The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

New York Times: "Artur Fischer, a German inventor who registered more than 1,100 patents, including the first synchronized camera flash and an anchor that millions of do-it-yourselfers use to secure screws into walls, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Waldachtal, in southwestern Germany. He was 96."

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.

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.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

Contact the Constant Weader

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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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