. ...

Morley Safer remembers Mike Wallace:

     ... Update: "60 Minutes" reprises some of Wallace's segments here. Next Sunday's "60 Minutes" will be devoted to Wallace.

AP: "The Afghan government and the U.S. signed a deal Sunday governing night raids by American troops, resolving an issue that had threatened to derail a larger pact governing a U.S. presence in the country for decades to come."

Reader Comments (6)

Marie, I am sorry that the slow healing is keeping you away from a banner day in sophistry, starring the incomparable Ross Douthat, the person I will immediately recruit should I ever be tasked with selling s**t as Shinola. Here's a taste: "And the inescapability of religious polarization — whether it pits evangelicals against Mormons, the White House against the Catholic Church, or Rick Santorum against the secular press — during an election year that was expected to be all about the economy is a sign of what happens to a deeply religious country when its theological center cannot hold." My favorite is "the White House against the Catholic Church," when actually it's "everybody who doesn't believe the Catholic malarkey (including most Catholics) against the Catholic Church."

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Marie--
Be patient with yourself. Take the time to let the eyes heal. If you put the Weader aside for a week, we'll miss you, but we'd miss you more if your sight was permanently damaged by coming to work too soon.

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwaltwis

With all the folderol on religion this Easter Sunday (by the way the word Easter derives from a mythical goddess of spring) the Steve Martin video made my morning plus Jack's entertaining the recruitment of Douthat if he should ever be asked to sell shit as Shinola. The only way to survive all this nonsense is with a sense of humor and lots of colored eggs hidden in secret places.

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

CW,
I can wait... Rest your eyes.
Mae Finch

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

Thanks for all who read Ross Douthat so I don't have to. I have become increasingly dismayed at all the charges back and forth hurled by candidates as to who does or doesn't pass the religious litmus test, or practice the "correct" religion. The idea of people even discussing religious beliefs - their own or anyone else's - in the public square is something I have still not gotten used to. Certainly, when I was growing up, you didn't question another person's faith and you didn't talk about your own , except to family and close friends.
That said, Happy Easter to all ! (from an agnostic)

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

@Marie--

Although it seems we are destined to agree on only a very few things, I nevertheless wish you the very best for a full and speedy recovery, and the very best possible result for recovery of your vision.

Heck, I'm one of those believers in things magical--and, yet, a scientist--so I even dare to hope for miracles! How strange is that?

As one who tried to undertake too much, too soon, following an important surgery and paid the corresponding price, I second the motions of those who have suggested that you should take it easy for a while.

Stay still, relaxed, and let the healing process proceed. Even some Conservatives need you!

Best wishes,

Zee

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZee
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