The Ledes

Sunday, September 21, 2014.

New York Times: "Afghanistan’s election commission on Sunday pronounced Ashraf Ghani the winner of the country’s presidential election, but it withheld an announcement of the total votes won, despite an exhaustive and costly audit process overseen by the United Nations and financed by the American government. The suppression of the vote totals was apparently the final step necessary for the two presidential candidates to sign an American-brokered agreement to form a power-sharing government, giving the runner-up, Abdullah Abdullah, substantial powers in what is, in effect, the post of prime minister."

New York Times: "NASA’s latest Mars spacecraft, Maven, arrives Sunday evening to study the mystery of what happened to the planet’s air. A 33-minute engine firing, beginning at 9:37 p.m. Eastern time, will put Maven in orbit around the planet. Acknowledgment will reach mission controllers 12 1/2 minutes later, the time it takes for a radio signal to travel to Earth from Mars. NASA’s website will provide a live broadcast beginning at 9:30 p.m."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President thanked Congress for its strong bipartisan support for efforts to train and equip Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIL":

The Ledes

Saturday, September 20, 2014.

Guardian: "The United States has quietly released 14 Pakistani citizens from military detention in Afghanistan, where the US holds its most secret cohort of detainees in its war on terrorism. The US military transferred the 14 to Pakistani government custody on Saturday. It did not publicize the release, as is typical with releases from the detention center on the outskirts of Bagram Airfield which is known formally as the Detention Facility in Parwan. A Pakistani human rights group instead announced the transfer and said it was the largest number of Pakistanis the US has thus far released."

New York Times: "Polly Bergen, an actress, singer and businesswoman who won an Emmy in 1957 for her portrayal of the alcoholic torch singer Helen Morgan and was nominated for another 50 years later for her role on the television show 'Desperate Housewives,' died on Saturday at her home in Southbury, Conn. She was 84."

New York Times: "The two candidates for president of Afghanistan have agreed on a power-sharing deal that will give the losing candidate substantial influence in the next government, initialing the American-brokered deal Saturday night and promising to sign it at a formal ceremony on Sunday. The deal promised an end at last to the tumultuous, five-month-long aftermath of the Afghan presidential elections, although previous settlements have repeatedly collapsed at the last minute despite the candidates’ promises."

New York Times: "A Texas man who scaled the White House fence made it through the North Portico doors on Friday night before being apprehended, the Secret Service said. The intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, was arrested just inside the doors and taken to George Washington University Hospital after complaining of chest pains, said Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman. None of the Obamas were home when the security breach occurred about 7:20 p.m., but White House staff members were evacuated as a precaution, officials said. President Obama and his daughters had left for the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., just minutes before the incident." ...

     ... New Lede: "The Secret Service will conduct an internal review of its security procedures around the White House after a man who jumped the fence Friday night at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue managed to make his way through the front door of President Obama’s home before being stopped, officials said Saturday." ...

     ... ** Washington Post UPDATE: "Within seconds, the man who relatives said served as a sniper in the Iraq War got to the front double doors of the North Portico, turned the brass knob and stepped inside the vestibule. There he was grabbed and subdued by an officer standing post inside the door. He was carrying a folding knife with a 2-1/2 inch serrated blade." ...

... Fox "News": "A New Jersey man was arrested Saturday outside the White House after driving up to a gate and refusing to leave, less than 24 hours after another man jumped the fence and got inside the presidential mansion before being arrested, which has resulted in increased security and a “comprehensive internal review,” according to the Secret Service."

New York Times: "Forty-nine Turkish hostages who had been held for months in Iraq by Islamic State militants were returned to Turkey on Saturday after what Turkey said was a covert operation led by its intelligence agency. The hostages, including diplomats and their families, had been seized in June from the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul." ...

     ... Too Good to Be True? AP UPDATE: "Turkish authorities say they have freed 49 hostages from one of the world's most ruthless militant groups without firing a shot, paying a ransom or offering a quid pro quo. But as the well-dressed men and women captured by the Islamic State group more than three months ago clasped their families Saturday on the tarmac of the Turkish capital's airport, experts had doubts about the government's story."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
September 19

10:00 am ET: Annoucement of Department of Defense awards on biofuel production

10:15 am ET: President Obama & Vice President Biden host a White House event to launch the "It's on Us" campaign

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

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

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

CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Saturday
Feb182012

The Commentariat -- February 19, 2012

In 2009, a Russian satellite hit an Iridium communications satellite. Here, Iridium satellite orbits and collision debris clouds. Photo by D. S. Kelso, via the New York Times.Kenneth Chang in a New York Times op-ed: the U.S. should clean up its space debris.

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer takes a look at Tom Friedman's latest "great idea." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

** Please read today's comments. Mae Finch has a doozy.

Michael Cooper of the New York Times: "The nation has lost 668,000 state and local government jobs since the recession hit — more than in any modern downturn.... On the national level, the steady loss of public sector jobs has reduced the effects of recent job gains in the private sector and has slowed economic growth. But in cities and states around the country, the loss of those jobs has made it harder to provide services and has upended the lives of thousands of workers who had thought their government jobs were safe." ...

... Paul Krugman wrote a related woulda, coulda shoulda post last week. ...

... Jonathan Tasini of Playboy interviews Krugman. ...

... Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post has an interesting piece on Modern Monetary Theory, centered on the views of Jamie Galbraith.

CW: yesterday I linked to a rebuttal to a major New York Times story which claimed "Politicians have expanded the safety net without a commensurate increase in revenues, a primary reason for the government’s annual deficits and mushrooming debt." It doesn't hurt to reinforce that rebuttal (and Democrats seriously need to get the word out to the teeming masses longing to be free of "entitlements"): James Kwak of Baseline Scenario writes,

The idea that politicians have expanded the safety net is just not true, with the exception of the Medicare prescription drug benefit and an expansion in Medicaid that hasn’t taken effect yet. Spending on social programs has increased for a few obvious reasons: the baby boomers have started taking Social Security benefits, increasing that program’s expenditures; the recession boosted unemployment benefits, disability claims, and eligibility for poverty programs; and most importantly, health care has gotten much more expensive.

Joanne Kenan of Politico on contraception as a 2012 political issue. How did this happen? "Rick Santorum said states ought to have the right to outlaw the sale of contraception. And Susan G. Komen for the Cure yanked its funding for Planned Parenthood. And the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops teed off on President Barack Obama’s contraception policy. And House Republicans invited a panel of five men — and no women — to debate the issue. And a prominent Santorum supporter pined for the days when 'the gals' put aspirin 'between their knees' to ward off pregnancy."

"Voting Rights Act under Siege." Josh Gerstein of Politico: "In a political system where even the most trivial issues trigger partisan rancor, the Voting Rights Act has stood for several decades as a rare point of bipartisan consensus. Until now. An intensifying conservative legal assault on the Voting Rights Act could precipitate what many civil rights advocates regard as the nuclear option: a court ruling striking down one of the core elements of the landmark 1965 law guaranteeing African Americans and other minorities access to the ballot box. At the same time, the view that states should have free rein to change their election laws even in places with a history of Jim Crow seems to be gaining traction within the Republican Party."

Geov Parrish of the Booman Tribune: back in 2004, Judy Miller of the New York Times carried water for the Bush administration & wrote up its phony claims about Iraqi aggression; today's media, including the Times, seems even more interested in pursuing war with Iran than is the Obama administration.

Right Wing World

Richard Oppel of the New York Times on Wingnut Patrol: "... Rick Santorum< on Saturday criticized the public education system and questioned whether President Obama’s agenda sprang from a 'phony theology.' At one appearance here [in Ohio], he said the idea of schools run by the federal government or by state governments was 'anachronistic.' ... It was the latest in a series of comments ... suggesting that he takes a dim view of public schooling.... At another stop in Ohio on Saturday, Mr. Santorum waded into what he called the 'phony theology' of Mr. Obama’s agenda. 'It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology,' he said. 'But no less a theology.' ... Mr. Santorum has passed up ... opportunities to correct misstatements about the president’s background. Last month, a woman at one of Mr. Santorum’s campaign stops in Florida declared ... that Mr. Obama was Muslim.... Mr. Santorum did not correct the woman’s statement, and he later said it is not his job to correct such statements.” ...

    ... Update: Jake Tapper of ABC News: "Obama campaign strategist and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum this morning, saying he was 'well over the line' for questioning President Obama’s Christian faith. 'It’s wrong, it’s destructive and it makes it virtually impossible to solve the problems we face together as Americans,' Gibbs told me in an exclusive interview Sunday on 'This Week.' 'It’s just time to get rid of this mindset in our politics that if we disagree we have to question character and faith.'”

Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic: "Embattled Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who is facing explosive allegations that he and his attorney tried to intimidate a former lover by threatening to have him deported, on Saturday quit his position as an Arizona co-chairman of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign." ...

... Monica Alonzo of the Phoenix News Times has the backstory: "Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu — who became the face of Arizona border security nationally after he started stridently opposing illegal immigration — threatened his Mexican ex-lover with deportation when the man refused to promise never to disclose their years-long relationship, the former boyfriend and his lawyer tell New Times."

News Ledes

Reuters: "Riot police shielded Greece's national parliament Sunday as demonstrators gathered to protest against austerity measures on the eve of talks in Brussels on a 130-billion-euro ($171 billion) bailout needed to avert bankruptcy."

Guardian: "Iran announced on Sunday that it had stopped selling crude oil to British and French companies, in a move that may put further pressure on the price of oil amid heightening political tensions."

Reuters: "Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in cities across Russia in support of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday in a show of force two weeks before a March 4 presidential election that is expected to return him to the Kremlin."

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: Demotracks
    REALITYCHEX.COM - Constant Comments - The Commentariat -- February 19, 2012

Reader Comments (9)

I have a wish. Rick Demoron wins the Republican nomination. Not only will this get the country back on track, but the entire process from today on will torture Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. I have never seen a candidate manage to piss off so many people. And he is just getting started. No birth control, no public education, no Protestants and no women allowed to leave home. Welcome to Saudi Arabia!

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Oh, I 'm sorry. I forgot to mention that it's OK to commit mass murder if you call it a Crusade. Weeeeee!!

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

"Nocera’s column is misleading in its entirety and in its particulars. Nocera pretends the attorneys general got the best deal possible under the circumstances. They didn’t. Nocera portrays critics as whiners without a case. They are not. Even President Obama acknowledged that the settlement was just “a start.” Nocera leads the reader to believe that the states will not use the settlement funds for other purposes. They will. At least in several cases, that was the attorneys’ general plan all along. Nocera pretends that getting the banks to agree to fair servicing of mortgage was a big concession. It wasn’t. Banks are required under the CFPB to change their ways. Nocera asserts the banks will be subject to further “punishment.” Even he doesn’t seem to quite believe that, and the facts so far suggest otherwise. Nocera’s column is at best a whitewash. But I think it’s worse. Joe Nocera is pimping for the winners – the states, the Obama administration, and the banks. Americans who lost their homes or are paying on underwater mortgages? Good luck. Readers of the New York Times? Joe Nocera is happy to misinform you in service of his friends in high places. Joe Nocera proves in this column that he has no integrity. The New York Times, if it has any integrity, should fire him."
Writing that good is like a breath of fresh air. Cheers.

February 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercitizen625

A commenter on the NYT news story about Rick Sanitarium had this to say:
" Steady the bus, Rick. You can't show the crazy too early."

I think that is an excellent warning. Problem though: it is too late. Rick showed the crazy before he ever got started!"

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Who thinks the Republican establishment will go into a national election with either a nasty man, Mitt, or a crazy, Rick. Mitt, with his dirt machine PAC is defining himself as a nasty man. Rick,anti-sex, anti-birth control, anti-women, anti-gays and anti-poor people is quickly reducing the numbers of those that might vote for him.
The Republicans cannot live with this. Who will be the Republican candidate?

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Regarding the meeting on women's health with no women allowed to testify:
I called Rep. Issa's office the next day to express outrage that the woman witness was not allowed at the meeting he chaired.
Snarkily, he said "there are no women in football either."
It went downhill from there.
He did say women had the right to vote.
He mentioned religion, I reminded him that America is not a theocracy.
He spat out that I was an anticatholic, a new england liberal
He was hissing like a snake!
His name is Phil...:)
Finally my Irish appeared, and I called him a knuckle dragger...
He hung up.
What a neanderthal...seems like we have many among the Rep party.
Oy vey!
Mae Finch

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMae Finch

@ Mae Finch. Thank you for sharing your story. It's astounding. Congressional offices get calls from angry constituents all day long -- including a few from me, though I'm generally pretty polite even when I'm calling about something with which I disagree vehemently. My experience -- and firsthand observation -- is that Congressional staff treat even the most rabid callers with deference and respect. After all, it is the voters who are paying their salaries, and sass reflects badly on the Congress. The staffers do not argue with callers who are protesting their boss's policies; they just tell the caller they'll "pass on the information to the Congresswoman," meaning they'll add a tick to the "anti's" on the particular policy.

In the old days, it was common to receive a friendly form letter from the Congressperson a few days later. I don't think you should be watching your mailbox, Mae. Issa obviously doesn't give a rat's ass what voters think or in what regard they hold him and his staff.

February 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

I was taken up short when a friend told me two women had testified. I checked it out and it is true.

"Dr. Allison Dabbs Garrett, the senior vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma Christian University, and Dr. Laura Champion, the medical director at Calvin College Health Services, were two of ten witnesses who said the government mandate requiring religious institutions such as theirs to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs violated the First Amendment."

The above quote is from a very conservative Catholic web site. Sorry, I chose to just copy the above. I didn't want provide a link so that this guy would suddenly think he had garnered a lot of fans. Andrew Sullivan also had a confirming post.

The women were on a second panel held on Thursday. But still....no women, and so far as I know, no men were allowed to give opposing testimony.

Is it possible that this election is going to take us right back to 1950?

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

I just finished reading Chang's article on space junk in the real Times. Very informative, amazing how quickly we managed to mess up our neighborhood. I have no idea whether any of the technological solutions are feasible but the principle of cleaning up your own mess is very sound - the Swiss are planning to do just that but they have only two tiny satellites. The Russians created most of the junk, with USA strong second.

I am not concerned about manned space flight - there should be a 100 year moratorium on that anyway. Communication, surveillance and other satellites are, however, essential part of our life now. To allow the junk to smash into them does not make much sense.

It cost billions to create this mess. It may cost about the same to clean it up now and more decades from now.

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLadislav Nemec
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.