The Ledes

Monday, March 30, 2015.

Washington Post: "One person was killed and another was injured Monday morning when police with the National Security Agency opened fire on a vehicle whose driver refused commands to stop at a security gate, according to a statement from the agency. The vehicle slammed into a police cruiser after shots were fired."

New York Times: "Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was forced from office under a cloud of corruption, was convicted on Monday of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial of a case involving an American businessman, whose sensational testimony in a Jerusalem court in 2008 was instrumental in Mr. Olmert’s downfall. The American businessman, Morris Talansky, said at the time that he had provided Mr. Olmert with about $150,000 over 13 years, mostly in cash stuffed into envelopes, an assertion Mr. Olmert vehemently denied. Mr. Talansky, known as Moshe, had said that much of the money was earmarked for election campaigns but that some was for Mr. Olmert’s personal expenses."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

New York Times: "Rescue workers recovered two bodies on Sunday in the wreckage of the explosion and fire that happened last week in the East Village, the police said. One of two bodies was identified by family members as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. The second body was not yet identified.... Officials said the fire was most likely set off by a gas explosion. The explosion blew off the facade of the building, before spreading to four neighboring ones. Three of the buildings — 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue — were reduced to rubble."

AP: "Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen will continue until Shiite rebels there 'withdraw and surrender their weapons,' a summit of Arab leaders decided Sunday, as they also agreed in principle to forming a joint military force. The decision by the Arab League puts it on a path to potentially more aggressively challenge Shiite power Iran, which is backing the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis."

Baltimore Sun: Protesters show up outside Bill Cosby's Baltimore performance, and one interrupts his show.

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
March 30

9:00 am ET: President's Management Advisory Board meeting

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

East Wing Mystery. Washington Post: "There’s still no official comment on why [White House head florist Laura] Dowling is no longer at the White House, but according to a source with close ties to current residence staffers, she was escorted from the building on Friday Feb. 13." ...

     ... UPDATE. Thoroughly Modern Michelle. "Dowling ... left because her 'fussy style' was not in line with the first lady’s emerging modern and clean aesthetics, several sources said.... Recently the first lady has debuted a different aesthetic at the executive mansion. Last month, the White House revealed the newly refurbished and now decidedly modern Old Family dining room.... Mrs. Obama unveiled her 'thoroughly modernized' mark on the White House, featuring a custom-made 1950s-inspired rug and bold artwork, to surprised tourists on Feb. 10. Dowling is said to have been escorted from the White House three days later." ...

Reuters: "Whether it's the earnest Josiah Bartlet from 'The West Wing' or the manipulative Frank Underwood in 'House of Cards,' Americans prefer television presidents to their real-life POTUS, President Barack 'No Drama' Obama.'"

Washington Post: Scientists believe they've found the world's largest asteroid impact zone in Australia.

Washington Post: "King Richard III may have been buried quickly and without pomp the first time, but 530 years later, England is reveling in a final farewell to its long-lost monarch. On a sun-kissed Sunday afternoon on the battlefield where Richard III fell in 1485 — he was the last English king to die in battle — throngs of well-wishers, some dressed in medieval costume and blowing trumpets, gathered to honor England’s last Plantagenet king."

Out of the Parking Lot & into the Cathedral. Guardian: England is preparing to (re)inter a king today (Sunday, March 22). "... the coffin will be transferred to a horse-drawn hearse, to lead the way to a service of compline, with a sermon from a Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nicholls. It will then lie in the cathedral, guarded night and day, until the reburial service on Thursday."

Politico: "The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training."

David Rackoff: "Things people say that irritate Republicans." Click thru. CW: I'll have to try to remember these. So I can say them. To Republicans. I hope I drive them all Rumpelstiltskin. Then I will ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster to forgive me for being so mean.

Prince Charles & the Duchess of Cornwall are in Washington, D.C., & environs.

President Obama hosts a St. Patrick's Day reception:

... CW: Somebody explain to me why apparently-intelligent people don't actually participate in events they attend but instead spend their time taking crappy cellphone videos, even when they know said events will be recorded by professionals & posted online. I get why a person would want to record some side-conversation with, say, the President, but the main event? It baffles me.

Patrick LaForge of the New York Times: "Welcome to a parallel universe. It is a world of tired news language where the verb 'stir' is bound to be followed by 'debate,' where those debates are always 'heated' or 'bitter.' In this world, anything newsworthy is automatically 'controversial,' and a 'hike' involves taxes, not a trail up a mountain. It is often a 'hardscrabble' place, sometimes 'densely wooded,' sometimes graced with 'manicured' lawns and 'leafy' streets. 'Landmark' agreements are 'hammered out' there, while adversaries are 'lambasted' and 'assailed.'” Meet journalese: a strained and artificial voice more common to news reports than to natural conversation." LaForge cites numerous examples of NYT reporters' use of these cliches.

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Saturday
Jul212012

The Commentariat -- July 22, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "The Meaning of Tragedy." The NYTX front page is here.

Jordy Yager & Mike Lillis of The Hill: "A handful of Democrats are pressing for tougher gun laws in the wake of the Colorado movie theater shootings that left 12 people dead." ...

... "Blood on Their Hands." New York Daily News Editors: "Through their inaction and their silence, Obama and Romney have fallen into line with all those who enabled Holmes to take hold of that AR-15 and will enable others to do so in the future unless America's political leaders develop the courage to fight to save lives."

... The Onion: "Americans across the nation confirmed today that, unfortunately, due to their extreme familiarity with the type of tragedy that occurred in a Colorado movie theater last night, they sadly know exactly how the events following the horrific shooting of 12 people will unfold. While admitting they 'absolutely hate' the fact they have this knowledge, the nation's 300 million citizens told reporters they can pinpoint down to the hour when the first candlelight vigil will be held, roughly how many people will attend, how many times the county sheriff will address the media in the coming weeks, and when the town-wide memorial service will be held."

James Asher of McClatchy News: "... reporters from The New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg and others are agreeing to give government sources the right to clear and alter quotes as a prerequisite to granting an interview. To be clear, it is the bureau's policy that we do not alter accurate quotes from any source. And to the fullest extent possible, we do not make deals that we will clear quotes as a condition of interviews."

New York Times Editors: "A health care system owned and managed by Alaska's native people has achieved astonishing results in improving the health of its enrollees while cutting the costs of treating them."

Pam Martens of AlterNet: "As the U.S. grapples with intractable wealth disparity and the related ills of unemployment and recession, we need to understand that [the LIBOR scandal] was not merely a few rascals rigging some esoteric index in London. This was an institutionalized wealth transfer system on an almost unimaginable scale." CW: what's important about Martens' piece -- which I found a bit difficult to follow -- is not how they did it but to whom they did it.

Matt Taibbi writes favorably about "a plan to allow local governments to take on the problem of neighborhoods blighted by toxic home loans and foreclosures through the use of eminent domain." CW: when Joe Nocera wrote a column backing the plan, I was immediately skeptical. Taibbi raises the same questions I had, but ultimately decides that since Barack Obama is no FDR, the plan at hand might be the best solution available.

Jeremy Roebuck of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "The iconic statue of late Pennsylvania State University head football coach Joe Paterno will be removed from its spot outside of the campus' football stadium, university president Rodney Erickson said in a statement Sunday." AP story here. ...

... CW: Erickson showed no sensitivity whatsoever to the advice of Maureen Dowd, who writes in today's Times, "... I’d leave it up. But I'd put up another darkly alluring statue behind Paterno, whispering in his ear: Mephistopheles."

Andrew Goldman of the New York Times interviews Terry Gross. Short & funny. Includes penis joke.

Presidential Race

Who's "Un-American" Now? Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "... the patriotism party nominated a man who has for a quarter-century practiced a brand of capitalism that respects no known flag or borders. He ran a company that created some jobs but sent others overseas, he finagled himself a way to get paid a lot of money for doing (by his own admission) no work for a few years, and he appears to have retained a battery of lawyers to help ensure that he pays a far lower tax rate than the working people he's trying to whip into a state of fear about Obama. And there's only one reason people have Swiss bank accounts, and it's to avoid making their otherwise mandated contributions to the national treasury." ...

... Why Those Offshore Accounts of Mitt's Matter. John McKinnon of the Wall Street Journal: "The Tax Justice Network's report estimates that unreported offshore wealth held in tax havens has reached at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32 trillion. [CW: as far as I can tell, the estimate represents wealth from all countries, not just the U.S.] That wealth means that the problem of inequality in wealth and income is actually worse than suspected, the group says. It also means that many countries are losing out on tax revenue that could go a long way toward alleviating their national fiscal problems, the report's authors suggest. The largest previous estimate of the problem -- also by Tax Justice Network, in 2005 -- was about $11.5 trillion, the report says."

Matea Gold & Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama's sharp turn to the offensive against GOP challenger Mitt Romney last month came at a steep cost: nearly $58 million."

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: Although the Romney campaign denies it, it appears it is buying Twitter followers. At any rate, the graph of followers for his feed "looks like a hockey stick," with a huge uptick over the past few days. "If you look at all these [new] followers, they seem to have major trouble with spelling simple English words, have names that sometimes seem to be random assortments of syllables, and have no (or very few) followers themselves. At the current rate, he's adding about 10,000 followers every hour." Some fairly hilarious commentary @ #MoreFakeMitt

Right Wing World

Godless Thugs! Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "Fred Jackson, the American Family Association's news director, while discussing the Colorado movie theater shooting today said that liberal Christian churches and liberal media helped contribute to violent incidents by supposedly deemphasizing the fear of God and the Bible."

News Ledes

Washington Post: 'Herbert Vogel, a retired New York postal worker who, with his wife, Dorothy, created one of the world's most unlikely -- and most significant -- collections of modern art, then bequeathed much of it to the National Gallery of Art, died July 22 at a nursing home in New York City. He was 89." CW: a remarkable story.

CBS News: "CBS News has learned that the NCAA will announce what a high-ranking association source called 'unprecedented' penalties against both the Penn State University football team and the school.... NCAA President Mark Emmert will make the announcement Monday morning at 9 a.m. at the organization's headquarters in Indianapolis."

Denver Post: "Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper [D] Sunday expressed skepticism that tougher gun laws would have stopped suspected gunman James Eagan Holmes from unleashing 'terrorist' acts against 70 people in an Aurora movie-theater."

AP: "A federal law enforcement official says the semi-automatic assault rifle used in the deadly Colorado movie theater shooting jammed during the attack." ...

... AP: "The shooting suspect accused in a deadly rampage inside a Colorado theater planned the attack with 'calculation and deliberation,' police said Saturday, receiving deliveries by mail that authorities believe armed him for battle and were used to rig his apartment with dozens of bombs. Meanwhile, new details about 24-year-old James Holmes emerged, including summer jobs the suspect held in Southern California as a camp counselor and as an intern at a prominent research institute." ...

... AP: "... President Barack Obama will travel Sunday to Colorado to comfort distraught families of those gunned down in a minute and a half of real-life horror at a midnight movie showing."

Washington Post: "Heavy clashes rocked Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial capital, for a second day on Saturday as thousands streamed across the border into neighboring Lebanon to escape widespread fighting in the country." ...

... Guardian: "An activist group claims that more than 2,750 people have been killed in Syria so far this month, bringing the death toll since the conflict began to more than 19,000."

Reader Comments (12)

Marie, your NYTX article on the Colorado shootings was the best description of the reality I have read. Your assessment of our minds tells it all. We have an incredible capacity for hiding. An article in the Sunday Times (We’re All Climate-Change Idiots) tells a very similar story. The best proof of this is the comments from Fred Jackson of the American Family Association that says this is his god's retribution. Apparently the same god who spends his time watching Tim Tebow play football rather than save the 6 million children who starve to death every year. If the lawyer representing the killer cannot make an insanity defense maybe he can claim he was doing god's work. You know the god who gets a kick out of murdering a six year old child.
The end really is coming and we can thank our minds for making it happen.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Marie, your latest essay in the NYTimes Examiner is a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

In it you quoted Romney as saying "“When it comes to protecting the Second Amendment, I do not support any new gun laws including any new ban on semi-automatic firearms,” he said in late December 2007. Today he opposes “adding more laws and regulations that do nothing more than burden law-abiding citizens….”"

At no time have I read of or listened to a person who has stated his/her opposition to banning weapons made solely for killing the most people/animals in the least amount of time asked of the person 'Why?'

What on earth is their reasoning for allowing these WMD to be made for any purpose other than armed conflict at the government level much less allowing them to be sold to anyone with the means to pay for them or the wherewithal to steal them.

As an aside, I find in this case the use of the word 'burdened' by new laws cynical.

Maggy Holman

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaggy Holman

Any attempt to control firearms in any way is a lose, lose, The power of the NRA is absolute and will remain so for a long time. The NRA destroys all opposition and most politicians are justly afraid of it. As Gail Collins said yesterday, there will come a time when the public will change attitudes. As Gail pointed out, it took a long time to get women the power to vote. It was inevitable as is the change of attitudes and the failure of the NRA.
Unfortunately, many people may die in the interim.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Re: Marie's excellent piece in NYTX this morning: Using the classical definition of the word "tragedy" perhaps the real fallen hero of this tale is the country itself. Once portrayed in black and white films as the proud symbol of high standards and patriotic zeal, one got teary eyed knowing how strong and good a country can be. One dared not look too deeply into the underbelly.

If more than half of the populace is against any kind of gun control then our politicians aren't going to risk pushing for it––kind of like a kiss of death for them––only when your seat is safe , evidently, can you stick your neck out and do what's good for the country rather than what's good for you.

In 2005 there was a cable series called "Commander in Chief" starring Gena Davis as the first female president of the U.S. It depicted this woman as a president who, wonder of wonders, actually ran the country the way it should be run––for the people even though her decisions would hurt her chances for reelection. It only ran for two seasons which is a shame. It gave us a glimpse of what it could be like. My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing–––sadly and quietly.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

P.S. But what a lift to read Matt Taibbi's article––innovative ideas in the making to deal with the housing debacle. This is good news!

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I bought my first gun, a Smith & Wesson .38 , at the age of 14 (perfectly legal in 1950's Oregon). So I'm not totally against gun ownersip. That said, can anyone rationally tell me why anyone ouside the military or law enforcement needs an assault rifle? Or a 100 round magazine for it? I read apologists who say it wasn't an assaualt rifle since it couldn't be fired full automatic. As a combat veteran, I can tell you that firing one shot at a time can do a lot of damage. Besides, the M16/AR15 is almost impossible to fire accuately on full auto. As to the argument that if some people in the crowd had been armed-- Obviously, Holmes had thought of that, a gas cloud, wearing black and body armor, a gas mask. People who fantasize about taking on a shooter forget that bullets go both ways. It's hard enough to coordinate trained soldiers without having a bunch of untrained civilians firing wildly in the dark. All the NRA wants to do is sell more guns. That's one of the reasons I disassociated from the NR A many years ago. We need stricter gun control and we need it now!

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

I've been following your blog for several years now (it's usually the first thing I look at every day), but this is my first time commenting. Thanks for your excellent piece in NYTX on our ongoing gun violence "tragedy". I thought I might add to your mention of Aristotle's calling the tragic flaw hamartia that the New Testament, composed in Greek several hundred years after the time of Aristotle, uses the same word to mean "sin". In regards to gun control, there seems to be plenty of sin to go around.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavidD

It is difficult to get exact comparison data but the following numbers from 2005 get the picture. EU population 500 million, number of murders 4743. US population 310 million, number of murders about 17,000. Of the 17,000 more than 12,000 were done by guns.
In a study quoted by a PolitiFact evaluation, "Researchers determined that the rate of homicides with guns in the U.S. was 4.1 per 100,000 people; the same rate combining the 22 other countries was 0.2 per 100,000 in 2003. The rate of homicides using guns in the U.S. was 19.5 times the rate of the other countries".

In summary, we are truly exceptional!

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

The idea, floated regularly by NRA boot lickers and Fox semi-literates, that if we all had guns mass killings would not be possible, is back once again. Had that been the case in Aurora, everyone in the audience would have whipped out their peacemakers and made Swiss cheese out of the shooter. A few dead, maybe, no big deal, but no mass murder.

Pure, unadulterated puerile fantasy.

Seriously? This is the sort of NRA wanking material passed along by imbeciles who have never had to fire a weapon at another human being. Professionally trained men and women in the armed forces and police departments routinely report difficulty doing this, especially the first time. It's one thing to shoot at a stationary target, but as Barbarossa points out, quite another when that target is moving and shooting back at you.

Gun crazed states like Arizona should be an excellent test for such a crackpot theory. Arizona boasts the most permissive gun laws (none even worth mentioning, actually) in the country. You can carry concealed weapons pretty much anywhere and no one can say boo.

But when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot and other innocent bystanders slaughtered by a gunman last year at a public gathering, how many Arizonans drew down on the killer? How many did a Keanu Reeves and slung back their black dusters to pull out their own semi-automatic killing machines to let the bastard have it right between the eyes, blowing away the gunsmoke before holstering their weapon?

You all know the answer.

I don't know if anyone in that crowd actually was armed, but if that nusto theory didn't work in Arizona, where most everyone is already armed, where will it work. But Arizona is just like it was in the Old West, right?

Uhhh....not really.

You see, in the 19th century in places like Arizona, where most EVERYONE was armed--just like that NRA wet dream--municipal officials, and most citizens, realized just how crazy nuts dangerous it was and most towns had "No Carry" laws (unlike the current drive for a "Must Carry" law). Weapons were checked at the sheriff's office in many towns. The idea of people having ready access to deadly weapons, especially drunk people in bars, with which to settle the smallest disputes, was considered insane.

But not today.

Today, the NRA and their running dog lackeys in congress, smirk at mass killings and laugh at anyone who thinks they can point to such public horrors and as a way to challenge hurt complete control.

I'd like to believe that Gail Collins is right.

But without someone to at least start that struggle, the dead and injured in Colorado will just be 70 or so more notches on the NRA bed post. Plenty more to come.

Gunsmoke hovering over American cities is their most fervent dream.

And if a few (thousand) people have to die, well, they just use the same excuse George Zimmerman did.

It was god's will that those people died.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterakhilleus

I find it interesting that the NY Daily News opines (linked above) that "Obama, Mitt and the NRA" have "blood on their hands." Oh really? The NRA certainly does have blood on its hands and every other inch of its corporate body (is it feeling pain over the horrific event?). After all, this lobby group for the gun industry has done more than anyone else to assure that America has the weakest gun regulation in the advanced world.
Romney? Well, as the article points out, he enthusiastically got in line and joined the NRA at the beginning ofl his run for the presidency. He not only joined it, but has made it a point to highlight his agreement with the NRA positions. In April of this year, Romney addressed their national convention. Accordiing to a contemporaneous article in the Yahoo news, "He delivered a speech broadly attacking President Obama for failing to protect Americans' economic, religious and personal freedoms-- highlighting gun owners in that final attack.
'We need a President who will stand up for the rights of hunters, sportsmen, and those who seek to protect their home and family," Romney said. "President Obama has not; I will.' "
Meanwhile, the NRA has caused millions of guns and rounds of ammo to be sold just on the strength of the argument that it "knows" that in his heart Obama will tighten gun laws in the future. Heck, thousands of people have obtained carry permits just as a reaction to the NRA scare tactics. So the President assuredly was aware that ANY statement he made encouraging tighter regulation would just be used to further the sales of weaponry. That truly put him in an untenable position.
On the other hand, it is a sign of progress that a conservative rag like the News is at least recognizing the need for stricter gun laws. One would hope it is a harbinger of things to come on that score.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Conspsirecy: (sp) Sorry, can't remember the correct
spelling--sixty years out of school. Anyway, I'm waiting for the
gun lobby to come up with the reason we have all of these shootings
every few months. I have a theory that they will say this is being
done by the left (Obama and CIA operatives) to make the NRA
look bad (worse?) Read some blogs today (too many to recall)
claiming that there are training camps in Arizona, Colorado
and Texas where these mass murderers are trained by the CIA.
On call by the opponents of NRA to make then look bad in the
eyes of all of us little people who have no say or no guns.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

@JJG. Thanks for your input on this. It's Florida. We gotsa lotsa windows, especially in houses like mine, which was built before A/C. (I didn't count the 4 in the attic, which I had replaced at another time, nor the ones in the basement, which are still the same ole same ole).

July 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.