The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, September 29, 2014.

AP: "Militants of the Islamic State group were closing in Monday on a Kurdish area of Syria on the border with Turkey — an advance unhindered so far by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, including one that struck a grain silo, killing two civilians, according to activists. Islamic State fighters pounded the city of Kobani with mortars and artillery shells, advancing within three miles (five kilometers) of the Kurdish frontier city, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Nawaf Khalil, a Kurdish official."

New York Times: "A wave of protest in Hong Kong further engulfed the city on Monday as thousands of residents defied a government call to abandon street blockades, students boycotted classes and the city’s influential bar association added its condemnation of a police crackdown on protesters."

Los Angeles Times: "Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated Monday as president of Afghanistan, succeeding President Hamid Karzai and marking the first peaceful transition of power in the nation’s history."

Oklahoman: "In a bizarre coincidence, a fired Oklahoma City nursing home employee was arrested Friday after a co-worker reported he threatened to cut her head off. Jacob Mugambi Muriithi, 30, is being held in the Oklahoma County jail on a terrorism complaint. His bail is set at $1 million... She said Muriithi identified himself as a Muslim and said he 'represented ISIS and that ISIS kills Christians,' the detective told a judge in the affidavit. The two had not worked together before."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
September 29

11:00 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at an event announcing winners of Job-Driven Training grants

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

9:00 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's awards dinner in Washington, D.C.

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Los Angeles Times: "George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin are married, having said their vows Saturday evening in Venice, Italy." ...

... OR, as the Business Women Media lede reads, "Amal Alamuddin, a 36 year old London-based dual-qualified English barrister and New York litigation attorney who has long been a high-profile figure in international refugee and human rights law has gone against the trend for professional women in her field and married… an actor."

CW: Here's some cheery news. The MacArthur Foundation has named the newest recipients of its "genius" grants. I hope none of them is somebody you personally dislike (thus keeping it cheery). The AP article linked includes a slide show with mini-profiles of each grant recipient.

** CW: The best, most provocative piece of writing in the "news" today is A. O. Scott's piece in the New York Times Magazine on "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture." If you don't watch a lot of TV & never see stupid movies, you will struggle with Scott's exemplary references. You may not accept all of his premises, & I think he falls short on defining "adulthood" (though maybe, like pornography, we're supposed to recognize it when we see it.). ...

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

Jeff Weiss, in the New York Times, profiles comedian Bill Maher, who is in the midst of a schtick aimed to defeat the U.S.'s worst Congressperson. You would be a good idea to read Weiss's piece with A. O. Scott's essay in mind. Maher (& even Weiss, who -- in ticking off "bad things" about Maher -- never mentions Maher's offensive attitudes about women) is a fine example of Scott's thesis.

Guardian: "Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child, the royal family said on Monday morning. The announcement was made from Clarence House on Twitter.... The Duchess of Cornwall is suffering from acute morning sickness, as she did with her first pregnancy, and is being treated by doctors at her apartments in Kensington Palace."

Washington Post: "After less than a year at the top of Politico’s masthead, veteran New York Times editor Rick Berke has resigned as the publication’s executive editor.... Friction had been on display in the newsroom almost from the beginning of his tenure. Berke, according to several current and former Politico employees, tried to impose some of the values of the world he came from — where multiple editors might weigh in, demand multiple drafts, and shape bigger, more ambitious stories — on Politico’s fast-moving, reporter-driven newsroom."

 

Jimmy Fallon & Maroon 5 singer & Voice judge Adam Levine stage a "musical impressions-off." This clip, from a show that aired this week (September 2), already has more than 8MM hits:

New York Times: "The jilted lover of President François Hollande of France has written a tell-all book about her days as France’s onetime unofficial first lady and of her version of events that led the couple to separate after the president was exposed as having an affair by a French gossip magazine. The book by Valérie Trierweiler, 49, who separated from Mr. Hollande in January, describes how news of the affair pushed her to the edge. She acknowledges that she 'cracked' and attempted suicide by trying to overdose on sleeping pills when she learned of Mr. Hollande’s affair with an actress, Julie Gayet.... The book drew a barrage of criticism for revealing secrets about the president, whose office embodies the nation and is rarefied like that of a monarch."

Washington Post: "Apple said that its iCloud systems have not been breached Tuesday and that thieves stole celebrity photos from Apple accounts by targeting individuals, rather than by breaking into the company's infrastructure."

Gabrielle Bluestone of Gawker claims she has compiled "everything we know about the alleged celeb nude 'trading ring' & leak." CW: I'll take her word for it, though I should warn you her post does not include any nude pix. My advice: If you wanna be in pictures, but you don't want photos of your naked self published on celebrity Websites, don't upload the pictures onto the Internets. There be hackers. 

... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

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Sunday
Feb262012

The Commentariat -- February 27, 2012

** That's No Elephant; It's a Wooly Mammoth. Jonathan Chait writes a terrific feature for New York magazine: Republicans aren't paranoid; they're right -- they're becoming extinct. "Portents of this future were surely rendered all the more vivid by the startling reality that the man presiding over the new majority just happened to be, himself, young, urban, hip, and black. When jubilant supporters of Obama gathered in Grant Park on Election Night in 2008, Republicans saw a glimpse of their own political mortality. And a galvanizing picture of just what their new rulers would look like." ...

... Here's a clip of a speech that proves Chait's point. And, no, I would never accuse Rick Santorum of race-baiting:

James Hohmann of Politico: "A new Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll reveals the prolonged nominating battle is taking a toll on the GOP candidates and finds the president’s standing significantly improved from late last year. President Barack Obama’s approval rating is 53 percent, up 9 percentage points in four months. Matched up against his Republican opponents, he leads Mitt Romney by 10 points (53-43) and Rick Santorum by 11 (53-42). Even against a generic, unnamed Republican untarnished by attacks, Obama is up 5 percentage points. In November, he was tied."

** Thomas Edsall in the New York Times: "If enacted, the tax proposals Mitt Romney outlined last week to the Detroit Economic Club would provide multimillion-dollar benefits to a newly powerful constituency: the rich men and women who are bankrolling 'super PACs.' ... The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, and a series of related cases..., have undermined the democratic character of the presidential nomination process by empowering the rich to exert disproportionate control over it.... The putative independence of presidential super PACs from the candidates they support is a fiction." 

David Savage of McClatchy News: "Two years ago, the Supreme Court said corporations were like people and had the same free-speech rights to spend unlimited sums on campaigns ads. Now, in a major test of human rights law, the justices will decide whether corporations are like people when they are sued for aiding foreign regimes that kill or torture their own people.... On Tuesday, the justices will hear an appeal of a suit accusing Royal Dutch Petroleum and its Shell subsidiary in the United States of aiding a former Nigerian regime whose military police tortured, raped and executed minority residents in the oil-rich delta. The victims included famed Nigerian author and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa."


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/02/26/140047/supreme-court-to-weigh-torture.html#storylink=cpy

Robert Reich: "The Obama administration is proposing to lower corporate taxes from the current 35 percent to 28 percent for most companies and to 25 percent for manufacturers. The move is supposed to be 'revenue neutral' -- meaning the Administration is also proposing to close assorted corporate tax loopholes to offset the lost revenues.... Why isn’t the White House just proposing to close the loopholes without reducing overall corporate tax rates? ... It’s discouraging. The President gives a rousing speech, as he did on December 6 in Kansas. Then he misses an opportunity to put his campaign where his mouth is."

Eileen Sullivan of the AP: "Millions of dollars in White House money has helped pay for New York Police Department programs that put entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance. The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA."

Matthew Rosenberg & Thom Shanker of the New York Times: "... American officials described a growing concern, even at the highest levels of the Obama administration and Pentagon, about the challenges of pulling off a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan that hinges on the close mentoring and training of army and police forces. Despite an American-led training effort that has spanned years and cost tens of billions of dollars, the Afghan security forces are still widely seen as riddled with dangerously unreliable soldiers and police officers." Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post tells the same story.

Still Watching. Tanzina Vega of the New York Times: "Last Thursday federal regulators, members of advertising trade groups and technology companies gathered in Washington to announce new initiatives to protect consumers’ privacy online.... The industry’s compromise on a 'Do Not Track' mechanism is one result of continuing negotiations among members of the Federal Trade Commission, which first called for such a mechanism in its initial privacy report; the Commerce Department; the White House; the Digital Advertising Alliance; and consumer privacy advocates.... Many publishers and search engines, like Google, Amazon or The New York Times, are considered 'first-party sites,' which means that the consumer goes to these Web pages directly. First-party sites can still collect data on visitors and serve them ads based on what is collected."

Jason Ullner, a career foreign service officer, in a Washington Post op-ed: "I am a federal bureaucrat. A professional government employee. And guess what? I’m damn proud of it. It seems that all I hear these days are the once and future leaders of our country tripping over themselves to denigrate the work we do.... Most of us do this job not because we want to make a lot of money but because, simply put, we want to serve our country."

Neal Ascherson in a New York Times op-ed: "If [Scottish First Minister Alex] Salmond has his way, [a referendum] vote will take place in 2014, just shy of 700 years after King Robert the Bruce defeated the English at Bannockburn. And he wants only one question on the ballot paper: 'Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?'”

Paul Krugman: on the Eurocrisis, there's a Republican story (welfare state!) and a German story (fiscal irresponsibility!), and they're both wrong.

Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: "Patrick J. Kennedy lashed out at Senator Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts on Sunday, asking him to stop invoking the name of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Mr. Kennedy’s father, in a radio advertisement about insurance coverage for contraceptives.... In a letter that the Brown campaign released on Sunday, Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat like his father, wrote: 'Providing health care to every American was the work of my father’s life. The Blunt Amendment you are supporting is an attack on that cause.'”

Right Wing World

The deficit hawks who are the Washington Post editorial board are fit to be tied: "At a time of record debts and deficits, the two leading Republican presidential candidates are proposing a path on taxes and spending likely to add trillions more. That’s the sobering conclusion of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), whose board includes six Republican former lawmakers with expertise in budget issues, three Republican former heads of the Congressional Budget Office, and two former Office of Management and Budget directors under Republican presidents." ... 

... "Primary Numbers." The CRFB estimated that Romney's plan would increase deficits by $250 billion through 2021, resulting in 2021 debt levels at about 86 percent of GDP. Santorum's plan would increase deficits by $4.5 trillion through 2021, with debt levels at about 104 percent of GDP. Gingrich's proposal would increase deficits by $7.0 trillion, for a debt level at about 114 percent of GDP. But wait. Ron Paul is totally fiscally responsible: Paul's plan would reduce deficits by $2.2 trillion, yielding a 2021 debt level of about 76 percent of GDP. “However a larger portion of this debt reduction is a result of Paul’s policy to cancel all federal debt held by the Federal Reserve System.” Say what?! You can read the CRFB's executive summary here, which may be as good a comparison of the GOP candidates' budget proposals as you'll find.

** Rick Hertzberg sums up the GOP primary race as only he can. For example, here's his description of the base to whom the candidates scrape & bow: "an excitable, overlapping assortment of Fox News friends, Limbaugh dittoheads, Tea Party animals, war whoopers, nativists, Christianist fundamentalists, à la carte Catholics (anti-abortion, yes; anti-torture, no), anti-Rooseveltians (Franklin and Theodore), global-warming denialists, post-Confederate white Southrons, creationists, birthers, market idolaters, Europe demonizers, and gun fetishists."

Quotes of the Day. I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks. -- Mitt Romney, to a group of NASCAR fans wearing plastic ponchos at Daytona Beach

     I have some great friends who are Nascar team owners. -- Mitt Romney, responding to someone asking if he was a NASCAR fan

Question of the Day. How can a guy who is so practiced at being a lying phony still be so bad at it?

Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: "Two days before the Arizona and Michigan primaries, Rick Santorum on Sunday made a broad appeal to social conservatives, arguing that religion and conservative principles are at risk, both on college campuses and in the public square. On ABC’s 'This Week,' with George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Santorum repeated his belief that President Obama is wrong — is, indeed, a 'snob' — for encouraging all Americans to go to college. And he defended his view that John F. Kennedy, before he became president, was wrong to assert that the separation of church and state should be absolute." This guy is unbelievable:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

... Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM discovers that Michigan Tea Partiers agree with Santorum: Obama's push to provide broader access to higher education is just wrong. Here are a few choice quotes from the Santorum intelligentsia: "Everybody can’t be equal. Somebody needs to do the manual labor.” “It starts down at the elementary school level with all this bullshit about diversity, pardon my French... Diversity and sensitivity and all that crap.” “They try and disguise it with, you know, ‘equal opportunity.’” “It’s communism.” “Where does the social engineering stop? Does it become the Soviet Union?” ...

... BUT Dave Weigel of Slate notes, "Obama hasn't told the lumpen proletariart to go to liberal arts schools and become indoctrinated in left-wing thought and a cappela. His universal college call, which took on form in 2009, was for some kind of higher education. Trade schools? Have at it. Politically, here, it hardly matters. As he does on many topics, Santorum skillfully cracks open a policy issue and finds the culture war walnut within." Facts are such a pain.

... AND Santorum wasn't always Uneducated Man. McMorris-Santoro publishes a screengrab from Santorum's 2006 Senate campaign site. It reads, in part, "In addition to Rick's support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring that every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education."

... John Cole of Balloon Juice: "Nowhere in the speech did [Kennedy] dictate that people of faith could have no role in public life. Nowhere. Santorum is lying or stupid or both, and I’m going to go with both and throw in a dash of evil. What Santorum wants is not religious freedom. What he wants is the freedom to force you to live by his religious beliefs." ...

Wherein Saint Ronald of Reagan Makes Rick Santorum Throw Up: We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. -- Ronald Reagan, October 1984 ...

Digby: "I don't think Ricky understands his history very well. Evidently, he was unaware that in 1960, conservatives thought of Catholics the same way think of Muslims today. He seems under the impression that America was a wonderful religiously tolerant nation until the horrible secularists came along and ruined everything. I guess he didn't know about this, perpetuated, by the way, not by the secularists who didn't give a damn, but by his favorite allies, the right wing protestants." ...

... A Unique Way to Stop Iran from Getting Nuclear Weaponry. In case you are the last person on the planet who thinks Santorum is not sex-obsessed --

News Ledes

New York Times Caucus: "Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona announced on Sunday, two days before the state’s Republican presidential primary, that she would endorse Mitt Romney...." That'll help.

New York Times: "The officer leading a police investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers said on Monday that reporters and editors at The Sun tabloid had over the years paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for information not only to police officers but also to a “network of corrupted officials” in the military and the government." The Guardian story, with video of testimony, is here.

Reuters: "The trial to decide who should pay for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been delayed by a week, to allow BP Plc to try to cut a deal with tens of thousands of businesses and individuals affected by the disaster. Less than 24 hours before the case was set to start in a New Orleans federal court, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier pushed back the date to March 5 from February 27."

Reuters: "A suicide car bomber killed at least nine people in an attack on a military airport in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said, the latest incident of violence and protests since copies of the Koran were inadvertently burned at a NATO base last week."

New York Times: "Russian television reported early on Monday that a joint operation by Ukrainian and Russian intelligence services succeeded in averting an assassination attempt on Vladimir V. Putin, just days before he hopes to secure a six-year presidential term which would extend his rule as Russia‘s paramount leader to 18 years."

Al Jazeera: "Senegal's presidential vote appears set for a runoff, with results indicating that incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade has failed to win an outright majority. Tallies reported since the vote finished on Sunday night show Wade leading and former Prime Minister Macky Sall close behind, suggesting the two will face off in a second round."

Guardian: "Syrian government troops fired heavy barrages of artillery and rockets on Monday into districts across Homs, where rebels have been holding out through weeks of bombardment, opposition activists said."

AP: "Pakistani authorities have reduced the house where Osama bin Laden lived for years before he was killed by U.S. commandos to rubble, destroying a concrete symbol of the country's association with one of the world's most reviled men.Workers completed the demolition job in the garrison town of Abbottabad in northwest Pakistan on Monday."

Reader Comments (10)

I think the current political situation is the fault of Steve Jobs. The entire Romney/Santorum following is terrified by the phrase 'IPad app'.

February 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Hey, I was lost at "Blackberry." Still am. My friends who have teenagers or young adult children are all into the thumbs thing -- I never want to learn!

February 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Marie, I am not a fan either, although my wife is fixated. But the idea that this technology and many others are coming into our lives doesn't scare me. I really believe that many people are terrified by the new and the fact that they don't believe they can adapt. So instead of dealing with the new reality, lets go back to the 1950's when the only technological thing you needed to do was turn on the TV. How else can you hide from reality? Oh well, you can vote for Santorum.

February 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Chiat's article is really a must read for the 'inside game'. It sure has appeared as though the Greedy Old Party has been willing to mortgage the future to service the present during the whole primary season.
The GOP took Trump seriously? He's a serially bankrupt reality tv personality - like Regis. Herman Cain hasn't even been a dogcatcher let alone a county commissioner. Perry is an ego from Texas. Bachmann from Regent U? Pat Robertson U. Good grief! And then there is the guys still standing. I'm just thinking that the GOP is just as dumb as were the Dems were when they let Al Sharpton on stage. These talking heads aren't serious at governance.
It is all about the Supreme Court. Take a friend or 5 out to register and then take them out to vote. If need be use a mantra like: "corporations are not people" or "separation of church and state is original intent", if it makes voting easier.

February 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercitizen625

I'm not afraid of new technology, but I have chosen to limit what I learn to what I know I can use. There's also an economic factor involved. For instance, I'd love to learn to use Photoshop, but it's really expensive and I won't pay for it. I have a cellphone on which I could text -- I just checked! It's got a little virtual keyboard! -- but that would be more expensive than sending an e-mail; all my text-savvy friends also have e-mail addresses, and I never need to reach anyone immediately.

It is true that in some ways the complexity of technology has made us stupider. I had high school friends who could overhaul a car engine. High school kids can't do that today. For decades, I did my own taxes -- now they're way too complicated. Even the accountant screwed them up a couple of years ago; my husband caught the error, and it was a big one -- and not in our favor. But the mistake was so complicated, my husband had to ask me about it, and I had to think about it. We literally sat down and reasoned out why the numbers didn't just "seem" wrong; they were wrong. Had it been a smaller error of the same complexity, my husband never would have noticed it.

If I ever put in a better sound system, I won't just go to the electronics store & buy a bigger woofer; I'll have somebody "advise" me, and there's a good chance I'll have somebody install it.

But does that mean I want to go back to the '50s with the three channels and the tinny little speaker? Or the single phone in the hall (we had a party line!). Hell, no. I appreciate what technology does for me. But I kind of decide what I'll let it do.

February 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Dilemma: We've been getting robocalls and emails from supposedly
the Michigan Democratic party urging a vote for Santorum. The
explanation is that this will drag out the Republican efforts and
cost them millions more, which will not then be spent on ads
attacking President Obama. Does anyone think this makes sense?
Thinking of voting for Santorum for any reason makes me want
to _____.

February 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

@forrest morris. TPM just came up with this story you probably should read: "A robocall making the rounds in Michigan the day before the state’s GOP primary purports to be paid for by the Rick Santorum campaign and urges Democrats to vote for Santorum and against Mitt Romney. TPM obtained audio of the call Monday afternoon." Some callers said you had to wait to the end to find out it was Santorum, not Democrats who paid for the robocalls; i.e., the ad was made to sound as if it was coming for a union or the Dems.

Here's a similar story from Blue Wolverine at the Daily Kos.

I didn't find anything on a Democratic party denial, but it sounds like these calls are coming from Santorum, not from the Democratic party, even tho they're trying to sound like Democrats & speak to Democratic issues.

I'll leave it to others to decide whether or not this is a good idea. I'd like to hear from you all. Forrest Morris needs to know. Now!

February 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@CW

" I'd love to learn to use Photoshop, but it's really expensive and I won't pay for it."

Are you aware of an open source graphic program called GIMP?

gimp.org

I've never used GIMP, but I do know it is very well thought of and I understand the concepts learned can be transferred to Photoshop should you ever want to switch.

Here's what the site says:

"GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc. "

February 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKarl Thompson

@Karl Thompson. I'd never heard of GIMP. Thank you so much. I'll noodle around with it in my spare time. Reality Chex readers may have some really goofy "genuine" photos in their futures!

February 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@CW

\\\"I'd never heard of GIMP.\\\"

There are actually quite a few free alternatives to Photoshop. If GIMP does not suit you, maybe another program will.

10 Excellent Open Source and Free Alternatives to Photoshop

I don't know how easy/hard it would be to learn any of these programs, but I'll tell you, I found Photoshop to be one of the hardest program to learn of of any of the program I know. That might be because I don't have an art background. At least I did not have to pay for it. I won my initial copy as a door prize when Adobe presented at a user group meeting. (But I have been paying them ever since!)

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKarl Thompson
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