The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Rescue workers recovered two bodies on Sunday in the wreckage of the explosion and fire that happened last week in the East Village, the police said. One of two bodies was identified by family members as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The second body was not yet identified.... Officials said the fire was most likely set off by a gas explosion. The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. Three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble."

AP: "Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels there 'withdraw and surrender their weapons,' a summit of Arab leaders decided Sunday, as they also agreed in principle to forming a joint military force. The decision by the Arab League puts it on a path to potentially more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran, which is backing the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis."

Baltimore Sun: Protesters show up outside Bill Cosby's Baltimore performance, and one interrupts his show.

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President highlighted the progress made protecting American consumers since he signed Wall Street reform into law five years ago, including an important new step taken by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this week toward preventing abuses in payday lending":

The Ledes

Saturday, March 28, 2015.

Washington Post: "Arab leaders vowed Saturday to back the embattled Yemeni president as a Saudi Arabia-led coalition intensified airstrikes on Shiite rebel targets across Yemen, escalating a conflict that many residents fear could lead to a land invasion.... The Saudis and their allies think that the Shiite rebels are backed by Iran and that Tehran is trying to exert control over a country that had been an ally of Riyadh and Washington."

Telegraph: "A close media aide to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, has sought political asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West.Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Mr Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign, was said by Iranian news agencies to have quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA). He then appeared on an opposition television channel based in London to say he no longer saw any 'sense' in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told."

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 26

4:10 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in Birmingham, Alabama

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

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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