The Wires

White House Live Video
February 10

2:10 pm ET: President Obama addresses the Illinois General Assembly

2:30 pm ET: Vice President Biden participates in a discussion of the "cancer moonshot" (audio only)

4:25 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Hoogland Center for Arts in Springfield, Illinois

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.

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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Thursday
Feb232012

The Commentariat -- February 24, 2012

President Obama spoke about energy policy at the University of Miami yesterday. He let on Republicans were lying about his policy, without naming names. Related New York Times story here:

How a Bill Does Not Become a Law. Laura Vozzella & Anita Kumar of the Washington Post write an interesting history of how Virginia's transvaginal ultrasound bill (along with the personhood bill) got tabled. CW: and thank you, Amy Poehler & Jon Stewart.

Sandra Fluke, whom Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) refused to let speak before his committee last week, spoke yesterday at an informal hearing hosted by the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, addressing the subject of contraception access. It's no wonder Issa wouldn't give Fluke a hearing; her testimony shows who's "moral" and who isn't:

... NEW. Dana Milbank: "If the gender gap becomes a chasm that swallows Republicans this fall, it will be no fluke. It will, however, have something to do with Sandra Fluke."

... Elizabeth Warren in a Boston Globe op-ed: "... the Senate is about to vote on an amendment that would allow any insurance company or any employer to claim a vague 'moral conviction'’ as an excuse to deny you health care coverage. Here’s the really astonishing news: Senator Scott Brown is not only voting for this amendment, he is fighting to get it passed." ...

... Sen. Scott Brown, in a Boston Globe op-ed: "The new ObamaCare mandate forcing religious organizations to offer insurance coverage for practices that go against the teachings of their church gives the government control over the most personal aspects of our lives, opening the door to endless abuses of power.

Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "Today, the State Department revealed that another fundraiser turned ambassador ran her embassy into the ground ... only to return to fundraising and leave the State Department to pick up the pieces. According to a new State Department inspector general's report on the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas, Ambassador Nicole Avant presided over 'an extended period of dysfunctional leadership and mismanagement, which has caused problems throughout the embassy' since she was appointed by the president in 2009." ...

... Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, faces "a thicket of questions surrounding his own Florida campaigns.... Federal inquiries surrounding Mr. Buchanan appear to be widening, as investigators examine allegations that his companies improperly reimbursed contributors to his campaigns and claimed improper tax deductions and that he failed to include all his varied financial interests in his Congressional disclosure reports. The Federal Election Commission has already completed one investigation that produced a settlement this week.... A federal grand jury in Tampa is hearing evidence in the case.... The House Ethics Committee, meanwhile, is examining his failure in Congressional filings to disclose numerous financial interests and management positions...."

Right Wing World

I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. So you don't blame the pills. I think it's sort of like the argument — conservatives use the argument all the time about guns. Guns don't kill, criminals kill. So, in a way, it's the morality of society that we have to deal with. The pill is there and, you know, it contributes, maybe, but the pills can't be blamed for the immorality of our society.-- Ron Paul, during the debate Wednesday

Women and their contraception are morally analogous to criminals and their firearms. -- Charles Pierce

Mark Murray of NBC News: at the GOP debate, "He Who Must Not Be Named -- [George W.] Bush -- was named by the candidates or moderator nine times.... Almost every heated exchange invoked, one way or another, policies, endorsements, or legislation from the Bush era.... All of last night's criticism of policies and endorsements from 2001 through 2008 -- some of which weren't all that controversial at the time -- reflects how much more conservative the Republican Party has become since the man who billed himself as the 'compassionate conservative' sat in the Oval Office.... Last night's debate was the first time when George W. Bush's record -- directly or indirectly -- was criticized as much as Barack Obama's." ...

... CW: It seems conservatives and Republicans are not enjoying the spectacle of the GOP presidential candidates gnawing at each others' legs as much as I am. Here's winger Byron York of the Examiner scolding the candidates & their spokesmen.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "How much would a pair of victories [in Michigan & Arizona] be worth [to Mitt Romney]? Republican strategists say that although they would restore Romney to front-runner status in the race, they could still leave the party looking at a long nomination battle. They also say that winning both states Tuesday wouldn’t be enough to resolve many of the doubts that still surround Romney." ...

... Paul Krugman on Mitt Romney's Keynesian gaffe & his pathological lies: "Mr. Romney is so deeply committed to insincerity that neither side can trust him to do what it considers to be the right thing."

... With Friends Like This.... Steve Benen has a hilarious post which runs down quite a few Romney surrogates who are happy to speak out on the record disagreeing with or dissing Romney. ...

... With Endorsements Like This.... The Detroit Free Press endorses Romney in the Michigan primary, mostly because he's not as bad as the competition:

... for the past 12 months, Romney has been refashioning himself as something other than what his record suggests. He has made gestures toward economic and social radicalism, and eschewed the common sense of cooperative governing that made him a success in Massachusetts. Romney was also dead wrong when he opposed government bailouts for the auto industry (Michigan’s most vital economic engine) in late 2008. And he has since adopted a recalcitrant and, at times, revisionist defense of his position in the face of overwhelming evidence that the bailouts he opposed were necessary.... But Romney, unlike the zealous Rick Santorum, the impulsive Newt Gingrich and the backward-thinking Ron Paul, is preferable to the rest of the field.

... Domenico Montanaro of NBC News: "The pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future is going up with an ad in Michigan and Arizona, starting tonight, that focuses on the story of Mitt Romney helping to lead the search for his business partner's daughter who went missing in New York City in the 1990s.... The ad run by a SUPER PAC, called 'Saved,' is word-for-word the same ad that the Romney CAMPAIGN ran in 2007, called 'The Search.' ... Super PACs and campaigns are, by federal law, not allowed coordinate." You can see both ads on this NYT Caucus blogpost. ...

     ... Paul Blumenthal in the Huffington Post: Paul Ryan, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, said the ad "violates campaign finance law that prohibits the republication of campaign materials by a super PAC." ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "... just days before Republicans vote in Michigan and Arizona, [Rick Santorum's] lengthy Washington record has also become powerful fodder for Mitt Romney as he attempts to undermine Mr. Santorum’s conservative credentials and portray him as a creature of insider politics. ...

... Ron Brownstein of the National Journal: "The most consistent note in Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign is attacking his rivals for their ideological inconsistency. It’s a nervy strategy for a candidate whose own greatest vulnerability is the sense, especially among conservatives, that he has serially reconsidered his positions for political advantage on issues from abortion to gay rights to immigration." ...

... Delusional Mitt. Steve Rattner, who was Obama's auto czar, writes in a New York Times op-ed: The gist of Romney's position on the auto bailout "is that the government should have stayed on the sidelines and allowed the companies to go through what he calls 'managed bankruptcies,' financed by private capital. That sounds like a wonderfully sensible approach — except that it’s utter fantasy. In late 2008 and early 2009, when G.M. and Chrysler had exhausted their liquidity, every scrap of private capital had fled to the sidelines." ...

... Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times examines the relationship between Mitt Romney & his mother Lenore.

Tim Egan contrasts Rick Santorum's theocratic aspirations with Roger Williams' founding of Rhode Island in 1636: "the first government in the world which broke church and state apart."

Michael Crowley of Time: when Mitt Romney criticized him in Wednesday's debate for supporting Arlen Specter, Rick Santorum responded "that that Specter had promised him he would use his power as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman to support George W. Bush’s judicial nominees." But Specter says it ain't so: "I never made any deals with Santorum about supporting — any blanket commitment to support Bush judges."

AND in a delightful-to-read short essay for Esquire, novelist Walter Kirn takes a liking to the old codger Ron Paul.

Is there any important political leader in this country who is more rude and obnoxious that Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.)? Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post tried to refute Christie's claim that he's "just like President Obama" on gay marriage. Christie would not let Capehart get a word in edgewise. The post & an embedded video of the exchange are here.

Local News

Gene Johnson of the AP: "In a ruling that appears headed toward appeal, a federal judge has ruled that Washington state cannot force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives. The state's true goal in adopting the rules at issue was not to promote the timely access to medicine, but to suppress religious objections by druggists who believe that such drugs can have an effect tantamount to abortion, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton said in his ruling Wednesday.... The judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, first blocked the state's dispensing rule in 2007. But a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel overruled him, saying the rules did not target religious conduct. It sent the case back to Leighton, who held an 11-day trial before reaffirming his original decision."

Kenric Ward of Sunshine State News: "Waving aside objections from the Florida Bar and the ACLU, the [Florida state] House Judiciary Committee approved an 'anti-Sharia law' bill on Wednesday." CW: as a Floridian, I sure hope this bill passes because I stay up nights worrying I will have to bow five times a day to Mecca.

News Ledes

New York Times: "After flirting through the week with breaking a new record, the broad United States stock market on Friday reached its highest level since 2008. The milestone suggested that upbeat signals on the economy, along with low interest rates, are encouraging investors to take more risks with their money."

Washington Post: "Iran has significantly ramped up production of a purer form of enriched uranium, U.N. nuclear officials said in a new report Friday, a finding certain to exacerbate worries about the country’s march toward nuclear-weapons capability."

ABC News: "President Barack Obama vowed Friday to 'look for every tool available' to stop Syria's deadly crackdown on opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's regime. 'It is important that we not be bystanders during these extraordinary events,' he said in the Oval Office as he met with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark." ...

... New York Times: "A leader of Hamas spoke out against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, throwing its support behind the opposition and stripping Damascus of what little credibility it may have retained with the Arab street. It was Hamas’s first public break with its longtime patron." ...

... New York Times: "Diplomats, government ministers and high officials met in the Tunisian capital on Friday for a meeting of the so-called 'Friends of Syria' designed to put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, a day after a United Nations panel concluded that the authorities in Damascus had ordered 'gross human rights violations' as a matter of state policy, amounting to crimes against humanity." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "International leaders meeting [in Tunis] Friday agreed on a unified plan for pressure they hope will stop Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s bloody crackdown on civilian opponents and drive him from power, but they stopped well short of approving military assistance to the Syrian opposition."

New York Times: "Angry and violent protests broke out in Kabul after the midday prayer on Friday and gunfire could be heard near the large Eid Gah Mosque where a crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered in the center of the capital."

Here We Go Again. The Hill: "Seven state attorneys general sued the Obama administration Thursday over its order requiring some religious employers to cover birth control in their employees’ healthcare plans. In the suit, the states argue that the White House infringed on the religious freedoms protected by the First Amendment."

Washington Post: "Medical costs for enrollees in the health-care law’s high-risk insurance pools are expected to more than double initial predictions, the Obama administration said Thursday in a report on the new program."

New York Times: "Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced on Friday that he would challenge his successor, Julia Gillard, for the leadership of the Labor Party and the country in a vote set for Monday morning. The move sets up a showdown to end an acrimonious public leadership battle that analysts warn has begun to paralyze the Australian government." Sydney Morning Herald story here.

AP: "Iraq's al-Qaida branch has claimed responsibility for the latest wave of bombings and other attacks that killed dozens in Baghdad and across the country, raising concerns over the government's ability to provide security after the U.S. troop pullout."

Reuters: "The United States' first sit-down negotiations with North Korea since its new and untested leader took over made some progress although Kim Jong-un's ascent to power did not appear to have altered the North's positions, a U.S. envoy said on Friday."

Hollywood Reporter: "During a live performance of StupidCrazyPolitics at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in San Jose, Calif., [comedian Bill] Maher presented a check for $1 million to Priorities USA Action, which spends money in support of the president’s reelection campaign.

AP: "A coroner on Friday opened Australia's fourth inquest into the most notorious and bitterly controversial legal drama in the nation's history: the 1980 death of a 9-week-old baby whose parents say was taken by a dingo from her tent in the Australian Outback."

AP: "A Dutch prince struck by an avalanche while skiing off-trail in Austria last week suffered massive brain damage and he may never regain consciousness, doctors said Friday. Johan Friso, 43, is the second son of the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix."

AP: "In the final months before she resigned as Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin displayed growing frustration over deteriorating relationships with state lawmakers and outrage over ethics complaints that she felt frivolously targeted her and prompted her to write: 'I can't take it anymore.'"

Reader Comments (5)

Anti-Sharia law is about the type of legslation the Florida legisature can handle. They get rambunctous some times and want to show those lobbyists that they can write a bill on their own.
You may remember that they passed a law saving us from dwarf tossing. I am not kidding, they really did. Their next independent bill writting attempt was a law against dirty expressions on bumper stickers.
The Florida Lagislature is composed of members of a lesser breed that depends on special interest lawyers and lobbyists for complicated things. The wing nuts are currently in control.

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

"They ... want to show those lobbyists that they can write a bill on their own." -- Carlyle

@ Carlyle. Ah, you overestimate my elected representatives. It seems anti-Sharia law nut David Yerushalmi wrote the bill. The Florida legislator who filed the bill just copied Yerushalmi's boilerplate bill. So, no, they can't write a bill of their own.

February 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

I think we have a winner:

http://douglass-forgot-the-chitterlings.tumblr.com/post/18106025547/somebody-posted-this-on-my-news-feed-it-is

February 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

thank you sandra fluke. another strong woman in the pipeline. she answers each of the misogynists' claims in the most rational and logical way (as i sit there planning how to castrate those hateful guys). thank you, marie, for sharing this clip.

February 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

For those of you who aren't offended by slightly raunchy visuals, @DaveS is right -- looks like a winner.

February 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader
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