The Ledes

Tuesday, August 19, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Islamic State militant group claimed Tuesday to have beheaded an American photojournalist in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. A video released online purported to show the execution of James Foley after he recited a statement in which he called the U.S. government 'my real killers. A second prisoner, said to be Steven Joel Sotloff, like Foley an American journalist who disappeared while covering Syria’s civil war, then appears in the video. The masked executioner, speaking with what sounds like a British accent, identifies Sotloff and says that 'the life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.'”

New York Times: "Israeli and Palestinian officials agreed late Monday to extend a five-day cease-fire for Gaza that expired at midnight for 24 hours, reflecting the difficulty of reaching more durable agreements after two weeks of Egyptian-brokered talks but also an apparent lack of appetite on either side to resume the conflict." ...

     ... UPDATE: "Another Gaza cease-fire collapsed on Tuesday when Palestinian militants fired rockets into southern Israel, drawing retaliatory airstrikes from Israel and prompting the Israeli government to withdraw its delegation from Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo for an agreement to end the latest conflict."

Guardian: "Armed groups in Syria have several hundred portable anti-aircraft missiles that could easily be diverted to extremists and used to destroy commercial planes, according to a new report by an international arms research group that cites the risk of the missiles being smuggled out of Syria by terrorists. The report was released a few hours after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice to US airlines banning all flights in Syrian airspace."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, August 18, 2014.

Washington Post: "James M. Jeffords, the former U.S. senator from Vermont who gave Democrats control of the closely divided chamber in 2001 when he left the Republican Party to become an independent, died Aug. 18 at a retirement residence in Washington. He was 80."

New York Times: "Separatists rebels on Monday attacked a caravan of cars carrying refugees trying to flee war-ravaged eastern Ukraine, killing 'dozens' of people in a devastating barrage of artillery fire, Ukrainian military officials said, though rebel leaders denied there had been any attack at all."

Guardian: "The US State Department banned a senior member of the Islamic State (Isis) on Monday.... Now banned from any financial dealings in the United States or with people in the United States is the group’s spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, a Syrian whose given name is Taha Sobhi Falaha. Also banned was Said Arif, an Algerian member of the rival Nusra Front who escaped house arrest in France and was linked to a plot to bomb the Eiffel Tower."

AP: "Aided by U.S. and Iraqi airstrikes, Kurdish forces Sunday wrested back part of Iraq's largest dam from Islamic militants who had captured it less than two weeks ago, security officials said." ...

... Reuters: "Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iraqi counter-terrorism forces have pushed Islamic State militants out of Mosul dam, state television reported on Monday.... An independent verification was not immediately possible."

Reuters: "Russia on Monday said all objections to it sending a humanitarian convoy to Ukraine had been resolved but said no progress had been made in Berlin talks toward a ceasefire between government and rebel forces in the east of the country."

Reuters: "Israeli troops on Monday demolished the homes of two Palestinians it suspects of the abduction and killing of three teenagers in the occupied West Bank in June, the army said."

Guardian: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said he 'will be leaving the embassy soon' during a press conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has sought asylum for more than two years."

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 18

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

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.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."

 

New Yorker illustration.

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

 

CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:

 

Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

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Friday
Mar232012

The Commentariat -- March 24, 2012

Sorry, the site has been down for maintenance all morning.

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

David Maraniss of the Washington Post on the striking parallels in the lives of Presidents Bill Clinton & Barack Obama. ...

(... Not to be confused with Dana Milbank's Washington Post column on the striking parallels in the personality traits of Mitt Romney and Milbank's dog Z.Z.)

In a Washington Post op-ed, Reniqua Allen argues that "the first black president has made it harder to talk about race in America." If, like me, your first thought was, "Nah," listen to what Geraldo Rivera has to say in the clip below, & be assured that racism is alive and well outside the Deep South. P.S. When I see a black kid in a hoodie approaching, I do not cross the street, I do not even think about crossing the street, I do not give him a second thought, though if we make eye contact and/or we're not on a crowded street, I say hello or good morning. I think my reaction -- or lack thereof -- is normal, not even slightly extraordinary. Evidently Geraldo would not agree.

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times: "As it prepares to take power in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is overhauling its relations with the two main Palestinian factions in an effort to put new pressure on Israel for an independent Palestinian state. Officials of the Brotherhood, Egypt’s dominant Islamist movement, are pressing its militant Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, which controls Gaza, to make new compromises with Fatah, the Western-backed Palestinian leadership that has committed to peace with Israel and runs the West Bank."

Change is, yes, health care reform. You want to call it Obamacare — that’s okay, because I do care. That’s why we passed it. That is why we passed it — because I care about folks who were going bankrupt because they were getting sick.  And I care about children who have preexisting conditions and their families couldn’t get them any kind of insurance. And so now we’ve got reforms that will ensure that in this great country of ours you won’t have to mortgage your house just because you get sick. -- President Obama in Atlanta last week ...

... ** Former Clinton DOJ attorney Walter Dellinger, who filed a brief on behalf of the Congressional Democratic leadership defending the Affordable Care Act, debunks five myths about the law. CW: this should be required reading for every opponent of the law. ...

... ** Jonathan Chait of New York magazine on "the barbarism of the health-care repeal crusade." Read the whole post to see how Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan -- and the whole right-wing gang -- fit into the picture. "The conservative movement’s fanatical determination to achieve this goal — through the courts, through the election, through sabotage of its implementation by denying funds and refusing to confirm administrators — reveals an even higher level of commitment to the principle of denying health insurance to the undeserving." ...

... Ron Brownstein of the National Journal: "... what, if anything, to do about the nearly 50 million Americans who today lack health insurance? Those millions of uninsured rarely intrude into the promises from GOP congressional leaders and the party’s presidential field to defend liberty by repealing Obama’s plan." ...

... Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post takes on Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post: "I’m still not sure whether Charles Krauthammer’s Friday column is actually a Stephen Colbert-like parody of over-the-top conservative opposition to President Obama’s health-care law." Stromberg refutes Krauthammer's self-parody point-by-point.

Major Garrett of the National Journal: "'If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.' With that one sentence, President Obama on Friday placed himself in the middle of a raging national debate as a parent, a president, and an African-American speaking to and for the black 'community.'" ...

... Joan Walsh of Salon: "Many of us have been sympathetic to the restraints [President Obama] wears while nevertheless wondering when he would say something about the tragedy. He did so Friday with a palpable sadness, for the family of Trayvon Martin, for himself, and for all of us." ...

... Manuel Roig-Franzia, et al., of the Washington Post examine George Zimmerman's multi-racial ethnicity, his upbringing and his hopes -- to be a policeman. Zimmerman is the man who shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager.

Right Wing World ...

... is horrified President Obama spoke out in sympathy for Trayvon Martin's parents. Something about black panthers. AND there's this:

CW: This has to be the worst presidential campaign ad since LBJ's "Daisy" ad of 1964. As Dylan Byers of Politico notes, "Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad morphs into U.S. president Barack Obama right about the time the narrator says 'sworn American enemy.'" Byers has more here, and sorry, the Santorum spokesmen's phony excuses don't cut it.

Contributor Marvin Schwalb has a good assessment of the elements of Right Wing World in today's comments. And Schwalb presents a logical argument for banning hunting! A perfect means to drive the NRA nuttier.

Kevin Drum: that nice Paul Ryan cares three percent more about the poor than he cared last year. (I'm pretty sure my math is wrong here, but when it comes to toting up the kindliness of Paul Ryan, the figures are so teensy it doesn't really matter -- I think the right answer is closer to 5 %. Whoop-tee-do!)

It's Friday so it must be time for Steve Benen's countdown of Mitt Romney's Lies of the Week: "It was heartening that Mitt Romney's habitual dishonesty generated far more attention than usual this week, but the scrutiny doesn't appear to have discouraged the Republican frontrunner, who had an incredibly mendacious week.... Take a look at the 11th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. Unfortunately, it's one of the longest editions to date."

Nia-Malika Henderson & T. W. Farnam of the Washington Post: "Ahead by double-digits in polls [in Louisiana, Rick] Santorum is expected to do well and to continue his streak of strong showings in the South. Yet, with a delegate gap that keeps getting wider, the final vote tally in Louisiana may not matter much in the long run given that the former senator from Pennsylvania faces daunting odds and a difficult stretch of contests next month.

Gail Collins thinks of six things you need to know about the GOP primary race. CW: that's about as long as such a list should get.

News Ledes

Well, this complicates the story:

New York Times: "Rick Santorum was projected as the winner of the Louisiana Republican primary Saturday night, capturing a deeply conservative state with a hefty portion of the kind of evangelical Christian voters who have helped him claim victories in 10 other states." The Washington Post is updating results here.

AP: "President Barack Obama is opening his pitch for faster work to lock down nuclear material that could be used by terrorists with an up-close look at the nuclear front lines along the heavily militarized border with volatile North Korea. Obama arrived in Seoul on Sunday morning, local time, for three days of diplomacy."

New York Times: "The United States military has decided that no service members will face disciplinary charges for their involvement in a NATO airstrike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.... An American investigation in December found fault with both American and Pakistani troops for the deadly exchange of fire, but noted that the Pakistanis fired first from two border posts that were not on coalition maps, and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them that they were shooting at allied troops."

AP: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant Saturday and is recovering at a Virginia hospital, his office said."

NBC News: "More than a decade before former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with more than 50 counts of child sex abuse, a psychologist warned university police that his actions fit that of a 'likely pedophile’s pattern.'” Includes video story.

AP: "U.S. investigators believe the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians split the slaughter into two episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again, two American officials said Saturday."

AP: "Dozens of French Muslims are training with the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan, raising fears of future attacks following the shooting deaths of seven people in southern France allegedly by a man who spent time in the region, Pakistani intelligence officials said Saturday."

New Orleans Times-Picayune: "The four Republican candidates for president crisscrossed Louisiana on Friday in a last bid for votes before today's primary. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. for a ballot that also includes some local races and issues."

Politico: "Jon Corzine inappropriately ordered the removal of $200 million from customer funds while serving as the head of MF Global, according to a memo released Friday by a House Financial Services subcommittee -- a finding that appears to contradict the former New Jersey governor’s congressional testimony. The money contributed to the disappearance of an estimated $1.6 billion in client money."

New York Times: "The New York City police detective who fired the first shots in the 50-bullet barrage that killed Sean Bell in 2006 has been fired, and three others involved in the shooting are being forced to resign, law enforcement officials said on Friday. The decision came after a Police Department administrative trial in the fall found that the detective, Gescard F. Isnora, had acted improperly in the shooting that killed Mr. Bell on what was supposed to have been his wedding day and that he should be fired."

Reuters: "Syrian forces pounded the central city of Homs with mortar fire while troops backed by heavy armor stormed rebellious towns across the country on Saturday, leaving six civilians and four soldiers dead, opposition activists said."

Guardian: As expected, "US army staff sargeant Robert Bales has been formally charged 17 counts of premeditated murder, a capital offence that could lead to the death penalty in the massacre of Afghan civilians, the US military said."

AFP: "A piece of an old Russian satellite whizzed by the International Space Station on Saturday, forcing its six-member crew to temporarily take shelter in two Soyuz escape capsules, officials said. The incident was the third of its kind in more than a decade of continuous inhabitation of the orbiter, whose first element was launched by Russia in 1998, the US space agency NASA said in a series of Twitter updates."

Reader Comments (4)

Ridicule is the only way to attack the NRA. They have an unbelievable position of power over politicians. They will beat you as a candidate and they will send someone after you if you oppose them. There is no way to make an impression with a direct attack.
Those volunteer firemen down at the fire house will never believe any level of gun control is anything but an evil conspiracy.
As a former Michigander I understand their position to some degree. As a matter of fact, most of those firemen in Michigan have about half a dozen gun in their homes and neither they or their friends have shot anyone.
In all of those rural areas where people hunt deer or pheasants and rabbits and ducks, the IRA has everyone convinced that the "bunny huggers" and the liberals are scheming to "take their guns away."
The IRA sells irrational positions as fighting against the gun control forces trying to get their foot in the door.
For politicians gun control is a lose, lose and a waste of effort. Perhaps, in a generation or two, things will change.

March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlyle

Two worlds. That is what this race for POTUS has established. There is no way to clearly establish the 'conservative' world. It has many parts that politicians play to make them come together. There is the fundamentalist piece, hiding behind your god. There is the macho piece, the pathetic attempt of men to rule over women. And of course the racist piece, the need to know that there is someone worth less than you (often a tough job). There is the most ridiculous piece that freedom requires no government, accept when you need it (which is always) and there is the greed piece which allows the political part to use the other pieces to fill their pockets. For me, I have never been able to understand how people live in an alternate universe. But the good news is that that other universe is eroding in other parts of the world, mainly Europe which demonstrates that for the most part this is all about how people are brought up. Sort of Stockholm syndrome for children. So it can go away. I hope that the exposure of this universe will be the beginning of its end.

P.S. On a related matter, since the right to own a gun, under the second amendment, is to provide for militias, there is no right to shoot an animal. So it would be perfectly constitutional to ban hunting. Wouldn't that be fun? Macho, macho man!

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Regarding the Steve Benen article, Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Volume XI (!):
When Romney states one of his outrageous falsehoods, would it be too much to ask the press to request specifics? He gets away with a lot simply because they don't ask him to back up his assertions.

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

After watching Geraldo for the first time in years: he and his network are like cartoon characters of journalists and journalism. If life is about nothing more than having an easy life they seem to be accomplished at a shallow insipid existence. Some people do a public service to watch and report on these people and their organization. Watching dullards is a public service for those of us simply lacking in patience.

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercitizen625
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