The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

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

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

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

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

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

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 30

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

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

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.