The Ledes

Thursday, July 30, 2015.

AP: "Afghanistan's Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, who led the group's self-styled Islamic emirate in the 1990s, sheltered al-Qaida through the 9/11 attacks and led a 14-year insurgency against U.S. and NATO troops. The Taliban Shura, or Supreme Council, chose Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who had served as Mullah Omar's deputy for the past three years, as its new leader, two Taliban figures told the Associated Press...."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy rebounded between April and June, new government data showed Thursday, expanding at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent. Growth in the second quarter remained modest, particularly compared with the breakneck pace seen in much of 2014, but it also signaled a bounce-back from a surprisingly sluggish winter when the economy was at a crawl."

New York Times: "Government officials and families of passengers lost on a Malaysian jet that vanished last year with 239 people aboard responded warily on Thursday to the discovery of possible wreckage from the aircraft, reluctant to fan hopes after more than a year of fruitless searching and false rumors. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss of Australia, whose country has led the search for the jet, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, said that the discovery of an airplane part thousands of miles from the search area was 'a very significant development' but cautioned against concluding that it was from the missing aircraft."

The Wires

The Ledes

... Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. (This video tends to start near the end. If it does that for you, cursor back to the beginning.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

Guardian: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday continued to pave the way for an increase in interest rates as early as September. The US central bank left its key interest rate unchanged at near zero – where it has been since the 2008 financial crisis – but once again signalled that rates will rise later this year. While the Fed chair, Janet Yellen, has left little doubt that rates will rise this year, the Fed left itself wiggle room as it has set no timetable and said rates would only be raised if the economy continues to improve and unemployment continues to fall." ...

... The Fed's statement is here.

New York Times: "A large object that appeared to be an airplane part washed up Wednesday on the shore of Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, prompting speculation that it might be debris from Flight 370, the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared in March 2014." ...

     ... AP UPDATE: "Air safety investigators have a 'high degree of confidence' that aircraft debris found in the Indian Ocean is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared last year, a U.S. official said Wednesday."

New York Times: "After months of speculation, Afghan officials announced Wednesday that they were now certain that the Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, died in Pakistan in 2013."

Guardian: "Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has approved the immediate construction of hundreds of settlement units in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in an effort to stave off a growing threat posed by pro-settler parties in his rightwing coalition government. The issue was brought to a head on Wednesday by a supreme court ruling that two buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El – built on private Palestinian land without permits – should be destroyed, despite Netanyahu’s opposition."

Washington Post: "An Albuquerque 911 dispatcher has resigned after audio was released of him hanging up on a 17-year-old as she tended to a friend who was shot at the party. The victim, 17-year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver, later died.... Emergency responders had already been dispatched to the house before [the dispatcher] hung up." Includes 911 audio.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "A big-game hunter from the Twin Cities found himself at the center of an international firestorm Tuesday over the death of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, but said he regrets killing the animal and believed his guides were leading him on a legal hunt.... Earlier Tuesday, the Telegraph newspaper of London identified [dentist Walter] Palmer as the hunter who shot Cecil and reported that he paid $54,000 for the hunt. The Telegraph said the lion was illegally lured out of Hwange National Park, where it had protected status, and onto a neighboring game farm, where Palmer was on safari." ...

... Salon: Yelp contributors are whacking Palmer.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 30

2:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Open government public meeting

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

If you can memorize & learn to use the University of New Hampshire's long list of "bias-free language," you can be the most politically-correct person in your neighborhood. Via Jonathan Chait. ...

... CW Etiquette Tip: calling out your friends for using outmoded terms like "overweight" & "rich" is not politically-correct. Simply try to steer the conversation in a more "inclusive" direction. So if your friend says to you, "My rich neighbor got so overweight he has to use a wheelchair now," you say, "Oh, that person of material wealth has become a person of size who is wheelchair mobile? Wow! He's your neighbor? I remember him when he was a person experiencing homelessness who lacked advantages that others have." It sounds so natural, your friend will never realize you've corrected his biased, dated stereotypes.

Will Oremus of Slate likes Windows 10. CW: I haven't had the courage to try switching over yet. I'll lose EVERYTHING!

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

For an actual feel-good moment, Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post tells the story of 16-year-old small-plane crash survivor Autumn Veatch. Veatch, who was injured in the crash that killed her grandparents, walked untold mild through rough terrain until she came to a public road & parking area.

Washington Post: "Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program '19 Kids and Counting' from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program."

Washington Post: "Filmmaker George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King and dancer-actress Rita Moreno are among an unprecedented six honorees to be saluted at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Seventies rockers the Eagles, actress Cicely Tyson and conductor Seiji Ozawa will also be honored at the Dec. 6 event, Kennedy Center officials said Wednesday. A major fundraiser for the arts center, the gala celebration will be televised on CBS on Dec. 29."

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. ...

... Laura Marsh of the New Republic: "Scolars have been pointing out Atticus Finch's racism for years."

New York Times (July 15): "It was the last day of business at F. A. O. Schwarz on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan."

New York Times: "A day after its successful flyby, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of Pluto, revealing a young surface dotted with ice mountains. The piano-size spacecraft traveled nine years and three billion miles to study the dwarf planet and its five moons." Includes one close-up photo from 25 miles out. More on NASA's site.

New York (July 14): "We're halfway through July, but until this morning, there was still snow on the ground in Boston. The last of the city's historic snowfall, a disgusting frozen mass of dirt, snow, and trash, was officially pronounced melted this morning"."

Here are time-lapse photos of the long melt:

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Saturday
Jun232012

The Commentariat -- June 24, 2012

Courtesy of the Weather Channel.

CW: BTW, I've been living on the outskirts of a tropical storm for the past 24 hours -- torrential rains, not much wind, but getting worser & worser -- so may lose power at any time for a long period of time. My landline & teevee satellite are already gone. If my power goes, or if just my DSL connection fails, I'll be back when I'm back.

CW: The vast, right-wing conspiracy was not trying to ruin Bill Clinton & it is not trying to ruin Barack Obama. They're small potatoes. The vast, right-wing conspiracy is trying to ruin all of us. And if voters are as stupid as I'm afraid they are, they will let the wingers win. So far, I think the wingers' odds are very good.

Jodi Kantor of the New York Times writes about how President Obama is dealing with the possibility that the Supreme Court will strike down all or part of the Affordable Care Act.

On the 40th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX -- the law that bans sex discrimination in public schools -- President Obama reflects on the impact of the law.

Chris Hayes in "the era of post-truth politics," compromise is not going to happen. Hayes thinks President Obama is finally getting it. An excellent essay. CW: something I didn't know: the NRA "scored" the votes on holding Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

Rachel Swarns of the New York Times answers some reader questions about Michelle Obama's white ancestors and publishes a photo of one of them for the first time.

The Vatican Foxifies. Nicole Winfield & Victor Simpson of the AP: "The Vatican has brought in the Fox News correspondent in Rome to help improve its communications strategy as it tries to cope with years of communications blunders and one of its most serious scandals in decades.... Greg Burke, 52, will leave Fox to become a senior communications adviser in the Vatican's secretariat of state, the Vatican and Burke told the AP.... Burke, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, is a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement." Via Dylan Byers of Politico.

Presidential Race

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: In Park City, Utah, "The Romney campaign, whose fund-raising prowess has defied assumptions about President Obama's financial advantages, offered wealthy donors and bundlers an extraordinary level of access to the candidate, his staff members, advisers and family this weekend at a three-day retreat that even seasoned political contributors said dwarfed previous presidential powwows."

New York Times Editors: "No American is dedicating as much of his money to defeat President Obama as Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who also happens to have made more money in the last three years than any other American. He is the perfect illustration of the squalid state of political money, spending sums greater than any political donation in history to advance his personal, ideological and financial agenda, which is wildly at odds with the nation's needs." Read the whole editorial.

The Romney Rule. Jonathan Martin & Alexander Burns of Politico: "Vague, general or downright evasive policy prescriptions on some of the most important issues facing the country are becoming the rule for Romney. Hoping to make the campaign strictly a referendum on the incumbent, the hyper-cautious challenger is open about his determination to not give any fodder to Obama aides hungry to make the race as much about Romney as the president."

New Priorities USA ad, via Maggie Haberman of Politico:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Clients of J. Ezra Merkin, a prominent Wall Street hedge fund manager who invested his clients' money in Bernard L. Madoff's epic Ponzi scheme, will recover more than $400 million under a civil settlement negotiated by the New York State attorney general's office."

Denver Post: "The Waldo Canyon Fire is spreading in three directions and forced 11,000 people from their homes, according to fire officials. The fire has burned at least 2,500 acres and forced evacuations of about 4,000 homes in El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs and the blaze remains at zero containment." Includes perimeter map.

New York Times: "A United States Drug Enforcement Administration agent shot a man to death in Honduras during a raid on a smuggling operation early Saturday, a spokesman for the American Embassy in Honduras said Sunday. The man who was killed had been reaching for his weapon, the official said, and the agent fired in self-defense."

New York Times: "Lockheed Martin said it had reached a tentative agreement Saturday night with the machinists union to end a nine-week strike at its fighter jet plant in Fort Worth and two other sites."

New York Times: "Election regulators named Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood the winner of Egypt's first competitive presidential elections, handing the Islamist group a symbolic triumph and a new weapon in its struggle for power with the ruling military council.... In Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands had gathered to await the result, the confirmation of Mr. Morsi's win brought instant, rollicking celebration. Fireworks went up over the crowd, which took up a pulsing, deafening chant: 'Morsi! Morsi!'" ...

... Al Jazeera's liveblog on Egypt is here.

Al Jazeera: "Turkey has said that Syria shot down its military aircraft in international airspace and declared it would formally consult with NATO allies on a reaction. Turkey's assertion came as reports said search teams had located the wreckage in Syrian waters at a depth of 1,300 metres."

Guardian: "David Coombs, [Bradley] Manning's civilian lawyer, has made his strongest accusations yet about the conduct of the military prosecutors. In motions filed with the military court ahead of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday, he goes so far as to accuse the government in essence of lying to the court.

Reader Comments (7)

The vast right wing conspiracy doesn't look to be so vast; it's the top of the pyramid we're talking here-- the handful of billionaires who can buy the advertising and the talk shows on radio and TV to whip up the mobs. We, down here, can't beat them with money, we need a better tool. I'm searching for it...

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwaltwis

@ alphonsegation: I have replied to your posting in the Ex paper and am awaiting "what Sue says."

A personal bus story: When our youngest son, Josh, was in middle school there was on the bus a nasty bully who continually spit on a timid, frail kid who never retaliated. The bus driver never caught the spitting. One day our son had had enough, cleared his throat, and lunged a zinger back at the bully. And that was the day the driver caught the action. Josh was suspended from the bus for two weeks. My husband, whose credo was "make a big deal out of the little things and you may prevent big things from happening," not only removed the stereo, the phone, the small TV from Josh's room, but told him he'd have to figure out a way to get to and from school on his own, which he did. I thought this much too severe given the circumstances, but respected the decision. There never was a repeat performance. So when Ms Klein says she wasn't going to report the boys because, hey, nobody will do anything about it since it's the last day of school, I say baloney.

It has taken Obama a goodly amount of time to rid himself of the idea that he can make nice with the republicans, but I think he's finally got it. Poor presidents, they all get gray hair sooner than later except for Reagan who dyed his––but then he was playing his role of a lifetime and had to look the part.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Chris Hayes essay on post truth politics is well worth reading. He contends that the NRA helped fabricate a second amendment issue by creating a fantasy that the real purpose of the Fast and Furious program was to take away guns from Americans. The story doesn't bear the weight of any serious scrutiny (especially given that F and F was started under Bush) - but this doesn't stop the NRA from running with it. I think the right wingers have adopted a strategy of lying about almost everything because they realize that the press can't possibly keep up in exposing the falsehoods, and the public has a hard time comprehending the enormous extent of the falsehoods, whis is unprecedented in a presidential campaign in modern history.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D,

Re: on the bus. "what was missing from the training the monitors and drivers received" A rod. Big dumbies. Say what you please, spare the rod, spoil the child. Little Johnny no longer respects his elders because he doesn't have to. The monitor has responsibilities and no authority. You get what you pay for.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

Regarding Wayne and his lefevred brain: It's called propaganda. He doesn't have to believe it, but he does need to make it believable to those who desperately want to believe. Wayne's a grifter, a snake oil salesman, but he is good at it. Give him some credit.

Watching it from the outside, we revolt because we can see what absolute bullshit he's slinging, but think about it this way: Have you ever read the "sacred texts" of a religion not your own? They seem pretty far-fetched. Now read your own religion's sacred texts with the same critical eye. So, Wayne's selling paranoia about the here and now and Ratzinger is selling paranoia about the hereafter. Satisfying both of them would require arming fetuses.

With the growing corporate control of an increasingly small number of media companies, it seems to me that the message is clear to neophyte Woodwards and Bernsteins: Don't piss off the stockholders. So, we get stories on style (what did Hilary Rosen say say say say say?) rather than substance (is killing civilians with drones a war crime?) and we get endless rehashing of the "he said/she said" controversy of the moment. Rush Limbaugh, who would have been ridden out of any sane town on a rail, is preaching to a choir of those who would be George Zimmerman. Michelle Malkin, who really should keep up the search for the right meds, is given copious air time to spew hatred toward the President. Keep your eye on the bouncing ball ...

Go in peace. The mass is ended.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Marie: "And if voters are as stupid as I'm afraid they are, they will let the wingers win"
Certainly, aided by a passive media hat accepts all lies wihout comment.
Bolstered by the billions of Citizens United dollars dedicated to usurping the tea party for the one percent.
Opposed by a flaccid Democratic party that does not know " You can't get there from here," and is proposing trivial remedies for huge problems.
First will come the terrible damage to most Americans, then the recovery if Americans are worth saving.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

To continue my rant from yesterday against the MSM. I am getting furiouser and furiouser! This is from Media Matters:

MEDIA OVERWHELMINGLY FOCUSED AGAINST
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

..."84 Percent Of Broadcast And Cable Segments Reported On Rulings Striking Down The Law. Out of a total of 31 segments on ABC's World News, CBS' Evening News, NBC's Nightly News, CNN's The Situation Room, and Fox News' Special Report that reported on court rulings related to the health care law, 26 (or 84 percent) dealt with rulings that found the individual mandate unconstitutional. In contrast, only three (or 10 percent) segments reported on rulings that upheld the law. Two segments (or six percent) reported on court rulings that dismissed their cases without ruling on substance."

Here is the link:
http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/12076-focus- corporate-medias-war-on-obamacare

There are charts in the article which name the stations and the anchors and show the amazing amount of time each has devoted to discussing negative aspects of the bill vs. positive parts. Somehow seeing the data lined up on a chart make it more real for me--and more infuriating!

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison
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