The Ledes

Friday, May 29, 2015.

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 0.7 percent in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Friday morning, a tumble for a recovering nation that until recently seemed poised for takeoff. The contraction, the country’s third in the aftermath of the Great Recession, provides a troubling picture of an economy that many figured would get a lift from cheap oil, rapid hiring and growing consumer confidence. Instead, consumers have proved cautious, and oil companies have frozen investment — all while a nasty winter caused havoc for transportation and construction and a strong dollar widened the trade deficit."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (May 22): "A salmonella outbreak that’s probably linked to raw tuna from sushi has sickened at least 53 people across nine states — the majority in Southern California, health authorities said."

White House Live Video
May 29

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

 

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

Washington Post: "One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is ... so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness. But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called 'A Brief History of Humankind,' a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari."

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "It looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal has had her Last Fuckable Day at the ripe old age of 37:

... Sharon Waxman of the Wrap: "Every time we think things are getting better for women in Hollywood, something comes along to remind us — naaah. Maggie Gyllenhaal ... revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man."

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "Now that [David] Letterman’s a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it’s become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist."

     ... Here's the Realtor.com page for the property.

AP: "The suburban New York home where F Scott Fitzgerald is believed to have written The Great Gatsby is for sale. A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said on Wednesday that the asking price for the manor home on Long Island was just over US$3.8m (A$4.8m).... The home is in the village of Great Neck Estates, about 20 miles (32km) from Manhattan.

After years of signing "-BO" at the end of @BarackObama to signal the tweets he crafted himself from an account operated by the Organizing for Action staff, the President now has his very own handle @POTUS, tweeting for the first time: 'Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.'... Per a statement from the White House, the @POTUS handle 'will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.'"

The $5MM Ankle. New York Post: "Shakedown artist Al Sharpton’s eldest child wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle, court rec­ords show. Dominique Sharpton, 28, says she was 'severely injured, bruised and wounded' when she stumbled over uneven pavement at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway downtown last year, according to a lawsuit."

My friend Jan C. sent me a list of actual complaints made by dissatisfied travelers who had gone on excursions organized by the British Thomas Cook Vacations. An example: "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."

New York Times: "The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America — especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington — makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado." ...

Matt Seitz in New York notes that the pilot for "Mad Men" repeatedly points to the series' conclusion. ...

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Tomorrow morning [Wednesday, May 13], in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant.... According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook's news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others. The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times." ...

... New York Times Update: "— Facebook’s long-rumored plan to directly host articles from news organizations will start on Wednesday, concluding months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power. Nine media companies, including NBC News and The New York Times, have agreed to the deal, despite concerns that their participation could eventually undermine their own businesses. The program will begin with a few articles but is expected to expand quickly.... Most important for impatient smartphone users, the company says, the so-called instant articles will load up to 10 times faster than they normally would since readers stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site." ...

.... Here's Facebook's announcement.

Nell Scovell in New York: Dave Letterman' former writers reminisce about jokes they wrote & pitched but which Letterman rejected. Letterman comments.

Vermeil placecard holders, a favorite "souvenir" of White House guests.... Washington Post: Petty thieves show up at White House state dinner -- all the time. Many guests at state dinners & other functions just can't resist taking home mementos, some of them pricey. "While the chief usher’s office monitors exactly what goes out with each place setting when the first family entertains, there is no formal accounting of how much taxpayers must pay each year to replace items that are gone by the end of the night."

Washington Post: The law finally catches up with Frank Freshwater, who escaped from prison in 1959.

Washington Post: Tesla plans to market a home battery system that draws power from solar panels or the power grid to use during outages. It holds up to 10 kw-hours, about 1/3 of what it takes to power an average home for a day. Tesla plans to make the system avalable by the end of this summer.

Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly: "Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave [Letterman]’s seismic impact on comedy.... In today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution.... Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift."

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.

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.

Contact the Constant Weader

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Monday
Jul092012

The Commentariat -- July 10, 2012

Lauren LaCapra of Reuters: "A quarter of Wall Street executives see wrongdoing as a key to success, according to a survey by whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow released on Tuesday. In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful. Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it.... And 30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law." ...

... Matt Yglesias of Slate: The LIBOR "rate-fixing scandal should destroy the credibility of banks.... When tighter regulation of trading is proposed, the concern is raised that stringency will push activity to foreign centers." In other words, the "concerned" people [CW: I like to call them One Percenters & Republicans] are promoting "an economic development strategy based on turning your country into an appealing location for dishonest banking." ...

... Ben Protess & Mark Scott of the New York Times: "As big banks face the fallout from a global investigation into interest rate manipulation, American and British lawmakers are scrutinizing regulators who failed to take action that might have prevented years of illegal activity. Politicians in both London and Washington are questioning whether regulators allowed banks to report false rates in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis and afterward." CW: or Congress -- whose members have refused to fully fund regulatory agencies, have kissed the asses of banksters while bending over backwards to discourage regulation, and looked the other way at the revolving door between agencies & financial institutions -- could look in the fucking mirror.

CW: I've been too lazy to read this New York Times op-ed by Thomas Ricks -- who argues for a military draft -- because it (a) covers old ground, and (b) is not going to happen (it's so socialistic!). But because Carlyle mentions it in today's Comments, I've added the link. Besides, Carlyle's rationale -- in my opinion -- is better (& more socialistic!) than Ricks'.

Reconstruction Redux. Charles Pierce: "There is no question that a national campaign to suppress minority voters continues apace in this country. Sooner or later, it appears, the [Voting Rights Act] is going to turn up in front of the Supreme Court and we'll see how liberal John Roberts really is."

Sarah Laskow in Salon: "... a new study, published in the formidable Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences..., shows that fluids may have traveled from deep within Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, one of the formations at the center of the gas boom, into shallow aquifers hundreds of feet above. These fluids aren't products of fracking, but if they can travel up through layers of rocks, close to the surface, it means that fracking fluids could, too.... Natural pathways link deep formations and shallow aquifers."

Charles Pierce: "What in the hell are American soldiers even doing in Mali, let alone joyriding around at night with a couple of local hookers? 'Counterterrorism' is an insufficient answer in a democracy because, as history fairly wells screams into our ears, sooner or later, one of these little exercises in adventurism either blows back on us with a vengeance." ...

... Tom Junod in Esquire: "The Obama administration has taken pains to tell us, over and over again, that they are careful, scrupulous of our laws, and determined to avoid the loss of collateral, innocent lives. They're careful because when it comes to waging war on individuals, the distinction between war and murder becomes a fine one. Especially when, on occasion, the individuals we target are Americans and when, in one instance, the collateral damage was an American boy." CW: I disagree with Junod, but I expect a lot of people will find his arguments compelling.

Brad Plumer of the Washington Post on "how air-conditioning transformed the U.S. economy." He might have mentioned A/C made conservative Southern states, with their anti-union laws, more viable locales for their plants.

Tom Hamburger, et al., of the Washington Post: President "Obama's critics, primarily on the political left, say he has repeatedly failed ... to protect American jobs from being moved overseas. They point to a range of actions they say he should have taken: confronting China, reining in unfettered trade and reworking a U.S. visa program that critics say ends up sending high-tech jobs abroad.... American jobs have been shifting to low-wage countries for years, and the trend has continued during Obama's presidency. From 2008 to 2010, U.S. trade with China alone cost about 450,000 American jobs because of the growth of Chinese exports, said Robert E. Scott, a pro-labor advocate at the liberal Economic Policy Institute."

Dana Milbank: "... if the wealthy are going to accuse Obama of class warfare, he might as well do something to merit the charge." ...

... Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: "Well, that was quick. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) both pushed for an extension of the Bush tax cuts to households earning up to $1 million, breaking from President Obama's proposal to make the cut-off $250,000. But hours after Obama revived the issue by pushing for a one-year-long extension, both have backed off." ...

... BUT There's No Herding Cats. Mark Landler & Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "President Obama and Congressional Republicans pressed ahead on Monday with politically charged proposals on tax cuts and health care, in competing efforts to frame the election-year debate. But each risked opening fissures in their own ranks, as lawmakers played up alternatives to the aggressive approaches of their leaders."

** Sam Baker of The Hill: "Repealing President Obama's healthcare law would let members of Congress keep their government-subsidized insurance coverage after they retire -- a benefit they lost under the health law. The Affordable Care Act — specifically, a Republican amendment to the Affordable Care Act -- kicked members of Congress and their aides out of the healthcare program for federal employees." ...

... Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: "After ignoring the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Democrats have begun using it as a political weapon this election." One of the ads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running against targeted Republicans, including Mary Bono Mack:

CW: Knowing what we know -- which isn't much -- I think Scott Lemieux of American Prospect has precisely the right, balanced view of Justices Breyer & Kagan's votes on the Medicaid portion of the ACA.

Presidential Race

I urge you to go to Driftglass for the caption. Or maybe you'll want to make up your own first & compare.

You Have His Word on That. Emily Friedman of ABC News: "Mitt Romney said there is 'nothing hidden' in his tax returns that have yet to be released, responding to a question during a radio interview set to air later today regarding an onslaught of criticism from Democrats -- including President Obama -- on his refusal to be more transparent with his financial records."

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee easily outraised the formidable Obama money machine for the second month in a row A nonstop schedule of high-dollar events around the country brought in $106 million during June to Mr. Obama's $71 million, giving him and his party four times the cash on hand that it had just three months ago."

Local News/Right Wing World Edition

He's Still a Dumb MoFo. Chuck Lindell of the Austin Statesman: "In a sharply worded letter to federal officials Monday, Gov. Rick Perry said Texas will not participate in two key initiatives under the Affordable Care Act, noting that the law recently approved by the U.S. Supreme Court 'will find no foothold here.' ... One in four Texans lacks health insurance -- about 6 million residents -- the highest rate in the nation."

Edith Honan of Reuters: "Maine Governor Paul LePage apologized on Monday for calling the U.S. Internal Revenue Service the 'Gestapo' during criticism of President Barack Obama's healthcare law.... 'It was not my intent to insult anyone, especially the Jewish Community, or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered,' LePage said in a statement on his website."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The Justice Department and FBI have launched a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted or deserve a new trial because of flawed forensic evidence, officials said Tuesday. The undertaking is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI. It will include cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985 and may reach earlier if records are available...."

Washington Post: "The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Tuesday it had received word as early as 2007 from the British bank Barclays about problems with the benchmark interest rate that underpins much of global lending."

New York Times: "Russia said on Tuesday that it had dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the eastern Mediterranean, some of which would dock in Syria. It would be the largest display of Russian military power in the region since the Syrian conflict began almost 17 months ago. Nearly half the ships were capable of carrying hundreds of marines."

New York Times: "The Episcopal Church on Tuesday approved an official liturgy for blessing same-sex unions, enabling priests who have the approval of their bishops to bestow the church's blessing on gay couples whether they live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal or not."

AP: "Seeking an election-year fight over taxes, President Barack Obama is hitting the road to press Congress to extend tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners, framing a debate with Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans over tax fairness. Obama was making his pitch Tuesday in Iowa.... He faces a tough contest there against Romney this fall." ...

... Politico: "White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that President Obama would veto a full, across-the-board extension of the Bush tax cuts that included no tax increases on upper earners."

CNN: "A controversial Indiana law that would keep low-income women from using federal Medicaid benefits to receive any kind of reproductive medical care from Planned Parenthood is unacceptable because it denies women the freedom to choose their health care providers, according to a federal hearing officer."

Haaretz: "Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was acquitted on Tuesday morning of the charges against him in two major cases, and convicted only of breach of trust, in a third. Jerusalem District Court president, Moussia Arad, headed the panel of judges that found Olmert not guilty of the charges in the Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs, and convicted him only on one count -- breach of trust, in the Investment Center affair. Accusations over the Talansky affair led to Olmert's forced resignation as prime minister."

Washington Post: "Emboldened by a decree issued by President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's Islamist-dominated parliament convened briefly on Tuesday, defying a ruling by the country's top court and a threat from the nation's generals."

AP: "The International Criminal Court sentenced a Congolese warlord to 14 years in prison on Tuesday, a watershed moment for the 10-year-old tribunal and a potential landmark in the struggle to protect children during wartime. Judges found Thomas Lubanga guilty in March of recruiting and using children in his Union of Congolese Patriots militia — sending them to kill and be killed during fighting in Congo's eastern Ituri region in 2002-2003. Tuesday's announcement was the first time the tribunal had sentenced a convicted war criminal."

AFP: "South Korea's Samsung won a patent battle Monday against US rival Apple, with a British judge ruling that Samsung's Galaxy tablet was not 'cool' enough to be confused with Apple's iPad.... He ... gave Apple 21 days to appeal against the decision."

Reader Comments (7)

In today's Times, Thomas E. Ricks quotes General Stanley A. McChrystal's call for reinstating the draft."But most of all,...having a draft might make Americans think more carefully before going to war. Imagine the savings-in blood, tears and national treasure-if we had thought twice about whether we really wanted to invade Iraq."
There are a lot of other benefits to be had if all eighteen year olds were required to train and participate in some form of public service.
We could have an assistant in every classroom.
We could have child care reasonably priced for working mothers.
We could staff all libraries and parks.
We could reduce substantially the two hundred billion dollars a year the military pays to private contractors for jobs that could be done by G.I.s.

More than twenty percent of eighteen year olds are unemployed. National service would give these young people jobs, training and experience and save them from some of the damage of unemployment.
None of this is possible now but when the despair and fear and hunger kicks in a few years from now and a New Deal is possible this will be one of the steps towards the restoration of America.

July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Who says Republicans don't care about the health of US citizens?

Good Ol' Boys Rick one and two, Perry and Scott are on the job, you betcha.

Moron number one (Perry) has declared that all Texas residents have access to the best healthcare in the world and don't need no he'p fum the gummint, damn soshulists. He's made a stand and, by gum, he's not gonna do nothin'. Even though 25% of Texas residents have NO healthcare, Moron Number One is on top of things. His answer? "Those statistics are a lie." Case solved. When faced with a problem of that magnitude the standard Republican response is to deny that there's any problem at all. In fact, it's even better to scream loudly that the solution being handed to them in the form of billions to actually get those people healthcare, is the problem. A two-fer! Deny that there's any problem then declare that an actual solution to that problem is dangerous and un-American.

Now let's look at the great state of Florida (how Marie stands it, I'll never know), where Moron Number Two (Scott) has been covering up the fact that the worst outbreak of TB in decades has been killing Florida residents and may kill many more. But not to worry. Moron Number Two leaped into action. His response to a TB outbreak? Close the single hospital in the state set up to most effectively treat tuberculosis. Now that's a plan, I tellya. But really, folks, those people who died were poor, homeless, and probably voted for the Democrat Party, so screw them.

Besides, Scott, as an expert in this area, but who had to resign, inconveniently, under a flurry of felony and fraud charges connected to his stewardship of a healthcare plan, knows the best way to deal with public health crises:

Don't tell anyone. Pretend it doesn't exist. Then when it comes out that you've been lying, blame someone else.

Those Republicans, they've got it all worked out, don't they?

They might be morons but they're the most experienced morons. Right-wing morons!

(Okay, I realize that the actual reason behind these vicious schemes is to throw as many roadblocks at healthcare as possible, using human beings as pawns in a political game of chicken, but this doesn't mean they're not morons. It just means they're barbaric, misanthropic morons.)

July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

It is my hope that all of these attempts to derail Affordable Care will hang from the necks of Republicans like a dead chicken hangs from the neck of a bad dog
Sooner or later and probably too late to help, a large, perhaps a majority of Americans will realize that they have been harmed by the Republican response to broader medical coverage.
Perhaps we are seeing the event that will destroy the "tea party."
A wakened America could send the Republicans to purgatory for a decade or two.

July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@Carlyle. Like you, I think the Republicans' crazed opposition to the ACA could come back to haunt them, tho it depends upon Democrats following thru with vigorous support of it & really driving home, ad nauseum, what all is in it that's good -- maybe they should send brainwashed Republican voters to those re-education camps Michele Bachmann warned about. In any event, it's too late for Republicans to say, "Oh, never mind." They've been railing against the ACA for 3 years.

Marie

July 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Carlyle's comments re: the draft make sense and that's why nothing will be done about it. Sense has vanished, taken a hike in lands of closed circuits and Klugsheisseriches, loosely translated from the German as "smart asses." After Vietnam the idea of conscription became a death knell, yet without it we forged ahead and invaded Iraq while the young, bright lads of promise continued on with their lives while those not as fortunate fought and died. Talk about death knells!

July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Off topic..sort of...Slavery is alive and well in the US and is making a comeback thanks to our corporate overlords. Barry Estabrook reported on this not long ago in his book Tomatoland. Chris Hedges expands that reporting in a CBC interview plugging his book. He also says the US in on the cusp of a revolution:

http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/news-promo/2012/07/10/chris-hedges-days-of-destruction/

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/media/audioplayer.html?categoryid=2185449222

*I had trouble the media player on FF.. IE works fine

July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

http://www.alternet.org/story/156188/destroying_communities,_abusing_workers:_what%27s_%28still%29_the_matter_with_wal-mart/?page=entire

More on the race to the bottom.

July 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS
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