The Ledes

Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

AP: "Syrian rebels, including fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group, seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights on Wednesday after heavy clashes with President Bashar Assad's forces, activists and rebels said. The capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan held more symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops."

Washington Post: "An open-ended cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was holding Wednesday after seven weeks of warfare that killed more than 2,200 people."

Washington Post: "Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of stepping up military activity in the annexed territory of Crimea and sending in troops to help separatists near a key seaport in southeastern Ukraine."

New York Times: "Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said on Wednesday that French prosecutors had placed her under formal investigation over a murky business affair that dates to her time as finance minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, August 26, 2014.

New York Times: "The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index reached a milestone on Tuesday, closing above 2,000 for the first time ever, if just barely. It was a lazy day of trading that picked up on some encouraging signs in the United States economy, but not enough for sustained optimism in the market."

ABC News: "A third American hostage held by ISIS has been identified as a 26-year-old American woman who was kidnapped a year ago while doing humanitarian relief work in Syria. The terror group is demanding $6.6 million and the release of U.S. prisoners for the life of the young woman, whom a representative for the family requested not be identified."

New York Times: "A 33-year-old American who was fighting for the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was killed in recent days in a battle with a rival group in Syria, a senior American official said on Tuesday. The authorities identified the man as Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego. According to a human rights group that tracks the conflict in Syria, Mr. McCain was killed in a battle in Marea, a city in northern Syria near the Turkish border. Mr. McCain had been on a watch list of potential terrorism suspects maintained by the United States government, American officials said."

New York Times: "Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday reached a long-term cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting, according to officials on both sides, halting the longest, bloodiest battle either side has experienced in years — but without resolving many of the bigger issues underlying the conflict."

New York Times: "Burger King Worldwide agreed on Tuesday to buy the Canadian restaurant chain Tim Hortons for about $11.4 billion, creating one of the biggest fast-food operations in the world – with a little help from Warren E. Buffett. As part of the transaction, however, the American burger giant will move its home to Canada, where the combined company’s biggest market will be."

Washington Post: "Ukraine said Tuesday its forces detained a group of Russian paratroopers who crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, and the U.S. ambassador to Kiev warned of a possible “Russian-directed counteroffensive” by pro-Moscow separatists, raising tensions between the two countries as their presidents attended a regional summit."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
August 27

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:00 pm ET: White House Veteran Entrepreneur Champions of Change forum

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

Justice Ginsburg on the Tumblr site Notorious R.B.G.:

Washington Post: "Former president George W. Bush has been writing a book about his father, former president George H.W. Bush. The book will be published in November."

"Homophonia." Caroline Moss of Business Insider: "An education blogger in Utah is out of a job today after writing [righting] a blog post explaining 'homophones' for the Nomen Global Language Center. Tim Torkildson said he was fired by [buy] his boss and NGLC owner, Clarke Woodger, for [four] promoting a gay agenda." Here's Torkildson's blogpost on his firing. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times: "New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would do well to turn down the Frick Collection’s proposed expansion, which imagines replacing a prized garden on East 70th Street in Manhattan with a clumsy addition. The city should avoid another self-inflicted wound, and there are other options." CW: As I recall, the garden is that it is difficult to see from the street. I love the garden court & have spent a good deal of time there.

Martha Stewart has a drone.

Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.

 

Contact the Constant Weader

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

Friday
Jun082012

The Commentariat -- June 9, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

CW: Optimism! So if we could build the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam & the Empire State Building during the depths of the depression, why the hell don't we do something equally fabulous now? Tim Egan celebrates the anniversaries of the Golden Gate Bridge & the Seattle Space Needle, built 25 years later.

... I spoke too soon. It just occurred to me that an old friend of mine -- Chuck Middleton, President of Roosevelt University in Chicago -- just built this -- and he began the project just as the recession hit. Chicago Tribune story here. The building was dedicated May 5 of this year.

 

 

New York Times Editors: "Religious conservatives are losing one of their primary arguments for trying to ban the morning-after birth control pill that can prevent pregnancy if taken within days after sexual intercourse.... As Pam Belluck reported in The Times on Wednesday, the latest scientific findings and expert opinion indicate that the pills work by delaying ovulation.... This page supports easy access to the morning-after pill without a doctor's prescription.... We also support a treatment regimen based on RU-486, which does abort an implanted embryo weeks after the morning-after pill no longer works. It provides a safe alternative to the dwindling availability of surgical abortions in many areas. The decision on taking RU-486 should be left to women and their doctors."

CW: I see Charles Pierce & I are on the same page (see my comment in yesterday's Commentariat): "The recall provision exists in Wisconsin law not as a kind of impeachment-by-other-means, but as a direct response to the depredations of corporate wealth upon the political commonwealth that were rife the last time we had a Gilded Age. That so many Wisconsinites forgot this is a tribute to seven months of television advertising and the fact that we don't teach civics any more.... The recall was a vehicle, nothing more, and, if nothing else, it kept Walker from calling the legislature into special session to do even more damage before the November elections."

Yesterday I linked to a story of dubious origin that charged that White House e-mails proved President Obama had secretly broken his campaign pledge to fight for the importation of safe, cheaper drugs. Peter Baker of the New York Times confirms the story. His piece, which tells what happened step-by-step, is worth a read.

Woodward & Bernstein: Nixon -- "Far worse than we thought." The Post has a page of links to stories on Watergate; to refresh your memories or perhaps learn some of the highlights for the first time, this is a good place to start.

Presidential Race

James Downie of the Washington Post responds to Republicans going nutso over President Obama's remark yesterday that "The private sector is doing fine," a remark he later walked back in an Oval Office press availability. It's doing a lot finer, Downie argues, than it would be under Romney's economic prescription. ...

... Here's the walkback. Note the President's reference to firefighters, police & teachers:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

.... Who Needs Firemen, Police & Teachers? Here's part of Willard's response to Obama's presser yesterday:

     ... Read Steve Benen on this. He's livid: "Let's be clear about this: Romney is rejecting the idea of saving the jobs of cops, firefighters, and teachers. He sees this as an applause line. The Republican nominee for president believes we can 'help the American people' by laying off, not just public-sector workers in general, but specifically cops, firefighters, and teachers." ...

     ... Greg Sargent, in the same vein: "At the same time, however, Romney takes care to show great sympathy with first responders. As Jonathan Chait has noted, Romney has spoken movingly of the financial plight of firefighters under Obama, even though they belong to the parasitic class that he is trying to scapegoat for the economic misery of other Americans. ...

We knew Mitt Romney liked firing people, but we didn't know that included firefighters and cops. Middle-class voters already distrust Mitt Romney for being out-of-touch and uncaring about regular folks. Bragging about wanting to give pink slips to first responders only cements that perception. -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

     ... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos gets it exactly right: "In his words, firing government workers would put other Americans 'back to work.' But that's nuts. Anytime somebody loses a job, it's bad news for the economy. That alone demonstrates that Mitt Romney doesn't understand what it takes to be president." CW: note that in his walkback, the President makes crystal clear that he understands that working teachers, firefighters & police contribute to the economy.

Steve Benen chronicles "Mitt's Mendacity" of the week. Benen finds 20 whoppers in Week 21. The segment from Rachel Maddow's show embedded in the post brings home the point that Willard is completely -- and oddly -- shameless. When he's caught in a lie, he just keeps telling it. He has even defended telling lies as a valid & standard political tactic.

Andrew Sullivan: Obama "must make it plainer that, in this country's politics, he is still the change agent. If he weren't, why would they have done so much to stop him?"

Local News

CW: I'm posting this story only because the island is a few miles upriver from my house:

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "On Thursday, a 1.4-acre patch of land on the Caloosahatchee River off Fort Myers, Fla., was gaveled away in an unusual Internet auction that featured the private island.... The new owner walked away with $258,5000 worth of sand, rock, oak trees and sea grapes, and, of course, a battalion of Florida's unofficial mascots, mosquitoes." CW: Alvarez is exaggerating the mosquito population; the water here is brackish, so mosquitoes can't mate & there's always a breeze on the river. This is a manmade island, built when the Corps of Engineers dredged a channel through the river to complete the Intercoastal Waterway. Another larger island, near the city center, is for sale for about $5 million. Other islands in the river are bird sanctuaries. ...

... In slightly more important Florida news ... Joseph Williams of Politico: "Good-government advocates have sued the state of Florida, alleging its purge of non-citizens from voter rolls has swept up too many legally-registered African American and Latino voters and is undermining laws that ensure fair access to the ballot box."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A federal health official's ruling has cleared the way for 50 different types of cancer to be added to the list of sicknesses covered by a $4.3 billion fund set up to compensate and treat people exposed to the toxic smoke, dust and fumes in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

AP: "Spain could ask for a rescue of its troubled banks this weekend when European finance ministers hold an emergency conference call Saturday to discuss its hurting lending sector, a move that would turn the nation into the fourth from the 17-nation eurozone to seek outside help since the continent's financial crisis erupted two years ago." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Responding to increasingly urgent calls from across Europe and the United States, Spain on Saturday requested assistance for its cash-starved banks. European finance ministers in turn promised up to $125 billion in aid, which they hope will quell rising financial turmoil ahead of elections in Greece that could roil world markets."

Guardian: "Bradley Manning has failed to persuade a military judge to throw out half of the counts against him in a pre-trial hearing before his court martial for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of state secrets to WikiLeaks. Colonel Denise Lind, presiding over the proceedings at Fort Meade in Maryland, rejected a defence motion that 10 of the 22 counts against the US soldier should be dismissed."

Washington Post: "Former D.C. Council chairman Kwame R. Brown pleaded guilty Friday to lying on bank-loan applications and violating a city campaign law, branding a once-promising star in local politics as a convicted felon."

AP: "China will launch three astronauts this month to dock with an orbiting experimental module, and the crew might include its first female space traveler, a government news agency said Saturday."

Reader Comments (14)

Interesting story on the island--and, fittingly, you found some corrections to make! Ok about the mosquitoes, but..are there snakes??

And if the Corps of Engineers can create a valuable island....

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralphonsegaston

@alphonsegaston. Snakes. We got snakes. We got lizards that look like snakes -- long & slithery & got no feet (but got no scales). We got river rats -- my husband has caught 5 in the basement & one got in the kitchen once -- I screamed bloody murder. We got giant palmetto bugs a/k/a cockroaches. We got spiders -- my neighbor whacked one on her kitchen floor & it exploded with a hundred babies running in all directions. We got a big critter -- maybe one of the many opossums around or a raccoon -- who is eating my mangoes (haven't seen him, just seen the hollowed-out mangoes). We got alligators. I saw a 12-footer swimming past one time. We got monitor lizards -- there was a 7-foot monster on my seawall the night of the 2000 election -- not a good omen. We got iguanas. But we also got manatees, an occasional dolphin, lots of tarpon, snow crabs you can harvest off your dock if you have a mind to, pelicans, egrets (one of the bird sanctuaries I see from my yard, which I think the Audubon Society maintains, looks like a white cloud some afternoons, as egrets nearly cover the trees), cranes & herons, flocks of ibis, giant green parakeets (descendents of domesticated birds), bald eagles & osprey, plus the usual snowbirds, both fowl & human. It's a wilderness in the city. For better or for worse.

June 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@Carlyle. Thanks. I will heed your advice, offered in the same spirit I'd guess as my threat to slip on North, tho' I remember--in real, true, honest to goodness fact-- black flies swarming along the Nation River, so thick I spooned them in with my food, and so ravenous themselves that I watched my blood running down my legs into the water as we lined our canoe through a shallow stretch of clear and cold---but, perhaps because the water was so cold, their bites didn't hurt. I've always tried to avoid the ones that do. But bad as the biting ones might be, living in Ronmeydom--after eight years of Bushdom I cannot forget-- might well be worse.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

From @Dave S.

Blast from the past in today's WaPo:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/woodward-and-bernstein-40-years-after-watergate-nixon-was-far-worse-than-we-thought/2012/06/08/gJQAlsi0NV_print.html

...and today's GOP is far worse than Nixon was.

June 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Apropos of nothing except perhaps bad men in politics, Rick Scott has been on my mind. There is something––is fey the right word?––about him, the way he moves, turns his head in an almost coquettish way, his speech which seems to me to be lacking in heft––and then what comes out of that mouth smacks of sophomoric blather. And I'm wondering how this man who was CEO of a health concern that went belly up because of fraudulent practices could get elected as governor, but as I write this sentence I realize how futile a question.

Continuing with bad men: the picture of Nixon reminded me of the phrase––"nattering nabobs..." that someone used the other night on a news show. Bill Safire, that skillful ventriloquist, praised for his brilliant lexicon, had the perfect dummy in Spiro Agnew whose cool, uninflected voice was the perfect vehicle. The most famous of these triumphant linguistic confections was the aforementioned nattering, but here is the complete piece:

"In the United Sates today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. they have forgotten their 4H club––the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."

Imagine the fun Bill must have had collecting all those N and H words to produce such memorable alliterations.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I'm still trying to figure out how firing police and firefighters and teachers creates jobs. Willard never explains it....or I missed something.
He sure doesn't seem to get some simple concepts such as the role of demand or the goal of expansion of the economy. He must think it's a zero sum game and if you hire a teacher you have to fire someone else, perhaps someone in the private sector?
As I said, I'm perplexed.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

To understand the resistance of the T GOP to all things that would be good for America, just keep in mind they are just following the well laid out plan of the 1%

By being against everything except military spending they are pusing the way toward the "Secular Caliphate of the 1$

Three candidates for "Supreme Leader": Ron Paul, Donald the Great and Rick Santorum. Rand Paul will wait.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJefffrey

Germane to Victoria's, and I guess all of our frustration with divided politics, is this interview from Bill Moyer's.

http://billmoyers.com/episode/encore-how-do-conservatives-and-liberals-see-the-world/

Apropos Chris Chirstie just this past week at the CPAC conference wow'd the crowd by saying "We're right and they're wrong!" Yeah there's no one more divisive but at after watching this I feel a little less anger and angst and a little more thoughtful about how we can bridge this divide. I found this a fascinating discussion.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Obviously, my problem is NOT fixed. This interesting comment just plain got disappeared:

From Nadd2:

Recovering from my strenuous efforts to recall Scott Walker, I want to comment on some of the comments. First, we had little control over the timing of the election. The overwhelming surge of Wisconsin residents eager to sign recall petitions meant that we couldn't delay much it beyond the legal starting date. It was the Republicans who, with their court cases, filings, and other delaying tactics, managed to just push the election to the first week in June when students had left. Second, if we hadn't had more than one candidate, the Republicans would have run a "fake Democrat" to ensure a primary (although I agree that uniting behind one candidate early would have been preferable). Third, retaking the State Senate is a huge deal. If Walker still could count on majorities in both houses of the legislature, we would be seeing an immediate call for a special session to ram through more of his extreme agenda. Because of his successful efforts to consolidate power in the governor's office, he can still do some damage, but not as much.

CW Update: I take it back. The comment appears in yesterday's thread. However, we should all read it because Nadd2 addresses some of the issues we've been talking about & s/he does it from an "insider'"s perspective. Very informative.

June 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Marie,

How frustrating! Once again thanks for all you do. That's a great comment and commensurate with much that I have read. I forgot about the fake democrat. I still think Moyer's interview is worthwhile, but now I'm troubled that it only superficially addressed the immorality of the dirty tricks squad. It's a fitting reminder on the anniversary of the Watergate exposition that we have much work to do to bring real integrity to our governance.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Note to DaveS: There can be no no real integrity to [or in] our governance so long as money rules.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

I'm the one who thought the senate win was meaningless. I did not realize special sessions are often called. However even if the Republicans had retained the senate, I think Walker would choose to lay back for a while - play nice, beer and brats and all that. The last thing Wisconsin wants right now is another fight. Better to finish off the unions after November. And I do think they will go down. The other day the NYT had a piece about the pension vote in San Diego and San Jose. There were lots of comments and they weighed heavily against the unions - really heavily. Pretty astounding for NYT readers.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

@James Singer

Point taken. Yes work to get the money out. But that money is only exploiting divisions that already exist. Heal the divisions and the money is muted. There has to be a way to defeat the fascists. It's been done before, and it was never easy. If history is a guide it will be ugly. Can we find another way?

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

@ Dave S. I think I posted the Moyers interview of Haidt a while back. I watched it, anyway. I think Haidt is a bit naive & hasn't thought things through.

Let's look at a few of his premises. Liberals are more open to new experience than are conservatives. That's true as far as it goes. But it doesn't take a genius to move on to the next step: liberals are more open to new experience than are conservatives because they taught themselves to be. It's quite natural -- for all of us -- to be comfortable with what we know. But liberals push their own boundaries. Yeah, when I was 16, I would have been embarrassed to be staring up at the penis of Michelangelo's David. But I grew out of it. Indeed, I have stared up at the penis of the David, with strangers milling about, & I don't recall feeling any embarrassment at all. But then, I saw it when I was well past the age of 16. So, at 16 my view of sexuality was conservative. I could have remained naive & grown up to be a prim church lady. In my case, getting over teenaged embarrassment might relate to personal experience. But it doesn't have to. Consider Sister Margaret Farley. Her liberal ideas about sexuality, except perhaps in relation to masturbation, do not likely reflect her personal experience. She's just does not limit her views to what she learned/believed when she was 16. I think it's fair to say, with all due respect, that conservatives are emotionally and intellectually retarded. Haidt doesn't seem to even consider that.

While Haidt is partially correct about tribalism, even there what he is really describing is conservative behavior. I don't think I'm better than you because I had such-and-such an experience & you had a different one. I don't belong to the University of Wisconsin tribe or the Irish heritage tribe. Haidt says we judge people on these bases every time we interact with them. I don't. I expect people to have beliefs, experiences & foibles which are different from mine. It is the differences that make other people interesting to me.

(I do agree with Haidt about Democrats lacking a coherent narrative, but that is tactics much more than substance. I'll admit Obama is squishy on substance, too, but that goes back to his basic desire to do what Lincoln correctly said can't be done: "please all of the people all of the time." The desire to please is sort of a politician's curse. Look where it got Bill Clinton: claiming in sworn testimony that the meaning of "is" is mutable.)

I don't mean to suggest that Haidt is completely wrong. I just think he is too willing to accept as justifiable conservative views that are in fact naive and simplistic. He doesn't make me want to go hug a conservative.

Etc.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns
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