The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at a special session on Wednesday in which the top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Israel and Hamas had likely committed war crimes with indiscriminate attacks on civilians." ...

... New York Times: "As the death toll mounts and passions spike, the Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned on Wednesday what it called 'deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists' who are reporting on the fighting in Gaza. That includes 'forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments,' the association said."

... New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Washington Post: "Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said." ...

... Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday afternoon ordered U.S. carriers to stop flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, prohibiting them from traveling through Israel’s largest airport after a rocket landed nearby."

Reuters: "Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in neighboring Egypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Israel later in the day. Both have voiced alarm at mounting civilian casualties."

New York Times: "A train carrying the bodies of victims from the Malaysia Airlines jet downed by a missile last week arrived Tuesday morning in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after a 17-hour journey out of lawless territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels." ...

... New York Times: "A piece of wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was shot down in eastern Ukraine last week bears telltale marks of small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel that apparently crippled the jet in flight. Riddled with these perforations and buffeted by a blast wave as it flew high above the conflict zone, the plane then most likely sheared apart."

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 23

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the NAACP national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (audio only)

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.

Monday
Apr092012

The Commentariat -- April 9, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's Easter Sunday sermon, and I think it's a winner even if it is full of typos I can't see. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

In a fabulous column, and without naming names, Paul Krugman explains why self-described centrists have fallen for Paul Ryan, "a garden-variety modern G.O.P. extremist, an Ayn Rand devotee who believes that the answer to all problems is to cut taxes on the rich and slash benefits for the poor and middle class." ...

... Krugman blogpost coda: "... the Ryan proposal would lead to bigger, repeat bigger, deficits than the Obama proposal."

** Eric Alterman of The Nation, in the New York Times: "... economic liberalism is on life-support, while cultural liberalism thrives. [That's largely because] cultural liberalism comes cheap.... Liberals must find a way to combine their cultural successes with new approaches to achieving economic equality.... So far the president has been unwilling to put his budgetary moneys where his mouth is. In fact, Obama has proved far more adept at adapting his positions toward the increasingly radical views enunciated by the leaders of the Republican Party than he has in articulating — and sticking to — an alternative vision of the role of government in ensuring a fair economic shake for all its citizens."

Prof. Philip Kitcher has a terrific essay in the New York Times on social Darwinism. ...

E. J. Dionne: "Conservatives are not accustomed to being on the defensive.... So imagine the shock when President Obama decided last week to speak plainly about what a Supreme Court decision throwing out the health-care law would mean, and then landed straight shots against the Mitt Romney-supported Paul Ryan budget as 'a Trojan horse,' 'an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country,' and 'thinly veiled social Darwinism.' ... Conservatives are unhappy because they prefer passive, intimidated liberals to the fighting kind."

Law Prof. Ronald Krotoszynski, in a New York Times op-ed: "In the post-9/11 era, security has too often been an empty pretext for placing dissent out of eyesight and earshot."

Right Wing World

Thomas Edsall, writing in the New York Times, tracks Mitt Etch-a-Sketch Romney's shift to the center. CW: I think it's worth noting, tho Edsall doesn't mention it, that during the general elections the positions of both presidential candidates will be to the left of where they were a year ago. Politicians are shifty people.

James Crugnale of Mediaite: "Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley took a shot at President Barack Obama’s stance on the Supreme Court via Twitter Saturday, tweeting, 'Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law.' ... Obama chief strategist David Axelrod fired back at the Iowa Senator, alleging a six-year-old had hacked his Twitter account.”

News Ledes

New York Times: "... the aggressive tactics that have served Mr. Romney so well in other states faced an unexpected complication [in Pennsylvania]: the emergency hospitalization of Mr. Santorum’s disabled daughter Bella, which prompted an outpouring of public sympathy."

New York Times: "The special prosecutor appointed to investigate the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin said Monday that she had decided not to convene a grand jury in the case.... The prosecutor, State Attorney Angela Corey, who was appointed last month by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to investigate the shooting, said in a statement that her decision 'should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case.'”

New York Times: "A judge set bail at $9.1 million each on Monday morning for the two men accused in the shooting spree here in which three people were killed and two others were wounded.... All five victims were black. Many city and community leaders have said that the shootings were racially motivated, but District Attorney Tim Harris of Tulsa County said on Monday that the authorities were trying to determine whether the rampage constituted a bias crime."

New York Times: "Facebook ... said it had agreed to buy Instagram, the popular mobile-centric photo-sharing service, for $1 billion in cash and stock, giving it a stronger foothold on mobile devices. It would be Facebook’s largest acquisition to date by far."

Washington Post: David Foley, "a top official at the General Services Administration, was placed on administrative leave Monday, four days after a video that features him joking about the lavish spending at a Las Vegas conference became public.

New York Times: Iranian diplomats are sending mixed signals in advance of nuclear arms talks.

AP: "Syrian forces fired across the border Monday into a refugee camp in Turkey, wounding at least five people as a U.N.-brokered plan to end more than a year of violence this week all but collapsed...." ...

     ... Updated New York Times story here.

AP: "The U.S. Navy said Monday it has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program.The deployment of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise along the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group marks only the fourth time in the past decade that the Navy has had two aircraft carriers operating at the same time in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea...."

New York Times: "AOL agreed on Monday to sell a portfolio of over 800 patents, and license about 300 more, to Microsoft for $1.056 billion, amid an arms race within the technology industry over intellectual property."

AP: "Sony Corp. will cut about 10,000 jobs worldwide over the next year as it tries to return to profit, Japanese news reports said Monday."

Reader Comments (4)

On Douthat: It's not just his lying, which you have illuminated wonderfully, it's his simple-minded conception of religion's psychological and sociological aspects (if, to make my own bias clear, there is any other). Douthat seems to believe--there's that word again--that a religious tenet or practice is a constant, like gravity or the speed of light, when all religions and their convictions are subject to drift and change over time. The reasons for those changes are many but the simple proliferation of street corner churches in this country since Douthat's golden age should be proof enough of religion's inconstancy.

To this non-believing observer, the delicious irony at the heart of Douthat's lamentations is that his own party has done all it can to splinter established religious institutions by substituting consumerism and dollar worship for ethical behavior, by hawking belligerent anti-intellectualism, political paranoia and outright racism, and by funneling millions of tax dollars into the coffers of the religious Right and its private religious-based so called schools.

And then Douthat complains about a nation so ignorant, so confused, so angry, so afraid that thousands, if not millions of its citizens seek security in their own egocentrically defined Church of the One True God--themselves.

The Republican Party has done all it can to make the church business big business and has been remarkably successful in doing so in the last forty years. For them it was a simple matter of votes. Unintended consequences or not, that effort has had a significant effect on our politics, some of which Douthat apparently doesn't like. I don't either but he's blaming the wrong folks for the development. He should look in a mirror.

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes. Thanks for the coda to my column. You're right of course about the inconstancy of religious doctrine and about Douthat's inability to see that. I suppose that's a conservative thing -- those guys don't like change! But all faiths have changed their "cast-in-stone" principles, sometimes for practical reasons & sometimes because of changes in leadership. The ones that don't are no longer around; e.g., Shakers. It's true that some well-established religions are more hidebound than others, so in some cases it isn't the doctrine that changes but the parishioners. The Roman church's contraception ban would be a lot bigger problem in this country if Catholic women paid much attention to it.

And I heartily agree that Republicans have encouraged wacky religious views. What's more, the GOP gets worse every year. When some yokel called Obama an A-rab (that's pronounced with a long "A") at a McCain event, McCain said, "No, he's not." When a woman at a Santorum rally said Obama was a Muslim, Santorum didn't disagree. (I will say that last week or so -- and now that he has the nomination pretty well sewed-up -- Romney did say "No" when some guy who seemed to be looking for a "Yes" answer asked Romney if he believed interracial marriage was immoral.) Their war on science is mind-boggling. The GOP has definitely returned to the pre-Scopes trial era.

Marie

April 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Blame evolution for the spread of religious dogma of all kinds across the world. Becoming a group in awe of one God or another brought people together in a larger society than the family. Grouped together followers of one God or another started helping each other. People that helped each other survived. Those that did not perished. That Darwin fellow described the process as evolution.
Many of the religious groups do not believe in evolution, What the hell Archie.

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Marie, I wanted to share my thoughts on Krugman's take:

Many "Independents" and "Centrists" are closet authoritarian/libertarians (philosophies that would seem to be incompatible until you realize that the combo means "lower taxes for me, behaving yourself for you"). The Republican Redistribution and Redemption Center is doing the heavy lifting for these "centrists" who apparently desire another Golden Age in which we can lionize the rich and admonish the poor about the sin of laziness and then herd them into churches where they can learn about the celestial bootstraps by which they can pull themselves up. (Perhaps the Brooks household can spare a pair.)

Also, it has occurred to me why these folks pine for the 1950s. That era occurred just before television forced us to witness the cost we inflict on those less fortunate for the sake of our elevated lifestyles. In those idyllic times we could choose not to be informed. Television and the Internet have made it impossible for a person to ignore reality, and the response to that has been to split humanity into those who are appalled by much of what they see and those who smugly deny that any of it matters.

One last thing I'd like to ask "centrists": Were you a centrist during, say, the Ford Administration? Can you feel the scale of tectonic shift centrism has experienced since 1975? Does any of that matter to you, or is it important for your own self-image for you to be able to claim to be "fair and balanced"?

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney
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