The Ledes

Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

New York Times: "With anger swelling over corruption, inequality and a devastating Islamist insurgency in the nation’s north, Nigerians chose a former general who once ruled with an iron hand to be their next president, according to election results on Tuesday. The election was the most competitive presidential race ever in Nigeria, one of the largest democracies in the world. Now, if power is handed over peacefully, it will be a major shift for the nation — the first transfer of power between civilians of different parties in a country that has spent much of its post-colonial history roiled by military coups."

The Unfortunate Death of a Fool. Washington Post: "What had first appeared to be an attempt to breach security at the [NSA] ... now appears to be a wrong turn by two men who police believe had robbed their companion of his vehicle and perhaps didn’t stop because there were drugs inside. A spokeswoman for the Baltimore office of the FBI, Amy J. Thoreson, said early in the investigation that authorities 'do not believe [the incident] is related to terrorism.' A law enforcement official said: 'This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.'”

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

New York Times: "On Monday, the [U.S.] government charged that in the shadows of an undercover investigation of Silk Road, a notorious black-market site, two federal agents sought to enrich themselves by exploiting the very secrecy that made the site so difficult for law enforcement officials to penetrate. The agents, Carl Mark Force IV, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Shaun W. Bridges, who worked for the Secret Service, had resigned amid growing scrutiny, and on Monday they were charged with money laundering and wire fraud. Mr. Force was also charged with theft of government property and conflict of interest."

Guardian: "The personal details of world leaders at the last G20 summit were accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department, which did not consider it necessary to inform those world leaders of the privacy breach.... An employee of the agency inadvertently sent the passport numbers, visa details and other personal identifiers of all world leaders attending the summit to the organisers of the Asian Cup football tournament."

Washington Post: "One person was killed and another was injured Monday morning when police with the National Security Agency opened fire on a vehicle whose driver refused commands to stop at a security gate, according to a statement from the agency. The vehicle slammed into a police cruiser after shots were fired." ...

... ABC News: "Sources say the two inside [the vehicle] were men dressed as women. Preliminary information indicated the two men were partying at an area hotel with a third individual when they took that individual's car without permission. However, it's still unclear how or why they ended up at the NSA gate."

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."

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 31

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

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.

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Wednesday
Feb222012

The Commentariat -- February 23, 2012

NEW. My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on "The World According to Brooks." It's probably worth a read. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute to the effort here.

President Obama spoke yesterday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture:

Lonnie Bunch, Director of the National Museum of African American history, talks about the process of gathering material for the musueum:

NEW. Bob Drummond of Bloomberg News: "While Republicans promote themselves as the friendliest party for Wall Street, stock investors do better when Democrats occupy the White House. From a dollars- and-cents standpoint, it’s not even close." Like, about nine times better under Democratic presidents than under Republican POTUSes.

** NEW. Noam Scheiber of The New Republic on the memo Larry Summers didn't let President-Elect Obama see -- the one where Christina Romer called for a $1.8 trillion stimulus (later reduced, at Summers' insistence to $1.2 trillion & still "disappeared").

** Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "Like every other industry in health care, hospitals are consolidating to strengthen their financial positions or merely to survive," and many of those mergers are putting formerly secular hospitals under Roman Catholic control:

'There are a lot of rural places that now have only a Catholic hospital,' says Lois Uttley, director of MergerWatch, a research and advocacy group based in New York City. 'We hear regularly from doctors there who are just distraught at not being able to provide the care they want.' [Dr. Bruce] Silva, from Sierra Vista, [Arizona,] notes that such arrangements can be particularly tough on poor patients: 'If you’re wealthy, you go up to Tucson and you get a hotel. But a lot of people can’t even pay for the gas to get up there.'

... Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post on how abortion rights activists are changing the landscape -- and the language -- of their fight for women's reproductive rights. It seems to be working in Virginia. CW: Thank you, Dahlia Lithwick! (I linked Lithwick's post last week.) ...

... Or maybe this is what changed Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) mind about supporting the anti-woman bill:

... Or this:

... Or tasteful commemorative momentos like this (thanks to Haley S. for the link):

... Joan Walsh of Salon: no, Democrats did not raise the contraception issue, as Rush Limbaugh & some slightly less partisan critics like Mielissa Henneberger of the Washington Post claim. At the end of the embedded video, Walsh lets Henneberger have it. CW: BTW, I have long thought Henneberger, who agrees with Limbaugh and, um, got into bed with the bishops, was a dope. She sure hasn't said or written anything lately to change my mind.

Here's a pdf of the President's "Framework for Business Tax Reform," produced by the Treasury Department. ...

... The Rich Get Richer. Citizens for Tax Justice opposes the President's proposal because it "fails to raise revenue that could be used to make public investments in America’s economy and America’s future." The proposal does not specify enough offsets to make up for his proposed reduction in the tax rate. CW: I think they're right. The proposal boasts the reform is "revenue-neutral"; i.e., breaks even with the current lop-sided taxing system. Citizens for Tax Justice says the proposal doesn't do even that. This looks like more redistribution of wealth upward. ...

... The New York Times editors have similar objections; they specifically complain that the Obama proposal does not specify a minimum tax on companies that outsource domestic production nor does it address taxes on foreign profits held overseas. The proposal leaves way too much in the Congressional Suggestion Box, as if Congress will, on its own, ignore lobbyists & close loopholes.

Erik Wasson of The Hill: "The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package continues to have a significant effect. The bill raised fourth-quarter 2011 gross domestic product by as much as 1.5 percent, it states, and lowered the unemployment rate by as much as 1.1 percentage points." Sorry, GOP.

Ari Berman of The Nation: "The Super-PAC era gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'the buying of the president.'” ...

... Fabulous Get-Rich Quick Scheme: Start a SuperPAC, Pay Yourself Half a Mil & Counting. Melanie Mason & Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times: "Much of the focus on super PACs has been on their ability to raise unlimited sums from a cadre of super-rich donors. Less attention has been paid to how they use their money — and the fact that they do not have to contend with the same kind of internal scrutiny as the candidates and political parties they support."

Right Wing World

Liar, Liar, Liar. Willard, Rick, Newt. New York Times staff fact-checks the GOP presidential debate. ...

... Amy Walter of ABC News picks Rick Santorum as the loser & President Obama as the winner of last night's debate.

And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, [John McCain] doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative. And that’s when we got this information. And one thing led to another, and led to another, and that’s how we ended up with bin Laden. -- Rick Santorum, 2011

Here's a video of Santorum raising his hand for waterboarding under "any circumstances he could imagine."

Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast: Rick Santorum's "defense of torture is far, far more scandalous to the Catholic church than any liberal Catholic politician's views on, say, same-sex marriage or contraception. It is he who has made his faith integral to his public life. Yet he defends the equivalent of crucifixion for prisoners under his potential command. When, one wonders, will Catholics hear a letter from the pulpit on the vital question of torture -- and the support for it from a leading Catholic candidate for the presidency?" Read Sullivan's whole post. ...

... NEW. Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "When Rick Santorum accused President Obama of having 'some phony theology' last weekend, it was neither an isolated event nor an offhand remark. Instead, Santorum’s comments were a new twist on a steady theme of his Republican presidential candidacy: that Obama and other Democrats have a secular worldview not based on the Bible, one they are intent on imposing on believers." ...

It’s funny that I’ve been criticized by Gov. Romney and by Ron Paul for having voted for something called Title X which is actually federal funding of contraception. My public policy beliefs are that contraception should be available. Again, I’ve supported Title X funding. -- Rick Santorum, way last week

As Congressman Paul knows, I opposed Title X funding. I’ve always opposed Title X funding, but it’s included in a large appropriation bill that includes a whole host of other things. -- evidently a different Rick Santorum, in last night's debate

... Joan Walsh thanks Rick Santorum for doing so much to expose the backward views of the GOP.

In Willard's World, when President Obama talks about the one percent, it's "inconsistent with the concept of 'one nation under god'"; evidently when Willard talks about whacking the one percent, it's fiscally responsible:

 ... BUT, hey, this is nothing. William Saletan of Slate writes a long, fascinating & extensively-researched article about Willard's incredible (and I mean "incredible" in both senses of the word) "evolution" on matters of abortion & fetal life. Here's the short version:

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland was approved by the state Senate, which advanced a measure that narrowly cleared the House of Delegates last week. The final vote by the state Senate ended a yearlong drama in Annapolis over the legislation.... With the vote, the measure moves to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who has said he will sign it."

Washington Post: "In a highly unusual move, the full Virginia Senate killed the so-called ‘personhood’ bill for the year just hours after it seemed likely to survive. The Senate voted 24-14 to send the bill back to Senate Education and Health Committee, with two anti-abortion Democrats abstaining."

New York Times: "A Unite Nations panel concluded on Thursday that 'gross human rights violations' had been ordered by the Syrian authorities as state policy at 'the highest levels of the armed forces and the government,' amounting to crimes against humanity. The panel of three investigators, led by Paulo Pinheiro of Brazil, did not release the names of the officials it had identified as bearing responsibility. Instead, the panel delivered the names in a sealed envelope to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva."

ABC News: "Army Pfc. Bradley Manning ... deferred entering a plea at his arraignment today."

ABC News: "The judge presiding over the so-called honeymoon killer trial dismissed murder charges against Gabe Watson after the prosecution completed its case today. The charges were dismissed before the defense presented a single witness."

President Obama will speak at the University of Miami at 2:30 pm ET, where he will defend his energy policy. Here's a related Washington Post story. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "President Obama, confronted by the political perils of surging gas prices in an election year, defended his efforts to wean the United States off imported oil on Thursday, even as he conceded there was little he could do to immediately ease the pain at the pump." See video in Friday's Commentariat.

Washington Post: "The Obama administration on Thursday plans to announce voluntary guidelines for Web companies to protect consumers’ privacy online, a win for Google, Facebook and other Internet giants that have fought against heavier federal mandates. The White House did not include a much-debated 'do not track' rule that would have forced companies to offer users the choice of stopping advertisers from tracking their activities across the Web."

New York Times: "Afghans demonstrated for the third straight day on Thursday against the burning of Korans at the largest American base in their country, and public anger was reported to be spreading after furious crowds armed with rocks, bricks, pistols and wooden sticks took to the streets in a half-dozen provinces in protests Wednesday that left at least seven dead and many injured." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "Two American soldiers were killed on Thursday by an attacker wearing an Afghan army uniform, as protests over Koran-burning at a NATO base continued, and the Taliban called on Afghans to target foreign troops as reprisal.... President Obama apologized for the incident in a letter sent to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday."

AP: "A U.S nuclear envoy said Thursday he held substantive talks with North Korea on dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programs in return for aid and would continue the negotiations into second day."

AP: "Officials say attacks across Baghdad and several Iraqi provinces have killed 48 people and wounded more than 200 in an unrelenting wave of violence that mostly appeared to target security forces."

ABC News: "A jury recommended that a judge sentence George Huguely V to 26 years in prison after he was convicted of second-degree murder in the beating death of his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, at the University of Virginia." See also yesterday's Ledes.

Reader Comments (5)

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February 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercalvin klein underwear

Just read Par Buchanan's "Suicide of a Superpower." Just about everything Pat has to say has been said by one or another of the Republican candidates in the past few weeks. This garbage got Pat fired and we are in the process of nominating one of these garbage masters to run for the Presidency of The United States.
Topsy said it: "Don't you know we are all sinners."

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

More Santorum silliness.

Mr. “No Birth Control for You, Lady” has declared in no uncertain terms that contraception is not included in the realm of things that are ‘supposed to be’. The obvious question is “according to whom?” It’s pretty clear that according to Rick Santorum the United States is (or, I suppose as he and his followers might prate, should be) a monolithic society controlled by the strict codes of his version of Catholocism. No one else’s views matter. No other set of ideals or social structures or religious beliefs are admitted. No other values are allowed. (Doesn't sound very American to me.)

Santorum’s protestation that there is a single correct position on the matter of how much control women are to be given over their own lives is the equivalent of him replacing the Stars and Stripes with the Papal Seal.

It’s funny how right-wingers moaned about JFK taking orders from the pope, prompting him to make an important and effective statement of his beliefs regarding the necessity of separation of church and state, and now a half century later, the right is lining up behind someone who not only “might” take orders from the pope, but declares outright that not only will he be taking orders from the pope, so will the rest of us, if he’s elected Cardinal..er, president.

Silliness, it’s true. But dangerous silliness.

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@ Akhilleus. Ironically, what will do in Santorum is not his avowed plan to bring his radical religious agenda to the center of power, but the inconsequential earmarks he obtained while serving as Senator. I had the debate on last night, although I mostly didn't listen to it. But I tuned back in every time I heard applause or boos & rewound in my mind whatever it was that got the audience reaction, positive or negative. Invariably, it was the wrong thing. So in his ads, Romney has been hammering Santorum on earmarks, and during the debate, Romney got big cheers when he did the same. When Santorum tried to defend his earmarks, the audience booed him. Despite the implicit holiness of his bedroom behavior, Santorum is no longer "pure" because he got a petting zoo for Pittsburgh or whatever.

GOP leaders whipped these bozos into irrational frenzies against whatever -- or whoever -- they thought they could demonize, and now those chickens have come home to roost. The result: a nominee no rational person will vote for. (We will find out in November how many millions of American voters are irrational, but we already know the number is way too high.)

February 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Marie,

Inconsistency in politics is nothing new, but when the calling card you hand to potential voters declares purity of ideology then any deviation will kick your ass, especially with voters you have weaned on hatred of the made up inconsistencies of progressives. So good call on the Santorum inanity. I'm still not convinced that there aren't enough morons, teabaggers, haters, and racists out there to keep that Kenyan Islamicist out of the WHITE House for another four years. The Supreme Court is getting ready to declare racism dead so who knows how this will play out?

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus
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