Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President spoke from the place where his political career first began in the Illinois State Senate ... [about] the state of American politics":

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 11

1:00 pm ET: NOBEL Women presents Girls, Gigabytes & Gadgets

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Scientists announced Thursday that, after decades of effort, they have succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space. The detection was hailed as a triumph for a controversial, exquisitely crafted, billion-dollar physics experiment and as confirmation of a key prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity."

New York Times: "... 21-year-old [Arthur Ashe] toppled the tournament’s top-seeded tennis player in a stunning upset on July 30, 1964. We published two photographs of Dennis Ralston, ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time, who walked off the court in defeat. But we didn’t run a single photograph of the winner.... On that day in 1964, he was ranked sixth in the nation and had yet to win a national title. ...

... The 1964 Times story is here. The page has blown up the above photo, worth viewing just to feast your eyes on that gorgeous young man. ...

... The Times is publishing previously unpublished photos of black historical figures & events every day this month. You can see those published to date here.

CW: Not sure if the movie is any good, but Ron Howard's intro is primo. Here's the trailer:

... The New York Times story, by Brooks Barnes, is here. "Kept a secret for months — no small task in Hollywood — 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie' was released to coincide with Mr. Trump’s victory on Tuesday in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary."

New York Times: The leader of a group of "aging thieves" who last year pulled off "the largest burglary in England’s history" may have been an ex-policeman. The others have been captured, but "Basil" is still at large & his identity is unknown to investigators. Surely there will be a movie.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

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Friday
Feb172012

The Commentariat -- February 18, 2012

CW: I submitted my New York Times eXaminer column late, so I'm not sure when it will be published. In the meantime, if you read Joe Nocera's column today, take it with a mountain of salt. I'll be getting back to you on that, sooner or later. ...

     ... Update: here's my NYTX column. It's titled "Fire Joe Nocera." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute to NYTX here. ...

... Laurence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute explains to New York Times reporter/analysts why we are not "becoming an entitlement society."

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Jason DeParle & Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage."

"Did the Stimulus Work?" Michael Linden of the Center for American Progress:

** Thomas Frank in a TruthOut interview: "... what is really spectacular is how [the 2008 financial meltdown] ... got processed through the right's upside-down machine and came out as the story of how power-hungry leftists tried to 'transform America' by force during a crisis: Rather than Hank Paulson and Co. bailing out their friends, it was Big Government trying to get its fingers around the throat of free enterprise.... Barack Obama had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take the financial oligarchy apart ... because that was what democracy requires -- and despite the right's perception of him as Robespierre reincarnated, he didn't do it."

"A Better Way to Buy Politicians." Lindsay Mark Lewis, a former DNC finance director, urges repeal of what's left of McCain-Feingold, which would put mega-donors' money under the control of the politicians they back & make politicians responsible for the ads they run. CW: maybe, but hardly a substantial improvement. ...

... CW: Besides, Andy Rosenthal inadvertently points out an advantage to keeping SuperPACS independent of candidates: "... under the law, broadcast stations cannot censor, edit or refuse ads by candidates for federal office.... But ... independent groups are not guaranteed the same access to airwaves as candidates for federal office. TV stations have every right to reject third-party ads." Rosenthal doesn't see TV stations turning down ad revenues, but he says they should "insist on edits for the sake of accuracy." ...

... Here's Annenberg's FlackCheck.org  One thing you can do is click on "Stations" (upper left) to e-mail your local stations & urge them to stop running deceptive ads.

Michelle Dammon Loyalka, a journalist living in Beijing, in a New York Times op-ed: "... while China’s industrial subsidies, trade policies, undervalued currency and lack of enforcement for intellectual property rights all remain sticking points for the United States, there is at least one area in which the playing field seems to be slowly leveling: the cheap labor that has made China’s factories nearly unbeatable is not so cheap anymore." ...

... Reuters: "Foxconn Technology Group, the top maker of Apple Inc's iPhones and iPads whose factories are under scrutiny over labour practices, has raised wages of its Chinese workers by 16-25 percent from this month, the third rise since 2010."

Via the Wall Street Journal.Prof. Jeffrey Sachs in the Huffington Post: "One of the unshakable myths of the punditariat is that the federal government is going bankrupt because of entitlements spending, especially spending on Medicare and Medicaid.... The most frequently quoted forecast is that of the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO's long-term forecast assumes that health care costs will continue to rise steeply during the next 70 years, though at a diminishing rate.... [But] healthcare costs are already vastly over-priced now compared with what other countries pay for the same services.... New information technologies ... lower the costs of health-care delivery and administration.... Let's therefore fight the right-wing hysteria demanding immediate and harsh cuts in Medicaid and other health outlays." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. Since the post is in the HuffPo, I never would have found it. ...

... OMG! Even J. D. Kleinke of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute agrees: "... the growth rate of national health expenditures ... has been moderating since 2002." Of course he thinks the way forward is in the "free market" where everybody gets to shop for their own policies. He would. Because, you know, individual insurance consumers have so much power.

VatiLeaks! Boys in Beanies Behaving Badly. Elisabetta Povoledo of the New York Times: "... the Vatican has become embroiled in an embarrassing scandal in which a number of leaked documents have drawn back the curtains on the church’s inner workings. The internal church squabbling, predictably dubbed 'VatiLeaks' by the Italian news media, became public about three weeks ago with the disclosure on television and in newspapers of confidential letters written by a top Vatican official who had denounced alleged corruption and financial mismanagement in Vatican City."

Kathleen Hennessey & Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times: President Obama raised $6,000 a minute on his Western trip -- and criticism from Republicans & those inconvenienced by traffic congestion he caused.

Right Wing World

Viva America! Quote of the Day: This sounds like some third-world county governed by colonels in mirrored sunglasses in which he dictates, 'I, the supreme leader, dictate that something will be provided free when we know the cost of that will have to be borne by everybody else in society that's not getting the free good.' -- Karl Rove, on contraceptive coverage (pssst! somebody tell Bush's Brain that contraception saves both public & private money; in fact, insurance policies that don't cover contraception cost more than those that do)

Once again, Steve Benen lists Mitt Romney's five top lies of the week. It is astounding that it is possible, week after week, to find five or ten lies that a major candidate has made during any given week.

Protestants Are Not Christians. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic; sure, the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. -- Rick Santorum, in a 2008 speech at conservative Catholic Ave Maria University. More here -- this is really remarkable stuff ...

... Charles Blow: in Detroit, the city with the highest poverty rate in the U.S., "Rick Santorum praises income inequality." Blow writes a pretty good takedown of Santorum.

Gail Collins writes about Republicans -- including Santorum -- running afoul of residency requirements. "Rick Santorum’s political career was built on an upset victory against a Democratic House member who, Santorum claimed, had ... moved his family to the Washington suburbs. When Santorum moved his own family to the Washington suburbs, he claimed that promises he made when he was in the House didn’t count for the Senate."

Laura Strickler of CBS News: "Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson plans to give another $10 million to the outside group backing [Newt Gingrich]...."

Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: so they're not through voting in the Maine caucuses. Washington County is caucusing today, & since Romney beat Ron Paul by less than 200 votes last week, his victory could be overturned. "The party’s decision about how to count the vote has touched off a political storm and raised questions about the whole caucus system. Caucuses in other states have been plagued with problems this year, and doubts have been raised about their fairness and the ability of state parties to manage them." CW: Kinda turns the tables on Will Rogers' famous remark, "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." ...

... Tim Mak of Politico: "Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster has admitted that the state party made numerous clerical errors in counting the state’s caucus results — even omitting some votes because emails reporting tallies 'went to spam' in an email account. However, Webster insisted that the errors did not change the outcome."

Local News

AP: "A judge on Friday denied Gov. Scott Walker's request for a two-week extension to review recall petition signatures, saying the election is likely to proceed. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess' ruling was a victory for recall organizers who had said there was no good reason for another extension and that Walker's request was an attempt to delay the inevitable." Thanks to Kate M. for the link.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Egypt will begin criminal proceedings on Friday against 19 Americans and two dozen others in a politically charged investigation into the foreign financing of nonprofit groups that has plunged relations between the United States and Egypt to their lowest point in three decades, state news media reported Saturday."

New York Times: "... speaker after speaker at the funeral of Whitney Houston on Saturday afternoon kept coming back to her strong attachment to New Hope Baptist Church [of Newark, New Jersey], where her prodigious talents were first recognized and where the funeral was held."

Washington Post: "Two Supreme Court justices suggested Friday that the court reconsider its controversial 2010 decision that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending in elections. The suggestion came as the court blocked a Montana Supreme Court decision upholding a century-old ban on corporate campaign spending in the state.... In Friday’s order, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer said the upheaval in the world of campaign finance since the Citizens United decision does not bear out the majority opinion."

New York Times: "The full details of recent experiments that made a deadly flu virus more contagious will be published, probably within a few months, despite recommendations by the United States that some information be kept secret for fear that terrorists could use it to start epidemics."

Reuters: "An Egyptian court will start the trial on February 26 of activists from mostly American civil society groups accused of working illegally in Egypt, in a case which has strained U.S.-Egyptian ties. A judicial source told Reuters that the 43 accused, including around 20 Americans, would go on trial next Sunday, charged with working in the country without proper legal registration."

Reuters: "Syrian security forces fired live ammunition to break up a protest against President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus Saturday, killing at least one person, opposition activists said." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Hundreds and hundreds of antigovernment protesters braved scattered gunfire from Syrian soldiers to march through a middle-class neighborhood in Damascus on Saturday, the biggest demonstration witnessed close to the heart of the capital since the country’s uprising started 11 months ago."

New York Times: "Pope Benedict XVI created 22 new cardinals on Saturday, including Timothy M. Dolan of New York, in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica rich in pageantry and resonant with ancient tradition."

New York Times: A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones."

Washington Post: "A half-dozen members of the House Ethics Committee have recused themselves from the troubled investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and been replaced by a new team, a sign that the stalled probe is set to restart.... Kenneth Gross, an ethics attorney..., said the mass recusal appeared to be 'unprecedented' in a congressional investigation."

Reuters: "China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping on Friday swiped away fears that his country's economic growth could stumble, and turned to courting American companies, film-makers and governors hungry for a slice of that growth on the final day of his U.S. visit." ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Before catching a late-night flight to Europe, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping made one last stop in Los Angeles: Staples Center [to watch the fourth quarter of the Lakers game].... The Chinese delegation has been greeted with protests by Tibetans and other groups at virtually every stop of their five-day tour of the United States. The Lakers game was no different."

Houston Chronicle: "About 40 investors who lost savings in accounts with accused swindler R. Allen Stanford packed the courtroom where he's on trial Friday, noting the third anniversary of the government lawsuit that shut down his operations. To date, investors have recovered nothing."

Reuters: "Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is to be questioned next week by police investigating an alleged prostitution ring in Lille, northern France, a police source said."

Los Angeles Times: "Whitney Houston's funeral is invitation-only and attendance will be limited to family and friends, but Saturday's services are set to be seen around the world: They will stream online and be shown on a number of TV networks. Houston's funeral is slated to begin at 9 a.m. Pacific [12 noon ET] at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. -- the late pop titan's childhood church."

Reader Comments (2)

I love Will Rogers: But Disreali had a better quote and perhaps WIll was riffin on it:

"A conservative government is an organized Hypocrisy."

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Ther is a change in the wind. For several years voters have been electing the lesser knave to offices. That is, the candidates most successful at villifying his or her opponent and successfully deflecting attacks on themselves. Therefore, we have officials in all positions that got there by being the best defamer.
The republicans quest for a candidate may be the turning point. Mitt's PAC has been so strong and has spent so much money that it has attracted too much attention. Destroying Gingrich was easy but brought attention to the PAC. The attacks on Santorum are not so easy and are bringing a lot of attention to the PAC.
Who thinks Americans want a Nasty Man for President?
Mitt is the obvious Nasty Man.

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle
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