The Ledes

Thursday, April 24, 2014.

... New York Times The Lede: "Separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine released the American journalist Simon Ostrovsky on Thursday, three days after he was taken prisoner in the town of Slovyansk while filming a video report for Vice News. The Brooklyn-based news organization confirmed his release in a statement, which was followed by a tweet from the correspondent."

Guardian: Ukrainian troops are moving against pro-Russian separatists. The Guardian's liveblog is here. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Russia announced on Thursday that it was immediately starting military drills involving its army and air force along the border with Ukraine, harshly criticizing the government there for moving against pro-Russian forces occupying various government buildings in a show of force that left a still-undetermined number of people killed and wounded." ...

Washington Post: "Three American medical staff members died when an Afghan security official opened fire Thursday at an American-run Christian hospital in Kabul in the latest violence targeting foreigners in Afghanistan."

Guardian: "Pupils at the elite Southbank International School in London were victims of serial paedophile teacher William Vahey, the school has confirmed. The scale of the abuse is expected to be revealed later on Thursday in a letter to parents.... Vahey, a 64-year-old American who taught at Southbank between 2009 and 2013, killed himself after being found with 90 images of boys. The FBI believe the children were drugged with sleeping pills and molested in assaults dating back to 2008."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Guardian: "The Oklahoma supreme court has dissolved its stay of the executions of two men who challenged the state's secrecy about its source of lethal injection drugs. The court reversed the decision of a district court judge who said the law that keeps the source secret is unconstitutional. The turnaround heads off a potential constitutional crisis sparked by the state's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who had tried to override the stay by issuing an executive order to go ahead with the sentences.... The court's reversal on Wednesday came hours after a resolution by an Oklahoma House member to try to impeach some of its justices."

New York Times: "The latest accord between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization appeared more serious than past attempts, experts said, and came as hopes faded for a resolution to peace negotiations with Israel."

New York Times: "Russia continued Wednesday to ratchet up pressure on the government in Kiev, warning that events in eastern Ukraine could prompt a military response and again accusing the United States of directing events there."

Not All Fish Are Created Equal. Time: "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed President Barack Obama to Tokyo Wednesday by taking him to the greatest sushi restaurant in the world, the three Michelin star Sukiyabashi Jiro."

Reuters: "Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday they were holding an American journalist in the city of Slaviansk and the online news site Vice News said it was trying to secure the safety of its reporter Simon Ostrovsky."

AP: "When armed men seized the police station in this eastern Ukrainian city, mayor Nelya Shtepa declared she was on their side. She changed her story a few days later. Then she disappeared — the victim of an apparent abduction by the man who now lays claim to her job. On Tuesday, she resurfaced, expressing support once again for the pro-Russia insurgents — but possibly no longer as mayor."

AP: " A senior Canadian diplomat was expelled from Canada's embassy in Moscow in retaliation for Canada expelling a Russia diplomat as tensions grow over the Ukraine, Canadian officials said Tuesday."

AP: "A Moscow judge on Tuesday left open the possibility of jailing President Vladimir Putin's main critic for years, a sign of Putin's increasingly hard-line rule against opponents. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was fined $8,400 on Tuesday for slandering a lawmaker. His second trial starts Thursday, and prosecutors who previously secured his house arrest are widely expected to ask for jail for him pending trial, with Tuesday's verdict making him a recidivist. If there's a guilty verdict at that trial, he could get a prison term."

AP: "A Kansas judge will on Wednesday consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning's petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she serves a 35-year sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "An Army soldier convicted of leaking classified military and diplomatic records persuaded a Kansas judge Wednesday to legally change her name from Bradley Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning."

Time: "President Barack Obama paid a visit to the small community of Oso, Wa., on Tuesday, exactly one month after a massive mudslide there claimed at least 41 lives. He promised survivors that the entire country will be on hand to help for 'as long as it takes'”:

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday took the rare step of urging doctors to stop performing a surgical procedure used on tens of thousands of women each year to remove uterine growths, saying the practice risks spreading hidden cancers within a woman’s body. The procedure, known as power morcellation, has long been used in laparoscopic operations to remove fibroid tumors from the uterus, or to remove the uterus itself. It involves inserting an electric device into the abdomen and slicing tissue in order to remove it through a small incision. The surgery is far less invasive than traditional abdominal operations."

White House Live Video
April 24

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Jon Stewart raises a good point: Why is this man parading around with the flag of a country he claims doesn't exist? ...


Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "The Hannity-Stewart feud: Day Three. During an 11-minute segment on the 'The Daily Show' Wednesday night, Jon Stewart called out Sean Hannity for what he perceived as hypocrisy on the Cliven Bundy issue and called the Fox News host 'The Arby’s of news.'”

CW: It's worth remembering that Stewart was the guy who brought down CNN's shouting pundits show "Crossfire." Of course the Blitzer Channel is, by comparison to Fox "News," a paragon of journalistic excellence.

Jon Stewart on the Cliven Bundy story:

... AND on Sean Hannity's support for Bundy:

... AND Hannity is pissed off. Apparently, it upsets him to hear his own blatant hypocrisy ridiculed.

New York Times: "David Letterman introduced his successor, Stephen Colbert, on his 'Late Show With David Letterman' Tuesday night on CBS with a monologue joke and some cordial conversation — but no measuring of the drapes":

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa. Paul Fahri of the Washington Post: The ratings for "Meet the Press" are so bad that NBC hired a psychologist to analyze Greggers. ...

     ... CW: Here's the rub. Fahri writes, "The impossible burden for Gregory, of course, has been to follow the beloved Russert. As one NBC colleague describes it, Russert is a 'ghost' who still haunts Gregory’s tenure at 'MTP' six years into his run." This is strictly VSP bull. Russert was a mediocre interviewer, who continually let politicians get away with evasive answers. He left big shoes to fill only because he had big feet.

MoDo loves her '65 Mustang.

USA Today: "Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she's pregnant with her first child."

New York Times: "It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world discovered so far, astronomers announced on Thursday. The planet, known as Kepler 186f, named after NASA’s Kepler planet-finding mission, which detected it, has a diameter of 8,700 miles, 10 percent wider than Earth, and its orbit lies within the 'Goldilocks zone' of its star, Kepler 186 — not too hot, not too cold, where temperatures could allow for liquid water to flow at the surface, making it potentially hospitable for life."

Jason Zinoman of the New York Times argues that the real king of late-night comedy is Jon Stewart.

Whose Pulitzer Is It Anyway? Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded the Pulitzer Prize this week for his multipart series on denials of benefits to black lung victims. ABC News, which used Hamby's work for a "Nightline" segment, now wants a piece of the Pulitzer, even though the Pulitzer Prize is given for print journalism. ...

... J. K. Trotter of Gawker has more: "Journalist-on-journalist carnage is rarely so open, or so bilious, especially when obituary-worthy awards are on the line. Then again, television news has never attracted, or rewarded, humble folk. According to Poynter, an ABC spokesperson repeatedly 'threatened [{Bill} Buzenberg {executive director of CPI}] and the Center saying they would make this very "messy" ... unless they got what they wanted.'” ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico has more on the feud. ...

... Capital New York: "Fresh off a Pulitzer win for his investigative work at The Center for Public Integrity, Chris Hamby is jumping ship to join Mark Schoofs' investigations desk at Buzzfeed...."

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

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Saturday
Aug042012

The Commentariat -- August 5, 2012

Once again inspired by P. D. Pepe, I have taken a whack at Our Young Man from the Vatican, waxing eloquent today all All's Wrong with Obama. The NYTX front page is here.

James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute in a Washington Post op-ed: "In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.... We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs.... The future is now. And it is hot." ...

... Seth Borenstein of the AP reports on the report.

Bill Vlasic, et al., of the New York Times: if U.S. policymakers could entice the Japanese to build cars in the U.S., maybe a similar approach should be taken for the tech industry, where so much product is built in Asia.

New York Times Editors: "Massachusetts will be the first state to try to cap overall health care spending, both private and public, so that it will grow no faster than the state economy."

How come "ordinary citizens go to jail when they break the law, while the elites face a mere slap on the wrist"? A few theories.

Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Illinois) talks to Michael Sneed of the Sun-Times about her husband's illness, which she characterizes as depression, possibly triggered by weight-loss surgery.

Presidential Race

"The Vanity of Perfectionism." Robert Parry in AlterNet on the foolishness of people "on the American Left ... who sit out presidential elections or cast ballots for third-party candidates who have no chance of winning.... When we treat elections as if they are our moment to express ourselves, rather than to mitigate the damage that a U.S. president might inflict on the world, we are behaving selfishly, in my view.... U.S. elections should not be primarily about us." Thanks to Kate M. for the link.

An Obama Landslide? Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "Liberals don't want to jinx it. It terrifies the right. And the press would prefer a nail-biter. But the fact is that finding Romney's path to victory is getting harder every day."

A Romney Landslide? James Pethokoukis of the (right-wing) American Enterprise Institute: "Political scientist Douglas Hibbs looks at two factors when forecasting presidential elections: a) per capita real disposable personal income over the incumbent president's term, and b) cumulative U.S. military fatalities in overseas conflicts. And he's predicting a near-landslide win for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, with Obama losing by about as big a margin in 2012 as he won back in 2008." ...

... On Hibb's model, contributor Victoria D. points to this post by Ezra Klein, who relies heavily on a lot of work by Nate Silver. Klein (& Silver) note that "Hibbs's model in particular performs well for the years from which it extrapolates -- that is, the elections from 1952 to 1988 -- and very poorly for elections before and after.... The model predicted that Al Smith would win in 1928, Thomas Dewey would win by a landslide in 1948, and that Al Gore would have won comfortably in 2000. In sum, Silver alleges, the model does worse than just positing that each party will get 50 percent of the vote. So take Hibbs's findings with a grain of salt":

Chart by Nate Silver.

Let's Just Lie. Reid Epstein of Politico: "Mitt Romney sparked a Saturday tit-for-tat by claiming, without pointing to any evidence, that President Obama 's campaign is trying to restrict military voting in Ohio. Obama's campaign responded, ripping Romney for 'completely fabricating' a claim it called 'shameful.' At issue: A lawsuit the Obama campaign filed July 17 that seeks to restore three days of early voting for all of the state's voters. At no point does the lawsuit attempt to curb the rights of active military.... Romney's spokesman, Ryan Williams, in an interview Saturday could point to no place in Obama's lawsuit that seeks to restrict the rights of military voters." ...

... Speaking of which, here is Vol. XXVIII Steve Benen's "Mitt's Mendacity."

Right Wing World *

Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts school in Illinois, asked a Washington, D.C. federal court on Wednesday for an emergency injunction against the Obama administration's contraception coverage mandate because the rule forces the school to cover emergency contraception.... But Wheaton's health plan already covered emergency contraception when the mandate was announced..., and tried to scramble to get rid of that coverage in order to qualify for the one-year reprieve President Barack Obama put in place for religious institutions that have moral objections to contraception." Via Steve Benen.

"Land's End." Joseph Conn in Wall of Separation: "Notorious Southern Baptist lobbyist Richard Land has announced his retirement.... Land, head of the so-called Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, lobbied for the SBC for nearly 25 years. He is the embodiment of the SBC's conversion from friend of religious liberty to agent of theocracy. A faithful advocate of the Religious Right agenda for 25 years, Land has been shrill, aggressively partisan and deeply hostile to the church-state wall." Via Steve Benen.

* Where Hypocrisy never sleeps.

News Ledes

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "The shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek about 10:15 a.m. Sunday that left seven people dead, including the shooter, and three people injured is being treated as a domestic terrorist incident, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. Oak Creek police officers who responded to a 911 call about the shooting were helping a victim when the shooter ambushed one of the officers, shooting the officer multiple times. A second Oak Creek officer returned fire, killing the shooter, Edwards said. The wounded officer, described as at least a 20-year veteran of the department, was in surgery Sunday afternoon and was expected to survive, Edwards said during a 4 p.m. news conference." New York Times story here. ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Tattoos on the body of the slain Sikh temple gunman and certain biographical details led the FBI to treat the attack at a Milwaukee-area temple as an act of domestic terrorism, officials said Sunday."

New York Times: "Israel on Sunday barred the delegations of five countries from attending a diplomatic conference in Ramallah, in the West Bank, upending plans by the Palestinian president to announce his intention to renew the Palestinians' bid this September for enhanced status in the United Nations."

AP: "A possible plea deal in the deadly Tucson shootings that wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords would send Jared Lee Loughner to prison for the rest of his life, a person familiar with the case said Saturday.A court-appointed psychiatrist will testify Tuesday that Loughner is competent to enter a plea...."

AFP: "... The Mars Science Laboratory and rover Curiosity -- designed to hunt for soil-based signatures of life and send back data to prepare for a future human mission" -- is scheduled to land on Mars early Monday morning. First signals would reach NASA "at 1:31 am Eastern time (0531 GMT).... That will be about 14 minutes after the touchdown actually happens due to the time it takes for spacecraft signals to travel from Mars to Earth."

AP: "Several wildfires raging around the parched Oklahoma landscape prompted more evacuations on Sunday as emergency workers sought to shelter those forced out by flames that destroyed dozens of homes and threatened others in the drought-stricken region."

Reader Comments (12)

Re Tomasky and Hibbs. Both camps are working overtime to build bandwagons. Be wary of polls, especially those with party bias. Trust Daily Kos to sort out who's trustworthy and who's a shill.

August 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Again I watched America burning down on the evening news. James Hansen's actual data will not be noticed by the MSM or the politicians. The issue is simple. There are too many humans. We are just so efficient at making more (remember, 80,000 plus a DAY).

But to address the matter we would have to admit that our wonderful god got it wrong. Never. Of course this is actually part of the god's plan, you know the new means to the end. What a wonderful concept. Since this is part of the god's plan, we are not responsible for doing anything. What a great idea, just sit back and let hell arrive on the Earth.
BTW, today I watched for the first time Bill Maher's movie Religulous. If you still think there is some chance to get this right, don't watch.

PS: As to Romney winning on the 'bread and peace' numbers half of that is not relevant. It's called war. Notice that we no longer even notice that we are still at war?

August 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

I found the Campbell Brown video from yesterday most interesting given that her husband, Dan Senor, is on the board of StudentsFirst N.Y.––arm of Michelle Rhee's coalition funded by Rubert Murdoch and others who have an interest in destroying teacher's unions. And the fact that Senor is a Romney advisor sheds a lot of light on Ms. Brown's allegations which according to Diane Ravitch are poppycock. Then if we follow Michelle Rhee's political minglings we find she was on Rick SCOTT's transition team, was beside SCOTT Walker during one of his speeches, and her coalition launched an initiative to defend Rep. Paul SCOTT against a recall effort. We could conclude Rhee may be suffering from Scotophilia! When we also learn about her husband, Kevin Johnson, former NBA star (Rhee's first husband also named Kevin and by the way, "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is a terrific film) we find he was accused of sexual misconduct at his charter school (he is now mayor of Sacramento under investigation for the improper use of City Hall resources by his nonprofits). Adding to all this is Michelle's snarky past––cheating scandal in the DC schools; lying about her past experience; lying about the 300 teachers she fired––quite a few, she said, were child molesters––there was ONE––makes for a fascinating story especially when you connect all the dots which point to the destruction of unions and privatizing our schools.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

"WHEN an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States."

From Avraham Burg's piece in the Times today––"Israel's Fading Democracy"–––worth reading.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

One more thing: Douthat today reads as though the poor man's brain has been addled by all that daily praying. He presents Obama's domestic policies as "much more STRIDENTLY left wing; chastises the comforting progressive "fantasy" that we can close the deficit and keep the existing safety net by SOAKING America's really, really rich; that Obama's stance on immigration, gay marriage, reproductive issues and even–––yes, EVEN welfare reform is PANDERING to Democratic voting blocs. What can one say to Mr. Douthat? Our guy, Gemli once again nails it:


'Immigration, gay marriage, and reproductive rights are hot-button cultural issues only to wild-eyed retrograde jingoistic misogynists. But to hear them complain that Obama is pandering (for shame!) to a liberal base must be grounds for involuntary commitment."

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I never read the Douthat but I do take a look at the comments. They always go after him but today was special. It looks like he is really having a hard time defending his new boss, Romney. I don't know if he really believes what he writes or not. If he does he is really delusional. But then again, delusion is considered a cultural norm.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

OK, just to finish my day as a proud American, the murders at the Sikh Temple have been declared 'domestic terrorism' by the police.
In other words another well educated citizen who is permitted to carry a gun doesn't know that not everyone who wears a beard and a turban is a Muslim. Never mind the mentality that revenge justifies murder. Never mind that this behavior is exactly what the 9/11 terrorists used as their justification. You know, just doing gods work. But it's no big deal. Another 7 dead doesn't really effect the total of uncountable millions who have died in the same game.

Yes, I am really pissed.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

After reading Frank Bruni's "Truculence Before Truth" in the NYT, I suggest he be added to that befuddled duo of Douthat and Brooks. Larry, Curly and Moe anyone?

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones

Tommy Bones: Frank Bruni has been a great disappointment to me. But on the issue of whether Reid's statement regarding Romney's tax situation was appropriate - I'm not sure it was. Bruni's statement at the end of the article that the position of both campaigns is "I'm not as bad as the other guy," is just plain ridiculous. Obama is running on a record of great accomplishment and Romney is running on fumes. Certainly the President is calling into question Romney's business bona fides, as the public seems to think his business experience is relevant. Amazingly, Obama is running to win reelection.
Personally, I think Tim Egan should have been given the job as columnist instead of Bruni. Egan is an eloquent writer and a more original thinker. And there currently is no progressive voice in the Times OpEd bench save the estimable Krugman, who really focuses on economic matters.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

I miss Akeillius' comments. Sorry for the misspelling of the name but I think you know who I mean. He writes excellent long thought provoking posts that make me think and laugh.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

@ Victoria D.: I share your reservations about Reid's remarks. They don't seem very "senatorial." Still, after watching the Rachel Maddow segments, embedded in yesterday's Commentariat, I'm sort of satisfied that turnabout is fair play.

@Janet. Couldn't agree with you more about Akhilleus. I'll see if I can find out if he's left his undisclosed location -- or what. I hope he'll be back soon.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Victoria D and Marie: I understand your point but I am so worried about the possibility of the republicans gaining any more control over our government. I feel that this is the most important election to date in my lifetime (I'm 65). For example, consider the implications of the repubs being in a position to choose the next couple of Supreme Court Justices. Also, what has President Obama's efforts to be reasonable and co-operative with the opposition party gained for him or us? A republican win would be an unmitigated disaster for the majority of the U.S. citizenry whether they realize it or not at this point. The time for diplomacy and niceties has passed and it is time to fight fire with fire. In my opinion Reid's allegations merely put Romney in a lose/lose position. Frankly, I like that.

By the way, I like Tim Egan also.

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Bones
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