The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, April 26, 2015.

New York Times: "A powerful earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday near its capital, Katmandu, killing more than 1,900 people, flattening sections of the city’s historic center, and trapping dozens of sightseers in a 200-foot watchtower that came crashing down into a pile of bricks." ...

     ... Update: "By Monday afternoon, Nepalese authorities had sharply raised the death toll to more than 3,400, but the full extent of the devastation and death was still unclear."

New York Times: "A largely peaceful protest over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a spinal cord injury in police custody, gave way to scattered scenes of chaos [in Baltimore] on Saturday night, as demonstrators smashed a downtown storefront window, threw rocks and bottles and damaged police cruisers, while officers in riot gear broke up skirmishes and made 12 arrests near Camden Yards. Shortly before 10 p.m., Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake convened a news conference at City Hall, where she appeared with several others — including Mr. Gray’s twin sister, Fredericka; a prominent pastor, Jamal Bryant; and City Councilman Brandon Scott — to appeal for calm. By that time the disturbances had largely settled.

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
April 24

Sorry. This is yesterday's livefeed. Since the White House doesn't date their schedule (despite my repeated requests) I just can't tell. I probably won't have time to republish today's schedule, should the White House ever get around to publishing it.

10:00 am ET: President Obama makes a statement

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus (audio only)

2:15 pm ET: President Obama honors the Super Bowl champs

4:55 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Organizing for Action summit

7:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at an Israel Independence Day ceremony (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

Wild Things Interrupt President Obama's reading of "Where the Wild Things Are" at the White House's Easter Egg Roll:

... Don't Worry, Bee Happy. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "The pint-sized guests Monday might not have listened to him, but the president’s National Pollinator Initiative will forge ahead. Last June Obama launched an inter-agency task force charged with developing a federal strategy to protect pollinators, which help sustain crops ranging from almonds to blueberries and broccoli, and it should be unveiling a detailed plan in a matter of months."

The Coolest First Lady in the History of the Nation:


Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: "For her forthcoming book, “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House,” Kate Andersen Brower managed to elicit stories from domestic staff who witnessed up close the loneliness of President Nixon as he faced impeachment, the weariness of Hillary Clinton as her husband’s sex scandal exploded and other surprisingly intimate moments involving the first families. Most of these stories — from Nancy Reagan’s tirade over three broken tchotchkes to the tearful hug Jackie and Bobby Kennedy shared with a favorite doorman in an elevator — are attributed to staffers by name, not wrapped in the cloud of anonymous sourcing that usually cloaks reporting about the inner workings of the White House." ...

Here's What $75MM Buys:

... Orange County Register: "President Richard Nixon's Western White House, an oceanfront San Clemente estate owned by retired Allergan CEO Gavin S. Herbert, is for sale at $75 million. Herbert, 83, is selling the 5.45-acre estate after owning the property for 35 years." Includes slideshow.

New York: "Here's a spoiler for people who haven't finished House of Cards season three yet: Frank Underwood doesn't die, because Netflix [April 2] announced that it had renewed Cards for a fourth season."

Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday afternoon, just about lunch time, a 'flying saucer' was undergoing a spin test in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The saucer is technically a 15-foot wide, 7,000-pound aerodynamic test vehicle. It is designed to help engineers try out new technologies for landing spacecraft, and someday people, on Mars."

Guardian: "Comedy Central is standing by its new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, after the 31-year-old South African comedian set to replace Jon Stewart was criticized for a series of controversial jokes he tweeted before his appointment." ...

... Jessica Winter of Salon: "Not since John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate have the vetting capacities of a powerful political force been cast into such doubt." Besides being a misogynist pig & an anti-Semite, Noah isn't even funny."

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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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