The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at a special session on Wednesday in which the top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Israel and Hamas had likely committed war crimes with indiscriminate attacks on civilians." ...

... New York Times: "As the death toll mounts and passions spike, the Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned on Wednesday what it called 'deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists' who are reporting on the fighting in Gaza. That includes 'forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments,' the association said."

... New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Washington Post: "Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said." ...

... Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday afternoon ordered U.S. carriers to stop flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, prohibiting them from traveling through Israel’s largest airport after a rocket landed nearby."

Reuters: "Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in neighboring Egypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Israel later in the day. Both have voiced alarm at mounting civilian casualties."

New York Times: "A train carrying the bodies of victims from the Malaysia Airlines jet downed by a missile last week arrived Tuesday morning in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after a 17-hour journey out of lawless territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels." ...

... New York Times: "A piece of wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was shot down in eastern Ukraine last week bears telltale marks of small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel that apparently crippled the jet in flight. Riddled with these perforations and buffeted by a blast wave as it flew high above the conflict zone, the plane then most likely sheared apart."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 23

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the NAACP national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (audio only)

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

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

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

Contact the Constant Weader

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

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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