The Ledes

Wednesday, August 20, 2014.

AP: "At least 34 sailors are being kicked out of the Navy for their roles in a cheating ring that operated undetected for at least seven years at a nuclear power training site, and 10 others are under criminal investigation, the admiral in charge of the Navy's nuclear reactors program told The Associated Press."

New York Times: "Israeli airstrikes killed a wife and baby son of the top military commander of Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates the Gaza Strip, hours after rocket fire from Gaza broke a temporary cease-fire Tuesday and halted talks aimed at ending the six-week conflict collapsed in Cairo. The fate of the commander, Mohammed Deif, the target of several previous Israeli assassination attempts, remained unclear, though Palestinian officials and witnesses said his was not one of three bodies pulled Wednesday from the rubble of the bombed Gaza City home." ...

... AFP: "An Israeli cabinet minister on Wednesday justified an air strike on Gaza that killed the wife and child of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif, saying he was a legitimate target. 'Mohammed Deif deserves to die just like (the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama) bin Laden. He is an arch murderer and as long as we have an opportunity we will try to kill him'" Interior Minister Gideon Saar told army radio."

New York Times: "After nearly a week of inaction, a Russian aid convoy destined for the besieged, rebel-controlled Ukrainian city of Luhansk rumbled to life on Wednesday, with 16 of its trucks passing through a Russian border checkpoint. Before heading to Luhansk, though, the trucks still have to be checked by the Russian border service, Ukrainian border guards and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Sergei Karavaytsev, an officer in Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, said in a telephone interview."

Guardian: "Russia has shut down four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow for alleged sanitary violations in a move critics said was the latest blow in its tit-for-tat sanctions tussle with the west." CW: Now that could make Putin unpopular.

AP: "Germany says it is prepared to arm the Kurdish fighters battling Sunni insurgents in northern Iraq. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says Germany would closely coordinate its efforts with France, Britain and other European countries who are already delivering weapons to the Kurds."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, August 19, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Islamic State militant group claimed Tuesday to have beheaded an American photojournalist in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. A video released online purported to show the execution of James Foley after he recited a statement in which he called the U.S. government 'my real killers. A second prisoner, said to be Steven Joel Sotloff, like Foley an American journalist who disappeared while covering Syria’s civil war, then appears in the video. The masked executioner, speaking with what sounds like a British accent, identifies Sotloff and says that 'the life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.'”

New York Times: "Israeli and Palestinian officials agreed late Monday to extend a five-day cease-fire for Gaza that expired at midnight for 24 hours, reflecting the difficulty of reaching more durable agreements after two weeks of Egyptian-brokered talks but also an apparent lack of appetite on either side to resume the conflict." ...

     ... UPDATE: "Another Gaza cease-fire collapsed on Tuesday when Palestinian militants fired rockets into southern Israel, drawing retaliatory airstrikes from Israel and prompting the Israeli government to withdraw its delegation from Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo for an agreement to end the latest conflict."

Guardian: "Armed groups in Syria have several hundred portable anti-aircraft missiles that could easily be diverted to extremists and used to destroy commercial planes, according to a new report by an international arms research group that cites the risk of the missiles being smuggled out of Syria by terrorists. The report was released a few hours after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice to US airlines banning all flights in Syrian airspace."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
August 20

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

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.

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Friday
Feb242012

The Commentariat -- February 25, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on Rick Santorum v. Roger Williams and incorporates New York Times op-ed pieces by Tim Egan & Joe Nocera. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Women Fight Back. Adam Perez of NBC News:  Georgia Democratic women legislators (or legislatresses, as their colleagues might prefer) proposed a bill that "would amend the state’s current abortion law by banning men from getting vasectomies. 'Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation of vasectomies, said Rep. Yasmin Neal, a Democrat.... The anti-vasectomy bill borrows some language directly from H.B. 954, a recently drafted anti-abortion bill in Georgia that would punish abortions performed after the 20th week of pregnancy with prison sentences.... Constance Johnson, a Democratic state senator in Oklahoma ... proposed that zygotes should have the same rights as adults, and added: 'However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.' ... She later withdrew her amendment." CW: Too bad about "Johnson's Early Withdrawal." That was a birth-control technique the R.C. clergy used to recommended back in the day. It would have been a crime under the proposed amendment.

** Prof. Jonathan Turley: "It has never been the law that the First Amendment exempts religion from all civil authority.... Public policy demands have been found to trump freedom of religion in a number of contexts.... Meeting the public health needs of millions of women pursuant to a grant of legislative authority surely fits any reasonable definition of a compelling governmental interest. And the impact on religious expression? None. Religious institutions are not required to change their moral views on contraception.... Religious bodies engaged in the operation of public facilities are obligated to respect the rights of all employees, including those having incompatible religious beliefs, and to comply with applicable laws."

Right Wing World

Huge Romney Rally, February 24, 2012. Photo by Byron York, via the Washington Post.Michael Barbaro & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney set out on Friday to deliver a sweeping and sober vision for how to revive the American economy.... In an unusual choice, Mr. Romney gave his speech inside Ford Field, a cavernous indoor football stadium with 65,000 seats.... Before Mr. Romney had uttered a word, reporters began posting pictures online showing the stadium from every available angle — almost empty...." ...

... Compassionless Conservative. Ezra Klein: "What Romney is essentially proposing to do is finance a massive tax cut by cutting Medicaid, food stamps, housing subsidies and job training. In other words, the neediest Americans — and, to a lesser degree, federal workers — will be financing a massive tax cut. I don’t know whether independent analysts will say the numbers add up to make the rest of Romney’s plan deficit neutral. My guess is they won’t.... In 2000, George W. Bush ran for president saying 'I don’t think they ought to be balancing their budget on the backs of the poor.' In 2012, amidst a much worse economy, Romney is running for president saying exactly the opposite. Perhaps that’s why the stadium is empty."

Obama Rally, Madison, Wisconsin. February 2008. What "enthusiasm gap"?... Who's idea was it to put Romney in the middle of a near-empty football field? As we learn from Jed Lewison of Daily Kos, it depends on whom you ask & when you ask it. Also, every "explanation" is un-fucking-believable.

I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.-- Mitt Romney, figuring that mention of his wife's luxury cars would be a good way to wrap up his introduction of a budget plan that will cut taxes on the rich at the expense of the poor

Markos Moulitsas: hey, Romney needs all those cars for all those mansions. Includes some nice pix of Romney mansions present & past, none of which is in Michigan: "Like all Republican blowhards, he'd rather talk about the heartland than actually live there." And the Romney campaign won't release an inventory of what other cars might be in the Romney garages.

... Steve Benen had to expand his list of "Romney's Top Lies of the Week" to twelive (12) (XII) this week.

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post checked out Rick Santorum's remarks that, "... in the Netherlands ... half of the people who are euthanized — ten percent of all deaths in the Netherlands — half of those people are eunthanized involuntarily at hospitals because they are older and sick. And so elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go to the hospital." Kessler found that "There appears to be not a shred of evidence to back up Santorum’s claims about euthanasia in the Netherlands." ...

... NEW. Maggie Haberman of Politico: Rick Santorum slams Romney for his untrustworthiness, says Romney's language shows he is an Occupy Wall Street adherent.

Frank Rich has the best wrap-up of Wednesday's GOP debate. Treat yourself. Thanks to Kate M. for the link. ...

Digby: The real reason the GOP has rejected Dubya is that he "put their 'exceptionalist' worldview to the test and fail[ed]. Making America look weak and inept is simply unforgivable."

At dinner tonight, my husband told me he heard something on the teevee about Sarah Palin's getting a divorce. Would the former member of the secessionist Alaska Independence Party secede from his wife? I rushed to the Internets to find out. Bummer. Dave Weigel of Slate: in one of the newly-released e-mails obtained via an FOIA request, Palin writes to an aide -- who later wrote an unflattering book about her -- about her "Marital Problems." But it was a joke. CW: Mein schadenfreude ist kaputt. (I'm quite sure that's not even slightly grammatical or even sensible to a German speaker, but you get the idea.)

Steve Benen: "To add a coda to Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris' (R) story, the anti-Girl Scout lawmaker apologized yesterday for his over-the-top tirade, but Morris' regret only extends to his tone, not the substance of his harangue.... He's sorry he became the butt of jokes, but he still believes a lot of nonsense about the Girl Scouts." ...

... Here's a good story in the Indy Star about the follow-up responses to Morris's fact-free rant.

News Ledes

NBC News: "The United States and Egypt are holding intense talks to try to quickly resolve the case of 16 American democracy activists who have been barred from leaving the country, a senior U.S. official said on Saturday."

New York Times: "Two American officers were shot dead inside the Interior Ministry building [in Kabul, Afghanistan] on Saturday, and NATO responded by immediately pulling all advisers out of Afghan ministries, in a deepening of the crisis over the American military’s burning of Korans at a NATO army base."

New York Times: "Yemen’s first new president in more than three decades was sworn in on Saturday, taking over the government of a country with a broken economy, crumbling infrastructure, violent separatist movements, an active Qaeda franchise and Islamist militants in control of large swaths of territory."

New York Times: "A court in Milan threw out the bribery case against former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday, saying that the statute of limitations had expired and continuing his long run of seeming invulnerability to conviction."

AP: "Concerns about Europe's sovereign debt crisis topped the agenda Saturday at the meeting in Mexico City of G-20 finance ministers, with financial sector leaders praising Greece's offer to repay bondholders at a steep discount, while others cautioned Greece will get no more money if it doesn't make structural reforms."

New York Times: "Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, was hospitalized Saturday, the office of the country’s current president, Jacob Zuma, announced."

AP: "Pakistan on Saturday began demolishing the three-story compound where Osama bin Laden lived for years and was killed by U.S. commandos last May, eliminating a concrete reminder of the painful and embarrassing chapter in the country's history."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing. The order, outlined in a handwritten note locked away for years at the archdiocese's Center City offices, was disclosed Friday by lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former church administrator facing trial next month."

Reader Comments (3)

Here are some followup questions related to Representative Issa's hearing and the Georgia bill mentioned above: Were any of the wise men (or, as I understand it, wise men and women on the second panel) at the Issa hearings speaking out against insurance plans covering Viagra and Cialis? What are Mr. Santorum's views on these medications?

If one subscribed to Mr. Santorum's logic (and I don't) these medicines should be banned because, like contraceptives, they allow people "...to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." The advertisements that appear during sports events on teevee do not feature empty cribs waiting to be filled.

If I were so bold as to try to interpret "God's Plan" from the evidence, it seems that She is trying to say: "Men should only engage in sexual activity when they are young and strong, capable of supporting the family they help create." Is that how it is supposed to be, Mr. Santorum?

February 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

Regarding Sandra Fluke's poignant testimony on the consequences of Georgetown University's refusal to cover contraception in their health plan for students: I attended Georgetown Law and am completely embarrassed to learn of their current policy. Sandra poses the imaginary rhetorical question of what did students expect when they enrolled in a school run by Jesuits. Given that the school is marketed to all students regardless of faith, creed or color and that it doubtless receives many publicly funded dollars in support of its programs, I would certainly have expected that they woudn't discriminate against women in their health care insurance.
I sincerely hope that fellow alums of Georgetown STOP SENDING MONEY in protest. Maybe that will cure the University's deafness.

February 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Some questions. With six hundred Catholic hospitals and two hundred and forty four Catholic universities and colleges, how many women are we denying insurance paid birth control? How many of the employees of these institutions are women? How many are poor women? How many are poor women that would depend on abortion in case of an unwanted pregnancy?
Are the women employed by religious institutions people of a lesser status and not protected by labor law?
There are perhaps a hundred thousand women that will denied the coverage provided by Hospital Corp of America, and the University of Michigan to their employees.
It is not rational to support the Bishops or the pandering Republican candidates position against women.

February 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle
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