The Ledes

Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States economy rebounded heartily in the spring after a dismal winter, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday, growing at an annual rate of 4 percent from April through June and surpassing economists’ expecations. In its initial estimate for the second quarter, the government cited a major advance in inventories for private businesses, higher government spending at the state and local level and personal consumption spending as chief contributors to growth."

Guardian: "At least 19 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early on Wednesday when a UN school sheltering people was hit by shells during a second night of relentless bombardment that followed an Israeli warning of a protracted military campaign. Gaza health officials said at least 43 people died in intense air strikes and tank shelling of Jabaliya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City. The death toll included the people at the school who had fled their own homes." ...

     ... AP Update: "Israel unleashed its heaviest air and artillery assault of the Gaza war on Tuesday, destroying key symbols of Hamas control, shutting down the territory's only power plant and leaving at least 128 Palestinians dead on the bloodiest day of the 22-day conflict. Despite devastating blows that left the packed territory's 1.7 million people cut off from power and water and sent the overall death toll soaring past 1,200, Hamas' shadowy military leader remained defiant as he insisted that the Islamic militants would not cease fire until its demands are met."

Los Angeles Times: "Pacific Gas & Electric was charged Tuesday with lying to regulators during the immediate aftermath of the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and ravaged a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood. The new indictment includes obstruction charges related to what the company said about its records immediately after the incident, according to a release from the Northern District of California U.S. attorney's office. The filing comes three months after an April indictment claimed that PG&E violated federal pipeline safety laws."

Los Angeles Times: "A top Los Angeles utility official faced tough questions Tuesday night about the response to a massive pipe break that flooded UCLA and surrounding areas with millions of gallons of water and threatened the near-term use of Pauley Pavilion. The rupture of the 90-year-old main sent a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air and deluged Sunset Boulevard and UCLA with 8 million to 10 million gallons of water before it was shut off more than three hours after the pipe burst, city officials said."

Reuters: "Militant fighters overran a Libyan special forces base in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday after a battle involving rockets and warplanes that killed at least 30 people. A special forces officer said they had to abandon their main camp in the southeast of Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and former rebel militias in the city."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Jesse Ventura won his defamation case against the estate of author Chris Kyle, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who said he punched out the former Minnesota governor for criticizing the SEALs’ role in the Iraq war. The jury awarded a total of $1.845 million: $500,000 in defamation damages and $1.345 million for 'unjust enrichment' — or to be specific, $1,345,477.25. Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, as instructed. Instead, with the consent of both sides, they voted 8 to 2 in Ventura’s favor."

AP: "A senior PLO official has called for a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza war, saying he is also speaking in the name of Hamas."

Guardian: "Gaza endured a night of relentless bombardment that brought some of the heaviest pounding since the start of the conflict three weeks ago, in the hours after the Israeli political and military leadership warned of a protracted offensive. Palestinian officials say more than 110 people have been killed in Gaza in the past 24 hours."

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 29

10:10 am ET: White House Agricultural Champions of Change meet

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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.

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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