The Ledes

Tuesday, September 30, 2014.

New York Times: "Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed leader on Tuesday called for the pro-democracy demonstrators who have blocked major roads in the city to return home 'immediately,' and he gave no sign that he was prepared to compromise on their demands for more open elections to choose his successor." ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging the protests.

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, September 29, 2014.

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

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

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

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

Public Service Announcement

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

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

White House Live Video
September 30

1:00 pm ET: Michelle Obama hosts Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards luncheon

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

1:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a luncheon honoring Indian PM Narendra Modi

3:30 pm ET: White House BRAIN conference

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

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

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

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

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

... Adam Sternbergh responds in New York.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday
Jul052012

The Commentariat -- July 6, 2012

** Prof. William Forbath in a New York Times op-ed: "... today's court challenges the White House, the Democrats and the liberal legal community to reassert a constitutional vision of a national government empowered 'to promote the general Welfare' and -- in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's terse formula -- 'to regulate the national economy in the interest of those who labor to sustain it.'"

This Comes as No Surprise. Brian Beutler of TPM: "... many of the states with high-profile conservative governors vowing to stand athwart the ACA's progress, by refusing to expand their Medicaid programs and erecting hurdles to establishing insurance marketplaces, would stand to gain the most from successful implementation of the law." CW: let's be clear here: these governors are white Republican men who don't want to help poor people, particularly poor people of color. ...

... Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "... this is an ideological and even a moral issue to conservatives, who view dependence on any form of public assistance as eroding the 'moral fiber' of the poor (as Paul Ryan likes to put it), and as corrupting the country through empowerment of big government as a redistributor of wealth from virtuous taxpayers to parasites who will perpetually vote themselves more of other people's money." These governors' real goal is to end Medicaid altogether.

Two card-carrying conservatives -- Mickey Kaus (here) & Scott Galupo (here) argue that universal healthcare "is a social prerequisite for more freedom and market-driven flexibility." That's refreshing!

Tim Egan: "In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a special report of 'unprecedented extreme weather and climate events' to come. The events are here, though the skeptics now running the Republican Party deny the obvious, in large part because they are paid to deny the obvious. But for those who are already familiar with the new face of nature, no amount of posturing can wish away the fire this time."

Presidential Race

President Obama finally boasted about the Affordable Care Act in a campaign stop yesterday:

Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian: "Barack Obama has used a tour of the swing state of Ohio to renew his claim that his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, led the outsourcing of American jobs to India and China. The assertion is controversial and has been largely discredited by independent fact-checking groups. But Obama showed no sign of backing away from the claims on Thursday, telling an audience in Maumee, Ohio that Romney's executive experience was in 'companies that were pioneers of outsourcing'." ...

     ... CW: this is a good example of the press, not the politician, misleading the reader. I checked the transcript, and here's exactly what Obama said: "Governor Romney's experience has been in owning companies that were called 'pioneers' of outsourcing. That's not my phrase -- 'pioneers' of outsourcing." Obama is 100 percent truthful here: this is a phrase from a Washington Post investigative report, and Obama is careful to characterize the wording as someone else's -- in this case, a reputable newspaper's (and one that is definitely not in the tank for Obama). Here's the New York Times story, which covers the remark, covers Romney's response, but doesn't accuse the President of misleading.

Rich Miller & John Detrixhe of Bloomberg News: "Mitt Romney has suggested that President Barack Obama has done a worse job managing the economy than Jimmy Carter. Investors disagree. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index of stock prices has surged 70 percent under Obama, more than three times the 19 percent increase seen during President Carter's first 3-1/2 years in office starting in 1977. The corporate and government bond markets also have outperformed, with yields falling rather than rising. And the dollar has fared better...."

New York Times Editors: Mitt is full of shit. (Okay, not exactly their words, but their sentiment.) "Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote that the mandate is legal under the Congressional taxing power, which Republicans took a step further, saying the mandate must now be a tax. And not just a tax, but a huge, oppressive tax, one of the largest in history. It is, of course, no such thing. How many 'oppressive taxes' are entirely optional? Anyone who does the smart thing and gets health insurance won't have to pay it. It is, as Mr. Romney himself described it in 2006, a fee to promote 'personal responsibility' and prevent healthy people from freeloading." ...

... Michael Shear & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "As the Massachusetts governor and then as a presidential candidate, Mr. Romney spent the next six years describing in a variety of different ways the possible punishments for ignoring the Massachusetts mandate: as 'free-rider surcharges,' 'tax penalties,' 'tax incentives' and sometimes just as 'penalties.' But regardless of the terms he used, his intentions were clear: Massachusetts residents who chose not to buy health insurance would see their state income taxes go up. Now ... Mr. Romney is asking voters to condemn his rival for a health insurance mandate that is nearly identical to the one he championed in Massachusetts." His newest claim asks "voters to ignore his own record.... Mr. Romney is ... criticizing the president's approach with the same language that he once happily applied to his own achievement."

Paul Krugman: "Did I mention that Herbert Hoover actually was a great businessman in the classic mold? ... If Bain got involved with your company, one way or another, the odds were pretty good that even if your job survived you ended up with lower pay and diminished benefits. In short, what was good for Bain Capital definitely wasn't good for America...."

Jonathan Chait of New York: "Conservatives say they want Romney to change his staff or alter his campaign tactics. But what they really want is a different candidate and a different electorate. They want to believe that the American people are hungering for detailed endorsements of Republican plans to cut entitlement spending and taxes for the rich and launch a philosophical assault on the welfare state. But that's not what the public wants and Romney knows it." Read the whole post. ...

... Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: Emperor Rupert has never cared for Prince Willard. And the emperor's disdain for shows up in the product of his media empire.

CW: So here Ann Romney says that the Obama campaign sent out a memo early on that said, "Kill Romney." Anything is possible in politics, but I don't believe a presidential campaign would put that sentence to paper. When photographers took pictures of the Romneys jet-skiing, commentators called it a "John Kerry windsurfing moment." But it wasn't. The Obama campaign is not going to run ads that appear to disparage Ann Romney. I am beginning to think that the Romney campaign is using Ann Romney as a very effective foil: she lies & provides cover for her husband:

     ... P.S. Surely there are wingers out there already spreading the story that Obama plans to assassinate Romney.

AND. Let's Debate Obama's Race! One of the first cinematic black presidents says, "America's first black president hasn't arisen yet. [Obama]'s not America's first black president -- he's America's first mixed-race president."

Local News

This post by Gregg Easterbrook of the Atlantic is several days old, but if you live in Maryland or parts of Washington, D.C. and are a Pepco customer you'll want to read it, so you can get pissed off about the multi-day power outage all over again. Besides, maybe you're just now getting back on line so no news is old news.

Answer to July 7 PhotoQuiz: Michael Bloomberg, President of the Slide Rule Club; he was also in the debating club, technical club, science club & the homeroom dues agent.

News Ledes

Orlando Sun Sentinel: "Murder defendant George Zimmerman calmly walked out of the Seminole County Jail today with the help of donations to his legal defense fund. Zimmerman posted the $1 million bond thanks in part to the $20,000 in donations raised since Thursday when Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. set the bond amount."

** AP: "U.S. employers added only 80,000 jobs in June, a third straight month of weak hiring that shows the economy is struggling three years after the recession ended. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent."

Guardian: "Central banks around the world signalled their determination to stimulate the flagging global economy on Thursday yesterday, with the injection of £50bn of electronic money into the UK and interest rate cuts in the eurozone and China. The Bank of England warned that recovery was at risk without a boost to its programme of quantitative easing after a flurry of economic surveys showed the double-dip recession could stretch into the autumn."

Huffington Post: yesterday California called for an amendment to the U.S. constitution overturning Citizens United vs. FEC, "which ruled that government restriction of corporation or union spending on political campaigns violated the First Amendment right to free speech. California joins Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland and New Mexico in calling for ... overturn[ing] the Supreme Court ruling."

New York Times: "Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria met [in Paris] on Friday with their international sponsors to intensify pressure for his removal, buoyed by word that Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, a commander in the elite Republican Guard, and a member of the Damascus aristocracy, had defected and fled the country."

AP: "Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was convicted and sentenced to 50 years Thursday for a systematic plan to steal babies from prisoners who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the military junta's war on leftist dissenters three decades ago. Argentina's last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, also was convicted and got 15 years."

New York Times: "French investigators' final report on the 2009 crash of an Air France jet that killed 228 people portrays a cockpit rapidly consumed by confusion and unable to decode a welter of alarms to determine which flight readings could be trusted, with the pilots' apparent reliance on a faulty display cementing the plane into its fatal stall."

AFP: "Equador's foreign minister has said that rape and sexual assault cases lodged in Sweden against Julian Assange are laughable, but no ruling has yet been made on the WikiLeaks founder's asylum application."

Reader Comments (5)

Re the Atlantic post about the horrors of Pepco in Montgomery County, Md and D.C. Those of us who lived in the area know it well. The people who bought my house in McLean, VA (when I moved to Oregon), told me their entire street was without power for 4 days--except for them and the house directly across the street--which just "happens" to belong to the Deputy Director of the CIA. No inconveniences allowed. Never know when we might need to send out another drone! A great example of "Power begetting Power!"

On the UP side, I hear that David Brooks' multi-million dollar Queen Anne manse in classy Cleveland Park (D.C.) is still without power. HA! Hope everything in his frig is now as rotten as his prose. He can't buy his way out of this one--unless he has an expensive generator, which Cleveland Park (when I lived in the area) disallowed. Pepco rocks, she said bitchily and with ill-will.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

There is always a limit. Even for the MSM, it is hard to keep your eyes closed forever. In the last few days there seems to be a bit of an awakening. Finally Mitt said something so 'dumb' (a quote from the WSJ) about the ACA tax that the flip may have actually caused a flop.
And the now that the evening news spends the first 10 min. of every broadcast watching the country burn, the words 'global warming' are actually mentioned.
So you can hide from the facts, but in these cases the perps keep coming at you.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

The Atlantic story about Pepco may be days old, but it was news to me. Ouch! A rather damning story, especially this line: "Montgomery County, Maryland, is one of the nation's bluest and wealthiest counties; its perennially awful power service raises the question of whether liberals can make the trains run on time." We all know that the majority of Italians loved Mussolini because he always had the trains run on time––or so the story goes. So now we blame O'Malley, a liberal, for Pepco's inefficiency but jump the gun here and question all liberal's acumen at train running in general? Many moons ago when the electrical grid was being implemented someone must have said, "It would be better, wiser, and cheaper in the long run if we lay lines underground." From what I understand all new lines are done that way now. But back to the article by whats-his-name who sounds at his wit's end. Maybe he and David Brooks (thanks, Kate, for the image) are sharing a warm beer in a public park under a shady oak.

Re: Lisa's example yesterday of the Nannie mit kinder. I'd buy that if there was no one else on the beach, but since that wasn't in the scenario and since beaches usually have many bathers, the life-saving Nannie could fend off her charges to some nice lady with a large hat while she, the Nannie, rushes in and saves the drowning person who would be most grateful, maybe giving Nannie a large reward, allowing her to opt out of the kinder care just in case the parents were not happy with having their children pushed off in the care of the nice lady with the large hat.

And by gum, Ann is standing by her man even though her accusations are baseless. She better watch out–––those lazy liberals are sharpening their knives and finally polishing their silver tongues and are out for––can I say it? –––the kill!

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

As with so many other aspects of their approach to public life, Republicans provide incontrovertible evidence concerning their fealty to ideology above all else by applying the tag “immoral” to whatever they don’t like. Taxes? Immoral. Regulation? Immoral. Helping those less fortunate? Immoral. It’s especially funny (or galling, depending on which side of the bed you fell out of) to hear right-wing Christians wallow in this type of thinking. Isn’t helping the poor one of the biggest rules handed down by Jesus? How is that immoral? How is paying taxes immoral? Remember the give unto Caesar story?

They don’t really care that it doesn’t make sense or that it’s entirely inconsistent with their other arguments.

Whenever progressives point to the necessity of things like good education and health care for the poor and lower middle class citizens, rich Republicans like Paul Ryan jump up and demand that the poor not accept such assistance because of the damage to their moral fiber. Is this not a form of nanny state thinking? Ryan and his ilk are SO concerned with the moral well being of the poor that they are ready at the drop of a W2 to protect them from themselves. They may go unemployed for years due to Republican business schemes, may not be able to collect unemployment, may get only a pittance when they do work and may have health care taken away from them; they may end up dying of starvation and disease but when they do, their souls will be pure thanks to Paul Ryan protecting them from the moral ravages of Big Government.

How nice that they have Nanny Ryan looking out for their well being. If not in this world, then the next, to which he and his right-wing colleagues will be more than happy to guarantee expeditious transport.

But if one attempts to discuss the many billions in breaks and subsidies provided to corporations, the clarion call to the battlements sounds and CEOs stand shoulder to shoulder with their brave, tail wagging Republican employees to fend off such scurrilous attempts to save THEIR souls from moral destruction.

Hey, if corporations are people, as Willard the Rat maintains, then shouldn’t Republicans be equally concerned about the dangers of handouts from Big Government?

I guess that personhood thing only goes so far. Besides, those corporate souls are already black as hell anyway. No chance of any moral rescue mission. Might as well order another $500 bottle of wine at some ritzy Washington restaurant frequented by wealthy donors and corporate lobbyists and toast all those dead poor people.

Oh look, over at that other table, it's Willard and Ann. The poor lady, I hope she's brought her concealed Uzi in case there are any liberals waiting to murder her husband.

I'm sure she and Willard have been discussing their own plans for rescuing America's lower classes from the moral turpitude of a decent life.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Without spending more time on whether the lifeguard should have left his post, which is something I am sure is being discussed between the city and lifeguard company, the point of my original comment was that you should be careful using this kind of event to attack private services or you have no argument when the same reasoning is used to question whether liberals can make a train run on time. You have to look at the big picture and the history before laying blame.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
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