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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Monday
Feb202012

The Commentariat -- February 20, 2012

CW: Sorry for the late start today. My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on "This Week's New York Times Sunday Sex Sermon." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

Alex Gourevitch & Aziz Rana in Salon: Forget Jefferson. Go with Lincoln. Jefferson's view was "deeply inegalitarian," whereas Lincoln had a more egalitarian view of social mobility premised on the idea of economic independence. ...

... Prof. Dorian Warren in Slate on rethinking the labor movement for the 21st century: "What grounds this vision of a 21st century labor movement is the core idea of extending what Americans claim to cherish in politics and civil society to the workplace: democracy, liberty and freedom. The consolidation of income, wealth and political power by the 1 percent over the last several decades is directly related to the decline of workers’ voice and power."

"Pain without Gain." Paul Krugman: "... we could actually do a lot to help our economies simply by reversing the destructive austerity of the last two years. That’s true even in America, which has avoided full-fledged austerity at the federal level but has seen big spending and employment cuts at the state and local level." ...

Thomas Edsall, in a New York Times op-ed, finds experts who question the legitimacy of free-market capitalism. I have a major quibble with Edsall's selections -- they don't emphasize the policies that have made globalization a threat to ordinary American workers -- but his post is worth reading to get an idea of what the problems are.

Frank Rich on an Obama-Santorum contest, and why it could be tougher for Obama than an Obama-Romney match-up.

Richard Halen in Slate: "Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg seems poised to use the Montana case to expose the false premise at the heart of the Citizens United case": that fat cats giving millions to Super PACs in support of candidates or causes do not "give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption." "If we are lucky, she’ll convince one of the justices in the Citizens United majority of the error of his ways." CW: this is a good article for you lawyers; Hasen delves into & explains what seem to a layperson to be fairly esoteric but defining legal principles: when a fact is not a fact, and how Citzens United is internally inconsistent.

BTW, if you read Bill Keller's New York Times column on WikiLeaks & Julian Assange, at least read the comments. The material he covers is so vast I'm not knowledgeable enough to counter him except on a superficial level, but I'll link to articles by writers who have something substantive -- either negative or positive -- to say about Keller's screed.

Right Wing World

** Wow! All of the Founding Fathers Agreed with the GOP. About, Like, Everything. Even If They Didn't Say So. Steven Mufson of the Washington Post: "... many historians believe that the GOP presidential candidates are summoning the Founding Fathers this year to divide as much as to unify. And the candidates frequently dig up the Founders to inject religion into the campaign rather than remove it from the debate."

"Ideological Hypocrites." E. J. Dionne: "This Republican presidential campaign is demonstrating conclusively that there is an unbridgeable divide between the philosophical commitments conservative candidates make before they are elected and what they will have to do when faced with the day-to-day demands of practical governance.... Can conservatives finally face the fact that they actually want quite a lot from government, and that they are simply unwilling to raise taxes to pay for it?"

Dave Weigel of Slate on Republican Neo-Pessimism. If only the economy would tank again!

Meghashyam Mali of The Hill: "GOP hopeful Mitt Romney held on to his lead in Maine's caucuses Saturday after votes postponed by bad weather were finally tallied. Ron Paul gained 83 votes on Romney following the caucus in Washington county, but Romney held a 156-vote lead statewide reported the Associated Press."

David Firestone of the New York Times: "More than any major candidate in recent times, [Rick] Santorum has derogated the federal government on religious grounds." ...

     ... Here's Santorum on his opposition to prenatal testing: "Santorum said he feels sonograms and 'all sorts of prenatal testing' are acceptable, and if he were an employer, he would provide it in his health insurance, but he feels differently about amniocentesis." More here. ...

... AND here is Santorum objecting to the "weird socialization" that goes on in public "factory" schools. He prefers home-schooling & the one-room schoolhouse. Welcome, my friends, to the 19th century:

... BUT allow me to cut Santorum a break. He has a shaggy dog story that should give you a laugh.

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: an archive at the University of West Georgia of papers about Newt Gingrich reveals an image of Gingrich the candidate would not want you to see. "An examination of the papers collected over nearly three decades reveals a politician of moderate-to-liberal beginnings, a product of the civil rights era who moved to the right with an eye on political expediency — and privately savaged Republicans he was praising in public. Even as he gained a reputation as a conservative firebrand, the documents show Gingrich was viewed by his staff primarily as a tactician — the 'tent evangelist' of the conservative movement, one staffer said — with little ideological core."

Local News

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "Florida lawmakers contend that education is essential to high-wage jobs in the state, but the [GOP-led] Legislature is again expected to slash millions of dollars from the budget for higher education and may usher in another round of tuition increases."

News Ledes

Reuters: "U.S. Senators said in Cairo on Monday they hoped for a swift end to a row over U.S. pro-democracy activists accused of working illegally in Egypt and said they were committed to help Egypt nurture its democratic institutions and rebuild its economy. Senator John McCain, leading the delegation, said Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi assured them Egypt was working to solve the dispute that triggered a crisis between Washington and Cairo, threatening $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid."

AP: "Oil prices jumped to a nine-month high above $105 a barrel on Monday after Iran said it halted crude exports to Britain and France in an escalation of a dispute over the Middle Eastern country's nuclear program."

New York Times: "The United States and Mexico reached agreement on Monday on regulating oil and gas development along their maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico, ending years of negotiations and potentially opening more than a million acres to deepwater drilling."

Reuters: "Japan and the United States have made substantial progress in their talks on sanctions against Iran, but no agreement has yet been reached, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said on Tuesday."

Reuters: "A top executive of Japan's scandal-ridden Olympus Corp has been found dead in a park outside New Delhi, an apparent suicide, The Times of India said on Tuesday, quoting police. Tsutomu Omori, 49, who was head of Olympus's medical equipment business in India, was found hanging from a boundary wall...."

New York Times: "After months of fraught negotiation, euro zone finance ministers were poised to bring Greece back from the brink of default Monday by agreeing to a second giant bailout in exchange for severe austerity measures — and subject to strict conditions."

Reuters: "Senior U.N. inspectors arrived in Tehran on Monday for talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program, a day after the Islamic state responded defiantly to tightened EU sanctions by halting oil sales to British and French companies."

Reuters: "Vladimir Putin will be elected president in the first round of March's election with more than half the vote, avoiding a runoff that would dent his authority on the eve of his planned return to the Kremlin's top job, a state pollster predicted Monday."

Reader Comments (4)

Happy Presidents Day!

http://www.c-span.org/Events/Abraham-Lincoln39s-quotA-House-Dividedquot-Speech/10737422241/

Yes the Country hopelessly divided. Its worth remembering the greatness we've been witness to and that we've been here before. I have hope, hope that is "severely" challenged every time a GOP presidential candidate opens their mouth, that this time we can once again unite but this time do it in a more civilized manner.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

A little comment on the question of terminating pregnancy after amniocentesis. Is it true that many women terminate a pregnancy after getting bad news from the results, yes. But if you believe what Santorum believes that his god is the biggest controller of life then his god is the biggest killer of Down Syndrome fetuses because the great majority of Down Syndrome cases end in natural abortions called miscarriages. In fact way over 50% of all recurrent miscarriages have identifiable genetic defects in the fetal tissue. And a similar number might apply to single miscarriages but they are rarely tested. Just a few facts, that's all.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Ah, Marvin. You're applying rational thought to the irrational. The great thing about fundamentalist religion is you don't have to think. If it happens, "It's God's plan." Those who do the prudent thing & have prenatal tests, then find out they are carrying a fetus that has some life-altering affliction, have to think & make a difficult choice. That is not God's plan. That is the mother's plan. Thinking and deciding -- especially women thinking and deciding -- is not "natural." You really should leave it to God to decide.

What you see in Santorum is a living throwback to a primitive form of existence that predates scientific advances. So it is wrong to do things that could not be done without the aid of scientific discovery but it is okay to do really bad things -- like wage war & execute people who might be innocent -- because primitive people did those things without fancy science. If you saw Douthat's column yesterday, he called birth control "chemicals and latex." These are very sciencey things. Santorum & Douthat espouse a morality based in a pre-scientific worldview. It's kind of pathetic.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Marie, I agree with your comment completely with one minor adjustment. "The great thing about fundamentalist religion is you don't have to think." No. if you are a fundamentalist you are not allowed to think.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb
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