The Ledes

Sunday, March 29, 2015.

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

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

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

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President highlighted the progress made protecting American consumers since he signed Wall Street reform into law five years ago, including an important new step taken by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this week toward preventing abuses in payday lending":

The Ledes

Saturday, March 28, 2015.

Washington Post: "Arab leaders vowed Saturday to back the embattled Yemeni president as a Saudi Arabia-led coalition intensified airstrikes on Shiite rebel targets across Yemen, escalating a conflict that many residents fear could lead to a land invasion.... The Saudis and their allies think that the Shiite rebels are backed by Iran and that Tehran is trying to exert control over a country that had been an ally of Riyadh and Washington."

Telegraph: "A close media aide to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, has sought political asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West.Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Mr Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign, was said by Iranian news agencies to have quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA). He then appeared on an opposition television channel based in London to say he no longer saw any 'sense' in his profession as a journalist as he could only write what he was told."

Public Service Announcement

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

White House Live Video
March 26

4:10 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in Birmingham, Alabama

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the Constant Weader

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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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