The Ledes

Sunday, September 14, 2014.

AP: "North Korea's Supreme Court on Sunday sentenced a 24-year-old American man to six years of hard labor for entering the country illegally and trying to commit espionage. At a trial that lasted about 90 minutes, the court said Matthew Miller, of Bakersfield, California, tore up his tourist visa at Pyongyang's airport upon arrival on April 10 and admitted to having the "wild ambition" of experiencing prison life so that he could secretly investigate North Korea's human rights situation."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, President Obama reiterated his comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group ISIL":

The Ledes

Saturday, September 13, 2014.

New York Times: "The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has implored President Obama for help in managing her country’s rapidly expanding Ebola crisis and has warned that without American assistance the disease could send Liberia into the civil chaos that enveloped the country for two decades."

Guardian: "The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, wants to destroy Ukraine as an independent country and resurrect the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk has said. Yatseniuk told a conference of European politicians his country was 'in a stage of war' with Russia, as renewed clashes broke out between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian rebels in the east and Moscow sent a second convoy of trucks into Ukraine without Kiev's consent. Continuous rocketfire could be heard overnight in the eastern city of Donetsk."

New York Times: "The doctor who performed an endoscopy on Joan Rivers before she went into cardiac arrest has stepped down as medical director of the Manhattan clinic where she was treated and he is no longer doing procedures there, the clinic announced on Friday.... The doctor who performed the endoscopy, Lawrence B. Cohen, a prominent gastroenterologist, had brought an ear, nose and throat specialist into the operating room to examine Ms. Rivers, even though that doctor was not authorized to practice medicine there, according to people briefed on the matter."

Public Service Announcement

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."

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
September 12

10:30 am ET: President's Management Advisory Board meeting

11:00 am ET: President Obama commemorates AmericaCorp's 20th anniversary

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

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

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

** 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."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

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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