Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office":

The Ledes

Saturday, December 20, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States transferred four detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Afghanistan late Friday, the Defense Department announced Saturday, fulfilling a request from the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in what officials here characterized as a show of good will between the United States and the government in Kabul.The four men are not likely to be subjected to further detainment in Afghanistan, an Obama administration official said."

New York Times: "In an apparent targeted killing, two police officers were shot in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon by a man who later fatally shot himself in head, police officials said."

Reuters: "Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Milwaukee when they blocked rush-hour traffic on a major highway to protest the killing of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer this year. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department took at least 73 adults and one minor into custody during the protest that blocked Interstate 43, which runs through the city, according to the department's Twitter feed."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Lowell Steward, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew more than 100 missions during World War II, died Wednesday, according to Ron Brewington, former national public relations officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Steward was 95."

NBC News: "The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being 'absent without leave,' AWOL."

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

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

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A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

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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