The Ledes

Thursday, February 11, 2016.

AP: "Sirhan Sirhan was denied parole Wednesday for fatally shooting Robert F. Kennedy after a confidante of the slain senator who was shot in the head forgave him and repeatedly apologized for not doing more to win his release. Paul Schrade's voice cracked with emotion during an hour of testimony on his efforts to untangle mysteries about the events of June 5, 1968. The 91-year-old former labor leader said he believed Sirhan shot him but that a second unidentified shooter felled Kennedy."

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 11

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

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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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."

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  • 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
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