The Ledes

Thursday, July 30, 2015.

New York Times: "The commander of a group of Syrian fighters trained by the United States has been kidnapped by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, his group said in a statement Thursday. The commander, Nadeem Hassan, and seven of his fighters were taken by the Nusra Front, a rival of the Islamic State in Syria, as they were returning from a meeting in Turkey."

AP: "Afghanistan's Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, who led the group's self-styled Islamic emirate in the 1990s, sheltered al-Qaida through the 9/11 attacks and led a 14-year insurgency against U.S. and NATO troops. The Taliban Shura, or Supreme Council, chose Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who had served as Mullah Omar's deputy for the past three years, as its new leader, two Taliban figures told the Associated Press...."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy rebounded between April and June, new government data showed Thursday, expanding at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent. Growth in the second quarter remained modest, particularly compared with the breakneck pace seen in much of 2014, but it also signaled a bounce-back from a surprisingly sluggish winter when the economy was at a crawl."

New York Times: "Government officials and families of passengers lost on a Malaysian jet that vanished last year with 239 people aboard responded warily on Thursday to the discovery of possible wreckage from the aircraft, reluctant to fan hopes after more than a year of fruitless searching and false rumors. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss of Australia, whose country has led the search for the jet, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, said that the discovery of an airplane part thousands of miles from the search area was 'a very significant development' but cautioned against concluding that it was from the missing aircraft."

The Wires

The Ledes

... Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. (This video tends to start near the end. If it does that for you, cursor back to the beginning.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

Guardian: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday continued to pave the way for an increase in interest rates as early as September. The US central bank left its key interest rate unchanged at near zero – where it has been since the 2008 financial crisis – but once again signalled that rates will rise later this year. While the Fed chair, Janet Yellen, has left little doubt that rates will rise this year, the Fed left itself wiggle room as it has set no timetable and said rates would only be raised if the economy continues to improve and unemployment continues to fall." ...

... The Fed's statement is here.

New York Times: "A large object that appeared to be an airplane part washed up Wednesday on the shore of Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, prompting speculation that it might be debris from Flight 370, the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared in March 2014." ...

     ... AP UPDATE: "Air safety investigators have a 'high degree of confidence' that aircraft debris found in the Indian Ocean is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared last year, a U.S. official said Wednesday."

New York Times: "After months of speculation, Afghan officials announced Wednesday that they were now certain that the Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, died in Pakistan in 2013."

Guardian: "Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has approved the immediate construction of hundreds of settlement units in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in an effort to stave off a growing threat posed by pro-settler parties in his rightwing coalition government. The issue was brought to a head on Wednesday by a supreme court ruling that two buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El – built on private Palestinian land without permits – should be destroyed, despite Netanyahu’s opposition."

Washington Post: "An Albuquerque 911 dispatcher has resigned after audio was released of him hanging up on a 17-year-old as she tended to a friend who was shot at the party. The victim, 17-year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver, later died.... Emergency responders had already been dispatched to the house before [the dispatcher] hung up." Includes 911 audio.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "A big-game hunter from the Twin Cities found himself at the center of an international firestorm Tuesday over the death of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, but said he regrets killing the animal and believed his guides were leading him on a legal hunt.... Earlier Tuesday, the Telegraph newspaper of London identified [dentist Walter] Palmer as the hunter who shot Cecil and reported that he paid $54,000 for the hunt. The Telegraph said the lion was illegally lured out of Hwange National Park, where it had protected status, and onto a neighboring game farm, where Palmer was on safari." ...

... Salon: Yelp contributors are whacking Palmer.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 30

2:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Open government public meeting

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Jane Hamshire of Firedoglake: "... I have decided to pass the torch on to Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, who will launch their own media organization called Shadowproof that will build on the success of FDL."

Dylan Byers: "MSNBC has formally decided to cancel three programs -- 'The Cycle,' 'Now with Alex Wagner' and 'The Ed Show' -- as part of a larger effort to shift its daytime lineup away from opinion programming.... Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, a 'Cycle' co-host and MSNBC's chief legal correspondent, will remain with the network. Ed Schultz, the host of 'The Ed Show,' will leave the network, as will 'Cycle' co-hosts Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball and Toure.... In September, MSNBC will add a 5 p.m. program hosted by 'Meet The Press' moderator Chuck Todd, while Brian Williams, the former 'Nightly News' anchor, will serve as the network's breaking news and special reports anchor."

If you can memorize & learn to use the University of New Hampshire's long list of "bias-free language," you can be the most politically-correct person in your neighborhood. Via Jonathan Chait. ...

... CW Etiquette Tip: calling out your friends for using outmoded terms like "overweight" & "rich" is not politically-correct. Simply try to steer the conversation in a more "inclusive" direction. So if your friend says to you, "My rich neighbor got so overweight he has to use a wheelchair now," you say, "Oh, that person of material wealth has become a person of size who is wheelchair mobile? Wow! He's your neighbor? I remember him when he was a person experiencing homelessness who lacked advantages that others have." It sounds so natural, your friend will never realize you've corrected his biased, dated stereotypes.

Will Oremus of Slate likes Windows 10. CW: I haven't had the courage to try switching over yet. I'll lose EVERYTHING!

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

For an actual feel-good moment, Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post tells the story of 16-year-old small-plane crash survivor Autumn Veatch. Veatch, who was injured in the crash that killed her grandparents, walked untold mild through rough terrain until she came to a public road & parking area.

Washington Post: "Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program '19 Kids and Counting' from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program."

Washington Post: "Filmmaker George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King and dancer-actress Rita Moreno are among an unprecedented six honorees to be saluted at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Seventies rockers the Eagles, actress Cicely Tyson and conductor Seiji Ozawa will also be honored at the Dec. 6 event, Kennedy Center officials said Wednesday. A major fundraiser for the arts center, the gala celebration will be televised on CBS on Dec. 29."

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. ...

... Laura Marsh of the New Republic: "Scolars have been pointing out Atticus Finch's racism for years."

New York Times (July 15): "It was the last day of business at F. A. O. Schwarz on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan."

New York Times: "A day after its successful flyby, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of Pluto, revealing a young surface dotted with ice mountains. The piano-size spacecraft traveled nine years and three billion miles to study the dwarf planet and its five moons." Includes one close-up photo from 25 miles out. More on NASA's site.

New York (July 14): "We're halfway through July, but until this morning, there was still snow on the ground in Boston. The last of the city's historic snowfall, a disgusting frozen mass of dirt, snow, and trash, was officially pronounced melted this morning"."

Here are time-lapse photos of the long melt:

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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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