The Ledes

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

Washington Post: "The deadly wildfires that engulfed two Tennessee tourist towns leading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park left at least seven dead and hundreds of buildings damaged or destroyed, officials said late Wednesday as the terrible toll of the fires began to take focus. At least 53 people were treated for injuries at hospitals, though their conditions were not known. Massive walls of flames spread down the mountains into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on Monday with shocking speed, said those who fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. The fires are estimated to have damaged or destroyed more than 700 homes and businesses — nearly half of them in the city of Gatlinburg. Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said late Wednesday afternoon that the fire was 'likely to be human-caused.'” -- CW

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Guardian: (Nov. 3): "An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.” -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.

 

The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

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Saturday
Jun092012

The Commentariat -- June 10, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "What Ever Happened to Bradley Manning?" The NYTX front page is here.

New York Times Editors: "If you wanted to reproduce the conditions that led to the Great Recession in 2007, the easiest way would be the plan unveiled last week by House Republicans: gut the regulators who are supposed to keep the worst business practices in check." Read the entire editorial. CW: The nicest thing I can say about House Republicans is that they are corrupt, devious fuckers. And that would be my polite mode.

Get off the Dime, Ben! Christina Romer in the New York Times: "By law, the Fed is supposed to aim for maximum employment and stable prices.... The Fed is the only plausible source of immediate help for the American economy. It was set up as an independent body precisely so that somebody can do what's right when politicians can't or won't.... The academic literature shows that monetary policy can be very effective at reducing unemployment in situations like ours.

Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post has a long piece on President Obama's tense relationships with Hispanic & gay civil rights leaders.

One More Reason to Love Joe Biden. The Vice President invites the press and their families to his home at the Naval Observatory every year. My son's excuse for dousing David Brooks: 'Biden told me to!' -- Ben Smith of BuzzFeed

Robert Reich: "The public’s growing disdain of the Supreme Court increases the odds that a majority will uphold the constitutionality of Obamacare." CW: I happen to think Reich is being a cockeyed optimist here, but read his rationale & see what you think. Also, bear this in mind: the public likes the individual mandate even less than they like the Court. So, if Reich is correct, that John Roberts is concerned about the Court's unpopularity, wouldn't Roberts want to do the popular thing & squish the individual mandate?

Missed this story which Steve Benen highlights in "This Week in God": Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "... a group of Roman Catholic nuns is planning a bus trip across nine states this month, stopping at homeless shelters, food pantries, schools and health care facilities run by nuns to highlight their work with the nation's poor and disenfranchised. The bus tour is a response to a blistering critique of American nuns released in April by the Vatican's doctrinal office.... The bus tour is to begin on June 18 in Iowa and end on July 2 in Virginia. The dates overlap with the 'Fortnight for Freedom,' events announced by Catholic bishops to rally opposition to what they see as the Obama administration's violations of religious freedom."

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: Senate Majority Leader Harry "Reid [D-Nevada] is now activating the vaunted Nevada Democratic machine he has helped build on behalf [of] Rep. Shelley Berkley. The seven-term Las Vegas congresswoman is challenging Reid's junior partner, Republican Sen. Dean Heller, for his job." Nevada offers "a rare opportunity for a Democratic pickup." The state's primaries are this Tuesday; both Berkley & Heller are expected to win easily.

Presidential Race

The Obama campaign runs a new Web ad hitting Romney for advocating the firing of teachers, firefighters & police:

News Ledes

Washington Post: "An increasingly effective Syrian rebel force has been gaining ground in recent weeks, stepping up its attacks on government troops and expanding the area under its control even as world attention has been focused on pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to comply with a U.N. cease-fire. The loosely organized Free Syrian Army now acknowledges that it is also no longer observing the truce, although rebel commanders insist they are launching attacks only to defend civilians in the wake of concerns generated by two recent massacres in which most of the 186 victims were women and children." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Violence is continuing in Syria, with activists reporting government assaults on the southern city of Deraa and Homs in the centre of the country. At least 52 civilians were killed around the country outside Damascus on Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Britain-based activist group."

AFP: "The IMF and US both praised a Eurogroup deal giving Spain a lifeline of up to €100 bn ($125 billion) to save its stricken banks, with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde calling it a 'credible back stop' for the banking system."

Reuters: "Iran's state finances have come under unprecedented pressure and the resilience of ordinary people is being tested by soaring inflation as oil income plummets due to tightening Western sanctions and sharply falling oil prices. Tough financial measures imposed by Washington and Brussels have made it ever more difficult to pay for and ship oil from Iran. Its oil output has sunk to the lowest in 20 years, cutting revenue that is vital to fund a sprawling state apparatus."

AP: "Hosni Mubarak is slipping in and out of consciousness eight days after the ousted Egyptian leader was sent to prison to begin serving a life sentence, a security official said on Sunday. With rumors of the former president's death spreading rapidly, authorities granted his wife, former first lady Suzanne Mubarak, and the couple's two daughters-in-law special permission to visit him in Cairo's Torah prison early that morning."

AFP: "Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip celebrates his 91st birthday at home on Sunday, after five days of hospital treatment for a bladder infection sparked concerns about his health. The outspoken Duke of Edinburgh left London's King Edward VII hospital on Saturday, just in time for his birthday."

Reader Comments (12)

Just checked in for my my daily Reality Chex dose, tardily I know, and was taken by a picture of some local scenery. But unless I'm not getting the joke--and it does happen--the technical name for Puget Sound is likely not Salisbury Sea but Salish Sea, unless a Salisbury steak is really a hunk of salmon....

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes. I think you're right, but I'll let the writer who sent the picture weigh in. Maybe those are actually the Sandwich Islands in the distance. Anyway, sounds good with whiskey rocks. (Or is it "whisky"? )

I checked the Times writer Lizette Alvarez yesterday for claiming there were lots of mosquitoes hereabouts, but I should also have got her on her lede sentence in which she described the "Caloosahatchee River." "Hatchee" means "river" so "Caloosahatchee River" is redundant. We'all call it "the Caloosahatchee." The Caloosa were the native Americans who lived in the area.

June 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Darn--I had just read Robert Reich's blog piece and it gave me a nice warm fuzzy feeling. But you are probably right!

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralphonsegaston

Just read your reply to my comment yesterday on snakes.... Gawd, I have been feeling brave because the rare sighting of a tiny snake in the mulch in one of the flower beds has not kept me from walking past the area.

But the wonderful birds are almost worth it. For me, that is, been terrified of snakes all my life in spite of family efforts to reason with me. Not spiders or anything else really...just snakes.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralphonsegaston

@alphonsegaston: Your fear of snakes–––I like them a lot, but mostly from a distance––is like my fear of spiders and if I had been the woman Marie described who squashed a spider in her kitchen only to have a multitude of babies burst out running thither and yon, it would do me in. I'd definitely have to go to some spider therapy, but come out crazier than ever.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Chief Justice Roberts is a loyal Republican with probably an above average intelligence. He is smart enough to know that taking away the parts of the health care act the public likes will cause screams, even from Republicans.
Keeping children on parents coveage until age 26 and relief from pre-existing conditions rules and the end of the donut hole are popular and expensive. They will cause huge increases in premiums if kept by the Republicans.
If Obama's care program is defeated by the Court, The Republican party will take possession of a disaster.
Chief Justice Roberts will save the Republicans from themselves.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

@Carlyle: I hope you're right. However, you haven't said anything to refute my idea that the Court has an incentive to knock down the individual mandate. The Court has proved to be fond of severability -- that is, declaring parts, but not all, of a law unconstitutional, as they did, ferinstance, in Citizens United. I have no idea what Roberts & Kennedy will do/have done, but it seems entirely possible that they will rule against the unpopular individual mandate & leave the rest, or most of the rest, of the ACA intact, including of course those popular bits you mention.

That would gut the core cost-savings feature of the ACA, as premiums would necessarily skyrocket if Americans are allowed to do as they do now & self-insure when they think/hope they won't need substantial healthcare at the same time insurers are forced to accept customers with genuine pre-existing conditions & others who buy insurance because they're pretty sure they're going to need extensive medical care.

Marie

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Constant Weader

And with my conspiracy cap firmly in place for the moment, I'd suggest declaring the individual mandate of the AHC unconstitutional would be in line with all the tax cuts, the unfunded wars, the conspicuously absent oversight that led to the massive bailouts for all those TBTF--all designed to impoverish government and further empower the private profiteers. With no check on health care costs and insurance costs, those public parts of our creaky system--Medicare and Medicaid, the Veterans hospitals, etc--will find themselves increasingly isolated and under financial attack. More surround the beast, lay siege to it, sap it and starve it and then blame it for being weak, render it TSTS, too small to succeed. Must be the beast's moral or systemic failure. Sure.

Of course, we know who the real Beast is.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Referring to Tony Perkins of the "Family Research Council," at what point do the "cafeteria" religious among us stop pretending that religious a**holes aren't a**holes just because they're religious "too"? I am truly dismayed at how we quail in this country whenever one of these scoundrels opens his or her mouth. Just wondering. Please discuss. Thanks.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Odds & Ends.

@Jack. Because we are a nation of sheep. We have long had a public education system dedicated to teaching students how to bolt fenders on Buicks, not ask why Buicks needed fenders.

@Marie. When I lived in your neighborhood, I made peace with as many critters as I could. My plantation was home to hundreds of anoles and gray tree frogs, a couple of black snakes, and a hog snake. As a result, I never had a mosquito or cockroach or rat (or mouse). Even gave the anoles free rein of the house--of course that drove the cats nuts, but it was up to them to work out.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

@Ken Winkes:

Update re: Salisbury/Salish: blame Apple's Word Complete.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

In the Obama ad featured today when Romney says we need to cut back and help the "American People" who the hell does he think teachers, police, and firefighters are?

And Jack, yes, the Tony Perkins of our world are, indeed, scoundrels of the first degree, but they embrace the WORD which has that veil of purity and goodness that so many cover themselves up in while harboring their devious intentions. Years ago a feminist, can't remember her name, was giving a talk to a group of women and wondered whether the Virgin Mary had been "knocked up?" Bill Buckley's sister, Pat, who was in the audience jumped out of her seat, ran up to the podium and physically attacked this speaker. Passions run high in dem dere circles of come to Jesus movements.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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