The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

New York Times: "On Monday, the [U.S.] government charged that in the shadows of an undercover investigation of Silk Road, a notorious black-market site, two federal agents sought to enrich themselves by exploiting the very secrecy that made the site so difficult for law enforcement officials to penetrate. The agents, Carl Mark Force IV, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Shaun W. Bridges, who worked for the Secret Service, had resigned amid growing scrutiny, and on Monday they were charged with money laundering and wire fraud. Mr. Force was also charged with theft of government property and conflict of interest."

Guardian: "The personal details of world leaders at the last G20 summit were accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department, which did not consider it necessary to inform those world leaders of the privacy breach.... An employee of the agency inadvertently sent the passport numbers, visa details and other personal identifiers of all world leaders attending the summit to the organisers of the Asian Cup football tournament."

Washington Post: "One person was killed and another was injured Monday morning when police with the National Security Agency opened fire on a vehicle whose driver refused commands to stop at a security gate, according to a statement from the agency. The vehicle slammed into a police cruiser after shots were fired." ...

... ABC News: "Sources say the two inside [the vehicle] were men dressed as women. Preliminary information indicated the two men were partying at an area hotel with a third individual when they took that individual's car without permission. However, it's still unclear how or why they ended up at the NSA gate."

New York Times: "Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was forced from office under a cloud of corruption, was convicted on Monday of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial of a case involving an American businessman, whose sensational testimony in a Jerusalem court in 2008 was instrumental in Mr. Olmert’s downfall. The American businessman, Morris Talansky, said at the time that he had provided Mr. Olmert with about $150,000 over 13 years, mostly in cash stuffed into envelopes, an assertion Mr. Olmert vehemently denied. Mr. Talansky, known as Moshe, had said that much of the money was earmarked for election campaigns but that some was for Mr. Olmert’s personal expenses."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Rescue workers recovered two bodies on Sunday in the wreckage of the explosion and fire that happened last week in the East Village, the police said. One of two bodies was identified by family members as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The second body was not yet identified.... Officials said the fire was most likely set off by a gas explosion. The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. Three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble."

AP: "Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels there 'withdraw and surrender their weapons,' a summit of Arab leaders decided Sunday, as they also agreed in principle to forming a joint military force. The decision by the Arab League puts it on a path to potentially more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran, which is backing the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis."

Baltimore Sun: Protesters show up outside Bill Cosby's Baltimore performance, and one interrupts his show.

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 30

9:00 am ET: President's Management Advisory Board meeting

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

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.

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
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.