The Ledes

Thursday, July 30, 2015.

New York Times: "The commander of a group of Syrian fighters trained by the United States has been kidnapped by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, his group said in a statement Thursday. The commander, Nadeem Hassan, and seven of his fighters were taken by the Nusra Front, a rival of the Islamic State in Syria, as they were returning from a meeting in Turkey."

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.

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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