The Ledes

Thursday, April 24, 2014.

... New York Times The Lede: "Separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine released the American journalist Simon Ostrovsky on Thursday, three days after he was taken prisoner in the town of Slovyansk while filming a video report for Vice News. The Brooklyn-based news organization confirmed his release in a statement, which was followed by a tweet from the correspondent."

Guardian: Ukrainian troops are moving against pro-Russian separatists. The Guardian's liveblog is here. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Russia announced on Thursday that it was immediately starting military drills involving its army and air force along the border with Ukraine, harshly criticizing the government there for moving against pro-Russian forces occupying various government buildings in a show of force that left a still-undetermined number of people killed and wounded." ...

Washington Post: "Three American medical staff members died when an Afghan security official opened fire Thursday at an American-run Christian hospital in Kabul in the latest violence targeting foreigners in Afghanistan."

Guardian: "Pupils at the elite Southbank International School in London were victims of serial paedophile teacher William Vahey, the school has confirmed. The scale of the abuse is expected to be revealed later on Thursday in a letter to parents.... Vahey, a 64-year-old American who taught at Southbank between 2009 and 2013, killed himself after being found with 90 images of boys. The FBI believe the children were drugged with sleeping pills and molested in assaults dating back to 2008."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Guardian: "The Oklahoma supreme court has dissolved its stay of the executions of two men who challenged the state's secrecy about its source of lethal injection drugs. The court reversed the decision of a district court judge who said the law that keeps the source secret is unconstitutional. The turnaround heads off a potential constitutional crisis sparked by the state's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who had tried to override the stay by issuing an executive order to go ahead with the sentences.... The court's reversal on Wednesday came hours after a resolution by an Oklahoma House member to try to impeach some of its justices."

New York Times: "The latest accord between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization appeared more serious than past attempts, experts said, and came as hopes faded for a resolution to peace negotiations with Israel."

New York Times: "Russia continued Wednesday to ratchet up pressure on the government in Kiev, warning that events in eastern Ukraine could prompt a military response and again accusing the United States of directing events there."

Not All Fish Are Created Equal. Time: "Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed President Barack Obama to Tokyo Wednesday by taking him to the greatest sushi restaurant in the world, the three Michelin star Sukiyabashi Jiro."

Reuters: "Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday they were holding an American journalist in the city of Slaviansk and the online news site Vice News said it was trying to secure the safety of its reporter Simon Ostrovsky."

AP: "When armed men seized the police station in this eastern Ukrainian city, mayor Nelya Shtepa declared she was on their side. She changed her story a few days later. Then she disappeared — the victim of an apparent abduction by the man who now lays claim to her job. On Tuesday, she resurfaced, expressing support once again for the pro-Russia insurgents — but possibly no longer as mayor."

AP: " A senior Canadian diplomat was expelled from Canada's embassy in Moscow in retaliation for Canada expelling a Russia diplomat as tensions grow over the Ukraine, Canadian officials said Tuesday."

AP: "A Moscow judge on Tuesday left open the possibility of jailing President Vladimir Putin's main critic for years, a sign of Putin's increasingly hard-line rule against opponents. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was fined $8,400 on Tuesday for slandering a lawmaker. His second trial starts Thursday, and prosecutors who previously secured his house arrest are widely expected to ask for jail for him pending trial, with Tuesday's verdict making him a recidivist. If there's a guilty verdict at that trial, he could get a prison term."

AP: "A Kansas judge will on Wednesday consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning's petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she serves a 35-year sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "An Army soldier convicted of leaking classified military and diplomatic records persuaded a Kansas judge Wednesday to legally change her name from Bradley Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning."

Time: "President Barack Obama paid a visit to the small community of Oso, Wa., on Tuesday, exactly one month after a massive mudslide there claimed at least 41 lives. He promised survivors that the entire country will be on hand to help for 'as long as it takes'”:

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday took the rare step of urging doctors to stop performing a surgical procedure used on tens of thousands of women each year to remove uterine growths, saying the practice risks spreading hidden cancers within a woman’s body. The procedure, known as power morcellation, has long been used in laparoscopic operations to remove fibroid tumors from the uterus, or to remove the uterus itself. It involves inserting an electric device into the abdomen and slicing tissue in order to remove it through a small incision. The surgery is far less invasive than traditional abdominal operations."

White House Live Video
April 24

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Jon Stewart raises a good point: Why is this man parading around with the flag of a country he claims doesn't exist? ...


Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "The Hannity-Stewart feud: Day Three. During an 11-minute segment on the 'The Daily Show' Wednesday night, Jon Stewart called out Sean Hannity for what he perceived as hypocrisy on the Cliven Bundy issue and called the Fox News host 'The Arby’s of news.'”

CW: It's worth remembering that Stewart was the guy who brought down CNN's shouting pundits show "Crossfire." Of course the Blitzer Channel is, by comparison to Fox "News," a paragon of journalistic excellence.

Jon Stewart on the Cliven Bundy story:

... AND on Sean Hannity's support for Bundy:

... AND Hannity is pissed off. Apparently, it upsets him to hear his own blatant hypocrisy ridiculed.

New York Times: "David Letterman introduced his successor, Stephen Colbert, on his 'Late Show With David Letterman' Tuesday night on CBS with a monologue joke and some cordial conversation — but no measuring of the drapes":

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa. Paul Fahri of the Washington Post: The ratings for "Meet the Press" are so bad that NBC hired a psychologist to analyze Greggers. ...

     ... CW: Here's the rub. Fahri writes, "The impossible burden for Gregory, of course, has been to follow the beloved Russert. As one NBC colleague describes it, Russert is a 'ghost' who still haunts Gregory’s tenure at 'MTP' six years into his run." This is strictly VSP bull. Russert was a mediocre interviewer, who continually let politicians get away with evasive answers. He left big shoes to fill only because he had big feet.

MoDo loves her '65 Mustang.

USA Today: "Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she's pregnant with her first child."

New York Times: "It is a bit bigger and somewhat colder, but a planet circling a star 500 light-years away is otherwise the closest match of our home world discovered so far, astronomers announced on Thursday. The planet, known as Kepler 186f, named after NASA’s Kepler planet-finding mission, which detected it, has a diameter of 8,700 miles, 10 percent wider than Earth, and its orbit lies within the 'Goldilocks zone' of its star, Kepler 186 — not too hot, not too cold, where temperatures could allow for liquid water to flow at the surface, making it potentially hospitable for life."

Jason Zinoman of the New York Times argues that the real king of late-night comedy is Jon Stewart.

Whose Pulitzer Is It Anyway? Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded the Pulitzer Prize this week for his multipart series on denials of benefits to black lung victims. ABC News, which used Hamby's work for a "Nightline" segment, now wants a piece of the Pulitzer, even though the Pulitzer Prize is given for print journalism. ...

... J. K. Trotter of Gawker has more: "Journalist-on-journalist carnage is rarely so open, or so bilious, especially when obituary-worthy awards are on the line. Then again, television news has never attracted, or rewarded, humble folk. According to Poynter, an ABC spokesperson repeatedly 'threatened [{Bill} Buzenberg {executive director of CPI}] and the Center saying they would make this very "messy" ... unless they got what they wanted.'” ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico has more on the feud. ...

... Capital New York: "Fresh off a Pulitzer win for his investigative work at The Center for Public Integrity, Chris Hamby is jumping ship to join Mark Schoofs' investigations desk at Buzzfeed...."

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

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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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