The Ledes

Sunday, February 7, 2016.

New York Times: "Robin Chandler Duke, a rags-to-riches grande dame who married an ambassador and became one of America’s best known advocates for women by championing reproductive rights and international family planning, died in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday. She was 92."

New York Times: "Defying warnings of tougher sanctions from Washington, North Korea launched a rocket on Sunday that Western experts believe is part of a program to develop intercontinental ballistic missile technologies."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President discussed climate change and how the most ambitious climate agreement in history is creating private sector partnerships that are advancing the latest technologies in clean power.":

Hill: "President Obama will send a budget to Congress that increases the amount of funding toward clean energy research and development by about 20 percent, he said Saturday."

White House Live Video
February 5

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Timess: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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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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