The Ledes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Jesse Ventura won his defamation case against the estate of author Chris Kyle, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who said he punched out the former Minnesota governor for criticizing the SEALs’ role in the Iraq war. The jury awarded a total of $1.845 million: $500,000 in defamation damages and $1.345 million for 'unjust enrichment' — or to be specific, $1,345,477.25. Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, as instructed. Instead, with the consent of both sides, they voted 8 to 2 in Ventura’s favor."

AP: "A senior PLO official has called for a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza war, saying he is also speaking in the name of Hamas."

Guardian: "Gaza endured a night of relentless bombardment that brought some of the heaviest pounding since the start of the conflict three weeks ago, in the hours after the Israeli political and military leadership warned of a protracted offensive. Palestinian officials say more than 110 people have been killed in Gaza in the past 24 hours."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, July 28, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in a letter on Monday."

New York Times: "The United States and Europe put aside their differences and agreed on Monday to sharply escalate economic sanctions against Russia in a set of coordinated actions driven by the conclusion that Moscow has taken a more direct role in the war in Ukraine. After months in which European leaders were hesitant to go as far as the Americans, the two sides settled on a package of measures that would target Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors. In some cases, the Europeans may actually leapfrog beyond what the United States has done, forcing Washington to try to catch up."

Guardian: "Dutch and Australian police have failed to reach the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 for a second day as clashes rage in a town on the road to the area." ...

... Washington Post: "The Ukrainian military on Monday captured a strategically important swath of territory close to the debris field of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a spokesman said, dealing a blow to pro-Russian rebels but raising new questions about whether an investigation at the site will ever yield conclusive evidence about the attack on the airliner."

NEW. Washington Post: "Israel will press its air and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, preparing his country for a longer and bloodier campaign and dashing hopes that the three-week-old conflict would end soon." ...

... Washington Post: "International efforts to end the devastating three-week-old Gaza war intensified Monday with the U.N. Security Council calling for an 'immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' in the conflict that has already claimed the lives of more than 1,035 Palestinians and 43 Israeli soldiers. The ravaged coastal enclave was relatively quiet Monday as Palestinians started celebrating the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday that caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Israel mostly held its fire overnight, shelling only a site in the northern Gaza Strip in response to rockets fired from there." ...

     ... UPDATE: "Explosions rocked a major hospital and a neighborhood of Gaza City on Monday, leaving at least 10 people dead, witnesses reported." ...

... New York Times: "On Sunday, however, [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry was having difficulty accomplishing even ... a succession of temporary cease-fires..., despite a phone call in which President Obama, in a sign of mounting impatience, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to embrace an 'immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' while the two sides pursued a more lasting agreement. ...

... A White House readout of the conversation between Obama & Netanyahu is here.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 29

10:10 am ET: White House Agricultural Champions of Change meet

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

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

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

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Wednesday
Jul112012

The Commentariat -- July 12, 2012

CW: it's another day in DemoLand, so again I'll be ignoring you in favor of salvaging baseboards & door moldings, choosing lovely, affordable fixtures for the bahth & making other executive decisions.

CW: Linda Greenhouse has a fascinating take on Chief Justice John Roberts' switcheroo on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and it please me that she agrees with a theory I proffered in a NYTX column: "I doubt there was a single reason for the chief justice's evolution..., but let me suggest one: the breathtaking radicalism of the other four conservative justices. The opinion pointedly signed individually by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have invalidated the entire Affordable Care Act.... This astonishing act of judicial activism has received insufficient attention..., but it surely got the chief justice's attention as a warning that his ostensible allies were about to drive the Supreme Court over the cliff and into the abyss."

They’ve got a website, God bless them. It's always good to put a website up with some black faces on it. Outreach. -- Michael Steele, former RNC chair, on the GOP's effort to woo black voters

... Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: "Even that website, it turns out, doesn’t exist."

Presidential Race

Gail Collins: "Barack Obama, who ... has royalty income, is a small business. Possibly the only small business the Republicans do not love."

"Don't know much about his-to-ry, Part 1":

... Part 2:

We've of course released all the financial statements that are required by law and then two years of tax returns -- the most recent year will be released as soon as that's prepared. Other financial disclosure is there, the same information that John McCain, or John Kerry for that matter released when they were running for president. -- Mitt Rmoney

Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: [Romney] has released one year of his returns and an estimate of his 2011 returns.... He received an extension and said at the time he would release them in the next six months, which would be October. John McCain released two years, but John Kerry actually released more than that in his 2004 race, going back to 1999. He released many more returns as a United States senator, as many as twenty. McCain released a total of six documents, two for himself, two for his wife Cindy McCain, and two for the McCain Family Foundation.

... Does he know one and one is two?

CW: a vignette in a piece by Adam Serwer on Romney's "long, troubled history with the NAACP": "in 2006 the local NAACP slammed Romney for referring to a perennially unfinished public works project in Boston, the Big Dig, as a 'tar baby.' Eric Fernstrom, a top Romney adviser (then and now), claimed that Romney was unaware of the racial connotation and was merely trying to describe 'a sticky situation.' Still, Romney apologized." CW: I find it totally believable that Romney would have no idea he was making a racial slur. The guy has never had anything but the most minimal contact with people of color, and no interest in any cultural niche that differs from his own. When you're busy making millions, you don't have time to consider the sensibilities of others.

I believe his vested interests are in white Americans. You cannot possibly talk about jobs for black people at the level he's coming from. He's talking about entrepreneurship, savings accounts -- black people can barely find a way to get back and forth from work. -- Charlette Stoker Manning, chair of Women in NAACP, on Rmoney's speech before the NAACP convention

Judd Legum & Scott Keyes of Think Progress have a good follow-up report on reaction to Romney's speech at the NAACP convention. Um, people didn't like it. ...

Right Wing World

... Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Rush Limbaugh said Mitt Romney’s speech Wednesday to the NAACP fell flat because it was 'over these people's heads' and that the group booed the Republican candidate, who 'sounded like Snow White with testicles,' simply because he's white. Limbaugh... claimed that President Barack Obama insulted the group by sending Vice President Joe Biden instead. CW: I didn't see anything in the news about attendees booing Biden, and he looks as white as Romney. Of course recognizing the internal inconsistency in his own argument is "over Rushbo's head."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The most senior officials at Penn State University failed for more than a decade to take any steps to protect the children victimized by Jerry Sandusky, the longtime lieutenant to head football coach Joe Paterno, according to an independent investigation of the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the university last fall." Former FBI director Louis Freeh led the investigation. The group's report is here.

New York Times: "Wells Fargo, the nation's largest home mortgage lender, has agreed to pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that its independent brokers discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. If approved by a federal judge, it would be the second largest residential fair-lending settlement in the department's history."

Washington Post: "Vice President Biden made an impassioned appeal to the nation's oldest civil rights group Thursday, calling on members to rally behind the first black president and reject a Republican vision for the country that would roll back progress for minorities. Speaking at the NAACP conference in Houston a day after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney appeared there, Biden delivered a sharp rebuttal to Romney's contention that his policies would be better for black families than President Obama's have been...."

New York Times: "Yahoo confirmed Thursday that a file containing approximately 400,000 usernames and passwords to Yahoo and other companies was stolen Wednesday. A group of hackers, known as the D33D Company, posted usernames and passwords for what appeared to be 453,492 accounts belonging to Yahoo, but also Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Comcast, MSN, SBC Global, Verizon, BellSouth and Live.com users."

Reader Comments (10)

My favorite line from Willard the Rat's lecture to the NAACP about how much they don't understand about him or about, you know, the real world, they being black and all, is that he has a secret plan to keep people from "becoming poor".

Really Willard? KEEP them from becoming poor? So let me get this straight. In your tiny little Richie Rich brain, all African Americans are born driving little baby Cadillacs, dripping in bling and living in mansions, is that right? But somehow along the way they "became" poor. And you have a plan to stop that horrible outcome because, you know, being poor sucks so much. A condition you have such empathy for and knowledge about.

It must have been that mean 'ol nasty nee-groe with the funny name who made all those people poor. You know, the one so many of your supporters say is a Muslim, a completely false assertion you're just too polite to correct.

No wonder all those meanies at that Nee-gro whatchamacallit AAP thing booed you.

Insulting moron is too polite a description. And we won't even get into what Rush Limbaugh is. Just let me say that he resembles the reason he was unable to assist our brave boys during the Viet Nam war, a conflict he staunchly supported and in which would have been happy to wade into battle killing scores of commie creeps except for that oozing pimple on his fat ass. So he got a deferment. Just like Willard. Too bad all those African American boys had to go. They just "got" poor and had no way to get their own deferments.

Ho hum. Well, he gave it his best. If they don't want to listen to him, he'll just let them all go poor and not tell them his secret. Besides, who cares if they don't want to vote for him? His pals in the Republican Party are working day and night to disenfranchise all those mean nee-groes. The state of Florida has practically criminalized the mere fact of being born black.

The GOP. Making America safer for rich white people.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

And what was that strange look on Mitt's puss after they booed him? A half awkward smile, as though he had delivered a bad joke that went over like a lead balloon, or someone who just passed gas in a crowded room.

Let us not forget who married Rush the last time he married: our favorite Supreme being, the one who, himself, is married to Ginny, she of the long claws and sunny disposition.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

To Marie: There's nothing like a new bathroom to liven up a woman's spirits––sort of like bathing in the lap of luxury. Enjoy!

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD,

Pimple Butt's connection to see no evil (on the right), hear no evil (of the right), speak no evil--or anything else, Justice Thomas, provides him with the age-old protective shield hoisted by racists since the Emancipation Proclamation: "Some of my best friends are black."

Another favorite moment in The scared Rat's visit to non-white world appeared in an article describing the reaction of NAACP members who heard Willard's lecture in person. One woman, trying to keep a straight face, offered that he tried his best--before "dissolving in laughter".

I guess it was funny, in a kind of gruesome way.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

As much as I deplore the denigrating use of " Uncle Remus" " Br'er Rabbit " and the "Tar Baby " I must admit I love the idea of the Republicans being stuck with their short sighted attacks on Affordable Care forever. Hopefully, this error in judgement and lack of compassion will stick to the Republican party forever just like a...

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

The Linda Greenhouse post is a great one. When the ACA brouhaha blew up I was in full agreement with Marie's take on what, perhaps, was going through Little Johnny's head.

Greenhouse's ruminations on the subject seem to support a reading of the tea leaves that has Roberts, as if he were in a movie serial from the 30s, frantically working to unchain himself from the maniacs dragging him over a precipice into a pit of boiling lava below. They, of course, being denizens of the nether regions would survive to fight another day. Roberts, it appears, may have been looking at future history books, wondering whether he wanted his name plastered across such an overweening disposition. Even after a century and a half the names Roger Taney and Dred Scott are inseparably linked, Taney's reputation forever besmirched by his disgraceful disputation of the basic right of human beings to be treated as such.

Does Roberts fear becoming a 21st century Roger Taney? I don't know.

I'm still not convinced, by a long shot, that Roberts has renounced the goal of completing a major paradigm shift on the high court, but Posner's postulation offers a tiny glimmer of hope that someone at long last remembers what the hell the Supreme Court is supposed to be about.

On the other hand, Johnny may feel the need to reclaim his conservative bona fides--history be damned--and put the iron boots back on to walk over people's faces in the next term.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Back in May Ronald Dworkin had a piece in the NYRB on how the mandate is constitutional. He ended his essay by reminding us that we could not ignore the political dimensions of this case–– that the Republican Party's relentless denunciation of the ACA is because it is Obama's main domestic achievement.

"Our recent history is marred by a number of very badly reasoned Supreme Court decisions that, deliberately or not, had a distinct partisan flavor: "Citizen United," for example. which, most critics agree, has already had a profound and destructive impact on our democratic process. These decisions soiled the Supreme Court's reputation and they harmed the nation. We must hope, though perhaps against the evidence, that the Court will not now add that to that unfortunate list."
And Dworkin, as we know, was not the only voice singing this song. Roberts saved his ass and the Court by this ruling even at the expense of the Republicans calling him a turncoat––as if the Court is at all partisan––heaven forbid!

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD--The irony is that by calling Roberts a traitor they explicitly demonstrate that they believe that individual Supreme Court Justices should relentlessly pursue personal political aims. The Court has always been political, but as Earl Warren and David Souter have demonstrated, sometimes judges, like Billy Pilgrim, become unfastened from their original ideologies and gravitate in a statesmanlike direction.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Jack: Billy Pilgrim––Vonnegut's baby-faced day dreamer in "Slaughterhouse Five"?

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Yes, he became "unstuck in time." The way some conservative justices have become unstuck from ideology. One can only hope that Roberts is recognizing the power he holds and that such a realization turns him from a Republican into a citizen of America and the Earth. Where are Tralfamadorians when you really need them?

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney
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